When someone who had no experience hosting a radio show came to Mike Carr at KCWM (1460-AM) in Hondo a few years back and told Carr he’d like to host his own sports-talk show, Carr decided to take a chance on the new personality.
“Aken For Sports” came on the airwaves at KCWM, and Carr was happy he gave the opportunity to Jonathan Aken.
“I haven’t found anything yet that Jonathan is not able to do,” said Carr, general manager at KCWM. “He was popular on our station, and he’s become a big part of this community.”
Aken, a 37-year-old who sports a single-digit handicap, definitely is able to do golf. He’s 12th in the current standings of the Alamo City Golf Trail’s Tour, with a best finish this year of second place in the net division of the Cedar Creek Individual Stroke Play (championship flight) in January with an even-par score that put him one stroke back.
He’ll team with Don Steitle in the ACGT Tour Team Match-Play event that starts Friday and runs through Sunday at Olmos Basin Golf Course.
“When I started playing on the Tour, I had a seven handicap, and now I’ve got it down to a 3.6,” Aken said. “My goal this season is to get it down to a zero. I would love to be a scratch golfer. That would be something I could knock off my bucket list.”
The idea of hosting a sport-talk radio show was also on Aken’s bucket list. He’s serious about crossing out items that come into his mind as challenges, especially considering he’s overcome the biggest challenge of his life so far. There’s not anything much more serious than beating cancer.
“I had cancer my sophomore year of high school and missed the entire school year,” Aken said. “Once I overcame cancer, my priorities changed. I used to be very shy, and I became very vocal and outgoing.”
It’s how the motivation for “Aken For Sports” came about, and Aken was just as pleased to show himself he would not freeze in front of a microphone as he was displaying his knowledge and opinions about sports. Empowered, he started showing up at promotions conducted by KTKR (“The Ticket” 760-AM) in San Antonio. He participated in putting contests when the station was broadcasting at the Valero Texas Open, and his ability — and gift of gab — caught the eyes and ears of sports-talk host Andy Everett.
Everett allowed Aken to step in for on-air guest appearances.
“He did just fine,” Everett said. “He had the sports knowledge and the opinions.
“I’ve played a lot of golf with him since, and I’ve seen how good he is. If he shoots 75 it’s a bad day. He’s always one of the people on my list to call when I play. He’s one of the most genuine people I know.”
Aken found the radio work opened doors for his public-speaking abilities, which he’s used for far more serious things than spouting off batting averages on the radio or hitting a straight tee ball at the golf course. He’s spoken at events for the American Cancer Society and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had doctors telling me that because of the amount of chemotherapy I was undegoing I might not ever have children,” Aken said. “Well, here I am, alive at the age of 37, and my wife and I have two children. So I want to talk to kids who are like I was when I had cancer, and just try to give them a little hope, that the doctors are not always right.”
Playing golf actually might have saved Aken. He noticed something was wrong when he put his chin down toward his chest as he stood over putts. The tumor revealed a rare form of leukemia.
But it didn’t affect his voice. Aken got a music scholarship to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, and he sang in the choir and played golf.
So the bucket list is back in play in that area as well. He wants to sing the National Anthem before the start of a sporting event.
That hasn’t happened yet, but he did put his performance skills to work when a casting call went up at a local acting troupe. A play entitled Murder on the Rebound was being planned by the Hondo-based Dramatic Divas Productions, with three parts open for women and two more male roles. Getting a part was a gimme for Aken; he was one of two men who auditioned.
“He was wonderful, especially as a singer,” said Kathy Blount, one of the organizers of the production group. “He was cast as the villain, and he’s probably as good with a punch line as he is with a golf club. He made up a lot of one-liners as he went along.”
The production included Aken singing “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” from Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias fame, and it raised more than $20,000 for the Hondo library according to Blount.
The spirit of giving extends to the golf course. Aken was playing in plenty of tournaments, but he’s gotten involved in the ACGT Tour events to extend the fun to other people.
“I couldn’t go and play in other tournaments that were for low-handicap players, invite my friends to play and feel good about it,” he said. “In (flighted ACGT tournaments) we can all enjoy ourselves and not feel like we’re playing out of our league. Still, my friends can see what it’s like to play with the ball down and have a four-footer they have to make, when if you don’t make it you might not win.”
It looks like in golf, and in life, Aken has knocked in some four-footers that have mattered.