Todd & Tater The Dynamic Duo Behind Midlothian Panther Radio

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Todd Hemphill Tater Beard at Baseball Game
Courtesy Photo

The Explosive TnT Voices of Panther Radio

Much like Reese’s peanut butter cups or peanut M&M’s, Tater and Todd are a natural together.

Of course, we’re referencing Tater Beard and Todd Hemphill, the voices of Midlothian Panther sports – and more – on Panther Radio. The two have been microphone mates since 2018, but their chemistry makes it seem as if the two have been working together for decades.

“We called a scrimmage to get used to each other, no equipment, just feeling each other out. We just meshed from the get-go,” Todd said. “The similar backgrounds, coming from the same city, it helps.”

At which point Tater chimed in with a chuckle, “And both of our wives like getting us out of the house.”

Duncanville Natives At Home In Midlothian

Todd, 53, and Tater, 52, actually have a history that goes back a long way. They graduated a year apart from Duncanville High School. Both played a variety of sports, and both are passionate about any and all things Midlothian.

“I was in almost everything in high school. It’s hard to get away with anything with a name like Tater,” he said.

“Some of my greatest memories are high school sports,” Todd said. “I still have many friends I played with and coaches I interface with.”

And now they’re doing all they can to give Midlothian High School athletes those same memories. In fact, Tater was doing so even before joining forces with Todd.

Tater had been broadcasting Midlothian High sports for several years, while Todd was broadcasting for crosstown Heritage. Then, they joined forces, starting with football and since incorporating about nine other sports.

Loved By The Home Team & The Visitors

“We’ll pretty much do anything we’re asked to,” Todd said. “It’s been well-received, we’ve gotten a lot of support from parents, athletes, coaches.”

Among the most special responses are those they’ve gotten from overseas, particularly military parents and friends. They’ve received letters and praise from as far away as Paris, France, along with Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They just want to say thanks. They’ve not been able to see their kids. That meant a lot,” Todd said.

“And some of those are from opposing teams’ parents,” Tater added. “The letter from France was from a Highland Park parent.”

Yes, they love the Panthers, but they are not homers in the traditional sense. They realize folks from the opposing teams might be listening also. Besides, a good play is a good play, whichever player pulled it off.

“We want to make it a well-balanced broadcast. We try to make it enjoyable for everyone listening,” Todd said.

“It’s about the kids, all the kids, not us,” Tater said. “As someone who sports turned their life around, I know what it means to those kids.”

Covering Midothian ISD Sports & Encouraging Student Involvement

And they don’t only focus on the “major” sports. Though they might be broadcasting a football or basketball game, it’s not uncommon for them to incorporate the fishing team, clay sports team, or even the debate team into conversation.

“We try to make it an informational broadcast about the district,” Todd said.

They even recruit students to help with such things as interviews during halftime of broadcasts. For example, one of their favorite things to spotlight is the MILE program (Midlothian Innovative Learning Environment), which features such subjects as culinary arts, cyber security, engineering and entrepreneurship – the latter in which Todd and Tater are mentors.

“We try to highlight what our students are doing – all students,” Todd said. “Yeah, we’re going to call the game, but there’s a lot more that’s important also.”

They also keep up with former athletes from Midlothian, passing along news to listeners when they come across it.

“Folks want to know what these kids are doing beyond high school, and a lot of kids from here are doing great things in college,” Tater said.

Having Fun & Inspiring Others Along The Way

Of course, COVID-19 put a bit of a restraint on this, but the duo have worked regularly with high school students interested in entering the media field. Tater described a situation where one such student had never seen a basketball game and another knew nothing about wrestling. Now, those students are in broadcasting school.

Tater also recalled the time they were broadcasting a baseball game and he knew a special needs young lady who was having dinner with family at a restaurant had an earbud in listening. He gave her a special surprise.

“I said, ‘Kyleigh, how would you call that one. What would you have me say to them?’ That made her night,” he said.

Invested In The Community & The Kids

Both Todd and Tater live in Midlothian now. Todd makes his living in banking and Tater is in sales, along with hosting a podcast titled “Down Home Sports.” Both are also very active in the community.

Todd was on the Midlothian school board for six years. Both are involved in a variety of charities, including Raising Up Rachel, created to help former student Rachel Richie, who was involved in a bad automobile accident.

Both have three children of their own. All three of Tater’s daughters played sports in high school, while Todd’s youngest played sports and the other two were musically inclined. Tater and Todd have also spent many years coaching youth sports, so they know a lot of back stories when those same players reach high school.

“I love the energy of kids,” Todd said.

During their time together they’ve created some special memories – even if some didn’t seem so at the time. They’ve even sat in the middle of opposing fans in the stands while calling a game because they weren’t allowed in the press box, being visiting media.

No problem. They turned it into a fun time, as they always know how to do.

On The Road Again, They Can’t Wait To Get On The Road Again

“We’ve been all over the state, big stadiums, small stadiums, but one thing we’ve found is consistent, everybody loves high school sports,” Todd said. “The hot dogs cooking, hot chocolate on a cold night, there’s an energy you don’t find anywhere else.”

To which Tater added, “The looks on the kids’ faces when we do a softball game next to the dugout and they hear their name is great. We’ve got grandparents from out of state who will send us texts, for example, and we’ll say ‘Nana says go Hannah!’ You can see the look on Hannah’s face as it lights up.”

COVID created a challenge for the two this past year-plus. For example, they couldn’t go to road football games.

“It’s been a crazy 18 months. I’m ready to get back to some sense of normal,” Todd said. “We made our way through it. It wasn’t easy, but we were even able to add some sports.”

And they want to add even more.

Looking To Cover More Sports

“Our cross country coach asked us to do a meet. I said, ‘Look at Tater and me, do you think we’ve ever done cross country?’” Todd said with a laugh.

But, of course, that is one of the sports they want to add, along with swimming, tennis, golf and more. If it can be broadcast, don’t rule out them doing so.

“COVID threw a wrench into things, but I want to get more kids involved,” Todd said.

“We’re going to continue to highlight what’s going on and keep providing a service for people. We love what we do, and they seem to love it also,” Tater said. “Those letters from the military made me so proud. That’s when you know what you’re doing is making a difference.”

You can find them during the season on MHS Radio on Mixlr MHS Radio is on Mixlr

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Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and two granddaughters

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