Thayer joins Nebraska's KCSR

John Thayer(October 28, 2011) Nebraska native John Thayer’s sportscasting career might one day take him from his home state, but not yet. An STAA client since January 2009, Thayer has been hired as Sports Director at KCSR/ KBPY Radio in Chadron, NE.

Among other things, Thayer will be broadcasting a variety of play-by-play, anchoring daily sports updates and hosting a weekly coaches show. “What was really attractive is there is a lot of opportunity,” Thayer says.

Another attraction for Thayer is station management’s receptiveness to new ideas. “When I interviewed with Dennis Brown, the owner, he flat out told me ‘if you have an idea, tell me about it. We can try it,’” Thayer says. “They’re really open to allowing you to try a bunch of different things. I thought that was really cool.”

Once Thayer learned of the job, he emailed his cover letter and the link to his STAA Talent Page. “The Talent Page was definitely good,” says Thayer. “It make it really easy to get my information to the people who needed it quickly. It really helped the process, no doubt about it. Many thanks to STAA for providing the service. It really helped me in getting this job.”

A graduate of Doane College in Nebraska, Thayer’s career has taken him through Crete, Fairbury, Fort Morgan, Hastings and Grand Island. The only time he has left the Cornhusker state was for a yearlong stint in Holyoke, CO. For the past year, he has done a variety of freelance play-by-play while searching for his next full-time opportunity. He admits the job market was often frustrating.

“It can be very discouraging at times,” Thayer says. “I was getting to the point where I was thinking maybe I should do something else for a while.”

During his job search, Thayer kept busy with a variety of freelance play-by-play. It was enough to remind him that sports broadcasting is what he really wants to do. “Those freelance opportunities probably kept me from pursuing other career opportunities,” he says.

Now, Thayer’s newest opportunity is right in his own backyard.

“I’ve lived in Nebraska all but one year of my life. I get to stay in Nebraska and live in an area [of the state] I haven’t lived yet,” he grins.

(Visit John’s STAA Talent Page).

Hartigan scores DI hoops job at SDSU

sdsu(October 26, 2011) At 23 years old, JJ Hartigan already has his first NCAA Division I play-by-play job. An STAA client since July 2010, Hartigan is the new voice of South Dakota State University Jackrabbits women’s basketball.

“It’s a local job, its close to my hometown in Sioux Falls and its Division I basketball,” says Hartigan. “I’m moving up from basically doing high school stuff and some occasional [small] college basketball to a team that has made the NCAA Tournament the past three years.”

A graduate of Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa, Hartigan has gained considerable play-by-play experience the past four years. He has broadcast a variety of ILCC and high school sports. He also was the 2011 Co-Broadcaster of the Year in the Northwoods summer collegiate baseball league, where he recently finished his third season with the Mankato Moondogs. The SDSU job came to Hartigan through networking.

“Somebody mentioned my name to the university,” Hartigan says. He received a surprise call one day from Tyler Merriam, the former voice of Jackrabbits women’s basketball who recently moved over to the football and men’s basketball broadcasts. Merriam had already listened to broadcasting samples on Hartigan’s STAA Talent Page and on the South Dakota Public Broadcasting website for whom Hartigan has broadcast high school basketball.

“The call kind of surprised me,” Hartigan says. “I didn’t even apply for [the job]. They called me to see if I was interested.”

Jackrabbits games will air on 570 WNAX in Yankton, SD, a station with a very strong signal. “To know we’re going to have three or four states listening is pretty exciting,” says Hartigan. “Its good exposure.

“This is a huge opportunity for me, especially being just 23 years old.”

(Visit JJ’s STAA Talent Page. JJ has also had his demo & resume constructed by STAA).

Lacy ready for small town challenge

Andrew Lacy(October 21, 2011) Havre, Montana is a beautiful community with a quality standard of living. However, the fact it is relatively isolated from any major metropolitan areas proves difficult for some who relocate there. Scottsbluff, NE native Andrew Lacy believes he is up to the challenge. An STAA client, Lacy is joining the on-air staff at New Media Broadcasters in Havre.

“It’s a long way from home, but from what I’ve read, it’s really not that different from Scottsbluff,” Lacy says.

At NMB’s four-station cluster, Lacy’s duties will include sports, news, board shifts and production work. Instead of being overwhelmed by Havre’s locale, Lacy is motivated by the challenge. “Its a chance for me to go out there in kind of an unfamiliar place where there’s not really a safety net,” Lacy says. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge to see what I’ve got and try to improve myself.”

Both Havre and Scottsbluff are considered small – Havre with roughly 9,000 residents, Scottsbluff approximately 15,000.

Lacy, who joined STAA in March, is the fifth STAA client to be hired by NMB. It’s the third time he has applied with them. The first time, in May, he submitted a cover letter and the link to his STAA Talent Page didn’t hear back. The second time, he interviewed but didn’t get the job. However, NMB Program Director Geoff Cole told Lacy there might be another upcoming opportunity. Motivated by the encouragement, Lacy stayed in touch. When the new opportunity arose, Cole contacted Lacy and encouraged him to apply.

“A couple weeks later he offered [the job] to me,” Lacy grins.

(Visit Andrew’s STAA Talent Page).

Doty scores DI hoops gig at Ole Miss

Graham Doty(October 17, 2011) Not only is Graham Doty getting the opportunity to broadcast major college basketball at his alma mater, but he is also going to be doing it in his hometown. An STAA client, Doty has been named play-by-play voice for University of Mississippi women’s basketball.

“I’m very excited,” Doty grins. “I’m from Oxford and went to school at Ole Miss. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and now to actually have the opportunity is very, very exciting.”

An STAA client since 2009, Doty graduated from Ole Miss in 2010. He learned about the job through a phone call from STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. Doty then reached out to some of his contacts in the Ole Miss athletic department, including Rebels football and basketball voice David Kellum. Eventually, Doty was offered a meeting with TeleSouth, the rights-holder for Ole Miss broadcasts.

“It seemed so easy,” Doty says. “I had talked to them on the phone once or twice but had communicated mostly through email. They said ‘we have to get the blessing of the university [before hiring you]. We sent them your [STAA Talent Page] and the women’s Athletic Director Lynette Johnson will listen to it. Then we’ll wait to hear back from her.”

Just a few days later, Doty received a call from TeleSouth. He had received the approval of Ole Miss.

“They wanted to get someone who really wanted to do this,” Doty says.

Doty says his STAA Talent Page played an important role in landing the Ole Miss job. “I can’t tell you just how important and just how helpful it is to have the Talent Page and not have to fool around with having to put it on a CD and try to mail it to people. It is so easy to just email a person and say ‘here is a link to my demo and resume and everything you need. To me, that is a huge deal. You do it quickly and it is right there in front of them.”

The Lady Rebels’ season fits nicely into Doty’s broadcast schedule. He is currently broadcasting football in Mississippi for Hines Community College and Jackson Prep high school. He spent this past summer as a broadcasting and media assistant with the Mobile BayBears and plans to continue in minor league baseball next summer.

One aspect of the Ole Miss job about which Doty is especially excited is the travel. “I get to go to UMass. I’ve never been there before. I also get to go to Miami and the usual SEC locations. I’ve been to every SEC school except Florida, so I’m excited I get to go to Gainesville for the first time.”

(Visit Graham’s STAA Talent Page. Graham has also had his demo & resume constructed by STAA).

Mike O’Brien back in the AHL

Mike O’Brien(October 12, 2011) After a year away, Mike O’Brien is back in the AHL. An STAA client, O’Brien has been named Communications Coordinator and Color Commentator for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He’ll work alongside veteran Penguins play-by-play voice Tom Grace.

“Everyone I talked to as I was interviewing for the job had nothing but unbelievable things to say about the Wilkes-Barre organization and the Pittsburgh [Penguins] organization as a whole,” O’Brien says.

This is not O’Brien’s first experience in the AHL. He spent three seasons between 2007 and 2010 as play-by-play broadcaster for the Lowell Devils.

“It is really easy to get forgotten in this league,” O’Brien says. “To be out of it for one year is tough, to be out of it longer than that would have made it even more difficult [to get back in].”

A 1999 graduate of Boston College, O’Brien got his start in minor league hockey broadcasting in 2003 with the Trenton Devils (now Trenton Titans). When he learned of the Penguins job, he emailed to the team his cover letter and the link to his STAA Talent Page. He believes his prior AHL experience helped him land the gig.

“I think it helped a lot in that both the New Jersey and Lowell organizations are very tight. They ran very disciplined organizations. You learn how to do things the right way and to be professional at all times.

“My goal is to make it to the NHL and the AHL is just one step below and is obviously a good place to be.”

(Visit Mike’s STAA Talent Page).

Gajtka new Lumberjacks voice

Matt Gajtka(October 5, 2011) Less than one month before the start of the coming hockey season, Muskegon Lumberjacks General Manager Tim Taylor needed a play-by-play broadcaster. His friend, Chicago Express GM Wade Welsh suggested Matt Gajtka, who had recently been a finalist for the Express’ broadcasting job. Taylor called Gajtka and, following a quick series of meetings, Gajtka is the new Broadcaster/Communications Director for the Lumberjacks.

“Its my second go around in the USHL,” say Gajtka, who spent last winter with the Youngstown Phantoms. “I enjoyed the league the first time around. There are a lot of young up and coming players – a lot of guys you’ll see in the pros. I thought it was cool to see the prospects before they became known to the larger hockey community.”

Besides his experience, one factor that made Gajtka a good fit for the Lumberjacks is he and his wife recently moved to nearby Grand Rapids.

“I never sent anything through the mail [to the Lumberjacks] and relied on my STAA Talent Page to show them what I had done and could do for them,” Gajtka says. “Thanks again for your service…it’s helped me land a job more than once now.”

Muskegon has been home to professional hockey for 50 years. It is their second season in the USHL. “Hockey is in their blood here in Western Michigan and the team is a big part of the community,” Gajtka says. “That is appealing to me.”

Gajtka is also excited to work under Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis, a former Division I college coach. “He really gets the game, is committed to the game and has invested a lot of money in the arena and the franchise,” Gajtka says.

The Lumberjacks boast a solid radio tradition and their games are broadcast on an FM station. “Its not even a given anymore that you are going to be on the air in any minor league sport,” says Gajtka.

“Im happy to get back into the game. That’s for sure!”

(Visit Matt’s STAA Talent Page).

Recent grad Corcoran gets Boise show

Corcoran(October 4, 2011) Riley Corcoran is getting the unique opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a new sports radio station. An STAA client, Corcoran is hosting Afternoon Drive on Boise, Idaho’s new Sports Radio 630 The Fan.

The Fan, owned and operated by Peak Broadcasting, will focus on local high school sports.

A recent graduate of Washington State University, Corcoran joins the station on-air Monday–Friday 4p-5p then be joined by Dave Tester from 5p-6p. In addition to the daily show, Corcoran will provide unique local content to 630thefan.com.

The opportunity at The Fan was first posted on the STAA job board in early summer. Many weeks later, Kevin Godwin, Sr. Vice President/Peak Broadcasting Idaho called STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik to ask which STAA clients might be a good fit. Godwin had used STAA in the past when Peak Broadcasting was hiring a play-by-play voice for Boise State University.

“Riley’s name is one that I shared with Kevin,” Chelesnik says. “That same day [Director of AM Operations/Peak Broadcasting Boise] Jason Wilmot called me and Riley’s name came up again.” Corocoran, a 2011 Honorable Mention STAA All-American, also submitted an application on his own behalf, including his STAA Talent Page.

“To start in a market like Boise is a great opportunity for me to begin my career,” Corcoran says. “To have my own radio show from 4-6 Monday-Friday gives me a lot of on-air time to perfect the skills I developed at Washington State. There will be a heavy emphasis on local sports and that is something I am comfortable doing.”

“I’m excited to have Riley on our team,” says Wilmot. “He understands the importance of covering local high school sports and creating relationships with local coaches.”

Sr. VP Godwin added, “When we looked around the market, it was obvious to us that local high schools were being ignored. Adding Riley to the station gives us an exclusive live and local presence with a unique point of differentiation within the broadcast and advertising community.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity and look forward to starting my career on the right foot,” says Corcoran.

(Visit Riley’s STAA Talent Page).

John Kelly joins MSG Varsity

Kelly(October 3, 2011) The return of fall high school sports has opened up a new job for John Kelly. An STAA client, Kelly has been hired as a play-by-play broadcaster for MSG Varsity.

MSG Varsity is an up-and-coming high school sports television network in New Jersey and New York. Kelly is looking forward to the opportunity to grow with the network.

“This network is only expanding and I want to pull a Conan and stay there and help it grow,” Kelly grins.

Kelly has already done football and soccer games for MSG Varsity and he will add basketball and hockey when the seasons change.

The job is an ideal fit for Kelly, who is very familiar with the process of growing a high school sports network. After graduating from Fordham University in 2009, Kelly returned home to found the Marauder Radio Network for his alma mater Saint Peter’s Prep. Kelly credits his MSG Varsity job to the experience

“Going back to my old high school (Saint Peter’s Prep Jersey City, NJ) and developing my broadcast skills and constantly reaching out to top talents at MSG Varsity helped me land this gig.”

In addition to creating opportunities to get behind the mic, Kelly also requested critiques of his broadcasts to ensure his skills continued to refine.

“I want to especially thank Dave Sims, Mariners Broadcaster, and Westwood One NFL Sunday night Play by Play man for critiquing my tapes for two years and building me up.”

(Visit John’s STAA Talent Page).

Loeber new Tulsa Oilers voice

Rob Loeber (September 30, 2011) Rob Loeber doesn’t have to relocate for his new job. An STAA client, Loeber is the new Broadcaster and Director of Media Relations for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.

“I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity to be the new voice of the Oilers,” Loeber said. “Broadcasting hockey has been a dream of mine for many years and I’m very grateful to Jeff Lund and Taylor Hall for giving me this chance to be a part of this franchise.”

Loeber is familiar with Tulsa, having spent four years as a sports photographer, reporter, and anchor at FOX23 News. In addition to his work on local television, he has done play-by-play for the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Oral Roberts University and has spent two years as a high school sports correspondent for Maxpreps.com.

Loeber says his STAA Talent Page helped him land the job. “[The STAA] website really provided me a great place to post my resume and demo. “I know the Oilers staff was able to log on and listen to my stuff during the hiring process. You provide such a valuable service.”

Loeber began broadcasting in college at Valparaiso University where he served as a sports and news reporter at the campus radio station, WVUR-FM. After he transferred to the University of Oklahoma, Loeber spent two years as the sports anchor for the nightly, student-run newscast. He graduated from OU in 2004 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

“Rob has a wealth of experience in sports media and broadcasting,” says Oilers General Manager Taylor Hall. “He is going to be a tremendous addition to our team.”

(Visit Rob’s STAA Talent Page).

Young to call women’s hoops at SIUE

Adam Young(September 28, 2011) Adam Young‘s favorite sport for play-by-play is basketball, but he hasn’t had a chance to do it regularly since he was a sophomore in college. Until now. An STAA client, Young has been named women’s basketball play-by-play voice at his alma mater, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

“This is what I wanted to do in the off-season,” Young says excitedly. “This is my favorite sport and the sport I feel I am best at.”

In the years immediately before and after his graduation from SIUE in May 2010, Young has been deeply immersed in broadcasting baseball. He spent summer 2009 as a No.2 broadcaster with the Gateway Grizzlies in suburban St. Louis. In 2010 he moved to the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs before returning to the Grizzlies this season as lead broadcaster.

During the past baseball off-season, Young stayed sharp broadcasting a variety of sports for McKendree University near St. Louis.

The opportunity to call SIUE women’s basketball came to Young through his friend, mentor and former boss at Gateway, Joe Pott. Since 2008, Pott has served as the primary radio voice of Cougars athletics. When the school decided to expand its coverage of women’s basketball, Pott contacted Young.

Interview: Adam shares his top strategies for landing sports broadcasting jobs.

Young, who will continue broadcasting Gateway baseball, advises sports broadcasting job seekers to stay optimistic. “You don’t get call backs or [employers] tell you they already have their finalists — it gets discouraging at times,” he says. “There have been jobs I thought I had a good chance of getting but didn’t. It turns out everything I needed is right in my back yard. I started to realize everything is happening for a reason.”

Young says staying in touch with people is another key to his success. “I feel like things happen because I network as best as I can. When stuff like [SIUE] comes up, my name is brought up.”

(Visit Adam’s STAA Talent Page).