Like father, like son

Madison native’s love of broadcasting
leads Fultz to award-winning career

He is son of retired broadcaster
Jack ‘Flannelmouth’ Fultz

By Levi King
Staff Writer

(September 2005) – Rob Fultz made his radio debut at age 3, delivering lines in commercials at his father’s station, WVCM in Carrollton, Ky. By age 5, he was he was earning a nickel per spot, and at 7 years old, he joined his father, Jack “Flannelmouth” Fultz, in the studio to host his radio program.

Rob Fultz

Photo provided

Rob Fultz with his broadcasting Emmy.

That same year, the precocious broadcaster appeared in a television interview for the Louisville NBC affiliate. His deft wit took the crew by surprise.
“Rob was always extra sharp,” recalled Jack, 83, who lives in Lexington, Ind. “He said something they didn’t expect from a little kid, and the cameraman started laughing and shaking so hard he ruined the shot.”
Fan mail followed, from as far and wide as California, Oregon and Florida.
Today, at 39, Fultz has two national Emmys to his credit. The radio veteran won in the category of “Outstanding achievement in live event audio-sound” for his freelance work with ESPN Outdoors on the “Great Outdoor Games” in 2003 and 2004. The “Great Outdoor Games” features athletes competing in a wide variety of competitions, from lumberjack contests like log rolling, speed climbing and sawing, to ATV races, target shooting and sporting dog events.
“Most people don’t realize it, but sound for TV is a lot different than sound for music or radio,” said Fultz. “When the athletes are climbing the poles, we want you to hear their feet hitting the wood.”
Details like these netted Fultz his Emmys.
Fultz has worked on the “Great Outdoor Games” for the past three years as an “A2” audio engineer, working with a crew of technicians to capture the sounds of the games. Much of his work involves choosing the best type of microphone for each location, placing it for optimal performance, and testing for levels. Bad weather plagued the annual games this July near Orlando, Fla., so Fultz doesn’t expect another award this time.
Fultz’s freelance work began on the ABC Sports College Football Tour in 1990. Since then, he has landed gigs doing audio for USAC Midget Series and Formula 1 races, billiards, NCAA wrestling, NFL games, and the X Games. “Once you’ve done this for a while, people call you and they keep calling back,” Fultz said.
Fultz credits his early radio experiences with his father for his continued involvement in broadcasting.
At age 11, Fultz passed the FCC’s Third Class Radio Operator exam to become the youngest licensed DJ in the United States. This allowed him to run the studio, sign the FCC station logs, and host his own radio programs.
“I would ride the bus to the station after school, mow the grass when it needed it and host a four hour show each night,” Fultz said.
In those days, radio was a family affair for the Fultzes. “Dad gave the employees holidays and Sundays off, so often it was just the three of us. Dad and I ran the studio, and Mom took care of everything else,” said Fultz. “We spent our Christmases there at the station.”
Jack explained that radio was a far different business then. “We had the kind of station that people really participated in,” he said. “Now everything is recorded.” While WVCM featured country music, the DJs’ personal touches kept a devoted audience. “We would do different things then, like kids’ shows or live guests. Rob had a loyal following. He was always very professional on the air.”
Jack took his “Flannelmouth” show to a Salem, Ind., station in the late 1970s, and the father-son duo signed off from WVCM. Rob made frequent radio appearances, but kept busy with high school football and wrestling. After graduating in 1984, he worked in restaurants as well as radio, eventually enrolling at Ball State University in 1988 to study telecommunications. He quickly found his spot in the department, and worked as an assistant engineer at the public radio station, WBST. He began working in audio for the student-produced TV news program and eventually became the director. On his son’s transition to television, Jack joked, “I don’t know what happened – I thought I raised him better than that.”
Upon graduation, Fultz was hired at BSU as the on-air director for IHETS, the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System. IHETS broadcasts live classroom instruction throughout Indiana, allowing students at schools and universities around the state access to courses that may be out of commuting range. Distance learners can also actively participate in classes, responding or asking questions via telephone. As director, Fultz managed the specially designed classrooms, set up audio and video equipment, and directed the broadcasts from a control room.
After nearly three years at IHETS, Fultz became the producer-director of WIPB, the BSU affiliate of PBS, where he works today, producing local television programs, authoring DVDs, and broadcasting sports events. The broadcaster ventured into teaching last year with a university course on multimedia. Fultz married last spring, and he and wife, Shannon, are expecting a baby in October.

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