One of a Kind
Gina Carlson and KVSC Make Broadcast History …
For those of you who tuned into KVSC to follow the men’s hockey team get the better of Colorado College Nov. 22-23, you were hearing history being made, not on the ice, but in the press box.
You were listening to the first female radio play-by-play broadcaster in the history of SCSU Division I men’s hockey.
That groundbreaking voice belongs to Gina Carlson, a senior that will be graduating in May with a bachelors degree in Mass Communication Radio Broadcasting with a minor in Human Relations at SCSU, who’s been working with KVSC since the start of her freshman year.
“For commercial radio, or for public radio it’s the first of its kind. I tip my cap to KVSC and St. Cloud State University to give students the opportunity to do something like this,” said sports director Scott Gross. “She’s the first female to ever do the play-by-play for men’s hockey.”
There have been a lot of changes in the world of sports broadcasting, but a few things remain the same. It’s a profession that’s still dominated by men, and many women find themselves continually objectified and not taken seriously.
“There’s not a doubt [this is a male dominated profession],” Carlson explained. “I haven’t met another female that broadcasts men’s hockey.”
A Sauk Rapids high school graduate, Carlson “naturally” attended St. Cloud State, where she soon found a home in KVSC.
“My junior or senior year [of high school] I figured I should probably have an idea what I want to do [going into college],” Carlson said. “I had a mild interest in radio, so I thought if I liked it then great, if not, there’s other opportunities.”
“I knew a couple people that worked in the radio industry and thought they had a really cool job and looked like they were having fun.”
Ironically upon entering the KVSC studio, the first person she met was the sports director, Zack Fisch, and the two of them immediately hit it off.
Carlson and the sports director went on to talk about the passion and love she had for hockey, as well as sports in general and how she was interested in the radio, resulting in her becoming part of the sports broadcasting team.
“It just happened by chance, honestly,” Carlson said. “Even the whole being in sports just happened by chance.”
“Jo McMullen the Station Manager and Jim Gray the Operations Director chose to hire me,” Carlson said. “There must have been some reason why they did it.”
Carlson wasn’t a high school athlete, but described herself as an avid sports follower, even before she entered the sports broadcasting scene, which has helped her develop into the student of the game she is today.
“Gina is always extremely prepared, almost overly prepared,” said Declan Goff, Assistant Sports Director at KVSC. “She takes pride in studying the lines, the opponents roster… there probably isn’t anyone who sits there and studies hockey 24/7 like her.”
“She lives and breathes St. Cloud State hockey,” Goff said.
Starting with the station, Carlson would do anything she could to help the sports broadcast and stay involved in the operations, keeping that passion for sports.
“That’s always been the fuel to my fire,” Carlson explained. “When people say ‘you can’t,’ you won’t, that’s not possible, even if I don’t want to do it, I will just to prove them wrong, because I love that satisfaction.”
After working her way through the ranks of KVSC, Carlson has earned the position of sports director, a shared position with Scott Gross, who she partnered up with as color analyst for the previous men’s hockey season as well as the current.
“Working along side Scott Gross, my partner, I think that we have a really good report, because we have two totally different voices on a broadcast,” said Carlson. “It’s intriguing to me, because rather than listening to two males, I can automatically know we have a totally different analyses.
“The things that he see’s and picks up on are different than what I pick up on, and females tend to pick up more on the little details. That’s why I feel I can do well at this.”
The road to this opportunity didn’t come without it’s barriers or naysayers, and not being taken seriously as a female broadcaster is something that Carlson has had to work through along the way.
“There have been barriers when you go on the road, and nobody takes you seriously,” explains Carlson. “You walk in with all this radio equipment, and you’re a girl. They automatically shrug their shoulders and be like, she obviously doesn’t really know anything. When in reality, I probably know just as much as they do.”
“The only other female I’ve even met in all my traveling through the covering of men’s hockey last season was Kelly Schultz from Bemidji State, and all she does is the women’s hockey there.”
Performing well on the air is just the icing on the cake when it comes to Carlson, who Goff refers to as the “queen of social media.”
“She’s in charge of marketing, radio traffic, and sports directing,” Goff explained. “She’s willing to do anything she can at a station or at any type of job to demonstrate she can’t just do one thing, she can do multiple things, and handle all of them very, very well.”
“She kills about three birds with one stone on the broadcast.”
With her work ethic, drive and passion there’s no telling what comes next for Carlson in the fast paced world of sports broadcasting. However, the hometown feel and the energy behind the athletics here in Minnesota, seemed to have held a place in her heart.
“I’d love to stay in Minnesota and work in the sports industry,” Carlson explained. “I’d love to work with the Minnesota Wild, I love radio, but anything as far as PR goes, sideline reporting, color analyst, is what I’d love to do.”
The footsteps Carlson and KVSC have left behind after this weekend have given hope and direction to those who follow, showing that hard work and passion really do pay off.
“To be perfectly honest, play-by-play was never my goal,” Carlson said. “I never had the goal of doing anything on men’s hockey broadcast because I didn’t think it was possible. It started as a hobby, a passion, and it has turned into a lot more than that.”
Republished with permission from The St. Cloud State University Chronicle.