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.”