Casual conversation leads Chestnut to Western Kentucky
Belmont University softball won a 2-0 game at Western Kentucky in late March. Afterward, Hilltoppers’ voice Brad Klein mentioned to Bruins’ broadcaster Reily Chestnut that he was leaving WKU at the end of the season. Klein suggested that Chestnut apply for the position. Chestnut did. Now, he is the new Voice of the Lady Toppers.
The largest part of the job is calling WKU women’s basketball and volleyball. In addition, Chestnut will do radio or video work for all games on the Hilltopper Satellite Sports Network and ESPN+. There will also be opportunities to call WKU soccer and softball on HSSN and on radio.
Working for a winner
“WKU volleyball and women’s basketball are two historically great programs who make a habit of winning,” Chestnut enthuses. “As any broadcaster knows, it tends to be a better experience calling a ton of wins. WKU volleyball has been among the mid-major’s elite in the top 25 annually for much of this millennium. Women’s basketball was one win away from the NCAA tournament last year.
“I am putting myself in a niche category since there are not many full-time radio voices doing college volleyball. In a business where standing out is key, this is one way to do that.”
Chestnut was strategic when contacting WKU’s Learfield GM Chris Freeman about the opportunity. “I framed my email to make it seem like it I did not know about the opening and just made it seem like I was reaching out to be available. Plus, my supervisor from Belmont, Greg Sage, sent Chris an email on my behalf that really made a difference for me.”
Chestnut moves to Bowling Green, KY from Belmont, where he recently completed his Masters. He chose that course after being the victim of a Covid-era budget cut in his previous position. “I wanted to try and diversify my skillset in order to make myself less expendable and more valuable. So, during my two years at Belmont pursuing my master’s in sport administration, I picked-up a number of experiences by simply saying ‘I’m here and I care so allow me to be of service,'” Chestnut recalls.
At BU, Chestnut called soccer and softball on ESPN+, he was the head of social media and sports information in the Spring 2022 for Belmont’s tennis programs, and he sold basketball season tickets. “My final year I was part of a team that set a new single season record for season tickets sold,” Chestnut beams.
As busy was he was in Nashville, Chestnut still made time to create additional play-by-play reps for himself. “To anyone who reads this, get a Sennheiser crowd mic, multimixer and some solid headsets like I did so you can create your own broadcasts through OBS studios (free). You can call softball games or mock broadcasts of basketball like I did,” he suggests.
Chestnut joined STAA in 2019. “I cannot imagine where I’d be without STAA or [Owner Jon Chelesnik’s] kind commitment to helping all of us find our next gig. STAA helped me get my first job out of school back in 2019 calling high school sports in South Dakota full-time. To be a DI broadcaster just four years later really astounds me.”