Cover Photo: The Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitch Holthus. Photo courtesy Mitch Holthus.
A Talk with the Voice of the KC Chiefs
By Christina McDonough Hunt
For 26 seasons the Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitch Holthus, has riveted Chiefs fans through his thrilling play-by-play calls and electric enthusiasm that booms through the radio speakers each week during football season. His contagious passion and ability to capture every moment in detail has produced Chiefs fans all over the world.
Holthus’ iconic voice coined the term “Touchdown! Kan-Zazz-City!”, which stirs up high-powered emotions and excitement to all Chiefs fans throughout the world.
The phrase hit its stride during the Dante Hall era (2000-06), according to Holthus.
“It’s become its own moniker and phrase. It has its own ringtone!,” laughed Holthus. “It’s also neat when I see kids randomly playing a game of football and I hear the phrase. I’ve even heard people saying it on a plane! But, it makes people happy.”
For decades, Chiefs fans have been widely known for their passion and unconditional love for their Chiefs teams. But becoming known as the ‘Chiefs Kingdom’ took their fanship to a different level of commitment, and set them apart from other fan bases. For fans, it meant they were a part of something that was bigger. It meant there were many others that felt the same passion as they do, and they were all part of something special
He knew that Chiefs fans were more than just a fan base. They were a kingdom, the ‘Chiefs Kingdom’, and he is proud to have coined that term as well.
Holthus grew up a Chiefs fan and knows personally the deeply rooted love and dedication of the fans. “We are seeing, especially this year, how unifying and powerful the Chiefs Kingdom can be,” he said. “It transcends race, creed, age, and so much more.”
In 2005, Holthus was asked to revamp the Chiefs radio show. The show featured the Head Coach on Mondays and General Manager Carl Peterson on Thursdays. Holthus decided only one show was needed. He extended Sunday’s game by bringing Arrowhead to Monday night radio. And with that, the Chiefs Kingdom Show was born on 101 The Fox. .
“I wanted the show to be a little about football, but mostly about the players. Where did they come from? What was their story? It’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for the players. And it opens up a player’s life that was not seen before. The fans love it,” said Holthus.
Home Grown Broadcaster
Holthus grew up on a small farm in north central Kansas. “There were not a lot of things to do to entertain yourself with. You had to get creative, use your imagination,” he recalled. So, as a young boy, Holthus would play football and broadcast the game simultaneously.
Holthus says he was not very good at sports, but he excelled in other areas. He was a State Champion speaker and debater in high school. He received two degrees from Kansas State; one in journalism and one in business. He started selling advertising for a small radio station, and was then given the opportunity to do the play-by-play, covering 35 high schools. His first big broadcast was hosting the Miss Kansas pageant in Pratt, KS.
Throughout the years, Holthus has received many accolades for his accomplishments including being inducted in the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame for announcing. He is also the longest tenured play-by-play announcer in Chiefs history.
Super Bowl Emotion
Holthus is excited to begin his 27th season as the Voice of the Chiefs this fall. But, this past Super Bowl Championship season has been the highlight of his career.
He recalled the winning feeling. “We felt the emotion in our booth, and there was a feeling that [the Super Bowl] can happen again.”
He was able to watch his dream come true: calling the play-by-play in the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl for the Chiefs..
“I had to think of how to say 50 years in a few sentences. I thought of how Norma and Clark had to give that [AFC] trophy with Lamar’s name on it away to the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, and other teams in the past. And, in that moment [winning the AFC] became more than just a trophy, it became a multi-dimensional moment,” he said. Holthus captured that moment forever that day:
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP CALL: “Hail! Hail to the King of the Chiefs Kingdom forever! Because today, the team that Lamar Hunt founded has just won Lamar Hunt’s trophy in the stadium that was Lamar Hunt’s dream! Kan-Zazz-City is the AFC Champion, and they are headed to Miami!”
Holthus spent years thinking about what he’d say in that defining moment when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, too. He took note of the amount of Chiefs flags flying high throughout the city, unifying the Kingdom, and that was the inspiration for the iconic Super Bowl call that he made on February 2:
SUPER BOWL CALL: “The game is over! And the Chiefs Kingdom has firmly planted its flag on the top of football’s highest summit! The Kan-Zazz-City Chiefs are champions of Super Bowl LIV!”
Holthus cherishes the relationships that he’s developed with the fans, coaches, and especially the players.
“Those relationships are meaningful,” he said. “The players know that I’m real. I’m someone who cares, someone they trust. I don’t take that for granted.”
As Holthus looks forward to the next few years, he’s got a special message to Chiefs Kingdom.
“Chiefs Kingdom, stay hungry. The hunger and focus needs to be reinvented, recreated every year. Stay humble. People want to live here because people here care, continue being who we are. We were the favorites for the Super Bowl and the world loves Patrick Mahomes. Let’s put this on the radar and move forward.”