As new voice of Central Michigan athletics, Adam Jaksa succeeds 'a guy that I loved'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

At just 28 years old, Adam Jaksa already is the voice of the Central Michigan Chippewas.

It's a bittersweet promotion, though. He takes over for his longtime friend and mentor Don Chiodo, who died in a car accident shortly before Christmas. Chiodo was 54.

Adam Jaksa, left, with his mentor and long-time CMU broadcaster Don Chiodo.

"That's a guy that I loved, and probably was the biggest mentor that I had in this industry," Jaksa said Wednesday. "He gave me so many opportunities.

"Don was one of the most selfless individuals that I have met. You come across people in this industry and sometimes it can be hard to be humble, just because you get to be the voice, the main person. It's a job that a lot of people would want.

"But you never got that from Don."

Jaksa graduated from Central Michigan in 2014, and has been doing radio and TV assignments for the Chippewas and ESPN3 since 2016.

His first assignment after Chiodo's death was calling the Mid-American Conference football championship game at Ford Field. It was Central's first appearance in the title game since 2009, and it would've been Chiodo's first time calling it. Chiodo took over the gig in 2010.

Jaksa filled in, as a makeshift shrine to Chiodo was set up nearby in the Ford Field press box.

"He should've called that game," Jaksa said.

Jaksa will call Central Michigan football and men's basketball games, and will continue with his role for ESPN3 and ESPN-Plus, including wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics and women's basketball games.

An Eaton Rapids native, he headed out west after college to a small radio station in Wyoming, before returning to Central Michigan in December 2014.

Through his rise on the airwaves in Mount Pleasant, he always had a No. 1 booster in Chiodo, who would give up one or two football games or a year, plus basketball games, so Jaksa could work on his craft. Jaksa never asked. Chiodo just did it.

"I don't know another play-by-play broadcaster who would willingly step aside to let a younger broadcaster get reps," Jaksa said. "He willingly gave me those opportunities."

Chiodo and Jaksa also always talked on the phone often, with Jaksa seeking advice, about the business, and about life. He also sent Chiodo broadcasting clips, and Chiodo was always happy to critique — and Jaksa knew he would be extremely honest.

Aside from CMU sporting events, Jaksa, a broadcast and cinematic arts major with a minor in sports management while in school, also works broadcasts for the Lansing Lugnuts, the Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and fills in hosting a number of sports-talk shows throughout the state, including in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

He's also been a lead broadcaster for the Michigan High School Athletic Association. 

But nothing, to date, can top this.

"It's certainly special to be the voice of your alma mater," said Jaksa, who will get a return to Ford Field in 2020, with the looming announcement that CMU and rival Western Michigan will play a regular-season game there this season. "And to know, this far in my life, obviously hard work and help from other people — mentors, friends, family, supporters — it's paid off.

"I'm moving in the right direction."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984