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Remembering a hodag legend - behind the microphone, in the communitySubmitted: 06/25/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander knew him by voice alone.

But Todd McEldowney, the longtime voice of the Hodags, was much more than that to the community.

He died late last month.

"He was synonymous with Hodag sports. He was the voice of the Hodags," says Todd McEldowney, Todd's son.

The senior McEldowney became almost as much of an institution for Rhinelander athletics as the Hodag itself.

His 33 years behind the radio microphone and as a teacher at Rhinelander High School inspired, as well as entertained.

"People left him feeling better about themselves and better about the world they lived in, because he truly loved what he was doing," his son remembers.

Football to basketball, softball to snowmobile derbies, WOBT radio to a stint here at Channel 12, and the microphone to the classroom, the Rhinelander community knew and loved him.

"All in all, we had an excellent time together," says his longtime partner, Paul Ebert.

Ebert was with him in the booth for decades.

"I probably preferred basketball on the fact that it was indoors and warm," Ebert laughs.

"If I wasn't with him broadcasting, we were probably fishing for walleyes on the weekend," he says.

Many people thought he could go even bigger than the Northwoods.

"I would think he would have been network caliber," says Ebert.

"He decided that teaching was so important to him, and he loved being around the kids so much, that he was going to stay here in Rhinelander, support his Hodags, and teach for Rhinelander High School," says the junior McEldowney.

Stay, support, and teach - and be vital member of the Rhinelander community.

"He always thanked people that were listening. He mentioned specifically the shut-ins and the people that couldn't get to the games," says his son.

McEldowney signed off with his signature line for the last time in 1988.

"Win or lose, it's always a good idea to back your Hodags," he would say.

But that didn't end his love for Rhinelander.

"He was so proud and so loyal to the Hodags, and that's something he took with him until the day he died," his son says.

He died on May 26th, loving every minute of life.

"He always said in his closings that he hoped people enjoyed the broadcast as much as he enjoyed bringing it to them."

You can help remember McEldowney by aiding in building a new press box at Mike Webster Stadium, Rhinelander's football home.

Make donations out to McEldowney Memorial.

Send them to O'Melia, Schiek, and McEldowney, 4 South Stevens Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501.

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We look into the history of the Eagle River man who was shot and killed by officers outside of Merrill Tuesday morning after he was pulled over in Antigo, shot at a police officer and lead police into a chase that took them to Lincoln County.

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We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ANTIGO - When you can't catch fish, it's easy to blame the lure. If you need something different, people in Antigo make a lure that you might want to try. The Mepps assembly plant is located right off Highway 45.

Mepps fishing lures were originally made in Paris, France, starting in 1938. Back in the 1970's, a local Antigo sporting goods store owner, Todd Sheldon, decided to buy that facility and moved it to Nice, France. His son, Mike is now the president of the company.

"The guys that own the Mepps company in France were getting old enough to where they wanted to retire so we bought the Mepps company in France in 1972," said Sheldon.

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There are many benefits to using real hair as opposed to artificial hair.

"The hair is hollow and goes through a lot of wear and tear," said Wiegert. "Other hairs would disintegrate, and fall apart. With these, it'll last longer, the fish can bite on them and it'll take a long time before they'll actually chew them apart."

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Even though the company distributes their product around the world, the Sheldon's still enjoy being based in Antigo.

"It's home. I grew up here and my parents grew up here and of course my kids did. And it's such a different pace of life here than the rest of the world," said Sheldon.

Everyone putting the little pieces together are women. Kim is just one who works in the plant that has been there for nearly 40 years. She also gives tours of the facility to the public.

"I like to react with the people when they come in, especially ones that have fishing stories to tell you. It's interesting here and you get to meet other people," said Wiegert.

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"'Oh, no. We're going to call an ambulance,'" Chris remembered her saying.

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