(June 18, 2019) It’s nearly unheard of for someone to walk off a college campus into hosting a daily sports talk show in market No. 6, but that is exactly what Matt Jarecki is doing. An STAA member, Jarecki is the new evening host on 610 Sports in Houston.
Jarecki graduated from Northern Arizona University in May. He ranked among the seven most outstanding collegiate sports broadcasters in the U.S. each of the past two years in STAA’s All-America program.
Jarecki recalls the enormity of his big break hitting him on his drive from Flagstaff, AZ to the Lone Star State. “It sunk in when I drove 16 hours to Houston and turned on 610 on my AM dial in my car. Up to that point I’d been listening through the Radio.com app.”
Jarecki was introduced to KILT Program Director Armen Williams by STAA during his junior year of college when Williams was working in Denver. “I was pretty aggressive about asking him for air checks, just trying to improve as much as I could while I was still in college,” Jarecki says. “Him and I started talking once every month or two, going over how I could improve. Not every PD would take the time to do that for a college kid. Eventually it was mutually beneficial.
“When the night slot opened up at 610, I was made aware of the job, I put my application in, and Armen had enough trust in me at that point to hire me.”
As passionate as Jarecki is about sports talk radio, he didn’t fall in love with the medium until he was 16. “I always loved sports, and of course I consumed sports media,” he says. “But when I discovered sports radio, the blend of intimacy, intensity, honesty and vulnerability with which hosts were able to surround sports topics is what hooked me. I’ve been a die hard sports talk junky ever since.”
A turning point in Jarecki’s career was when a mentor, Brian Rackham, suggested Jarecki ask former national talk radio host Ian Punnett to critique his work. Punnett became a frequent listener to Jarecki’s show on NAU’s campus radio station. The two eventually met when Punnett spoke on campus Jarecki’s junior year.
“Ian was one of the first people to tell me I had a future in the business,” Jarecki remembers. “To a young host, that is a game changer. It gave me an even greater sense of purpose, knowing that if I worked hard enough I could make a career out of sports talk. Since then, Ian and I talk regularly about career advice, show formatting, building an audience and the business side of radio. Ian’s one of a few mentors who has helped me maneuver properly as a young host. He’s also just been a great friend.”
Another visitor to the NAU campus during Jarecki’s junior year was STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik. “Jon educated us about how to properly present ourselves to potential employers as young broadcasters. He also mentioned his service, STAA,” says Jarecki.
“There were two things that really sold me on STAA. First, Jon was so genuine. He’s a no b.s. guy, but he’s also a guy who cares about helping young sportscasters. Second, I was hungry for resources to get better and further my career. STAA provided those things.”
Jarecki’s advice to anyone joining STAA is simple. “Utilize the service,” he says. “In my view, the biggest strength of STAA is that it provides improvement and employment opportunities for young sportscasters who don’t have a program director and who aren’t represented by an agent. Your name is not out there yet, so get it out there.
“My favorite part of STAA is the directory of sports radio PD’s around the country. I cold-called or emailed literally every single one of them looking for jobs throughout my senior year.”
Jarecki won’t need to be cold-calling employers again anytime soon. “Armen told me, ‘You’ve earned my trust. That’s why I hired you. The pressure’s off now. Now, all you have to do is be you.'”
(Visit Matt’s website).