Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Reese named director of Wisconsin Public Media

Posted On: July 5, 2022

Heather Reese, director of Wisconsin Public Media in the Division of Extension and Public Media at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is pictured in a studio portrait on June 23, 2022. (Photo by Althea Dotzour / UW–Madison)

Heather L. Reese has been named executive director of Wisconsin Public Media (WPM), the division at the University of Wisconsin–Madison that oversees Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin. Reese has served as interim director since August following the death of Gene Purcell, who had served in the role since 2018.

The Wisconsin native is a graduate of the UW–Madison School of Law and earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management from the University of Wisconsin–Stout. Reese is a longtime supporter of The Wisconsin Idea — the belief that UW-Madison teaching, research, outreach and public service should provide benefits beyond the classroom.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses Observe Independence Day

Posted On: July 1, 2022

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are observing the July 4 Independence Day holiday. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Democratic radio address, Sen. LaTonya Johnson notes Independence Day while denouncing Republican lawmakers.

The Milwaukee Dem highlights multiple issues where she says Republicans have ignored the will of the people of Wisconsin. She adds polls show a majority of Wisconsinites believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, marijuana use shouldn’t be criminalized, and increased gun background checks and red flag laws should be implemented.  ... Read More

Four names added to WBA Hall of Fame

Posted On: June 23, 2022

Four new names were added to the WBA Hall of Fame on Thursday night during the induction event at the La Crosse Radisson as a part of the WBA Summer Conference.

The four inductees are:

Joyce Garbaciak a respected journalist with a long career in Milwaukee TV.  Howard Gloede (1958-2019) whose career in La Crosse inspired broadcasters and made a difference for local residents through his leadership. Chris Bernier  ... Read More, a station owner who leads by example, aided by his lifelong career in radio with experience in every facet of the business. 

Nation’s longest-running local telethon raises $1.45M

Posted On: June 17, 2022

The 68th annual CP Telethon raised a total of $1,454,571. The two-day fundraiser took place March 5-6 in the WBAY auditorium in Green Bay in support of CP, a non-profit offering therapy and life skills services for adults and children with physical, cognitive, developmental, or sensory conditions. Programs range from adult day services to pediatric therapy and aquatics.

Serving more than 2,100 families throughout northeast Wisconsin, CP relies on the telethon as its biggest annual fundraiser.

“It’s amazing,” Julie Kozicke, director of human resources for CP, said. “With all our services that we provide, the staff that we have,  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses celebrate dairy month

Posted On: June 10, 2022

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are celebrating dairy month. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Democratic radio address, Rep. Sondy Pope touts Gov. Tony Evers’ funding for farmers as she celebrates Dairy Month.

The Mt. Horeb Dem praises Evers for directing millions of dollars during the pandemic toward dairy farmers and increasing funding for dairy processor grants.

She added Wisconsinites “need more than the hollow words of support that the Republicans are offering.”

“We need safeguards against unfair,  ... Read More

Poynter: Midterm Essentials session in Madison

Posted On: June 6, 2022
Program Date: July 14, 2022

Register Here.

Registration deadline is June 16!

The goal of this one-day, fast-moving, expert-led and practical training is simple: We want to help local broadcast journalists ask more informed questions and demand more solid answers about five complex issues facing America in the 2022 midterm election cycle.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Poynter’s experts will teach journalists the essential insights they have to know to effectively cover immigration, inflation and the economy, health care and drug costs, climate change and disinformation.

Poynter’s teaching team includes a top expert on health care who testifies before Congress,  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses criticize vetoes, lack of EMS funding

Posted On: June 3, 2022

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol discuss vetoes and shared revenue. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Republican radio address, Sen. Duey Stroebel slams Gov. Tony Evers for vetoing 126 bills by the end of the most recent legislative session.

The Saukville Republican criticizes the Dem guv for vetoing Republican bills that would have banned vaccine mandates, created a parental bill of rights and increased work search requirements for those on unemployment, among other things.

“Governor Evers’  ... Read More

WBA Foundation announces dates for gubernatorial, U.S. Senate debates

Posted On: June 1, 2022

The WBA Foundation Board will continue its 32-year tradition of holding statewide televised debates for Wisconsin’s voters by airing general election debates in the 2022 Wisconsin gubernatorial and the U.S. Senate races.

Qualifying U.S. Senate candidates will be invited to participate in a debate on Oct. 7 and qualifying gubernatorial candidates will be invited to participate in a debate on Oct. 14. Both will take place at 7 p.m. Radio and television stations from across Wisconsin will participate in the production of each debate. Details including panelists and format will be announced later.

Both hour-long debates will be made available to radio and television stations throughout Wisconsin for live or delayed broadcast.  ... Read More

WAGN host inducted into local athletic hall of fame

Posted On: May 31, 2022

WAGN veteran broadcasters Chuck Patrick was inducted into the Menominee, Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame on May 14.

Patrick joined WAGN in 1957 and still hosts a daily morning show on WAGN and WHYB. He broadcast his first games on WAGN in 1961 and was the play-by-play announcer for the Menominee Maroons from 1983 until 1999.

In the years he was not doing the radio broadcasts, Patrick served as PA announcer for Menominee football and basketball games.

Patrick was presented with the Hall of Fame plaque by his morning show partner and Bay Cities Radio Operations Manager Jim Callow.  ... Read More

Springtime means renewal for your WBA

Posted On: May 17, 2022

This spring is a spring we’ve been waiting for for such an oh so long time. Since 2020, we’ve been waiting for the day when we could bring back our beloved in-person events. These events are about more than just the agendas. They’re about connection, which is something particularly important to broadcasters.

The easing of the pandemic has made this spring feel extra special. We’re saying goodbye to an extended winter from in-person activities and welcoming a fresh feeling that comes from reigniting our time-honored traditions.

On May 7, we finally got to bring back the in-person WBA Awards Gala, which we haven’t been able to celebrate together since 2019. It was a wonderful reunion and an amazing night to honor the terrific work our Wisconsin broadcasters did in 2021.

Your WBA Awards Committee is already hard at work on the 2022 awards and 2023 gala, which will return to the Madison Marriott West on May 6, 2023.

We also recently got to mark the return of the Walker Broadcast Management Institute which was also on hiatus the last two years because of the pandemic. The group of students was most definitely excited to see each other again after such a long break and also welcomed a group of new students to the three-year cycle. Five more students graduated from the Institute this year so if you’ve been thinking about joining the institute, there will be some open seats in 2023.

A heartfelt thank you to Joan Gillman for leading the institute and this year’s instructors, Steve King, Moses Altsech, and Tom Walker.

Your WBA Summer Conference is on the horizon so please make plans to join us. We’ll be at the La Crosse Radisson June 22-23 to provide you with two very full days of education, networking, and fun. The Media Technology Institute is back for three days of sessions. 

We’re particularly excited to recognize our 2022 Local Broadcast Legends and WBA Hall of Fame inductees. We’ll take time to recognize each of them at the conference on June 23.

The renewal and revival of these in-person events is a reminder for us to not take for granted the opportunities, connections, and relationships we so enjoy when we’re together. I hope you, like me, are inspired to take the energy from these events into 2023 and beyond.

Michelle Vetterkind, CAE
WBA President and CEO

Broadcasters should focus on retention, reinvesting, reimagining

Posted On: May 16, 2022

Broadcasters take great pride in keeping our communities informed and entertained, even during the most difficult of environments. Like for many businesses, the past two years has been challenging. The financial stability of our broadcast stations was challenged, yet our unwavering public responsibility as a “first informer” won out. Radio and television stations throughout Wisconsin quickly pivoted to producing and performing newscasts from home. Radio on-air personalities set up in-home studios. The NAB calls this “localism.” Wisconsin broadcasters proudly call it doing our job. 

Two years later, stations are feeling the sting from a slow recovering business landscape and the emotional toll on employees.

As one news director recently told me, the last two years has easily been the biggest challenge of their career. The pressure of keeping employees safe and healthy while keeping the community informed is daunting and rewarding at the same time. A 20-year news veteran may call the last two years the toughest of their career, but what about the hundreds of employees that experienced it immediately after graduation?

Eager new employees still exists in each of our stations, but the number of them applying has shrunk. What can we do to help slow and reverse this industry trend?

Investing is a simple three-phase approach to help slow down the exodus of current employees for greener pastures and help increase the number of applicants in the short and long term.


It’s 2022, and our industry has changed.  Why are we still filling job titles rather than job needs? If you have a $16 an hour open position in your station, would it be better to give 16 current employees a $1 an hour raise rather than fill the open position? Would giving eight employees a $2 an hour raise ($4,160 a year) prevent them from looking for greener pastures? Hold onto your true leaders and future stars by investing in them, because replacing them will most likely cost more.

The WBA Gala has concluded. Did you invest in your employees and submit their work for award season? It is an easy expense line to cut when things are tight, but recognition and pride can go a long way to an employee’s happiness. Don’t shortchange yourself and not make that investment.

Recruitment Short-term to Mid-term:

Do the department heads at every Wisconsin college and university know you by name? Showing up to a job fair is not recruiting; it’s going thru the motions. Our number one job is to recruit, so make the effort to invest in building relationships with our leaders in higher education. While some faculty may think their only job is to teach, the good professors and their administrators know that placing students is top priority.

Recruitment Mid-term to Long-term:

Broadcasters must invest in building relationships at the middle school and high school level. Get kids excited about radio and television. Every visit to a high school to cover a sporting event is an opportunity to show off our business. Your employees better look like they are having fun.

Planting seeds with teachers and administrators to talk about broadcasting must be more than weather in the classroom and high school sports coverage. It shouldn’t surprise us that the broadcast curricula college students are most excited about are the same areas that they were exposed to the most as a kid: sports and weather.

Your Wisconsin Broadcasters Association continues to be a resource to help members shepherd this change. The WBA Education Committee, Conference Committee, and Association and Foundation Boards will continue to help members embrace a changing industry.

Don Vesely
WBA Board Chair
WMTV-TV, Madison

Milwaukee journalist named WBA Young Professional of the Year

Posted On: May 12, 2022

A multimedia journalist at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee is the WBA’s 2022 Young Professional of the Year.

James Groh was the highest ranked of the five young broadcasting professionals recognized this year for making a significant impact on their stations and communities. The group was selected from a group of nominees ranked by a subcommittee of the WBA Board of Directors.

The four other honorees are Naomi Kowles from WISC-TV in Madison, Ben Brust from Good Karma Brands, Nick Tabbert from WQOW-TV in Eau Claire, and Sara Smith from WITI-TV in Milwaukee. All four were recognized in earlier issues of the WBA newsletter.

Groh got his starts at a sportswriter for the Chico State newspaper where be bought his own equipment to call baseball, soccer, and volleyball games. He transferred to Syracuse University to pursue sports broadcasting and began covering news stories as well just to get more practice writing, filming, and editing. He eventually fell in love with news and made the switch from sports to news.

Groh joined WTMJ-TV in 2018 and was the station’s first-ever digital MMJ, a testament to his expertise in numerous digital platforms.

The nomination from his station said Groh elevates every story he touches and provided examples of how he makes stories unique, memorable, and fun. He created his own franchise, “On the Go with Groh,” and his content helped the station launch a new show titled “Milwaukee Tonight.” He’s also produced an award-winning documentary-style series titled “My Block” which shows the Milwaukee area’s many neighborhoods through the eyes of the people who know them best: The residents.

Groh said young professionals can usher in a new era of journalism, especially on the local level.

“We are producers and consumers of news. That situates us in the perfect position to create the kind of content we want to engage with,” he wrote.

To other young and aspiring broadcasters, Groh said practice, practice, practice.

“The more you can practice, the better you will become,” he wrote. “Plus, you need to actively think about how this story can be different. Take 15 minutes before you leave for your story to identify ways that this story has been done before and what you can do to put a unique spin on it.”

Going forward in the news business, Groh said he sees more resources being diverted to bolster digital teams at local new organizations.

“The traditional news format must adapt to the ways people view content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I think we will see a shift in the way we package and deliver news given the specific medium,” he wrote.

All honorees, including Groh, will be recognized at the 2022 WBA Summer Conference, June 22-23 at the La Crosse Radisson.

If you’d like to nominate a young professional for this recognition, you can do that here. The deadline is Sept. 30.

Wallace joins WBA Young Professionals Committee

Posted On: April 7, 2022

Kyle Wallace, the Director of Content at the new 101.7 The Truth in Milwaukee, is joining the WBA Young Professionals Committee.

Wallace has a passion for building relationships, community service, and helping others meet their goals. He considers working at 101.7 The Truth is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He was there for its inception, and saw it go from an idea to an actual radio station. The station helps amplify and lift the voices of those who aren’t often heard through traditional media.

In his short time at the station, he said he has learned many valuable lessons but none more valuable than the power and influence of radio. He said seeing people use their voice to enact positive and measurable change is a true career joy.

Wallace received his bachelor’s in communication from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and then went on to earn his masters in Sports Administration from Central Michigan University.

Among many initiatives, the WBA Young Professionals Committee has a mentorship program, suggests sessions for WBA events, and connects with young broadcasters with the aim of helping this important group of broadcasters.

WBA recognizes 2 young broadcasting professionals

Posted On: March 9, 2022

Young professionals are making their mark on broadcasting in Wisconsin and the WBA is recognizing them.

The WBA Young Professional of the Year Award seeks to recognize young broadcasters who have made a significant impact on their stations and communities. A subcommittee of the WBA Board of Directors selected five young professionals to recognize in 2022, and one of those five has been identified as the “Young Professional of the Year.”

Two of the other honorees were identified in the last Wisconsin Broadcaster, Ben Brust and Naomi Kowles. The Young Professional of the Year will be announced in the May/June newsletter and awarded at the WBA Summer Conference on June 23 in La Crosse. The honorees will also be recognized at the conference.

Our next two honorees are Nick Tabbert and Sara Smith:

Nick Tabbert

Company: WQOW-TV

Position: Sports Director

Years at station: 1.5 (4.5 at WXOW/WQOW)

Started in broadcasting (year): 2014

How did you get into broadcasting? I had an interest in broadcast TV while in college at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, but I really got serious after an internship at WXOW-TV. Amy DuPont, who currently anchors at WKBT in La Crosse, was the morning anchor at the time. She pushed me to apply for the internship. By the end of the summer, I was convinced broadcast TV was the right path for me. If you want to go back to my childhood, I was the kid who created my own broadcasts in my head as I played basketball, football, etc. in the yard.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? Young professionals mean everything to smaller market TV stations like WQOW. Not only are they sharing the top news stories of the day, they are innovating how TV stations reach viewers through social media and online platforms, which I feel is crucial for the industry moving forward.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? A few things come to mind. First, understand the importance of establishing and strengthening relationships. Your job will likely be more enjoyable and easier if you can connect with your sources. Sometimes the best stories come from conversations! Next, do not be afraid to ask questions or for advice from others. We all have so much to learn, and we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Do not be afraid to ask other reporters, or even the meteorologist, producer, or director for insight about telling a story. Sometimes an outside perspective can help you tell a better story. Finally, I think this job becomes easier once you find your voice/the way you like to tell stories. It took repetition for me, but once I got comfortable, I found it easier to deliver highlights or script my feature stories. You should still strive to be creative, but having that ‘base’ is helpful.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? I feel the industry is going to continue seeing a change in how we deliver content to viewers and what we prioritize. It seems like every month, more and more people tell me they don’t watch the news or don’t have cable, so I am prioritizing my workflow to reach audiences on social media and online platforms before I finish writing scripts for newscasts.

I believe local journalism will always be relevant, but I am concerned about viewership numbers decreasing. I am striving to create unique local content that will engage my audience.

Sara Smith

Company: WITI FOX6

Position: Executive Producer, Special Projects

Time at station: 14 years

Started in broadcasting (year): 2004

How did you get into broadcasting? I originally went to college to become a teacher, but quickly realized that wasn’t for me. I started taking more communications and journalism classes. Eventually, I connected with a producer at the ABC affiliate in Green Bay (WBAY) and job shadowed her. I couldn’t get enough of the newsroom. I loved the urgency, the atmosphere, and the satisfaction of seeing my work on TV. I was hired as a full-time producer before I even graduated. Three years later, I moved to Milwaukee to start a job at FOX6 and worked my way from line producer to executive producer to the EP of special projects and overseeing the investigative/consumer units.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? I see young professionals in broadcasting as those who should think outside the box and break the mold. Just because it’s been done one way for years doesn’t mean that’s the only way. Maybe that’s telling the story in a new way and not in the traditional ‘track-bite-track-bite’ sense.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? Be aggressive. Don’t wait for someone (a supervisor or colleague) to come to you. Instead, take the initiative and ask what else you can do or offer up that idea or suggestion. Ask for feedback and be okay with criticism. A good manager will tell you areas of improvement and help you get better. Your success is their success is the station’s success. Take chances. Many of my greatest career advancements happened because I said, ‘yes.’ At one point, I gave up a safer spot producing an established show and took on a newly-created program, even though success wasn’t guaranteed. The risk paid off and led to more responsibilities, eventually allowing me to manage a team.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? Interactive: I think so many people are consuming their news in ways other than the traditional ‘turn on the TV.’ There’s a big push to other platforms (YouTube, social media, etc.) and that’s where we’re sharing so much of our content. It’s exciting to see and our digital team works really hard (and diligently) to make sure our content gets into the hands of viewers.

Enterprising: Some of the best stories we do as a station come from ideas and angles that aren’t what just comes in a press release. It serves the viewers in your market to come up with stories and angles that are unique. Find that ‘character,’ work your sources, talk to neighbors. Chances are, those few simple things will help make your story that much better.

Entertaining: As a Special Projects EP, I have a (rather healthy-sized) place in my heart for longer-form stories. Stories that take time to develop, are shot beautifully, and edited with finesse. I think the viewers appreciate those types of stories from time to time – the ones that make you feel good and share some of the ‘good’ happening in our communities.

Young broadcasting professionals recognized for contributions

Posted On: January 6, 2022

Young professionals are making their mark on broadcasting in Wisconsin and the WBA is recognizing them.

The WBA Young Professional of the Year Award seeks to recognize young broadcasters who have made a significant impact on their stations and communities. A subcommittee of the WBA Board of Directors selected five young professionals to recognize in 2022, and one of those five has been identified as the “Young Professional of the Year.”

The three other honorees will be identified and profiled in this and upcoming WBA newsletters and the Young Professional of the Year will be announced in the May/June newsletter and awarded at the WBA Summer Conference on June 23 in La Crosse. The honorees will also be recognized at the conference luncheon.

Our first two honorees are Ben Brust and Naomi Kowles.

Ben Brust

Company: ESPN Wisconsin / Good Karma Brands

Position: On-Air Host & Marketing Consultant

Years at station: Four years

Started in broadcasting (year): 2017

How did you get into broadcasting? I started in broadcasting in 2017 guest hosting ESPN Wisconsin’s morning show, Wilde & Tausch, with my current co-host Greg Scalzo. In November, I joined Good Karma Brands and ESPN Madison full-time. I started hosting Scalzo and Brust alongside my co-host, Greg Scalzo, the following spring. The show airs across ESPN Wisconsin every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? The role of young professionals in broadcasting is finding unique ways to entertain and engage their audience, while challenging the status quo and pivoting as consumption habits change. The things that listeners and fans are looking for when they turn on the radio now compared to 20 years from now will constantly evolve. In sports broadcasting, young professionals need to appeal to the sports fan that watches every single game, knows every stat, lives, and breathes the game, while at the same time reaching the sports fan who is a casual consumer.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? I would tell other young broadcasters to learn and involve themselves in as many different parts of the industry as possible. Learn how to produce and run the board, write copy, brainstorm different show topics and angles, build relationships with others in the industry, develop a social platform—be in as many places as possible, never say no to an opportunity, and be a sponge as you learn and grow in the industry.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? The future of broadcasting is moving more towards being interactive and fun. Fans and listeners turn on your station to be entertained, and it’s about ultimately continuing to find ways to be compelling, while driving audience and listenership. With the accessibility and convenience of streaming services and podcasts, younger generations are still using audio as an outlet to connect and be entertained.

Naomi Kowles

Company: WISC-TV, Morgan Murphy Media

Position: Lead Investigator

Time at station: 14 months

Started in broadcasting (year): 2018

How did you get into broadcasting? I took the roundabout: I majored in International Studies and went abroad after college to teach English in Mongolia for about 15 months, while doing graphic design on the side. It wasn’t until I returned and the publisher of a small local paper in northern Wisconsin approached me about a job that I gave journalism serious consideration. I covered city and county government as a freelancer for 10 months, then got a job as a full-time producer at a Wausau station in the fall of 2018. I missed reporting too much, however, and found myself on the station’s investigative team about six months later.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? We’re here to learn from the veterans, while pushing the needle on accepted norms. I’m surrounded by talented and exceptionally sharp young journalists, both at my station and among my other broadcast and print colleagues, and I’m tremendously encouraged by the way we are challenging the industry to grow and adapt.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? Read. Listen. Learn. Repeat. And, no matter how many times I fail to learn this myself, don’t lose your identity or your personal life while serving up news to your community.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? I am passionate about deeply researched and sharply-reported broadcast journalism: the kind of investigative reporting that can’t be found amid the online rush of instant information, your local Facebook community scanner pages, or in the police incident reports. Our audiences are hungry for longform, beautifully told stories that share something about the world that couldn’t have been found anywhere else. Our communities need carefully told, deep-dive reporting that challenges the status quo and changes policy like never before. The future of broadcasting is depth—and adaptability.

Nominations for next year’s Young Professional Award can be submitted here. Nominations close Sept. 30, 2022.


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