Kansas native Strathman stays in state at ESPN Wichita

Pat Strathman has lived his entire life in Kansas. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked at radio stations in Atchison, Topeka and Salina. Therefore, it makes sense that his next move is again within the Sunflower state. Strathman has joined the new ESPN Wichita 92.3 FM as Sports Director/Assistant Program Director.

“I’ve been in Kansas for all 31-plus years of my life. There is something about that sunset that keeps me here,” Strathman chuckles. “In all seriousness, the Midwest mentality is truly remarkable. People here are hard workers and they deeply care for each other. Those are the people I want to be around.”

Uncovering opportunity

One of those people Strathman wants to be around is his new boss, Chad Boeger. Boeger is a radio veteran and president of Union Broadcasting, co-owner of the new station.

“Way back in June, a radio friend of mine contacted me and told me of 92.3 switching formats from country to all sports,” Strathman recalls. “After doing a bit of research, I decided to poke around. That led me to the doorstep of well-respected Chad Boeger. Following a few conversations, he asked if I wanted to join the team.”

On the move

An STAA member since 2013, Strathman spent the past five years as sports director at KSAL in Salina. His duties included a daily sports talk show and play-by-play for Kansas Wesleyan University. As much as he enjoyed his time there, moving to Wichita was a no-brainer for Strathman.

“For starters, Wichita is a bigger market that is crazy about sports,” he says. “I challenge anyone to find a fan base that supports its team like Wichita State men’s basketball fans. The Wichita Wind Surge made their debut this summer and the town backed them immediately. Wichita hosted the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and that resulted in the town being selected for 2021 (changed because of COVID-19) and 2025. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this town.

“That’s why ESPN Wichita was created — to serve the sports fans in the community of Wichita with nine hours of local sports talk to go with play-by-play of various events.”

Play-by-play hopes

Strathman has always loved play-by-play. Even though it isn’t part of his new position, he’s not giving it up. “Freelancing is very much a norm in today’s sportscasting industry. If an opportunity pops up and my schedule allows it, I’ll gladly put on the headset,” he says.

If he doesn’t do play-by-play, Strathman will spend time with his fiancée Cara. “A free day with the future wife doesn’t sound too bad either,” he smiles.

However he spends his time, Strathman is grateful for his new home in his home state.

“Working for a new locally-owned radio station is thrilling and it’s all sports with the big four letters E-S-P-N. What’s not to like about that?”

Thomas is second STAA member to jump from juniors to AHL this year

The likelihood of a sportscaster jumping from junior hockey to the AHL is similar to that of a goalie scoring a goal. Yet two broadcasters have done it this off-season; both of them are STAA members.

TJ Chillot moved from the Tier II Austin Bruins to the Charlotte Checkers in July.  Now Alex Thomas is moving from the Tier III Northern Cyclones to the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Thomas follows veteran Bob Crawford, who turned down an offer to return to Hartford for a 25th season.

A tip from a friend

“I heard about the potential of the job in the late spring/early summer from a friend who is employed by the team,” Thomas recalls. “They had told me that they passed my stuff along because the team may actually be looking for a broadcaster moving forward.”

Thomas was relaxing at home when the Wolf Pack called. “I was both a little surprised and really excited to receive the phone call. I knew there was a possibility that the team would be looking, but honestly I didn’t think much of it. I had just come out of two interview processes where I fell short, and had only heard the rumblings about the potential of this job.

“To be quite honest with you, I was a little down on myself at that point in time, but that call gave me that extra jolt of confidence I needed.”

Thomas is a 2016 graduate of Springfield College. He joined STAA one year later. “The [STAA] tools really helped me prepare for interviews, edit the reel I wanted, and to mold my resume in a way I felt presented me as a strong candidate.”

Thomas’ hockey experience includes broadcasting for Northeastern University, Tufts University, UMass Lowell and Holy Cross. He served as the main voice for Northeastern’s three-time Hockey East Champion Northeastern Women’s Hockey team.

Well-prepared

Thomas spent last season with the USPHL’s Northern (MA) Cyclones. He appreciates that jumping from Tier III juniors to the AHL might be unprecedented, but adds that the Cyclones prepared him well for the opportunity.

“I can’t thank Bill and Joe Flanagan, the team’s owners, enough,” Thomas enthuses. “If any organization was going to give me the tools to succeed and make the jump, it was them. They run the Cyclones like a professional organization and the expectations there are high. They invest the money to produce, in my mind, the best stream that the USPHL has to offer. The resources available to ensure that I had everything I needed to call a game was super important to me, and I believed helped me become a better broadcaster.

Things Thomas did off-air for the Cyclones helped prepare him as well. “The experience I gained running their social media platforms, running their website in terms of producing consistent content, hosting their ‘Coach’s Corner’ podcast and getting involved on the sponsorship side made me a more well-rounded broadcaster who could wear multiple hats. I feel like I’ve worked for a professional organization.”

Big shoes to fill

Following a local legend like Bob Crawford won’t be easy. Thomas speaks reverently about Crawford. At the same time, Thomas is confident Wolf Pack fans will like him, too.

“Hartford has been absolutely blessed with some terrific voices over the years, going back to the days of the NHL and the Whalers,” Thomas states. “I’m stepping in for a legend and one of the most well-known and well respected broadcasters the AHL has ever seen. To step into those shoes is for sure a challenge, but it is one that I embrace and I believe I am ready for.

“I’m sure I have some real work to do to win over this great fan base, but I plan on coming in and being myself, putting my own stamp on the call.”

Mystery tip leads Kennedy to CBS4 St. Louis

Former Yankees great Joe DiMaggio was asked why he played so hard every inning. He replied, “Because someone might be watching me for the first time.”

Sports Anchor/Reporter Bryan Kennedy doesn’t know how his new employers at CBS4 KMOV in St. Louis found him. However, because he always did his best in his previous role as Sports Director at ABC 36 in Lexington, KY, somebody noticed. Who it was remains a mystery.

“For now, I have no idea,” Kennedy chuckles. “As many of us job searching knows, when you’re looking you’re sending out your reel and resume to every opening you have interest in. I was doing that and hadn’t heard a peep from anyone.”

Kennedy does offer a hypothesis about what could have happened. “A friend was starting at a station and I had her pass on my reel to the sports director who was looking to hire someone. Turns out I didn’t fit what they needed. There’s a possibility he passed on my reel. At the end of the day, I don’t know, but I hope to find out soon.”

The move to St. Louis checks a box on Kennedy’s list of career goals. “I always wanted to do two things: move home to Lexington, KY to cover sports, and move on to a high market.”

Sense of urgency

The KMOV job culminates a job search that featured extra pressure for Kennedy. The end of his contract was coming up in Lexington. “I knew that I had a job and an opportunity to re-sign, but that’s no what I really wanted to do,” he muses. “I had aspirations of moving up and I didn’t want to get complacent with my current job. With my end date coming up I was getting more and more anxious. This happened at the perfect time.”

Revised job market strategy

Two strategies guided Kennedy in the sportscasting job market: perseverance and persistence. “Being persistent and trying to use any possible person or avenue to help,” he explains.

Another change Kennedy made was regarding cover letters. When asked for an example of something he changed in his letters, Kennedy laughed, “Changed? How about I wrote one to begin with! I previously hadn’t written one, but after reading the message boards and advice in the STAA Member Community, I decided to write one.”

Kennedy says having his demo and resume together on his STAA talent page was another valuable job market resource. “It’s a one-stop shop,” he smiles. “When applying for jobs I wanted to apply as quickly as possible. With that talent page, I was able to go through the normal application then paste the link to my talent page. Made it much easier.”

Kennedy may never know how the folks at KMOV found him. But he’s sure glad they did.

“The St. Louis market is where I’ve always wanted to be. It’s truly hard to believe that I’ll be working there.”

Change in job application approach pays off for Reed

Kade Reed was tired of not hearing back on his job applications so he changed his approach. Doing things differently paid off. Reed is joining Mountaineer Radio at Eastern Oklahoma State College as an on-air host and play-by-play broadcaster.

“There are tons of play-by-play and color commentary opportunities, as well as so many chances to learn and improve in all facets of radio,” Reed enthuses about his new job. “The ability to call college basketball games as well as other collegiate sports is a dream come true for me.”

Hitting the sportscasting job market

Reed is a 2021 graduate of Northern Arizona University. He joined STAA in May and applied for the EOSC job in August.

“I found the position the same way I found a lot of the positions that I applied for — through STAA Job leads,” Reed grins. I applied as soon as I received the email and saw a role that I thought would be a great fit. About a week later I was contacted over the phone to schedule an interview.”

Reed follows fellow STAA member Spencer McLaughlin at ESOC. McLaughlin left last month to join the play-by-play team at Southern Utah University. The position Reed inherits includes a daily on-air shift. “It is mostly music focused but can include some sports,” he explains. “I’ve never had an on-air music shift, but I am happy to learn more and always like a challenge!”

Not hearing back

The first three months of Reed’s post-graduate job hunt were challenging. “I started my job search in May and I went all out applying for jobs,” he remembers. “I became very frustrated as I wasn’t getting the type of responses I was hoping for. My applications were going without feedback and the few replies I did get rarely ended in an interview. I took this frustration and I used it as fuel to do whatever I could do to make sure that I was putting my best foot forward in an attempt to get some sort of response.

“I had a conversation with [STAA Owner] Jon Chelesnik a few weeks before applying for the ESOC position. During that conversation I realized I wasn’t showcasing myself in the best way I could be. Because of this, I completely reworked my cover letter to not only showcase myself better, but to tell the employer why I wanted to work with them. I made it a goal to try and stand out and do a ton of research whilst writing my cover letter to make sure that I could get an interview for a job that I really wanted.”

Preparing for the interview

Reed also made sure to take a clear mind into the interview. “Making a personal connection with the interviewers was something that I prioritized. And making sure I was relaxed so I could speak to them in a conversational way was very important to me.”

The connection Reed felt with the folks at ESOC was mutual.

“I have been passionate about sports media since I was a kid, so starting my career with such good people and having the opportunity to jump right in on-air is exactly what I have been hoping for,” he grins.

Hoops grateful to help school that has helped him

Life changed dramatically for Tanner Hoops 22 years ago. That is when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a disorder that affects connective tissue. Hoops began treatment at the University of Minnesota. Doctor’s there help Hoops control the disorder and allow him to continue pursuing his sports broadcasting dream.

Now Hoops is continuing that dream for the university that has given him so much. He is the new volleyball play-by-play voice and football halftime show host for Minnesota’s Gopher Sports Properties.

Extra special

“Any opportunity to broadcast Division I athletics is something special but being able to do it here in Minneapolis means more to me,” Hoops says. “I’ve been treated at the University of Minnesota ever since I was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome in 1999. My doctors here have been with me for everything, from major surgeries to the little things that enhance everyday life.

“This university has quite literally been part of my life as long as I can remember and continues to care for me. Being a representative of the school that has given me quality of life and charge of my health is something I will never take lightly.”

Valuable relationships

Hoops’ new job with Gopher athletics came through relationships that started when he was a student at Buena Vista University in Iowa. “I had the opportunity to job-shadow the Gopher broadcast team when I was in college,” Hoops recalls. “We kept in touch and when this position opened up, they reached out to me and asked if this was something I’d be interested in.”

One thing the broadcast team at UM has come to appreciate about Hoops is his determination. “The biggest thing for me is drive,” he states. “I’m passionate about what I do — I continually look for ways to improve and I’m always trying to learn from others.”

Variety of experiences

Hoops has gained a variety of experience since graduating from Buena Vista in 2018. He’s broadcast baseball in the Northwoods League, spent two years at ESPN Radio in Marquette, MI and was on the broadcast team for Sioux City Musketeers hockey this past season. Along the way, he has met many athletes who, like himself, have interesting stories to share. That prompted him to start his own company this summer.

“Home Team Communications is a startup business focusing on providing ‘big time coverage for Small Town, USA,'” he smiles. “Everywhere you look you can find great athletes and great stories. My goal is to elevate the coverage of those who get overlooked. Whether it’s producing a podcast or conducting a social media campaign, it’s my goal to tell the story of a small town athlete with big league dreams.”

Hoops is authoring his own story about the pursuit of big league dreams. And his story continues at a place where so many life-enhancing experiences have already taken place.

Ex-Fordham softball star Trivelpiece now a Patriot League MMJ

Ken Cara visited Hazelton High School (PA) softball practice in 2015 with his fingers crossed. He was hoping one of the players would be willing to interview her teammates for Cara’s Internet sports show.

“I said, ‘Does anyone want to host a segment?'” Cara recalls. One player quickly stepped forward and stated, “I got this.”

Maria Trivelpiece hasn’t stopped talking sports since. Her newest opportunity is covering NCAA athletics as a Sports Multi-Media Journalist for the Patriot League.

“I will be hosting interviews and preview shows in the Patriot League studio,” she says. “I will also be working on long-form feature stories on student-athletes across the Patriot League and covering championships.”

Sports background

Trivelpiece’s own athletic career will serve her well. She was a team captain and all-conference softball player at Fordham University.

“[It] has been a career goal of mine to work my way back into the realm. Having the opportunity to tell long form feature stories and still do on-camera work is so exciting,” she enthuses.

The seed for Trivelpiece’s new opportunity was planted last year, before she was hired as a sports and news anchor/reporter at WAGM TV in Presque Isle, Maine in December.

“I established a connection at the Patriot League over a year ago,” she recounts. “I just made sure to keep in touch with them throughout my time in Maine. When the job opened up, they told me about it, and I applied. And after many interviews, I got it!!”

Relationship building

Trivelpiece credits relationship building and repetitions with helping her land the job. “I literally would not be here without connecting with people and staying in touch with them,” she states. “I also took a chance by taking a position in a smaller market where I could be on camera every single day. It forced me to get better and made me a little bit more qualified. I still have a lot of room to grow, but this improvement was so helpful.”

Creating genuine connections is Trivelpiece’s secret sauce for relationship building. “When you speak with people, actually get to know them as human beings. Be authentic. You want them to care about you as a human being and you should do the same.”

Organization is another key to Trivelpiece’s approach. “Keep a list of dates and emails you send. I have an Excel sheet that reminds me when to reach out to people — even family members because we never realize how fast time passes. I usually reach out via email.”

Varied experience

Trivelpiece’s path from Hazelton High to the Patriot League included many stops. She graduated from Fordham in 2019 with a B.A. in Journalism and Psychology. She then attended Syracuse for a year, where she earned a B.S. in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. After that, her work included freelance opportunities as a sideline reporter and color analyst for the Big East Digital Network/Fox Sports.

Now the former college softball standout is covering NCAA athletics. It’s a career path that Ken Cara could have predicted for Trivelpiece on the high school softball field six years ago.

Relationship building helps Fitzgerald to new post at St. Mary’s

Play-by-play broadcaster Tim Fitzgerald always takes time to say hello to the broadcasters and sports information directors from opposing schools. That relationship building is paying off. Fitzgerald is the new Sports Information Director and broadcaster at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA.

The Gaels are members of the Western Athletic Conference. Fitzgerald will be the SID for both genders of soccer and tennis, along with women’s basketball, golf, and baseball. He adds excitedly, “There will be broadcast opportunities for all sports as well.”

Fitzgerald joins St. Mary’s after seven years at nearby Cal State University Maritime. He was the voice of Keelhaulers men’s & women’s basketball and men’s soccer.

Relationship building

One of the sports information directors Fitzgerald befriended is fellow STAA member Brian Brownfield. The pair were together in the CalPac conference when Brownfield was at Menlo College. They continued their friendship after Brownfield moved to St. Mary’s. Fitzgerald was paying attention when Brownfield was promoted this summer.

“I reached out to him after he announced his promotion to see if an opportunity was available. He said there was and I applied,” Fitzgerald recalls.

Relationship building is something that did not always come easily to Fitzgerald. “I used to be the artist who did his performing but didn’t network,” he remembers. “I found the way for that to feel natural is by just being me and getting over that first-interaction fear. I didn’t feel bound to some networking formula or moves from a book. And by still being me in my networking I have good relationships with my fellow SIDs.

“Brian and I have always been eager to give help each other out with no expectations of anything in return.”

Longtime STAA member

Fitzgerald has been an STAA member since 2012. “STAA has taught me how to prepare and hunt for a job in this very unique industry. I’ve learned what hiring managers are looking for in a demo, resume, and cover letter, and ways to constantly get better at my work.”

Now Fitzgerald is taking what he’s learned across Northern California’s Suisun Bay. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity to move up to a DI mid major, right here in the Bay Area, cover baseball again, be on the West Coast Conference Network, and work with someone I already have a rapport with,” he enthuses.

Zwirb taking Emrick, Walton influence to Team Maryland

Matthew Zwirb grew up admiring hockey broadcasters Doc Emrick and Washington Capitols voice John Walton. He loved how they called big moments. Zwirb will now also be calling big moments. He is launching his own hockey play-by-play career with Team Maryland of the Eastern Hockey League.

“I connect with the voices that I grew up listening to,” Zwirb says. “I watched Doc calling games on TV and listened to John Walton on the radio. Hearing the big moments’ drove a deep desire within me to have moments like those.”

Home ice

STAA members were emailed several EHL opportunities. Zwirb applied with Team Maryland because it is closest to his home near Washington D.C. He explains, “Team Maryland is within driving distance and a team that fits my needs to continue to develop as a broadcaster without having to worry about tons of other responsibilities within the organization.”

College experience

A 2021 graduate of Liberty University, Zwirb broadcast Flames hockey all four of his years on the Lynchburg, VA campus. He also hosts a podcast about the team.

“I learned the ropes of preparation and play-by-play so I feel that I can step into this position with confidence,” Zwirb smiles.

In addition to Emrick and Walton’s influence, playing hockey while growing up also fuels Zwirb’s love for broadcasting the sport. “I have a greater appreciation for the game because I have been on both sides of hockey, playing and broadcasting.”

That experience on the ice and on the mike has prepared Zwirb well to broadcast the sport’s big moments.

Benzegala returns to the States at KHBT in Iowa

Alex BenzegalaAfter a year in Mexico, Alex Benzegala is back broadcasting in a familiar part of the United States. He is the new Sports Director at KHBT 97.7 in Humboldt, IA.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get back into the industry after taking a break from broadcasting in 2020,” he says. “I lived in Mexico with my wife for the majority of the pandemic and was struggling to land a full time broadcasting job in the United States, so I’m grateful to have a job in this industry in a market that I am familiar with.”

Familiar surroundings

Benzegala applied immediately after finding the KHBT opening in an STAA Job Leads email. He received a reply less than three hours later. “I had an advantage for this position because I previously worked with the co-owner of KHBT for a couple of months when I worked at Alpha Media in Fort Dodge, IA, from 2017-2019,” Benzegala recalls. “Having that connection helped because he was already familiar with my work. I also had an advantage because I was already very familiar with the town of Humboldt since I had lived 20 minutes away in Fort Dodge.”

KHBT also presents Benzegala with a chance to call sports he’s not broadcast before. “Sports such as wrestling and soccer,” he says. “And broadcasting over 100 games a year will be a record for me and a challenge that I am looking forward to.”

Benzegala has been an STAA member since 2014. “Finding a job can very difficult, but STAA makes it easier,” he says. “There are a lot of resources that are very beneficial to members. One of my favorite parts of STAA is the community. I learn a lot from the many great broadcasters at STAA, thus making me a better broadcaster and making it easier for me to get a job.”

Now Benzegala is returning to work in a part of the country he loves.

“I like the quality of life in the Midwest. And even though it sounds cliche, people are genuinely nice and are great to work with. It is also a great area of the country to raise a family.”

2020 grad McLaughlin adds DI play-by-play to already impressive resume

Spencer McLaughlin graduated from college last year. He made his national sports talk radio debut this spring. Now he’s adding NCAA Division I play-by-play to his resume. McLaughlin is joining the broadcast team at Southern Utah University.

The Thunderbirds start play in the Western Athletic Conference this Fall after many years in the Big Sky Conference.

“I will be doing play-by-play for soccer, gymnastics, and softball. I will also be involved on-air for women’s basketball and volleyball, probably doing a mix of play-by-play and color commentary,” McLaughlin explains.

Fast track

McLaughlin’s rise in sports broadcasting has been fast. He was mentored as a student at Santa Clara University by Bronco alumnus and fellow STAA member Jack Benjamin. Benjamin was part of NBC’s play-by-play team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and is the play-by-play voice at Nicholls State University.

McLaughlin joined STAA midway through his senior year. Upon graduating, he accepted a play-by-play/morning show host position for Mountaineer Radio at Eastern Oklahoma State College. He started doing fill-in host work for SportsMap Radio Network after STAA introduced him to the network’s COO/PD Craig Larson. Now McLaughlin is leaving Wilburton, OK for USU in Cedar City, UT.

“A friend of mine is a women’s basketball assistant and pointed out they didn’t really have a secondary play-by-play broadcaster for a lot of sports,” McLaughlin recalls. “That is the role I’ll fill. I emailed them to ask about it and there was mutual interest.”

He continues, “I am thrilled about this opportunity because it is the first time I will be broadcasting DI Athletics since I entered the workforce out of college. I honestly didn’t think I would land any sort of DI job so early in my career.”

Potential tough choice

McLaughlin will continue his fill-in work on SportsMap Radio Network. It begs the question, though, whether McLaughlin see his future in talk radio or play-by-play.

“There might come a day where I have to choose between play-by-play and sports talk hosting. But with technology allowing me to do sports talk remotely I’m hoping that’s not the case. I would love to do both as long as I can.”