Forty-six years is a long time to be at any job. One man believes it is an honor.
Jim Ford, former public address announcer for the Simpson College football team, has those 46 years to his credit as the “Voice of the Storm.” After the 2007 season came to a close, Ford stepped down from the position.
In his tenure at Simpson, Ford covered a total of 225 varsity games, including NCAA Division III Tournament games in 1988, 1991 and 1997.
Ford started out his career reporting the game from the sidelines, running up and down the field with a student dragging his cords behind him. As he progressed he made the transition to the enclosed, two-story press box at Bill Buxton Stadium.
“He has become a mainstay of the football culture here in Indianola,” said Athletic Director John Sirianni. “He is a true friend to both Simpson and Indianola. There isn’t a Simpson or Indianola fan that doesn’t associate Storm or Indian football with that voice that echoes through campus.”
Ford had also served as PA announcer for the Indianola High School football program since 1961.
“You just knew there was a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon game if you heard that deep, recognizable voice,” Sirianni said. “An era has come to an end.”
Assistant football coach Kevin Ferguson was a part of the “Ford Era” as both a player for the Storm and more recently, as a coach.
“[Ford’s] chuckle was distinct,” Ferguson said. “The thing that made him him was his ability to provide a colorful animation to the game. If a referee made a bad call, he [Ford] would let the official know over the loud speaker. It was just his character.”
Ford’s style set him apart from anyone else. His signature, “Here come the Storm” with the occasional slip, “Here come the Redmen,” added to his persona.
“I remember when we [Simpson] played Cornell for a night game, and as we ran out he said, ‘Here come the Indians,'” Ferguson said. “It was classic.”
Sirianni agreed that it was Ford’s personality, not just his persona on the job, that made him a favorite in the community.
“He is simply a good person,” Sirianni said. “He had a way of making you feel good as a player or a coach or a fan. He was always positive through the good times and the not-so-good times.”
Ford was honored on the field at halftime of the Simpson football home opener on Sept. 6 against Grand View College. Ford was presented with a Simpson letterwinner’s watch. The engraving read, “Jim Ford, Voice of the Storm 1961-2007.”
“His humble downplay of his career at the ceremony speaks of his character,” Sirianni said.
The day was also deemed “Jim Ford Day.”
“I feel honored that Simpson wanted me to announce the games for so long,” Ford said. “I have enjoyed every minute of it. All I have is good memories. There are no bad ones. It has been a lot of fun. The only hard part about the job was converting from the Redmen to the Storm, and I still slipped up every once in a while.”
Chad Roberts, instructor of communication studies and student media specialist, will now cover Simpson’s home games.
“Chad is doing a great job; he has great enthusiasm,” Sirianni said.
Ford also praised Roberts.
“It’s great to see a young guy get excited and enthusiastic about it,” Ford said.
During his 46 years, Ford got to see many different players and coaches. He said that the Jim Williams years were among his favorite.
“There is not a particular season that stands out in my mind, but it seemed like those games were the most fun,” Ford said. “I did it long enough to start to see two generations of families go through like the Blake family. If I’d stay much longer, I’d probably see grandkids.”