(July 2, 2020) -PRESS RELEASE- The Chicago White Sox and WGN Radio 720-AM have announced veteran broadcaster Andy Masur will join Darrin Jackson in the booth for broadcasts on WGN Radio and the White Sox Radio Network during the 2020 season. Masur fills the role following the death on April 1 of longtime radio voice Ed Farmer.
Masur, a Chicago-area native, served as the pre-game host for White Sox baseball on WGN Radio during the 2018-19 seasons. He also called an inning of play-by-play for games at Guaranteed Rate Field and filled in for both Farmer and Jackson during the two seasons.
“I am truly honored and humbled to join my friend Darrin Jackson in the White Sox radio booth this season,” said Masur. “Many people before me have said legends cannot be replaced, and the great Ed Farmer is truly irreplaceable. As a fellow Chicagoan, I hope my passion for the city and the game of baseball connects with White Sox fans in a way that Ed would be proud. I want to thank the White Sox and WGN Radio for this fantastic opportunity.”
Masur returned to WGN Radio in 2014 for his second tenure with the network. In addition to his work with the White Sox, his duties included select play-by-play and pre and postgame work for the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs, Northwestern Wildcats, as well as anchoring/hosting duties. Prior to rejoining WGN Radio, Masur spent eight seasons (2007-14) with the San Diego Padres as part of their radio broadcast team and worked a number of games on FOX Sports San Diego. He also was the play-by-play voice of the University of San Diego men’s basketball team for eight seasons.
Masur previously worked for WGN Radio from 1999-2007 as part of the Cubs Radio Network. He served as the main pre- and postgame host and also handled select play-by-play duties. Masur’s previous play-by-play work includes the Loyola University men’s basketball team and baseball and softball on Big Ten Network (BTN).
Masur is a graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. and Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Ill. Masur and Jackson will debut as the White Sox full-time radio team upon the resumption of the 2020 season.
(June 22, 2020) Mohammad Ahmad faced unique challenges entering the sportscasting job market after college graduation. He invested in work ethic and optimism. The payoff is a sports anchor/reporter position at ABC FOX Montana in Missoula.
“Not only are they giving me the opportunity to report and anchor on the local ABC/FOX affiliates, but they’re also letting me report on another network called SWX. SWX is a 24/7 regional sports and weather channel that broadcasts in Montana and Washington,” says Ahmad. “With that channel comes the opportunity to do play-by-play and sideline reporting for high school sports and the University of Montana.”
Mohammad credits STAA for helping him land the opportunity. “Gosh, where do I start? I could go on and on and on,” he smiles. “From the interview tips to making your demo reel look good, STAA gave me so much advice that led to me getting my job.
After Mohammad was offered the job, his boss told him that as much as he liked Ahmad’s reel, the biggest reason he offered Ahmad the position is because he loved Ahmad’s enthusiasm and excitement during the interview. “No joke,” Ahmad grins. “Where did I learn how to sound excited and confident? STAA’s tips taught me!”
Ahmad faced two notable challenges in building his sportscasting career. The first was his college curriculum. He didn’t have certain opportunities that students from other schools might have had. “I went to the University of Kentucky (Go Cats!) and had the privilege of doing weekly live newscasts and covering the Cats for the school paper. I never did and never will take those chances for granted,” says Ahmad. “Unfortunately however we didn’t have hands-on opportunities like live shots, sideline reporting or play-by-play. This is not to discredit what I learned in school – I learned how to be a great reporter and journalist – but for sports I just wished they provided those opportunities.”
Ahmad overcame the lack of opportunity by creating his own. “I did sideline reporting at a local radio station for high school football and basketball. I produced pre-game shows, taped coaches interviews and did halftime and post-game interviews.”
The other challenge Ahmad faced was his concern the sportscasting job market might be more difficult because of who he is. “My name and face make it obvious that I’m both Muslim and Middle Eastern. I thankfully didn’t experience any blatant discrimination or prejudice while covering sports in college. However, I wasn’t naive and knew what it felt like to be discriminated against. I also had an African-American professor of mine remind me that hiring discrimination is a real thing and that he experienced it when he worked in the broadcasting business.
“I did struggle with being confident in my work because I had a fear that hiring managers would overlook my name because of my background.”
Mohammad joined STAA in late 2019 upon the recommendation of Camille Gear, a sports reporter for WYMT-TV in Hazard, KY. “Camille told me about STAA when I met where while covering UK Athletics,” says Ahmad. “She told me how STAA helped her find the WYMT job when she graduated from college. I also had a professor who recommended I sign up before I graduated. And let me say both people gave me some of the best advice ever!”
Mohammad’s advice to anyone just joining STAA is to utilize the resources. “Listen to all of Jon’s advice. Take advantage of the critiques! Use all of that to work on yourself and the rest will follow. Follow the job leads if you’re looking for a job. Reach out to Jon and don’t be afraid to ask questions! He is awesome and WILL help you,” Ahmad says.
Lack of diversity in sportscasting has been a major and necessary discussion of late. Ahmad’s hiring in Missoula is a step in the right direction.
“There were several callbacks and responses I never got on some jobs I applied for,” he says. “Was it because of hiring discrimination? I’ll never know. But none of that matters anymore because ABC FOX Montana took a chance on an ordinary kid from the Bluegrass!”
(June17, 2020) Few TV jobs include the opportunity to do TV sports hosting, reporting and play-by-play but Kenny Schierlinger has found one. An STAA member, Schierlinger is joining WHVL in State College, PA. His title is TV Reporter/Production Assistant but his duties are much more.
Schierlinger’s responsibilities will include covering Penn State football games, practices and press conferences, hosting WVHL’s off-season football show and play-by-play for area high school football and minor league baseball.
“I knew I wanted to make the jump into a full-time television position,” he says. “I also knew I didn’t want to take just any TV job. It was important to me that the position would be in a great location and a place I could grow as a broadcaster. With this position, I’ll get opportunities to host shows, broadcast live sports and work with highly experienced professionals within Penn State athletics and Central Pennsylvania.
“I saw the job come in through an STAA Job Leads email and was immediately interested given the job description and location. After contacting them I felt an instant connection with WHVL and felt it would be a great fit.”
Schierlinger’s resume is heavy on radio, so landing a TV job wasn’t easy. However, overcoming obstacles is nothing new for him. “I got into broadcasting later than most,” he says. “Up until my junior year in college at Miami (OH) University, I was a student coach for the Redhawks football team. I decided after fall camp that I wanted to make a jump into broadcasting.”
The first steps in Schierlinger’s sportscasting career were on Miami’s student radio station. “Most of my experience up to this point has been in radio, holding positions as the No. 2 with the Daytona Tortugas and being the radio voice of the Stetson Hatters. Luckily at Miami, I was able to sideline report for ESPN3 broadcasts in addition to making feature stories for Stetson’s ESPN+ broadcasts. Fortunately that was enough to get the offer at WHVL.”
The opportunity to call play-by-play was a key part of the WHVL opportunity. “Ultimately play by play is what I want to do,” Schierlinger says. “The goal is to make it to a national network one day calling football, basketball, baseball and golf all around the country.”
A friend’s recommendation prompted Schierlinger to join STAA in March 2019. “Fellow STAA member Connor Onion said that it would be a great idea,” Schierlinger recalls. “I remain with STAA because it’s a great resource to improve your broadcasting, get inside leads to jobs and always have Jon [Chelesnik] in your back pocket if you ever have any questions or need advice.”
Schierlinger’s suggestion for anyone just joining STAA is simple. “Get on the website frequently to learn how you can better yourself as a broadcaster. You will be hard-pressed to find an organization that is as good as STAA for your career.”
(June 12, 2020) The Savannah Bananas are a fun loving, outside-the-box thinking organization. Biko Skalla is a fun loving, outside-the-box thinking broadcaster. A perfect fit. An STAA member, Skalla is the Bananas new Broadcaster Entertainer.
Calling the play-by-play role Broadcast Entertainer is the first clue that things are done differently in Savannah.
“It honestly needed to be a special situation to jump ship in such uncertain times but [Bananas Owner] Jesse Cole gave me no choice but to accept,” Skalla grins. “He sold me on the culture and atmosphere he’s created down in Savannah as well as the amount of resources and immense creative freedom I will have in the booth.”
Skalla moves to Georgia after spending the past two years as a broadcast associate at MLB and NHL Network in New Jersey. Moving down the Eastern seaboard during a national pandemic poses challenges, but Skalla is undeterred.
“It’s definitely a leap going after this right now. There are a lot of moving pieces and I’m betting on myself to figure it out.”
Like the Bananas themselves, the team’s story of finding Skalla is unique. It started when STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik read a book by Bananas Owner Cole. The book included a prompt for readers to email Cole, so Chelesnik did. That introduction led to Chelesnik writing a broadcasting position description based upon what he learned about the team from Cole’s book and a conversation with Cole.
The Broadcast Entertainer position was born and Skalla was attracted to it like yellow to a banana.
“I saw the lead for the opening with the Bananas in an STAA email from the man himself, Jon Chelsnik. I applied just about as quickly as possible, got a virtual interview with the Bananas owner Jesse Cole and the rest is history,” Skalla recalls.
In the spirit of Walt Disney and PT Barnum, the Bananas are re-imagining what a baseball Webcast can look like. Anything might happen, including drone shots, microphones on on-field players and coaches and fans making strategy decisions.
“It was very clear in the job description that Jesse wanted to produce a broadcast unlike any other in baseball,” says Skalla. “That really excited me. I love baseball far more than other sport in the world, but it’s an old game with a pretty old audience. The vast majority of people I talk to think baseball is boring to watch and MLB attendance numbers have been diving for four straight years. But it just happens that the Bananas have only been around four years and they’ve sold out every game at Grayson Stadium for the last three. I see the Bananas as the future of baseball as a whole.”
Skalla continues, “Sure you probably won’t ever see the Yankees play a game in kilts for St. Patty’s Day in July, or create a dance team of elderly woman, or see how many fans they can stuff in a porta potty between innings. But the more ridiculous you can make the trip to the ballpark the more people will want to go. And now Jesse wants to channel that circus-like atmosphere of Grayson Stadium into the broadcast.”
Even the application process was typically Bananas different. “Jesse already had a wealth of innovative, wacky, and exciting ideas laid out in the job description, and he was requesting three more, along with three at-bats of fresh play-by-play filmed on a cell phone of any game that could be found online,” says Skalla. “I loved everything about the application process and the job opening itself, the endless possibilities that broadcasting for the Bananas would bring.”
Skalla made sure his “three batters of fresh play-by-play” demo reflected the excitement of Bananas baseball. “I tried to bring the energy of Grayson Stadium into my girlfriend’s basement apartment in Jamaica, Queens. It was also important to show the creativity I could bring to the table in my mini broadcast so I took chances and got weird with my calls whenever I saw the opportunity.”
When Skalla was invited to interview for the job, he says a resource provided by STAA helped him nail it. “Jon Chelesnik sent me a link to a podcast where Jesse Cole explained everything he looks for in a potential employee. It was like the ultimate review session before a final… tough to beat someone on a test when they have the answer key,” he smiles.
Skalla joined STAA in February 2019. “I found out about STAA from my friends at Syracuse University Tweeting about it.”
Two reasons prompted Skalla to join STAA. “The obvious one is the inside information about broadcasting openings. That’s worth the price in itself as I would have never known about the Bananas opening without getting the job lead from Jon,” says Skalla.
“The other big reason is the quality advice that Jon sends covering a myriad topics in broadcasting like writing cover letters, creating great teases in talk radio, looking your best in stand-ups, how to work emotional stories about players into your play-by-play, etc. It’s also just nice to have someone in your corner and that’s how I’ve felt since joining STAA.”
The end of Skalla’s demo video included a blunt statement of his desire for the job and how he thought he and Savannah would be a perfect fit.
“Luckily for me, Jesse and the rest of the Bananas agreed enough with me to give me a shot,” Skalla grins.
(June 9, 2020) Kansas City native Andrew Pitkin longed to live closer to home. Now he is. Pitkin recently joined KNEM-AM/KNMO-FM Radio in Nevada, MO as News Director and Play-by-Play Broadcaster.
Pitkin moves to Western Missouri after spending the past two years as an account executive and play-by-play broadcaster in Brainerd, MN.
“When I saw that Nevada, MO was only an hour and a half south of Kansas City I figured it’d be worth it to at least submit an application,” he recalls. “I ultimately decided to take the job because it meant I would change my job title from Account Executive/Play-by-Play Broadcaster to News Director/Play-by-Play Broadcaster. After receiving advice from two broadcast mentors of mine, I decided being a full time journalist was a solid career choice along with the fact that I would live much closer to my girlfriend and family.”
Pitkin learned of the Nevada opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email.
“I sent in the link to my Talent Page as quickly as I could. Over the next nine days I had three phone calls with my current employer. The first two calls were job interviews and on the last one I accepted the job.”
Pitkin joined STAA midway through his senior year at Wheaton College in late 2017. “My STAA Membership was vitally important in helping me apply for this job quickly,” he says. “Seeing this job opening before other applicants because of my STAA membership gave me a leg up on the competition.”
Pitkin has enjoyed his first two months in Nevada. “I’m learning every single day how to better myself as a broadcaster and writer.
“Although moving to a new place during the coronavirus outbreak has made meeting people more difficult, as Missouri reopens I’m able to do so more and more and all who I’ve met so far are very friendly.”
(June 4, 2020) PRESS RELEASE — A pair of STAA members comprise the new radio team at the University of South Dakota. John Thayer, the voice of South Dakota women’s basketball for the last seven seasons, is replacing Joe Van Goor as the play-by-play announcer for Coyote football and men’s basketball.
Replacing Thayer on the sidelines is Carter Woodiel who will also be the new voice of Coyote women’s basketball.
“It’s been great to work with and learn from a radio veteran like Joe for the past several years,” says Thayer. “I have really enjoyed my time watching the women’s basketball program develop into a nationally-ranked team that contends every year for a Summit League title.”
Thayer hails from Eustis, Nebraska, and is a 2008 graduate of Doane College where he helped launch the Tiger Sports Network. He worked for stations in Colorado and Nebraska before arriving in Yankton in July of 2012. He became the voice of USD women’s basketball ahead of the 2013-14 campaign and joined the sidelines of Coyote football in 2015.
Thayer served as sports director of KVHT/KVTK in Yankton where he hosted a weekday sports talk show called “On the John”. In 2019, he transitioned to Coyote Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holder and sports marketing arm for USD athletics. Thayer is also the host of YoteCast, the Coyotes’ official podcast that debuted ahead of the 2019-20 academic year.
Woodiel is a 2018 graduate of University of Missouri and is currently the voice of the Sioux Falls Canaries. He has also served the Sioux Falls Stampede and Midwest Communications in South Dakota.
Woodiel brings a young and impressive résumé to the Coyotes’ nationally-ranked women’s program. He was named Bob Costas High School Sportscaster of the Year in 2012, received two awards from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation – one of the highest honors a collegiate journalist can receive – and a Missouri Broadcasters’ Association award in 2015 for his play-by-play work with KCOU-FM in Columbia. In addition, he has won an Edward R. Murrow Award and a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for his work in radio reporting.
Woodiel spent the 2018-19 season as the broadcaster for women’s basketball at High Point University in North Carolina, and has broadcasted basketball at William Woods University, Westminster College, University of Missouri and North Carolina Central University.
(May 5, 2020) After living his entire life in Nebraska, Tommy Rezac is venturing outside the Cornhusker State. An STAA member, Rezac has joined KROX Radio in Crookston, MN. His on-air role includes play-by-play for University of Minnesota-Crookston athletics and various area high schools.
He learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email.
“The main draw was the chance to do play-by-play for an NCAA University,” Rezac says. “I had been doing Doane University (Nebraska) football on the radio, and that’s NAIA competition. It was a great start and a necessary step, but I felt I was ready to take the next step, and do play-by-play on a regular basis for an NCAA DII or DIII school.
“With the dream of being the radio voice of a major DI school or pro franchise, I saw the opportunity with KROX and the University of Minnesota-Crookston (NCAA DII) as a great step toward that.”
Rezac grew up in Nebraska, graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2017 and has worked at several radio and TV stations in the state. His resume includes one year as Sports Director at KLIN in Lincoln and nearly a year and-a-half as Sports and News Director at NewsChannel Nebraska.
“I don’t know if there’s ever a perfect time to leave Nebraska for me. I grew up there, and loved living there,” Rezac says. “But the top sportscasting jobs in Nebraska are coveted positions that rarely come open. I tried my hand at a couple Nebraska stations, and while it was tough to leave home, I felt it necessary to expand my horizons and try to work my way up the ranks in a different area.”
One thing Rezac believes set him apart in the KROX application process was inquisitiveness. “I asked a lot of questions, which I think is good. The more curious and serious you are about a position, the more questions you ask. I think it shows your prospective employer that they have your attention.”
Rezac joined STAA in 2016 at the start of his senior year in college.
“Being a member of STAA means having access to tools and resources that make you a better sportscaster. It’s a pretty easy way to network with others in the business, share your work, ask questions, hear from longtime pros and of course, the job leads are huge.”
One of those STAA job leads has provided Rezac his next career step in a new state.
“If my career allows me to return to Nebraska one day, I’m all for it. But until then, I plan to visit as much as I can,” he smiles.
(April 29, 2020) Many STAA members were preparing for baseball season with new teams when the Coronavirus hit. The teams they were joining range from affiliated to independent and summer collegiate clubs.
Regardless of whether baseball ends up being played this summer, these individuals still deserve recognition.
They include . . .
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (previously the Miracle) No. 2
The 2020 Arizona State University grad moves to Florida after spending the first part of this year broadcasting in the Australian Professional Baseball League. He spent last summer with the Elizabethton Twins.
Sioux Falls Canaries No. 2
Adam will move to Sioux Falls after spending January broadcasting in the California Winter League in Palm Springs. He spent last summer with Duluth in the Northwoods League. Adam is a South Dakota native, so the Sioux Falls opportunity keeps him close to home.
Bowie Baysox No. 2
Landing with the Baltimore Orioles AA affiliate is testament to Fritschner’s drive and hard work. “I reached out to pretty much every AA team. [Baysox Director of Broadcasting Adam Pohl] and I stayed in contact through the winter until the spot opened.”
Fritschner is a 2019 graduate of Xavier University. His baseball broadcasting experience includes summers in the Frontier, Cal Ripken and Great Lakes leagues.
Winston-Salem Dash No. 2
The Dash never publicized their opening but Luke found out about it through STAA. The Indiana University alum previously did broadcasting and media relations with Mankato of the Northwoods League.
Portland Pickles No. 1
This will be the first summer spent with a baseball team for the talented USC freshman.
Sanford Mainers No. 1
Nick will handle broadcasting and media relations for the Mainers. He graduates from the University of North Texas in December.
“In my previous summer league job (with the Brazos Valley Bombers) I was a lower level member of the media team so getting the experience of being the media coordinator for the team,” he says.
Somerset Patriots No. 2
Chris is a 2019 graduate of Drexel University. The Patriots play less than 40 minutes from Markowitz’s home in Elizabeth, NJ.
Walla Walla Sweets No. 1
Brandon is the latest in a long-line of talented sportscasters from Ohio University. He graduates in the spring. Brandon spent last summer in the Alaska Baseball League.
South Bend Cubs
Josh will assist the Cubs in media relations and production. He’ll also serve as one of their broadcasters and host of their pregame and postgame shows on radio and select TV broadcasts.
Sperber did color for the State College Spikes last summer while working as a sports reporter and studio host for WHVL-TV. He is a 2015 graduate of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.
Josh will move to the Windy City shortly after he graduates from the University of Miami in May. He’s spent the last two summers with the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Dogs play in the American Association.
(March 10, 2020) Laura Hoover grew up a mere fifteen minutes from Gary, IN where she is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the SouthShore RailCats, an independent American Association team.
She succeeds fellow STAA member Jared Shlensky.
STAA members were tipped off to the opportunity in a December Job Leads email. However, Hoover missed the note and instead learned of the opening when the team found her in the Talent Search database on the STAA website. “I got a call from the General Manager, Mr. Brian Flenner,” she recalls. “He got a hold of material through STAA and saw that I was local so he called me and we started to explore if it would be a good fit.”
A lengthy Internet job search had led Hoover to STAA last year. After asking around about STAA, she decided to join to see where it would take her. She adds, “It’s always nice to have people willing to listen and critique you when you otherwise know your own circle of friends will probably just tell you what you want to hear.”
Hoover spent last season broadcasting in the NECBL summer collegiate league. While she had spent the previous eight years broadcasting several games each week, the NECBL gig offered daily broadcasts.
“The NECBL allowed me to take all the things that I knew and drove into muscle memory and expand on them, and forced me to change how I prepare and become more efficient,” she says. Additionally, her knowledge of the game expanded while she was “meeting some amazing broadcasters” and learning fresh ways to tell the same story.
There are several factors Hoover believes helped in her pursuit of this position. In addition to working hard, continuing to broadcast, and not giving up, she also aimed “to listen to other broadcasters, to try and learn something new every time I take to the mic or talk to a player or a coach.”
Hoover’s ties to the area may have given her the home field advantage with the RailsCats job. Not only did she grow up nearby, but she also graduated from Goshen College in Indiana. And she’s in no hurry to leave. She still loves her hometown and believes her roots have uniquely equipped her to connect to the RailCats, their fans, and the local stations.
Hoover shares, “It’s my home and I am happy I get to give back to a ballpark that has given me entertainment since childhood.”
March 4, 2020) Spencer McLaughlin will be graduating from Santa Clara University a quarter early so he can start a new job broadcasting for Eastern Oklahoma State College. He will be the lead broadcaster and on-air personality for Mountaineers Athletics and 93.1FM/104.9FM.
“It is my responsibility to serve as the lead play-by-play announcer for all EOSC athletics events (and high school football), have a daily air shift at the radio station which will feature elements beyond sports talk, work with college students to improve their broadcasting skills, and help to further improve the station’s broadcast productions,” he says.
McLaughlin sees this as a great opportunity that will provide him extensive play-by-play experience for college sports, including a few with which his experience is limited: baseball, softball, and soccer. “Having these experiences will bolster my resume and my capabilities as a broadcaster.”
Prior to pursuing a job, McLaughlin did as many broadcasts as possible in order hone his skills. He believes this was one factor that helped him in his pursuit of the EOSC job, but he says another important factor was that he followed up with EOSC a couple weeks after sending his application.
McLaughlin joined STAA in January after being referred by fellow Nichols State University Play-by-Play Broadcaster Jack Benjamin, a fellow STAA member and a fellow graduate of Santa Clara University. He credits Benjamin with inspiring him to become a broadcaster and helping him get where he is today.
He shares, “When I met Jack he not only gave me the opportunity to love broadcasting as much as he does, but he immediately instilled the utmost confidence in my on-air abilities. He has guided me throughout this entire process, and for the last three years has been a great friend and an even better mentor. He has truly changed my life in the best way possible.”
McLaughlin also shares how helpful his STAA membership has been. Not only did he learn of the job opening from an STAA Job Leads email, but he believes his STAA membership made him a much more marketable candidate with a stronger resume. He says STAA furnished “tips on how to write better cover letters, how best to present demo tapes to employers, and insights as to which types of jobs I am most qualified for. Without it I do not think I would have gotten this position.”