Tallahassee, Fla. — Gene Deckerhoff, the Voice of the Seminoles for 43 years, has announced that he will retire following his radio broadcast of FSU’s spring football game on April 9. Deckerhoff is a bona fide legend in broadcasting and among the most heralded and beloved announcers in the history of college and professional sports.
Among a staggering list of awards and honors presented to Deckerhoff is the 2013 National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame’s Chris Schenkel Award, the prestigious Lindsey Nelson Award for broadcasting excellence in 2015 and the Woody Durham – Voice of College Football Award presented by the National Sports Media Association. In 2019, he accepted the George Langford Award for a Lifetime of Service to Florida State University presented by the Seminole Boosters Board of Directors along with close friend Coach Bobby Bowden.
“It has been a lifetime of great moments—great players, great coaches, great games, great memories, and most of all great Seminole fans,” said Deckerhoff. “A life’s work that reads like a best selling novel played out on the radio. I have been blessed. Thank you FSU.
“I will finish my commitment to the Buccaneer Radio Network and who knows maybe broadcast another Super Bowl.”
Deckerhoff, 76, began calling Seminole men’s basketball games in 1974, assumed FSU football play-by-play duties in 1979, and added his role as play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1989. He has called 529 Seminole football games and over 60 percent (1,324) of the Noles men’s basketball games. By his own count, Gene has uttered his signature “TOUCHDOWN FSU” 2,218 times.
In 2000, Deckerhoff was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and two years later was inducted into the Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame. The Florida Community College Activities Hall of Fame tabbed Gene for induction in 2004. He has been named Florida Sportscaster of the Year by members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association 14 times. And for 18 consecutive years was named the Best Play-by-Play Announcer in Florida by the Florida Sportscasters Association. He received the Circle of Gold medal from Florida State University for outstanding service to the university.
“I don’t think I can put it any better than Gene Deckerhoff is FSU,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Alford. “We are so honored that one of our most visible ambassadors has been a person with unsurpassed expertise, unique talent, boundless enthusiasm and a personality that so perfectly reflected Seminole athletics.
“Our fans genuinely love Gene. He is one of the most endearing figures in college athletics and it is truly remarkable to see him interact with fans from both teams.
“He is one of kind and thank goodness for the last four decades he was ours.”
Gene and Ann are the parents of three boys – Emerson, Dennis and Eric – and six grown grandchildren. Asked what he was looking forward to the most Gene said, “an extended off-season with more time with Ann. We have missed 48 years of weekends and we look forward to traveling to our favorite places for longer vacations. We will be attending FSU sports events as fans and dancing to the War Chant.
“I hope to enjoy the rest of my life in Tallahassee until God tells me he needs another play-by-play announcer in Heaven. Go Noles!”
“Gene is a phenomenal broadcaster, and an even better person, and it’s been a privilege to know him on a professional and personal level for over two decades,” said Chris Ferris, Learfield’s senior vice president of broadcasting. “He’s been a brilliant storyteller for FSU fans for over 40 years, bringing every aspect of the Noles’ game action and unforgettable moments to life through the microphone. Gene will definitely be remembered as a legend in many respects, and always a member of the Nole family.”
Learfield is FSU Athletics’ multimedia rightsholder which oversees many aspects of the Seminoles’ broadcast operations. A national search will be conducted for Deckerhoff’s replacement in the coming months, and Learfield will work directly with Alford and the athletics administration in selection of the Noles’ voice.
From Little League fields in Ft. Walton Beach and Jacksonville, and junior high and high school gyms around Jacksonville, Gene Deckerhoff grew up around sports. As a kid, he kept homemade scorecards on baseball games broadcast over the radio.
He was honored as a Little League All-Star and named Basketball All-City as a senior at Forrest High School in Jacksonville. His 32 points in a game against Lake City HS was a school record that stood for several years. As a freshman, he was the starting point guard and second-leading scorer on the St. Johns River
Junior College Vikings basketball team that won the State Junior College Championship.
Gene began his broadcasting career as a direct result of his sports participation. WWPF – Palatka Program Director John Tilghman was also the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. He offered Gene a job as a weekend announcer. And in 1964, Gene successfully passed the FCC License exam for broadcasters and
began working “behind the mike”. His first sports assignment was as engineer/announcer of a Little League All-Star game in Palatka during the summer of 1965.
In 1966, while finishing work on a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, Gene became evening announcer at WGGG in Gainesville, Florida. He began his sports broadcasting career at the station when WGGG needed “someone who knew something about basketball” to broadcast high school games.
After four and a half years in management and sales with Southern Bell Telephone and General Foods Corporation, Gene re-started his broadcast career at WTRL in Bradenton, Florida. He spent a year as a weekend “part-time” announcer and then began full-time work at the station in 1972 as a DJ, account executive and sports announcer. His first football broadcast was in the fall of 1972 when he shared the play-by-play chores with News Director Dean Edwards.
WTNT-AM, Tallahassee, Florida was Gene’s next stop. He became the basketball voice of Florida State University in the winter of ’74 sharing play-by-play duties with Ed Littler and became sole play-by-play announcer in ’75.
Gene began his television career in September 1976 as the original Sports Director at WECA-TV channel 27, an ABC affiliate in Tallahassee. He continued to broadcast daily two-minute radio sports shows on WGLF-FM in Tallahassee.
In January 1978, Gene became co-Sports Director at WCTV-TV, channel 6, a CBS affiliate in Tallahassee. In 1979 Gene auditioned for the FSU Football Play-by-play job. Among the finalists for the position was the late Tom Meese (ESPN) and Craig Sager (Turner Sports).
Gene was named “Voice of the Seminoles” in the summer of 1979, and his first play-by-play broadcast of FSU football was in September when the ‘Noles opened the season against Southern Miss. Florida State went undefeated in the regular season and played in the school’s first New Year’s Day Bowl.
In 1980, Gene co-hosted the weekly “Bobby Bowden Show”. The program was produced by WCTV and distributed state-wide during football season over a seven-station network.
In November 1983, Gene was named Director of Electronic Media for Seminole Boosters Inc. His primary duties were coordination of the Seminole Radio Network and Executive Producer of “The Bobby Bowden Show”(football) and “The Pat Kennedy Show” (basketball) on television. He sold advertising, negotiated all TV contracts with stations throughout Florida and in Atlanta, and acted as the talent on both shows. He also began producing “Great Moments in FSU Football” with Burt Reynolds. The Great Moments Series debuted in the Fall of 1984 and continued for 26 seasons.
During 1983-85 Gene was the play-by-play “Voice of the Tampa Bay Bandits” of the USFL. Gene teamed with his FSU color analyst Vic Prinzi for the three years the summer league was in existence, broadcasting many memorable games coached by Steve Spurrier.
In 1989, Gene was named “Voice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers”. He joined Jessie “The Body” Ventura and Al Keck as the Buccaneers broadcast team on WRBQ-FM and the Buccaneer Radio Network. In 1991, WQYK (Infinity Broadcasting) acquired the broadcast rights and Gene continued as the play-by-play. He was joined, in the booth, by former Buccaneer Defensive Tackle Dave Logan. In 1999, former Buccaneer Linebacker Scott Brantley was named Color Analyst. Ronnie Lane was named side-line announcer. In 1990, Gene started Gene Deckerhoff Productions specializing in sports play-by-play announcing – with contracts with the Seminoles (IMG Collegiate) and the Buccaneers. Gene produces radio commercials and acts as talent in various television commercials. He also is an “in demand” speaker for sports organizations and corporations.
In 2000, Gene was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. In 2002, Gene was inducted into the Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame. And in 2004, Gene was inducted into the Florida Community College Activities Hall of Fame. He was been named Florida Sportscaster of the Year by members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association 14 times. And for 18 consecutive years was named the Best Play-by-Play Announcer in Florida by the Florida Sportscasters Association. He was honored with the Florida State University Circle of Gold Medal for outstanding service to the university.
In 2004, WDAE-AM and WSUS-FM (US103.5) became the new flagship stations for the Buccaneers. Former Buccaneer Linebacker Hardy Nickerson joined Gene as analyst for that season. And in 2005, former Tight End/Long Snapper Dave Moore became Gene’s partner in the booth. T.J. Reeves became his new sideline reporter.
It was fitting in 2019 when Seminoles Boosters bestowed the George Langford Award to both Gene and Coach Bobby Bowden in the same ceremony. Gene has broadcast five National Championship Games for Florida State, and in 2002 he broadcast Super Bowl XXXVII from San Diego over the Buccaneer Radio Network. With the Buccaneers’ 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders, Gene became the ONLY “team radio voice” to have broadcast for a Super Bowl Champion and a National Football Champion. He added a second Super Bowl (LV) in 2021 when the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.