By LARRY VAUGHT
If you are a University of Kentucky sports fan, it’s likely you’ve watched Alan Cutler plenty of times on WLEX-TV (Channel 18 in Lexington). He’s been part of the Lexington TV market for 33 plus years dating back to 1981.
Recently the WLEX-TV sports personality announced he would retire after helping the station again cover the Kentucky Derby — an event he truly loves.
Many of you will remember him for UK basketball and football stories. But don’t forget that Cutler, a New York native, had a big impact on the Lexington TV market when he arrived in 1981 (he left briefly in 1984 to work in Pittsburgh before returning for good in 1987).
“I think Cut did a lot to change sports coverage in Lexington. With all due respect to some of the other fine reporters working in TV, he just brought a different energy level and passion to his segments,” Jeff Drummond, Cats Illustrated managing editor, said. “It was a bit of New York swagger that we probably needed here.
“And that big personality led to some great, candid responses from athletes during press conferences. I’ll miss his ability to get players to open up and not give cliche responses. It helped all of us do our job better at times.”
Larry Glover, host of LarryGloverLive on WVLK radio in Lexington, said there’s no question Cutler helped shape the way TV covered sports the last 30 years in Lexington.
“I always liked the way he covered the Cats with personality but he never let the personality overshadow the story. That’s not easy to do,” Glover said.
It didn’t take long when Cutler arrived for his impact to be felt. Tom Leach, play-by-play voice for UK football and basketball, remembers the aggressive, provocative style Cutler brought with him. He had his own swagger — but it worked for him.
“Anytime you shake up the status quo, it impacts the landscape of that particular business or group. Often that pushing of the envelope is a good thing and such was the case with Alan in the Lexington sports market,” Leach said. “One thing you could always respect was his work ethic and his passion for the job and any young sports broadcaster would do well to adopt those qualities in his or her work. Alan’s been a class act and I’ll miss seeing him around the media rooms.”
Mary Jo Ford was on the sports staff at WLEX with Cutler and Ryan Lemond. She said viewers now reap the benefits of a major change Cutler brought to Lexington.
“We are all so used to tuning in Friday nights to see high school football and basketball. None of that was around before Cutler. He changed how high school sports are covered,” Ford said. “Cutler came to central Kentucky and brought his New York mindset and it wasn’t just covering the game — it was asking tough questions and digging to uncover stories. You cannot talk about sports in Lexington without mentioning him.”
Keith Farmer, now a sports anchor for WLEX with Cutler, grew up in Richmond watching Cutler on the air. He knows Cutler’s fun style impacted local TV sports coverage.
“It was a smile — if you could see it through the mustache. It was the way he talked and it was the way he pressed questions in the tough situations,” Farmer said. “He also tells me he started the first high school show around here and now every station in the state does it.”
Ryan Lemond was part of the “World Famous Prep Report” that Cutler started at WLEX that brought game highlights from central Kentucky to viewers that they had previously not been able to see.
“Lexington sports media will never be the same. Whether you liked him or not, you always tuned in to see what Cutler had to say,” Lemond said. “His greatest legacy in this market will be his invention of the prep report where for the first time local TV sports coverage expanded outside Lexington. Cutler started that. Every local community tuned in every Friday night because he did that.”