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Radio show, classes, football, coaching all in a day’s work for graduating JU senior Chad Cypher

With a last name like Cypher and being a deejay, you might expect JU Communications major Chad Cypher, who graduates Saturday, Dec. 15, to be an artist out busting some rap rhymes. 

You’d be wrong. 

Cypher, at 6 feet, 5 inches and 280 pounds, was an All-American and All-Conference offensive tackle for the Dolphins football team, and is more into country, classic rock and talk radio. 

“That was a big joke on the team, they all thought I was a rapper,” he said. “But I’m not really into hip hop.” 

Instead, Cypher took his passion for making an impact and focused it on “Backrow Bandits,” a talk show streamed via JU 108 radio (ju108.com) from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

The show, the brainchild of Cypher and fellow JU students Keith Zalman and Greg VanOekel, features talk, news, sports, on-air pranks, skits, classic rock and more. 

“We script some stuff, but a lot of it is basic talk; for example, we did lots of stuff on the elections,” he said. “We half-winged it and half-planned it. … I’ve always been personable. I got that from my mom, who owns a salon and talks to people daily. I like the communications field and the way you can interact with people.” 

Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette, JU associate professor of communications, called Cypher thoughtful and hard-working. 

“He came here to play football and really found his way at JU,” she said. “He’s had to work twice as hard as his peers but has an amazing work ethic. He’s a great representative for what a school like JU can help a student achieve and become.” 

Cypher, son of Wes and Sue Cypher of Fort Myers, Fla., said he had trouble with academics early in his education but hit his stride at JU. 

“School didn’t come naturally to me. I was intimidated,” he said. “Coach (Kerwin) Bell was an inspiration to me and gave me a chance, and offered me an education. … As I grew older, I didn’t buy into the idea that I couldn’t do it.” 

JU’s private education provided him the one-on-one attention he needed, he said, and Kent-Willette and Communications Prof. Dennis Stouse proved to be great mentors on academics and “real-world stuff.” 

In between football practice, watching game film, studying and doing the radio show, Cypher also found time to do community service and help out coaching football at Bishop Kenny High School. After graduation, he plans to work in sales with Kusko Medical in Tampa, which provides lab services for doctors. 

Cypher’s secret to achievement? Don’t focus on the negative. 

“Stay persistent, work hard, treat people with respect and remain positive. What got me through is I always had a plan,” he said. “I’m going to be proud to graduate. And I hope in 20 years I can come back and see how this school is still growing, and be a proud alumni.”