4 things you can do to beat your competition

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.

beat your sportscasting 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.
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Advice For Landing A DI Play-by-Play Job

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.
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Woodard moving from market 147 to network radio

Lewis Woodard(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.”

Sparks eager to serve listeners in Wisconsin

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.”

Embracing opportunities

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.”

Clippers hire ’23 Nantz Award Winner Carlo Jiménez as their radio voice

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.”