Josh Widman has played or coached sports for much of his life. “Once I realized I wasn’t going to make a living playing sports, I knew I wanted to work in sports in some capacity,” he reminisces. “I love to tell stories and talk about sports, so sports broadcasting was the way to combine my passion for sports and telling stories.”
Widman is taking that passion to West Virginia. The 2020 Syracuse grad is joining WVVA in Bluefield as a sports anchor/reporter.
“I’ll get to anchor, put together packages, live report and spend significant time with high school sports,” he enthuses. “There are nine counties and over 20 schools in the market. High school sports have the potential to make significant impacts on the local community, especially in a market like the one WVVA is in. I’ll also have the opportunity to cover some division one college programs.”
Widman is the fifth STAA member to join WVVA in recent years. The others:
Mason Horodyski was hired as a sports anchor/reporter in 2020
Colin Bowles was hired as a sports anchor/MMJ in 2015
AJ Good was hired as Sports Director in 2014
Brett Hiltbrand was hired as a sports anchor/MMJ in 2013
Searching during the pandemic
Like everyone in the Class of 2020, Widman had the misfortune of entering the sportscasting job market during the pandemic. “Graduating right into the pandemic wasn’t exactly fun and my lack of professional experience was the next greatest obstacle,” he recalls.
It was several months into the pandemic when Widman joined STAA. “After a few months on the job hunt and not much progress, I decided that I needed to change something,” he recalls. “I knew I had the ability to work in this industry but thought maybe I could improve something in my job hunt strategy. That’s when I looked into STAA further and found all the materials the organization has.”
Widman continues, “I felt the need to change the way I was going about trying to find a job. A more clear way of searching, re-working my cover letters and a resource to go to with any questions. It was a great decision. I saw better job search results almost immediately. I got more responses from employers, eventually interviews and now the WVVA job.”
Another challenge Widman had to address was a relative lack of experience. “I overcame it by looking for markets that would hire someone with my experience, but also framing the experience I do have in a certain way. I’ve done everything I will do in this job and I found a way to convey that to potential employers.”
Creatively following-up his applications further helped make Widman memorable. “I started doing video follow-ups between 7-10 days after I applied to a job. I’d reintroduce myself, restate my qualifications and tell the News Director or Sports Director why I wanted to work at their station or what set them apart from others. It gave them another chance to see me on camera and I thought it would help me stand out among other applicants.”
Once he was invited to interview with WVVA, Widman began to prepare. “I did research on the market and the station. I thought about possible questions they could ask me and prepared answers for them.”
Being himself during the interview helped push Widman over the top. “For example, I spoke with the News Director prior to the Sports Director and Station GM joining the video call. He asked me how my favorite baseball team (the Cleveland Indians) had done this season and I said ‘they played like a team with a $40 million payroll.’ I showed some personality instead of saying something generic like ‘they did ok.’ He laughed and I think it gave him an idea of who I am and also helped me relax and settle in.”
Widman has collected many wonderful stories from his experience playing and coaching sports. Now he’s looking forward to sharing similar stories from others.