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For the Love of the Game

Meet the Voice of the Trailblazers, award-winning sports journalist and director of broadcasting and multimedia

Article by Fred Bernhardt and Holly Infante

Photography by Courtesy of Rod Zundel

Originally published in St George City Lifestyle

“I’ve been lucky to have two dream jobs doing the things that I love,” says Director of Broadcasting and Multimedia Content for Utah Tech University Athletics, Rod Zundel. The long-time sports broadcasting professional joined Utah Tech just last August in conjunction with the university’s move into Division 1 sports by joining the Western Athletic Conference or WAC.

Rod is well-recognized for his three decades as an award-winning sports reporter, anchor and host. Part of his new role with Utah Tech includes the FM 99.5 play-by-play radio broadcasts for football, men’s basketball and baseball, and social media oversight for the Trailblazers, with 15 Division 1 sports.

“For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better career, and am enjoying so much this new phase here in St. George with Utah Tech,” Rod adds. 

Rod is a northern Utah native and took to sports in his youth to get away from the cows on the family farm near Tremonton. He played football, basketball and tennis while attending Bear River High School in Brigham City. His talent as a quarterback earned him a scholarship to play at then Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Although his playing days ended there, his desire to pursue a sports broadcasting career took root.

Returning to Utah, Rod continued his education at Utah State University and later, University of Utah, where Bill Marcroft, the veteran play-by-play announcer for Ute football and basketball, became Rod’s mentor. Known as the “Voice of the Utah Utes,” Bill’s love for the craft was contagious. Among his many awards and accolades before his passing in 2020, Bill was honored with the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Southern Utah University in recognition of his 30 years of work with the Utah Summer Games.

“My time with Bill was invaluable and he helped me to hone my skills and find my own style for broadcasting,” says Rod. 

Rod finished his degree in public relations at Weber State University and landed his first, fulltime sports journalism and broadcasting job at KIFI in Idaho Falls. Ironically. Rod also moonlighted as a rodeo clown during this time, reuniting him with his “love” of bovines! Following his four years in Idaho, Rod again returned to Utah where he went on to become a sports broadcasting fixture.

Rod has big plans to build up the Utah Tech sports broadcasting department into a “clone” of what notable universities have done, and in giving students great on-the-job training and experiences covering Utah athletics.

Favorite memories of his first year in the Utah Tech broadcast booth include:

Football—The final play vs. Stephen F. Austin University, where the Utah Tech defense stopped the Lumberjacks at the goal line from scoring a game, winning touchdown and thereby clinching the 47-44 victory for Utah Tech.

Basketball—The win over instate rival, Southern Utah University, February 4 at the Utah Tech Burns Arena. The Stampede student section, cheerleaders and hometown fans provided great support as the Trailblazers mounted an early 17 point lead, then fought off the Thunderbirds down the stretch for an 86-79 win. 

Trailblazer athletics is on the upswing and will be especially exciting as Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University are also in the WAC, making for natural rivalries. Be sure to tune in with the Voice of Utah Tech!

“For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better career, and am enjoying so much this new phase here in St. George with Utah Tech.”