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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
How camps are handling the heatSubmitted: 07/22/2016

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RHINELADER - During the summer months, camps look forward to welcoming campers and counselors.

They certainly don't look forward to those hot and humid days that make it hard to enjoy being outdoors.
 
This week, Rhinelander's Camp Birchrock has focused on keeping their campers cool all day long.

"We've been getting in the water, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. Doing a lot of fun things to keep us cool," said 11-year-old Genevion Boid.

This is his first year as a camper at Birchrock.

Camp Director Johanna Sommers says the heat hasn't stopped them from doing any activities, but they do remain mindful of the sun.

"We make sure that they're drinking water all day," Sommers said. "Water bottles are a must and sunscreen, especially. We put it on every hour at least."

Luckily at the camp there's a lot of shade created by trees, giving the campers and counselors some relief from all of that heat. In a lot of areas around the camp, they also have water fountains.

In addition to keeping the campers hydrated, counselors also make sure to limit time in the sun.

"We do a little bit less of hiking and sports field activities, because the sports field is kind of open to the sun," Sommers said. "We try not to do too much out there just so they don't get overheated and over exhausted."

12-year-old Eleanor Domnick says she doesn't mind the heat. It gives her a chance to enjoy the outdoors.

"It's really fun to go swimming and just go in the play field and hang out with your friends," Domnick said.

The campers at Camp Birchrock are sure enjoying staying cool, while also having some fun.

The camp offers overnight sessions and regular day camp programs every summer.

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RHINELANDER - Emergency first responders save lives and build trust in the community.

And now the Rhinelander Police Department has a new member to do that.

They swore in the new officer Friday morning.

Mark Raddatz and his family gathered at the Rhinelander City Hall for the ceremony.

Raddatz is excited to be in Rhinelander and to make a positive impact in the community.

"I think it's very important for people to know what we do and how involved we are with the community and how much good we do. A lot of times people don't see us doing all the behind the scenes things and good acts," said Raddatz.

Raddatz is the 17th member on the police force, making the department full again. That addition will help with involvement around town as well.

"We have the ability to do extra programming out in the community. Our officers have more time to spend building more positive relationships within the community, instead of just reacting to calls," said Police Chief Michael Steffes.

Raddatz has worked in other departments across Wisconsin and he's looking forward to being in Rhinelander.

His daughter, Abby, is happy to be a Hodag.

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LANGLADE COUNTY - A dead crow found in Langlade County last week tested positive for West Nile virus. It's the first crow to test positive in Langlade County since surveillance started for the virus on May 1.

The Langlade County Health Department wants people to be more careful when trying to prevent mosquito bites. The virus is spread to humans through infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get the virus from infected birds.

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MADISON - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson sees Donald Trump as the big winner at the recently completed Republican National Convention, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the biggest loser.

Thompson spoke to The Associated Press on Friday after attending his 11th national convention. He's been to every one since 1976.

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CRYSTAL FALLS, L'ANSE - Hunters, biologists, and wildlife watchers worry about the low deer population in northern Wisconsin.

But in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the situation is even worse.

Wildlife biologists say nearly every single fawn died after the harsh winters of 2012 and 2013, further hurting a struggling herd. In fact, the population has been on the decline since 1995.

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MADISON - State attorneys have asked a federal judge to stay a ruling allowing people to vote without photo identification pending an appeal.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee issued a preliminary injunction this week allowing people who haven't been able to obtain IDs to vote in the Nov. 8 election if they sign an affidavit explain why they couldn't get the identification.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has appointed attorney Dan Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Walker's spokesman Tom Everson told The Associated Press on Friday that the governor had decided to name Kelly to the seven-member court.

Kelly will replace retiring Justice David Prosser. His appointment won't change the court's 5-2 conservative majority, however.

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