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Radio personality scores job of childhood dreams

November 29, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Wes Decker



Age - 38.

Occupation - Production supervisor at Antietam Cable Co./on-air personality and sports broadcaster for WJEJ radio.

Hometown - Hagerstown

Where would you see Decker? - For local radio sports fans, Decker's voice is a familiar one. He announces local high school and junior league football and basketball games for WJEJ radio during the season, trying to give equal coverage to the county teams.

He works hard to "call the games right down the middle," Decker said. He also serves as announcer for Showcase of Bands and used to provide commentary for the Alsatia Mummers Parade.

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Decker had the opportunity to broadcast North Hagerstown High's first home game at its own stadium and said it was "a night of nothing but emotion."

The Hagerstown native graduated from Smithsburg High School in 1986. He grew up with two younger sisters in the family's home along Md. 64.

Decker went to Emerson College in Boston, which he notes is Jay Leno's alma mater, and finished his undergraduate degree in broadcasting at American University in Washington, D.C., in 1990.

He began working at WJEJ in 1988, taking an on-air shift so he could do sports broadcasting. He also worked at WQCM from 1989 to 1998.

Decker said he wasn't much of an athlete in high school. He played high school basketball as a freshman and sophomore, and Colt League baseball.

He said he preferred playing recreational sports instead of organized sports. His interest, instead, was in announcing sporting events.

Decker said his mother describes how, from age 3, he pretended to be a sports announcer. As he got older, he checked the TV guide for team rosters, make up teams and announce pretend games.

His childhood backyard was the setting for simulated games he played with a Wiffle ball and bat, while simultaneously announcing the games.

After returning home from college, Decker said he applied for a job at Antietam Cable, confident in his qualifications for the job. Much to his disappointment, he didn't get the job.

When he saw the same job advertised again a short time later, he changed his approach by dropping off his application in person and adding a little humor about "throwing his hat back in the ring" for the job.

This time he got the job of putting commercial air tapes together, a job that no longer exists.

Decker worked his way up the ladder, sticking with that first "horribly monotonous" job, and now holding a position he feels privileged to have.

"It makes me appreciate where I am now," Decker said.

As production supervisor at Antietam Cable, Decker oversees the production of commercials, from the initial client meeting to writing the script to filming and editing it. His latest endeavor is a podcast - which Decker describes as a radio show on the Internet that people can access at their convenience or download to their iPod - called Backyard Sports through the cable company.

Hobbies - Decker, who lives on Mt. Aetna Road, said he enjoys collecting baseball cards, a hobby he has had since age 4. He has taken up running; the 2006 Hagerstown Community College Turkey Trot was his third 5K race and he's also run a 10K race.

"I just hope to better my time from last time. I've been training pretty hard," Decker said of the Thanksgiving Day run.

With an average work week of about 55 hours between his jobs at Antietam Cable and WJEJ, Decker said there's little time for other hobbies.

What does Decker like best about Washington County? - Decker said after going to school in Boston and Washington, D.C., he appreciates the pace of this area.

"It's a pace I'm comfortable with. That's probably the thing I like most, outside of family," said Decker, who is single. "Once you leave the area and come back, in my opinion, it helps you appreciate it more."




If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or send e-mail to janeth@herald-mail.com.

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