(April 1, 1945 – March 5, 2003)
The radio play-by-play announcer of Iowa State football and men’s basketball for 33 years (1970-2003).
Pete Taylor was the defining voice of Cyclone athletics – to many Iowa Staters he was Iowa State athletics. There may not have been a more beloved public figure in the history of Iowa State athletics.
Taylor developed an interest in announcing at an early age. A 1963 graduate of Des Moines Roosevelt High School, he went on to play baseball at Iowa. Graduating from Iowa in 1967, he became sports director at KCCI-TV, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines in 1968. He served in that capacity for 22 years. In 1970, he started calling play-by-play for Iowa State football and men’s basketball for KRNT-AM radio.
Taylor was named Iowa Sportscaster of the Year four times, although he eschewed the recognition he received. Taylor never viewed himself as the entertainment. He brought what he saw into the imaginations of Cyclone fans around the world through a steady, information timbre without repeated catchphrases. Fans said they could tell from the subtle tone of his voice if Iowa State was winning or losing, long before he said the score.
In 1990, Taylor left KCCI-TV to work as director of fundraising for the Iowa State Athletics Department. He served as the department’s liaison with men’s basketball, football and special projects, while continuing his play-by-play duties. Taylor devoted time to Cyclone Club activities, including outings and banquets and oversaw media relations and radio and television contracts.
His presence as play-by-play broadcaster stretched through the careers of six Iowa State football and men’s basketball coaches. Taylor worked through the careers of four athletics directors.
Listening to him in the fields, in their cars, at work or at home Iowa State fans formed a tight and lasting bond with Taylor. It was a partnership that brought Taylor unprecedented popularity, though he never flaunted his position, which included an on-air partnership with color man Eric Heft for nearly a quarter century.
After his death, Sports illustrated senior writer Steve Rushin quoted Taylor’s former news colleague Kevin Cooney who said “It’s funny. The guy without the catchphrase lasted the longest here, and became the best loved.”
Cyclone Tribute Pages.
The Best of Pete Taylor, video. https://cyclones.com/news/2011/6/8/205157960.aspx
Obituary, Inside Iowa State. https://archive.inside.iastate.edu/2003/0314/deaths.shtml