Pair of communication alumni work sidelines for KSU football

Communications alumni work KSU football sidelinesA pair of Kennesaw State University alumni have been up-close to their alma mater’s football action this season, as both have served as sideline reporters. Nathan McCreary ’06 and Chris Mooneyham ’13 have been on the field for KSU’s football broadcasts on radio and television, respectively.

McCreary, who earned a Bachelor of Science in communication with cum laude honors, moved from TV to radio for 2017. Mooneyham, a first-year member of the Owls’ football broadcast team who worked the first three home games on Peachtree TV, received the same degree with a media studies concentration and minor in film studies.

After a season on the TV side, McCreary jumped at the chance to work all of Kennesaw State’s games, both at home and on the road, which air on ESPN Radio 106.3 FM and 1230 AM The Fan 2.

“I was offered the opportunity to travel with the team and be on the radio broadcast team,” McCreary said. “I’m a radio guy. My entry into broadcasting was radio, so I feel very comfortable in radio.”

Mooneyham, a full-time employee in sports radio at 680 The Fan, was on TV when the Owls won their home contests with Tennessee Tech, North Greenville and Texas Southern. He joined the Peachtree TV group in August, but he is certainly no stranger to broadcasting KSU athletics.

“I first enrolled at Kennesaw State in August of ’96 and instantly tried to start a radio station,” Mooneyham said. “When I got to KSU, there was no broadcast program, no KSU sports network or anything like that, so I wanted to make something happen. After a couple failed attempts to start a radio station, in ’98 I discovered that really the best way to make it happen would be to raise sponsorship dollars from different businesses around the area. So, I literally took all that money we made and went and bought airtime from WCHK 1290 AM up in Canton. That’s when we started broadcasting KSU baseball, the national championship game in ’98 – that’s the team that went 61-5 – and a few more games in ’99 including the national championship game, more in 2000 and 2001, and then 2002 was probably the peak when we did 25-26 games that year, including that unbelievable regional and the national championship tournament.”

Mooneyham went on to call Kennesaw State baseball until 2006. His last KSU assignment before the Owls’ football home opener on Sept. 9 was a baseball game at the University of Georgia on March 14, 2006.

Besides football, McCreary has been active broadcasting several other Kennesaw State sports, mainly as the play-by-play man, over the past few years. He got started after the Owls’ move from NCAA Division II to Division I about a dozen years ago.

“In ’05, after the basketball team won the national championship, KSU moved to Division I and joined the ASUN Conference, and the ASUN required that they broadcast like 60 events via the internet,” McCreary said. “I was writing for The Sentinel – I had written for the student newspaper for four years covering sports and was a senior sports writer – when Mark Toma, the SID (sports information director) at the time, asked me if I’d be interested in coming in and doing some games. The 2005-06 season was the first season. In 2008, they signed a contract with ESPN3 and from there it just really took off. I’ve done Kennesaw State soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, you name it. This is a side gig that I do as an alumnus and as just someone who loves being around the great people here at Kennesaw State.” Outside of their work with KSU, McCreary and Mooneyham hold full-time jobs.

McCreary, who spent four years in the United States Air Force Academy following his graduation from Walton High School in 1993, currently works as a lieutenant and spokesperson for the Cobb County Police Department.

“I worked with the military police so when I got out, I immediately went to apply to agencies around here and got a job with Cobb County,” McCreary said. “I was a road officer for about eight years and then they asked me to move into a media relations role for the police department, so I did in 2005, which was nice because you got out of uniform, you’re off the road and that coordinated with all of the broadcasts. So, since 2005, I’ve been in an administrative role doing media relations for the police department. My full-time job is actually with Cobb County Government.”

McCreary does additional contract work for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Network and Southeastern Conference (SEC) Network.

“I did (University of) Georgia women’s basketball last year, and I do all of Georgia Tech’s home volleyball games and most of their non-conference men’s basketball on AAC Network,” McCreary said.

Since 2014, Mooneyham can be heard on 680 AM and 93.7 FM, where he handles a variety of tasks including serving as a guest anchor and co-host.

“When they need somebody, I’ll fill in on a show during the week,” Mooneyham said. “On the weekends I do the NFL show, Bud Light’s NFL Game Day, College Game Day and I’ll do the Sports Saturday show, but they rotate a lot of us around.”

Over the past eight years, Mooneyham also has been associated with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Network, where he calls the play by play for a variety of sports here in Georgia and elsewhere.

“The NFHS Network is like the ESPN of high school sports,” Mooneyham said. “They broadcast all across the country and have exclusive rights in like 48 states. I’ve had work in Alabama, Indianapolis, Miami, Philadelphia, Houston.”

Both McCreary and Mooneyham said they have had many great experiences as broadcasters but, ironically, their most memorable broadcasts involve the Kennesaw State baseball program and its rich history under longtime head coach Mike Sansing.

“My most memorable broadcast moment, probably, was traveling with the baseball team to the (2012) ASUN Championship down at Stetson,” McCreary said. “You’re there for three or four days and you’re seeing 12 baseball games. Kennesaw State lost its first game and then were in the losers’ bracket so then they had to fight and actually made it to the championship game only to lose. But that moment, being close to Mike Sansing, his coaching staff and some of those players, is very memorable for me.”

Mooneyham’s stint as a KSU baseball broadcaster came earlier than McCreary’s, and there were an abundance of outstanding accomplishments by the Owls during that time.

“To Nathan’s point, when you’re calling a regional or some sort of a tournament in that way, it’s special,” Mooneyham said. “Tobin Harrison and I were fortunate to be the voice of the ’02 national tournament and part of the reason for that is because KSU wasn’t in the 2002 national tournament. That was when the Peach Belt Conference was so strong that we had six teams that finished the year in the top 20 and going into that regional, the four teams were Kennesaw State, Georgia College, Columbus State and North Florida, who were all ranked in the top 11. Columbus State was the No. 4 seed and ended up winning the regional and the national championship.”

The Owls and Columbus State met for the 2002 Division II South Atlantic Regional title, which Mooneyham called at KSU’s Stillwell Stadium. Kennesaw State fell, 13-11 in 10 innings, in what was voted on and named the greatest baseball game in conference history when the Peach Belt celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009-10.

“I’ve never seen any game like it in my life,” Mooneyham said. “It was unbelievable, back and forth, and just crazy.”

Mooneyham and McCreary always had a desire to broadcast sports, and both knew it early in life.

“I’m one of the lucky few. I knew I wanted to do something like this when I was a little kid,” Mooneyham said. “I was a little sports geek, reading almanacs and stuff. I started broadcasting as a freshman at Osborne High School and by the time I graduated I was basically a program director.”

“I was the same way. I knew I wanted to work in broadcasting at a very young age, and I loved sports,” McCreary said. “So when I got out of the military – after traveling, doing the world thing and coming out of Desert Storm – I went to Atlanta Broadcast Institute off Terrill Mill, and was lucky enough to get an internship out of there.”

McCreary interned with The Kimmer Show, featuring Kim Peterson, at WGST AM 640. After six months as an intern, he wound up working at the radio station for six years. He then did some freelance work in broadcasting before deciding to attend KSU.

“I enrolled at Kennesaw State in ’02 and graduated in ’06,” McCreary said. “I just felt like if I wanted to be a professional, then I’d have to go to college and get that degree. I had a tremendous experience and it was awesome. I had the GI Bill from my military (experience) and I also was awarded the HOPE Scholarship, so I didn’t have to worry about paying for college.”

As McCreary became a new alumnus, he was asked to join the KSU Alumni Association board of directors and ended up serving as a director-at-large from 2006-09.

Mooneyham, who also graduated from Atlanta Broadcast Institute as well as the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, took an unconventional route to attaining his bachelor’s degree as well. He attended Kennesaw State from 1996-98 and returned 10 years later.

“I wasn’t ready to be here (coming out of high school),” Mooneyham said. “I was more focused on trying to get that career going and I wasn’t concentrating on school at all.

“I realized I wasn’t getting jobs. Even with all my experience – by ’07 I had been broadcasting professionally for 11 years – I still wasn’t getting jobs. That’s when I realized I needed to go back and get that four-year degree.”

One thing is certain about McCreary and Mooneyham – both are extremely passionate about KSU, especially its athletic programs.

“I’m really blessed to be here, whether it’s radio or TV,” McCreary said.” I love the university.”

Kennesaw State is a special place for Mooneyham as well.

“Through the growth of the university and through all the experiences that I went through here, good and bad, this place is ingrained in my mind and heart so much,” Mooneyham said. “My mother went here, too, in the early ’90s.”