(November 1, 2016) Getting laid off from a factory graveyard shift in June 2015 prompted David Meyer to revisit his dream of becoming a sportscaster. He had broadcast play-by-play on local access TV but had zero commercial radio experience and no college degree.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I didn’t want to do the factory thing for the rest of my life,” Meyer recalls. “I had done two years of college, but I had zero idea what I wanted to major in. I was at a crossroads when I signed up for STAA University. Now, I’m not!”
The crossroads are in Meyer’s rear view mirror because he’s joined Nicolet Broadcasting in Sturgeon Bay, WI as a full-time news anchor/reporter.
“From a factory to a full-time job in radio,” Meyer grins.
STAA University (STAAU) is an online sports broadcasting course and job placement assistance program hosted by Sportscasters Talent Agency of America. Paying for the course following his layoff was the first of several challenges Meyer would overcome.
“I had to enroll in STAA University before I got my severance package, so my Dad loaned me some money in the meantime. I decided to just try to parlay that severance money into a radio gig. After I got hired I told my Dad ‘thanks,’ and that turning that money into a radio career was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”
While Meyer was willing to relocate, his preference was to stay in Wisconsin. When a sports job opened at Nicolet Broadcasting, STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik called station owner Roger Utnehmer on Meyer’s behalf to request an interview.
“The interview did not go as well as planned and [Utnehmer] was very concerned by the fact that I had zero commercial radio experience,” says Meyer.
Though Utnehemer didn’t hire Meyer right away, he liked Meyer and gave him opportunity to demonstrate his ability to contribute to the Nicolet Broadcasting’s four-station cluster. Almost two months after the initial interview, Meyer was hired.
Meyer says the first time he heard himself on the air while driving home from work was surreal. “I had heard myself broadcasting before, but that moment put a bow on everything that had taken place over the prior 13 months. Hearing myself in the car was a moment where I realized that my hard work was paying off.”
While Meyer’s current duties don’t include play-by-play, he’s optimistic they eventually will.
“Nicolet Broadcasting has four radio stations and will soon be expanding to six,” he says. “There are multiple play-by-play teams that have lots of experience together, but my hope is that when the new stations are added, I will get my play-by-play shot. I have made it abundantly clear that play-by-play is my true love. They hired me knowing that, so I’m chomping at the bit for my shot.
“I love sports, I love radio broadcasting, I love sports talk. I didn’t have the tools to make my passions a career until I enrolled in STAAU. Jon is a great teacher and genuinely cares about his students. He was always there for me when I hit the bumps along the way. It won’t work for everyone, but I was able to enter the market without a communications degree.
“There were times I was unsure that broadcasting could be my reality. You need to have the right people in your corner, a little luck, and a positive attitude. But I’m proof that it’s worth taking that chance. I recently covered the Governor of Wisconsin touring a factory and launching a new factory initiative. It felt weird being a media member at a factory and not clocking in,” Meyer chuckles.