By: Adam Pearson
As a podcast host, sports fan, and sports writer I took this job shadowing opportunity to shadow someone with a career I have been dreaming of; sports radio broadcasting. And with the only sports talk show in the area, it was a rather easy decision to shadow Sports Talk 105.1’s very own Dan Kasper – which I did on February 18th, 2019.
Dan’s path to becoming the host of his own radio talk show was less-than-conventional. He didn’t go through years of schooling in preparation for it and nor did he really try to chase this career. After high school, he completed his general studies at UW Barron County (where he also played basketball and golf) and UW Wood County before majoring in kinesiology at UW Eau Claire with a minor in history.
The same year Dan graduated from the university, he landed what he thought was his dream job as the Youth Sports and Wellness Director at the South Wood County YMCA. Dan soon realized that this job was not at all what he thought it would be and actually went as far as saying he hated it, due in large part to the parents of the youth players. In one situation, Dan said a child ran up to him for help because two parents were fighting over something that had happened in a 4K YMCA flag football game. He couldn’t believe the way the parents were acting over something so small and decided this job was not for him. On top of this, he and his wife had a lot of friends and family back in Eau Claire, so they made the move back.
Finding a job, for Dan’s wife anyway, was relatively easy. But for Dan, not so much. He eventually settled for a job at Midwest Family Broadcasting playing ads for a political talk show. After spending more time there than he originally thought he would, MFB told Dan that he could do a small sports segment at the end of each show. This started as a 10-minute time slot at the end and moved on from there. 30 minutes, 1-hour, 2-hours, 3-hours, 4-hours, and then finally settling back to 3, before Dan knew, he was the host of the only sports radio talk show in the Chippewa Valley (which he is proud to tell you is the #1 radio show for men aged 18-45 in the area). Some may say the show just fell into his lap by complete luck, but Kasper says he saw an open door and didn’t hesitate; something he lives by and preaches to everyone who seeks job seeking advice from him.
While in the studio with Dan and common co-hosts Neil and Luke, I saw firsthand why Midwest Family Broadcasting offered Dan the radio time and why he did so well with the opportunity he was given. Dan has a way of making great conversation last – something he says is key in the sports broadcast business – especially when it’s in between seasons and not much is going on. He does an excellent job of trying to get listeners involved with the show as he is constantly asking for calls and texts, checking his social media pages for posts, tweets, and private messages, and he is always asking thought-provoking questions to engage the listeners. While I was there, we only had one phone call but I could tell that was a rarity with the show. As someone who hadn’t listened to the show ever before, Dan sold me with the structure and personality the show had to offer and I plan on tuning in on a daily basis.
Dan credits sports broadcasting for some of his favorite memories/moments in his life. While at Radio Row at the Mall of America, Dan’s table was set up right next to the Fox Sports stage where all of the big guests would be. At one point, he looks up from his paperwork and sees New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees just standing there on his phone and watched him pick up some trash and throw it in the garbage. Dan took that opportunity and had a short conversation with Brees. Shortly after that, Dan saw Russell Wilson but was unable to talk with him due to the three massive security guards blocking anyone from talking with Wilson (which Dan said was bullshit because why else would you be at Radio Row). On the same trip, he almost ran into NFL Hall of Famer Terrel Owens while walking around the mall and also shared a story with me about my favorite football team’s play-by-play announcer, Paul Allen, who, according to Dan, was the loudest person in the room and also the person with the largest following.
But, with the positives also comes the negatives. Two difficult things that Dan faced in this business was separating himself as a fan (which he says you can never fully do) and how to work through the harsh criticism he sometimes receives from listeners. He understands that criticism is good, and he appreciates positive critiquing, but sometimes people are mean and say things that are way out of line for a guy that is just talking about sports. Dan has had to block/mute certain people in the past from the show, but is continuing to work on getting past comments like that.
Heading into the job shadow, I had many dreams of being a sports broadcaster and shadowing Dan on Sports Talk 105.1 will only keep me dreaming and striving to get to that position one day. Keeping my eyes open for any open opportunities has been something that has been drilled into my head since I started school, but Dan is the first living, breathing proof of that that I have had the privilege to meet in my life. His story of reaching this dream was so unconventional and unexpected that it really does make me feel like anything can happen. I’m looking forward to similar opportunities so I can take advantage of them as well.