Hiring and retaining talented sales professionals is vital to the success of the broadcasting industry in Michigan. This has been a top concern of MAB members over the past several years. This year, the MAB Foundation has stepped in to help by partnering with Michigan State University’s Sales Leadership Program. The Sales Leadership Minor at MSU is offered to students as a compliment to their major field of study. Students must pass a screening process before they are accepted into this competitive program. The MSU Sales Leadership Program is mutually beneficial to both the students and corporate partners. Corporate partners in this program can interact with top sales students at MSU throughout the school year and students in the program can meet and network with representatives from several companies and industries that are looking to hire them after graduation.
The MAB Foundation is passing these benefits on to MAB members. Four companies per semester will work with the MAB to represent the broadcast and media industry in Michigan at several events including career fairs, classroom interactions, professional development days and more. Semester 1 is off to a great start with Michigan Radio (Detroit), Jackson Radio Works (Jackson), WSYM-TV Fox 47 (Lansing) and WNEM-TV (Saginaw) participating in the program.
Story and photos by: Russ White, MSU Today/WKAR.org
MSU alumnus Jeremy Whiting is the new professional general manager of Michigan State University’s award-winning student radio station WDBM 88.9FM, better known as the Impact. He’s just the third GM in the almost 30 year history of the radio station, which will celebrate 30 years on the air on February 24, 2019.
A decade ago, Whiting was the student general manager for Impact Radio. He was happily teaching broadcasting and journalism to high school students, but he says of the opening at WDBM-FM: “If there was anything that was going to pull me out of my current job, it was this. I really got to thinking about it. I met with the students, and it was really apparent that it was a really good fit.”
Whiting says the mission of WDBM “really hasn’t changed. We’re still looking to educate students, and we also want to have a professional presentation on the air. We want to sound a lot like commercial radio. We want the average listener to be able to flip through the dial, hear music that is good, hear DJs who are good, and not really know any difference between something more to the right on the dial. Then we want good programming. Diverse programming. Programming that has a set format, but that also provides opportunities for voices from the MSU community and from the Lansing and East Lansing communities to be represented on the air.”
Of the challenges and opportunities facing the entire radio medium Whiting says of the industry’s future: “The Impact is really continuing to evolve as a brand, not just as an FM station. Certainly there’s always going to be a huge audience that is listening to the FM signal, whether you’re driving in your car or listening at home or whatever, but mostly in the car these days. People at home, they’re often listening to our live stream. They’re listening to podcasts. But we’re also producing other content like sports programming, news and content listeners can download from our website or interact with on Facebook. It’s all about that local connection and trying to find different ways that we can get information and content out to our audience that is relevant to them.”
Is Whiting bullish about over-the-air radio’s future? Yes.
“The actual delivery system might change in the future, but the content is still going to be the key. People are still going to want to have a live DJ telling them local information. I think the reason that Spotify and Pandora and some of the other services are popular is because friends can share playlists. They’re looking for recommended songs. They’re looking to hear what other people are listening to. And that’s really a strength of radio. You’re finding out what the masses are listening to. Popularity is often not what we’re going for with at a college radio station. We often discover up and coming talent. I think that’s very valuable to people. You can go on Spotify and find most of the artists that we play on the air, but you’re not going to find many stations like Impact that are picking those artists and recommending those specific ones to you, often before you’ve heard their name or heard their music anywhere else.”
So what are Whiting’s short and long term goals for Impact Radio?
“My short-term goal is just to get acclimated and to really get to know the staff and make sure they have the resources to be successful. Longer term, though, we want to upgrade the technology at the station. We’re looking at going to the next level for our radio automation system to enhance all the backend technology that helps us play music. We’re making sure we’re spending our student tax dollars wisely and really making sure that the equipment we have for the students to use is ready to work now and well into the future. We really want to stay relevant. We want to find good programming that is going to appeal to MSU students and our broader community and constantly reinvent ourselves when necessary.
“I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel because WDBM has such a strong foundation. The students are fantastic. The students are passionate, not only about radio, but about the Impact brand. It becomes their home, you know? They’re there at all hours of the day and night. We broadcast 24/7, but there are also people working there 24/7 doing other things besides being on the air. They’re all really passionate. Things change. It was weird coming in and seeing that much of the station is similar to when I left 10 years ago, and some of it is totally different. But that’s fine. It’s meant to evolve. It’s meant to stay relevant. If you’re looking for what’s happening in the MSU community and looking to hear up and coming music, Impact is where it’s at.”
BCBC’18 is just around the corner. We’re hard at work planning educational sessions for the upcoming Broadcast Career Builder Conference (BCBC) on November 16. BCBC is one of Michigan’s only broadcast and media conferences that is strictly focused on educating students and giving them a direct path to success in the media industry.
Friday, November 16
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Lansing Community College West Campus
5708 Cornerstone Dr., Lansing MI 48917
We need YOU to get involved in this conference. We’ll be offering the popular Speed Networking session which allows attendees to network with professionals for 5 minutes at a time in a “Speed Dating” type of setting. We need professionals in sales, programming, management, on-air talent, traffic, marketing and more to serve as mentors. If you’re interested in becoming a Speed Networking mentor, please contact Rachel Krause at [email protected] or 517-484-7444.
Help support the MAB Foundation’s mission to encourage, support, and sponsor educational activities to encourage the brightest, most creative and energetic students to choose broadcasting as a career. You can make a difference through supporting programs and scholarships for students in this industry.
Bruce & Sue Goldsen
Dr. Peter Orlik
Robert F. Ottaway
Have the student formally apply for the committee by June 29, 2018.
Don’t let your students miss out on this exciting opportunity to offer valuable input and add this service to their resume! They will also make important industry contacts that may help them when searching for a job after college.
Canton High School student Fiona Hughes was recently recognized with a WDIV-TV (Detroit) “4Frenzy Spotlight” for her work as the Program Director for Plymouth-Canton High School’s WSDP-FM radio. Station Manager Bill Keith and Assistant Station Manager John Kreger both recommended Hughes for the spotlight.
In the spotlight, Hughes is noted for being at the station every day because she knows that there’s always work to be done, or someone in need of her help.
She started to love broadcasting during her freshman year after she interviewed her current favorite band, Arkells, for her first “Backstage Pass” show for The Park. Vocalist for the group, Max Kerman, told her he couldn’t tell that it was her first time interviewing someone, even though she herself had not been confident in her interviewing skills. His words gave her reassurance and boosted her confidence. She initially thought that she would be behind the scenes but her journey brought her on-air, and now she is winning state awards for her talents.
Hughes herself won two awards at the recent 2018 MAB Foundation High School and College Awards program: 1st place Sports Public Service Announcement and 1st place On-Air Personality; Honorable Mention for Innovations in Digital Media.
The MAB Foundation will again host several career fairs this fall to connect YOU with new employees. The new career fair dates have been set, so make sure to get them on your calendar now! We’re changing it up this year and adding a new location to the mix, Ferris State University. Make plans to attend and gather resumes from an exciting new pool of candidates.
Wednesday, October 10 @ Ferris State University (12-3 p.m.)
Thursday, October 24 @ Western Michigan University (12-3 p.m.)
Friday, November 16 @ Lansing Community College West Campus (12-1:30 p.m.) In conjunction with the Broadcast Career Builder Conference
Registration is now open, sign your station up here.
Participating in multiple career fairs may help boost your EEO file-we can help you do this! In 2018, we’re offering a “Buy 3 get 1 Free” promotion. If you already participated in a career fair at the Great Lakes Media Show or Specs Howard School of Media Arts, you can participate in all 3 fall career fairs and only pay for 2 of them.
Be a winner by donating your prize for the MAB Foundation’s Summer Raffle!
Do you have a big-ticket item or experience to donate to the MAB Foundation for the summer raffle? Every year at the Summer Advocacy Conference, the MAB Foundation hosts an exciting raffle drawing for MAB members and their families. Past prizes have included:
Sporting Game Tickets
Northern Michigan Cottage Vacation
Sailing on Lake Michigan
Overnight Resort Stays
Proceeds from the raffle help to benefit the MAB Foundation and will fund educational opportunities for broadcasting students and professionals. Donations to the MAB Foundation may be tax deductible. If you would like to donate a prize, please contact Rachel Krause at [email protected] or 517-484-7444.