Ron Hughley was overcome with the need to make a change in his life.
It was a feeling that had been building for Hughley – a 2002 graduate of Blue Springs who played defensive tackle on the Wildcats’ 2001 state championship team – over the previous months as he became increasingly unhappy with a job he took for financial reasons following the birth of his first child.
He had dabbled in sports broadcasting while in college at Middle Tennessee State, but at this moment on a Sunday three years ago, sitting in the back of church, he was sure it was something he wanted to do.
Following a morning where every song on the radio and even the minister’s prayer seemed to tell him to take action, he sent a message to a friend of a friend in the industry.
That message set in motion a sequence of events. In a remarkably short time, Hughley had gone from not being in the media to having his own nightly sports talk radio show on KCSP (610 AM), while being what station program director John Hanson called, “One of the industry’s rising talents.”
It’s been a meteoric rise for Hughley, whose nickname, “The Show,” is the same as the name of his program, but one that started with humble beginnings.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Hanson said. “When people aren’t giving you an opportunity, you have to create your own opportunity.”
The message Hughley sent that day was to Carrington Harrison, a co-host of KCSP’s afternoon show, and arguably one of the most influential sports media personalities in the city, but someone Hughley hardly knew.
“I had a bit of relationship with him, but nothing big at all,” Hughley said. “I said, ‘I would like to talk to you about getting some advice,’ and he responded immediately.”
Hughley had spent the majority of his career working with kids — including at the Blue Springs Family YMCA and Bingham Middle School — but an expanding family changed things.
“I thought I needed to get a big-boy job,” Hughley said. “I had a kid and I needed to make some real money. I took a job at a loan company, but I absolutely hated it. Coming from a position of helping kids, I felt like I was taking advantage of people at this job. I needed to figure out something. I met with Carrington and told him, ‘This is something I think I can be good at. I just want to know what would be a good place to start.’”
After Harrison told him he needed something recorded, Hughley put together a podcast and posted it on Facebook and Twitter.
“I just wrote up in my head what I thought would be a good avenue for a show,” Hughley said. “Probably 30 minutes after we posted it, Carrington called me and said, ‘Tomorrow, come in and see how we put together a show and you can meet my boss.’ I called in sick to my job that I hated and went in and sat in on the show. That day, I knew: ‘This is it. I love this.’”
Introduced to Hanson while at the station, Hughley sent him his podcast from the night before.
Unbeknownst to Hughley, Hanson listened to it right away.
“Ron stood out immediately among the crowd,” Hanson said. “He wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. People new to the industry usually start with the most surface topic. But Ron hit me with something that nobody else would have had. That separates you from the pack immediately, and is very rare, so I latched onto him very quick.”
Three months later, Hughley was regularly working behind the scenes and hosting a show on Saturday mornings.
Soon after that, he was part of a rotation of hosts during the night time slot from 6-9 p.m., and helped on high school football coverage, where he saw a lot of familiar faces.
“Almost every week, we ran into some Blue Springs person that I either played with or coached me,” Hughley said. “Scorpio Horn at William Chrisman, Jamar Mozee at Lee’s Summit North and (Blue Springs) Coach (Kelly) Donohoe and my coaches.”
Interviewing Donohoe was a particularly unique experience.
“This is the coach who used to get on me and who used to check my grades all the time,” Hughley said. “It was like, I used to play for him and I’m now covering him. It was weird, but it was cool.”
For Donohoe, it’s enjoyable to witness a former player climb the ladder of an industry in the spotlight.
“It’s awesome to see your guys doing what they want to do and doing it really well,” he said. “The thing that stood out to me about Ron was he was a good, smart kid who worked really hard. You knew he would go on and be successful.”
Eventually, Hughley landed KCSP’s night time slot exclusively, and “The Show” came into existence. Hughley heads a four-man team that includes sidekick Stephen Serda and producers Joe Summers and Julio Sanchez.
“If you listen to our show, it’s kind of out of control and it’s different than most shows,” said Hughley, who also co-hosts the Chiefs postgame show. “Our topics are built on emotions. We’re not as much X’s and O’s, but what things really make people tick and matter to people. … We’re going for entertainment, but we aren’t afraid to touch any subject.”
Hanson said Hughley’s formula is one that’s built to prosper.
“His show is so different and he’s so different, and different wins,” he said. “He critically thinks about every single thing he does on his show. Whether it’s crazy or not, it’s crazy on purpose. And that’s a recipe for success. His greatest ability is the same ability that the best hosts have, and that’s the ability to take the same topic that everybody’s talking about and bring a perspective that nobody’s talking about.”
And it’s something that’s all resulted for Hughley from a constant gut feeling that came to a peak one Sunday morning.
“In my life, sometimes I would do things, and it would seem like nothing would fit,” Hughley said. “Even if I would achieve something, it would be so difficult. But this, things happened here (that worked out). That Sunday morning, it was almost like God saying, ‘You’ve been neglecting this for a long time.’”