Wide variety of CUC experiences prepared CJ Dear to lead NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe’s podcast
If you asked CJ Dear BA ’13 about his path from hosting a radio show at Concordia-Chicago’s WCGR to producing a TV show and podcast for a Pro Football Hall of Famer, he would probably tell you a lot about hard work, determination, gaining experience and building confidence. Dear, who was a member of CUC’s 2012 NACC-champion football team, is a senior producer at Fox Sports 1 for the TV show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed” and for Shannon Sharpe’s podcast, “Club Shay Shay.”
When he was a student, Dear knew he wanted to work in radio and TV, so he got involved at WCGR, learning the ropes of broadcast production. After graduation and a few internships, Dear was hired as an associate producer at NFL Films in Los Angeles, and held several roles there over three years. “During that time, I went to the Super Bowl, the NFL Combine and the Draft. It was exciting being on the road, working with talent in-person, and seeing everything that you’ve built up to coming together in a certain moment.”
He then moved onto FS1 to run the social media accounts for “Undisputed,” where he established a strong professional relationship with Shannon Sharpe. One day, Dear’s boss told him, “We want to start a podcast with Shannon, and we want you to lead it.” Dear now produces the shoots, reaches out to guests, and creates the look and feel of “Club Shay Shay,” where Sharpe has in-depth, inspirational conversations with athletes and entertainers. Season one was a success, with 1.5 million downloads and 70 million listens, and Dear is looking forward to season two starting soon.
Dear says Concordia-Chicago was the ideal place for him to explore a broad variety of interests and gain the experience he needed to pursue media production in the future.
“Dr. Laura Pollom was a big inspiration to me. She allowed me to be myself and gave me encouragement and opportunities,” he says. “Also, being able to have my own radio show, playing on the football team, and even getting involved in theater all helped me to come out of my shell and prepared me for the workforce. The small-school, family environment at CUC helped me build my confidence, knowing that I could apply to any job in my field and put my best foot forward.”