Radio Talent Institute wraps up first year at WKU

Radio Talent Institute wraps up first year at WKU

Elliott Pratt

16 aspiring broadcasting students at WKU just wrapped up the first ever KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute.

The students spent their time working with professionals from every realm of the radio and television broadcasting business – learning about areas in on-air, programming, production, promotions, news and sports broadcasting and sales.

During the first week of the institute, the Lambert and Lindsey Morning Show from 102.3 THE MAX out of Louisville broadcasted their live morning show from Mass Media and Technology Hall. The group also traveled to Nashville to meet with the Tennessee Titans Radio Network and the Nashville Predators radio team.

The group met with over 25 professionals in the business. J’Maika Combs said networking with various people was the most important thing she took from the 10-day institute.

“Networking is the best thing that you can do,” Combs said. “Never burn your bridges, you never know when you’re going to move jobs and someone else follows. Knowing what you want and working on your brand was a huge thing I took from this.”

Much like its first year at WKU, the institute has seen much success at Appalachian State University, where founder Dan Vallie began the first institute seven years ago.

Vallie said demand for entry-level broadcasters was a driving factor in bringing the institute to WKU.

“The broadcast industry has always said we need a talent incubator to be able to find entry-level young talent to come into the business,” Vallie said. “Because broadcasters see this need, it was a no brainer to bring to to Western Kentucky.”

The institute would not have been possible without major funding from avenues through the National Radio Talent System.

The Kentucky Broadcasters Association was a major revenue source for the institution. Gary White, president and CEO of the KBA, said WKU’s standings helped make it an easy decision to fund the institute.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better institution that WKU to host this event,” White said. “Their reputation in broadcasting and journalism is known across the country and we’re so happy and pleased that they chose to let us come here.”

One student, Kelly Berry, however, attends Lindsey-Wilson College rather than WKU. Berry said the opportunity for the institute to be open to students outside of WKU was one he had to jump towards.

“Originally, I didn’t know that I would be the only guy down here that wasn’t a Western student,” Berry said. “Everybody here has been very open and welcome to me as an outsider. I’ve really felt like part of the group.”

White said through watching and listening to what the speakers and students have shared during institute, he believes their participation in the 10-day journey is something they’ll use well into their careers.

“Having watched some of the students talk about the program and what they’re getting out of it, it is something that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their life.”