On Sports • After hitting bottom, morning man has job he loves - sports talk
Watch Chad Doing ply his trade - behind the microphone at the studios of 'The Game,' entertaining all those folks listening out in radio land - and you see a young guy totally in his element.
'I've never wanted to do anything else in terms of work,' says the sports talk show host known to his audience as 'The Body.'
It's difficult to imagine, then, the depth of his despair when he sat in a Longview, Wash., tavern five Christmas Eves ago and contemplated suicide.
Doing has everything going these days - health, attitude, ratings - but he wasn't always on top of the world. A gambling addiction cost him a marriage and very nearly his life.
Doing, 35, has taken a fascinating route to the 'Morning Sports Page' daily segment on KXL (750 AM), one I'd like to share with our readers.
After spending his early years in Oklahoma and Colorado, Doing moved to Vancouver, Wash., with his family at age 14. By that time, he was deeply in love with the art of sportscasting.
'From age 8 or 9, I'd be walking around doing a radio call of a game, impersonating Marv Albert or Dick Enberg,' he says.
Basketball was his passion as a youth, and when he got cut during tryouts for the team at Prairie every year, 'it was devastating,' he says. 'All I wanted to do was make the high school team, and I wasn't good enough.'
Doing loved watching sports, though. And he loved broadcasting.
'And my dad told me, 'Just because you're not going to play professional sports doesn't mean you can't be around it,' ' he says.
As he attended Clark College and graduated from Washington State-Vancouver with a degree in political science and business, Doing hunted for broadcasting opportunities. He landed an internship at a Vancouver radio station, where for three years he helped out on high school football and basketball broadcasts and did a weekly fitness show.
By that time, Doing was entrenched in a regimen of daily workouts at the gym.
'Working out takes all that nervous energy out,' he says. 'I rarely drink and don't do drugs; my only release is my workout.'
In 1999, at age 23, Doing secured a part-time job doing radio work in Woodburn and Stayton, calling Regis High games. He also sold ticket packages at PGE Park, but broadcasting is what turned him on.
In 2005, Doing was hired part-time as a board operator at 'The Fan' (KFXX 1080 AM).
'That got my foot in the door,' he says. 'I knew if I applied myself and worked hard, eventually that would be noticed. It paid off.'
In September 2006, Doing was hired by the station full-time, handling morning updates and filling in with some on-air responsibilities.
'I was learning to perfect my craft,' he says. 'It was everything I ever wanted, having a full-time job doing radio. I remember how excited I was. That general feeling has never left my being.'
Doing also got noticed during those years for his calls to national host Jim Rome, whose syndicated show was on KFXX at the time.
'He was one of my early inspirations in the business,' Doing says. 'The first time time I heard Rome was 1995. Right away, I was hooked. Sports talk radio - the coolest thing ever. I got turned on by Rome.'
As 'Chad from Portland,' Doing had a couple of e-mails read on-air by Rome.
'My first call was after Greg Oden had been drafted by the Blazers, and I got 'Huge Call of the Day,' ' Doing says. 'That was total luck. I thought I was going to flame out and embarrass myself.'
Soon, he was among the most important of Rome's 'clones.' He made up a series of parody songs that an amused Rome allowed on air. Doing made Rome's 'Smack-Off' competition two years running. 'It was pretty bizarre,' he says.
As Doing's professional horizons were expanding, though, his personal life was spiraling.
In October 2002, Doing had just finished college, was six months into his marriage and was working with a PR company along with his broadcasting duties. He kept hearing a radio commercial for a company that offered tips on sports gambling.
'I thought I could maybe dabble a little bit and earn a couple of extra bucks,' he says. 'It seemed innocent at the time.'
Doing called the service and talked to a representative, who convinced him to authorize a couple of thousand dollars expenditures on his VISA card, 'so they could deliver me their picks for the weekend,' he says.
Doing's bet that weekend was Ohio State at Wisconsin, taking Ohio State and the points. The Buckeyes, a seven-point favorite, won by five. He was out $3,500.
'I was freaked out, but my thinking was, 'That's OK. I'll make a couple of more bets, get back to even and be done with it,' ' he says.
Doing won a few bets, but lost more. He got deeper into debt.
'I didn't recognize I had a gambling problem,' he says.
He switched to another gambling service that didn't charge as much, won his first four or five bets and built up several thousand dollars in his 'offshore account.' That was followed by a series of losses, putting him about $5,000 in the hole.
'I'd dug a hole, and got in deeper and deeper,' he says. 'I concealed it from everyone. That's what's scary about Internet gambling - you can do it without people knowing about it.'
For two years, during his time at 'The Fan,' Doing's life was centered on work and gambling.
'I wasn't paying attention to my wife the way I should have,' he says. 'I let gambling consume me. It's all I wanted to do. I'd spend all day in front of the TV and computer. Every bit of energy I had was put into gambling.
'I would go to bed after a loss feeling gutted from the inside out. I was living a lie, and it was destructive. I can't imagine the amount of time I took off my life just because of the stress.'
By 2005, Doing had maxed out a number of credit cards.
'That's when the creditors started to call,' he says. 'I borrowed money from my parents, lying about the reason. I couldn't believe the predicament I was in. I had always been the prodigal son in the way I handled my business. It was hard for me to accept I had a problem, because I had never considered myself that type of guy.'
Doing could hide the creditor calls for only so long. Finally, he had to confess to his wife and parents. It was excruciating.
'My wife didn't trust me anymore,' he says. 'My parents looked at me in a different light.'
That Christmas Eve, Doing came close to ending his life.
'I drove from our home to the tavern in Longview,' he says. 'I was by myself, late at night in a room full of strangers. I was contemplating jumping off a bridge. I knew if I had enough to drink, I'd be able to do it.
'I'd reached the point where I felt like there was no way out. I didn't feel I could get myself out of the hole.'
While sitting at the bar, he got a call on his cell phone from his father, Jim Doing, who wondered where he was at on Christmas Eve.
'He told me he loves me more than life itself,' Chad says. 'He talked me off the ledge, so to speak. He drove up there, got me and drove me home.'
In the months following, Doing attended some Gamblers Anonymous meetings, but benefited most from counseling. Over a year and a half, his counselor weaned him off gambling and helped him through the process of 'remodeling' his life.
'I haven't placed a sports bet for four years,' he says.
Doing has used his personal situation for a back story while doing several shows on sports gambling. Among those he has interviewed on the subject is former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who served 11 months in a federal prison after being convicted of betting on games he officiated and making calls that affected the point spread in games.
'The best thing I can do to right my wrongs is be open,' Doing says. 'I've had a number of people (with gambling problems) reach out to me, and I've been able to send them to the right place to get some help. I can't change my past, but I can make decisions moving forward to help people out.'
In 2007, with budget cuts hitting hard at KFXX, Doing's hours at the station were cut dramatically.
'I remember thinking, 'Is it over? Is this all for me in this business?' ' he says.
But then a new sports-talk station, 'The Game,' hit the air. In June 2008, Doing got hired full-time. Soon he was co-hosting the 'Morning Sports Page' as sidekick to Gavin Dawson, with whom he'd worked at 'The Fan.'
In 2009, Dawson left for a job in Dallas. For several months, Doing worked the morning show with Dwight Jaynes before Jaynes was hired full-time by Comcast.
This year, Doing has worked solo on his morning segment.
'I was a little nervous at first,' he says. 'I never know how the show sounds. But I realize I don't have to have all the answers. If I have good guests and put in the time to prepare and have good energy, I can give people a few laughs once in a while.
'The best advice I got when I was starting in this business was to be yourself. Listeners can sniff out a fraud in a heartbeat. When I worked with Gavin, I played a character. It wasn't who I really was. Now I can be myself. People seem to enjoy that a lot more.'
On May 9, when 'The Game' decided to drop Rome's national show, Doing's time slot was expanded from 6 to 9 a.m. to 6 to 10 a.m.
Station Manager Brian Jennings offered Doing the promotion after the most recent Arbitron figures were released. For male listeners 18 to 34, Doing tied for first of any show - sports, news, music - in the market during his time slot. For men 18 to 45, he was second; for men 25 to 54, he was tied for fourth.
'We made the move because of Chad's ratings, and the fact he is a very entertaining guy,' Jennings says. 'In a way, he is polarizing - people either love him or hate him, though a lot more seem to love him.
'He played second fiddle to other hosts for quite awhile, but I always sensed he has a lot of talent. He has grown tremendously as a host. I'm really proud of him.'
Doing's personal life is much different since his days as gambler.
'I don't waste a lot of time by myself watching sports,' he says. 'I have to background myself, so I watch the important games, but I find other ways to spend my time. I have an addictive personality, so that's important.'
Doing is still into his workout regimen. At 6-1 and 170, he has participated in the lightweight division of seven national bodybuilding 'clean' competitions, winning one.
'It keeps me sharp as I've gotten older,' Doing says. 'I don't have a bodybuilding physique. I'm an ectomorph. I'm too long, but I have a bodybuilder's heart. My body fat is now about 8 to 9 percent, but in competition I'm around 3 on the day of the show. I'll do another one. I'm plotting my next course right now.
'By working out and paying attention to what I eat, I can set an example for others. When I was younger, I wanted to look good. Now I want to be able to move around when I'm 55 or 60 and not be in a wheelchair.'
Doing looks good and sounds even better. He is beginning to hit his stride as a broadcaster, and I hope he gets more opportunity to call play-by-play, which is really his first love.
'My dad always told me to do what you love and the money will follow,' Doing says, adding with a laugh, 'I'm still waiting for the money to follow.
'But I love being excited to go to work every day. We all know what it's like to have a job you hate.'