(June 21, 2011) In spring 2010, Michael Spero was graduating from the University of Kansas and wondering when and where his first job would be. After a whirlwind 12 months, he has landed the football play-by-play job at San Jose State University.
“This was my goal at KU,” Spero says. “I wanted to get to the Division I level as soon as possible. There are broadcasters I have kept in touch with who reached this level when they were young.”
While Spero’s ambition is admirable, the fact is only a tiny handful of sportscasters are doing Division I play-by-play within one year of graduation. Of that group, almost none are at schools with Division I, non-FCS football programs.
“Coming from KU I’ve been around major college athletics so I understand the expectations and demands,” Spero says.
As notable as the SJSU gig is for Spero, it isn’t his first Division I job since graduation. He spent this spring broadcasting Stanford University baseball, and last winter was the voice of women’s basketball at Santa Clara University.
“When I landed D-I work my goal was to keep getting DI work, which I have been able to do,” Spero smiles.
Spero learned there was an upcoming Division I play-by-play job weeks in advance of the San Jose State job being made public. “I first reached out to [STAA CEO] Jon Chelesnik about something else. He mentioned there was something coming down the pipeline in which I would be interested. When I saw the San Jose State opening on the STAA job board, I asked Jon if this was the job he had alluded to and he said it was.”
An STAA client since June 2010, Spero has taken full advantage of STAA’s range services.
“STAA has been a big help,” he says. “Initially I think I reached out to [STAA] before I was a client. [Jon Chelesnik] did a critique with me. Just being able to call or email [Chelesnik] and ask about whatever I need is helpful. Through the San Jose State process, we spoke for about a half hour to prepare me for the interview process. Having Jon throw out ideas and concepts as I prepped for the interviews was a big help. I felt very good about how I presented myself.”
Spero’s game plan for putting his career on the fast track began in college. One key has been taking advantage of opportunities and utilizing all available resources.
“Get involved with student radio,” Spero recommends to college broadcasters. “Although I earned my degree in business, I took journalism courses geared towards sports and the broadcasting industry.”
Spero also got to know many broadcasters in the state of Kansas. “I went to [Kansas Association of Broadcasters] day in Kansas City. I met [KU Voice] Bob Davis and [K-State Voice] Wyatt Thompson. I took advantage of any opportunities that came my way, even if it didn’t pay. If it gave me experience and exposure I jumped on it.”
Another of Spero’s strategies is networking with broadcasters who are where he wants to be. Among his contacts are Los Angeles Clippers broadcaster and fellow KU alum and STAA client Brian Sieman, and Spero Dedes, who landed the Los Angeles Lakers job in 2005 when he was just 26.
“I’ve sat down with Brian and watched him broadcast a game. I’ve been able to learn from those guys, and to have discussions with them to find out how they got to where they are and what I need to [best] position myself.”
Spero also regularly critiques his own work and sends it to other broadcasters for their suggestions. All of the effort eventually paid of with Spero landing a job at a university that could hardly be a better fit.
“I’ve been familiar with the school for a while,” Spero says. “I’ve had family come through San Jose State. A lot of the alumni I know are excited about the school and have pride in the school. That was attractive to me.
“The Bay area is where I wanted to be, so I’m glad I get to stay put,” Spero grins.
(Visit Michael’s STAA Talent Page).