Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Shawano man remembered for 50-year career in radio

Posted On: February 26, 2021

Lifelong broadcaster Doug Rogers, of Shawano, is being remembered for his long career in radio.

Rogers died Jan. 30 after battling cancer. He was 61.

According to his obituary, Rogers attended the Transamerican Broadcasting School in Wausau and earned his broadcast license in 1979. He started his play-by-play career in Merrill. He worked for a short time at WNBK in New London before returning to Merrill.

In 1984 Rogers moved to Wyoming where he was known for his play-by-play and doing daily trivia on air.

In 1991 he moved back to his hometown,  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses discuss unemployment bill, Public Schools Week

Posted On: February 26, 2021

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are focused helping Wisconsin’s unemployed and Public Schools Week. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s GOP radio address, state Rep. Warren Petryk spoke on Republican efforts to help Wisconsin’s unemployed.

“Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of people throughout our state lost their job through no fault of their own and turned to unemployment insurance for assistance,” Petryk said. “Unfortunately under this governor’s mismanagement, many Wisconsinites continue to wait for their benefits,  ... Read More

Beyond the Headlines: Wisconsin’s Water Future Virtual Backgrounder

Posted On: February 25, 2021
Program Date: March 9, 2021

The Wisconsin Humanities Council is hosting a virtual panel on water justice and public policy in Wisconsin as part of its Behind the Headlines project. This event is designed for journalists, community leaders, and policy makers focused on the water justice issues related to climate change.

The free event is scheduled for March 9 at 2 p.m. You can register here.

Here’s more information:

Join us for a virtual panel on water justice and public policy issues related to climate change in Wisconsin. The goal is to provide attendees ideas and resources for telling the story of climate change impacts from a human perspective.  ... Read More

What happened at CES 2021, and what it means to broadcasters

Posted On: February 24, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Inductee Fred Jacobs attends Radio Hall Of Fame 2018 Induction Ceremony at Guastavino's on November 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Radio Hall of Fame )

In January, my routine changed. Instead of getting away from the cold of the Midwest and boarding a Delta flight to Las Vegas right after the new year for CES – formerly known as the Consumer Electronic Show – I stayed home and took in the event virtually.

In fact, so did more than 150,000 others here in the U.S. and around the globe. CES is an always an amazing display of innovation and ingenuity, and in the midst of the pandemic, the Consumer Technology Association had to make a difficult pivot.

On a Microsoft platform not unlike Zoom,  ... Read More

UW-Green Bay seeks to revive student media

Posted On: February 23, 2021

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is embarking on a plan to revive its student media as part of the Communications Department.

Campus officials are working with local media companies as it plans for the revival of student media, seeking information about what skills future broadcasters will need to be successful employees. This includes soliciting feedback from the WBA and WBA member stations in the Green Bay area. The campus wants to enhance its curriculum with opportunities for students to get hands-on experience.

UW-Green Bay’s media facilities, under renovation in 2020-21, will provide students and faculty with state-of-the-art facilities and work areas.  ... Read More

Listeners generate thousands of Legos for pediatric patients

Posted On: February 23, 2021

Madison radio station Life 102.5 (WNWC) generated 2,235 Lego sets for patients at American Family Children’s Hospital during a two week campaign seeking donations from listeners.

“On behalf of the Child Life department and the American Family Children’s Hospital, I want to share our heartfelt thanks to Life 102.5 and the community of listeners who year after year provide such impactful support to the patients and families at AFCH,” said Rachel Lodahl, the Child Life Assistant at the hospital. “The thousands of Legos, books, puzzles, and building games that were sent will provide moments of joy and normalcy for so many children and teens while they are receiving care at the hospital.”

Listeners have donated Play-Doh and markers during past drives hosted by the station.  ... Read More

Professionals to meet with broadcasting students at Student Seminar

Posted On: February 22, 2021

The WBA Student Seminar, coming up March 6, will include small group meetings between broadcasting students and professionals from across the state. 

You can read more about and register for the Student Seminar and here.

Today we’re sharing the list of professionals who will be on hand to meet with students on March 6:

Bridgit Bowden
Special Projects Reporter
Wisconsin Public Radio

Bridgit is the special projects reporter at Wisconsin Public Radio. Previously, she was the Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow at WisconsinWatch. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism,  ... Read More

Stations’ effort supports low-income residents

Posted On: February 22, 2021

A group of radio stations in northern Wisconsin raised money during the holiday season for a non-profit helping low-income residents in Ashland and Bayfield counties.

Heartland Communications teamed up with Coffey Oil to sponsor Magic Stocking in support of the BRICK Ministries.

Magic Stockings were placed in select area businesses between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Shoppers were encouraged to drop their change, checks, or cash in the Magic Stocking. Coffey Oil matched the donations up to $1,000.  ... Read More

Wagner retires after 32 years in local radio

Posted On: February 22, 2021

A member of the WBA’s Local Broadcast Legends is retiring after 32 years serving listeners and businesses in northern Wisconsin.

Jeff Wagner from Heartland Communications Group will retire in April. He was named a WBA Local Broadcast Legend in 2018.

“Jeff Wagner is the most respected Senior Statesman and leader in the radio broadcasting industry in Wisconsin’s northwoods,” according to Heartland CEO Jim Coursolle. “Jeff has left his positive mark on so many people whom he has touched in all his 42 years in small business of which 32 years were spent in radio broadcasting.”

Wagner’s radio career began in 1979 after Jeff spent 10 years in the restaurant business.  ... Read More

Broadcasters provide inspiration for new year

Posted On: January 12, 2021

Michelle Vetterkind

The new year is a great occasion to be inspired, and I’m sure you’ll agree that Wisconsin’s local broadcasters have given us many sources for inspiration as we face the hopes for 2021. You provided critical services to your local communities in 2020 and demonstrated to everyone what we always talk about when we say broadcasters are serious about their commitment to serving the public. We have a lot to be hopeful for in 2021 and a lot to be proud of from 2020.

Your WBA Education Committee is excited to take a new approach to this year’s WBA Student Seminar on March 6. Yes, it will be an online event, but the event is going to focus strongly on giving students something that has been hard for them to get during the pandemic: face time with professional broadcasters. For those of you who have attended our speed networking event at the Student Seminar, this will feel familiar. We will hold three half hour sessions in which a small group of students (6-7) will spend time hearing from a broadcast professional and asking questions about their jobs and how to get into the business.

We’ll be looking for you, Wisconsin broadcast professionals, to take part in these sessions. It will take about 2 and a half hours of your time on the morning of Saturday, March 6. If interested, please contact Kyle Geissler at kgeissler@wi-broadcasters.org. It is a great way to connect with aspiring broadcast professionals!

And….if you volunteer, you can also stick around to hear from our keynote speaker (a definite highlight), Wisconsin’s own Charlie Berens. Charlie’s address will be followed by our WBA Foundation scholarship recognition and WBA Students Awards for Excellence presentations. Learn more here.

For those of you looking to advance your own professional development in 2021, your WBA has a lot for you to consider, and all of it available for free to you, our valued WBA members. On Jan. 27-28, your WBA is joining the Rising Above Virtual Sales and Management hosted by P1 Learning and the Swagger Institute. They’ve gathered an amazing list of speakers to teach, coach, inspire, and motivate you for the year to come.

Check out the full list of speakers and registration information here.

We’re excited to offer the Results Broadcasting Education Grant for a second year. We received amazing response to this grant last year. We are so incredibly grateful to Bruce and Don Grassman not only for their financial support of the grant, but for their inspired idea to support new broadcasters with relief for their education debt. Do you know someone who should apply? Learn more here.

Finally, we’ve heard from many of you who are wondering about the status of our 2021 events, including our Awards Gala, Summer Conference, and Broadcasters Clinic. You might have already heard that the Walker Broadcast Management Institute will be delayed to 2022. As for the rest of our WBA events, while we’re most hopeful they can be held in person or as hybrid events, we can’t yet know for sure what the coming weeks and months will bring. Like you, we will hope for speedy and safe distribution of the vaccine and a green light from health officials. In the meantime, we are planning as though the events are going to happen so that we’re ready to provide you, our valued WBA members, with the best events possible under whatever circumstances we’ll be working under. As always, watch your inboxes…..when decisions are made, you’ll know!

Here’s wishing each and every one of you a safe and prosperous 2021! Know that your WBA team looks forward to seeing you in person this year, and we remain hopeful that it WILL happen!

Plenty to be hopeful for in 2021

Posted On: January 12, 2021

2020. What an unbelievable year! Hopefully, we will never experience another year like that. The pandemic killed thousands and was devastating to businesses small and large. But the last thing you need to read is gloom and doom.

How about some good news:

Your WBA did an excellent job navigating through the postponements and cancellations in 2020. Hopefully, things will get back to normal this year and we can have some in-person events. Plans are being made to have our normal events if we are able.

WBA had a successful year financially and will show a surplus for the first time in many years. We had a strong year in sales for the NCSA/PEP program and a very diligent effort on holding the line on the expenses. Certainly, a great deal of the credit goes to Michelle and her staff. Also, credit goes to our board and a special committee that met a couple of years ago to review all our expenses and make recommendations. It is an ongoing process to operate as efficiently as possible.

The COVID vaccine is now in distribution. This is an incredible feat to have development and distribution in less than a year. Most analysts are forecasting an improved year for broadcasting. As markets become more normal, we should see events return. Will that be this summer? We can be optimistic and hope so, but they will return at some point! Maybe we will be able to attend sporting events this fall!

Happy New Year!

Do’s and Don’ts of COVID vaccine coverage

Posted On: February 19, 2021

It goes without saying that we are in unprecedented times. Navigating COVID coverage is a new experience for all of us in news and the need for quality journalism is great.

In a recently published article from RTDNA titled Do’s and Don’ts of COVID vaccine coverage, experts offer their advice on how to get the best COVID vaccine coverage.

The article does a great job of laying out the topics journalists should avoid when covering COVID. It also talks about what news coverage viewers could use more of.

One addition I would make to the article is for those on the TV side. When vaccines first became readily available, we were quick to jump in and get up-close footage of people receiving their shots. However, through a multitude of comments from viewers, we have learned a large part of our audience is extremely squeamish when it comes to needles. Now you will be hard-pressed to find video of a needle penetrating an arm in our broadcasts. It is an effort our audience has much appreciated.

As the article said, it is our duty as journalists not to undermine public health efforts. As people decide whether to get the vaccine, if they already fear needles, video showing them is likely to sway them away from getting vaccinated. 

Kristen Shill
News Director
WQOW-TV, Eau Claire

Young professionals find support, advice in Facebook groups 

Posted On: February 18, 2021

Starting out in the broadcast journalism field is tough. Many smaller markets employ a “sink-or-swim” mentality due to small staff size which can leave many young reporters floundering. Questions like these often go un-answered:

  • Where can I look for story ideas?
  • What stories can I pitch about (x) topic?
  • Where can I find affordable clothing for on-air?
  • What is the best hairstyle for on-air?
  • What makeup looks best?
  • What are creative standups I could do with my story?

Your peers are here to help you with those questions. There are numerous Facebook groups where threads like those are daily conversations.

The groups also help those on the hunt for their first job. I have seen many people post their reels and receive constructive criticism in return. It is extremely common for members to post links to jobs at their current stations. I have also answered many questions myself posed in these groups, such as ‘When should I call a News Director to follow-up?’ and ‘Should I include live shots where I’m wearing a mask in my reel?’.

Another big benefit of these groups are they are a hotbed of insider information on stations you may be looking at. A simple post can put you in contact with a current or past employee. Or, if you want to know what it is like to work for a specific company, another post will you get you honest feedback.

While some groups I am familiar with are specifically geared toward women, there are groups open to all.

Here are a few of my favorites:



Sisters in Storytelling

Digital Career Opportunities Worldwide

Kristen Shill
News Director
WQOW-TV, Eau Claire

Cringeworthy mistakes you’re making online without even realizing it

Posted On: February 17, 2021

Go out to eat with someone who has worked as a server, and you’re almost certain to hear what the person waiting on your table should be doing better. Show off your DIY home improvement project to your friend who is a general contractor, and you can bet that friend is thinking about (but may be kind enough not to say) the mistakes you made along the way.

It is the nature of people who have experience doing something to look for inexperience when someone else does the same task. Pointing out the errors may come across as snobbery or condescension — and unfortunately, it sometimes is the complaining party’s intent — but often those people who have experience simply want to share that lesson with someone else.

I know that, because I am one of “those people.”

After two decades of print journalism experience, my antenna goes up when I read print versions of broadcast stories and see obvious copy errors. A knowledge of print journalism is important for a TV journalist because of what local TV news operations produce. In addition to the on-air content, there are web stories, social media posts, and the omnipresent crawl along the bottom of the screen during newscasts.

Your station may be producing news for visual consumption over the air, but for every other platform, it’s largely relying on the written word to convey the story.

What people read on your station’s site is often just a modified transcript of a reporter’s script. But scripts are meant to be spoken, not seen. What should and shouldn’t be capitalized doesn’t matter for teleprompters. It’s more important to write out a person’s last name phonetically than spelling it correctly. It doesn’t matter if you refer to 500 or five hundred, as long as the person reading the script says that number.

Print journalism does not provide such leeway.

The basics of quality reporting are the same for TV and print. But there are styles to broadcast writing that don’t equate to effective print copy, and vice versa. Take almost any story from a major newspaper and try reading it as if you were on the air, and you’ll see what I mean. It may be extremely well written, but it would also make for extremely clumsy copy for an on-air script.

Here are some of the most common mistakes I see in stories on local news websites.

Not following AP Style Guidelines: The Associated Press Style Guide is an important tool in making sure everything that is generated by your staff has a consistent look to the reader. Your station has its own guidelines for how things look on air — for instance, your lower-third graphics have a certain design, and the weather graphics look consistent no matter who is presenting the forecast. Your print content should strive for similar uniformity.

At first glance, the Style Guide looks daunting in the sheer number of “rules” it provides. Rest assured, it’s not something a reporter is expected to memorize, but it is something that writers should eventually absorb into their minds via repetition — especially when an editor circles the style mistakes and hands it back to you for corrections.

Here are 10 quick examples of correct style usage and the incorrect version that’s more commonly found:

  1. Canceled, not cancelled.
  2. Amid, not amidst.
  3. Toward, not towards (also applies to forward/backward and not forwards/backwards).
  4. OK, not okay or Ok.
  5. Adviser, not advisor.
  6. A historic, not an historic.
  7. Inaugural or first-ever, not first annual.
  8. Wisconsin, not WI or Wis. (all states are written in full, not abbreviated).
  9. Incorrect capitalization of titles.Titles that precede a person’s name are capitalized, while stand-alone titles are not (i.e., President Joe Biden, or the president).
  10. T-shirt, not t-shirt or tee shirt.

If you can memorize those 10, you’re off to a good start and ready to move to the next level:

Its vs. Their: This is a perfect example of something that sounds correct in conversation, but is obviously incorrect in print.

“The Vilas County Sheriff’s Department welcomed their newest deputies.”

The subject (the department) is singular, so the correct pronoun modifier is “its,” as in “… its newest deputies.”

It can get tricky with corporate names. For instance, “McDonald’s has told their employees it will be raising wages,” would be incorrect. McDonald’s is a singular corporate entity, so use the singular “its.”

However, it would be correct to say, “McDonald’s employees are excited about their raises,” because “their” is a pronoun reference for the employees, which is plural.

Says vs. Said: In print, “said” should be used anytime you’re referring to a quote or statement, even if you’re paraphrasing. “Says” should be used to describe a commonly used phrase, motto or philosophy.

“Coach Matt LaFleur said turnovers were the difference in Green Bay’s victory on Sunday.”

“Coach Matt LaFleur often says turnovers will make the difference in the outcome of a game.”

Unnecessary Modifiers: These are details that provide no useful information and are unnecessary in print, even though they happen naturally in conversation.

“It’s been a mild winter so far, but tonight there will be plenty of snow falling from the sky.” (Where else would the snow be falling from?)

“In response to the controversy, the governor tweeted out a statement.” (Tweets only go in one direction — out. Until they start going in, over or under, just go with “tweeted.”)

“The concert has been rescheduled for April 15, 2021.” (Only use a year if it’s not the current year.)

Hyphenated Modifiers: You’ve probably interviewed a small-business owner. What about a small business owner? Hyphenated modifiers are important to use if there might otherwise be confusion.

A newspaper in Northern Wisconsin recently printed a photo of a group of people enjoying a ride through a snowy park on fat-tire bikes. The cutline of the photo, however, described the woman leading the group as a “fat bike rider” rather than the more accurate (and less insulting) “fat-bike rider.”

Acronyms — In another example of why press releases and AP Style don’t mix, acronyms should not appear in parenthesis or offset by dashes after the name of the organization.

For instance, “The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today …”

If the agency is referenced again in the story, you can use DNR. If the agency is not referenced again, then obviously no acronym is needed.

For agencies such as NASA or the FBI, simply use the acronym since most people recognize its context. For others with acronyms not commonly recognized, avoid the use altogether and simply use the name of the agency or organization on each reference.

Press Releases: I’ve seen multiple Wisconsin stations running press releases verbatim on their sites. To compound the problem, I’ve seen at least one station running these with the byline and photo of the person who posted the story, suggesting that individual wrote the release.

There are obvious ethical concerns with a reporter attaching their own byline to something they didn’t write (it’s not plagiarism in this scenario, since the writer of the release wants as much of his/her content to appear in its original form as possible). But adding a byline implies to the reader that a reporter has taken the time to review all of the information provided by the source and has carved out the most important information. In reality, however, you’re letting the source have free reign over the content by controlling the message and the details they want to highlight (as well as those they want you to ignore).

In addition, agencies that issue press releases don’t often follow AP Style guidelines, so the releases do not look consistent with other news stories. For instance, releases from government and corporations often capitalize words and titles that should not be (i.e., “The School District of Waupaca announces our newest School Superintendent.”)

Releases from law enforcement are common offenders when it comes to date/time references — “At approximately 8:00 a.m. on the morning of Monday, February 15th, 2021 …” might be official police style, but AP Style would use 8 a.m. for the time, delete the redundancy of “the morning,” use only “Monday” or “Feb. 15” for the date reference, and eliminate “2021” unless the event happened in a previous year.

Last but not least, it simply looks lazy not to edit releases into another format. It’s as if you’re telling the reader that you just didn’t feel like taking the time to look further into the story and find out if there was additional information that would be relevant to them.

These tips won’t make you a better reporter, but they will make your stories look better in print. And that can be valuable knowledge, because becoming a more competent writer not only makes it easier for you to advance in television, but also opens other career options in public relations or digital media.

If you want to test your AP Style skills, check out these quick quizzes by clicking here. Don’t worry how many you get wrong, just remember the correct answer going forward.

Scott Kelnhofer is a Wisconsin native who began his career in TV news before spending more than 20 years as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and web publishers. He currently resides in Arizona.

Applying your skills elsewhere

Posted On: February 3, 2021

Heather Storm

Recently laid off or working reduced hours? You may be seeking your next broadcast opportunity but unsure what to do in the meantime or how valuable your skillset is in other industries. Broadcast experience helps develop multiple soft skills that will transfer elsewhere (for now or until you’re hired for your next broadcasting gig). Explore the abilities you already utilize in your current career (collaboration, creative problem solving) to help you find work in a transitory time period.

Learn more here.

Heather Storm
Woodward Radio Group


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