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Mitchell native Jeff Culhane living out a 'pinch myself' job as play-by-play announcer at Florida State

After being the play-by-play announcer at North Dakota State for six years, Jeff Culhane is in his first season as the voice of the Seminoles

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Mitchell native Jeff Culhane (front) calling a college football game for Florida State against Duquesne University on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.
Contributed / Jeff Culhane
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Steve Morgan was umpiring baseball in 1997 when he asked a 14-year-old Mitchell American Legion player if he had an interest in radio.

That 14-year-old kid was Jeff Culhane, whom Morgan heard had an interest in learning about broadcasting.

"It was kind of a job interview, if you will, out in the middle of the diamond," Morgan said. "I happened to be in the right place (at the) right time to ask if he wants to jump into radio and learn the ropes as a high school kid."

Fast forward 25 years, and the 14-year-old from Mitchell is now in his first season calling football games as the voice of the Florida State Seminoles.

“It doesn't even feel real right now,” Culhane said. “I'm grateful for the people that have helped me along the way and the support that I have received through the years, but also that the job isn't finished yet; that it's just beginning.”

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Culhane’s first taste of major college football came in one of the most dramatic games of the season. After opening the season against Duquesne, Florida State went to the Superdome in New Orleans to take on LSU. The Tigers scored a touchdown to make it a one-point game as time expired, but Florida State blocked the extra-point try and Culhane got a signature call just two games into his tenure as a Seminole.

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Mitchell native Jeff Culhane (left) at the Caesars Superdome to call a college football game between Florida State and LSU on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Contributed / Jeff Culhane

“The signature call for me when Florida State wins is ‘Fire up the war chant, plant the spear. ‘Noles win, ‘Noles win,’” Culhane said. “That one made SportsCenter and Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd and Jim Rome, and (it) went viral on social media that night and throughout that next week.”

But to get to Tallahassee, it was a long road. The route featured stops at the the University of South Dakota, the University of Nebraska, West Virginia University and North Dakota State University. Similar to his start at FSU with the dramatic blocked PAT in his second game, NDSU nailed a walk-off field goal at Kinnick Stadium to beat Iowa in his third game as the Bison’s play-by-play announcer.

Before he was calling walk-off kicks at Kinnick or game-winning blocked extra points in the Superdome, he was on the airwaves of Mitchell’s KORN Radio.

Growing up, Culhane said KMIT or KORN were always on the radio, and his love for listening to local announcers like Tim Smith, Tom Maxwell and Morgan helped mold his love for broadcasting. It was Morgan who gave Culhane his first job at KORN, where he called an array of high school sports, but he started off by calling Mitchell boys basketball with Morgan as a freshman at Dakota Wesleyan.

“A year after graduating from Mitchell High and playing for Gary Munsen, I thought that was like the Super Bowl,” Culhane said. “(Morgan) was someone that obviously had an impact on me with his insights and his thoughts on the future and what my role could be doing something in radio down the road.”

After six seasons calling USD women's basketball, Culhane spent time in Nebraska where he produced and served as the studio host for Husker football, men's basketball and baseball broadcasts from 2007-13, before he moved on to Morgantown. At West Virginia, he called women's basketball and baseball from 2013-16. From there, he went up to Fargo and was the voice of the Bison for six years.

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“It’s been an amazing journey,” Culhane said. “You take the opportunities as they're presented to you and try and decide if it's the right path or the right move. And luckily for me, I've been presented with great opportunities and it’s been the right decision for me at that time in my life.”

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That eventually led him to Tallahassee, where he’s in his first season as the voice of the Seminoles. Yet, landing the gig at FSU may have not even been the highlight of the week for Culhane, as just three days after he was announced as the new voice of FSU, his wife, Sarah, gave birth to their second son.

“I thought about buying a lottery ticket; I probably should have,” Culhane joked. “We were on cloud nine for a long period. I mean, shoot, we're still on cloud nine. I think we still pinch ourselves.”

Culhane took over for longtime Seminoles announcer Gene Deckerhoff, who retired at the end of the 2022 basketball season. Deckerhoff is a legendary announcer in Florida, known for more than three decades of calling both Florida State and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers simultaneously.

But with the job just starting for Culhane, he’s focused on improving and taking advantage of the opportunity. His title at Florida State is Director of Broadcasting for Seminole Sports Properties, the marketing and multimedia arm for FSU that is managed by collegiate rights giant Learfield.

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Mitchell native Jeff Culhane (front) calling a college football game for Florida State against Duquesne University on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.
Contributed / Jeff Culhane

“I've got to keep working hard and getting better at what I do, because if I don't, I'm very easily replaceable,” he said. “I think about my family down here, and I think about my sons growing up in Tallahassee. And I think about continuing to put the time in and the work and so they have an amazing experience growing up around Doak Campbell Stadium and the Tucker Center for basketball and Dick Howser Stadium for Florida State baseball as well. …

“It’s amazing to be here and I kind of pinch myself, but the job is just starting.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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