November 5 2007
The New Paris native just completed his first season as play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bisons, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. He previously spent three seasons with the Lakewood, N.J., Blue Claws.
Shortly before his December 2003 graduation with a bachelorâ€™s degree in Radio-TV/Film, Wagner attended the baseball winter meetings where he landed a paid internship with the Blue Claws, part of the Philadelphia Phillies system. Less than a year later, he became lead announcer for the class A team.
Wagner played baseball while growing up and became a Chicago Cubs fan. As a teenager, he got his first chance to combine his passions at WAWC-FM in Syracuse, Ind.
â€œA guy at the radio station took me under his wing and said, â€˜You know, you could probably be pretty good at this if you went to the right university and had an opportunity to get experience.â€™ Thatâ€™s one of the reasons I chose Indiana State,â€ he said.
â€œWhen I met with people from Indiana State during my college visits, they said that from day one freshmen have the chance to be on the radio, to be on the newspaper staff, from the moment they walk through the door, because itâ€™s a hands-on environment â€¢ especially in the school of communications â€¢ and that was true in every sense of the word.â€
As sports director of Indiana Stateâ€™s WISU-FM, Wagner covered more than 400 sporting events, including menâ€™s and womenâ€™s basketball, football, volleyball, baseball, and softball. He did play-by-play of Terre Haute area high school sports on WSDM-FM.
He also served as broadcast intern with the Office of Communications and Marketing, producing or co-producing several TV features that aired on ISU football and basketball coachesâ€™ shows.
Wagnerâ€™s fondest sports memory of his college days was the time in 2002 â€œwhen Larry Bird walked into Hulman Center and the basketball team clinched the (Missouri Valley Conference) championship for the first time he was a student-athlete at ISU. That was just a great time to be a student.â€
While at Indiana State, Wagner met his wife Megan, a Sullivan native, who was also a student worker in Communications and Marketing.
â€œWe worked closely together sometimes through a couple of years while we were there and then stayed in contact. I thought maybe I could talk her into being around the game as well,â€ he said.
The Wagners even had occasion to return to Indiana over the summer, since the Bisonsâ€™ schedule included games against the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field.
Like the minor league players whose on-field efforts he chronicles on the radio, Wagner aspires to make it to the majors
â€œI have career goals as well. Iâ€™d like to be a big league broadcaster. My professional goals are to attain the highest levels of professional broadcasting that I can,â€ he said.
â€œI love being at the ball park day in and day out. If I could stay at the professional level doing baseball, it would be great, but Iâ€™m not ruling out going back to a college or university to be their play-by-play guy for football and basketball.â€
At the ballpark 2003 ISU graduate Ben Wagner in the stands at Victory Field in Indianapolis prior to game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Buffalo Bisons. Wagner is the Bisons' play-by-play announcer. (Drew Lurker/ISU)
Preparing for broadcast ISU alumnus Ben Wagner, a 2003 Radio-TV/Film graduate, prepares to broadcast a game between the Buffalo Bisons and Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field in Indianapolis. (Drew Lurker/ISU)
Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Less than four years after graduating from Indiana State University, Ben Wagner is making his way through the ranks of professional baseball. The New Paris native just completed his first season as play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bisons, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.