This 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.
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 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.
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.
To 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.
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.
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.