Weiderhaft finds summer home with Western Nebraska Pioneers baseball

“Sam WiederhaftWhen Western Nebraska Pioneers baseball club owner Chuck Heeman emailed to notify STAA he’d hired member Sam Weiderhaft to be his team’s new broadcaster, he joked, “Mainly because Weiderhaft is fun to say. Plus he’s good.”

Heeman followed the comment with a winking eye emoji.

Weiderhaft is, indeed, good. He’s called a lot of baseball, too. “I believe what made me stand out to Chuck was my prior experience,” Weiderhaft hypothesizes. “Spending the summer of 2019 in the Cape Cod Baseball League was an opportunity of a lifetime and really improved my broadcasting skills. I was able to get a reel out of it that I was proud of, and broadcasted some incredible players. Broadcasting the top league in the country made me very familiar with summer collegiate baseball, and I think that experience will easily carry over to the Pioneers.”

The Pioneers are based in Gering, NE and play in the summer collegiate Expedition League.

“I had been anxiously waiting for baseball job leads to come out through STAA, as my contacts in baseball really didn’t have much information on what was going on professionally,” Weiderhaft recalls. “When I saw an opportunity to return to collegiate summer league baseball, I jumped on it.”

Weiderhaft will also help the Pioneers with media relations, a skill set he has honed over the past six months as an assistant sports information director and women’s basketball broadcaster at Coastal Carolina University. He’s also interned in sports information at an Indiana high school.

Uncertain job market

The Pioneers opportunity is a welcome one by Weiderhaft, especially amid the ongoing uncertainly of minor league baseball.

“Last year, I had started reaching out to minor league teams in October and had my eyes set on short-season rookie league coming out of college. I attended the MLB Winter Meetings Job Fair and looked like I had lined something up for the following summer. Obviously, it didn’t come about and I was crushed that I would not be calling baseball in the summer of 2020,” Weiderhaft says.

“I’ve been thinking about this upcoming summer and wondering how things would work out with minor league and independent baseball, and realized how much uncertainty is in the air regarding travel, crowd sizes, and team budgets. With little info coming out recently, I really wanted to secure a baseball job that would give me much needed experience despite the level, because I haven’t been able to call baseball since the summer of 2019. Seeing that the Expedition League played games in 2020, it was clear to me that this league and team would be trusted to carry out a relatively normal season.”

Joined STAA last March during his senior year at Butler University. “I found out about the STAA in my freshman year of college through the Jim Nantz award, and was recommended by fellow Butler alum Brendan King to checkout the site and use the different features, including the job leads.”

Now, one of those STAA job leads ensures that Weiderhaft will be spending his summer at the ballpark. And that Chuck Heeman will have countless opportunities to experience the fun of saying Weiderhaft’s name.

Ex-car salesman Glennon new play-by-play voice at Queens U.

Five years ago, Mike Glennon was selling cars in Syracuse, NY. Now he’s the new Assistant Director of Sports Information at Queens University (NCAA DII) in Charlotte, NC.

He succeeds fellow STAA member Phil Constantino, who left Queens in December for the Director of Broadcasting job at Gardner-Webb University, also in Charlotte.

At the age of 29, Glennon left auto sales to pursue sports broadcasting. He shares, “I was at a time in my life where I felt I was in a rut and desperately needed a change.”

He started by pursuing – and quickly attaining – his BA in Communications from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. During his college years, he also landed an ESPN Radio Syracuse internship that led to producing with them.

In addition, Glennon gained a lot of play-by-play experience with the Le Moyne College Athletic Department. He also taught himself how to use Microsoft and Adobe Suite programs, and it turns out those multimedia skills will be a large part of his new position at Queens University.
Glennon’s most recent position was at 1440 KRDZ in Wray, CO. That is where he won a Colorado Broadcasters’ Association Award of Excellence for Best Morning Show in Medium Market Radio for his show On the Mike in the Mornings.

Along the way, Glennon discovered STAA and became a member in 2018. He says, “I found STAA by just researching how to get into this business and saw nothing but positives by signing up. From the resources to the job leads, you cannot ask for a better service to help you break into this business and further your career!”

It was because of an STAA Job Leads email that Glennon learned about the opening for the Queens University position, where he already had a connection with the head men’s basketball coach. “At the 2018 D-2 Elite 8…I interviewed he and his players after their Elite 8 Win and Final 4 Loss. I used that in my interview with the coaches and he remembered me and the questions I asked!”

Glennon believes several other things helped him in his pursuit of this position. For one, he followed up often as a way of keeping his name on their minds. He also researched the university, their philosophy, the coaches, and the athletic staff. He shares, “Getting to know them before the interviews allowed me to key in on several things from the backgrounds of each in order to make a deeper connection right out of the gate!”

Looking back on that life-changing decision he made years ago, Glennon admits to feeling anxious. “I will be honest, being anxious is an understatement. But I have always had an incredible support system around me and I . . . knew that it was time to focus on me and bettering myself. . . It was very scary to uproot everything but I would do it all over again 1,000 times.”

He continues, “The moral is you NEVER have to feel stuck as long as you set yourself goals and commit to bettering your life which in turn will better your relationships with those you hold dearest to you!”

Jake Sidle joining KSJB/KSJZ in North Dakota

Country was often the music of choice prior to meetings of the Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization, a student organization at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Jake Sidle says he has more appreciation for the music genre now that he’s joining country music stations KSJB/KSJZ in Jamestown, North Dakota.

It’s Sidle first full-time job since graduating from BGSU last year.

“I will serve as on-air talent and provide play-by-play for local high school athletics,” he says excitedly.

Since graduating from college, Sidle has been doing freelance play-by-play and working outside broadcasting while looking for his first full-time opportunity. He had a baseball broadcasting job lined up this summer in an Ohio collegiate summer league.

Sidle is a native of Wooster, OH. He grew up a fan of the Cleveland Indians and their longtime broadcaster, Tom Hamilton.

Sidle joined STAA on January 7th. The Jamestown job lead was sent to STAA members just over two weeks later. Now Sidle is on his way to the Dakota plains.

McClure fulfills childhood dream joining B103 FM

Matt McClure used to record mock pregame shows into a cell phone with his dad and brother on their way to sporting events. “That’s when I knew I wanted to make a career out of this field,” he grins.

Now McClure is going to be broadcasting for real. An STAA member, McClure is joining B103 in Sisseton, SD. He learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email. “I will have plenty of on-air opportunities as I will be hosting a radio morning show from 6am-11am and will be doing play by play for high school sports around the area, McClure says.

“Ever since I was kid I wanted to be on the radio,” he smiles.

Setting the foundation

McClure started formally preparing for a broadcasting career upon enrolling at Penn State University. He hosted countless podcasts and radio shows on PSU’s CommRadio before graduating last spring.

McClure spent the summers of 2019 and 2020 calling baseball in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. The experience boosted his confidence. ” Being able to do close to 100 baseball games helped me become more comfortable,” he says.

An enthusiastic approach and willingness to learn helped him land the job. “I expressed my passion and desire for this position and kept at it until finding out the end result,” McClure recalls.

Additional assistance

McClure joined STAA last October upon the recommendation of his guidance counselor at Penn State. “Ultimately, I joined STAA because of the community and the passion for broadcasting from its members,” he says. “Every STAA member is hungry to get better and that’s what I love the most about it. Members can relate to one another because they are pursuing the same kinds of things as other members are and the constant support has been fantastic.”

Now when McClure’s dad and brother want to hear Matt broadcast, they can tune him in on the radio.

“I will learn a lot about the ins and outs on radio here at B103 and I can’t wait to get started!”

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.”