Less than two years ago the future of WNKU looked so bright folks Cincinnati broke out the shades. WNKU, licensed to Northern Kentucky University (NKU), hired Sean O’Mealy, a proven commercial radio programmer, to manage WNKU. O’Mealy arrived and focused the station’s sound around the “music discovery” approach that is doing so well in Dallas (KXT), Minneapolis (89.3 The Current) and Denver (105.5 The Colorado Sound). Then the roof fell in.
WNKU experienced a perfect storm of problems: debt incurred by previous management, budget cuts to higher education and the lack of desire by NKU to be in the mass communication business. Then WNKU was put up for sale earlier this year, O’Mealy and others at WNKU became lame ducks heading towards an uncertain future. It is tough to be at any business while it is for sale. It is especially difficult when you are in the public eye.
Last week O’Mealy decided to put some certainty back in his life by leaving WNKU to join a small but progressive commercial station group in “Happy Valley” Pennsylvania. Who can blame him?
O'Mealy’s term as WNKU’s GM will end on October 7th. He told local media:
"With the future of WNKU up in the air I couldn’t not pass up an opportunity to join a stable and growing media company back home."
PUBLIC MEDIA NEEDS EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS LIKE SEAN O’MEALY
The success of folks from commercial media in noncom has been mixed. Some just don’t get listener-supported public media. Others, like O’Mealy, understand noncom’s mission, sensibility and one-to-one relationship with listeners.
I left commercial radio for public broadcasting over two decades ago because I wanted to work in an environment where public service, mission and authenticity matter. Let’s hope the wheel of life brings O’Mealy back to public media.
BTW – WNKU is still for sale. So far SAVE WNKU efforts have failed to gain significant traction.
NICE JOB OPEN IN INDIANA
WBAA AM/FM, based at Purdue University in West Lafayette, is looking for a Corporate Support Representative. WBAA has been building a reputation as an up-and-coming shop in recent years. They are making an investment in the future by bringing in bright new folks.
GM Mike Savage and Content Director Greg Kostraba have been upgrading WBAA’s programming and building relationships with businesses, foundations and WFYI in Indianapolis. Though the job is essentially a “sales” position, the new Corporate Support Representative will be a 100% salaried position.
The WBAA job looks like a good opportunity for someone who is looking to make a career in public media in a place where staff are recognized, nurtured and appreciated. The balance between work and life is important at WBAA. According to Forbes Magazine [link] Lafayette is the second best small city in the nation for starting new businesses and advancing careers.
To learn more about this opportunity go to [link].
MARK HANDLEY, FORMER HEAD OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLIC RADIO, DIES AT 74
|Mark & Judy Handley|
One of public media’s most admired leaders, Mark Handley, passed away on September 11th after a five-year battle with cancer. Handley made many contributions to public media but he is best known for taking New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) from being a sleepy mom-and-pop operation to become a statewide news network.
Handley retired from NHPR in 2005 to embarked with his wife on a trip around the world on the Windbird, their sailboat.
Betsy Gardella, current president and CEO of NHPR, told the New Hampshire Sunday News [link] that Handley “…was an ethical, kind, very, very thoughtful man who was extraordinary at building relationships."
Handley served as chairman of the NPR board. He loved public radio news because "it's better if more people can share in the same common base of knowledge.”