Move over, Archie Anderson and Michael St. John.
There’s a new broadcaster in town, and one day, she may want your jobs, or at least one of them.
She is Karlee Jo Preston, a seventh grader and cheerleader at Arab Junior High School. And no, she’s not ready for the airwaves just yet, but she’s certainly off to an impressive start.
“I’m just a kid, so I don’t think too much about my future right now,” she said Friday before leaving school for DAR to cheer on the Knights. “But one day I might be interested in broadcasting.”
For now, she’s just having fun with it, using the voice memos app on her iPhone 8 to interview her friends and fellow students. Midway through the basketball season, she expanded to interviewing coaches, drawing inspiration partly from the coach of her favorite college football team.
“I was watching college football with my dad (Eric) this past season, an Alabama game,” Preston said. “At halftime, a lady asked Coach (Nick) Saban about the game. I thought, that would be pretty cool, to be able to be on TV and talk to coaches.”
And who was the female sportscaster?
“I don’t know, some brown-headed chick,” she quipped.
It’s that kind of personality that has captured the hearts of those around her.
“If anyone can do it, it’s her,” said her cheerleader coach, Misty Puccio. “She’s got the personality for it.”
Arab Junior Head coaches Jason Guger and Terrance Maze were cornered after some of their games in the county tournament.
“She talks to you when you lose, too,” Guger said, smiling. “She’s funny. She has a lot of fun with it.”
Guger’s eighth grade boys team lost to Albertville on Wednesday, ending its season.
“I wanted to know his feelings on that,” Preston said.
Fear, as you might imagine, isn’t one of her hang-ups. Last week, she approached Arab’s head football coach, Lee Ozmint, while he was at the junior high working with the school’s football players during fourth period.
She let the Tribune listen to her brief interview.
“Coach O,” she began, “what do you plan to do differently, if anything, this next season?”
Ozmint took the question seriously and gave her a pretty good answer, telling her some things will be different with a new team, but not the basics, which led to the Knights going 6-4 last season.
“We’re not going to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Ozmint said.
Preston last week also interviewed Arab coach Phil Puccio, who has watched his son Drew come back from a serious leg injury. Drew played well for the seventh grade boys during the county tournament, scoring 16 points in one game, the most since his return from the injury.
The Knights finished as county runners-up.
“He’s worked very hard, so it’s been exciting to see him play again,” Puccio told Preston.
While fear is not a factor (yet), poor performance can be. While doing the interviews, she’s fine. But then she has to go back and listen to them.
“I go back and listen to me talk,” she said. “I hear all my mess-ups. My main problem is coming up with questions on the fly.”
Still, it’s something she has fun with.
“I’m just having fun,” she said. “It’s a thing, a laugh.”
Preston is part of the yearbook staff and goes around taking random photos of students, usually of the humorous variety (imagine that). The recordings essentially started from that.
“It started as a joke,” she said. “I’d ask my friends funny questions and record them. I didn’t go up to random kids.
“Then, I’d go back and listen to them (recordings).
“It was just a fun thing to do. I never thought of it being serious.”
Preston’s sense of humor shines through in all she does. She said she mostly resembles her mother, Molly, except her face. That, she said, looks more like her dad.
“Dad has buck teeth and so do I,” she said. “But I wear braces.”
Preston, an only child, plans to play softball this spring.
“I’ve played softball since I was 4,” she said.
As for broadcasting as a career? It’s not out of the question, she said.
“I like talking to people,” she said. “And I like talking in front of people.”