Art Challis (’72, Communication), otherwise known as the “Voice of the Thunderbirds,” is a full-professor of Communication, chair of the SUU Communication Department and has broadcast Thunderbird Athletics for nearly 40 years.
It was while working for KSUB radio in 1970, that Art broadcast his first game - a Cedar High vs. Parowan High baseball game. Three years later when Ernie Riedelbach (who was then the voice of the Thunderbirds) became ill one night before a game, Art was asked to call the SUU vs. Grand Canyon game, and the rest is broadcast history. He had a brief stint broadcasting sports in St. George before landing permanently in Cedar City and being hired to do all SUU broadcasts, which included football, basketball and baseball at the time.
“My education was totally valuable in the broadcasting area. I learned about sports casting, newswriting and broadcasting, as well as editing, and have used those skills for nearly 40 years now,” he says while reflecting on his time as a student at SUU. “I also had a valuable education in Communication Theory from Frain Pearson.”
Art has received many awards for his broadcast work, including 5 UBEE awards from the Utah Broadcaster Association, the service award in 2002 and has been nominated as SUU Professor of the Year at least 10 times. From 1993 to 2006 he owned and operated KBRE AM-FM radio in Cedar City.
He began his SUU teaching career at SUU in 1987, earned a master’s degree from UNLV’s Greenspun School of Communication in 1992 and a PhD from UNLV in educational leadership in 1998. Art loves being a professor and enjoys his students, particularly as he sees them develop and grow in their professions after leaving SUU.
What is Art’s favorite SUU memory? His response will be of no surprise to those that know him, "Going to the NCAA Tournament with the basketball team in 2001 and broadcasting the Boston College game." SUU’s centennial celebration is another good memory, and he loves going to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, having seen most of the productions since 1972.
He is married to Vicki Jeff Challis (’70, Elementary Education; ’01, Master of Education) and they are the parents of four children and 16 grandchildren. Art loves reading, broadcasting, collecting items, playing games of all kinds and traveling.