Aaron Goldsmith, radio voice of the Seattle Mariners, on what he listens for during baseball play-by-play self critiques.
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Bob Rathbun, play-by-play broadcaster for the Atlanta Hawks, shares what he looks for when doing self-critiques, plus tips for on-camera performance.
It’s easy to let development of your on-air abilities slip during the grind of a busy broadcasting season. That’s why off-season is the perfect time to put a laser focus on advancing your play-by-play skills.
Here are four suggestions:
Recently, I heard from a young guy who is doing high school and small college play-by-play. He aspires to one day be the voice of a pro team, but he’s concerned with the amount of job market competition.
“I am really dedicated to becoming a pro broadcaster, but it’s a bit intimidating to hear how many people are applying to jobs nowadays,” he shared with me. “I get a bit anxious.”
Totally understandable and not at all uncommon. Keep in mind, though, that you control your future. Despite your concern, keep taking steps towards your goals. Productivity decreases anxiety.
If you were starving and needing to catch a fish, would you fish in a lake that has more than 200 fish, or would you fish in a lake with just one fish?
Unfortunately, trying to land a Division I football/basketball play-by-play job is like fishing in a lake with one fish and hundreds of people trying to catch it. One company, Learfield IMG College, manages most of the schools.
You must accept that looking for a DI play-by-play job is a process that is largely out of your control.
(November 11, 2015) Lewis Woodard is moving from market No. 147 to a national network. After two years in Myrtle Beach, SC, Woodard is joining Yahoo Sports Radio. The full-time position will have Woodard hosting various time slots on YSR and filling in on other Gow Media platforms, including ESPN 97.5 FM in Houston.
“It’s a terrific opportunity,” says Woodard, who has been an STAA member since 2012. “Yahoo Sports Radio sees me as an asset that it wants to develop. For the first time in my career I’ll receive in-house coaching for my on-air work.”
The fact that Yahoo Sports Radio is headquartered in Houston also appeals to Woodard. “I’m moving to a city with the Texans, Rockets and Astros,” he says. “Texas A&M isn’t far away, either. As a sports fan and a talk show host, it’s exciting to know what my media credential is about to give me access to. Hosting on a national platform, you also have a much wider selection of topics to dive into on-air. And it’s a step up financially.”
Yahoo Sports Radio has hired more than 10 STAA members over the years. When Program Director Craig Larson told STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik that he had another opening, Chelesnik sent to Larson the link to Woodard’s STAA Talent Page. “Within 48 hours I had a full time contract offer to join a national network located in a top 10 market,” says Woodard.
“Simply put, without STAA this opportunity wouldn’t have existed for me,” Woodard says. “Without an education in communications or radio, I’ve had to self teach and self critique throughout the years to learn and get better. STAA’s resources have been invaluable in that pursuit. Jon has also worked with me in private and group critique settings. There’s no doubt that STAA has made me a better talk show host.”
Cory Sparks strives for one thing each time he goes on the air. “It is my goal for an audience to have the best time of their day when they consume my work.” Listeners in Beaver Dam, WI will have that opportunity. Sparks is joining ESPN Beaver Dam and 95.3 WBEV.
Among many duties, Sparks will host an on-air shift and broadcast play-by-play. “It allows me to do a little bit of everything. My primary love of calling games is included, as I get to call a variety of high school sports on an ESPN affiliated station. Along with this responsibility, I am hosting radio shows, conducting interviews, putting together daily SportsCenter reports, writing online stories, learning the sales and marketing end of broadcasting, community relations and so much more.”
Sparks is a 2023 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He’s said yes to numerous opportunities over the past four years, from broadcasting various play-by-play to serving as sports director for the campus TV station. Sparks’ proactivity prepared him for the Beaver Dam opportunity. “I was proactive in volunteering to broadcast games at the NCAA level, going after college leadership positions in radio/tv/newspaper, getting an internship in the Northwoods League as a play-by-play broadcaster and so much more. I diversified my skillset and am a go-getter. That’s what got me to where I’m at today.”
While proactivity has been a strength for Sparks, an occasional challenge has been receiving critiques of his work. He admits, “While critiques are necessary in broadcasting, I’ve caught myself being too negative and letting constructive criticism turn to pessimism. Through positive affirmation, more and more structured research, and remembering that I do this because I love it, I have been able to overcome that hurdle.”
Referred to STAA
Sparks joined STAA two months before graduating this year. “My professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wendell Ray, introduced me to the Jim Nantz Award. From there, I did some research and learned what STAA was about and how I could use it as a resource in my broadcasting journey.
“I was a little hesitant about joining STAA when I didn’t know fully know what benefits came with joining it. However, just like with anything else, I did my research and learned that this could be a phenomenal opportunity as I transition from college into the professional world.”
ESPN Beaver Dam and 95.3 WBEV is another phenomenal opportunity for Sparks, who loves to learn. “[This job] allows me to learn everything about sports broadcasting. By gaining a broader scope of the industry, I’ll have more insight when doing the specific aspects I love most.”
Being on-air also provides Sparks the opportunity to make his listeners’ days a bit more pleasant. “At the end of the day, it’s my job to tell a story and leave a lasting impact on others.”
When the Lakers hired Spero Dedes as their radio voice in 2005, many broadcasters hoped it would open the door for other young voices to get NBA jobs. Dedes had graduated college just four years prior. The next similar hire, though, didn’t happen until 2019 when the Clippers hired Noah Eagle to be their radio voice, just months after Eagle picked-up his college diploma.
Now the next domino is falling and it is again the Clippers who are giving an opportunity to an exceptionally talented college grad. The team has hired Carlo Jiménez, USC class of ’23, as their broadcaster.
Carlo Jiménez hopes to inspire
Jiménez was this year’s recipient of STAA’s Jim Nantz Award, recognizing the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sports broadcaster. He hopes the Clippers hiring of him, and of Eagle before him, changes the way that pro teams view broadcasters who are recent college grads.
“Noah’s ability to do a fantastic job with the Clippers out of college is really the reason why I was even considered for this job,” Jiménez states. “He opened the door for the Clippers to take a look at my resume and seriously consider me as a 22 year old out of college. Noah has proven that people who are recent college grads can have success broadcasting on the biggest stage. I hope to continue Noah’s work and demonstrate that recent college graduates can be excellent broadcasters.”
Carlo Jiménez uncommon determination
Some might call Jiménez an overnight success story. His story, though, has been many years in the making. One summer several years ago, Jiménez dedicated himself to calling one play-by-play broadcast from TV every day. In his college years, Jiménez called USC football, basketball, baseball and other sports. He also called summer collegiate baseball on both coasts. He expedited his growth by seeking mentorship and critiques from sportscasters across the country, including several of the industry’s biggest names.
Jiménez joined STAA his freshman year at USC. “Since I got my membership I have sent a tape to the monthly group critiques provided by STAA almost every single month I’ve been a member. This was incredibly helpful in getting to learn from not only my own critiqued tape but others as well.”
Social media star
If elite play-by-play skills and a relentless desire to constantly be improving is half of Jiménez’ secret sauce, the other half is his social media skills. He has nearly 64 thousand TikTok followers and occasionally gets recognized in public.
The Clippers also noticed.
“Social media was one of the prominent topics talked about throughout my interview process with the Clippers,” Jiménez recalls. “They were very curious about how I started my social media, what I have learned from doing it and how I would apply it if I were with the team. At one point in the process they asked me to provide some of my own social media ideas for the Clippers.”
Jiménez tries to post semi-regularly and to come up with ideas that take his audience behind the scenes in sports broadcasting. “I also try to provide some tips that I’ve learned from other people that have helped me when I broadcast. Furthermore, I try to explore new editing or storytelling ideas when I do my social media videos. I get a lot of inspiration from accounts that I like and then see if I can implement their strategies into my own videos.”
He continues, “During the pandemic STAA had a video call (the Sportscasting Summit) in which they mentioned the importance of building your own brand. This in part was a reason I started my own social media and has helped me stand out in every single one of my job applications.”
Jiménez hopes that his hiring by the Clippers serves as inspiration to collegiate sportscasters as to what is possible through uncommon determination, discipline and hard work. “One of my biggest fears once graduating was hearing about the time it often takes to get a full-time job out of college. I hope my journey shows young broadcasters that this isn’t always the case.”
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.”
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.”