Ottumwa Radio Group opportunity finds Cook

(February 24, 2020) Sometimes opportunities seem to fall into our laps. Such was the case for Dewayne Cook with his new job as Operations Manager/Sports Director at Iowa’s Ottumwa Radio Group.

The opportunity came his way when ORG President Greg List found Cook’s demo and resume in the Talent Search on the STAA website. List called STAA owner Jon Chelesnik to learn more about Cook, who admits, “I had no knowledge of this job opening, and truthfully I wasn’t actively pursuing another job at the time. The owner of the company found my information on STAA, called me, and the rest is history.”

Cook is excited not only for the opportunity to climb the proverbial career ladder, but also for the challenge and responsibility that will come with this management role.

Since 2016, Cook has been with KSID Radio in Sidney, Nebraska. While his new position in Iowa will bring him east, it’s still a far cry from sunny Florida, where Cook grew up and attended college.

The culture shock and cold of the Midwest has not been an issue for Cook. “I just remembered what several of my professors told us during my college career, ‘A lot of you will live and work in places that you may never have even heard of, but you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and do what it takes to advance your career.’”

Snow boots and warm coats aren’t the only things that have helped Cook with the transition. “I grew up an only child and have always had a sense of independence, so I felt confident I would be able to adapt to whatever culture and community I ended up in.”

He also credits the Sidney community and especially his former boss, Suzy Ernest, with helping ease the transition. “She was a joy to work for and really helped me through that first year in particular. The community of Sidney was also very welcoming as a whole.”

Cook was referred to STAA by fellow STAA member, Mike Ridaught. He joined in 2018 after graduating from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He says, “In my final semester at UF I spent time perusing the free job boards on STAA looking at different job listings, but once I graduated I decided to join for good to have access to all job opening information.”

Cook stated that one of the benefits of a membership with STAA is “what a great job Jon does in staying in contact with a wide range of companies, teams, etc. and letting members know when openings are available.”

He continues, “This Ottumwa Radio Group opportunity fell into my lap and while that’s true, it wouldn’t have happened without Jon specifically mentioning my information to the owner of the company. How he’s able to keep everybody’s information straight is beyond me, but it is definitely appreciated and comforting to know you have someone with his contacts there to promote you.”

(Visit Dewayne’s STAA Talent Page).

Ex-baseball player Hamilton joining Lakeland TV

(February 18, 2020) Brad Hamilton admits he spent considerably more time in college on baseball than broadcasting. He’s made up for lost time. Now Hamilton is joining Lakeland TV in Brainerd, MN as a Sports/News MMJ.

He found the opportunity through an STAA Job Leads email.

“I used a lot of STAA’s advice on how to apply and standout,” Hamilton says. “I had no clue before I signed up with STAA how to represent myself for a job in television. It was the difference in me ultimately getting a job.”

Hamilton is a 2018 graduate of Kent State University. He played baseball for the Golden Flashes, but admittedly, didn’t spend enough time preparing himself for the sportscasting job market.

“I was a college baseball player so a lot of my time was spent playing and not getting better as a broadcaster/ reporter,” he recalls. “That was my own fault. I should have done more and was lucky to find STAA to help me figure some things out. I feel lucky to have the opportunity and am so darn excited to learn all I can.”

Hamilton didn’t spend all his time in college on the diamond. He spent two seasons as a color analyst for women’s basketball and volleyball. After graduating, he spent the summer of 2018 as an Aberdeen IronBirds play-by-play broadcaster and pre and post-game host. Most recently, he assisted Fox 8 Cleveland’s production of high school football and was a production assistant for Lyon Video’s coverage of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball.

When Hamilton was invited to interview with Lakeland TV, his approach was simple. “I just tried to be myself and hoped that they’d see I’ll work as hard as I can to make it work.”

Hamilton joined STAA in November 2019. “I found it through my best friend, who is also in the business,” Hamilton says. “He is way more advanced in his career and knew that STAA was a good group to help me learn how to get an opportunity.

“I joined STAA after my career with baseball was over. I was overwhelmed with how far behind I was. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without STAA. That’s why I sent [owner Jon Chelesnik] an email immediately after getting the job. I feel lucky to have gotten his help.”

(Visit Brad’s STAA Talent Page).

Sheridan becomes first female broadcaster at Lynchburg

(February 14, 2020) Maura Sheridan is making history. Sheridan has joined the Lynchburg Hillcats as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations. She will be the first female broadcaster in Hillcats history.

Sheridan, who joined STAA in 2018, spent the past year doing play-by-play for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. She also gained play-by-play experience with University of Vermont women’s basketball, ACC Network Extra, and WAER at Syracuse University.

Once Sheridan applied for the Lynchburg job, things moved forwardly quickly. She heard back from Hillcats’ president Chris Jones within and hour of applying, and the job was hers just two days later. “After talking to [Chris] and other people in the Lynchburg organization it was clear that we were on the same page and had the same goals for the Hillcats’ future,” Sheridan says.

Sheridan’s time with Fayetteville acquainted her with the Carolina League and its people. She’s certain that helped her secure the position with the Hillcats. “I’ve been lucky enough to interact with some really humble and genuinely supportive people. They vouched for me and kept me going when it seemed unlikely I’d get a shot at a lead broadcasting position in baseball. It turns out networking is really just honest friendships built while talking about movies and eating ballpark nachos.”

But Fayetteville provided Sheridan with far more than connections. Her time there was her first year in professional baseball. By the end of the year she had called multiple games on her own, including the division title game. She says, “I walked into that job easily intimidated and not the most confident of a baseball broadcaster. I still have a ton to learn, but the growth was so evident from the first game to the last. Maybe the most important lesson I learned is to enjoy the moment and let yourself breathe every now and then.”

Sheridan credits multiple mentors with impacting her career so far.

She received a lot of encouragement from the people at ACC Network, especially from Syracuse University Football and Basketball Voice Matt Park. He helped Sheridan secure the UVM women’s basketball position. “Getting that gig also opened so many doors for me including a chance at the Fayetteville job.”

Sheridan has also learned a lot by listening to the games of some of her WAER classmates. In addition, she’s felt mentored from afar by the female broadcasters in Minor League Baseball. Their encouraging texts and broadcasting skills have pushed Sheridan to grow. “They inspire me to keep fighting in a so-called man’s world.”

(Visit Maura’s website).

Tennessee native Nichols finds opportunity at WDKN

(February 11, 2020) Jake Nichols has lived in Tennessee his entire life, and his new position on the sports staff at WDKN in Dickson will keep him in his home state a stretch longer.

An STAA member, Nichols shares that the position offers much more than a familiar location. “It just happened to work out that my hometown is an hour and a half from my new job, but I would’ve gone almost anywhere for an opportunity like this.”

He continues, “It gives me an opportunity to cut my teeth in radio play-by-play, and being right outside Nashville could open some incredible doors.” He also anticipates the on-the-job learning opportunities that will come with working in a small town.

Nichols is a former sports editor at the Tennessee Journalist. He has also done freelance sports reporting and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville. Prior to that, he broadcast with Diamond Clear Media, worked as a student assistant with SEC Network/VFL Films, and served as an on-air personality at WUTK Radio in Knoxville.

A 2019 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Nichols heard about the WDKN job through a college connection. “I posted my play-by-play reel on STAA, and a former colleague from UT saw it as he was about to step down from his position as sports director.”

In preparation for his interview, Nichols wisely researched his new boss to learn shared interests and talking points. He says, “I think that my ability to connect with my boss really helped. I also think my reiteration of my passion for radio really helped to secure the position.”

Nichols joined STAA in October of 2019 after a friend at UT Knoxville recommended STAA to him. He’d also heard about STAA through researching several broadcasters.

“[STAA] connects you with opportunities you might never know about otherwise. It gives you a foot in any door before anyone else.”

Holt to call Class-A baseball during final year of college

(February 7, 2020) Clever class scheduling has allowed Cullen Holt to accept a full-season Minor League Baseball job though he is still in college. An STAA member, Holt is the new Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations for the Augusta GreenJackets.

Augusta is the Class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

“I strategically took all of my major classes [at Cal Baptist University] in my first two and-a-half years so that I would be able to switch to online classes if a good career opportunity came up,” says Holt. “I’m finishing my degree online and will graduate in December.”

Holt learned of the GreenJackets opening in an STAA job leads email and applied almost immediately. “I had been impressed with the one-of-a-kind branding in Augusta for a couple years and followed the opening of beautiful SRP Park in 2018,” he recalls. “I honestly didn’t think I had the best chance of landing the position, but the interview process went well and I could not be more thankful that the GreenJackets are giving me this opportunity.”

Scheduling his classes to have job market flexibility during his senior year has long been the plan for the forward-thinking Holt. “I have always had the mindset that any competitive edge you can get in this industry goes a long way,” he says. “The goal for me was to become the No. 1 voice of an affiliated baseball team before graduation in the hopes of getting a head start on others who may not seriously pursue those positions until after graduation.”

One of Holt’s best pieces of advice for the sports broadcasting job market is to always be improving your approach and presentation. “There are so many different factors that go into whether or not a team hires a broadcaster, so you really have to continue to improve and present yourself as best you can until you find the right fit,” he recommends.

“That being said, a couple of things that seemed to go over well [with Augusta] were my research and my understanding of the position. Demonstrating that I had done my homework on the GreenJackets during the interview process likely told them a lot about what kind of professional I am. Also, understanding that live play-by-play is just one aspect of the position and one aspect of my skillset may have set me apart from other candidates.”

Holt joined STAA in 2018. “Like pretty much everything in my proverbial sportscasting toolbox, I learned of STAA from other broadcasters. [Cal State University Northridge Voice] Ghizal Hasan was the first to tell me about STAA,” Holt remembers. “And then seeing how many other broadcasters in the area were utilizing STAA’s resources to further their careers sealed the deal for me.

“In sports media, the ‘who you know’ can often be more important than the ‘what you know’ and [STAA Owner] Jon Chelesnik is a great person to know. STAA’s job leads point you in the right direction and having Jon as a resource is invaluable.”

A native of Riverside, CA, Holt has broadcast summer collegiate baseball each of the past two summers. Last year he was with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters of the Northwoods League. There, he gained a better understanding of how a team interacts with the local community. “The Rafters understand exactly what kind of content engages their fans and they have a committed fan base to prove it.

“I’m looking forward to bringing that knowledge to a fantastic baseball community in Augusta,” Holt says excitedly.”

(Visit Cullen’s website).

Bannister following legendary sports talker Koza in Lima

(January 30, 2020) Following a legend is never easy but Marty Bannister is taking on the challenge. An STAA member, Bannister is replacing the iconic Vince Koza as Afternoon Drive host at 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. Koza passed away in January after battling cancer. He’d been at the station since 2008.

Bannister had been filling-in on Afternoon Drive since Koza took ill.

“Vince was well known throughout Ohio, not only for his coverage and promotion of high school athletics, but his extensive coverage of Ohio State. I met him on more than one occasion and appeared on his radio show,” says Bannister.

“I’m somewhat fortunate, as most of my career moves have led to me follow someone who held that same job for years,” Bannister recalls. “You just be yourself, remain true to your abilities. There will always be those that will not ‘welcome’ you, and want the prior guy back. Let that talk roll of your back and focus on the positives of what is being said about you.”

Bannister is currently the play-by-play announcer for Ohio University’s men’s and women’s basketball on ESPN3. He’s also been the voice of Ohio State University women’s basketball and baseball and was the primary backup for Buckeye’s football and men’s basketball. His non-play-by-play experience includes time as a sports update anchor and reporter at 97.1 The Fan in Columbus and as sports director and talk show host at WIZE/WBLY radio in Springfield/Dayton, OH.

Afternoon Drive in Lima will sound much the same with Bannister as it did with Koza.

“I am keeping all of the local elements Vince incorporated into the show — interviews with area coaches, players, athletic directors, info on big local events, golf tournaments and so forth, says Bannister. ” Local radio is so important, especially local sports, and that’s what made the show run.”

Occasional conflicts between Bannister’s show and his Ohio University women’s basketball duties will not be a problem. “The staff in Lima was more than willing to honor my prior agreements with my play-by-play freelance gigs and they allow me to host the show around those. Once the basketball season ends, I will host the show five days a week.”

Bannister will also be doing local play-by-play on The Fan. “That helps with name recognition as well,” he says. “Many listeners in the area know me from my years on Ohio State games, and that has made the transition smoother.”

Bannister has been an STAA member since 2016. “STAA has been invaluable to me in keeping my name out there,” he says. “When I started rebuilding my career in 2016, it was good to know what jobs were available and hear the talk on the forum boards about what is going on. I still use the site to this day for similar reasons. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m sure when I get there, STAA will have been a big reason why.”

(Visit Marty’s STAA Talent Page).

Further consideration leads Dean to Astros affiliate

(January 27, 2020) Matt Dean applied for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers Communications and Broadcasting Coordinator position despite being unsure if it would be a good fit. Following the application and interview process, though, he knew Fayetteville was where he wanted to be. Now Dean is the voice of the Houston Astros Class-A affiliate.

Dean leaves the Class-A Charleston RiverDogs after four years in a full-time position for a seasonal job with Fayetteville.

“It felt like I had grown as much as I possibly could in my role with the RiverDogs and had tapped out all of the experiences I could have there,” Dean says. “It was a little tough to leave the Charleston market because of how great of a city it is, but I felt I had ultimately gotten everything I could out of the role.”

Seasonal baseball employment also frees Dean to pursue winter play-by-play opportunities and visit family and friends in Wisconsin. Still, the decision to apply for the Fayetteville job wasn’t easy.

“I had questions about moving to a smaller market, only a slightly higher level of the Minors (Low-A to High-A), and passing on the full-time salary, but I was excited about the prospect of working directly for a Major League organization and opening up my network to a whole new organization and league, going from the SAL to the Carolina League,” Dean says.

The Woodpeckers are owned by the Houston Astros, one of the few Minor League teams owned by an MLB franchise.

“The Woodpeckers’ connections to the Major League team, their creative staff’s enthusiasm and talent, and the prospect of working in a second-year ballpark were the biggest draws to the new job,” Dean says.

The application process for the Fayetteville job was unique.

“The Astros sent me a link to a ‘recorded interview’ where I answered with video responses related to written prompts,” Dean recalls. “This was an interesting experience and a little bit awkward to get used to the non-traditional format; the questions ranged from doing a mock play-by-play call of Jose Altuve’s walk-off homer in last year’s ALCS to more standard interview-fare like my work-style, previous experience, etc.”

After the initial screening, Dean did a phone interview with Woodpeckers’ staff members and was offered the position.

Looking back, Dean is glad he applied for the job despite not knowing if it would be right for him. “It can be easy to pass on applying for a job that seems like a lateral move, but you can’t truly make that determination until you go through the interview process and receive an offer,” he suggests.

“At the very least, any job you apply to and interview with is a learning experience and good practice for the future when it counts. In this case, it worked out for the best because the more I interacted with the Astros and Woodpeckers staff, I saw myself becoming more interested in the job.”

Dean graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2015. He joined STAA shortly thereafter to give himself an edge in the job market.

“STAA is the single best source of what’s going on in the job market in this field and that’s why I continue to be a member,” Dean says. “Sports broadcasting is one of the most hyper-competitive fields out there. It is incredibly unique because of the sheer quantity and quality of candidates available for any given job. So for that, any edge you can have on what jobs are out there and how you can approach setting yourself up for success in your career is almost a necessity.”

Dean’s first baseball job was an internship with the St. Paul Saints in 2015. Working under Saints Broadcaster Sean Aronson fueled Dean’s passion for baseball. From St. Paul, it was onto Charleston and Fayetteville.

Dean’s advice to young sportscasters is to stay positive. “I read a great book called ‘The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing’ by Michael Mauboussin. The overarching takeaway was that we often attribute too much of success to skill [while downplaying the influence of] luck. Aside from flipping a coin, most everything we do is almost always some combination of both. It’s not groundbreaking, but I try to think about this when I get frustrated at times with trying to find the next step in my career.

“Control what you can control by working to improve on a daily basis, keeping your resume updated and interview skills on point, but realize that a lot of it is out of your hands and it takes a tremendous amount of good fortune to get where you want to be.”

(Visit Matt’s STAA Talent Page).

Tip from a friend leads Broskowski to Clinton LumberKings

(January 21, 2020) Three years after losing his job when his team discontinued radio, Michael Broskowski is back in Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League. An STAA member, Broskowski has joined the Clinton LumberKings as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations.

Broskowski spent the past two seasons with the short-season Orem Owlz. Prior to that, he was with the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees for four years before they eliminated radio in 2017.

In Clinton, Broskowski follows fellow STAA member and good friend Erik Oas. The pair worked together seven years ago in the California Winter League. When Oas decided he was leaving baseball after last season, Broskowski was among the first people he told. “He knew I was looking to get back into full-season ball and back into the Midwest League,” says Broskowski.

Losing his job in Burlington was admittedly a big challenge for Broskowski. “It made me question if this was what I really wanted to do for a living, and being back into the job market after four years of being full time was extremely frustrating,” he recalls. “Working for Orem rejuvenated me in terms of my drive to continue this career. I had some of the most fun I’ve ever had in baseball working in Orem. The experience in Orem helped me a lot and made me realize this is what I want to keep doing.”

Broskowski’s love for baseball broadcasting stems from listening to games as a kid. “I was raised in the Milwaukee area and I always remembered listening to Brewers games. And then when I got a little older I had season tickets to a minor league baseball team and would always try and talk to the broadcasters and pick their brains,” he says. “My father also worked in radio as a DJ at a polka radio station so I just combined my love for radio with my love for baseball.”

The LumberKings are a Miami Marlins affiliate. This summer will be the first since 2013 that Broskowski has worked outside the Los Angeles Angels organization. He is ready for the challenge. “Working for Angels’ affiliates for the last six years, you knew every player in the system and their background and what they have done in previous seasons. In a new system, it’s a lot of learning and research and learning how an organization operates.”

One constant throughout most of Broskowski’s 10-year baseball broadcasting career is his STAA membership. “One of the big things I like about STAA is the [weekly] advice emails,” he says. “There is always something in there that I find useful, whether it’s in regards to on-air work or applying for jobs or putting together demo tapes. I always learn something new.

“I would tell someone who just joined STAA that Jon Chelesnik does a great job in not just notifying his clients of a job opening but of also helping your career when it comes to giving advice and getting an edge on the job market.”

(Visit Michael’s website).

Gold returns to Kansas City to talk sports in his hometown

(January 10, 2020) Alex Gold is now a sports talk host for the station at which he once interned. An STAA member, Gold has joined 610 Sports in Kansas City as mid-day co-host alongside Cody Tapp.

Gold is from nearby Overland Park and is a 2013 graduate of the University of Kansas.

It was during his junior year at KU that Gold joined 610 Sports as an intern. Over the next 20 months, he worked his way up to board-op, producer, update anchor and fill-in host.

After graduating college, Gold moved to Wichita for a sports talk/sales position. Just over one year later, it was onto Afternoon Drive at 580 WIBW in the Kansas capitol city of Topeka. During that time, Gold also reported on the Royals, Chiefs, KU Jayhawks and the Kansas State Wildcats.

In 2016, ESPN Boise chose Gold to co-host Afternoon Drive and host the Boise State football postgame show. When the station flipped formats in 2018, Gold was onto SB Nation Radio Network in Houston. “The Gold Standard” aired weeknights on affiliates in markets including Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and, ironically, Kansas City.

Gold has been an STAA member since 2011.

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page).

Philosophical approach leads recent grad Tabb to PM Drive in Lincoln, NE

(January 6, 2020) Minoring in philosophy and listening to sports talk hosts with whom he disagrees have helped lead Ryan Tabb to his own sports talk opportunity. An STAA member, Tabb is joining 97.3 The Ticket in Lincoln, NE as Afternoon Drive co-host.

Tabb graduated from Syracuse University last spring. It was there he learned about STAA from his classmates, several of who are members. Tabb joined STAA in June and found The Ticket opportunity through STAA.

It’s rare for a college grad to land a daily sports talk show. Tabb believes his ability to be unique gave him an edge over most recent college grads. “In a field where everybody is a little crazy about sports, nobody has an edge by just being passionate, he says. “For me, having minored in philosophy and expressing that I think sports are a great medium for practicing that kind of thinking probably helped set me apart.”

While at Syracuse, Tabb served as sports director for the campus radio station and produced and hosted a sports talk show. One factor in his growth as a host is listening to hosts with whom he disagrees.

“Listening to someone you agree with is nice for a few minutes, but pretty soon it gets dry and boring. It’s like being lectured about something you already understand,” Tabb says. “If I disagree with a host but respect their process in reaching whatever conclusion they’re presenting, it forces me to think outside of the box and consider what I would say if I was on air with them. Listening to people you disagree with is a great way to learn more.”

Persistence and faith in his convictions was key to Tabb landing the job in Lincoln. “When you know what you want to do and you are willing to pack everything up and move at the first opportunity, something will come along,” he says.

Lincoln, NE will be in stark contrast to Tabb’s hometown of Brentwood, CA, but he’s undaunted by the change. “Moving anywhere new is a challenge, but in all honesty I’m just focused on getting behind the microphone and settling in. I’m coming in without expectations.”