Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

The WBA Summer Convention was an extra special one this year because it was hosted at the site of your WBA Hall of Fame at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. This beautiful hotel is a wonderful home for our Hall of Fame and a great place to hold a WBA convention.

While it was a rainy week outside, the weather held for the annual golf tournament on Wednesday. The golfers traveled to Fire Ridge Golf Club in Grafton to enjoy some time on the course.

Anyone who came to the hotel got a chance to meet Millie, the “Canine Concierge.” She spent her days in the lobby greeting all our conference guests, and even got involved in our luncheon. For more on that, keep reading.

There was also a lot going on at the hotel on Wednesday, starting with Engineering Day that kicked off with a talk about the challenge of maintaining bases for AM towers from Rich Wood of Resonant Results and discussion on the early stages of the television repack with Kent Aschenbrenner, Senior Director of Engineering for E.W. Scripps.

The engineers then joined a session open to everyone about safety for journalists and broadcast station sites with a panel that included Dan Shelley, Executive Director, RTDNA; Ben Hart, News Director, WISN-TV; David Oxenford, Partner, Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer; Michael Kass, Brown Deer Police Chief; Mike Kemmeter, News Director, Woodward Radio Group; and Katie Crowther, Reporter, WTMJ-TV. The panel was moderated by Juli Buehler, News Director, WLUK-TV and WBA Board member. It was an important conversation that will likely be taken up again at future conferences.

Jack Zavoral, Director of Member Development, Local Media Association, also hosted a session about how digital products fit within the marketing scheme for local businesses. Jack would like to share his session for a wider audience in a WBA webinar. Register today!

A team of speakers took on the topic of data analytics and discussed how it could be used to help broadcasters. Lindsay Wood Davis, Broadcast Management Strategies led the conversation with two experts in the field, Heather Storm, Music Director, Woodward Radio Group and Diny Hurwitz, Business Analyst, Chicago Bears.

The engineers started their afternoon hearing from Eric Reese, Customer Development and Applications Engineering, Americas, Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, about what wireless mic manufacturers are doing to keep mics working after the TV repack and recent white space rulings. That was followed by a panel of millennials who took questions from broadcast veterans about how the younger generation views their work in broadcasting…and that was followed by roundtable discussions with general managers and human resources personnel to discuss what was learned from the millennial panel and how it could be used to help recruiting.

Thanks to the millennial panelists: Justin Hull, Brand Manager, WHBY/WSCO; Marty Mangerson, Chief Engineer, WJFW-TV; Justin Van Hout, Broadcast Technician, Woodward Radio Group; and Britny Williams, Broadcast Specialist, WPR. And thank you to our roundtable moderators: Joe Poss, General Manager, WTMJ-TV; Anna Engelhart, Station Manager, WKOW-TV; Kelly Radandt, General Manager, Woodward Radio Group; Don Vesely, General Manager, WMTV-TV; and Jeff Ver Voort, Director of Human Resources, Morgan Murphy Media.

The Job/Career Fair was held in the beautiful Empire Room, which was followed by our EEO session with Binnu Palta Hill from the UW Business School. She talked about inclusion, diversity, and recognizing and overcoming unconscious bias in your decision making.

In the legislative update, we heard an update on federal issues from David Oxenford and state issues from Brandon Scholz from the Capitol Group.  WBA State Legislative Chair Kelly Radandt and Federal Legislative Chair Roger Utnehmer offered their final reports. WBA and NAB Board member Tom Walker also offered a report on ownership issues.

The exhibit reception was well attended and there were many raffle prizes to give away. Congratulations to Jim Steinert, WISN-TV who on the 50/50 raffle and walked away with $840. Thanks to everyone who bought tickets in support of the WBA Foundation.

The weather cooperated and we had dinner and dessert outside the hotel on a beautiful courtyard. Our friends at Tri-Marq added lighting to make it a special evening. The hotel was impressed enough that it might copy our setup! Many guests stayed until after the sun had set.

Thursday started with our business breakfast and economic report from BMO Private Bank, followed by concurrent sessions. Robert Russo, President and CEO, RNR Media Consulting, held two separate sessions on selling broadcast versus local cable. One session was geared toward radio and the other toward television. At the same time, attendees heard from speaker and author Rita Emmet who talked about overcoming procrastination to be more successful and Bill Marklein, Founder, Employ Humanity, who explained how to use emotional intelligence to improve interpersonal skills.

At lunch we honored four Local Broadcast Legends in the Empire Ballroom. Kathy Keene, Margaret Neader, John M. Wadd, and Jeff Wagner were recognized for their contributions to their local communities. The families of Margaret Neader and John Wadd accepted the posthumous honors.

A true highlight of the conference was NAB President and CEO Sen. Gordon Smith who delivered a keynote speech to a full room, reflecting on the contributions broadcasters make in their communities. He was joined by NAB Senior Vice President of State Associations and Board Relations Sue Keenom. Sen. Smith also attended the WBA Hall of Fame on Thursday night and spoke to the Toolbox event on Friday. We thank him for coming to the convention.

Millie nearly stole the spotlight during Sen. Smith’s keynote address. During his speech, she loudly pounded on the door to the room, no doubt looking for leftovers from lunch. She was turned away until Sen. Smith was done speaking.

The Thursday sessions ended with an uplifting presentation from Mike Hulvey, COO, Neuhoff Communications, who spoke about the honor of serving as broadcasters. It was a wonderful session to lead into the Hall of Fame event Thursday evening.

The Hall of Fame reception was held at the WBA Hall of Fame on the lobby floor of the Hilton. It was an electric atmosphere for the induction of Chris Lytle, Tom Koser, Gary Timm, and Bob Smith. The Crystal Ballroom was decorated beautifully. The induction videos and subsequent speeches offered a dramatic cross section of the many powerful ways broadcasters, like our honorees, serve their communities and fellow broadcasters.

The conference continued Friday with the Young Professional’s Toolbox event produced by and for young professionals in broadcasting. We were proud to see more than 50 highly engaged young broadcasters talking about important issues and sharing their experiences. You can read more about that day here.

Thank you to the WBA Conference Committee for putting together a wonderful agenda, and thank you to the WBA team, Linda, Liz, and Kyle, for your dedication to this event.

As always, thank you to our conference partner, the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and to all the sponsors who supported the event. We couldn’t do it without you!

Please check out the photos from the convention here


We recently sent stations a new PSA for Wisconsin Honor Flights featuring Wisconsin’s own 12-time PGA Tour winner and Wisconsin native Steve Stricker. Stricker was recently named the PSA spokesperson for Wisconsin Honor Flight.

The PSA is focused on getting Vietnam Era veterans signed up for Honor Flights. For now, this is a radio only campaign, but we’ve been told that a TV spot is also under consideration. The PSA expires June 1, 2019.

If you’ll recall, in 2014, your WBA implemented a promotional campaign for Wisconsin Honor Flights, working with all six Wisconsin Honor Flight hubs. We developed a website featuring a one-stop easy access tool for all six honor flight hubs.

Running this PSA is purely voluntary. Stations do not have to report airings to the WBA, and this is NOT part of the WBA’s NCSA/PEP Program.

If you need assistance getting access to the PSAs, please contact the WBA office.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of our short, but fabulous, Wisconsin summer!

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