(October 21, 2016) Erik Oas has earned his first opportunity as a lead broadcaster in affiliated minor league baseball. An STAA member, Oas is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Clinton LumberKings.
The LumberKings are the Class-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
“One of the things that have always drawn me to baseball has been its history. Joining the only remaining charter member of the Midwest League is something I find incredibly cool,” says Oas.
The San Diego native moves to Clinton following a stint with the Kannapolis Intimidators, the Chicago White Sox Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, where he served as the team’s Broadcast/Media Relations Assistant during the 2016 season.
He graduated from San Jose State University in May 2013 where he broadcast the school’s hockey, football, basketball, volleyball and baseball coverage for campus radio station KSJS.
Upon graduation, Oas worked in Palm Springs, California for the California Winter League and then spent two seasons in the West Coast League serving as the Director of Broadcast and Media Relations for the Klamath Falls Gems and Bellingham Bells. Following the 2015 season, he took his talents to Australia to serve as the Director of Broadcasting and Communications for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
“We are looking forward to having Erik on board with us for the upcoming season,” said LumberKings General Manager Ted Tornow. “He has a great voice and enthusiasm for the game and I am sure that our fans and listeners will enjoy the broadcasts.”
(October 18, 2016) Dave Polaski has done freelance Division I college basketball play-by-play. Now, he’s excited for something permanent. An STAA member, Polaski is the new radio voice for Radford University men’s and women’s home games.
Fellow STAA member Kyle West, is broadcasting Radford women’s basketball home games on the Big South Network live stream and road games on the radio.
Ironically, this won’t be the first time Polaski has broadcast Radford women’s basketball. He did fill-in work for them a couple seasons ago.
“It’s a steady job in NCAA Division I basketball,” says Polaski. “I’ve had D-1 gigs before, but they were always on a fill-in basis, either at Rider University when I lived in New Jersey and did sports broadcasting as a side career or with Radford. Being able to set my schedule and prepare ahead of time is pretty exciting for me.”
Polaski learned of the Radford opportunity through an email from STAA. “I quickly reached out to Rick Watson, the school’s Director of Broadcasting. He was familiar with me and impressed by my recent work, so we coordinated a time to meet up for an interview,” says Polaski.
Radford isn’t the only basketball broadcasts in which Polaski will be involved this Winter. He’s also the studio host for the IMG/Texas Longhorns Radio Network. It means that Polaski will be spending a lot of time on the road between IMG’s studio in North Carolina and the Radford campus in Virginia.
“Most of the conflicts occur during the conference season, and IMG has been very supportive and accommodating of my Radford schedule,” says Polaski. “As long as I give them a heads-up so a suitable fill-in can be found, it typically isn’t an issue.”
Polaski is a 2002 graduate of Ohio University. In addition to college basketball, he has broadcast high school sports and worked for minor league baseball’s Winston-Salem Dash and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
(October 14, 2016) In January 2013, Will Chambers joined a new sports station in Cincinnati, OH as a Morning Drive sports anchor and co-host. He thought his career was on its way. Six months later, his team got off the air at 10 am and were told the station was flipping formats in two hours.
Today, Chambers’ career is again trending up. An STAA member since 2010, Chambers and Jean-Jacques Taylor are the new midday show at ESPN 103.3 in Dallas.
For Chambers, the opportunity is the payoff to a bet he placed on himself two years ago. Unable to find another job in Cincinnati, Chambers moved to Dallas. He had personal ties to the city but zero employment prospects. “It was a total leap of faith, and eight months in I thought the career was done,” Chambers recalls.
Chambers was working in marketing when the opportunity finally arose to join 103.3 ESPN as a utility host. Simultaneously, Chambers moved into pharmaceutical sales to help pay his bills while earning more opportunities at the station. He hosted ESPN Dallas Game Night, ESPN Dallas Game Day, and was a fill-in host on the ESPN Mavericks Radio Network. Now Chambers is hosting middays 9 am to 1 pm.
In addition to sports talk, Chambers’ resume includes play-by-play for Georgetown College (KY) and various high school sports. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University.
When Zach Fisch left his broadcasting/media relations position with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, he recommended his friend and fellow STAA member Jared Shafran as his successor. Now, Shafran is the team’s new Director of Communications and Broadcasting.
“The Stingrays have been very lucky over the years to have some great broadcasters bringing Stingrays hockey to our fans,” said Stingrays President Rob Concannon. “We are thrilled to announce Jared Shafran as our new Director of Communications and Broadcasting. Jared will bring a great deal of excitement to the airwaves and we look forward to him joining our organization.”
The 27-year-old Shafran most recently served as an Athletics Communications Associate at Ferris State University where he called games for the school’s Division I hockey team. This past year, Shafran was behind the microphone for Ferris State’s WCHA conference championship win, as well as the team’s run to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. At Ferris State, Shafran played a key role in producing video and multimedia content and helped oversee social media accounts for all 17 of Ferris State’s athletic programs. He also assisted with the school’s media relations and marketing efforts while leading video board production.
“I am thrilled to join the Stingrays organization and am excited to get started quickly with the new season,” said Shafran. “I’ve heard so many great things about the area and I’m looking forward to meeting all the staff, players, and passionate fans in Lowcountry. Thank you to Rob Concannon and his staff for welcoming me to the team and giving me this amazing opportunity.”
Shafran, a Highland Mills, New York native, previously spent three seasons with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League (USHL) from 2012-2015. The Northeastern University graduate handed play-by-play for the Storm and spearheaded the team’s media relations and digital media initiatives. During his time in Tri-City, Shafran’s strong body of work earned him numerous opportunities to work league events. Shafran was chosen to lead interview efforts for the USHL at the NHL Draft for two years, and also hosted the USHL Draft Show twice. He also worked alongside Fisch for several events during his time in the USHL, including the 2014 Draft Show and the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Dubuque, Iowa where Shafran served as a rinkside reporter.
“I’m thrilled for Jared to take over the microphone in South Carolina,” said Fisch. “I worked closely with him during our time in the USHL and his professionalism, work-ethic, and play-by-play always stood out. He has a vast background in everything the position encompasses, and I know South Carolina fans will love listening to his work on the air.”
Shafran’s previous work includes a stint as the play-by-play voice of the Palm Springs Power baseball team in California in 2012, as well as experience writing for The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and The Huntington News. He interned with New England Sports Network and College Hockey Inc. during his time at Northeastern. Shafran’s honors on the microphone including finishing in the top-five of the 2015 FASTHockey Broadcaster Battle and being named a 2011 Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) Honorable Mention All-American.
(October 10, 2016) Veteran minor league baseball broadcaster Kyle West has a new off-season job. An STAA member, West is the new voice of Radford University women’s basketball. He will broadcast a live stream of Highlanders home games and radio broadcasts for road games.
Home games will stream on the Big South Network.
“The opportunity to do 15 broadcasts with each skill set [radio and video] is extremely valuable and allows me to maintain a variety of options moving forward in my career,” says West.
West has been Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for Lynchburg Hillcats baseball since 2014. From 2013 through last year, he doubled as the football and basketball voice at West Liberty University in West Virginia while earning his Masters degree at the school. As the voice of the Hilltoppers, he called the 2013 NCAA Division II men’s basketball national championship game.
“Initially, the Radford opportunity arose at the same time the Hillcats were looking to bring me on full-time, so this presented a way to continue doing basketball play-by-play while working in baseball year-round,” ways West. “Previously, I needed to relocate in the winter to do basketball play-by-play, so I was only a seasonal employee for the Hillcats.”
West earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 2012. He joined STAA during his junior year.
“STAA provides me the comfort of having job openings sent directly to my inbox as well as the knowledge I can always pick up the phone and receive some sound, unbiased advice from CEO Jon Chelesnik at anytime,” says West. “Even though it was right down the road, I doubt I would have known about the Radford opening without STAA.
“Sometimes I feel I don’t use [my STAA membership] to its full potential, but even with that being said, I still gain far more value in return than the amount a membership costs.”
“This all happened very quickly during a hectic time in my life, but as is always the case, God cleared away the chaos and guided me to the path I was meant to take at this time. I am beyond grateful that Radford posted this opening when it did, and I am even more excited I was able to earn the job.”
(October 7, 2016) When Kevin Piel moved from Ohio to Texas for a minor league baseball job last Spring, he assumed he would be returning to Ohio for the off-season. Instead, Piel is staying in the Lone Star State to call play-by-play for Texas A&M-Kingsville.
In addition to broadcasting the complete football schedule, Piel will broadcast home games for men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball for the NCAA Division II university.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity,” Piel grins.
The opportunity with TAMUK started taking shape in May, shortly after Piel began working as a broadcasting and media relations assistant with minor league baseball’s Corpus Christi Hooks. “I was told by some co-workers with the Hooks that they were looking to make a change and start fresh,” he says. “Also, the previous play-by-play guy was only doing football and that was it. They needed someone who wanted to do more.”
Piel will also host TAMUK coaches shows.
As a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Piel gained play-by-play experience in various sports on the campus radio station. He also broadcast summer collegiate baseball during his junior and senior years. Upon graduating, Piel did freelance play-by-play for Buckeye CableSystem Sports Network in Toledo.
(October 4, 2016) For the first time in 18 years, Marky Billson has his own sports talk radio show. An STAA member, Billson has been hired to host a daily show on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities in Johnson City, TN.
“I was always interested in the genre,” says Billson. “I would listen to some shows and just think ‘I can do better than that,’ and I always felt I had something to say.”
Ironically, Billson’s new station is one at which he worked nearly 20 years ago when it was WEMB. He’s lived in the Tri-Cities market off and on since 1986. “I know the market, but I also know how much more it can be sports wise, which the nation saw with the huge crowd at ‘The Battle of Bristol’ football game,” says Billson, referring to the recent Tennessee-Virginia Tech football game that drew roughly 150,000 fans to the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Though Billson last hosted a regular sports show in 1997, he hasn’t been away from sports broadcasting. Over the past 20 years, he’s been doing play-by-play for everything from high school and semi-pro football, to indepenent minor league baseball, junior hockey and freelance college soccer. Billson is also a freelance sports writer.
For Billson, the greatest challenge in getting back into sports talk was the lack of fresh demo material. “I hadn’t hosted an actual sports talk show since 1998. So many of my old tapes — yes TAPES — were dated,” he smiles. “To an employer it would make me seem like yesterday’s sportscaster.”
Billson’s workaround was to write and produce one and two minute commentaries to feature on his STAA Talent Page. “They showed I could make direct points that were intriguing and humorous,” he says.
The story of Billson’s new opportunity is an uncommon one. It started when he befriened station owner Maria True on Facebook. When one of the station’s hosts needed time off, Billson was asked to fill-in for a week.
“On the very first day, I had on [former East Tennessee State University player] Keith ‘Mister’ Jennings, who is probably the greatest player ever to play basketball in the Tri-Cities,” Billson says. “I remember when 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh started and their first guest was Dan Marino, so I knew I had to have on a legend to get things kicked off.”
After Billson’s week of fill-in was up, he was offered the permanent position.
One person who has been especially helpful as Billson has knocked off the rust is station consultant Jamie Osborne.
“I consider myself an old pro, but Jamie has really helped me,” says Billson. “Keeping subjects short in the first hour, for instance, because so many listeners only tune in for a short period of time from Noon to one.”
Billson has been an STAA member since the company’s inception in 2006. “Where else would I find out who is hiring,” Billson wonders.
He also cites STAA’s support as a reason for his longevity with the team. “Back in 2013 I was the play-by-play broadcaster of a minor league baseball team that went out of business in mid-season. You can imagine there were all sort of frustrations and hardships during this period of time. But [STAA was] always there for support, even if I needed someone just to listen to me rant on the situations and circumstances that I was enduring. It really helped me keep my head!”
(September 30, 2016) When Brady Farkas was promoted to Assistant Program Director at 104.5 The Team in Albany, NY in January, he discovered a passion for radio programming. Now, he is the new Program Director of ESPN 101.3 in Burlington, VT.
Among other things, Farkas is writing and producing promos, writing liners and imaging, working with sales and clients, creating promotions, creating, overseeing and appearing at station events and remotes, and co-producing a local afternoon talk show.
“I have had a lot of opportunity on the air over the last year and now I get an opportunity to focus more on management skills, forming relationships and am able to help bring about continued great radio to a great market,” Farkas says. “We carry all four major New England sports on our FM and AM station, so that is a big thing for us. Furthermore, Burlington is a great market in terms of professional and local sports fans.”
Programming has been of interest to Farkas since he was promoted to Assistant PD in Albany 10 months ago. “I realized that I like helping to build up the entire station rather than just one show. I love being on the air, but I will take even greater pride in helping put out a great product across all of our dayparts.”
Farkas’ new gig also includes a nightly talk show from 6 to 7 pm. “Hosting is a small-part of the job, but it’s one that I’ll relish,” he says.
The move to Burlington comes after Farkas spent two and-a-half years in Albany, first as a producer and on-air contributor. He graduated cum laude in 2012 from Oswego State University in New York.
(September 27, 2016) Just over one year ago, Zack Fisch was a broadcaster in the United States Hockey League. 13 months and two jobs later, he is now one step away from the NHL. An STAA member, Fisch is the new voice of the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
“I am very excited to join one of the best franchises in all of hockey. It’s as close to the NHL as I can get without being in the NHL,” Fisch says excitedly. He moves to Hershey after one season with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays.
“The Bears are a prestigious organization that are second to none in championships and attendance in the club’s storied 78-year history,” says Fisch. “The organization has an amazing fan base and a wonderful affiliation with the Washington Capitals that I got to experience in my time in South Carolina. I cannot wait to get started.”
Fisch joined South Carolin in August 2015 after three years with the Dubuque (IA) Fighting Saints of the USHL. With Dubuque, Fisch was twice selected to host the USHL’s ‘Draft Show,’ and was named the main play-by-play broadcaster for the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. With the Fighting Saints, Fisch broadcast a Clark Cup Championship and Bronze Medal win at the 2013 Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia.
Fisch joined STAA in 2011 during his senior year at St. Cloud State University.
“Throughout my job progression over the last five years, [STAA’s] advice and assistance has played a large role in my success. [STAA] has taught me many things that I have used in applying, and ultimately accepting multiple positions.
“I’d recommend that all broadcasters getting into the industry utilize STAA and Jon Chelesnik’s expertise to help them achieve their goals,” Fisch says.
Fisch’s position with South Carolina has already been filled by another STAA member. An announcement from the team is pending.
(September 23, 2016) Scott Lunte aspires to broadcast marquee events like Super Bowls, NBA Finals, Olympics and golf majors. He’s counting on his new job being the first step in that direction. An STAA member, Lunte is joining the news and sports staff at KRES Radio in Moberly, MO.
“My primary responsibilities will be a play-by-play talent for KRES covering much of Northern Missouri high school sports and select collegiate events such as D-II Truman State and Central Methodist University,” says Lunte. He will also host coaches shows, other sports shows and cover news stories when necessary.
“A small market radio station means I will have lots of responsibilities, and not just calling games on Friday nights,” Lunte smiles.
Lunte is the sixth STAA member hired by the KRES in recent years. “I have had good success with STAA clients,” GM Brad Boyer has said. “While they come excited about the play-by-play opportunities we offer, they also embrace our local community radio concept and leave as more well rounded announcers.”
A 2016 graduate of Webster University near St. Louis, Lunte joined STAA in July. Two days later, he interviewed with Boyer after having been referred by STAA.
“Every college kid needs to start somewhere post-graduation. KRES is giving me a great opportunity to develop myself as a play-by-play talent and also as a journalist,” says Lunte. “I feel like this station will give me the best chance to eventually move onto something bigger in life.