SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Tunis, a fixture in the state's sports broadcasting world for nearly 30 years who was the play-by-play announcer for University of Utah women's basketball, has died of cancer. He was 54.
He died Monday, according to Chris Hill, the school's athletic director.
"He was kind of old-school in the sense that he just loved doing radio," said Bill Riley, program director at KALL, the university's sports radio partner. "He wasn't one of these guys in radio or print that was out to make the story about him or garner headlines. He just loved sports."
"Tuner," as he was known by his colleagues, was named Utah Sportscaster of the Year seven times.
Tunis spent much of his career with Salt Lake City stations KSL, both in radio and television, and later with KALL.
KSL broadcaster Greg Wrubell, a former intern for Tunis when he was the station's sports director in the early 1990s, said both the state and the industry lost a pioneer.
"He was one of the very first sports talk radio hosts in the entire country, but few of the literally thousands to have come after him can claim to have done it any better than Chris Tunis," Wrubell wrote in his blog.
Tunis started at KSL in 1982, before there were any all-sports stations in the Salt Lake City market. He also worked as a sideline reporter for BYU football games and hosted a weekly show with former coach LaVell Edwards.
Tunis worked for KSL and KALL in the Salt Lake City area for a good portion of his broadcasting career. He was well known in the 1980s and early '90s for his coverage of BYU football.
Tunis held a variety of titles at KSL on both the radio and television, including sports editor for the radio station and sports director on television.
Tunis also spent several years broadcasting Utah State football and basketball.
Although he joined the Enterprise Newspaper Group as an account representative, Tunis was always eager to get back behind the microphone for a game or just to talk to the players and coaches, Riley said.
"I remember him first and foremost as one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life," Riley said. "On the professional side of things, he was just the consummate pro."