Kunkel fired up for TV gig in Fargo

(March 22, 2011) Will Kunkel’s first post-graduate sportscasting job is taking him from Chicago, IL to Fargo, ND. Based upon Kunkel’s excitement, there is little difference between the two cities.

An STAA client, Kunkel has joined Fargo’s KVRR Fox TV as a weekend sports anchor.

“It’s a great sports market,” Kunkel says excitedly. “It’s a small market but for sports you have UND Fighting Sioux hockey which is ranked No. 1 in the country, you have a USHL team, an independent league baseball team and North Dakota State University right in Fargo, and football is their big sport. You get all the sports, so it’s a blast. Getting to cover the number-one Division One hockey team in the country in your first job is not too shabby.”

Kunkel says his only prior knowledge of Fargo came from the 1990s movie of the same name.

“It’s much more of a city than I thought,” he says. “It’s a great college town. There are a lot of young professionals, so that makes it fun.”

A 2007 graduate of St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, Kunkel spent two years at ESPN in Bristol, CT as a production assistant before earning his masters from Northwestern University in Chicago in 2010.

A unique turn of events led Kunkel to Fargo. He had applied for a job in North Carolina. The employer wanted a more experienced broadcaster but Kunkel made such a good impression that the employer referred Kunkel to the news director in Fargo.

“Its great to see people helping each other out and lending a hand like that,” Kunkel grins. “I don’t mind being the recipient of that.”

Kunkel says networking is the key to success for anyone.

“Be persistent. It’s beating down doors and networking. Never not talk to somebody. It doesn’t matter who it is. Just keep talking to people. It’s who you know. People are willing to help others.”

Kunkel started his new job last month.

“I love it,” he says with a huge smile. “I know this is what I want to do for the long-term future. It’s a great time.”

Late Kinston Indians opening falls to Shreve

(March 21, 2011) When the Kinston Indians hired a broadcasting and media relations intern this winter, they thought their broadcast team was set for 2011. However, when the new hire left for a Triple-A job that was too good to pass up, the Indians were back to square one with the start of the season right around the corner. STAA client Connor Shreve is stepping in to fill the void.

“Kinston’s Director of Broadcasting Chris Hemeyer (also an STAA client) emailed me looking for someone to replace Darren Headrick, who had left for a job with Triple-A Oklahoma City,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “I recommended Connor and sent the link to Connor’s STAA Talent Page to Chris.”

STAA wasn’t Shreve’s only endorsement. Veteran Tennessee Smokies broadcaster Mick Gillispie also suggested Shreve to Hemeyer. Gillispie met Shreve last off-season when Shreve applied for the No.2 job with Tennessee. Shreve ended-up as a No. 2 in Huntsville but furthered his relationship with Gillispie as they repeatedly crossed paths in the Southern League.

Hemeyer says, “I loved Connor’s stuff and [STAA’s] recommendation sealed the deal.”

In addition to working in media relations, Shreve will broadcast the middle three innings for all home games, will broadcast 8 to 10 games solo, and will make select road trips.

“The [Kinston] position is very similar to what I did last year except there is an opportunity to do some TV with the team’s local cable access show,” says Shreve.

Riggs joining Rockford RiverHawks baseball

(March 18, 2011) David Riggs knows sales experience is often key to advancing in minor league baseball broadcasting. His new position is going to give him the opportunity to learn sales from one of the more reputable mentors in minor league baseball. An STAA client, Riggs is joining the Rockford RiverHawks as a broadcasting and sales intern.

Riggs will learn under veteran broadcaster Bill Czaja, who has been with the RiverHawks since their inception in 2002.

“The opportunity to be in group sales is really important,” Riggs says. “Even though I don’t have any experience, its important to get it because a broadcaster who can sell in the off-season is going to have a better opportunity to stick with a team full-time. It’s going to be a challenge at first but it’s something I need to learn.”

Riggs is also eager to learn from Czaja.

“Just from the phone interview and talking with him after I accepted the job, he seems very open to answering questions,” Riggs says. “Considering he’s been with Rockford since they’ve been in Rockford is also important because he knows the team and community. To learn from someone like that is really important.”

A client since STAA’s inception in 2005, Riggs saw the job posted on the STAA website then submitted the demo and resume package built for him by STAA.

“It was all the STAA materials,” Riggs says. “After I accepted the position, [Bill] told me he had hired STAA clients in the past and it had worked out well for him. The STAA name just helps out — the fact people know STAA and it is well respected throughout the broadcasting community. [Being an STAA client] says ‘this guy knows how to present himself and is committed to being involved with this.’”

Riggs has broadcast baseball each of the past two summers, first for the Geneva Red Wings and last season for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. He has also broadcast men’s and women’s basketball for Bloomfield College in New Jersey. Riggs graduated Cum Laude in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University in 2008.

Sacrifice leads Mundo to Oklahoma job

(March 18, 2011) Sacrifice has paid off for Peter Mundo. An STAA client, Mundo is joining KWOX/KMZE radio in Woodward, OK as a news and sports reporter and play-by-play broadcaster.

The new job means the end of a weekly 400-mile round trip commute for Mundo. Since September, Mundo has been hosting a show at a station in East Hampton Long Island during the week. On weekends, he’s been driving to Easton PA to do production work for the local ESPN affiliate. Those days, though, of long miles and high gas prices are over.

“Since I started making the commute, gas has gone from $2.40 per gallon to $3.40 per gallon,” Mundo says. “I was barely covering my gas costs. However, I always viewed putting these two positions together as springboard to somewhere, and so far, it’s worked out.”

Mundo’s work ethic is part of what impressed KWOX/KMZE Program Director and fellow STAA client Mike Pilosof. “I think he respected and appreciated that,” says Mundo. “We hit it off. It’s a job where you are going to need a guy you can work well with, and I think that is what sold him.”

As for the move from New York to Oklahoma, Mundo is unfazed. “I’m 22. You only get to do this once,” he smiles

“I think this is my first step to something even better down the road.”

Cantor takes swing at minor league baseball

(March 17, 2011) Seth Cantor has considerable college football and basketball play-by-play experience but has always wanted to try his hand at minor league baseball. Now he is getting his chance. An STAA client, Cantor is joining the expansion Rockland Boulders as Corporate Sales Coordinator/Broadcaster.

“It combines my major market sales experience with my goals as a play-by-play broadcaster,” says Cantor.

With Rockland, Cantor will share the broadcasting booth with fellow STAA client Carmine Vetrano, who is also entering his first season as a minor league baseball broadcaster.

“The sales aspect is good,” says Cantor, who has billed more than $2-million in sales as a former account executive for WWFS radio in New York, NY “I told myself if I were to get back into sales it would be with a baseball team or some other team. I believe in sports, so the sales comes naturally for me.”

A client since STAA’s inception in 2005, Cantor recently finished his second season as play-by-play voice of NCAA Division I St. Francis College men’s basketball. He also broadcasts U.S. Merchant Marine Academy football and has done freelance work for Cornell University, St. John’s University and Manhattan College. He is a graduate of Ithaca College.

Shackil joins Cubs affiliate

(March 15) The job market rarely moves as quickly as job seekers would prefer. Every once in a blue moon, though, there are exceptions and Justin Shackil found one. An STAA client, Shackil is joining the Tennessee Smokies s their No.2 play-by-play broadcaster.

The Smokies are the Class-AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

From start to finish, Shackil’s hire took less than one week. STAA emailed the job description to clients on Monday, February 14th. By Saturday the 19th, Shackil had submitted the link to his STAA Talent Page, interviewed with veteran Smokies broadcaster Mick Gillispie via Skype, and been offered and accepted the job.

“We had two very, very long and good talks throughout that week, about the job and coming down to work in the Southern League, and also about my current position,” Shackil says. “Mick was able to give me advice. It was good to get ideas from someone new.”

Shackil, a 2009 STAA All-American who spent last season with the AA Trenton Thunder, conferred with several people before accepting the Smokies position.

“All this happened within four or five days. It moved really quickly. I enjoyed that part of it because I have been part of some really draining processes over the past few months so this was really refreshing.”

“We had agreed with the Smokies that we would post the job publicly on Monday, February 21st,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “Before the end of the weekend, though, their Director of Broadcasting Mick Gillispie told me there was no need. They had found their guy.”

Balionis to tee it up for PGA Tour Entertainment

(March 10, 2011) Growing up, golf was recreational for Amanda Balionis. Now it is becoming her career. An STAA client, Balionis is joining PGA Tour Entertainment as an anchor and reporter.

“I’ll be anchoring their online shows and also be going out to cover PGA Tour Tournaments,” Balionis says. “I’m really excited about this opportunity and move from Manhattan to the Ponte Vedra, FL area [in the coming days].”

Balionis found out about the job through a friend, Noah Coslov. The same day Coslov placed a call on her behalf, PGA Tour Entertainment called Balionis for an interview.

“I grew up playing golf,” Balionis says. “But if you would have asked me where I was going in my career, I never would have thought golf would be my first opportunity in professional sports.

“It will be really cool. I’ll get to see a lot of places a lot of people never get to see.”

A native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Hofstra University, Balionis has spent the past 11 months as a studio host and reporter for MSG Varsity in New York City. She has also worked for Verizon Fios 1 as a sports reporter. She acknowledges moving to Florida after a lifetime in the Northeast represents a major change, but it is one she is embracing.

“You’re asking me to move down to the beach and warm weather, so there’s not much trepidation,” she grins. “When I went down to hunt for apartments it was 80 degrees and sunny.”

When asked about her primary suggestion for success in the job market, she is quick to reply.

“Networking — you can never go wrong.”

Jason Dixon takes over Raleigh stations

(March 7, 2011) Jason Dixon is on to a new job and a new state. A veteran sports radio programmer in Florida, Dixon has been named Operations Manager and Program Director for 99.9 The Fan, 620 The Buzz and 1500 ESPN Deportes in Raleigh, NC.

“They own sports in the market and their facilities are top notch,” Dixon says. “It’s a tremendous radio station in a tremendous market and a tremendous company. Capitol Broadcasting is committed to doing things first class all the way. From being in the building just a week you can tell the sentiment goes from the top to the bottom.”

Dixon is a former Program Director at WDAE Tampa and 1010XL Jacksonville. He has always lived in Florida but is embracing relocating to Raleigh with his wife and twin six year old sons.

“We’re excited,” Dixon says eagerly. “I told my wife back when I was a DJ at a CHR station that we’d probably be moving every couple years. Turns out I was able to work in Florida for 20 years. We’re excited to move to a great area.”

McCrite lands talk show at ESPN St. Louis

(March 2, 2011) Zach McCrite has earned his way into the lineup at one of the highest rated sports talk radio stations in the country. An STAA client, McCrite is joining 101 ESPN in St. Louis where will co-host a daily show from 9 to 11 am with retired college and NFL coach Rick Venturi.

“This is a dream come true for me,” McCrite says. “101 ESPN has quickly become a brand known nationwide and I pinch myself thinking about the opportunity to be a part of it. Guys like Rick, Bernie (Miklasz), Randy (Karraker), Rammer (Bob Ramsey) and D’Marco (Farr) are household names. I can’t wait to work with them.”

Since launching in early 2009, 101 ESPN has established itself as one of the strongest sports radio stations in the country. It is currently the highest rated station in St. Louis across all formats in men 25-54 from 6 am to 7 pm. The station was also recently ranked as the No. 2 sports/talk radio station in the United States, among comparable major market stations, for their targeted daypart and demographic

A Jeffersonville, Indiana native, McCrite currently serves as co-host of “Kentucky Sports Radio” with Matt Jones on Talk Radio 1080 WKJK in Louisville, KY. Before his stint with WKJK began in January 2010, McCrite co-hosted “The EZ and Bo Show” on WKQC ESPN 93.9 and WKJK ESPN1450 with Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Rick Bozich from May 2008 through December 2009.

“Zach McCrite is someone who I’ve kept an eye on for the past three years”, notes station Program Director Jason Barrett. “He’s got a big personality and a great sense of humor and he’s the type of host who you find yourself warming up to more and more with each passing day.”

McCrite has been an STAA client since the agency’s inception in 2005, utilizing STAA’s full array of services, including talent coaching.

“I really appreciate STAA’s help. I’m very grateful,” McCrite says.

Vetrano scores first minor league baseball job

(March 1, 2011) The last day of February was a memorable one for Carmine Vetrano. In the morning, Vetrano learned he has been named Announcer of the Year in the Federal Hockey League. In the afternoon, the news was even better. Vetrano landed his first play-by-play job in minor league baseball.

An STAA client, Vetrano has been named Communications Coordinator and Broadcaster for the expansion Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League. The Boulders will play in Rockland County, NY – 25 miles north of New York City.

In addition to play-by-play, Vetrano will handle game notes, press releases, game recaps, website, and press box accommodations.

“This is a great step for me personally and it was a goal of mine to make it into professional baseball this summer; and I have!” Vetrano says excitedly.

Vetrano has spent the past two summers broadcasting summer collegiate baseball in New York and Vermont. He has also gained considerable hockey play-by-play experience the past two years with the FHL’s New York Aviators and the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In Bridgeport, he worked alongside, and learned a lot from, veteran broadcaster Phil Giubileo.

“I owe a lot of my success to Phil Giubileo from the Sound Tigers,” Vetrano says. “He took a chance on me. I did not have that much broadcast experience and he allowed me to get reps in the AHL. More importantly, he is been a mentor and even better friend.

“To have him in my corner and STAA [CEO Jon Chelesnik] is the perfect package. I sent over my Talent Page [to the Boulders], and they had everything they needed right there.”

Vetrano contacted the Boulders on his own, then asked the Sound Tigers to place a call on his behalf, which led to an interview.

“ I sold them on how ready I am to make the jump,” Vetrano says.