Robert Harper new voice of UNF

Robert Harpert(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.

(Visit Robert’s STAA Talent Page).

Gaskins heading home to Lincoln

John Gaskins(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.”

(Visit John’s STAA Talent Page. John has also had his demo & resume constructed by STAA).

Benway leaving hockey for sports talk

Bryan Benway(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.

(Visit Bryan’s STAA Talent Page).

Alex Kushel joins St. Lucie Mets

Alex Kushel(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.

(Visit Alex’s STAA Talent Page. Alex has also had his demo & resume constructed by STAA).

West excited for summer in Wilmar

First LastKyle 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.”

(Visit Kyle’s STAA Talent Page).

Vlahos joining Texas NBC station

Chris Vlahos(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.”

(Visit Chris’s STAA Talent Page.)

Erik Stone named PD at KMAN

Erik Stone(May 12, 2011) Erik Stone is returning to his adopted hometown of Manhattan, KS. An STAA client, Stone has been hired as Program Director at KMAN 1350 AM.

Manhattan is the home of Kansas State University. Stone lived there from 1974 through 1980.

“I love the Wildcats. I lived there when football was awful and basketball still called Ahearn Fieldhouse home,” Stone laughs. “I’ve kept up with them through the years so to be around them every day is going to be awesome.”

Stone moves to Manhattan after six years assistant News and Sports Director at KLMR AM-FM in Lamar, CO.

“While I won’t be doing a lot of play-by-play anymore I will be co-hosting the morning show along with a public affairs Program, and I will also be heavily involved in coverage of K-State sports including helping to produce the football pre-game show, “Powercat Gameday.” I will also be attending football, basketball and other games along with post-game press conferences and related work,” Stone says.

The Kansas Association of Broadcasters named KMAN Station of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Stone learned of their PD opening through a tip from a friend.

“I remember [STAA] had a [Live Chat] on going after unadvertised openings and I found out about this one by word of mouth so that path really does work,” Stone says excitedly.

“[STAA] has been very helpful to me the last four years since I’ve been a member and I am very appreciative.”

(Visit Erik’s STAA Talent Page).

Kelner new Chico Outlaws voice

Marshall Kelner(May 6, 2011) Marshall Kelner’s first pro baseball play-by-play job includes an attractive bonus. An STAA client, Kelner is joining the Chico (CA) Outlaws as play-by-play broadcaster and account executive.

The Outlaws are members of the first-year North American League, which includes a team in Hawaii. “A nice little bonus is that we have six games in Maui at the beginning of the season,” Kelner says.

Kelner found the Outlaws opportunity through cold prospecting. He emailed Outlaws GM/Manager Mike Marshall a cover letter and the link to his STAA Talent Page. Marshall called Kelner, scheduled an interview, and eventually offered Kelner the job..

“The Talent Page made it easier because everything was in one place –my resume and demo. I didn’t need to send them anything separate,” Kelner says. “It made it easy for them to have everything in one spot.

“Thank you so much [to STAA] for all of your help. I really appreciate it. My talent page was one of the main reasons I got hired.”

The Outlaws opportunity is exciting to Kelner for several reasons.

“I get to be with a professional team and be around a lot of people who have been in baseball a long time, including some former major leaguers. Mike Marshall won two World Series. To get in 96 games and get in that many innings right away is awesome,” Kelner says.

Kelner is graduating from the University of Southern California this month. While at USC, he has gained considerable broadcasting experience, including broadcasting Trojans baseball on campus station KXSC. He has also served internships in his hometown of Minneapolis at KFAN AM 1130 and CBS Radio.

(Visit Marshall’s STAA Talent Page).

Foedinger fourth STAA client to join NMB

Kevin Foedinger(April 29, 2011) At first glance Havre, MT doesn’t stand out as a Mecca for radio. For STAA clients though, the small town in north central Montana is increasingly becoming a launching point for sport broadcasting careers. Four STAA clients have now joined New Media Broadcasters in Havre in the past 18 months, with Kevin Foedinger being the latest.

NMB is a four-station cluster in Havre. Foedinger follows fellow STAA’ers Jim McCabe, Alan Faul and John Herrick. All four have been hired in broadcasting and play-by-play positions.

NMB Program Director Geoff Cole says one commonality among STAA clients is they usually make a good first impression.

“The STAA clients will come in and have stuff packaged very nicely,” Cole says. “They send me their cover letter email introducing themselves and [presenting] their Talent Page. I can review the demo and resume very easily. There’s not a lot of audio clogging up my inbox — I like that.

“A lot of the guys are also pretty professional. They’ll call and follow up with me.”

Another interesting way Cole uses STAA is to cross reference job applicants with STAA’s annual All-America Top 20 list. The list features the top collegiate sports broadcasters in the country.

“These guys have been evaluated on a national level before even getting to us,” Cole says. “There has been an evaluation process before I even look at them. They’ve impressed people on a national level. That’s a good place to start.”

Foedinger also tips his hat to STAA.

“Through STAA I was able to make myself marketable through the brand name recognition that STAA carries. If you’re paying for STAA and you’re not using it, you are really not getting the full experience. They’ve been helpful at improving my day-to-day relations, the live chats especially. My play-by-play and cover letter writing have definitely improved through STAA.”

Foedinger graduates from Penn State in May. One thing he did in the application process that especially impressed Cole was to thoroughly research the station, NMB and the market.

“He shows a lot of initiative,” says Cole. “I think he had more questions for me during the interview process than I had for him. He had done a lot of research. He came into the interview process extremely prepared.”

For Foedinger, being prepared is routine.

“You want to tell an employer you know about the station,” he advises. “You want something that stands out. Employers want someone who cares about the station and the job. Doing research proves you care about the station and know what you are getting yourself into.”

Two things that impress Foedinger about the opportunity with NMB are how technologically advanced the stations are, and the variety of job responsibilities.

“They’re already moving into digital HD radio and I’m going to be able to wear a number of different hats. It is certainly a step in the right direction as I begin my career,” Foedinger says.

(Visit Kevin’s STAA Talent Page).

Elken lands with Astros affiliate

Erik Elken(April 26, 2011) When stuck between two job possibilities, sometimes the best option means taking a risk. STAA client Erik Elken took a risk and it has paid off with a #1 broadcaster position with the Tri-City ValleyCats.

The ValleyCats are the Houston Astros New York-Penn League Short Season Class-A affiliate.

“I’ve been itching to get into baseball and this is an all hands on deck experience,” Elken says. “I know it will be challenging, but I’m confident I will put out a great product. It’s also a great organization made up of a group of people I’m excited to work with. I grew up in the area, so I have seen the organization grow from its opening season to what it is today.”

Elken will broadcast all 38 of the ValleyCat’s home games and select road games. Elken will also assist in media relations, where a key part of his responsibilities will be expanding the team’s YouTube channel.

The opportunity to join the ValleyCat’s came about as a result of Elken’s own hustle.

“There were no postings and I didn’t even know if there was an opening at first,” Elken says. “I simply called the team up back in February to see what its plans were for the upcoming season and express some interest.”

STAA submitted Elken’s Talent Page for another opening in North Carolina. The New York based Elken interviewed for that job, but decided to stick it out and hope the closer-to-home ValleyCat’s job worked out.

“STAA has also been a huge help in bringing job opportunities to my attention that I would not have otherwise known about,” Elken says.

“I’m still relatively new to STAA as a client, but I can’t overstate how easy it makes the application process. It’s nice to be able to send a link to any potential employer and have them be able to see my talent page.”

A 2010 graduate of Syracuse University, Elken spent last year broadcasting football and basketball at the University of Albany. He also completed internships with ESPN and NBC Olympics.

(Visit Erik’s STAA Talent Page).