Baumgardt perseveres to land WJJQ job

“Hunter BaumgardtA global pandemic couldn’t stop Hunter Baumgardt from pursuing his career goals. After months of job searching, he’s joining WJJQ radio in Tomahawk, WI, as a play-by-play announcer and show host.

Baumgardt graduated in December of 2019 from The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. That is when he joined STAA upon the suggestion of his former employer, Dave Carney, who is the morning show host at WKTY. Baumgardt shares, “I graduated a semester early to get a head start on my career. Unfortunately after two months, the sports media industry took one of the hardest hits it ever has taken when the pandemic hit.”

Staying relevant

Even amidst the challenges of the pandemic, he kept applying to jobs. But he didn’t stop there. Baumgardt built on his previous broadcasting experience by focusing on the sports podcast he’d started the week before the pandemic shut things down.

He sought out people who would be relevant to listeners and viewers in Wisconsin. He explains, “I ended up interviewing Sam Dekker and Olivia Harlan Dekker (together), Brian Anderson, Lisa Salters, Jeff Levering (Brewers Radio), and Jim Paschke (Bucks TV) among others. I learned so much, provided content to my followers, and got my name out there in some bigger circles.”

But after 45 episodes, the Hunter Baumgardt Sports Podcast is on pause as the host gladly focuses on his new responsibilities at WJJQ.

Eager to grow

Among other things, he’ll host his own sports show and provide the play-by-play for all Tomahawk Hatchet High School sports. He says, “Being able to call over five different sports for WJJQ will give me a wealth of experience and allow me to grow my play-by-play skills, even beyond the major sports of football, basketball, and baseball. Plus, being able to create my own sports show will allow me to continue to improve as a show host, and use my knowledge of Wisconsin sports on a regular basis.”

While he did apply for jobs all over the country, Baumgardt is thrilled to get to stay in Wisconsin. “Staying in the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin, was important to me because I have a great passion for Wisconsin and Midwest sports. My sports knowledge runs deep when it comes to Wisconsin sports, and being able to use that knowledge and overall fandom for the teams I talk about on a daily basis, is something I desired.”

The WJJQ job came to Baumgardt’s attention through a connection at a Milwaukee radio station. He says, “I can’t stress enough how important networking is in the sports radio industry.”

Longo second STAA member to join Charlotte Hornets Radio Network

Charlotte Hornets broadcasts will have a distinct STAA feel this season. STAA member Rob Longo is joining the Hornets Radio Network as host/producer. His hiring comes less than a month after fellow STAA member Sam Farber was named Voice of the Hornets.

Ironically, Longo first applied for the play-by-play job that went to Farber. When the studio host/producer position opened a short time later, Longo expressed interest in that as well. “As I read the job description and requirements, I realized that A) this would be a great opportunity and B) I was more than qualified for the position based on my experience.”

Well prepared

Longo has spent the past two years with Learfield IMG College hosting the Ohio University, University of Michigan, and St. John’s University radio networks.

“I truly believe that the experience I got at Learfield IMG College was the primary reason that I got this job. The job duties seem very similar to what I currently do at Learfield IMG College and I’m hoping for a smooth transition because of that,” Longo says.

The interview process

“I remember walking into work at Learfield IMG College one night and checking my phone and seeing I had an email from talent acquisition from the Hornets requesting a phone interview.,” Longo recalls. “I’ve been told no more times than I can count, so it was exciting to see I was at least given a chance to speak with someone.”

Longo participated in three interviews with various Hornets staff members. The final one was a video meeting with a three-person panel that included Farber. Longo left the meeting feeling confident. “It felt more like a conversation, rather than having three people interrogating me,” he remembers. “Of course they asked questions, but it ultimately turned into a relaxed back-and-forth. Cornell (Producer Cornell Jones) asked me if I had any ideas, and I fired off several of them and we kind of went from there. The questions were somewhat generic, asking me how I viewed the position, what I would like to change or how I would work with others/what kind of worker I am. They also asked me where I saw myself in five years, which is always an interview staple.”

Versatility and risk

The Hornets host/producer position is multi-faceted. Longo’s resume fit the bill. “From interning at my local newspaper after my sophomore year of undergrad to working in college athletics behind the scenes, and now to my current position as a studio host/producer at Learfield IMG College, I feel like dabbling in a little bit of everything made me a more desirable hire, especially since this is a new position with the team.”

Moving from Pittsburgh to Winston-Salem, NC for part-time work with Learfield IMG College in 2019 was a risk for Longo. “I was able to fall back on my master’s degree in education to work as a teacher assistant at a high school during the day to pick up health insurance and pay the bills while picking up extra income and gaining valuable experience at the home of college sports on the radio,” says Longo.

Joining STAA

Longo graduated from Waynesburg University in 2015 then earned his Masters at St. Francis in Pennsylvania. He joined STAA in 2018.

“Getting the inside track on job alerts was the primary reason I joined STAA,” Longo recalls. “I feel like getting the leg up on the application process is huge. It’s also beneficial to have my name in the talent database for any opportunities as well.

“And finally, it was a no brainer to reach out to Jon [Chelesnik] when I knew I was going to interview with Sam, a fellow STAA member. Although Sam and I are from opposite ends of the country, Jon was able to bring us under one umbrella with STAA.”

Chris Williams joins sports team at KWTX in Waco

Chris Williams has spent the past two years covering a lot of news and a little bit of sports for News Channel Nebraska. When deciding to pursue sports full-time, Williams needed to learn how to feature his sports experience over his news accomplishments. They payoff for the former college football player is a sports reporter position at KWTX-TV in Waco. TX.

“Sports have always been a huge part of my life,” says Williams, a former football team captain and all-conference player at Chapman University in California. “As a player, I often saw how great the human side of sports is, so I really wanted to get back to focusing on the actual student athletes and teams, and shedding light on how great all sports are beyond just the highlights.”

Getting things in order

Preparing for the sportscasting job market wasn’t easy for Williams. He realized when he joined STAA that he needed to learn how to feature his sports experience over his news, even though the latter is what he’s done most since graduating in 2018.

“[STAA] helped me in all phases of the process,” Williams recalls. “They gave great feedback and suggestions that helped me tweak my reel and design my website. Then, they helped me understand which types of things I should include in an application, and which were unnecessary.”

Cold contacting

Once Williams had his presentation in order, he used suggestions from STAA to cold contact employers.

“There were a number of ways STAA helped me draft my cold email. The two biggest takeaways were: find the specifics of the actual station that appeal to me. Don’t just write a generic email, or even one that just focuses on the DMA. I wanted to come to Waco because I have family in Texas and a brother that attended Baylor, but STAA helped me zero in on why I felt KWTX would be the best fit for me,” Williams explains.

“The second takeaway was following up. STAA encouraged me to give a specific date to actually call the news director… and then to follow through on it. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but I definitely think it helped build a relationship before there was even an opening.”

Support from Mom

Arguably the biggest impact on Williams’ career has come from his mother. “My mom is the best,” Williams smiles. “She was great at doing background research into various openings and stations, and helping figure out which ones I would be a good fit for. She is also a former English teacher, so she would proofread any and all emails I sent out in the job search process.”

Williams joined STAA in June after several months of procrastinating. “I just kept putting it off. I am stubborn, so I thought I knew best. Within a week of me finally joining [STAA] had me recut my reel, trim my resume way down, and improve the overall appearance of my applications, and I immediately started getting more traction from news directors.”

Second time the charm for Farber, Charlotte Hornets

“Sam FarberSam Farber interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets radio play-by-play position in 2019 but didn’t get it the job. Though he was disappointed, Farber enjoyed the interview process and appreciated getting to know Hornets VP of Communications Mike Cristaldi, who was in charge of the hire.

When the Hornets played in Los Angeles near Farber’s home last season, he attended the game and renewed acquaintances with Cristaldi. The growing respect between the two paid off when the Charlotte job opened again this off-season.

Farber is the new Voice of the Hornets.

He has been an STAA member since the agency’s inception in 2006.

Charlotte isn’t the first time Farber has been part of an NBA broadcast team. He spent two seasons as the Los Angeles Clippers pre and postgame host and locker room reporter.

Play-by-play, though, is Farber’s passion. He has been covering college basketball and baseball for the ESPN networks since 2014. He’s been doing those same sports, and high school football, for Fox Sports West since 2015.

Farber has been a TV voice for the NBA G-League’s South Bay Lakers since 2016.

His move to the NBA does not surprise local observers. Longtime Los Angeles sports media critic Tom Hoffarth wrote last year, “When the guard starts changing, Farber will be next up on any major opening in the pro sports playing field.”

Farber’s radio play-by-play includes nine years in Minor League Baseball and basketball and baseball on radio for Santa Clara University, UC Riverside, CSUN, George Washington University and Cal Poly-Pomona.

In addition to calling games for Charlotte, Farber will also create digit content for the team.

He is a graduate of USC and The George Washington University.

Constantino new Director of Broadcasting at Gardner-Webb

“Phil ConstantinoUniversities are eager to hire coaches who have successfully built programs elsewhere. A similar track record of success has led STAA member Phil Constantino to his new job as Director of Broadcasting at Gardner-Webb University.

Constantino moves an hour west after more than years at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. It was at Queens where he built a broadcasting and multimedia platform from scratch.

“They really like my on-air skills, but they love most how I built the operation at Queens and built relationships with the communications school on campus,” Constantino says about Gardner-Webb. “They haven’t had someone with that sort of experience in this role before and they’ve told me to build it just like I did at Queens.”

Relationships Matter

Constantino learned of the GWU opening in July after being recommended by a friend in the sports TV industry. COVID postponed the hiring process until November. “I messaged the Assistant AD on Twitter,” Constantino recalls. “He remembered my name from [the recommendation] and hits me back to set up a phone call for the next morning. Within a week I had three interviews, including an on-campus meeting with the AD, and the offer, before I ever formally applied.”

During the interview process, Constantino sold the Athletic Director and Assistant AD on his ability to run a program just like any coach they would hire. “There are talented broadcasters everywhere. Ultimately, the ability to run the show is the most important part of the job, whether I’m the one on the air or not. Versatility is imperative. Without wide-ranging skills, I would not have this job,” Constantino suggests.

Investing in relationships also helped Constantino get the GWU gig. “I was recommended for this job by someone who has become a good friend and mentor, but is also someone that GWU trusts in the broadcast field. Connections matter, but your connections must be genuine. It’s important to truly invest in the people around you. It’s not always about business.”

Creating Opportunities

Constantino earned his Masters from Queens in October after earning his undergrad degree from Penn State in 2015.

At Penn State, Constantino was one of the more accomplished student broadcasters at one of the largest communications schools in the country. He mistakenly thought success was inevitable.

“Simply put, I thought I was a lot more talented than I actually was,” Constantino admits. “That’s not a recipe for success in an uber-competitive business such as broadcasting. I had a lot of learning to do and it took me some time to realize just how bad I was. That said, at first I couldn’t get any play-by-play reps anywhere. It was frustrating and, at times, flat out depressing. But I found ways to create my own opportunities to get better.

“I latched on at Queens, a tiny little DII school that I had never heard of, and by showing up and proving my investment in the product, I was offered a full-time job and asked to build out an entire broadcast department. Without this realization and creative thinking, I would’ve been out of the business a long time ago.”

Always Improving

Constantino joined STAA in 2018, but not to receive sportscasting job leads. “I joined STAA strictly to learn,” he says. “I think most people think of STAA as a means to find a job. I, instead, have always thought of STAA as a forum for broadcasters to communicate, learn from each other, and learn from Jon Chelesnik, someone who is the real deal, has been around the business, and knows his stuff.

“To this day, I regularly watch STAA videos and read STAA posts with the goal of getting better. I listen to the monthly group critique, even if my work is not in it. My goal was to become a better broadcaster and STAA has made me better. And I still have so much more to learn.”

Constantino understands that constantly learning, building relationships and developing a variety of skills are keys in today’s sportscasting job market.

“Our business is about a lot more than how you look and sound on the air. Places like GWU are looking for the whole package,” he says.

Weiderhaft to call Coastal Carolina women’s basketball

“Sam WeiderhaftA family connection and hard work has led recent college grad Sam Weiderhaft to his new job as the voice of Coastal Carolina University women’s basketball.

“I have been volunteering in the Coastal athletic department since September doing our weekly athletics podcast, news packages of our sports, PA announcing, and a segment on the football pregame show,” Weiderhaft says.

It wouldn’t have occurred to Weiderhaft eight months ago that he would now be in Conway, SC. In March, he had lined up a minor league baseball gig. Everything changed when COVID hit. Weiderhaft admits feeling lost after graduating from Butler University in May. He was working a serving job when a relative who works at Coastal Carolina told him the athletic department needed help.

“They had lost over 40 positions due to the pandemic,” Weiderhaft recalls. He moved to Conway in August and was immediately put to work as the volunteer host of their weekly athletics podcast.

“I wanted to get more involved on the media side, so I created social media video packages that went out on our athletics twitter page,” Weiderhaft says. “Thankfully, they liked my voice and started using me as the PA announcer for soccer and volleyball matches, and I was asked to do our Coastal Sports Update radio segment for the football pregame show.”

Weiderhaft was quick to express interest when he learned the Chanticleers women’s basketball job might be opening. “Because the athletic department has liked the content I’ve been putting out, I was able to get the job.”

Advice Weiderhaft received at STAA’s 2018 Play-by-Play Retreat in San Diego makes him especially excited the opportunity. “I remember [STAA Owner] Jon Chelesnik saying that getting a women’s hoops gig at a bigger school is a good way to get your foot in the door, and that was my goal.”

Saying yes to all opportunities has been one of Weiderhaft’s most valuable career building strategies.

“At Butler, I was picking up jobs as a utility worker for Big East Digital Network broadcasts, just because I wanted to be involved. Just doing something as simple as rolling cable led me to doing talent stats for FS1 and CBS Sports broadcasts for guys like Dave Ryan and Vince Welch and getting to pick their brains while doing so.”

Weiderhaft continues creating new opportunities at Coastal. “That has helped me gain some respect in this athletic department in just a few months,” he says. “Even if it’s the smallest job, never say no and try to create your own opportunities just to get involved, especially with there being few opportunities in today’s sports broadcasting environment.”

Zimmerman-Guyer embracing move to R&J Broadcasting

“Derek Zimmerman-GuyerDerek Zimmerman-Guyer is relentlessly optimistic and motivated. Investing in those traits has led to his new job as a play-by-play broadcaster and reporter at R&J Broadcasting in Ada, MN.

Zimmerman-Guyer learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email. He heard back from station GM Jim Birkemeyer less than 30 minutes after applying. “Within the next two weeks, Jim and company interviewed me twice via Zoom, making it the quickest and most beneficial response time I’ve encountered during the last eight months,” Zimmerman-Guyer grins.

He is the third STAA member to join R&J Broadcasting in the past two years. Andrew Pitkin joined their Brainerd, MN station in 2018. Matt Fowler was hired by R&J in Aitkin, MN last year.

Zimmerman-Guyer, a 2020 graduate of Missouri Western State University, is grateful that someone has given him a shot to pursue his dream. But that’s just one reason he’s excited to move to Ada. “I’ve grown up in the Northwest Missouri/KCMO area for over 22 years now — I’ll be 23 in December — and I’ve always been told I need to experience life outside of the state. As much as I love my hometown and my defending Super Bowl champs, it’ll be good for me to build more bridges and tell more stories across the country, and I’m sure Minnesota is chock-full of stories.”

Customizing his applications to each opening is something Zimmerman-Guyer believes helped him the job market. However, it was staying calm during the interviews that he thinks got him over the top. “I really let questions breathe and settle before rushing into things. I’m a very anxious person, so just like I’ve learned to do in the booth, I let things develop before running off with my words.”

When the pandemic left Zimmerman-Guyer with time on his hands, he invested it in polishing his craft. “I watched so many NFL Throwback YouTube videos, it’s not even funny. I just took a different verb or two from each video and put it in my vocabulary. I would just sit back on a few live MLB or NBA games and let loose with the teams I’m especially familiar with. I recorded most of these while some others I just did out of the spur of the moment.”

Zimmerman-Guyer has also added one broadcaster’s famous catch phrase to his own vocabulary. “After listening to Mike Breen yell ‘Bang!’ so much, I started saying it during everyday events,” Zimmerman-Guyer smiles. “After awhile, I was thinking to myself, “I know this is Breen’s signature, but I’m going to bust this out when the day comes.”

The pandemic has also helped Zimmerman-Guyer reinvent himself. “Quarantine gave me a lot of spare time when I wasn’t working in an Amazon or FedEx warehouse, so I decided to start up a podcast, The Optimistic Guy. With it being pre recorded and everything, I really scripted the daylights out of it, and what I mean is that I wrote it to my strengths and weaknesses. I touched on topics I wanted to shed more light on, so I wrote my takes or thoughts in a way that sounds like me and is me, but I also pushed myself to let more emotion and character fly in my voice.”

Zimmerman-Guyer has even used the podcast to improve his weaknesses. “Sometimes when I adlib, things can get messy. I’d really think about every way I can spin this talking point, so I’d have multiple adlibs ready. Once the time came, however it may be, I would set up my own punch lines that I consider a part of my personality. This way, I can get my message across in a clear way, but I still remember to be me.”

Zimmerman-Guyer joined STAA in April. “I remember after everything COVID-19-wise went down in March, I’m basically an early graduate, and it was time to ramp up the job search a bit more. I originally found something on my own in Nebraska, but it was frozen and fell through. I decided to reach out to others in my field more on Twitter, and I saw STAA in one of their bios. I was pretty thrilled to say the least.

“I joined STAA because I knew someone would say yes, and the more applications I put out there, the high the odds would get. This career field is my dream, and it’s not going to come about all on its own. It’s tough to do it alone, and I knew if I wanted to invest in this career for real, I’d really have make a financial investment and join.”

Zimmerman-Guyer’s investments in himself and STAA are paying dividends.

Ferchland finds NCAA play-by-play opportunity in New Jersey

“Jim FerchlandJim Ferchland cold contacted more than 70 schools looking for a college play-by-play job. He found one yes and is the new voice of Felician University men’s basketball.

Felician is a NCAA DII program in Rutherford, NJ.

“It’s been a really rough wave of adversity after I graduated [from Stony Brook University] but I feel this is the start of something great,” Ferchland grins.

Ferchland may also have opportunities to call Golden Falcons volleyball, soccer, women’s basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. He adds with a smile, “I’ll do whatever they ask me to do.”

When Ferchland decided last spring to seek opportunity rather than waiting for it to find him, he contacted more than 70 schools to inquire about play-by-play opportunities. Wanting to stay close to home, he searched for all Division I, II, and III schools in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Ferchland received several replies. “Felician was one of them, and the SID gave me an elaborate response, unlike other schools. We kept exchanging emails over the summer and into the fall.”

Ferchland’s list had grown to six by the end of summer. “But Felician kept in touch while the others did not,” he recalls. “I went to visit the campus in the early October and met the Felician athletic department staff. After visiting the campus in Rutherford and driving an hour and 45 minutes back to Long Island, I received an email saying I got the job.”

Felician is an especially good opportunity for Ferchland because it takes him out of his comfort zone. “I’ve always stayed in Long Island because I liked being close to home,” he says. “I felt like I would limit myself if I didn’t take the chance. I’m so glad I did. I want to prove to others but mostly to myself that I’m capable of doing this.”

An especially frustrating job market challenge for Ferchland was that nobody would give him a chance. “I was thinking, ‘what do I have to do to get noticed?’ I decided to make a website to show off my portfolio. It took me two days to create.

“Plus, I never used a spot chart prior to the pandemic. Now, I’ve created several spot charts for future Felician broadcasts and I thank my broadcast coach Dan Gillman for helping me with that.”

Ferchland joined STAA in 2018 upon the recommendation of Stony Brook men’s basketball/football radio broadcaster and fellow STAA member Josh Caray. “He recommended I try it back when I was back in college but I couldn’t afford it at that time. I decided to try it after college and I’m happy I’m a member of the STAA community.

Tiemann new U. of Montana women’s basketball voice

“Shawn Tiemann — Press Release — Shawn Tiemann has worked hard to earn a Division I play-by-play job. Now he’s landed one. An STAA member, Tiemann is the new voice of University of Montana women’s basketball.

Tiemann takes over the mic for Tom Stage, who announced last spring he was retiring after calling Lady Griz action for 25 seasons.

“I’m so grateful to have been chosen for this opportunity with the Lady Griz. It’s been a long-held dream of mine to serve as the regular voice of a Division I program, and to be able to do that for a tradition-rich women’s basketball program at such a prestigious university is highly rewarding,” said Tiemann.

“Todd Rahr, Riley Corcoran and the UM athletic department staff that I visited with made me feel like this was a place I needed to be. I have a big mic to fill with the departure of Tom Stage, but I’m so honored to follow up on what he built.

Grizzlies football and men’s basketball broadcaster Riley Corcoran was an STAA member when he took over that role in 2016.

Tiemann has been an STAA member since 2009 and has a robust play-by-play portfolio. He has called games for television and served as a talk-show host for various radio sports programs and college coaching shows.

He has been the play-by-play announcer for the Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League (MLB Chicago White Sox) the last four seasons.

Additionally, he has been the voice of Rogers State University men’s and women’s basketball in Oklahoma and called college basketball for Oral Roberts, South Dakota State and John Brown.

Tiemann also has been color analyst for the NCAA Division II Heartland Conference basketball tournaments.

“We are thrilled to have Shawn join our broadcast team as the play-by-play announcer for the Lady Griz,” said Greg Sundberg, Montana Senior Associate AD for External Operations. “Shawn will bring a great deal of experience and excitement to the broadcast.”

John Mallory back in Boise, this time at 93.1 The Ticket

“John MalloryJohn Mallory says he was an active, loud and obnoxious kid. In other words, he was born to be a sports talk host. An STAA member, Mallory – also known as Johnny Ballgame — is the new co-host of “Idaho Sports Talk with (Mike) Prater and the Ballgame,” afternoons from 3 to 6 on 93.1 The Ticket in Boise, ID.

It’s a return to The Gem State for Mallory. “I had previously worked for ESPN Radio in Boise form 2013-2016 which gave me a familiarity in the market,” he smiles.

Inside info

The KTIK opening was emailed to STAA members on July 15th, three weeks before Cumulus posted it publicly. Mallory, though, knew about it before all of that.

“I was contacted by [Cumulus Market Manager] Don Morin in regards to [the opening], Mallory recalls. “We had a great conversation. Don then had Pat Metzger, the Program Director, call me to discuss the potential position as well.”

Mallory is the third STAA member to advance his sports talk career in the past eight weeks. Last month, Dan Lucero joined Rocking M Radio in Colby, KS. In late July, Denton Day earned a new Saturday and Sunday evening show on SportsMap Radio Network

Great fit

Mallory had other sports radio job options, but Boise was the right fit personally and professionally. “My girlfriend lives in Boise and we had been commuting 145 miles to see each other over the last few years, so yeah, I’d probably be single had I not taken the gig,” Mallory laughs. “All kidding aside, the opportunity to become a team member at Cumulus and work for a heritage show (Idaho Sports Talk) and sports talk station (KTIK) was too good to pass up.”

After leaving ESPN Boise in 2016, Mallory moved to La Grande, OR. He spent most of the past four years as a sports director and talk show host. COVID-19 made those duties especially challenging. “When sports basically entirely shut down in March of 2020, finding content daily in the sports talk industry was incredibly challenging,” Mallory laments. “I focused on interviews and tried to find subjects from all walks of sports life. I found the interview subjects were easier to book on my show because most people were home and not working. So it worked out ok for me.”

Born to talk sports

Mallory’s sports passion is rooted in his childhood. “As a kid I couldn’t sit still. I was always active, loud, obnoxious, etc. Sports always seemed to fit those characteristics for me,” he recalls.

Mallory has also always loved talking sports. “I’ve never wanted anything more than a sports talk radio gig, so I really pushed hard to make it happen and listened to people who were willing to teach me,” he says. “When I listened to other sports talk programs, I would always pay attention to what I felt worked and what didn’t. And heck, talking and entertaining folks luckily has never been a problem for me.”

Another thing that has never been a problem for Mallory is the personal relationships that have set the foundation for Mallory’s professional success. “I’ve had a super support system throughout my life — parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, friends and teachers.”

The active, loud, obnoxious kid those people loved and supported is now an active, loud and no longer obnoxious sports talk host. And he’s back in a market he loves.