Woodiel pursues passion for play-by-play

After placing third in the Hearst Journalism Awards, MU senior Carter Woodiel shifted his focus toward sports broadcasting.
Carter Woodiel won third place in this year’s Hearst Journalism Awards for his radio work. His main story was about a local veterans outreach program. courtesy of Eric Bormett

MU senior Carter Woodiel knew he was falling in love with his girlfriend when he realized he thought about her the same way he thinks about baseball.

A lifelong sports fan and baseball devotee, Woodiel has done play-by-play for KCOU/88.1 FM since his freshman year. In his four years with the station, Woodiel has called over 40 games for six different MU sports.

“I came here for this,” Woodiel said, knocking on the KCOU logo outside of their Student Center studio. “KCOU was the number one reason why I came [to MU].”

From prepping notes for big games to producing his sports talk show, Pinstripes and Checkerboards, much of Woodiel’s college life has been spent in the KCOU studio.

“I’ve spent more Friday nights [at KCOU] researching Division III basketball teams than I have doing fun things, and I’m fine with that,” he said.

Woodiel served as KCOU’s sports director his junior year, a role that allowed him to help staff members learn on the job. He’s also worked as a digital content producer at Newsy and a broadcaster for both Westminster College and William Woods University athletics.

Woodiel does more than just call games, however. On March 10, Woodiel received word that he had earned third-place honors in the Hearst Journalism Awards radio news and features competition for work he did for KBIA/91.3 FM. Not a word of his submissions were about sports.

“The centerpiece was a two and a half minute feature about a veterans’ outreach program in Columbia,” Woodiel said of his entries. “It was that and five other 45-second daily stories.”

Ryan Famuliner, news director at KBIA, saw potential in Woodiel’s work and decided to enter it in the Hearst competition.

“It didn't take too long working with Carter to realize what a strong writer he is,” Famuliner said. “If you listen to the stories that he won for, many are just stories about things that happened at meetings. But the fact that Carter can write so efficiently and so well for the ear make them exceptional examples.”

Woodiel’s top-five placement earned him a trip to San Francisco for the opportunity to compete for a national championship in radio. Last year, he finished fourth in radio news and features and second in the radio championship. Woodiel is the first MU student to place in the radio division in back-to-back years, according to the Hearst Journalism Awards Program website records dating back to 2001.

Woodiel said he wouldn’t be doing this without Famuliner, someone who has had a great influence on him during his time at MU. Famuliner saw Woodiel’s strengths from the beginning.

“He doesn't miss deadlines, he communicates well, he understands the job he's tasked with and pulls it off,” Famuliner said. “Those are skills that you really can't teach someone, so all we could really do at KBIA to help him make those skills even stronger was put him in situations where we'd expect him to deliver. And he always did.”

Woodiel took an interest in radio and television journalism, specifically in sports, at the age of 13.

“I’m forever grateful to my neighbor, Tom Gildea,” Woodiel said of his start in broadcasting. “He gave my mom a call and said, ‘I know Carter likes sports, and they’re doing this thing up in Little Falls where they take kids and they train them for broadcasting.’”

Heeding Gildea’s advice, Woodiel attended what was formerly known as the Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle Sports Broadcasting Camp in July 2009.

“I remember one of the exercises we did was with a teleprompter,” he said. “They laid out five scripts on a table. I picked these Yankee highlights, and I just read down the highlights from the teleprompter.”

Woodiel said the camp’s namesake, NBC 4 New York’s Bruce Beck, was impressed by his performance and told him he had a future in broadcasting.

“From then on, I just wanted to do it,” Woodiel said of the experience.

His dedication to sports broadcasting and play-by-play comes from Woodiel’s lifelong love of baseball.

“I love baseball more than most people do, but also, I love it more than I love most people,” he said.

After attending Yankees games with his mother as a child, Woodiel credits her with his love of sports and considers her one of his greatest supporters.

“She’s the person that I’d go to baseball games with,” he said. “She says that she wants 10 percent of what I get because she’s like my manager. She’s always able to keep me grounded and motivated to work.”

After he crosses the stage at graduation in May, Woodiel plans to hit the ground running. He has taken a job as the play-by-play voice of the Sioux Falls Canaries, an American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team.

“I’m the one-man band: voice of the team, production guy and press box host,” Woodiel said of his new position. “I’m really excited. It’s a 100-game schedule. I’ll be working hard, but I want to do it.”

Woodiel believes his new job will prepare him for his ultimate goal of working for a Major League Baseball team, but expects the season to be demanding.

“I think we get maybe nine days off,” he said of his new work schedule. “Apparently it’s the worst league for travel because it’s really spread out ... But I’ve never been opposed to bus rides. I’ve got to do work anyway.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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