Billson gets show on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities

Marky Billson(October 4, 2016) For the first time in 18 years, Marky Billson has his own sports talk radio show. An STAA member, Billson has been hired to host a daily show on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities in Johnson City, TN.

“I was always interested in the genre,” says Billson. “I would listen to some shows and just think ‘I can do better than that,’ and I always felt I had something to say.”

Ironically, Billson’s new station is one at which he worked nearly 20 years ago when it was WEMB. He’s lived in the Tri-Cities market off and on since 1986. “I know the market, but I also know how much more it can be sports wise, which the nation saw with the huge crowd at ‘The Battle of Bristol’ football game,” says Billson, referring to the recent Tennessee-Virginia Tech football game that drew roughly 150,000 fans to the Bristol Motor Speedway.

Though Billson last hosted a regular sports show in 1997, he hasn’t been away from sports broadcasting. Over the past 20 years, he’s been doing play-by-play for everything from high school and semi-pro football, to indepenent minor league baseball, junior hockey and freelance college soccer. Billson is also a freelance sports writer.

For Billson, the greatest challenge in getting back into sports talk was the lack of fresh demo material. “I hadn’t hosted an actual sports talk show since 1998. So many of my old tapes — yes TAPES — were dated,” he smiles. “To an employer it would make me seem like yesterday’s sportscaster.”

Billson’s workaround was to write and produce one and two minute commentaries to feature on his STAA Talent Page. “They showed I could make direct points that were intriguing and humorous,” he says.

The story of Billson’s new opportunity is an uncommon one. It started when he befriened station owner Maria True on Facebook. When one of the station’s hosts needed time off, Billson was asked to fill-in for a week.

“On the very first day, I had on [former East Tennessee State University player] Keith ‘Mister’ Jennings, who is probably the greatest player ever to play basketball in the Tri-Cities,” Billson says. “I remember when 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh started and their first guest was Dan Marino, so I knew I had to have on a legend to get things kicked off.”

After Billson’s week of fill-in was up, he was offered the permanent position.

One person who has been especially helpful as Billson has knocked off the rust is station consultant Jamie Osborne.

“I consider myself an old pro, but Jamie has really helped me,” says Billson. “Keeping subjects short in the first hour, for instance, because so many listeners only tune in for a short period of time from Noon to one.”

Billson has been an STAA member since the company’s inception in 2006. “Where else would I find out who is hiring,” Billson wonders.

He also cites STAA’s support as a reason for his longevity with the team. “Back in 2013 I was the play-by-play broadcaster of a minor league baseball team that went out of business in mid-season. You can imagine there were all sort of frustrations and hardships during this period of time. But [STAA was] always there for support, even if I needed someone just to listen to me rant on the situations and circumstances that I was enduring. It really helped me keep my head!”

(Visit Marky’s STAA Talent Page).

Farkas accepts PD job at ESPN 101.3 in Vermont

brady farkas(September 30, 2016) When Brady Farkas was promoted to Assistant Program Director at 104.5 The Team in Albany, NY in January, he discovered a passion for radio programming. Now, he is the new Program Director of ESPN 101.3 in Burlington, VT.

Among other things, Farkas is writing and producing promos, writing liners and imaging, working with sales and clients, creating promotions, creating, overseeing and appearing at station events and remotes, and co-producing a local afternoon talk show.

“I have had a lot of opportunity on the air over the last year and now I get an opportunity to focus more on management skills, forming relationships and am able to help bring about continued great radio to a great market,” Farkas says. “We carry all four major New England sports on our FM and AM station, so that is a big thing for us. Furthermore, Burlington is a great market in terms of professional and local sports fans.”

Programming has been of interest to Farkas since he was promoted to Assistant PD in Albany 10 months ago. “I realized that I like helping to build up the entire station rather than just one show. I love being on the air, but I will take even greater pride in helping put out a great product across all of our dayparts.”

Farkas’ new gig also includes a nightly talk show from 6 to 7 pm. “Hosting is a small-part of the job, but it’s one that I’ll relish,” he says.

The move to Burlington comes after Farkas spent two and-a-half years in Albany, first as a producer and on-air contributor. He graduated cum laude in 2012 from Oswego State University in New York.

(Visit Brady’s STAA Talent Page).

Zack Fisch: from the USHL to the AHL’s Bears in one year

Zack Fisch(September 27, 2016) Just over one year ago, Zack Fisch was a broadcaster in the United States Hockey League. 13 months and two jobs later, he is now one step away from the NHL. An STAA member, Fisch is the new voice of the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

“I am very excited to join one of the best franchises in all of hockey. It’s as close to the NHL as I can get without being in the NHL,” Fisch says excitedly. He moves to Hershey after one season with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays.

“The Bears are a prestigious organization that are second to none in championships and attendance in the club’s storied 78-year history,” says Fisch. “The organization has an amazing fan base and a wonderful affiliation with the Washington Capitals that I got to experience in my time in South Carolina. I cannot wait to get started.”

Fisch joined South Carolin in August 2015 after three years with the Dubuque (IA) Fighting Saints of the USHL. With Dubuque, Fisch was twice selected to host the USHL’s ‘Draft Show,’ and was named the main play-by-play broadcaster for the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. With the Fighting Saints, Fisch broadcast a Clark Cup Championship and Bronze Medal win at the 2013 Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia.

Fisch joined STAA in 2011 during his senior year at St. Cloud State University.

“Throughout my job progression over the last five years, [STAA’s] advice and assistance has played a large role in my success. [STAA] has taught me many things that I have used in applying, and ultimately accepting multiple positions.

“I’d recommend that all broadcasters getting into the industry utilize STAA and Jon Chelesnik’s expertise to help them achieve their goals,” Fisch says.

Fisch’s position with South Carolina has already been filled by another STAA member. An announcement from the team is pending.

(Visit Zack’s website).

Lunte taking next career step at KRES in Moberly

scott lunte(September 23, 2016) Scott Lunte aspires to broadcast marquee events like Super Bowls, NBA Finals, Olympics and golf majors. He’s counting on his new job being the first step in that direction. An STAA member, Lunte is joining the news and sports staff at KRES Radio in Moberly, MO.

“My primary responsibilities will be a play-by-play talent for KRES covering much of Northern Missouri high school sports and select collegiate events such as D-II Truman State and Central Methodist University,” says Lunte. He will also host coaches shows, other sports shows and cover news stories when necessary.

“A small market radio station means I will have lots of responsibilities, and not just calling games on Friday nights,” Lunte smiles.

Lunte is the sixth STAA member hired by the KRES in recent years. “I have had good success with STAA clients,” GM Brad Boyer has said. “While they come excited about the play-by-play opportunities we offer, they also embrace our local community radio concept and leave as more well rounded announcers.”

A 2016 graduate of Webster University near St. Louis, Lunte joined STAA in July. Two days later, he interviewed with Boyer after having been referred by STAA.

“Every college kid needs to start somewhere post-graduation. KRES is giving me a great opportunity to develop myself as a play-by-play talent and also as a journalist,” says Lunte. “I feel like this station will give me the best chance to eventually move onto something bigger in life.

(Visit Scott’s STAA Talent Page).

Epstein joins WCTI-TV in North Carolina

ariel epstein(September 21, 2016) Ariel Epstein is creative. When she learned that WCTI in New Bern, NC had a sports anchor/reporter opening, and that the station’s sports director is receptive to new ideas, she knew it would be a fit. She applied, and now Epstein is the newest member of the WCTI sports team.

“I am very excited to start my career doing what I love as well as learning what I am sure will be a great amount,” says Epstein. “The station covers high school sports, East Carolina University, UNC, Duke and NC State, along with some Wake Forest and Carolina Panthers. They even have a Texas Rangers high-A affiliate coming in next spring.”

A 2016 graduate of Syracuse University, Epstein learned of the WCTI opportunity through STAA. She became more excited about it as she got deeper into the application process.

“The sports director [Brian North] is very open-minded to new ideas and covering everything possible, which is something I really liked about the station,” says Epstein. “I felt it was extremely important for me to get in front of the camera as much as possible so I can continue to grow and refine my skills. This job allows me to do just that.

“Thank you [STAA] for your great advice along the way.”

(Visit Ariel’s website).

College friend helps open door for Ruff at WETM-TV

ryan ruff(September 19, 2016) When Ryan Ruff received notification from STAA of a job opening at WETM-TV in Elmira, NY, he recognized it as the station where one of his college friends works. She put in a good word and now they are co-workers. An STAA member, Ruff has joined the 18 News staff as a news/sports anchor/reporter.

“The job will allow me to sharpen my reporting skills in both areas (news and sports) and make me more marketable for future jobs in larger markets,” says Ruff.

A 2016 graduate of Penn State University, Ruff spent considerable time in University Park honing his craft on the student radio and TV stations. It was at PSU’s Comradio where he met Amy Simpson, now a news anchor at WETM. Simpson gladly recommended Ruff to the station’s news director. “I believe the news director took her advice into account and made the decision to give me a phone call. Penn State’s alumni network is a beautiful thing,” Ruff smiles.

Prior to interviewing for the position, Ruff studied techniques on crushing the job interview. “I have found numerous STAA videos and live chats to be extremely helpful,” he says. “I must have reviewed “Winning the Job Interview” 100 times before I met with the news director.”

Shortly after interviewing, Ruff accepted the offer to join WETM’s news and sports staffs. “Trust me, I’m a huge sports guy, but when an offer that would allow me to get my feet wet in different areas came along, I had to bite.”

(Visit Ryan’s website).

Nollenberger jumps from NAHL to AHL’s Barracuda

nick nollenbergerNick Nollenberger is making what might be an unprecedented jump in his hockey play-by-play career. An STAA member, Nollenberger is moving from the Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL to the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. He’ll serve as the team’s media relations and broadcasting manager.

Nollenberger, 25, grew up a San Jose Sharks fan as a native of Santa Cruz, CA and spent ten seasons playing in the Jr. Sharks Youth Hockey Program at Sharks Ice at San Jose. “This opportunity is a dream come true for me, says Nollenberger. “Growing up in Santa Cruz and being immersed in the Jr. Sharks for most of my youth, I always pictured myself working for this organization.

A graduate of the University of Arizona, Nollenberger spent three years as the Wildcats play-by-play announcer.

“I’ve attended Sharks games since their inaugural season and have looked up to the likes of Dan Rusanowsky and Randy Hahn since I can remember. My goal when I get to San Jose is to continue to grow the Barracuda brand and the AHL in the Bay Area while providing a fun, energetic and informative broadcast for fans.”

(Visit Nick’s website).

Bagley going to work for hometown ESPN station

Matt Bagley(September 13, 2016) Matt Bagley is now working at the station he grew up listening to. A native of Medford, OR and an STAA member, Bagley has been hired as Sports Director at ESPN 580 KTMT in Medford. With his administrative duties, Bagley will do news and sports updates, and broadcast high school play-by-play.

“The cluster, Radio Medford, embraced the ESPN Radio format fairly early. There’s a hometown appeal,” says Bagley.

Bagley returns to Medford from the Basin Mediactive cluster in Klamath Falls, OR. “I spent most of my time running the front desk and editing commercial traffic,” he says. “It was difficult to juggle play-by-play with that. Now I have a full-time on-air position.”

In Medford, Bagley replaces his friend Max Milander, who recommended Bagley for the position. Bagley will be doing play-by-play for a football program that is tied for the most state titles in Oregon history, and a basketball program that is ranked in the Top 25 nationally.

Play-by-play is an area where Bagley has grown considerably over the past year. He says learning how to self-critique has been key. “The STAA Play-by-Play Pyramid taught me how to critique my tape, and STAA’s group critiques have been especially insightful. Not only do you learn the obvious where you went right or wrong, but if you listen to the other member’s submissions, you can learn how to listen to tape. I honestly feel like that is an underrated part of becoming a better broadcaster. Someone like me, who is still raw and in their twenties, can grow faster if they know how to listen to tape.”

Now, Bagley is eager to apply all that he’s learned on his hometown sports station.

(Visit Matt’s STAA Talent Page).

Remarkable domino effect features six STAA members

brian hanni(September 9, 2016) When Brian Hanni (pictured) accepted the play-by-play job at the University of Kansas this summer, it was the first domino in a remarkable chain featuring six STAA members.

Upon moving to Lawrence, Hanni vacated the men’s basketball and baseball job at Texas Tech. Geoff Haxton replaced Hanni, leaving the men’s basketball and baseball job at Oral Roberts. Adam Hildebrandt left Wright Radio in Weatherford, OK to replace Haxton at ORU. Mike Hammett left KSAL in Salina, KS to replace Hildebrandt. Pat Strathman left WIBW in Topeka to replace Hammett. Finally, Dan Lucero left KSTC/KATR in Sterling, CO to replace Strathman.

Feeling stuck? See how STAA can help you get the sportscasting job you want.

For Haxton, getting the Tech job started with applying at the University of Toledo. He finished runner-up. However, like Tech, Toledo is a Learfield Sports property. “I don’t get myself involved in Toledo without STAA,” Haxton says. “Then my STAA Talent Page did so much work for me in Lubbock. Every corner of the campus I went to, the fine folks at Tech had listened [to the demo on my Talent Page]. A few clicks let them judge whether they liked my sound or not. I felt like the page paved the way for me before I arrived. It was a real blessing to have that link.”

Like Haxton, Hildebrandt values his STAA Talent Page. He says that keeping it updated is “big” because it allows him to apply for jobs immediately. “My resume and demo [are] ready to go.”

A notable fact about the sports broadcasters in this employment chain is their longevity with STAA. Each of them joined between two and six years ago. Hanni’s first of two stints with STAA was in 2010. (He discontinued his membership upon receiving the KU job). Haxton also joined in 2010, Hildebrandt in 2011, Lucero in 2013 and Hammett and Strathman in 2014.

Lucero says, “From selecting good demo material, to building a website with relevant information, to how to get, and prepare, for an interview. It’s all come together thanks to the advice I’ve received from STAA.

“Now, I enter the market feeling confident that I’m prepared to achieve the best possible outcome.”

Greene joins sports staff at Reno’s KRNV

brenna greene(September 8, 2016) Brenna Greene loves college football. However, as a student at Gonzaga then working her first job in Montana, she never had the chance to cover it. Until now. An STAA member, Greene is joining the sports staff at News 4 KRNV in Reno, NV. Among the duties of her new job is covering University of Nevada Wolf Pack football.

Greene moves to the Silver State from KRTV in Great Falls, MT, where she spent the past two years. A 2014 graduate of Gonzaga, Greene was rated as the ninth most outstanding collegiate sports broadcaster in the country her senior year in STAA’s annual All-America program.

Although Green was an intramural basketball champion at Gonzaga, football is her first love. Shortly after accepting the KRNV job Greene tweeted, “I love college football with all of my heart and soul.”

(Visit Brenna’s website).