He won several national sportscasting awards at Staples’ WWPT-FM. And though he just completed his first semester at Fordham University, DJ is is quickly climbing the legendary WFUV ladder. He’s already broadcasting Ram athletic contests.
He’s on track to be the next Jim Nantz. In fact, the CBS star — a Westporter — has been very generous with his time and attention to DJ.
DJ is quick to thank his mentors — and benefactors like the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. He’s so appreciative of the scholarship the CBA gave him, he recorded a promo for them.
It’s being heard all over the state. In it DJ describes the importance of the scholarship to him, and urges future broadcasters to apply for their own grant.
DJ hasn’t hit the big time yet (oh, he will). Already, though, he’s paying it forward.
WWPT — “Wrecker Radio” — has been voted the best high school radio station in the United States. The announcement was named at the 2011 John Drury Awards, which honor high school radio across the country.
In addition, ‘PT — 90.3 FM — won 7 out of 9 Drury Awards for sports broadcasting. That includes Ben Myers’ and Ben Greenberg’s work on the boys soccer FCIAC finals.
And WWPT took both 1st and 2nd place for broadcast of a radio drama — the “Dracula” show the Staples audio production class did in conjunction with one of David Roth’s acting classes.
But wait — there’s more! Remember Monday’s “06880” post on Wyatt Davis’s radio show? A news piece by Hannah Foley won 2nd place, highlighting “The Wy-Master’s” amazing triumph over muscular dystrophy.
Congratulations to WWPT advisor Mike Zito; to all who participate in Wrecker Radio — and to 2011 graduates DJ Sixsmith and Eric Gallanty, who helped make it all possible.
Click here to hear the best high school radio station in the nation!
During his radio and broadcast career at Staples, DJ Sixsmith covered football — and soccer, basketball, volleyball, indoor track, rugby, everything except (I think) Ultimate Frisbee — with the skill and professionalism of pros like Jim Nantz.
Which, last summer, brought him to the attention of — Jim Nantz.
Stamford Advocate sportswriter Dave Ruden (a Staples grad) had taken an interest in DJ. Dave asked his friend Jim (CBS’ star broadcaster, and a longtime Westporter) to meet with DJ and his WWPT/Wrecker radio colleagues Eric Gallanty and Brandon Edelson.
“Jim is so busy. We expected a half hour lunch at Gold’s,” DJ says. “But he spent 2 hours talking about sports and TV. It was amazing he took that much time for us.”
DJ Sixsmith, Jim Nantz, Brandon Edelson and Eric Gallanty hang after lunch at Gold's this summer.
At Staples’ Back to School Night this year, DJ’s mom saw Jim. She introduced herself, thanked him for his help — and was surprised when he suggested DJ join him in an NFL booth. Jim gave her his email.
DJ had just begun his 1st year at Fordham University. Most freshmen start at the bottom at WFUV, the school’s highly regarded radio station. Thanks to his Staples experience, DJ was already covering women’s volleyball, and helping with football broadcasts.
Seizing the opportunity, he emailed Jim. The broadcaster quickly invited him to last Sunday’s Giants-Bills game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
On Friday, DJ spent hours in the production truck. He watched all the planning sessions, and asked plenty of questions.
Two days later he was in the CBS booth. The sightlines were fantastic; the inspiration, intense.
He met Phil Simms — Jim’s broadcast partner — then went back down to the truck for the 1st half. During the 3rd and 4th quarters DJ stood a few feet from Jim and Phil, wearing a headset, listening to and watching them work.
“It’s a view almost no one has,” DJ recalls. “And there I was, in my second month of college. It blew my mind.”
He was awed by how easy the broadcasters made everything look — and how difficult calling a game is. “You’re not following a script,” DJ says. “You really have to be alert and creative, all the time.”
He was also impressed by the number of people involved in the telecast, from graphics to ads to go-fers.
Not to mention the food. “No one went hungry,” he laughs.
“It kind of made our little operation at Staples seem like a different world,” he says.
DJ Sixsmith prepares to broadcast Fordham women's volleyball, from Rose Hill Gym.
The experience “reaffirmed how much I want this as my career,” DJ says.
“Jim was so happy, so enthusiastic about what he was doing. I realized that’s how happy I am too.”
Back at Fordham — and college women’s volleyball, not NFL football — he says, “I’ll continue to hone my skills however WFUV wants to use me.”
He is thankful for the boost Mike Zito and Jim Honeycutt gave him at Staples — and for the kindness Dave Ruden and Jim Nantz are showing him now.
It’s no stretch to say that one day he will pay it forward to a Staples student — perhaps yet unborn — who wants to be a star broadcaster too. Just like his hero, DJ Sixsmith.
“06880” is a big fan of DJ Sixsmith. The Staples senior is a mega-talented radio and TV sportscaster. He’s got a good shot at becoming the next Bob Ley.
The real Bob Ley knows it too. The other day the ESPN star wandered down from Bristol, and over to the Staples Media Lab. He and DJ chatted about their careers. (Bob’s is longer — he joined ESPN on its 3rd day of existence in 1979, more than a dozen years before DJ was born.)
They also talked about the March 22 fundraiser Bob is hosting at Fairfield University.
Bob Ley (left) and DJ Sixsmith.
The event — which also includes Bob’s colleagues Josh Elliott, Chris McKendry and Justin Kutcher — offers an outside-the-lines, behind-the-scenes look at ESPN, like how the shows get on the air, and all the fun stuff left in the newsroom that viewers never see.
It’s a benefit for FSW, the 161-year-old Bridgeport-based social services agency (formerly Family Services Woodfield). Bob is a board member, and DJ helped promote the event (including a silent auction) on the air.
On Tuesday, Bob Ley will tell tales about his work — everything from announcing World Cup soccer and NCAA Final Fours, to covering an earthquake during the 1989 World Series and assessing the impact of the 9/11 terror attack on sports.
DJ Sixsmith does not have that resume — yet. He’s called some pretty exciting basketball and football games, but the Staples Wreckers are not the Green Bay Packers.
Then again, when Bob Ley was 17, Howard Cosell didn’t wander into his high school station to say hi.
(Tickets for “Outside the Lines & Behind the Scenes at ESPN” are $20 general admission; $50 for a meet-and-greet and auction. Click here to order, or for more information.)
Think “network” is a bit grandiose? Think again. STN is streamed live (as is WWPT). So while Westporters can watch Channel 78, shows are also available any place on the planet, in real time. All you need is an internet connection.
STN’s bread-and-butter is sports. They televise home football games, and boys and girls basketball. (The events are simulcast on WWPT.)
STN has also done indoor track meets — perhaps the 1st time that sport has been covered on TV anywhere, at any level.
But as good as DJ Sixsmith, Eric Gallanty and the rest of the sports crew is — and they’re very, very good — STN is not exactly ESPN.
They’re much more diverse.
Eric Gallanty and DJ Sixsmith on air during a Staples football game. (Photo courtesy of Westport Patch)
The Staples TV station has broadcast Candlelight Concerts, graduations and elections. As with sports, coverage of those events features multiple cameras, sophisticated graphics, and plenty of inside knowledge.
STN also televises live bands — who come to the studio as part of Staples’ audio production courses. (The Media Lab’s talented instructors, Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito, also teach TV production and radio production.)
This spring, STN hopes to televise baseball and girls lacrosse. Next fall they’d like to add boys and girls soccer, and field hockey.
To do that — and more — they need money and equipment.
They can’t sell advertising — something about pesky FCC regulations — so they’re asking sports teams (and anyone else) for checks.
Their equipment wish list includes:
LCD or plasma television/display
SD-SDI recorder or tape deck (instant replay solution)
VHF and UHF radios or walkie-talkies (RF Communications)
Graphic or text generators
MacPro or MacBook (or another omputer running some form of Apple OSX)
Cameras with S-Video connection
This being Westport, plenty of folks have that stuff lying around in attics or garages. Others have access to it through work (legally, of course).
If you can help Staples Television Network with a check, a computer or anything else, email staplestelevisionnetwork@gmail; call 203-341-1379, or write the Media Lab, c/o Staples High School, 70 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
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