Bob Kesling was named the Director of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee and the lead announcer of the Vol Network in the fall of 1999.
Kesling is the radio play-by-play voice for Tennessee football and basketball on the 80-plus station Vol Network. Kesling also hosts "The Phillip Fulmer Show," "The Bruce Pearl Show" and "The Pat Summitt" television shows. On Monday nights, he is the host of "Vol Calls" the weekly radio call-in show on the Vol Network.
In addition to his on the air work for the Vol Network, he represents the University of various events and functions throughout the southeast and the nation. In his role as Director of Broadcasting, Kesling oversees production of radio and television programming for the University. He also works with UT student-athletes to help them develope communications and public relations skills.
In 2002, the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters named Kesling as the Sportscaster of the Year in Tennessee. It was the fourth time Kesling won the Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year Award.
Prior to joining UT, Kesling was known throughout the Southeast for his work with Jefferson-Pilot Sports on its SEC football and basketball television package. From 1989-1998 Kesling was a sideline reporter and play-by-play announcer for JP Sports.
In addition to his work with Jefferson-Pilot Sports, Kesling was also the sports director at WBIR-TV in Knoxville from 1980 until he joined the Vol Network in 1999.
His radio credits include play-by-play for the 2002 NCAA Basketball Tournament and the 1993 Women's Final Four on the CBS/Westwood One Network. Kesling has called minor league baseball for Knoxville Blue Jays and the Nashville Sounds as well as minor league hockey for the Knoxville Cherokees. From 1992-1998 he worked on the SEC radio network for the football championship game and basketball tournament as a sideline and play-by-play announcer.
Kesling was the sports director at WIVK radio in Knoxville from 1976-1980. The Associated Press recognized WIVK three times for outstanding sports coverage in the state of Tennessee during that time.
Kesling was the radio play-by-play voice of the Tennessee Lady Vol basketball team from 1979-1998. He called the action of six national championship victories for Pat Summitt's Lady Vols.
Kesling was born in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in Kettering, Ohio. He enrolled
at the University of Tennessee in 1972 and joined the football team as a walk-on
fullback. Playing on the junior varsity team, he carried the ball 9 times for
40 yards and caught a pass. He graduated from Tennessee in 1977.
Kesling's first job on the Vol Network was in 1974 when John Ward hired him as a film editor for the "Bill Battle Show." He went on to serve as John Ward's spotter for Tennessee football games the next 15 seasons.
Kesling is active in the Knoxville community serving on the board of directors for YMCA, is a past president of Goodwill Industries and is a member of the board of directors for the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.
Kesling and his wife Tami are parents of two daughters, Allison and Melissa. His sister Diane sang 18 years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His late father, Deve, was a drum major at Ohio State in 1947-48.
TIM PRIEST, Football Color Analyst
Tim Priest, a former Vol All-SEC defensive back, will team with Kesling for his eighth year in the broadcast booth as the Network's color analyst. Priest was captain of UT's 11-1 1970 team and he is the Vols all-time career interceptions leader with 18. A three-year letterman from 1968-70, Priest was a starter on the Vols 1969 SEC championship team. An outstanding student, he was a GTE Academic All-American, Academic All-SEC in 1969 and 1970 and a recipient of a NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship Award. On the broadcasting side, Priest was a longtime co-host of the syndicated Football Finals radio show and a color commentator for Tennessee pay-per-view games.
FRANCIS, Football Sideline Reporter
Former Vol signal-caller Jeff Francis is in his eighth season as the Vol Network's sideline reporter. Francis ranks as the Vols fourth all-time passing yardage leader. A three-year starter at quarterback from 1986-88, he threw for 5867 career yards and 31 touchdowns. He finished his career in 1988 as the Vols all-time career passing yardage leader. Francis was named Most Valuable Player for his performance in the 1986 Liberty Bowl versus Minnesota and helped guide Tennessee to a 10-2-1 record and a victory over Indiana in the Peach Bowl as a junior. A four-year letterman, Francis was a backup quarterback on Tennessee's 1985 SEC championship team. He resides in Knoxville and is in the banking business.
Basketball Color Analyst
Former UT guard Bert Bertelkamp serves as color analyst for University of Tennessee basketball on the Vol Radio Network. Bertelkamp was a four-year letterman for the Vols from 1977-1980. He led the team in assists in 1980 and ranks ninth on UT's all-time assists list. He was a member of the 1976-1977 SEC championship team and the 1979 SEC Tournament championship squad. The Vols amassed a record of 72-45 and participated in three NCAA tournaments during his playing days. Prior to being named color analyst for the Vol Radio Network, Bertelkamp had served as the color analyst for Tennessee basketball games broadcast by the Vol Television Network and FOX Sports Net South. Bertelkamp along with his father, 1953 Vol captain Hank Bertelkamp, operate Bertelkamp Automation in Knoxville.
JOHN WILKERSON, Studio Game Day Host
John Wilkerson returns for his eighth season on the network as studio and game day host from the Vol Network Studios. He is joined in the studio by Chip Kain and former Vol Mark Hovanic for postgame coverage. Wilkerson also serves as the studio host for University of Tennessee basketball game broadcasts on the Vol Radio Network and is also the voice of Tennessee baseball.
BRENT HUBBS, Reporter and Spotter
Brent Hubbs, who serves a myriad of tasks, enters his 11th season with the Vol Network. He serves as host for the "Spotlight on the SEC" pre-game show and co-hosts halftime programming with Wilkerson. Hubbs provides the halftime statistics from the game site and retrieves opponent coach and player quotes.
Additional Support Staff
The always-prepared Tim Berry, entering his 20th year on staff, serves as chief engineer of the Vol Network.
Network producer Dave Jeffries, in his 11th season, oversees everything from Vol Network Control.
"The Kickoff Call-In Show" crew for home games include engineer T. Edwards (16th year) and stage manager Ellen Liston (19th year) who also assist with operations during the game.
Few men have meant as much to the University of Tennessee as John Ward. For more than three decades Ward served as the main communications link between the University of Tennessee and its fans as the undisputed "Voice of the Vols." Ward's mellifluous tones, flawless diction and precise descriptions painted a lifelike word picture of Vol football and basketball games that made him a living legend in the state of Tennessee. His unique phrases, style and delivery earned him countless honors and awards, national recognition and a devout following by millions of Big Orange fans.
Ward announced June 3, 1998, that the 1998-1999 season would be his last. The drama of Ward's final campaign behind the microphone was only heightened when the Vols captured the 1998 football national championship and the SEC Eastern Division basketball title. A scriptwriter could not have written a better swan song to his illustrious 35-year career.
Ward's first taste at broadcasting came when he began providing play-by-play commentary for his fraternity's intramural games on a tape recorder. As a University of Tennessee student, Ward picked up extra cash by moonlighting as a radio play-by-play announcer while covering high school basketball and football games for The Knoxville Journal. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1954 and went into radio and advertising. Ward's first broadcast of a UT basketball game came in 1958. Soon after that came service in the Army. After he returned to Knoxville, Ward went to work at an advertising agency. In 1964 he began handling the duties as announcer-host-coordinator for UT coaches television shows in football and basketball. His broadcasting career blossomed when he became the Vols radio play-by-play voice, first, for basketball in 1965 and three years later for football (1968). In addition to his duties with the Vol Network, he covered events for ABC-TV and ESPN.
Ward, whose understated humor enlivened his broadcasts and helped keep the games in perspective, was named Tennessee sportscaster of the year 28 times. He was named Best College Announcer in the country in 1976. Ward was a multi-term president of the Southeastern Conference Broadcasters Association and was awarded the Amateur Football Award by the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation. Ward is a member of both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1994 Ward and his wife Barbara made the then-largest financial gift ever to the UT athletic department. The gift, at the time, was estimated at over $2 million. In 1995, level four of the press box at Neyland Stadium was named the John Ward Broadcast Center. In 1998 the senior class named a pedestrian greenway on the UT campus in honor of Ward and retiring UT president Joseph E. Johnson.
Ward always described his radio and television duties with the Vol Network as a hobby. Professionally, he has been in the advertising business since graduating from UT with a law degree. His hobbies include maintaining a stunning and extensive Garden-of-Eden-like three-acre garden containing thousands of azalea, rhododendron, iris and rare wildflowers. Ward, who lives in Knoxville, also enjoys golf and travel.