Pitkin moves closer to home, joins KNEM/KNMO in Nevada, MO

(June 9, 2020) Kansas City native Andrew Pitkin longed to live closer to home. Now he is. Pitkin recently joined KNEM-AM/KNMO-FM Radio in Nevada, MO as News Director and Play-by-Play Broadcaster.

Pitkin moves to Western Missouri after spending the past two years as an account executive and play-by-play broadcaster in Brainerd, MN.

“When I saw that Nevada, MO was only an hour and a half south of Kansas City I figured it’d be worth it to at least submit an application,” he recalls. “I ultimately decided to take the job because it meant I would change my job title from Account Executive/Play-by-Play Broadcaster to News Director/Play-by-Play Broadcaster. After receiving advice from two broadcast mentors of mine, I decided being a full time journalist was a solid career choice along with the fact that I would live much closer to my girlfriend and family.”

Pitkin learned of the Nevada opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email.

“I sent in the link to my Talent Page as quickly as I could. Over the next nine days I had three phone calls with my current employer. The first two calls were job interviews and on the last one I accepted the job.”

Pitkin joined STAA midway through his senior year at Wheaton College in late 2017. “My STAA Membership was vitally important in helping me apply for this job quickly,” he says. “Seeing this job opening before other applicants because of my STAA membership gave me a leg up on the competition.”

Pitkin has enjoyed his first two months in Nevada. “I’m learning every single day how to better myself as a broadcaster and writer.

“Although moving to a new place during the coronavirus outbreak has made meeting people more difficult, as Missouri reopens I’m able to do so more and more and all who I’ve met so far are very friendly.”

(Visit Andrew”s STAA Talent Page).

Thayer, Woodiel New Voices of USD Radio

(June 4, 2020) PRESS RELEASE — A pair of STAA members comprise the new radio team at the University of South Dakota. John Thayer, the voice of South Dakota women’s basketball for the last seven seasons, is replacing Joe Van Goor as the play-by-play announcer for Coyote football and men’s basketball.

Replacing Thayer on the sidelines is Carter Woodiel who will also be the new voice of Coyote women’s basketball.

“It’s been great to work with and learn from a radio veteran like Joe for the past several years,” says Thayer. “I have really enjoyed my time watching the women’s basketball program develop into a nationally-ranked team that contends every year for a Summit League title.”

Thayer hails from Eustis, Nebraska, and is a 2008 graduate of Doane College where he helped launch the Tiger Sports Network. He worked for stations in Colorado and Nebraska before arriving in Yankton in July of 2012. He became the voice of USD women’s basketball ahead of the 2013-14 campaign and joined the sidelines of Coyote football in 2015.

Thayer served as sports director of KVHT/KVTK in Yankton where he hosted a weekday sports talk show called “On the John”. In 2019, he transitioned to Coyote Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holder and sports marketing arm for USD athletics. Thayer is also the host of YoteCast, the Coyotes’ official podcast that debuted ahead of the 2019-20 academic year.

Woodiel is a 2018 graduate of University of Missouri and is currently the voice of the Sioux Falls Canaries. He has also served the Sioux Falls Stampede and Midwest Communications in South Dakota.

Woodiel brings a young and impressive résumé to the Coyotes’ nationally-ranked women’s program. He was named Bob Costas High School Sportscaster of the Year in 2012, received two awards from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation – one of the highest honors a collegiate journalist can receive – and a Missouri Broadcasters’ Association award in 2015 for his play-by-play work with KCOU-FM in Columbia. In addition, he has won an Edward R. Murrow Award and a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for his work in radio reporting.

Woodiel spent the 2018-19 season as the broadcaster for women’s basketball at High Point University in North Carolina, and has broadcasted basketball at William Woods University, Westminster College, University of Missouri and North Carolina Central University.

(Visit John’s STAA Talent Page and Carter’s personal website).

Rezac welcomes opportunity, adventure at KROX in Minnesota

(May 5, 2020) After living his entire life in Nebraska, Tommy Rezac is venturing outside the Cornhusker State. An STAA member, Rezac has joined KROX Radio in Crookston, MN. His on-air role includes play-by-play for University of Minnesota-Crookston athletics and various area high schools.

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

“The main draw was the chance to do play-by-play for an NCAA University,” Rezac says. “I had been doing Doane University (Nebraska) football on the radio, and that’s NAIA competition. It was a great start and a necessary step, but I felt I was ready to take the next step, and do play-by-play on a regular basis for an NCAA DII or DIII school.

“With the dream of being the radio voice of a major DI school or pro franchise, I saw the opportunity with KROX and the University of Minnesota-Crookston (NCAA DII) as a great step toward that.”

Rezac grew up in Nebraska, graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2017 and has worked at several radio and TV stations in the state. His resume includes one year as Sports Director at KLIN in Lincoln and nearly a year and-a-half as Sports and News Director at NewsChannel Nebraska.

“I don’t know if there’s ever a perfect time to leave Nebraska for me. I grew up there, and loved living there,” Rezac says. “But the top sportscasting jobs in Nebraska are coveted positions that rarely come open. I tried my hand at a couple Nebraska stations, and while it was tough to leave home, I felt it necessary to expand my horizons and try to work my way up the ranks in a different area.”

One thing Rezac believes set him apart in the KROX application process was inquisitiveness. “I asked a lot of questions, which I think is good. The more curious and serious you are about a position, the more questions you ask. I think it shows your prospective employer that they have your attention.”

Rezac joined STAA in 2016 at the start of his senior year in college.

“Being a member of STAA means having access to tools and resources that make you a better sportscaster. It’s a pretty easy way to network with others in the business, share your work, ask questions, hear from longtime pros and of course, the job leads are huge.”

One of those STAA job leads has provided Rezac his next career step in a new state.

“If my career allows me to return to Nebraska one day, I’m all for it. But until then, I plan to visit as much as I can,” he smiles.

(Visit Tommy’s website).

Many STAA baseball broadcasters hopefully joining new teams

(April 29, 2020) Many STAA members were preparing for baseball season with new teams when the Coronavirus hit. The teams they were joining range from affiliated to independent and summer collegiate clubs.

Regardless of whether baseball ends up being played this summer, these individuals still deserve recognition.

They include . . .

Nick Badders
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (previously the Miracle) No. 2

The 2020 Arizona State University grad moves to Florida after spending the first part of this year broadcasting in the Australian Professional Baseball League. He spent last summer with the Elizabethton Twins.

Adam Bertsch
Sioux Falls Canaries No. 2

Adam will move to Sioux Falls after spending January broadcasting in the California Winter League in Palm Springs. He spent last summer with Duluth in the Northwoods League. Adam is a South Dakota native, so the Sioux Falls opportunity keeps him close to home.

Paul Fritschner.
Bowie Baysox No. 2

Landing with the Baltimore Orioles AA affiliate is testament to Fritschner’s drive and hard work. “I reached out to pretty much every AA team. [Baysox Director of Broadcasting Adam Pohl] and I stayed in contact through the winter until the spot opened.”

Fritschner is a 2019 graduate of Xavier University. His baseball broadcasting experience includes summers in the Frontier, Cal Ripken and Great Lakes leagues.

Luke Hallett
Winston-Salem Dash No. 2

The Dash never publicized their opening but Luke found out about it through STAA. The Indiana University alum previously did broadcasting and media relations with Mankato of the Northwoods League.

Carlo Jimenez
Portland Pickles No. 1

This will be the first summer spent with a baseball team for the talented USC freshman.

Nick Lalpuis
Sanford Mainers No. 1

Nick will handle broadcasting and media relations for the Mainers. He graduates from the University of North Texas in December.

“In my previous summer league job (with the Brazos Valley Bombers) I was a lower level member of the media team so getting the experience of being the media coordinator for the team,” he says.

Chris Markowitz
Somerset Patriots No. 2

Chris is a 2019 graduate of Drexel University. The Patriots play less than 40 minutes from Markowitz’s home in Elizabeth, NJ.

Brandon Monty
Walla Walla Sweets No. 1

Brandon is the latest in a long-line of talented sportscasters from Ohio University. He graduates in the spring. Brandon spent last summer in the Alaska Baseball League.

Josh Sperber
South Bend Cubs

Josh will assist the Cubs in media relations and production. He’ll also serve as one of their broadcasters and host of their pregame and postgame shows on radio and select TV broadcasts.

Sperber did color for the State College Spikes last summer while working as a sports reporter and studio host for WHVL-TV. He is a 2015 graduate of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Josh White
Chicago Dogs

Josh will move to the Windy City shortly after he graduates from the University of Miami in May. He’s spent the last two summers with the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Dogs play in the American Association.

Congratulations to all!

Hoover snags RailCats job close to her hometown

(March 10, 2020) Laura Hoover grew up a mere fifteen minutes from Gary, IN where she is the new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the SouthShore RailCats, an independent American Association team.

She succeeds fellow STAA member Jared Shlensky.

STAA members were tipped off to the opportunity in a December Job Leads email. However, Hoover missed the note and instead learned of the opening when the team found her in the Talent Search database on the STAA website. “I got a call from the General Manager, Mr. Brian Flenner,” she recalls. “He got a hold of material through STAA and saw that I was local so he called me and we started to explore if it would be a good fit.”

A lengthy Internet job search had led Hoover to STAA last year. After asking around about STAA, she decided to join to see where it would take her. She adds, “It’s always nice to have people willing to listen and critique you when you otherwise know your own circle of friends will probably just tell you what you want to hear.”

Hoover spent last season broadcasting in the NECBL summer collegiate league. While she had spent the previous eight years broadcasting several games each week, the NECBL gig offered daily broadcasts.

“The NECBL allowed me to take all the things that I knew and drove into muscle memory and expand on them, and forced me to change how I prepare and become more efficient,” she says. Additionally, her knowledge of the game expanded while she was “meeting some amazing broadcasters” and learning fresh ways to tell the same story.

There are several factors Hoover believes helped in her pursuit of this position. In addition to working hard, continuing to broadcast, and not giving up, she also aimed “to listen to other broadcasters, to try and learn something new every time I take to the mic or talk to a player or a coach.”

Hoover’s ties to the area may have given her the home field advantage with the RailsCats job. Not only did she grow up nearby, but she also graduated from Goshen College in Indiana. And she’s in no hurry to leave. She still loves her hometown and believes her roots have uniquely equipped her to connect to the RailCats, their fans, and the local stations.

Hoover shares, “It’s my home and I am happy I get to give back to a ballpark that has given me entertainment since childhood.”

(Visit Laura’s website).

Eastern Oklahoma State hires McLaughlin for on-air/PBP

March 4, 2020) Spencer McLaughlin will be graduating from Santa Clara University a quarter early so he can start a new job broadcasting for Eastern Oklahoma State College. He will be the lead broadcaster and on-air personality for Mountaineers Athletics and 93.1FM/104.9FM.

“It is my responsibility to serve as the lead play-by-play announcer for all EOSC athletics events (and high school football), have a daily air shift at the radio station which will feature elements beyond sports talk, work with college students to improve their broadcasting skills, and help to further improve the station’s broadcast productions,” he says.

McLaughlin sees this as a great opportunity that will provide him extensive play-by-play experience for college sports, including a few with which his experience is limited: baseball, softball, and soccer. “Having these experiences will bolster my resume and my capabilities as a broadcaster.”

Prior to pursuing a job, McLaughlin did as many broadcasts as possible in order hone his skills. He believes this was one factor that helped him in his pursuit of the EOSC job, but he says another important factor was that he followed up with EOSC a couple weeks after sending his application.

McLaughlin joined STAA in January after being referred by fellow Nichols State University Play-by-Play Broadcaster Jack Benjamin, a fellow STAA member and a fellow graduate of Santa Clara University. He credits Benjamin with inspiring him to become a broadcaster and helping him get where he is today.

He shares, “When I met Jack he not only gave me the opportunity to love broadcasting as much as he does, but he immediately instilled the utmost confidence in my on-air abilities. He has guided me throughout this entire process, and for the last three years has been a great friend and an even better mentor. He has truly changed my life in the best way possible.”

McLaughlin also shares how helpful his STAA membership has been. Not only did he learn of the job opening from an STAA Job Leads email, but he believes his STAA membership made him a much more marketable candidate with a stronger resume. He says STAA furnished “tips on how to write better cover letters, how best to present demo tapes to employers, and insights as to which types of jobs I am most qualified for. Without it I do not think I would have gotten this position.”

(Visit Spencer’s STAA Talent Page).

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.”