Mick Holien's voice grew to be instantly recognizable and associated with Montana athletics over a 31-year career as radio broadcaster and play-by-play man for the Grizzlies.
The goal now for Grizzly Sports Properties and its parent company, Learfield Sports, is to not only replace a local legend, but find the next "Voice of the Griz" that could span another three decades.
Learfield began the national hiring process last week to replace Holien, who saw his contract not renewed beyond the 2015-16 men's basketball season last October. The open position was posted March 24 to staatalent.com, an online jobs board for radio broadcasters. Deadline for applications is April 22, the post said.
Holien called both Griz football and men's basketball games the past 23 seasons, working his last game March 16 as UM fell to Nevada in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament, but his exit leaves a highly coveted broadcasting job open, said Tom Boman, vice president for broadcast operations at Learfield, a Plano, Texas based multimedia rights firm.
"And we want to find the right person," Boman added. "Ideally, if I could find somebody that has ties to the school or the state, that's a plus. I think our fans really want somebody who can understand what it's like to be in the Missoula area, what it's like to be at the University of Montana."
And Learfield wants someone with ample experience. Applicants must have at least three years of both NCAA football and basketball play-by-play calling on their résumés, or equivalent time working in the NBA, NFL or nationally syndicated play-by-play realm.
"Absolutely no exceptions," read the online ad.
That's standard, Boman said, for Learfield's hiring at Division I schools -- no matter the size. Open positions for Toledo and Colorado State ask for the same and so did recently filled vacancies at major programs like North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford.
"It doesn't matter the size of the school, it's the same process that we use," Boman said. "... This is not a beginner's job. We want the best talent that we can get to be there."
Boman said he also expects qualified candidates, which will typically number between 35 and 60 for a position such as Montana's, to have a grasp of online social media practices. Use of Twitter and Instagram is a huge plus.
"We're in a very digital age so social media is a very big part of what we do at all of our schools," Boman said. "What we want is to give the fans something that they cannot get anywhere else."
Once the application period closes in April, Boman said he and his staff will narrow the pool first to the top 20, then to 10 before working with Justin Barnes, the recently appointed general manager at Grizzly Sports Properties. Together they will whittle the field to the best three to five candidates to take to Montana athletic director Kent Haslam.
Boman hopes to see final interviews conducted in May with a hire made early in June.
The 2016 Griz football season begins Sept. 3 when Montana hosts Saint Francis at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.