WHEN HIS ALARM goes off at 2:30 in the morning, KMOX News broadcaster Michael Calhoun sits on the edge of the bed and wonders, "What have I done so wrong in my life?"
But by 5:00 o'clock when he's at the scene of a warehouse fire, a flood or with some political development-about to go live for a radio audience just now waking up--Calhoun can't imagine any other life.
"I've always been a deadline lover," Calhoun says, "I always got my best grades on papers I started right before the deadline."
A classically-trained violin player who once performed in local orchestras, Calhoun admits his violin now gathers dust in the corner. But from all those years of practicing he developed a few traits that have served him well in news: An ear for the melody of a good soundbite, an ethic of getting the story right, and above all the performer's credo--when it's showtime, it's showtime.
The night rioting broke out in Ferguson after the police shooting death of Michael Brown, Calhoun grabbed the keys and headed in, leaving behind other reporters who preferred to "cover things over the phone."
Calhoun broadcast live as rioters around him smashed windows at a tire store, darting into the night with chrome wheels, and later witnessed the burning of a QuikTrip convenience store that became the epicenter for the protests that would follow.
"What I love about live radio is... it's new," Calhoun said. "You go online and you're reading an old article."
Calhoun was also one of the first St. Louis-area journalists to make a foray into Twitter and Facebook Live.
His online philosophy has been grab people where they are online, let them know you're covering breaking news and drive them to the radio station.
Calhoun arrived in the KMOX Newsroom in the fall of 2006. That summer he'd been working as a lifeguard at a local pool where the oil-slathered sunbathers slurped frozen slushies, ate popcorn, and listened to Mike Shannon calling the Cardinals games over the loudspeakers.
Shortly after he started at KMOX, Calhoun reported on the death of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, the raging floodwaters on the Mississippi and Meramec Rivers, two presidential elections, and the dethroning of St. Louis royalty--the sale of Anheuser-Busch.
In February of 2008, Calhoun covered the Kirkwood City Hall shooting--in which six people were killed and two injured--providing reports for KMOX News, CBS Radio and CNN.
Later that same year he spent a week embedded with the Missouri National Guard soldiers in Louisiana, during and after Hurricane Gustav.
His reporting on stories from the tornado at Lambert Airport to an investigation on a now-disgraced County Executive has been honored with regional and national Edward R. Murrow and Missouri Broadcasters awards.
Lately, Calhoun has been holding down morning news co-hosting duties on Total Information AM on KMOX.
He also hosts a weekly show, "Nothing Impossible," which features new developments in the St. Louis technology, start-up and innovation scene.
When he's not chasing the wind of news, Calhoun relaxes at his home in south city, his basset hound "Lucy" lying on the living room rug. His stereo is blasting some alternative rock song. (Story of the Year, Dave Matthews and Kesha are among his favorites.)
Calhoun also likes to travel--Austin, Denver and Minneapolis are among his recent getaway destinations. And--he likes to hit the local restaurant scene. "You just can't beat the Hi-Pointe burger," Calhoun says. He also likes eating at Three Kings in the Loop, or--when he's in the mood for barbecue--Salt and Smoke.
Calhoun is a graduate of Parkway West High School, attended the University of Missouri Columbia and has an undergraduate degree from Lindenwood University .
Musing over the recent ups-and-downs of radio in an age glutted from online information inflation, Calhoun predicts there will always be a place for radio news.
"With all the constant social feeds, it's stressful for people to keep up," Calhoun said, "I enjoy that with radio, we tell people what's important, what we need to know, every hour. And we've got to have something new every hour."