Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Milwaukee photographer awarded Jowett Fellowship

Posted On: September 16, 2021

A television photographer working in Milwaukee is the 2021 recipient of the Rick Jowett Fellowship.

Ryan Whittaker works at WTMJ-TV. He was awarded $539 to take classes to take a series of classes on visual storytelling and drone photography through the Poynter Institute. He said his aim is to constantly improve as a photographer through training, staying active in broadcasting, and always reaching for that next step.

He said he would like to work on longer format stories and develop storytelling skills for digital and social media.

The Rick Jowett Fellowship was established in 2017 by the WBA Foundation to support educational opportunities for photographers and videographers who work in media in Wisconsin.  ... Read More

WBA scholarships increase, accepting applications now

Posted On: September 15, 2021

Do you know a student who could use assistance with educational expenses? 

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation offers four scholarships that are increasing in value this year. Students who meet eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply for these scholarships:

  • David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund Scholarship – $1,500 (up from $1,000)
  • Howard Gernetzke Scholarship – $1,500 (up from $1,000)
  • Morgan Murphy Media Scholarship – $2,500 (up from $2,000)
  • Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation Scholarship – $2,500 (up from $2,000)

More information and the application can be found here.  ... Read More

Radio Milwaukee gets grant to start urban alternative channel

Posted On: September 14, 2021

88Nine Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-88.9FM) has received a $450,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to start a new Urban Alternative channel to reach young, multicultural audiences through on-air and digital streaming platforms, the station announced Tuesday.

“Radio Milwaukee is thrilled to bring the Urban Alternative public radio format to Milwaukee,” Executive Director Kevin Sucher said. “We are excited to be part of this national effort to elevate Black voices and celebrate Milwaukee’s unique culture. Through this new platform, Radio Milwaukee will amplify untold stories, champion homegrown talent, and create a space for celebration and creativity.”

Radio Milwaukee’s Urban Alternative will offer an eclectic radio experience,  ... Read More

Milwaukee station raises $130K for hurricane victims

Posted On: September 14, 2021

Milwaukee TV station WISN-TV partnered with the American Red Cross to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Ida.

The ‘WISN 12 Hurricane Relief Drive’ raised $130,505 from local viewers to deliver urgent assistance for those affected by the natural disaster.

Hurricane Ida’s devastating impact was felt from the Gulf Coast up through the Northeast with dangerous winds, tornadoes, rainfall, and flooding. It ultimately led to dozens of deaths across Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

“Along with the tragic loss of life, countless others were also left without a home, water,  ... Read More

Former student named to lead WSUM

Posted On: September 13, 2021

A former student who worked at the student-run radio station on the UW-Madison campus is returning to serve as general manager.

Kelsey Brannen previously worked as the assistant program director at The Current and as the afternoon show manager at KEXP.

Dave Black is retiring from the position after 28 years at the station which he helped to launch.  ... Read More

Bennett named GM at Radio Milwaukee

Posted On: September 13, 2021

Cheryl Bennett, a professional with more than 28 years of experience in accounting, finance, human resources and business administration, has been named general manager of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-FM 88.9), the station announced Monday.

Bennett joined Radio Milwaukee in 2015 and has previously served as the station’s human resources manager and accountant.

“Radio Milwaukee is lucky to have Cheryl Bennett,” station Executive Director Kevin Sucher said. “Cheryl’s professionalism and commitment to our mission is unparalleled. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be in this position.”

Bennett will be responsible for all human resource matters,  ... Read More

Criminal Justice and Reporting Panel

Posted On: September 13, 2021
Program Date: September 29, 2021

The Center for Journalism Ethics will host a public event –  “Just Narratives: Covering Criminal Justice” – at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Memorial Union Play Circle on the UW–Madison campus. Three panelists with expertise in criminal justice and journalism will engage in a public discussion about media ethics and the challenges of covering the justice system in the U.S.

This free event is co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Law School and supported by the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Info about virtual attendance can be found here.

The panelists: 

  • Keri Blakinger is a Marshall Project investigative reporter and the 2021 Center for Journalism Ethics journalist-in-residence.
  •  ... Read More

Viewers raise $58K in school supplies

Posted On: September 6, 2021

Milwaukee TV station WISN-TV collected more than $58,000 in school supplies to help local students at the beginning of the school year.

WISN 12’s “Class Act School Supply Drive” delivered essential school supplies to children in the Milwaukee area who need them most. The money was raised online and through text messaging.

From Aug. 24 through Sept. 2, WISN-TV and the Salvation Army conducted a fundraising drive so that local students would have backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils, and other classroom necessities before the beginning of the school year.

“People across southeastern Wisconsin recognize that as kids are heading back to school,  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses celebrate back to school, raise concerns about refugees

Posted On: September 3, 2021

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol talk about back to school and Afghan refugees coming to Wisconsin. 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 Gov. Tony Evers welcomed students and staff back to school for the fall semester.

“Every semester over the last eighteen months has presented new challenges, and this semester promises to be different still,” said Evers. “But in the midst of all of that, I’m incredibly proud of how hard you’ve worked to always do your best,  ... Read More

Coming together: A routine worth celebrating!

Posted On: July 7, 2021

After a year of not knowing what’s around the corner, it’s certainly comforting to see the gradual return of routines. We hear from so many in broadcasting about the importance of being nimble and open to new ideas. Well, if you survived the last 14 months, you can most definitely call yourself nimble!

Your WBA prides itself on a nimble response to our members’ needs, but there’s no doubt that a return to holding our time-tested events is a comfort. Like you, we hope to take the lessons of the last year and apply them to our many (many) years of experience serving you, our valued members. And….that starts with everything your WBA currently has on deck.

WBA Summer Conference

At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know if we’d even have a Summer Conference in 2021, but after cancelling the 2020 conference, we were certainly hopeful. We have so much to celebrate! A new class of Hall of Famers and Local Broadcast Legends, our Distinguished Service Award honoree, Dick Zaragoza (who now plans to join us in person to receive his Award – yay ), and our first Young Professional of the Year, Terry Stevenson. All these celebrations were put on hold in 2020.

Your Conference Committee met early in the year to plan for a potential 2021 Summer Conference and the committee asked about moving our June dates at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan to August. We asked, and it worked! The new dates, Aug. 25-26, gave the vaccine rollout more time to take hold and gave your WBA and the Conference Committee more certainty about being able to plan the event.

I’m thrilled to say that the change paid off.

We initially expected modest attendance, given trepidation over the pandemic, but have recently found that the prediction given by some of our members was indeed correct. That is…our members cannot wait to celebrate this Summer Conference.

The Blue Harbor Resort, by the time you read this, has probably sold out of hotel rooms (an unprecedented event in itself – not to mention TWO MONTHS ahead of the conference)!! Along the lines of being nimble, we immediately added blocks of rooms at other hotels in Sheboygan that you read about on the Summer Conference page on the WBA website. We will keep that page updated with the latest information. We certainly would love to have everyone under the same roof, but we’re excited to see so much excitement for the Summer Conference. Please know that your WBA Team will do our best to make everyone’s experience as seamless as possible. 

And of course, another cause for celebration: It is the 70th Anniversary of Your WBA! We plan to recognize the milestone at the Summer Conference with a fun trip down memory lane.

Broadcasters Clinic

Broadcasters Clinic also changed this year due to the circumstances of the pandemic. This (wonderful) gathering of broadcast engineers from throughout the country typically happens on a Tuesday through Thursday in mid-October, but because the NAB Show was cancelled in the spring and rescheduled for mid-October, the (nimble….do we see a pattern here :)??) Broadcasters Clinic Committee worked with the Madison Marriott West to find alternative dates for the 2021 Clinic.

That said, Clinic will be held Wednesday, Sept. 8 through Friday, Sept. 10. We’ll still be at the Madison Marriott West and we have heard from many excited vendors who are greatly looking forward to reconnecting with broadcast engineers.

The Broadcasters Clinic Committee did its work (virtually, this year) to come up with an outstanding agenda which you can find here. Registration is open now and early bird pricing is in effect until July 15.

While these two events will have speakers, meals, celebrations, and the other things you would expect at a WBA event, this year they will also feel like a family reunion.

You have no idea how much your WBA team is looking forward to celebrating with YOU, our WBA Family (in person)!

Chair honored to serve unusual 18-month term

Posted On: July 7, 2021

Here we are in July already! As we get older, we can’t believe how fast time flies, except for a year ago during the pandemic. The Brewers are now at 100 percent capacity. The Packers are planning to operate at full capacity. And perhaps the biggest event of the year, the WBA Summer Conference at Blue Harbor in Sheboygan at the end of August. Maybe I’m a little over the top! The highlight of every Summer Conference for me is the Hall of Fame and Local Legends presentations. I am just amazed at the terrific broadcasters we have and to hear their stories is so inspiring.

This marks my last column as the chair of the WBA. When I hand off the gavel at the Summer Conference next month it will mark the end of an 18-month term as chair. Normally the term is one year but because of a change in the bylaws in January 2020 we moved the change of chair to the Summer Conference. It is quite an honor to have been selected to chair the best state broadcast association in America! Our membership is spectacular as is our management team in Madison. We have turned from a yearly operational deficit to a surplus. The surplus has been added to our investment accounts, to be there if we should have some difficult economic times in the future.

Your WBA is in great shape!  

Should you buy a home if you have a short-term contract?

Posted On: September 1, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, OR - FEBRUARY 16, 2016: ReMax Integrity listing with a for sale sign is now pending as the real estate market picks up again and prices go up.

It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest decisions in a person’s life – buying a house. But how do you know if you’re ready? Or if it’s even a good move, given the fact you most likely have a contract that’s only two or three years?

Reece Van Haaften is the former Sports Director at WSAW-TV in Wausau. He and his wife recently moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to continue his broadcast career at WATE-TV. He spent three years in Wausau and during that time bought and sold a house.

He said he started out renting in Wausau.

“We stayed in an apartment for three months while searching for a house, which my wife, Jess, did a tremendous job at. Unfortunately, it cost us more for doing month-to-month in an apartment, but it paid off in the long run,” he said.

Buying a home in Wausau was their first home purchase.

He says here are the pros: You have an opportunity to make a good investment, you get a place to call your own, and not have to deal with an apartment neighbor. Plus, you’ll save money if you have pets since apartments charge extra for them.

And the cons: You have to have liquid cash available for any maintenance, so that can restrict you. If you plan to move, you could lose out on equity. And of course, yard maintenance.

He said anyone thinking about owning a home should do their research about homeowner’s insurance.

“Jess and I wish we knew more about home insurance because our roof collapsed. It caused us to figure out what our insurance covered really quickly.”

He said when they went to sell their home they profited 44 percent. However, what they didn’t realize was that seller pays the commission to the realtor when the home sells. Typically, about 5-7 percent on the overall sale of the home.

“It helps that housing market is on fire currently. We also renovated our entire upstairs after the roof collapsed, so we did put some money into the house. Unfortunately, the flip side is we aren’t expecting to make as much money in our next house because we’re buying while the housing market is hot.”

If you think you’re ready to buy a home the first step is visiting a bank to get pre-approved. This process involved income and employment verification. You’ll tell the bank what price range of home you are interested in. Then if you’re approved, you’ll receive information about loan options and interest rates. Once you find your home, this information will be finalized.

Why reporters should cold-call for more thorough storytelling

Posted On: July 28, 2021
Heather Poltrock
Heather Poltrock


/ˈkōl(d) ˌkôl/


  1. make an unsolicited call on (someone), by phone or in person, in an attempt to sell goods or services.

Ah, yes. A very popular tool amongst the sales folks. Welp, I’m going to hijack the term and let you know cold-calling is something reporters can add to their toolbox too.

How about: “make an unsolicited call on (someone), by phone or in person, in an attempt LEARN!”

I think as journalists we sometimes forget how helpful people can, and want to be.

For example, if you regularly attended an editorial news meeting in the fourth quarter of 2020, someone likely pitched ‘lumber prices’.

They were high. Much higher than normal, but why? Supply? Yes, but why?

I needed some answers. So I Googled lumber yards and picked one that appeared to be locally-owned to avoid the corporate permission obstacles.

Our conversation went a little something like this:

 “My name is Heather Poltrock. I work at Channel 7. I know the lumber industry is seeing some unusual pandemic-related problems, especially pricing and I want to know if you can help me understand what is going on so we can better tell the story. Not for an on-camera interview, just for my understanding.”

Our conversation lasted nearly a half-hour and turned into many story ideas.

Here’s the dets. The problem was rooted in the worker shortage plus low-interest rates.

The best questioned I ask—“What do you think the solution is?” 

That answer was the most valuable component of our conversation and I’m glad I thought to ask it.

I’ve used this approach many times without really intentionally dubbing it a strategy.

Our job as journalists is to answer questions, but if you’re not educated enough on the topic to ask the right questions you won’t be able to do a very good job.

Best of luck on your questions quest!

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

Veteran Wausau DJ shares advice, stories, ideas for radio newbies

Posted On: July 15, 2021

“Morning radio is the place to be!”

And no one knows that better than WIFC’s Dave Kallaway. His radio career spans four decades, with nearly three in his current role.

“We were allowed to listen to the radio in high school, in typing class, and that’s where I first got the bug that radio might be my thing,” he said.

I know Dave Kallaway professionally and I can share that he’s the same radiant guy in person, on-air and at events. So I had to know, how does a guy stay so passionate about broadcasting year after year?

He explained the unique joys and the freedom to be creative that this career has.

“Create events that you’re passionate about. My wife and I love to dance. So that’s where our WIFC Disco Cures Cancer dance came from. We knew we just wanted to dance but what if we did a public dance, and what if we did it to raise money for a charity. We really thought that whole concept would last a couple of years, but we ended up doing it for 19 years!”

He said he’s been married to his wife for 40 years, and they were married on-air, on the radio.

So what advice would he give his younger self in the early years of his career?

“Chill out on the air and talk to the audience. When I started out, there was a lot of screaming going on. DJs that sounded like they were auctioneers and that got old fast. Just talking to listeners, playing good music, having a good time. That’s the way to start your day,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for an incident or a co-worker to make broadcaster’s work-life uncomfortable. I asked Dave if there had ever been a time he thought about pursuing something else.

He said the thought of leaving radio never occurred, but there were times when a boss wanted him to be someone he wasn’t.

“Fortunately those times were very short-lived and worked through,” he said.

Kallaway said the part he enjoys most about morning radio is getting to work with other talent.

“Most other shifts there’s only one person. It’s much more fun to work on the air with others. The other part is getting to do so much in our communities… with events and charity things. I love that part of the gig.”

Kallaway said he’s spent time studying how to interview guests.

“I’m sure I sucked at that early on, but I followed a lot of pros along the way and tried to pick up the techniques to asking good questions and being ready when you get short answers, no answers, or in some cases where you’re ready to ask 20 questions and you only get to ask one question because the guest is such a talker.”

If you are concerned with the initial low salary at the entry-level, Kallaway offers the reminder of the growth potential in this career.

“The guy who hired me at WIFC is now the ops manager of the iHeart radio’s country division– a very big step up from working in Wausau, Wisconsin. The other aspect of the low pay thing with radio is that it’s a job that can turn into several jobs and opportunities for making more.” For Kallaway, that’s hosting events and photographing them.

And I had to ask (and man, I am I glad I did) what’s your favorite radio memory?

“One of my favorite bits to do was the “WIFC Mow to Lambeau.” I literally rode a riding lawn mower from Wausau to Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The idea was to have listeners guess how long it would take and if you were closest then you won the mower and tickets to see the Packers play the Bears!

Eighteen hours and 21 minutes.

That’s how long it took if you are wondering.

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

How to safely connect with viewers on social media

Posted On: July 14, 2021

Sara Maslar-Donar

Social media is an incredible tool for connecting with your audience. But the line between sharing and oversharing is a fine one.

Sara Maslar-Donar is the anchor of WKOW’s Wake Up Wisconsin Weekend morning show and reports for the weekday morning show. She was also recipient of the WBA’s ‘Best Online Personality” award, placing second.

She offers this advice for those using their social media pages to connect with viewers and listeners.

When it comes to sharing your personal life, it’s up to your own personal preference. But the advice I can give is this: In this day and age, we all need to be extremely careful about what we let people know.  Reveal to viewers the things that will help them understand who you are and what makes you tick: Your hobbies, your love of animals, your favorite way to spend a Friday night! But remember: these are strangers. They aren’t entitled to know anything you don’t feel safe or comfortable sharing. 

Heather Poltrock
WSAW-TV, Wausau

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