(Sept. 25, 1919-Feb. 11, 2011). Radio and television broadcaster, public address announcer, sports columnist, and documentary filmmaker, Tom Carnegie was born Carl Lee Kenagy in Norwalk, Connecticut. The son of a Baptist minister, he moved with his family to Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri while growing up. He was an excellent high school athlete who played basketball, football, and baseball. A polio-related illness in his senior year of high school ended his athletic career and prompted him to transfer his passion to covering sports.

While his family lived in Iowa, he listened to a young Ronald Reagan’s radio broadcasts and later said that Reagan’s style influenced his own. While attending William Jewell College, located in Liberty, Missouri, he began his broadcast career at KITE radio station in Kansas City.

When he graduated from college in 1942, Carnegie took a job with WOWO radio station in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Eldon Campbell, who then was the station’s program manager, convinced him to take Tom Carnegie as his on-air name. He used the name throughout the rest of his career but never changed his legal name.

A man holds a microphone up to another man as he interviews him.
Tom Carnegie (left), interviews Attucks High School basketball coach Ray Crowe, 1956 Credit: William Palmer/Indianapolis News, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1945, Carnegie moved to Indianapolis to become sports director for Wire radio station in Indianapolis. He also began writing a sports column for The Indianapolis Star, which was owned by the same man who owned the radio station, Eugene S. Pulliam.

In 1953, Carnegie became sports director for WFBM-TV, the predecessor of WRTV (Channel 6) in Indianapolis. He stayed in that role until he retired in 1985. Along the way, he introduced the daily trackside reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the May run-up to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

Two men holding microphones stand next to a pace car in Pit Row at the Indianapolis 500 Racetrack.
Tom Carnegie at the Indianapolis 500, 1985 Credit: Doctorindy via Wikimedia Commons View Source

It was, though, as an announcer that he earned his greatest fame. He was the public address announcer for the 500 from 1946 through 2006. His distinctive and rumbling voice was as much a part of the Speedway as the bricks themselves.

Carnegie also served as the voice of Indiana’s famed high school basketball tournament. He began that role in 1953 and continued for 24 years. His contributions earned him a bit part in the 1986 movie Hoosiers, where he played the announcer at the climactic championship game filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

He was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1987. He also was honored by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Revised March 2021

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