Kleimola, 36, lands first full-time radio job

“Leroy (April 25, 2019) Age is often a detriment in the sports broadcasting job market. For Leroy Kleimola, 36, his age might have helped him land his first opportunity. An STAA member, Kleimola is joining Miller Media Group in Taylorville, IL as a news reporter and play-by-play broadcaster.

“I studied news at Western Kentucky University, so this was something that I knew I could do,” says Kleimola. But being able to do high school play-by-play to better my craft is what really sold the deal for me.”

Miller Media Group owns five stations in the market; Kleimola will be doing news and play-by-play mostly for WTIM and WRAN. He landed the job after interviewing with MMG General Manager Kami Payne for another position that ended up going to someone else.

“Since she had already done all her interviews with me for the original job, this one went a whole lot smoother and in about two weeks was offered the position,” Kleimola recalls.

Kleimola’s biggest challenge in the sportscasting job market has been being a 36 year-old “rookie” with minimal tape. “Trying to sell myself has always been an issue,” he says. “I can interview well, but struggle to get my resume looked at. In 2019 I think a lot of it is how we brand ourselves and finding out what our employers are looking for.”

Kleimola used his age and family to help sell himself to Payne. “Since I am former military I have moved my family around quite a bit,” he says. “I had told my family (four children, ages 13 years to 4 months) that I would find a place to settle down for a while. I really think letting [Kami Payne] know that I had no intention to bounce after a year really sold it well.”

The majority of Kleimola’s broadcasting experience came at the student station at Western Kentucky University. He graduated last year. In addition to the work he did on campus, he has broadcast high school play-by-play, been a camera operation for minor league baseball’s Bowling Green Hot Rods and run the board for a local radio station.

Kleimola joined STAA last year after being referred by WKU women’s basketball voice and fellow STAA member Brett Williams.

“The only hesitation I had about joining was if it was worth it, and it has been,” Kleimola grins. “I joined STAA for the job market tips and for the leads. Now I love STAA because it helps me improve my play-by-play and keeps me tied to a network of professional broadcasters who’s only mission is to help themselves and others improve.”

(Visit Leroy’s STAA Talent Page).

Nguyen joins broadcast teams at UNCP & Evansville Otters

(April 22, 2019) Many folks struggle to land one job. David Nguyen has landed two. Nguyen is joining fellow STAA member Jon Gross on the broadcasting and video production team for the University of North Carolina-Pembroke Sports Network. He is also joining minor league baseball’s Evansville Otters as a broadcasting & media relations assistant.

Evansville was the first domino to fall, one week before Christmas. “It was the first break that finally paid off; the break I was waiting for ever since I changed my major from nursing to communications in the Fall of 2015 at Villanova,” Nguyen says. “From my last semester at Nova until December 18th of 2018, I’ve worked my tail off to try and get the first entry job in the business. From signing up for STAA last summer the job leads have helped me as well as the weekly advice from [STAA Owner] Jon Chelesnik.”

At UNCP, Nguyen will broadcast multiple sports and hone his reporting and video editing skills. “I’ve been told since the time I was at Villanova that the more skills I learn and have, the more marketable I will be as a candidate and it can lead to much more success in the sports media field.”

Asking other sports broadcasters for advice has been key for Nguyen in building his career. “There are men and women who are established in this field and have experienced a lot of ups and downs,” he says. “The things they have learned on their journey, do’s and do not’s they’ve witnessed, have been very helpful.”

Nguyen has used the referral request technique to grow his network of relationships. At the end of each conversation with a sportscasting mentor, Nguyen asks them to recommend another broadcaster of whom he might ask similar questions.

“For example, after receiving the offer from Evansville, I asked [fellow STAA member] Garrett Greene of the Biloxi Shuckers (who I previously talked to about his assistant position and met at the Winter Meetings) for advice about the offer. He connected me with the previous broadcaster in Evansville, [STAA member] Sam Jellinek, who gave me valuable advice about his experience as the previous voice of the Otters.”

Ironically, Nguyen is following Jellinek both in Evansville and at UNCP.

Experience isn’t the only benefit of his new opportunities to Nguyen. Both also give him a platform to inspire other aspiring sportscasters who are Asian American.

“Everyone is unique, and the unique part of me is that I embrace the fact I am Asian. It’s a part of my personality. Through my experiences in this industry so far, I haven’t noticed a lot of Asian Americans in the sports-media industry. If an Asian American kid from South Jersey can turn his dream into a reality, then I can give hope to others, particularly Asian Americans, that they can achieve success in this field as well.”

Nguyen joined STAA in 2018 after finding it in a Google search during his senior year at Villanova. “After patrolling the site, I became curious if I should become a member. After telling Jon Chelesnik about my story — ditching my scrubs and stethoscope for broadcasting Villanova football and national championship men’s basketball teams — his mission to help young broadcasters like myself find jobs in this industry sold me.”

Nguyen’s advice to new STAA members is to take advantage of more than just the job leads. “Use all the other resources STAA has to offer. The steps on how to land an interview, how to prepare for the interview, the blank game sheets for your broadcasts, and the vocabulary word lists for the main sports have been extremely helpful.”

(Visit David’s STAA Talent Page).

Surprise email leads Krull to NewsChannel 11 in Tennessee

“Jesse(April 17, 2019) Legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey famously said, “Luck is the residue of design.” By that definition, luck – – and ability — have landed Jesse Krull a sports anchor/reporter position at NewsChannel 11 WJHL in Johnson City, TN.

“I’m excited to be able to cover Division I programs like East Tennessee State and the University of Tennessee, along with Bristol Motor Speedway and plenty of high school athletics,” Krull smiles.

“I think this jump will really help me enhance my skills and grow me as a journalist and person.”

Krull moves to WJHL from KCAU9 in Sioux City, IA where he has been Sports Director since July 2016.

The Johnson City opening was emailed to STAA members on January 9th but Krull didn’t apply. “With South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska getting in the thick of state tournament season with wrestling and both [boys and girls] basketball tournaments, I had a lot on my plate. Unfortunately applying for that job got pushed to the side,” he recalls.

Fate smiled upon Krull after a long day at the Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament. “I woke up to an email from [WJHL News Director] Jay Quaintance saying he saw my reel on YouTube. He liked what he saw and asked if I was looking for job. I talked to him that week, along with [Sports Director] Kenny Hawkins and after a couple weeks got the job.”

Krull has been an STAA member since December. “I knew my contract had about eight months left. I reached out to a couple of agencies and they said they don’t represent sports talent. I wanted an agency that not only made its talent better, but also helped them along the way regarding searching for jobs. I searched and saw STAA and right away after reading the page, I knew it was a fit for me.”

A career challenge for Krull has been getting the attention of employers. “Mr. Quaintance told me that 141 people applied for my job,” he says. “When I heard that number it kind of took me back, but at the same time I knew this industry is competitive. I always know that I have to do anything to give myself the edge over people gunning for the position, so I can’t give people an excuse not to hire me.

“I was told there are two things you can’t teach in this industry: being prepared and hard work. There’s obviously other attributes that make people successful, but I feel if you’re strong in these two traits, which I pride myself on being, you’ll put yourself in a good position.”

(Visit Jesse’s STAA Talent Page).

Ambrose to spend summer calling baseball in Wilmington

(April 16, 2019) The city of Wilmington, NC has been on the mind of Robert Ambrose lately. An STAA post regarding a job with UNC Wilmington left Ambrose curious about the city. That’s when he discovered the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League.

“I researched the city of Wilmington and noticed a college summer team (the Sharks) so I decided to reach out and inquire about broadcasting for them. One thing led to another after that.

“This is also the first opportunity I’ve had in college summer baseball or affiliated baseball that isn’t an internship in which you would have to find another opportunity at the end of the season.”

Ambrose’s baseball experience includes being the Director of Broadcasting for the North Adams SteepleCats and Internet sportscasting for CLU TV. His ultimate goal is to be a lead broadcaster in affiliated ball.

The Sharks opportunity allows Ambrose to continue calling basketball and volleyball for Augusta University in Georgia. “This opportunity with the Sharks allows me to be involved in broadcasting year-round.”

The Sharks are one of the original teams from when the Coastal Plain League was founded in 1997. “It’s a sign of hard work and dedication by the Sharks staff,” Ambrose says. “I mentioned it in the first paragraph of my initial cover letter.”

Finding his new job wasn’t an accident for the California Lutheran University graduate. Ambrose was proactive and aggressive in securing the opportunity in North Carolina.

“I think it’s important to be proactive and reach out to as many teams as possible,” he says. “I casted a wide net by reaching out to college summer league teams in addition to teams affiliated baseball.”

So what did he take away from his experience?

“The wider the net you cast, the lower the likelihood for summertime unemployment.” Ambrose points out. “I experienced that last summer and it was no fun. There are many teams that do not publish job openings, especially summer league teams. Do not wait for a job opening to be published before making your first move.”

Ambrose echoed what a wise man once said, “If you snooze, you lose.”

(Visit Robert’s STAA Talent Page).

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).