GS Interview: “Mornings With Brant” Host Brant Hansen

“If you aren’t talented at something, but you never, never, ever give up…you’ll still not be talented at it, so also find some other things to do, like maybe learning an instrument.”

— Brant Hansen

Brant Hansen is an excellent dude. He hosts the syndicated talk show “Mornings With Brant,” in which he proves that Christians with a national platform can actually sound like they have common sense. Just one example of his brilliance: Instead of saying that Haiti got devastated by an earthquake because they had made a deal with the devil hundreds of years ago, Brant went down to the island and for a time lived among the offspring of those devilish dealmakers, all in the name of—egads!—helping them.

Brant fits for a GoodSports interview because he, at one point in his life, was all about becoming a sportscaster. Also, something else not many people know: Brant’s a total sports nut. 

We have some fun, covering how he sort of wishes his wife liked pudgy guys so he didn’t have to actually work out, and what it’s like to play baseball for eight years without getting a hit, and other thought-provoking things.

Actually, believe it or not, we end up hitting on some heavy stuff, too. We’d love to hear what you think about it all in the comments

So, by way of introduction, tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

I’m a husband and dad and nerd and my job is “syndicated morning show personality”.  Irony:  I don’t have that much personality, and particularly in the morning.  And I don’t like “shows”, per se.  But the “syndicated” part is RIGHT ON.

You’re a radio show host guy … for a syndicated Christian show. So is there any good reason for us to interview you on a sports blog? 

I’m the perfect guy for this, for my purposes, anyway.  I have loads of sports opinions and ideas, and don’t get to delve into them on the show.  

So you originally wanted to be a sports announcer, right? Like, calling baseball games and such? For what it’s worth, I would much prefer you to Tim McCarver. Man, I have to mute the TV sometimes. But anyway, what happened with that? 

Well, I do “announce” some.  But it’s the stadium P.A. variety.  I live next to the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring training stadium, and the Marlins are there, too.  I’ve done spring training games for the Cards, the Marlins, and the Mets, up the road in Port St. Lucie.  

I grew up listening to Jack Buck on KMOX in St. Louis, and desperately wanted to grow up and be him.  Problem:  I can’t see worth a darn.  Play-by-play loses something when it’s primarily,  “And Pujols hits the ball!  And… apparently… there are some guys running around… and I think it’s in the outfield…” — that’s not good radio storytelling.

I’ve got several visual problems. 

Did you play any sports?

Yes.  In spite of visual problems.  I played eight years of organized baseball.  I loved the game.

I also never got a hit.  I went oh-for-eight YEARS.  And THAT, my friends, is true love of the game.  I just kept playing.

Have a favorite sport?

Still MLB baseball, though I track college basketball, NFL, even the NBA now has me engaged.  I’m hooked by the Heat storyline.  I think that’s brought a lot of us off the sideline to have a rooting interest.  I actually like them, living here in SoFla.

Still play at all?

The very occasional pick-up basketball or touch-football game.

How and when did you find your way to what you’re doing now?

I got a degree in Journalism, then started working part-time at a rock station.  Eventually, I wound up doing news, helping a morning show, and they let me on the air a little longer than the newscasts.  Then they decided I could be on the whole show.  I wanted to be the host of that station, but the head boss-guy said he really didn’t see me ever doing that sort of thing.  Mwahahaha.

How long have you been doing this?

I’ve been here at WAY-FM in South Florida for eight years.  Overall, in radio, I’ve been doing it in some capacity since college.

What are some of the best experiences you’ve had, doing what you do?

Hands-down:  Helping raise support for Compassion International, and CURE International, and some other terrific programs to help the poorest of the poor.  They’ve sent me everywhere:  The mountains of Thailand, Senegal, Kenya, the jungles of Sumatra, Costa Rica, Haiti, Calcutta, twice to Afghanistan, El Salvador — and I’ve loved seeing what God is doing in the world.  

What role do sports play in your life now? You’re a pretty in shape dude, and you’ve talked before about staying in shape. How do you like to work out and stay in said shape?

I lift every other day, and either walk for an hour, or do some other cardio for a 1/2 hour a day.  Very, very important.  My wife wants me to, and that’s my motivation.  I said the other day, “You know, many wives LIKE their husbands to be kinda pudgy, so it makes them feel secure, and — ” And she said, “Well, I don’t.”  

So there’s some motivation, and I’m happy to have it.  It’s good for me.  It’s good for my brain, honestly, chemically.

Sports teach you anything you still hang onto?

My experience in baseball, playing for eight years and never getting a hit, has taught me:  

“If you aren’t talented at something, but you never, never, ever give up…you’ll still not be talented at it, so also find some other things to do, like maybe learning an instrument.”

It sounds like Vince Lombardi, but that quote is mine.

What’s the best part of what you do?

I’m in Christian radio.  I challenge people, or at least want to challenge them, with the reality of who Jesus is.  He’s way, way more interesting, provocative, and subversive than most religious people know.

What is a not-necessarily-the-best part?

Many religious people will never understand just how wonderful Jesus’ message is.  They just won’t.  It means letting go of too much religious effort they’ve been building for years.  This shouldn’t be surprising, given how people reacted to Jesus, Himself.

How does one go from aspiring sports announcer—not exactly the Christianest (I know it’s not a word) of professions sometimes—to host of a morning Christian radio show?

Great question, but it’s pretty seamless.  I don’t think jobs are “sacred” or “secular”.  I think everything is “sacred” in a real way.  Whatever we do is a gift from God.  The whole world is shot through with meaning, and beauty, and goodness.  Sport is beautiful.  Being a friend on the radio is beautiful.

Shoot, God wanted us to be gardeners, in the beginning.  If tending a garden is sacred — and it is — so is being a baseball play-by-play guy.    

I also like to explore how people may have been chasing one dream that they didn’t get, but along the way, found something else, something that turns out even better. It might not fit into this interview I run, but I’ll definitely do something with it sometime soon. So that’s
what these questions are about:

Is that sort of like you with sports announcing? Or do you have something else like that?

This is precisely the case.  I don’t know if it’s “better”, actually, but I’m guessing it is.  I’ve know some top-notch PBP guys, including a friend who’s done major-league baseball, and he says the travel was brutal on his young family.  

I desperately wanted to do something with baseball.  I grew up reading Bill James’ Baseball Abstract, every edition, and even concocted my own sabermetrics algorithms for player analysis.  But I can’t see very well.

So I’m on the air, every morning, doing something completely different.  That’s all good.  And I’m home a lot, and my kids know me well, and God has blessed me, big-time, anyway.

You have a rather unique condition, right? (What you described in your I Am Second video. I’ll link to that or embed it if that’s possible. [NOTE: Click the photo below to view it.]) Could you describe that for us?

Well, I’ve got a few.  One is the nystagmus, which is an eye condition, borne of a neurological problem.  I’ve always had it.  

Another thing I have is Asperger’s Syndrome.  It’s a mild form of Autism.  It makes me pretty awesome.

What impact did that have on your sports announcing dream?  Was that tough, having to transition from that dream to finding something else? What was that process? How did you deal, cope, with that?

I really am fine with it.  I feel differently about sports than I did growing up.  I love sport, I’m knowledgeable about it, I enjoy it as a distraction, but it’s possible I’d grow weary of it, in some way, if I were currently making my living interviewing 20 year-olds.  I don’t know.  I do think a lot of sports guys struggle with that.

 

What impact does all that have on what you’re doing now? What advice would you give to others dealing with similar situations?

I think God has a plan.  But don’t read that to mean, “God had this one thing He wanted me to do, and I probably screwed that up, so now where am I?”

I think He has a plan to use your gifts and desires where you are, here, and now.  

Do NOT let your “issues” define you.  The odd thing, for someone who’s a Jesus-follower-guy like me, is seeing how it’s our weaknesses that God uses to shape us.  It’s not our strengths.  I’d say to someone, “Look, you’re not going to believe this, now, maybe, but the very things you don’t like about yourself, the things that seem to ‘limit’ you, are the very things you may be thanking God for, later.”

Again, hard to believe, but it’s like John Lennon said, you have to understand life backwards.

I think Lennon said that.  Or maybe Bootsy Collins.  Somebody back in the day.

* * * 

Many, many thanks to Brant for doing this. I asked way too many questions, and he answered almost all of them. 

If you’re new here, come from Brant Listenerland or some other such magical place, welcome! We’re a new blog dedicated to exploring the good in and beyond sports. Below are a few posts that will show you what we’re all about:

 

 

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