Engineering Spotlight: Gary Blievernicht, MSU/WKAR-AM/FM/TV (East Lansing)

Nominate an engineer you know!  Email Dan Kelley at

GaryB_300Gary Blievernicht
Engineering Supervisor, Michigan State University-WKAR-AM/FM/TV, East Lansing.  He has been at MSU since 1992.

Gary is also Chairman of the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC), which oversees the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in Michigan.

Brief Engineering Resume:
Attended the Purdue University extension in Indianapolis, which morphed into Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis. BS/EET.  I’ve worked at WTTV which was an independent station that later turned into a CBS affiliate, and WISH-TV that was a CBS affiliate and later turned into an independent.

Also, made video discs for two years with RCA Selectavision; a couple of years with the University of New Mexico’s KNME-TV/KUNM-FM; and as Engineering/Operations manager for Eastern Educational Television Network, now American Public Television. Odd that so many places change their name or go out of business after I leave. Must be to protect the innocent.

Q: How did you get started in broadcast engineering?
Gary:  I attended and participate in the Junior Achievement program at WFBM-TV (now WRTV) in Indianapolis. I produced/directed two episodes, and did a bit of sales for the series.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Gary:  Well, a few know that I have the record for the shortest acceptance speech for an award at the GLBC.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Gary:  Trust the Lord, Jesus.

This Old House Comes to Detroit

thisOldHouseLgLogoIn its forthcoming 37th season, the public television program This Old House will air a series of episodes recorded in Detroit.  

The program traveled to the Motor City to work with retired firefighter Frank and his family as they renovate their classic brick home. The 1939 two-story property was one of thousands of abandoned structures owned by the Detroit Land Bank. The family recently purchased the Russell Woods neighborhood house at auction with the promise they would make improvements and move in.

Expected work includes a new roof, kitchen, and baths, plus new mechanicals to replace vandalized equipment in the basement. The team will look to preserve historic details such as leaded stained glass windows and archways as the homeowners blend their modern aesthetics with the home’s historic details. The Detroit series will span 10 all-new episodes.

“The Detroit episodes will present the city’s housing situation in a new light, as residents and leaders are finding the best ways to reclaim and restore their community homes. Our team is honored to take part in these efforts in this landmark city,” said Executive Producer Chris Wolfe.

The 37th season of This Old House will premiere nationally on PBS this fall.

WZZM-TV, Michigan Radio Honored With Murrow Awards

Two Michigan broadcasters were honored with Edward R. Murrow Awards, presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association.  Presentation will be at the Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City in October.

The Edward R. Murrow Award for “Sports Reporting – Large Market” has been given to WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids), the TEGNA-owned ABC affiliate.  It is the station’s first ever Murrow Award.

Brent Ashcroft
Brent Ashcroft

WZZM won for a story titled “Big Ann,” produced by Our Michigan Life storyteller Brent Ashcroft, with former Director of Photography, Andy Sugden. “Big Ann” tells the story of an Ada, MI athlete, Anna Lee Konsoer-Rose, who was fighting for her health during her senior year following a rare diagnosis.

“We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious journalism organization,” said Janet Mason, WZZM 13 President and General Manager. “We are elated that strong writing and great storytelling are valued by our peers and content consumers.”

“It’s exciting to see the work of our journalists recognized in this way,” said WZZM 13 News Director Taz Painter. “We have put a lot of emphasis on telling the kinds of stories that are unique in our market, and we are thrilled that the judges decided our work was worthy of this honor.”

“Big Ann” was one of three WZZM 13 stories that won regional Edward R. Murrow awards earlier this year. In the national competition, “Big Ann” was selected from a category that contained work from stations in larger markets, including Los Angeles, Washington, Denver, and Minneapolis.

Click here to see the winning story.

mir-ann-arbor-logo-bwMichigan Radio was recognized with a national Edward R. Murrow Award.  The award, in the Large Market Radio – News Documentary category, was received for “Not Safe to Drink.”  The documentary series traced the history and story behind the Flint water crisis.

“Not Safe to Drink” aired on Michigan Radio in December 2015.

It was produced and written by Lindsey Smith, with help from Sarah Hulett and Jennifer Guerra. Additional reporting by Steve Carmody, Mark Brush , Rebecca Williams, and other members of the Michigan Radio news team.

“Winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award is the ultimate compliment for any news organization,” said Steve Schram, Executive Director-General Manager of Michigan Radio. “This is a tribute not only to the excellent work done by Lindsey Smith, but also by all of our journalists every day.”

This is the fifth national Murrow award for the NPR station, which last won in 2011 for the Environment Report documentary “Coal: Dirty Past, Hazy Future.” Michigan Radio has also won more than ten regional Murrow awards over the past five years.

About the Edward R. Murrow Awards
The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Murrow’s pursuit of excellence in journalism embodies the spirit of the awards that carry his name. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the electronic news profession.

WQON-FM Hosts Radio Forum on Energy

WQONOn June 17, Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s WQON-FM (Grayling) hosted an on-air forum on energy moderated by station co-owner Jerry Coyne, featuring local leaders from the energy community.

Sheryl Coyne, President of Blarney Stone Broadcasting, said her radio network is proud to serve as host of such an important event designed to educate listeners on the energy issues facing Northern Michigan. “We believe in providing as much information as possible on issues that affect our listening audience,” Coyne said. “We’re in the communications business, and we take that seriously. We believe passionately that to bring this important issue into focus is the best use of our airwaves.”

The program has been archived and available as a podcast on the station’s website.

MPRN Completes I.T. Transition

MPRN_300The Michigan Public Radio Network has completed its transition from MSU-hosted email, listserv, and FTP services to services now operating under its own management.

The transition started in May with Email and listserv functions moving to cloud-based Google Apps.  This past weekend, MPRN’s FTP site, used for swapping audio and other files between member stations, moved to a server housed inside the Michigan Association of Broadcasters building in Lansing.  The older server reached the end of its useful life recently and was due for replacement.

Dan Kelley, MAB Director of Technical Services/Digital Communications Manager oversaw the transition.  MPRN Member stations having any difficulties or questions concerning the services should contact Dan at

Michigan Radio Holding Garrison Keillor Celebration

Last week, we wrote that WCMU Public Radio (Mt. Pleasant) was hosting a listener party to celebrate Garrison Keillor’s retirement from “A Prairie Home Companion.”  We have since learned that Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor is also hosting a listener party:

mir-ann-arbor-logo-bwAfter more than 40 years, Garrison Keillor is stepping down as the host of “A Prairie Home Companion.” Michigan Radio is celebrating Keillor’s final performances as host with “Garrison Keillor’s Retirement Celebration” at the station’s studios in Ann Arbor.  Listeners are invited to stop by and enjoy a slice of cake, sign a retirement card, and watch part of his final live show with fellow fans via video stream. The station is also giving away some “A Prairie Home Companion” prizes during the event.

The celebration will be held Saturday, June 25 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Information online here.

John Gay Joins WDZH-FM

JagCBS Radio’s WDZH-FM (Detroit) has announced the hiring of Jon Gay as the station’s new midday air talent.  Gay, known on-air as “Jag” comes to the station from New Orleans, where he was program director and afternoon drive host at KVDU-FM.

Gay previously worked at WKQI-FM (Detroit) between June 2011 and December 2012.

CBS Radio SVP/Market Manager Debbie Kenyon told All Access: “I am thrilled to add Jag to the 98.7 AMP RADIO lineup.  We are dedicated to keeping the station live and local and I can’t wait to hear Jag during the workday. I look forward to his fun on-air demeanor and know he’ll make a lot of listeners’ workdays go by a lot faster!”

Gay began his new position on June 15.

WWMT-TV Welcomes Mara Thompson

marathompson_300WWMT-TV (Kalamazoo) has hired former WPBN/WTOM-TV (Traverse City) news reporter Mara Thompson.  Thompson joined the station on June 6.

Thompson is a 2014 graduate of Michigan State University, majoring in journalism with a concentration in electronic news.

While at MSU, she was an announcer for the Big Ten Network Student U and was an anchor and reporter for the Emmy award-winning student news program Focal Point.  She also interned at WLNS-TV in Lansing, as well as WPBN/WTOM-TV in Traverse City.

Editorial: Stand Out From The Crowd

JohnLund_200By: John C. Lund
The Lund Consultants, Inc.

Many companies make cell phones and computers, but Apple managed to cut a unique path that led to sales numbers all other companies covet. In the process, the Apple name gained strength as the “i” moniker became a marker for innovation. Apple has mastered standing out in the crowd. Winning stations are like that: a unique edge or identity that becomes part of the brand. We call it Stationality.

What is your unique edge? If you say your music, then this can be attacked easily by a competitor in order to steal your audience. Is it market longevity alone, or have you coupled that with other unique desirable listener benefits?

An even bigger challenge is properly identifying your station’s unique offering and marketing that to listeners. In your next staff meeting, ask every employee to describe your station and then list a key attribute or offering. Chances are that some of your own staff have trouble defining what you are. What can we expect from a listener in that case? Conversely, you may find a description or approach that becomes your new marketing campaign.

The value of your brand rests with being easily identified and offering something exclusive or more attractively packaged for your audience.

Do you own your image in your market? We work with stations and groups to build unique positions and stronger brands that anchor ratings and revenue. Contact to discuss your market. See the Lund Stationality Stylebook for ways to make your station unique.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Editorial: Here’s What Your Radio Station Should Be Sharing on Social Media

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Social media can be a powerful tool for radio stations if it’s used as part of a Content Marketing strategy. Think of your website as a radio station. Just as you are continually airing content on your radio station — songs, DJs, contests, etc. — to attract an audience, you need to continually add content to your station’s website: blogposts, photos, videos, podcasts, etc.

Resler_ShareOf course, you want people to know that you are broadcasting this great content on your radio station, so you might put a billboard up by the highway to promote your station. After all, a lot of people drive along that route every day. By the same token, when you post great content to your website, you want to let people know by sharing that content on social media. That’s the “highway” they’re on every day.

If your website is like a radio station, Facebook is like a billboard by the highway. Posting to social media without continually creating content on your website is like putting up a billboard to advertise a radio station that isn’t broadcasting anything. Without content, social media loses most of its value.

What Content to Post to Social Media

Of course, if all you post on social media is links to your own station’s content, your social media presence can appear self-serving. Moreover, it can limit the scope of your social media presence. Some of your listeners may be passionate foodies, but if you don’t have anyone on staff who can create content around food, you won’t be able to engage them on this topic.

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of The Content Marketing Institute, popularized what’s known as the 4-1-1 Rule for sharing content on social media. (He credits Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, with the rule’s creation.) The 4-1-1 Rule says:

“For every six pieces of content shared via social media (think Twitter for example):

  • Four should be pieces of content from your influencer target that are also relevant to your audience. This means that two-thirds of the time you are sharing content that is not yours and calling attention to content from your influencer group.
  • One piece should be original, educational content that you have created.
  • One piece should be sales-related — like a coupon, product notice, press release, or some other piece of content that no one will likely pay attention to.”

Jacobs Media Strategies Example

What does that look like in real life? At Jacobs Media, we practice the Content Marketing strategy that we preach. Every weekday, Fred Jacobs publishes a blogpost. But we share much more than just Fred’s posts on social media. Here’s a closer look:

4 Pieces of Influencer Content: The target audience for Jacobs Media is radio broadcasters. I follow the blogs of several other content creators that are also of interest to broadcasters. These include:

  • Industry news sites
  • Major companies, such as Nielsen
  • Thought leaders in specific niches, such as broadcast law, streaming, or podcasting

I have also set up Google Alerts, both to call my attention to stories on specific subjects, such as “connected cars,” and to alert me to general topics like “radio” in mainstream publications such as Forbes, the Huffington Post, and Business Insider.

Every morning, I spend 20 minutes scanning through all of this content and share out the stuff I think would be most interesting to our followers. I try to tag the author of the content in the social media post so they see we are sharing their content. This is particularly important when sharing content created by an influencer that we do not already have a personal relationship with. For example, if I see a great article written by a technology reporter for The Guardian, I will tweet it out and include the reporter’s Twitter handle in the hopes they will want to learn more about Jacobs Media.

I don’t adhere strictly to the 4-1-1 ratio; I simply share more content created by other people than I do content created by us.

1 Piece of Original, Educational Content: I always share our latest blogpost on social media. We also use a WordPress Plugin called Revive Old Post to share older blogposts, spread out throughout the day.

1 Piece of Sales-Related Content: I think of this as “Content that Converts“: While you don’t have to jump through any hoops to read our blogposts, we also have some “freemium” content on our website, including webinar recordings, guides, and research results. To access this content, you must fill out a form to sign up for our email database. So for Jacobs Media, the 4-1-1 Social Media Rule looks like this:

  • 4 pieces of content written by other radio broadcasting influencers
  • 1 post from our blog
  • 1 piece of “freemium” content

Remember, 4-1-1 is a ratio, not a hard a fast rule. We often post more that six social media posts per day, but they tend to loosely follow this ratio.

Video Tutorial

Radio Station Example

So how would the 4-1-1 Rule apply to radio stations? In much the same way:

4 Pieces of Influencer Content: A radio station’s list of influencers will include anybody in the local market creating content aimed at the same audience. This could include local:

    • Journalists, columnists, and TV stations
    • Sports teams
    • Schools and universities
    • Bloggers
    • Bands, musicians, and venues
    • Comedians and comedy clubs
    • Festivals and events

Create a list of local influencers who are creating content and share their content when it is appropriate.

1 Piece of Original Content: These are your blogposts, videos, photos, etc. Anything that does not require people to fill out a form to access.

1 Piece of Content that Converts: It doesn’t make a lot of sense for radio stations to regularly post sales-related content (“Advertise with us!”) on their social media channels, because your followers are mostly listeners, not clients. Instead, this last type of social media post is a Call to Action; in other words, it encourages people to complete one of the goals of your digital strategy. Those goals may include (among other things):

  • Streaming the station
  • Signing up for the email database
  • Entering a contest
  • Purchasing tickets to a station event

Here are some examples:

  • “DJ Dan will interview Drake at 5:00pm. Listen: [LINK TO AUDIO STREAM]”
  • “Get the details on all the hottest shows in the area. Sign up for our Concert Calendar Email: [LINK]”
  • “Want to see Muse at the Palladium? Enter To win tickets here: [LINK]”
  • “Kid Rock is headlining our Big Picnic concert this summer! Get tickets here: [LINK]”
  • “Did you miss the Zoo Crew’s interview with Nick Cannon? Listen to it here: [LINK TO THE RECORDING, WHICH IS BEHIND A FORM]”

When your radio station shares content on social media, keep the 4-1-1 Rule in mind. It’s a helpful rule of thumb.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.