(December 14, 2018) Veteran Phoenix sportscaster Jeff Munn has been a voice on the broadcast teams of the Arizona Diamondback and Arizona State University. Now he’s adding professional football to his resume. An STAA member, Munn will be the radio voice for the Arizona Hotshots of the new Alliance of American Football.
“Jeff is very well known and does such a great job with whatever he does,” says longtime Phoenix Suns radio voice Al McCoy. Munn has filled-in for McCoy on many Suns broadcasts over the years.
Munn has been the voice of Arizona State women’s basketball since 2004. He’s filled-in on Sun Devils men’s basketball and baseball. From 2006 through 2015, he hosted Diamondbacks radio pre and game shows and filled-in on play-by-play.
The National Sports Media Association named Munn Arizona Sports Broadcaster of the Year in 2010.
(December 11, 2018) Ben Wilson has lived in the Columbia, MO market since graduating from the University of Missouri in 2015. Those roots have led Wilson to his new job as a sports talk host and play-by-play broadcaster at KTGR, the local ESPN Radio affiliate.
Wilson will co-host a daily sports talk show, host a Saturday morning show and do play-by-play for Mizzou Olympic sports.
“I already had a good relationship with the majority of the on-air staff prior to the position coming open,” says Wilson. “Just by being in the know and understanding the job landscape of the market, I had a pretty good idea that the job would be coming open about a month before it actually did. Because of that, I had an interview lined up well before the position was officially posted, which obviously gave me a big edge over the other applicants.”
One advantage of the position is it allows Wilson to continue his burgeoning TV play-by-play career. “The big selling point was that they were willing to wave their usual non-compete clause, which will allow me to keep calling the SEC Network + and Fox Sports Midwest games, as well as any other freelance TV play-by-play opportunities that come up,” Wilson smiles.
The KTRG opportunity will ease the challenges Wilson faces as a freelance TV broadcaster. “It allows me the security of an on-air full-time position, while still having the ability to continue my freelance play-by-play,” he says.
Honesty was a key for Wilson in persuading KTGR to waive its non-compete clause. ” I was up front with the station that continuing my ESPN +, Fox Sports Midwest and SEC Network + play-by-play assignments was not only essential to my career development, but would also not interfere with my duties at the station. Obviously I was extremely grateful that they were willing to be so flexible and let me continue my play-by-play opportunities on the side.”
Wilson joined STAA his senior year in college. “I really appreciate how many network-level broadcasters have worked with STAA to share their career paths and give advice,” he says. “I’ve found it very helpful to hear first-hand from successful broadcasters in the industry, and have picked up a lot of useful things to apply towards my own career.”
(November 29, 2018) Marco LaNave is getting the opportunity to continue his minor league baseball career closer to his Midwest roots without leaving his current ownership group. An STAA member, LaNave is the new Lead Broadcaster and an Account Executive for the Akron RubberDucks.
The RubberDucks are the Class-AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
LaNave moves to Akron after three seasons with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, also a Double-A affiliate. Fast Forward Sports Group owns both teams.
“Collaboration between the clubs made me familiar with Akron’s operation,” says LaNave. “The organization presented the opportunity for me to develop further as a broadcaster and contribute to the year-round business operation for the RubberDucks. I continue to work in a great ownership group and am able to grow professionally, particularly as a broadcaster.”
Before joining Fast Forward Sports Group, the St. Cloud, MN, native’s baseball career path included a radio internship with the Minnesota Twins and four years as lead broadcaster with the Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits.
“Moving to a new city also presents more possibilities,” he adds. One new opportunity that has already developed is that LaNave has joined the sports anchor staff at 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.
Minor league baseball broadcasting is a challenging field. Upward mobility usually comes slowly. LaNave’s passion for the sport keeps him involved.
“With the support of family and fiends, I have enjoyed the journey, recognizing success and struggle as growth personally and professionally. I am blessed to have met and worked with many great people I can call friends and mentors. Their impact on me, and the opportunity for me to have an impact among my colleagues, club and community, make work in baseball uniquely rewarding.”
LaNave has been an STAA member since 2014. “STAA membership provides valuable resources to stay motivated, knowledgeable and prepared for opportunities. With career advice on a variety of topics, updates on opportunities in the industry, and opportunities for feedback, as an STAA member, I have specialized support for my work and goals in sports broadcasting.”
(November 2, 2018) Career planning has become more challenging in the two years since the first of Sam and Alaina Hovan’s two children were born. Selectivity became paramount. When a new opportunity presented itself, the Hovans knew it was right. Now Sam is the new Assistant Director of Athletics Communications/Digital Media at Longwood University in Farmville, VA.
The opportunity is a hybrid athletics communications position with traditional SID responsibilities and plenty of broadcasting. Hovan will serve as voice of Lancer athletics for radio and roughly 40 broadcasts of various sports on ESPN+. He leaves a sports information and broadcasting position at Arizona Western College, a two-year school in Yuma, AZ.
“The job at Longwood allows me to grow as a storyteller both in and out of the broadcast booth,” says Hovan. “Longwood focuses on connecting with their fan base in a way that is unique, I think, among schools. The communications team has creative freedom to try out story ideas that I haven’t really seen too many other places.”
The fact that Longwood is a Division I school also appeals to Hovan. “The expectation is excellence,” he says. “I have a chance to find out if I have what it takes as a broadcaster to keep pursuing my dream at the highest level.”
Hovan admits the challenge of moving up sometimes makes him nervous. “Sure! But who wouldn’t want the opportunity to pursue their dream and find out if they could really achieve it or not,” he says enthusiastically.
Starting a family two years ago has changed the way Hovan and his wife evaluate potential career opportunities. “It has a huge impact. Instead of seeing how a position would impact me and my career, I look at it together with Alaina as a team,” he says. “We evaluate how it would affect our whole family from how much she might have to work, would I be able to help cover her work hours watching the kids, when would I see my kids, etc. We really try and communicate to stay on the same page about what is best for our family and go from there.”
The Longwood opportunity was not posted on STAA’s public job board but was emailed to STAA members in September when the university requested assistance. “I started putting my application together quickly,” Hovan recalls. “In the process of researching the school and creating my cover letter, I found that I had worked with Chris Cook, my future boss, when I was interning for the capstone piece of my Master’s degree [at Syracuse].”
Many job seekers emphasize the broadcasting part of positions that include media relations or other duties. Hovan knew better. “I think it was really important that I focused on ALL aspects of the job, and that I didn’t try to make up things that I didn’t do. The broadcasting is important, of course, but the position encompasses quite a bit more. Since my experience lined up with both parts, I could emphasize that.”
Hovan also dug into Longwood’s athletic history when preparing his application. “Hopefully, I made myself stand out because I already had a base level of knowledge about the teams/programs when I interviewed. While I always knew to do that, STAA helped me clarify how that should come out in the cover letter.”
Hovan joined STAA in May and attended an STAA San Diego Play-by-Play retreat in July. “There are two big challenges that my STAA membership helps me address. One of the biggest is finding out about open positions. It is really difficult to hear about most of the openings, and many that I wanted to apply for don’t have public postings.
“Second, my membership provided great tools to help my approach stand out. Specifically, I learned how to polish my cover letter even more. I always knew how important it was to research your potential employer, but STAA gave me a concrete approach to putting what I learned on paper in a coherent way.”
(October 29, 2018) Tom Purvis rolled the dice this summer. He left a Division I women’s basketball broadcasting job to move across country in search of upward mobility. He’s found it as the new voice of Radford University women’s basketball.
“I saw the Radford job on the STAA job leads – it was as simple as that. I applied the day that the lead came through,” says Purvis.
Purvis moved to North Carolina in August after five seasons as the women’s basketball voice at his alma mater, the University of Idaho. He anticipated greater broadcasting opportunities on the East coast.
“I feel so fortunate to already have a new NCAA DI basketball play-by-play job. It was hard leaving my job with Idaho because I had so greatly enjoyed that job and being at that level of competition.”
Purvis has been hosting the Appalachian State University Sports Network for IMG. He’ll leave that roll after football season.
When Purvis saw the Radford opening, he was excited to see how relatively close the Radford, VA campus is to his new home. “I was also excited about the added element of being able to do the ESPN Plus broadcasts. It was a no-brainer to apply and see where it went.”
Deciding to move from Idaho to North Carolina for the Appalachian State host position was not easy for Purvis. “I was leaving play-by-play at the DI level and knew I would greatly miss doing it. I also was concerned about how tough it would be to get back into doing college play-by-play.”
The positives of moving ultimately outweighed the negatives. “North Carolina is an area that both my wife and I were excited to move to. We had researched the area for nearly a year. We thought it would be a great fit for our family and a place we could see ourselves staying for a while. It was something for which we were both all-in.”
(October 24, 2018) Minor League Baseball has a third female broadcaster. Jill Gearin is the new voice of the Class-A Visalia Rawhide. Gearin learned of the opportunity through STAA but it was a friend from college in Boston that helped her land the gig in an agricultural region of California.
In September, STAA members were sent a list of nearly 20 teams who are going to have new broadcasters in 2019 but hadn’t yet posted openings. The Rawhide never published the opportunity.
“I first learned about the opening in Visalia from [an STAA] email,” says Gearin. “I already knew someone on the Visalia staff. Julian Rifkind, the Manager of Baseball Operations, was a senior on the baseball team at Emerson College when I was a freshman on the softball team.”
Rifkind put Gearin in touch with Rawhide General Manager Jen (Pendergraft) Reynolds, who was hoping to hire a female broadcaster. Reynolds is one of just five female GMs in Minor League Baseball.
“[Jen] understands that I am venturing into somewhat unchartered waters. From our first conversation, I could tell that her and I thought alike and that we would get along very well,” says Gearin. “She has been working for the Rawhide for 12 years and she started out as an executive assistant. I find her climb to be the GM inspiring and I hope to learn from her grit and work ethic.”
Besides Rifkind, Gearin received help from a second person in getting her name in front of Reynolds. “I had a family friend who is a season ticket holder in Visalia. He reached out to Jen to let her know more about my background and upbringing.”
Gearin is the second female STAA member to recently earn a play-by-play job. In August, Maura Sheridan was named women’s basketball voice at the University of Vermont.
Gearin has prepared herself well for the Rawhide opportunity. She has honed her public relations skills in an internship with the Pawtucket Red Sox and spent this summer calling college games in the Futures League. She also somehow found time to be an in-booth statistician for Boston Red Sox radio broadcasters Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett.
“Joe and Tim have been amazing mentors for me this baseball season. One thing I have learned from them is to let my passion show when I speak. Joe oozes passion for the Red Sox and I can hear the excitement in Tim’s voice in every pitch. I also learned that preparation is the most difficult part of the game, but one of the most important.”
Relocating from Boston to California’s rural San Joaquin Valley might be an unhittable curve ball for some. For Gearin, it’s a fastball down the middle.
“I knew I wanted a change in scenery,” she says. “I am no stranger to moving to a new city. The summer after my sophomore year in college I moved to Atlanta for an internship with a TV show, Paternity Court. I was able to find myself an apartment and find my way around a new city when I was 19. Because of that summer, I know I can move to a new city and I found a love for exploring new places.
Gearin joined STAA in July. “STAA provided all the tools I needed to be successful in the job hunt. I never learned how a demo reel was supposed to sound and I was unsure how to tailor my resume for sports broadcasting in general. I think the biggest example of STAA helping me was my [Talent Page]. I had no clue where to begin, but Mel built it for me. After I sent the website to the GM, she said she was impressed with how easy it was to navigate. It was not a deciding factor in my hiring, but it had a huge impact.”
(October 11, 2018) Brian Rothenberger’s lack of graphic design experience was killing him in a minor league hockey play-by-play job market that requires broadcasters to wear multiple hats. Instead of lamenting his fate, Rothenberger did something about it. Now he is the new Broadcast & Communications Manager for the Quad City Storm.
The Storm is an expansion team in the SPHL.
“The opportunity to work for a brand-new organization that is blazing a trail in an incredibly unique hockey market is awesome,” Rothenberger says excitedly. “It is a franchise that has materialized over the last several months on the backs of an incredibly hardworking staff and ownership group.”
After graduating from the University of South Florida in 2015, Rothenberger spent the past three years broadcasting a variety of sports for BEK Network in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Hockey has always been Rothenberger’s ultimate goal but his job applications were coming up short. “I was frustrated hearing from teams that they loved how I call games but weren’t confident that I could handle the media relations side, specifically graphic creation. I knew I could learn it, but their concern was valid because it wasn’t on my resume,” he recalls. “I reached out to Jon [Chelesnik of STAA] and he suggested getting InDesign and creating examples to show interested parties I had the skills.
“I believe that advice went a long way to helping me secure my current role.”
To learn Adobe Creative Suite, Rothenberger attended YouTube University. “YouTube is a wonderful thing,” he grins. “And it wasn’t incredibly difficult — frustrating at first, but a little time goes a long way.”
Rothenberger first contacted the Storm early in the summer. “At that time they were looking for someone to handle broadcast responsibilities only. The needs of the position changed and they kept me on their radar. I was thrilled to get the call.”
(October 10, 2018) For an athlete, knowing when to retire is often a gut feeling. For a sports broadcaster, deciding to leave a job can be similarly rooted in intuition. That was the case for Tyler Stricker. He left his first post-graduate job after two years and is joining KKCO 11 News in Grand Junction, CO as a sports anchor/reporter.
Stricker replaces fellow STAA member Tanner Barth who left for a similar position in Wilmington, NC.
“Gray Television is a great company to work for with plenty of opportunities to move from one station to another,” says Stricker. “I also have the chance to move up within the station and I like the location in Colorado.”
Stricker is a 2016 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. After graduating, he landed as a sports anchor/reporter at KIEM-TV in Eureka, CA. When his contract came up for renewal this summer, he chose not to re-sign. “I enjoyed my time in Eureka but I felt that I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to pursue a job with more responsibilities,” he says.
The KKCO job lead was emailed to STAA members on August 21st. “I was searching for jobs for a few months,” Stricker recalls.
His Wisconsin roots helped Stricker land the position.
“I made direct connection with the news director [Amanda Mayle]. I’m from Wisconsin and she spent time working in Wisconsin. I connected to her with small talk and then gave her my information. Shortly after, she called to set up an interview.”
(October 5, 2018) Isaac Lowenkron has broadcast everything from the NFL to major college football and basketball and arena football. Now he’s adding men’s basketball voice for CSU Bakersfield to his resume.
The Roadrunners are members of the Western Athletic Conference. Just two years ago, they played in the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden.
“I am delighted to join the Roadrunner family,” Lowenkron says. “Particularly at such an exciting time in the rise of the men’s basketball program.”
CSUB’s basketball rights are held by Learfield Sports. When Learfield asked STAA to recommend candidates, Lowenkron was the name they suggested. He’s broadcast NFL and college football for Sports USA Radio. He has also called play-by-play for UCLA football and men’s basketball, USC men’s basketball, the Los Angeles Avengers of Arena Football, and six Pac-12 men’s basketball tournaments.
“We are fortunate to have Isaac join the ‘Runner family,” said Ziggy Siegfried, Director of Athletics at CSUB. “His passion, skill, and experience make him the perfect fit here at CSU Bakersfield.”
(October 2, 2018) The more people you know, the better your chances in the sportscasting job market. Two well-placed contacts at Western Michigan University have led STAA member Conor Clingen to his new job as the voice of Bronco’s women’s basketball on ESPN3.
Besides calling all WMU women’s home games, Clinger will also broadcast a handful of men’s games on E3.
The seed for this opportunity was planted when Clingen filled-in on a WMU broadcast last season for his friend Mike Monaco. “Mike was on assignment with the NBC Sports Network. He recommended me, but I wasn’t sure it would be anything more than a one-time thing,” says Clingen.
Clingen’s friendship with Monaco goes back to their time together as students at Notre Dame. “Mike and I became friends working together on Fighting Irish Media broadcasts. My freshman and sophomore years I would often do color commentary while Mike would do the play-by-play for ESPN3 streams.”
Monaco has been Clingen’s primary mentor ever since, but he wasn’t Clingen’s only contact at WMU. “Oddly enough, the director of Bronco Productions Thomas Delves went to my high school, Marmion Academy in Aurora, Illinois. He graduated 4 years before me. What are the odds of that from a school of only 500 boys,” Clingen grins.
“[Mid-September], Mike called me and told me he’ll be taking on a much heavier BTN schedule this year,” Clingen recalls. “He had already spoken with Thomas and continued to vouch for me. I can’t thank Mike enough for recommending me to Thomas time and time again.
“The combination of Mike’s persistent recommendation, my high school alumni network, and a strong fill-in appearance all combined to land me the gig. I can’t wait to get started and it really feels like that first break I needed.”