Last year Eric Shaw and Chris Soloc made a dream become reality when Cougar Talk aired for the first time. Cougar Talk is a sports show on WSAE that features athletics at the University and around the state. The communication students started discussing the possibility of Cougar Talk in the summer of 2003 because both had previous experience in radio talk shows and wanted to increase awareness of Cougar athletics.
Now in its second year of production, Cougar Talk airs every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Popularity has already prompted the show to expand its breadth, covering a larger variety of sports and adding a half hour of air time.
Due to a small staff, last year’s Cougar Talk team was unable to cover all Cougar sports. “When launching a new radio program, it takes time to build a listenership and work out the bugs. During that first year, we worked at refining and improving the program. I’m very pleased with the level of quality we have now attained,” says Michelle Dawson, director of broadcasting.
Previously, Cougar Talk ran for 30 minutes every Saturday morning, focusing primarily on one sport each session. The staff consisted of Shaw, Soloc, and producer Brian Erchenbrecher during the first semester and Josh Colletta, who finished out the year.
Shaw graduated last May and Colletta opted not to come back, but Soloc returned and recruited an elite staff to help run the show. “Our goal is to cover every sport at the University,” says Soloc, director and host of Cougar Talk. “In the past we were only able to focus on a few sports due to the show’s length and limited staff.”
Now that Cougar Talk has the extra time and staff, all 14 Cougar sports teams will receive coverage. Cougar Talk fields three reporters, Eric Rose, Nate Rose, Steve Livingston, and Steve Hudson is the producer.
The Rose brothers and Livingston take microphones and recorders out to the playing field to conduct interviews outside the studio. The reporters will often interview coaches and athletes immediately after games – or practices. Thanks to this style of coverage, more athletes and coaches can be involved. In the past, interviews were conducted primarily in the studio, often making it difficult for busy coaches and athletes to participate in the show.
“Cougar Talk allows us to go behind the scenes and have interviews with coaches and players at SAU,” says Dawson. “It also allows us to preview and promote upcoming games, as well as give a synopsis of games that have occurred in the past week.”
While field coverage is proving to be effective, it is not the only new feature of Cougar Talk. Soloc also hosts Soloc on Sports, a five-minute session in each show where the junior broadcast major rants and raves about any sports-related issue he chooses. Other features on Cougar Talk include the Michigan Sports Minute at 10:30 a.m. and Cougar Flash minutes, which occur twice during each show.
While Cougar Talk is a program that is produced solely by students, Soloc and his staff strive for professionalism. “Some of the challenges we face as a sports casting team is ensuring the material flows well,” says Eric Rose. “We stress quality.” For every one-hour session of Cougar Talk, Soloc works about 14 hours, while Hudson spends around eight hours each week producing the show.
“We are a student station, but we operate with a professional mentality,” says Dawson. “This experience helps us work toward fulfilling the communication department mission to `prepare credible, creative, Christian professionals for a world where mastery of communication skills and technologies is essential.'”
The new and improved Cougar Talk season is just getting started and expectations are high. “There’s quite a buzz about Cougar Talk this year-both on and off campus. I look forward to a great year of providing our listeners with a quality broadcasting program,” says Dawson.