The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s 2012 inductees have been announced and among them is a guy who once thought a baseball score that listed “MONT” was Montana, not Montreal. He’s a guy who started jogging after work with some fellow employees but only after donning his “tenny-pumps” that looked like plain tennis shoes to the rest of his fellow joggers.
He’s going into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame with people like Jim Edmonds, the former center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, Mel Gray, the former wide receiver for the Missouri Tigers and the St. Louis football Cardinals, Emmitt Thomas, the great cornerback for the Chiefs and now a longtime NFL assistant coach, and Jon Sunvold and Jamie Quirk, and Al Onofrio, and—well, we won’t go on because we want to tell you about this guy Clyde Lear.
Clyde used to work for me. He was fresh out of the University of Missouri where his master’s degree project had been a study of how to form a state news network. He became the assistant news director of KLIK radio in Jefferson City and worked in a newsroom on the top floor of a crumbling antebellum building four blocks from the state capitol. Just down the hall was the office of farm director Derry Brownfield. Sometimes Clyde did one-minute sports breaks on the air that clearly demonstrated his talent lay entirely in reporting local and state news.
Clyde and Derry formed the Missouri Network, Inc., a few years later and started doing farm news. Two years after that, they put the Missourinet on the air and Clyde hired his former news director at KLIK. Satellite delivery of broadcasts made it possible to beam Derry’s farm programs outside the state so the farm network shifted from being the Missouri Network to being the Brownfield Network. And later as the company continued to diversity, the corporation adopted a new name.
Back in those days, Missouri football games were broadcast by stations in St. Louis and Kansas City with their own broadcast crews and on a Missouri Sports Network put together by Mahlon Aldridge, the general manager of KFRU in Columbia, the station that was a cradle for many well-known news and sports broadcasters for a couple of decades or more—although Clyde wasn’t one of them. Mahlon’s network also did Tiger basketball games–in those days from a position halfway up the east bleachers in Brewer Fieldhouse.
Clyde has told the story on his own blog about how he decided the company, now called Learfield (for Lear and Brownfield) should get into sports and how the company set a new standard that attracted headlines in the Wall Street Journal in paying for exclusive rights to collegiate sports when it bought the broadcast rights to Tiger football and basketball.
And that began a career that has put Clyde in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Learfield is now one of the power national companies in intercollegiate sports broadcasting and marketing. It works with athletic departments at 54 universities from coast to coast. You’ve probably heard of Alabama, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Stanford, North Carolina, Miami—and you’ve probably heard of the other schools on the Learfield roster.
Clyde has never pretended to be much of an athlete himself. He does like to ski. He does harbor delusions of adequacy on the golf course. And he does still jog. He wears running shoes now.
He’s been more than The Boss around here. He’s been the spiritual (small “s”) presence who has guided this company from a student’s graduate project dream to a nationally-respected coast-to-coast corporation that includes five news networks (including the Missourinet), the nation’s largest farm broadcasting system (The Brownfield Network), and a huge sports division. At heart, he’s still a journalist and those of us at the Missourinet have been lucky to have a journalist in charge of the company.
Now he’s described as “the retired Chairman and CEO” of our company. But he still has an office in our building although he’s been moved to the basement and he isn’t there a lot of the time because he’s in various parts of the world doing good works for other people. He’s even been to Montreal and knows it’s different from Montana.
And now he’s a Hall of Famer. We’re not sure why it took so long for this recognition to come to him. But we’re excited that he’s getting it.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t know how to pronounce “Jesus Alou” all those years ago.
This is a wonderful piece, Bob. I remember a guy visiting KYRO (Keep Your Radio On) AM 1280 in Potosi in the early 70’s taking about a farm network in Jefferson City and then a statewide news organization. Not sure who the guy was back then, but we sure know who Clyde Lear is today.