Great first impression leads Taylor to i3G Media

When Jayden Taylor called to follow-up his application for a sports director position with i3G Media in Valley City, ND, he learned the position had been filled. He made a good impression, though, on station General Manager Erin Tombarge. When another i3G Media station had a sports director opening just 30 minutes away, Tombarge recommended Taylor. He got the job and is moving to Jamestown, ND.

I3G Media is Taylor’s first full-time broadcasting opportunity since graduating from Marshall University in December. “This job allows me to grow as a play-by-play announcer with plenty of opportunity to call games. This was the biggest deal to me because I wanted a place where I knew there would be no question about my growth potential.

“I will also have other on-air opportunities that will allow me to grow my voice in other non-play-by-play [roles]. That is another thing I really wanted.”

The recommendation Taylor earned in Valley City provided him the opportunity to apply for the Jamestown role before it was posted publicly. “Of course I took that and ran,” Taylor grins. “I was able to interview and eventually, after a week or two, I accepted the job. On July 8th I will be moving into my apartment in North Dakota with my fiancé [Camrin] and my dog Jax.”

Play-by-play is Taylor’s passion and he did much of during college. “I called games as a play-by-play [voice] over the years for Marshall University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well Marshall baseball, softball, and volleyball.”

Taylor joined STAA in January. “[Fellow STAA member] Jake Griffith referred me to STAA,” Taylor recalls. “He let me know how helpful it can be, especially to someone like me who needed some professional guidance getting from college graduate to being a paid professional. I didn’t know how to go about just about anything. I knew I needed demos but didn’t know any sort of way to structure them. I knew I needed to learn how to write cover letters despite never doing it before. Many things like that I needed to get shaped up before being able to be considered seriously for a job.”

Now Taylor is on the move from West Virginia to North Dakota. The change will be easier with his fiancé and his dog moving with him. Taylor also knows he will be embraced by the people at i3G Media. “No bigger fear than to move across the country and feel like you’re not going to be liked as soon as you get there,” Taylor explains. “So speaking with both [Jamestown station GM Lynn] Lambrechet and Erin about the positive team culture at [i3G Media] made me feel comfortable that I3G has a positive team culture.”

Casual conversation leads Chestnut to Western Kentucky

Belmont University softball won a 2-0 game at Western Kentucky in late March. Afterward, Hilltoppers’ voice Brad Klein mentioned to Bruins’ broadcaster Reily Chestnut that he was leaving WKU at the end of the season. Klein suggested that Chestnut apply for the position. Chestnut did. Now, he is the new Voice of the Lady Toppers.

The largest part of the job is calling WKU women’s basketball and volleyball. In addition, Chestnut will do radio or video work for all games on the Hilltopper Satellite Sports Network and ESPN+. There will also be opportunities to call WKU soccer and softball on HSSN and on radio.

Working for a winner

“WKU volleyball and women’s basketball are two historically great programs who make a habit of winning,” Chestnut enthuses. “As any broadcaster knows, it tends to be a better experience calling a ton of wins. WKU volleyball has been among the mid-major’s elite in the top 25 annually for much of this millennium. Women’s basketball was one win away from the NCAA tournament last year.

“I am putting myself in a niche category since there are not many full-time radio voices doing college volleyball. In a business where standing out is key, this is one way to do that.”

Strategic approach

Chestnut was strategic when contacting WKU’s Learfield GM Chris Freeman about the opportunity. “I framed my email to make it seem like it I did not know about the opening and just made it seem like I was reaching out to be available. Plus, my supervisor from Belmont, Greg Sage, sent Chris an email on my behalf that really made a difference for me.”

Chestnut moves to Bowling Green, KY from Belmont, where he recently completed his Masters. He chose that course after being the victim of a Covid-era budget cut in his previous position. “I wanted to try and diversify my skillset in order to make myself less expendable and more valuable. So, during my two years at Belmont pursuing my master’s in sport administration, I picked-up a number of experiences by simply saying ‘I’m here and I care so allow me to be of service,'” Chestnut recalls.

Do everything

At BU, Chestnut called soccer and softball on ESPN+, he was the head of social media and sports information in the Spring 2022 for Belmont’s tennis programs, and he sold basketball season tickets. “My final year I was part of a team that set a new single season record for season tickets sold,” Chestnut beams.

As busy was he was in Nashville, Chestnut still made time to create additional play-by-play reps for himself. “To anyone who reads this, get a Sennheiser crowd mic, multimixer and some solid headsets like I did so you can create your own broadcasts through OBS studios (free). You can call softball games or mock broadcasts of basketball like I did,” he suggests.

Chestnut joined STAA in 2019. “I cannot imagine where I’d be without STAA or [Owner Jon Chelesnik’s] kind commitment to helping all of us find our next gig. STAA helped me get my first job out of school back in 2019 calling high school sports in South Dakota full-time. To be a DI broadcaster just four years later really astounds me.”

Kleindorfer stays in Terre Haute, joins DLC Media

Terre Haute, Indiana has been good to Landon Kleindorfer. It is there that he earned his undergrad degree from Indiana State. He earned his Masters at ISU and now he’s earned his first full-time job in the West Indiana community. Kleindorfer is joining DLC Media’s six-station cluster as a news and sports director.

“This with be a huge step for me,” Kleindorfer enthuses. “Not only because it is my first full time position, but also because I will be taking over as the voice of Northview High School athletics.”

Kleindorfer gained play-by-play experience in various sports on ISU’s campus radio station. He also calls games on The Valley on ESPN3, a broadcasting platform for the Missouri Valley Conference. “My experience running a college station and my broadcast experience through The Valley on ESPN was a huge benefit in the [DLC Media] hiring process,” Kleindorfer states.

A former high school football player, Kleindorfer joined STAA in March. “I was referred to STAA by Kelsie Kasper who is a fellow member and works for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.”

One of Kleindorfer’s favorite parts of his membership is the discussions within the STAA Member Community. “The benefits of STAA are limitless but I mainly enjoy hearing other people in the business give their insights and opinions on how to handle issues that come-up regularly.”

One issue that won’t be coming up for Kleindorfer anytime soon is relocation and the higher cost of living that will likely come with it. “I can stay in Terre Haute for at least [one more] year where the rent is cheap,” he grins.

Griffith named TV voice of Minnesota Aurora FC

As wonderful as a sports broadcasting career can be, it’s human nature to always want more. Jake Griffith admits, “I used to spend a lot of time focusing on what I haven’t done or where I haven’t been, so much so that I lost sight of all I’d accomplished. I saw my peers getting awesome opportunities. While I was happy for them, I kept wondering when it would be my time.

Griffith’s time is now. He has been hired to broadcast Minnesota Aurora FC games on the regional FOX affiliate and on Hulu.

The opportunity was emailed to STAA members on March 17th. Griffith applied immediately. “I heard back pretty quickly,” he recalls.

Griffith is excited to move to the Twin Cities. “Working for a professional club or team in an on-air capacity is a huge boost to the resume and demo tape. Location was also key. Minneapolis is three-times the size of the last state I lived in, there are numerous professional teams, a Power 5 university and an international airport. The location factor also meant the possibility for more freelance opportunities.”

Fueling the passion

Griffith moves to The Land of 10,000 Lakes from Huntington, WV where he was a broadcaster and multimedia reporter for Marshall University. He started there in 2017, the same year that Coach Chris Grassie took over the men’s soccer program. “Fast forward five years and he led them to their first-ever National Championship,” Griffith states. “I was fortunate to call every home match for all five of the years Grassie built the program up from sub-.500 to top of the nation. He even made sure I received a ring!”

A 2014 trip to England also fueled Griffith’s soccer passion. “I had a chance to visit Selhurst Park and watch Crystal Palace FC on Boxing Day. That was a big part of it,” he recalls.”

Multi-skilled

Versatility on and off the mic has been important in Griffith advancing his career. “While play-by-play is my favorite, my ability to report, host shows/podcasts and write, as well as work behind the camera — shoot & edit videos, manage websites and social media and graphic design — has set me apart.

“But also, my versatility on the mic is something plenty of people have pointed out. Sure, I’ve called football, basketball, baseball, etc., but I’ve also called swimming, tennis and track. It never hurts to broaden your horizons, especially in this career field. Just because you agree to a swimming or track gig doesn’t mean you’ll get pigeonholed into that forever. But by saying yes and crushing it, you just might catch the attention of someone who could give you an opportunity calling a sport you love.”

Tough choice

Before accepting the Aurora FC position, Griffith turned down an opportunity to join the sports staff at a West Virginia TV station. “I’ve known I wanted to be a play-by-play broadcaster since I was eight years old, so I’ve essentially structured my entire life around achieving that goal,” he states. “The primary reasons I quit Marshall was unhappiness and career stagnation, even though there were play-by-play aspects of it. It was definitely a difficult decision to walk away from that. But I knew it was time to gamble on myself, which is what led me to the [TV] opportunity. But before taking it, I asked myself if quitting the Marshall job to take a job that wasn’t even in the play-by-play field (and was not going to allow me to freelance) was really going to be the best thing for my career. I ultimately decided it wasn’t.”

Griffith has been an STAA member since 2018. One especially valuable part of the membership for him is the Sports TV Directory inside the STAA Member Community. It lists contact information for the executives in charge of hiring talent at TV networks across the country. “It’s been my experience that cold emailing can be really beneficial,” Griffith states. “Even if it hasn’t resulted in specific job opportunities, getting connected with those at networks and getting my reel in front of them, getting feedback, etc. has been crucial to my career growth.”

Now when Griffith reflects upon his career, his accomplishments will seem more tangible. “I want to succeed at this career more than I want to breathe. And being hungry for more is never a bad thing. But it is also okay to admit that you’ve come a long way. After all, no two people take the same path to get to the top. There isn’t a blueprint or manual to success for this.

“The saying that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ is so true.”

Weaving taking her football passion to BCSN

The old Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ was a frequent Fall destination for young Nicole Weaving, her dad and her grandfather. The die-hard Jets fans braved the biting cold on many Sunday afternoons in support of their team. Weaving remembers the trio watching the 2011 AFC Championship game on TV, their Jets spotting Pittsburgh a 24-point lead, then nearly rallying to win in their bid for the Super Bowl. She remembers her sadness of them coming up short.

Those high times and disappointments sparked in Weaving a passion for sports that she’s turned into a career. Her next stop is Toledo, OH and a Sports Anchor/MMJ role for Buckeye Cable Sports Network.

“I found out about this opportunity through STAA, my go-to source for all new postings,” Weaving grins.

Doing it all

BCSN is a regional sports network covering high school, college, and pro sports in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Weaving will do everything from anchoring, writing and editing, to reporting for BCSN’s flagship nightly sportscast. She’ll also contribute to digital and social media platforms.

Weaving is a 2020 Syracuse graduate. She moves to Ohio after two years with Sinclair Broadcasting in Lincoln, NE.

“This was a good opportunity for me because it had a lot of flexibility for storytelling, which was an aspect I felt I missed at my first station,” she states. “Also, the chance to anchor a 30-minute show, as well as create content for additional shows, was appealing as a way to break the mold from a standard sports block.”

Weaving received a recommendation for the BCSN position from an industry connection. She also did extensive market research. “I believe what helped me stand out was my knowledge of the area after countless hours of research, and my eagerness to bring in new ideas and find compelling local stories.”

Good timing

Weaving saw the BCSN opening in an STAA Job Leads+ email barely two weeks after joining. “I joined STAA for the elite access to job leads and the community of sportscasters who all want to help each other succeed,” she grins.

Timing was important in Weaving joining STAA, and it will be important to her joining BCSN. Her new home in Toledo is less than two hours from Cleveland. The Jets play there in Week 2 of the coming NFL season.

Israel experience prepares Friedman for Montana opportunity

The summer of 2022 is one that Noah Friedman will always remember because it provided the opportunity of a lifetime. He spent July in Israel covering the Maccabiah Games, also known as the Jewish Olympics.

The games debuted in 1932. They are the third-largest sporting event in the world and are held every four years. More than 10,000 athletes compete. Friedman soaked it all in while building his resume. Now he’s parlaying that experience into his first full-time broadcasting position. The 2018 Arizona State University grad is joining New Media Broadcasters in Havre, MT as an play-by-play broadcaster and on-air personality.

Motivation

Covering the Maccabiah Games re-affirmed to Friedman that broadcasting is what he wants to do. “That was my first on-air broadcasting since graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. That lit the biggest fire under me to get going and pursue my dream.”

Friedman has been working as a production assistant since graduating from ASU. He felt, though, like he was settling when applying for jobs. “I want to do whatever it takes to get into sports broadcasting, so I’ve interviewed for jobs that don’t have play-by-play because you’re not supposed to be picky in this business. But when you see that a job offers play-by-play — even though it’s not as important as the other aspects the radio station offers — you can’t help but feel giddy because it’s what I want to do for a living. And starting in the fall, I will get to do that.”

Surprise Opportunity

Friedman recently returned from another trip to Israel. He didn’t expect to find a play-by-play opening upon his return. “The saying is the opportunities come about when you least expect it. This was definitely the least expected time for me to find something like this.”

Besides play-by-play, Friedman will write and produce newscasts for New Media Broadcaster’s three-station cluster. He’ll also deliver weather, sports, road conditions, and community-related events. Friedman adds excitedly, “When the calendar turns to the fall, I get the opportunity to do sports play-by-play that the region offers!”

Calling games will feed the passion that was re-kindled in Friedman following his experience at the Maccabiah Games. “The play-by-play dynamic was part of that fire,” he states. “It’s such a good feeling to know that I’ll finally get my shot to pursue this part of the industry after having worked in production for almost five years.”

Berch chooses UWP play-by-play over TV anchoring/reporting

Ethan Berch will walk across a stage and grab his diploma next month. That much is certain. What was less of a slam-dunk is what he would do next. He had two options: accept at TV sports director position, or continue his education and play-by-play pursuits. Berch chose the latter. An STAA member, Berch has accepted a Broadcasting Graduate Assistant position at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

He will be the Rangers lead play-by-play voice while working in the media relations department and pursuing a Masters in sports management.

“This opportunity would have not been possible without the help of STAA,” Berch credits. “The lead for the position was included in an STAA Job Leads+’ email.”

Tough choice

Choosing between Parkside and a TV sports director position in an entry-level market was difficult. “An opportunity for a free education doesn’t always come around,” Berch states. Plus, the chance to continue my pursuit of being a play-by-play broadcaster was the full package.”

Parkside became Berch’s choice only after several discussions with his advisors. “It became very overwhelming and stressful,” he recalls. “Being torn between two extremely intriguing jobs was the hardest thing to deal with. Jeremy Menard (Ithaca College), Pete Johanns (Ithaca College) and Jon Chelesnik (STAA), helped me come to my clear decision. All three offered me the true perspective of both positions. There was no doubt by the time I had to make the final decision.”

Well-prepared

Berch is a soon-to-be Ithaca graduate. Play-by-play ensured he stayed busy during his four years on the campus at the foot of Cayuga Lake in Central New York. His resume includes football, basketball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball. He spent this spring in Los Angeles serving internships with three companies, including Mandalay Sports Media.

Berch joined STAA this spring for several reasons. “First, the community of broadcasters that STAA has put together is like no other,” he states. “Getting the chance to interact with nearly 700 broadcasters across the country is truly surreal. Everybody has their own story with different experiences. Getting the chance to learn about those stories is very helpful when mapping out a blueprint for your own career.

“Also, when the job search began, there was nothing but stress building up. STAA sends out job leads up to three times a week. Getting a job application practically handed to you was something that I didn’t know existed, but became the most helpful aspect of the process.

“And lastly, the resources provided, along with the assistance of advisors, was game changing. As an STAA member, you have access to a handful of resources that directly assist you in writing a perfect cover letter, a resume, a reel that will show employers your best work, and so much more. STAA provides the necessary steps to landing a job in this industry and I wouldn’t have been in this position without their assistance.”

Berch has nearly four months before he leaves for Wisconsin. The way he will spend that time is another major decision. He’ll either work to save money for the coming school year or continue to enhance his experience in sports broadcasting. Either way, Berch will stay near his family in the New York Metropolitan area. “I have not had any summers off since 2020, as I have worked summer internships away from home for the past several summers. Getting the opportunity to spend time with my family this summer is one of my top priorities!”

Inbornone to broadcast UNCP athletics

The 2012 Notre Dame football team featured 21 future NFL players. Manti Te’o, Theo Riddick and Tyler Eiftert led the Fighting Irish to the national title game against Alabama. That squad also planted a love of play-by-play in a young boy growing up in Orlando, FL. Alex Inbornone recalls, “My roots for play-by-play broadcasting come from Notre Dame Football on NBC. That 2012 season with so many memorable games and calls from Tom Hammond made me fall in love with the idea of making a career of this!”

Now Inbornone is a play-by-play broadcaster himself. He is the new voice of UNC-Pembroke. The opportunity is part of a paid play-by-play/video production internship. Inbornone will be the voice on video streams for many of UNCP’s 16 NCAA Division II varsity athletic programs, including football and basketball.

Inbornone is a 2022 graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University. He believes his UNCP application was boosted by the fact that PBAU and UNCP are both NCAA Division II schools. “For three years I was lucky enough to call nothing but DII athletic events. That might’ve been my biggest advantage to others who applied and came through a DI institution.”

UNCP has used STAA to fill it’s broadcasting position several times in recent years. Inbornone saw the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email and eagerly applied. “UNCP has a great track record in this position,” he states. “I am very encouraged by that and hoping I can follow in line with the former broadcasters here. Obviously a huge plus to joining the UNCP family is having a football team, I think young broadcasters who can receive the opportunity to call college football is a big time opportunity.”

Inbornone joined STAA after learning about it through one of his professors in college. He wanted help finding a sportscasting job. “It took a while to find the right one but it all worked out! It has been a year now since I have joined. I always have fun reading the [weekly STAA Insider], watching the STAA calls of the week and listening to other people’s stories. STAA is way more than just the job boards!”

Now the kid who loved watching Tom Hammond call Notre Dame football on NBC is also calling games. “Growing up, all I ever cared about was sports. By the time I was in high school, I knew this was the career for me.”

Miranda heading back home to Indiana, WTHR-TV

A well-placed connection has helped Dominic Miranda back to his home state of Indiana. Miranda is joining WTHR TV in Indianapolis as a sports anchor/reporter after two years in Florida.

“I certainly was ready to get back to the Midwest and closer to family. I had been monitoring job leads pretty religiously and looking for that kind of opportunity,” he states.

Of course, there’s also this about Miranda’s new position: ” Covering the Colts, Pacers, IU, Purdue, Butler, and the Indy 500 is a dream come true,” he grins.

Help from a mentor

Miranda has been at WCTV in Tallahassee since June 2021. In early February, a mentor of his notified Miranda that WTHR was looking. “I had seen that through the STAA Job Leads and had applied immediately,” Miranda recalls. The mentor mentioned Miranda’s name to WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro. Miranda reached out to him. “[Dave] immediately called me and let me know he had passed my information along to the News Director, and it all just kind of went from there.”

Mirada’s story illustrates the value of relationships. His mentor is someone who once hired Miranda for an internship. “We’ve remained in contact for nearly eight years now. He has been instrumental in helping me along the way. You never know who can help you when the time is right.

“I owe it to STAA for putting this opening on my radar, and a long time connection for getting my foot in the door. Your talent is a huge part of it, don’t get me wrong. But in highly sought after positions in top 30 markets, you need some help.”

Though Miranda is leaving South Florida, he’s grateful for the growth he experienced there. “My storytelling has improved tremendously. Ad-libbing, live reporting, and overall on-camera presence has improved as well. I cannot thank Ryan Kelly, my sports director, and Sabrina Fuller, my news director, enough for taking a chance on me. The freedom I was given to really come into my own on camera was very necessary and played a huge role in my improvement.”

Focus on family

As much as Miranda enjoyed Tallahassee, he’s eager to return to Indiana and to his family. “Family is the most important thing in my life. Without them and their support, I wouldn’t feel confident in having the ability to accelerate my career to a top 40 market. They mean the world to me and I certainly wanted to move closer to them.”

There is another reason Miranda is excited return to the Midwest. “I’m getting married in September. My fiance has been so supportive of my career. She’s currently living in Chicago. I absolutely wanted to move closer to home so we could begin our life together living close to our respective families.”

Keeping current

An important factor in Miranda’s job search was keeping his reel updated. “After every sports season, I like to go back and put together a reel, just so when the time is right, I have something to send immediately. That way, I’m not wasting a day or two putting together a recent reel, and risking not getting my name in front of decision makers as quickly as possible. Sometimes that’s the difference between getting a job or not.”

Miranda’s career has been on an upward trajectory since he joined STAA in the final semester of his senior year at DePauw University in Indiana. First it was a job at WTHI TV in Terre Haute, IN. Two years later, it was onto Tallahassee. He remains an STAA member for one big reason.

“Job leads, job leads, and job leads,” he laughs. “I cannot stress enough how important getting those [regularly] has been. It allows you to jump on opportunities immediately. I think the STAA membership is worth it soley for the job leads. Not to mention all the other incredible critiques, tips, tricks, advice, and help it provides.

“Every college student that reaches out to me asking for advice, I recommend them to become a member at STAA. The growth I’ve seen in myself since I joined STAA as a senior in college in 2019 to now has been substantial. I cannot thank [STAA Owner Jon Chelesnik] enough for his help along the way. He’s so accessible and is always willing to give you advice and help you along your journey. For someone as busy as I think we all know he is, that’s pretty cool.”

He adds, “I feel extremely lucky and extremely grateful for STAA. And for my long time mentor.”

STAA baseball faces in new places this summer

For 16 summers, STAA members have been broadcasting baseball at ballparks nationwide. This year is no different. The following folks will be spending the dog days with new teams.

Some of them we’ve already written about:

Kevin DiDomenico, Reno Aces

Andrew Mild, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs

Zach Berman, Sioux City Explorers

Carter Woodiel, Kansas City Monarchs

Here are the others who are deserving of attention:

Double A

Jake Starr, Reading Fightin’ Phils No. 2

Spent last season with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League.

Gareth Kwok, New Hampshire Fisher Cats No. 2

Was the voice of the Frederick Keys in 2022.

Class A

Eric Bach, Fredericksburg Nationals No. 1

Elevated from No. 2 to the lead position after STAA member Joey Zanaboni left for MLS.

Tim Quitadamo, Modesto Nuts No. 1

Most recently worked as Director of Productions for the Worcester Paw Sox. Filled in a couple of broadcasts and did sideline reporting on some NESN telecasts.

Logan Potosky, Lake County Captains No. 1

Potosky will call home games at Classic Park. He graduates from John Carroll University in May.

Max Tanzer, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels No. 2

Spent last summer with Bourne of Cape Cod League.

Thomas Zinzarella, Hudson Valley Renegades No. 2

Was the Biloxi Shuckers No. 2 last season.

Derek Decker, Fort Wayne TinCaps No. 2

Called Chillicothe Mudcats summer collegiate games last season before a short stint at a radio station cluster in Western Kansas.

MLB Partner Leagues

Brendan Howe, High Point Rockers No. 1

Peoria Chiefs No. 2 last season.

Adam Bridges Boise Hawks No. 1

Scheduled to graduate next year from Boise State University.

Joey Miller, Gateway Grizzlies No. 2

Was in the summer collegiate Expedition League last summer.

Carter Bainbridge, Florence Y’alls No. 2

Will graduate this spring from Syracuse.

Summer Collegiate Leagues

Cory Sparks, Kenosha Kingfish

Graduating next month from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Be sure to say hello to these folks when you cross paths with them in the press box.

Congratulations to all!