Updated: New NDSU 'Voice of the Bison' will make himself visible to the community
Rob Hipp is set to take over for Jeff Culhane and will call football and men's basketball games.
FARGO — It was around 2018 when Rob Hipp got burned out with his information technology business that he ran for 15 years and decided to follow his true love: broadcasting. It took him to Sam Houston as the play-by-play announcer for the Bearkats.
This month, it's taking him to North Dakota State. Hipp was named the new radio "Voice of the Bison," the NDSU athletic department announced Friday, Aug. 5, along with its media partners. It's been some road.
"I knew my calling was to be in radio," Hipp said. "I said I'm going to go full force on radio and see what happens."
He applied for the Sam Houston job, but hadn't heard anything for about two to three months and figured that wasn't going to happen. He was in Dallas training to work in the insurance business when he got a call.
The Sam Houston job was his after all. He dropped the insurance thought on the spot.
Hipp — who was the radio play-by-play voice for Sam Houston's football, basketball and baseball programs — will also serve as sports director for KQWB-AM BISON 1660. At NDSU, he will handle play-by-play duties for football and men’s basketball. In addition, Hipp will host the one-hour coaches’ shows for radio and television during the football and men’s and women’s basketball seasons.
Hipp is set to start Aug. 15. He takes over for Jeff Culhane, who took a similar job at Florida State in the offseason. Taking the baton from Culhane, who took it from Scott Miller, was appealing for Hipp, who said both broadcasters set a high standard at NDSU.
Working with the success of NDSU is one thing, he said. It's more than that. Hipp saw firsthand how well Bison fans travel when Sam Houston hosted NDSU in the 2021 spring season quarterfinals. He's well-versed on the atmosphere of Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
"So I got to engage with a lot of fans and I just saw the unique culture there," Hipp said. "It's incredible. I think any broadcaster always wants to be part of a program that just has a lot of excitement behind it. ... I think the fans are honestly a big reason that I want to be up there in North Dakota."
He'll make the move with his fiance, Bridget, and their 8-month-old daughter Braelyn. Although the job calls for him to be in a press box or media table, Hipp said his plan is to get out in the community as much as he can.
He calls the NDSU job a career move, not a stepping stone.
"You have to be connected to people, you have to love on people," he said. "When you've got a fan base like North Dakota State has, you have to let those people know how appreciated they are. Calling the game is the fun part. The other part is you've got to be active and let people know that you're there for them."
Hipp’s debut is set for Saturday, Sept. 3, when Bison football opens the season at home against Drake at 2:30 p.m.
"In addition to his strong play-by-play call, Rob Hipp's ability to connect with the community and fan base truly separated him from other talented candidates," said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.
Certainly, making a move to a cold winter climate will raise some eyebrows. On the flip side, Hipp said the temperature in Huntsville, Texas, lately has been an uncomfortable mix of 110-degree heat and humidity. Moreover, his sister lived in South Dakota for 17 years and he's experienced well-below-zero temperatures.
"I like the cold, to be honest," Hipp said. "Bridget and I are both cold nature, we love the cold, so for me it's not a big deal."