My love of sports came before my love of radio. It was a freak incident that began in fifth grade: the day that our class was making Super Bowl predictions.
“Seahawks,” I told the girl setting next me.
“Steelers,” she said, because her family was from Pittsburg.
We bet a dollar. I watched my first Super Bowl in 2005, captivated with the intense focus of someone who had high stakes in the game’s outcome. I lost. But it didn’t matter. From then, I was hooked on football.
I spent my first year of middle school getting acclimated to the game. My dad and I shared Sunday afternoons on the couch, and I learned the basics from Peyton Manning and the Colts, because my dad was from Indianapolis. So was my best friend, Ally, who moved north from Terre Haute to Indy, and then again from Indy to the northernmost portion of Indiana where I spent 19 years of life: South Bend.
“You live in Indiana, you’re a Colts fan,” said my dad and Ally.
“But actually, you live closer to Chicago, so you should really be a Bears fan,” said others.
It all seemed rather arbitrary to me. So instead, my spiteful, plucky, 12 year-old self piped up and declared herself an individual, “Actually, I’m a Patriots fan.”
Ironically, that was the year the Colts and Bears both made the Super Bowl. But it stuck. For better and worse, I rooted against my peers and family with gusto. I was a self-proclaimed New Englander, the best kind of New Englander, because I chose my team; it didn’t choose me. Of course, I wasn’t going to learn much about a team that played its home games in Foxborough, MA by watching the local news.
So SportsCenter became my go-to outlet. I spent many nights falling asleep to ESPN’s flagship program, echoes of “Da-da-da, da-da-da” cacophonous against my hot-pink bedroom walls. Then in the mornings came ESPN radio, and my dad’s personal favorite: Mike & Mike in the Morning.
And so it went. The Patriots were the winningest franchise of the decade, but, with the last coming in 2004—one year before my football infatuation began—I never witnessed any of their championships. Instead, I experienced two Super Bowl losses, both to the New York Giants.
In 2012, I attended the pre-game festivities of what would become the Patriots second Super Bowl loss. Played, of course, in Indianapolis. There, I met the host of another of my favorite ESPN radio shows “The Herd” and took with him the picture that would remain my Facebook cover-photo for many months.
As for my hometown, I wasn’t even aware its airwaves carried an FM sports show until the day I graduated, when I was offered an internship at 95.7 The Fan on its morning show “Ragz and the Bartender”.
The experience would change my outlook on radio irrevocably.
From introducing me to the wonders of caffeinated sports rants to giving me my first taste of what it felt like to have my voice broadcasted into hundreds of cars, 95.7 The Fan was the reason I sought out a radio opportunity the moment I arrived on campus as a freshman. Had I not interned with Ragz and the Bartender, I may have never discovered what has been my greatest extracurricular passion at IU: WIUX.
This summer, I made it out to Boston for the first time. I spent six weeks in my adopted city; walked the field where the Patriots score touchdowns, the court where the Celtics dunk, and in the shadow of the Green Monster, where Fenway home runs fly. Yet my favorite part was listening to the radio during my daily commute. From Dale and Holly to Felger and Mazz, there was round-the-clock, non-stop Boston sports talk.
Often times, I would extend my drive, navigating the historic streets—and the insane traffic—of the city, all for the pleasure of hearing a few more minutes of premium sports talk.
WIUX has given me a chance to learn from my sports talk idols, to mirror their craft. It has granted me close-up views of places I never dreamed I’d go: the court of Assembly Hall, the infield of Little 500 and soon, Michigan’s Big House.
Though I may still be the only Patriots fan at WIUX, it has given me an hour—every week—where the opinions of that once spiteful 12 year-old individual matter.
And that’s why I love Pure Student Radio.
Follow Tori on Twitter @ToriZiege and listen to her on “The War Room” Fridays from 6-7 pm