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Behind The Mic: Max Bryan

Max joined the KWGS news team in December 2022.

Morning anchor and reporter Max Bryan first wanted to become a journalist because of the Texas Rangers.

“[When I was 12], I was living in the Dallas area, and I was a huge Texas Rangers fan,” Max says. “My grandparents always had a copy of the Dallas Morning News, and I would read the articles about the Rangers, and I just thought it'd be so fun to be able to do this every single day.”

In college, Max decided to pursue that career that his younger self always wanted.

“It started out as kind of a selfish pursuit, but then you kind of become idealistic [in college],” Max says. “[As journalists,] we exposed corruption. We hold powerful people accountable. We raise up the voiceless.”

But after a few years working at newspapers in Arkansas, Max realized that those ideals don’t always reflect reality.

“But I still loved it. And that's what made me stick around,” Max says. “I've always loved the work.”

After moving around central Arkansas and later to Norman, Max felt the pull to return to the city where he spent his high school years: Tulsa, OK.

And with this, Max moved from covering news for print to reporting live, on-air, for public radio.

Public radio, NPR and all of its member stations, I see having a future,” Max says.

He had witnessed firsthand the decline of print journalism. As reporters left, their positions remained vacant as work was dispersed among the remaining staff.

“I hate to see that because there's so many awesome journalists and more importantly, awesome people that work [in print journalism],” Max says.

“I am very grateful that I was able to stay in news because I love doing what I do. And I'm just incredibly grateful to have an opportunity to come back [to Tulsa].”

“My friends and my parents’ friends have said. ‘Hey, I just heard you on the radio,’” Max says. “It's a fun feeling, but on a bigger level, it's so rewarding just to be part of a community [and cover the news of that community] that I love and care so much about.”

And while it’s taken some time to adjust to the technical side of radio — saving files to the right places and dealing with the issues that come with live radio — Max says that the voice side of radio came more naturally.

“I did theater in high school and it's funny because for years and years, it was a big question of how will I put this experience to use. And low and behold, whenever it gets four or five minutes away from when a spot is supposed to air, I just pretend like I'm sitting at a read through, and I just have fun with it.”

Whether he’s in the studio pumping himself up for the next spot or sitting in on a city council meeting, you can tell Max loves what he does.

“People are going to think I'm a psychopath, but it's fun,” he says, describing attending weekly meetings for city council. “It's fascinating stuff. City hall, city council, they affect your life far more than any other politician does.”

And on a human level, Max loves attending meetings and observing city councilors.

“You have all these [people with] different personalities and backgrounds and they're trying to make it all work,” Max describes. “There’s that Thanksgiving dinner dynamic.”

Max in 2017, visiting DeYoung Art Museum in San Francisco

When he’s not sitting in on city council meetings, you can find Max, a self-proclaimed “coffee snob,” at his favorite coffee shop, Shades of Brown. And lately, you’ll also find him playing drums for his newly formed band.

“Two things I'm obsessed with are coffee and music. And here [in Tulsa], it’s just killer.”

Max first taught himself to play drums when he was 15 years old as he played along to the local rock radio station.

“I played the radio as loud as I could and tried to play along, not knowing anything about drums. I would hear things that the drummers in those songs would do, and I would try to mimic them the best I could.”

With his return to Tulsa, Max found himself doing all the things he loves: playing drums, drinking coffee and reporting the news.

“I'm just having the time of my life making music with other people and feeling proud of it,” Max beams.

“I was either going to be journalist or rockstar — these two big romantic careers. And now that I'm back in Tulsa [doing them both,]” Max says. “Needless to say, it's a dream come true.

You can hear Max on weekday mornings anchoring Morning Edition on KWGS 89.5 FM.

Julianne joined Public Radio Tulsa in June 2022 as Development Associate. She wear many hats at the station — connecting with listeners, writing PRT's newsletters, planning events and doing digital behind-the-scenes.