If it’s a Friday night in the fall, Gary DeLaune’s the voice narrating the high school football action on KYTY radio.
"I call it the national sport of Texas, high school football” he said.
DeLaune has covered the pros and college teams, but at 85, he says high school's the best.
“They play their hearts out. They play with great intensity and desire, and they just don't do that on pro teams,” he said.
DeLaune's been calling Friday night games for 58 years, almost as long as his career in journalism. For broadcasters, he's a living legend.
"He loves the business,” said KENS 5 Sports Director Joe Reinagel. “He loves telling the story so much, that it's just a passion."
DeLaune grew up in Oklahoma, went to Dallas for a radio gig in 1960, then came to San Antonio, where he spent 28 years reporting at KENS-TV. He interviewed celebrities like George Strait and Kim Novak. But he remembers the everyday stories the best, often as if they aired just last night.
For one story, he tracked down a World War II hero who liked to sit on ice blocks.
"Every day he'd go down to the ice house, where they had those big chunks of ice, and sit on it,” DeLaune recalled, smiling. “So, I went down and did a story and sat on the big chunk of ice next to him.”
For another story, he interviewed a custodian with a unique residence.
"They had a janitor at Alamo Stadium who lived in the stadium,” he said.
And some stories, even for a grizzled reporter, still touch the heart. He remembers reporting on a young San Antonio boy dealing with cancer.
"So, I went back six months later, he saw me coming down the walk, he grabbed his crutches, and hugged me,” DeLaune said, choking back a tear. “I couldn't take it.”
The defining moment in his career came early. He was reporting for KLIF radio in Dallas in November of 1963 when tragedy struck. DeLaune was the first reporter anywhere to announce on the air that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.
"I fed 350 stations that day,” he noted.
And then, several days later, he reported on Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald as he watched it happen just feet away.
"I said, ‘Here comes Captain Will Fritz leading the way with the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald,’ and then BANG! And I said, ‘A shot's been fired, a shot's been fired! Lee Harvey falls! He falls! He's been shot!’"
That dramatic recording remains part of the display at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which chronicles the presidential assassination.
Sixteen years later, in April of 1979, DeLaune covered the shooting at the Fiesta Battle of Flowers Parade in San Antonio. Deranged gunman Ira Attebury opened fire on parade watchers along Broadway and, once again, DeLaune covered it as it happened.
“Everybody's yelling, ‘Get back! Get back!’ Well, all the cops are shot on the street, they were all down, nobody stopped us, so we pulled back. And I grab the reel and take all the cord as far as I can get. And he stepped out at the door and started firing his AK-47 and it jammed, or it would have killed a lot more people."
Through it all, even a triple bypass in 2015, DeLaune says that connecting to the audience is what matters most.
"You want to make that viewer, or that listener, part of the story,” he said. “You want it to be so dramatic and so realistic that they cry along with you.”
In one case, a viewer became such a big fan that she used his name for one of her children. She told DeLaune’s wife about it when they met unexpectedly at a local department store.
“This little black lady said, 'Gary DeLaune!? Are you his wife? I named my son after him!’” said DeLaune, laughing as he recalled the story.
He's done that so much for the city he loves, invested himself in covering so many stories.
"San Antonio is a close-knit community,” he said. “We are a small town with a big population."
And he's covered almost all of it, on the air for nearly 60 years. And he’s still going strong. That's why Gary DeLaune is another one of the people who make San Antonio great.