Inserra joins broadcast team at Carson-Newman U.

Mark Inserra(August 2, 2016) Mark Inserra has gained a wide variety of experience in sports media, on and off the air. An STAA member, Inserra will be putting his various skills to good use as the new Associate Director of Athletic Communications at Carson-Newman University.

Inserra will serve as the main media relations contact and the play-by-play voice for Eagles’ men’s and women’s soccer. He will also assist in Eagles’ baseball, softball and volleyball broadcasts. His other responsibilities will include assisting with graphic design, video editing, handling social media and other miscellaneous duties.

“Mark’s enthusiasm for Carson-Newman was apparent through every step of this hiring process,” says Adam Cavalier, Carson-Newman’s Director of Athletic Communications and a fellow STAA member. “We’re thrilled to add him into the fold here and look forward to him delivering quality coverage for our soccer, swim and golf programs.”

Most recently, Inserra worked as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN Williamsport in Williamsport, Pa. He served as the play-by-play voice for the Colonels of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa, covering football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Previously, he was the Director of Media Relations and Marketing for the Beloit Snappers Baseball Club, the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Inserra was responsible for dealing with all media requests, for the content of the team’s website and also served as the stadium PA Announcer.

In 2012, Inserra served as the Assistant Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. He put together the squad’s 2012 media guide and also occasionally handled play-by-play duties.

He graduated in January of 2011 from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. with a degree in sports communication. During his time there, he worked at the school radio station, hosting a sports talk show for three years and calling Red Foxes’ football and men’s and women’s basketball, as well as baseball. He also worked at the school television station, MCTV, and wrote for the school newspaper, The Circle.

(Visit Mark’s STAA Talent Page).

Seeking new challenge, Franck takes Little Rock TV job

Franck-Nick(July 28, 2016) After nearly three years in his first TV sports position, Nick Franck was ready for a new challenge. He’s found it providing sportscasts for five different markets for The Media Gateway in Little Rock, AR.

The Media Gateway has clients in several markets around the country, but the studio is based in Arkansas’ capital city. Franck will anchor and produce sports for stations in Gainesville, FL, Alexandria, LA, Salisbury, MD/DE, Hattiesburg, MS and Medirian, MS.

“This job is a fantastic opportunity to get a lot of reps anchoring and receive exposure in different markets,” says Franck. “We have 7 shows a day in 5 different markets, so time management is going to be crucial. Not being in the city I’m reporting on will be a challenge, but it will force me to be a lot more creative with how I produce and anchor each show.”

Franck is the second STAA member hired by The Media Gateway. Delaney Brey joined the company in September 2014. Franck moves to Little Rock from Duluth, MN, where he started working as a sports anchor/reporter at KQDS Fox 21 shortly after his 2013 graduation from Arizona State University.

“As my 2-year contract in Duluth was coming up, I started looking for new opportunities,” says Franck. “The Media Gateway stuck out to me right away as being a different way to deliver sports. I applied for the gig and received an offer the next week.”

Franck has been an STAA member for three years. “STAA has been huge for my career progression. I’m on my second TV job and I never would have gotten the first without STAA. I don’t know where my career would be without it,” he says.

Franck’s advice to young sports broadcasters is to not fear relocation. “I know it’s hard to move to a place where you don’t know anyone, but don’t let that scare you away from a potential opportunity. It’s only temporary and I guarantee you’ll develop some amazing friendships.”

(Visit Nick’s STAA Talent Page).

Hildebrandt moving up to NCAA DII play-by-play

“Adam(July 21, 2016) Some people take new jobs for opportunity, others for location. Adam Hildebrandt is getting the benefit of both. An STAA member, Hildebrandt has been hired as Sports Director at Wright Radio in Weatherford, OK, and to be the new voice of NCAA Division II Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

When asked which he values more in his new job – location or opportunity – Hildebrandt hesitates. “I would probably say the chance to have my own DII broadcast was more attractive, just because I was willing to move wherever necessary to take the next step,” he says. “That being said, the fact that it was in Oklahoma and it gets my family and I back to our home state was a home run. It doesn’t get better than advancing your career and getting closer to home at the same time.”

In Weatherford, Hildebrandt replaces fellow STAA member John Liddle. Liddle left after eight years to work at a sports radio station in Dallas and broadcast DI women’s basketball play-by-play at the University of North Texas.

A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Hildebrandt has spent the past four years at KRES Radio in Moberly, MO. His responsibilities included football and basketball play-by-play for NAIA Central Methodist University and select games for NCAA DII Truman State University.

One thing that benefitted Hildebrandt in the application process was keeping his demo and resume updated. “Having my STAA page up to date was big,” he says. “I wrote a cover letter and applied within 24 hours of when I saw the opening, and I could do it because my resume and demo were ready to go.”

In addition, Hildebrandt says he benefitted from STAA’s suggestions for following up on his application. He also attended two of the last three One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminars. “I had met John Liddle at ODT14, so I was able to contact him and ask him about the job the day it was posted. I also used a follow up technique that I learned from someone that I met at this year’s event. So it’s safe to say that people I met at ODT events were helpful in one way or another to me getting this job.

“If you continue to work on your job market strategy, you’ll be ready when the right opportunity comes along. I’ve applied for some jobs where I was shooting pretty high that I didn’t get. However, I fine tuned my job market strategy with every job I didn’t get, and it paid off big time when the right opportunity came along.”

(Visit Adam’s STAA Talent Page).

Schroeder embracing opportunity to learn in Great Falls

Kurt Schroeder(July 19, 2016) Many college graduates have the misconception that they will be able to launch their careers at ESPN or at a major market station. Kurt Schroeder, though, understands that there is a lot to learn before getting to that stage. With that in mind, Schroeder is embracing his new position as a sports anchor/reporter at ABC/Fox in Great Falls, MT.

For Schroeder, Great Falls is the perfect market in which to build a strong foundation for his career. “This job includes shooting video, writing, editing, producing, and getting in front of the camera on a regular basis,” he says. “The smaller the market, the better chance I have to get consistent repetitions. The ability to get involved in a number of different areas will also make me more attractive to future employers [in larger markets] because I will be a ‘swiss army knife,’ so to speak.”

As a student at Washington State University, Schroeder gained considerable experience anchoring, reporting, shooting, editing and producing for the campus TV station. He graduated in December 2014. For the past 11 months, Schroeder has worked as a writer and associate producer for KIRO-TV in Seattle.

Schroeder learned about the Great Falls opportunity through STAA. He also used STAA’s member resources to improve his job market approach. “Whether it’s through emails, Member Makeovers, videos and posts through the STAA site — there was always something I didn’t know before,” he says. “I then took that information and applied it to my credentials to make what I was sending to employers cleaner, tighter, presentable, and as a result, more professional.”

Schroeder also made use of his STAA Talent Page for distributing his demo and resume. “Having a professional website to send to employers looks much better than sending a bunch of attachments in emails,” he says.

When asked his advice for other sportscasting job seekers, Schroeder answers emphatically, “Be patient! This is a tough and competitive business. Most people will not get responses from every position they apply for. It’s discouraging, but at the same time it only takes one person and place to take a chance on you. Stay patient and positive.”

(Visit Kurt’s STAA Talent Page).

Kushner ready to move forward following personal losses

Kushner-Collin(July 15, 2017) Professionally, Collin Kushner has been ready to take the next step in his TV sportscasting career for at least a year. Personally, he wasn’t ready until now. An STAA member, Kushner has accepted a sports anchor/reporter position at KADN/KLAF Fox/NBC in Lafayette, LA.

“I’ve been working towards this moment for a long, long time,” says Kushner. “It’s really great to see how hard work pays off. That’s been my motto, since I was a little kid and hard work will continue to be my foundation for success. I owe both of my parents, Ronda and Jerry for that.”

Kushner’s parents are the reason that he wasn’t ready to make a major life change until now. Jerry Kushner passed away from ALS in 2013. This spring, Ronda Kushner passed away following her inspiring nine year battle with cancer.

“About six months ago, I really wanted to take the next step in my career,” Kushner says. “Unfortunately, my mom’s battle with cancer began to worsen. I knew I couldn’t leave her side. She gave the world to me, and even against her wishes, I knew it was my turn to give her the world. She was prepared for me to take THAT next step.”

When Kushner started attracting attention in the sportscasting job market last year, he knew he couldn’t leave his family in Southern California. “I knew in my heart that I needed to be by my Mom’s side. I was able to continue as a part-time sports anchor/reporter at Torrance CitiCABLE-TV and be right be her side. It was a no brainer — a decision I will never regret for a second.”

The wheels behind Kushner’s move to Louisiana started two years ago when he met KADN/KLAF News Director Doug Barden. At the time, Barden was news director at KSBY in San Luis Obispo, CA. ” We exchanged contact info and kept in touch,” says Kushner.

After driving with his mom to visit Barden in San Luis Obispo, Kushner knew he wanted to work for him. Fast forward to last month. “I reached out to tell [Barden] about the passing of my mother, and that I was ready to make a move,” says Kushner. “He always wanted to help and I just so happened to reach out at the right time. Everything went from there.”

“It just goes to show how important networking is in this business,” Kushner continues. “Not for something today, but a year or two down the line. Make connections and most of all, ask what you can do for them.”

Kusher is forever grateful for everything his parents did for him.

“The impact my parents had on my life is something that is so hard to describe. It’s a connection so deep, that my eyes well up just thinking about it. The two of them are the reason why I am, who I am today. My dad’s battle with ALS and my mom’s 9 year battle with cancer taught me a lot as a young man. I realized that life is short, and if you truly want something, go out and get it.”

“I know the two of them are smiling down on me somewhere. I’m just excited to live out the rest of my life for not only myself, but for the two of them. My brother and I are the living heartbeats for Ronda and Jerry now. And we are very grateful to have that chance.”

Kushner, who joined STAA in 2014, calls the service “truly one of a kind.”

“I’ll never forget the day I signed up with STAA,” Kushner recalls. “[CEO] Jon Chelesnik called me up and pointed me in the right direction. I always wanted to be a sports anchor/reporter, I just didn’t know how to get there. Without STAA’s help, I never would have landed in Torrance as a reporter, I never would have been promoted to Sports Director, and I never would have been in a position to get an offer from a local affiliate.”

“STAA will guide you in the right direction, but it’s up to you to take care of the rest. Joining STAA was one of the best decision’s of my life…. a decision that put me on the path to doing what I love.”

“I’m super excited to take the next step,” Kushner says.

(Visit Collin’s website).

Liddle hopes bold move gets him closer to major college

Liddle-John(July 6, 2016) John Liddle knew that if he was going to realize his dream of major college football and basketball play-by-play, he had to take a chance. With that in mind, he has moved his family to Texas for a pair of part-time jobs.

Liddle will be doing sports updates at The Ticket in Dallas and women’s basketball play-by-play and studio hosting for football at his alma mater, the University of North Texas.

An STAA member, Liddle has spent the past eight years as the voice for NCAA Division II Southwestern Oklahoma State University. However, that experience wasn’t opening doors at the DI level as he had hoped.

“I’ve seen how getting involved in a DI program leads to bigger opportunities, either within that program or with other Dis,” says Liddle. “Even in the last few years, many women’s basketball/baseball voices have moved up the ladder to those football and men’s basketball positions. Being at the DI level in any sport gives you the opportunity to make contact with other DI broadcasters, coaches, administrators and decision makers.

“I’ve seen it pan out for others and I believe if I prove myself on that stage, it will happen for me.”

After being passed over for several recent DI jobs, Liddle did some soul searching. He spoke to many people about how he might change his career approach.

“One of those people I called was my college friend Sean Bass, Sports Director at The Ticket. I had no idea at the time that he had an opening. He mentioned that he did and that got my wheels turning.”

In April, Liddle also contacted North Texas. They didn’t have anything but told him to keep in touch. “Once I knew The Ticket was a possibility, I talked to North Texas again [in May], proposing that I could move back and take over the women’s basketball broadcasts. They said ‘yes’ and the plan came together! And because the opportunities have presented themselves in such a complicated, yet perfect way, it gives me even more confidence that we’re doing the right thing.”

Liddle admits that leaving full-time work and moving his wife and three young children to Texas for part-time employment is a big risk.

“That’s the scariest part of this decision, no doubt,” he says. “But it would be a bigger risk if we weren’t moving back home to DFW. We have family there. We spent the first 25 years of our lives there. I have dozens of contacts there and there are hundreds of opportunities, large and small.”

Liddle is confident that he will parlay part-time work into full-time opportunities. “Even if I don’t, I’m excited about free-lancing because that’s something I haven’t been able to do in many years. I already have a high school football gig lined up with a tremendous broadcast crew, and even some high school baseball in the spring.”

Of course, Liddle is most excited to finally be the voice of a Division I team – women’s basketball at UNT. “I love the women’s game — it deserves as much care and attention as its men’s basketball counterpart. I’m going to give Mean Green women’s basketball everything I’ve got and see what happens. It’s an exciting step!”

(Visit John’s website).

Harab moving from small market to network radio

Matt Harab(June 28, 2016) After less than two years in York, NE in his first full-time radio job, Matt Harab is moving to a national network. An STAA member, Harab is joining Yahoo! Sports Radio.

Harab got the job after YSR COO and PD Craig Larson asked STAA’s Jon Chelesnik for recommendations. “Matt has always impressed me as someone who consistently works hard, has ability, is coachable and is eager to improve. I thought he would be a good fit for what Craig Larson was looking for,” says Chelesnik.

At YSR, Harab will be doing a little bit of everything. “I will start with a training period which includes meeting producers and getting familiar with the environment,” he says. “Eventually it will blend into fill-in roles within shows and, come football season, my own show.”

Harab moves to YSR’s Houston, TX headquarters from York, NE where he spent the past 21 months as news and sports director at a local radio group. He is a native of the Washington D.C. area.

“Coming from outside D.C. to York was awesome,” he says. “Professionally it allowed me to do everything – news, sports, play by play, reporting, anchoring, hosting, severe weather coverage, website, social media. Personally it stretched me out of my comfort zone and made me figure out who I was as a person.

Harab recommends that all young broadcasters start by working full-time in a small market. “It will give you skills and experiences you cannot get starting part-time in big markets. I have learned so much about different cultures and the business in under two years.”

In recent months, Harab has also learned about the sportscasting job market, especially as it pertains to cover letters. “Cover letters are the key to the door of communication with an employer,” he says. “I was so bad at them until I deleted my ‘template’ cover letter from my computer. There is no template. Experience may be the same with each one, but what you convey to the employer in the first paragraph about why you want to work for THEM is how you get the attention of your possible future boss. Be different. Don’t be lazy. Take a risk. Do your research.”

YSR is the second job that Harab has attained since becoming an STAA member in 2014. “STAA is the reason I am in this business,” he says. “They provide job leads yes, but another big thing is the STAA Talent Page for employers to see [my demo and resume]. I have had many employers tell me how easy my page was to follow.

“Even more important is the customer service. [CEO] Jon Chelesnik answers all emails in a timely manner. [Digital Content Manager] Melodie updates your page when needed, and most importantly Jon will give it to you straight. No B.S., which is awesome because sometimes you need to be told how to do something differently.

“As long as you have a goal, STAA will do their best to help you achieve it.”

(Visit Matt’s STAA Talent Page).

Hanni named radio Voice of the Jayhawks

brian hanniUniversity of Kansas graduate and Lawrence radio veteran Brian Hanni has been named the play-by-play voice of Kansas Jayhawk football and men’s basketball on the Jayhawk/IMG Radio Network, Kansas Athletics. An STAA member, Hanni replaces Bob Davis, who served in that role from 1984 until his retirement this year.

Hanni will also host “Hawk Talk,” the weekly radio shows of football coach David Beaty and men’s basketball coach Bill Self, and perform other duties as assigned by Kansas Athletics.

A Topeka, Kan. native, Hanni graduated from the University of Kansas in 2002 with a Broadcast Management degree with an emphasis on sports broadcasting and media sales. Hanni created the daily show “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” on KLWN Radio in Lawrence in the summer of 2002 and hosted it until 2012. The Jayhawk Radio Network has aired the show since 2008.

Hanni did radio broadcasts of KU baseball games for over a decade, and spent eight years on the radio broadcast team for KU women’s basketball. He also served occasionally on KU men’s basketball and football broadcasts for eight years.

Hanni left Lawrence in 2012 to become the voice of Texas Tech men’s basketball and baseball on the Texas Tech Sports Radio Network. He also did a weekday radio show, “The Bottom Line.”

“Naming a replacement for an institution like Bob Davis was a very difficult proposition,” Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said. “We view this position as not only a radio voice, but as an ambassador for Kansas Athletics and our university. We received interest from many well-established broadcasters; ultimately we felt that Brian’s talent as a broadcaster, his positive outlook and his proven connection with the community separated him from the other outstanding candidates.”

Hanni has won over 25 awards from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. Last year he was inducted into the Topeka West High School Sports Hall of Fame for his efforts in sportscasting.

Hanni is well-known in the Lawrence community, not only for his broadcasting talent but also for his charity work. In 2009 he founded (and still organizes) an annual celebrity basketball game, “The Rock Chalk Roundball Classic,” which raises money for local families fighting cancer. He is an active participant in other youth-related organizations within the community as well.

Balbinot hired as Toledo Rockets voice

brent balbinotAfter more than a decade broadcasting NCAA DI women’s basketball and baseball play-by-play, Brent Balbinot has earned a football and men’s basketball opportunity. An STAA member, Balbinot is the new voice for the University of Toledo. He’ll broadcast play-by-play and host the respective coaches’ radio shows.

Balbinot, who brings nearly 25 years of sports broadcasting and related experience to Toledo, spent the last 12 years at his alma mater, the University of Iowa, serving as play-by-play voice for Hawkeyes’ women’s basketball and baseball. Balbinot also filled in at play-by-play for men’s basketball, and held other related roles with Iowa over the years, including host of the call-in radio shows and complete oversight of the daily sports feature for Hawkeye Radio Network.

Balbinot has been immersed in sports media in the state of Iowa since 1993, handling play-by-play duties and serving as a news/sports director for a variety of stations: KLEH AM, KMCH FM, KQWC AM/FM, KXIC AM, WMT AM and KGYM AM. Additionally he has served as a sports writer for HawkeyeReport.com the past three years.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Brent join the Rockets’ family,” said UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “Not only is his background impressive, he comes highly recommended from our friends at Iowa. It’s obvious the fans, coaches and administrators at Iowa embraced Brent and the quality of his work there for over a decade. We look forward to introducing him to our Rocket fans with the start of the football season.”

According to Luke Reiff, general manager for Learfield’s local Rocket Sports Properties, Balbinot was the top choice resulting from a comprehensive national search. “We set out to identify the best talent for the Rockets, and we’re really pleased about Brent coming here.”

Balbinot replaces Mark Beier, who retired from his duties as the Rockets’ football and men’s basketball play-by-play announcer in March after 21 years behind the microphone.

“Rocket athletics has a long and rich history, not just on the field or the court, but in the broadcast booth. I am honored to be following such a respected sportscaster in Mark Beier,” said Balbinot.

(Visit Brent’s STAA Talent Page).

Hillman joining KLKN-TV in Lincoln, NE

Ryan Hillman(June 16, 2016) Ryan Hillman is taking the next step in his career. After nearly three years at KTWO-TV in Casper, WY, Hillman has accepted a sports anchor/reporter position at KLKN in Lincoln, NE.

The station was looking for someone with a great on-air personality and strong reporting and editing skills. They believe they have found that person in Hillman.

Hillman is a native of Elizabeth, CO and a 2013 graduate of Colorado State University. While in Fort Collins, he gained anchoring, reporting, producing and editing experience on the campus TV station.

Upon graduating, Hillman moved to Wyoming to join KTWO. During his time in Casper, Hillman worked his way up from Cheyenne Bureau Reporter, to Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter and finally to Sports Director.

Hillman joined STAA in February.

(Visit Ryan’s STAA Talent Page).