Chelesnik featured in Radio & Records Magazine
Excerpted Radio & Records Magazine
(September 2, 2005) Every guy watching a game on TV or listening to a sportscast on the radio has, at one time or another, said to himself, "I could do that. I would be a great sports guy." But, as the old saying goes, many are called, but few are chosen. And nowhere is that adage more true than in the world of sports broadcasting.
Success in sports broadcasting–as it is in any broadcast field–is tough. The competition is plentiful and the openings few, making landing a good gig at any station, let alone a successful one, a serious long shot. What’s an aspiring sports broadcaster to do to get a leg up on the stiff competition?
One guy who thinks he may have the answer to that question is Jon Chelesnik, a former sports broadcaster (and founder of Sportscasters Talent Agency of America). Chelesnik offers his 20-plus years of experience to help budding talents get started in the broadcasting business, as well as help veteran talents–those who are smart enough to know that they don’t know everything–improve their careers.
Chelesnik is a former host for ESPN Radio and then-Sports Talk XTRA-AM/Tijuana-San Diego. He’s done professional play-by-play for the Arena Football League and the International Basketball League, as well as TV for the Football Network.
Chelesnik has a plan to help those seeking positions hook up with those who have openings. He also offers personal talent coaching and experienced advice on how to write an effective resume and produce a professional audio or video demo.
I recently chatted with Chelesnik to learn more about how his services have already attracted a substantial and enthusiastic stable of clients.
R&R: What made you think there was an opportunity out there for a venture like this?
JC: I knew there was a need because of my own struggles during job searches over the course of my career. When I began I didn’t know what to put on a demo or how to put together an effective resume. I didn’t know how to network or even how to start a job search, and I think that is a pretty common problem for most talents out there.
Over the years I learned a lot of fundamental things about presenting yourself in the job market in ways that will get a PD’s or GM’s attention. This venture is a way for me to pass along and share what I have learned over the course of my career.
R&R: Is the process of seeking a job in sports broadcasting different from the process at Talk or music radio?
JC: It’s a similar process. It’s all about networking, getting on the phone with the right people, keeping your name in front of everybody who can help you and not burning any bridges. The difference in sports is really in the composition on your demo portfolio. I haven’t met a music PD yet who wants a demo over five minutes long, and I haven’t met a Sports PD who doesn’t want a whole lot more than five minutes.
Fundamentally, however, I don’t think the process is terribly different, which is why, along with those seeking jobs in Sports radio and TV, we also work with talents in other formats.
R&R: How abundant are the opportunities for would-be Sports radio broadcasters out there vs. the number of candidates seeking them?
JC: Play-by-play opportunities are probably as abundant as ever because there are so many minor-league franchises now in football, basketball, baseball and hockey. But Sports Talk host jobs are accelerating rapidly in the opposite direction, primarily because of consolidation and the growth of network sports programming.
However, college grads looking to get into Sports radio are either naive enough or ambitious enough to continue to seek out those jobs even though they know the market is shrinking. The bottom line is that there aren’t as many opportunities now as there may have been in the past, but there are still hundreds–and you only need to get one.
R&R: Walk me through the typical process for a prospect who comes to you and says, "I want to be in Sports radio. Can you help me?"
JC: I have you send me your resume and up to one hour of raw material that demonstrates everything you can do. I then will take that hour of material and consolidate it into a demo CD that is structured based on what programmers all over the country have told me they want to hear. Next, I do the same thing with your resume. Then it’s all a matter of matching the talent in our pool with job openings.
"I tell clients that the toughest call you will ever have to make is calling a girl for a first date. The second toughest call is to follow up on a job application." .. – Jon Chelesnik
R&R: What are some of the most common mistakes made by those seeking employment?
JC: Big mistakes I have seen include not personalizing a cover letter for the job you are applying for and not following up because of fear. I tell clients that the toughest call you will ever make is calling a girl for a first date. The second toughest call is to follow up on a job application. Not only do you have to follow up once, you may even have to call back every third or fourth day.
Most PDs and managers I have spoken to about this tell me that a follow-up call every other day is probably about right. You may turn off a small percentage of employers by being that aggressive, but they probably aren’t people you’d want to work for anyway.
Those you do want to work for are those who will appreciate your tenacity and your obvious interest in the position they have available. You don’t always have to speak with someone, just leave a voice mail or shoot them an email.
We also get play-by-play demos that will be 20 separate highlights in 2 1/2 minutes. That shows me zero about your ability to do play-by-play. I could probably make my mailman sound pretty good in a 20-second clip. So many people send out tapes like that. They do much more to hurt their cause than to help it.
"The average resume gets looked at for about 30 seconds by a prospective employer — not just in radio, but in every business. " .. – Jon Chelesnik
The same thing goes for resumes. PDs don’t want a four- or five-page resume to read through. I had a guy who recently sent me a seven-page resume. He flipped when I cut it down to one page. Trust me, if you send out more than one page, you give the impression that you cannot separate the wheat from the chaff, and an employer doesn’t want that. The average resume gets looked at for about 30 seconds by a prospective employer–not just in radio, but in every business.