Mitchell native Jeff Culhane almost missed his opportunity to work for the largest university in the state of Nebraska.
The long hours of the journalism industry began to take a toll on him, but just before he could bow out of the field he loves, he received a call that would take him away from South Dakota.
In 2007, the call came from Lane Grindle, a friend Culhane met while working at an ESPN radio affiliate in Yankton, which was owned by his uncle Kevin Culhane. At the time, Grindle worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and told Culhane there was an opening to co-host a show and work for the Cornhuskers.
"I don't think I have ever told anyone this, but at the time Lane called, I was actually thinking about getting out of the business," Culhane said. "Working long hours had began to take a toll, but him calling turned out to be perfect timing. ... Once I was offered the job, it was a no brainer because it was the opportunity to work at one of the greatest colleges in the country at the age of 24."
Today, Culhane still works for UNL as the host of a three-hour talk show called Sports Nightly, which airs Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. The show airs on 29 different affiliates across Nebraska.
Culhane began working on the show in 2007 as a producer/co-host, before moving into a solo-host role in July 2011.
The 30-year-old also calls a portion of UNL baseball games, works on the Cornhusker football broadcast as the host of the Fifth Quarter -- an initial postgame show that showcases interviews with players and coaches and talks to fans immediately after games.
In addition, Culhane has filled in as a color analyst during UNL men's basketball games.
"I am sort of a swiss knife, jack-of-all-trades guy down here," Culhane said. "If they need someone to fill in, I can do that for them."
Culhane knew he wanted to be in the world of sports since he was a young kid. During the interview, Culhane recollected a time when his father, Steve, broadcasted a Mitchell High School basketball game with Tim Smith for KMIT. He said he never saw his father get very animated in the booth, but one time did stick out to him.
"I think it was the 1989 district championship game between Mitchell and Huron, and as time was expiring Bob Zimmerman tried to take a charge and it was called a block, and that put Huron on the line," Culhane said. "My dad is not the most animated and he examines the game and is knowledgeable, but I just remember him saying 'that is a terrible call.' "
Culhane also vividly remembers his induction into the field of broadcast in Mitchell. He recalled a time when he and his Mitchell Legion baseball teammates goofed around on the bus, pretending to be announcers. Little did he know that his practice on the back of the bus paid off when he ran into KQRN's Steve Morgan, who was an umpire at Legion games.
"I guess Steve heard about this and during one of the games he was umpiring, he said 'Hey I hear you are interested in radio.' He asked me to come in for an interview and that is how I got my start."
Culhane, who played football and briefly played baseball at Dakota Wesleyan University, has always loved sports -- Mitchell sports in particular. He said growing up his dream was to play for the Kernels Hall of Fame coach Gary Munsen, just like his dad and uncles did.
Even as he interviews some of the country's best athletes at UNL, he takes his fond memories of watching and participating in Mitchell sports with him.