Your favorite sports broadcasting career memories

A story was published years ago about former Montana Grizzlies voice Mick Holien. It talked about how Mick was selling a bunch of memorabilia he collected over his 31 seasons as the Voice of the Griz.

sports broadcasting memories

The story got me to thinking about my favorite memories from my sports broadcasting career. My two favorites aren’t even about on-the-air stuff.
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What to do when your season is over

The best coaches and trainers know that how an athlete spends their off season is vital to preparing for a successful next season. If you use the time off to binge Netflix and eat donuts, you’re going to have problems when preseason begins.

off season

As a broadcaster, how you spend the slowest part of your year will either motivate you to achieve bigger goals or perpetuate a cycle of stagnation.
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Is ego holding you back?

A sportscaster friend of mine shared with me something that has turned around his career: honest self-evaluation.


More than reading books. More than attending seminars. More than studying other sportscasters, honest self-evaluation has done more than anything to impact this guy’s career.
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Top 20 sports broadcasting schools

It’s been five years since we published our list of the top five sports broadcasting schools in the U.S. It’s been nine years since our initial Top 20 ranking in 2013.

It’s time to update the list.

The list of top sports broadcasting schools has remained largely the same over the past decade. There are some new additions, and some schools have risen or fallen slightly. Still, though, largely the same.

Excellence is rooted in consistency.

Traits of top sports broadcasting schools:

1. Quality instruction

The best instructors are those who are, or have been, sports broadcasters.

2. Campus radio and/or TV stations

Having a place to get reps is mandatory. A perk of Big 10, SEC and ACC schools is being in conferences whose TV networks provide professional-quality broadcast opportunities for students.

3. Alumni involvement

The best schools have alumni who return to campus to mentor, teach, and help graduates get jobs.

Read our 2017 ranking of the Top 5 sports broadcasting schools for more tips on what to look for when choosing a good one.

The Top 20 sports broadcasting schools:

  1. Syracuse
  2. Arizona State
  3. Ball State
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Indiana
  7. Ohio U.
  8. Missouri
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Maryland
  11. St. Cloud State
  12. Penn State
  13. Bradley
  14. Northwestern
  15. Kansas
  16. Miami
  17. Hofstra
  18. Florida
  19. Ohio State
  20. Fordham

Honorable Mention top sports broadcasting schools

Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

  1. Emerson
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Iowa
  4. Ithaca
  5. Michigan State
  6. NAU
  7. Oregon
  8. TCU
  9. Washington State

A special note about Big Ten, SEC and ACC schools

Schools in the Big Ten, SEC and ACC are worth an additional look, regardless of their placement on our lists. The reason, as mentioned at the top of this page, is because of the relationships they have with their respective conference broadcast networks. Each of the three conferences streams broadcasts produced entirely by students, including the on-air talent.

The games are in big-time settings and the production quality is high. Everyone steps their game up and it looks great on a demo reel.

Since the webcasts reflect the quality of each school’s sports broadcasting curriculum, these schools generally provide excellent classroom instruction.

Schools with a sports broadcasting, sports communications or sports media major

These schools take the education of sports broadcasters seriously enough that they’ve created majors, or at least sports media concentrations, that are more specialized than a general broadcasting major.

Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

  1. Arizona State
  2. Austin Peay
  3. Belhaven
  4. Clemson
  5. Evansville
  6. Indiana
  7. Ithaca
  8. Marist
  9. Marshall
  10. Morehouse
  11. Nebraska
  12. Newman
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. South Carolina
  15. South Dakota
  16. Southeastern Louisiana
  17. Syracuse
  18. TCU
  19. Texas
  20. Waynesburg
  21. Western Illinois

Two more factors to consider when choosing a sports broadcasting school


You can’t put a price on happiness. Choose to live someplace you are going to enjoy.


Not every school is going to be in everyone’s budget. Don’t sweat it, though. Read on . . .

You can launch a successful sports broadcasting career from anywhere. Though a ton of sportscasters have graduated from Syracuse, their number is far surpassed by sportscasters who went elsewhere.

Your success will depend upon the degree to which you take advantage of the opportunities provided to you. If you are at a school where the quality of instruction is less, seek outside mentors. If you aren’t getting the reps you want, create your own opportunities doing webcasts of local high school and small college games.

Success will depend most upon the opportunities you create for yourself beyond the school curriculum, having mentors to critique your work and what you do with the opportunities you are given.

The most successful sportscasters are the most invested — the most disciplined and hard working.

I’m glad to help

We’ve advised hundreds of students — and parents of students — about what colleges might be best for them.

Do you have questions or comments?  Please leave them below. I enjoy helping!

Jon Chelesnik,
Owner, STAA

How to burn bridges with employers

Most job applicants feel qualified for the jobs for which they apply. Nearly as many are confident they will get it. On the occasions when they don’t, applicants might feel emotions ranging from disappointment and frustration to downright disbelief. How can this employer be so short-sighted as to not see my greatness?

burning bridges

Those emotions are fine. They’re understandable. I have felt some of them myself in the job market. Keep them to yourself.

Expressing your disappointment to the employer who doesn’t hire you burns bridges.
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3-point plan for nailing the job interview

A sports broadcaster interviewed for a play-by-play job at a university. The process included meetings with the athletic director, assistant AD, marketing staff and coaches of the various sports the person would be covering.

job interview plan

This individual was nailing the interviews – making a great impression in each of them. He was feeling good about his chances for getting the job when he was told there was one more coach to meet. He was warned, “This one is going to be tough to impress.”
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Advice for broadcasting a new sport

In the last three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up play-by-play for three brand new sports (volleyball, soccer and distance running – a half-marathon). I used different approaches for all three.
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4 tips for healing your confidence after losing a job

The most discouraging phone call of my career was in July 2003. I took that call while sitting at the desk in my home office in Carlsbad, CA. After four years of hosting Weekend AllNight on ESPN Radio, I was being replaced. I felt shock, disbelief, anger, despair, betrayal, bewilderment and a loss of confidence. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be replacing me, right?

I was 36. I sobbed.

losing a job

After several days I was able to sort through most of my emotions. The one that remained, though, was my lack of confidence. I wondered if maybe I had been fooling management for the past four years. Maybe they never listened to the show. After all, it aired in the middle of the night on weekends. Maybe when they finally listened, they realized it sucked. Or maybe the person who hired me thought of weekend overnights as a throwaway shift. When new management came in, I reasoned, they put new emphasis on the time slot and thought I wasn’t good enough.
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Want to sound like Scully and Emrick?

Early in my play-by-play career I was reviewing one of my recent basketball broadcasts. What I heard made me cringe. Every time the ball was passed, I said “over to.” “Jones, over to Smith, back to Jones, over to Cameron.”

It drove…me…nuts.


I knew I had to find a way to make my play-by-play non-repetitive. I needed to find new ways to describe plays – to vary my vocabulary.
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5 nuggets for veteran sportscasting job seekers

“ESPN and Fox are hiring much younger these days.” That is one frustration shared with me by a long-time play-by-play broadcaster. Another veteran who is struggling to find work laments that sportscasting “is a young man’s game now.”

veteran sportscasting

For these sportscasters, both in their late 40s to early 50s, age has become the biggest challenge to advancing their careers. “Being cast as an ‘old school’ broadcaster is probably a detriment,” says one of them.

If your perception is that it is harder for older sportscasters to find work, your feeling is accurate. It IS harder. However, understanding employers’ trepidation about hiring older voices can help you better present yourself in the job market.
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