From barely talking to Bear Talking

Rising sophomore David Straub, assistant director of sports, in the KALX studio sitting at the microphone  by Chelsea Siegal

Rising sophomore David Straub, assistant director of sports, in the KALX studio shows off the studio where he works. 
Photo by Chelsea Siegal

BERKELEY, Calif. — The University of California, Berkeley is widely known for many things: amazing academic programs, a picturesque campus and award-winning sports.

Situated in the basement of a building in the middle of the campus is a place that may not be as well-known: KALX, 90.7 FM, the campus’ broadcasting radio station.

The radio station provides students and Berkeley locals with up-to-date information regarding Golden Bears football, basketball and baseball teams through its sports talk-show, Bear Talk.

David Straub, the assistant director of sports, is a sophomore economics major who discovered that the radio programs allowed him to pursue a new passion: sports radio broadcasting. As Straub said, “It’s never too late to get into something like sports broadcasting… as long as you have a passion for it.”

Straub started listening to KALX soon after arriving on campus. He went to a recruiting session to learn more about volunteer opportunities and discovered that those on air for music program were far more knowledgeable than he was.

But when Sports Editor Glenn Borok talked sports opportunities, including a chance to travel with the Cal teams, Straub was hooked. “I like sports. I like seeing sports. I like new places. So that’s all it really took for me to be on board,” Straub said.

Straub was a big hockey fan but not involved in sports in high school and admitted that he sometimes “would root for the wrong team by accident.”

During his first appearance on Bear Talk in the fall of 2014, when the station offered for others to go on during an “open mic” night, Straub gave it shot, but said he felt awkward and uncomfortable being in a room full of sports aficionados making references to three decades of Bay Area sports — which he couldn’t keep up with. “I said two words in the entire half-hour,” he said.

After the broadcast ended, he was sure his radio career was over. Much to his surprise, though, the station called him back the next week and asked if he return for another show. Straub quickly brushed up on Golden Bears athletics.

Straub said that the Sports Department consists of 10-15 students but many members of the community also help on- and off-air, including other Cal alums. During the program, he works with an engineer, a play-by-play reporter, a spotter who assists the reporter, a color commentator and a rotating host. He recently asked to take over hosting and was given the slot. He said he wants to “build on my ability to create story lines.”

A panel of contributors consisting of current students, Cal alumni, Berkeley City College students, and other Berkeley residents participate in the sports programs.

Straub said, “People want a simplified package”  and want one of his strengths is “being able to understand patterns.”

He added listeners “want to be able to hear from people who can tie it together with a pretty bow.”