A big question that people ask others when they are interested in another person’s profession is “How did you get into that line of work?” For many, it was a passion growing up that lead to going to school to eventually get a job in the field. Others it was due more to a life change that forced their hand. Yet some have a more interesting tale such as Steve Muehlhausen of Fight Club Chicago.
For Muehlhausen, his passion was television and sports. He wanted to be a sports caster on a local tv station with hopes of one day being on ESPN’s Sports Center. After graduating from high school he pursued that dream by attending Columbia College in Chicago. But then two things happened that changed his life forever.
The first was that he took an elective course about radio law. Muehlhausen immediately fell in love with radio. He looked to switch his major and realized it wasn’t anything major needing just to add a couple more classes before he would graduate. The second, was when life and family hit him hard. He had to take time away from school, and wasn’t able to go back.
With the time away from school, but a new found passion in radio, Muehlhausen searched for other options. He started attending school at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting to learn everything he could about radio. Of course part of the curriculum would include having a radio show and with his background in sports, he thought he would be doing a sports show. Muehlhausen recalls, “I was asked if I wanted to do a show. They said they wanted to do a weekly show about the UFC and asked me. I immediately said let’s do it and felt confident I could fill two hours a week talking about the sport. It was originally harder to fill that time than I thought it would be. I hit the road and started to grind going to local shows. I brought on members of the media at first as guests, and then a sponsor company, and finally a fighter.”
The hard work paid off. The show went from one day a week to two days a week to getting a full five day a week schedule while still under the command of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting. The hard work and the grinding started to pay off for Muehlhausen as his determination lead him to an interview with Jon Jones before his fight with Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on VS 2.
“I had a friend at the time who worked at Vs and he asked if I wanted to interview Jones. So I went out to San Diego and at the time you knew who Jones was and what he was going to be, but he wasn’t there yet. I remember doing the interview and during the interview I cracked a joke about him moving up to heavyweight. Jones looked at me awkward like I was calling him fat and I explained that with his age, size, and frame, would he be forced to move up. Jones then retorted with “What are you trying to say Steve?” and I remember thinking that he was upset and I had angered him. Then he bust out and said he was joking with me. That was a breakthrough moment. We sent that interview to NBC (owners of Vs) and they loved it. After that I knew I was getting somewhere. That interview put me on the map.”
That success early on lead to several other achievements for Muehlhausen. Over the next two years he would go on to write for MMASucka before writing for Bleacher Report. His interviews on his radio show Fight Club Chicago would be the source material for several articles not just for his own writings, but other journalists as well.
And it seemed like everything was going right for him in 2012. He got engaged to his fiancé and bought a house for them to start a life together in. Then the bottom dropped out in September.
“We were scheduled to meet with the American Cancer Society and I got to the building and I was told the meeting was cancelled, but they wanted to talk to me. They told me they were laying me off and folding the company. The show which was broadcast on SportsTownChicago.com was no longer affiliated with the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, and finically speaking they said they were putting more money in than they were getting out. I did the show for another week before it went off the air.”
Muehlhausen continued to write for Bleacher Report and continued to interview fighters for his articles, but something was missing for him and it almost made him quit the business. After all, he had a good run in the nearly three years. Interviewing fighters from across all shows from amateur to the UFC and he got to travel to fights and talk to Dana White. He had accomplished a lot in a short period of time.
What turned him around was actually the people that he had relied on for content asking him when he was coming back. Media members, fighters, managers all asked him when the show was coming back. And while he knew he couldn’t bring it back at it’s old stomping ground, the seed was planted that he could continue the show.
He fielded some offers from local radio stations about possibly putting the show on the airways, but they just weren’t a good fit. Other media outlets reached out to carry the show, but still, something was missing from it all. So he then opted to run the show on his own and it officially relaunched in December 2012. Since relaunching, the show airs not only on Blog Talk Radio but also on The Well Versed which features a variety of shows ranging from music to sports and more.
In looking back at his career, one thing has stayed consistent for Muehlhausen. His ability to grind and do the work. To him, it is part of what makes the people that he looks up to in the business successful.
“Dana White is my number one inspiration. I see how hard he works. Vince McMahon while not in the same business, had a similar road. They both work extremely hard. They both are up like 20 hours a day. I can always work harder. Duane Finley over at Bleacher Report is another person who works hard and grinds. I want to get to that level. I know I am not at that level. You really need to check out his stuff.”
Of course even with everything seemingly going smooth at this point, there is one aspect Muehlhausen is not looking forward to again. After not traveling since May of 2011, he will be hitting the road and the airwaves to cover events. But there is one good part to all the travel according to Muehlhausen, “The best part is coming home.”
Follow Steve Muehlhausen on twitter @fightclubchi and listen to his radio show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-fight-club-chicago