Local Radio Duo Hits The Air For 40th Year

Monday, Aug 01, 2016

If you're a local sports fan, it's a sure bet that you know the voices of Hayes Callaghan and Dave Hanson.

The longtime radio duo has been narrating local sporting events over the airwaves for 29 years at WCFW-FM. The 2016-17 school year will be their 40th together as a team.

Their talent has led to their longevity, but it's their passion for sports — local sports in particular — that keeps them coming back year after year.

"We have a good time doing it," Hanson said.

Loving sports radio is what brought the pair together in the first place 40 years ago at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Starting something

Callaghan and Hanson were a part of the university radio station WUEC-FM during the 1976-77 school year and became more acquainted with each other the following year when Callaghan served as sports director.

While Callaghan took a keen interest in play-by-play, Hanson always kept his eyes on the stats. He would often approach Callaghan with statistical-based ideas for segments or notes.

"He was coming up with all these ideas," Callaghan said of Hanson. "And I’m thinking, 'This is fabulous. This guy knows all these things that need to get done.'"

The station's sports coverage had changed in a big way under Callaghan. In years prior, play-by-play opportunities were limited, and he saw it, so were the educational opportunities that followed. When he took over, he opened up those chances to call games and saw the sports staff increase from three people to 17.

With their grades based on number of hours put in, Callaghan started creating new sports radio shows and expanding coverage wherever he could in order to give all the staff members enough hours to get the grades they wanted. With that, the eager play-by-play broadcaster and his partner, Hanson, only got to call three halves of basketball that season.

But their time would come.

Sticking around

From 1982-87, Callaghan was sports director at WQOW (TV 18) in Eau Claire and continued to broadcast local games on the radio with Hanson on the side.

They shared an ambition for providing as much detail to as many people as possible. There were many times where Callaghan would be calling play-by-play with a TV camera over his shoulder, multitasking while Hanson kept statistics and helped manage all of their equipment.

Hanson soon became a part of the TV station as well and eventually they each had their own shows featuring call-in segments, discussions and analysis of local sports, youth sports highlights and even bowling scores in the 1990s.

All the while they stuck to their true love of radio. They've been broadcasting Chi-Hi football and basketball games since 1988, in addition to coverage of a handful of other Chippewa Valley schools.

"We like the area," said Hanson. "The people we’ve come in contact with have been fantastic. I’ve made more contacts out of it and I think Hayes has too. There have been more opportunities for both of us and a lot of things we can do that we probably never would have had if we would have not had this opportunity here."

To what extent would they prioritize local games? Callaghan was a part of the Milwaukee Brewers press for Fox Sports Radio and would find himself calling Friday night football games in Rice Lake or Superior only to have to drive to Milwaukee early the next morning to juggle both jobs.

When juggling wasn't an option, he stuck with the Cardinals.

"We always did Chippewa games first," he said.

Their coverage of local sports has only grown over the years. They estimate that they broadcast between 50 and 60 events each fall/winter.

A perfect match

After 40 years, something must be working right.

With Callaghan and Hanson, their strengths play right into each other. Callaghan's tasteful cadence highlights the action on the field or court and Hanson drops in the stats seamlessly as though they were two heads on the same body.

Callaghan's voice is the one that guides listeners through tension and celebration as well as frustration and defeat. But he knows the stories that he tells are only made full by the numbers and notes provided by his partner.


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