Caleb J. Suggs
It all started in 7th grade when my voice got low…real low. So low, that if a teacher wasn’t looking, they’d swear it was an administrator asking them about last night’s homework. So low that I got to be the only Bass 2 in middle school choir and got to play all the manliest roles in high school theatre. From early on, people always told me I had a voice for radio. Who knew what they were speaking into existence?
I’d say my career in broadcast started senior year when I began working for my high school television station, GHS-TV. They started me off doing voice overs as one might expect. To this day, you can still hear me saying “You’re watching the award-winning GHS-TV…” at the start of every one of their programs. But soon after I got in front of the camera, I was really living the dream as head anchor of their daily news and as a field reporter (among other roles). After experiencing live TV and what a production family was really like, I knew I wanted to be in the industry for the rest of my life. Little did I know radio would be the next on my path.
See, that summer after graduation, I was taking an unofficial tour of the University of Memphis when I happened to come across the live room of the renowned Memphis jazz station WUMR “The Jazz Lover” 91.7 FM. Something about it all—the glowing hall lights, the smooth sound of jazz music, the voice of the DJ going live for all of Memphis to hear—drew me in like a moth to a flame. I got into a conversation with the station’s general manager, the great Malvin Massey, and he didn’t hesitate to give me a shot on the air. Next thing I know, I’m hosting my very own radio show every week and becoming a “jazz lover” myself.
Just a few months after that, I started my first semester at the UofM as a Broadcast Journalism and Film & Video Production double major. Typically, colleges don’t let freshman do too much in their major until they’re a little further along in their degree, but I just couldn’t wait that long to really start improving my craft. After seeing my ambition, competence and my resume, my professors decided to give me a chance. Armed with my pen and a camera the school provided, I set out to do my first article for the campus paper and my first news package for the campus TV studio. Was I a little nervous? Sure. But I was eager to show them what this freshman could really do. That week, my story made the front page of the campus paper. And a year later, I was made the leader of their student television program. It’s amazing what can happen when you give someone an opportunity.
Today, I’ve got to say, there’s a childish excitement that bubbles up inside of me whenever I think about how I get to work at the same local station that broadcasted Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, WordGirl, and now Hero Elementary to me through all my childhood years. Between the TV studio, the audio recording booths, and the amazing news stories that come out of WKNO, it’s honestly the coolest place I’ve ever worked. It’s truly a blessing to be working at a place like this with people who are so full of ideas and eager to hear mine. I can’t wait to see what happens.