Berman new Sioux City Explorers baseball voice

A life-size cardboard cutout of Derek Jeter adorned the wall of Zach Berman’s childhood bedroom on the Jersey Shore. “I would wake up every morning wanting to be the next Jeter,” he recalls.

There was just one problem. “I don’t have a single athletic bone in my body, so it became clear pretty early on that I had to adjust my dreams,” Berman chuckles. “I always had a passion for storytelling and developed an eventual goal to spend my adult years sitting in a MLB press box instead of standing on a MLB diamond.”

Berman is taking the next step towards those MLB goals. He is the new Broadcaster/Media Relations Director for the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association. He learned of the opening in an STAA Job Leads+ email.

A great fit

It’s Berman’s first opportunity in full-season professional baseball. He spent two summers in college ball with the Freemont Moo and the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Berman will graduate from the University of Missouri in May.

“As someone who loves to travel and be on my toes, working a 100-plus game season was the dream out of the gate,” Berman enthuses. “I found through my time working summer ball that I absolutely adored the lifestyle of waking up in a different city twice a week and calling baseball six nights-a-week.”

The other aspect of the Explorers job that appeals to Berman is the emphasis on social media and marketing. “I spent a lot of time during my days at Mizzou working in social media, so I felt that it was right in my wheelhouse. The Explorers job just so happens to combine the two things I love the most.”

Making changes

Ironically, an NBA internship that Berman applied for but didn’t get helped him land the Explorers position. “I asked the folks in charge of hiring [for the internship] for some constructive criticism. I got some really valuable advice on improving my resume and interviewing skills that I put to use for my pursuit of the Explorers job.”

Berman joined in 2021 on the advice of fellow Missouri Tiger and current Houston Baptist University Voice Garrett Jones. “Besides STAA being the reason I found out about the Explorers job to begin with, being able to meet other broadcasters and network with them is such a valuable experience,” Berman states.

As Berman grew up hoping to be the next Derek Jeter, an aspiring sportscaster one day might grow up wanting to be the next Zach Berman.

“I’m still a work in progress and I have a ways to go to reach where I want to be broadcast-wise, but I feel that the Explorers job can help me take that next step.”

He adds, “I can’t thank the Explorers organization enough for the opportunity.”

Folta moving up from ECHL to AHL’s IceHogs

Mike Folta told an acquaintance at the 2019 Baseball Winter Meetings that something he would enjoy even more than broadcasting in the Majors would be calling NHL hockey.

That NHL dream is now just one step from reality. Folta is moving up from Atlanta of the ECHL to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Folta was a finalist for the ECHL Broadcaster of the Year last season.

Along with broadcasting, Folta will lead Rockford’s media relations office and assist in communications, content and social media.

Folta has also been a broadcast assistant with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and has called games for the ISC Sports Network and Big Ten Network Student U. He is a 2020 graduate of Purdue University.

Woodiel goes from Hot Wheels to pro baseball play-by-play

As the Ferrari 365 and the Deuce Roadster raced around the orange plastic Hot Wheels track, young Cartier Woodiel breathlessly described the action as though broadcasting the Indy 500. He’s still calling play-by-play, though now baseball is now his specialty. An STAA member, Woodiel is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Kansas City Monarchs.

Woodiel is no stranger to the American Association. He spent the 2018 through 2020 calling games for the Sioux Falls Canaries before joining the league office as an on-air host and digital media producer. When the Monarchs job opened, they reached out to him. “I had mentioned to them that at some point I was looking to get back to a regular play-by-play position.”

Baseball is far from Woodiel’s only broadcasting experience. He’s finishing his third season as the voice of University of South Dakota women’s basketball and sideline reporter on football broadcasts. He’s also anchored the morning news on KELO-AM in Sioux Falls.

The Monarchs is Woodiel’s first full-time broadcasting position since graduating from the University of Missouri in 2018. A strong support system has kept him motivated in his four-year search for full-time work. “[It’s] been an enormous blessing,” he smiles. “My parents have supported my ambitions since I was a little kid doing play-by-play of my Hot Wheels cars. My amazing wife Erin has shown me what it means to be kind and supportive; she is always there for me when I need a boost, or just someone to vent to. My therapist has been incredibly helpful over the last few years, giving me the tools to handle a stressful job.”

Creating value for his employers has also helped Woodiel reach this point. “I’ve consciously worked to bring more value to a team than just a play-by-play broadcast. I’ve built up a suite of content — highlights, interviews, behind-the-scenes work — all aimed at maximizing what I bring to the table.”

While Woodiel has been bringing value to employers, his STAA membership has been bringing value to him. He joined STAA in 2018. “Being a STAA member has allowed me to keep my finger on the pulse of the job market and learn from some of the best in the industry,” he explains. “It’s also been an encouragement to see people like me moving up through the ranks as I try to advance my journey in sportscasting.”

That journey included a discouraging setback in the winter of 2020. A change in ownership with the Canaries left Woodiel without a job. “I took a weekend to be sad about it, then focused my energy on finding a way forward. About a week after I found out I was out of a job, I made a pitch to the American Association, laying out the framework of the position I’ve held for the past two seasons. It’s extremely gratifying to return to the booth after carving out a new place for myself.”

Now the guy who called Hot Wheels races as a kid has his first full-time play-by-play job.

“I truly believe this is what I was born to do, and I’m good at it. I’ve told myself from the beginning that if I put the work in and trust the process, things will work out.”

Barbosa joins SportsMap Radio Network

Justin Barbosa does what is necessary in pursuit of his sports broadcasting dreams. For four years he’s been working full-time as a manual laborer while doing play-by-play on the side. “There were days I just felt exhausted, heading straight from work to the games — even at times where I was in my dirty work clothes. In my mind there were times I wanted to give up, but I kept pushing,” he recalls.

Barbosa’s efforts have paid off with a big step forward and full-time job. An STAA member, Barbosa is joining SportsMap Radio Network as a producer. And the position is in his hometown of Houston.

“It helps me finally get my foot into the sports broadcast/radio industry full-time, something I’ve been looking for the last couple years. It’s also going to give me the opportunity to still do play-by-play on the side every once in awhile for me to keep working on my craft.”

The SportsMap opportunity arose when the network contacted STAA looking for a sports talk host. Barbosa learned when he applied that the network also needed a producer. “I’ve been actively looking on the STAA job leads emails for the past many months. One day SportsMap Radio was the first opportunity on the list,” Barbosa recalls. “With the job being within the city I live in, I had to jump on it immediately.”

Barbosa joined STAA last year after learning about it via Twitter. “I saw a fellow broadcaster/member I know get a job with help from the site,” he recalls.

“I joined because it is my dream to become a play-by-play broadcaster and I wanted to better my craft in many different ways. Subscribing has been one of the best things for me, and a true help.”

Barbosa adds, “Without STAA I wouldn’t have been able to find this job at SportsMap.”

Barbosa is a 2019 graduate of the University of Houston. His broadcasting experience ranges from play-by-play of high school games across the greater Houston area, to Prairie View A&M men’s and women’s basketball and pro-am hoops. Barbosa, though, yearned for full-time work in sports broadcasting.

“Frustration grew, but I kept looking even at my lowest point. That’s my advice to [other sportscasters] — keep pushing even when times seem the hardest. You’ll find a way.”

Battaino becomes third broadcaster in Solar Bears history

(Orlando Solar Bears News Release) Joey Battaino has been named director of communications & broadcasting for the Orlando Solar Bears. He becomes the third broadcaster in franchise history.

“We would like to welcome Joey to the Orlando Solar Bears,” says team president Chris Heller. “He brings several years of experience and game calling to the position and we can’t wait to get started.”

Battaino moves to Orlando after six seasons in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit. Prior to that he spent time with the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes, the Michigan Warriors, and the IHL’s Flint Generals.

In addition to calling Solar Bears games, Battaino will be responsible for overseeing the club’s media relations and communications.

“I am honored to join the Orlando Solar Bears organization,” said Battaino. “I’d like to thank Team President Chris Heller and the RDV Sports Group for the opportunity to be the voice of the Solar Bears. I can’t wait to get down to Orlando and meet our staff, players, coaches, and fans.”

Wyart returning to LA to join Fox Sports Radio

Kevin Wyart left Los Angeles in 2017 so that one day he could return. He aspired to work in sports radio but his home market isn’t one where entry-level broadcasters cut their chops. That’s why five years ago, Wyart moved to Winston-Salem, NC to gain experience as a studio host for Learfield. Now, he is returning to LA as a sports anchor for Fox Sports Radio.

“It is a network radio job located in my home market of Los Angeles,” Wyart enthuses.

Setting himself apart

The FSR opportunity came to Wyart in an STAA Job Leads+ email. He applied immediately, then took the critical step of following-up his application. “It was no coincidence that within a week of calling the contact person for Fox Sports Radio — listed in the sports radio directory in the STAA Member Community — that I received an email asking for an interview.

“Another thing I was able to do to stand out was use my board-op and producing experience to offer help in filling in as needed to help in running their programming.”

Help from STAA

Wyart has been an STAA member since 2014. “The job leads and emails with career advice are worth it alone,” he states. “Add on the Member Community with all the various tools and resources, along with the contact info for major employers, and it’s a no-brainer.”

One career challenge Wyart has overcome is the lack of on-air opportunities in his home market. “I had a great job with Learfield but was afraid I would never be able to find an opportunity to work in sports radio back home in Los Angeles,” he recalls. “The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that if you put in the hard work and show initiative, people will notice, and it will lead to future opportunities. It may not always feel like it, but people take notice.

“I just grinded away doing the best I can, and the hiring folks at Fox Sports Radio were impressed by my work.”

Beedon takes unusual path to Motor City Rockers

Roger Beedon was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1986. He played collegiately at Ohio State, then professionally for the Port Huron Border Cats of the CoHL/UHL. Roger’s son Brady, though, preferred football, basketball and baseball. “It may have also helped that my mom liked the warm gyms and the lower price tag on other sports too,” Brady jokes.

The senior Beedon’s hockey influence wasn’t completely lost on his son, though. Brady is one of the two new play-by-play voices for the Motor City Rockers.

Beedon credits his father for letting him forge his own path. “All the credit in the world to my dad. He never tried to force hockey on me and supported whatever sport I was trying at the time. Despite the fact that I never played hockey, I always would go to games with my dad, basically from birth (pictured).”

The Rockers opportunity arose in quite a roundabout way. They planned on being an expansion team for the 2020-21 FPHL season. Beedon interviewed for the broadcasting position and was told the job was his. The team, though, never got off the ground that season. Fast forward to this year, where Beedon picks up the story.

“I am just a fan at a Port Huron Prowlers game — another team in the FPHL — and I am introduced to the ownership group looking to revive the Rockers brand and take over. I spoke to them about the possibility of being a part of their broadcast team. I also formally applied when the posting came to me in an STAA Jobs Leads+ email.”

After what Beedon calls “a pretty informal process,” he ended up as a part of the broadcast team alongside Ben Szilagy.

Beedon joined STAA after graduating from Wayne State in 2020. “I found STAA through sheer luck of Googling and searching for job openings right out of college. STAA was the only place that seemed to have legit, relevant job leads,” he recalls. “It has also helped me polish my craft through the group critiques that are offered.”

Like his dad, Beedon was a standout athlete — a former fullback at Wayne State University in Detroit. While Beedon is new to Rockers hockey, he isn’t new to sportscasting. He’s the analyst on Wayne State football broadcasts and a fill-in for volleyball and women’s basketball. He also broadcasts St Clair County Community College volleyball, men’s & women’s basketball and high school football, basketball, baseball, and softball.

“I like to have a diverse skill set,” Beedon explains. “I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into just one or two sports, so the opportunity to resume doing professional hockey, and one close to home, was one I wanted to jump on.

“I hope this is not the last job opportunity I find through STAA.”

Draude leaving Iowa comfort zone for Wenatchee Wild

Austin Draude has lived his entire life in Iowa. That includes calling games for North Iowa Bulls hockey for the past nine seasons. But Draude believes that growth comes with change. That is why he’s leaving the Bulls and the comfort of The Hawkeye State to join the Wenatchee Wild.

“I love Iowa. Love the Midwest,” Draude explains. “Lots of great hockey opportunities here and most of my family is within a few hours of me, which has allowed me to be pretty selective as to which opportunities I go after.” However, the Wild organization’s sustained excellence made it through Draude’s selectivity filter.

“The Wild are a first-rate organization in one of the best junior hockey leagues on the continent, but it’s also a chance to see some new areas of the country and the sport.

“The general manager, Bliss Littler, is the winningest junior hockey coach in American history. I’ve known of him since he was coaching in Topeka almost a quarter-century ago, and then when he moved on to two USHL jobs in Nebraska. His teams played against Des Moines, where I grew up. He runs his organization with an intention on doing things right. I greatly respect that.”

The Wenatchee position opened when their beloved and longtime broadcaster Arch Ecker recently passed away. While the organization and it’s fans mourned, they also knew they needed to hire Ecker’s replacement. They contacted STAA.

“The job was posted in an STAA’s Job Leads+ email last Friday. I ended up applying for it Monday. My interview was Wednesday; they offered the position the same day, Draude recalls.

A recommendation from his friend Sean Zears boosted Draude’s candidacy. Zears had been filling-in for the Wild since Ecker’s passing and is closely connected to the Wenatchee organization. “Shortly after Sean sent a note to Bliss recommending me, I got an email back to schedule an interview. I know for certain that note carried some weight,” Draude states.

Draude was strategic in deciding the time of day at which to submit his application. “I applied mid-morning on Monday. Knowing that Washington state is two hours behind Iowa, I figured when [Bliss] first checked his inbox that morning, I could time it to be close to the top.”

Draude adds with a smile, “Not sure if it helped but it made sense to me.”

As for the pending move from the Corn Belt to the Pacific Northwest, Draude admits to some trepidation. “To be honest I’m kind of terrified,” he grins. “I’ve never been to Washington state. However, I also know that a lot of things are capable of happening in your comfort zone, and growth usually is not one of them.”

Draude joined STAA in 2014. He has attended an STAA sportscasting seminar in North Carolina and a play-by-play retreat in San Diego. “The job leads are a big part of why I’ve remained part of STAA all that time,” he says. “But it’s also being able to get feedback from [STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik] on the job search or the industry itself. And it’s the networking with other STAA members that comes with the membership. Some of my closest contacts and closest friends in broadcasting are STAA members.”

One thing Draude will need in his new job is a passport. The Wild are the only U.S.-based team in the British Columbia Hockey League. Fortunately, he already has one. “I actually got it when I started full-time with the Bulls, for just such an emergency. That time is apparently here,” he grins.

Joey Dwyer to call Mayhem hockey

Joey Dwyer loved broadcasting SPHL hockey last season for the Quad Cities Storm. He is from QC and enjoyed the organization. The job, though, was part-time. Therefore, when Dwyer saw in an STAA Job Leads+ email that SPHL foe Macon had a full-time opening, he leapt into action. Now, Dwyer is the new Broadcaster/Account Executive for the Mayhem.

“Once I applied, Quad City Storm President Brian Rothenberger put in a good word for me in Macon and I got an interview,” Dwyer recalls. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Being from the Quad Cities and a life-long hockey fan, I loved my time with the Storm,” Dwyer states. “Their broadcasting position was through a company, QCSportsNet, that was contracted to do the games so I was operating on a part-time basis. The QCSportsNet guys are awesome and treated me so well, but after I graduated from Illinois State, I was looking for a full-time position. With my SPHL experience, I felt comfortable finding my footing in the league.”

Dwyer is the second STAA member to broadcast for Macon. Alex vonKeudell spent two seasons there after being hired in 2018. Dwyer joined STAA this year. “The combination of advice and job opportunities really made it a no-brainer for me!”

Dwyer has been broadcasting since his freshman year at Illinois State University in 2017. He started at campus radio station WZND. “I touched on every facet of radio. I served as the production director and assistant sports director as well as being a DJ and hosting a weekly sports talk show.”

Hockey’s speed makes it Dwyer’s favorite sport to broadcast. “The pace of hockey along with my existing knowledge of the game makes it fun and a somewhat seamless call for me. Also from what I’ve found in minor league hockey, you seldom come across someone with [bad] intent. Everyone is there to help one another succeed. It’s such a cool environment to be a part of.”

Lynch chooses perseverance over quitting, lands with Hat Tricks

A play-by-play broadcasting career almost didn’t happen for Chris Lynch. “I nearly gave up on the sports pursuit when the pandemic hit. I’m so grateful I didn’t do that and stuck to it.”

Chalk up another win for perseverance. Lynch is the new Play-by-Play/Media Relations person Danbury Hat Tricks of the FPHL, NAHL and NA3HL.

It’s Lynch’s first full-time job in sports broadcasting. “It gives me the chance to capitalize on years as a college hockey writer and prior junior hockey freelance experience,” he states. Lynch is also the third consecutive STAA member to broadcast for Danbury. He follows Casey Bryant in 2019 and Josh Starr last year.

Various experience

Lynch is a graduate of Boston University and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. His freelance sports media experience ranges from reporting and writing to play-by-play. That includes calling hockey for Tufts University and the Junior Women’s Hockey League. Learning to manage the various pieces of his freelance schedule has been key for Lynch.

“It’s been so important for me to stay disciplined in my scheduling so I know when I’m available to work and can fill my schedule correctly,” he shares. “As a freelancer, your time is your most important currency. You must always keep stock of your availability and fill your time commitments.

Lynch is taking those time management skills to the Hat Tricks. “As a full-time staffer, you have to maximize the time in office to get everything done.”

Confident approach

One thing Lynch believes helped him land the Danbury opportunity was his approach to the job interview. “I walked into the building with confidence that I would land the job,” he recalls. “I’ve gone into other interviews with a more ‘happy to be here’ attitude and did not get those jobs. This one, I walked in with an, ‘I want to be here’ attitude and it landed.”

Lynch has been an STAA member since 2020. He learned of the Hat Tricks opening in an STAA Job Leads+ email. “The [emails] have given me so much more insight to the movement of people from job to job and place to place so I know what’s happening in the sports world.”

When Lynch looks back upon the dark days of the pandemic and his thoughts of leaving play-by-play, he does so with pride.

“I’m happy I didn’t leave.”