K-State alum now founder of sportscaster talent agency

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Many college students
pay thousands of dollars to learn how to put together their multiple passions into one job and create a life for themselves. Jon Chelesnik, founder and CEO of the
Sportscasters Talent Agency of America, achieved that goal and he knows that
“ability is not enough.”

Chelesnik was always passionate about sports.
He participated in them during high school and he knew he wanted to continue
in college in some way or another. After graduating from K-State in
1989, he began working at a small radio station in McPherson, Kan.

“I reported news
and sports, and I hated doing news,” Chelesnik said. “It was good for me.
It’s like when your parents tell you to do something and you don’t understand
why. Years later you realize, ‘Oh my gosh, they were right!’”

It was in
McPherson that Chelesnik met Matt Walters, current marketing consultant and
host of “The Game” for radio station KMAN-AM 1350. At the time they met,
Walters was attending Bethany College.

“We were both
involved in news and sports,” Walters said. “I worked with him for a year and a
half, and we fostered a great friendship over the years.”

After working in
McPherson, Chelesnik decided to branch out and begin hosting sports talk shows on TV instead of only being behind the microphone. Chelesnik said he loved it for several reasons.

“I discovered that
I really liked sports broadcasting,” Chelesnik said. “It’s a wonderful fringe
benefit of being in the media, the access to people and places.”

Not even Chelesnik
knew that his love for sports broadcasting would lead him to the two jobs that
he said were the best of his entire life. In 1999, Chelesnik began hosting a
show on ESPN Radio Network and doing sideline reporting and college
play-by-play announcing with The Football Network.

“His work is
great,” said Steve Smethers, associate professor of journalism and mass
communications at K-State and former radio broadcaster. “I’m proud
to call him one of ours.”

Chelesnik said his job brought him daily joy, so it was beyond painful to him to only
experience it for four years. In 2003, ESPN demoted Chelesnik and The Football
Network stopped broadcasting in 2004. Chelesnik lost both jobs that meant so
much to him.

“I called my dad and
cried,” Chelesnik said. “In that moment, I just needed my dad.”

At this point,
Chelesnik began to develop the idea for the next, and arguably the largest, step in his career.

“My recovery from
that setback took about 30 minutes,” Chelesnik said. “You realize that life
doesn’t stop for you.”

Chelesnik had to
move forward, and asked himself the question, “What else do I do?” Thanks to a
support system created by his parents and his wife, Chelesnik began to teach
himself how to build something from nothing.

“Everything I
learned about starting a business was self-taught,” Chelesnik said. “The
genesis of starting a business just came from the idea, ‘Now what?’”

Chelesnik founded
the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America in 2006 with the plan to share what he had
learned throughout his career to benefit others. The agency offers career
consulting, resume help and serves more than 520 clients nationwide.

“This gives me the opportunity to
help other people,” Chelesnik said.

Walters said he
didn’t expect the man he worked with in his college town to become the head of
a talent agency, but the move made sense.

“When Jon decided
to start his business, it was news to me,” Walters said. “But I think it’s a
perfect fit. He’s a guy who’s passionate about sports and pays attention to
detail.”

Chelesnik came
back to K-State for the first time since graduating to speak to
journalism students on Monday. Smethers was a part of the board that allowed
him to come.

“It’s an amazing
thing that we were able to bring him to K-State,” Smethers said. “And it’s
funny, because I haven’t even met him yet.”

Chelesnik advises
clients on self-presentation and how to follow up on job openings by continuing to be “politely persistent.”

“It seems like a
great idea,” Walters said, “and I’m thrilled that he’s having such success with
it.”

Chelesnik said he
is thrilled as well, not just about his success, but also about how he gets to
spend his days.

“I’ve got a
blessed life, to be honest,” Chelesnik said. “I’m very thankful for it.”

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