Kercheval joins Quad Cities River Bandits after punch from pandemic

Kyle KerchevalKyle Kercheval was furloughed from his Minor League Baseball broadcasting job last July. Seven months later he learned his team was losing its Major League Baseball affiliation. Today, though, Kercheval is back in affiliated ball. He’s the new Broadcaster and Manager of Media Relations and Season Tickets for the Quad Cities River Bandits.

QC is Kansas City Royals High-A affiliate.

“The opportunity to join an affiliated club within an organization like Kansas City was one that I couldn’t pass up. It’s an adventure that I’m tremendously excited to start, Kercheval smiles.

Building relationships

Kercheval broke into Minor League Baseball in early 2019 when General Manager Joe Kubly hired him to be the voice of the Grand Junction Rockies.

“After the 2019 season, Joe returned to Quad Cities, where he had been in 2014, to take over as the new GM. I was then hired-on full-time in GJ for the 2020 season,” Kercheval states.

The 2020 season didn’t happen but Kercheval and Kubly stayed in touch. “At the end of February, he asked if I was interested in the position with the River Bandits,” Kercheval recalls.

Kercheval is honored that Kubly likes him enough to have hired him twice. “It just goes to show that you never know where relationships can lead. And the impression you leave on those around you is as—if not more—important than the work you produce.”

Climbing the ladder

A 2018 graduate of Arizona State University, Kercheval started his baseball broadcast career as a reporter for Bourne of the Cape Cod League in 2016. He spent the next summer as the team’s play-by-play voice. In 2018, Kercheval joined STAA.

“I really love everything about STAA,” he grins. “The team and everyone who is a member has fostered such a unique community of professionals who truly care about seeing one another succeed. From job postings, to critiques, to the guest speakers, to career advice, there are so many resources in place to help you succeed.

“I can say unequivocally that I would not be in this position today if not for STAA. I’m so much better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await me in my career.”

Challenging times

While Kercheval is excited to move to Quad Cities, he’ll miss Grand Junction. “I absolutely love everything about the team in GJ— the city, the fans, the guys in the front office, everything. I owe that organization so much for taking a chance on a kid fresh out of college and for allowing me the chance to start a career doing what I love.”

The past year has been the most challenging of Kercheval’s life. “Emotionally going from the highs of finally getting my foot in the door and starting a new full-time job within the organization of the team I grew up a die-hard fan of, to not knowing if I’d be calling baseball in 2021 — all while the framework of the industry I was working in was being significantly altered — was quite unsettling.”

Watching talented broadcasters lose their jobs at the highest levels of baseball and sports contributed to Kercheval’s anxiety. “I was the new kid over in rookie ball who was going to somehow have to figure out how to survive,” he recalls.

Fortunately, Kercheval has a strong group of family and friends who supported him through the disappointment and uncertainty. “While we’re still not totally out of those pandemic-plagued woods yet, the parts I’ve overcome I attribute to the unyielding support of my friends and family. I’m so incredibly lucky to have an extraordinary circle filled with wonderful people and that I am able to lean on them and recall what really is most important.”

Dusty Baker returning to SoCal, joining KSBY

When Dusty Baker introduced himself to the STAA community upon joining, he wrote, “No, I’m not the manager of the Astros. However, I was named after that same man that has inspired me to go into this field.”

Baker the broadcaster’s dad lived in Los Angeles. He was such a fan of the Dodgers outfielder that he named his son after him. And just like the baseball lifer who is now the manager of the Houston Astros, Baker the broadcaster has roots in Los Angeles and Texas. In fact, the broadcasting Baker is returning to SoCal to join KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo as a Sports Anchor/MMJ.

He moves from KTAB in Abilene, TX.

So Cal roots

“I grew up in Southern California, so San Luis Obispo will be a nice return to home for me,” Baker says. “On top of that, from a professional standpoint, the jump will be nearly 50 markets while also having the opportunity to cover more teams in the regional area from Los Angeles and San Francisco. There is also the opportunity for growth by seeing how another station functions. Another set of eyes on my work is crucial for me to succeed.”

Though Baker is from Southern California, returning there was not a priority. “As a matter of fact my family intends on moving in the near future,” he says. “I have worked in Abilene, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Haven, and Chicago and I will continue to be open to opportunities across the country. However, when the opportunity presented itself, it was an obvious choice to return to my roots and for that I’m incredibly excited.”

Professional growth

Baker is a 2017 graduate of TCU. He joined STAA in late 2020 at the suggestion of Baker University (KS) play-by-play broadcaster Derek Johnson. “I felt like I was missing something. There’s something special about a group of people striving to improve and I just felt like people were improving through STAA while I was sitting alone at a dinner table far away. There’s something special about uniting sports anchors and reporters. I loved the idea and I think a lot of people including myself can grow from it,” Baker says.

When it came time to apply for the KSBY position, Baker set himself apart though the same degree of professionalism long exhibited by his baseball namesake.

“I was quick and detailed with my responses to the News Director. I made it very obvious that this was a job I wanted and I established an immediate relationship with her as well as their corporate recruiter.

“Above all, I made it very clear I have a love and a passion for what I do.”

Sounds just like the Astros manager.

Itinerant Zanaboni calling Junior Blues hockey in hometown

Joey ZanaboniJoey Zanaboni’s life philosophy could be, “Have mike, will travel.” His sportscasting career has taken him many places, including Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee. Now, it has taken him home. The St. Louis native is in his first season broadcasting St. Louis Junior Blues hockey.

“The Gateway City is the Mecca of American sports broadcasting,” Zanaboni grins.

“I found the Jr. Blues job through STAA,” Zanaboni recalls. “Growing up in St. Louis, I had been to multiple Jr. Blues games and had friends who played for the organization. It’s first-class all the way.”

The Junior Blues is Zanaboni’s first opportunity to broadcast hockey professionally. “I have called hockey games on and off through the years the old-fashioned way: buying a ticket, showing up in the stands and recording myself doing the game. When the Blues job came up, I was able to carve together a demo tape from these experiences.

Also key to Zanaboni getting the job was his media relations experience. “Five years in NJCAA and NCAA sports information offices have given me a strong background in Photoshop, Premiere, social media management and press release writing. A good portion of the role revolves around these areas, so my experience has certainly come in handy,” he smiles.

The stickers on Zanaboni’s suitcase are numerous. His career includes baseball stints in Wichita, River City, Rockford and Grand Prairie (TX), community college sports in Clarksdale, MS, and NCAA sports in Pensacola.

One constant in Zanaboni’s journeys is STAA. He’s been a member since 2014. “STAA is a tremendous resource. I love finding new opportunities and new adventures. STAA is really the fountain that these spring from,” he says gratefully. “Jon [Chelesnik] is a great guy, and I appreciate the advice he has given to help me sculpt my career. There’s no more valuable resource for young broadcasters. I will definitely stay with STAA for a long time to come.”

Zanaboni references the classic novel On the Road when explaining his sportscasting career.
“I see my sports announcing journey as being a bit of a Jack Kerouac novel. I’m Dean Moriarty – or at least Sal Paradise. I’ve relished the opportunity to become part of communities across the country, from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Pensacola, Florida to Johnson City, Tennessee.

“I don’t consider myself a traditional sports broadcaster. I see myself more as an itinerant poet, learning about other communities and cultures and letting my love for them electrify my broadcasts.

“My travels have taught me many things – now I have the chance to bring them to my hometown. It’s a pleasure.”

Dockery stays near home to launch career at KRDZ

Conor DockeryColorado native Connor Dockery is the new Sports Director of KRDZ in Wray, Colorado, just a few hours from his hometown of Castle Rock. Dockery is pleased with the opportunity to go somewhere new, but he adds that “being close to home is a plus.”

Dockery is fresh out of Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he graduated cum laude in December. He shares, “KRDZ is a great opportunity for me because it’s my first real on-air job since graduating college. It presents me with the opportunity to improve my play-by-play on radio for a passionate listener base, as well as get experience being a morning host on radio.”

Valuable experience

Dockery’s time at his alma mater provided him with a host of opportunities to hone his play-by-play. He even hosted a twice-weekly sports radio show and interned at Mile High Sports.

Of course, all experience comes with the opportunity for challenges. One of Dockery’s challenges has been self-doubt. It’s easy from time to time after a bad call to think I’m not good enough to make it in this business. I’ve overcome that by reassuring myself that everybody in this business starts the same way as me, even those guys on ESPN. Learning from mistakes has helped a lot.”

And push through he did. Dockery put in many hours, he says, “just grinding and calling as many games as I possibly could.” He also spent a lot of time making his highlight reels, building his website, and refining his work.

It all paid off.

Additional help

Dockery joined STAA in January. “STAA not only helped me get this position, but also allowed me to see it and other jobs like it in the first place. Without STAA, I would have been completely unaware of this opportunity!”

He found STAA through Twitter and eventually signed up. He says, “Best broadcasting decision I could’ve made.”

Dockery is one of many STAA members hired by Media Logic Radio and Owner/GM Wayne Johnson over the years.

Weiderhaft finds summer home with Western Nebraska Pioneers baseball

“Sam WiederhaftWhen Western Nebraska Pioneers baseball club owner Chuck Heeman emailed to notify STAA he’d hired member Sam Weiderhaft to be his team’s new broadcaster, he joked, “Mainly because Weiderhaft is fun to say. Plus he’s good.”

Heeman followed the comment with a winking eye emoji.

Weiderhaft is, indeed, good. He’s called a lot of baseball, too. “I believe what made me stand out to Chuck was my prior experience,” Weiderhaft hypothesizes. “Spending the summer of 2019 in the Cape Cod Baseball League was an opportunity of a lifetime and really improved my broadcasting skills. I was able to get a reel out of it that I was proud of, and broadcasted some incredible players. Broadcasting the top league in the country made me very familiar with summer collegiate baseball, and I think that experience will easily carry over to the Pioneers.”

The Pioneers are based in Gering, NE and play in the summer collegiate Expedition League.

“I had been anxiously waiting for baseball job leads to come out through STAA, as my contacts in baseball really didn’t have much information on what was going on professionally,” Weiderhaft recalls. “When I saw an opportunity to return to collegiate summer league baseball, I jumped on it.”

Weiderhaft will also help the Pioneers with media relations, a skill set he has honed over the past six months as an assistant sports information director and women’s basketball broadcaster at Coastal Carolina University. He’s also interned in sports information at an Indiana high school.

Uncertain job market

The Pioneers opportunity is a welcome one by Weiderhaft, especially amid the ongoing uncertainly of minor league baseball.

“Last year, I had started reaching out to minor league teams in October and had my eyes set on short-season rookie league coming out of college. I attended the MLB Winter Meetings Job Fair and looked like I had lined something up for the following summer. Obviously, it didn’t come about and I was crushed that I would not be calling baseball in the summer of 2020,” Weiderhaft says.

“I’ve been thinking about this upcoming summer and wondering how things would work out with minor league and independent baseball, and realized how much uncertainty is in the air regarding travel, crowd sizes, and team budgets. With little info coming out recently, I really wanted to secure a baseball job that would give me much needed experience despite the level, because I haven’t been able to call baseball since the summer of 2019. Seeing that the Expedition League played games in 2020, it was clear to me that this league and team would be trusted to carry out a relatively normal season.”

Joined STAA last March during his senior year at Butler University. “I found out about the STAA in my freshman year of college through the Jim Nantz award, and was recommended by fellow Butler alum Brendan King to checkout the site and use the different features, including the job leads.”

Now, one of those STAA job leads ensures that Weiderhaft will be spending his summer at the ballpark. And that Chuck Heeman will have countless opportunities to experience the fun of saying Weiderhaft’s name.

Ex-car salesman Glennon new play-by-play voice at Queens U.

Five years ago, Mike Glennon was selling cars in Syracuse, NY. Now he’s the new Assistant Director of Sports Information at Queens University (NCAA DII) in Charlotte, NC.

He succeeds fellow STAA member Phil Constantino, who left Queens in December for the Director of Broadcasting job at Gardner-Webb University, also in Charlotte.

At the age of 29, Glennon left auto sales to pursue sports broadcasting. He shares, “I was at a time in my life where I felt I was in a rut and desperately needed a change.”

He started by pursuing – and quickly attaining – his BA in Communications from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. During his college years, he also landed an ESPN Radio Syracuse internship that led to producing with them.

In addition, Glennon gained a lot of play-by-play experience with the Le Moyne College Athletic Department. He also taught himself how to use Microsoft and Adobe Suite programs, and it turns out those multimedia skills will be a large part of his new position at Queens University.
Glennon’s most recent position was at 1440 KRDZ in Wray, CO. That is where he won a Colorado Broadcasters’ Association Award of Excellence for Best Morning Show in Medium Market Radio for his show On the Mike in the Mornings.

Along the way, Glennon discovered STAA and became a member in 2018. He says, “I found STAA by just researching how to get into this business and saw nothing but positives by signing up. From the resources to the job leads, you cannot ask for a better service to help you break into this business and further your career!”

It was because of an STAA Job Leads email that Glennon learned about the opening for the Queens University position, where he already had a connection with the head men’s basketball coach. “At the 2018 D-2 Elite 8…I interviewed he and his players after their Elite 8 Win and Final 4 Loss. I used that in my interview with the coaches and he remembered me and the questions I asked!”

Glennon believes several other things helped him in his pursuit of this position. For one, he followed up often as a way of keeping his name on their minds. He also researched the university, their philosophy, the coaches, and the athletic staff. He shares, “Getting to know them before the interviews allowed me to key in on several things from the backgrounds of each in order to make a deeper connection right out of the gate!”

Looking back on that life-changing decision he made years ago, Glennon admits to feeling anxious. “I will be honest, being anxious is an understatement. But I have always had an incredible support system around me and I . . . knew that it was time to focus on me and bettering myself. . . It was very scary to uproot everything but I would do it all over again 1,000 times.”

He continues, “The moral is you NEVER have to feel stuck as long as you set yourself goals and commit to bettering your life which in turn will better your relationships with those you hold dearest to you!”

Jake Sidle joining KSJB/KSJZ in North Dakota

Country was often the music of choice prior to meetings of the Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization, a student organization at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Jake Sidle says he has more appreciation for the music genre now that he’s joining country music stations KSJB/KSJZ in Jamestown, North Dakota.

It’s Sidle first full-time job since graduating from BGSU last year.

“I will serve as on-air talent and provide play-by-play for local high school athletics,” he says excitedly.

Since graduating from college, Sidle has been doing freelance play-by-play and working outside broadcasting while looking for his first full-time opportunity. He had a baseball broadcasting job lined up this summer in an Ohio collegiate summer league.

Sidle is a native of Wooster, OH. He grew up a fan of the Cleveland Indians and their longtime broadcaster, Tom Hamilton.

Sidle joined STAA on January 7th. The Jamestown job lead was sent to STAA members just over two weeks later. Now Sidle is on his way to the Dakota plains.

McClure fulfills childhood dream joining B103 FM

Matt McClure used to record mock pregame shows into a cell phone with his dad and brother on their way to sporting events. “That’s when I knew I wanted to make a career out of this field,” he grins.

Now McClure is going to be broadcasting for real. An STAA member, McClure is joining B103 in Sisseton, SD. He learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email. “I will have plenty of on-air opportunities as I will be hosting a radio morning show from 6am-11am and will be doing play by play for high school sports around the area, McClure says.

“Ever since I was kid I wanted to be on the radio,” he smiles.

Setting the foundation

McClure started formally preparing for a broadcasting career upon enrolling at Penn State University. He hosted countless podcasts and radio shows on PSU’s CommRadio before graduating last spring.

McClure spent the summers of 2019 and 2020 calling baseball in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. The experience boosted his confidence. ” Being able to do close to 100 baseball games helped me become more comfortable,” he says.

An enthusiastic approach and willingness to learn helped him land the job. “I expressed my passion and desire for this position and kept at it until finding out the end result,” McClure recalls.

Additional assistance

McClure joined STAA last October upon the recommendation of his guidance counselor at Penn State. “Ultimately, I joined STAA because of the community and the passion for broadcasting from its members,” he says. “Every STAA member is hungry to get better and that’s what I love the most about it. Members can relate to one another because they are pursuing the same kinds of things as other members are and the constant support has been fantastic.”

Now when McClure’s dad and brother want to hear Matt broadcast, they can tune him in on the radio.

“I will learn a lot about the ins and outs on radio here at B103 and I can’t wait to get started!”

Baumgardt perseveres to land WJJQ job

“Hunter BaumgardtA global pandemic couldn’t stop Hunter Baumgardt from pursuing his career goals. After months of job searching, he’s joining WJJQ radio in Tomahawk, WI, as a play-by-play announcer and show host.

Baumgardt graduated in December of 2019 from The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. That is when he joined STAA upon the suggestion of his former employer, Dave Carney, who is the morning show host at WKTY. Baumgardt shares, “I graduated a semester early to get a head start on my career. Unfortunately after two months, the sports media industry took one of the hardest hits it ever has taken when the pandemic hit.”

Staying relevant

Even amidst the challenges of the pandemic, he kept applying to jobs. But he didn’t stop there. Baumgardt built on his previous broadcasting experience by focusing on the sports podcast he’d started the week before the pandemic shut things down.

He sought out people who would be relevant to listeners and viewers in Wisconsin. He explains, “I ended up interviewing Sam Dekker and Olivia Harlan Dekker (together), Brian Anderson, Lisa Salters, Jeff Levering (Brewers Radio), and Jim Paschke (Bucks TV) among others. I learned so much, provided content to my followers, and got my name out there in some bigger circles.”

But after 45 episodes, the Hunter Baumgardt Sports Podcast is on pause as the host gladly focuses on his new responsibilities at WJJQ.

Eager to grow

Among other things, he’ll host his own sports show and provide the play-by-play for all Tomahawk Hatchet High School sports. He says, “Being able to call over five different sports for WJJQ will give me a wealth of experience and allow me to grow my play-by-play skills, even beyond the major sports of football, basketball, and baseball. Plus, being able to create my own sports show will allow me to continue to improve as a show host, and use my knowledge of Wisconsin sports on a regular basis.”

While he did apply for jobs all over the country, Baumgardt is thrilled to get to stay in Wisconsin. “Staying in the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin, was important to me because I have a great passion for Wisconsin and Midwest sports. My sports knowledge runs deep when it comes to Wisconsin sports, and being able to use that knowledge and overall fandom for the teams I talk about on a daily basis, is something I desired.”

The WJJQ job came to Baumgardt’s attention through a connection at a Milwaukee radio station. He says, “I can’t stress enough how important networking is in the sports radio industry.”

Longo second STAA member to join Charlotte Hornets Radio Network

Charlotte Hornets broadcasts will have a distinct STAA feel this season. STAA member Rob Longo is joining the Hornets Radio Network as host/producer. His hiring comes less than a month after fellow STAA member Sam Farber was named Voice of the Hornets.

Ironically, Longo first applied for the play-by-play job that went to Farber. When the studio host/producer position opened a short time later, Longo expressed interest in that as well. “As I read the job description and requirements, I realized that A) this would be a great opportunity and B) I was more than qualified for the position based on my experience.”

Well prepared

Longo has spent the past two years with Learfield IMG College hosting the Ohio University, University of Michigan, and St. John’s University radio networks.

“I truly believe that the experience I got at Learfield IMG College was the primary reason that I got this job. The job duties seem very similar to what I currently do at Learfield IMG College and I’m hoping for a smooth transition because of that,” Longo says.

The interview process

“I remember walking into work at Learfield IMG College one night and checking my phone and seeing I had an email from talent acquisition from the Hornets requesting a phone interview.,” Longo recalls. “I’ve been told no more times than I can count, so it was exciting to see I was at least given a chance to speak with someone.”

Longo participated in three interviews with various Hornets staff members. The final one was a video meeting with a three-person panel that included Farber. Longo left the meeting feeling confident. “It felt more like a conversation, rather than having three people interrogating me,” he remembers. “Of course they asked questions, but it ultimately turned into a relaxed back-and-forth. Cornell (Producer Cornell Jones) asked me if I had any ideas, and I fired off several of them and we kind of went from there. The questions were somewhat generic, asking me how I viewed the position, what I would like to change or how I would work with others/what kind of worker I am. They also asked me where I saw myself in five years, which is always an interview staple.”

Versatility and risk

The Hornets host/producer position is multi-faceted. Longo’s resume fit the bill. “From interning at my local newspaper after my sophomore year of undergrad to working in college athletics behind the scenes, and now to my current position as a studio host/producer at Learfield IMG College, I feel like dabbling in a little bit of everything made me a more desirable hire, especially since this is a new position with the team.”

Moving from Pittsburgh to Winston-Salem, NC for part-time work with Learfield IMG College in 2019 was a risk for Longo. “I was able to fall back on my master’s degree in education to work as a teacher assistant at a high school during the day to pick up health insurance and pay the bills while picking up extra income and gaining valuable experience at the home of college sports on the radio,” says Longo.

Joining STAA

Longo graduated from Waynesburg University in 2015 then earned his Masters at St. Francis in Pennsylvania. He joined STAA in 2018.

“Getting the inside track on job alerts was the primary reason I joined STAA,” Longo recalls. “I feel like getting the leg up on the application process is huge. It’s also beneficial to have my name in the talent database for any opportunities as well.

“And finally, it was a no brainer to reach out to Jon [Chelesnik] when I knew I was going to interview with Sam, a fellow STAA member. Although Sam and I are from opposite ends of the country, Jon was able to bring us under one umbrella with STAA.”