More than 100 students packed the Lila D. Bunch Library Multimedia Hall to listen to veteran broadcaster, Rudy Kalis, the sports director at WSMV, the NBC affiliate in Nashville.
When Kalis was 5 years old, he and his family emigrated with his family from Germany. He couldn’t speak any English when they moved to Wisconsin. He didn’t do well in high school, ranking in the lower fourth of his class. He fared even worse in college, earning a 0.94 grade point average. In his own words, up until that point, he spent most of his life “trying to beat the system.”
It took a stint in the US military to change his life.
“When bullets are flying, you don’t find an atheist in a foxhole, ” Kalis said.
After serving four years, he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kalis told the students, “sit in the front of the class, you’ll hear more. Take notes, you will actually remember more.” He was so driven, he finished four years of college in three years. He majored in broadcast production and landed his first job in Green Bay,Wis., working as an associate producer for television news. That was in 1973 and his salary was $8,000. When the sports reporter quit, Kalis went on air. Consultants for the station told Kalis that he would never make it in sports.
In July of 1974, WSMV in Nashville hired him as a sports reporter. Early on in his career, he was passed over when the sports director position was available. During that same period, he met a man at a restaurant who encouraged Kalis to give his life to Christ. Kalis followed the man’s advice.
In the end, Kalis wanted the students to know that his steps were ordered. He believes God has a plan for everyone and that his life is an example of a greater power at work. With age comes wisdom and Kalis, who will turn 60 this year, seems to have blended his time and experience well.
“Who you are, you bring wherever you are,” said Kalis.