MILTON — If you’ve been to any Milton varsity or junior-varsity sporting event this season, you may have noticed something a little different from years past.
This season Allen Keister and his wife Melissa Keister have been using internet radio to broadcast many events.
The duo, along with Mark Shearer — who helped cover varsity football — have broadcast every football game, and have been to multiple basketball games and other events this season.
“We try to broadcast as many events as we can, if its feasible,” said Allen. “Obviously something like golf is pretty difficult to get out on the links and broadcast, but what we did to get them some attention was get the team and coaches together and interviewed them live. We try not to exclude any one particular sport.”
One of the great things about Milton Sports Network is that each broadcast is archived on the website, so anyone can go back and listen to past games at any time.
Milton Sports Network came about not long ago, when Allen —who is currently the league president of Milton Little League — received a call during all-star season about a team that was interested in bringing radio equipment to the game and broadcasting the game live on the internet.
“A team reached out to me via e-mail about bringing stuff to broadcast the game. Of course I said ‘Yeah, I’ll make sure you have enough room.’ So I set aside a huge area for them, thinking they would bring a ton of equipment.” said Allen. “As it would turn out, they showed up with very minimal items to get the broadcast going. We got to talking and I realized ‘Wow. I can’t believe this is all you need to do this’”.
Allen, who also pastors a church in the Mount Carmel area, then realized this was something that he could do for his hometown sports teams.
“A lot of people have told me that I should get into public speaking, or on the radio.” he said. “I was born and raised in the Milton area. I’ve always lived in the Milton school district, so its something near and dear to my heart.”
Though Keister had no former play-by-play experience as a broadcaster, that didn’t hold him back from pursuing what was actually a childhood dream for him.
“When I was a small child, my dad used to be a DJ for the radio station WMLP.” he said. “He would let me go in and run my own radio show. Obviously it wouldn’t be live, but it would play through the studio. I thought I was broadcasting to the masses, but my dad was actually just letting me get a feel for it. So I had about three years of fake broadcasting experience, but that’s about it.”
The Keisters’ podcast-style radio show runs through the website mixlr.com, which allows listeners to listen through the Mixlr app on their smart phones, as well as via the Milton Sports Network website — miltonsportsnetwork.com.
Though Keister can’t track everyone that listens to live broadcasts, he knows for sure that over 3,300 people have tuned in to listen.
“We’re up over 3,300 unique live listens, so that doesn’t count people that have come back and listened to a broadcast for a second time.” he said.
“The parents love it, the coaches love it, Rod Harris (the Milton athletic director) loves it. Its a really exciting time right now.”
The most exciting part for Keister isn’t just the success he and his new internet radio show are having. He is very excited that local athletes and teams are able to get more recognition because of it.
“At the end of the day, the main goal is promoting the kids,” he said. “We’re not going to retire off of this, we do this for our local teams.”
“We want Milton to be proud of what they’re doing, and we want them to know that we stand behind them and we support what they do.” added Melissa Keister.
Though currently the Keisters and Shearer are the only three on-air personalities, the network is interested in bringing in some Milton alumni to help with broadcasts.
“We want to open up the door to Milton alumni to be on the network,” said Allen. “For example, if we could get a former wrestler to broadcast some wrestling with us, we think it would really play into that Panther Pride. We’re keeping the door open to people like that.”
Though Milton Sports Network appreciates its listeners, the Keisters hope the network doesn’t take away from fans and family actually attending games.
“Please come to the games, come to the matches, come to the meets, because Milton athletics needs that support. We encourage people to come to the games and listen at the same time. You can listen on your smart phone, just go to the website and click ‘listen live’.”
In the future, Milton Sports Network hopes to be able to add video footage as well as audio, but that may not come for some time.
“We’re hoping one day to expand to other areas and add video broadcasting, but that won’t happen in the foreseeable future.” said Allen Keister.
For now, Milton Sports Network will continue to get its local athletes the recognition they deserve.
“We want the student athletes at Milton to know that we see their character and their effort and all the behind the scenes things that go on to get them to game day,” said Melissa Keister. “We’ve seen athletes win and lose with so much heart that we can’t be more proud to live in Milton.”