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Bill Riley is local sports radio’s iron man

Bill Riley is the voice of RSL, Utah football and Utah basketball. He juggles a half-dozen other jobs, too.

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(He called Utah football and basketball in 2006-07, and returned to that in 2010.)

But he was also the guy behind the mic when the Ute basketball team went 6-25 two years ago. He was the guy behind the mic when RSL went 5-22-5 its first season and 21-50-23 its first three seasons.

At a glance

Bill Riley file

» Native of Kansas City, Kan.

» University of Kansas graduate

» Worked at stations in Hastings, Neb.; Moberly, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Jacksonville, Fla.

» Worked at KSL radio 2001-2004

» Works at ESPN 700 2004-present; currently program director

» Voice of RSL, 2005-present

» Voice of Utah football and basketball, 2006-07, 2010-present

» Hosts weekday sports talk radio show (“Bill and Hans”) weekdays 2-6 p.m. on ESPN 700

» Hosts coaches shows for Kyle Whittingham, Larry Krystkowiak and Jason Kreis

» Co-hosts “Real Sports Live” on Sundays at 10:35 p.m. on KTVX-Ch. 4

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"That’s hard, but it’s part of the job," Riley said. "There are very few guys who are lucky enough to have nothing but great seasons to call."

Riley had plenty of experience calling football and basketball, but there was a "steep learning curve" for a guy who played rec soccer as a kid but hadn’t paid much attention to Major League Soccer until 2004, when Dave Checketts announced he was bringing a team to Utah.

"Every sport has its own feel and cadence," he said. "Football in unique because of the start-and-stop nature of it. Basketball, it’s nonstop. The action takes care of itself.

"Soccer is unique. It probably took me that first year of doing the game to get my rhythm and get my feel."

He’s quick to credit RSL management, producers and his analyst partners, including Dunseth.

"When you have a good partner to work with and you’ve worked with them for a while, it makes the chemistry in the broadcast so much better," Riley said.

Regardless of the sport, Riley is the hometown sportscaster who’s not a homer.

"My mantra has always been that I want somebody tuning in to the game not to have a real good idea of which side I’m broadcasting for at least five minutes," Riley said. "I feel like if I do that, I’m really doing my job well."

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Sure, he’ll get emotional and yell when RSL scores a goal or the Utes score a touchdown, "but it doesn’t sound like a funeral when the other team scores," he said. "I got pretty excited the other night when Utah State scored, too. That’s just my style."

It’s a style that serves listeners well year-round. The MLS season overlaps the college football season; which overlaps the college basketball season; which overlaps the MLS season.

All while doing a radio show five days a week.

"I never really have a down time," Riley said. "But football is 12 games. Basketball is a bit of a grind, but it’s usually a Thursday-Saturday. And RSL is a long season but, for the most part, it’s once a week.

"Hey, I’m not digging ditches. And if I wasn’t doing this, I’d be home watching the games on TV."


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