Polite, persistent relationship building leads Hess to Dayton Dragons

(January 19, 2018) Josh Hess’ new job as the Broadcasting and Media Relations Assistant with the Dayton Dragons was almost two years in the making. The story features several relationship-building strategies that sportscasting job seekers everywhere would be smart to employ.

Josh is a 2017 graduate of Syracuse and an STAA member. He spent last season with the Batavia Muckdogs.

Here is his story in his words . . .

Back in 2016 when I was calling games for the Falmouth Commodores on the Cape, I sent out emails with tapes every day to college and Minor League broadcasters. While many of these tapes went unanswered, I did get a critique from Tom Nichols, the number one in Dayton. At the time, he mentioned Dayton may have an opening, but since it was a full-season gig and I still had one more year at Syracuse, I knew I wouldn’t be considered.

Fast forward to October 2017. I was still sending out multiple emails every day looking for critique from experienced broadcasters and any openings they may have. Even though Dayton never went public [with their opening], I knew some other Syracuse grads had been the number two there and Tom gave me great feedback when I was on the Cape. So, I reached out before the position was officially open.

While pursuing the position, I made sure to stay in touch with Tom as much as possible. One thing my dad has told me for years is to keep track of when you first meet/contact someone and what the topic of conversation was. I first contacted Dayton in late October and continued to follow up regularly until it came time to schedule an interview.

Even after the interview, I stayed in touch. When Tom emailed me asking how my overall search was going, I was honest with him, telling him I have been talking with other teams to see what positions are available. Everyone in this industry knows two things about a job search: how competitive it is to find a job and you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. So, even though Tom knew I was talking with other teams, I continued to show interest in the position as much as I could.

Dayton is a tremendous opportunity to have right after college. It’s hard to find a Minor League Baseball team with a better front office reputation than the Dragons. Plus, they hold the record for most consecutive sellouts in American professional sports at over 1,200 games. The team is great with the community, and the fans show their appreciation every night. I couldn’t think of a better environment to be calling games this season than a sold-out Fifth Third Field every night! When time comes for me to find a number one position, the front office and broadcasting experience in Dayton will set me up phenomenally.

Hess has been an STAA member since October 2017. He says, “STAA does a really great job to motivate anyone searching for a broadcast job. The broadcasting world is a small, tightly knit community and baseball even more so. When feeling upset or frustrated during the job search, STAA is there to help you keep improving, and not just for finding a job. There are plenty of little things like tweaking a resume or cover letter or making a website that STAA reminded me to do during the weeks I didn’t hear from any teams. STAA helps lay the foundation and remind you that there is always more to be done to make yourself a better broadcaster.

Murnin overcomes age concerns, lands with Hagerstown

“Shawn(January 17, 2018) Shawn Murnin is unconventional. He’s also the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Hagerstown Suns (Nationals Class –A). What makes him atypical is his age and that he skipped the minor league baseball job fair even though he attended December’s Baseball Winter Meetings.

Murnin’s first job in the minors was as a broadcasting and media relations assistant with Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2011. He then left baseball for three years to work as a sports TV producer and high school play-by-play broadcaster. When he decided in 2015 that he wanted to return to baseball, he was 26 years old and feared his age might work against him.

“When you’re 26 and working in a [career] where your peers are 19-22, you kind of feel old,” he smiles.

Upon reflection, Murnin says the age challenge was in his head. “It’s all about finding the right fit,” he says. “Every organization has specific criteria they’re looking for, so make your best sales pitch and showcase what you do best in the context of that position. If you’re the right fit, your age won’t matter.”

Murnin did get back into baseball in 2015, doing broadcasting and media for the Mankato Moondogs of the Northwoods League. After two seasons, it was onto the Peoria Chiefs where he spent last summer as the assistant to lead broadcaster Nathan Baliva. “The team and Nathan pushed me to be my best every day last season whether it was in the pregame show, interviews, my on-air work, and especially the media relations aspect of the job. I’ve become a big believer in being in the right place at the right time; there was no better place for me to spend the 2017 season.”

When it came time to look for a No. 1 job in affiliated ball this off-season, Murnin returned to the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Unlike past visits, though, Murnin chose this time to skip the annual job fair.

“Last year I received a few interviews and hit the job boards hard, but the best interview I had was actually set up by accident weeks beforehand,” Murnin recalls. “I made a conscious decision before the meetings this year to reach out to people and set up meetings. On top of that, I made sure to re-connect with people who I knew and by doing that made some new friends.”

Murnin’s interviews this year went much better than past experiences. “I was able to actually learn more about people and grow those relationships because I wasn’t in and out of the job room all week.”

Murnin has been an STAA member since 2015. “STAA helped me overcome my own doubts early on in my career and got me organized to get that first job in Mankato. The most helpful things now are the job leads, which are almost up-to-the-minute, and the career advice that comes directly to my inbox.”

Besides having a new job, another area where Murnin’s life is different is his perspective on age. “Over the last couple of years I haven’t been terribly concerned. I’m 29 years old, that’s still pretty darn young!

(Visit Shawn’s STAA Talent Page).

Broskowski lands on feet after losing baseball job

“Michael(January 12, 2018) When the Burlington Bees decided to eliminate radio after last season, Michael Broskowski feared his minor league baseball play-by-play career might be over.

Fear not.

An STAA member since 2011, Broskowski has landed on his feet with the Orem Owlz. The Owlz are the rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Angles. Ironically, Burlington is also an LA farm team.

In addition to broadcasting, Broskowski will assist the Owlz with social media and media relations. He found the opportunity in an exclusive STAA job leads email in November. “I knew a lot about Orem from having worked for Burlington, the Angels Low-A team, the last four seasons.”

Learning that Burlington was eliminating radio took Broskowski by surprise. “Working somewhere full-time for four years then having your job eliminated was an awful feeling,” he says. “It was tough for a while thinking that maybe my minor league broadcasting career was over.

“It was the first time I ever lost a job, and even though it was nothing I did that caused me to lose the job it doesn’t make it hurt any less. It was very overwhelming to be in the job market again while being unemployed.”

An important thing Broskowski did in pursuing the Orem job was to enlist the help of friends. “I reached out to people I knew. One of the best things about working in professional baseball going on five years now is the connections you make and there are some really great people in this business.”

Broskowski says job leads are one of the two biggest advantages to his STAA membership. “The job leads are huge because they come out right away and the emails with different career advice really help you get a feel for certain things as a broadcaster.

“I’m really excited to be in Orem and work a great front office and fantastic organization in a league I have heard nothing but amazing things about.”

(Visit Michael’s STAA Talent Page).

Giardino joining SWB RailRiders for 2018

“AdamAdam Giardino is moving up the New York Yankees farm system. An STAA member, Giardino is joining the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as a broadcaster and Media Relations Manager. He will work alongside Adam Marco in the broadcast booth and assist with the team’s media relations efforts.

The RailRiders are New York’s Triple-A affiliate.

Giardino enters his ninth season of Minor League Baseball and is bringing five years of experience in the Yankees system, having served as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Trenton Thunder from 2013 to 2017. A lifelong resident of Franklin, Mass. and 2011 graduate of the University of Connecticut, Giardino works in the offseason announcing various sports for Dartmouth College, Brown University, Holy Cross, Harvard University and Northeastern University.

“I am really excited for the opportunity to work with Adam Marco and bring RailRiders baseball to an incredibly passionate fan base,” Giardino said. “Having seen the recent infusion of youth march from Trenton to New York over the past five years, I can’t wait to continue watching this current wave of talent develop and make an impact in the Bronx.”

Prior to his time with Trenton, Giardino spent the 2012 season as the Media and Public Relations Assistant for the Lakewood BlueClaws (Class A, Philadelphia Phillies) and Broadcast Intern for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A, Boston Red Sox) during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Giardino replaces Darren Headrick, who accepted a job covering the University of Kentucky’s women’s basketball and baseball programs last fall.

(Visit Adam’s STAA Talent Page).

Ortner finds next TV play-by-play career step in Minneapolis

“Cody(January 3, 2018) Bliss for many play-by-play broadcasters is finding a broadcasting job to build their resume and full-time work to pay the bills. Cody Ortner has found bliss. An STAA member, Ortner has accepted a play-by-play position with Minnesota Sports Broadcasting Network (MSBN) and a TV sales gig with Cox Media Group in Minneapolis.

“I am excited and grateful for both of these opportunities,” Ortner grins.

With MSBN, Ortner will be calling high school and small college football, basketball, baseball, hockey, volleyball and soccer.

As a student at nearby Brown College, Ortner interned at MSBN and got to know Owner/Founder Jon Wekkin. “I always stayed in touch throughout the last few years because I respected him so much as a person and because he gave me the opportunity I needed when I was in school,” says Ortner.

Ornter has continued broadcasting games for MSBN as a fill-in since graduation from college in 2015. “A few weeks ago I told [Wekkin] that I had thoughts of moving back to the Twin Cities. He immediately told me I have a home and position at MSBN if I want it.”

Between play-by-play assignments, Ortner is selling TV advertising for Cox Media Group in Minneapolis. Doing broadcasting and administrative work at a small radio station in Fort Atkinson, WI helped prepare him for Cox opportunity. “With the experience of being a traffic clerk, I would schedule, reconcile, post daily traffic logs, and work hand in hand with account executives on issues they would have with sales orders.”

As is the case with most small town radio jobs, Ortner’s Fort Atkinson experience made him more diversified. “And it set a precedent for myself that I’ll place no limitations on what I’ll do to help the company I work for.”

Ortner has been an STAA member since March 2017. “STAA helps me out on a weekly if not daily basis,” he says. “Anything from broadcasting tips, to simply getting excited if I had a rough day or feel stressed as I travel and prepare for a game. Every day is different and you never know what can happen. STAA helps me keep even keeled on a daily basis, allows me to hone my skills and to look forward to the goals I have.”

Among Ortner’s most immediate goals is helping grown MSBN. “[This job] gives me the opportunity to help bring the MSBN to the new heights that I know Jon Wekkin is working hard to accomplish. To be able to say I helped accomplish even the littlest piece of that would make me feel tremendous.”

(Visit Cody’s STAA Talent Page).

Patrick McCarthy joins IronPigs broadcast team

At just 22 years old, Pat McCarthy has already made it to a Triple-A baseball broadcast booth. An STAA member, McCarthy is joining the Lehigh Valley IronPigs as their media relations and broadcasting assistant.

McCarthy joins 11th-year play-by-play voice Matt Provence on the broadcast for all home games and select road contests on the IronPigs Radio Network.

McCarthy is entering his second season in minor league baseball after serving as a broadcaster and media assistant for the Reading Fightin’ Phils (Double-A) last year.

The 2017 graduate of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) brings a unique blend of broadcast experience and baseball knowledge to Coca-Cola Park. In addition to his brief stint in the Eastern League, McCarthy has handled broadcasts for Villanova University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, St. Joseph’s University and TCNJ. He has covered an array of different sports on both television and radio and in a variety of capacities – from play-by-play to color analysis to sideline reporting.

The Allentown, New Jersey, native also provides an added perspective in the radio booth with a deep knowledge of the Phillies system and having been a varsity baseball letter winner at TCNJ.

Currently, McCarthy serves as the play-by-play voice for St. Joseph’s men’s and women’s basketball on the A10 Network as well as for Princeton men’s basketball on radio broadcasts. He also spends time as a spotter with both CBS Sports and Westwood One for NFL and NCAA basketball games.

With Lehigh Valley, McCarthy will be replacing Jon Schaeffer, who had been a part of the IronPigs Radio Network from the inaugural season though this past July — when he departed the organization for a position at XTRA 1360 Fox Sports San Diego

(Visit Patrick’s website).

Benzegala joins Fort Dodge station as Sports Director

“Alex(December 19, 2017) Last year, Alex Benzegala contacted 50 high schools, volunteering to be their play-by-play broadcaster. He heard back from one. Today, Benzegala has a full-time job that includes play-by-play and more. An STAA member, Benzegala is the News and Sports Director at Alpha Media in Fort Dodge, IA.

“This is a great opportunity to serve my community and live my dream of being a professional broadcaster. To wake up every morning and have the opportunity to provide news to over 30,000 people is a true honor,” he says.

Benzegala’s road to Fort Dodge has been challenging. “I have served as a volunteer broadcaster for much of the last 10 years and have had numerous setbacks and challenges along the way.”

Last December, Benzegala accepted his first professional opportunity, a talk show host and play-by-play position in Kansas. “I experienced health problems right before I was set to start, so I never made it to my dream job,” he says.

Benzegala decided to take a break from broadcasting to focus on his health. He began working in Christian ministry at a boarding school for at-risk youth in Missouri. This fall, he got back into broadcasting as the volunteer voice of a local high school. “I was bringing my students along to the games to broadcast with me and give them experience.”

When Benzegala learned of the Fort Dodge position in an email from STAA, he applied.

“It’s a great opportunity for professional growth for me in my career,” says Benzegala.

“It is my hope that my story of perseverance and never giving up on my dreams can inspire someone to do the same.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).

Circuitous path leads Walter to LEX 18 in Kentucky

(December 12, 2017) Since 2016, Charlie Walter has worked TV news in Mobile AL, minor league baseball in Tennessee, and TV play-by-play in Cincinnati. After testing that variety of sportscasting careers, Walter has chosen the path for his immediate future: television. An STAA member, Walter is the new weekend sports anchor at LEX 18 in Lexington, KY.

He learned about the opening through STAA From there, fate stepped in. “I had lucked out and met the main anchor a few weeks before at SEC media days in Nashville,” Walter says. “I also worked on a show in Knoxville with people that knew the Sports Director and imagine that their reference helped me land the gig.”

As a senior at Ohio University in 2015, Walter was ranked as the 8th most outstanding collegiate sportscaster in STAA’s annual All-America program. His career path since then has been a circuitous one.

Following graduation, Walter took a TV news job in Dothan, AL. After six months, the company moved him to their sports staff in Montgomery. There, he covered the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football national championship. Nine months later, Walter returned to his hometown of Cincinnati to hone his TV play-by-play skills doing a variety of high school events. Last March, it was onto minor league baseball for a broadcast assistant position with the Class-AA Tennessee Smokies.

After the baseball season, Walter stayed in Knoxville doing volunteer on-air work on a sports show for WVLT.

“They allowed me to do whatever segments I wanted, and I think the creative approach I took helped add to my reel that had no anchoring clips except for that show. I ended up spending about 12 hours a week on that one show alone, but I’m convinced without those clips, and with the lack of versatility that was offered as a part-time MMJ, my tape may have been too stale.”

Walter had two goals for the football season. “One was to put together a reel by Halloween with all new content from this (WVLT) job only,” he says. “The other goal was to create a professional website by Thanksgiving.”

The new website has already paid dividends. “I finished the website before my deadline of Thanksgiving, a few weeks before the WLEX job was posted. I think the website definitely helped land the job.”

Among the beats Walter is covering in Lexington is Kentucky Wildcat hoops. “College basketball has always been my sport and having grown up in Cincinnati I know all about UK hoops,” he says. “Growing up they would always air their games on WB64 in Cincinnati, so for as long as I can remember I’ve followed the team.”

(Visit Charlie’s website).

Brendan King joins Cubs affiliate

(December 8, 2017) For someone who aspires to one day be the voice of the Chicago Cubs, Brendan King is taking a strong next step. An STAA member, King is joining Chicago’s Class-A affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, as a Media Relations/Broadcasting Assistant.

“I’ve been a die hard Cubs fan since attending my first game at Wrigley Field when I was two years old,” says King. “To be joining the Chicago Cubs organization as a whole is an honor and both myself and my family are thrilled.

Besides being affiliated with King’s favorite childhood team, there is another irony in his joining South Bend.

“The owner of the SB Cubs, Andrew Berlin, works in the same industry as my dad and they work for companies that directly compete against one another. I’ve met Andrew before and in college he always told me to keep him updated on what I was doing in broadcasting. Now that I’m going to be with South Bend, it has really come full circle.”

King is a 2017 graduate of Butler University in Indiana. His baseball broadcasting experience includes the Cape Cod League and the Class-A short season Boise Hawks, where he spent last season. Several factors made the decision to move from short to full-season baseball an easy one for King.

“The first [reason] is obviously more practice and more reps with almost double the games played from short-season A ball,” King says. “But what they are doing in South Bend is fantastic. The attendance at Four Winds Field is electric every summer. They love their Cubs in Northern Indiana. The Cubs also broadcast their games both on radio and TV in South Bend, so that gives me a ton of exposure for fans and listeners.”

In pursuing the Cubs job, King made strategic use of his references and contacts.

“Mike Monaco is a guy that has had this same position before, so I made sure to reach out to him and get his thoughts on the matter,” says King. “He was extremely helpful and supportive. Then my closest MLB contact is Ken Korach, who is the radio play-by-play announcer of the Oakland A’s. Ken is always very gracious and generous with his time and spends a lot of time on the phone with me to give me tips and advice, and to just talk about the industry. We talked a lot before and after my interviews. To have that support was fantastic.”

South Bend is less than 100 miles from Chicago. Literally and figuratively, the King’s move to the Northwest Indiana city gets him closer to his ultimate goal.

“My dream is to one day broadcast games at Wrigley Field as the play-by-play man for the Cubs,” he smiles.

(Visit Brendan’s website).

Roundabout path leads Cohen to Iowa Cubs job

“Alex(December 6, 2017) After eight years of part-time and seasonal employment, Alex Cohen has earned a job at minor league baseball’s highest level. An STAA member since 2011, Cohen is the new Play-by-Play Broadcaster/Account Executive for the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Cohen follows veteran Iowa Cubs voice Randy Wehofer, whose been promoted to VP/Assistant General Manager.

Besides the fact that it’s a Triple-A job with one of minor league baseball’s best organizations, the Cubs position checks all the boxes that Cohen was looking for.

“My last three positions in baseball have been seasonal, and at the point of my life both professionally and personally, a full-year position with stability was a huge factor in the decision to both apply and accept the job.”

Cohen says advice from STAA helped him land the job. “[STAA] has always said things along the lines of ‘know what job you are applying for and let the people who you are interviewing with know how you can help them and their brand, not you and your brand.'”

When Cohen interviewed, he assumed the Cubs were already sold on his broadcasting ability. “So I focused on the sales,” he continues. “Every question I asked was a sales question. Every pitch I made had a sales component involved. This mindset really helped me through the process, and in the end, helped get me the position in my opinion.”

The road to Iowa has been a long one for Cohen. He started in minor league baseball in 2009 as an intern with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. That was followed by stops in Huntsville, Idaho Falls and Bowling Green, OH where he spent the last two summers with the Tampa Bay Rays Class-A affiliate. Cohen’s resume even includes a winter in the Australian Baseball League. His story illustrates there is no linear path through the ranks of minor league baseball.

“There’s no proven equation to succeed,” he says. “I went from being a Double-A No.1 at the age of 23, to out of broadcasting and into a MLB Media Relations position at 25 and then working my way back up from the bottom with the Australian Baseball League to rookie ball and then Single-A to Triple-A. Reps, meeting the right people and working for the right organizations are so important when it comes to putting the pieces of this complicated broadcast puzzle together.”

Cohen says that going as far and as fast as possible isn’t always the best road to success. “I’ve been in contact with a lot of young broadcasters. I have noticed there is a fixation with reaching the highest level as soon as possible to move up the ranks, no matter the situation. No rookie ball, have to be in full-season ball at whatever age and for X amount of time.

“At that age, I thought that way too. Now that I’ve experienced what I have experienced, I feel differently.”

While Cohen’s career has certainly had its challenges, his love for the job makes the hardships worth it.

“This may sound cliche, but being able to call a ballpark my office while talking to people about baseball as a job is a huge part of why I am still doing this,” he says. “There’s no better job in the world and as long as I am given the opportunity to do it, I am going to do it with a smile on my face.”

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).