Where Are They Now?: Jonathan Coachman

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March 26, 2014

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Jonathan Coachman

Not many people get to live out their childhood dreams. Jonathan Coachman has gotten to do just that and much more.

“There’s only one thing I’ve ever wanted to do for a living,” Coachman told WWE.com in a recent interview. “And that is being a sports broadcaster.”

After working for several local news stations throughout Kansas, The Coach joined WWE in 2000 as a backstage interviewer, but soon became an announcer on Raw, SmackDown and Heat, as well as Mr. McMahon’s on-air assistant. He even mixed it up in the ring a few times. Those unique experiences have prepared The Coach for his current gig at ESPN, where he calls the highlights on SportsCenter, hosts his own radio shows and takes part in the network’s NFL coverage.

Classic Coach photos | Current photos | Video highlights

Coachman grew up playing as many sports as possible and went on to play basketball at McPherson College in Kansas. During his time in college, Coach got his first taste of the broadcast booth.

“We had a tiny radio station in town,” he explained. “The owners let me do play-by-play for a couple different colleges. I even parlayed those shows into college credit. My college didn’t really have a broadcasting program, so I told them it would be good for credit. They bought it.”

Shortly after graduating, Coachman, in his own words, “stumbled” into his first professional broadcasting job at KAKE in Wichita, Kan.Jonathan Coachman

 “[My audition] was horrible, I was awful, not very good at all,” Coach said. “But I kept calling them and calling them and calling them. The news director finally called me that Friday. He said he just got fired, but they were letting him stay until the end of the day. He said, ‘I don’t think you’re ready to work at this level, but I want to hire you as the weekend sports anchor if you can get here by 5 o’clock today. I jumped in my car and prayed that it would get there.”

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Coach’s car made it to Wichita and he was on the air soon after. Though he had on-air experience from his college days, the young broadcaster didn’t realize how tough the professional ranks were.

“I didn’t realize how good I needed to be to get to the level where I am now,” he said. “Every single day was a challenge just to get on the air. We’d do three minutes at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and I’d barely get the segment written and edited. I remember thinking, “Man, how do people do this five days a week?”

He stuck with it and greatly improved, enough to get a call to work at KMBC in Kansas City, Mo. One of his first stories, oddly enough, was about WWE coming to town.  Coach was sent to Florida to produce a series of stories on WWE, which was in the middle of the Attitude Era boom. It was an unbelievable experience for a 22-year old Coachman.

“My eyes were as big as saucers,” he recalled. “I got to see The Rock from a distance and interviewed five or six different guys. I’ll never forget sitting down with Al Snow and thinking he was the biggest star on the planet.”

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