With record enrollment rates at Texas Tech each academic year, the College of Media & Communication (CoMC) is growing.
Malone Graham, a 20-year-old sophomore journalism major from Tuscola, Texas, came to CoMC in August of 2019. She has quickly made her mark at Texas Tech by taking advantage of the Day One opportunities offered by CoMC and the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Industries (JCMI).
Graham serves as sports director for KTXT 88.1 FM The Raider, Tech's student-run radio station housed in the CoMC. She got her start at KTXT-FM working as a color commentator for the former sports director and helping call Tech volleyball games. The sports director at the time was graduating at the end of Graham's first semester, so she applied to fill the position.
“I put my name down to interview for the job,” Graham says. “I knew I'm a freshman and there's going to be people older than me applying. There's going to be people with more experience, but I just put my name out there. Why not? So that's what I did.”
Graham is possibly the youngest female sports director at KTXT-FM. She says it was easy to accept the position, but the job hasn't come without a learning curve.
“I honestly enjoyed the challenge of it,” Graham says. “I enjoyed it because I am, for the most part, comfortable in those positions and the former director instilled that confidence in me. I approached it from a professional standpoint. I was up at the office nearly all day trying to just learn and trying to figure things out.”
Kathleen McGaughey, senior academic adviser for journalism, says she knew Graham was special from their first interaction at Red Raider Orientation in the summer of 2019.
“I remember she was very attentive and asked a lot of questions and was very interested in the answers and learning more,” McGaughey says. “She seemed excited about getting to Texas Tech and getting involved in her classes and her major. She was someone that I could just tell would do really well in college. She seemed excited and ready for it.”
McGaughey says Graham is definitely a unique student. Graham has jumped into so many different organizations on campus and gotten involved from her first day on campus.
“From the moment Malone got to Texas Tech, she has tried to take advantage of all of the opportunities that CoMC and Texas Tech have to offer,” McGaughey says. “She hit the ground running as soon as she got here and has not let up since. She is the perfect example of taking advantage of “Day One opportunities” and has really shown what that can do for you.”
Graham says she was first introduced to sports by her father. She would sit and watch baseball games with him. Then, when she was old enough, she joined her school's varsity basketball and softball teams which she played on throughout high school. Graham fell in love with how the game is played, which developed her love for sports broadcasting.
“Trying to get into the minds of players and coaches and see the game from their point of view is something that is exciting to me,” Graham said. “Just to root for somebody and get excited about something is very easy to do with sports.”
Graham had some radio experience before joining the KTXT-FM team. She interned at her high school radio station and gained experience calling baseball games there. Derrick Ginter, lead communications engineer for KTXT-FM, said Graham was in the right place at the right time.
“She was an easy hire,” Ginter says. “She came to us with a world of experience and so we put her to work right away. It was kind of one of those no brainers, in my opinion.”
Graham wears many hats at CoMC. She's a member of the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) student chapter, takes part in Raider Vision as a film and production crew member, and is a Dean's Student Ambassador. She says sometimes it's hard to keep up, but it's worth it.
“I'm still working on finding a balance and prioritizing things, but I know what's important to you, you'll make the time for,” Graham says. “So, what's important to me is developing my career and my future, but also being involved in a church and creating friendships and not letting the college life slip away.”
Graham hosts the sports radio talk show 3 and Out every Thursday at 3 p.m. To listen online, visit http://www.ktxtfm.org/raider/ or tune in to 88.1 FM to listen locally. Listeners can also download the TuneIn app on their smartphones and search for The Raider 88.1.
Correction Aug. 25, 2021: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Malone Graham is the first female sports director at KTXT-FM. Graham is most likely the youngest sports director, but not the first female. She follows in the footsteps of a former female sports director Ciara Gaines.