Patrick McCarthy joins IronPigs broadcast team

At just 22 years old, Pat McCarthy has already made it to a Triple-A baseball broadcast booth. An STAA member, McCarthy is joining the Lehigh Valley IronPigs as their media relations and broadcasting assistant.

McCarthy joins 11th-year play-by-play voice Matt Provence on the broadcast for all home games and select road contests on the IronPigs Radio Network.

McCarthy is entering his second season in minor league baseball after serving as a broadcaster and media assistant for the Reading Fightin’ Phils (Double-A) last year.

The 2017 graduate of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) brings a unique blend of broadcast experience and baseball knowledge to Coca-Cola Park. In addition to his brief stint in the Eastern League, McCarthy has handled broadcasts for Villanova University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, St. Joseph’s University and TCNJ. He has covered an array of different sports on both television and radio and in a variety of capacities – from play-by-play to color analysis to sideline reporting.

The Allentown, New Jersey, native also provides an added perspective in the radio booth with a deep knowledge of the Phillies system and having been a varsity baseball letter winner at TCNJ.

Currently, McCarthy serves as the play-by-play voice for St. Joseph’s men’s and women’s basketball on the A10 Network as well as for Princeton men’s basketball on radio broadcasts. He also spends time as a spotter with both CBS Sports and Westwood One for NFL and NCAA basketball games.

With Lehigh Valley, McCarthy will be replacing Jon Schaeffer, who had been a part of the IronPigs Radio Network from the inaugural season though this past July — when he departed the organization for a position at XTRA 1360 Fox Sports San Diego

(Visit Patrick’s website).

Benzegala joins Fort Dodge station as Sports Director

“Alex(December 19, 2017) Last year, Alex Benzegala contacted 50 high schools, volunteering to be their play-by-play broadcaster. He heard back from one. Today, Benzegala has a full-time job that includes play-by-play and more. An STAA member, Benzegala is the News and Sports Director at Alpha Media in Fort Dodge, IA.

“This is a great opportunity to serve my community and live my dream of being a professional broadcaster. To wake up every morning and have the opportunity to provide news to over 30,000 people is a true honor,” he says.

Benzegala’s road to Fort Dodge has been challenging. “I have served as a volunteer broadcaster for much of the last 10 years and have had numerous setbacks and challenges along the way.”

Last December, Benzegala accepted his first professional opportunity, a talk show host and play-by-play position in Kansas. “I experienced health problems right before I was set to start, so I never made it to my dream job,” he says.

Benzegala decided to take a break from broadcasting to focus on his health. He began working in Christian ministry at a boarding school for at-risk youth in Missouri. This fall, he got back into broadcasting as the volunteer voice of a local high school. “I was bringing my students along to the games to broadcast with me and give them experience.”

When Benzegala learned of the Fort Dodge position in an email from STAA, he applied.

“It’s a great opportunity for professional growth for me in my career,” says Benzegala.

“It is my hope that my story of perseverance and never giving up on my dreams can inspire someone to do the same.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).

Circuitous path leads Walter to LEX 18 in Kentucky

(December 12, 2017) Since 2016, Charlie Walter has worked TV news in Mobile AL, minor league baseball in Tennessee, and TV play-by-play in Cincinnati. After testing that variety of sportscasting careers, Walter has chosen the path for his immediate future: television. An STAA member, Walter is the new weekend sports anchor at LEX 18 in Lexington, KY.

He learned about the opening through STAA From there, fate stepped in. “I had lucked out and met the main anchor a few weeks before at SEC media days in Nashville,” Walter says. “I also worked on a show in Knoxville with people that knew the Sports Director and imagine that their reference helped me land the gig.”

As a senior at Ohio University in 2015, Walter was ranked as the 8th most outstanding collegiate sportscaster in STAA’s annual All-America program. His career path since then has been a circuitous one.

Following graduation, Walter took a TV news job in Dothan, AL. After six months, the company moved him to their sports staff in Montgomery. There, he covered the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football national championship. Nine months later, Walter returned to his hometown of Cincinnati to hone his TV play-by-play skills doing a variety of high school events. Last March, it was onto minor league baseball for a broadcast assistant position with the Class-AA Tennessee Smokies.

After the baseball season, Walter stayed in Knoxville doing volunteer on-air work on a sports show for WVLT.

“They allowed me to do whatever segments I wanted, and I think the creative approach I took helped add to my reel that had no anchoring clips except for that show. I ended up spending about 12 hours a week on that one show alone, but I’m convinced without those clips, and with the lack of versatility that was offered as a part-time MMJ, my tape may have been too stale.”

Walter had two goals for the football season. “One was to put together a reel by Halloween with all new content from this (WVLT) job only,” he says. “The other goal was to create a professional website by Thanksgiving.”

The new website has already paid dividends. “I finished the website before my deadline of Thanksgiving, a few weeks before the WLEX job was posted. I think the website definitely helped land the job.”

Among the beats Walter is covering in Lexington is Kentucky Wildcat hoops. “College basketball has always been my sport and having grown up in Cincinnati I know all about UK hoops,” he says. “Growing up they would always air their games on WB64 in Cincinnati, so for as long as I can remember I’ve followed the team.”

(Visit Charlie’s website).

Brendan King joins Cubs affiliate

(December 8, 2017) For someone who aspires to one day be the voice of the Chicago Cubs, Brendan King is taking a strong next step. An STAA member, King is joining Chicago’s Class-A affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, as a Media Relations/Broadcasting Assistant.

“I’ve been a die hard Cubs fan since attending my first game at Wrigley Field when I was two years old,” says King. “To be joining the Chicago Cubs organization as a whole is an honor and both myself and my family are thrilled.

Besides being affiliated with King’s favorite childhood team, there is another irony in his joining South Bend.

“The owner of the SB Cubs, Andrew Berlin, works in the same industry as my dad and they work for companies that directly compete against one another. I’ve met Andrew before and in college he always told me to keep him updated on what I was doing in broadcasting. Now that I’m going to be with South Bend, it has really come full circle.”

King is a 2017 graduate of Butler University in Indiana. His baseball broadcasting experience includes the Cape Cod League and the Class-A short season Boise Hawks, where he spent last season. Several factors made the decision to move from short to full-season baseball an easy one for King.

“The first [reason] is obviously more practice and more reps with almost double the games played from short-season A ball,” King says. “But what they are doing in South Bend is fantastic. The attendance at Four Winds Field is electric every summer. They love their Cubs in Northern Indiana. The Cubs also broadcast their games both on radio and TV in South Bend, so that gives me a ton of exposure for fans and listeners.”

In pursuing the Cubs job, King made strategic use of his references and contacts.

“Mike Monaco is a guy that has had this same position before, so I made sure to reach out to him and get his thoughts on the matter,” says King. “He was extremely helpful and supportive. Then my closest MLB contact is Ken Korach, who is the radio play-by-play announcer of the Oakland A’s. Ken is always very gracious and generous with his time and spends a lot of time on the phone with me to give me tips and advice, and to just talk about the industry. We talked a lot before and after my interviews. To have that support was fantastic.”

South Bend is less than 100 miles from Chicago. Literally and figuratively, the King’s move to the Northwest Indiana city gets him closer to his ultimate goal.

“My dream is to one day broadcast games at Wrigley Field as the play-by-play man for the Cubs,” he smiles.

(Visit Brendan’s website).

Roundabout path leads Cohen to Iowa Cubs job

“Alex(December 6, 2017) After eight years of part-time and seasonal employment, Alex Cohen has earned a job at minor league baseball’s highest level. An STAA member since 2011, Cohen is the new Play-by-Play Broadcaster/Account Executive for the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Cohen follows veteran Iowa Cubs voice Randy Wehofer, whose been promoted to VP/Assistant General Manager.

Besides the fact that it’s a Triple-A job with one of minor league baseball’s best organizations, the Cubs position checks all the boxes that Cohen was looking for.

“My last three positions in baseball have been seasonal, and at the point of my life both professionally and personally, a full-year position with stability was a huge factor in the decision to both apply and accept the job.”

Cohen says advice from STAA helped him land the job. “[STAA] has always said things along the lines of ‘know what job you are applying for and let the people who you are interviewing with know how you can help them and their brand, not you and your brand.'”

When Cohen interviewed, he assumed the Cubs were already sold on his broadcasting ability. “So I focused on the sales,” he continues. “Every question I asked was a sales question. Every pitch I made had a sales component involved. This mindset really helped me through the process, and in the end, helped get me the position in my opinion.”

The road to Iowa has been a long one for Cohen. He started in minor league baseball in 2009 as an intern with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. That was followed by stops in Huntsville, Idaho Falls and Bowling Green, OH where he spent the last two summers with the Tampa Bay Rays Class-A affiliate. Cohen’s resume even includes a winter in the Australian Baseball League. His story illustrates there is no linear path through the ranks of minor league baseball.

“There’s no proven equation to succeed,” he says. “I went from being a Double-A No.1 at the age of 23, to out of broadcasting and into a MLB Media Relations position at 25 and then working my way back up from the bottom with the Australian Baseball League to rookie ball and then Single-A to Triple-A. Reps, meeting the right people and working for the right organizations are so important when it comes to putting the pieces of this complicated broadcast puzzle together.”

Cohen says that going as far and as fast as possible isn’t always the best road to success. “I’ve been in contact with a lot of young broadcasters. I have noticed there is a fixation with reaching the highest level as soon as possible to move up the ranks, no matter the situation. No rookie ball, have to be in full-season ball at whatever age and for X amount of time.

“At that age, I thought that way too. Now that I’ve experienced what I have experienced, I feel differently.”

While Cohen’s career has certainly had its challenges, his love for the job makes the hardships worth it.

“This may sound cliche, but being able to call a ballpark my office while talking to people about baseball as a job is a huge part of why I am still doing this,” he says. “There’s no better job in the world and as long as I am given the opportunity to do it, I am going to do it with a smile on my face.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).

Losing job leads to better opportunity for Zinno in Atlanta

(December 5, 2017) Losing a job can feel like the end of the world. Sometimes, though, it is a blessing in disguise. That is what happened to Mark Zinno. He’s gone from hosting overnights to afternoon drive in a Top 10 market. An STAA member, Zinno is the newest member of the lineup at The Fan 2.

It’s a big change from one year ago.

Last fall, Zinno was moved to overnights at Atlanta’s Sports Radio 92.9 The Game after hosting an evening show for several months. The move was made because Zinno’s show was regularly being pre-empted by Hawks basketball. Working overnights with a wife and toddler twins at home as difficult. In April, Zinno and the station parted ways.

While searching for his next opportunity, Zinno stayed busy in broadcasting with The Hazard Ground, a podcast he started in January that is growing quickly in popularity. Zinno is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S Army/Army National Guard and an Iraq war veteran. The podcast features servicemen from across the military sharing their stories of combat and survival.

Zinno started his show on The Fan 2 this week. He says with excitement that the show “is better than ever!”

(Visit Mark’s STAA Talent Page).

Del Barrio joins hometown TV station; staying with Dynamo

(November 29, 2017) Alex Del Barrio now has two jobs separated by more than five hours. An STAA member, Del Barrio is the new sports director/anchor at KGBT-TV in Harlingen, TX. He’s also the color analyst and fill-in play-by-play broadcaster for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.

Harlingen and Houston are more than 300 miles apart.

“I am used to being on the road,” Del Barrio smiles. “It’s five and-a-half hours each way, but the MLS season is mostly on the weekends and I’ll anchor Monday through Friday during the week. I’m lucky to have friends and family in Houston to help me out with a place to stay when I drive up for the games. It will be a challenge and grueling, but I think it is the right thing for my career right now to be able to be a part of an MLS broadcast team and to be a sports anchor in a top 100 market.”

This is Del Barrio’s third stint at his hometown station. He worked at KGBT from 2006 to 2007, then again in 2011. In fact, it was outgoing Sports Director Clay Williams who hired Del Barrio to cover high school football early in Del Barrio’s career.

One gig Del Barrio will have to give up is his sports update anchor/fill-in talk show host role at Houston’s Sportsradio 610. He’s been there since 2013.

“I had been doing well with part time hosting/reporting at Sportsradio 610, but was looking to get back into TV in some way. Several agents I had talked to were looking for some fresh TV tape as I hadn’t been on-air anchoring since 2011.”

Del Barrio doesn’t see his move to KGBT as a choice of TV over radio. Instead, he views it as the right fit for right now. “Look at my resume,” he explains. “I went from play-by-play, to PR, to live event announcing with the Globetrotters and WWE and back into radio. It’s always been about what the right opportunity is at the time.

“I will say that I have been wanting to do more TV play-by-play. I think this, combined with my work with the Houston Dynamo, helps me bring the two worlds together and I think can make me more marketable to networks and teams in the future.”

Del Barrio has been an STAA member since the company’s inception 11 years ago.

“Jon [Chelesnik, STAA CEO] has always helped me out with career advice at various stages and given me critiques on my work as well,” says Del Barrio. “The job e-mails are invaluable because Jon knows when some of the best play-by-play jobs are coming open long before the rest of the broadcast world does.”

While Del Barrio’s goals still include play-by-play, he’s content with doing TV and radio for now. “Taking this opportunity at KGBT is about getting the best of both worlds and getting to come back home, which is important to me at this stage of my career.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).

Cripps lands on feet after year of unemployment

“Blake(November 24, 2017) Losing your job unexpectedly is scary. Blake Cripps recently experienced it and, after a year of uncertainty, has landed on his feet. An STAA member, Cripps has joined Rocking M Radio in Wichita and is the new basketball voice at NCAA DII Newman University.

Cripps has been in Wichita radio since 2012. Rocking M Radio, though, is new in the market.

“I have loved working in Wichita,” says Cripps. “It is a vibrant city that is great for people my age. Almost all of my sports connections are here and I will be in a prime position to leverage them as we move forward and establish Rocking M Radio as a Wichita company and brand in the community.”

Cripps’ new opportunity comes one year after being let go by another Wichita station. Initially, he feared that the sportscasting job market would shun unemployed applicants. He was pleased to realize that is not the case.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Cripps says. “I was in the running for several good and/or big jobs despite losing mine completely unexpectedly. That is no time to feel sorry for yourself. Take it as a chip on your shoulder and get to work.”

Finding his next job was less a concern for Cripps than being able to pay his bills. “When you’re unemployed and the balance in your bank account is approaching KU football’s winning percentage, your confidence is not exactly beaming at that moment.

“It is times like that when you need someone in your corner to listen when you need to vent or ask a question to. I’m glad STAA was there for me when I needed it during my rough time.”

Over the past year, Cripps has been a strong candidate for several sportscasting opportunities. Though he didn’t get the jobs, he remained undeterred.

“Sometimes the best candidate is not who gets selected,” he says. “I felt that way about several jobs that I applied for and was in the final 10, final five, or even closer for. Judging broadcasting is exceptionally objective and not getting a job is no reason to doubt yourself.

“Many employers don’t want to hear this, but many decision makers in the radio business are NOT very good at identifying talent and some are exceedingly bad at it,” Cripps says. “Rely on honest colleagues and friends in the business to tell you how you’re doing and what you need to improve on. Employers often make hires based on factors that are totally outside the applicant’s control.”

As for being fired, Cripps has no regrets. “I knew that I had done exactly what had been asked of me to the best of my ability. Even when the money got tight, I slept great because of how much less stress and pressure I was under. There is no employer or job that is worth your unhappiness.

“It was great to hear that the world wasn’t going to end just because you lost your job.”

(Visit Blake’s STAA Talent Page).

Kelner new Fort Myers Miracle baseball voice

“Marshall(November 9, 2017) After two years in California, STAA member Marshall Kelner is heading to the other state known for an abundance of sunshine. Kelner has been named Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Fort Myers Miracle.

Kelner arrives in Fort Myers after two years with the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies High-A affiliate).

“I think you get better the more repetitions you get and that’s the case for me after two seasons in Lancaster,” says Kelner.

Kelner adds that he learned a ton from his boss in Lancaster, Jason Schwartz. “We first met when we worked together at USC beginning in 2007 and have been friends ever since. It was great to reunite. It was the first time since 2013 that I have had a broadcast partner, so I feel like I got a lot better at doing color the last couple years. Also, we developed a good back and forth on the air, which I think will serve me well going forward.”

A USC alum, Kelner’s career includes stops with the Dunedin Blue Jays and Harrisburg Senators. One thing that has aided him in pursuing his baseball career is the STAA membership he has had since 2010.

“My STAA membership helps me in a lot of ways. It helps me stay on top of job openings, Jon is always willing to give advice, and the videos with some of the top broadcasters in the business always provide solid insight.”

Broadcasting minor league baseball can be one of the toughest grinds in sportscasting. For a passionate broadcaster like Kelner, it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

“What motivates me to stick with minor league baseball is the passion I have for the game and how much I enjoy calling games on a nightly basis. Also, I have had a dream for a long time to be a major league baseball broadcaster and that motivates me as well. I think it’s too early to give up on that dream.”

(Visit Marshall’s STAA Talent Page).

Chance meeting leads Ambrose to college play-by-play gig

“Robert(November 6, 2017) A chance meeting has led Robert Ambrose to a new play-by-play opportunity. An STAA member, Ambrose is the new basketball, baseball and volleyball voice at Augusta University.

AU is a NCAA DII school in Augusta, GA.

The opportunity arose when Ambrose met the Augusta University’s sports information director at an Augusta GreenJackets baseball game. Ambrose was a media relations intern for the team.

“The AU baseball team and the GreenJackets share the same stadium,” Ambrose explains. “The SID told me that AU broadcasts their sports over the Internet. When my internship with the GreenJackets was winding down, I sent him an e-mail expressing interest in broadcasting for AU. He immediately brought me on board.”

The AU opportunity gives Ambrose a chance to spread his wings beyond baseball. “While calling play-by-play in the minor leagues is still my dream, I believe it is valuable to gain experience and get footage from other sports and AU has exactly that to offer,” he says.

Ambrose is a four-year STAA member. “STAA has helped me with strategies in applying for jobs, and they have so far paid off. They have helped me with basic cover letter skills that if you fail to use, you will not get past first base. I have also learned effective strategies for following up with employers.”

A 2013 graduate of California Lutheran University, Ambrose has worked in a variety of roles for the North Adams SteepleCats, Reno Aces and Birmingham Barons.

(Visit Robert’s STAA Talent Page).