October 16, 2004
When the clock hits five o’clock in the evenings, many Tulsans who appreciate sports tune into KOTV Channel 6. Perhaps you are among them. If you don’t catch the five o’clock news, the six or ten o’clock broadcasts will also provide a good recap of sports around the state of Oklahoma, the region, and the country. Why? It’s in part due to the talent of John Holcomb, ’88, who has served as sports director with Channel 6 since 1999.
John came to OBU interested in telecommunication and athletics. On a basketball scholarship, he was close to the sports scene all four years. He also excelled in television journalism and worked well alongside Dr. Roger Hadley, professor of telecommunication. “Roger always gave us boundaries, but he never curtailed our sense of creativity,” John says. “For example, in Sarkeys Studio A we did a program we simply called ‘The Show,’ a take-off of the late night talk show concept. We borrowed the Hornbeck marquee and even had a live band and audience. Neil Nichols and Mike Bruce came up with the idea, and I was the host. It didn’t even feel like work. The three of us were involved in the whole production, and we learned a lot.” It was Sarkeys Studio A that would become John’s testing ground, as it has been for many others, to work out his talents and practice for the future.
Because his father worked as an associate professor of religion at OBU for 10 years, John knew about OBU even as a young child. He says that Shawnee was always a comfortable place for him. It was a place he wanted to return to after his father took a job in New Orleans during John’s teen years. “OBU seemed very natural for me,” he says. “I developed many friendships in the area that I looked forward to renewing.”
When John graduated, he worked at KGFF Radio in Shawnee for a year until he inquired with a fellow
alumnus about any job openings. “Darrell Barnard, was a photographer for a television station in Sherman, Texas. He told me that they needed a news reporter, and he would put in a good word for me. I asked him ‘What about sports?’ He replied with emphasis, ‘It’s a news reporter job.’ I put together a tape and applied anyway, even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.” John got job. For nine months he worked at the station. Then a job opened up in Lawton, Oklahoma, for a weekend sports anchor. He took it. “Sports has always been a passion for me,” he says.
It was another step in providence, because it was in Lawton that John met his wife, Jeanna, who was a feature reporter and production assistant. They married in June 1993. From Lawton, the Holcombs moved to KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas, where John was “promoted within the company to sports director.” Three years later, John learned that KOTV was looking for a sports anchor. After four years in Tulsa, John was promoted to sports director. Along with his duties as the sports anchor for the evening newscasts, John also co-hosts the statewide “Oklahoma Sports Blitz,” a widely popular show that recaps the week in sports and anticipates the week to come.
As the reigning Oklahoma Sportcaster of the Year, John credits OBU with a strong influence in his professional life but also his personal one. “Jeanna and I had a baby girl named Allison, born in March 1999. Allison lived three and a half months – all of it in the hospital. It was a very traumatic time. Some experiences you can learn from if you are open to what God wants you to learn. They are priceless lessons, and they are lessons we can miss on a daily basis if we are not open to them. The outpouring of support we received from friends, many from OBU, was tremendous, including our former pastor Sam Shaw,” he says. Today, John and Jeanna have two daughters, Melody and Maggie.
As God continues to lead John and his family down life’s path, there is great hope for the future. If you’re a Tulsa resident, greet John with a big “Sarkeys Studio “A” hello as you watch the five o’clock news from the other side of the tube.