(July 10, 2011) Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By that definition, Ben Rosehart was applying an insane approach to the job market. When Rosehart finally changed his methods, the result was a jump of almost 100 markets.
An STAA client, Rosehart is joining KWQC NBC-TV in Davenport, IA as a sports anchor/reporter. He is especially excited about hosting a popular weekly highlights show called the Friday Night Highlight Zone.
Rosehart makes the move after nearly four years at KGWN-TV in Cheyenne, WY.
“[KWQC] is the number one station in the market and has been for almost 40 years,” Rosehart says. “Its almost a 100 market jump for me.”
Rosehart smiles when adding that Davenport is also one time zone closer to his family roots in Pennsylvania.
Rosehart joined STAA earlier this year.
“STAA helped me with my resume and cover letter – shaping them up and cutting the fat,” Rosehart says.
Rosehart also worked with STAA to refine his application strategy.
“I became more aggressive on my own in terms of making phone calls. I was more prepared with what to say [to news directors] and how to get on their radar. I had an agent for over a year and didn’t make any progress. I realized I had to step up on my own.
“My follow up was much better, getting the news director on the phone, then sending a hand written [thank you] note — polite persistence as [STAA CEO] Jon Chelesnik advocates.
“STAA was definitely a big help. I appreciate it.”
(July 5, 2011) Things do not always turn out as planned. Sometimes, they turn out better. That is the case for STAA client Nathan Epstein. When Epstein applied for work at WDAM Channel 7 in Hattiesburg, MS, he expected to be a candidate for the No.2 sports position. He ended up with the No. 1 job.
“I was just as surprised as anyone,” Epstein says.
The opportunity came about when Mitch Williams left Hattiesburg’s NBC affiliate after 27 years to pursue other interests. It was expected the station would promote their No. 2 sportscaster to the top spot and Epstein applied for the No. 2 position. When the No. 2 also left for family reasons, Epstein was hired for the lead job.
One thing that is particularly attractive to Epstein is the supportive atmosphere he observed when visiting the station for his interview.
“It really is a family environment there,” Epstein says. “Everyone is looking out for everybody. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed because it makes the overall product better.
“They’ve backed me ever since I first went down there. They told me they’ll help me any way they can. That was really a big plus.”
Epstein is a 2011 graduate of Longwood University in Virginia where he worked at the campus radio station and wrote for the student newspaper. He is moving from a one region that is passionate about sports to another.
“They really care about their sports in Hattiesburg,” Epstein says. Local sports aren’t really on the rise across the US but it is here.”
(June 21, 2011) In spring 2010, Michael Spero was graduating from the University of Kansas and wondering when and where his first job would be. After a whirlwind 12 months, he has landed the football play-by-play job at San Jose State University.
“This was my goal at KU,” Spero says. “I wanted to get to the Division I level as soon as possible. There are broadcasters I have kept in touch with who reached this level when they were young.”
While Spero’s ambition is admirable, the fact is only a tiny handful of sportscasters are doing Division I play-by-play within one year of graduation. Of that group, almost none are at schools with Division I, non-FCS football programs.
“Coming from KU I’ve been around major college athletics so I understand the expectations and demands,” Spero says.
As notable as the SJSU gig is for Spero, it isn’t his first Division I job since graduation. He spent this spring broadcasting Stanford University baseball, and last winter was the voice of women’s basketball at Santa Clara University.
“When I landed D-I work my goal was to keep getting DI work, which I have been able to do,” Spero smiles.
Spero learned there was an upcoming Division I play-by-play job weeks in advance of the San Jose State job being made public. “I first reached out to [STAA CEO] Jon Chelesnik about something else. He mentioned there was something coming down the pipeline in which I would be interested. When I saw the San Jose State opening on the STAA job board, I asked Jon if this was the job he had alluded to and he said it was.”
An STAA client since June 2010, Spero has taken full advantage of STAA’s range services.
“STAA has been a big help,” he says. “Initially I think I reached out to [STAA] before I was a client. [Jon Chelesnik] did a critique with me. Just being able to call or email [Chelesnik] and ask about whatever I need is helpful. Through the San Jose State process, we spoke for about a half hour to prepare me for the interview process. Having Jon throw out ideas and concepts as I prepped for the interviews was a big help. I felt very good about how I presented myself.”
Spero’s game plan for putting his career on the fast track began in college. One key has been taking advantage of opportunities and utilizing all available resources.
“Get involved with student radio,” Spero recommends to college broadcasters. “Although I earned my degree in business, I took journalism courses geared towards sports and the broadcasting industry.”
Spero also got to know many broadcasters in the state of Kansas. “I went to [Kansas Association of Broadcasters] day in Kansas City. I met [KU Voice] Bob Davis and [K-State Voice] Wyatt Thompson. I took advantage of any opportunities that came my way, even if it didn’t pay. If it gave me experience and exposure I jumped on it.”
Another of Spero’s strategies is networking with broadcasters who are where he wants to be. Among his contacts are Los Angeles Clippers broadcaster and fellow KU alum and STAA client Brian Sieman, and Spero Dedes, who landed the Los Angeles Lakers job in 2005 when he was just 26.
“I’ve sat down with Brian and watched him broadcast a game. I’ve been able to learn from those guys, and to have discussions with them to find out how they got to where they are and what I need to [best] position myself.”
Spero also regularly critiques his own work and sends it to other broadcasters for their suggestions. All of the effort eventually paid of with Spero landing a job at a university that could hardly be a better fit.
“I’ve been familiar with the school for a while,” Spero says. “I’ve had family come through San Jose State. A lot of the alumni I know are excited about the school and have pride in the school. That was attractive to me.
“The Bay area is where I wanted to be, so I’m glad I get to stay put,” Spero grins.
(June 15, 2011) Radar O’Reilly from the TV show M*A*S*H put Ottumwa, Iowa on the map. Jay Sanderson is hoping to also put his stamp on the community. An STAA client, Sanderson is joining Ottumwa Radio as Operations Manager and Sports Director.
The Ottumwa Radio family of stations includes AM news talk and FM classic rock, new country and adult contemporary. The job responsibilities will be very similar to the job Sanderson is leaving at KLOE-KKCI-KWGB in Goodland, Kansas with one major exception.
“The Ottumwa job is basically what I have been doing in Goodland without the sales,” Sanderson grins.
In addition to the administrative responsibilities of his new job, Sanderson will produce sportscasts throughout the day for all four stations and will serve as play-by-play voice for Ottumwa High School athletics.
The new gig did not come quickly for Sanderson. He first saw it posted on the STAA job forum in early February. He emailed the link to his STAA Talent Page and sent a hard copy of his demo and resume.
“I applied almost immediately,” Sanderson says. “I had spoken to [General Manager Greg List] informally once and formally twice. I had pretty much given up on it when he called last week to request an in-person meeting.”
“It was quite a lengthy process, and for someone like myself who is not the most patient individual it required some patience, but it most definitely paid off.”
(June 13, 2011) The University of North Florida has announced the hiring of STAA client Robert Harper as the Director of Athletic Marketing and Promotions.
Along with his management duties in marketing and promotions, Harper will also serve as the “Voice of the Ospreys” handling play-by-play announcing duties for UNF basketball and baseball broadcasts and hosting the UNF Basketball Coaches Show.
Harper joins the UNF staff following a five-year stint at Campbell University where he served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcasting. He was the “Voice of the Fighting Camels” for all football, basketball and baseball broadcasts and also assisted CU’s Marketing and Promotion department with advertising sales, advertising fulfillment and game promotions.
“We are fortunate to have a person with Robert’s experience in marketing and broadcasting joining the UNF staff,” said Moon. “He has demonstrated a strong work ethic and been a key part of some really successful marketing projects. The fact that he is also an outstanding broadcaster was an extra benefit for us. I look for Robert to have a very positive influence on our marketing, promotions and game atmosphere.”
In his role at UNF, Harper will oversee and manage all aspects of the marketing department with a responsibility to all 19 Division I programs. He will build on existing partnerships while looking to develop relationships with new partners. Harper and his staff will create and execute marketing agreements that best promote and brand partners as well as the athletic department. The marketing and promotions department is responsible for developing promotions for athletic contests that not only allow co-promoting with UNF Athletic partners but also assist in increasing attendance and create a fun exciting game atmosphere for Osprey home events. Increasing awareness of UNF Athletics within the Jacksonville community will also be a priority.
“I am excited and honored to be joining the UNF Athletic family,” said Harper. “Coach Moon has given me a tremendous opportunity to assist in the continuing development of the UNF brand and I am extremely grateful to him. The University, and especially the Athletic Department, has a great many things to share with the Jacksonville community and I look forward to hitting the streets and getting the word out. I have watched the positive changes at UNF over the past several years and I feel fortunate to now have a chance to be a part of the future improvements.”
Prior to his time at Campbell, Harper spent four years as Sports Director and Advertising Executive with Kindred Communications and International Sports Properties in Huntington, W.Va.
A 2001 graduate of Marshall University with a B.A. in journalism with an emphasis in radio-television, Harper has been involved in the broadcast industry for more than a decade. He spent five seasons as the football sideline reporter for the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network. In addition, Harper served as a play-by-play announcer for Marshall basketball and baseball broadcasts as well as Huntington area high school sports. He was the pre- and post-game show host for Thundering Herd football and basketball games.
A native of Hurricane, W.Va., Harper has won more than 30 national, regional and state awards for broadcasting excellence. He spent more than four years as a nightly sports call-in show co-host on WRVC-AM in Huntington.
(June 8, 2011) Nine years after leaving the town where he went to college, John Gaskins is returning. An STAA client, Gaskins is joining Lincoln, Nebraska’s new sports station, 93.7 The Ticket.
The station, locally owned by Home Field Communications, launches August first. Gaskins will be hosting middays, 11 to 3, with Tom Stevens. Gaskins will also serve as Assistant Program Director and will broadcast high school play-by-play.
“I wasn’t sure if I would ever say this but its kind of a dream come true, or at least a desire come true, to work in the general Omaha/Lincoln market,” Gaskins says. “I grew up there, I went to college there [at the University of Nebraska]. I love that town and I have always loved going back there.
“I grew up in Omaha, I had Nebraska season tickets and my uncle played for the Huskers on two national title teams. My parents met at the University of Nebraska.”
In addition to his personal roots, Gaskins also has professional experience in Lincoln, having worked at two different stations in the market between 2000 and 2002, and a third station in 2005. Gaskins also spent two years in television and radio in Medford, OR, followed by three years in radio in Worthington, MN. For the past three years, Gaskins has been a host, producer and play-by-play broadcaster at Sports Radio 1230 KWSN in Sioux Falls, SD.
“Both jobs, plus my most recent, were instrumental in improving my broadcasting skills and my exposure to other sports cultures, particularly college,” Gaskins says. “I experienced covering the Pac-10 in Oregon and the Big 10 in Minnesota. That, plus evolving from student fan to professional reporter, has given me a perspective to where, on my show, I can relate to the die-hard fans, but be objective and tough when I have to about the hometown team.”
Rumors of a new sports station in Lincoln began circulating earlier this year. In early April, STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik called Jim Keck, who Chelesnik heard was part of the venture. After Keck confirmed the rumors, Chelesnik emailed to Keck the link to Gaskins’ STAA Talent Page. At the same time, two of Gaskins former co-workers who are close to Keck were lobbying Keck on Gaskins’ behalf.
“I’m VERY excited to be back in a major college sports market, especially the one I grew up in,” Gaskins grins. “Everything feels like it has come full circle and it’s the right time to go back there.”
(June 7, 2011) Bryan Benway has spent the majority of his career in play-by-play and TV sports anchoring. Now, he is trying something new. An STAA client, Benway is moving into sports talk radio.
“The Bryan Benway Show” will premiere on Monday June 13th on 1490 AM ESPN “The Zone” in Laredo, TX. The show is the first locally focused sports radio talk show in Laredo history and can be heard Monday thru Friday from 4-6pm on 1490am as well as online.
Benway’s focus will be on Laredo sports such as the Laredo Bucks, Laredo Heat, high school football, TAMIU, LCC, as well as regional teams like the Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Texas Longhorns and Texas A & M Aggies.
The 28-year-old Benway spent the last four years as the Laredo Bucks (Central Hockey League) Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting in Laredo, Texas, where he broadcasted the most regular season games in Bucks history (258). In January of 2010 Benway was selected as the television play-by-play broadcaster for the CHL All-Star game on the America One Network which reached nearly 10 million homes nationwide, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
In June of 2010 Benway gave the commencement speech at his alma mater, AuSable Valley High School, in Clintonville, New York.
A Jay, NY native, Benway was a finalist for the 2008-09 CHL Communications Executive of the Year.
From 2009-2011 Benway also hosted the popular weekly television show “Bucks Insider” on FOX 39 in Laredo, as well as appears frequently as a guest sports anchor on the local NBC affiliate KGNS-TV.
During the summer of 2007 Benway served as Assistant General Manager and Broadcaster for the Little Falls Miners Baseball team, of the NYCBL. He has also worked as an announcer for the Harlem Ambassadors show basketball team, announcing nearly 200 games in 34 states, seven Canadian Provinces, and Japan.
Benway is a 2005 graduate of Plattsburgh State University (NY) with a B.A in mass communications.
(June 2, 2011) Alex Kushel understands that building a play-by-play career in minor league baseball is about more than just broadcasting. That is why he is especially excited about his new opportunity. An STAA client, Kushel is joining the St. Lucie Mets as play-by-play broadcaster and sponsorship sales associate.
The Mets are the Class-A advanced affiliate of the New York Mets.
“If I’m able to deliver on the sales aspect, it makes me more of an asset to the organization because there are no guarantees [of employment] after the season,” Kushel says.
Kushel steps into a unique situation with St. Lucie. The team has been broadcasting only home games this season and they have been using volunteer broadcasters. The hiring of Kushel to broadcast all games, home and away, is the team’s first step toward rebuilding their broadcast operation.
Last season, Kushel filled-in behind the mike for a couple games as part of the team’s volunteer rotation. At the same time, he was interning at ESPN 760 in Palm Beach. When the team asked the station to suggest potential play-by-play candidates, Kushel’s name was on the list.
“This is a great opportunity to take the next step and further my career goals,” Kushel says. “I have a passion for broadcasting and for play-by-play. This is a tremendous opportunity to continue to work on my craft, stay on that path and get closer to my goals. To join an organization like the Mets is exactly what I hoped for.”
A graduate of the University of Miami, Kushel broadcast Hurricanes baseball while in school. In addition, he spent the summer of 2009 calling games for the Forest City Owls of the Coastal Plain League. His new gig in St. Lucie means Kushel will be reunited with his college classmate, close friend and fellow STAA client Alex Margulies. Margulies is in his second season broadcasting games for the Fort Myers Miracle, also of the Florida State League.
Kyle West was planning on staying home in Kansas this summer until an opportunity arose that was too good to pass up. An STAA client, West has been hired as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Willmar (MN) Stingers.
The Stingers play in the Northwoods summer collegiate league. Their games will air on both radio and Internet.
In addition to his broadcasting responsibilities, West will be responsible for maintaining the team’s website, writing game recaps for distribution to local media and creating the daily insert for souvenir programs at all home games.
The Stingers opportunity came to West through networking. A co-worker in the athletics media relations office at Kansas University, where West is a student, passed West’s name along to one of her former employers who is now the general manager for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League. The Loggers told the Stingers about West, and Wilmar offered him the job.
“Of course, the opportunity was too good to turn down,” West smiles. “I will have more than 600 innings of play-by-play experience by the end of the summer, and I will also be able to continue gaining experience in the media relations field. I have really enjoyed my time in the media relations office for Kansas Athletics. I am still considering that as a possible career path, so it will be nice to maintain those types of responsibilities in addition to the play-by-play in my new job.”
One of West’s primary goals this summer is to continue improving his play-by-play skills, an area in which he says STAA’s monthly eBlasts and live chats have been helpful.
“I have worked hard to incorporate many of the tips for improving play-by-play from those into my broadcasts,” West says. “I can definitely tell a difference from where I was last year to where I am now simply by adding certain elements to my broadcast that I have learned through the live chats.”
West, who is already in Wilmar, knows it is going to be an exciting summer.
“The co-owners, players and coaches are all great people who are easy to get along with, which will make the summer that much more enjoyable.”
(May 19, 2011) Chris Vlahos is proof that persistence pays. Though he is a talented young broadcaster, Vlahos spent more than one year in the job market before finally landing his first post-collegiate gig. An STAA client, Vlahos is joining KCEN-TV (NBC) in College Station, Texas as a news and sports reporter.
The station is brand new and Vlahos is thrilled to be part of the team that will launch it in October.
“We’re going to be able to write history for the station and say ‘this is how it should be,’” Vlahos says. “We’re going to set the bar, which is exciting.”
A 2010 graduate of the University of Missouri but resident of Southern California, Vlahos is eager to be returning to Big 12 country.
“One thing I’m most looking forward to is covering the Big 12 South in a college town in a sports crazed state like Texas,” Vlahos says. “One guy I was talking to told me the high schools in Texas are like small colleges.”
In the 12 months since he graduated, Vlahos has experienced the variety of frustrations that are common in the job market. He applied for dozens of jobs and had several interviews, yet was repeatedly passed over for reasons beyond his control. Such frustration leads many aspiring broadcasters to give up the dream. Not Vlahos.
“My philosophy is pretty basic — it’s something I’ve lived by for a long time,” he says. “You have to believe. If you don’t believe in your abilities, nobody else will. If you really believe in your own abilities, that is half the battle.”
During the tough times, Vlahos leaned upon STAA for guidance, motivation and support.
“[STAA] has been terrific. From a mock [job] interview we conducted to just being able to call up [STAA CEO] Jon Chelesnik or send him an email if I had a question, or just getting motivational advice. The STAA website alone is invaluable – I found this job on STAA. If not for the website and the postings, we’re not having this conversation.
“Thank you [STAA] very, very, very much for your help.”