The importance of bringing savvy, conscientious, and principled young people into our profession is as important now as at any point in our history. Media are a bigger part of everyday life today than at any point in our history with not only the ubiquitous radio and television but also the new human appendage known as the smartphone.
In addition to some of the standard routes to becoming a professional in our business (e.g., through the family business: skills and knowledge handed down from generation to generation through family media ownership and/or tradition; trade schools; short courses; and simply starting from the bottom and working one’s way to the top), our colleges and universities also offer a path that includes a broad education. Courses in the broad areas of social and physical sciences, skills classes in communications programs, as well as experience as an intern at a professional radio or TV station, web-based print organization or with the school radio or TV station if their school has one.
Wisconsin high schools, colleges, and universities are fortunate to have several high quality stations in our state. However one prepares his or herself to enter the media profession, a valuable adjunct is our Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Student Seminar, offered every spring in Madison.
Nationally, College Broadcasters, Incorporated offers an annual conference over a three day period in late October/early November. I am writing this column from the 2018 conference now. This annual conclave is a rare opportunity for a select few students from many different schools to interact with their peers from all over the United States and with media professionals from the host city. This year, the conference is being held in Seattle. Next year, it will be in St. Louis. Past conferences have been in the Twin Cities, Orlando, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Washington DC to name a few.
Seattle is a strong media market, featuring the legendary radio station KEXP (late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen put up the seed money to start the station), KIRO news radio, and KING TV which offers some of the best investigative journalism and other local programming in the country. Professionals from these and other stations educate interested students on specific topics such as podcasting, sports play-by-play, talk show hosting, audio and video recording and editing, news reporting, and how to get that first job.
Media advisers, such as myself (Madison) and WSUW’s Brian Lucas (Whitewater), are participating in workshops and roundtables dealing with leadership and management, appropriate web and social media presence, fundraising, dealing with school administrators and other fundamental topics in a way that complements what is learned at the classroom back home. Running a media outlet in a campus environment is unique. The knowledge and skills that both the students and the advisers gain from interacting with our peers from institutions large and small are invaluable in improving the education and experience our students gain while they are preparing for a career in any profession but most especially for a career at your radio or television station in our great state.
In the Wisconsin tradition, the student outlets appreciate your support and input. We are here to serve you. Please let us know how we are doing.