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Media: August 2021 • “New Sports Radio Economy”

| August 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

Jon Zaghloul, the host of the show Sports Talk Chicago (which airs locally on WCKG, AM 1530), was born and raised in Tinley Park, is a graduate of Andrew High School, and currently attends the University of Chicago.

You read that correctly. Currently attends. He’s 21 years old. He was born in the 21stcentury

“I’m entering my fourth year at University of Chicago,” he explains, “but I’m going to graduate early in March.”

No, he’s not studying broadcasting. He’s studying economics. Surely after getting such an impressive degree at such a prestigious university, he’ll leave the microphone behind.

“Actually, I’d like to pursue my broadcasting career,” he says. “If I could use my degree to my advantage, to bring in some of that knowledge to advance my career, that would be great, but the goal right now is definitely to pursue a career in sports media.”

There can’t be too many others on campus following a similar path.

“That’s true,” he admits. “But the university has been very supportive. The student body has been great. Around campus, they say, that’s the radio guy, the podcast guy. One of the student groups even gave me money to buy some equipment. They share a lot of my stuff on social media, and they are proud of the work I do. A lot of them are not into sports, but they see the passion I have for this, and they are very supportive and help me promote.”

Jon’s passion is not an overnight thing. He has been doing this now for eight years, and his family is very supportive of his path.

“My dad has some radio background in the ’90s, but what he really did was get me into sports. We watched Cubs, Bears, and Bulls, and he taught me everything. Then when I was about to turn 13, I told him I wanted to do a show, and he said, ‘well, with the internet, it is possible, but you have to be dedicated, and you have to be consistent.’ So, in August of 2013, Sports Talk Chicago was born. At first, it was just a blog, but it got 500 viewers in the first month, so my dad said, let’s make this a real website. We bought the domain name, got the copyright, and for the first year, I wrote articles while I learned how to podcast. When I was 14, I started the podcast. Those first podcasts are still on the website today, and I’ve since done almost 400 more. My first guest ever was Len Kasper, who was the Cub’s play-by-play man at the time. He was very gracious with his time, and now he comes on every year.”

Last year he took it to the next step.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, it transitioned to radio. WCKG GM Matt Dubiel reached out to me and said, ‘I saw your stuff on Facebook and liked it. Let’s repurpose your show, reinvent it a bit, here’s a timeclock, all the radio and FCC stuff,’ and ever since then, you can hear my stuff on AM 1530, WCKG.  My new timeslot is Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7-8 am. I’m all about truth. I’ve been given free rein by my program director to talk about whoever or whatever I want, and it’s great to have that freedom. In August of last year, I started YouTubing as well, and now all of my content can be seen there as well, and I have 2000 followers already. It’s been a great ride.”

What kind of content can listeners expect when they tune in to Sports Talk Chicago?

“My top two sports are always baseball and football. I played baseball and had a college offer that I didn’t take because I chose the University of Chicago, but I grew up on baseball—especially the Cubs. The Bears and the Bulls came in later. As far as my favorite guests, I have three. Jose Canseco, Warren Sapp, and Mike North. All three are hilarious. All three have great insights. All three are very entertaining and gracious with their time.”

And because he pre-tapes the show, he doesn’t currently have the capability of taking listener calls. That means he is a one-man show, putting it all out there without a safety net.

“But with social media,” he points out, “I don’t lack for interaction. The era of the radio phone call may be coming to an end anyway. I saw a prominent radio personality in Philadelphia tweet that the other day. Twitter may be taking its place. I like the idea that it’s all on you as a host. You have to entertain. You can’t count on callers filling time. You have to be good enough on your own.”

And he’s really serious about pursuing this, even with a University of Chicago economics degree?

“Right now, I’m open to everything. You have to be. But media is what I want to do. I have an LLC already, and I’m looking for sponsors and ad partners. No matter what I do, I see keeping STC (Sports Talk Chicago) media going, regardless of where I end up after graduation.”

Odds are, wherever that is, we will be hearing more from him in the coming years.

Right now, Jon Zaghloul can be heard on weekend mornings, on WCKG Radio, 1530 AM.

-Rick Kaempfer

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Category: Columns, Featured, Media

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