(Mankato, MN) — March 30th, 2023 — In the 1970’s, the Linder Family, ownership and radio broadcasting pioneers in Mankato, took a chance on an unproven talent in their midst. The radio pup was Barry Wortel. He was working part-time for the station when a need arose for a radio play-by-play announcer.
“I said I’d like to do it,” Wortel shared with the League this week. “They had faith in me. They could have gone out and hired a number of seasoned radio broadcasters to fill the opening, but they saw something in me, and I am so grateful for that.”
For a half-century, Wortel has delivered thousands of games through the radio airwaves, fluidly painting a picture with this words and descriptions that left listeners with the vision the games were unfolding right in front of them. His calm, soothing tone, and precise balance during euphoric moments were trademarks for listeners in the Minnesota River Valley.
From his first game calling a Mankato West football game against St. Cloud Apollo in 1975 to a now-winter stretch of games that has him on the go, Wortel continues with enthusiasm and pride in sharing the experiences of high school students through co-educational opportunities. For his five decades of service, Wortel was selected the recipient of the Minnesota State High School League’s Outstanding Media Service Award in the Electronic Division.
Wortel joined KTOE in 1973 with work on Sunday mornings and then on weekends. He began full-time in 1976. He plans to retire in June, after hopefully, calling a state championship softball game for a local school at Caswell Park in North Mankato, or a baseball team in the Prep Championship Series.
“The memories are right there in front of me and they are wonderful,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to cover state championship teams. Ah, you name the sport or venue, and they are terrific. There was the Mankato Loyola team that went 32-0 in 2003 for the first (Metrodome) game in 1989 when St. Clair won in Nine-Man, and so many great things followed. Great schools, great teams, great kids.”
Even though retirement plans are shaping up, Wortel is eager to still serve, be it in as a fill-in radio announcer or as a public address announcer at a Mankato-area school.
“I am still eager to serve,” he said. “I’m not going completely away. I love it too much.”
Wortel was recognized for his award during halftime of the Class AAA Boys Basketball Championship game on Saturday, March 25 at Target Center in Minneapolis.