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The Rookies

Saturdays and Sundays 10am-11am

As 1/3 of the Fox Sports Radio Charlotte “Rookies,” I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself so you’ll be able to put a face and personality behind the voice you’re hearing. As a 22 year old Alumnus of Appalachian State University, I consider myself blessed to hold the position I do with Beasley Media Group in Charlotte, specifically with WBCN Fox Sports Radio.

I have spent the entirety of my life living a short drive (now that the construction is in its final stages) from Charlotte up I-85 North. I grew up, and currently live in Salisbury, NC and graduated from West Rowan High School in 2015. It has always been a dream of mine to make a living behind a microphone since I was 16 years old. The journey to this point has been a wild six-year ride and I believe this ride and my life truly began on August 30, 2013. This was the day that I sat in a waiting room in Rowan-Regional Medical Center with my newly widowed mother as we were being told by a doctor that my father has passed away. He was 57-years old and I had just turned 16 one month and a week earlier.

As you could imagine this was a very hard time for my family and I. My father was Ronnie Gallagher, the Sports Editor of the Salisbury Post, a newspaper that prided itself on locality and community engagement. My dad and his team led a sports section that covered local high school athletes as if they were in professional sports. Rowan County, a county with seven high schools, was heaven on Earth for someone like my dad who loved high school sports and greatly appreciated the passion shown by the women and men on the playing field and basketball courts. As a child I would accompany my dad to high schools all throughout the winter and summer. The months of July and August were busy for the sports team of the Salisbury Post as they prepared their annual football preview. I would spend hours outside in the hot country sun as my dad took pictures and interviewed players and coaches. As a young lad, these days sucked, but in hindsight, I am happy that I was able to share those moments with him. You can even catch me in the 2007 North Rowan football team picture as I was bored and snuck my way into the background. It was one of those strange things where I didn’t realize how loved my father was by my community until he passed. For weeks during the 2013 Rowan County high school football season, schools across the county honored my father and sent their thoughts and prayers to me and my own before the games. Without the love and support from my friends, family, and the Rowan County community, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to handle this traumatic experience as well as I did.

Now, let’s fast-forward to March, 2014. I recently started my first job at Chick-fil-A in Salisbury and the weight of my dad’s passing is slowly but surely falling off my shoulders. At school that day I told a friend that I was having a bad week and I didn’t know how to get better. He said him and some friends were going to my high school’s baseball game and that I should tag along. I smiled and later that night I met them at the gate. We’re sitting in the stands and some players on the team come out and ask me if I would like to announce the game for the night. I declined at first, but then they came out and asked again. I said no for the second time, but with the persistency of Dwight Schrute selling Dunner Mifflin paper, they came out and asked one more time. With the help of some friends sitting nearby they finally got a yes out of me (peer pressure is good sometimes). I announced that game and fell in love. That game then turned into me announcing the rest of the season. The next year, my senior year of high school, I announced virtually every sport at West Rowan, and by the time baseball season was over, I was offered my first sports broadcasting position on Memories Radio in Salisbury. Alongside a long-time friend Howard Platt, I made my radio debut in May of 2015 as the color commentator for the 4th round of the 3A Baseball State Playoffs (Marvin Ridge beat West Rowan off of a walk-off home run in extra innings).

A week after my radio debut I attended freshman orientation at App State. This is when I changed my intended major from Criminal Justice to Electronic Media/Broadcasting which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. App was great with giving students hands-on experience. My freshmen year I worked with AppTV helping produce some sports broadcast and working the cameras for various sporting events. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I realized why App State was a perfect school for me, and anyone else who wants to chase the dream of working in radio. App States student-run college radio station is 90.5 WASU-FM. WASU is an award winning radio station and is recognized nationally for its prestige and success. The faculty advisor for 90.5 WASU, Dan Vallie, is a well-established figure in the industry and a tremendous role model for the students walking through the station’s doors in the Beasley Media Complex on Rivers Street in Boone. I took the class needed to be on-air and completed the in-studio training that was required for me to get full credit. Every member of WASU is required to have 2 DJ hours a week where you’re on the mic and playing music. At any given time WASU can have between 60-100 DJs, and a small portion of those DJs are also staff members. I was lucky enough to be on staff the next semester after completing the class (Fall Semester, Junior year (2017)).

I was the Sports Intern on the sports team which had 3 staff positions but nearly 10 participants. As a Sports Intern I helped the Assistant and Sports Directors sort out broadcast schedules, get interviews, train members of the sports team, etc. App State has a sports streaming service called AppVision. If you wanted to watch any App State sports such as Field Hockey, Volleyball, Soccer, Baseball, Softball, etc. you could catch it on AppVision. Usually members of WASU’s sports team were the ones doing the broadcast so right away as the Sports Intern I was on the mic for soccer and volleyball matches. That year I was scheduled to be on the call for one App State Football game as WASU’s sideline reporter. Another opportunity presented itself to me and I elected to give up that sideline gig so I could work with Adam Witten of the IMG Network as an intern and spotter. Before every home football game me and one other intern would set up the stage and scene for their two-hour long Mountaineer Pre-Game show. It was a hustle. The pre-game show would end at 3:02 and kickoff was at 3:30. We had to break down the stage, which took between 15 and 20 minutes. Push this heavy, and I DO mean heavy, cart through a crowd of App State fans who most likely have been drinking since the crack of dawn and carry heavy, and I DO mean heavy, cases of broadcast equipment through that same mob of drunken Mountaineer fans. The worst part was getting to the elevators and realizing the we weren’t going to be able to fit on one anytime soon, so we had to carry those heavy, and I DO mean heavy, cases of equipment up eight floors to the top of Kidd Brewer Stadium and into the broadcast booth. That all had to be done in 26 minutes. It seemed like the impossible but my fellow intern Michael and I were intern wizards and were able to make it happen. Once we got up to the booth I took over as the primary spotter for Adam Witten and Pierre Banks and Michael, being the smarter one of the two, would handle the stats. Working with Adam, Pierre, Molly Cotton, and Michael instead of doing that one sideline gig was a move that worked out well for me. I was able to study what Adam did as a play-by-play broadcaster, listen to crisp calls of an unprecedented App State Football team, and get to enjoy game days at The Rock from the best seat in the house.

Later on that year I got my foot in the door as a Public Address Announcer for App State Women’s Basketball, Field Hockey, Baseball and Softball. I also started learning how to work at a radio station. I became familiar with the board and how to work it. Practiced audio editing as well as being on specialty shows such as WASU’s very own sports talk show, SportsWrapp. My junior year ended with me being promoted to WASU’s Assistant Sports Director and accepting a position as the play-by-play broadcaster for Boone’s Arena Football team the High Country Grizzlies.

I worked with one of my best friends Gray Salter to ensure that Grizzlies fans were getting the best possible broadcast if they couldn’t make it to the game. One thing I learned from Adam, and other mentors along the way, is that in radio or broadcasting in general, you don’t get paid to talk, you get paid to prep. Gray and I would spend hours together the weeks leading up to a home game to watch film, discuss storylines, gather stats and do anything that can make this a complete and knowledgable broadcast for the listener. At the time I was 20 years old and Gray was 19. We wanted to prove to the fans and the league that we are young but we are professional-we mean business. Along with calling the games, Gray and I would also host a pre and post game show, as well as a weekly coaches show called Inside the Coaches Den. You can see all of these the High Country Grizzlies YouTube channel. At the end of the season the Grizzlies record didn’t turn out the way we all wanted but a few days after the end of the season, Gray and I were recognized in a way we didn’t see coming. The Grizzlies were apart of the American Arena League (AAL), and as the Grizzlies broadcasters, Gray and I were awarded the title as the Best Broadcast Team in the AAL by FiftyYarder.com. We also had the story covered in the Watauga Democrat. For two college students who are wanting to be on the radio and succeed professionally as sports broadcasters, this was a tremendous honor. It was an outstanding way to end my junior year of college.

Going into my senior year, and first year as Assistant Sports Director of WASU, I was excited and scared. I’ve never had this much responsibility and life is no longer about what’s best for me. It is now what’s best for the station. Weekends were busy for Joshua Kornmayer, who was the Sports Director and myself. Friday nights we traveled the foothills calling high school football games for Wilkes County high schools and Saturdays we’d be right back up the mountain, prepping and getting ready to broadcast an App State Football game. Going back to what I said about how great App State is with giving students hands-on experience- WASU had our very own broadcast booth where we could broadcast App State Football games on 90.5 WASU-FM. The same thing went for App State basketball games. On top of all this I had a weekly radio talk show called The Mackie Move. This is when I noticed it’s not just sports broadcasting that makes radio amazing, its just that everything about radio is amazing. On my show I had interviews with groups and organizations who wanted to get the word out about the events they were having as well as talk about local and national news stories. For the first semester it was just me on my show, but over Christmas Break I contacted the man, the myth, the legend, Clay Councilman and asked if he would like to co-host every week with me. From then on Monday nights from 9-10pm was my favorite part of the week. By having Clay on the show, I learned that for me it is always best to have someone in the studio to interact and goof off with. If you want an idea of how our show went, one night we talked about my mom making a horrible choice and training to become a bee keeper, how the show Finding Bigfoot and me calling for Bigfoot in the woods behind my house prepared me for Public Address Announcing, and spent 10 minutes saying Chuck Norris jokes. Not the most elegant show, The Mackie Move. The show was popular in Boone and we informally referred to it as The MackClay Move once Clay came on. During The “MackClay” Move era of my life, one aspect of radio came to my attention- the popular anonymity of being an on-air personality. What I mean by this is that people know who you are without actually knowing who you are. I’d be at The Local in Boone on a Thursday night and someone would ask me what I do and I tell them that I work at the radio station. If they heard my show before they would put two and two together, recognize my voice and realize that I was the person talking to them a few nights ago or whenever they listened. And I think it’s safe to say that if you’re on-air in radio, there are only a few things that are better than being told “I love listening to you on the radio,” or anything along those lines. Hosting The Mackie Move with Clay and working alongside some of the finest people I’ve ever met solidified my love for radio and ensured me that I made a right choice on what I want to do for the rest of my life- it was only a matter of how can I keep this going after graduation? Also, ever since I was a kid I’ve had the personality of always wanting to be the center of attention (There! I admit it) and radio is a good outlet for me.

For anyone in North Carolina who sees themselves wanting to be in radio should check out the National Radio Talent System and the Kellar Radio Talent Institute at App State. I attended it twice, once in the summer of 2018 and this past summer. This is how I met the amazing people with Beasley Media Group in Charlotte. It’s a 10-day experience where you learn everything you can about radio from professionals in the business. Beasley had a panel come up one day and that’s when I introduced myself and told them what I was aiming for in life. Like I said earlier, I am truly blessed to have this position. I worked hard to get where I’m at but I’m also humble enough to say luck and being in the right place at the right time has played a significant role in this journey. I’m truly thankful for everyone in my life who has complimented me on my talent or has gone out of their way to give me a little mental boost when I needed. Kind words from kind people mean more than you think.

Losing people you love at a young age puts life into perspective. You can either let it defeat you and let the negativity consume your life, or you can learn from it and grow. I believe that most things happen for a reason. If my dad was still alive, would I have been having a bad week? Would I have gone to the first baseball game where they needed an announcer and find my passion and my purpose in life? I truly don’t know. I try not to consume myself with “what ifs.” One thing I do know is that the best thing to ever happen to me came because of the worst thing to ever happen to me- and that my father did not die in vain. His death led me to my true love, and I am carrying on his legacy of covering sports and trying to spread joy through the community. I know this is long, but if there’s anything you take away from it, let it be that I am thankful I am apart of your community and I appreciate any second you spend listening to me. I am always open to constructive criticism. I will never be perfect, but I can try to be everyday. Also, life is too short to not spread around happiness. You never know what someone is going through. As a 16-year old who just lost his dad forever, a simple smile from a stranger at school improved my day tenfold. You can never tell the people you love that you love them too much.

Thank you for the love and support. I’m excited for what’s to come.

 

P.S. Five things about me that mean absolutely nothing to you:

  1. I can recite all of John Mulaney’s comedy specials virtually word-for-word
  2. I was bitten by a Copperhead when I was 11 years old- Kind of mad I never got superpowers from it.
  3. I can imitate the Carolina Panthers growl (don’t believe me, follow me on Twitter @MackieGallagher and look at my pinned tweet)
  4. I love, LOVE Bojangles- health issues pending
  5. I will randomly announce anything in my “PA Announcer Voice”- If you’re around when this happens, I’m sorry.