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Plymouth Radio Legend passes

February 25, 2013

  02/26/13 For 20 years Plymouth radio listeners were treated to a Friday night of high school sports on WTCA radio.  Not just a typical high school radio broadcast either, but a broadcast that made you feel that you were right there next to two of your favorite pals.  Rick Derf & Corky Lingle brought Plymouth sports to a different level each night their was football or basketball game to be played.   For the folks who were not able to be at the game in person,  felt as though they were right there.

 Last week one of the dynamic duo left us.  Corky Lingle passed away in the early hours last Thursday due to health related issues.

 Longtime Pilot News Sportswriter, Harold Lowe had this to say about Lingle.

  “In a time before video cameras were everywhere and a smartphone in everyone’s pocket, Corky and radio partner Rick Derf were celebrities. People in Marshall County were always aware when WTCA was there to cover their event. Their presence made the game a happening.”, said Lowe.

  “Corky was quick to laugh, even on air, and people at home would laugh with him. Dignity and composure were quick to depart when Corky and Rick were on the air. They called it “Big Time Radio.” Listeners loved it and he became everybody’s buddy.”, said Lowe.

“He truly enjoyed the athletes, coaches and fans that he and Rick covered. And they enjoyed him. He was popular with returning athletes at the Art Thomas Big Red Open each summer at the Plymouth Country Club. Old stories were retold for the umpteenth time and people laughed just as hard as they did the first time they heard them.”, he added.

  “He also loved having a good time, whether it was on the air, the softball diamond, the golf course or having a cold one with teammates and friends at the old Robin Hood.  Yes, Corky loved being Corky and he was loved because he was.”, said Lowe.

Lingle’s partner for the 20+ years was Rick Derf.   Derf was kind enough to offer his thoughts on his ‘ol buddy.

  “Corky and I grew up in the First United Methodist Church in Plymouth.  And, although he was 10 years older than me, our families had a lot of history and we knew each other for years.  We played softball in the church softball league for the Methodist team and continued playing on a slow-pitch team together for years to come.  And when it came to having an opportunity to do play-by-play on WTCA radio, I was asked to find someone to do the color commentary with me and I knew that Corky had a good knowledge of football and basketball and was lighthearted, so I asked him and he said yes.  We began working together in 1967 broadcasting Rochester Zebra games by tape delay.  We earned the nickname Big Time Radio honestly at the outset because we broadcast the first season on a broken scaffolding that was tied to a light pole near mid-field.  It was particularly challenging when Friday night rains moved in and the Zebras were at home.  We would drape a tarp over our heads and keep the recorder dry.  We were off and running and BTR was born.  In 1971 we moved up to work Plymouth football and basketball games together with live broadcasts.  We had a shelter and everything at the old Lincoln Field.  A crows nest 30 feet off the ground.

Our biggest and most exciting game to date in 1974 was a Plymouth home game against arch-rival Rochester.  It was billed to be a superb game but Rochester scored three times and led 21-0 at halftime and 38-19 with less than five minutes to play.  The Rockies scored a touchdown and recovered an on-side kick twice and quarterback Marc Hayden ran in the winning score as the clock ran out of time and the Plymouth celebrated an unbelievable 39-38 victory.
Following that came the 1977 Football State Championship in “AA” when the Rockies beat Jasper in double overtime.   In 1979 we had the thrill of following the Argos Dragons through the Ft. Wayne Semi-State when Bill O’Dell tipped in the game winning basket at the buzzer to upset the Marion Giants and sent Argos to the Final Four.  We were there decked out in black and gold and we attended their pep rallies through the tourney.
Then came the dream come true, as Cork called it.  Plymouth beat Indianapolis Cathedral in the afternoon and Gary Roosevelt at night, in two overtimes.  I remember Cork saying, “It’s going to get damp out tonight”, as he was thinking of the iced down cooler in his room.   He was always light-hearted and kept things loose and we played off of each other very well, in a natural way.  We would lose our composure and laugh and the more one laughed the harder the other would laugh.  I know fans will remember hearing dead air from time to time and probably hear some snickering going on.  Somehow we managed to bring an air of professionalism to our broadcasts even with our antics.  We loved the sports, we loved the kids, we loved the fans, and we loved each other.
Corky Lingle will be missed and admired for the great attitude he maintained after having speech difficulties following a stroke 2 1/2 years ago and brain cancer last year.  He stayed positive and loved watching his favorite cowboys on the Western Channel every afternoon.  He was a cowboy at heart.  And now he will ride God’s ranges in Heaven where he will rope a steer everytime.”, comment Rick Derf.
Although Plymouth has lost a legend, they will never lose the memories of  BIG TIME RADIO.   Corky, along with Rick,  redefined the passion of what being “community oriented” really meant.   To them meant investing in others,  but most importantly, the kids.   It was through the BTR broadcast both shared that passion for.
Van Gilder Funeral Home will be in charge of the arrangements.  Viewing will take place Thursday at VanGilder FH from 4pm-7pm.    Memorial Services will be at 11am on Friday morning at Van Gilder FH.