In college I was studying computer editing and graphic design for visual communications. During my summer internship I was asked to do the audio work for another intern’s project. When my internship was reviewed, the PD of the college radio station heard my demo of that audio work and offered me a job at the college radio station. I grew up in Chicago an avid fan of local radio, so this opportunity really sparked my interest. I took it and as they say, the rest is history.
What has been the most impactful work you’ve been a part of at your current station?
Our continued investment and support of local news reporting. I think that is critical to a healthy community, and we are deeply committed to it.
What encourages you about the future of the industry?
I firmly believe what we create on a local level is appreciated by generations young and old. Where they resist is the mode of distribution. If we are willing to embrace alternate distribution channels alongside our radio signals, I think we will have another century of impact. We will be broadcasting two of our morning shows live on YouTube at the same time as radio, and when I have shared this with younger generations, they get very excited. That is where they live. Go where the audience is!
Who were/are some of your mentors and what lessons did they teach you that you use today?
My mentors in this industry have included Bill and Tom Walker, Gayle Olson, Tom Kushak, Dick Record, Howard Gloede, Jolene Neis and Chuck Mefford. They taught me so much, and a few factors that really stand out include worldliness, mindfulness, kindness, forgiveness, creativity, accountability, and frugality. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Why do you think broadcasting is a good career choice?
If you desire to serve your community through creativity, there is no better career. Of course, you can serve your community in many ways. But not with the element of creativity. Because of that, to some degree the ideas and opportunities are limitless, and that is both rewarding and fun!
What advice do you have for younger broadcasters on having a long, successful career?
Come with ambition and a growth mindset as your driving force, but understand you’ll have to burn cookies and scrape knees to really learn and grow. Those who come in feeling they deserve immediate gratification and a fixed mindset tend to fade out of the industry quickly. But those who accept it’s a process not an event typically do this for a very long time.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Going from a part-time overnight jock with an AM only operator to the president of a media company. I took risks, made sacrifices, and earned the right to run the show. Pretty darn cool!
The MAB launched the “Be There” campaign to inspire a new generation of broadcasters. What does “Be There” mean to you?
It’s all about serving the community, and to really do that you must ‘Be There’. And you don’t just serve one community, you serve many. Internal and external. You can’t do that from far away. You can’t do that via emails and video communications. You must ‘Be There’ on the ground, shaking hands and listening!
Please add any other general comments
We must accept that our competition isn’t each other. Not like it was back in the 1990s. Our competitors are the big tech companies. And most of the big tech companies want what we have. So much so they have either tried to just be who we are (remember Apple Radio?) or pushing out content and algorithms to say our industry is dying or dead. They more than any other operator today want us to evaporate so they can pick up what is left behind. And it is tough competing with them and all their resources. So, we must come together as an industry to push back against them as a combined force. And that can be odd when today we are selling things in combination with these big tech companies. So it isn’t about mudslinging, which truly is what they are doing. Instead, we need to shape a stronger story about how what we do combined with what the big tech companies do, is what will be the most impactful way to serve our communities.