Let’s pretend for a moment that I invested in a pile of lumber, a state-of-the-art set of tools, and an expert craftsman to guide me through my project. If I then left the lumber under a tarp, the tools in the garage, and never followed up with the craftsman, whose fault is it if I never build anything? This is how I feel about STAA, short for Sportscasters Talent Agency of America.
I’ve been, and continue to be, a paying member of STAA since 2014. It’s an organization that has been instrumental in my personal growth as a sportscaster and developing career building strategies. It is my belief that any sportscaster with ambitions to grow in the industry should be a member of STAA.
However, before I delve into the reasons for why I love STAA, I do want to be 100% transparent. I do have a business partnership with STAA. I get a small commission if anyone joins STAA through the link at the end of this article. With that in mind, I am still a paying member, and I will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I only accept deals with partners that I believe in, and I am a believer in the value of STAA.
Consulting: When I need advice on anything related to the sportscasting industry, Jon Chelesnik, the CEO of STAA is the first person I contact. He has a wealth of personal industry experience, but so do many others. What sets Jon’s advice apart is that he bases his suggestions on information he receives from actual employers. He has personal relationships with decision makers at Learfield, IMG, and program directors across the country that share what they like and what irritates them.
The other thing I really appreciate from Jon is the honesty of his feedback. He will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. I’ve told the story before that the first time Jon critiqued my work, he shredded it to ribbons. It was a major wakeup call in my career! If I wanted to achieve my goals, I needed a dramatic change in strategy. Nobody else was willing to tell the hard truths I needed to hear. Jon was, and it made an enormous difference in my career.
Foundational Tools: If your sportscasting career was a house, STAA provides all of the tools you will need to complete construction. The foundation being the STAA Play-By-Play Pyramid, which is essential in mastering the basics of play-by-play. In fact, I know many accomplished sportscasters who still hang a copy of the pyramid next to their rosters each and every game.
After embracing the pyramid, it’s all about getting better. STAA allows members to submit samples of their audio to group critique sessions. In these group critiques, Jon breaks down your submission, as well as the audio of other broadcasters who turn in samples for that month. This allows for members to not only correct mistakes they are making in their own audio, but to learn from the mistakes of other broadcasters before you make the same errors. This also goes the other way: if you hear something you like, you can implement it into your own broadcast.
These are only a few of the foundational tools available to STAA members. If you explore the members site, you will find samples of spotting boards, glossaries of terms to vary your vocabulary, and much more. Just remember, if you don’t take advantage of the tools, then nothing gets built.
Career Building Materials: A big part of STAA is the tools that help you to get a head up in the job market. Even if you’re not a member, you probably follow the job boards. They share a bevy of free information about openings around the country. However, when you look through the boards and see a listing that reads something like “NCAA DI Midwest,” you should know that members get the full job description. It allows members to get a jump start over most other job seekers. It may be the advantage you need to get ahead of the competition.
Support: This piggybacks on the first point: sometimes this industry is tough, and you need someone who’s been through the ringer to vent about your frustrations and plan your next move. Jon is like the Sam Malone of sportscasting. For those of you under 30, Sam Malone was the friendly bartender from the show Cheers, who would listen to all of the problems going on in the lives of his patrons. Jon may not be able to give you a beer, but when times get tough, he’s always there to walk you off the ledge and point out that things probably aren’t as bad as you imagine.
There are no guarantees in this business, and this includes STAA. All you can do is put yourself in the best position to take advantage of opportunities when they are presented. With the self improvement and career building tools available at STAA, I feel like I’m in a far better position than I was before I joined.
If you’re interested in joining STAA, visit STAAtalent.com/saythedamnscore. Not only will you receive all the benefits of STAA, but you’ll also receive a free E-Book written by Jon Chelesnik “The Smart Way To Get A Broadcasting Job: A Complete Guide To Cold Contacting Employers.”