Publications like AdWeek and Fast Company are filled with articles and analyses about Millennials, a cultural phenomenon we also talk about with regularity in this blog. And why not? They’re an influential generation, and they’re massive in size – not unlike the Baby Boomer revolution that turbocharged the ’60s.
But what about their younger brothers and sisters, a group that has remained somewhat under the radar? In marketing circles, they’re known as Gen Z, and they’re quite a bit different than those much-talked-about Millennials.
Does Gen Z really aspire to work in radio and TV broadcasting at a time when Amazon, Snapchat, BuzzFeed, Apple, and myriad tech startups offer more attractive and lucrative careers for the best, brightest, and talented young people?
Based on the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation’s BCBC17 event last week in Lansing, the answer is a resounding “YES!” The Broadcasting Career Builder Conference attracted more than 200 aspiring radio and TV stars in college, high school, and vocational programs from all over the state of Michigan. Demand was so strong they actually had to turn some students away at the door.
This was the 13th annual BCBC, and clearly one of the best-attended and programmed. Karole White has run the MAB for more than a quarter century, getting the most out of her dedicated staff. Jacquelen Timm (pictured right) is the MAB’s new Foundation Manager and Development Director. With this event, she’s off to a great start.
Jacquelen called this year’s BCBC17 “a wonderful experience for both the students who attended, and for the amazingly talented professionals who and inspired the future of the industry. I feel so honored to help share the mission of the MAB Foundation.”
There were some strong guest speakers at the event, including the inspiring Mara MacDonald from WDIV-TV, Hubbard Radio’s Jay Cruz, Beasley Media’s Jennifer Williams, Alpha Media engineer Caleb Gordon, WDET’s digital content whiz AnnMarie Scaramuzzino, and some guy named Paul Jacobs.
I participated in the “Speed Networking” sessions along with other broadcast pros, and met those Gen Z faces you see pictured at the top of this post.
To a person, they looked great, were focused and organized, showed up with good questions – and LOTS of passion for the broadcasting field. Many have already interned at stations throughout the Michigan area and beyond, and they’re excited about their future careers in radio and TV.
And they run the gamut.
Sporting an already impressive resume, Treasure Roberts attends Michigan State, and did an internship in New York City with NBC-TV, and worked with Lester Holt.
River Tuck from Avondale High School personally produces a series of podcasts, and has more experience in the field than most veteran broadcasters I know.
Cierra Prosser goes to Grand Valley State, and currently works as an intern at WOOD-TV. She is sharp, experienced, and ready to go to work.
Fiona Hughes from Plymouth Canton Community Schools is still in high school, and is programming FM station WSDP (88.1 The Park). She’s the program director, and told me she handles much of the day-to-day operation of the place which has been on the air since 1972. Talking with her about the challenges of keeping a radio station on the air was a lot like my conversations with PDs.
And then there’s Gabriella Galloway, also at MSU, who has her eye on a radio career and has worked for their FM station, WDBM (Impact 88.9).
The list goes on – an accomplished group of young broadcasters with their collective eye on the broadcasting prize.
You may have already noted how many women were in attendance, as well as the diversity of these engaged students. They’ve heard all the stories about consolidation and cutbacks – and they don’t care. Not a single one asked me about radio’s future, what will happen to Cumulus or iHeart, or the OTT revolution in television.
In many ways, they are no different than you and me when we were fledgling broadcasters. They just want “in” to a business they know is exciting and rewarding, and they’re already working hard to make their dreams and aspirations come true.
BCBC17 also was a reminder of just how important state broadcaster associations are to the future of our industry, and how critical it is for radio and TV companies of all stripes to step up and support them.
I was there to provide mentoring and advice, and to leave these students with a positive feeling about a career in broadcast media.
They walked out of BCBC17 pumped up and excited about broadcasting.
But not as much as me.
Illustration by Kelsey Neveu.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.