Todd Blackstock interviews Ozzie Smith for his TV show
By Sally Tippett Rains
Todd Blackstock might be one of the busiest sportscasters in the St. Louis area, and while fans have probably heard his voice or seen him on television, they may not know much about him. For example this past Saturday he pre-taped his nine-to-midnight radio show that he does for Classic Rock 93.1 because he knew he would not be able to do it live. Then he did triple duty with his camera crew spending part of the day at Arch Madness at Enterprise Center and then they went over to the the CITY SC Opening Game Block party and ended up inside City Park for the St. Louis CITY SC Soccer game.
“It was a crazy day with all the excitement at Enterprise and then all the that goes into a ‘first’ game at the CITY SC!” Blackstock said. “But I got to listen to my radio show on my way home that night. I was at a restaurant later and a guy said, ‘Hey, the St. Louis Surge guy.’ He then shared with me that he watched me doing stand ups at The St. Louis SC game Saturday!”
Todd Blackstock is an Emmy & Telly Award winning broadcaster who has risen in the ranks of television broadcasting. Strangely enough the story of how he lived in St. Louis and ended up in the media echoes another fellow high school classmate from Parkway West in the early 1980’s—Chip Caray.
“I’m happy the Cardinals brought in Chip, he has a great voice and is very smooth and unpretentious in the booth. I admire his work,” said Blackstock. At one point in time, their lives were very similar.
They both had fathers who were in the baseball media and remarkable grandfathers (great grandfathers in Blackstock’s case.) Caray’s father was Skip Caray and of course his grandfather was Harry Caray. Blackstock’s dad, John Blackstock (shown in photo with him at a Cardinals game) was a baseball writer who covered the Red Sox, so he was well-known in Boston– and his great-grandfather played for the Pittsburgh Alleghneys before they were the Pirates.
Both Caray and Blackstock experienced the divorce of their parents and the mothers returned to St. Louis. Way back in high school they never would have dreamed they would end up in the same career field in the same area – especially when divorce of their parents caused both to move in and out of St. Louis, and their fathers to move—both fathers covering baseball, though in different ways.
They weren’t great friends in high school though they knew each other.
“In his Parkway West senior yearbook picture, Chip is listed as ‘Harry Caray,’” said Blackstock.
His full name is Harry Christopher “Chip” Caray III.
Blackstock might have ended up broadcasting baseball because it is a sport he loves, and he was around the media lifestyle, but his life took a different path.
“My dad was a baseball writer in Boston where I was born,” said Blackstock. “He brought me to my first game when I was seven months old. We moved briefly to St. Louis and then to Long Island New York. I watched my first televised baseball game in my parents bedroom on a black and white TV with my dad and it was a Yankees game.
He said he liked the Yankees and Joe Pepitone until moving back to St. Louis and becoming a Cardinals fan in 1971.
“My dad taught me how to scalp and hustle tickets as a kid,” he said. “Joe Torre became my favorite player.”
As with most Cardinals fans, Blackstock has specific memories made with his father at a Cardinals game.
“My dad took my brother Tim (shown in photo, left) and I to Lou Brock Day,” he said. “I remember Gussie Busch giving him a big boat they paraded around the field. I remember staying up late and listening to Bob Starr and Jack Buck on the radio. I stayed up extra late with the radio in my ear when Lou Brock got his 3000th hit and broke Ty Cobb’s stolen base record.”
Blackstock has always loved watching baseball, attending games and playing as he did in his childhood– starting in 1972 for Harold Lynch’s Burger Chef Braves, where his dad was an assistant coach in Manchester.
He later managed The Ballwin Warriors 6-7 years later. At that time, his dad was out of the baseball writing business and traveling for a retail chain.
Though his father moved away after a time, they remained close and visited.
“My dad came to see one of my games on one visit and I crushed three home runs over field #2 at Ballwin Ballpark,” he remembered. Blackstock was a perennial All-Star in youth league baseball.
“I always wanted to play for Paul Ellis and The Ballwin Blazers,” he said. “When I was 12 I was starting left fielder and batted fourth for them. Bob Hellmann took over The Blazers and our 13-year-old team won Missouri/ Illinois titles.”
The photo, right shows the “Ballwin Day’s Parade” featuring Bob Hellman’s Mo/ Ill 1978 Championship.
Blackstock is proudly holding the championship trophy on the float.
When his dad lived for a while in Houston the father visited the son before his sophomore year at Parkway West and Blackstock and also went to Texas.
“We went to the Astrodome during the baseball strike and watched JR Richard rehabbing,” he remembers. “My dad moved back to St. Louis and met with Cardinals Ticket Director Mike Bertani and bought season tickets that day in section 350 Row A on the perch above the press box directly behind home plate. We enjoyed those seats for 35 years and scored the same section 350 row A at Busch Stadium III.”
According to Blackstock, his mother was quite an actor, and he had a story about that. She is shown in the photo, left with her two sons.
“My mom won ‘Best Actress’ in college and her roommate was Marcia Wallace from The Bob Newhart Show. Marcia visited my mom when we lived in Manchester and went to lunch with her before a show.”
He says all members of his family have taken interesting paths.
“My brother has a great story of being an All-Star then getting sick and rebounding to star in college baseball and making it through life.”
As Blackstock approached the high school years, there was always some sort of sport being played or talked about in the Blackstock house when he was growing up. .
“I was starting wingback for Jack Wells (football coach) at Parkway West and we went to the State Semi-finals my sophomore, junior and senior year. I started my Senior year and even made the news after an acrobatic catch against Kirkwood and Alvin Miller, and speaking of Alvin, I had the same split time as he in the 4 x 200 meter relays the year he single handedly won state track for Kirkwood.”
He played baseball, football and basketball growing up, and received five varsity letters in Football, Baseball and Track. He played centerfield at Parkway West and might have played in college.
“I overslept my appointment to meet with the SEMO Baseball Coach,” he said “I joined the Phi Sig fraternity over baseball and football.”
Both of his parents remarried happily and he has had good relations with both step parents. His father’s wife passed away recently; he often goes to the MAC with his mom’s husband.
As Blackstock got older he knew there were two things that energized him: sports and entertainment. He loved the excitement of working on sports and entertainment events and during college in Cape Girardeau, he worked at KRCU the campus station and helped his intramural teams win All School Softball and Soccer Championships. He even received the Phi Sigma Kappa “Man of the Year” at their
While at Southeast Missouri State University he worked at The Show Me Center under Jerry “Buck” Taylor who had formerly worked with the Doobie Brothers and Pablo Cruise.
Blackstock was a stagehand and ran spotlight for many famous performers who appeared there, such as Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Alabama, Tina Turner, and Reba McEntire. On a side note, Reba’s longtime husband, Narvel Blackstock was a cousin. He also got to work when President Ronald Reagan was there. Blackstock is shown in his autographed photo, right with comedian Tommy Chong.
He won the YMCA Volunteer of the Year Award for work with KRCU Radio presented to him by Gale Sayers, It seemed he was always where the action was—and always looking to do more.
After college in the 1990’s Blackstock began doing play-by-play for high school football games on 99.9 FM KFAV serving Warrenton/West Plex and hosted a show called “Instant Replay” on KWRE 530 am. Warrenton/ West-Plex,
In 1995 he received on A.I.R. Award in Best Talent Category after broadcasting with NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater of the Rams on KYMC 89.7 FM in Chesterfield. He is shown in the photo, right, with 89.7 fm KYMC A.I.R. winning radio sports crew with NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater.
He was working in sports and trying to figure out how to make a career of it while bartending and working in restaurants to pay the bills. In the mid 1990’s a bartender friend of his at the Trainwreck Westport introduced him to her friend Jacqui Poor,a freelance producer/writer with HEC-TV and this introduction led him on his next path: television.
This was in the days of local origination cable and there were many outlets around the St. Louis area developing unique programming. Jacqui Poor was a successful television producer/director working in the new and hot market of cable.
“She asked me to audition for the television show ‘See Hear’ on TCI Cable,” he said. “I won the audition and became the show open announcer. I took over as Sports on Cable segment when Vic Faust got an anchor job.”
“From the moment Todd Blackstock walked into the cable television studio, he came with a great attitude, that trademark Sports reporter voice and innate talents,” Jacqui Poor, shown right, with one of her many awards, remembered. “He also came with connections, and was always resourceful. Todd was able to bring in the big-name sports celebrities and was fearless in the field reporting, which came in handy when he accidentally got tackled on the football field sidelines Without stopping, he got back up and finished recording his report.”
Kara Savio remembers that time in the mid 1990’s. The photo, left, is of Blackstock, Kara Savio and local jazz/blues musician Melissa Neels.
“I was working at Continental cable and Jacqui (Poor) was a producer there and I started doing features for her live show ‘See Hear,’” said Savio. “I remember when Todd started he was hoping to do more. I thought he had a lot of talent so I would give him a lot of information.”
“I received a phone call from Kara Savio,” Blackstock said “She was asking me to audition for the ‘City Edition’ program on City 16 which is now STL-TV.”
Kara liked his work ethic.
“I helped get him on there,” she said “And that led to him having his own Inside Sports Show and doing all of this other incredible work .”
Blackstock began at City Cable in St. Louis in 1996 and won the station’s first Emmy Award in 2003 for hosting and co-producing his “Inside Sports” Show.
“I won the first City Emmy with our Inside Sports team,” he said. “I was host and co-Producer and Louis & Tracy Neal edited and put it together. Louis got hired at ESPN not too long after.
Andre Holman our Video Production Supervisor/ Manager paired me up with Louis Neal after Jerry Berwin and I won a Telly for “Big MAC Mania” in 99. He’s still my supervisor and owns AH network.”
The photo, left is Emmy Award Night with the trophy and the Inside Sports team members Louis and Tracy Neal and Blackstock in Center.
Blackstock has won several Telly Awards and has hosted programs aired on ABC as well as high school and junior football games on KPLR Channel 11 in St. Louis with former NFL Players Isaac Byrd & Demetrious Johnson.
Savio, who herself has won several Telly Awards, said “He’s really a hard worker and he has a passion for what he does. I think that’s why we get along so well because we both have that passion for our TV work.”
Passion, and the will to work extra hours and do extra things to add to the resume.
He worked for 20 years with the late Demitrious Johnson, much of it on the Bommarito Prep Zone. The photo, left (courtesy Bommarito Prep Zone Facebook) shows announcers Todd Blackstock, Angella Sharpe and Demetrious Johnson before a game.
“I did broadcasts with him on a variety of outlets including Channel 11, 30 and STL TV,” he siad. “DJ even pinch hit for me on “Inside Sports” for a few episodes when I was out of town
Blackstock had met Johnson for the first time when he was waiting tables and he waited on him and KMOX broadcasting giant, Bill Wilkerson in 1992 at The Media Club in the Laclede Gas Building. From then on they would happen to be at the same places and soon they were working together.
“My favorite DJ memory was him showing up empty handed as usual about five minutes before kickoff on a Prep Zone Game of the Week,” said Blackstock. “I had all this team information and as we started the broadcast and I was rattling off keys to the game and what the coaches shared with me—during a commercial break, he looked at me and said, ‘Todd, more of me, less of you.’”
Blackstock says they both got a good laugh out of it and the point was well taken.
He also broadcast four years of Indoor Football.
“Former Ram/ Kirkwood/Nebraska football player Mike McNeil, David Solomon and Scott Gertken along with sideline reporter Michelle “Diva Lee” and I won Best Broadcast Team in Indoor X- League,” he said.
He’s been on TalkSTL.com, as well as 1380 and then did “The Friday Night Sports Jam” show on KFNS. He currently does his show, “Blackstock Saturday Nite” from 9- Midnight on Classic Rock 93.1 fm KBDZ.
“I’m stoked to have the opportunity to rock out the Highway 55 drive which I have traveled so much in my life,” he said. “I have a lot of friends and family in Perryville, Fredericktown, Cape Girardeau, St. Louis & in Illinois. I love all the small and big towns this station reaches and thrive on rocking out Classic Rock on 93.1 KBDZ.”
Blackstock got a call this week requesting him to serve as emcee and. Host for the 2023 Taste of Sainte Genevieve.
“It will be my third time hosting (emceeing) Taste of St. Genevieve,” he said. “I will be repping Classic Rock 93.1 fm KBDZ and STL TV Saturday April 15th at 6pm.”
“I love Classic Rock 93.1 from our General Manager Kevin “Kevykev ” Russell who does drive time, and a former fraterity brother and co-host at 1380AM Chris “Zav” Razavi and Randy Raley, who does mornings.”
To hear Blackstock’s show on KBDZ from nine to midnight on Saturdays, listeners can download the “Donze Communications” app in either the Google or Apple stores.
Aside from the radio and television, he is also a successful emcee. When the St. Louis Surge women’s basketball—part of the Global Women’s Basketball Associaiation (GWBA) team came to town he audition for the emcee spot and got it.
“The Commissioner of The City of St. Louis Communications Division ‘STL TV ‘ Donna Brooks-Sanders was instrumental with my origins of the Surge,” he said.
He is going on his 10th year with the team, who play their games at the Field House on the campus of Washington University.
“I began with the Surge their second season,” he said “We (the Surge) played at UMSL during the early years, then we moved to Wash U and have played at Fontbonne and other venues. We have won two titles and I had the honor of hosting and emceeing a title celebration at Ballpark Village one year.
“Surge owner, Khalia Collier is first class all the way and she’s great to work with. She recently took the job of Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Dallas Mavericks, but she remains owner of the Surge with Nina Rodriquez taking over Operations and and Petra Jackson along with Justin Tatum running the players and on court situations.”
Though he has worked more in football and does his music show, he always remained a baseball fan and still is today. He says his girlfriend of 15 years, Sherry Gusman, shown in the photo, left with Blackstock has shared most of his favorite baseball memories.
“Sherry and I have shared so many fun times at Busch Stadium. One I’ll always remember was in 2011 Game Six—the David Freese game when we gave Albert (Pujols) two standing ovations because the series looked to be over.”
For all of his broadcasting past and present, Blackstock always remembers his days as a waiter where he encountered sports figures for the first time in St. Lous– before he got the chance to interview them. Being the outgoing person he is, he got to know many celebrities including, Bob Gibson, Georgia Frontiere, Jeff Fisher, Mark Bulger, Peyton Manning, and August Busch IV from waiting on them repeatedly at upscale restaurants. He has many stories from those encounters.
Meanwhile, as this article is posted, Blackstock is in the studio looking over all the footage shot at the Arch Madness and first home Soccer game to get it ready for a broadcast.
“I just finished taping a ‘City Corner’ to be aired on ABC and I’m doing a couple voice overs from Arch Madness and the Inaugural St. Louis SC MLS game in St. Louis City Park,” he said.
Jacqui Poor is glad she “discovered” him and got him into sports interviewing.
“Todd Blackstock is a joy and truly fun to work with,” she said. “He has a great sense of humor which makes him enjoyable to work with and to create entertaining television. The Sports celebs seem to enjoy being interviewed by him.”