Mitch Holthus Teams Up with Associated Audiologists to Take His Hearing to the Next Level
Listening to Mitch Holthus call a game for the Kansas City Chiefs is almost as thrilling as watching the game itself. He has the rare ability to capture the nail-biting action on the field, then share his genuine enthusiasm, excitement, and passion for the sport, all with the sound of his voice.
But after an award-winning broadcasting career that’s spanned more than four decades, Mitch recently noticed he was having more trouble than usual hearing the nuances of conversations, and those nuances are important to him. “I realized I just wasn’t hearing like I once did,” Mitch admitted.
“One of the things I do in my role with the Chiefs is work with their inside production arm,” Mitch added. “Except for me, it’s staffed mostly by young adults. I call it ‘Mitch and the Millennials.’ I felt like they were talking in fast, hushed tones. I couldn’t always hear them and I felt like I was getting left behind.”
In public settings, there were times when he found it hard to follow conversations. On a personal level, it seemed Mitch’s two granddaughters also were speaking in soft, muffled tones. “It was like everyone was hearing what they were saying, but I wasn’t. And I found myself asking my wife, Tami, to repeat herself a lot.”
Recognizing that his hearing had gone from one of his greatest assets to a liability, Mitch knew he needed help. He also knew his colleague, Hall of Fame quarterback and broadcasting legend, the late Len Dawson, had been an Associated Audiologists patient.
After scheduling his initial hearing evaluation with the Associated Audiologists team, he began working with Tim Steele, Ph.D., President and CEO.
Mitch’s diagnostic hearing evaluation revealed he has a high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. “Mitch’s hearing loss mostly affects high frequencies, which is why he was having problems hearing softer sounds and higher pitched voices,” Dr. Steele explained.
What caused Mitch’s hearing loss?
Growing up on a farm near Smith Center, Kan., Mitch was exposed to loud farm equipment, a common cause of hearing loss. But as a play-by-play announcer, first for the Kansas State Wildcats and then for the Chiefs, he’s faced an occupational risk few others have.
“I have been in some of the loudest stadiums in the nation, which I’m sure put me at risk for hearing loss,” Mitch said. He’s also done basketball play-by-play for sports powerhouses ESPN, Fox, the Big 12, Missouri Valley, and the SEC.
Mitch’s job involves wearing headphones that stream the action on the field or court, his producer’s directions, stats, injuries, and other critical information directly to his ears.
“From my perspective, Mitch’s ability to process sound from multiple sources is almost super-human,” Dr. Steele said. “Most of us have difficulty listening to the TV and a spouse or family member at the same time. I don’t know how anyone can take that much information in, make sense of it and call the game, all while entertaining us. I was just floored when Mitch explained how he uses his hearing.”
A custom solution for a unique hearing challenge
Before scheduling an appointment with Associated Audiologists, Mitch acknowledged the stigma attached to the possibility that he has a hearing loss and would need hearing aids. “I thought, ‘Am I getting old?’ ‘Am I going to turn into my grandpa?’”
But then he realized not being able to hear was a far worse fate than wearing hearing aids. “Mitch understood that untreated hearing loss is associated with other health conditions related to aging, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and he’s very health conscious,” Dr. Steele said.
“Dr. Steele used his science to pinpoint my exact hearing loss,” Mitch said. “He was so empathetic, so thorough. He treats each person as an individual. Your situation is different from mine, but he can help us both.”
After discussing his unique hearing needs and exploring his options with Dr. Steele, Mitch decided to try Widex Moment completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. These tiny state-of-the-art devices are practically invisible, helping Mitch stay on top of his game in the broadcast booth, in public settings, and at home.
“One thing that struck me about Mitch was that he didn’t want to be unplugged from life,” Dr. Steele said. “I admire him for embracing his hearing loss and tackling it.”
Now Mitch describes his hearing as nothing short of profound.
“Dr. Steele used his science to program these hearing aids just for my hearing loss. I told him I was even hearing paper crackling,” Mitch said. “He explained that these new hearing aids have helped activate sounds in my brain that I haven’t heard for years and years.”
In public settings, Mitch said his new hearing aids have restored his confidence and have become an important asset. “I have gone from not being able to understand what someone’s saying, to hearing and participating in conversations again.”
In his personal life, Mitch said his new hearing aids are “must-haves” when he’s with his granddaughters and family. “I don’t want to miss out, especially with them,” he added.
And if you happen to catch Mitch broadcasting a Chiefs game, and hear his signature call, “Touchdown Kan – zzzz City!,” rest assured he’s not missing one moment of the action, and neither are you.
“Meeting and working with Dr. Steele and Associated Audiologists has been a Godsend,” Mitch said. “These new hearing aids are well worth the investment. Most people can’t even tell I’m wearing them but they make all the difference in the world for me!”