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Central Michigan play-by-play announcer Don Chiodo passes away at 54

Chiodo was a part of CMU radio broadcasts for 13 years, and was set to call the MAC title game on Saturday.

The crowd at Kelly/Shorts Stadium played a big part in Saturday's win over New Hampshire
The crowd at Kelly/Shorts Stadium played a big part in Saturday’s win over New Hampshire

Donald Chiodo, of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, passed away at the age of 54 on Wednesday afternoon. The news was first reported by the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun.

Chiodo spent a total of 13 years with the Chippewa Sports Radio Network, starting as a pregame and halftime host for Central Michigan men’s basketball from 1996-1999. Chiodo returned to CSRN as a men’s basketball color analyst in 2009 before becoming the play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball in 2010.

“I am truly devastated,” said CMU athletic director Michael Alford via press release on Thursday. “Don was an important part of our athletics family and his passing is a great loss. Don was one of the fiercest advocates for all our programs and had a passion for telling the great stories of our student-athletes.”

Chiodo was a much-beloved broadcaster in the state of Michigan, having been a part of the news and sports scenes around the state since he graduated from Central Michigan University in 1990 with a degree in broadcast and cinematic arts.

Chiodo got his professional start in the broadcasting industry with WPBN-TV in Traverse City, Michigan, serving as a sports and news anchor from 1991-1996, and he also served as play-by-play announcer for various high school sports at local radio station WTCM-FM. From there, he moved to WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Michigan, to serve as a news reporter and anchor from 1997-2002.

Chiodo shifted to radio full-time in 2003, hosting a show and contributing play-by-play for the Michigan Talk Radio Network, a job he held until 2006. A Mount Pleasant native, Chiodo called many high school sporting events as a play-by-play announcer on local stations WMMI-FM and WCZY-FM from 2000-2010, before taking over at the Chippewa Sports Radio Network.

Chiodo contributed to some of the biggest moments of the 2010s for the Chippewas as the voice of CMU football, including Cooper Rush’s stunning debut vs. New Hampshire, the David Harmon onside kick vs. Iowa, the Untimed Down vs. Oklahoma State, the “21 points in 10 minutes” game vs. WMU, and CMU clinching the MAC West for the first time since 2009 on Friday afternoon. He was expected to host his weekly radio show with Coach Jim McElwain on Thursday, and to call the MAC Championship Game on Saturday afternoon.

“This is a very sad day for myself and for a great number of people connected to CMU,” said CMU men’s basketball head coach Keno Davis via press release on Thursday. “We lost a friend and someone who could routinely bring a smile to your face. Don’s love for CMU Chippewa athletics came out not only in his broadcasts, but every time we visited. We miss him greatly and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Chiodo, a “townie” through-and-through, was known for having unwavering faith in every Chippewa athletic program; it was an open secret that he was always the media member who voted for CMU to win their division and the title, no matter the sport.

He was, of course, not just a play-by-play announcer.

Chiodo was also an active part of the Mount Pleasant and Clare communities, and was known to be an avid bicyclist and tennis player. Chiodo was also a member of the Mount Pleasant Board of Education and served the greater mid-Michigan community in his capacity as a financial advisor at Central Michigan Investment Services.

He was well-respected and adored by all who met him, and possessed a jovial nature which made him quick friends with anyone he met. A professional’s professional who made sure to express his love of CMU through his on-air performance, his loss will be sorely felt throughout the Central Michigan community.

“Today we lost a true CMU Chippewa; someone who cared deeply about our program,” said CMU head football coach Jim McElwain via press release on Thursday. “Working with Don was a real pleasure as it was clear he had a passion for CMU and our success. We will all rally around his family through this tragedy and ensure they know how much Don meant to this program and university.”

Chiodo is survived by his wife, Kimberley, and two daughters, Samantha and Bailey.

Editor’s note: Updated at 11:25 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, to include quotes from CMU athletic director Michael Alford, CMU head football Coach Jim McElwain and CMU men’s basketball head coach Keno Davis.