Why working hard isn’t enough in the sportscasting job market

When University of Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner was a high school senior, he mailed letters to every NCAA Division I basketball coach. He wanted to be a coach and he was looking for a program that would accept him as a player/coach-in-training. He heard back from just a small handful of folks, but one of them was Lute Olson at the University of Arizona. Pastner went to Tucson, spent four years as an end-of-the-bench player, became a graduate assistant, and the rest is history.

work smarter in the sports broadcasting job market

A lot of sports broadcasters approach the job market much like Pastner approached looking for a school. They send demos and resumes to countless employers hoping to hear back from someone. What works for aspiring basketball coaches, though, almost never works for sportscasters.

You might be working hard in the sports broadcasting job market, but are you working smart?

There is a BIG difference.

Working hard is…

Sending your demo, resume and a form letter to 50 different employers and hoping that someone gets back to you.

Working smart is…

  • Targeting a manageable list of 15 or 20 employers
  • Customizing your cover letters based on your research of each employer
  • Crafting customized demos when appropriate (This is critical when applying for sports talk host and update anchor jobs outside your market).
  • Following-up consistently and creatively with each employer.
  • Building relationships with people who can help you with your search.

Working smart requires considerably more time and effort. That is why the payoff is often great for the people who do it.

Top tips on applying for big-time play-by-play jobs

2016 will be the best year in the past ten for big-time play-by-play jobs. The Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers have all hired new broadcasters.

play-by-play jobs

Applications are already being accepting for the University of Kansas position being vacated by the retiring Bob Davis. Starting today and over the coming weeks, four more DI schools will be using STAA to receive applications for their radio jobs.

How do you put your best foot forward when applying for these positions?

I have posed that question to the directors of broadcasting of NFL, NBA, MLB and major college teams.

Here are their top tips for your demo, resume, cover letter, and more:
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I hope this never happens to you, but it probably will

In September 2014, The Beast 980 went on the air in Los Angeles. Today, just 16 months later, it has been announced that the station has been sold and the sports format is being dropped.

That sucks.

Four-step plan for losing your job

It sucks for Tom Lee who just moved to LA 10 months ago to take over as PD. It sucks for Jeanne Zelasko and Bill Plaschke who just started their new morning show in October. It sucks for Chris Myers and Wes Clements, who just started hosting an afternoon show last month. It sucks for Fred Roggin who moved to PM Drive back in October. It sucks for Sam Farber who had just become the Clippers radio network host this season. It sucks for Pete Arbogast whose AM sports anchoring schedule fit nicely around his gig as voice of USC Trojans football. It sucks for everyone who is losing their job, whether they are on or off the air.

Losing a job stinks. What do you do now?
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The art of seeing and setting yourself apart

The french door quietly swung open and University of Alabama voice Eli Gold slipped inside the ballroom, careful not to disturb the ODT session in progress. The packed space was standing room only, so Eli leaned against the wall to wait for his time to speak.

art of seeing and setting yourself apart

I crossed Eli’s arrival off my mental checklist and was about to resume taking photos when another movement in the room caught my eye.

Each year Barry Gresham brings a group of aspiring sportscasting students from Austin Peay University to NSSA weekend, and each year the students volunteer some of their time to help Jon and I run the One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar. It was one of the Austin Peay students who diverted my attention. He had gotten up to walk a spare chair from his table over to Eli.
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SCP 14: Cold contacting to land a college PBP job

cold contacting with mike monacoAfter graduating from Notre Dame this spring, Mike Monaco, set about cold contacting local schools with hopes of turning up a college basketball job. The strategy paid off in securing Monaco the opportunity to call Western Michigan University men’s and women’s basketball on ESPN3.

In this STAA podcast, Monaco shares his strategy and tips for cold contacting local universities.

Listen to the Audio

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STAA members achieve the 800 milestone

This week at STAA, our members hit a super cool milestone of which we are very proud. A few days ago we published a story about Seth Harp accepting the PD/Afternoon Drive Host position at Sports Radio 930 in Jacksonville.

It was the 800th story we have published since 2007 about an STAA member getting a sports broadcasting job.


800 success stories in eight years. It is fitting that No. 800 was Seth. He has been featured in six of those stories.
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SCP 13: How to build relationships that advance your career

Hoffman-CraigCraig Hoffman has been putting himself out there and building industry relationships since he was in college. Thanks to one of those networking contacts, Craig is joining the Washington Redskins flagship station, ESPN 980, as their Redskins beat reporter.

In this STAA podcast, Craig shares valuable insight and strategies for building the relationships that can advance your career.

Listen to the Audio

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Veteran sportscasters: evolve or die

peyton-manningPeyton Manning has been in the NFL for 17 years. At age 39, he has to work even harder now than he did when he was 29 just to stay in the league. No detail is too small for Manning to overlook. Experience doesn’t guarantee him employment.

As a veteran sportscaster, you have to take the Peyton Manning approach to your sportscasting career.

Having considerable experience doesn’t mean you no longer have to work hard in the job market.
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16 traits that predict sportscasting success

It is said that sports broadcasting employers need to listen to someone for just 30 seconds to decide if they like that person’s work. Similarly, I can tell within a few minutes of conversation if the person to whom I am speaking is cut out for a career in sports broadcasting.


Here are 16 traits that foretell sportscasting success:

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