Staff Highlight: Steven McGrain

It’s been a good summer for the Mast Media team.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Samantha Lund, has been writing as she flies around the country as the only Corporate Communications intern at Alaska Airlines. Former Editor-in-Chief Kari Plog just won Western Washington’s “New Journalist of the Year.” I’m (Matthew Salzano, General Manager of Mast TV) interning at The Inlander, an alternative weekly in Spokane, Wash.

We’re all using skills learned and practiced here at Mast Media.

One of our editors deserves special attention for his commitment and skill in his niche: our new Sports Editor, Steven McGrain.

McGrain in the studio.
McGrain in the studio.

McGrain has been interning at 1080 The Fan, the ESPN affiliate in Portland, Ore., for the show “Hard Count with Dirt & Sprague.” This comes after being a Sports Writer for The Mast and a varsity football player at Pacific Lutheran University. Read on for a Q&A about how this internship further prepares him to be one of our most-qualified sports editors yet.

How did you end up with an internship at ESPN? 

1080 The Fan is the ESPN affiliate in Portland, which is under Entercom, which the company a few of the stations fall under in Portland. I know the general manager at Entercom in Portland. The application process was pretty simple, I turned in a standard application and sent them a link to my online portfolio, which they were impressed about considering they do not usually get students with a background with so many variations of practical experience, which is something they really hone in on. Since I knew the GM the interview process covered topics that had nothing to do with the internship, more about family and life, instead of radio.

What kind of projects, roles and tasks are you working on? 

When I show up in the morning, I cut up audio from the previous show to make promotional audio clips. These can range from 2-6 minute clips but need to be broken down in 19 or 49 second clips in order to make a 30 or 60 second promo. I help the guys come up with content and bounce alot of questions off them regarding the industry and work. I practice Sportscenter Updates and a minute sports report.

Give us some internship highlights. 

After the NBA Free Agency period concluded, I went to a press conference at the Portland Trail Blazers facility.

At the press conference, the general manager, Neil Olshey, described their off-season transitions and the loss of four out of five of their starting line-up – the biggest loss was LaMarcus Aldridge who went to San Antonio. He got pretty fired up about a few of the questions thrown at him. Next up was their All-Star point guard, Damien Lilliard, who had signed a new contract – the biggest in franchise history. Finally, their newly-acquired free agents, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis, had their time holding up their new jerseys and taking questions about ‘Why Portland?’.

After the press conference concluded, I grabbed all of the audio and made clips about what the players said that would be most beneficial to the three shows at 1080 The Fan. At first, it seemed like a lot of pressure but I simplified everything and took good enough quotes that it was easy to go back to each and every quote I wanted. I picked apart 10 interview responses out of a three hour process.

Do you mostly work by yourself?

I mainly work by myself, which I prefer. I need to either figure these things by myself and succeed, or fail and learn how to fix whatever I committed.

After this professional journalism experience, do you feel differently about your career choices? 

My perspective has drastically changed. I don’t necessarily want to be an on-air host. I have found a new passion for the production side of it like cutting up audio, booking guests, running the show and keeping the on-air hosts protected and comfortably by preventing them from saying something offensive or inaccurate.

How will the things you have learned at ESPN influence your role as the Mast sports editor? 

I will take a new approach to finding the different avenues associated with a story.

I realize there is always a stance from one person to the next while observing a sporting event and if everyone brings those perspectives together it can make for a stronger piece of writing. I learned this while being spectator of the prep sessions before the shows. Both Dirt & Sprague were entertained by the same game, but went away with two different ideas.

My writers and I will have different perspectives on athletic events at PLU. This is something not shut down but embrace to make the story stronger and grab the reader’s attention. 🅼

Matthew Salzano

Class of 2018 Communication and Women's and Gender Studies double-major. Matt Served as the 2016-17 Editor-in-Chief of The Mast and as a writer for PLU.edu. He also previously served as Entertainment Editor and Mast TV General Manager. From Spokane, Washington. Studied away in Oxford January/Spring 2016.

2 thoughts on “Staff Highlight: Steven McGrain

  • July 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm
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    Fun feature! The Mast played a critical role during my time as Sports Editor up until 2011. It also opened the door to my 710 ESPN Seattle radio internship and working with the Mariner’s broadcast team during Dave Niehaus’ final years. Like Kari, myself, and so many others, it seems that the Mast was a great starting point for our careers. It also helped me to network with other Lutes down the road.

    Reply
    • July 31, 2015 at 3:58 pm
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      Thanks so much for sharing your support with us Brendan! Thats awesome to hear The Mast has done so much for you and, of course, we love Kari too. Keep your eyes peeled for some fun stuff we’ll be doing this year! It’s always nice to get feedback from former editors!

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