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Volume 41. No. 2.
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Class Act /Jonathan Singer '06

Voice of the Sagehens

MONDAY MORNING, 9 A.M.—Jonathan Singer ’06 sits behind a microphone in KSPC’s basement studio. He lowers his voice—calm, controlled, authoritative. “This morning, House Majority Leader Tom Delay...” It’s a canned bit, no more than three minutes long, a newsbreak during DJ Coty’s underground music show. Singer seems comfortable behind the microphone. His speech is concise, devoid of verbal ticks. His confidence belies years of practice.

“I was always interested in radio of some sort,” he admits. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a radio host.” It wasn’t a dream deferred.

Singer broke into radio with KFXX sports radio in Portland, Ore., when he was in the sixth grade. In hopes of promoting its broadcasts of a new single-A team in the city, KFXX invited area kids to try out for a chance to announce a game during the coming season. Singer gave it a shot. He recalls practicing with the TV on mute for weeks. On the day of the tryouts, “everything just clicked.”

He became a local celebrity overnight and was interviewed by area TV stations. Asked where he wanted to go to college, he said (precociously) Northwestern. “I remember looking at my brother’s college guidebooks—he was applying then—and reading that Northwestern had a good communications program.” However, his mother, Sharon Stern Singer ’72, had attended Pomona.

About the same time, he began calling up local sports talk radio shows. Most of the time he got screened, since guests on most talk radio shows have to be at least 18. But he fondly recalls the Kermit and Mychal Show, a weekly sports talk radio show on KFXX. The show’s producers knew Singer and allowed him to come on the show from time to time. “I was this audacious little kid,” he remembers, “who would call in and argue how Barry Sanders was the greatest running back of all time  . . . They even gave me a nickname: ‘Jonathan the Juvenile.’”

When the Kermit and Mychal Show went off the air, Singer had to be more creative to get past the screeners. “For a while,” he recalls, “I posed as ‘Joe from Aloha.’” The ruse worked. After a few years, he got up the confidence to call into syndicated national shows. “It was fun to be treated respectfully, older than my age. ... I liked challenging the hosts about their assumptions.”

When he was in the ninth grade, an English teacher encouraged Singer to apply for a spot on a nearby vocational school’s sportscast. “1450 AM, KBPS, Portland Public Radio,” he says with a dramatic lilt. For four years, Singer worked as both a play-by-play announcer and a color commentator for area high school basketball and football games. “It made me a much better broadcaster,” he says. Covering games every week, receiving rosters minutes before tip or kickoff, helped him gain composure on the air.

When he came to Pomona in fall 2002, he knew he wanted to continue working in radio. KSPC, the five-college radio station, was an obvious outlet. He quickly moved through the DJ certification and began hosting shows. By his sophomore year, he became the station’s jazz director, a position he still holds.

But his initial love for sports and sports announcing did not take a backseat for long. Ryan Witt, the former men’s tennis coach and sports information director, learned of Singer’s background and immediately hired him. By the end of his first college semester, he was calling Sagehen football games.

Since then, Singer has announced Sagehen volleyball, baseball, basketball and soccer games. The position has been a natural fit, though he admits some of the first games were rough. The first women’s volleyball match he called was only the second live match he’d ever seen. “I had to ask some of the players on the men’s team, who were taking stats, what terms to use,” he recalls. “‘Don’t use spike! There’s never a spike,’ they told me. ‘Talk about blocks, about digs.’”

Singer’s commitment and experience has been a boon to Pomona’s athletic program. “Jonathan has brought a great deal to our athletic events,” says men’s basketball coach Charles Katsiaficas. “He has a good feel for the games and is very professional. The fact that he enjoys what he’s doing really comes through in his work. One might say that Jonathan is becoming ‘the Voice of the Sagehens.’”

Though Singer is not certain whether he will continue announcing sports after Pomona, he intends to use the skills he’s learned calling games. A politics major, he hopes to get involved in a political press office or work in public television or radio. During the past year, he has kept a political blog, www.basie.org, and interviewed a number of prominent politicians, including John Anderson, Wesley Clark, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. (Visit Pomona’s Web for a story on Singer’s blog at: http://www.pomona.edu/events/news/features/101705blogger.shtml.) Singer claims announcing helped him gain the confidence and candor to conduct these interviews.

“To the credit of Pomona, I wouldn’t have been able to be the announcer at a school like USC or Northwestern,” he explains. “But here, I was able to find my niche.”
Noah Buhayar ’05
 

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