Chris Morris Living Passion In Whaler Broadcasting Booth

Chris Morris (left) and Sean Davis (right) have brought a new, popular element to Nantucket's High School Sports Coverage

Chris “The Chef” Morris serves up quality cuisine for a living as the owner of the 8 Arms Chef Services catering company on Nantucket, but it is in the broadcast booth where he serves up some of his finest work nowadays in the form of commentary as a sports broadcaster for the Nantucket Sports Connection, an island high school sports live-streaming service on YouTube.

“If I could watch sports all day, every day, if my wife would allow that, I would do that,” Morris said. “Unfortunately I have to go out and work.”

Morris grew up in Cleveland and went to broadcasting school at Ohio University. He said his passion for sports developed at a very young age.

“I am cursed and blessed with the passion I have for sports because growing up in Cleveland it was one disappointment after another,” Morris said. “I went through the drive, the fumble, the shot, and all of those other wonderful memories of Cleveland sports failures, but it was where I learned my passion for sports that completes me.”

Cameraman Sean Davis (left) and Chris Morris (right)

Morris began to visit Nantucket in the summer of 1992. He switched his major to restaurant management and heard the island would be a great place to learn the ropes.

“I got average grades in all of those broadcasting classes and kind of realized that I wasn’t going to be on ESPN anytime soon,” Morris said. “So I decided to come out to Nantucket the summer of my freshman year and the restaurant bug kind of hit me as soon as I got here. I worked at the Atlantic Café. It was amazing, a lot of fun, and good money. I was schlupping cases of beer for $150 at 19. I thought I was on top of the world.”

Those summer trips were enough to win Morris over. He has been a year-round island resident since 1999. He lives here with his wife Robin and their two daughters Melanie (11) and Theodore, who will be two in May.

Morris never missed a Whaler sports game, even before he began broadcasting. He eventually got his first crack at sports commentary in 2018 as the public address announcer at basketball games and received his nickname as “the chef” during his time with 97.7 ACK FM, where he worked as a DJ and radio personality beginning in 2018.

“I was asked to come in and read a public service announcement by Laura Burnett and their production guy, who is a career radio and DJ production manager, asked me for my story,” Morris said. “I told him I have my own catering gig and he goes ‘well do you have like two hours per day Monday through Friday? I can teach you all of this (pointing to all of the equipment) but I can’t teach that (pointing to Morris’ mouth).’”

Morris said he always noticed the station had reports and shows that covered topics such as surfing, weather, and fishing, but nothing dedicated to the four major sports or Nantucket High School sports teams. It annoyed him and he felt like the station would benefit from adding sports to their arsenal of segments. He used that to his advantage before agreeing to a two hour weekday show.

“I told them I’ll do their two hour show but I wanted to do a sports report everyday where I recap all of the local sports and Boston sports teams,” Morris said. “After six months went by, we were able to sell it and got two sponsors for that 90 second to two minute report.”

Morris was beginning to live out the dream, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and sports shut down, it came to an abrupt halt.

“I don’t know how I made it through that period man. It was not easy. I watched a lot of movies,” Morris said. “Obviously we were worried about a bigger picture and we were having a baby at that point because Theodore was born in May of 2020. So we were right in the thick of it. But that honestly was a blessing inside of a bigger curse because we were closed in and stayed home for the first four months of her life, which is exactly what she needed. For us to be in front of her 24/7 at home.”

Morris continued his role as a radio personality for the station, but when sports returned in January of 2021, former Nantucket Athletic Director Chris Maury reached out to Morris asking if he could help them broadcast the department’s livestreams on their Facebook page since fans weren’t allowed at the games.

“I said I would love to broadcast over Facebook Live for them and I’ll never forget it because I used my phone and put it on a tripod,” Morris said. “It worked and it was effective, but I realized quickly when I went to hockey games that the game was too fast and I wouldn’t be able to stream the game on my phone.”

Morris livestreaming a hockey game with his phone

Morris continued his work with the radio station during the fall two football season in March of 2021, but knew visual media was where he really wanted to express his love for sports. He eventually latched on with NCTV as one of their football analysts alongside Dick Herman.

Dick Herman and Chris Morris

Morris said he loved the gig and didn’t want to lose the momentum they had built. He reached out to NCTV prior to this winter season, asking if their would be any interest on their end to stream high school games in the winter.

Videographer and camera operator Sean Davis came up in conversation and told Morris he would love to help stream the winter games. It led to the creation of Nantucket Sports Connection.

“Sean knows exactly where to get in, when to zoom out,” Morris said. “He can predict the plays and just has an incredible eye. So obviously to have that taken care of makes it so all I have to do is have the best seat in the house, watch the game, and tell people what is going on. I also have to say that NCTV has been so helpful. They take very good care of us and have kind of made us an honorary member of NCTV without paying us.”

Sean Davis’ has played a major role in the NSC’s high quality sports broadcasts

Morris didn’t grow up watching hockey since the Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t founded until 1997, but he quickly grew to love the game by watching Whaler games and Boston Bruins’ games. Jack Edwards, the Bruins play-by-play broadcaster for NESN, has developed into one of his biggest influences.

“Jack Edwards is one of the guys I look up to calling games because he is arguably the best,” Morris said. “Personally, he is my favorite. Just the magic of his one word descriptions of four actions is masterful. His blending of those with his knowledge of the game is special.”

Morris said former Cleveland Cavaliers’ broadcaster Joe Tait, current Cavaliers’ broadcaster Austin Carr, former NFL commentator Jim Donovan, and current Cleveland Browns’ commentator  Doug Dieken round out the list.

“They all bring energy and that is just who I am,” Morris said. “I enjoy the games we call and these kids playing in these games are great people. It makes it very easy to root for them and their success as athletes. It helps that we have pretty competitive teams in almost every sport we throw out there.”

Morris went on to say that he feels like his sports experience growing up helps him maintain that same level of energy even when games aren’t going Nantucket’s way.

“I’m used to losing so it probably has something to do with it,” Morris joked. “I am numb to losing. It just doesn’t faze me as far as my enjoyment for the game. The one thing Cleveland fans always have is the hope. There is always next year, but I have been tortured with that for my entire life as a Cleveland fan, yet I always cling to that hope that things will work out. I just love sports man. There is no way around it.”

His TV broadcasts have also been an outlet for him that keep him more mellow at the Morris household.

“That outlet is great not just for me but also is something my wife is certainly behind because otherwise I would be yelling at the TV in front of her,” Morris said. “I regularly find myself calling the games I’m watching in my living room. It doesn’t matter what it is. My wife tunes it out and has learned to tune it out, but she appreciates the moments when I say something and the announcer says it the next sentence out of his mouth.”

Morris said he plans to broadcast the boys and girls lacrosse games, but would also like to incorporate baseball and softball into his schedule as well if the logistics work.

“I have a home run call for sure buddy,” he said. “The logistics of being outside is a whole different ballgame for YouTube because it is all internet driven. The corner of the baseball field where it stands right now is pretty close to the school so I think we could run a wire. We would be out in left field to the side. Height would be great and I talked to Sean about it so maybe we could get the woodshop to build us a little scaffold so we could get up above.”

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