Wilson’s radio experience pays off in TV play-by-play job

(July 25, 2017) Ben Wilson’s goals have always been in TV play-by-play. Coming out of college, though, he knew that radio was the place to hone those skills. Now, after two years in radio, Wilson is joining the play-by-play roster at Mediacom Sports TV in Columbia, MO.

Mediacom broadcasts high school football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and volleyball, and has contracts with Columbia College (NAIA) and the University of Missouri hockey club.

“In the past year or so, Mediacom has made a lot of great improvements with their overall on-air product, and also expressed a desire to streamline their usage of play-by-play broadcasters,” says Wilson. “The thought of calling all of their games throughout the year was greatly appealing to me.”

Wilson moves to Mediacom from KRES Radio in Moberly, MO where he was an announcer, news reporter and play-by-play broadcaster.

This will not be Wilson’s first experience with Mediacom.

“I actually started working for Mediacom Sports on a part-time basis several years ago while an undergrad at Mizzou. I called a handful of games for them each year, and continued to do so after taking a full-time job at KRES.

“Working for Mediacom Sports, as well as picking up additional games for Fox Sports Midwest, will allow me to get a full, year-round slate of TV play-by-play. In the past, I’ve only been able to call a few TV games each year as a result of having a full-time radio job. These new opportunities will allow me to enhance my TV demo, while also giving me much more scheduling flexibility.”

Though TV play-by-play has always been his goal, Wilson knew that radio was the right first step for him after graduating from Missouri.

“I really focused on finding something that would give me as many reps as possible and allow me to grow on the air. To that end, KRES Radio has been a great fit. In my two years at the station, I’ve called about 75 games per year and developed exponentially in every area of play-by-play.”

Wilson says there is no substitute for the volume of reps he earned at KRES. “It’s one of the main reasons why so many young broadcasters come to Moberly and work for and learn from a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster in Brad Boyer.

“I think getting your start in radio and having an initial radio play-by-play background pays massive dividends for all broadcasters, even if you see yourself calling games for a major TV network down the road. If it wasn’t for KRES allowing me to grow the way I have as a broadcaster, there isn’t any way I’d have the types of TV opportunities I do now.”

(Visit Ben’s website).

Schmidt’s KODE-TV job exceeds expectations

(July 14, 2017) Ethan Schmidt’s search for his next sports broadcasting job has been more successful than he hoped. Schmidt, an STAA member, has been named Sports Director at KODE-TV in Joplin, MS.

“I spent several months trying to find a spot as either a sports reporter or, best case scenario, a sports anchor. I finally got the call from Joplin and it sounded like the right place for me to be.”

Schmidt is excited for the opportunity to take the reigns.

“I will be the Sports Director, so I have moved from being a weekend sports anchor who gets told when and where to go to being the one calling the shots.”

For Schmidt, the key to success is casting a wide net.

“I never stopped applying to open positions. If I felt that I had the proper experience then I would apply. I didn’t really look at location either. This career will take you to different places that you may never thought you would be at.”

One thing that helped Schmidt stay persistent in his applications was his STAA membership.

“I am very thankful for the tips that I receive from STAA, and also the fact that all of these job openings are compiled in one spot.”

Ricketts follows fellow STAA member as FIU voice

(July 7, 2017) When AJ Ricketts was given the choice between his full-time TV sportscasting job and a seasonal NCAA DI football play-by-play gig, the choice was easy. An STAA member, Ricketts is the new voice of the football program at Florida International University in Miami. He’ll also broadcast select men’s and women’s basketball games, and conduct weekly coach and player interviews.

A graduate of the University of Miami, Ricketts returns to South Florida after 18 months in a full-time sports anchor/reporter role at WECT/FOX in Wilmington, NC.

“I didn’t view [the choice] as full time TV vs. part time play-by-play,” says Ricketts. “I looked at it as simply TV vs. play-by-play, and I’ve always had a tremendous passion for putting on the headset and being a part of a program. And as we all know, play-by-play openings aren’t rolling out every day.

“Adding in the momentum and resources around the program, a coach like Butch Davis who has such a terrific background in the sport, and a respected staff at FIU, this was the ideal transition.”

Ricketts’ play-by-play resume includes an NIT Tournament final in Madison Square Garden and the College World Series in Omaha. At FIU, he follows fellow STAA member and 2016 Jim Nantz Award winner Josh Appel. Appel left FIU after one season to broadcast NFL and major college football for Sports USA Radio Network.

The FIU opportunity was shared exclusively with STAA members. It was not posted on STAA’s public job board.

“When an STAA member leaves a job, we’re often able to notify fellow members of the opening before it becomes public,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik.

“I sent my application in a day after the posting,” adds Ricketts.

Ricketts believes a series of little things throughout the application process earned him the job. “A very personalized cover letter; utilizing established relationships for references; an updated website and reel; a follow up phone call,” says Ricketts. “Doing all these things at the right time is important, but so are the relationships you build and the product you put out over the years before.

“I love a quote JJ Redick told Duke a few years ago. He said, ‘You’ve never arrived. You’re always becoming,'” says Ricketts. “We’re all looking to get better every day. STAA consistently gives us resources to do just that. I always want to keep learning.

“I’m excited to get to FIU, and the STAA email with the posting got this all rolling.”

(Visit AJ’s website.).

Staying ready helps Blavin land in-season baseball job

(July 5, 2017) Always be ready. Opportunity can knock at any time.

Leo Blavin stayed ready. Now, the STAA member is taking over in mid-season as Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations for the Fayetteville SwampDogs of the Coast Plain summer collegiate baseball league.

“I’m thrilled to be calling more baseball this summer, and a lot of it has to do with the service STAA provides,” says Blavin.

Fayetteville has hired several STAA members over the years, so when the mid-season need for a broadcaster arose, the team asked STAA for referrals. Blavin was on the short list.

“I had never called any summer league baseball before due to my broadcasting schedule with the University of Michigan’s softball and baseball teams. I hadn’t anticipated that this summer would be any different, but when this opportunity in Fayetteville opened up I knew I wanted to try and earn the job.”

In addition to his radio work at Michigan, Blavin broadcast play-by-play on the Big Ten Network Student U and was Director of Operations for the campus TV station. He’s also served internships in both radio and TV and was a social media and marketing intern for famed sports agent Leigh Steinberg.

Blavin’s advice to sports broadcasting job seekers is to stay ready. “Make sure your demo and resume are up to date and be prepared to pack up and go when a quality opportunity arises in a different part of the country,” he suggest.

For fellow STAA members, Blavin adds, “Always check the latest job leads e-mail and apply as soon as you can.”

(Visit Leo’s website).

Recent Nebraska grad Rezac earns coveted KLIN job

(June 30, 2017) Fresh off his graduate walk, STAA member Tommy Rezac is returning to familiar airwaves in a newly minted position. Rezac has been named Sports Director at KLIN Radio in Lincoln, NE.

“This is a chance to lead the sports coverage on Lincoln’s Husker radio flagship and the oldest Husker Sports Network affiliate in the state,” Rezac grins.

“This job will not only give me an increased air presence, but also gives me the chance to do a lot of good, old fashioned reporting, which I missed doing since leaving college. This job gives me a front row seat to covering one of the most highly respected collegiate programs in the nation, and that makes me very excited.”

Rezac was first employed by KLIN as a part-timer while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was at KLIN for three years, but left to pursue other opportunities. When KLIN’s new program director Bob Shomper decided to create a Sports Director position, Rezac’s name came up. Shomper reached out.

“The more we talked on the phone, the more it pulled me in. The job sounded like everything I want to be doing in the market I want to be doing it in. After Bob posted the job publicly, we had a face-to-face interview that went very well.”

Rezac credits his work ethic for creating an impression that was worth remembering by other KLIN staff.

“I tried to make myself available as often as I could and tried to do as many tasks as I was allowed. I learned a lot from our full-time air talent, and they did everything in their power to get me on the air, get me involved and prepare me for the real world.”

Though Rezac graduated just last month, his radio experience is extensive. In addition to his prior stint with KLIN, Rezac has broadcast on the UNL campus station and called high school sports in York, NE and college baseball in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

While he landed the KLIN job on his own, Rezac appreciates the support he received from his STAA membership.

“STAA literally hands their members fantastic job leads every week before the major job boards pick them up. It provides a gateway for the employers who post these jobs, and to the candidates who wants those jobs.

“On top of that, it’s a gold mine for helpful tips and resources, whether it’s a spotting chart or a step-by-step guide on how to perfect your next interview or your newest reel.”

Rezac is excited and focused on the future at KLIN – and he is already wise enough to reflect on his path so far.

“I like to think I’ve picked up a different skill at every place I’ve worked for that’s helped me get to this point. Whether it be KRNU (UNL radio), the Daily Nebraskan (UNL newspaper) or the various stations I’ve worked for, each stop and each person that was there to guide me have all helped me get here, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

(Visit Tommy’s website).

Late application benefits Corbet

“Dylan(June 28, 2017) Dylan Corbet is beginning his full-time sportscasting career in a North Dakota town named after the English birthplace of the sport of rugby. An STAA member, Corbet is joining Rugby Broadcasters, Inc. as a Sports Director.

Rugby Broadcasters owns two stations, KZZJ AM 1450 and KKWZ 95.3 FM, providing Corbet with plenty of opportunity to earn a range of experience. His duties will include high school play-by-play, on-air shifts, social media and website coordination, and sales.

“I get to continue doing play-by-play while also gaining incredible experience with everything that comes with small market radio,” Corbet smiles. “I will gain experience with on air shifts as well as sales, which is something I am extremely looking forward to.”

Job market wisdom recommends applying early, but in this case Corbet found truth in the adage, “better late than never.”

“Whenever I see a job that seems like a good fit, I flag it in my inbox with the intent of applying in the near future. When I received notification of this particular job in North Dakota, I immediately marked it, but didn’t end up sending out a cover letter until a month or two later (I was focusing on finishing up my degree at the time),” Corbet explains.

“Less than a week after sending out the cover letter, I received an email from Lila Harstad with the intent of scheduling a phone interview.”

Corbet first discovered the open position in an STAA job leads email.

“My STAA membership is so useful because it actually finds and sends you the jobs you are looking for in the sports media world that you could not easily find without STAA’s help.”

He also credits a solid cover letter with the assist in landing the job in Rugby.

“Following STAA’s recommendations for writing a cover letter has been superbly useful in the job searching process and definitely helped me land this particular job.”

A recent graduate of Bradley University, Corbet’s previous experience includes a season as the broadcast assistant for the Peoria Chiefs, high school play-by-play for Morton Potter Television, and play-by-play for BU.

(Visit Dylan’s STAA Talent Page).

Burggraaf named Sports Director in Wray, CO

“Caleb(June 19, 2017) The people who go farthest in sportscasting aren’t always the most talented. They are the ones who stick with it through inevitable hardships. Caleb Burggraaf exemplifies that determination. An STAA member, Burggraaf is the new Sports Director at KRDZ Radio in Wray, CO.

In the six years since his graduation from Colorado Mesa University, Burggraaf’s career has been highlighted by twists and turns. He’s worked for small market stations in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming and spent time outside the industry. His determination, though, never wavered. Sportscasting is what Burggraaf has wanted to do since early in high school. The work ethic he inherited from his father has kept him going.

“My father has instilled in me a work ethic that you push yourself and don’t let other people determine when you are done. I have had plenty of doubters and naysayers in the past, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to give up on a dream. I don’t think I can look at myself, much less others, including the kids whose games I broadcast, and say ‘keep going’ if I didn’t do so myself.”

Burggraaf learned of the KRDZ opportunity through STAA. It wasn’t the first time he’d applied with the station.

“The job is one I actually interviewed for several years ago, but came just short of getting. I made the top three candidates.”

Burggraaf spent the past two and a half years at My Local Radio in Wyoming. The chance to learn advertising sales is one of the things that attracted him to Wray.

“Sales is one of the few places where I feel my resume is weak.”

Burggraaf has been in the job market when he’s been unemployed and when he’s had work. He much prefers the latter.

“[Already being employed] allowed me to search without the pressure of needing a job just to keep eating. It gave me time to think about what job I wanted to look for.”

(Visit Caleb’s STAA Talent Page).

Appel to call NFL, college football for Sports USA

STAA member Josh Appel, the 2016 winner of STAA’s Jim Nantz Award as the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sports broadcaster, has joined Sports USA as a full-time NFL & college football play-by-play announcer.

Appel graduated from the University of South Florida in 2016 and earned his degree in Mass Communications. As a student, he called football, basketball and baseball, and upon graduation became the voice of the FIU Panthers. Appel is also in his fourth season as one of the play-by-play voices for the Clearwater Threshers, a minor-league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Appel worked two college football games for Sports USA last year, calling the play-by-play of the Independence and Outback Bowls nationally.

“Josh is a rising star in our industry,” said Larry Kahn, CEO, Founder and lead NFL broadcaster of Sports USA. “We are thrilled to have him with us on a full-time basis.”

“I couldn’t be more thankful and excited to join the Sports USA family,” Appel said. “It’s been a dream of mine to call games at this level and I can’t thank Larry and Sports USA enough for the opportunity.”

Appel joins a stable of play-by-play announcers that includes Kahn, Anaheim Ducks broadcaster John Ahlers, longtime Alabama Crimson Tide voice Eli Gold, Bob Fitzgerald of the Golden State Warriors, and Wayne Randazzo from the NY Mets.

(Visit Josh’s website).

Phone call lands Mixie role at Jacksonville U.

(June 9, 2017) Making a simple phone call paid great dividends for STAA member Joe Mixie. As a result of that call, Mixie has been hired to do media relations and play-by-play for Jacksonville University.

Mixie will serve as the primary media contact and call play-by-play for several of Jacksonville’s NCAA Division I sports, including ESPN3 broadcasts.

“This position is very unique, because it will allow me to be performing the actions of an SID and a collegiate broadcaster, two positions that usually work side-by-side in the press box,” says Mixie.

The opportunity is technically an internship though Mixie will be paid for his work.

Mixie applied immediately upon learning of the position through STAA. After submitting his application, he did something he’d never done before. One week after applying, he followed-up with a phone call.

“This is something that I did not do prior to joining to STAA and that, frankly, I had no interest in doing. During my interview, I was told that I was given a phone interview more on the basis that I called after I applied than from my resume, and that I was the only one out of ‘around 100’ to make a follow-up call.”

Mixie is a 2017 graduate of Liberty University, where he gained experience in radio play-by-play and TV anchoring. He spent last summer as a broadcasting intern for minor league baseball’s Bridgeport BlueFish. Mixie has been an STAA member since January.

“By learning from STAA’s Insider newsletters, watching Member Makeovers, looking at other sportscasters’ work and utilizing other resources that STAA provides, I was able to put together a clear and effective presentation of myself to employers, and begin competing for positions I was applying for.

“Above all, being told that something I had done because of STAA (the follow-up call) was one of the main reasons I stuck out from the crowd proves again that STAA is worth the investment.

“I could not be more grateful, and look forward to the next job I can get through STAA.”

(Visit Joe’s website).

Chillot new voice of RiverKings hockey

(June 5, 2017) TJ Chillot was on his way out the door of his home when he saw a job lead from STAA arrive in his email. “Instantly, I stopped, turned around, and applied right then and there,” Chillot says. The position was with minor league hockey’s Mississippi RiverKings. Now, Chillot is their Broadcaster/Community Relations Director.

The job lead was exclusively for STAA members. It was not published on the STAA job board.

“If I had to guess, I would assume I was one of the first two or three people to apply for the position, and I think that’s big,” Chillot smiles.

Chillot’s resume includes studio work for Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey and Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball, and for NCAA Division I athletics at Lehigh University.

“The RiverKings give me the chance to get out from behind the walls of the studio and pursue the play-by-play career I’ve always desired,” says Chillot.

In addition to broadcasting and media relations duties, Chillot will assist the RiverKings sales and marketing departments.

Something that Chillot credits for helping in his pursuit of the Mississippi opportunity is keeping his website and social media accounts up to date.

“I curated each outlet with every chance I got, adding new demos and clips constantly to make sure that the best of the best was always front and center.”

Chillot also made a priority of featuring his personality on social media.

“I was able to express how my work comes through on a professional level, but to also showcase my personality on a personal level, says Chillot. “I know if I were hiring for a position in sportscasting, I would want someone who is not only good at the job, but was also a likable person who would fit in with the culture of the organization. I wanted prospective employers to see that I was one of those people.”

Chillot has been an STAA member for five months.

“Even before the job application process, STAA was the crutch I leaned on,” he says. “I am young in this business, and the compass I use to point me in the right direction is STAA. I use the Resources page to purchase equipment that made my demos sound better, used the resume scorecard (available on the STAA Members site) to make sure I had the best on paper I possibly could, and last but not least – the community of other STAA Members. Every question I had, and every problem I was facing, had already been dealt with by someone else and the support group was there.

“From that first phone call I got from Jon when I signed up to the countless resources, I learned very quickly that I’m not alone in this business and STAA was my biggest help. Without STAA – I would probably still be spinning my tires as to what my next move should be and how to do it.”

(Visit TJ’s website).