Recent UNL grad starring at new sports radio station

Jake Bogus, left, and co-host Adrian Fiala interview former Nebraska football player Larry Jacobson during “The Drive,” their show on 93.7 The Ticket.

Story and photos by Dan Hoppen, NewsNetNebraska

Jake Bogus is about to have one of the most important meals of his life, and he’s nervous.

It’s April 2010 and he’s about to sit down with Nebraska linebacker Eric Martin and pitch a video idea to him, a spot that will portray the 260-pound sophomore as the Huskers’ new starting quarterback.

The idea was forged between two friends over pizza and beer. Bogus and Tanner Struckman, both University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, wanted to create a website that would allow them to record and post sports podcasts. They decided to call it Double Take Sports.

But there are thousands of such sites on the Internet. If Double Take was to gain any traction, Bogus knew he and Struckman needed a big idea to put the site on the map.

They decided on the spoof video with Martin and pitched it to him. Martin loved the idea and got several other Huskers to participate. Bogus and Struckman filmed the video and immediately posted it on several Husker message boards. The video quickly became a hit and now has more than 34,000 views on YouTube. Traffic to the site spiked and was soon getting more than 200 visits a day.

The site wasn’t Bogus’ first foray into the world of sports broadcasting, but it was another major milestone in his road to becoming programming director and talk show personality at 93.7 The Ticket, Lincoln’s new sports talk radio station. It’s a tough role to get for a seasoned veteran, much less a 23-year-old, fresh out of college.

“I really wanted to be a sports talk radio host and I’m very passionate about Nebraska athletics,” Bogus said. “I got my dream right out of college. Things have a way of working themselves out in this world, and so far I really believe that.”

* * * * *

Jake Bogus is quitting today. There will be no two weeks notice.

It’s fall 2006, and his boss at the grocery store is laughing.

Bogus’ reason for leaving? He always has to work Saturdays and Sundays and he’s tired of it. He wants to watch football.

His boss doesn’t understand, but Bogus is very passionate about sports. They are meant to be a part of his life. A few months away helped him realize that.

Bogus was a good athlete in high school but decided not to go out for basketball and football at Minden High. At the time, he was more interested in his involvement in music, speech team and acting. He had a couple of older friends who graduated and moved to California to try to become actors. They eventually became part of a singing and dancing group, and Bogus wanted to join them.

So after he graduated, Bogus drove alone to the Golden State. He tried acting and got into the theater college. He even tried stand-up comedy for a bit. But after a semester, Bogus changed his mind.

He had been the PA man for many sporting events at Minden, and his best friends had been athletes. He missed sports. So he traded his grocery store job for an umpiring gig. It was fun and paid better, too.

But that didn’t quite quell Bogus’ sports thirst. When he came home for Christmas, he had a talk with his mom and told her he wanted to go into sports journalism. He finished the year in California, doing some writing there. But in the fall of 2007, he transferred to Nebraska.

Bogus always tried to include sports segments into his assignments for broadcast classes. Some of his professors resisted, but Bogus was persistent, a trait that served him well as his college career advanced.

“I can’t tell you how many times in my life, especially in college, that I really knew I wanted to do something but didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it,” he said.

Soon after arriving at UNL, he met Rick Alloway, an associate professor of broadcasting. Bogus was seeking an opportunity to get into broadcasting. Alloway suggested high school football games, but Bogus wanted to go in a different direction.

“He had some ideas of things to get me involved but nothing interested me,” Bogus said. “I said, ‘Rick, I really want to talk about sports. I’ve got opinions. I’m tired of writing hard news articles for other classes. It’s boring to me.’ He was like, ‘Here’s the last thing I can give you.’”

Alloway knew 1480 KLMS, the ESPN radio affiliate in Lincoln, had some UNL alums and was looking for interns. He gave Bogus a business card for Chris Schmidt, an employee for Three Eagles Communication, which ran the station.

“What he needed was an opportunity to get in somewhere whether he was making money at it or not, but just as an opportunity to make some connections and to see what broadcast was like on a regular basis,” Alloway said.

Bogus called Schmidt that night and gave him his pitch.

“I will work for free,” Bogus said. “I just want to hang out at your radio station all the time.”

He interviewed the next day and got a job answering phones and setting up remote calls. He was not paid. But it was perfect.

“I fell in love right away,” Bogus said.

After a while, Schmidt was let go from the station and Bogus started to produce “The Streak,” a show with Jason Peters and Jeff Wilkerson, a role model whom Bogus said he’s modeled his shows after, until the show ended in December 2009.

In May 2009, Bogus and fellow UNL broadcast major Struckman pitched an idea for their own sports talk show to Three Eagles. They were turned down, and Bogus was asked to move back to the operating board. A few days later, Bogus was told he didn’t need to come in any more.

* * * * *

Jake Bogus is popping champagne with the rest of the crew at 93.7 The Ticket, Lincoln’s newest radio station.

It’s just before 11 a.m. on August 15, 2011. After months of hard work, the station is finally ready to go on the air. John Gaskins and Tom Stephens will kick off the station soon, and Bogus couldn’t be more excited.

“It was such a long process to get this baby on the air,” he said. “There were engineering problems at first. It was a disaster and it was tough to sleep at night, just saying, ‘I think I have a job, but I don’t know yet because I haven’t been on the air.’”

He might not have been in this position without Struckman, his best friend. Double Take Sports had been a great success and the pair had gotten credit for it as an independent study. After Struckman graduated, Bogus continued Double Take his senior year with another friend, Wade Hilligoss.

But Bogus’ college career was over and he needed a job. In November 2011, Schmidt told him about Jim Keck, who was starting a new sports radio station. Keck had seen Double Take and wanted Bogus to run his website.

“I said ‘yes’ in a heartbeat,” Bogus said.

Keck had worked with Bogus previously when both had been employed at Three Eagles.

“I realized he was a hard worker and I liked his approach and his voice,” Keck said. “He was always promoting himself. At first glance, he doesn’t have the experience. But you have to get that experience, and that’s how I saw him. He was not my first choice, but with that said, he’s my best choice looking back.”

Bogus was hired to be the station’s web director, but quickly found himself in line for a promotion. Keck talked to several people about being the station’s program director but none bit. So Bogus was promoted. Instead of just running the website, he’d now be booking guests, managing shows and attending sales meetings, all on top of hosting a show from 3 to 6 p.m. with Adrian Fiala, the longtime voice of Husker football on the radio.

“I couldn’t afford the big studs,” Keck said. “I couldn’t afford Kevin Kugler. I couldn’t afford Jim Rose. I have to start with a young, inexperienced person and hopefully they mature and get their experience quickly and sound great. The mistakes he makes, he makes once. Then he corrects them and moves on.”

Keck said he had no hesitations about pairing the 64-year-old Fiala with the recent college grad, but he did keep an eye on the situation to make sure the two meshed well.

“I like the ying and the yang of them,” Keck said. “You have one from a young perspective and another one from an older perspective. I think that makes good radio. Adrian can pick up the phone and invite old Huskers to be on the show. Jake couldn’t do that because they don’t know who he is. It’s a good balance.”

The experiment has been a success so far. The station is off the ground and keeping Bogus “constantly busy.” He’s worked hard to give The Ticket a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and 93.7, according to Keck, has “more guests than anybody.”

The pairing of Fiala and Bogus? Keck believes that’s working, too. The difference in experience and knowledge that each side offers has provided a new listening experience for Lincoln sports fans. As time has gone on, Fiala and Bogus have gotten to know each other’s on-air personalities better, making the duo stronger. For example, Bogus said he can get Fiala fired up on the air “whenever I want to.”

Fiala is a long-time radio personality but doesn’t mind working with his green partner. He said he thinks it’s been a valuable learning experience for them both.

“It’s good because we offer two very distinct points of view – my seasoned, old point of view and the young, rookie point of view,” Fiala said. “It’s worked out very well so far. Sometimes sparks fly and sometimes they don’t. That’s just how things work.”

Just five years ago, Bogus was leaving a job because it hindered his ability to be involved with sports. Now he has a job doing the very thing he dreamed of doing.

It wasn’t always easy. He was turned down many times. But he had a goal and wasn’t going to stop until he reached it.

That’s why he advises current journalism students to stick to what they believe will work, even if they are met with some resistance.

“Take risks. Go with your gut and the puzzle pieces will fall into place,” Bogus said. “This is going to sound kind of corny, but dream big. Seriously. There’s nothing you can’t do if you really want to do it.”

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