Radio host learns on the fly

Jason Rude brings unique sports show to Chickasaw County airwaves

Maybe it’s a good thing Jason Rude is a history teacher; after all, he’s had to do his share of research over the years and that experience has paid off when it comes to the radio show, “The Sports Zone with Jason Rude,” he hosts on the New Hampton radio station, 95.1, the Bull.

“All I knew about skeleton is that you basically get on a sled and go down a mountain head first,” Rude said about one of the guests, Olympic racer Matt Antoine, he had on a recent show. “Honestly, I thought he was a little nuts, but I did some research so I wouldn’t sound totally stupid and it was a blast.”

Heck, it’s all been pretty much of a blast for Rude since he started his show in the fall of 2016.

And The Sports Zone has taken on a life of its own and evolved into something that doesn’t come close to resembling the beginning product.

Rude, who has provided the color commentary for Chickasaw football play-by-play announcer Neal Stone for several years, was approached when former Bull employee Scott Hogeland left his post.

Hogeland hosted a “coach’s corner” show for several years, and the idea was Rude’s show would continue that trend.

But unlike Hogeland, Rude’s “day job” as a middle school social studies teacher and coach didn’t allow him time to do a straight-up coach’s show.

So over time, his show evolved into providing listeners a chance to hear from all kind of different athletes and coaches.

He has interviewed NASCAR superstar Jimmie Johnson, college wrestling coaches like Dan Gable and Doug Schwab, NFL football players Ulrick John and Leonard Wester, Olympic athletes like Antoinee and curler Tabitha Peterson and Smokey D’s and national BBQ competitor Darren Warth.

And he has a ton of ideas for future shows.

He wants to interview Josey Jewell, the Iowa linebacker, who like Rude, hails from Decorah. He hopes to do a fitness show with Emily Kleiss of the Chickasaw Wellness Center, and he also is working on landing “The Meateater,” Steven Rinella to talk about hunting and prepping wild game.

“When I first started contacting people, I was, there’s no other way to put it, nervous,” he said. “I mean when Dan Gable called me back and said, ‘Jason, this is Dan Gable, I hear you want to do an interview,’ I was pretty much speechless. I mean it’s Gable, the greatest wrestling coach ever.”

Rude recovered nicely, and the two, along with Schwab, talked wrestling.

“Before I talk to someone, I try to do my research and have questions lined up,” he said, “but one thing I’ve learned since starting this is that you just have to kind of go with the flow. Someone might say something I didn’t even think about and we’ll go down that road. I’m learning as I go, but if I really try to keep it simple — it’s just a conversation — that works out really well.”

And he’s been surprised at which shows have been the most popular.

The wrestling coaches and Johnson stand out, but so, too, does an interview he did with the Tribune’s James Grob about the old 6-on-6 girls basketball days in Iowa.

“That blew me away,” he said. “For a week, I couldn’t go anywhere without people telling me they really liked that one and the memories it brought up.”


For more of this article, see Tuesday's Tribune.

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