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The voice of Shelby County

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Johnny McCrory (middle) of Gaint FM has been broadcasting sports in Shelby County since 1998. McCrory is pictured with Jason Parker and Tyson Conrady during the 2017-18 IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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Johnny McCrory (right) and Jason Parker (left) of Giant FM speak with Shelbyville head coach Ryan Mack (middle) during a tournament in Bloomington this season.
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Morristown junior forward Trevon Carlton speaks with Johnny McCrory and Giant FM last weekend during the Shelby County Tournament.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

I joked with Johnny McCrory after the Shelby County Tournament this past weekend: “I am going to miss hearing your voice,” I said after sitting two inches from him for six basketball games in three days.

“Just sit really close to me at the next game,” Johnny fired back with a laugh.

Simply put, I felt a little spoiled at Morristown during the county tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Keeping statistics while watching a game is not exactly easy. When sitting next to Johnny, the longtime voice of Giant FM, it becomes the opposite.

In over 20 years in Shelby County, McCrory, who started in the summer of 1998 after Morristown’s run to semistate in the first year of class basketball, has undoubtedly left a positive mark on those around him.

Those who met him or have heard him call a game likely know what I mean. Johnny is smooth, quick and honest with his call. He brings the broadcast to life. And no one is more prepared.

“He is a very committed to finding the truth and reporting the truth and facts,” said his current partner Jason Parker, who runs American Family Insurance in Greenfield and Morristown. The two have worked together for eight years. “(Johnny) is very thorough and organized. I think he comes across the air that way.”

Parker explained the details behind the broadcast. They do not just show up 20 or 30 minutes before a game like me. Lugging the equipment around is another battle, as is traveling around the state. Recently, Giant FM covered the Morristown boys' basketball team in a tournament at Forest Park, which is over two hours away.

“His day is usually spent interviewing coaches, I know he usually has interviews recorded prior to going on the air,” Parker said. “He has game prep for both teams we are going to see. Once we get to the gym, it is mainly equipment setup and confirming everything is working. We get there at 5 p.m. for a junior varsity tip at 6. He can set it all up in five or ten minutes now.

“We work well together, because we joke around a lot. We have become really good friends outside of the radio. Moments up until we go on, we are pretty funny."

Andrew Smith, New Palestine’s Sports Information Director who also does play-by-play for various sports at the school, said Johnny “is as good and dedicated of a person as you'll ever meet.” Smith, also the radio voice of the Indy Fuel, would know better than most.

“He is so dedicated to his craft and dedicated to promoting what happens in Shelby County, not just on the field and court, but beyond,” Smith said. “His play-by-play delivery is very smooth and pleasant to listen to. A broadcaster is an invited guest into your home or car, and is a link to the fans. Johnny describes the action very well, but does it in a manner that he sounds like a friend sitting next to you. He's a professional, and it shows in the broadcast.

“He approaches it with the same diligence and gives you the same quality of broadcast, from pregame to postgame, you'll find at higher levels. It's a reason he was voted by the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association as the Marv Bates Award winner a few years back.”

Play-by-play is not for everyone. Imagine having to talk and describe everything you see live on the air for hundreds or thousands of people to hear.

“In doing play-by-play there's far more to it than meets the eye,” Smith said. “For every hour on the air, there are a couple of hours of preparation to make sure you know the story of the game and those competing. Johnny's preparation is outstanding, and he's helped me prepare for my broadcasts when our teams play against the Golden Bears on many occasions.

“I always look forward to seeing Johnny when we cross paths. He's been a valued colleague and a friend for a long time. When it comes to the total package of broadcasting high school sports — both in calling the game and directing coverage — he's among the best in Indiana.”

Johnny, who spent a majority of his years calling games with former partner Gary Hamner, was able to call Morristown’s state championship run last year and ended the season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Other teams he has covered at state include the Waldron boys basketball team (2004), the Southwestern boys basketball team (2003), Morristown’s volleyball team (2003) and Triton Central’s baseball team (2003). And although not in Shelby County, Parker said Johnny broadcasted the Hauser boys’ basketball team in 2006 when it made a trip to state.

Also on-air in the morning for news coverage at Giant GM, Johnny has three kids — two boys and a girl. He grew up in Illinois and “cannot stand IU or Purdue.”

“Johnny really understands that there is an audience out there,” Parker concluded. “He takes broadcasting every game or getting the news out very seriously. Even if it is one person listening, he wants to make sure that one person hears a great call.”

From all of Shelby County, myself included, thank you Johnny.

Shelbyville boys' basketball head coach Ryan Mack described him best on Twitter this week following a game against Columbus East: "A true pro."

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.