Derek Zimmerman-Guyer is relentlessly optimistic and motivated. Investing in those traits has led to his new job as a play-by-play broadcaster and reporter at R&J Broadcasting in Ada, MN.
Zimmerman-Guyer learned of the opportunity in an STAA Job Leads email. He heard back from station GM Jim Birkemeyer less than 30 minutes after applying. “Within the next two weeks, Jim and company interviewed me twice via Zoom, making it the quickest and most beneficial response time I’ve encountered during the last eight months,” Zimmerman-Guyer grins.
Zimmerman-Guyer, a 2020 graduate of Missouri Western State University, is grateful that someone has given him a shot to pursue his dream. But that’s just one reason he’s excited to move to Ada. “I’ve grown up in the Northwest Missouri/KCMO area for over 22 years now — I’ll be 23 in December — and I’ve always been told I need to experience life outside of the state. As much as I love my hometown and my defending Super Bowl champs, it’ll be good for me to build more bridges and tell more stories across the country, and I’m sure Minnesota is chock-full of stories.”
Customizing his applications to each opening is something Zimmerman-Guyer believes helped him the job market. However, it was staying calm during the interviews that he thinks got him over the top. “I really let questions breathe and settle before rushing into things. I’m a very anxious person, so just like I’ve learned to do in the booth, I let things develop before running off with my words.”
When the pandemic left Zimmerman-Guyer with time on his hands, he invested it in polishing his craft. “I watched so many NFL Throwback YouTube videos, it’s not even funny. I just took a different verb or two from each video and put it in my vocabulary. I would just sit back on a few live MLB or NBA games and let loose with the teams I’m especially familiar with. I recorded most of these while some others I just did out of the spur of the moment.”
Zimmerman-Guyer has also added one broadcaster’s famous catch phrase to his own vocabulary. “After listening to Mike Breen yell ‘Bang!’ so much, I started saying it during everyday events,” Zimmerman-Guyer smiles. “After awhile, I was thinking to myself, “I know this is Breen’s signature, but I’m going to bust this out when the day comes.”
The pandemic has also helped Zimmerman-Guyer reinvent himself. “Quarantine gave me a lot of spare time when I wasn’t working in an Amazon or FedEx warehouse, so I decided to start up a podcast, The Optimistic Guy. With it being pre recorded and everything, I really scripted the daylights out of it, and what I mean is that I wrote it to my strengths and weaknesses. I touched on topics I wanted to shed more light on, so I wrote my takes or thoughts in a way that sounds like me and is me, but I also pushed myself to let more emotion and character fly in my voice.”
Zimmerman-Guyer has even used the podcast to improve his weaknesses. “Sometimes when I adlib, things can get messy. I’d really think about every way I can spin this talking point, so I’d have multiple adlibs ready. Once the time came, however it may be, I would set up my own punch lines that I consider a part of my personality. This way, I can get my message across in a clear way, but I still remember to be me.”
Zimmerman-Guyer joined STAA in April. “I remember after everything COVID-19-wise went down in March, I’m basically an early graduate, and it was time to ramp up the job search a bit more. I originally found something on my own in Nebraska, but it was frozen and fell through. I decided to reach out to others in my field more on Twitter, and I saw STAA in one of their bios. I was pretty thrilled to say the least.
“I joined STAA because I knew someone would say yes, and the more applications I put out there, the high the odds would get. This career field is my dream, and it’s not going to come about all on its own. It’s tough to do it alone, and I knew if I wanted to invest in this career for real, I’d really have make a financial investment and join.”
Zimmerman-Guyer’s investments in himself and STAA are paying dividends.