BY Benjamin Wolk - The Brunswick News
Garrison Ryfun stood in the Glynn County Stadium press box last Friday, prepared to go on-air for the first time.
When it came time for Ryfun’s first segment — as it often happens with radio newcomers — he froze up and tapped his partner to continue on.
Ryfun only blanked for a split second, but for his first on-air broadcast, the second felt like a minute.
“I was kinda nervous. I didn’t know what to say. When he cued me the first time, I just tapped him back because I had no idea what to say,” Ryfun said. “I was so stunned. How long did I just sit there for? I only sat there for a second.”
The College of Coastal Georgia freshman says he is his “own harshest critic” — much like he was with his trumpet solo during his Glynn Academy band days. He hasn’t re-listened to his full color commentary broadcast from the Glynn Academy-Camden County football game yet, but he will.
What he does remember: He said the word “great” a lot, and he wants to fix it. But the people around him, specifically his on-air partner for the game Jason Bishop, offered much more encouraging feedback.
“They all tried to calm me,” Ryfun said. “Jason told me his first time, he froze up. His first time, he didn’t have anybody to work with. That did help, having another guy there to help me out. If I tapped him, he’d just take over.”
During the game, his father Scott Ryfun — who has his own on-air role with iHeartMedia — listened to the broadcast on his iPad a few feet from his son’s booth. He offered his constructive criticisms here and there, but more or less, he was quite impressed with his son’s first on-air experience.
Other people in the community began offering their feedback, as well.
“Again, when I came home, I felt really bad about it,” Garrison Ryfun said. “But he said I did well. My dad told me he was getting texts from friends saying, ‘Garrison’s killing it.’ So that helped.”
Garrison Ryfun began working with the radio team as a backup tech guy. When radio personalities Kevin Price and Bishop prepare to call a game, Ryfun — who gets the well-rounded title of producer — sets up all of the technical equipment prior to Glynn Academy radio broadcasts. But last week, when Price had to focus on a College of Coastal Georgia volleyball invitational, Garrison Ryfun was called on to fill his role.
It was the first step in living out his dream of working in professional sports broadcasting.
“I found out my senior year of high school that I really wanted to go into broadcasting or sports broadcasting,” Garrison Ryfun said. “I really like sports. That would just be perfect for me. That would be a great, great job.”
He’s taken the necessary steps to get his foot in the door so far.
Having a radio father helped, but Ryfun’s adamant about his own desire to “forge his own path and not do it just because” his dad did.
He immediately began working as the tech guy in the radio studio. Once football started — because his love for the sport — he got the chance to be on-site to help out with all the Glynn Academy football games this season.
He never imagined he’d be thrown on-air so soon. But he’s glad he was.
He got a good bit of the jitters out of the way already. He got a taste of what it’s like and how time feels different over the airwaves. But he also got to cover, for a local outlet, one of the biggest stages in high school sports — Glynn Academy versus Camden County.
“It was a great start. It was a great and close game,” Garrison Ryfun said. “It gave me as sense of it. I had to be into the game the whole time. It wasn’t a blowout.”
Going forward, Garrison Ryfun’s role with the station will vary. He’ll continue his tech duties, and likely, when Price or Bishop is unavailable for a broadcast, Garrison Ryfun will be called upon to fill the void. He will also get the opportunity to do self-pitched halftime segments and perhaps some Coastal Georgia volleyball games too.
He’s doing color commentary for now, but hopes to move to play-by-play at some point, a role that he feels better fits his skill set. And whenever his next on-air opportunity arrives, he’ll be ready for it.
“I think I’ll be less nervous. Like the cliché says, practice makes perfect,” Garrison Ryfun said. “I like to be almost perfect at anything I do. I really critique myself in anything I do. After a while — when I let it sink in — I feel pretty good about it. I feel like I did pretty well on the broadcast.”