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David James: serious about sports.

As a prominent television and radio sports broadcaster, David James, 38, jokes that his greatest career success is "not getting fired real often."

A 1986 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in political science, James' college studies did not lead him to where he is today. "My mom said, 'Pick a major, and if you have to change it you can.' I thought, well, I like sports, I'm pretty good in English, hey, I'll be a sports writer, fully intending to change. I had no idea." Searching for direction, he looked to an assistant newt director at a local television station for advice. "I asked him what I should be. He just kind of looked at me with this amused look like 'you are no naive in the ways of the world.' He said, 'I don't really care. Just get a degree.'"

According to James' former mentor, if a person is sent out to cover a story, and then told to drive 40 miles in a different direction with a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of gear, the theory is, they better be smart enough to complete the task.

James proved himself up to that challenge, and many others, including an interview with Tommy Lasorda at the young age of 23. "I can't remember what I was asking him. Something about all the Dodger players he'd seen and coached." James recalls. "The question came out totally discombobulated. It was horrific and not a proud moment."

After gaining experience with various radio and news positions in California, James moved to Utah about 10 years ago. He recently left 1320 KFAN after hosting a popular morning sports program for five years, and now broadcasts mornings for rival 1280 KZN. "I like their long-term plan, where they want to go, how they think they're going to get there. I think they're going to do a good job and I want to be a part of it," he says.

With his busy work schedule, finding balance is difficult. "I don't. I'm really one-dimensional. I do nothing but sleep and talk sports," he says. In reality, James also spends time outdoors with his wife of 10 years, Marina, and their 4-year-old son, Ryan. "Love Moab. Love Arches. I love all the same places everybody loves. Anytime we get outdoors, that's good. I love history, too, Man, I'm going to end up looking like a geek." Geeky or not, James has a large following, but he takes it lightheartedly "I'm grrrreat What am I now, Tony the Tiger all of a sudden? I think I'm at messed up at everybody else, I just have more hairspray." Humor peppers his conversation. "It's lack of sleep talking. I'm not nearly this funny. Just keep me up and put a bagel in me."

Some of James' most memorable broadcasting experiences involved the 2002 Winter Olympics. "I couldn't believe how many people were out. I couldn't believe how happy everybody was. Locals were happy and people from Out of town were happy. The people from Out of the country were happy. I mean it was a gigantic party. I couldn't imagine that downtown could have been any better."

When aspiring broadcast journalists approach James for advice, he stresses the realities of the job: long hours, pressure and regular relocation required for career advancement. Don't do unless you love it," he cautions. "Don't do it unless you feel like you have to." Does he have any regrets? "No," he says enthusiastically. "Sadly, I'm afraid I was meant to do this."

Casey Basden is editorial assistant at Utah Business magazine.
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Title Annotation:radio station 1280 KZN's David James
Author:Basden, Casey
Publication:Utah Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:May 1, 2002
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