AIR TIME

by Pam Shebest

Answer: His Internet singing debut.
The question: What happened when Mike McCann '12 forgot to turn off the microphone?

If that smacks of "Jeopardy," it's fitting. After all, the popular television show helped clinch McCann's decision to come to Kalamazoo College.

The Northville, Mich., native was deciding between Michigan State and Kalamazoo College, but after talking with baseball coach Matt Rix, he was sold on becoming a Hornet.

"Coach Rix did a very good job recruiting me, and one of the big things was when we talked on the phone, we talked about 'Jeopardy' for 45 minutes, which I play every night and I love it and record the episodes at my house," the junior said.

"It was the sort of decision that I'm sure a lot of athletes go through: Do I want a big school or do I want to keep playing and get a better education here at Kalamazoo?"

Like many who want the best of both worlds, McCann chose "K". And his future has taken a new direction, and not as a second baseman.

McCann is doing a summer internship with the Kalamazoo Kings, a member of the Frontier Baseball League, as their Internet broadcaster.

And that's where the gaffe occurred.

He was playing music between innings and just singing along in the press box.

"I said 'I hope you enjoyed my singing voice,' and when I went to turn my microphone up, it was already up and I was like, 'Well, they just heard me singing Brad Paisley.'

"Luckily I wasn't saying something bad. I was just sitting there singing, which could have been a lot worse, I don't think I'll make that mistake again."

McCann is officially a history major, but plans to make that a double major, adding business and even including a political science minor. He also works with sports information director and assistant baseball coach Steve Wideen, and that's how he ultimately landed with the Kalamazoo Kings.

When he was very young, McCann would turn the volume down on his video games and do his own play-by-play, so when he got to 'K', he asked Wideen if anybody did play-by-play for Hornet sports. Wideen said no, McCann volunteered, and a career was born.

He first worked with Kory Lee, an experienced play-by-play radio announcer, broadcasting Hornets football. When Lee offered him the second half play-by-play, McCann jumped at it.

"I did women's soccer as well, last year, and a little bit of volleyball and men's and women's basketball, and we're going to expand a little bit more this year," McCann said. "I can't do baseball since I play on the team."

When he was in college, Wideen worked for the Kings, and McCann asked if he could use his connections to secure a summer job for him.

"Mike is a perfect fit behind the mic," Wideen said. "He enjoys talking and telling stories and you can really tell he loves what he is doing."

He also has a keen insight into the game after playing travel baseball since he was nine years old.

Although he wasn't a regular starter until his sophomore season at K-College, he carried a .344 batting average in MIAA games last year and was second on the team in runs scored.

His freshman year, he was the team's Rookie of the Year.

As well as his college baseball career is going, his coach said his future is definitely in broadcasting if he pursues it.

"He is a natural," Rix said. "When we recruit kids and
"Luckily I wasn't saying something bad...just sitting there singing."
talk to kids about Kalamazoo, we make sure they know that Kalamazoo allows you to find your passion and go as far as you want to go. Mike's passion is broadcasting and that kind of came out last year, and somewhat his freshman year, something no one ever knew. When he started interviewing the coaches, his preparation was unmatched. He's very, very good, so it's exciting that he has had that opportunity with the Kings."

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a 20-year-old to be able to say he broadcasts minor league baseball," McCann said.

The position is unpaid, but, said McCann, "I have great parents, and my dad said this is your dream so we'll make it happen (financially). Take the job."

The first road trip was an eye-opener.

"They're everything a minor league bus trip is cracked up to be - cramped sleeping, watching 'Road House' with Patrick Swayze, and stopping at Mabel's Diner on the way." McCann said.

"It's definitely an experience and it's a test. My dad told me, 'You learn now if you can do it.' I definitely want to do it."

McCann plans to base his Senior Individualized Project on this internship.

"I talked with Coach (Jeanne) Hess about the possibility of a SIP on the daily routine, scorekeeping, preparation, and, ultimately, the way I call the games - the art of it, if there's such a thing," McCann said.

After completing the summer season with the Kings, McCann can currently be heard broadcasting fall sports for Kalamazoo College. He can be heard most Saturdays calling football games as well as volleyball and men's and women's soccer during the week. Tune in online.

Photos by Ron White

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