Bowen latest broadcaster turned GM
By Cory Giger
For the Mirror
Rob Egan pulled it off. So did Jason Dambach. It’s something that’s rare in professional sports, but not when it comes to the Altoona Curve.
Now, Nate Bowen will get his opportunity to do the same thing.
Bowen came to Altoona eight years ago to be a radio broadcaster. Now he’s the Curve’s general manager, taking over last week after Derek Martin stepped down to pursue other interests.
“Proud of Nate,” said Egan, who hired Bowen back in 2013. “He’s worked hard, continued to learn and truly understands the Curve and what it means to the community.”
Egan understands exactly what Bowen is doing. Egan was the Curve’s first play-by-play broadcaster in 1999, and in late 2008 he became the club’s general manager.
“Broadcasters can successfully transition to the general manager role for a variety of reasons,” said Egan, now the GM at Triple-A Charlotte.
“First and foremost, their communication skills are translatable to public speaking, sales and community involvement. Secondly, they typically get to see several other ballparks and their operations and bring ideas back home to apply to their organization.
“Another aspect is that in order to stay employable to a club year-round, broadcasters are expected to contribute in other ways during the offseason like public relations, marketing, sales and promotions. They can then use what they have learned to help lead a team as a GM.”
A lot of that type of experience describes Bowen. He was never the Curve’s lead play-by-play man and handled other important duties such as selling advertisements, but he has always been an extremely valuable member of the front office staff because of his sales skills, people skills and versatility.
All of those things are big reasons why he now is the Curve’s GM.
“I really kind of took that to heart,” Bowen said of gaining experience doing everything. “I still wanted to broadcast, but I was willing to do everything else.
“A lot of broadcasters say I’ll do this, but I don’t want to sell, or I don’t want to pull the tarp. I never really took that approach. I was always willing to do whatever to help in any department.”
Bowen, getting a promotion from assistant GM, has long been one of the Curve’s best salespeople. But just because one can sell doesn’t necessarily make one good for leadership, which Bowen said he fully understands.
He said it’s one thing to be able to work with people, and another to be able to manage people.
“I think those are two distinctly different things, and it’s hard to find people who do both well,” he said.
Some salespeople, Bowen noted, are “out to get yours.” But to be an effective GM, leader and manager of people, the goal is “be able to get yours but still help everyone else along.”
Dambach once was a former assistant broadcaster to Egan with the Curve, then became general manager of the State College Spikes in late 2008. He also later served as president of the Spikes and Frisco RoughRiders in Texas.
“A broadcaster-turned-GM is still very much the exception to the rule in the industry,” Dambach said. “But I definitely don’t think that it’s a coincidence that three of those exceptions grew up in the Altoona Curve organization.
“Both the (Bob) Lozinak and (Chuck) Greenberg ownership groups have always not only valued hiring good broadcasters, but also provided opportunities for each of us to have valuable roles in marketing, revenue generation and other vital team operations.”
Bowen hasn’t been on the air calling Curve games in recent years, but he still calls high school football and basketball games for local schools. So he’s been able to stay involved with broadcasting.
“Broadcasters who have the requisite business skills and personality traits to make the transition to running a sports franchise of their own have an advantage over other candidates in that they are often already used to being one of the faces of the team around the ballpark, in the community and through league and MLB partner communications,” Dambach said.
Martin has the utmost confidence that Bowen will do a good job as the Curve’s GM.
“You know how when you walk in somewhere, you’re in a couple meetings, you know when someone has it,” Martin said. “Right from the day I first met Nate, I knew he was one of those people.”
Cory Giger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.