Dr B's Checklist for Success

Each incoming BC major receives this Checklist for Success. Communications Studies, Theater & Art Department Chair David Barner, Ed.D., compiled this checklist based on his success and experience in the business of broadcasting as well the philosophies and advice passed down by many broadcast professionals.

You will find variations on this checklist in a variety of sources, but the core principles remain the same.

The Broadcast Capstone is the perfect place to revisit this checklist, reflect on its message and focus on your success.

Dr. B's Checklist for Success in Broadcasting

  1. Love the business.  It’s fun. It’s creative. It’s also highly competitive and fraught with constant deadlines.  According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the local broadcast industry (non-network) employed some 334,000 wage and salary jobs in 2002.  Many of those jobs were with large, established broadcast companies (Gannett, Hearst-Argyle, Cox, Meredith, E.W. Scripps, Belo, Sinclair, etc.); about 57 percent of all jobs were in corporations with at least 100 employees.  However, hundreds of thousands of college graduates enter the market each year meaning the demand easily outstrips the supply of jobs in the industry.
  2. Make broadcasting your #1 priority. You must choose what will serve you in the long term. Sometimes you will sacrifice your social commitments in order to gain valuable experience at Westminster’s broadcasting facilities. Theory without practice is a waste of your time and money. GET INVOLVED & STAY INVOLVED. What you do now will build your body of work and your resume.
  3. Learn the commercial aspects of broadcasting. If you can’t understand and discuss the difference between DMAs and ADIs, you'll fail to impress anyone working in broadcasting. You must understand how the industry works. Know the key corporate players as well as the topical issues affecting the industry.  You need to understand how ratings work, your station’s position in the market and the target demos. Understand how the audience influences decisions on all levels. Understand how the audience and profit drive the broadcast industry. Become acquainted with sales and understand how sales positions lead to positions in media management.
  4. Utilize every opportunity to be in contact with media professionals. In addition to guest speakers and workshops in our program, take advantage of part-time work, personal conversations, internships, and the faculty and staff. The people in broadcasting are interconnected. Everyone knows someone. The keyword here is to network; to know and communicate with people in broadcasting. Develop your own network and turn routine assignments into opportunities to meet and mingle with working professionals.
  5. Experiment with different practical experiences at Westminster. The BC program echoes the liberal arts mission, as we want you to be versed in all aspects of broadcasting. You learn the fundamentals and principles in electronic media that become the tools that let you put theory into practice. Think about the vast array of jobs you experience in the program. From radio announcing to video editing, from sales to news reporting, you become a well-rounded broadcaster appreciating and understanding all aspects of the business. That well-rounded experience allows you to discover your specialty and build on it.
  6. Embrace your liberal arts education. Many broadcasters agree a liberal arts education produces better broadcasters. You have a better understanding and appreciation for your world. As one broadcaster put it, “You broadcast about every topic in the world except broadcasting.”
  7. Start your resume tape immediately and constantly add to it and update it. Media professionals are interested in what you can do.  They want to inspect your work. They’re less interested in your transcripts and more interested in your experience.
  8. Develop your own personal strengths. Broadcasters rank responsibility, initiative, enthusiasm and teachability high on their list of desired qualities. Enhance these qualities in the areas of broadcasting that you have passion for and wish to excel. Be the best team player possible. But also make yourself standout with a work ethic that will get you noticed.
  9. Plan to accept low pay in entry-level jobs in broadcasting.  You start out at the bottom and work your way up in DMAs or ADIs. Often a promotion and pay raise comes from jumping market sizes not from changing offices in one station.
  10. Get out your suitcase. You can find a job, but the job may take you far from home.  Jobs can be found, but they may be out of your home area. Most people start in smaller markets before they end up in Pittsburgh (DMA 22). Westminster grads have started as far away as Nebraska.

Suggested Additions to the Checklist

Because broadcasting is highly competitive and the job market is saturated with applicants it’s easy to become discouraged. 2004-2005 BC Capstone students Ian Durham and Julie Stolze have suggested adding the following two items to the checklist.
  1. Maintain a positive attitude. If you want this career, you must remain optimistic in your approach and pursuit.
  2. Never give up. If you want a career in broadcasting bad enough, you will seek out opportunities to polish your skills and fight as long as it takes to get the job that you want.