Reprinted from Butler News X-Press …
As December approaches, a local man furiously types away at his computer, preparing for yet another round of games to broadcast and travel plans to make across the state. Butler graduate and current Rockville resident James Damon has turned his years of broadcast experience into a business opportunity as he is one of three owners within the Prepcasts Broadcasting Network. Blessed to begin broadcasting at the Butler radio station in junior high and high school, he sought one of his two degrees in Broadcast Communications in college, while continuing his career covering high school and collegiate sports. In 25 years of broadcasting, he has covered numerous state championships in football, girls and boys basketball, softball, and baseball, as well as Final Fours in college men’s basketball, while providing coverage for over 2000 games.
The Prepcasts Network began in St. Louis 11 years ago as a platform for coverage of high school sports for the Metro Catholic League. Through the years, the network has grown and continued to provide the premier high school coverage in the state. An affiliate launched in Ste. Genevieve several years ago providing exclusive coverage for both Ste. Genevieve High School and Valle Catholic High School. The STL affiliate provides coverage on an on-going basis for St. Louis area schools via private school contracts. Listenership continues to grow with each passing year for the entirety of the network.
Three years ago, Damon was moonlighting doing Warsaw basketball games for the Clinton radio station, and infuriating his wife for such long drives with such little pay, as often tends to be the bane of regional radio broadcasters. He stumbled onto the PBN and made contact with then owner Bob Ryan, to see about future options to provide additional broadcasts for the network. After a dinner meeting with Ryan, Damon embarked on the process of amassing the necessary equipment and funding to launch a Prepcasts affiliate on the western side of the state.
He officially serves as Director of the western side of the state of Missouri for PBN, and is the founder/owner of his affiliate, Prepcasts-KCMW (Kansas City-Mo West), which launched in August of 2013. With the ever-growing surge of internet options available for individuals, along with growing smart phone applications, and additional availability for a variety of products (games) to choose from, the Prepcasts Network is filling a previous void in the broadcasting industry, especially towards the high school and small college market. Damon began tentatively with the hopes of broadcasting 100 games during year one, but saw the total swell to 228 by the end of the school season (2013-2014), and already launched his own network providing multiple crews each week for broadcasts.
Year two projections included the launching of the Bear Network (providing outstanding coverage for Butler Bear sports, including never before broadcasted volleyball, softball, wrestling, track, and golf, as well as commonly broadcast football, and girls and boys basketball), plans to cover nearly 400 games this school year, and branching out into the aforementioned rarely covered sports. Through the fall campaign, concluding with the seven state championship games over the weekend, the KCMW affiliate has broadcast 59 games already with listenership already over 12 thousand for the short season. Extrapolating those numbers has the brand poised to shatter the projections of nearly 50 K listeners for the year, and move towards 100 K listeners! Those are astounding numbers considering the mostly rural coverage base KCMW provides access to, as in addition to the Bear Network, Damon provides coverage for the WEMO area schools (Adrian, Appleton City, Archie, Cass-Midway, Drexel, Osceola, and Rich Hill), as well as smaller school coverage in smaller sports (Ballard, Hume, Northeast Vernon County, etc.).
The beauty of the network lies in part in its’ simplicity as listeners can simply click off links to access the games via their home computer systems, laptops, or even mobile devices. The PBN is currently working on the process of building an application for mobile devices to allow users to listen to games while continuing to access other phone applications, as well. To listen to any game, one simply needs to visit the website (www.prepcasts-kcmw.com). Upon arrival, one notices the area businesses helping provide underwriting support for the coverage for area schools, and can click on their advertising buttons for more information regarding their individual businesses. People can directly clink on the hyperlinked links (showing in “blue”) for the game they want, which then re-directs in a newly opened window explaining details about the game. Users then click on the wording “click here for the game” and the webcast opens up in their browser to listen to (and watch as some video-casts are also available, which is another great feature that radio cannot compete with). The game loads and individuals can listen to the games live, or later, as we guarantee archived footage for at least two years. PBN has yet to lose a broadcast that was completed and archived, allowing listeners to go through 1000’s of archived games if they so choose.
Such manner allows PBN to offer services at no cost to listeners and minimizing our price point for local advertisers/underwriters and schools. With such an outstanding model, it’s easy to see why and how Damon has already provided coverage for over 110 regional schools through the first 16 months of existence. The network is poised to continue expansion as basketball season will also feature a Kansas City area based Game of the Week, which will continue into next year’s fall football schedule, and increased area coverage for both the WEMO and the Bear Network. Underwriters that participate in the network will continue to be blessed as the network continues to grow, and in addition to the satisfaction of providing coverage for many schools that get no coverage or poor coverage, Damon is able to work the business around his pastorate at River of Life Fellowship in Rockville, along with his family.
He is also pleased to have been able to continue broadcasting with his father, Jim, who broke him into the industry during a district Rich Hill basketball game some 26 years ago. The typing will continue as Damon continues to develop the underwriting and advertising base throughout the entire region and western side of the state, and make plans necessary for consistent travel (already logging over 12,000 miles in travel for 2014) to provide such coverage. It’s the way it should be done, providing the schools and fan bases with what they deserve in coverage. Look for ads weekly in the Butler newspaper providing planned schedules of upcoming games on the Prepcasts-KCMW network and visit the website often for updates, scores, and more information.