Making good calls: The student-broadcasters who help provide a voice for UNO athletics


Jack Hoover

Two college students wearing headsets are working on a radio show.
University of Nebraska at Omaha students Matt Kirkle and Harrison Popp working for MavRadio.

At any Maverick athletics home event, you can be assured that an Omaha student broadcaster is present.

Whether they’re sitting courtside or up in the press box, these students lend their voices to Omaha athletics as they do play-by-play and color commentary for all Maverick home events. If you can’t make it to a game and want to tune in, odds are you’ll find yourself listening to their voices.

These students are representatives of MavRadio, Omaha’s college radio station. MavRadio is run by Jodeane Brownlee, who has been in charge of the program since 2012.

“When I took over in 2012, people would come in and out as they please, music was on the air, it was off the air,” Brownlee said. “There was no real point to it – it was basically like closed circuit.”

However, since taking over, Brownlee has helped oversee the growth of MavRadio, especially in regards to their sports broadcasting. Originally, MavRadio only had two dedicated sports broadcasters who were responsible for covering all games.

“Now we have many people wanting to join, which was always the vision,” Brownlee said.

One member of MavRadio’s sports broadcasting team is Matt Kirkle. Kirkle does play-by-play for men’s and women’s basketball. For Kirkle, joining MavRadio and being a student broadcaster always seemed like a natural fit.

“I’ve always been a sports guy,” Kirkle said. “I remember specifically – I was in seventh grade and I was listing off the score of a football game that happened the day before, and someone jokingly said, ‘You’d be a good dude on Sports Center.’ I thought about that for a second and thought ‘Hey, that would be a really fun gig.’”

For Kirkle, and other MavRadio broadcasters, covering UNO athletics has become a way for them to live out their dreams in sports. In addition, broadcasting helps prepare students for future careers.

Sophomore Ana Bellinghausen, who also competes in track and field for Omaha, believes that she is learning a lot when she is covering games.

“I enjoy expanding my communication skills, and [being with MavRadio] has helped me in my daily life,” says Bellinghausen. “I’m learning to talk to a Division I athlete and then that can be translated into talking to a future employer or a professor. It’s useful no matter what profession you choose to do.”

While the students are growing their repertoire of skills to use later in life, MavRadio continues to grow as well.

Aside from home athletic games, MavRadio has started to send broadcasters to cover conference tournaments out of state. When Omaha men’s soccer played in its first ever National Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament game, a crew was sent all the way down to Miami to provide coverage for those back home.

MavRadio has also continued to expand outside the realm of radio. Students now conduct video interviews with players and coaches after games and also run their own sports TV segment called “First Warning.”

“We keep getting better and sometimes, I don’t know how,” Brownlee said. “But, it’s because of the students here – they’ve helped build this foundation of excellence that we have.”