Proactivity lands Mackey MSU basketball job

(April 8, 2019) When Zach Mackey learned there was an open play-by-play position at Montana State University, he didn’t wait for publication of a position description before applying. Good thing. Applications for the position were never solicited and Mackey is now Bobcats’ men’s basketball voice and football analyst.

The position opened in January when MSU and their previous football/basketball voice parted ways. Women’s basketball voice Jason Alvine will handle football play-by-play.

“In January [STAA] sent an email about not waiting to apply for a position that we knew was open,” Mackey recalls. “I sent my tape to the people at Montana State and to [Learfield IMG VP of Broadcast Operations] Tom Boman in January. The people at Montana State said that they were not going to look at the position until April, but three weeks later Tom Boman reached out and wanted to talk to me about the position before it was ever opened up.

“I appreciate that email [STAA] sent because I probably would not have applied until it was officially opened.”

Mackey is a 2018 graduate of the University of Iowa. He earned three Top 20 recognitions and an All-America honor in STAA’s annual ranking of the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sports broadcasters. Since 2017 he’s been the voice of Iowa baseball on the Learfield IMG Hawkeyes Radio Network.

MSU and Iowa are both Learfield schools, so Mackey will keep his job with Hawkeyes’ baseball.

“A big part of my decision [to accept the MSU job] was to still be able to call baseball and stay around a great group in Iowa, so I’m really happy everyone has agreed to let me do that,” Mackey grins.

Advice from Learfield IMG’s Boman pushed Mackey’s decision over the top.

“I have great respect for Tom, and MSU is a position that people have really enjoyed because of the fan support,” Mackey says. “It is also a situation that Tom thought was good for the next step in my career. When everyone agreed to the decision for me to also do Iowa baseball in the Spring it was the best of both worlds for me to get football and basketball experience while still doing baseball.”

Mackey believes that being a good people person also factored into him getting the gig.

“I have always enjoyed interacting with people. There are a lot of really good broadcasters out there, but to get hired you have to be able to interact with people and show them why they should choose you.”

It was through STAA’s All-America program that Mackey learned of STAA. “I knew that I wanted to apply for that award to see where I stack up and knew that STAA was a great resource.

“I used the free resources that STAA has in the beginning and found them very helpful. In 2016 I was an All-American for the Jim Nantz award. With that, I was given a couple of months free to STAA. After I had the full service I knew how helpful and informative it was and I have been a member since because of all the valuable info that [STAA] sends out.

“Someone just joining STAA should know that they have lots of info at their fingertips and make sure you read it all. There are constantly emails about different things that hiring directors are looking for and what is a good tip and what is something that you should avoid. The job leads are great and can help your career but so are the broadcasting tips to work on each week.”

Mackey says one of the toughest parts of the sports broadcasting industry is ways to set yourself apart. “There are a lot of really talented guys that could do the same job as you. I have tried to separate myself by trying to get more experiences and to meet and network with people in the industry.”

To that end, Mackey attended an STAA Play-by-Play Retreat in San Diego last summer.

Besides broadcasting baseball on the Hawkeye Radio Network, Mackey has called games for a summer collegiate team in Chillicothe, MO and broadcast various sports on the Big Ten Network’s Student U. His start in sportscasting came at Geneseo High School in Geneseo, IL.

“I think that gave me a head start before other people my age,” says Mackey. “[Instructors] Keith Kennitt and Jacob Beeth gave me an opportunity in high school to broadcast games. I approached those games like a major broadcast. That helped prepare me and give me a head start before college.”

Mackey didn’t wait for college to start sportscasting and he didn’t wait for an invitation to apply for MSU.

Sometimes, impatience is a virtue.

(Visit Zach’s website).

Four More STAA Members Earn Baseball Opportunities

(March 25, 2019) Four more STAA members have earned baseball broadcasting opportunities for this summer. Brennan Mense, Mike Drew and Max Thoma will be broadcasting and media relations assistants for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, St. Paul Saints and Gary SouthShore RailCats respectively. Cullen Holt will be the lead voice and media director for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.

Bowling Green is the Class-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. St. Paul and Gary are independent league teams. Wisconsin is a summer collegiate squad.

Brennan Mense is a 2016 graduate of the Princeton of the Plains, Kansas State University. He spent last summer as the No. 2 with the Gary SouthShore Rail Cats. This is his first foray into affiliated ball.

Mike Drew earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2016 from Westfield State University and his Masters from Syracuse one year later. In addition to calling WSU baseball, Drew has broadcast from the Babe Ruth World Series and the Ripken Baseball World Series.

Max Thoma grew up in the Los Angeles area before attending the University of Miami. He spent last summer broadcasting in the Sunset Baseball League, a top amateur league in Southern California.

Cullen Holt grew up near Thoma in Southern California and is a sophomore at Cal Baptist University. He called games and handled media relations last summer for the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs of the summer collegiate Expedition League.

Krzus returning to Threshers as No. 1

“Thaddeus(March 20, 2019) The opportunity to return to a place he loves was too good to pass up for STAA member Thaddeus Krzus. After serving as a broadcasting/media relations assistant for the Clearwater Threshers in 2014, Krzus is rejoining the organization as their No. 1.

“Clearwater would be a great opportunity for anybody in any aspect of the front office,” says Krzus. “They have tremendous leadership, and the people in the front office just click. They have too many people to count who have been there for at least five years – – some at about 20 or more – – so they really understand the community, which allows the team to thrive in the market.”

The Threshers job opened when Kirsten Karbach moved to Double-A Reading. Threshers GM Jason Adams contacted Krzus to gauge his interest in returning. “Jason informed me that they were looking for someone who had knowledge of the Florida State League,” says Krzus. “Since I had been in the league for three years, on top of having already worked for the Threshers back in 2014, it just made me a good fit for the organization.”

Since being the Threshers No. 2 in 2014, Krzus was the No. 2 with the Biloxi Shuckers in 2015 and 2016 before joining the Florida Fire Frogs as their No.1 each of the past two seasons.

Krzus admits that not getting the top spot in Biloxi when Chris Harris left at the end of 2017 was disappointing. “The world keeps spinning no matter how I feel,” says Krzus. “I just thought to myself, ‘Push through and maybe another opportunity will come up.’ That, and I have a pretty good support group that wouldn’t let me stay down for long. They do a pretty good job of picking my spirit up.”

Krzus has been an STAA member since 2015. “STAA has helped out in all aspects of broadcasting,” he says. “It’s helped me look for different jobs with the postings, it’s helped me look for assistants, there are helpful tips in the [weekly STAA Insider] emails, and it’s really helped whenever I compose cover letters and resumes with the critiques and template sheets.

“I would tell a new STAA member to use every link on the website to his/her advantage. There’s a wealth of information available.”

(Visit Thaddeus’ STAA Talent Page).

Determination lands Goldman at ABC/Fox Montana

(March 6, 2019) Leo Goldman applied for over 150 jobs before finding the right fit. After he graduates from Bowling Green University in Ohio this Spring, he is heading to Helena, MT to join ABC/Fox Montana as a sports reporter.

“It’s an awesome first job to have, a great location, and a perfect stepping stone job,” Goldman grins.

150 represents only the number of jobs for which Goldman estimates he applied. “If email inquiries count too, then nearly 300,” he smiles.

Goldman has kept busy while at BGSU. In addition to hosting a SportsCenter-style highlights show and doing TV and radio sideline reporting, he hosted a radio sports talk show and called some baseball play-by-play.

Goldman joined STAA in May of 2018. He learned of the KFBB opening through an STAA job leads email. “Multiple peers and mentors told me about STAA,” he recalls. “It was my first job site to get on. At first I wasn’t sure because of the price but it’s worth every penny! Jon Chelesnik is incredibly helpful and the job lead emails that are received come in way before any other site,” Goldman says.

Goldman’s advice to other college seniors entering the job market is to be patient and stay encouraged. “A job will come! Just keep sending emails and keep applying and something good will come your way,” he says.

(Visit Leo’s website).

Zanaboni back in affiliated ball after unusual first experience

“Joey(March 1, 2019) Four years after enduring a bad experience in the Pioneer League, Joey Zanaboni is back in affiliated baseball. An STAA member, Zanaboni is the new voice of the Johnson City Cardinals.

Johnson City is the rookie affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I’ve been keen to get back to affiliated ball for awhile,” Zanaboni says. “It had to be the right situation though – a solid team with a front office I trust and get a good vibe from. Johnson City is a great organization that operates with integrity. I’m glad to be working with them.”

Zanaboni’s first experience in affiliated ball was in 2015 with the Orem Owlz. “The organization, unbeknownst to me when I accepted the position, planned to hold a promotion at the ballpark called “Caucasian Heritage Night.” When I learned of their plans, I raised immediate concerns in a professional and insistent manner. Ultimately, I resigned from my position in protest of their intentions. I refused to sacrifice my personal integrity for the prestige of the position.”

The immediate aftermath of Zanaboni’s decision was tempestuous. “Major media outlets, including USA Today and Deadspin, initially misreported the story, casting blame on me for the promotion’s creation. They were wrong to sow this confusion. Ultimately, when I contacted them with the truth, they corrected the record. I endured other harassment and veiled threats, but those died down fairly quickly.”

Many people voiced public support of Zanaboni’s decision. “I appreciated those,” he recalls. “Ultimately though, my decision to leave what STAA called at the time ‘a perfect career arc‘ was simply based on personal integrity. I could never look myself in the mirror knowing I did not speak out against a planned Caucasian Heritage Night.”

Prior to Orem, Zanaboni’s “perfect career arc” featured consecutive seasons in summer collegiate and independent ball. Since Orem, Zanaboni has broadcast community college sports in Mississippi, baseball for the Texas AirHogs of the American Association and basketball, baseball and soccer for the University of West Florida.

Zanaboni’s relationship with the Johnson City Cardinals has been developing for a couple of years. “The front office learned of my story and my work from a mutual acquaintance, Matt Slater, who is a special assistant to the general manager in St. Louis,” Zanaboni says. “Zac Clark, GM in Johnson City, and I connected a few times and then were able to meet at the Winter Meetings in December in Las Vegas.”

Zanaboni has been an STAA member since 2014. “I’ve stuck with [STAA] because of the number of leads it generates. I apply to a lot of jobs through it. And I appreciated the article STAA published in 2015 to help me get the truth out there about what happened when I resigned my position with the Owlz. That meant something.”

Persistence has been Zanaboni’s key in the job market. “I’ve kept grinding. That’s been huge. And I’ve tried to treat people with respect along the way. People remember that, I think.”

Since the Orem situation, Zanaboni has continued his commitment to diversity in sports. “I have served as a broadcaster and sports information director at Coahoma Community College, an HBCU in northern Mississippi, and, most recently, have been part of a pioneering effort to bring the Chinese national baseball team to the independent American Association.

“I’ve done these things having more fun than any radio guy out there. There’s a joy unmistakable in my broadcasts. My soul was tested by a set of strange circumstances four summers ago. I passed and it set me free.”

(Visit Joey’s STAA Talent Page).

Levitt voice of new Amarillo Double-A club

(February 15, 2019) Corpus Christi and Amarillo Texas are less than 10 hours apart but the distance represents a big step forward for Sam Levitt. After two seasons as the No. 2 broadcaster for the Corpus Christi Hooks, Levitt has been hired as the No. 1 for the new Amarillo Sod Poodles.

The Soddies are the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

“The San Diego Padres will provide top-level prospects and make it an exciting team to cover every day,” Levitt said in a press release.

Levitt has been broadcasting baseball since he was a student at Northwestern from 2010 to 2014. In addition to calling games on the campus station, Levitt spent two summers with the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod League. 2015 began a two year stint with the independent Gateway Grizzlies before Levitt moved to Corpus Christi.

“My goal is to provide this [Amarillo] fan base with some of the best coverage in the Texas League and all of Minor League Baseball, from our radio broadcasts to creative presence on the web and social media. I want fans to feel connected to the organization in a meaningful way.”

In addition to baseball, Levitt’s resume includes broadcasts on the Big Ten Network, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, ESPN3, American Sports Network and other outlets.

“I’m incredibly excited to join the Sod Poodles and be part of starting a new chapter of professional baseball in Amarillo”, said Levitt.

(Visit Sam’s website).

Clingen joining Winston-Salem Dash broadcasts

(February 5, 2019) Conor Clingen is a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan. Now he’s getting the opportunity to broadcast for their Class-A affiliate. An STAA member, Clinger is the new Broadcasting/Media Relations Assistant for the Winston-Salem Dash.

“With the grind of Minor League Baseball, being a fan can only be a small part of the motivation to apply for the job,” says Clingen. “After doing more research, I found that Winston-Salem is one of the most well-run organizations in MiLB.”

He’s right. The Dash led the Carolina League in attendance last season and won the Bob Freitas Award as the best Class-A organization in Minor League Baseball. “Additionally, getting the chance to work with [Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations] Joe Weil was an intriguing aspect of the job. I had heard plenty of Joe’s work through his work with the Dash and Notre Dame football’s pre and post game show,” says Clingen.

Clingen set a goal for 2019 to go after his sports broadcasting dream full-time. He learned of the Dash opportunity through an STAA job leads email. Accepting the position required him to leave a well-paying job outside of broadcasting. “I knew it would come to a point where my day job and broadcasting would come into conflict,” he says. “I had a great experience at my job, but I needed to make this jump to achieve my career goals.”

Clingen joined STAA in 2016 at the start of his senior year at Notre Dame. “Multiple
Notre Dame broadcasters had applied for the Jim Nantz Award, and [friend] Mike [Monaco] was an All-American in 2015,” Clingen recalls. “After seeing all that STAA had to offer, it was an easy decision to become a member.”

Initially, Clingen joined STAA mostly to receive sportscasting job leads. “However, after being a member I have found so much more value,” he says. “The articles, videos and prep tools are all very helpful. The best part of STAA has to be the personal advice [Owner] Jon Chelesnik is willing to give. While being realistic, Jon is always extremely encouraging and knowledgeable about every aspect of the industry.”

Clingen’s candidacy for the Winston-Salem position was boosted by assistance from several friends. “I received a lot of great advice and had outstanding references. I’d especially like to thank Mark Sasseti, Mike Monaco, and Nathan Bush. All three of these great people advocated for me, pushed me to go for this, and gave me plenty of advice along the way.”

Clingen’s advice to anyone joining STAA is to take advantage of all the comes with a membership. “Soak up every resource available to you,” he suggests. “Whether you’re updating your resume or trying to learn a new sport, STAA has what you need to prepare. Of course, I’d recommend reading every job leads email. You never know what you may find!”

(Visit Connor’s STAA Talent Page).

Latest change leads Eisenberg to Richmond Flying Squirrels

(January 31, 2019) Constant change is common in the early years of a sports broadcasting career. Jake Eisnenberg has experienced it, but whereas it once made him nervous, he now embraces it. His latest career change is taking Eisenberg to Richmond, VA where he is the new Communications & Broadcasting Assistant for Double-A baseball’s Flying Squirrels.

“The Flying Squirrels are an organization that’s enjoyed tremendous success since their inception, and they have a great reputation across Minor League Baseball,” says Eisenberg. “That reputation was more than affirmed by the support and excitement I saw from the crowd at last week’s annual Hot Stove Banquet.”

Eisenberg’s road to Richmond started in 2017 when he met Flying Squirrel’s Director of Communications and Broadcasting Trey Wilson at baseball’s Winter Meetings. “We’ve stayed in touch,” Eisenberg says. “I reached out to him to congratulate him after it was announced he’d be the new lead broadcaster and Director of Communications. Once I saw the posting for the communications and broadcast position, I sent him an email with samples of my work. He interviewed for me for the job in Las Vegas at this year’s Winter Meetings.”

Eisenberg moves to Double-A baseball after working last summer in an assistant position with the Class-A Winston-Salem Dash. He’s spending this off-season as a studio host for IMG College and broadcasting a variety of Wake Forest and Davidson University athletics on ESPN+. The baseball portion of Eisenberg’s resume also includes stops with the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Chatham Anglers.

The itinerant lifestyle of a young sports broadcaster used to be unnerving to Eisenberg. Not anymore. “One of the mental challenges I’ve faced is uncertainty at points—that you could be somewhere completely different six-to-eight months from any given time. But I’ve learned to look at that aspect of this industry in a more positive light. Six-to-eight months from now, for instance, there’s also chance to have a brand-new experience in a brand-new place and learn from brand-new people.

One thing Eisenberg is especially looking forward to about Richmond is learning from Wilson. “There’s a lot that he has to teach, and a lot that I have to learn,” he says.

Eisenberg is also excited to be part of Flying Squirrels Insider—a 30-minute, bi-weekly television series for which he will produce feature-length video pieces and gain on-camera experience.

Eisenberg joined STAA in 2017 on the recommendation of Westwood One play-by-play broadcaster Brandon Gaudin. “I’d tell someone who just joined STAA to make sure to take advantage of the resources at your disposal. The most valuable part of STAA to me has been the job leads. They’re a great way to not only find out about opportunities, but also to keep up with industry news,” suggests Eisenberg.

Keeping up on industry news helped lead Eisenberg to Richmond and he couldn’t be more excited. “From the get-go, it felt like the Flying Squirrels would be an all-around great fit.”

(Visit Jake’s website).

Cloonan moving from summer collegiate to affiliated baseball

(January 29, 2019) Noah Cloonan’s goal upon graduating from Ashland University in December was to have a job in baseball by March.

Mission accomplished.

Cloonan is joining the Myrtle Beach Pelicans as media relations and broadcasting assistant.

“I first heard about the Pelicans job in an email from STAA. I applied immediately,” Cloonan grins.

This will be Cloonan’s third year calling baseball. He spent the past two summers broadcasting summer collegiate ball.

“I think working in summer collegiate baseball really helped me in getting [the Pelicans] job,” Cloonan says. “I spent a summer in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate league [with the Loraine County IronMen] and a summer with the Bellingham Bells in the West Coast League. Those not only gave me great experiences and a chance to get reps but it also allowed me to make a lot of useful contacts.”

Cloonan joined STAA last October for two reasons. “I wanted to be able to get leads on jobs while also growing as a sports broadcaster at the same time,” he recalls. “My only hesitation [about joining STAA] would have been the price but when I weigh that with what it has given me it is 100% worth it.”

Landing his first job was difficult and nerve-wracking for Cloonan. “Talking to other broadcasters in my shoes helped me overcame that. It is great to share tips and experiences with one another and I think that really helped me.”

Cloonan’s advice for anyone joining STAA is simple. “Soak up all of the resources that are provided. Reach out to Jon [Chelesnik] and other members and grow as much as you can!”

(Visit Noah’s website).

Referral leads Bryan to K101 in Woodward, OK

(January 25, 2019) Chalk-up another win for relationship-building. A referral from a friend has landed Zachary Bryan a news, sports and play-by-play position at K101 in Woodward, OK.

The opportunity was emailed to STAA members in late October. Bryan, though, found the position through a friend. “I’ve been reaching out to people for feedback on my broadcasting and one of them let me know of an opening out in Oklahoma, I visited for a few days and they offered me the job.”

The same friend who told Bryan about the job also recommended him for the position. “Once you have a foot in the door and someone on your side it makes the job process so much easier. Showing the owner what I can do and bring to the table myself made the difference. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do that if I didn’t have someone who contacted me about the opening,” says Bryan.

Moving to Oklahoma was necessary for Bryan after spending the first 10 years of his career in the South. “I needed to be able to grow into a more complete professional and unfortunately I was only being given contract or part-time opportunities,” he says. “I knew I wanted to go full-time. K101 gave me the chance to grow and I took it.”

Bryan graduated from Columbia State Community College in Tennessee in 2010. In 2013 he landed his first play-by-play job, calling hockey for Vanderbilt University’s club team. Since then he’s broadcast for the University of Alabama Huntsville and for the Huntsville Force of the North American Basketball League.

Last year Bryan received a criticism that turned around his career.

“I received some negative feedback from a disgruntled viewer,” Bryan recalls. “He told a good friend of mine that I was getting worse on my play by play for UAH hockey. While I knew I wasn’t worse, I realized I wasn’t getting any better. I turned that negative in to a positive. Starting to have more people review and critique my calls elevated my game. If anything, I have [the critic] to thank for giving me a reality check.”

Bryan first joined STAA in 2012. “I’m a member because the organization has stuck by me even when I was having trouble just paying the fee from month to month. I appreciate the job leads, the advice, and the resources available but the biggest thing was sticking with me even when things were roughest. I’m loyal to people who are loyal to me.”

Bryan’s advice to young sportscasters is to be tenacious. “It’s going to be a long, arduous journey,” he says. “You will have more downs than ups, but the ups will carry you through. It took me three years [after college] to get on air and another two to get back on air. Be patient and persevere.”

(Visit Zachary’s STAA Talent Page).