(January 2, 2020) Sydney Cariel has lived only in warm weather climates. However, a new career opportunity means she’s had to purchase her first winter wardrobe. An STAA member, Cariel is the new sports anchor/reporter at ABC12 WJRT in Flint, MI.
A native of sun-splashed California and a graduate of Arizona State University, Cariel spent the past two years as a sports anchor/reporter at NewsWest 9 KEWS in Odessa, TX.
While winter weather is new to Cariel, the fact that she has family in Michigan is easing her transition. “I do have family around so I don’t feel homesick or anything like that,” she grinned during an interview with fellow WJRT sports staffer Jason Lewis.
Ironically, Lewis is also an ASU grad.
In her new role, Cariel is covering high school and college sports, Flint Firebirds hockey, and the contentious Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.
Cariel joined STAA in June. The Flint opening was emailed to her in early November.
“Sydney is very talented,” says STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik. “She’s bubbly and energetic – a terrific blend of substance and personality.”
In Odessa, Cariel especially enjoyed reporting on Texas high school football. “The community and richness of it all was so authentic,” she says.
At Arizona State, Cariel covered Milwaukee Brewers spring training and won a student Emmy Award for sports reporting. She interned at NBC Sports Bay Area for two summers and worked for Cox Media as a high school football sideline reporter.
(December 5, 2019) Andy Humphrey listened to The Big Show on ESPN 100.5 in Columbia, MO while a student at the University of Missouri. Now, three years after graduating, he is going to be co-hosting the show. An STAA member, Humphrey is joining the station as a sports talk host and play-by-play broadcaster.
“I’ve always been drawn to college sports and have wanted to make that a focal point of my broadcasting career. Getting to cover sports at the Mizzou flagship station is definitely one of the best places to do just that,” Humphrey smiles. “Plus, the familiarity I already have with the station and the community will make it a much more comfortable situation.”
Humphrey is friends with the last three people who have held the position – Ben Wilson, Jeff Parles and Brandon Kiley. The former two are also STAA members. “They helped me gain even more interest in the job and make a connection with the station,” says Humphrey.
A 2016 graduate of Missouri, Humphrey returns to Columbia after two years hosting an air shift and doing play-by-play in Farmington, MO. He has also broadcast professional and summer collegiate baseball.
Humphrey learned of the ESPN opening through STAA. The choice he made when invited to interview via phone or in-person might have helped him land the job.
“It was a bit of a drive and I had to work around my job at the time, but I wanted to show my commitment up front,” Humphrey says. “I think having a face-to-face interaction with the people I would be working with helped me stick out.”
The experience Humphrey gained in Farmington helped him grow personally and professionally.
“Being in small-market radio was tough at first,” Humphrey recalls. “Growing up in a big city, I wasn’t completely used to living in a town with just under 20,000 people, and it took a while to get adjusted. I think after I started actively participating in my community by joining a church, meeting new people and even finding old friends that just happened to live there, it gave me a sense of belonging and even positively impacted my on-air work.
“The ultimate goal for someone my age in small-market radio should be constant improvement, and the way to do that is to make as many connections as you can with the community you are in.”
Humphrey joined STAA after hearing about it from several classmates at Mizzou.
“I joined up with STAA in my final semester of college because I knew I would get the tools and resources to prepare for the job market,” he says. “The techniques and tips on how to format demo materials, cover letters, resumes and everything in-between have played a crucial role in each job pursuit I have made since graduation.
“Both of the last two jobs I have landed came from leads provided by STAA, and being a member has made a direct effect on my advancement in broadcasting.”
Humphrey’s advancement is now taking him back to the city where he spent four years of school.
“In a way, I get to come home,” he grins. “Who doesn’t love that?”
(November 8, 2019) Scoring an NCAA Division I play-by-play job straight out of college is rare. When recent Arizona State grad Braiden Bell surprised even himself by earning the men’s basketball broadcasting job at DI Cal Baptist University, the first call he made was to his Mom and Dad.
“I called my parents right away,” Bell recalls. “They have obviously been with me throughout the entire journey, through the ups and downs and I couldn’t wait to tell them that I was a DI broadcaster. The emotions on that phone call were heavy and it was a special moment that I won’t forget.”
Cal Baptist plays in the Western Athletic Conference after making the jump to DI prior to last season. When the school needed a new broadcaster for 2019-20, they shared the job lead exclusively with STAA. “The school knew we had plenty of qualified applicants,” says STAA owner Jon Chelesnik.
Bell received notification of the opening in an STAA job leads email just one month after joining STAA. “I knew about STAA from multiple different people but once [Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster] Joe Davis recommended it and said he had used it when looking for his first job I knew I had to do it as well.”
After receiving notification of the CBU opening, Bell acted quickly. “I instantly looked up CBU and was very attracted to the position,” Bell remembers. “From there I submitted my materials and waited. It took a few weeks to hear back before I was told I was to be interviewed by phone.”
Bell didn’t hear from the school for nearly two weeks following his phone interview. “I really thought they had moved on in the process without me. I sent one last email to check in and then got a call saying I was a finalist. After an in-person interview on campus I was offered the job.”
At ASU, Bell broadcast men’s and women’s basketball and many other sports for Blaze Radio. He was also the first student in ASU history to call a game for the Sun Devil Radio Network. Additionally, Bell’s resume includes calling games for the PAC-12 Networks.
It was a comment from Arizona State Football Coach Herm Edwards that inspired Bell to apply for the CBU job even though landing a DI gig is a long shot for a recent college grad. “’You’ve got to be able to bet on yourself. You don’t let other people set your expectations,'” Bell recalls Edwards saying. “Although it might be rare, I always thought I could accomplish this right out of school. I believe in myself and knew that I was good enough to get the job.”
The CBU applicant pool included many broadcasters with Division I experience and some with NBA experience. “We always kept coming back to Braiden,” says CBU Associate Athletic Director Mike Minyard.
Persistence and knowing when to use his contacts helped Bell clinch the job. “I really don’t think if I would have this job if it wasn’t for showing CBU how badly I wanted it. I also waited to use my contacts until after my interviews. They did an awesome job reaching out on my behalf.”
Bell has been with STAA since August. His only hesitation about joining was the price. “But it is well worth it,” he grins. “Not only are the job postings unparalleled but the other resources available are outstanding as well. I now know it is 100 percent worth the monthly fee.”
His advice to new STAA members is simple. “Be active on the site,” he says enthusiastically. “Take advantage of the great resources on STAA, not just the job postings. When it does come to jobs, don’t be afraid or intimidated by anything. It never hurts to shoot your shot.”
(November 4, 2019) Andrew Chapman was the No. 2 broadcaster for the Biloxi Shuckers in September when they lost to Jackson in the Southern League championship series. Now he’s joining the Generals as their Broadcasting and Media Relations Manager.
Jackson is the AA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Chapman follows fellow STAA member Tyler Springs.
The Generals opening was emailed to STAA members during the Southern League championship series. Springs told Chapman of the opening prior to the start of the series. The position was not posted publicly.
“After getting to know Tyler during the regular season, he was very gracious in passing along a recommendation to Jackson for me and even introduced me to their general manager,” Chapman recalls. “After our face-to-face I was able to land a formal interview with the Generals and they offered me the job shortly after.”
Chapman graduated from Arizona State University in 2017. He’s spent the past two summers in Minor League Baseball as a broadcasting and media relations assistant — first for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and this year for Biloxi. A broadcaster getting his first crack at a No. 1 job in Double-A is unusual, but Chapman has prepared himself for the opportunity.
“For each of the last two seasons, it has been about getting the on-air reps, learning the media relations side of the job, and building relationships throughout the industry,” he says. “After getting to know and observing a number of talented broadcasters this season, I’m looking forward to staying in the Southern League and taking on the challenge of running my own media department.”
Chapman believes working beyond his position description in Biloxi helped him earn the Jackson opportunity. “I managed my time efficiently and met the work standard that was asked of me throughout the season. I also expressed a willingness to learn and innovate — creating a team podcast and helping produce a monthly TV show for the Shuckers. I tried to enhance the assistant position beyond what it was when I first arrived in Biloxi and I worked under a great mentor in [fellow STAA member] Garrett Greene who was willing to let me do that.”
The fact that Chapman spent 2019 in the Southern League likely also helped his application Jackson. “After applying for a number of jobs over the last two years, I get the sense that general managers are usually working off a short list of candidates instead of pouring over resumes,” he says. “Those lists are often made up of people within that specific league or others who have ties to the organization.”
Helping Biloxi host the 2019 Southern League All-Star Game was another selling point for Chapman. Jackson hosts the event next summer. “It was a nice boost to my resume during the interview process,” Chapman grins.
Process is a word Chapman can also apply to the building of his Minor League Baseball career. “Out of college I envisioned getting a lead broadcasting job right away but was discouraged when I couldn’t even land an interview,” he recalls. “After getting the opinion of some folks around the industry, I opted to focus on assistant positions and it turned out to be an important path in my development.
“There is a lot that goes into the job outside of the broadcast. Everything from press releases, game notes, roster moves, credentialing, website management etc. I don’t know if I was necessarily ready to juggle all of that out of college, but my time in Rancho Cucamonga and Biloxi has prepared me for the next step in my career.”
Chapman has been an STAA member for almost three years. “As important as networking is in the greater spectrum of the media business, it can be hard to carve out time every week to send off tape or email new contacts. However, STAA is always on top of the industry trends and openings and has helped connect me with the people who have advanced my career.
“The job market updates through STAA have helped land me numerous interviews and stay active in the industry. From Rancho Cucamonga in 2018, to Biloxi in 2019, and now Jackson, STAA has been a valuable tool!”
(October 28, 2019 — Press Release) Following the retirement of long-time Penn State Lady Lion announcer Jerry Fisher, STAA member Justin Antweil will take over play-by-play duties for Penn State women’s basketball.
Antweil will be joined by returning color commentator Joe Putnam on the Penn State Sports Network.
“I’m thrilled to be the voice of the Penn State Women’s Basketball program,” said Antweil. “Broadcasting is my number one passion, so to perform play-by-play at a premier institution like Penn State University is such an honor.”
Antweil spent the last five years as a broadcaster at Bucknell. He was the main radio talent for Bison women’s basketball, in addition to broadcasting various soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, wrestling, field hockey, baseball and softball games.
Prior to his time at Bucknell, Antweil spent time as a broadcaster with the Somerset Patriots. Antweil graduated from the University of Miami in 2011 with a degree in broadcast journalism.
I’m excited to be the soundtrack of Lady Lion Basketball and look forward to immersing myself into the community,” he says.
(October 18, 2019) Andy McNamara has never been one to wait for opportunity to find him. Instead, he’s spent the past 10 years building his brand and creating opportunities. The latest creation for the Toronto resident is a national fantasy sports host, analyst and writer position for Sportsnet.
McNamara is providing multi-platform content via a radio show, social media videos, online video shows and writing.
The opportunity came through long-term networking and relationship building. “It wasn’t a specific opening, but something I was able to put a presentation together for and pitch the fantasy sports brand that I’d built up for myself over the last several years,” he says.
McNamara moves to Sportsnet after six-and-a-half years at TSN / TSN 1050 as a radio sports talk host and TV play-by-play broadcaster and sideline reporter. “TSN was a terrific experience, but this Sportsnet opportunity provides the multi-platform stages for the fantasy sports brand I wanted to grow at a national level. The support and value in my work that I’ve felt from Sportsnet has been incredible.”
McNamara has faced several challenges while building his fantasy football brand. They include struggling to find the right decision makers, and employers who don’t have interest in, or the budget for, McNamara’s proposals.
“Part of how I’ve overcome these issues is to become my own salesman,” he says. That is also his advice to others. “Relentlessly research and contact as many different types of businesses and industries that might make sense as someone that can sponsor your show. More doors open in today’s media landscape if you can bring some sort of revenue with you.”
McNamara encourages anyone looking to create opportunities to find a niche about which they are truly passionate and become an expert. “That might just be your ticket into a larger station, network, etc.”
Another of McNamara’s suggestions is looking for a popular, but under the radar sport in your region that is not getting major coverage. “For me that was starting a Canadian Football League podcast with my broadcast partner Carlan Gay back in 2010 which lead us to signing with CBC and eventually TSN,” he says. “Fantasy sports in Canada is very popular, but doesn’t get close to the coverage it does in the U.S., so fantasy football and hockey was the next area I focused on once at TSN. That has now brought me to be the national fantasy sports host/analyst/writer at Sportsnet.”
A regular part of McNamara’s introduction of himself to employers is his STAA Talent Page. He’s been using it in the job market since joining STAA more than a decade ago. “I love STAA because it provides a great one stop link for you to send out for various jobs, contacts, etc. Having your resume, social media links, and demo reels all in one area makes it an easy, time saving way for someone to check out your talents.”
McNamara says, just like with athletes, nothing beats hard work in broadcasting. “I had regular 9-5 jobs for years where I then did another four hours of play-by-play, writing, radio show hosting, etc. after work. If you’re not willing to grind then today’s media landscape isn’t for you. Get as many reps as possible in as many different areas as you can, and include writing.”
(October 11, 2019) Pushing himself out of his comfort zone has helped lead Charlie Beattie to the biggest opportunity of his career: play-by-play broadcaster for University of Minnesota hockey on Fox Sports North.
Beattie is a St. Paul native and lifelong hockey fan. “It’s a sport I’ve loved since I was a kid, going to Gophers and North Stars games with my dad,” he grins.
Two fortuitous breaks led Beattie to his new job. The first came four years ago when Beattie’s boss put him in touch with a producer at Fox Sports North for an informal chat. “I wasn’t looking for a job at the time and I knew I wasn’t ready for anything they would have anyway, but it was great to get his feedback on the games I had been doing. I left that conversation with specific things to work on,” Beattie recalls.
That producer is still with FSN. When the University of Minnesota job opened, Beattie contacted him immediately. “We had traded maybe three emails in the years between that meeting and when I sent him my demo this summer, and seen each other maybe once, but he remembered me, knew what I had been up to in the interim. To his credit he got back to me right away.
“Who knows if that would have happened anyway, but it’s another example of getting to know people informally that has paid off for so many job-seekers,” says Beattie.
The second bit of serendipity that led Beattie to FSN occurred last March. Beattie was asked to fill-in on play-by-play less than 40 minutes before that start of a game at the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. “I ended up with a broadcast I was really proud of out of an adverse scenario. That gave me some quality tape to send in when this job opened up in the summer.
“Without that series of breaks, I might not have even felt ready to submit my name for this.”
Building relationships with people like the FSN producer has not always been easy for Beattie. “I think it’s just my personality, to be honest,” he says. “I’ve always felt like I’m bothering people a little bit, and cold-calling strangers for me is a nightmare on par with public speaking.” He adds with a smile, “I still have to convince myself that play-by-play is not ACTUALLY public speaking.”
Beattie admits his hesitation to pick up the phone held him back earlier in his career. “It wasn’t until I started to fight through that hang-up that doors started to open for me. It’s never going to be second-nature, I’m sure, but it’s worth it, and it can make all the difference.”
Beattie is a sports broadcasting Renaissance man. His diverse resume includes coverage of football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse and soccer from high school to the pros. He has also contributed to broadcasts of the Masters, NFL and the Winter Olympics.
It is only in recent years that Beattie realized his favorite sport to cover is the one played on ice. “I had a lot of years where I wasn’t sure where to focus because I saw value in being versatile (still do) and I loved calling everything,” he says. “It took the last few years to realize that not only did the pace and energy of hockey suit my style, but it was also the only sport that, during the offseason, I couldn’t live without.”
Since coming to that realization, Beattie has jumped on every hockey opportunity he could get, even sideline reporting — something he had never done before — at the Minnesota High School Tournament last March.
Beattie is one of STAA’s longest-tenured members, having joined nearly 11 years ago. “In addition to the resources on the site, which are incredible, I think it’s the connectivity factor [that keeps me a member],” he says. “It’s easy to feel isolated in this business. STAA is a great way to stay in touch with this unique world of ours. Even when I was looking through jobs that maybe weren’t right for me, or applying for jobs I found on the site and maybe didn’t get, it was comforting to know that there is work out there, and something would come along eventually.”
That something is an FSN opportunity that fits perfectly in this stage of Beattie’s life. “I grew up here, love living here, and have great friends here. My wife is from here, and she has her dream job in the Twin Cities — she actually works at the University of Minnesota. Beyond that, my parents, sisters, and in-laws all live in Minnesota.”
It was family considerations that ultimately prompted Beattie to overcome his discomfort and call his FSN contact. “To be able to work here calling games for a storied hockey school and keep my three-year-old son close to his entire family, that will make anyone pick up the phone,” Beattie smiles.
(October 4, 2019 — Press release) STAA member and 2018 STAA All-American Jack Benjamin is the new voice of the Nicholls State University Colonels.
Nicholls State is an NCAA Division I school in Thibodaux, LA.
“I am thrilled to join the Nicholls community and I look forward to discovering and sharing the stories of the student-athletes,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin joins the Colonels after serving as the primary TV play-by-play voice for football streams at Davidson, where he also hosted the weekly Coach’s Show and called games for the men’s basketball team on ESPN+. He replaces Bryant Johnson, who recently accepted a broadcast position at Virginia Tech after four years as the Colonels’ play-by-play voice.
Benjamin brings a wealth of broadcast experience to the bayou. He served as a play-by-play voice for various sports for a host of Division I schools, including the University of Virginia (UVA), University of Tennessee, St. John’s (NY), Winthrop, Wofford, and South Carolina Upstate for games broadcast on ESPN platforms, including ESPN3/+, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network+.
On the radio airwaves, Benjamin called games for Florida International (FIU) football, UVA women’s basketball, Winthrop men’s basketball, and Davidson baseball.
Benjamin attended Santa Clara University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communication in June 2018. A month earlier, he was named an All-American and ranked as the third most outstanding collegiate broadcaster in the country by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA).
(September 19, 2019) Nick Badders has wanted to visit Australia since watching The Crocodile Hunter on TV while in preschool. Now he’s going to work there. An STAA member, Badders is the new voice of the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
The league runs from November through February. It fits perfectly with Badders’ schedule as broadcaster for the Elizabethton Twins, the Minnesota Twins rookie league team in Tennessee.
“I’ve had an interest in working in the Australian Baseball League for several years but hadn’t seen an opening until STAA sent out the position description in an exclusive job leads email,” says Badders.
Badders’ career has already taken him to several diverse locations. He graduated from Arizona State University in the middle of the desert. He moved to California wine country to call Sonoma Stompers summer collegiate baseball, then onto the Blue Ridge Mountains and Elizabethton.
Moving to Australia for several months gave Badders pause before his mother offered a unique perspective. “My mom compared this opportunity to a semester studying abroad,” he recalls. “When I looked at it like that, it was an opportunity I knew I wanted to take.
“There was the added challenge of how it would affect my last year of college and earning my degree from the Cronkite School, but thankfully ASU offers so many classes online that it was a challenge solved quickly.”
Badders credits his knowledge of the ABL and a strong reference from Boyd Sports VP Jeremy Boler for helping him land the job. Boyd Sports is the company that owns the Elizabethton Twins. “Jeremy was comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for me after I had been with the E-Twins for less than a full season. I don’t think I would have gotten the Aces job without his confidence in me and his words in support of me to Melbourne’s front office.”
A strong cover letter also helped Badders earn the gig. It’s something he’s worked to improve since joining STAA in 2018. “Cover letters, from my perspective are one of the trickiest parts of applying for jobs,” he says. “Before I joined STAA, I didn’t know what did or did not work. Now that I know what a successful cover letter and even resume look like, I can apply that to future applications and immediately know that my application will rise to the top.”
Badders joined STAA to help him advance in pro baseball. “I wanted to expand my network in the industry while also improving my skills and marketability as a candidate,” he says. “I’ve done all of those things and once I made the jump to Minor League Ball from Indy Ball, I knew STAA would help me stay in affiliated baseball and advance my career further, which it has.”
Badders’ advice to anyone new to STAA’s membership is to take advantage of all the resources. “Not all at once, because there are a ton and it can get overwhelming, but over time take advantage of everything,” he grins. “The exclusive job postings, the job market advice, the pages on how to improve your broadcasting, everything. And take advantage of Jon [Chelesnik’s] help. I quite literally would not have gotten either my job in Elizabethton or this one in Melbourne without his direct help.
“I’ve twice asked for his advice and feedback on my cover letter and resume. Both times I did I got the job I was applying for. Don’t be afraid to send emails, asking for critiques or simply advice. It will all be worth it and he will help.”
There are many more minor league baseball broadcasting job seekers than there are openings each off-season. “Plenty of positions are posted publicly,” says Badders. “But the number of exclusive leads and postings that I’ve received from STAA is beyond what I expected. In an industry that is brutal, I feel like I am a step ahead of the curve. So there is an element of added confidence simply in knowing that I do have these other potential avenues to take my career down that not everyone knows about.”
Now, Badders’ career path is taking him Down Under for the winter.
“Taking this job was the biggest life decision I feel like I have made to this point in my 21 plus years of existence,” he smiles.
(September 16, 2019) Drew Nixon was stunned to learn he was the victim of budget cuts after just eight months after joining a small town Colorado radio station. It turned out to be for the best. An STAA member, Nixon is joining BEK in Bismarck, ND as a TV play-by-play broadcaster for high school, college and semi-pro events.
“It gives me some professional TV experience I have really been searching for, and possibly even needing, given the trends in the industry. I also feel the team at BEK is welcoming and produces good sports broadcasts,” Nixon smiles.
After graduating from Butler University, Nixon went to work for a radio station in La Junta, CO in August 2018. By April, he was unemployed. “After being let go, I was kind of just frozen. I asked myself did that seriously just happen? I told myself okay there’s something better out there,” says Nixon.
Nixon admits there were mental challenges. “My girlfriend helped me by telling me to keep my head up. It’s taken a bit but you ask yourself is this really supposed to happen? Why is this going on?”
It led Nixon to what he calls a complete reset. “Kind of a blessing in disguise actually,” he says. “I created Sports University and host and produce a podcast I hope to continue. Going back to Indianapolis to get support from my family, Butler University Career Services, and STAA really put me in a good spot mentally.”
Nixon started his podcast as a way to stay sharp. “I knew I needed to stay fresh with content for my website and I thought about creating something. I love college sports and thought why not do something I can call mine. So I created Sports University, which is a podcast (titled SUP) and blog (titled SUB) on my website dedicated to college sports. And I’ve jumped off the cliff, full on into this. I now have it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!”
Nixon suggests something similar for any sports broadcaster who is between jobs. “Do something that stands out. Show effort that you give a care about your career,” he suggests.
Just months after starting Sports University, Nixon saw the BEK opening in an STAA Job Leads email. The position was not published publicly. “I read the description and pictured myself doing this,” Nixon recalls. “Could I see myself doing this in this location?
“BEK COO Jordan Hassler got back with me and we had a good conversation,” says Nixon. “He said they would cut it down to two people and let me know if I made the cut. They called me and offered the position rather than say I made the cut, which was kind of neat to feel wanted.”
Nixon joined STAA in February upon the recommendation of KLMR Radio (CO) Operations Manager Ben Catley.
“STAA has given me some connections I hope can help in the future of my career. It has also helped me with resources for improving my broadcasting, which has helped a lot,” Nixon says.
Perhaps the most important thing STAA has given to Nixon was the BEK job lead.
“Being in Bismarck is a good spot for me to really take a step forward in my career,” he says.