Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Winnekins named National Farm Broadcaster of the Year

Posted On: November 23, 2020

Durand broadcaster Brian Winnekins is being recognized by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters as the 2020 Farm Broadcaster of the year.

Winnekins was awarded Friday during a virtual NAFB convention. The award, established in 1969, recognizes individuals who have proven their abilities in broadcasting, have shown true commitment to the industry through their actions and their promotional efforts, and have shown leadership in the industry and within their communities.

He began his radio career at WKTY in La Crosse while he was attending college. He later worked for WBOG in Tomah and WCOW in Sparta.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses focused on response to pandemic

Posted On: November 20, 2020

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are focused on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— Speaker Robin Vos in this week’s GOP radio address outlined Assembly Republicans’ COVID-19 relief ideas and stressed the importance of bipartisan solutions.

The Rochester Republican called for addressing surging COVID cases through building a “robust” testing program, doubling the number of contact tracers in the state and reforming the Unemployment Insurance program, among other things.

“In the meantime,  ... Read More

Walker Broadcast Management Institute delayed to 2022

Posted On: November 16, 2020

The Walker Broadcast Management Institute scheduled for April 2021 will be postponed to April 2022.

The WBA Foundation Board voted unanimously to again delay the three-day session because of the ongoing pandemic. The Institute is hosted on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, which remains closed to outside groups. The school has already canceled spring commencement. Many companies are also not allowing employees to travel through next spring.

While specific dates are yet to be determined, the Institute is expected to take place in April 2022.

The Board decided to forgo the option of hosting the event online,  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses honor veterans, ask Wisconsinites to stay home

Posted On: November 13, 2020

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol take time to recognize veterans and focus on the pandemic crisis in the state. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— Speaker Robin Vos in this week’s GOP radio address reminded Wisconsinites to honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces.

The Rochester Republican said Veterans Day served as a reminder to thank veterans for their service. He urged listeners to personally reach out to veterans or post on social media.  ... Read More

PBS Wisconsin to premiere documentary on Hall of Famer Nancy Zieman

Posted On: November 12, 2020

An educator, entrepreneur, trailblazer, and WBA Hall of Fame inductee, Nancy Zieman hosted Sewing With Nancy on public television stations for more than 30 years. Now, an all-new documentary tells the story of Nancy’s life through her own words and the reflections of those she inspired across a lifetime of education, family and faith. 

Nancy Zieman: Extraordinary Grace premieres 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23 on PBS Wisconsin.  

Zieman was host of Sewing With Nancy, the longest-running television sewing program, produced in the PBS Wisconsin studios and broadcast on public television stations across the country for more than three decades.    ... Read More

Brewers to air on new stations in Madison, Eau Claire

Posted On: November 11, 2020

Brewers baseball will be airing on different radio stations in Madison and Eau Claire starting next spring.

The Brewers Radio Network in Madison will be heard on “The Zone” (WOZN, 96.7 FM and 1670 AM) and in Eau Claire on Sports Talk 105.1 FM (WAYY, 790 AM and 105.1 FM). Mid-West Family, a family of Wisconsin companies, owns both new affiliate stations.

“We are a Wisconsin company, and we are very proud to be part of the annual tradition that is Milwaukee Brewers baseball,” said Tom Walker, President of Mid-West Family.

“There simply is nothing like catching the Brew Crew on the radio,” said Randy Hawke,  ... Read More

Radiothon raises nearly half million dollars for children’s hospital

Posted On: November 9, 2020

A radiothon aired by a group of radio stations in Madison raised $498,241 for American Family Children’s Hospital.

The eight-station group at Mid-West Family Broadcasting in Madison held the three-day radiothon from Oct. 21-Oct. 23.

In previous years, radio hosts would gather in the lobby at the children’s hospital and interview parents and patients who have been treated at the children’s hospital as they share their stories of survival and courage. Like many other traditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, that storytelling went virtual this year.

The money raised will help programs that assist patients and families.  ... Read More

Madison radio group donates more than $900K in advertising to local businesses

Posted On: November 6, 2020

Mid-West Family radio stations in Madison aired more than 31,000 free commercials to help hundreds of local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The free spots ran from March 21 through July 31 through a feature called “Now Open.”

“Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority,” said Tom Walker, President of Mid-West Family Madison. “’Now Open’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Local businesses had the chance to sign up for these free announcements through midwestfamilymadison.com.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses preview legislative priorities, call for COVID-19 precautions

Posted On: November 6, 2020

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol discuss upcoming legislative priorities and call for stopping the spread of COVID-19. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— Speaker Robin Vos in this week’s GOP radio address briefed Wisconsinites on the Legislature’s post-election priorities.

The Rochester Republican said the conservative majority wants to focus on “policy that affects your family instead of the politics that affect politicians.”

“We will pass a responsible state budget that prioritizes health care and education,” Vos said.  ... Read More


Planning underway for whatever comes our way next year

Posted On: November 2, 2020

Michelle Vetterkind WBA President & CEO

Like you, your WBA is working with a lot of uncertainty these days. And, it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a lot we don’t yet know about our 2021 events. That said, please know that we are making plans to hold all the events you’re used to, whether they’re in person or held online. It will be more important than ever to watch your inboxes as I’m sure we’ll have many announcements for you in the coming months as we are able to finalize plans.

It’s hard to grow accustomed to uncertainty, but we know you’ve all had a lot of practice this year. Stay tuned…

Student Seminar, EEO, Job Fair will be online

As you might recall from earlier this year, your WBA is making changes to our winter schedule, unrelated to the pandemic. The Winter Conference we typically hold in January is no longer happening, and the EEO session and job fair typically held at that conference will now be held in conjunction with the Student Seminar. We’re excited about getting the students involved in the job fair.

However, we’ve recently determined that the Student Seminar will not be held in person this year. Your Education Committee is currently working up plans for an online version of the event, with details to be announced soon.

Your WBA will offer an online EEO session and virtual job fair. The job fair will be like the one we held last summer (which was very well received). And of course, both will fit in with your WBA’s Assistance Action Plan for EEO Compliance. Details and dates have not been set yet but watch your inboxes. We will spread the word once those plans are made.

Broadcasters Clinic goes virtual

The 64th year of the Broadcasters Clinic was unlike any other. The award-winning three-day event we are so proud of was held as an online event Oct. 13-15 and featured an appearance by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Once again, we drew engineers from across the country who made excellent use of the virtual format to engage with each other and ask questions of our excellent speaker. It was a success!

Next year’s Clinic will be earlier than usual: Wednesday, Sept. 8 through Friday, Sept. 10. We picked the new dates to avoid competing with the NAB Show which will be held in October next year. We greatly look forward to getting everyone back together at the Madison Marriott West in 2021.

Insight Edge to continue in 2021

Your WBA has renewed our contract with Insight Edge Weekly in order to continue to provide you, our valued WBA members, with this popular service. The Insight Edge Weekly Advertiser Intelligence Service gives you access to the industry’s premier newsletter service giving you quick, useful, and current highlights of 14 key advertising categories: automotive, department stores, digital media, dining/grocery, electronics, employment, entertainment, financial, furniture, health care, media recap, real estate/home improvement, telecom, and travel.

If you’re not already getting these weekly emails from us, contact Kyle Geissler and he’ll be sure to add you to the list.

Remember your WBA Foundation for year-end giving

Your WBA Foundation promotes education for future broadcasters, public affairs activities, and preservation of broadcasting’s rich history in Wisconsin. Please consider supporting the Foundation in your year-end giving. Every dollar supports the past and the future of broadcasting in Wisconsin. You can find a donation form on the WBA Foundation website.

And as we wrap up this momentous year (and that’s the polite term – ha), please know that your WBA is here for you. We realize it’s been a difficult year for everyone. Your WBA is looking out for you, and we expect that work to accelerate as we head into 2021. We know you miss networking with your peers, because we miss seeing you too! In the meantime, know that we’re also here to listen. Don’t ever hesitate to call us, even if you’re just looking for someone to chat with.

Your WBA is here through thick and thin, just as you are for your communities. Stay strong. Stay healthy. Have a blessed holiday season.

Keep social interaction going during pandemic

Posted On: November 2, 2020

….and it goes on and on. The pandemic continues with no end in sight. Sorry to start this column on such a depressing note. The biggest challenge we face is how to keep morale up. The age-old traditions of company Christmas parties or company picnics are being tabled until this COVID thing is brought under control.

How do you maintain social interaction with your staff or department? Can you accomplish it with a Zoom call? In future columns I will reach out to many of you for team building events you have done. By the nature of our business we have had many of these staff activities as part of our normal calendar, concerts, charity fundraising events, sporting events, etc. Now most everything is virtual. We need to think outside the box. People need social interaction, but how do we accomplish this and stay safe? Please share your successes when I call.

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association has had a tremendous year despite the pandemic. Our small but very capable staff has managed to keep everything functioning by moving to virtual presentations. The latest virtual presentation was the Broadcasters Clinic in October with featured guest FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. This is another example of the stature that the WBA has in broadcasting. We are as good a state broadcast association as there is in the country!!! …and it is because of the great participation of the members!


Want to anchor? Now is your chance

Posted On: November 23, 2020
Heather Poltrock
Heather Poltrock

I’ve worked a WSAW-TV for nearly 13 years.  In that time I’ve done just about every job in the newsroom—on air and behind the scenes. I’ve never been a fulltime anchor or reporter, but have anchored and reported on holidays. It’s really exciting!

If you’re looking to get a little more air time, the holidays are your chance.

And if you won’t be getting together with your family this year, you might as well make the most of it.

Best reasons to volunteer to work holidays:

  1. Opens the door for other anchoring opportunities
  2. Holiday pay incentive
  3. Great for the reel!
  4. Free food? – My company always provides dinner to working holiday staff
  5. Viewers are a little more forgiving if you stumble

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

The verbal fire drill

Posted On: November 19, 2020
Heather Poltrock
Heather Poltrock

There is no feeling worse than being unprepared. In broadcasting, preparation is everything.

I remember the first time I filled in at the assignment desk. I’d been at the station about two years, but had really never the been the ‘main phone answerer’. Welp, I had about an hour into the shift when the phone rang and the person on the other end just laid into me. He was screaming upset because we ‘promised coverage’ and didn’t show up to his school the day before. I did not know what he was talking about and now I was in a position to defend a decision I was not apart of. All I could do was stutter and apologize. He eventually hung up.

I never wanted to feel that way again—unprepared and caught off guard. I replayed our conversation in my head and rehearsed what I would say if that ever happened again.

Hence, the verbal fire drill. It’s OK to rehearse for difficult conversations.

After, I spoke with a coworker who was always pretty smooth on the phones. His best piece of advice was “pretend they are recording your call”.

Silly, right?

But it makes sense. Would you want your response to be played for anyone else? He said, “So what if you need to pause for a few seconds to craft a response? It’s better than saying something stupid.”

It’s also OK to not have the answer. “I am going to need to take some time to look into this story/situation/decision. May I have your phone number so that I can get back to you?”

Now, you’re probably wondering about the call I mentioned above. What would I say if I took that call today?

“I’m very sorry. Clearly there was a miscommunication. Do you have any photos or video from the event? Please send them to me so I can write a web article and give the students some recognition”.

Anyway… The important thing to keep in the back of your mind is broadcasting is show business. And the business aspect is extremely important. Viewers are customers. And while I won’t go as far as saying the customer is always right (because if they are not, we need to correct them) every customer is important, and we need to do our very best to make it right.

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

How to avoid hurtful words during interviews with special needs families

Posted On: November 13, 2020

In TV news, a fair amount of stories we cover include people with disabilities. Their stories shed light on medical advancements, their spirits are uplifting, and most often, sharing their story with a local audience can help generate much-needed financial support.

But sometimes it’s tough when you know you need to address a medical condition in your story, but you just aren’t sure how to word it.

My approach to journalism…. Well, and life… has always been if you don’t know, just ask. I reached out to my friend Melanie Kretschmer to ask how a reporter can avoid saying something that could be ‘unintentionally hurtful’ during an interview. Melanie is a mom to two, including her 4-year-old daughter Naomi. Naomi has cerebral palsy and Melanie frequently and eloquently writes about their journey on Facebook.

Here’s Melanie’s own explanation with a little backstory:

After a relatively normal pregnancy, completely unknown to us, our daughter suffered a stroke sometime within the days before her birth. Naomi was born via emergency C-section, resuscitated and suffered a lengthy seizure, all before I even awoke from anesthesia.   She suffered an ischemic stroke and acquired a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy (amongst a laundry list of others). Cerebral palsy affects her daily life as well as ours, but more than anything, it empowers us to educate ourselves as well as others about Naomi and the millions of others who are living with disabilities in the world.

When learning about inclusion, the information we receive can be so variable that it is difficult to know where to start to be both respectful and inclusive, yet acknowledge someone’s differences.  Even with knowing that, anyone can inflict a great deal of pain on someone just by the words they choose to use.

After Naomi was born with significant needs, well-intentioned friends, family members, even doctors would use the word “normal.”  I would cringe each time.

Someone might say, “Your daughter is adorable. What a fighter – she is going to be normal, right?” The people who loved and cared for us were simply wondering: Would she have long-lasting effects from her stroke?

What would life look like for her?

Regardless of how loving and well-intentioned the statements were, they often hurt. Because the answer was, “No.” My daughter would not meet their version of “normal.”

When it comes to interacting with individuals who have disabilities or their families, I find it best to ask questions from the start.  One of the biggest things I learned in our journey is that those around us each have a story that is unique to them. The words they like to use, the way, and to what depth they like to discuss things may vary considerably from person to person and family to family. I have found that starting a conversation with, “I have something I would like to ask regarding, “child.” Is that OK? I am going to do my best to be sensitive and ask it respectfully. Please correct me, if I am not.”

Such a simple statement has the ability to let those you are speaking with know not only the positivity of your intentions but truly show care and concern for how they may feel about you asking it. It also allows them the opportunity to educate you and share their preferred language or even the opportunity to say that they would rather not discuss the topic.

I would like to highlight that the above is simply my personal experience and interactions. I certainly cannot speak for all those living with, loving, or raising others with unique differences.

Even some of the language I used is not what all find to be appropriate. Many say the term “special needs” bothers them and prefer using terms such as “unique differences”. I like to use both interchangeably.

In order to compile a list of “Things to Never Say,” I reached out for feedback from a large support network I have of parents, professionals, grandparents, guardians, individuals and caretakers to compile a short list and/or advice to keep in your pocket when interacting with those different from yourself.

  1. He looks so normal. / He looks fine. / You would never know by looking at him.
  2. Is this something she will outgrow?
  3. Offers for treatment or things to “fix” the child.

(i.e., things you have seen on social media, google, exercises or things that worked for someone you know/heard of.)

  1. Ask if they prefer using person-first or diagnosis-first language. People first would be, “Child with cerebral palsy.” Diagnosis first would be, “CP kiddo.”
  2. Did you have a normal pregnancy? / Is it genetic?
  3. Assumptions that wheelchairs or braces mean there is something wrong with their legs. It is important to understand that most children in a wheelchair are there because of a brain injury or damage, cerebral palsy or genetic and muscular conditions. (Statement: “It makes their life seem like is comparable to a sports injury and I don’t like that.”)
  4. Did you know when you were pregnant?  / Did you know it was possible before you got pregnant

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

Your assignment editor’s biggest pet peeves

Posted On: November 12, 2020
Heather Poltrock
Heather Poltrock

There are two things I know for sure: Salads always taste better when someone else makes them. And probably once a week you do something to annoy your assignment editor.

It really takes a special person to handle the role of the Assignment Editor. There is a ton of responsibility, very few ‘thanks’ and let’s be real—plenty of opportunities to talk to angry viewers.

Last month, I contacted several assignment editors from TV newsrooms in Wisconsin and polled them on their biggest pet peeves. I hope that by bringing their challenges to light we can collectively create a smoother workday for them.

Without further ado, here are their responses:

  1. Story ideas that are lost in space. We may have discussed the idea, the reporter may have made calls on it and didn’t hear back, or we just decided to do another story that day. That idea is never brought up again–and gets lost. 
  2. When after a lengthy discussion in an editorial meeting about a story idea, a reporter says “So…what is this story about?”
  3. Setting up stories without consulting with the desk.
  4. Making one phone call, and then just waiting. Rather than moving on or trying different ideas/contacts, they just sit and wait to hear back. Obviously, that does not work well.
  5. When reporters NEVER have their own story ideas.
  6. Having to be told repeatedly to send back still images & updates for website.
  7. “I didn’t see the email.”
  8. Not bringing original story ideas to the meetings. This includes either having no ideas at all, or pitching stories we have already done within the past couple of days, or just relying on copying ideas from competitors who have already done the story.
  9. Tardiness.
  10. Making only one phone call and then saying no one is available and the story won’t work.
  11. Not following up! How did that meeting go? Is there a follow-up meeting? Did the person get the kidney they were asking for? Did the school get the funding they needed? You get my drift. Reporters should always be following up with contacts if more developments could be coming.
  12. Pitching a story that came as a press release 5 minutes before the meeting (it’s fine to pitch something from a press release, but let’s expand on it and make it interesting, not just regurgitating the release word for word).
  13. Not reporting broken/damaged equipment to engineering.
  14. Not fueling up news vehicles when they are on empty.
  15. Not giving the desk information for the “next” – next court date, next meeting date, etc.
  16. Inability to read a map or follow directions.

Lastly, it is not just their job you’ll make easier by correcting some of these behaviors. It will help you in your workflow too.

Heather Poltrock, WSAW-TV, Wausau
WBA Young Professionals Committee

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