Category Archives: June 2018

WDIV’s Rhonda Walker Receives Prestigious NABJ Community Service Award

Rhonda Walker

On June 5, The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced the selection of Rhonda Walker, morning show anchor at WDIV-TV Local 4, as the recipient of the 2018 Angelo B. Henderson Community Service Award.

The award recognizes a journalist who has had a positive impact on the community outside the normal realm of journalism and was named in honor of the late Angelo B. Henderson, who as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer Prize and later became a highly respected minister, community activist and radio talk show host.

Walker is one of the top television journalists in the Detroit market. She has a burning desire to give back to the community through events and other volunteer work, logging over 100 appearances each year.

Whether it be emceeing events or spearheading initiatives around fitness, Rhonda has proven to be an inspiration in the community. She is also making a difference in the community through the Rhonda Walker Foundation which she started 15 years ago. It is dedicated to empowering inner-city teen girls by developing their confidence, morals and character, allowing them to take their rightful place as future leaders. Walker works closely with the participants during the five year “Girls into Women” program.

“I was blessed to get my first job in television 20 years ago in Detroit, the city where I was born. It was an honor, a privilege and tremendous blessing and I quickly felt a calling from God to use His blessing upon my life to bless others,” said Walker. “As journalists, we are keenly aware of the needs of our community and rather than just report on those needs, I wanted to hold myself accountable for doing something to make a difference. Four years into my career, I founded the Rhonda Walker Foundation and our core five-year “Girls into Women” program to empower inner city teen girls.”

Walker also said the program has produced results. “I am extremely proud that now in our 15th year, we have graduated 12 classes of seniors out of our award winning and comprehensive college prep, career, personal development and mentoring program. We have a 100% high school graduation rate among our teens that complete our program. They are all students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District and 100% enroll in a 4 year college or university and 95% of our girls graduate from college as well. I am deeply proud of our outcomes and the impact the program has on the lives of under privileged kids in Detroit.”

NABJ President Sarah Glover applauds Walker for her commitment to underprivileged girls in Detroit. “To produce such life changing and amazing results for our young girls makes Rhonda an excellent choice to receive this award named in honor of a man who also dedicated his life to making a difference in Detroit. It is also fitting that NABJ is presenting this award to Walker during our convention and career fair which is returning to Detroit after 26 years. It is also noteworthy that Angelo B. Henderson served as president of the Detroit chapter back in 1992.”

NABJ Region II Director Vickie Thomas nominated Walker and said, “Rhonda serves as a shining example of a journalist who uses her status in the community to effectuate change. She epitomizes the spirit of NABJ’s Angelo B. Henderson Community Service Award. She is the perfect choice to receive this honor.”

Walker says receiving this award is special and personal, “To be recognized by NABJ for my service to the Detroit community is a tremendous and humbling honor and I am extremely grateful. Learning that this award is named after a man I truly looked up to professionally as a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and successful radio host is truly special. But I also looked up to him personally, his energy, his ever present infectious smile and incredible willingness to help others is a bar that can never be reached. It is hard to find the words to truly express how much an award in Angelo B. Henderson’s name means to me. It is truly one of the highest honors I could ever receive, thank you so very much.”

Walker will be honored at NABJ’s 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards ceremony on Saturday, August 4 during the NABJ Convention and Career Fair at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.

NABJ Convention registration and Salute to Excellence Awards tickets can be purchased here.

For more information on the Foundation, and to learn how you can help positively affect the life of an inner city teen girl, please visit the RWF’s website,

WBET Raises $104k for United Way

Swick Broadcasting’s WBET-FM (Sturgis) has announced that it recently raised $104,330 for the United Way of St. Joseph County, during an 18-hour radio marathon that featured local officials and community business leaders as guest DJs.  The Radiothon was held on May 24.

“We are so proud of our local St. Joseph County listeners for their generosity in supporting the United Way,” stated Steve Swick, Chief Executive Officer of Swick Broadcasting and Local Radio Networks. “Local radio is the heart of the community, and everybody wants the thrill of being a DJ. Our local dignitaries had lots of fun on-air during this special charity drive, and our listeners clearly loved it and responded with their kind donations.”

WDET To Offer Free Airtime to Non-Profits Through Kyle’s Challenge

WDET-FM (Detroit) and The Kyle John Foundation are awarding $25,000 in promotional support to five, youth-focused nonprofits.

Five organizations will receive $5,000 of free airtime on WDET.  One non-profit (Soar Detroit) was already chosen by the Kyle John Foundation, but listeners of the station have been invited to vote to choose the remaining organizations.

Soar Detroit will kick off the Kyle’s Challenge on-air awareness campaign on the station on June 25.

Gary Cone and Aimée Cowher, founders of The Kyle John Foundation believe in the impact of WDET and the collective ability to make a real difference. They have made a very generous gift to WDET as a challenge to get listeners involved in a Community Impact Campaign that can improve the lives of thousands of young people in Southeast Michigan.

For more information on the project, click here.

WKAR Completes Channel Repack

On June 1, WKAR-TV (East Lansing) announced that it has completed its channel repack move from channel 40 to channel 33 and is now operating at full power.

The station made the FCC-required frequency change on Tuesday, May 29, but in the days following the switch, broadcasting continued at low power to a reduced coverage area while additional work was required on the new main transmission line. Many viewers beyond 30 miles, and those with indoor antennas, had no reception during this period.

But, as of 12:50 p.m. on Friday, June 1, WKAR began broadcasting from the new main antenna at full tower height, at full power, and now reaches the full coverage area for all antenna TV viewers.

The station has been advising viewers through its website to rescan their digital television tuners.

The project also affected co-located WKAR-FM and WKAR-AM’s FM translator, both of which had to power down or go off the air for brief periods during the TV antenna project.

WKAR is the first station in Michigan, and the first public broadcasting station in the country, to begin broadcasting on their new assigned frequency.

How to Manage Talents Who Hate Each Other!

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Good news! You have a successful, well-rated morning team on your station. Bad news: They do not get along off the air. With so much emphasis on post-show events (promotions, events, appearances, social media), what’s a PD or GM to do?

I think we could all agree that on-air staffs and drama are synonymous. But what happens when there is real-life conflict? Here are some suggestions from programmers and managers who either currently have or have had this kind of problem.

Let’s start with a guy who works with morning shows all the time: morning show coach/consultant Steve Reynolds. He says, “Of course they need a relationship off-air. That’s crazy to think they don’t. The respect they have for each other, the trust they build, their ability to communicate and resolve issues is felt in their on-air chemistry. That takes work and commitment.”

John Gehron, COO at AccuRadio and longtime PD and manager, also has some sage words of advice. “If they are successful, then they are getting the job done on the air. That’s what counts. I don’t think it’s necessary to hang out off the air on their own time.”

Don Kellogg of Lagniappe Broadcasting in Louisiana shares this: “I have actually had to step in between talent before to keep a fistfight from going down. As the operations manager, I explained to both employees that they are both creating a negative work environment for those around them and that is not conducive to creativity and will not be tolerated.”

Country consultant Joel Raab comments, “I think if you can manage the dislike, it can enhance creative spark. Worked with a morning team that literally hated each other off air but sounded like best buds on the air — and had great ratings.”

Music Master’s Marianne Burkett has a good angle on it. “Sounds like an ‘old married couple’ issue. They probably just need to spend some time hanging out together — alone.”

Former radio producer, now mid-morning talent on Providence’s WPRI-TV Will Gilbert has a different look at the subject. “I’ve worked with both — teams that really do like each other or at the very least, deal with each other, and then teams that can’t stand each other. It’s tough to fake it on the air that much. Listeners are more and more media-savvy, and many who listen every day can read between the lines. For me, I could not be happier with my partner. Granted it’s TV and not radio — I truly could not have asked for a better ‘TV wife.’”

Sports radio consultant Tom Bigby has spent decades dealing with talent as one of the founding fathers of the all-Sports format. “You must be talking about most Sports radio talent. I’ve always thought a little bit dysfunctional group gets better ratings. And makes the talent more memorable.”

Longtime Boston-New England personality Karen Blake feels conflict may have a good place. “Also, a manager can really turn things around if he/she is truly a great manager. I can tell you firsthand that having a bad manager at times in my career has been very stressful, when you go to them for help and they do nothing. I’ve lost sleep many nights over a manager that has no balls. I will say, though, some of the best teams are the ones with a little tension. So it’s not a bad thing, but a good manager needs to keep an eye on the quarterbacks of the station and step in when needed.”

Of course, radio is not the only business that needs to deal with personality conflict, as Jim McKeon points out. “Simon and Garfunkel couldn’t and can’t stand each other. They found ways to work together, get along onstage, and achieve greatness. Offstage, separate ways, as Journey says!”

Bob Zamboni (Bob DeCarlo) has a unique perspective as a PD and on-air talent. “While I had a partner for 14 years in Tampa, I was the PD for eight of those years and had a cordial but not friendly relationship off the air. I was a polar opposite to him in manner but was a fan of his wit and humor. At times, we were at each other’s throats, but realized as a team we were doing something special. My philosophy was to accent the positive and keep apart unless necessary.”

How about when you’re married to your partner? On-air talent Kelly Cozadd shares these thoughts. “If they are highly rated and successful, then they seem to be managing it. You don’t have to like everyone you work with, or like them all the time. I did a team morning show with my husband for 25 years. We didn’t always like each other.”

Programmer Tom Calococci says, “Sometimes people lose perspective. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. If they’ve got a good thing going on the air, they should keep that in mind. Hopefully you all get it worked it out.”

Tom’s comments really bring it home: “Don’t lose perspective” and “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” This is especially important when you look at what has been going on in morning television. NBC’s Today Show and CBS’s This Morning both lost main anchors (Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose) and have not only rebounded, but ratings are up substantially since the departures. Everyone is replaceable.

Over the years, I have known many personalities who found themselves in this type of conflict. In most cases, when it’s all over, they regret the behavior. Many times it leads to dismissal, and they always say, “It wasn’t worth losing my job over.” Don’t lose perspective. Don’t blow a good thing. If it’s working in the studio, it’s working. Either way, if you value your position, it’s up to you to make it work.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.

Humblebrags: The Key to Getting Shared and Retweeted

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When it comes to social media, there are lots of data points that we can measure: likes, comments, clicks, shares, retweets, etc. There’s a tendency to lump all of these stats together under the heading of “engagement,” and say, “more engagement is good.” But this oversimplifies the role of social media in our radio stations’ digital strategies.

Key Social Media Stat #1: Incoming Traffic
When it comes to social media, the single most important statistic to track won’t be found in your Facebook or Twitter dashboards; it’s found in your Google Analytics: How many unique visitors came to your website from each social network?

Why is this the most important stat? Because once people are on your website, only then can you encourage them to take an action — such as sign up for the email list or stream the station — that will impact your bottom line. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great if people like, favorite, comment or reply to your posts, but that’s not going to bring more revenue in, so it’s not the top priority.

How do you use social media to drive traffic back to your website? You create original content, such as blogposts or photos, and share them on social media. It’s fine to also share other people’s content on social media, but if your station is only sharing other people’s content, your digital strategy will not bear much fruit in the long run. (Here’s a guide to finding the right mix of station content and other people’s content to share.)

In other words, the key to driving traffic back to your site is to publish Facebook posts and tweets with links back to your compelling content.

Key Social Media Stat #2: Shares & Retweets
But what really moves the needle is when other people or organizations pass the link to your content on their followers. We want them to share your post on Facebook or retweet your tweet. This is what we mean when we say something goes “viral.” In other words, the next important data point to look at when it comes to social media is shares and retweets — not likes, comments or favorites.

(Note that Instagram does not provide an equivalent way to share or retweet a posting. In fact, Instagram is not a particularly good channel for driving traffic back to your website, which is why I think it deserves less attention in your station’s overall digital strategy.)

So, how do you get people to share or retweet your station’s posts?

It’s all in the writing.

Socially Acceptable Humblebragging
A “humblebrag” is the act of trying “to get away with bragging about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.” Here are some examples:

Retweeting or sharing a post is essentially a socially acceptable way to humblebrag. If I were to tweet, “Seth Resler is soooooo awesome!” I would appear conceited. But if I were to retweet John Doe saying, “Seth Resler is the coolest guy on the planet!” it would be socially acceptable; it’s perceived as me offering thanks for the compliment rather than bragging about myself.

If you want people to reshare/retweet your posts, the key is to say something complimentary about them that they would be reluctant to say about themselves. Then tag them in the post and include a link back to your website:

  • “We raved about the fantastic donuts at @DetroitCoffee on our show this morning! Here’s the recording: [LINK]”
  • “@StLouisLocalBand has a killer new album out this week! We reviewed it here: [LINK]”
  • “The party was off the chain at @AtlantaNightclub last night! We’ve got photos here: [LINK]”

Two important details to pay attention to:

  • The verbs you use in your social media posts have a big impact. It’s much stronger to “rave” about something thanit is to “mention” it. Passionate verbs increase the chances that your posts will be shared. It’s helpful to brainstorm a list of powerful verbs to use when posting on social media.
  • When looking for people or organizations to tag in your social media posts, pay attention to the number of followers that they have. If somebody who only has 100 followers retweets your station, it’s not going to drive a lot of traffic back to your website, whereas somebody with 100,000 followers probably will.

There’s an art to writing social media posts that get shared. Take the time to craft well-written posts, and you should see a noticeable impact on your station’s website traffic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

FCC Grants TV Stations Extension on Certain Audible Crawl Requirements

On May 25, the FCC granted a petition filed jointly by the NAB and disability advocacy groups to extend the May 26, 2018, compliance deadline for the emergency-graphics-to-speech rule for five more years.

The FCC issued an Order that delays the compliance deadline until May 2023. To monitor progress on achieving the desired visual-to-aural capabilities, the FCC also required that the NAB file a report with the Commission by November 25, 2020, the midpoint of the five-year extension period.  The report must “detail the extent to which broadcasters have made progress in finding accessible solutions or alternatives to providing critical emergency details generally delivered in a graphic format, as well as the extent to which this waiver continues to be necessary.”

Geoffrey Starks Will Receive FCC Nomination

President Donald J. Trump has announced that he is nominating Democrat Geoffrey Starks to the Federal Communications Commission to fill the seat Mignon Clyburn announced in April she would be leaving.

“NAB strongly supports President Trump’s selection of Geoffrey Starks to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission,” said National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith

Legislative Leaders Agree on Budget Targets

Governor Rick Snyder and top leaders in the Legislature agreed last week on the budget targets for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The agreement sets out funding levels for all departments and major budget areas. The state departments now will begin discussion to work out compromises on specific spending items to work out any discrepancies between the House and Senate version of the budget bills.

Among the major components of the agreement:

  • An increase of over $400 million for infrastructure: $330 million for roads and the rest for other infrastructure;
  • A $115 million deposit to the Budget Stabilization Fund, which will boost it to more than $1 billion;
  • $58 million in new funding for school safety initiatives like grants to schools, the OK2Say hotline program and school counselors;
  • Full funding of the $100 million for the state’s workforce training and education program; and
  • The increase to K-12 schools of $120 to $240 per pupil based on the 2X formula.


Whitmer Says Ads Coming Soon

Gretchen Whitmer

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer has not yet begun running ads on television, but, according to Gongwer, she will be doing so in the future.

Former business executive and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thandenar has run a heavy series of television ads which has helped him gain name identification, and in several polls put him in a statistical tie with Whitmer.

Polls have shown that many Democrats are still uncertain whom to support, and that at least half of the voters do not recognize Whitmer’s name. However, referring to name ID, Whitmer said, “When we start those paid communications, I think a lot of those things will change too, quickly.”