It was like a detective story, in a radio format.
Something was missing or lost which had a big impact in Fallon County decades ago.
It took a lot of prep work, but local radio broadcaster Vaughn Zenko said he was proud of a recent historical broadcast from 2000 when the local Baker high school basketball team was in an overtime state playoff contest.
With the basketball season put on hold by Montana state officials until January, the station has been broadcasting recordings of games from the past.
“The deal was that we were going to play classic games that we had from back in the day,” he said.
“(Recently), it was the most famous game in the history of Baker – the semifinal game from the year 2000 where Baker went on to win the state championship. The semifinal game (with Wolf Point) that went into double overtime and was like the most exciting game in history.”
“We did not have a radio copy of that game. I felt we needed to have some kind of archive of that game because it was so impactful to so many people. It was like that big of a game for Baker’s basketball,” he said.
So Zenko tracked down a video cassette of that game from the then-coach, Dave Breitbach. Now, he is the principal at Baker. “He found the team’s old video of that game. We got that. We found a VCR. I asked for newspaper clippings or any information people had about the game.”
“Then I put the tape in the VCR and rebroadcast the game off of this videotape from 20 years ago. I broadcast the game as if I was actually there. There was crowd noise. I tried to make it like I was actually there on that day in March at that basketball game.”
“We played it Friday night and the response was overwhelming. People who I had never heard of found my number and were texting me that night saying thank you so much for doing this game,” he said.
“There were people telling me that they were listening to the game and were crying. Some of the old coaches were telling me they were listening.”
“It was a big moment. It was a big community event where like everybody somehow had a connection back to this basketball game and they were so appreciative,” he said.
“It took me about 14 hours to put this game together with all the production that needed to be done to make it sound right.”
“It brought people who weren’t in Baker anymore back to Baker for those memories and that basketball game,” he explained. “It was like a super cool moment of how cool radio could be and how big a deal it could be for a community like this one.”
“Breitbach said there were a lot of people listening,” Zenko said, noting that the former coach heard from a lot of former players when the game was being broadcast. “It was a fun thing for the community.”
According to Zenko, it was like a cool Christmas present to the community after a terrible year. “It was a really neat moment last Friday night. Everybody was listening to this basketball game and reliving all these memories.”
“It was something fun that radio could do for the community,” he added. “It was super fun.”
Zenko said that he doesn’t think any other game had the impact on the community the semifinal playoff contest against the Wolves had.
But, he is hopeful the upcoming season will be able to be played and the station can broadcast the current season games.
“Still, we might do this one again next year,” he added.