(March 17, 2011) Seth Cantor has considerable college football and basketball play-by-play experience but has always wanted to try his hand at minor league baseball. Now he is getting his chance. An STAA client, Cantor is joining the expansion Rockland Boulders as Corporate Sales Coordinator/Broadcaster.
“It combines my major market sales experience with my goals as a play-by-play broadcaster,” says Cantor.
With Rockland, Cantor will share the broadcasting booth with fellow STAA client Carmine Vetrano, who is also entering his first season as a minor league baseball broadcaster.
“The sales aspect is good,” says Cantor, who has billed more than $2-million in sales as a former account executive for WWFS radio in New York, NY “I told myself if I were to get back into sales it would be with a baseball team or some other team. I believe in sports, so the sales comes naturally for me.”
A client since STAA’s inception in 2005, Cantor recently finished his second season as play-by-play voice of NCAA Division I St. Francis College men’s basketball. He also broadcasts U.S. Merchant Marine Academy football and has done freelance work for Cornell University, St. John’s University and Manhattan College. He is a graduate of Ithaca College.
(March 15) The job market rarely moves as quickly as job seekers would prefer. Every once in a blue moon, though, there are exceptions and Justin Shackil found one. An STAA client, Shackil is joining the Tennessee Smokies s their No.2 play-by-play broadcaster.
The Smokies are the Class-AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
From start to finish, Shackil’s hire took less than one week. STAA emailed the job description to clients on Monday, February 14th. By Saturday the 19th, Shackil had submitted the link to his STAA Talent Page, interviewed with veteran Smokies broadcaster Mick Gillispie via Skype, and been offered and accepted the job.
“We had two very, very long and good talks throughout that week, about the job and coming down to work in the Southern League, and also about my current position,” Shackil says. “Mick was able to give me advice. It was good to get ideas from someone new.”
Shackil, a 2009 STAA All-American who spent last season with the AA Trenton Thunder, conferred with several people before accepting the Smokies position.
“All this happened within four or five days. It moved really quickly. I enjoyed that part of it because I have been part of some really draining processes over the past few months so this was really refreshing.”
“We had agreed with the Smokies that we would post the job publicly on Monday, February 21st,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “Before the end of the weekend, though, their Director of Broadcasting Mick Gillispie told me there was no need. They had found their guy.”
(March 10, 2011) Growing up, golf was recreational for Amanda Balionis. Now it is becoming her career. An STAA client, Balionis is joining PGA Tour Entertainment as an anchor and reporter.
“I’ll be anchoring their online shows and also be going out to cover PGA Tour Tournaments,” Balionis says. “I’m really excited about this opportunity and move from Manhattan to the Ponte Vedra, FL area [in the coming days].”
Balionis found out about the job through a friend, Noah Coslov. The same day Coslov placed a call on her behalf, PGA Tour Entertainment called Balionis for an interview.
“I grew up playing golf,” Balionis says. “But if you would have asked me where I was going in my career, I never would have thought golf would be my first opportunity in professional sports.
“It will be really cool. I’ll get to see a lot of places a lot of people never get to see.”
A native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Hofstra University, Balionis has spent the past 11 months as a studio host and reporter for MSG Varsity in New York City. She has also worked for Verizon Fios 1 as a sports reporter. She acknowledges moving to Florida after a lifetime in the Northeast represents a major change, but it is one she is embracing.
“You’re asking me to move down to the beach and warm weather, so there’s not much trepidation,” she grins. “When I went down to hunt for apartments it was 80 degrees and sunny.”
When asked about her primary suggestion for success in the job market, she is quick to reply.
(March 7, 2011) Jason Dixon is on to a new job and a new state. A veteran sports radio programmer in Florida, Dixon has been named Operations Manager and Program Director for 99.9 The Fan, 620 The Buzz and 1500 ESPN Deportes in Raleigh, NC.
“They own sports in the market and their facilities are top notch,” Dixon says. “It’s a tremendous radio station in a tremendous market and a tremendous company. Capitol Broadcasting is committed to doing things first class all the way. From being in the building just a week you can tell the sentiment goes from the top to the bottom.”
Dixon is a former Program Director at WDAE Tampa and 1010XL Jacksonville. He has always lived in Florida but is embracing relocating to Raleigh with his wife and twin six year old sons.
“We’re excited,” Dixon says eagerly. “I told my wife back when I was a DJ at a CHR station that we’d probably be moving every couple years. Turns out I was able to work in Florida for 20 years. We’re excited to move to a great area.”
(March 2, 2011) Zach McCrite has earned his way into the lineup at one of the highest rated sports talk radio stations in the country. An STAA client, McCrite is joining 101 ESPN in St. Louis where will co-host a daily show from 9 to 11 am with retired college and NFL coach Rick Venturi.
“This is a dream come true for me,” McCrite says. “101 ESPN has quickly become a brand known nationwide and I pinch myself thinking about the opportunity to be a part of it. Guys like Rick, Bernie (Miklasz), Randy (Karraker), Rammer (Bob Ramsey) and D’Marco (Farr) are household names. I can’t wait to work with them.”
Since launching in early 2009, 101 ESPN has established itself as one of the strongest sports radio stations in the country. It is currently the highest rated station in St. Louis across all formats in men 25-54 from 6 am to 7 pm. The station was also recently ranked as the No. 2 sports/talk radio station in the United States, among comparable major market stations, for their targeted daypart and demographic
A Jeffersonville, Indiana native, McCrite currently serves as co-host of “Kentucky Sports Radio” with Matt Jones on Talk Radio 1080 WKJK in Louisville, KY. Before his stint with WKJK began in January 2010, McCrite co-hosted “The EZ and Bo Show” on WKQC ESPN 93.9 and WKJK ESPN1450 with Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Rick Bozich from May 2008 through December 2009.
“Zach McCrite is someone who I’ve kept an eye on for the past three years”, notes station Program Director Jason Barrett. “He’s got a big personality and a great sense of humor and he’s the type of host who you find yourself warming up to more and more with each passing day.”
McCrite has been an STAA client since the agency’s inception in 2005, utilizing STAA’s full array of services, including talent coaching.
“I really appreciate STAA’s help. I’m very grateful,” McCrite says.
(March 1, 2011) The last day of February was a memorable one for Carmine Vetrano. In the morning, Vetrano learned he has been named Announcer of the Year in the Federal Hockey League. In the afternoon, the news was even better. Vetrano landed his first play-by-play job in minor league baseball.
An STAA client, Vetrano has been named Communications Coordinator and Broadcaster for the expansion Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League. The Boulders will play in Rockland County, NY – 25 miles north of New York City.
In addition to play-by-play, Vetrano will handle game notes, press releases, game recaps, website, and press box accommodations.
“This is a great step for me personally and it was a goal of mine to make it into professional baseball this summer; and I have!” Vetrano says excitedly.
Vetrano has spent the past two summers broadcasting summer collegiate baseball in New York and Vermont. He has also gained considerable hockey play-by-play experience the past two years with the FHL’s New York Aviators and the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In Bridgeport, he worked alongside, and learned a lot from, veteran broadcaster Phil Giubileo.
“I owe a lot of my success to Phil Giubileo from the Sound Tigers,” Vetrano says. “He took a chance on me. I did not have that much broadcast experience and he allowed me to get reps in the AHL. More importantly, he is been a mentor and even better friend.
“To have him in my corner and STAA [CEO Jon Chelesnik] is the perfect package. I sent over my Talent Page [to the Boulders], and they had everything they needed right there.”
Vetrano contacted the Boulders on his own, then asked the Sound Tigers to place a call on his behalf, which led to an interview.
“ I sold them on how ready I am to make the jump,” Vetrano says.
(February 24, 2011) Networking has helped Kyle Tait launch his career at a level uncommon for most recent college grads. An STAA client, Tait has been hired as play-by-play broadcaster for the Mississippi Braves. The Braves are the Class AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Tait replaces Ben Ingram, who is leaving to join the Atlanta Braves post game show.
“I’m lucky,” Tait says. “It kind of fell into my lap.”
Tait’s modesty is admirable, but it was anything but lucky that Tait earned this opportunity. Throughout his four years broadcasting Georgia Tech baseball while a student at the school, Tait always networked and solicited the opinions of professionals about his work.
“Networking has been huge,” Tait says. “Working at Georgia Tech. I got to know Wes Durham. He put me in touch with someone who works in minor league baseball, who put me in touch with [Tennessee Smokies broadcaster] Mick Gillispie, who put me in touch with Ben Ingram. In this business it’s all about networking which is how it all came about.”
By getting to know Ingram, Tait earned the opportunity to fill-in for him on a Braves broadcast last summer. He obviously made a great impression because as soon as the team learned they were going to need a new broadcaster for the coming season, they called Tait.
A 2010 graduate of Georgia Tech, Tait is currently pursuing his Masters at Georgia State University, also in Atlanta.
“I’m fresh out of college and guys my age don’t generally get Double-A jobs, so it’s a huge honor for me to be named to a Double-A position without any prior minor league baseball experience. It’s a reward for the hard work I’ve put into Georgia Tech baseball.
“I’ve gotten a lot of help from Ben, Mick and STAA client Stu Paul. I could go down the list of people who have listened to my tape and helped me develop my sound. It’s paying off sooner than I expected but I’m pleased with it.”
In his new gig, Tait won’t be distracted by media relations or sales responsibilities. It will be 100% play-by-play.
“It might sound crazy but I’m actually looking forward to the schedule of 140 games in 152 days,” Tait says. “That’s minor league baseball at its finest and I’m actually looking forward to it. I find myself during Georgia Tech’s off-season with not a lot to do. Its funny, today is an off-day for Georgia Tech baseball and I’m sitting here thinking ‘I wish I was calling a game today.” I’m looking forward to the everyday grind and getting to watch some of the top prospects and getting to know those guys as well.”
Tait also appreciates the help of STAA.
“Thank you for all the stuff that STAA has done for me,” he says. “It’s really helped me out — the eBlasts, talking to [STAA CEO] Jon Chelesnik and also just being able to find guys like Stu Paul. It has all been extremely helpful. It’s been worth every penny.”
(February 22, 2011) Nick Anastos is eager to get back on the road. An STAA client, Anastos has been hired as the No.2 broadcaster and media relations assistant for the State College Spikes. The Spikes are the Pittsburgh Pirates Class-A Short Season New York-Penn League affiliate.
“I’m looking forward to getting to travel again,” Anastos smiles. “It’s been awhile. I’m getting the itch again.”
Anastos joins State College after spending last season as the No.2 with the Class-A Dayton Dragons. With State College, he will be working alongside veteran Penn State University football and basketball broadcaster Steve Jones, who is also the main play-by-play voice for the Spikes. Anastos will call the middle three innings of play-by-play for all 38 home games and will handle solo play-by-play duties for roughly 20 road games.
“It’s a chance to get back on the air more consistently,” Anastos says. “I’ll get to work with a veteran broadcaster like Steve Jones and hone my skills both on and off the mike.”
The opportunity came for Anastos when, for the second year in a row, the Spikes approached STAA about helping fill the position. STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik says, “They allowed us to send the job description to our clients with the caveat that they could later choose to post the position publicly if they didn’t find what they were looking for.
“Nick is one of the outstanding young broadcasters we have at STAA. Couple that with his media relations skills and he’ll be a great fit.”
(February 18, 2011) Grant Tunkel’s great memory is part of the reason he has landed his next play-by-play job in minor league baseball. An STAA client, Tunkel has been named broadcaster for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
The Scrappers are the Cleveland Indians Class-A short season affiliate, located in Niles, OH. Tunkel will broadcast all 76 games on radio and handle media relations.
“It’s a step up from last year,” Tunkel says. “Last year I worked for the Jamestown Jammers (Florida Marlins Class-A short season.) I essentially befriended their play-by-play broadcaster [fellow STAA client] Scott Eddy and got in the booth for a healthy number of games. I was looking to move up in the ranks. This was an opportunity to work for an organization I know is very reputable and to call games on radio and work in an environment where the organization and fans support minor league baseball.”
Tunkel contacted Mahoning Valley after remembering what he learned about the position last off-season.
“I remembered from last year that their play-by-play broadcaster simply lived in the area, had never broadcast baseball but called their games. I didn’t see a job posting anywhere or hear about it from anyone so I gave them a call.”
A 2010 graduate of USC, Tunkel emailed the link to his STAA Talent Page to the team. One week and two telephone interviews later, he was offered the job.
“It’s an opportunity to broaden my play-by-play horizons and call games on radio,” Tunkel says. “They just signed a new two year agreement with 1570 WHTZ and truthfully, I ‘m looking forward to going out on the road, going city to city, the bus rides –there are a lot of things about minor league baseball that I’m looking forward to on a day to day basis.”
(February 15, 2011) After a year away from broadcasting, Brett Pollock is back in the game. An STAA client, Pollock is joining the Class-AAA Omaha Royals as their No.2 play-by-play broadcaster.
It represents a return to broadcasting for Pollock after his five-year stint with the Class AA Huntsville Stars ended in 2009.
“Obviously, I’m excited to get back after the year away,” Pollock says. “Especially to do it with such a solid organization, and in Triple-A. They are also opening a new ballpark, so that makes it that much better.”
Pollock will be broadcasting home games with Mark Nasser but will not travel. When the team is on the road, Pollock will be hosting pre and post game, and producing the broadcasts from the radio station.
After a year away, Pollok admits to having felt some concern about his ability to get back in.
“I was very concerned. I’ll be honest with you — I’m not going to lie. I was trying to stay positive and upbeat.
Pollock credits his friend, Birmingham Barons broadcaster Curt Bloom, with helping him stay positive.
“Curt has been tremendous at offering support and encouragement, trying to keep me positive and upbeat and serving as a sounding board and a genuinely good friend,” Pollock says. “He said,’ You’re experienced enough and good enough that you’re going to be able to find your way back in.”
When Omaha’s long-time No. 2 Kevin McNabb resigned after last season, the Storm Chasers didn’t originally plan on replacing him. However, when Pollock saw Nasser at the Winter Meetings, he learned the plan had changed. Now, Pollock is grateful to be back in the game and encourages other broadcasters who are between jobs to remain optimistic.
“First and foremost, believe you have the ability to get back and do it. The way things played out for me last off-season, I knew [not getting a job] wasn’t a reflection of my ability or anything I did. I’ve been around the game long enough to develop relationships with enough people who were willing to put in a good word for me. Definitely maintain those relationships without being overbearing about it.”
Pollock also credits STAA.
“STAA has been great. Being able to send the link to my Talent Page makes things so much easier — not having to send a disc and a hard copy. I love it. I think it’s tremendous. It’s been extremely useful and valuable and has made the job application process much easier. STAA has certainly been a valuable resource and tool for finding out about opportunities.”