High school football is in full swing as fans gather in the bleachers to watch their favorite players beneath those Friday night lights. Up in the press box, WRLR 98.3 FM is kicking off its sixth year broadcasting Lake County’s games.
WRLR Sports Director and Sports Corner Co-Host Rusty Silber teamed up with Morning Drive Talk Show Host Paul Lepek Sept. 7 at Vernon Hills High School to broadcast live as the Cougars battled the Antioch Sequoits.
“We’re doing it for the fans. We’re doing it for the community,” Lepek said as he set up his computer equipment and taped a team roster to the glass in front of him. “We do get personal enjoyment out of it too, but our primary focus is to the community. For people who are here that could actually tune into the station literally as they’re sitting in the stands. For those fans that can’t make it to the game tonight, they can also tune in to WRLR.fm or 98.3 and get it at home.”
As both teams took to the field and began scrimmaging, Silber and Lepek started their broadcast, discussing top players and predictions for which team might take the win. Lepek muttered to the side that Antioch could secure the night’s victory, though Silber remained unsure.
“We do our homework,” Lepek said. “I’ve looked at how Antioch has done the past two games, I’ve looked at how Vernon Hills has done the past two games, I’ve looked at the comments by both coaches, highlights of the players and things to expect from tonight’s game so that we can give a good quality commentary to the game as we witness it here tonight between Antioch and Vernon Hills.
Slber added, “I talk to the coaches before the game, get the rosters, game information if they can help us out. We also look at the area newspapers, they can help us out too.”
Silber, who is also a freelance sports writer for the Daily Herald, has been sports writing since 1987 and began sports broadcasting in 1988, covering the Lake County community.
“I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. To me there’s excitement, it’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s doing something for the kids and the community,” Silber said, as the roar of the fans echoed inside the press box.
Silber held binoculars throughout the game, making sure he was accurate while calling out players’ names and yards earned. There was no mistaking the final score, though, as the Sequoits defeated the Cougars 22-10.
Heading into game four of the season, there’s no way to tell who will clinch the North Suburban Prairie Conference just yet.
“All I can say is Lakes is considered the favorite based on what everyone has talked about the start of the year, but it’s hard to make any predictions because the players on the field are the ones that are gonna make it happen,” Silber said. “The kids out there are gonna make it happen out there. They’ve gotta play against each other. You can make predictions but as us announcers have seen over the years, you don’t know what you’re gonna expect.
“You can predict something but it doesn’t always happen that way by the end of the season. But I will say Lake County football has progressed to a great level, just like any sport. One thing I’ll say that I’ve learned over the years is that it doesn’t matter what sport we’re talking about, football, soccer, any sport, North Suburban Conference is a battle every time they get on the field.”
WRLR 98.3 FM is a low-power radio station that operates out of Round Lake Heights, covering Lake County 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The station is administered and staffed by volunteers.
“We don’t get paid for this. So consequently, our president Bish Krywko recruited Rusty, recruited myself, recruited [Sports Corner Host] Pat Cameron, most of the staff members on our station, there’s probably close to 40-45 staff members, they’re all volunteers that take care of the station and do the broadcast and produce our own programs. All income that comes in is totally donation or sponsorship that goes to the upkeep of the radio station,” Lepek said.
“We do things to the people and for the people. We’re totally community focused, that’s the purpose of the station in general. We like it and we’re dedicated to the community,” Lepek said.
Silber has developed a nine-week schedule to broadcast the Lake County football games.
“Hopefully we’ll even go downstate to Champaign and cover whatever Lake County team goes down there cause we are representative of Lake County,” Lepek said.
WRLR will be broadcasting live from the following games. You can catch coverage on WRLR.FM or on 98.3 FM.
9/14- Friday- Vernon Hills @ Wauconda- 7:30 p.m.
9/22- Saturday- Vernon Hills @ Grant- 1:00 p.m. (Homecoming)
9/28- Friday- Wauconda @ Lakes- 7:30 p.m (Homecoming)
10/6- Saturday- Wauconda @ Round Lake- 1:00 p.m. (Homecoming)
10/12- Friday- St. Patrick @ Carmel- 7:30 p.m.
10/19- Friday- Grant @ Antioch- 7:30 p.m.