Alumnus Justin LaBar is General Manager of TribLIVE High School Sports Network Alumni Profile
Meet Justin LaBar
- Job Title & Employer
- General Manager, TribLIVE High School Sports Network
- Job Title & Employer
- WWE Analyst, Freelance
- Broadcast Reporting
- May 2009
- College Activities
- WPPJ, U-View, Pioneer Sideline
- Chesapeake Beach, Md.
- High School
- Northern High School
- Now Living In
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- My hometown sports teams (Go Capitals!), golf, enjoying a wide range playlist of music, watching or reading interesting biographies
"If you know this is the field you want for a career, Point Park’s School of Communication is the best place to spend your four years earning your degree. You’ll be able to make the most of the four years having fun and learning a lot. In my situation and many other peers, we had work waiting for us by the time we graduated because of how well Point Park prepared us."
Tell us about your career path since graduating from Point Park University.
Trib Total Media and TribLIVE.com
While finishing my senior year at Point Park University, I found myself doing some of my first assignments for Trib Total Media and their sports coverage on the web. February of 2009, I was in Tampa for the Super Bowl of Steelers versus Cardinals. I produced more than 20 video segments for the web covering the build to the big game. This transitioned me into my first full-time position after graduation as a web video producer, editor and host for TribLIVE.com. I traveled with the Steelers and Penguins to produce videos for the web off of each week’s games and practices. Through the years of continuing that coverage, I’ve covered multiple Super Bowls and Stanley Cup Finals.
World Wrestling Entertainment
At the same time, I was pursuing my passion for professional wrestling. I began working for some publications covering WWE, most notably working my way up to featured WWE writer for BleacherReport.com in 2012. Almost seven days a week I had something new being released with me talking about WWE in either print, audio or video podcast form. The video podcast, Chair Shot Reality, is a talk show debate format on WWE that’s produced more than 400 episodes. For the past five years, more than half of those episodes have been filmed in studios on Point Park's campus as part of a broadcasting practicum class.
I left Bleacher Report in 2014, and continued my WWE coverage via podcasts and writing for TribLIVE.com, with twice a week columns on WWE that regularly were in the top five most read stories on the website.
TribLIVE High School Sports Network
In October of 2017, Trib Total Media purchased the MSA Sports Network and rebranded it the TribLIVE High School Sports Network. They named me as general manager to oversee the network's day-to-day operations and financial success. The network holds the streaming rights for WPIAL high school playoffs and broadcasts nearly 2,000 games per school year across more than 12 sports. The audio for all games is streamed and we continue to increase our video stream of games and its production quality. This past March, a play we captured in the PIHL hockey playoffs was shown as ESPN’s number one play in their Top 10. The Network also features daily updated print stories covering WPIAL sports, podcasts streamed live from our studios and a recruiting section that keeps track of where the top athletes in the WPIAL could be headed to play in college. It’s all available on TribHSSN.triblive.com.
What have you enjoyed most in your career and why?
For the most part, all of my roles I helped develop. They weren't jobs I was stepping into from someone else. I got to help create the standard and details of the position. Trib Total Media had never had someone with the number one focus and skill be to produce video for sports. They were a newspaper learning to make the advancement into digital. Trib Total Media never had someone who was going to write the amount of WWE columns per week or record WWE podcast content. When launching the High School Sports Network, this was another first for them and me. I appreciate that because to me it showcases an ability to adapt, learn new skills and learn new ways to utilize existing skills. I feel very fortunate and accomplished to be considered, selected and trusted repeatedly to uphold new positions.
My current job as general manager is challenging and rewarding. It’s the perfect combination to keep me excited every day coming to work.
What factors led you to pursue your undergraduate degree at Point Park?
I wanted to be on a campus that was very plugged in to the real world for my career. I didn’t want to be on a campus that was out in some secluded piece of land and removed from the real newsrooms and studios of the world. At Point Park, the Downtown area is your campus and so much opportunity was around me. By the end of my freshman year I started a part-time job in the sports department of KDKA, a job I’d hold until graduation. Point Park University made that possible for me.
In what ways did your Point Park experience prepare you for your career?
I was able to start working hands-on with everything and everyone my first semester at Point Park. Where I knew of other people going to school in other places for the same thing I was, they had to wait a certain amount of time before being able to really get involved. At Point Park, there weren’t those types of restrictions. If you were motivated and wanted to be involved, there were opportunities to get involved. I think it gave me a head start as well as confidence given the range of experiences I had to learn from in my four years as a student.
What advice do you have for students considering our School of Communication?
If you know this is the field you want for a career, Point Park’s School of Communication is the best place to spend your four years earning your degree. You’ll be able to make the most of the four years having fun and learning a lot. In my situation and many other peers, we had work waiting for us by the time we graduated because of how well Point Park prepared us.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
While Point Park is smaller than other schools in terms of campus size, there is a comforting aspect to the intimate layout spread across the blocks of buildings Downtown. It really does have a small community, or family, type feel. You can get to know a lot of people quickly because of the crosswalks, elevators and smaller class sizes. You don’t get lost in the shuffle like perhaps you would at a University four times the size. I moved 250 miles away from my family at age 17 when I started at Point Park, and the University quickly became home to me. Even today, almost a decade removed from graduating, every time I walk back on campus I feel part of something.