Young professionals show what they bring to broadcasting

In the News Young Professionals
Jesi Hartman and Greg Scalzo

Two more young professionals are getting recognized for the mark they’re leaving on broadcasting in Wisconsin.

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 2020, and one of those five has been identified as the first “Young Professional of the Year.”

The four other honorees are Heather Storm from Woodward Radio Group in Appleton and Eric Bartos from Wisconsin Public Radio and the two young professionals profiled here: Jesi Hartman from WKOW-TV and Greg Scalzo from Good Karma Brands in Madison. Storm and Bartos were profiled in the January/February issue of Wisconsin Broadcaster. The Young Professional of the Year will be announced in the May/June newsletter and awarded at the WBA Summer Conference on June 18 in La Crosse. The honorees will also be recognized at the conference luncheon.

Meet Jesi Hartman and Greg Scalzo:

Jesi Hartman
Jesi Hartman

Company: WKOW-TV and WAOW-TV

Position: National Sales Manager WAOW – Wausau and Regional Account Executive WKOW – Madison

Years at station: 8

Started in broadcasting (year): 2012

How did you get into broadcasting? I previously worked in media at a local advertising agency when my rep at WKOW reached out to suggest I join her at WKOW. After a little convincing, I took the leap and have been at the same station since.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? I view the role of young professionals as an integral part in broadcasting. Fresh ideas and experiences can be of great value to build upon what has already been created.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? Collaborate. You are a resource to your colleagues and they are a resource to you. When you bring different perspectives together, wonderful things can happen. Also, don’t hesitate to think outside the box and try ideas that haven’t been done before.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? I believe the future of broadcasting will continue to play an essential role in our lives. Over the years one shiny object after another has been introduced in the industry, yet broadcast television remains to have the proven track record in delivering content and showing results.

Greg Scalzo
Greg Scalzo

Company: Good Karma Brands / ESPN Madison  

Position: Sales Director/On-Air Host

Years at station: 10

Started in broadcasting (year): 2010

How did you get into broadcasting? I started working at the student radio station for UW-Madison (WSUM). That experience really taught me about the industry and the skills necessary to get in the door with Good Karma Brands. I was able to work as an intern for ESPN Madison while in college and was promoted to a part-time teammate by my senior year. At that time, I was focused on covering the Green Bay Packers- working with our team in Green Bay to secure and distribute sound while producing and doing some on-air work. After graduating I was hired full-time in a hybrid role combining sports marketing sales and on-air hosting.

How do you view the role of young professionals in broadcasting? The world is changing faster than at any point in history. We are stewards for an industry that is reliant on the trust and interest of the public, in a world with increasing options and shrinking attention spans. As technology advances, it is up to young professionals to hold true to the pillars that created the trust and connection that built the broadcast industry, while being innovative and confident enough to try new ways to engage our audiences. We must push the industry forward, not to simply survive but to grow broadcasting. We can’t look at new technology or new strategies as a threat, but a resource to expand our idea of broadcasting and further our connection with consumers and the public at large.

What advice would you give to other young broadcasters? Try different things, whether roles, formats, industries, or ideas. I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter and spent time in that field before realizing it wasn’t for me. Try different things. See what you like. Be honest with yourself. Don’t say no, meet people, and remember that your reputation is all you have. In everything you do, make sure to work hard, listen, be honest, follow through, and over-deliver. Start early in crafting the right reputation and it will create the right opportunities in your career.

What does the future of broadcasting look like to you? The future is all about creating the right content to build an emotional connection and engage with the audience. Listening choices used to be based on property: What was available through a handful of radio stations/mediums and there were only a few ways for content to get in front on an audience. Technology blew that model up, and we’re still in the early stages of the digital age. Now great content can come from anywhere, and there’s a lot of it. The bar is higher, so there needs to be serious focus on creating the best content possible to create a connection and engage the audience. They in turn help to support advertising partners and create more resources to improve content and grow audience. It’s no longer about being safe and putting something on a channel because the audience is loyal to that station. The audience is loyal to great content.