Sportsathon Testimonial: Jim Sannes

WNUR Sports Director Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) explains the role that WNUR has played in his life and why Sportsathon is important to him.

Jim (right) broadcasts alongside Tom King for the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League.

SCENE: Second grade. Kasson Miss and Master Pageant. Little Jimmy Sannes is asked what he wants to be when he grows up, to which he responds, “A weatherman!” Little Jimmy later realized that he was afraid of rain. Career aspirations… crushed.

From then on, Little Jimmy (that’s me) stopped talking in the third person because that’s just weird.

After my desire to become a weatherman died, I set my sights on sports broadcasting. Growing up listening to broadcasters such as Dick Bremer, Jon Gordon and Paul Allen showed me how much fun it can be to talk about sports for a living, and I told everyone I could that I was going to be on ESPN one day.

My hometown of Kasson, Minn, has a population (5,978) smaller than Northwestern’s undergraduate enrollment (8,367), and it got the first stoplight in the entire county in 2000 (GET AT US, DODGE CENTER!). So, when you declare to your entire class that you want to be on ESPN when you’re eight years old, word gets around pretty quickly.

In one of my classes during eighth grade, we had an assignment in which we pretended that we were choosing which college to attend. Naturally, I let Google choose for me. I searched for the best broadcasting schools in the country, and the top two that I found were Syracuse and Northwestern. I didn’t think Orange would complement my curves, so ‘Cuse was out. Once I researched Northwestern and found out that my idols like Mike Greenberg, Michael Wilbon, and Kevin Blackistone all went there, my decision was made.

As I went through high school, reality started to set in. Not many people actually get jobs as broadcasters, and the ones that do have a high workload with little pay. Problems. So, I made the natural transition from broadcasting to statistics because actuarial science is TOTALLY cooler than watching sports.

When I was accepted to Northwestern on March 26th, 2010 (I had my mom hack into my email to see what the verdict was), I planned on being a statistics major because it seemed like the safer, more sensible route.

The summer before I arrived in Evanston, I was patrolling the Class of 2014 Facebook group and saw a post about sports broadcasting from former WNUR Sports Director Seth Bernstein. I responded to the post, and it was off from there.

The great thing about WNUR is how many opportunities you get to be on the air right away. During my freshman year, I got to host the SportsVoice (and lose terribly at Pick ‘Em), travel to Minnesota with the women’s basketball team to do color commentary, and do play-by-play for baseball and softball. The experience I gained through these opportunities single-handedly rekindled my desire to be a broadcaster and brought about an opening that could help me get there.

Because of my time on air as a freshman (and a combination of assistance from WNUR Sports Finance Director Adam Seidel and sheer luck), I was able to land a job alongside Adam as a radio broadcaster for the Wisconsin Woodchucks. The ‘Chucks are a team in the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate baseball league in the Midwest. I got to call 70 games (46 of which were losses) as I got a taste of the dream job from my youth.

In the fall, I was able to do color commentary and sideline reporting for football games through WNUR. Because I played football in high school (and formed a band with my fellow offensive linemen called The Obes’ty Boyz), it has always been my favorite of the major sports. Being able to stand on the sidelines in Champaign was absolutely breath-taking and a day I will never forget.

The reason that I ran for sports director this spring was that I wanted to give back to the station that had given so much to me. It seems like a century ago that I was a stats major that had no intentions of going into broadcasting. WNUR has allowed me to travel all around the Big Ten and spend now two seasons with the ‘Chucks. These are things that I want other students at Northwestern to be able to experience, which is why Sportsathon is so important.

Without the donations we receive from Sportsathon, we can’t do any of this. This is the money we use to travel with the teams, allowing us to broadcast from beautiful TCF Bank Stadium, Miller Park, Wrigley Field, and even Madison Square Garden. We also wouldn’t be able to keep our equipment up to date, as last year’s Sportsathon donations went to purchasing our new sideline microphone.

Most of all, these contributions allow the fine folks of WNUR to chase their dreams. Without it, I never would have even thought about pursuing the career I have hoped for dreamed of since I was eight. We can’t do this without you. I can’t express in words how great all of you listeners, readers, and followers have been – thank you all for your continued support. To donate, simply click here, and make sure you tune in from 7:00 pm this Friday until 9:00 pm Saturday for 26 straight hours of sports… what more could you ask for?? (The answer is a pony, but that was a rhetorical question. Either way, here’s a pony.)

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