September 01, 2015

Confer Radio Talent Institute

Fourteen students interested in a career in the broadcast industry attended the Confer Radio Talent Institute over the summer. The week-and-a-half-long institute featured industry professionals from up and down the East Coast, rigorous classroom experience and a trip to Philadelphia to visit the Citizen’s Bank Center to learn about the Phillies' and Flyers’ sports broadcast teams. 

In its second year, the institute was established last year thanks to a gift from longtime broadcast professional Kerby Confer, owner of Forever Media in Altoona, Pa. The institute introduces budding broadcasters to a wide range of opportunities within the radio industry.

“Students are coming out more focused and with more hope that they have a place in the broadcast industry,” says Kerby. “They have a better understanding that radio has always been and will continue to be the gateway to bigger things. Many great television personalities have come out of radio. Steve Allen, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Tom Brokaw, Ryan Seacrest and Jimmy Kimmel all began their careers in radio.”

Over the nine days of sessions, professional broadcasters from radio stations up and down the East Coast attended, sharing insight, techniques and knowledge gained from years in the business. 

“The daily speakers have a significant impact on the students,” says David Magolis, Ph.D., director of the institute. “Each day, the students listen to and interact with professionals from the media industry. The speakers all have varied backgrounds academically, professional and personally. The speakers talk candidly with the students about their life experiences inside and outside the industry and how they can “break-in” to the industry. Listening to the high-achieving media professionals life experiences can and does help students on their career journey.” 

At the end of the institute, all 14 students took and passed the Radio Advertising Bureau’s (RAB) marketing certification exam. The RAB certification puts them ahead of their peers, offering an advantage in the job market. 

“Radio has kept pace with the economy in terms of revenues in the face of all of the other, so-called competitors,” says Kerby. “It’s also keeping pace with the latest technology. Like television, radio stations are turning to HD to grow along with the digital movement – the sound is flawless.” 

Jack Fritz, a rising BU senior and mass communication major attended the institute to learn as much as he could about radio broadcasting and to meet radio professionals from all over the country.

“This is huge for me going forward,” says Jack. “Not only is it a great opportunity to get my name out there to a boatload of radio professionals, but I'm also learning things that you just can't get in a classroom. I had never been critiqued on my radio talent before the institute, so when the industry professionals were able to give us feedback I was tremendously excited to get back in the studio and on the mic again. The radio professionals were so helpful!” 

Many of the students from last year’s institute have successfully landed jobs or internships in the broadcast industry. According to Magolis, last year’s participants include Greg Guidone, who landed a position as a producer/reporter at WMDT ABC 47; Travis Slusser, who received an internship as a result of the conference at Entercom Radio in Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Hala Maroc, who is currently interning and working with Clear Channel’s street team in NYC; and Enrique Josephs Jr., who is a voice over talent. 

Nick Cellucci, a BU rising senior and mass communications major says the institute gave him a new direction for his career path. “Now that I've learned so much about being in radio and made all these professional connections, I can definitely see myself getting into radio as a career and really enjoying it.”

“In my mind, any career experience I can get is good experience. Every professional that has spoken to us has offered a unique perspective and a ton of insight. I took a lot of notes, collected a lot of business cards and I'm excited to put what I've gained into action.” 

“Big things are happening in radio,” says Kerby. “Seven years ago, a well-known critic whom everyone quotes wrote something about all of the media that, in the next ten years, won’t exist. Newspapers, yellow pages, magazines – goodbye to the post office and without a doubt, radio will be destroyed by the Internet. The same man just wrote a column six months ago about how the Internet has reinvigorated and reinvented radio. We’re the original social media.”

Cailley Breckinridge, a BU rising senior and mass communications major says she hadn’t considered a career in radio before attending the institute. “I felt like it was a good idea to find out what it was really all about and to make myself more well-rounded in media.” 

After attending, she feels that she now has the knowledge and skills to go out into the professional world and get a job in a major market. 

“It's really boosted my confidence and helped me come out of my shell,” says Cailley. “The things I learned here will help me with not only my career, but also my personal life. The most beneficial part was being able to network with real professionals in major markets like iHeartMedia and CBS radio, and being able to see what this growing industry is all about.” 
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