Enthusiasm earns Pitkin Minnesota play-by-play/sales position

“Andrew(May 24, 2018) What Andrew Pitkin lacked in experience, he made up for in enthusiasm. Now Pitkin is joining R&J Broadcasting in Brainerd, MN as an advertising sales rep and play-by-play announcer for high school and small college sports.

Pitkin gained plenty of broadcasting experience before graduating from Wheaton College in Illinois this spring. What he lacked is sales experience. He had a plan, though, for overcoming that in his pursuit of the job in Brainerd.

“I was not afraid of the sales part of the position,” he says. “I showed my enthusiasm for the idea each time it was brought up in the interviews.”

Also helping Pitkin earn the job was polite persistence. “I was persistent in the application process without being obnoxious. I made my one-week follow up call, then made sure to [stay in touch] with an email or two to get to the interview stage.”

In Brainerd, Pitkin will be working alongside fellow STAA member Devon Kruger, the station’s sports director. “It’s a great opportunity for me to begin my professional broadcasting career and learn from those who are already well established in their careers like Devon Krueger,” says Pitkin. “For the first time I will learn the ins and outs of a full time radio broadcaster. Gaining these skills will provide a steep learning curve, combined with the sales portion of the position, but it is an extremely helpful challenge to help me grow for the future.

An STAA member since December, Pitkin learned of the R&J Broadcasting opportunity through an STAA job leads email.

“There are many things I could do on my own that are made easier because I am an STAA member,” he says. “Things such as finding job openings and setting up my website. Especially right out of college, having someone like Jon Chelesnik to be a job coach both with the articles he provides and how accessible he is through email was a huge help in securing this first job.”

(Visit Andrew’s STAA Talent Page).

Kevin Gehl named voice of Connecticut Tigers

(May 18, 2018)The Connecticut Tigers were so eager to add Kevin Gehl to their staff that they tailored a position description for fit his strengths. An STAA member, Gehl is the Tigers’ new radio voice and Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations.

He also joins the Dodd Stadium front office as a sales executive and manager of multimedia outreach for the club.

Last month, Gehl was named inaugural voice of the Maine Mammoths of the National Arena League.

The new Voice of the Tigers brings a decade of professional broadcasting experience to Connecticut. Gehl is the inaugural television voice of Maine Mammoths football in the National Arena League and serves as a play-by-play broadcaster in multiple sports for Patriot League, Ivy League, and Northeastern University coverage on NESN, ESPN+ and Stadium. He’s an EMMY®-nominated sports reporter whose work has appeared on Big Ten Network and NBC Sports California.

“Kevin’s on-air experience speaks for itself,” said Tigers general manager Dave Schermerhorn. “We’re excited to welcome a seasoned play-by-play voice with personality and enthusiasm that Tigers fans will love when they tune in throughout Southeastern Connecticut and beyond.”

“I sincerely thank Dave Schermerhorn and senior vice president C.J. Knudsen for developing this new front office position around my strengths as a broadcaster, content creator, and media facilitator,” Gehl explained. “With a first-overall pick in the upcoming MLB First-Year Player Draft, there’s a focus on the future in the Detroit Tigers organization and I’m honored to team up with a top-notch club I had the privilege to cover as a reporter.”

From 2011 to 2015, Gehl worked as a sports anchor at WLNS-TV (CBS) in Michigan and reported from Comerica Park during the American League Championship run of the 2012 Detroit Tigers, who included current Connecticut Tigers manager Gerald Laird on their World Series roster.

“We take great pride in our affiliation with the Detroit Tigers,” said Schermerhorn. “Kevin’s background and knowledge of the Major League club will be a great asset as we extend our Player Development Contract with Detroit through the 2020 season.”

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Gehl graduated from the University of Missouri and previously served as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Hagerstown Suns, South Atlantic League affiliate of the Washington Nationals. He also provided radio play-by-play for the Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

(Visit Kevin’s website).

Coffey overcomes small school stigma, joins KAVU-TV in Texas

(May 15, 2018) You don’t have to graduate from a big name school to get a job in sports broadcasting. Sean Coffey’s school doesn’t even have a broadcasting program. Still, the 2017 graduate of William & Mary has earned a job at Newscenter 25 KAVU in Victoria, TX as a sports anchor/reporter.

“As someone who didn’t graduate from a broadcasting powerhouse – who, in fact, didn’t graduate from a school with broadcast journalism or communications programs – the chance to continue building upon the hands-on experiences I’ve had so far, in a variety of roles, is really exciting,” Coffey smiles.

The KAVU opportunity admittedly caught Coffey by surprise. “I had sent cover letters and resumes to about 35 different stations without success when I finally got a call from Victoria.”

Through his job market challenges, Coffey remained confident.

“Trust the body of work you’ve produced,” he suggests to job seekers. “It can obviously get frustrating, and disillusionment will begin to creep in, but channeling the same energy and optimism towards job lead number 30 as you did towards job lead number 3 will go a long way in keeping you sane and level. Sooner or later, the right match – a station that finds your demo in perfect harmony with their needs – should come along.”

Coffey has leaned on STAA for advice since joining in November. “Helping to eliminate a lot of the doubts has been huge,” he says. “Having a support system of seasoned industry pros has been nothing but advantageous, and being able to call on [STAA’s Jon Chelesnik] with any crossroads I’ve encountered has made all my decisions more informed.”

IU’s Sugarman taking varied skill set to WGEM-TV

(May 9, 2018) During the past four years as a student at Indiana University, David Sugarman’s strategy for building his sportscasting career was clear: take every possible opportunity. It’s paid off. An STAA member, Sugarman is joining WGEM-TV in Quincy, IL as a sports anchor/reporter.

He will also broadcast local play-by-play on TV, digital and on WGEM’s sister station, the local ESPN Radio affiliate.

“When I first saw the opening I thought it was a great position,” Sugarman recalls. “It gives me the chance to be a Swiss Army Knife. The chance to anchor, report, do some play-by-play and sideline reporting, and get radio work is something I couldn’t pass up.”

Something else Sugarman couldn’t pass up was opportunities in college. “The worst attitude you can have is feeling like you are above something,” he says. “I’ve done everything from the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden and bowl games in Yankee Stadium to doing PA for a youth football league and everything in between. If you’re consistently getting on the air and getting the reps no matter what it is, you will see the improvement.”

At IU, Sugarman did it all – everything from TV sports anchoring on the IU’s campus station, to play-by-play and sideline reporting for BTN Student U and baseball broadcasts in the Cape Cod League. He graduates this month.

When Sugarman applied for the WGEM position, he used a smart strategy in his cover letter.

“I talked about how my experiences relate directly to what they cover and how they operate,” he says. “At IU I’ve covered events that may not mean much to people outside of Bloomington, but mean the world to people who are here, like the Little 500. At GEM I’ll be covering local events, but to the people there they are huge.”

Sugarman says he may not have found the WGEM opening without STAA.

“What is great about STAA is that instead of spending a ton of time looking for job openings, they come to me,” he says. “So often it is hard to just find openings and once you do it could be too late. That isn’t the case with STAA. They send quality job openings out consistently.”

Now Sugarman is on his way to WGEM, less than six hours from the Bloomington campus.

“I was thrilled when I found out I was their guy. Coming right out of school it’s an incredible opportunity.”

(Visit David’s website).

Helton overcomes job loss, doubt to land with Blue Jays

“Zach(April 30, 2018) 2017 was the most difficult year of Zach Helton’s career. After 15 years of never having been fired from a job in or outside broadcasting, he was let go by one station and dropped from the morning show at another. Helton, though, has landed on his feet. He is the new broadcaster for minor league baseball’s Bluefield Blue Jays.

Bluefield is the Toronto Blue Jays rookie affiliate.

Helton filled-in on some Bluefield broadcasts last season and heard the position might be opening. When the opening was confirmed in an STAA job sheet in early January, Helton moved quickly. “It may have taken me 30 seconds to make the call to GM Rocky Malamisura to let him know, ‘Hey, I’m still around and interested if you’re interested in me.’”

While things eventually worked out, losing two jobs last year was a blow to Helton’s confidence.

“It really was a gut check,” he says. “I knew deep down I had talent, but when things like that arise, I couldn’t help but doubt myself. It took the awesome support from my family, friends and even some strangers to let me know that I had gone too far in the broadcast game to turn back now.”

Helton’s broadcasting resume includes play-by-play for stations in Richlands, VA, Sidney, NE and Malone, NY, He spent half of 2017 hosting and producing a morning show in Mechanicsville, MD. When it didn’t work out, he sold cars to make ends meet.

“When I was selling cars part-time, I still was broadcasting to a lesser degree, so I looked at it as another way to get to the next point in my career,” Helton recalls. “It was also great that the company I sold for, Ramey Automotive in Richlands, Virginia, was open to letting me continue my broadcast passion and did everything they could to help me continue that moving forward.”

The sales experience actually benefitted Helton’s on-air career.

“I would recommend all broadcasters spend some time in sales for many reasons, like working on public speaking, learning how to sell yourself, and making excellent business connections, all of which I believe have made me a better broadcaster,” he says.

During the latter part of 2017, Helton applied for countless jobs. He received only a few call backs and no offers. “I definitely had times of doubt and had to look outside myself for answers and guidance. I reached out to [sportscaster] Mike Wagenheim, who I had first contacted years ago to listen to some of my games and give me some honest feedback. But that’s not all I received from Mike. He has been a resource for me for a few years now who has instilled confidence in me, and my craft that cannot be denied and I will forever be indebted to him for that.

“Likewise, Jon Chelesnik at STAA has been someone like Mike that I have been able to turn to with career questions and advice. These two men have kept me in a business I may have otherwise given up long ago.”

Since joining STAA last August, Helton has used STAA to connect with other sportscasters. “Coming from a small coal-mining community in Southwest Virginia, being able to network with some great minds and talents in sports broadcasting almost seemed impossible,” he says. “With STAA though, it was great for me to learn things from and interact with professionals I may have never had an opportunity to ever meet or speak to other than maybe bumping into at a ballgame somewhere.”

Now the games at which Helton will be bumping into other sportscasters are games he will be calling.

(Visit Zach’s STAA Talent Page).

Second time is the charm for Bern in Fort Myers

(April 24, 2018) First year Fort Myers Miracle Broadcasting and Media Relations Director Marshall Kelner has filled his assistant position twice this off-season. His first hire left for a job closer to home. His second hire, fellow STAA member Andrew Bern, has turned out to be a great fit.

Fort Myers is the Class-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. It is Bern’s first position in affiliated baseball.

“Many people in the Miracle front office are also in their first year, so it gives us the opportunity to grow together,” Bern says.

The Miracle initially posted the opening in early December. Bern was among the applicants. “When the position re-opened in late March, the Miracle reached out to me, having saved my application and demos. We spoke and realized it was a perfect fit.”

For most of the past three years, Bern has been a radio sports director in Burnham, PA. His duties included high school sports play-by-play, daily sports updates and a weekly sports talk show. “I created game notes and edited highlights for my own personal use,” he says. “I believe my ability to go above and beyond and my professional background in announcing all ages of baseball including youth, high school, and college, helped in my pursuit of the Fort Myers position.”

Bern joined STAA in 2016. “My STAA membership helps me as I navigate through the sports broadcasting industry. Jon Chelesnik is accessible and provides feedback and support.”

Bern is a 2014 alumnus of Monmouth University in New Jersey, from where he graduated summa cum laude in Communication Radio/TV. His first job after college was News and Sports Director at KATL Radio in Miles City, MT. Bern has also broadcast men and women’s basketball for Mansfield, an NCAA Division II school in Pennsylvania.

(Visit Andrew’s website).

Mallards hire Shadow to broadcast 2018 Northwoods games

Rob Shadow was a 58 year old attorney in 2016 when he decided he wanted to pursue his lifelong passion for play-by-play. Since then, he’s been hired for three sportscasting positions. The latest is calling college baseball for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League.

The Mallards have scheduled a full slate of summer games starting May 29, and will play 72 regular season games in 77 days. Shadow will make the trek north from his San Antonio home after completing his second season this spring broadcasting home baseball and softball for the NCAA Division I University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals. The Mallards job opening was first published on STAA.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with this opportunity,” said Shadow. “The Mallards led the entire country again in summer collegiate wood bat league attendance in 2017, averaging more than 6,000 fans for each home game.” “They attract Division I players from all over the country, including some Texas and Louisiana guys from the Southland Conference. I’m real impressed that the Northwoods League is trying to simulate a professional MiLB environment, even including the long bus rides, for these promising college athletes. The schedule will be a grind, with only five off days all summer, but I view it as an opportunity to totally immerse myself in the world of baseball broadcasting. By the time the summer is over, I will have called over 120 baseball and softball games since the college seasons started, and I think I’ll still love the games.”

The Northwoods League is the largest collegiate summer wood bat league in the country, expanding to 20 teams in 2017, and with further plans to expand in 2019. Over 185 Northwoods players have graduated to MLB, including Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer, Cy Young runner-up Chris Sale, and two-time World Series champion Ben Zobrist.

“This is also a great time to be calling Cardinals baseball and softball,” added Shadow. Both NCAA Division I programs enter their first season as being fully eligible for the Southland Conference tournament, and have hired new head coaches after national searches, Patrick Hallmark from Rice and Missouri to lead baseball, and Joe DiPietro from Temple and LaSalle to lead softball. Cardinals’ baseball is in a midst of a program turnaround, on track to qualify for the postseason Southland Conference tournament, with a defining win against Notre Dame.

“I’ve had a lot of important and generous mentors along the way – Mike Saeger of the soon to be AAA San Antonio Missions encouraged me to latch onto a college team and get as many reps as possible; Mike Coffin of the AA Corpus Christi Hooks gave me the opportunity to call innings at two Texas League games – those clips got employers’ attention; Bobby Stautzenberger and Mark Kusenberger at the Texas Sports Radio Network threw me into the fire and gave me opportunities to call high school baseball and Friday night Texas football; and Dustin York at UIW took a leap of faith to hire a relatively inexperienced guy to call Division I college baseball and softball.”

Gehl named inaugural voice of Maine Mammoths

Kevin Gehl grew up cheering for the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. Now, Gehl is in the game himself. An STAA member, Gehl has been named TV broadcaster for the expansion Maine Mammoths of the National Arena League.

The inaugural Voice of the Mammoths brings a decade of professional television experience to Maine. Gehl is a broadcaster for the Patriot League Network on Stadium and the Ivy League Network on ESPN+ and NESN. He’s also an award-winning sports anchor and reporter whose work has appeared on Big Ten Network and NBC Sports California.

“Kevin Gehl will voice a new and exciting age for the Mammoths,” said team president Will Riley. “He brings well-rounded television experience that will be key in establishing our on-air brand while featuring the personality of our players and coaches.”

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Gehl graduated from the University of Missouri and currently resides in Boston. His radio play-by-play credits include the Hagerstown Suns Radio Network (Washington Nationals affiliate) and Michigan State Spartan Sports Network.

“I was honored when Will Riley invited me to build Mammoths television coverage from the ground up with the outstanding production team at WPXT-TV,” Gehl explained. “Arena football is a thrilling game.”

The Maine Mammoths will play their first home game in franchise history against the Carolina Cobras on Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m. inside Cross Insurance Arena in downtown Portland, ME.

(Visit Kevin’s website).

Mroz back in affiliated ball with Helena

(March 28, 2018) The last time Greg Mroz worked in affiliated baseball, he was the No. 1 broadcaster for the Class-A Clinton LumberKings. After spending last summer in independent ball, Mroz is back in affiliated ball, this time as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Helena Brewers.

The Brewers are the Pioneer League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Broadcasting baseball has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I’m excited to continue to live that dream in Helena. I can’t wait to get started,” says Mroz.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2015, Mroz moved to Iowa to join the LumberKings. After spending 2015 as a broadcasting and media relations assistant, he was promoted to the top spot for 2016.

Last summer, Mroz returned to his Northern California roots to spend a season with the San Rafael Pacifics, where he did broadcasting and media for the independent league team.

During college, Mroz broadcast in the Cape Cod League.

Mroz has been an STAA member since 2015.

(Visit Greg’s website).

Quick thinking helps Mense earn RailCats gig

(March 22, 2018) Getting asked a question in the job interview to which you don’t have an answer can feel like a deal breaker. For Brennan Mense, it was a chance to turn a potential negative into a positive. His quick thinking has helped Mense land with the Gary SouthShore RailCats as a broadcasting and media relations assistant.

Mense applied for the position after learning about it through STAA. “I didn’t hear anything back so I didn’t really think anything about it,” he says. “Then out of the blue in early February I received an email from Jared Shlensky, the Gary No. 1, looking to interview me.”

During the interview, Shlensky (also an STAA member) surprised Mense by asking if he had ideas for improving the RailCats social media brand. “I said I didn’t off the top of my head, but offered to brainstorm some ideas and send them to him,” says Mense, who shared his ideas the next day.

“I felt good that I basically volunteered to do a homework project on behalf of their organization, even when I was nowhere close to pulling down the job.”

Mense’s baseball resume includes interning in the Kansas City Royals media relations department and broadcasting games in the independent Pecos League. Gary is Mense’s first opportunity to do both for an organization.

“With the Royals, I was exclusively doing media relations, but I was helping out three other staff members, so while the experience was great, I also didn’t need to do as much. In the Pecos League, there wasn’t much else to do besides broadcasting because there’s no such thing as media relations there.”

Now Mense will spend the summer honing those skills for an organization he admires. “Gary is consistently competitive and plays in a league that offers good, quality baseball.”

(Visit Brennan’s LinkedIn page).