John Telich

The Plain Dealer Columnist Terry Pluto described Chuck Heaton as a journalist who never put himself above the game.

“He didn’t prize headlines,” Pluto wrote in a tribute to the Cleveland sports writer who died in 2008.  “He built relationships.”  

Much the same can be said about John Telich, the longtime WJW Channel 8 sportscaster who has been selected the 2009 winner of the Press Club of Cleveland’s Chuck Heaton award.

The award is given to the area journalist who best exemplifies the sensitivity and skills that Heaton displayed during his 50 years with The Plain Dealer.  Pluto won the first Heaton award in 2008.

“I just let the games be the story and not me,” Telich told The Plain Dealer several years ago.  “I don’t try to do too much preaching or second-guessing.  And I just try to be who I am.”  

That style has helped him prosper for almost 30 years in the Cleveland market.

“I consider myself lucky to have seen and covered everything I have,” Telich said.  “It’s a compliment that people think I’ve done it well enough to let me keep doing it.  I get to keep watching games for a living.”

John grew up in Northeast Ohio patterning himself after another area sports legend, broadcaster Gib Shanley.  

“I even wore those same wild horse-blanket-type sport coats that Gib did on the air,” Telich once told Pluto.  Telich said he has always tried to imitate Shanley’s crisp short, clear play-by-play style.

Before joining WJW in 1980, Telich was assistant sports director of WIVB TV in Buffalo, N.Y.  He is a graduate of Ashland College and began his career in local radio in 1972 in Ashland, Ohio.

He has become one of Cleveland’s most honored sportscasters.

In March 2007, Telich was inducted into the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  His work has produced nine Emmy awards as well as honors from the Associated Press and the Press Club.

And he gives the same kind of effort whether he’s covering the World Series or a high school football game.  In 2001, the Ohio High School Athletic Association honored Telich for his years of covering high school sports.  In 2005, Telich won the Golden Deeds award from the Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was a featured broadcaster for WVIZ’s High School Game of the week.

John is also one of the rare sports journalists who is more fit than most of the athletes he covers.  He has completed 90 triathlons over the past 24 years, including three Ironman competitions.  Ironman races entail a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and capped off with a 26.2-mile marathon run.  Telich began tackling trail ultra marathons this year, completing a 50-kilometer race and a 50-mile race.  His next goal is to compete in a 100-mile ultra marathon in 2010.

The Euclid High School graduate, a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, has been married 33 years to the former Jane Quinton, his college sweetheart from Ashland College.  They are the parents of three children, Courtney, 32, Patrick, 30, and Joseph, 27.