Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tom Leach: A Nice Guy Finishing First

Tom Leach - A Nice Guy Finishing First.

"Where hustle's the name of the game,
and nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain."

-Glen Campbell

Baseball legend Leo Durocher said, "Nice guys finish last."

In the cutthroat worlds of sports and sports broadcasting, that is often true. Colleges are stocked with coaches who will do "whatever it takes." Getting ahead in broadcasting often means stepping over or on anyone in your way.

Then there is Tom Leach.

I've been friends with Leach, the voice of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, for over 25 years. For three years I was part of a radio show he hosted. I've watched him rise from a second banana radio man to become one of the top broadcasters in the country.

Tom was a nice guy when he started in the business and he is a nice guy now. A really grounded guy. Fame and fortune have never gone to his head. He is married to Robin Rabbeth Leach, a longtime television news anchor in Lexington. Robin is as friendly and grounded as Tom. I once wondered, "Did anyone tell these them they were celebrities?"

I guess not.

Tom has had one career goal: To be the voice of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of legendary Kentuckians like Caywood Ledford and Claude Sullivan. Tom worked hard. He found big-time mentors like Kentucky journalism legend Al Smith and Jim Host, the sports marketing wizard. He stayed focused and found himself in the position he wanted.

Not many people can say they are living the dream. Tom truly is.

Tom's personality is key. In radio, more than any other medium, the listener feels an intimate connection to the host. The listener wants to feel like he is having a one-on-one conversation with the host.

Tom has an ability to connect with average Kentuckians. He is one of us.

Tom's had an entrepreneurial streak, too. He created Tom Leach Productions, which books his television and radio commercials and speaking engagements. And in a couple of weeks, Tom will have a new title: Author.

He is releasing Rich Traditions, a biography of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks.

Tom and I have talked throughout the writing process. The book promises to be a good one.

I don't know Coach Brooks, but his story is compelling. The Kentucky football program was a mess when he got there. Brooks was not the first choice of fans and was unpopular with segments of the Lexington media. Brooks turned the program into a winner, going from losing records and NCAA probation in the beginning, to bowl games the last three years. His teams don't have bail bondmen and criminal attorneys on the speed dial.

Like Tom Leach, Brooks seems to be a nice guy. The kind of coach you want you son to play for.

Tom goes through every facet of Brooks’ life, noting how Brooks turned Oregon's program from a also-ran to an annual contender.

Tom is going into a great year to be a Kentucky broadcaster. The football team looks good and the basketball team, under new coach John Calipari, will compete for the national championship. Coach Cal is an exciting interview and the post-game shows with Tom will be entertaining.

I'm really glad to see Tom doing so well if, for no other reason, he is a such a good role model. We've all seen announcers and coaches let fame go to their heads and become absolute jerks.

Young people who follow sports may think that being a jerk and getting to the top go hand-in-hand.

Tom is a someone whom a parent can point to: A good person at the top of his profession. To finish first, you don't have to be obnoxious. You just need a dream and the drive to go for it.

Like Tom Leach has done.

To pre-order a copy of Rich Traditions, go to :

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the founder of McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in Richmond, Kentucky.

He is the author of Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery. You can write to Don at or read his award winning column at He is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows.

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table.