Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Four to be awarded scholarships at WBA Student Seminar

Posted On: January 28, 2022

Four scholarships will be given out during the WBA Student Seminar on March 5 to students studying broadcasting in Wisconsin. Learn more about the WBA Student Scholarship program and apply here. Interested in supporting the scholarship program? Learn more here.

The recipients are:

Kaylee Staral

Kaylee Staral is the 2022 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation Scholarship recipient.                 

Staral is attending Marquette University and majoring in journalism with minors in digital media and communications studies. She is planning to graduate in the spring of 2023.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses discuss extra state funds

Posted On: January 28, 2022

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin Capitol are focused on extra money in the state’s general fund. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Republican radio address: Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, touted the $2.9 billion increase in the state’s general fund.

The Joint Finance Committee co-chair said conservative financial moves and tax cuts are reasons for the overall $3.8 billion surplus.

“We continue to be in really sound fiscal shape as a state,” he said. “This is of course due to quality conservative budgeting for the last 10 years,  ... Read More

Vetterkind named to Competitive Wisconsin Board of Directors

Posted On: January 26, 2022

WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind has been named to the Competitive Wisconsin Board of Directors.

Competitive Wisconsin is a non-partisan coalition that engages business, education, agriculture, and labor in strategic collaborations dedicated to strengthening and growing the Wisconsin economy.

CWI was founded in 1981 and for more than 30 years has engaged in powerful strategic analysis of Wisconsin’s economic challenges and opportunities. It’s dedicated to identifying and advocating for policies and activities that will support the retention and creation of family-supporting jobs, sustain prosperity and protect and enhance Wisconsin’s quality of life.  ... Read More

Calgaro to host middays, lead social media for WZOR

Posted On: January 25, 2022

Active Rock radio station RAZOR 94.7/104.7 (WZOR-FM) has named Jake Calgaro its new midday host and digital content creator for WAPL and WZOR, replacing Kaytie who is moving off air as Woodward Radio Group’s Digital Content Coordinator.

“I literally grew up listening to RAZOR and it’s a dream come true to be joining this amazing team at my favorite hometown station,” Calgaro said. “Razor is such a unique brand and one that I hold very close to my heart. This truly feels like (I am) coming home!”

“I love the passion that Jake brings to the table.  ... Read More

Register today for the WBA Awards Gala

Posted On: January 25, 2022

Registration is open for the WBA Awards Gala to be held May 7 at the Madison Marriott West.

There’s no official theme this year. We are just excited to get everybody back together! Registration deadline is April 28.   Tickets are $75/each. Tables of ten are available.   Register Here  ... Read More   Thank you all for your support and to the 120 radio and TV stations that submitted 1,404 entries into the competition. We share your enthusiasm for celebrating the important work broadcasters performed in 2021!   Staying the night? Book your room at the Madison Marriott West for $147/night before the deadline of April 16!

Networking Event: Rethinking Your Show for the Digital Age

Posted On: January 25, 2022
Program Date: February 17, 2022

Blured image of businesspeople at coffee break at conference meeting. Business and entrepreneurship. Blue toned grayscale image.

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and Jacobs Media Strategies are partnering to host a social webinar. During the first 15 minutes of the webinar, enjoy your launch as you watch a presentation by Seth Resler of Jacobs Media. During the remainder of the hour, you’ll have the opportunity to virtually network with other broadcasters from all over the state!


During the presentation, you’ll learn how to rethink your show prep process for the digital age.


For the networking portion, you will need to be on a desktop or laptop computer with a camera and microphone.  ... Read More

Davis named interim executive director at Radio Milwaukee

Posted On: January 21, 2022

Danae Davis has been named as interim executive director of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-FM 88.9) while a search committee launches a formal search process to permanently fill the position, the station’s board of directors announced Friday.

“88Nine Radio Milwaukee is a special place, and I look forward to working with the excellent staff team and board and our many community partners to continue its mission of making our community a better, more inclusive place for everyone,” Davis said of her interim role. Davis previously served on the Radio Milwaukee board of directors for nine years, including time as board chair.  ... Read More

Weekly Radio Addresses take on worker shortage, support for farmers

Posted On: January 21, 2022

This week’s Weekly Radio Addresses from Wisconsin’s Capitol are focused this week on the worker shortage and help for farmers. These addresses are available for Wisconsin broadcasters to use as they see fit. Here are the summaries from WisPolitics:

— In this week’s Republican radio address, Rep. Jon Plumer touted a GOP package of bills that aims to address Wisconsin’s workforce shortage.

The Lodi Republican said reinstatement of the unemployment benefit work search requirement without a penalty for those who don’t show up for interviews has “led to the practice of ‘ghosting’ in which an employer will contact a prospective employee,  ... Read More

La Crosse morning show host retires after 32 years

Posted On: January 17, 2022

Half of a La Crosse morning show team is retiring.

Sam Strong and Keith Carr host the morning show on Classic Hits 94.7 (KCLH) in La Crosse. Strong is retiring after 32 years on the air with Carr.

Strong leaves behind a legacy of activism in the La Crosse community. She recalls helping collect goods for flood victims in Fargo in the early 2000s and gathering three semis full of donations.

“People were just so generous and it made me cry,” Strong said. “And, so whenever they send me out to one of those things where we’re collecting food donations or toy donations or something like that,  ... Read More

Start 2022 by getting involved in your WBA

Posted On: January 6, 2022

Your WBA is heading back to the Wisconsin State Capitol for our first WBA State Legislative Day since 2020. We’ll be at the State Capitol on Jan. 18 and appointments are being made right now. Building a constructive relationship with lawmakers is critical to making sure your local audiences can continue to be served with the best local information. We hope you’ll consider joining us in Madison. You can read more about State Legislative Day on page 2 and contact Kyle to RSVP: kgeissler@wi-broadcasters.org.

The Student Seminar coming up in 2022 will involve more WBA members than ever before because for the first time ever, we’re holding the WBA Job Fair at the same time in the same hotel. We’ll be at the Madison Marriott West on March 5. Be sure to sign up for the job fair and meet the future of broadcasting in Wisconsin. You can learn more about the Job Fair on page 3 and the Student Seminar on pages 10-11. If you’re not a manager or in HR and still want to be involved, we’re also holding a speed networking session during the Student Seminar. To join, just let Kyle know you’re interested: kgeissler@wi-broadcasters.org.

We’re always looking for new ways to help the next generation of broadcasters. We did something new and exciting in December by holding online meetings between students and broadcasters. Students signed up for 15-minute Zoom meetings with you, our valued WBA members who volunteered your time to share your expertise on landing a career in broadcasting. The feedback from the students has been positive and one broadcaster said he planned on offering a job to one of the students he met with. We’re most grateful to everyone who gave their time to this important effort.

We’re so excited to finally be bringing the Walker Broadcast Management Institute back to the UW School of Business in April! The Institute was postponed the last two years because of the pandemic and will now pick up where we left off in the three-year course cycle. Check out the agenda for the Institute here and be sure to contact Liz at lboyd@wi-broadcasters.org to get on the roster for next April 19-21.

Your WBA Board and WBA Foundation Board accepted an invitation in December to celebrate the holidays with Interim UW System President and former Governor Tommy Thompson. He hosted a holiday reception Dec. 2 at Brittingham House in Madison. It was a wonderful gathering and Governor Thompson was a terrific host. Thompson is a recipient of the WBA Distinguished Service Award. Thank you to all the board members who attended!

Because we don’t want anyone to miss it, I can’t help but mention that the WBA Awards deadline is Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. We’re giving you a little more time this year, so take advantage and get your entries in early. We absolutely can’t wait to celebrate with you on May 7 at the Madison Marriott West!

My best wishes to you and your stations for a safe, happy, and prosperous 2022!

-Michelle Vetterkind, WBA President and CEO

Appreciate employees during challenging times

Posted On: January 5, 2022

The start of 2022 holds a mixed bag of headlines for broadcasters, and some are quite challenging. 

  • Our news gatherers continue to find themselves needing to define the difference between fact and opinion with a growing number of listeners/viewers. Fake News must turn into Fact News.
  • Our sales departments have become more therapists than account executives as our local business community struggle to find workers and product leading even more shoppers to find Amazon.
  • Our employees are feeling the crunch of inflation and have been comparing their wages to the higher ones at the drive thru window.

As broadcasters, we will once again demonstrate our resiliency and find working solutions to these challenges. In doing so, I want to make sure we remember the human side to these new challenges. Now it’s time to be compassionate…compassionate about our work family.

As we approach 24-months of “unprecedented times,” we need to remind ourselves that for many of our employees this is all they have ever known. Our employees are mentally fatigued, and as leaders, we need to understand that our behavior must also evolve to help mitigate those feelings. What can we do?

It’s tough. This month, I canceled our stations holiday lunch because many employees told me that they would rather not “mass gather” to be healthy for their own family gatherings. Missing out on these events erodes our station’s culture of caring for our employees.

In lieu of a holiday lunch, I purchased local restaurant gift cards for staff. Rather than a generic “thank you” and my name on the bottom of the gift card, I placed the gift card inside a custom handwritten thank you card. Some of you already do this, but for me it was my way of evolving and doing something different. This didn’t solve all the challenges facing our station in 2022, but it made it clear that I appreciate each of them.

WBA members, while I hope to see many of you at our next gathering, I want to make sure you know how much you are appreciated. Have a great 2022.

Young broadcasting professionals recognized for contributions

Posted On: January 6, 2022

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

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

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

Our first two honorees are Ben Brust and Naomi Kowles.

Ben Brust

Company: ESPN Wisconsin / Good Karma Brands

Position: On-Air Host & Marketing Consultant

Years at station: Four years

Started in broadcasting (year): 2017

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

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

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

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

Naomi Kowles

Company: WISC-TV, Morgan Murphy Media

Position: Lead Investigator

Time at station: 14 months

Started in broadcasting (year): 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Geiger joins Young Professional Committee

Posted On: November 8, 2021

Natasha Geiger from WFRV-TV is joining the WBA Young Professionals Committee.

Geiger was born and raised in northeast Wisconsin, graduating from St. Norbert College in 2016 and started at WFRV Local 5 in Green Bay as a news producer in 2017. After three years as a producer, she was promoted to digital content director where she manages the day-to-day digital operations along with creating content for readers of northeast Wisconsin.

During her downtime she enjoys going to her family’s cabin, reading, writing, and watching TV.

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


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