The University of Missouri is known for it’s School of Journalism. Every year, hundreds of freshmen from across the country come to school at MU to learn about news or sports broadcasting. But KBIA’s Jason Hoffman found one freshman who’s career in sports radio has an added challenge: He's blind.
At 18 months old, Blake Tarrants had an allergic reaction to a vaccine which caused inflammation of his brain and his optic nerves to shut down. Despite that, Blake has developed a strong love of sports and a passion for talking about the game.
“Even though I can’t see it the way everybody else can, because of number one, the mental and vocal gifts I’ve been given and also, the amount of time I’ve spent around the games, it helps me form unique opinions and I think that’s what really gets people’s attention when the listen to me and that’s what people enjoy the most,” Blake said.
Most of what he does is giving the sports updates for newscasts or sitting in on some of the talk shows. Coming from the Kansas City area, he learned about sports while listening to the Chiefs and Royals games on the radio.
“I followed all those teams by listening to their radio networks and when I realized how good of a job those guys had, it made me realize that I’d love to be in their shoes.”
Brandon Kiley went to high school with Blake and is currently a producer for “The Big Show” on KTGR radio in Columbia. He’s also worked alongside Blake for the last few months.
“One of the main things we rely on is our observation; whether it’s from a game, from going out to practice, to going to media day and we’re just talking to the players. It’s something that you don’t really think about very often because you just take it for granted.”
Kiley says despite not being able to see the game, Blake has many talents that make him a successful broadcaster. He says Blake can recall seemingly unimportant plays and give you exact details. Kiley says he helps Blake a bit but hasn’t been Blake’s crutch. Now he can’t help but watch and enjoy when Blake works.
“He’s doing really well, it’s really awesome to watch. It’s something that, it’s kind of inspirational really when you think about it because it’s so cool to just be able to go out there and watch him do his thing and it actually doesn’t bother him at all.”
Blake says his style is different from many broadcasters because he is much more reliant on the play-by-play man than other announcers have to be, but he isn’t bothered by it. Blake hopes to one day be back in KC getting paid to talk about his favorite teams, or as many sports fans call it, living the dream.