From Campus Drive to the Road to Indy: PortRadio catches up with Jake Mastbaum after he returns from the NCAA Division I Basketball Championships.
Everyone has their start. For Jake Mastbaum his start was right above the Student Commons, at the WDOT station before his career hit new levels at Cornell University. Mastbaum recently had time to catch up with station intern Harrison Remler and discuss college life. Mastbaum continues to cherish his WDOT ties as he spends time in Division I locker rooms, making recruiting videos or chasing Kentucky superstar John Wall. 
When was your first interview or assignment?
My first project with Slope Media was back in my Freshman year at Cornell. I was asked to produce a pre-game show called the "Big Red Pregame Show" which aired every Saturday before Cornell Football games.  The first show that we put out, my assignment was a dual interview with Cornell wide-receivers, Horatio Blackman and Stephen Liuzza.  It was a nice short interview for my first College media production.
I continued to make the Pregame Show show for the Football team that season.  Later in my Freshman year, I moved on to broadcasting Cornell Basketball games and producing highlight videos for the Basketball team.  Today, as a Junior at Cornell, I'm still broadcasting Basketball games and covering the team.
How have the professors helped you or shaped your broadcasting techniques?
One of the nice things about Slope is that it is a completely student run organization.  For me, it's nice because any time I have an idea for a video or a story, I can just do it.  There is really no red tape or anything to go through.  As long as I’m willing to put in the time to make a project happen, I can.  

To specifically answer your question, because we are student run, Cornell professors haven't really shaped my broadcasting techniques.  Every now and then I will have a professor who has seen a video that I produced and say something to me, which is nice, but we don't really get critiques or constructive criticism from them. 
How did your experiences at Schreiber's Port Radio help prepare you for college broadcasting?
WDOT was huge in terms of preparing me for college broadcasting.  I definitely would not be in the position I am in now without it.  I've joked about this with Mr. Klaff sometimes, but if Alex Solomita never asked me to co-host "The WaterCooler" with him (which I still contend is the greatest WDOT show of all time simply because Solomita would eat Jolly Ranchers on the air), I probably never would have gotten involved with Slope. 
Whenever I talk to people at Cornell and it comes up that I had a High School radio station, they can't believe it.  From my experience, High School radio station are rare, they’re really rare.  I believe the experience gives you a leg up simply because it allows you to get comfortable presenting yourself in a public forum.  A lot of people whose radio shows I've helped out with are a bit nervous to talk on the air.  For me, it was something I had done already and that really helped with the first time I called a basketball game or the first time I stood in front of the camera.
What was your favorite assignment thus far?
My favorite assignment that I have worked on is definitely making the Cornell Basketball recruiting video.  At the end of last season, we got an e-mail from one of the Cornell Assistant Coaches, who is now the Head Coach over at Army, asking if we would be interested in producing their recruiting video.  We met with him, he showed us what they were looking for, and we went on to make the video.

Getting the e-mail from Coach Spiker about making this video was great.  It was really nice having our work acknowledged by the coaching staff.  It showed us that we were doing something that people enjoyed and I guess provided some value to the team, which definitely made doing the work more fun.
The best part of the project was that we got to present the video to the team and the coaches at the annual Basketball banquet.  Seeing the video viewed on that stage and being able to witness the reactions of the players first hand was special.

We are currently in the process of making this year’s recruiting video, which I will say in a little spoiler alert, will be better than last years.  We will be presenting it at the team banquet again next week, so stay tuned for that.
What is it like to be inside the locker rooms, with the coaches and around the players during such an intense tournament such as March Madness?
In a few words, it was pretty cool. That goes without saying. 
I'm a huge college basketball fan so being around the NCAA Tournament and having that kind of access was a lot of fun.  The part about it that people have to understand is that there is a level of professionalism that needs to be maintained so you can't really have that little kid in a candy store look when your inside the locker rooms.  You are there to get certain quotes from certain people to put together a story so you can't get too excited that you're talking to John Wall, Coach K, or whomever. 
I will say the locker room scene is really hectic.  I'll give you one example from this year's Sweet 16.  At one point in the Kentucky locker room, a random Kentucky player just yelled, "HEY IT'S JOHN WALL."  Immediately you see 50+ grown men drop their interviews or whatever they were doing to try to find this 18 year old kid.  It was quite a scene.  The best part was John Wall wasn't actually in the locker room when that was yelled. 
Overall, the NCAA Tournament was an amazing experience. I've been fortunate enough to go two out of the three years that Cornell has played in it since I've been a student.  You get to see the best tournament in all of sports and watch some great basketball.  
What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into broadcasting during college?
Just get involved.  People always love kids who are enthusiastic and willing to work.  I would say that you need to understand that if you are coming into an established college station you may not be calling a basketball/football game or interviewing the head coach on your first day as a Freshman, but that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities out there.  Seek out those opportunities and you never know where you will end up.  For example, I signed up to do a sports radio show during the beginning of my Freshman year and two months later I was calling Cornell basketball games and a year after that I found myself sitting court-side at the NCAA Tournament with a press pass. 
I will say that broadcasting Basketball games and doing everything that goes with it has definitely been the highlight of my college career so far.  It's so much fun and you get to meet a lot of really impressive individuals whether it is coaches, players, or other people in the media world.  I would highly recommend it to anyone considering getting into college broadcasting. 
And finally, does Cornell have a chance to make a Butler like run in the near future?
Ahh tough question here.  If you asked me a month ago if Cornell could make a run to the Final Four or beyond, I would have said absolutely.  They really had a special team this year.  They had the star power in Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote.  But just as important, they had guys rounding out the starting in Chris Wroblewski, Jon Jaques and bench players like Geoff Reeves, Mark Coury, and Alex Tyler who had a defined role, knew that role, and executed it to perfection. 

I really feel comfortable saying that this team could have done what Butler did.  Look at what they did against Kansas.  They took a lead into the final minute.  Bill Self, the Kansas Head Coach said after the game, if the game was played on a neutral court, the Jayhawks would not have won.  Now let's fast-forward to the Sweet 16 game against Kentucky.  Everyone looks at the final score and thinks it was a blow-out, but it really wasn't.  Cornell made it a 6 point game with under 6 minutes to go.  If some shots fall for the Big Red that normally do, maybe we are talking about a different ending.  You never know.  So my point is that Cornell could have beaten anyone this season and they really could have done something like Butler, but what they did do was pretty special.  
I guess the main point that should be made is that looking at what Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, and Murray State did in this year's tournament should tell you something.  There is a lot of parody in College Basketball.  Mid-Major school can compete with schools from the power conferences and make runs deep into the NCAA Tournament.  Look for this trend to continue. 
To address your question about making a Butler like run in the near future.... No disrespect to my team, but I don't see them competing for a National Championship in the next few years.  Cornell Basketball is going to experience a lot of turnover.  We have 8 graduating seniors which include 6 of our top 8 players and to top it off, our head coach Steve Donahue took a head coaching job at Boston College (well-deserved might I add).  While Cornell may not be competing for a National Championship in the near future, I don't want to marginalize next year’s team.  There is a lot of talent coming back for Cornell. Chris Wroblewski and Errick Peck are as good as anyone in the league and top that off with veterans like Max Groebe, Adam Wire, Mark Coury, and Aaron Osgood, Cornell will be very competitive in the Ivy League, there is no question about that.