Some many not know his face, but Belle Plaine High School sports fans are sure to know his voice. He is “Dollar” Bill Kruschke, the longtime color commentator for locally broadcasted television showings of Belle Plaine sporting events, and soon Dollar Bill’s tried and true medium will be getting a major facelift.
A generation or more of local TV-6 and later TV-8 viewers have turned to the cable stations for live broadcasts of Belle Plaine High School sporting events and after-the-fact broadcasts of away games. According to Dollar Bill, worldwide video host YouTube is likely to replace TV-8 as his and other announcers’ preferred platform for delivery.
The drawbacks of the transition are few and the benefits are numerous, Dollar Bill said. From the convenience of carrying a considerably smaller—albeit more fragile—video camera compared to those used for TV-8 broadcasts, to improved video and sound quality, to the worldwide access using YouTube will offer viewers who may not be in Belle Plaine, Dollar Bill’s perceived benefits to switching to the newer platform outweigh the drawbacks.
“You can fight technology, but I tend not to,” Dollar Bill said. “For me, I say, ‘Bring it on.’ I like it; I like it.”
Dollar Bill added that switching to broadcasting to YouTube will allow not only for live broadcasts of away contests, something that was not an option for TV-8, but it will also allow snowbirds who leave Belle Plaine for the winter, parents who might be traveling for work and relatives who live out-of-state the opportunity to catch their favorite Belle Plaine athletes in real time on cellphones, tablets or even big screen smart TVs.
The commentator, who has likely taken up the microphone at more away games than any other commentator, acknowledged that some who have grown accustomed to watching his broadcasts on TV-8 might experience some growing pains when it comes to making the switch over to the newer platform with which they may not be familiar. For those in that category, Dollar Bill recommends enlisting the help of a young family member or neighbor to help with the transition.
“I would say get your granddaughter, get your grandson, get your neighbor teenage boy, and just say, ‘This is easy,’” Dollar Bill advised.
YouTube, which has been a meaningful worldwide video communication platform since 2005, is free to use. Many smart TVs come with the YouTube application pre-downloaded unto the devices. Some devices may require a login, but setting up an account can take as little as a couple minutes or less.
John Bergs, Belle Plaine’s activities director, who alongside his son JP, who works as an IT specialist within the district, is working to get the YouTube broadcasts to be fully functional and regularly produced, stated that those interested in catching a game virtually can do so by visiting the district’s activities Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BellePlaineHighSchoolActivities/. Folks can also follow him on Twitter at @jbergsAD or the school district Twitter page at @BPSchools. Links to the YouTube Feeds will be shared on all of the pages prior to the contests.
“Our goal is to expand the reach,” John Bergs said. “We want to broaden it to others [who may not have access to TV-8],”
Bergs added that the district’s desire to implement YouTube streams is independent from any decisions made about the future of TV-8, and he would welcome Dollar Bill’s and others’ announcing on any platform. But Dollar Bill thinks his involvement with TV-8 days may be in its twilight, though discussions in the City of Belle Plaine’s Cable Committee have not yet taken shape, according to City Administrator Dawn Meyer, so the fate of TV-8’s sports broadcasts are not sealed just yet, at least not officially.
Dollar Bill first picked up his microphone during the 1999-2000 boys basketball section championship in which Belle Plaine faced off against Blue Earth Area for the title. Having just returned home from teaching prospective air traffic controllers in China, Dollar Bill was accustomed to speaking.
Dollar Bill joined his nephew, Brett Kruschke, for his first broadcast. Ever since, Dollar Bill has hardly missed a beat broadcasting BPHS sporting events, both home and away. He joins predecessors and contemporaries, including Lee Sauter, Jeff Hiltz, Doug Anderson, and Bob Denny, among others, in that broadcasting effort.
Dollar Bill said he didn’t come up with his nickname, but he never disliked it. “I blame Brett for giving it to me.”