I joined a virtual elementary classroom for 15 minutes….here’s what I learned…..

Virtual learning is difficult.
Virtual teaching might be more difficult.

I learned that much and more when I surprised a third grade reading class and joined their virtual classroom recently.

I had worked with their teacher to surprise them and join them while I was live on air during my radio show.

When I first joined the room, there was the madness of 15+ kids screaming and laughing.

I told them we were on-air and they gasped and had a bunch of questions that they all wanted to shout out at once.

So many screens full of little faces were popping up across my monitor, I had no idea where to look.

After I got off the air, I stayed on the call for about 10 more minutes to talk to the kids and answer their questions.

It got a little more organized then as they were instructed to raise their hands and mute their mics when they weren’t speaking.

I got questions asking me if I knew someone who worked at the radio station or if I remembered the time when one of the kids came to the station with his mother. Of course, some of them couldn’t believe I was really at the radio station so I hit a button and let them listen to the song that was playing at that very moment.

All in all, I had a wonderful time interacting with the students and maybe making their Friday a little better.

HOWEVER, what I did learn was that…..teachers are not human.

I was only on the call for 15 minutes and I was WORN OUT. There was so much going on on the screen. From kids having questions to one kid just talking with his mic turned wayyyyyyy up, it was just organized chaos.

I have no idea how elementary school teachers have the patience to teach these virtual classes.

And I don’t say that meaning that the kids are bad. They aren’t. They are just full of energy and having them all sit in front of a  different screen, trying to teach them reading, spelling, math, or some other lesson they need to know….is a tough sell.

I could NOT sit still when I was that age. I imagine not many of us could.
I would have been TERRIBLE at virtual learning. I was a very hands-on learner. I could soak everything up in class and not have to study. It was just the way I learned.

I’m not writing this as an endorsement or an indictment of virtual learning.
School administrators have a tough job deciding what is best for their students and none of them take that responsibility lightly.

There is no COVID handbook for administrators, students, parents, or any of us.

I didn’t think I could hold teachers in any higher regard than I already did, but after my experience in the virtual classroom, I do.

Say thank you to the teachers in your life….and if you are a praying person….say a prayer for them too.

 

Radio Personality of the Year: Why it’s more than just talking on the radio

Well, now that it’s had a little time to sink in, I figured I’d try to put into words what it means to me to be named Radio Personality of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters.

You may have seen me post or have heard me mention how this was a big one for me. And about how this is the award I’ve wanted since I got into radio.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was honored to be the Associated Press Radio Newsperson of the Year for 2016 and also the AP’s Best Radio Reporter in Mississippi/Louisiana for 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Those awards are all special to me as well, but this one was different.

The reason for that I guess is the term personality.

To me , Radio Personality of the Year encompasses more than just being the person that makes corny dad jokes on the radio every morning.

For me, radio personality is being the person that embodies the radio station and the community that he/she represents.

He or she is the one that is out there in the community, speaking to clubs, dressing like an idiot to go read to students during Dr. Seuss week, students,  putting on a Halloween costume and doing a Facebook live broadcast around the square trick-or treating, or broadcasting in a straight jacket from an abandoned jail while helping raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

When I was first nominated for the award, someone asked me if I thought I had a chance and if I thought I deserved it.

My response was that there may be others around the state who are better on-air than me or those that have more radio and music knowledge than me.

But when it comes to being a “radio personality,” I don’t think there is anyone in the state that does it quite like I do.

And I am grateful to that the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters thought so as well.

Below is the audio reel that won me the Radio Personality of the Year award.

 

Why a College World Series title means so much to this MS State fan

After the Mississippi State Bulldogs captured the program’s, and the university’s, first NCAA National Championship Wednesday night, sportswriters, radio hosts, and others that follow collegiate sports started to  realize just how much it meant to Mississippi State fans.

Of course, the MS State fanbase is known to be one of the most supportive of its programs. The record crowds at Omaha throughout the CWS proved that.

And like any fanbase who has never had one of its teams win a National Championship, the celebration was as you’d expect.

However, I still think there’s something else. Some intangible factor that made it evident to those outside of the fanbase….that this championship means more to MSU fans….and to the state of Mississippi as a whole.

After pondering for most of the day, I’ve arrived at my conclusion: connection.

Mississippi is a small state.

I jokingly told a good friend of mine from Tennessee when he moved here that the state is one big high school.

And by that I mean, no matter where you go across the state…you’ll likely run into someone that you know. EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE.

Now this might be more true for my hometown, because Kosciusko people just seem to be everywhere.

But because of the small nature of the state, we all feel connected, especially to our college teams.

Think about bigger programs like Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State. etc. All bigger programs in bigger states with bigger fanbases. A lot of these schools also have their fair share of bandwagon fans that just attach themselves to a winning program.

And NO SANE person would ever be a bandwagon fan of a Mississippi program, unless they just loved having their heart broken.

However, in Mississippi, our programs literally are our family. Oh, and I’m paraphrasing Dak there…..not Dominic Toretto.

But back to the Mississippi Connection.

One of the things I love about our small state is that you probably know somebody who knows somebody from your hometown.

I like to pride in being that guy that probably knows someone you do, but my pal Steve Azar, the Music and Culture Ambassador of Mississippi, blows me out of the water in that respect.

He literally knows someone from every corner of the state. When I first met him and introduced myself and where I’m from, he said “Oh, Freddie George is my cousin.” Freddie was a former mayor here.

But it’s that connection that allows us to be close to our teams, because with the state being as small as it is, most fans probably have some sort of close connection to their team. Whether that be MS State, Ole Miss, USM, Jackson State, etc.

I can give three examples of connections I have to the MS State team that just won the National Championship:

  • Luke Hancock – The very first baseball games I broadcasted on the radio was a series between Kosciusko and Houston. Hancock was Houston’s starting catcher….in the 8th grade and he was already committed to MS State. And he had to have hit over .500 in that series because he was a wrecking ball against our guys.
  • Logan Tanner – His grandmother was my 10th grade English teacher.
  • Brayland Skinner – Skinner’s grandmother broadcasts a church service on one of our radio stations (WKOZ) every Sunday morning. She’s been coming in to record her program for close to 40 years. A few times, I’ve had to set her up and help her record. During those times, she and I have had a lot of fun conversations about wrestling. She’s a big fan of John Cena. She also read the lines in my palm and told me I was going to have 7 kids and that I better find a wife soon so I could get started.

It’s the little connections like this that you only get in smaller state like Mississippi.


“God, here I am… …spilling my guts… …to one of my archenemies. But the truth is… …you’re the closest thing to a friend I got.” Eddie Blake 

The above quote from the movie “Watchman” has been running through my mind today. It’s a scene where The Comedian, an aging vigilante “hero,” is having a mental breakdown, so he breaks into his arch nemesis’ home just to have someone to talk to.

That just embodies the MS State/Ole Miss rivalry to me.

It’s as heated of a rivalry as you can get. And probably has been the most heated rivalry over the past 5 years.

Yet once again, because our state is so small, in a weird way, the entire state can take pride in a championship, because you have good friends and family that are fans of the team that won.

For all the vitriol between MS State and Ole Miss fans, and there is PLENTY, I have seen way more Ole Miss fans congratulatory of MS State’s championship than the alternative.

I personally have had a number of Ole Miss fans text and message me, congratulating and being very gracious about the Bulldogs’ championship.

I think that speaks to the gracious nature of most Mississippians for one.

But also that the fanbases are connected, no matter how much they may try to prove otherwise.

Because for all the negative press (which is warranted at times) and stereotypes the entire state has to put up with, I think most of us are Mississippians first….and Bulldogs/Rebels/Golden Eagles second.

And it brings to mind another movie quote:

“I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you?……You… you… complete… me.” -The Joker

 

MS State College World Series coverage and interviews

This is a collection of interviews from The Breckfast Show the week Mississippi State played for the College World Series championship.

Boswell Media Sports commentator Melvin Wooten live from Omaha:

Former MS State catcher and member of the 1997 and 1998 College World Series teams Barry Patton live from Omaha:

Former MS State baseball players Tim and Terry Fancher live in studio:

 

How and why my Twitter account was suspended

Anyone that know me, knows that I LOVE Twitter.

I love following random accounts. I love following people in the radio/sports business.
Hell I’ve even made plenty of “Twitter only” friends.

Well, I might have enjoyed it a bit too much because I’ve been sent to Twitter Jail.

And by that I mean that my @BreckRiley account has been suspended and this is how and why it happened: Celine Dion.

Well, not her exactly. More the company that represents her music royalties.

If you follow me on any social media account, you know that I post the “My Heart Will Go On” video memes quite often.

Anytime there’s a last second basketball shot, a walk-off baseball homerun, a missed extra point that loses the game against your heated rival (sorry Rebels), I edit the song over the video.

It’s called “Celine-A-Scene.” And I did not start the trend. I just jumped on the bandwagon because I’m decent at video editing.

It became so routine, that people began to send me videos they wanted to be “Celined.” It’s just for fun.  I’m obviously not trying to make money off the posts.

But music royalty/copyright companies aren’t known for their sense of humor.

Usually what happens is that you get emailed a notice that using the song is in violation of a copyright, Twitter will notify you, lock your account until you delete the Tweet, and then it’s all good.

Well apparently, Twitter has a “so many strikes” policy until they suspend your account.

What’s even more frustrating was that the tweet in question was from November of 2019.

Yes. It’s the tweet from the aforementioned Egg Bowl.

And it JUST now got flagged.

Now, I have no problem with Twitter or any platform taken down content that gets flagged. If you don’t own the rights to the music and you post something online, you run the risk of it being taken down. That’s just internet 101 theses days.

However, suspending an account for it does seem a little excessive. But that’s all covered in those Terms and Conditions that no one ever reads when signing up for an account on a new platform.

As far as why this seems to happen on Twitter and not any other platforms,  as I understand it,  Twitter refuses to pay for licenses to cover this sort of thing. Licenses that Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms do pay for.

So as of now, my account is still suspended. I have filed an appeal, which Twitter says can take up to 7 days to respond to. From reading a few other accounts of those that this has happened to, some say the appeals do work and some others say they are still waiting.

As of now I can still read Twitter, but can’t post.

So who even knows if this will get resolved, but until then….my heart will go on.

 

Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years.

Softball playoffs are a grind. I don’t know how the players do it.

Unlike high school baseball, where the games are played Thursday, Friday, and Saturday over 5 weeks, softball playoffs are played Thursday – Friday, Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Friday and then another Thursday- Friday series. And the 2nd day of the series, it’s possible for there to be a doubleheader.

For the radio guy that means a lot of late nights on the road and quick turnaround preparation. Not to mention what it means for the parents who have to wash uniforms, get players to school and games. All of that. It is a madhouse.

But after not having a season last year, the madhouse postseason softball playoffs were extremely welcomed by players, coaches, parents, fans, and even the tired radio guy.

I won’t attempt to recap the entire post-season with this post. For that you can follow this Twitter thread.

Here we will discuss the State Championship series in Hattiesburg.
It was a wild 3 days.

Got up Thursday to head out with the team and I was asked to be at the field house for something at 7:30. Little did I know that a few team moms had prepared me a goody bag and gotten me a 4A North State Championship Shirt that all the players and parents were wearing for the drive down.

And it had a couple of my all time favorite snack in it: Slim Jims and Blow Pops.
HOW GREAT ARE TEAM MOMS?!?

I went to the sendoff party for the team at Kosciusko Lower Elementary. And it was great to see all the little kids turn out for the team.

As we left out for Hattiesburg, somehow I got in front of the convoy, and was the first to arrive at the stadium. That’s nothing new for me, I’m usually one of the first people at any stadium when I’m doing a broadcast.

As critical as I am of the MHSAA at times, they did put on a top class event.

A cutout of Peter Griffin I found in the press box and brought into the radio booth…because why not?
Got rid of Peter Griffin because we lost. Sir Charles brought us the trophy. He’s the real MVP.

And what’s great about these events is that when you’ve been in the broadcasting game as long as I have and with Mississippi being one big high school, it’s like a family reunion when you get to the press box.

My pal Josh West, who has been the voice of the Holmes CC Bulldogs on Breezy `101 for over 10 years, was there. The radio commentator for North Pike’s radio broadcast is also a friend of mine who has done some work for Boswell Media in the past.

And as I’m talking to the PA announcer, I hear someone yelling from the TV booth, “Don’t you ever shut up?” It’s my friend Newman who I had multiple classes with at MS State and is a staple in shooting video for games around the state.

I ended up going out for drinks with Newman and the TV crew and then dinner with Josh while I there for the weekend. It’s always good to catch up.

As far as the games go, you couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Our girls lost game one, but I felt the same way after it as I did after they lost game 1 to West Lauderdale: that Kosciusko was the better team and that they would prove it in games 2 and 3.

After speaking with Coach Terry, the players felt the same way.

When the team started pounding the ball in game 2, I knew we were set for an epic game 3. I didn’t realize how epic at the time though.

As the Whippets trailed heading into the bottom of the 7th, I casually reminded the radio audience that this was nothing new to this team.

In 2018, the Lady Whippets trailed Lawrence County, 7-0 heading into the final inning. They then tied the game and went on to win it in extra innings.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Because that’s exactly what this team did.

Not one, but two comebacks late in the ballgame and they’d done it. As unlikely as it may have seemed to us on the outside looking in, I don’t think it was ever in doubt for those in the dugout and on the field.

There is absolutely zero quit in this team.

That’s good to see as a broadcaster, because it makes for an exciting broadcast for me.

It’s even better to see as a Whippet myself, because that’s the character you know, coming through from a class program.

Hats off Lady Whippets and congrats on brining home another 4A State Championship.


A few special Thank Yous are in order as we wrap this up:

  • First of all I have to say thank you to Amy Price, Lindsay Dickerson, Jenny Jones, and Tonya Kelley for the goody bags and cards you gave me. And really thanks to all of the team parents and coaches for making me feel a part of the team.
  • Thanks to all of our specials guests we had come on the broadcast this postseason. Former Lady Whippets and part of the 2018 State Championship team Gabby Kelley and Makenzie Ryals (even though she definitely dropped a pop up foul ball in the stands during game 2. I saw it.) joined us on air a few times. My football broadcast partner Phillip Palmertree sat it for a game or two. And eve Whippet head football coach Casey Orr put on the headset.
  • Thank you to all of the Whippet fans who tuned into the broadcast. Whether that was on Breezy 101, the app, or on our audio only YouTube stream. I know you had the opportunity to watch the video stream, but choosing to listen and support the local broadcast means a lot.

My bout with COVID

So, after 9 months, COVID finally caught me.
And if it can catch me, the guy that washes his hands 28059730 times a day (even before the pandemic) and rarely goes anywhere other than home and work, then it can catch anyone.

I have had great outpouring of love while in quarantine. A number of people have called, texted, Facbooked, Tweeted, and Snapchatted to ask how I’m feeling.

Another thing most people want to know is how COVID felt, what were my symptoms, etc.

Well, since I have the platform, I figured I’d do a day-by-day breakdown of how things happened for me.

So here goes:

Day 1 – Saturday, Nov. 28

  • I woke up with a slight headache, some congestion, and a sore throat. I didn’t think anything of it because I’m good to wake up like that at least a few times a year. Especially when the weather changes from warm to really cold.Well as the day went on, I began to get chills. Bad chills. Like I couldn’t get warm at all. And that was under a heavy blanket, flannel pajamas, and a hoody. Took my temperature and I didn’t have a fever. I still didn’t feel all that bad, was just kind of bleh. At this point, I could still smell and taste.

    As I got ready for bed, the body aches started and that kept me up for most of the night. But during the night I remember that I had bought some extra strength cold and flu medicine when the outbreak first started. I took some of that and my headache and congestion went away and I was finally able to sleep.

Day 2 – Sunday, Nov. 29

  • I wake up with no headache or congestion, but my throat is killing me. It was on fire. I coughed once and felt like fire was going to come out.  Once again, this is nothing alarming, because when you talk for a living, your throat gets sore quite often. The day goes on and I notice that I can’t smell or taste anything.The body aches began to get worse. I felt like I’d been in a car wreck. In my back mostly. I felt like an old man trying to get up off the couch.

    I also developed a weak, dry cough. Occasionally there would be some green phlegm to go with it, but for the most part, It was just a dry cough a couple of times a day.

    And today a new symptom appeared. One that I had not heard from throughout the duration of the pandemic. My skin felt like it was very badly sunburned. It was weird because it wasn’t hot to touch, but it burned. The worst part was taking a shower. When the hot water hit my skin, it felt like it does after you take a shower after a week of laying on the beach. It didn’t really hurt. It was just annoying more than anything. But I powered on.

    Also, the chills were there, but they weren’t as bad as Saturday. I did clock a temperature of 99.9, but that’s as high as it ever got. I

Day 3 – Monday, Nov. 30

  • I woke up today much like the day before. My throat was sore, the body aches were still there, there was still an occasional cough, and my skin still felt sunburned.I made my appointment to get tested today and it ended up being positive. So I got my meds called in and then came home to quarantine.

Day 4 – Tuesday, Dec. 1

  • Pretty much the same symptoms s as Monday, but the body aches were pretty much gone. I never realized how bad that soreness was until I got up off of the couch once and it didn’t hurt like I’d done a 4 hour lower body gym workout.My throat was still sore and it probably didn’t help that I was recording and doing my radio show from home. But I drank enough water to keep hydrated because there was no way I was going to just sit at home and NOT be on the radio.

    The fatigue set in on this day. I would just get randomly tired at points throughout the day and would have to lie down to rest.

Day 5, Wednesday, Dec 2. – Day 9, Sunday, Dec. 6

  • The symptoms for these days pretty much just amount to the random bouts of fatigue and still not being able to smell or taste.At one point, I was getting up to get dressed to take a drive just to get out of the house, and after I got dressed, a wave of fatigue hit me hard and I had to sit down. Eventually, I was able to get up and take a drive around town and that was fun. It did me good to get out.

Day 10 – Monday, Dec. 7 

  • My smell and taste is starting to comeback and I’m not getting as tired when I get up to do thing. I do still have the occasional dry cough, but that’s about it.

 

All in all, my bout with COVID was very mild.
I was fortunate enough to not have any fever, trouble breathing, or any digestive issues.

The worst part for me were the body aches. That was something I’d never really experienced before because I’ve never had the flu. But those aches were no joke.

However, I can see just how bad this virus could be for those that are older or who don’t have a healthy immune system.

So, my advice is to continue to do what you can to make sure you don’t get this virus. Wear your mask and stay away from large crowds.

Also, you definitely don’t want to be stuck in your house for 10 days….alone.
Trust me.

I can keep myself entertained very well. I mean, I pretty much talk to myself every morning for  3 hours.

But even as entertaining as I am, I was sick of me after about 3 days.

Thanks for all of you who called to check on me or dropped off care packages/groceries on the front porch.