Milwaukee Talks: FSN Wisconsin reporter Craig Coshun
Podcast: Craig Coshun talks about how easy it is to stay energized during a long season
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FSN Wisconsin reporter Craig Coshun keeps himself busy. Between covering both the Brewers and the Bucks, Coshun commutes back and forth from Verona, sometimes only seeing his two sons for an hour a day -- when he's not traveling with the teams on the road.
Still, Coshun doesn't call his job "work," and realizes that he's living his dream job. In a career that has included roles as television anchor, reporter and play-by-play announcer, Coshun is a veteran who's worked his entire adult life covering local teams.
Prior to joining Fox Sports Net, he was sports director at Madison's WMTV and cut his teeth at Eau Claire's WEAU. He eats, sleeps and breaths this stuff, and you'll never once hear him complain that he's tired of talking sports.
We caught up with Coshun recently at Miller Park. Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Between the Brewers and Bucks games, is there a day you're not working on TV?
Craig Coshun: The key word there is "work." I still haven't worked a day in my life, because I've been doing this since I could chatter in grade school. I thought to myself, if I couldn't be a ballplayer or a firefighter, I want to be broadcaster.
OMC: You've had a three-part career as a reporter, anchor and play-by-play guy. Can you tell me the Craig Coshun story?
CC: My real story was how long it took me to settle in college, to say to myself, "I can meet this challenge." It's a highly competitive field. I went to Oshkosh and transferred to Whitewater. I went to this bar and that bar and did that scene.
OMC: So you were a pretty fun guy in college?
CC: We had fun. But I finally found my niche in college cable and radio and writing. I just got involved. That helped me, because I got an internship in Eau Claire. It was my first job, before I was even done with college. It was one of those things, like, do you quit school and go to work? Absolutely, but I worked it out where I was able to finish up my degree. I did it, and I was finally proud of myself. From there, I just worked my rear end off because you have to take everything that comes your way. You're young, you don't need sleep. I did the second shift broadcasting on TV, for a year I did morning sports radio on FM in Eau Claire. Five or six days a week, I was doing something around the clock. It made me more rounded.
I moved to Madison after that, which was key for me. Sometimes you have to walk into things. Our station acquired the rights to Badger sports. There was a need for play-by-play, which was something I always wanted to do. Once I did that for eight years, ESPN regional came in, and I did more work with the Big 10, and finally got out of everyday grind in 200 of working behind the anchor desk and actually started working for a team -- the Brewers and the Bucks.
OMC: Do you like that side of the business better?
CC: Very much so. The ultimate in this business is working for the broadcast of a game. The preparation is extremely enjoyable, getting to know players and coaches and telling their stories. Letting the game play out, win or lose, and doing a post-game show. When it's done, you forget about it. You don't have to cover the Packers for seven more days after a loss and beat stories down to death.
OMC: Do you still do play-by-play?
CC: I do a limited basis for the Big 10 Network.
OMC: Does that keep you sharp?
CC: Just being in the business keeps you sharp. It's kind of surprising to say that, but I don't have a real heavy load because I'm committed to doing Bucks and Brewers. When you add up the numbers, that's a lot of dates, especially when you throw travel into the mix.
OMC: And you live in Madison, too. You must be on the road all the time.
CC: It's a long commute. Last night, we had a late game, a half-hour TV show, then Trenni (Kusnierek), Davey (Nelson) and I trade off doing WTMJ's radio post game, which is another hour after that. Then I went through nighttime construction and got home at 2 a.m.
My kids are in sports camps this summer, so I've seen them for an hour a day this week. Then we hit the road. You have to take advantage of that hour a day.
OMC: Is it hard to be an expert in both the Brewers and the Bucks?
CC: No, it really isn't. It's the same city, and there are so many similarities on how the teams are put together and run, and how the seasons overlap. It makes it kind of cool, especially when both teams are winning at the same time. April can be a really fun month in this city.
OMC: Is it more fun to be a broadcaster when the teams are winning?
CC: No doubt. But I thought, early on, when we went through struggles, always losing on the road and getting swept, it's still really enjoyable to come to the games and tell the stories of 25 guys.
OMC: Working with Davey Nelson has to provide some unique challenges. Everyone tells me that Davey is the nicest guy in the world, but he's new to this side of the business. You, however, have been a broadcaster for a long time. How do you get the best from him, without appearing condescending or forced?
CC: I've worked with a lot of people who have played or coached and then got into broadcasting. The biggest key that I tell these guys is that you have to just talk the game. You have to talk the same way that you would to a player if you're a coach. If you've done post-game interviews, you're not speaking to the camera any differently, you're just trying to add a little personality to it. I say, look at what you can bring to the telecast that I can't bring. Tell me something about the game that only you can tell. Davey and I get along and spend time off camera, and that helps.
OMC: Is the version we see of you on television the same as when you're not at work?
CC: I'm the same guy, on and off. I think any fan that knows my work who comes up and says "Hello" will see the same guy when he turns on the TV set, without question. People say, "I don't want to take up too much of your time, you probably don't want to talk sports." That's all I want to do.
OMC: FSN is more of a partner with the Brewers than an unbiased media source. But you come from a journalism background, so is it hard to report mostly only the positive stories?
CC: I don't think that we're completely homers, and there are some broadcasters who are. Obviously, we know that we're a team partner, and the first thing we do is look for positive stories. We don't need to search this year. When Rickie Weeks fails to turn a double play, what we're not going to do is beat it to death. When you're around every day, you do have a pretty good perspective. Was it the two walks in the ninth that killed them, or was it the double play? You have to look at who's the target and who's not.
OMC: Plus, you can't be burning sources when you need these guys' interviews for a whole season, right?
CC: We travel with them. There have been enough circumstances over the year when managers get fired halfway through the season, trades are made, guys are sent down surprisingly, someone gets injured or in trouble ... you've got to report it on that broadcast like a reporter reports it. You pick your spot, get it out there, and then you move on. If there needs to be subtle reminders throughout the game, you do that. I enjoy making sure people are informed. I love telling stores, but we need to make sure people are informed.
OMC: You're one of a handful of people in Milwaukee who have been seen in high definition. Do you prepare differently for the HD games?
CC: That's scary. I wasn't even aware of that. I have a giant forehead, and fortunately my face is more vertical so it isn't spread out as much. Eventually the HD supervisors will roll in and realize that there's a lot of work to be done. But I try not to think about the close-up shots.
OMC: You've spent your whole career in Wisconsin, and your wife, who was in Madison television, isn't anymore. Do you have network aspirations?
CC: My wife is kind of retired from the business, with the kids still being young. You always have to have the door cracked open to anything, because guess what, someone could call and tell you they no longer need you.
My philosophy over the course of the last eight years covering the Bucks and the Brewers for this network is to work as hard as I possibly can. I've been told that's been noticed. You ride the wagon until the wheels fall off.
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