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‘Voice of the Illini’ sportscaster Jim Turpin has died at age 90

Jim Turpin (center) broadcasting an Illini game at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall (now the State Farm Center) for WILL Radio in 1971. Also pictured: WILL sports director Dave French (left), and WILL director of broadcasting Frank Schooley (right).

URBANA – Longtime Illini sportscaster Jim Turpin died Sunday. The News-Gazette said the 90-year-old Turpin had recently suffered a fall and died with family members at his side.

Jim Turpin first broadcast Illinois football, basketball and baseball games on WILL Radio in the late 1950s, while he was a University of Illinois student. After a stint at WTAX in Springfield, he returned to WILL in the mid 1960s, and broadcast Illini football and basketball games (and the annual Illinois High School Association state basketball tournament) for the station until 1974.

But Turpin is best remembered for his years with WDWS in Champaign. Turpin had broadcast high school games for the News-Gazette-owned station as a U of I student, and called Illini games there from the 1980s until 2002. Turpin’s years of broadcasting University of Illinois athletic contests earned him the nickname, “Voice of the Illini”. 

Turpin also served as the general manager for WDWS and its sister station WHMS-FM, and hosted Penny For Your Thoughts, the long-running WDWS morning talk show.

Turpin was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 1979.  He was given a Broadcast Pioneer Award by the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 2014 for his work on Penny For Your Thoughts. 

Jim Turpin got his start in sportscasting on local radio station WLVN in his hometown of Olney. While serving in the Army, he called games for Armed Forces Radio in South Korea, before coming to Champaign-Urbana for college. 

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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