On any given Saturday in October, Cowboy fans can turn on the radio and hear an all-too-familiar voice -- a voice which has described Final Four runs, conference championships, backflips, and hundreds of Oklahoma State victories. Who is the man behind the famous catch phrase, "Pistols Firing!"?
Dave Hunziker became "The Voice of the Cowboys" on the Oklahoma State Cowboy Radio Network in 2001 after Bill Teegins was killed in a tragic plane crash along with nine other people associated with Oklahoma State men's basketball. Hunziker was unsure about pursuing the job at first due to the circumstances, but after some convincing from friends he accepted. However, Hunziker's journey to Stillwater began many years before that fateful year.
As a child, Hunziker already knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, and quickly took the broadcasting profession by the horns. At ten years old he started doing public address at slow pitch softball tournaments and eventually landed a job with a radio station in high school. Already having experience, Hunziker attended the University of Missouri where he earned a degree from Missouri's very prestige school of journalism. After becoming a Tiger alum, Hunziker worked in Columbia, MO, and Radford, VA, and as the voice of Western Kentucky before finally coming to Oklahoma State.
After finally arriving in Stillwater, Hunziker was given the title "Voice of the Cowboys," with the duty of interpreting the sights and sounds of every football and men's basketball game to Oklahoma State fans everywhere.
"It is an honor to have the privilege of describing the action for people, hopefully giving the game and plays justice," Hunziker said. "That's my job, is whatever they do, to describe it accurately and make their achievements, give them the worth that they should have. When something extraordinary happens we need to make it sound extraordinary. To have that opportunity to broadcast a game, you know be the eyes and ears of the fans and do that, hopefully it's a service to them. It's a great honor, it brings great joy. Hopefully people enjoy it and they are not only informed, but entertained."
Hunziker definitely leaves fans entertained every time a player in orange or black crosses the goal line at Boone Pickens Stadium. After every Cowboy touchdown Hunziker yells the famous phrase "Pistols Firin'!" and the saying has become a trademark for OSU fans around the world.
"It was an experiment. I just decided, ‘you know what, we're just gonna throw this out there and see if it sticks and if it doesn't it doesn't and if it does it does,'... well I guess it did," Hunziker said.
Cowboy fans quickly took notice of the new catch phrase, but Hunziker says that without a successful program then the phrase never would have never became popular.
"The way we've been winning I could say there's a three-legged goat on Main Street and people would think it's great and if we were losing and we didn't take off the way we did as a football program, then ‘Pistols Firin'' would have never taken off," Hunziker said. "That is just a byproduct of the success of our teams on the field. That's what made ‘Pistols Firing'' take off. If people didn't have something to be excited about, then they wouldn't care. That's all that is. It's just something fun."
Hunziker has witnessed maybe the greatest increase of success for any athletic program in the nation. Since his arrival, the Cowboys have made the NCAA Final Four on the basketball court and captured the school's first conference title on the football field, both of which are two of Hunziker's greatest memories.
"It's fun," Hunziker said about watching the athletic program succeed. "When I came here I didn't expect this. I was hoping this program would win a little bit, certainly more than it had won, but I didn't see this coming. I did not see this coming at all. It's been great. Fans are happy and you get to watch those teams play and watch these young people have success."
Hunziker says the greatest part about his job is watching the athletes and his students grow through their college experience and he loves creating new relationships through his career. Proof of that came during my interview with him when he started a friendly conversation with two familiar faces and then apologized to me before continuing the interview. Also after the interview, the broadcasting icon made it clear for me to send him a text any time if I needed anything. It was just a small gesture which shows what kind of man is behind the mic at Boone Pickens Stadium. Hunziker's personality reflects on the advice he would give to a young person looking to pursue a career in journalism.
"I think as much as anything have good self-awareness. In other words, so much of this is about your image, and how you present yourself, and how you deal with different people, whether it's fans, whether it's the university president, whether it's donors," Hunziker said. "Obviously you've got to be sound technically in all the things that you do. A good writer: you have to have good diction, you have to have a little bit of a theatrical mind in that this is a show and you have to bring these games to life and paint a picture, all those things. But, things that are not obvious: a good people person matters, you gotta be versatile."
Whether the secret is being friendly, being well-rounded, or even having a fancy catch phrase, Dave Hunziker has discovered how to keep Cowboy fans into the game and bleeding orange more than ever.