Graf and his camera going to KNDU in Washington

David Graf aspired for a radio sports broadcasting career until he picked up a TV camera. “It’s still weird seeing myself on camera, but I love being behind the camera. Shooting sports videos and sharing highlight-worthy plays on television and social media is an unbelievable feeling,” he says.

Graf will be doing much of that as he joins KNDU in Kennewick, WA as a sports anchor/reporter. It’s the perfect position for a sports fan who is joined at the hip with his camera.

Achieving a goal

KNDU/KNDO is owned by Cowles Media. It’s a company for which Graf has long wanted to work. “I developed a relationship with the recruiter there and made it a point to check in regularly with him. When I saw there was this opening, I immediately reached out to him and asked if he thought I would be a good fit. He told me I’d be an excellent fit in the Tri Cities. I quickly sent my materials to the News Director [Stephanie Ashley]. I received an interview and took things from there.

Graf moves to the Pacific Northwest after nearly two years at KCWY/KGWN in Casper, WY. He is a 2019 graduate of the University of Wyoming.

Graf joined STAA this year upon the recommendation of Iowa Cubs Broadcaster Alex Cohen, an STAA member since 2011. “The first time I heard about STAA was when I interviewed Alex for a podcast series,” Graf recalls. “He mentioned all of the benefits that he’d received from STAA. I checked out the website more when I was searching for my new job, and I figured the worst that could happen by being a member was that I got a new job out of it.”

Job market changes

Fortunately for Graf, his tongue-in-cheek “worst thing that could happen” unfolded. He got the KNDU job, but not before making critical changes in his job market approach. “The resume and cover letter critiques from [STAA] radically changed my job search,” he states. “The tips and pointers showed immediate results. There wasn’t a job that I applied for after making those tweaks that I didn’t at least receive an interview for.”

He adds, “The one thing that was especially helpful in my job search was being flexible. I was flexible with my reel, resume, cover letter, etc. You have to be willing to change and adapt what you’re sending out into the world to try and grab people’s attention.”

Now Graf is moving to Washington State, a place where he’s long wanted to live. “I have many close friends and family that live only a few hours away from me as opposed to being pretty isolated as I’ve been living in Wyoming for the last couple of years. I’m also excited to cover high school and college sports and Minor League Baseball.”

Accompanying Graf to those events will, of course, be his camera. “When I first picked up a camera to shoot video, I didn’t have much of a clue. But now, it feels strange to be at a sporting event without one.”

Karp’s creative genius captures attention of FOX61 Hartford

When the Alabama Crimson Tide reached college football’s 2022 National Championship Game, FOX54 in Huntsville, AL sent much of its staff to cover the game. That left Sports Anchor/Reporter Jonah Karp alone in studio for a week. He decided to have some fun. He converted the studio into a Crimson Tide timeline and recorded an interactive year in review. “I didn’t stop talking or moving for three straight minutes,” Karp grins. “That piece is something I’ll be happy to show people 30 years from now.”

That creativity grabbed the attention of FOX61 in Hartford, CT. Now, Karp is joining their staff as a sports anchor/reporter.

Creative approach

“I’m confident my creativity helped me get to this point,” Karp states. “In my previous role, I was always looking for a chance to be creative, and ideally, unique. I would ask myself, ‘what can I do to best capture someone’s attention and imagination?'”

Karp captured attention one Monday last August. The local minor league baseball team was off and little was happening regionally. His creative juices started flowing. “Determined to make something-out-of-nothing, I choreographed a bit of me talking to myself. I drove out to Toyota Field that morning and shot a standup where I tossed to player-sound I had shot the day before. When I returned to the studio, I rehearsed the song-and-dance twice (unsuccessfully) and figured out the timing. The red light came on and I spoke to myself on camera…LIVE! That was a rush!”

Karp’s efforts were recognized beyond Huntsville. In April, the Alabama Broadcasters Association named him the “Best Sports Personality” in the state.

“The point is this: I’m in this position because I continuously push myself creatively, and had a tremendous support system who provided that platform.

“FOX54 is composed of supremely talented, hardworking and genuinely good individuals. As a collective, they are a powerhouse. They pushed me to expand my creative horizons.”

Moving up

Still, Karp wanted to work in a larger market and live closer to his family in New York. He pounced on the FOX61 opportunity when he saw it in an STAA Job Leads email.

“From a professional standpoint, I would be jumping to a top-35 market and anchoring more times per week. Plus, I would be within driving distance to the professional teams I grew up watching on television. An opportunity to cover all of Connecticut while being a stone’s throw away from New York and Boston? It was an easy decision for me to make.

“From a personal standpoint, I would be within weekend-driving distance to much of my family and hometown friends.”

Now those family and friends will get to enjoy Karp’s on-air creativity — like what he did the day after Christmas last year. “I had to host a 30-minute sports show on the same day I was the only news anchor, sports anchor AND news reporter. I spent all week producing a show tailored to the holiday season, complete with some ‘magic.’ It was so rewarding to see the finished product.

“Not every attempt worked the way I had envisioned. But I was never ashamed to try something outside the box and I never regretted trying. The reel I sent to FOX61 was jam-packed with creative and unique content.

“It was always a goal of mine to get closer to home. FOX61 gave me that opportunity.”

Digby’s gamble to leave his job pays off

Matt Digby gambled on himself in the hope that he could live closer to his parents in Ohio. He won. Digby is joining 24/7 Now WRGT in Dayton, OH as a Sports MMJ.

“I first heard of the opening through STAA at the end of June. When the station first reached out to me, I was actually visiting family in Europe. However, I am thankful that we were able to have an in-person interview after I returned to the US, he says.”

Going home

Digby is a Buckeye State native and an alumnus of Ohio University. He spent the past seven years at WOAY TV in Oak Hill, VA but wanted so much to return to his home state that he resigned from WOAY without having another job. “It was definitely a big risk,” he recalls. I was fortunate that I was having interviews with multiple stations in various locations at the time.

“I wasn’t limiting myself to jobs in Ohio, but it definitely doesn’t hurt that Dayton is a quick drive away from my parents.”

Relationship building

Though he’s moving on, Digby cherishes his time at WOAY. “I am very thankful to my colleagues in West Virginia for all their help over the years. My goal is to keep in touch with them in the future, even if it’s something very quick as saying hello. Relationships do matter, and I’m glad I’ve been able to grow in building new relationships with fellow sportscasters.”

Relationship-building opportunities is a main reason Digby has been an STAA member since 2013. “STAA remains a great tool to connect with fellow sportscasters,” he states. “Whether it’s the chance for in-person meetings or Zoom seminars, I’m able to establish new relationships and also learn new tips that have helped me both with my previous positions and also applying for new jobs.”

Digby said in a 2015 story about joining WOAY, “If you are truly committed to getting a job in this business, you will get a job. It may take longer than you’d like, but it’s worth the wait.” Today he adds, “I stand by that statement, and am very excited for this next chapter!

“Once I began talking with Dayton and weighed various factors, it became very clear that this was the best fit for me.”

The gamble paid off.

DeBiase eager to create memorable moments in Wyoming

Moments that stand in time. That is where Colton DeBiase’s passion for play-by-play is rooted. “I love hearing the roar of the crowd with the play-by-play announcer responsible for making sure that particular moment stands in time and will play in the ears of fans for decades,” he states.

DeBiase will be creating such moments for sports fans in Gillette, WY. He is following fellow STAA Member Chris Brintle as sports director at Basin Radio Network. Brintle left last month for a TV play-by-play opportunity.

A fun coincidence

DeBiase learned of the opening in an STAA Job Leads email. He applied immediately. “It was a hilarious coincidence when I was first contacted for the position,” DeBiase recalls. “I was at a session with my voice coach when a Wyoming caller ID came across my phone. I felt it was the station, knowing I had applied for the job a few days prior. I answered the phone and it was them. After having a lengthy conversation about the position afterwards with my voice coach, I knew it would be the perfect fit for me. I accepted the job the next day!”

Working for Basin Radio Network means plenty of play-by-play reps for DeBiase. “I will be calling an estimated 120-130 games a year between football, basketball, and baseball. I am very excited to get started improving my craft every day and getting better with each game.”

Always improving

DeBiase was a junior at Point Park University in Pittsburgh when he joined STAA last year. “It has been the best decision I have made so far. I learned so much through STAA about improving my play-by-play skills, preparing for interviews, and using the spot charts and stat sheets STAA provides.”

One area where DeBiase has improved is voice control. “I take great pride in being enthusiastic when I am on the air doing play-by-play. However, when I began doing play-by-play for Point Park basketball games, I was screaming a little too loud when a big play was happening. Through STAA, I learned the importance of still sounding enthusiastic but controlling my voice where I am not screaming.”

Go where the jobs are

Moving from metropolitan Pittsburgh to the open plains of Gillette will be a major change for DeBiase. He appreciates, though, that he has to go where the jobs are. It will be the most significant adjustment of my life,” he states. “However, I could not be more excited about living on my own for the first time and exploring Wyoming. I look forward to exploring Keyhole State Park near Gillette and taking my paddle board on their beautiful lake.

“I knew early on I would have to do whatever it took to reach my goals as a play-by-play broadcaster. Being able to pick the brains of many broadcasters during my time in college, I learned really quickly that I could not be afraid to move if a job came. I am going to miss my family and friends very much. However, I know I will make them proud every time I put that headset on.”

DeBiase also aims to make his new employers proud. “I am so thankful for [Operations Manager] Vic Wright and his staff for believing in me and their commitment to making me a better broadcaster daily.”

And of course, DeBiase wants to create moments that stand in time.

“I love this industry with all my heart. I am honored and humbled knowing I will be driving to Wyoming and knowing I can make my mark by adding more moments to stand in time for the fans that will tune into our broadcasts!”

Quest for his best takes Barnett to KIMT TV

Improving his job interviewing skills has helped Jerome Barnett to KIMT TV in Rochester, MN as a News/Sports MMJ.

“I made sure to give efficient answers during the interview so that I didn’t end up repeating myself. I think it displayed a self-confidence that I didn’t necessarily exude in previous interviews,” he recalls.

Barnett is a 2022 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Though he focused largely on sports during his time on the Madison campus, he appreciates that covering news is part of his new role.

“I’ve applied for a lot of jobs and done a lot of interviews, so I know that’s a pretty rare opportunity,” he states.

One thing Barnett has been working on is, as he says, being okay with the possibility that he may not be good at something initially. “I deal with this by remembering instances in which I improved a skill over time. For example, near the beginning of this journalism class I was in last year, it took me over an hour to figure out how to put the camera on the tripod. A couple of months later, my classmates were asking me for advice on how to film their stories.”

Barnett joined STAA during his junior in Madison upon the recommendation of a local sportscaster. “I was doing an informational interview with Jon Arias back in the summer of 2020. He mentioned that STAA was a good place to look for jobs,” Barnett recalls.

He adds, “STAA has made me a lot more comfortable with receiving feedback on my craft.”

Always improving. That describes Barnett — improving his craft and improving his job interview skills. The new opportunity at KIMT is the payoff for Barnett’s quest for his best.

TV play-by-play lures Doherty from New York to North Dakota

Dan Doherty is New York through and through. He was born and raised on Long Island. He graduated from Ithaca College, returned to Long Island for his first job in radio, then went back to Ithaca for his second. Now this New Yorker is heading to . . . North Dakota. Doherty is joining BEK Sports Network in Bismarck as a play-by-play broadcaster.

“Willingness to move to different places and away from home is a necessity in this industry,” Doherty suggests. “These jobs and opportunities don’t grow on trees.”

His hiring comes just days after BEK hired fellow STAA member Chris Brintle in the same capacity. Doherty moves to Bismarck after three years at ESPN Ithaca. It was the first job he landed after joining STAA in 2018. BEK is the second.

“I would not be where I am without STAA,” Doherty states. “I would not have known of the opportunities that have allowed me to do what I love full-time if I was not a member. Then, of course, all the resources and critiques are wonderful as well and ensure that you don’t get stale behind the mic.

“The BEK opportunity came about thanks to an STAA job posting,” Doherty recalls. “I was very happy in my role at ESPN Ithaca so I wasn’t itching to go elsewhere unless I found a great opportunity. The job description for BEK and the focus on play-by-play really attracted me so I went for it and got lucky since I don’t have any connections there.”

Keeping his demo reels updated helped Doherty in his BEK application. “I didn’t have to burn time updating demo reels. I had updated them for a job application I submitted for a different posting a couple of months ago and did not feel the need to scour through more audio to make more reels.”

As for moving so far from home, Doherty recalls a piece of advice his mother gave him. “‘Say yes, ask questions later.’ That stuck with me.”

5-5 Plan leads Brintle to full-time TV play-by-play position

Chris Brintle developed a 5-5 Plan in 2020 while sports director at Basin Radio Network in Gillette, WY. He wanted to be calling Division I games within the first five years of the plan and TV play-by-play within the second five. In his new job, Brintle will be doing both. He’s joining BEK Sports Network in Bismarck, ND as a TV play-by-play broadcaster.

Brintle will broadcast college and high school sports, including football, basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball. It includes Division I college sports.

“BEK fits into the [5-5] plan perfectly,” Brintle grins.

Seeds of a passion

Brintle fell in love with play-by-play without knowing it. “When I played outside I would pretend I was a player and I would call the action. And when I would play sports video games I would pretend I was the broadcaster,” he recalls. “As I got older and became more passionate about it, I would turn the volume down on the TV during K-State football and basketball games and call the action.”

Still, Brintle didn’t realize that calling games had developed into his passion. “Fast forward to my first year of collage at Oklahoma State. I joined the sports media club because I thought it would be fun. My very first game was RG3 and Baylor at undefeated Oklahoma State. I stayed up all night preparing for that game and after the first kickoff I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life.”

Finding his voice

The path to a full-time TV play-by-play job hasn’t been easy. Brintle joined STAA after graduating from Oklahoma State in 2014. His experience riding bulls, of all things, helped him land with Basin Radio Network almost immediately. He struggled, though, to find his play-by-play voice. Brintle regularly sends samples of his work for inclusion in the monthly Group Critiques for STAA member. Every time he addressed one suggestion for improving his work, another area of need would pop up. Still, his motivated never wavered.

“All I ever wanted was to have the perfect broadcast. I’m a perfectionist — as an entertainer I’m trying to create a masterpiece. [The critiques] never discouraged me because I want to be the best in the business. It’s not about the money it’s about being the best. [STAA’s] critiques were critical to me improving my craft.”

Brintle also benefitted from hearing critiques of the play-by-play of other STAA members. “The Group Critiques are extremely helpful. Getting to hear and learn from everyone’s critiques has made me better.

“There are about ten thousand ways STAA has helped me,” he smiles.

The 5-5 Plan

Brintle eventually realized he needed a map to get from where he was to where he wanted to go. “Two years ago I started thinking about my future and that I would need to implement goals for success. I started looking at what the necessary steps were to reach different levels of broadcasting. I realized that I needed to be realistic with my timeline because these goals that I had don’t happen overnight. That’s when I came up with 5-5.

“The plan was important because it made me work harder knowing that I HAD to achieve the next level in five years. I had no reason to slack off.”

Hipp ready to make diamonds at North Dakota State

Rob Hipp was living in Texas when he interviewed for the play-by-play job at North Dakota State University. When asked if it would be too much pressure to be ready for the start of football in Fargo in less than three weeks, his reply was classic. “Diamonds are produced under pressure. Let’s go make some diamonds.”

Hipp got the job. He leaves Sam Houston State University to be the voice of the NDSU Bison and sports director for KQWB-AM BISON 1660.

Hipp will call play-by-play for football and men’s basketball. He will also host coaches’ shows and radio and TV for football and men’s and women’s basketball.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and blessing to be here. The word that comes to mind with everything associated with NDSU is excellence,” Hipp said in a press release.

Hipp has spent the past three years as radio voice for Sam Houston Bearkats‘ football, basketball and baseball. Ironically, when the Bearkats football won the 2021 FCS national championship, it snapped a run of three straight titles by Hipp’s new school. NDSU then won their ninth title last season.

In Texas, Hipp was also was sports director for KSAM-KHVL radio. He’s been an STAA member since 2016.

“My family and I are proud to be in Fargo,” Hipp exudes. “I am looking forward to plugging in to the community, getting to know Bison Nation and helping to carry on the legacy of Bison Pride! Horns Up!”

Time to make some diamonds.

Hipp has been an STAA member since 2016. He is the seventh member to accept a DI play-by-play job this off-season. Ironically, two of them – Hipp and Zach Mackey – attended STAA Play-by-Play Retreats in San Diego in 2018.

Here are the seven:

  • John Fitzgerald, Illinois State
  • Keaton Gillogly, Montana State
  • Rob Hipp, North Dakota State
  • Blake Olson, Northern Colorado
  • JW Cox, Northern Iowa
  • Zach Mackey, Virginia Tech
  • Brad Klein, Western Kentucky

Kerns starting TV career in hometown of mentor Dan Patrick

Dylan Kerns is a recent graduate of The Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University. Now he’s starting his first TV job in Patrick’s hometown. Kerns is joining WHIZ-TV in Zanesville, OH as a sports anchor/reporter.

“I don’t think there was a better opportunity out there for me to begin my career. Zanesville is a small market that has a big passion for sports,” Kerns enthuses.

Kerns joined STAA in May of 2021. “I learned about STAA through an instructor at Full Sail University. Mac McDonald was a huge reason why I joined.”

His membership is how he learned of the WHIZ opening. “I started applying for jobs before I officially graduated,” he recalls. “STAA does a great job of sending leads for open positions. The WHIZ job really attracted me.”

Kerns has long wanted to deliver sports stories on a nightly basis. “This job allows me to do exactly that and the location is wonderful for me,” he smiles. “It’s only three hours away from my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Zanesville is also close to many large cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

Relationship building

Building relationships was key to Kerns landing his new opportunity. “Reaching out and communicating with people can go a long way,” he suggests. “Someone that you know could have a connection with someone else who could help you in the pursuit. I also realized that updating my demo reel as I neared graduation was a great idea. It showcased my best work and allowed me to properly pitch myself to a future employer.”

Relationship building is also a reason Kerns joined STAA. “I wanted to network with more people in the industry. The website does a great job of that. I also joined because of the track record of members landing jobs. I knew that with proper guidance I could make the most out of STAA and it is a large reason why I got my first job.”

Discovering TV

Kerns is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and play-by-play has long been a goal. However, he also fell in love with TV while attending the Dan Patrick School.

“I spent the last two years doing play-by-play and really enjoyed it,” he recalls. “It is still one of my favorite things to do in the industry. The Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting program has helped me become well-rounded in many areas. As I got towards the end of the program, I really started to fall in love with a newsroom environment and creating sports stories. I am a great storyteller and that helps both in play-by-play and in a TV studio environment.”

Dan Patrick is the first famous sportscaster with Zanesville roots. Kerns hopes to become the second.

Longtime contacts help Lancello to play-by-play role in Minnesota

Two longtime acquaintances helped Joe Lancello to his new job as a play-by-play broadcaster for R&J Broadcasting’s KRJB FM in Ada, MN.

Lancello met R&J Broadcasting Owner Jim Birkemeyer when Lancello was early in his career. “He was kind enough to let me use a production studio to make a new audition tape after I lost my first job,” Lancello smiles.

When Lancello contacted Birkemeyer about the KRJB opening, he learned that R&J had purchased radio stations in International Falls, MN. Coincidentally, that is where a general manager for whom Lancello previously worked is now employed.

“My old boss talked about me a lot and that seems to have helped my case,” Lancello grins.

In his new job, Lancello will be hosting an online coaches show and covering games throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. “I’ll be kept busy doing play-by-play.”

Lancello is a 32-year radio veteran and a 2006 charter member of STAA. Though he’s broadcast in cities like Nashville and Huntsville, Lancello has spent most of his career in small markets with names like Thief River Falls, Warroad, Shawano and Hibbing. He spent the past four years in Oskaloosa, IA

“Small towns are very passionate about their teams, so that’s a plus for me,” he smiles.

Also a plus for Lancello are the friends he’s made throughout his career, two of whom he can thank for his newest opportunity.