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2004 graduate turns love of sports into career

Behind The Glass

Brian+Fongers%2C+who+graduated+from+Shores+in+2004%2C+is+a+producer+at+iHeart+Radio+for+the+Big+Drew+and+Jim+show.+He+will+also+chime+in+with+his+opinion+on+the+WOOD+Radio+morning+show%2C+West+Michigan+Live.++He+helps+with+on+air+talent+and+runs+the+controls+from+behind+the+glass.+%28Photo+by+Isaac+Varela%29+
Brian Fongers, who graduated from Shores in 2004, is a producer at iHeart Radio for the Big Drew and Jim show. He will also chime in with his opinion on the WOOD Radio morning show, West Michigan Live.  He helps with on air talent and runs the controls from behind the glass. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Brian Fongers, who graduated from Shores in 2004, is a producer at iHeart Radio for the Big Drew and Jim show. He will also chime in with his opinion on the WOOD Radio morning show, West Michigan Live. He helps with on air talent and runs the controls from behind the glass. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Brian Fongers, who graduated from Shores in 2004, is a producer at iHeart Radio for the Big Drew and Jim show. He will also chime in with his opinion on the WOOD Radio morning show, West Michigan Live. He helps with on air talent and runs the controls from behind the glass. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Megan Swanker, Sports Editor

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Bryan Fongers is a sports fan who found a way to incorporate his lifetime love for sports into his career as a radio producer for ESPN 96.1 radio station at iHeart Radio in Grand Rapids.

“I love sports because it’s always been a passion of mine since I was growing up,” said Fongers, a 2004 Shores graduate who played football and baseball as a Sailor. “My dad used to take me to at least one Lions game every year at the Pontiac Silverdome; a Whitecaps game or two every year; a bunch of Lumberjacks and Fury hockey games at the L.C.

Walker Arena during the winter; and to Berlin Raceway on Saturday nights during the summer. I even recall going to a Tigers game at old Tiger Stadium back in the day. Sports have been in my blood since the day I was born.”

Following his years at Shores, Fongers attended Muskegon Community College for two years and then finished his bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University, where he graduated in 2008. At GVSU, Fongers majored in communication studies and received a bachelor’s of arts degree.

For the first seven to eight years of his radio career, Fongers was an intern for Cumulus radio, across the street from iHeart Radio. This internship blossomed his radio career, which also led to being the radio play-by-play announcer for the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

At iHeart, Fongers is a producer, running the controls on the other side of the glass, and on-air talent when needed. He will chime in with his opinion on the WOOD Radio morning show, West Michigan Live, and the afternoon ESPN show, Big Drew and Jim.

“Brian is just a dependable person,” said Drew McCarthy, the “Big Drew” from the show. “He goes above and beyond each day and works hard all the time and then will find ways to work harder. He does everything well and is sometimes asked to do unusual things. Brian is the king of good guys.”

Besides Fongers’ will to work hard to make the show the best it can be, Jim Costa, the “Jim” of the show, said he appreciates the way Fongers carries on a conversation when he subs in for audio before a show.

“Brian is a Michigan fan and that can bring in more people to listen to the show,” Costa said. “Brian knows how to mediate, take a side when necessary, and how to push a conversation forward. We always want him to join in our conversations.”

However, behind the scenes is where Fongers usually is. He does play-by-play for high school football and basketball, and he works for Cornerstone University, where he announced soccer and women’s basketball.

“In terms of doing play-by-play stuff, it’s getting a chance to travel to different cities, especially when I was with the Lumberjacks,” he said. “I went throughout the country and saw the different cities, and was able to get out and about because that’s what I like to do. I don’t like to sit around and work at a desk job; that’s just not what I went to school for. Being able to get out and about and working with a bunch of different people is what I like the most.”

Fongers said his job at iHeart is unpredictable.

“(My job is) never a set schedule, which is what I like about it,” Fongers said. It keeps it fresh and entertaining.”
Besides play-by-play, Fongers also helps produce different podcasts for iHeart, which he said he also enjoys.

“I do a lot of the podcasting for the shows, which is a part of my production work,” Fongers said. “It is a big thing of mine that I really enjoy doing. Podcasting is really just what the times are these days. People do podcasting, and it just works. A lot of people don’t listen to the shows live much anymore because everyone is busy with their own lives. There is no set time for you to be able to listen to it because it will be there whenever you need it. It’s the new thing that people on the radio are getting into.”

In his childhood, Fongers has always loved watching sports on TV. Today, with the same love for sports he had when he was little, Fongers found a career from his dreams.

“Doing play-by-play for many different sports has always been a dream of mine since I was little,” he said. “I used to stay glued to the TV whenever the Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, or Michigan was on and talk at the TV like I was actually there calling the game myself and talking to other people.”

With a long history of sports behind him, Fongers found a career that matches his long time love for sports.

“I like my job a lot because I don’t really consider it a job,” he said. “I was always told to do what you enjoy doing for a career, and as long as you find what you’re looking for, it won’t even seem like you have a job at all.”

Fongers is known at iHeart as one of the most dependable people at work. He has many qualities such as dependable, hard working, and only has positive things to be said about him.

“Brian has a high tolerance to be able to work with us,” McCarthy said. “No one ever has something negative to say about him and his high moral fiber. He is the hardest working man in radio and we would love to be like him. These are the kinds of things that you can’t find in anyone else.”

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