Unexpected referral leads Ryan to Blue Ridge Bobcats

A job for which Charles Ryan unsuccessfully applied has led to an opportunity with a different employer. Ryan is the new Media Relations/Communications Specialist for the Blue Ridge Bobcats, an FPHL expansion team in Wytheville, VA.

“I originally saw the job posting in an STAA Job Leads+ email but did not apply because they were asking for someone local to the area, Ryan recalls. “But then I was referred to them by the [FPHL expansion] team in Baton Rouge after applying there. So I reached out and was able to snag the job.”

In addition to broadcasting the Bobcats’ games, Ryan will handle media relations and social media for the team. That includes video content and graphics.

“I am able to continue calling hockey and making feature sports stories like I had been doing in college. But now I get to build on my skill set and add social media skills to it, which will help me down the road,” Ryan enthuses.

Ryan is a 2023 graduate of Bowling Green University. He joined STAA in June on the advice of fellow BGSU alumnus and STAA member Brandon Loe. Shortly after, Ryan interviewed with the Baton Rouge franchise.

“After my interview, they told me they had decided to go a different way,” he recalls. “But they had sent my information to this new team in Wytheville. They gave me the email of the person they forwarded my info to, so I decided to reach out and introduce myself. I think that really helped me land the job — taking that extra initiative.”

Justin Allegri is the new Cal Bears voice

Justin Allegri’s move to his new job will be a short one. Allegri is leaving San Jose State to be the new voice of Cal Bears football and basketball. The two campuses are roughly one hour apart.

Allegri is an experienced broadcaster and a Northern California native. At Cal, he succeeds legendary voice Joe Starkey.

“This is a role that’s highly coveted, not only because of the university and the academic integrity that it has, but the athletics it has as well,” Allegri said. “This is a job that Joe Starkey held to such a high standard for a long, long time. I’m never going to use the phrase, ‘filling his shoes’ or ‘taking his job.’ I’m always going to use the phrase, ‘hoping to carry the baton.’ Joe is Cal football and forever will be.”

Allegri is in his 12th year as an STAA member. He grew up in Santa Cruz and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Jose State.

Cal Athletic Director Jim Knowlton and the Cal community are excited to welcome Allegri aboard. “Justin is a multi-talented broadcaster and a Northern California native, and is the perfect fit to tell the story of our football and men’s basketball programs.”

Allegri is the 10th STAA member to accept a DI play-by-play job in the past 14 months:

2023

* Justin Allegri, Cal
* Luke Martin, Southern Illinois
* Reily Chestnut, Western Kentucky

2022

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

Celli joins WJFW-12 in Wisconsin

Broadcasting for Drew Celli started early in his teens. “I would do the PA for Little League All-Star games at local fields in Massachusetts,” he recalls. “In high school I did high school hockey play-by-play. After that I knew that the sports field was where I wanted to be.”

The sports field is, indeed, where Celli continues to be. His next stop: WJFW-12 in Rhinelander, WI as a sports anchor/reporter.

The applicant pool for the WJFW position was deep. The content Celli chose for his reel helped set him apart. “I could have added a package of a local athlete announcing a commitment, but that could be on every single reel an employer views,” Celli states. “You’re never going to stand out sending in a basic reel. My package was of a 55 year old local who competed in the World Curling championships. I can all but guarantee you I was the only applicant with a package like that. What that shows is an ability to go out and find a good story that isn’t in your every day popular sports.”

Celli joined STAA two months before graduating from Bryant University in Rhode Island in May, 2022. Upon accepting his diploma, he joined the sports staff at WBKB in Alpena, MI. He’s grateful for the growth he experienced there. “I found my voice in a way I never had before,” he recalls. “From a confidence point of view, I am miles from where I was when I started. But most importantly I’ve learned that not all the viewers are going to like you. Don’t let it ruin your day. Just keep doing what you think is best for the job.”

Doing what is best for the job is what Celli did as a PA announcer at the ball fields of Massachusetts. And it’s what he’ll do next for his viewers in Northern Wisconsin.

Competitive Hesse joins KCHI AM/FM in Missouri

The roots of Brent Hesse’s competitiveness and his love for sports are obvious. “I am the oldest of five boys, he reminisces. “We have our own basketball team, and played every sport imaginable in the driveway or backyard growing up!”

Now, in addition to playing sports, Hesse is broadcasting them. He is joining KCHI Radio in Chillicothe, MO as Sports Director and Afternoon Host — a position that includes plenty of play-by-play.

“The job at KCHI began thanks to checking the STAA job listings and applying from there,” Hesse recalls. “I had a Zoom interview and then made the seven hour drive the following week for an in person interview. I was offered the job shortly after that.

Valuable opportunities

Hesse moves west to Chillicothe after five years at WOCC AM/FM in Corydon, IN. “At WOCC I was only part-time on a day-to-day basis as the mid-day on air talent. Now I am full-time as the afternoon host [at KCHI]. Plus I was only calling basketball and football games. Now, along with basketball and football, I will get to try my hand at baseball, softball and soccer.”

One key to Hesse earning the Chillicothe opportunity was making clear that he wants to be there. “Being from out of town, you have to prove that it is worth the risk to make the hire. I am a superfan of the KC Chiefs and have visited that city quite often in recent years. I have friends that live there and it was a draw that Chillicothe is only about 1.25 hours away. I made that known right away when meeting with [KCHI GM Patti Leatherman]. I think that gave her confidence that I would be able to fit in and be happy in a new town.”

Hesse’s candidacy was further boosted by several strong referrals. “The people that I asked to give me recommendations for this job are individuals that have not only been great colleagues and mentors, but are friends. They want to see me succeed and gave honest, detailed and personalized responses for why I am the right candidate for the job.”

Helpful recommendation

Speaking of recommendations, it was upon one from a fellow Ball State University alumnus that Hesse joined STAA this year. “In trying to figure out what I wanted to do as my next step in my career, and in how to get there, I reached out to Mick Tidrow who is a fellow 2018 graduate of Ball State University, and now the voice of the Cardinals! He is a fantastic broadcaster and he clued me in to STAA as a place to go for new job openings and also as a place to improve my craft.

“I joined because I was serious enough about giving my all to advance in this competitive job market. I felt with the tools, resources and connections that STAA provides, it was worth the investment.”

Hesse’s career motivation is similar to the drive that fueled him in the family driveway basketball games. “I don’t like to lose, so I won’t take it easy on anyone be

Cripps finds perfect fit with Emporia State

Blake Cripps fits Kansas like wheat fields and rolling hills. He grew up in Topeka and graduated from Kansas University. His parents live in Burlingame; his sister in Kansas City. And Cripps has spent the past 11 years working in Wichita. He has accepted a new job, but one that will keep him in the Sunflower State. Cripps is joining KVOE Radio in Emporia as Operations Manager and Voice of the Emporia State University Hornets.

“I accepted the job because of the amazing reputation of the staff and stations in Emporia,” Cripps enthuses. “The community is heavily interested and invested in the Hornets. And the Emporia State athletic department is a consistent contender for MIAA championships and postseason appearances. I truly believe this is one of, if not the best, Division II jobs in the country.”

Fast hiring process

Cripps learned of the ESU opportunity through a Jobs Leads+ email. “I applied the same day and received a message from Emporia’s Radio Stations GM Ron Thomas the same day that he’d like to talk the next day,” Cripps recalls. “Things progressed quickly from there!”

In addition to play-by-play, Cripps will be in charge of operations for KVOE. “Basically making sure that all of the content we are planning to air is getting to where it is supposed to go. I would say that, and ESU coverage, will combine for 85% of the job. The rest is normal odds and ends stuff like sports anchoring, production, website writing, hosting our Saturday sports show, etc.”

Cripps has big shoes to fill as Voice of the Hornets. He succeeds Greg Rahe, a Kansas broadcasting icon. “It is an incredible honor to follow an ESU Hall of Famer like Greg Rahe in this role,” Cripps states. “He’s been such a huge part of the Emporia community for 35 years and I’m incredibly grateful for all of his help during this transition. Greg is a true gentleman in this profession and an impossible act to follow. And while I’ll never be able to replace it, I hope that I’ll be able to continue his legacy in the booth and in the community.”

Love for Wichita

Cripps moves to Emporia from Wichita, less than 90 minutes southwest of Emporia on Interstate 35. He’s held various play-by-play roles in Wichita since 2012, including calling games for Wichita State University and the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. For the past four years, he’s been the voice of Newman University (NCAA DII) men’s and women’s basketball.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Wichita and the many personal and professional friends I have made there over the last decade, but I won’t be too far away and I’ll definitely be visiting when I can!

Cripps has been an STAA member since 2012. “STAA has been a tremendous resource for me, from helping to construct my talent page to job updates that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

Cripps’ new hometown of Emporia is the birthplace of college basketball legend Dean Smith. And it’s a great fit for Cripps. “Emporia is literally the perfect middle ground right in the middle of my home state. I’m looking forward to getting settled in the community. My grandma grew up in Emporia so I have ties there as well!”

Luke Martin the new voice of Southern Illinois U.

PRESS RELEASE — STAA member Luke Martin is the new director of broadcasting and radio voice of Southern Illinois University. He follows Saluki Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Reis.

For the past six seasons, Martin was the voice for Indiana State football, men’s basketball and baseball, while also producing news and features for GoSycamores.com and the school’s digital platforms.

Martin is a 2014 graduate of Ball State’University. After graduation, he served as the broadcaster for UNC Greensboro for one season, where he also hosted weekly coaches shows, produced the school’s video content, and produced/directed ESPN3 telecasts.

SIU’s search committee screened more than 90 applicants for the position before selecting Martin, according to Tim Leonard, director of athletics for the Salukis.

“The committee reviewed countless hours of demo reels from some of the best radio talent in the country, and Luke was our top choice, not only for his distinctive on-air delivery, but for the passion he brings to this important position,” Leonard said. “Luke is an outstanding storyteller, with a love of sports and people. Much like Mike Reis, he has a warm, genuine personality that shines brightly during his broadcasts.”

Martin said it was an honor to be chosen to follow Reis, who stepped down from the broadcast chair last May after completing his 44th season of radio play-by-play for SIU.

“I won’t be filling his shoes, as only Mike could wear them,” Martin said. “I owe it to Saluki fans to honor his legacy by being who I am, while instilling the relentless work ethic I learned from watching him in my career. I can’t wait to earn the respect and trust of Salukis everywhere.”

Bowling lands radio job in Oregon resort town

Matt Bowling’s first full-time broadcasting job is in an Oregon vacation destination. He is joining Basin Mediactive in Klamath Falls as sports director.

“There are far worse places I could be doing this kind of job than a resort town in the Pacific Northwest,” he grins. “Klamath Falls is an hour and a half from both Crater Lake and Mount Shasta and there are plenty of parks and trails around the town itself. The climate is great, and the town gets 300 days of sunshine per year. It’s also a certified Blue Zones Community.”

Growth opportunity

Bowling learned of the opening in an STAA Job Leads+ email. He applied the same day, made a follow-up call one week later, interviewed and was offered the job. “In addition to play-by-play, I’ll be doing daily sports reports, contributing to the morning talk show, writing web articles, and helping with social media,” Bowling enthuses. “This job will greatly expand my career options by giving me a strong portfolio and skill set beyond play-by-play.”

Changing his approach

Even with undergrad and Masters degrees from the University of Oklahoma, Bowling found the sportscasting job market to be challenging. “I applied for full-time jobs last summer — my first out of college — and came up totally empty,” he recalls. “Only a couple even emailed me back.”

That frustration prompted Bowling to take advantage of a job market makeover package offered by STAA. “I knew it would be smart to let someone [like STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik] who’s been in this industry longer than I’ve been alive show me the best way to present myself to potential employers.

Bowling continues, “Words are a big strength of mine…visuals, not so much. The resume and reels Jon created for me were massive upgrades over what I had before and included things that I never would have thought to (or been able to) design myself. The proof is in the results. Like I said, almost nobody even emailed me back last summer. This summer, I was on track to be interviewed for a few other jobs before I accepted Basin Mediactive’s offer.”

In Klamath Falls, Bowling will be working for a locally-owned company with a small staff. “I’m not going to be in a corporate setting where I’d have to worry about potentially being caught in a wave of layoffs, among other things,” he states with relief. “In [General Manager] Rob Siems’ words, they are ‘a close knit group that helps each other,’ which is an ideal environment for someone navigating a new job and a new town.”

Choosiness pays off for Ivery in sports director job at KJAM

Drew Ivery didn’t know what the future held when he left his sportscasting job in August 2022. He wanted to stay in sports but decided to be choosy about his next opportunity. Ivery bought himself time by working as the media director for a local country club. Now, he’s found the right next step in his sportscasting journey. Ivery is the new sports director at KJAM Radio in Madison, SD.

“[KJAM] will provide me with valuable experience,” Ivery enthuses. “I missed radio and was looking to take the next step and broadcast regularly in the collegiate ranks. This position provided that. It has a very friendly staff that has been great in the interview process and in helping find housing in the area. I believe we can all help each other for the better.”

Good fit

Ivery will broadcast Dakota State University (NAIA) football and basketball, high school sports and amateur baseball play-play. He will also host a weekly, hour-long sports talk show during college sports season, and a daily air shift.

Ironically, Ivery follows fellow STAA member Caleb Gill at KJAM.

“I learned about this opportunity through the STAA website where I’ve been primarily been looking for jobs and to get better at my craft,” Ivery states. He adds, “STAA’s tools were motivation to go harder in my pursuit. It’s the best place for sports broadcasting opportunities.

Experience, patience

Ivery is a 2020 graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce. He has extensive sports writing experience for platforms like Winsidr, FanSided and HighPostHoops. Ivery is also the former sports director for East Texas Broadcasting in Sulphur Springs, TX., and has considerable podcasting experience.

Patience served Ivery well in his sportscasting job search. “Just trusting the process, to not settle for anything less than the type of job I wanted and working consistently to pursue that,” he recalls. “A lot of jobs from all over came through, but I only applied for the things I was looking for and not just everything that popped up. The job search process is never fun, but I stuck with it and had great support along the way.”

Now, Ivery’s fortitude during his 11 months away from sportscasting is being rewarded. “I had my mind made up that broadcasting is what I wanted to do. And though KJAM is a change of scenery for me, I believe it will be a great opportunity in a new environment.”

Motivated Richardson joins Kent State broadcast team

To say that Dane Richardson is highly motivated is an understatement. He graduated from Ithaca College in May. Shortly after, he commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army through an Army ROTC program. He will be serving as a military intelligence officer in the New York Army National Guard.

But wait, there’s more.

This fall, Richardson starts a play-by-play graduate assistant position at Kent State University. He’ll broadcast at least seven different sports.

“Everyone is able to call football, basketball, and baseball. Not everyone is able to call volleyball, field hockey, soccer, etc. Having the ability to call a variety of sports will make me a more marketable broadcaster,” he states.

Military discipline

Richardson credits his uncommon determination and motivation to his mother and father. “The foundation comes from my parents and how hard they worked as I grew up. My mom is a teacher and my dad in the Army.”

Regarding his own military commitment, Richardson states, “Having the responsibility of serving my country and learning the values of leadership, discipline, and working in stressful environments pushes me to work hard and succeed.”

That motivation to work hard and succeed is how Richardson found the Kent Sate opportunity.

Anticipating opportunity

“In early May I was searching for jobs and mainly was landing interviews for MMJ or sports reporting openings. I was open to multiple avenues to begin my career, but my heart was with play-by-play. I figured the person that currently held the Kent State position at the time, Tyler Henry, was wrapping up his time there, so I sent him a DM on Twitter asking if his position was opening. Sure enough it was. He told me to reach out to their head of athletic communications, Dan Griffin.”

Henry warned Richardson there was already a handful of candidates for the GA position but Richardson says, “I reached out anyway. After a bit of waiting, Dan said he was a fan of my work and offered me the position.”

Richardson is eager to embrace the high volume of play-by-play reps he will get in a variety of sports. “Everyone in the broadcast business knows the most optimal way to improve are reps,” he states. “In two years, I will likely be able to call over 100 athletic contests. That will be extremely valuable in polishing my on-air craft.”

STAA connections

Richardson joined STAA this spring. “I am relatively active on Twitter and it was difficult not to notice STAA. I became a member as I approached graduation to help with my job search.”

One thing Richardson appreciates about his membership is connecting with other broadcasters. “Through the years, STAA has compiled such an extensive network. You never know where a connection could lead you.”

Now, a connection – one he created on his own – has led Richardson to the play-by-play opportunity at Kent State. And he’s demonstrated that he has the motivation and hard work needed to succeed.

O’Connell leaves comfort zone to join North Dakota stations

New Jersey and North Dakota are as similar as concrete and cornfields. However, when Garden State native Jayson O’Connell had the opportunity to start his sportscasting career in the nation’s upper heartland, he embraced the opportunity. O’Connell is joining KZZJ-AM and KKWZ-FM in Rugby, ND as a play-by-play broadcaster, on-air host and account executive.

He learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads+ email.

“Leaving home was what made the decision such a difficult one for me,” O’Connell admits. “The job always seemed like a great opportunity for me to start my career. But North Dakota isn’t exactly an easy trip from my home in New Jersey. But throughout the interview/hiring process, [station owner Lila Harstad] continued to ask how my family, my girlfriend and I felt about potentially moving 24 hours away and if we all would be able to handle it. She really showed that she cared about my personal life and my relationships at home.”

The community of Rugby also made O’Connell feel welcome when he visited for his final interview. “I met with many residents of the town to get a feel of what it was like outside of the radio station and everyone greeted me with open arms.”

Trepidation about STAA

O’Connell is a 2023 graduate of Penn State University. He joined STAA in April after being referred by his college career advisor. “Bob Martin referred me to STAA. I had a meeting with him at the beginning of the spring semester to discuss my job search and he told me about all of the benefits of STAA.”

Even with Martin’s endorsement, O’Connell had trepidation about joining STAA. “I wasn’t too eager to join because I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. All the features of a membership seemed helpful. But I was afraid I’d become a member and I’d still be looking for my first job for a while, or I’d be able to find a job without using STAA that much. Clearly, neither was the case and STAA was a big factor in me getting this position [at KZZJ/KKWZ.]”

Late start

O’Connell didn’t start pursuing a sports journalism career until his junior year at Penn State. Therefore, he had to work extra hard to catch up with his fellow upperclassmen in the broadcasting program. “They were starting to perfect their craft while I was starting to learn the basics. I missed out on certain opportunities because I started behind everyone else but I didn’t let that get to me.”

One example of O’Connell’s determination was earning a men’s basketball opportunity after initially not being on the broadcast schedule. “I knew I didn’t have much tenure at the radio station but I felt the work I produced and the effort I put in was enough to be given the opportunity to call a Penn State men’s basketball game. So I worked even harder for the next couple of months. After what I felt was a great call I had for the women’s team, I went to executive producer of men’s basketball and asked to be considered to be added to the schedule if there was an opening to call a game. He said he saw the effort I was putting in and gave me the opportunity to call the game against Rutgers when a commentator spot opened up for the late season game.”

The KZZJ/KKWZ opportunity is exactly what O’Connell had in mind for his first position out of school. “I wanted to start a career in play-by-play and this job will allow me to call a variety of high school sports in every season. I’ll also be getting additional experience in hosting a morning radio show and experience in sales as well. Growing as a play-by-play commentator while obtaining other skills seemed like a great opportunity.”