Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell have made a career out of broadcasting Staples High School sports on WWPT-FM, and the Staples Television Network.
They’ve called plenty of big wins, and a few heartbreaking defeats.
Yesterday, the 2 student announcers got a few victories of their own.
Cooper and Jack — who serve as co-directors of sports — were finalists in an eye-popping 14 IBS National Broadcast Awards categories.
In a ceremony held at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, they won 3: Best Play-by-Play Football (Jack and Cooper); Best Play-by-Play Basketball (Cooper); Best Use of YouTube (Cooper).
Cooper Boardman (left) and Jack Caldwell, with their 14 trophies.
IBS stands for Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. It’s been around for 77 years. With the growth of high school radio — pioneered by, among others, Staples — the organization recognizes younger announcers too.
Cooper — a senior — will attend Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications. Jack is just a junior. After one more year of calling Wrecker games, he’ll head off to college for broadcast journalism too.
Unlike last week’s Oscars, these awards won’t be taken back. But like many WWPT stars before them, Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell are already on the road to radio success.
Click here for an audio link to Cooper and Jack’s winning football broadcast. Click here for a link to Cooper’s You Tube channel. Below is one sample of his work.
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.
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.
It’s not often a high school organization advisor gets a national award.
Then again, it’s not often the advisor is Mike Zito.
Mike Zito, in action.
The popular, soft-spoken veteran media teacher was honored recently by Ithaca College. Zito — whose last name is also his nickname — received a S’Park Media Mentor Award from the Roy H. Park School of Communications. He and 3 other high school instructors from across the country were lauded for their “commitment to inspiring passion for media in students.”
Zito teaches a full schedule of radio production, TV production and narrative film.
He’s not the only Staples media person to win national honors. His students have won MSG Awards, and the prestigious John Drury High School Radio Awards. Zito’s classes have been launching pads for many successful careers.
Zito’s own career is not too shabby. He’s too modest to mention it, but this is not his 1st national prize. Like his students, last year he was cited by the John Drury folks. Zito was named Best Radio Station Advisor in the Nation.
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