John Walters

Cyclone Power: Voice of the Cyclones

Written by Jeff Budlong | Photo by Luke Lu

John Walters voice of the cylones

John Walters is the eyes and ears for countless Iowa State football and men’s basketball fans as the voice of the Cyclones. Now, in his 20th year on the radio, Walters shares a few thoughts on his professional journey, and memorable moments. 

What got you started as a broadcaster and how did you come to Iowa State?

Growing up in suburban Chicago, I loved sports and listening to the great broadcasters of the day. I went to Drake University and worked with Pete Taylor at KCCI-TV. In 1996, I became sports director at WOI-TV and did TV play-by-play for Iowa State. I was blessed to call those games with the great Gary Thompson. When Taylor tragically died in 2003, I stayed at WOI-TV and became the radio voice of the Cyclones. I left WOI to direct broadcasting at Iowa State, helping launch I would be remiss if I didn't mention how lucky I've been to work with Eric Heft (Cyclone color commentator). I've been so blessed to work with three of the greatest Cyclones of all time in Taylor, Thompson, and Heft. 

What's your favorite Cyclone sports memory?

At the top of the list is the football win at Oklahoma in 2017. Kyle Kempt had thrown just two passes in his five-year collegiate career, and he made his first start. Iowa State was about a 31-point underdog. Kempt found Allen Lazard for a late touchdown and Iowa State pulled the upset, which really accelerated the success Cyclone football has had in the Matt Campbell era. 

What stands out about ISU fans?

Their loyalty and their passion for Iowa State. Iowa State fans feel a very deep connection to the university, and they seize every opportunity to come out and support our teams. It means so much to those players to see that support, and every one of our coaches would tell you that their number one selling point with recruits is the passion of Cyclone fans.