More than just an iconic voice: Remembering local legend Chuck Ivey

Published 10:59 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

I’m not sure of the year, but I can remember I was riding to school in a minivan driven by my mama, so I was pretty young, and I’m almost positive it was the first day back from summer break for all the area schools.

There was a local radio station on the dial of her Dodge Caravan as we headed east down Monticello Street. Just past Ms. Bea’s and just before we got to Foster’s Chevron, my mama pointed towards a building on the corner across from First Baptist Church and said, “Look up there.”

Sitting on the landing of the exterior stairs of that building was a couch and on that couch were two guys, smiling and talking into microphones while wearing headsets. They were the same guys I could hear over the radio in our van. 

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People were honking at them and waving, and they were waving back. As a child, I remember thinking how cool the whole scene was. Like when disc jockeys from larger radio stations in Jackson would get on a billboard to drum up donations for a cause.

One of the guys on the couch that morning was local radio personality Chuck Ivey. Chuck passed away on May 9 at the age of 81. For a kid that grew up here, he was the closest thing we had to a celebrity in Brookhaven.

Chuck and Gene Dow had a morning drive-time show on B-92 and it was appointment listening for many years. Chuck later worked for WRQO and SuperTalk Southwest MS, hosting “Thursday Open Line with Chuck Ivey.”

Current B-92 morning show host Ken Hollingsworth is a radio veteran who competed against and worked alongside Chuck in a variety of roles over the years.

“Everybody knew Chuck’s voice,” said Hollingsworth. “He was the epitome of what a small-market broadcaster is supposed to be. He was involved in everything this community had to offer. He was focused on the positives and in all our years of friendship, I don’t remember ever hearing Chuck say a negative word about anybody.”

It wasn’t just radio though, what made Chuck such a star to me was that he could also be heard on television, doing the play-by-play for a weekly high school football game that was broadcast on Cable One. 

When Brookhaven Academy was on its way to winning a football state championship in 1993, Chuck and his Cable One crew would often have a camera set up on the visitors’ side of R.M. “Red” Stuard Field.

They would record the game on one of those old, big camcorders that you could throw on your shoulder.

Chuck would provide lively play-by-play and someone else giving color commentary. 

The games weren’t broadcast live and I’m sure a lot of work went into going back to the office late that night to edit things and get it ready for broadcast the next day.

If you had Cable One, which meant you lived “in town” and I didn’t, then you could get up on Saturday and watch a broadcast of that game of the week. The game would get rebroadcast a couple times over the weekend.

I’m positive that today there are some local men nearing 50-years old, who were once running backs and linebackers, that still have dusty VCR tapes that were recorded on a Saturday morning in the 1990s when Chuck and his guys were producing the game of the week.

Cable One never made it out to Nola Road where I grew up, but my friends in town had it and I remember being over at their houses and catching games from Brookhaven High and other schools. The camera resolution wasn’t great and the lights on the field were so dim compared to the LED world we live in today, but Chuck and his deep voice, which could sound like a growl when needed, painted a picture that made up for the lack of clarity on the screen.

I got to hear just how powerful Chuck’s baritone could rumble when I was a student at Copiah-Lincoln CC, writing for the school newspaper. 

He was seated in the football press box, just on the other side of the wall from me, as he did radio play-by-play for the team during those years.

He was a craftsman on the mic. Knowing when to talk and when to let the moment build thanks to a well-placed pause. I can vividly remember him describing Co-Lin’s attempt to run between the tackles one game as being, “a tough nut to try and crack.” That doesn’t look like much on paper, but delivered with the gusto that Chuck provided, it was the perfect metaphor for the moment. 

There is one call of his that I can still hear in my mind. It was 1997 and the Brookhaven High football team was on its way to finishing 10-0 in the regular season under second-year head coach Greg Wall. 

The Panthers were a running team, with a big offensive line and a couple of young outstanding running backs in Aaron Yarborough and Pat Brown.

In the second game of the season at Franklin County, the Panthers were on the ropes and trailed late in the game. 

I was sophomore in high school, driving an ugly Pontiac Grand-Am, listening to the game on B-92 after being at a BA game.

Late in the game, BHS senior tight end Andy Hammond got behind the Franklin County defense for a game winning catch and score.

“ANDY HAMMOND WITH THE CATCH AND THEY’RE NOT GOING TO CATCH HIM,” boomed Chuck’s voice from Meadville through the mostly busted speakers of my car.

To have a voice like that, the kind that can give you chills, calling local high school sports in small town Mississippi — how fortunate we were to have Chuck.

Chuck was always kind to me when I’d see him about. He always kept working, spreading the good news of our town through a variety of different avenues and civic activities. His voice was one we all trusted and felt familiar as an old song.

Chuck found love later in life than some when he married his wife of 26 years, Jullia Ingram Ivey. Their love and devotion were as apparent as the nose on your face. If you saw Mrs. Jullia, you saw Chuck and vice versa.

We all want to leave a legacy. We all want to be remembered. We all want to make an impact.

Chuck Ivey is a man that won’t be soon forgotten by those of us in Brookhaven that grew up hearing his voice on our radio dials and television sets.

His legacy goes beyond radio and television though, he was a top tier friend to so many.

Olivia Parker Watts is one of my oldest friends. We spent many years together walking the halls of Brookhaven Academy.

Her daddy George fought cancer with everything he had before passing away in 2018. His final time was spent at a hospice facility in the Jackson area.

When George became too ill to drive, Chuck was there to chauffeur him around. When George was in hospice for his final earthly birthday, Chuck brought a couple guys in with guitars to sing him a song.

Chuck was a good friend to George. The kind of friend we all should hope to be one day to another.

“I know when most people think of Chuck, they think of the distinct voice and the infectious laugh,” said Watts. “I’ll always remember him as one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known. Having a friend like Chuck when you’re walking through a terrible storm, like cancer, definitely brought some light to some very dark days. One quote I’ve seen since Chuck’s passing was, ‘Best friends make the good times better and the hard times easier.’ That was who Chuck was for my dad.”

Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached via email at