Join Brett Gilliland and Tom Ackerman as they talk about his hard work journey and struggle that ultimately led him to his success. Tom is the sports director at KMOX and the host of The Garage Happy Hour, but getting to where he is today did not happen overnight. His love for the craft, paired with his father’s encouragement, pushed him to live his dream in the sports entertainment industry. In this episode, Tom shares his story of reaching greater heights in order to be where he wants.
Tom loved listening to the radio and watching on the television whenever the St. Louis Cardinals have a game. What even fascinated him as a child were the broadcasters who report the facts and announce the scores. He loved the cadence of the radio broadcast and the excitement of the television broadcast. One of Tom’s favorite sportscasters was Jack Buck, who amazed him so much with the way he talks as if sitting with a friend and explaining the game in the best way possible. Having these influences made young Tom follow them and decide to himself that he will become a sportscaster in the future. He manifested the dream in his playtime – calling his games of throwing a tennis ball outside against a stack of railroad ties like Danny Cox pitching and hitting the strike zone. He even tried imitating the spiels of the sportscasters and even their voices. Tom believes that his love of the sport and the medium brought him to his current work, and he is happy that he gets to live his childhood dream.
Pursuing the Career
Having an interest in sports, Tom was able to experience playing a variety of them: basketball, baseball, football, and even golf. Yet, being a small kid in high school, playing was not working out for him, so he decided to make a change and see if he could get into the press box. He went straight up to the public address announcer and asked about the man’s job. That encounter allowed him to make the call for the freshmen games and eventually became the public address announcer for his remaining years in high school. That was only the start of his experience behind the microphone. Tom applied for a shift in a student radio FM station in college that did a little bit of sports content. During the second semester, he got an opportunity, starting from three in the morning up to six every Monday. As he moved up in college, he eventually got a better timeslot. Tom mustered enough courage to try applying to KMOX with some people to help him get to the door as a reference and land him an interview. Thankfully, he got accepted at KMOX, had his big break as a reporter, and worked there for almost half his life. Tom’s efforts paid off well. His passion and love for the career he chose were the driving force behind fulfilling it.
About Tom Ackerman:
Tom Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX, overseeing a department that serves as the flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. He is also the lead sports anchor on KMOX’s “Total Information A.M.” and a host on the Cardinals Radio Network.
In 18 years at KMOX, Ackerman has worked as a host, play-by-play announcer, anchor, and reporter since beginning his career at the radio station in 1997. He’s interviewed the biggest names in sports, covering Super Bowls, World Series, All-Star Games, and Final Fours. He’s traveled throughout the NFL, launching his career in 1999 with his extensive coverage of the Rams’ Super Bowl title.
For the past decade, Ackerman has called college basketball play-by-play for the University of Missouri, the Missouri Valley Conference, and various national rivalry games, including Syracuse-Georgetown, Kansas-Kansas State, and North Carolina-N.C. State. He’s also handled play-by-play duties for the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Ackerman began his broadcasting career calling play-by-play for Indiana University basketball, football, and baseball for WIUS-AM in Bloomington (1993-1997). He recently served as the delegate for Indiana University president Michael McRobbie at the Saint Louis University Presidential Inauguration. A St. Louis native, Tom is a graduate of Indiana University and St. Louis Country Day School. He and his wife, Angie, live in St. Louis with their daughters, Erika and Audrey.
Outline of the Episode:
[07:05] Tom gives a little background of himself.
[14:21] Telling his experience in college working in an FM station and working full time at KMOX after finishing university.
[18:13] Tom talks about his father, who gave him the motivation for his dream.
[20:51] Doing bold actions to make a statement without being too overly aggressive.
[23:36] Brett dives into Tom’s favorite stuff, making him pick among some choices.
[36:07] Tom’s advice to himself back then.
[41:20] Tom shares his method of how he plans and sets his goals.
[47:03] How Tom keeps his interest in the game.
[50:31] Who Tom wants to interview on The Garage Happy Hour if given a chance.
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