Everyone thinks they can do sports radio. Everyone has opinions about sports and thinks they can form a cogent argument that listeners would appreciate.
In a partnership with Yahoo! Sports Radio, the Sports Talent Agency of America is launching STAA University to help give those who are truly dedicated a better chance at getting a job in the industry.
Registration for the school begins March 26 and runs through June 1, with the first semester starting on Aug. 27. Students will apply and will be accepted — on a first-come, first-serve basis — and will traverse an 11-week program. The students will receive guidance through the online course through virtual meetings with professors, critiques of their recorded broadcasts, and on-air experience. STAA University will also bring in guest speakers from the world of sportscasting like Yahoo! Sports Radio host Steve Czaban and former ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury.
“Employers hire talent,” Jon Chelesnik, CEO of the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America and a former ESPN Radio host, said. “It doesn’t matter to them if you have a degree or not. I always encourage anybody that has the time and the monetary resources to get a four-year degree, but it’s not a prerequisite for employment in sports broadcasting.”
STAA University is a remote learning program, where students can do everything from home, and all assignments — learning podcasting, updates, play-by-play, etc. — will be submitted digitally. Countless radio broadcasters in network radio like Yahoo! and Fox Sports broadcast from home, and the students of STAAU will learn to do anything a radio professional does in their own home.
In addition to helping students gain experience and make the right kind of resumes and demos, STAA will give the students a year of what it calls career placement assistance, helping graduates break into the industry. STAA isn’t a typical sports broadcasting agency in that it doesn’t take a commission from successful hires and doesn’t make calls to employers for its members, but it does provide support as they search for jobs.
Chelesnik says the program isn’t necessarily meant to replace a four-year university, but many four-year broadcasting schools fail to prepare students for the real world.
“There’s a lot of great four-year schools that teach sports broadcasting exceptionally well, but even those schools don’t teach how to get a job,” Chelesnik said. “They may provide some instruction on how to do a resume or a cover letter, but when I see the resumes and cover letters that those students are putting out in the job market, they’ve been instructed incorrectly.”
After participating in the school and working their way up, students can participate in Yahoo! Sports Radio’s podcast program and eventually gain time on-air on Yahoo! Sports Radio itself. This gives a student experience on a nationally syndicated radio station that others may not get for years in internships or mentorship programs.
Jeffrey Schwartz, Executive Vice President of Yahoo! Sports Radio Corporate Strategy, helped form this partnership after being in the radio industry for more than 40 years. With the rampant automation and syndication of radio, Schwartz said sports and news radio are the best opportunities to become a broadcaster today, and STAAU will present students with a solid foot forward at attaining the goal of being a sports broadcaster.
While STAA University doesn’t guarantee a seven-figure salary or a job in New York or Los Angeles upon graduation, it’s a starting point, and a better chance at success in the field than many other options, according to Chelesnik and Schwartz.
“We all can’t be Dan Patrick and Jim Rome,” Schwartz said. “But we need to have an opportunity for the young men and women to see if this is for them… If you don’t try, you never achieve.”