Tag Archives: KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute

The Radio Talent Institutes 2018

IMG_4130This past week, the KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute began its 10-day run on the campus of Western Kentucky University. It brought back so many wonderful memories of the four years that I was the on-site director for that first expansion of Dan Vallie’s vision for these radio training institutes to take hold all across America.

One-of-a-Kind

The RTI’s are the only program of their kind in the world.

While many in the radio industry talked of doing such a program, the idea never made it past the talking stage until Dan Vallie took the ball and ran with it. I wrote about the birth of the first institute on the campus of Appalachian State University in Radio World and you can read that article by clicking HERE.

And then there were eight…

Dan Vallie makes running these radio talent institutes look easy. They’re not.Dan Vallie

Dan is blessed with a loving wife, Lavonne, who takes care of everything on the home front while Dan’s traveling the country creating new RTIs or preparing the industry professionals to teach for the eight RTIs that currently exist.

Dan and Lavonne make quite a team – in marriage and in the operation of the institutes.

Screening

Every student that completes an application to attend an institute is personally reviewed by Dan. This results in an RTI class made up of each university’s best future broadcasters.

When a broadcaster goes to the National Radio Talent System website looking for talent, the graduates of the RTI program are the cream of the crop.

Students Meet the Pros

The real genius of Dan’s institutes is what takes place outside of the classroom. Every evening, students get together with that day’s industry pros and everyone lets their hair down and talks about radio, goals and life during the nightly social hour.

And there’s no one better to talk with than Dan Vallie himself. He “adopts” each student as one of his own kids, and mentors them tirelessly.

Making Connections

Bud WaltersTo get ahead in any occupation, it’s about who you know as much as what you know. Students in these RTIs come away with the email addresses, direct phone numbers and an open door with dozens of industry movers and shakers who can launch their broadcast career.

Plus, these students become part of a database that allows industry leaders that have participated in the institutes to tap into.

SALES

The radio industry needs people trained in the area of sales, and the institutes spend half of their time focused on this critical industry need. Each student in the program earns their Radio Advertising Bureau Radio Marketing Professional certification.

Whether or not a student’s area of interest is sales or on-air, the understanding of the business nature of radio insures they will be a productive member of any radio organization in all ways.

Teaching the Teacher

I know my students greatly benefitted from the time they invested in going through the four KBA WKU Radio Talent Institutes that I helped launch while I was a broadcast professor at Western Kentucky University. Many of them have gone on to successful broadcast careers.

But I also learned so much from the industry pros that so willingly volunteered their time and talents to come to Kentucky and be a part of that institute.

The learning I came away with made me more equipped to share today’s radio with my students in the classroom during the academic year and at the Broadcast Educational Association meetings.

The hardest job I ever had at the university was the one I loved and remember the most; directing the KBA WKU Radio Talent Institutes.IMG_8485

Sitting next to Dan Vallie was an invaluable learning experience all by itself and radio is so fortunate to have a man of his energy and vision making such a positive impact on the next generation of broadcasters.

Thank You Dan Vallie.

Now it’s time for you and Lavonne to begin working on the 2019 Radio Talent Institutes.

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From the DTB Mailbag about “Radio & Traveling”

mailbagMy blog article, “Radio & Traveling – Then & Now,” about driving through 23-states over 8-weeks, and what we saw and heard, has generated a lot of reader comments.

The discussion really boils down to two things that are on a lot of people’s minds – content & signal power – I thought you might find it useful to hear what several of those people said. Some comments have been edited for length or language.

Drew Durigan

Drew wrote about his disdain for the same syndicated programs airing on so many signals and “how the proliferation of ‘translators’ has destroyed the FM band.”

Tim Davisson

“When radio stations started streaming, I thought: ‘great! I can hear cool radio from all over the world…’ Then, I clearly remembered how blah & boring and non-companion & non-community local radio had become. And it all seemed to start in 1996…passage of the TelCom bill.”

Jon Levin

“Radio has lost its soul. With the onslaught of audio technologies, sadly it will never get its public interest, convenience and necessity thing back.” (Editor’s note: the concept of operating in the “public interest, convenience and necessity,” for the radio industry cameFRC.png into existence with the creation of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) in 1929. For a more detailed look into all of this, read “The ‘Public Interest’ Standard: The Search for the Holy Grail.” Click HERE for a link to that document.)

Don Blesse

“I had my own ‘ultimate radio trip’ 49-years ago, and when the interstate highway system was largely incomplete. In subsequent years I’d always take a tape recorder with me and bring back airchecks. Today though I’m pretty much stuck with SXM for long trips. I still love WKXW (NJ 101.5) … hyper-local and still has that ‘show-biz’ feel.”

Tom Ogburn

“I’ve had similar experiences on trips, where we drove long distances, never heard actual call letters mentioned, no local weather or events, or anything else to give a clue as to what station it was, or where it was located.”

Rich O’Reilly

“The bad news is that most local stations are a disaster. The good news is with blue tooth/cellphone technology, I can pipe in most of my favorite local stations (NYC) wherever I am. Being a news buff, I can listen to a WTOP or a KNX where I am too. PS: Agreed on Pat St. John on Sirius.”

Pat St. JohnPat St John

“Well I am so complimented by your kind words Dick. Really spoke to what I try to do.”

(Editor’s note: We took advantage of the SiriusXM two-month free trial for our 8-week America road trip. In our hometown, we drive very little and when we do, we listen to local radio. Alexa has also invaded our home since Christmas 2017. We’re up to three Echoes now.)

Scott Carson

“I can tell which stations are locally owned, and which ones are owned by the big consolidators by scanning the dial before they ever utter a word. The consolidators process their signal to within an inch of their lives. And I can rarely listen longer than a couple of songs before turning it off. They don’t have any local news…or national news for that matter…because consultants tell them not to, even if we are now a society starved for information. Look at how attached people are to their smart phones. There are some great local stations out there still, but sadly, they are few and far between.”

(Editor’s note: I called on an AAMCO transmission shop owner who told me that what he feared most was ANY transmission repair shop doing wrong by the customer. All they remember is transmission shops are crooked forgetting the name of the shop that did them wrong. I believe that same problem exists for radio operators. If, like what Scott wrote, many radio stations are poorly run, the few good ones will be missed as people characterize all radio as being poorly run.)

Rick M Singel

“Dick, one of your best columns ever. Really hit home. Thanks for these perfect insights. Since you mentioned WLW in Cincinnati, have a funny story. Now, EVERY newscast is preceded by “Breaking News” or “Breaking Now.” EVERY single newscast, even if the news is already 2-days old.”Breaking News

(Editor’s note: I complete agree with you. Fox News Channel was the first one I noticed that consistently labeled every story as “Breaking News” and diluted this alert to be meaningless.  When I was growing up, when a TV or radio station said “Breaking News” it was something that made your heart skip-a-beat and it was something that was really important. Not anymore.)

Mike Buxser

“And now the NAB is advocating upping or totally doing away with ownership limits, meaning more vanilla, corporate radio that will take away even more local stations to be replaced by, in a box (radio) with no local content. Radio works when the station personalities connect with the listeners. That connection has always been what made radio special. Unfortunately, that connection is being destroyed.”

Walter Luffman

“Local radio isn’t just for the people who live there. As your Maine example pointed out, a local station has a local sound that reflects the community it serves. Travelers usually want/need to get an idea of the places they visit before they get out of the car. I used to love listening to local stations as I drove through the U.S.; now, like you, I listen to Pat St. John and other SiriusXM personalities who provide that sense of community, even if the ‘community’ is nationwide.”

Michael (last name not given)

LPFM“Great article. “virtually unlistenable.” That’s exactly how to put it. In fact, I’ve commented a few times in the recent past with the same argument. I do lots of traveling between work and family. In addition, my wife and I take short road trips. We have encountered the same thing. I remember way back when, before LPFM and the abundance of translators, I could pick up stations outside the predicted coverage area. Now forget it. If you’re on the fringe or in many cases not; it’s all static (with) two station overlapping. My thought is that this increase in interference will ultimately force people to other means of listening to music – whether SiriusXM or streaming.”

Bob Nestor

“Keep preaching to the mynah birds, Dick. The ‘formerly-in-radio creatures luv ya.”

Jon Holiday

“Here in Denver the FM band was already overcrowded. Now, translators have filled it up even more. I’ve listened to iHeart (CHR) 96.1 KISS-FM (KSME in Ft Collins) for years. Now, due to an FM translator on 96.1 FM licensed to Englewood, CO (a Denver suburb); I now hear KSME and Spanish News KNRV-AM’s FM translator fight for the 96.1 FM frequency. This is ridiculous! How does this even happen?”

John (last name not given)

“1. How it used to be in radio, is like reading about WWII to me, boring and too far gone. 2. I agree that local wins, the LPFMs have filled that hole. 3. You road trip must have been awesome, I want.”

Daniel Tremblay

“Thanks for the article! I miss that too, here in Canada near the border, we used to listen to WABC, WKBW Buffalo, WPTR Albany among others, when on vacation in Maine or New Jersey. There was great local radio too. Next time on vacation I will probably have to support the idea to subscribe to SiriusXM Radio. My daughter has Sirius in her car and Pat St. John is fantastic! Real air personality, real people, real radio!”

John Shomby

“Being one who grew up listening to some great radio in my hometown of Philadelphia and having the great opportunity to do lots of local radio over the years and now being a part of one of those ‘conglomerates,” I definitely have seen and heard how we’ve ‘homogenized’ ourselves over the past two decades, it’s big business now…it wasn’t then. Technology changes almost by the minute now…it didn’t then. Companionship now is defined by ‘likes’ and ‘followers.’ Radio has always been a key fabric of our society – then and… unfortunately, now. It’s those who can create the PERSONAL connection with that one individual who will continue to succeed…no matter what the playlist looks like. That’s where we are hurting ourselves. Radio Talent InstituteThank God for Dan Vallie and the Radio Talent Institute. The closest thing to developing new radio stars that we have. You experienced that personally, Dick. (Editor’s note: I was the founding director of the KBA/WKU Radio Talent Institute in Kentucky.) Let’s take a page out of the Major League Baseball team handbook and create a farm system where we can develop that raw talent who can take it from here. That’s our future.”

Dick Taylor

I chose John Shomby’s comments to end this tip toe through the mail bag article. Here’s how I responded to what John wrote: “Yes, Dan Vallie’s Radio Talent Institute is wonderful. I believe we need to start cultivating the talent farm system when students are in junior high/high school and have a way of allowing them to enter the industry without having a college degree. Most of our great radio talents, sales people and managers did not possess a college degree.

So many told me they would love to follow in my footsteps by teaching at a college or university. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in education. When I started teaching at Western Kentucky University, a master’s degree was considered a terminal degree for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

Today, colleges want PhD’s, so they are making it even worse for new talent to be mentored by industry pros. (You don’t need a PhD to do great radio.)

This needs to change for the health of the radio industry and quickly.”

In Conclusion

Two things are key to radio’s future: 1) Like what happened to the AM radio band in terms of rising noise floor and signal interference, is now plaguing the FM band. For the health of the radio industry this needs to be addressed now. 2) People love listening to, and are loyal to, radio that provides them with community and companionship. That’sdan-ingram why when Dan Ingram passed away on June 24th, for many, the radio world stopped turning. (He signed off Music Radio 77 WABC in May of 1982 and later did weekends for another 12-years on WCBS-FM ending in June 2003.)

People love TV shows not television stations.

People love radio stations BECAUSE of the connection radio personalities form between the radio listener and the radio station.

 

 

 

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Paying It Forward

47The picture on the left is of the 2016 KBA WKU RADIO TALENT INSTITUTE class. These twenty-three outstanding students all earned their Radio Marketing Professional (RMP) certification in radio sales from the Radio Advertising Bureau during the ten-day institute.

I began working with Steve Newberry, former NAB Joint Board Chairman and President/CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting to bring the talent institute to my university in 2012. Our first class would graduate in 2013. The 2016 institute marks my fourth and last one as director at WKU. It truly has been the university activity I’m most proud of.

The whole concept of a radio talent institute was conceived by Dan Vallie and Art Kellar. I wrote more extensively about the program in Radio World and you can read that article here.

Working with Dan Vallie over these past five years has been an incredible experience. No one is more dedicated to “paying it forward” to the next generations than Dan. He has boundless energy and has grown the number of talent institutes in America to five.

inst_map_keller_kbawku_confer_gab_hubbard

 

Expect more radio industry leaders like Kerby Confer and Ginny Hubbard’s Hubbard Broadcasting along with state broadcast associations like the Kentucky Broadcasters Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters to sponsor even more locations in the years ahead.

Some of the industry professionals that presented at this year’s institute in Kentucky were Kristin Cantrell-owner/CEO of CapCities Communications and Seven Mountains Media, Mike Keith-the voice of the Tennessee Titans, Christine Hillard-President/COO of Forever Communications, Steve Newberry-President/CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting, John Ivey-Senior Vice President of Programming iHeartMedia and Program Director of KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, Don Anthony-Publisher, Morning Mouth & Jockline, Creator & Host of Morning Show Boot Camp and Founder & President of Talent Masters, Gary Moore-Air Talent at KLOS in Los Angeles, Bryan Sargent, PM Drive Air Talent at Mix 92.9 in Nashville, John Shomby-Director of Programming at NASH-FM & Charlie Cook-VP/Country at Cumulus Media, Lynn Martin-President of LM Communications, Terry Forcht-Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Forcht Group of Kentucky (a company with 2,400 employees) along with the Presidents of both the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, Whit Adamson and the Kentucky Broadcasters Association, Henry Lackey.

Thirty-six professional radio broadcasters, two of whom have been awarded the National Radio Award – the highest honor bestowed on a radio broadcaster – by the National Association of Broadcasters shared their passion and performance knowledge.

Every student that has gone through the program has told me it has been the best ten-days of their life and as the director these past four years; I know it has been for me as well.

If you know a student that wants to get into broadcasting, point them in the direction of the National Radio Talent System website  for more information, applications forms, scholarships and the dates/location of the institute nearest to them. Students who apply are thoroughly vetted for acceptance in the program.

Broadcasters looking for air talent, sales talent; digital and video talent should also go to the National Radio Talent System website for a complete listing of graduates that have gone through the program. There they will find each student’s bio and a sample of their on-air work.

I know Dan Vallie is already hard at work on the 2017 radio talent institutes. The radio industry is truly fortunate to have someone of Dan’s vision and action in establishing this innovative radio talent farm system for broadcasters.

46

Dan Vallie

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The KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute

KBA WKU NRTS LogoOn Monday, July 20, 2015 we will be kicking off the 3rd annual KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute on the campus of Western Kentucky University at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting’s Mass Media & Technology Hall.

Students apply for and are accepted into the institute that comprises ten intensive days of instruction on all things radio. Taught by 38 radio professionals, whom are the best in the business in their area of specialization in the field of radio.

This year the President/CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, Erica Farber, will be one of those professionals. Farber leads radio’s advocacy efforts by helping to drive business, grow advertising revenue and communicate radio’s digital transition.

We’re excited to have Erica join us this year, as a major component of the institute is radio sales. Each student will study the modules of the Radio Marketing Professional program taught by radio sales management professionals. Students take the RMP certification exam at the end of the first week.

The KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute has not one, but two National Radio Award recipients who teach each summer at WKU: Steve Newberry, President/CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation and Bud Walters, President/Owner of Cromwell Radio Group.

Broadcasters embrace and see the importance of bringing young talent into the industry and see the institute as a talent incubator.

Radio is the #1 REACH MEDIUM in the United States today, beating TV, online and smartphones according to Nielsen.

So this is an exciting program for both students and broadcasters.

I wrote more extensively about the program in Radio World and you can read that article here: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/newbay/rw_20150520/index.php#/18

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Top 3 In-Demand Radio Jobs

What is the future for jobs in radio in our digitally connected world? Three jobs in particular stand out as being in demand right now and look to be still in demand as radio celebrates its 100th Anniversary in the year 2020. The first won’t surprise anyone, the second is a job that only recently became critical and the third is a job that’s been a part of radio since day one.

#1 Radio Sales People

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the need for trained, professional sales people is the number one radio job in demand today and as far out as the eye can see. Since I’ve been in radio it seems hiring good sales people was always on the lips of general managers and sales managers. So when we asked the operator’s of Kentucky’s 300 radio stations what were the jobs they most needed to fill, sales was job one.

Ironically, it’s the class not offered by many of America’s colleges and universities that offer a broadcast curriculum. Where I teach at Western Kentucky University, Bart White started teaching radio sales decades ago as part of the broadcast degree program in Radio/TV Operations. In fact, Barton C. White wrote two books on radio sales, his second called The New Ad Media Reality Electronic Over Print should have been widely distributed from the day it came out in 1993. I know I wished I had been aware of it back then.

I was hired to replace the retiring Professor White and immediately charged with teaching both the Broadcast Radio/TV/Digital Sales class as well as the Radio/TV Operations Capstone class. Since I began five years ago as a tenure track professor at WKU, I’ve overseen the creation of the KBA WKU RADIO TALENT INSTITUTE that contains a strong sales component as well as adding a second sales class to the broadcast curriculum in Advanced Radio Sales that enables students earn their professional Radio Advertising Sales certifications in both radio and digital sales from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

My students have learned that with this type of training, they are almost guaranteed a job upon graduation wherever they decide to live. I’ve successfully placed students with companies like iHeartMedia, CBS Radio, E. W. Scripps, Cromwell Broadcasting, Alpha Media, Commonwealth Broadcasting, Viacom, Summit Media, and Forever Communications.

This year at BEA2015 (Broadcast Education Association) in Las Vegas I’m moderating a panel I proposed to encourage other colleges and universities to consider adding radio sales classes to their curriculum by letting them hear directly about the need in this area from some of the radio industry’s leaders who will be in Vegas attending the NAB April Convention.

#2 Internet Content Creator

The next position that is in demand is for people who can create original content for radio station websites. Not cut and paste artists who “borrow” others’ website content and re-purpose it but innovators that can act like a combination of journalist/advertising/public relations specialist and populate radio station websites with engaging, compelling original content that is of interest to people in the station’s service area.

#3 RF Broadcast Engineers

Not that it was ever easy to hire great radio engineers, the talent pool used to be a whole lot bigger. Consolidation chased a lot of them out of the business and what they learned was the job could be more lucrative by becoming a consultant engineer to groups of radio stations. Other engineers found new opportunities in other industries that could apply their talent and strong work ethic that was instilled into them by radio’s 24/7 on-call employment. Computers and digital technology also demanded that radio engineering learn this new radio operational system or get out.

Well, those who went into private consulting are now reaching the age of retirement. Those who went into other industries learned the pay and hours were often better than radio. Further complicating things, most schools are teaching the skills needed for the digital world and radio stations still generate broadcast signals using radio frequency (RF) and there are fewer schools turning out these types of engineers for radio stations. Graduates are sought by the wireless communications companies that have similar needs to radio stations and have the deep pockets to entice them to work for them.

Positions Not In-Demand

General Managers, Promotions Directors and News Reporters are found on the bottom of the employee needs list. It would appear this is a result of radio’s consolidation. One manager is now needed to oversee a cluster(s) of radio stations. Promotions are now planned on a group-wide basis and news hubs have been set-up to serve regional areas.

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New Radio World Column Premieres

Thirty years ago Michael C. Keith entered a small New England college to start a new career. Keith had just spent the past ten years as a professional broadcaster and was now transitioning into the world of teaching. The first thing that he would learn was the only textbooks available at that time were woefully out-of-date. Radio was now format driven and there were no textbooks available in 1986 that were teaching the kind of radio Michael Keith had just left. So, Keith decided to write his own textbook. He called it simply “The Radio Station” and he pitched his manuscript to Focal Press.

If you like to read the entire article, simply click here: Focal Press Updates “Keith’s Radio Station”

This is the premiere of my new column in Radio World that will appear quarterly.

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