Sportscasting Grad Takes Creative Approach to Reporting

Richard Tieman is having a blast finding unusual sports stories for KFBB Montana Right Now.

Richard Tieman wears a suit and sits at a TV broadcast desk. A screen behind him says SWX Sports and Weather.

Sports reporter Richard Tieman isn’t afraid to get tackled at work.

“There’s been a couple of stories that I’ve had a lot of fun with, a few kids' camps where I’ve had them tackle me on camera. I've just kind of established myself as that guy here with the company. I'm not afraid to sacrifice myself on the altar of dignity for a good laugh or a funny bit. Once a week I even get to count down my top plays as a superhero named T-Man,” he says.

The grad is currently bringing both lighthearted and serious sports news to audiences at KFBB Montana Right Now. Richard worked his way up from independent podcasting to professional sports reporting with some help from Full Sail’s Sportscasting degree program.

Richard grew up in Spokane, Washington. He was earning an associate in Business Management to open a sports karaoke bar when he started his own podcast about Spokane’s indoor football team. Richard interviewed the team’s players and coaches, gave game recaps, and eventually earned the attention of other teams in the league. He expanded his podcast for the league’s following season and started traveling to other states to cover their teams as well.

Richard realized that he wanted to pursue sports reporting instead of opening a sports bar, but the local radio stations he applied to wanted someone with more education and professional experience. He signed up for Full Sail’s online Sportscasting program to help him compete in the sports world.

As an online student, Richard had to figure out ways to bring Full Sail’s real-world experiences to his home in Washington. It was the start of his creative approach to sports storytelling.

“We were in a class where we were trying to learn what it’s like to be a reporter in the field. For one assignment, I went and I drove around for a good half-hour to find a stadium or a field or a ballpark that still had its lights on. And Gonzaga's baseball field still had its lights on, and it had a very stadium-esque feel. So I pulled in the parking lot, parked my car, got out, and shot everything on my phone using the headlights from my car,” Richard remembers. His completed project earned rave reviews from his instructor.

After he graduated from the program, Richard bounced around to a few different sports-related jobs. He took roles as a Media Specialist, Director of Communications, and Director of Media and Marketing for indoor football teams in South Dakota and Nebraska. He became a Sports Reporter for KFBB in Montana earlier this year.

Richard’s role at KFBB is all about discovering inventive ways to tell engaging stories for local sports fans. He goes out every day to shoot interviews and B-roll footage, then returns to the station to edit, produce, and submit his story. Depending on the season, Richard might focus on individual features and teams or build stories around game highlights. His station’s smaller, local market means that there are fewer major events to cover, but Richard loves going off the beaten path to find something new.

“When summer came around, I was looking at everything from, okay, rodeo is big here, so what rodeo events are happening? All the way down to, okay, is there a fishing tournament going on somewhere within an hour drive? So I did a story on a fishing tournament. The summer is where you flex your creative muscles, show what you can do when it's not given to you,” Richard says.

In less than a year, Richard has produced 100 sports stories for KFBB. He’s especially proud of a feature he created about a high school football coach’s final game.

“This coach had cemented his legacy with high school football in this area,” says Richard. “And the last game that he ended up coaching was their 75th annual Shrine Game, so he felt very honored that they would ask him to coach such a milestone… It was a story that I put together kind of last minute because I was still getting to know the area. I had to think quickly, ‘Okay, how do I tell this story and express what I think it means to the people around here?’ It was one of the first times I added music to a story, and I did some shots differently and got creative with a couple of things transition-wise.”

Although Richard has turned everything from fishing tournaments to high school championships into compelling reporting, he knows he’ll always have more to learn.

“I always look at my stories and ask myself, ‘What could have been better?’ And then of course I get feedback. I don't think I've ever had a perfect story and I kind of hope it stays that way because I like to keep challenging myself. And that's really what you have to do to stay on your toes and be your best in an industry like this.”