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Westfield State University Empowers Student Commentators: A Look Inside Broadcast Journalism on Campus

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News reporter broadcasting outdoors.

This year, the Westfield State University Athletics Department is shining a well-deserved spotlight on their most recent broadcast crew.

Although student commentary during home games was introduced to Westfield State decades ago, new technological features have innovatively transformed student broadcasting for everyone involved. From the commentators inside the press box to the fans watching at home, the Westfield State Broadcasting Department offers a unique experience that brings a new meaning to campus involvement.

For play-by-play sports broadcaster Zach Bianco, an upcoming senior, broadcast journalism has been his passion even before he joined the team in 2021. While talking about what inspired him to do broadcasting at Westfield, Zach described where it all started for him.

“For me, I’ve always loved sports ever since I was a kid. And so, take that with my love for TV production and put it together, and that’s how I got here,” Bianco said.

Now, Bianco commentates on all of the home sports games for the Westfield State University Owls and is also responsible for the online streaming content. However, this is just the beginning for Bianco, who credits Westfield State University for having “opened up the door” for pursuing broadcasting in the future.

“I’ve gotten a lot more people to recognize my voice and who I am and what I do around campus, and so that’s really opened up opportunities,” Bianco stated.

Brayden Cutler, who is also a play-by-play commentator, has also had positive experiences with the broadcast crew. Cutler, who joined the crew last year, never expected to be able to commentate sports games as a junior at a state university.

“Broadcasting at Westfield State has been an experience that I never thought I would have, and truthfully, had I gone to another school it might not have happened,” Cutler explained.

According to Cutler, a lot more goes into the job than viewers might realize. Both Cutler and Bianco often prepare to broadcast Westfield State home games days before they take place.

“We do a lot of preparation going over different rosters, getting familiar with the names, learning all the stats … A bunch of things goes into preparing for a game which often takes days to prepare for,” said Cutler.

Their rise in popularity has expanded even further since the broadcasts became televised a few years back. This has allowed family members of students to watch the athletes from home when they can’t make it to the games on campus, which is a huge win for parents. On top of this, a pregame show has been introduced, which features commentary about prior games, player stats, and more.

According to Associate Athletic Director Dave Caspole, although the setup is simple, it is a huge help for the students who work for the broadcasting department.

“The technology piece of it is pretty unbelievable at this point … (and) what you can do with equipment that doesn’t cost an awful lot of money,” Caspole said.

Once a broadcaster himself, Caspole described some new additions to the equipment used during games, such as “a more sophisticated audio board” and “access to better-quality headsets,” with help from the media services department. Additionally, students Adam McKay, Randy Elfman, Joe DiBlasi, and Rachel Grome have all been a major help for the broadcasting department this season, as well as interns from the athletic department who are always willing to lend a hand.

Between televised games, pre-game shows, and play-by-play breakdowns, the Westfield State University sports commentary department has become a great stepping stone for students interested in pursuing a broadcast journalism career. Everyone on the crew plays an important role in elevating the viewing experience for Westfield State sports both on and off campus.

This is a very exciting time for communication students here at Westfield State University!

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