Jasper- Gerald Paul “Jerry” Birge, an award winning TV and radio broadcaster and sportswriter, passed away Friday, December 2, 2022 at home at age 83, after a short fight with leukemia. After attending Indiana State Teachers College(now Indiana State University) on a basketball scholarship, Jerry married Maggie (Blueher) of Terre Haute, Indiana in 1958.
In 1959, Jerry joined WITZ radio in Jasper, Indiana, reporting sports and broadcasting play-by-play.
In 1961, he briefly worked at WJPS radio in Evansville, Indiana before moving to television as sports anchor for Evansville’s WTVW (Channel 7). While at WTVW, Jerry was also the television voice for the Evansville College Aces (now University of Evansville) basketball team from 1962 to 1967.
In 1967, Jerry returned to Jasper as sports editor of The Dubois County Daily Herald (now The Herald), where he won many statewide honors for his work including Best Sports Section awards from the Hoosier State Press Association. During this time, Jerry also announced the Race of the Day from Ellis Park horse track in Evansville on WEHT (Channel 25), was a member of the broadcasting team which televised the annual Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) boys’ basketball tournament pairings on WTTV (Channel 4) in Indianapolis, served as president of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, was an active board member in the early formation of the Indiana High School Basketball Hall-of-Fame, was the founder and chairman of the Dubois County Amateur Golf Tournament for 25 years, was co-founder and charter member of the J-Men Athletic Club of Jasper, and a co-founder of the Wettlauf 5-K race that is still part of Jasper’s Strassenfest.
In 1983, Jerry moved to Bloomington, Indiana where he worked as a Regional Manager for TCI (now Comcast Corporation). During that time, he also did work for the Bloomington Herald-Telephone (now the Bloomington Herald-Times) where he was a print reporter for the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL. In 1986, Jerry returned to Evansville to work briefly as news director for WTVW (Channel 7).
In 1987, he left Indiana to become news and sports director for WSTO and WVJS radio and Cable Channel 2 in Owensboro, Kentucky, a position he held for more than a decade earning honors for sports broadcasting, but was also proud of the dozens of young journalists he trained and encouraged, many of whom went on to TV journalism careers in the Evansville market and beyond. Jerry also did television play-by-play for Kentucky Wesleyan basketball and football programs.
From 2002 to 2008, Jerry served as marketing and communications manager for the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in Owensboro. He also created and produced the “Around Owensboro with Jerry Birge” program on local cable television in Owensboro which he hosted daily for 15 years.
In April 2010, Jerry was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s Hall of Fame, honoring more than 25 years covering Indiana sports in the newspaper, and on the air for both TV and radio.
Jerry and his wife Maggie retired to Jasper in 2014.
Jerry’s father, Cyril Birge, is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, was a Big Ten Conference basketball official and officiated the legendary 1954 Indiana state basketball championship game portrayed in the movie “Hoosiers.”
Jerry is survived by his wife of 64 years. Together, they raised seven children and have 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.