Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation

Our MIssion

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation contribution to broadcasting in Wisconsin encompasses a strategic, long term vision for enhancing, promoting and supporting the broadcast industry by encouraging the preservation of broadcast history, participating in public affairs activities in the State of Wisconsin and providing educational opportunities for professional broadcasters and those who seek future careers in the broadcast industry.

The Walker Broadcast Management Institute scheduled for April 2021 will be postponed to April 2022.

The WBA Foundation Board voted unanimously to again delay the three-day session because of the ongoing pandemic. The Institute is hosted on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, which remains closed to outside groups. The school has already canceled spring commencement. Many companies are also not allowing employees to travel through next spring.

While specific dates are yet to be determined, the Institute is expected to take place in April 2022.

The Board decided to forgo the option of hosting the event online, citing the benefits of the Management Institute being built around the camaraderie that takes place over the three-days in each year of the three-year course.

The 2020 Institute was also postponed because of the pandemic. The courses scheduled for 2020 will be conducted in 2022.

An educator, entrepreneur, trailblazer, and WBA Hall of Fame inductee, Nancy Zieman hosted Sewing With Nancy on public television stations for more than 30 years. Now, an all-new documentary tells the story of Nancy’s life through her own words and the reflections of those she inspired across a lifetime of education, family and faith. 

Nancy Zieman: Extraordinary Grace premieres 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23 on PBS Wisconsin.  

Zieman was host of Sewing With Nancy, the longest-running television sewing program, produced in the PBS Wisconsin studios and broadcast on public television stations across the country for more than three decades.  

Humble and quiet by nature, Zieman provided creative inspiration to her dedicated viewers for decades. An entrepreneur who founded Nancy’s Notions — an international mail order company based in Beaver Dam that started at her kitchen table — Zieman also helped develop The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show with PBS Wisconsin, a vibrant example of her inspiration to others, bringing together people from across the United States to celebrate the art and craft of quilting. 

Zieman’s life was also marked by several personal and physical challenges, some of which she bravely shared with her fans. When she died in 2017, the outpouring of gratitude proved her to be a public television icon, who earned an immense and loyal following because of her steady and inspired work on public television. 

“Because PBS Wisconsin had such a longstanding and important relationship with Nancy, after she passed in 2017, we knew we wanted to do something to not just honor her but bring her story to the public,” said Laurie Gorman, executive producer of the documentary and longtime producer of Sewing With Nancy. “A lot of people knew her as Sewing With Nancy, and that’s very important, but a lot of people didn’t know about the story behind how that show was created, how Nancy found her calling, the challenges she faced multiple times throughout her life. It’s a story about somebody who overcame a lot of challenges in her life and still was able to find success and artistic expression as well.” 

The resulting film is a visual treasure trove of never-before-seen moments from Zieman’s life, from her diagnosis with Bell’s palsy, a rare facial paralysis, as a toddler to the early days of her sewing career to the stops and starts that led her to host Sewing With Nancy

Featuring archival first-person recordings of Zieman, video from 30 years of Sewing With Nancy, and interviews with Zieman’s family, friends and colleagues, the new documentary tells the story of an inspirational life marked by extraordinary grace. 

Bob Barry had a long career interviewing some of the biggest names in music during the 60s and 70s. He ruled the airwaves in Milwaukee radio at WOKY-AM, WEMP-AM, WISN-AM and WZTR-FM. He conducted hundreds of interviews and kept recordings of his most memorable moments. He talked with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Dolly Parton, Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, Dick Clark, Sonny and Cher, and many more.

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the reaction to the podcasts,” Barry said. “I have especially enjoyed the stories and comments listeners have shared. Many had interesting personal memories of my guests.”

Upcoming episodes will feature Dickie Goodman, Alan Alda, Henry Mancini, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Mathis, and Mel Blanc.

“The Bob Barry Unearthed Interviews podcast is a hidden gem,” said WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind. “Each episode is a captivating time capsule that young and old will both appreciate. Bob’s got great questions for his guests and has interesting stories to tell about each interview. I’m looking forward to many more episodes.”

WBA member stations are welcome to download and air episodes as they become available, with credit given to the podcast.

The Bob Barry’s Unearthed Interviews Podcast is supported with a generous contribution from WBA Hall of Famer Terry Baun, who is also part of the WBA Foundation’s Legacy Club.

WBA Hall of Famer Susan Knaack is being remembered for her 38-year broadcasting career in the Fox Valley.

Knaack died Wednesday. She was 77.

Knaack started her broadcasting career in Oshkosh with stints at WAGO and WMKC from 1971-77 where she was a talk show hostess, copy writer, sales assistant, and traffic director. In 1977 she moved to Woodward Communications’ WHBY/WAPL in Appleton, as Creative Services Director. She moved into sales in 1980, became Sales Manager in 1982 and General Manager in 1984. In 1989 she became Vice President of Broadcast for Woodward, expanding the company’s holdings from four to nine stations in three markets in Iowa and Wisconsin.

During her broadcast tenure in Appleton, she also served as an instructor in the Communications Department of the Fox Valley Technical College.

Knaack served eight years on the Board Directors of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and was its first woman Board Chair in 1993-94.

Her obituary said that in retirement, Knaack continued to mentor women in their career navigation and actively supported programs and organizations that focused on empowering women.

She was inducted into the WBA Hall of Fame in 2004.

Visitation is scheduled for Oct. 2, from 5-7 p.m. at the Schramka-Densow Funeral Home in Thiensville. A funeral service is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to Family Sharing through Crossroads Presbyterian Church would be appreciated.

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The honorees named for the 2020 WBA Hall of Fame and Local Broadcast Legends will be honored in 2021 and no new honorees will be selected in 2021.

The WBA Board and Foundation Board voted in July to have the 2020 selections for both honors be inducted during the WBA 2021 Summer Conference. The boards also voted to not solicit nominations for 2021 Hall of Fame and Legends inductees.

“It is important that the individuals honored each year are given a special ceremony dedicated to them and their fellow honorees,” WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind said. “Inducting the 2020 Hall of Fame and Local Broadcast Legends inductees along with the 2021 individuals would detract from the special event we hope all our honorees experience.”

The 2020 Hall of Fame inductees are Thom Gerretsen, Wayne Larrivee, Jack Mitchell, and Nancy Zieman.

The 2020 Local Broadcast Legends are Karen Dalessandro, Erin Davisson, Peter Murphy, and the team of Bill McCollum and John Moser.

They will be recognized June 18, 2021 at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan.

WBA Hall of Famer Tommy Lee Bychinski is retiring after 50 years in radio and television.

“Mr. Radio” in Reedsburg, Bychinski had a 44-year career in radio built on a strong foundation of community service and involvement.

After attending Brown Institute, he began his career in 1964 at WIGM radio in Medford and after two years began his 33-year run with Goetz Broadcasting. For Goetz he served in Marshfield at WDLB as a sports announcer and air personality from 1966-72 and then moved to their stations in Reedsburg, WRDB/WNFM, as an account executive. In 1979 he became station manager and led the stations, even after Goetz Broadcasting was disbanded, until his initial retirement in 2008.

The last 12 years Bychinski delivered newscasts for the Reedsburg Utility television station. He covered local government meetings and community events. He retired June 12. He turns 74 in December and wants to spend more time with his family and traveling.

Throughout his career Bychinski dedicated himself to community service and industry service. He served the Chamber of Commerce, local school district, the city council, the county board, the volunteer fire department, his church and the Knights of Columbus, all in the Reedsburg area. He served eight years on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and was Chairman of the WBA Board in 1999.

A morning producer at WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee is the recipient of the first ever Results Broadcasting Education Grant.

Rachel Frye graduated from Western Illinois University in 2013 and began her career with a six-radio station cluster in Macomb, Illinois before taking a job at WTMJ-AM in June 2014. She started part time as a reporter and board operator and in February 2016 was hired full time as producer of Wisconsin’s Morning News. Her duties have since expanded to include producing digital content and leading station events.

Vice President and Market Manager Steve Wexler said Frye is the kind of employee every employer would covet. “She’s hard-working, sets a very high bar of expectations for herself and our team, and sweats the details.”

Frye said her goal was to pay off her student loans by the end of the year, and the grant will be a huge help toward making that goal.

“This grant money is so much appreciated, especially during these unstable times,” Frye wrote. “I encourage anyone who is considering applying in the future to do so. It’s a truly great program targeted at helping Wisconsin broadcasters.”

Steve Wexler and Rachel Frye

The Results Broadcasting Education Grant was established to provide student debt relief to broadcasters working in Wisconsin. It was created from what used to be the Results Broadcasting scholarship. Recipients get $1,000 to put toward relief of student debt.

“Results Broadcasting is so proud of the dedicated men and women in the Wisconsin over the air radio and TV industry working in all phases of the business,” wrote Results Broadcasting owner and WBA Hall of Famer Bruce Grassman. “It is an opportunity to help people with some of their student debt and to let them know they are part of the greatest state of broadcasters…Wisconsin. Results Broadcasting is proud to continue this award for many years to come.”

More than a dozen broadcasters applied for the grant. The recipient was chosen by a sub-committee of the WBA Foundation Board.

Applications for the next grant will be accepted starting Jan. 1, 2021 and the deadline will be Feb. 28, 2021. Find more details on the WBA Foundation website.

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Our Mission

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation contribution to broadcasting in Wisconsin encompasses a strategic, long term vision for enhancing, promoting and supporting the broadcast industry by encouraging the preservation of broadcast history, participating in public affairs activities in the State of Wisconsin and providing educational opportunities for professional broadcasters and those who seek future careers in the broadcast industry.

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