Help us find the next Baltimore sports media superstar…

April 10, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

Let the games begin! I’ve been talking about the “Coors Light King (or Queen) of Baltimore Sportstalk” competition for two months and today we will finally begin the tournament where the challenge is to cover Baltimore sports in the new media universe at WNST.net like the professionals do every day. After watching “American Idol” in its totality for the first time this season, I got very inspired about finding creative ways to find Baltimore’s next great sports media stars.

Perhaps I’m biased, but I firmly believe WNST.net is the best sports media company in the marketplace for Baltimore sports news, conversation and information. Everyone at WNST works nonstop to be the best – to set us apart from amateur internet bloggers and from “out of town” corporate entities who do not have the best interests of our community at heart. Our hard work is justified and rewarded when our www.Alexa.com reports continues to show us as BY FAR the most-visited sports website in the region on a daily basis. And we continue to battle it out with WBAL.com as the top two sites for radio – AM or FM – in the marketplace.

I take my business seriously. I must, because everyone in my company who wants to feed their family in this incredibly difficult economy also needs my vision and energy to keep WNST strong. And quality companies are comprised of quality people. We are always searching for the best writers, sports talk show hosts and reporters and journalists in Baltimore. My only personal goal remaining after 25 years of being a sports journalist locally and nationally is to make WNST.net the premier place for Baltimore sports fans to congregate and have fun.

We want to be the place you come every morning with a cup of coffee to read up on what’s happening in Baltimore’s sports world. We want you to join our text service. We want you to call into AM 1570 and chat with our hosts during the day. We want you following our live game blogs this summer during Orioles games.

Along with my partners and staff and former Ravens head coach Brian Billick, we are excited about making our company something you’re proud of as well.

This “Coors Light King (or Queen) of Baltimore Sportstalk” competition, which will end with a pair of live shows on May 13 and May 27, is not for a “job” at WNST — but instead it’s a contest with a grand prize of a trip for two from Baltimore to Bermuda on the Royal Caribbean ship we always see parked down in Port Covington in the spring. (Special thanks to The Cruise Lady, who has been doing Orioles cruises for years and she hooked us up with a super prize for our winner).

The last time I did a similar competition — in November 2006, before the legitimate era of internet sports blogging and social media — we found a myriad of nice people who, just like us, love Baltimore sports and wanted to investigate a career in sports journalism. Our current evening host, Thyrl Nelson, didn’t win our competition but used it as a springboard to becoming a daily host on WNST after 2 1/2 years of honing his craft. (We think Thyrl is great! You should check out his blog and radio show as a guideline for what we’re looking to accomplish with this contest.) Rex Snider and Mark Suchy were also “discovered” in that pool of talent and have been great additions to WNST. I am a kid from Dundalk. Drew Forrester is from Glen Burnie. Bob Haynie claims several Baltimore locales. Ray Bachman is from South Baltimore. Glenn Clark is from Perry Hall. We think a company full of people who are from Baltimore just makes sense!

And, we were all amateurs and “first timers” at one point. Now, we’re “professionals.” It’s not easy, but it’s possible as we’ve proven over the last 11 years.

I’ll be writing a lot about the competition and weighing in with some helpful hints and some frank feedback about what I think – I’ll try to be a little more kind than Simon Cowell, but I’m sure I’ll be called a jerk as well – and I hope all of the WNST.net readers and users will be checking out nearly 30 competitors’ writing, video and audio bits over the next two weeks.

We’ll begin the online voting for your favorites next week, with the top three vote-getters receiving automatic bids to the second round of the competition.

We will begin the second round the week of May 4th. There will be many surprises, celebrity visits and twists and turns — not unlike what we deal with every day in a 24-hour live sports media environment.

Here is the tentative schedule for the next week of competition:

Friday, April 10: Barry Barnes, Justin Keys, Geoff Peckham,

Monday, April 13: J.D. Jackson, Neal Bortmes, Rick Crabbe, Andrew Frank, Luke Jones,

Tuesday, April 14: Todd Salkowski, Jeremiah Moyer, Chris Allsep

Wednesday, April 15: Ryan Sebring, Christopher Stoner, Marco Romanell, Christina Tarleton, Tom Clayton, Bryan Knouse, John McKay,

Thursday, April 16: Vic Ganderson, Lawson Lambert, Mike Williams, Brian Swoboda

Friday, April 17: Ken Phillips, Rick Moore, Francis Lucia

Several other folks not listed here have also requested entrance in our competition but do not have confirmed audition times for next week. We currently have a sea of men and one woman in the competition, hence the “King” or “Queen” status. (Good luck Christina!) Most of the competitors I’ve never even met so this will be fun!

We also have a pair of “under 21” college hopefuls — Peter Dilutis and Troy Shuman – who are not officially in the competition and are not eligible for the grand prize but who want to write and do some radio and we’re going to allow them the opportunity to “show their stuff” as well in our main blogosphere.

In the spirit of WNST, we hope this competition is compelling, exciting and helps some of these folks follow their dream of a being a Baltimore sports journalist in the new millennium and in the amazing era of new and social media. We’d love for you to read their stuff, watch their video and listen to their live “auditions” over the next few weeks.

And with the Orioles’ fast start and the Ravens’ draft prospects so wide open over the next few weeks — not to mention golf, NASCAR, tennis, MMA, NHL and NBA seasons in full swing — there will be plenty of material for these folks to opine about on a daily basis.

Good luck to all!

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