On the air

MCHS student gets early practice for what he hopes if future broadcasting career

"There are a hundred things to bring you down,

And for each hundred there's a thousand more to bring you back up.

Life will deal you a bad hand and you'll lose a game or two.

It's the strong ones like you that always make it and pull through."

-- From "You Paint the Picture" by Matt Maneotis

In the industry it's called "dead air" but Matt Maneotis doesn't have any of that.

The Moffat High School sophomore keeps a packed schedule like other busy teen-agers. But unlike many of his peers, Maneotis stumbled upon one of his favorite hobbies recently, one with the potential to turn into a lifetime career: talking into a camera.

"I feel more at home with broadcasting than anything else," Maneotis said.

He's a reporter for Channel 27 News covering Moffat County High School basketball games. "I guess I'm better with my mouth than with my hands."

At 16, Maneotis displays a calm beyond his age. Eloquent, yet unpretentious, the teen seems equally at ease among friends as when he's pitching a vehicle sale at his parent's car dealership, Victory Motors.

"I just get into everything I guess," he said. "I don't hold back and I'm not quiet. I think that's what surprises people, because I'm not shy."

Maneotis got the high school broadcasting gig when the station was strapped and needed to fill a reporter position, said Audrey Amaday Manager of Channel 27 News.

"Just after one game we saw what a natural talent he had," Amaday said. "He has quality of speech and forethought and the knowledge of all different sports to make it work. He's got the natural gift of gab."

One talent that put Maneotis over the top is his ability to keep a running list of game statistics in his head, Amaday said. Normally broadcasters glean game updates with the help of a statistician.

"There's always the challenge of keeping the show going and always calling the game," she said. "But Matt doesn't leave that up to the imagination. There's no dead air. His mind is so astute he's able to work his own statistics as he's calling the game."

Maneotis' success is due in part to his love of sports. A stomach operation in the seventh grade keeps him from playing any contact sports. Doctors say a sudden hit to his midsection could be disastrous.

When the three-season sports nut realized he'd be relegated to the sidelines, Maneotis rerouted his athletic interests.

He trained in sports medicine, taking a couple college classes at the Rangely campus of the Northwestern Colorado Community College. Maneotis spent four summers at a training camp practicing sports medicine on the Denver Broncos football team.

He's also worked as a manager of the Moffat County Bulldog football team for the last two seasons.

But getting involved in high school activities is part of Maneotis' game.

A quick sampling of his activities at the school so far include the speech team, the student council and Key Club.

Maneotis has been published four times for his poetry, once through a school fund-raising effort. With a solid collection of 20 poems, Maneotis is thinking about compiling the work for a book.

In the summertime Maneotis volunteers with clients of Craig's Horizons Specialized Services. And if he's not busy with an afterschool activity, he can be found washing or detailing cars at the family business.

Sometimes he'll even sell his friends cars, but it makes parents, Tony and Kim, nervous, he said.

"I bring (friends) down here and tell them the numbers," he said. "I think it's fun."

But the former sports player seems all right replacing one spotlight with another. Entering into his first season broadcasting, Maneotis has already garnered compliments from his work.

Some basketball fans have told Maneotis they feel comfortable enough with his broadcasting to stay at home and watch the game instead of heading to out to the game.

"It's rewarding to hear people say that they watch the show and they really like what they see," he said. "I'm not out there to make myself look good. It's kind of fun to be involved in some way."

Maneotis said he's hooked on broadcasting and may take his skills to the next level.

He recently set up an interview with two-time Super Bowl champion, Denver Bronco John Elway and scored face-to-face time with Bronco Tom Nalen.

"I can't wait," Maneotis said. "Maybe there will be more big names to come after this."

The teen broadcaster is working out so well in fact, that Channel 27 News may entrust him to cover upcoming sports programs, Amaday said.

"We're really looking at Matt's potential in journalism," she said. "If he's interested, we want to help foster that so he can grow."

Maneotis is interested in seeking out a career in broadcasting, but he hasn't made any definite plans following high school.

"In a way it gets me back in the game," he said of being in front of a camera.

I kind of get a thrill that I didn't get when I played sports. I feel like I'm part of the game."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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