Getting your next sports talk gig

In my last post, I shared some tips for improving your sports talk show from Scott Masteller, Sr. Director at ESPN Radio Network. Scott is a true sports talk pro. He was a speaker last year at STAA’s One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar and I’m pleased that he will be joining us again at ODT14.

What follows are some of the tips Scott shared for getting your next gig.

Feedback is critical

You won’t improve unless you know what to work on. “Don’t wait for the job to get the feedback. Get the feedback before you get the job,” Masteller says. If you don’t get the job, ask the employer for feedback. Not all employers will provide their feedback, but some will. Masteller suggests, “You want to try to learn from the experience.”
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You must follow-up

A client recently called me to vent about the job market. He’s been a small and mid-market sportscaster for more than a decade but has struggled to earn bigger opportunities. I asked him what he was doing to follow-up his applications. His answer stunned me. In short, he said he doesn’t follow-up – that his ability should speak for itself and that he didn’t feel he should have to “brown nose” anyone for the sake of getting a job.

Wow! My jaw nearly cracked when it hit the floor.

cell phone

It’s called the job market for a reason. You have to market yourself. The top 15% of applicants for any job are all equally talented. What are you going to do to set yourself apart within that group? Many employers intentionally make the application challenging as a way to separate the industrious from the indolent.
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A critical sportscasting job market mistake – or is it?

Last week, I received an email from a friend who hires play-by-play talent at ESPN. Several STAA clients had been emailing their demos and resumes to various executive producers at the World Wide Leader. My friend advised me to tell our clients to “stay in their lane. They shouldn’t be sending material to ESPN until they think they are ready for national television.”


The advice looks harsh in print but trust me, it was delivered with respect and helpful intent.

I have always preferred STAA clients not apply for jobs for which they aren’t qualified. My reasons are business-related — I’ll explain why in a moment.

The bigger point is that the “stay in your lane” advice is different from what I’d previously heard from another ESPN executive.
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6 keys for getting to yes in contract negotiations

Sportscasters are often great at one thing – sportscasting. They’re often not so good at art, they’re not so good at cooking, and many aren’t so good at negotiating. Shoot – if you are like I was during my own sportscasting career, you’re so happy to have work that you’ll take whatever compensation is offered and not ask questions.

Don’t leave money on the table. You might be able to get more value from your contract than you think.

Here are 6 keys for successful contract negotiations:
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Top 30 Sportscasters Under 30

When we first tweeted about putting together the Top 30 Sportscasters Under 30, we thought we might get a handful of responses to consider for one list. A week later, you had generated more than 2,000 tweets, and a nominee list with more than 100 names. Therefore, we compiled two lists. The first list is compiled by STAA. The second is compiled by our Twitter followers.

We never could have anticipated the overwhelming reply, but we sure enjoyed the ride. It was nice to watch the sportscasting community come together for something fun like this. We all need a little encouragement that our hard work has been noticed. Hopefully the 30 Under 30 provided you with such a compliment, even if you didn’t make the final lists.

I am the first to admit the list is highly subjective. Also, we did our best to confirm that everyone on the list is indeed under 30 years old, but we can’t guarantee it is 100% accurate. Honorees are listed alphabetically by last name, except for the first name on List One. In my humble opinion, Ryan Ruocco is clearly the top person on this list.

Now, on to the lists!

STAA’s 30 Under 30

Ryan-RuoccoRyan Ruocco
There was never any question that Ruocco was going to be No.1 on this list. Does everything from hosting daily on 98.7 ESPN Radio New York, to play-by-play of NBA, NFL, WNBA, college football and even a TV show. When Ruocco was coming out of Fordham in 2008, he was the best collegiate sports broadcaster we had ever heard. Still is. In fact, hearing his work prompted the idea for STAA’s annual Jim Nantz Award and All-America program honoring the nation’s top collegiate sports broadcasters. We wondered how many other collegians are out there who are similarly talented to Ryan. He’s still our all-time best.

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10 traits of great sports broadcasting employers

Yesterday, I took an inordinate number of phone calls from sportscasters who are…uhh…shall we say frustrated with their employers. I started thinking about all the employer horror stories I’ve heard over the years and thought they might make for interesting reading. Ultimately, though, there are many more good employers in our industry than bad ones, so I decided to approach this post from a glass-half-full standpoint.

With that in mind, here are 10 traits of great sports broadcasting employers…
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Choosing new demo samples? Don’t stress

Two years into my first job, at KNGL-KBBE in McPherson, KS, I thought I was ready for bigger and better things, so I set out to put together a sports broadcasting demo. As it turned out, I could have flown to Jupiter in less time than it took me to choose the audio that I thought was going to get me the job following the legendary Cawood Ledford as voice of the Kentucky Wildcats.

I must have spent more than 20 hours reviewing football and basketball tapes from the most recent seasons. I would choose segments based upon great action, no verbal stumbles, clever word choices, “signature phrases” (I don’t recommend them, by the way) and smooth delivery. By smooth delivery, I mean I never got so confused or fell so far behind the action that my delivery was punctuated with odd pauses while I was trying to figure things out.
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