BLOOMINGTON — Art Kimball, whose booming baritone voice resonated over a 56-year broadcasting career and countless sporting events, died Sunday. He was 78.
Kimball was best known locally as the sports voice of WJBC Radio in the 1970s and early 1980s when he handled play-by-play duties for Illinois State football and men’s basketball.
He also did radio play by play in Carmi; Ottawa; Frankfort, Ind.; and LaSalle-Peru; and was sports director at what is now WHOI-TV in Peoria. He also owned radio stations in Mendota and Shelbyville, Ind.
Kimball, a longtime Normal resident, became known statewide when he did a weekly Illinois High School Association radio show, “The IHSA Sports Report,” and in later years was WJBC’s voice for Illinois Wesleyan athletics.
As recently as two years ago, Kimball co-hosted a sports talk show on Comcast TV with former Illinois State women’s basketball coach Jill Hutchison.
Kimball received the Broadcast Pioneer Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 2008. He and television anchor/reporter Joel Daly of Chicago were the first recipients of the award.
“It’s not saying you were the best at this or the best at that,” Kimball said of the award in an interview with The Pantagraph. “It just says at least you would try it. You’d stick your nose in there and try it. Lo and behold, you get your nose in there and you like it.”
Kimball, who was born in Peoria, was a 1955 graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. In 1951, he graduated from South Side High School in Fort Wayne, Ind.
He died at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Martin Health Center in Bloomington. Kimball underwent back surgery in 2008 and also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou. Funeral arrangements are pending.