Working in the sports entertainment industry is considered to be a dream job by young males around the country. Many of them fantasize about become a professional athlete or even an announcer for televised games. One UWG graduate followed his passion and is now a familiar face on the television network knows as ‘The Worldwide Leader in Sports.’
Todd Grisham graduated from UWG in 1998 with a master’s degree in mass communications.
“When I was younger I kind of wanted to be a disc jockey or radio guy,” says Grisham. His career began while he was still a student at UWG. He worked for a local radio station, KISS 102.7 while pursuing his degree.
Grisham worked at the radio station alongside Jeff Waldrop, a Carrollton native. “I was working as color commentator for Friday night football games and Todd interned and worked as a disc jockey,” says Waldrop. The two established a friendship while covering games for the station.
Although Grisham was only working as an intern, he did not hesitate in seeking a chance to prove himself and get behind the announcer’s microphone. “He wanted to get in on the sports side so he asked the station owner, Steve Graddick, if he could help out on Friday nights,” says Waldrop. “That’s how he got started.”
“I did a Friday night football game and it was the game of the week at Carrollton,” says Grisham. “I heard those guys calling the games, and I thought to myself, man, I can do as good or better than these guys.”
Grisham is a firm believer in hard work and dedication. Working at a local radio station is likely not how many college students would like to spend their Friday nights. For many young adults studying at UWG, the weekend offers a chance to make a trip home, venture out into Atlanta or check out the party scene in Carrollton. Spare time spent working for little or no pay may not sound like fun, but it is precious time that can be used to explore a particular line of work that could pay off in the long-run.
There is often great value in taking opportunities to gain valuable skills in any field of study, even if a student must sacrifice a portion of their social life to get one step closer to landing a job after college. Grisham’s time at KISS 102.7 was a small step that helped him launch a career in sports broadcasting.
“I talked to the station manager and he let me host a halftime show,” says Grisham. “That’s where it all started and I honed my skills there for a couple of years.”
During his time at UWG, Grisham took advantage of another opportunity working for the campus television news station, UTV13. He enjoyed working in front of the camera and soon became interested in pursuing a career covering sports on television. A year before he graduated, Grisham began an internship at a television station in Birmingham.
Working in the communications industry is highly competitive, especially in the area of television broadcast. Grisham, like many other college graduates, found it difficult to find employment shortly after he obtained his degree.
“When I graduated it took me six months to find something. Back in the day you had to dump your resume on a VHS tape. I probably sent out five hundred resume tapes,” he says. “Finally, I got a job offer in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was in the middle of nowhere, USA. I was making no money. I was qualified for food stamps. But, I was on TV, I was talking about sports and I loved it.”
After working for a few different television news stations, Grisham was hired as an announcer for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2004. There, he became known as an on-air personality. He worked at WWE for eight years until he was hired by ESPN in 2011.
“It’s very cool, obviously it’s a dream job,” says Grisham. “I know how lucky I am and how fortunate I am. I never take it for granted.”
While working for ESPN, Grisham has covered everything from NASCAR to college basketball. He has also hosted ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Getting hired by such an elite network is not easy. “You’ve got to be well rounded and very versatile,” he says. “Preparation is the key, you need to know what you should know about what you’re covering.”
His advice for students with a dream of one day working in the communications industry is simple. “You’ve got to start super-small,” says Grisham. “Pretty much everybody that you see on TV, on SportsCenter or any of the big sports channels started out in the middle of nowhere.”
By Donny Karr