It is his second lap around the track.
At 27, Omaha native Kris Krug is pursuing his second bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Few people know, however, that he has more than five years of public address announcing, including lap-by-lap race car coverage and driver interviews.
His experience includes calling major events such as Knoxville Nationals, Knoxville Late Model Nationals and Knoxville 360 Nationals. He says he prides himself on his outstanding knowledge of dirt-track racing and its “storied” history.
He has also been working for E.W. Scripps Co. in Omaha since June as a promotions assistant, which includes on-site high school football game reporting.
Scripps stations include channel 94.1, Star 104.5, CD 105.9, Z-92 and AM 590 ESPN Omaha. Krug’s primary station is ESPN. Anytime the local show “The Drive” is broadcast, Krug says that he is almost always the on-site producer for it.
He also gets a little on-air time co-hosting the Sunday morning motorsports show.
“Dan Taylor, the announcer of I-80 speedway here in Nebraska, brought me on and loves to have me as a guest when I have time,” Krug says.
In the fall, Krug was the on-air reporter for the Friday night high school football show “High School Game Night.”
“I would go out to the game and sit in the press box to take notes while our show was on air, and then I would call in after each quarter was done to give an update on what’s going on.”
Krug says he was proud of this part of the job because the idea of having him cover the weekly game was his.
While Krug says he has had some early broadcasting successes, his resume can’t convey his sense of determination, his passion for the industry or his “undying initiative.”
A big sports fan when he was a boy, he wanted to be a Nebraska Cornhusker. Sometimes moms know best, though.
“My mom knew from the age of 10 that I would be a sports announcer,” Krug says. “I was always calling.”
“I found out I wasn’t big enough to play football, but I knew I wanted to be part of it,” he says. “There’s no better way to do it than to tell people what’s going on with the game.”
After attending Plattsmouth High School, he was off to the University of Nebraska Kearney to pursue a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and a minor in sports administration. He became the voice of the UNK KPLR radio station and was also sports director in 2010 and 2011.
At the time, KPLR didn’t have a sideline reporter. He created the Coach Darryl Morris pre-game show. He says he talked football for 20 minutes, welcomed fans, plugged in public service announcements and talked about the opponent.
Everything was broken down “to a tee,” he says. “I took time to study not only football, but also how things work for broadcast.”
He says that working for a campus radio station is a learning process.
“You’re going to make mistakes,” Krug says. “The whole point of having a campus radio station is to make those mistakes and then correct them.
“You have fun with it, and once you get used to it, you don’t make those mistakes anymore.”
Krug’s early success continued. As a part of a national exchange program through UNK, he was able to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville his senior year. It was an opportunity for him to meet people and make contacts. He was very much into NASCAR.
“I wanted to be in motor sports somehow. I just needed a start,” Krug says.
Left to Right: John Gibson, the voice of the World of Outlaws,
Tony Bokhoven of CBS Sports, Australian race announcer Wade Aunger,
and Kris Krug.
His persistence paid off. In April 2012, he became the public address announcer for Smokey Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tennessee, providing lap-by-lap coverage until September 2012. He was also featured on DirtOnDirt.com providing lap-by-lap coverage.
While in Tennessee, his mother called and told him about an opening for a sales position at KNIA/KRLS in Knoxville, Iowa.
“I drove from Knoxville [Tennessee] to Knoxville [Iowa].”
But, after determining the sales job wasn’t a fit, he drove home. Two days later, he got an offer from the station to do announcing after the on-air overnight person quit.
Krug was off to Iowa for a two-year stint at KNIA/KRLS, and with that came in-field sports racetrack coverage for Knoxville Raceway.
Left to Right: Tony Bokhoven of CBS Sports,the lead announcer at Knoxville Raceway,
James Essex, the voice of the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series, Kris Krug.
Krug says he leveraged his relationships at the track to secure the booth announcing for the raceway. He would work at the radio station during the week, and on the weekends, he would announce as an employee for the racetrack.
Krug says, “This is a huge prestigious job and a dream come true.”
After two years at KNIA-KRLS, long hours and unfulfilling pay, Krug says he realized that he needed to do more to educate himself.
“I made a call to my parents, and they supported my decision. Knoxville is only 2.5 hours away from Omaha. I’m going to get another degree,” he says.
Krug says he made the decision to go back to school after facing the “harsh reality” about the need to be diverse in his skills.
Krug has finished his first semester at UNO with a major in journalism and media communication and an emphasis in advertising and public relations. He has two more years before he graduates.
Krug says the loved his time at UNK, but he was so headstrong about broadcasting that he “didn’t care” about the other courses. “I was going to be a sportscaster,” he says.
“Broadcasting is one thing, writing scripts or announcing,” Krug says. “With PR, you are doing a lot of different things like press releases and design pieces.”
His motivation is to get the diverse skills he needs and to learn public relations inside and out.
“If I had done that at Kearney, I would have been more well-rounded,” he says.
The new “dream job” for Krug looks like a combination of announcing and public relations.
Krug says that while school has been easy for him in the past, he is enjoying the challenge at UNO and the great professors. He enjoys meeting new people, whom he studies and “stays focused” with. They will be lifelong friends.
For now, Krug is focused on broadening his knowledge and skills at UNO. And, he still is driving back and forth to Knoxville Raceway to do announcing on weekends and during the summer.
He continues to apply for positions that could prove to be his next “dream job.”