Radio Graduate Callan McClurg
When you meet Callan McClurg
, three things become quickly apparent. First, he’s passionate about what he does, and particularly passionate about sports. Second, he’s a go-getter. Third, he’s a natural with a microphone. Put these three qualities together and you’ve got a perfect recipe for success in the broadcasting/announcing business.
In fact, we barely had time to congratulate him on his recent graduation from the Radio Connection program before he told us he’d already landed an extended gig at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA, doing in-arena and in-stadium announcing for multiple teams, as well as online play-by-play. In addition, Callan does part-time public address announcing at San Diego State University, and he’s even launched his own YouTube channel to cover the WNBA!
Proof that jobs come through connections, Callan says the Point Loma gig initially came through a colleague who invited him to a women’s basketball game at the university, where he had a chance to meet most of the athletic department. Not long after, Callan got a call from his friend saying the university was going to offer him an announcing job for the baseball team. “I got the phone call, and it was one of the fastest yesses that ever crossed my lips,”
says Callan. “This was to be a chance for me to do what I do best.”
Within months, that job had evolved into the extended role he plays now. “It’s a lot to cover from September till May,”
For Callan, sports announcing as a career seemed inevitable. When he was only four, he remembers watching a sportscast on local news and telling his parents that’s what he wanted to do when he got older. From there, he says, he practiced announcing until it got on people’s nerves. “I was announcing The Price is Right on television,”
he says. “I would announce my brother’s little league games. And I even used to announce the games I actually played baseball in. And, of course, I’d get yelled at by mom and dad, and my coach, like, ‘Man, play the game, don’t announce the game.’ But that’s just where my love for broadcasting came in.”
Even so, Callan says, his parents picked up on his passion and talent and began looking for ways to encourage them. A marking moment came on his tenth birthday, when his father took him to a Padres game at Qualcomm Stadium. The game day manager arranged for Callan to participate in the “little star” promotion where a young fan is brought to the press box to announce the third inning on the P.A. Callan says he didn’t even need the script the escort gave him because he knew by heart how to announce the inning. “Even [today] when I go to Qualcomm Stadium, because I’m also a part-time public address announcer spot for the SDSU football team, I go to the press box to work, and I immediately just close my eyes and go back and relive that moment over and over again,”
After Callan finished high school, his next course of action seemed clear. “My dad said, ‘Well, you might want to start looking up schools for broadcasting,’ because we knew that I didn’t have the grades to go to PLNU or San Diego State or any of those top-notch four-year universities,”
he says. “Nor did I want to either, just because of the constant grind of going back to doing four more years of five days a week.”
That’s when Callan discovered the Radio Connection
through an internet search.
“I said, ‘Dad, you might want to check this out.’ Just seeing everything that they offered, between convenient location, somewhere where you live, books and supplies, tuition being way less than any four-year university…actual in-studio time, on air time, at your own pace, you can go as fast or slow as you want…We were locked into it.”
Callan was placed as apprentice with Radio Connection mentor Chris Torrick at KRLY, 107.9-FM
in the San Diego area. Even with his passion and natural ability, Callan recalls he was caught off guard at first.
“I just walked in ill-prepared, thinking I was just going to take notes a watch the show,”
he says, “But Chris is a big believer of blessing by fire, and he put me behind the mic my first night. And I winged an interview and stuttered through it at the open. But then once I got a flow and rhythm, everything clicked. It became natural.”
As he worked through his apprenticeship, Callan made the most of the advantages offered by being in the studio, including working his own contacts. A personal high point was when he leveraged his status as a broadcasting student to reach out to WNBA star Candace Parker (of the Los Angeles Sparks) via Twitter, and landed an interview with her—followed soon after by an interview with New York Liberty guard Candace Wiggins. These experiences brought out yet another passion of Callan’s—interviewing athletes from a human angle, telling their personal stories, which may very well evolve into something unique for his career.
“This [interview with Candace Parker] wasn’t an average one-on-one media member and athlete interview,”
says Callan. “This was more of an open forum interview, go to Starbucks, grab coffee, and talk with your best friend for an hour or two…These pro athletes, they don’t get the chance to talk about growing up with their family and how they found their love for sports. And then they’ve been talking about their career, how far it’s gone from high school and college and into the pros and what they want to do in their future…the interview hit a hundred listens and a hundred likes in six hours after it was posted.”
The interview with Candace Wiggins evoked a similar response. “After we had wrapped up our conversation,”
Callan recalls, “she said, ‘This was the best interview of my career ever…You didn’t ask the same questions that I hear on a day-to-day basis. You made this more of a personal connection, and that’s what was the best part about it because this was just a conversation we were having.’…That comment made me choke up a bit.”
Now graduated from the program, and busy with his new job, Callan is excited about his future, and grateful for the opportunities he’s had through the Radio Connection.
“Between the interviews I got to do,”
he says, “and even the blogs I’ve written about a few people, that’s opened so many doors, to the point where I launched the YouTube channel to cover the WNBA…I got to meet a lot of athletes through the program. I made a lot of great connections through the program…The program is what I owe it all to, because that was my media credential basically to get these interviews, to write these stories, and get these other jobs under my belt.”