Interview with Chris Clayton

Chris Clayton is a play-by-play broadcaster and a University of Oregon alumni, Class of 2017. Chris first met his love for broadcasting his freshman year when he joined the student radio station, KWVA. His passion and drive quickly raised him to the top of the station, earning the assistant sports director position at the end of his sophomore year. He finished his time at KWva as the sports director his senior year. He now calls games for the University of Idaho under ESPN plus. 

What social media platforms do you find most powerful as a journalist?

I think Twitter is the most powerful just because it is so instant, and you’re able to express yourself and update people on what you’re doing at that moment. You know, I think it depends on the person really like that some people’s approach to social media is to put themselves out there and become maybe not an influencer, but become very open and honest about their life, or kind of portrayed in the way of being an entertainer, if that makes sense. So you create content to not just inform people of what you’re up to, and like, hey, look how active I am, I do a play-by-play. But I can be funny and interesting. I like to tweet something out sometimes if I think it’s funny, but also entertaining. That it’s never been more intertwined with somebody’s professional and personal life. 

How does social media impact your work?

Today? I think it’s huge. It’s the future. We’re at a point now where we know that now it’s about how do you use it? And I don’t think I have, I don’t know if anybody has the perfect answer as to how to use it. But you have to be. I think the first step is to get to a point where people care about your opinion. I think some people don’t want to sound negative, but like some people use social media as a route to get to where they want to go. And some people get to where they want to go and then use social media to peel back the curtain and say, here’s what I’m up to. So I kind of take the route of I’m not like all I’m going to be, and then that’s gonna get me a job, I say, I’m going to try to get these jobs through my skills and through connections that I have. I think that’s important because in today’s day and age, when you apply for a job, or anybody hears about you, what are they going to do? They’re going to look you up on Instagram or Twitter. They’re going to say, what’s this person doing? So you can’t just be on LinkedIn, that can’t just be your professional information. I think it’s crucial to have professional and personal crossover in the broadcasting and media world and all your platforms. 

How do you believe social media has enhanced the world of sports?

I think it’s allowed us to know a lot more about athletes and coaches on a personal level. I think it’s empowered athletes. To be able to present their personality and control the narrative. And as somebody who backs up the media and respects the media, obviously I do. I think, for the most part, these athletes are covered fairly. But it is nice to be able to see, unprompted, what these guys want to talk about and what their thoughts and opinions are on different things. So I think it’s fun to be able to watch a game now and know a lot about every player. If you want to learn about a player, in the 80s or 90s, you would be able to find different articles about them, or what the broadcast is telling you. Now we know a lot more like we could look up any athlete and say, Okay, this is his fiancee, this is where he lives, he’s got two dogs, this is what college you went to, this is passionate. That’s pretty cool. You know, that’s a lot of information to have, to be able to have about an athlete. And that’s why I think it’s helped athletes a ton. And I think it is some, the media, some aspects of media, they’ve struggled to keep up and be able to adapt to it. But I just think in terms of enhancing the sports world, it’s helped athletes a lot and this has been cool for them to be able to control narratives.

What is the biggest takeaway from your time at the University of Oregon or just college in general?

It was my dream school. I grew up in Medford, Oregon, Southern Oregon. And so it was just amazing to be able to go there. I think the SOJC was good, but I think the biggest thing that helped me was my time at KWVA. I think for a sports school, I think SOJC can do a much better job. But I think they could at that time do a much better job of opportunities of teaching, play-by-play, and even sports writing. And now that I’ve gotten out in the real world, you see and know kids from Ball State, and from these different schools that had so many hands-on play-by-play opportunities, from their actual educational department. That is something that wasn’t offered at Oregon. So the biggest thing that I took away was my time at KWVA. I think it’s still the same that you don’t get class credits or anything for it. So it is positive that it’s still an entity, you don’t have to worry about getting clearance for certain projects and certain things you can go out on your own. And I met other broadcasters that were my age going through the same thing. So we learned and got better together. And when I was a freshman, I had mentors that were older than me that knew the ropes and taught me. KWVA just really changed my life and taught me how to broadcast. So I learned from those older than me.

Published by Ethan Hartley

Born and raised in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia. Junior at the University of Oregon studying journalism with minors in sports business and music studies. An avid follower of the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and MMA.

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