Geneseo's Zach Mackey gives voice to his hometown
Just hearing Zach Mackey’s voice again by phone made me aware of what a perfect fit he is in his profession as a sports announcer.
His journey from “filling in” at announcing Geneseo High School sports when he was a student has taken him, first to the University of Iowa, then to Montana State and most recently he accepted the position as director of broadcasting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, in southwest Virginia. He had been the sports announcer at Montana State, in Bozeman, MT, for the last 3 years.
In his new role, Mackey will be the pre-game, post-game, and sideline reporter for Virginia Tech football games, play-by-play announcer for men’s basketball and will be the host for all football and basketball coach’s shows. He also will assist in the coordination between audio, television and new media teams.
Virginia Tech is happy to have Mackey on board, which is evident in a press release put out by the school which included this comment: “We are so fortunate to have Zach join our Virginia Tech family,” said Bill Roth, voice of Virginia Tech Football. “He’s an incredibly talented play-by-play broadcaster and host who has excelled on the air for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Montana State Bobcats and Big Ten Network. Zach’s background, personality, and experience make him a perfect fit for our revamped Virginia Tech broadcast team.”
The young man did not leave Montana State without making his mark. This past season Mackey gained extensive postseason experience as the football program reached the FCS Championship game and on the hardwood, the Bobcats won the Big Sky Tournament and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986.
Even though he said he did not know what to expect in moving to Montana, he admitted “really enjoying the area and the people out there. I loved having a ski resort just 10 minutes from the front door and everything the Montana outdoors has to offer. The people in Montana, and specifically at Montana State, made it a more difficult decision to leave. They care about the university and its sports, and ultimately it’s a great place with great people.”
Mackey was the radio talent for the Montana State football and men’s basketball programs. While at Montana State, he hosted a weekly podcast with guests from the Bobcats’ athletic department and hosted coaches’ shows for both football and men’s basketball n television and radio platforms.
Thus far in his career, Mackey has received numerous accolades, including being named the National Sports Media Association Montana Sportscaster of the Year in 2022 and he previously was named to the STAA’s (Sportscasters Talent Agency of America) Jim Nantz All-American program three consecutive years in undergraduate school.
When asked about the recent accolade of being named National Sports Broadcaster of the Year, Mackey explained it is an award that is voted on by the fellow sports writers and sportscasters in the state.
”It was a real honor to get this award especially because it is voted on by your peers in the industry," he said. "It was such a cool experience to attend the National Sports Media Awards weekend and get to be around and talk with some of the great sports broadcasters in the country.”
Mackey, son of Travis and Kris Mackey, was born and raised in Geneseo, graduated from Geneseo High School in 2014 and from the University of Iowa in December of 2018, where he majored in sports communication. He worked for the University of Iowa football team and then stepped into announcing baseball games and working for Iowa’s football recruiting department.
“Deciding to go to Iowa for college was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Mackey said. “That decision gave me so many opportunities to jump in and broadcast games right away. Being given those opportunities is what put me a step ahead of others. The people at the University of Iowa and inside athletics are what have made it so special for me.”
It was during his time of announcing baseball and working at the University of Iowa that he learned of an opening at Montana State to announce football and men’s basketball games.
Mackey accepted the position and then continued to announce for Iowa basebakk through the summer before he took his spot in August of 2019 in Montana for the football season.
“I announced the football games and then basketball games as well as hosting weekly coaches’ radio shows and weekly coaches TV shows,” Mackey said. “That gave me a great opportunity to get to know some of the fans as we did the shows at local restaurants.”
He also continued working for Iowa baseball during that time because there is no baseball at Montana State.
Mackey is employed by Learfield, which he explained is a company that does the advertising revenue for Division 1 colleges across the country and the company owns the broadcasting rights for each university.
”Every employee is approved by the university, but technically you are an employee of Learfield," he said.
Mackey’s interest in broadcasting stems from having a people personality and he admits he enjoys talking to people and said, “I love sports, so when you put those two together, that’s when you get into the broadcasting game. My Mom tells me as a kid, I was always commentating on everything.”
During his years at Geneseo High School, Mackey had lots of experience at using the school public address system and his first opportunity came in 2007 when he announced a freshman/sophomore football game.
”In that same year the basketball announcer wasn’t able to make a game and my Dad (Travis Mackey, recently retired GHS principal was athletic director at the time) was trying to find someone to fill in," he said. "I told him I could do it and I did.”
In high school Mackey became a member in The Student Announcers Network, which is part of the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers. The membership provided resources for Mackey and included attending a seminar where he heard the Chicago Bears former football announcer Jim Riebandt.
Even though a news reporter is not to share his or her opinions, I have known Zach Mackey since he was in grade school, have heard his broadcast, and I truly believe he was born to broadcast sporting events.
This is not the last we will hear of Zach Mackey in the world of sports broadcasting.