On the Air
In the Spring of 2022, Chap Radio FM99.1, LCU’s student-run radio station operated by the Department of Communication and Fine Arts, began broadcasting home athletic events—whether at the Rip Griffin Center, the baseball and softball fields, or the track and field complex. This fall, that coverage expanded even more into volleyball and soccer, and has spread beyond the campus news station. As of this writing, the Chap Radio Sports Network is the only student-run radio station in the Lone Star Conference to cover all major sports with radio broadcast.
The return of Chap Radio’s sports broadcasting was instigated by West Texas native and sophomore mass media major, Brennan Riker, who had been involved in calling sporting events since his sophomore year at Post High School.
“I started slowly,” he recalled, “calling a couple basketball games here and there. I worked my way into full-time color commentary for volleyball, and then my senior year I began calling play-by-play for volleyball, women's basketball, and baseball.”
When Brennan came to LCU as a mass media major in the fall of 2021, he immediately plugged into the campus radio station, but he was disappointed that, due to a lack of student interest, there was no sports broadcasting. “It wasn't used to its full potential,” he recalled.
However, in late November, Dr. Shawn Hughes (‘90), professor of communication had heard about Brennan’s passion for sports broadcasting and decided to propose a revival of the program.
“Dr. Hughes approached me and said, ‘Hey, you've shown a great interest in sports broadcasting—how would you like to pilot a sports broadcasting program for Chap Radio?’” Brennan jumped at the idea without balking at the responsibility—Dr. Hughes made it clear that he would oversee that aspect of the station. “’The ball is in your court,’ he told me. ‘You do what you need to do to not only create the program, but to make it the best it can be.’”
Brennan began assembling a few classmates over that Christmas break to help him form the first teams for the program. “I was sitting in the radio station, and I was just calling up all these people trying to get them to come and join us—it was hard at the beginning,” he admitted. “A lot of people were unsure of it—most hadn’t ever done anything like it before. And to be honest, I was thinking in my back of my mind, ‘Do I really know what I'm doing?’ It was just an interesting conversation that I had to have with myself.”
Despite those hurdles, however, Brennan had his team ready to go by the end of January, and they called their first contest on January 20—a Thursday-night double-header between the LCU basketball teams and St. Edwards University, in which the nationally-ranked Lady Chaps prevailed 64-44 and the No.1 Chaparrals won 87-60.
That first matchup was a big milestone for the newly-minted Chap Radio Sports Network, and they continued to call home competitions throughout the remainder of the ’22 basketball season, including some playoff matchups.
“The men's team got to host the South-Central Regional Tournament,” Brennan recalled, “and we got to call that. We didn't even know that we were going to call it until the day before, and I was scrambling to find people because we were entering spring break.” He eventually convinced Nathan Karseno, who now serves as the station’s assistant sports director, to call the game with him, and Dr. Hughes helped in the station as the producer. Brennan recalled that calling such a high-intensity tournament was a surreal moment in his sports broadcasting career. “It was absolutely one of the best experiences I've ever had calling.”
After basketball season ended, it was more difficult to get teams available to call some of the other contests, particularly those that overlapped with LCU’s summer break. However, Brennan worked tirelessly though the summer months to make sure the program was ready to return in the fall, including lining up some added exposure.
“It's been awesome to see how LCU Athletics has embraced us,” he explained. “We've been allowed to conduct simulcasts for our broadcasts of soccer and volleyball games, which means our audio from Chap Radio Sports Network is also used on the Lone Star Conference digital network.”
The Lone Star Conference Digital Network is the digital streaming service that allows fans to purchase access to stream various athletic competitions on demand and is a paid service. “The goal is to give our student broadcasters more professional exposure,” Brennan explained, “and to set a high bar so they can really push themselves and get better as the season progresses.”
Chap Radio Sports Network even landed a sponsor over the summer, Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers, a longtime LCU Community Partner and Lubbock company. This opportunity came after Dr. Hughes suggested that additional support from a sponsor might help expand the possibilities for the program, and Brennan sought assistance from LCU’s Vice President for University Advancement, Raymond Richardson.
“He (Raymond) really helped us out with a lot of this,” Brennan explained. “We had a conversation this summer, and he said, ‘We'll help support you guys ourselves, but we'll also help you find a corporate sponsor.’ So, we set our goal for one sponsor for this school year, and we were able to set up a partnership with Lake Ridge Chapel.”
In August, Brennan and Richardson met with Lake Ridge’s founders, Santos and Valerie Moreno, and they agreed to become Chap Radio Sports Network’s first corporate sponsor.
“That partnership is really what has enabled us to start calling road games,” Brennan emphasized, “because even though the Lone Star Conference is mostly within the state of Texas, it’s very spread out. The support from Lake Ridge Chapel has been so fundamental for our growth.”
When the program first launched, the system was all required to be hard-wired into the campus network to transmit back to the station—a format that made it impossible to broadcast any away games. With help from Dr. Hughes and funding from their sponsor, Brennan worked with LCU’s Technology Department to set up a new rig with remote broadcasting capabilities. “We can call a game anywhere in America,” Brennan boasted.
Richardson’s support has also helped the sports broadcasting team with new t-shirts, broadcaster polos, and even an eight-foot banner to display at games, featuring the Chap Radio Sports Network and the LCU logos alongside the sponsor logo.
On any given game day, a typical broadcasting team contains two students on air: a play-by-play broadcaster and a color analyst. They’re assisted by a producer back at the radio station, what Brennan refers to as “Chap Central,” who switches between the live broadcast and commercial breaks and assists the team with score updates from around the conference, announcements, and other transitions and technical support. “It’s a really good system,” Brennan added, “basic and efficient.”
Chap Radio Sports Network’s manager is proud of the service he started. “I was looking through the websites and social media for other Lone Star Conference institutions, and as of right now, the Chap Radio Sports Network is the only student-run radio station in the Lone Star Conference to cover all major sports with radio broadcast.”
Dr. Hughes added, “The goal is to cover every single game, and this means we need a lot of students to broadcast. This means we use students from many different majors, which is great.”
Chap Radio Sports Network currently has nine team members, including Brennan, the Station Manager and Sports Director, and Nathan Karseno the Assistant Station Manager and Sports Director. Together, they manage training, scheduling, and support for fellow students Landon Parish, Landry McCrady, Nick Teague, Kyler Carrasco, Asa Bean, Olivia Odle, and Robert Cantu.
“It’s just a great group of people—we couldn't do without them,” Brennan emphasized. “None of this is about one person—it’s about everyone. Team broadcasting elevates the college athletics experience, because a lot of schools only have only one person who can put on that headset and sit courtside and be able to share a basketball game through that lens. This is a team effort—without these people helping us, it would be almost impossible to have the Chap Radio Sports Network.”
Dr. Hughes is continually impressed with the success of the program. “We are so proud of the growth of Chap Radio Sports,” he said. “Brennan Riker and Nathan Karseno are doing an excellent job in managing this program.”
Brennan has felt strong support from the department, especially Dr. Hughes, and described feeling empowered by the trust placed in his leadership. “Being given the okay to do this, just hearing, ‘Hey, this is your thing—go out and do it.’ I think that's where I’ve really felt the support from the communication program.”
“This is such a rewarding program,” said Dr. Hughes. “Brennan had a vision, and it so nice to see the results.”