Broadcasters should focus on retention, reinvesting, reimagining

In the News

Broadcasters take great pride in keeping our communities informed and entertained, even during the most difficult of environments. Like for many businesses, the past two years has been challenging. The financial stability of our broadcast stations was challenged, yet our unwavering public responsibility as a “first informer” won out. Radio and television stations throughout Wisconsin quickly pivoted to producing and performing newscasts from home. Radio on-air personalities set up in-home studios. The NAB calls this “localism.” Wisconsin broadcasters proudly call it doing our job. 

Two years later, stations are feeling the sting from a slow recovering business landscape and the emotional toll on employees.

As one news director recently told me, the last two years has easily been the biggest challenge of their career. The pressure of keeping employees safe and healthy while keeping the community informed is daunting and rewarding at the same time. A 20-year news veteran may call the last two years the toughest of their career, but what about the hundreds of employees that experienced it immediately after graduation?

Eager new employees still exists in each of our stations, but the number of them applying has shrunk. What can we do to help slow and reverse this industry trend?

Investing is a simple three-phase approach to help slow down the exodus of current employees for greener pastures and help increase the number of applicants in the short and long term.


It’s 2022, and our industry has changed.  Why are we still filling job titles rather than job needs? If you have a $16 an hour open position in your station, would it be better to give 16 current employees a $1 an hour raise rather than fill the open position? Would giving eight employees a $2 an hour raise ($4,160 a year) prevent them from looking for greener pastures? Hold onto your true leaders and future stars by investing in them, because replacing them will most likely cost more.

The WBA Gala has concluded. Did you invest in your employees and submit their work for award season? It is an easy expense line to cut when things are tight, but recognition and pride can go a long way to an employee’s happiness. Don’t shortchange yourself and not make that investment.

Recruitment Short-term to Mid-term:

Do the department heads at every Wisconsin college and university know you by name? Showing up to a job fair is not recruiting; it’s going thru the motions. Our number one job is to recruit, so make the effort to invest in building relationships with our leaders in higher education. While some faculty may think their only job is to teach, the good professors and their administrators know that placing students is top priority.

Recruitment Mid-term to Long-term:

Broadcasters must invest in building relationships at the middle school and high school level. Get kids excited about radio and television. Every visit to a high school to cover a sporting event is an opportunity to show off our business. Your employees better look like they are having fun.

Planting seeds with teachers and administrators to talk about broadcasting must be more than weather in the classroom and high school sports coverage. It shouldn’t surprise us that the broadcast curricula college students are most excited about are the same areas that they were exposed to the most as a kid: sports and weather.

Your Wisconsin Broadcasters Association continues to be a resource to help members shepherd this change. The WBA Education Committee, Conference Committee, and Association and Foundation Boards will continue to help members embrace a changing industry.

Don Vesely
WBA Board Chair
WMTV-TV, Madison