Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Weekly Radio Addresses discuss education, spending

Posted On: April 9, 2021

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are on the topics of education and state spending. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Dem radio address, Gov. Tony Evers discussed what his Badger Bounceback agenda will do for kids.

The governor proposed restoring the state’s commitment to two-thirds funding for K-12 public schools, investing an additional $709 million in special education reimbursement and fully funding sparsity aid for students in rural school districts. In addition, the agenda includes $54 million in mental health support and services for students.  ... Read More

Cutter named to co-host WAPL morning show

Posted On: April 8, 2021

RAZOR 94.7|104.7 (WZOR) Music Director and Afternoon personality Cutter is joining the 105.7 WAPL Morning show as co-host.

Cutter will work alongside current long-time host, Rick McNeal.

 “I’ve been listening to this station since I was old enough to turn on the radio,” Cutter said. “To be a part of its legacy is just an incredible feeling. Now to host the morning show? I’m at a loss for words, but don’t worry, I’ll get them back in time for the show. It is an absolute honor to host this show and be a part of its future.”

“Cutter has been in the market for over 20 years and no one knows and lives rock radio like Cutter,” said WAPL and WZOR Brand Manager Joe Marroe.  ... Read More

La Crosse Hall of Famer remembered as ‘amazing broadcaster’

Posted On: April 7, 2021

A La Crosse broadcaster who was inducted into the WBA Hall of Fame with his father has died.

Mike Kearns was part of a father-son team that was the Voice of WKTY radio when it signed on the air in 1948. His father, Charlie hosted WKTY’s morning show, “The Lead Balloon” from the day it signed on the air in 1948 and upon his death in 1981 when Mike took over the show.

Charlie was also the station’s first Sports Director and Mike assumed the position in 1981. Together, they delivered play-by-play on over 1,200 football games and 6,000 basketball in their over 68 years behind the WKTY microphone.  ... Read More

Christensen to lead Midwest stations in Duluth

Posted On: April 7, 2021

Scott Christensen is the new VP/Market Manager for Midwest Communications’ stations in Duluth.

In an internal company release, CEO/President Duke Wright said, “I know that nothing will stop (Scott) from fulfilling the successful vision he has for the Duluth/Superior market.”

Christensen served as director of sales for Red Rock when their stations were acquired by Midwest Communications five years ago. He joined Midwest and has worked diligently to lead the growing sales effort ever since. The position became vacant in February when longtime VP/Market Manager Shawn Skramstad announced his retirement.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work for Duke and the amazing leadership team at Midwest Communications,” Christensen said.  ... Read More

NAB announces leadership transition

Posted On: April 7, 2021

National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon H. Smith will be transitioning into an advisory and advocacy role effective Dec. 31 after 12 years as head of the NAB.

Chief Operating Officer Curtis LeGeyt will step into the role of NAB president and CEO on Jan. 1 after nearly a decade with the association.

Sen. Smith will be the keynote speaker at the WBA Summer Conference on Aug. 26 at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan.  ... Read More

Kallenbach to retire after 35 years at WPR

Posted On: April 5, 2021

After 35 years, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) Senior Regional Manager and host of “The West Side” Dean Kallenbach is retiring.

Kallenbach joined WPR’s bureau at UW-Stout in 1986 as a reporter and local host for NPR’s “Morning Edition.” The Menomonie campus bureau was part of an effort to expand WPR’s local journalism and community connections outside of the station’s headquarters in Madison. The bureau moved to Eau Claire in 1990 and Kallenbach was promoted to Regional Manager.

According to WPR Director Mike Crane, Kallenbach helped establish the regional model that WPR continues to rely on to this day.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses discuss use of federal funds, state Supreme Court ruling

Posted On: April 2, 2021

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol discuss the use of federal relief funds and a State Supreme Court ruling. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Dem radio address, Gov. Tony Evers announced his intention to invest the $3.2 billion in federal funding Wisconsin received from the American Rescue Plan Funds into small businesses and communities.

The plan includes putting $2.5 billion toward economic recovery and well-being, $600 million to support small businesses, $50 million toward supporting the tourism industry and $500 million into the state’s continued pandemic response.  ... Read More

Green Bay station to air town hall roundtable with superintendent candidates

Posted On: March 30, 2021

Green Bay TV station WLUK-TV is airing a half-hour special profiling the candidates in the State Superintendent race.

WLUK FOX 11 will air “FOX 11 News You Decide 2021: The Wisconsin State Superintendent Town Hall Roundtable” will air Saturday, April 3 at 9:30 p.m. and CW 14 will air it Sunday, April 4 at 5 p.m.

Candidates in the superintendent race, Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly, were interviewed recently with questions from FOX 11 News and its viewers. Topics ranged from mental health, the pandemic, literacy, transgender individuals in sports, and school vouchers.

The interviews will also air in FOX 11 News programs this week and can be viewed on Fox11online.com.  ... Read More

2021: Journalism Ethics and Local News Now

Posted On: March 29, 2021
Program Date: April 23, 2021

For the better part of a decade, cuts and closures have significantly affected the quantity and quality of Americans’ local news coverage, driving political polarization, decreasing democratic participation locally and leaving community leaders to act without watchdogs. Then came the pandemic with its cascading (and unequal) effects on communities, the killing of George Floyd, a summer of protest and more. In the areas of health care, education, the economy and racial justice, local news has many critical stories to tell. With fewer resources than ever, how can local outlets cover these stories fully, equitably and ethically? And what new approaches can help overcome the challenges of doing local news now?  ... Read More

In-person events returning this summer

Posted On: March 11, 2021

Michelle Vetterkind WBA President & CEO

Rarely do we talk with a WBA member who doesn’t mention their desire to get back to networking with their fellow broadcasters. We most definitely share in that desire and are very excited to return to in-person events with the return of our Summer Conference and Broadcasters Clinic.

Our WBA Summer Conference will take place Aug. 25-26 at the beautiful Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan on the shores of Lake Michigan. As you’ll notice above, we’re honored to welcome Senator Gordon Smith who will be our keynote speaker.

Moving the conference from June to August gave us the best chance at having a Summer Conference that best resembles our traditional conferences. Plus – it’s our WBA 70th Anniversary celebration! The hope is that by delaying the conference for 10 weeks, we will be providing more time for distribution of the vaccine so that more of you might be comfortable attending in person.

Because the new dates put our Summer Conference only two weeks before Broadcasters Clinic, there will not be a “traditional” Engineering Day running concurrent with the conference, however, we will continue working with our Clinic Chair and MTI Chair on plans for a smaller event for our engineers, including some form of our Media Technology Institute (MTI).

Please look for an agenda soon for the Summer Conference!

Broadcasters Clinic planning underway

Broadcasters Clinic has also changed dates, but in the opposite direction. Because the NAB Show is now running during Clinic’s traditional meeting time, Clinic is being moved up to Sept. 8-10, which means we’re getting a jump on planning that event as well. We’ve already opened registration to exhibitors and will soon have an agenda to share. We know this group, as well, is also very excited to get back to meeting in person!

Inspiration from students, broadcasters

You can’t help but be inspired whenever broadcasting students and broadcasting professionals are in the same space. While they couldn’t meet in person this year, the virtual version of the Student Seminar sought to give students something the pandemic has deprived them of…time with professionals. The students always come with great curiosity and the professionals are reinvigorated with the spirit of ambitious students.

I’m sure everyone will be excited to get together in person next year, but please know that this year’s Student Seminar was a huge success. A heartfelt thank you to all our valued members (as professionals and sponsors) who made it possible.

Diversity Committee begins work

Your WBA Board recently established a Diversity Committee and that Committee met for the first time in February. You can read more about the group here. From the first meeting I can already tell you that we’re extremely fortunate to have those who volunteered to be a part of this group. They each have their own experiences that will come together to shape an effective and dynamic plan for broadcasting in Wisconsin. Stay tuned.

Thank you to Mark Strachota

Mark Strachota recently retired as general manager of WDJT-TV in Milwaukee. He was a member of the WBA Board and we thank him so much for his service to the board.

Mark will be recognized at our WBA Summer Conference when we will also hold elections for the Board at the annual membership meeting. Because of changes to the WBA bylaws, the members of the current executive committee have served an extra eight months in their roles. We also thank them very much for their service.

The months ahead will be busy and exciting for your WBA. Like you and your stations, we’re committed to building back even better.  We know that our strength comes from our members, and of course, that bodes well for you and your WBA!

Positivity important as end to pandemic nears

Posted On: March 12, 2021

Is it spring? As I write this, we are experiencing mild weather and many parts of Wisconsin have hit 50 degrees. After the bitter cold temperatures we had in February how can a person not think of spring.

We are steadily showing signs of ending the COVID pandemic. There was recent article from Dr. Marty Makary of John Hopkins University that said the U.S. could reach herd immunity early in the second quarter this year and may already being reaching it. He states that COVID cases have dropped 77 percent in the Untied States in the last six weeks. We try to provide positive facts like this to our staff, particularly our salespeople. When making sales calls, I want our people to be positive. The last thing a business owner wants is a salesperson with depressing news and we recommend that they do not participate in negative conversations with the business owner or agency. An upbeat sales rep is much more welcome at the business. As managers we need to try and create a positive environment for the entire staff.

Here is couple of more positive notes:

Brewers opening day is April 1 and the Brewers are asking for permission to have 16,000 fans!

The WBA Summer Convention has been moved to the end of August. We are very optimistic that we can make this happen. Plus, Sen. Gordon Smith the head of the NAB will be there as we celebrate our 70th anniversary.

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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