December 2019 Leadership Lincoln County- Public Relations, Media, and National Weather Service
PUBLIC RELATIONS, MEDIA, AND NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
December 17th, 2019
The 5th meeting of Leadership Lincoln County focused on public relations, media and the National Weather Service. Our day started with a tour of Eagle Radio guided by Lewys Carlini, General Manager. Lewys shared that they have 3 local stations, an online newspaper, and 3 tower sites in North Platte. Lewys mentioned that 93% of the public listen to the radio. He adds that friendly competition is created between radio, print, and digital advertising – all elements rely on one another. At each stop, we were offered great advice. Lewys says, “Hold true to your product.” From Eagle Radio we moved West to Huskeradio.
Samantha Lunkwitz, Business Manager at Huskeradio, told us they are a small, but mighty operation with just 6 people on staff managing 10 stations in North Platte and McCook. Samantha introduced us to Tristan Winder; News Director and George Lobbe; Owner of the North Platte Bulletin. Tristan shared his love for radio, how he got started and talked about being a leader in this community. He and George often partner to share news stories and information across print and radio. George says, “You can make your own way here in North Platte.” In addition to our tour, Samantha shared that Huskeradio hosted Feed-A-Family. This is the first year hosting this successful event bringing in enough donations to provide 31 families a holiday meal.
Next up, the North Platte Telegraph. Joe Volcek guided us on a tour of the Telegraph and explained how the paper has changed since I worked there over 30 years ago. Coming into a digital age has made considerable waves at the Telegraph. In the 80’s almost 80 people were employed, now there are only 40 or so. They used to print between 8,500 and 9,000 copies per day. With digital assets now available, only 6,000 copies are printed in current day. Joe explained that the paper may never go fully digital – many of their advertisers still see great success from flyers and inserts. Joe explained that the process of creating the newspaper is fairly unchanged, except on Thanksgiving Day when the content is too great to be developed by machine. They have to gather the advertising, place it on a page, make a plate, print the paper on a press, add color where necessary, and assemble. Joe explains that the job of the media is, “to get the right information out to the public. Although it’s hard to admit, sometimes there isn’t a story.”
KNOP-TV was the next stop on our tour. We met with Alan Uerling; Station Manager. He explained that they are a class A, full-power station and are the NBC news affiliate in this area. He told us we are very fortunate to have a TV station in a town this size. Alan said they pull in programming by satellite and buy syndicated programs. To meet FCC requirements, everything has to be logged every day-to prove when and where every program aired. In addition, everything has to be closed captioned. Along the way we were able to visit with Brayden Murdock, meteorologist and listen to a live broadcast by Jacque Harms. Jacque is the News Director and has been with the station many years. She wants to be known as a teacher and developer of new and young staff. Today’s programming of Mid-Day Live included a segment on the North Platte Downtown Association’s Annual Soup and Sweet Cook-off. Money raised this year will go to the North Platte Area Ready-To-Serve Volunteer Program Book Fund. The fund will be giving 2 new books to each 2nd grade student in North Platte. In addition to the Soup Cook-Off segment guest Jim Griffiths, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Historical Museum, invited people to come out and see the Christmas Village this weekend. After the Live Broadcast, Jacque answered questions about the television industry. She told us of how things have changed. Going live used to take at least an hour to set up, now going live only takes about 5 minutes to set up. Technology is getting better and more expensive as the years pass; this is an investment the station feels is necessary to remain relevant.
Our leadership speaker for the day was Jerome Gilg. Prior to becoming the Development & Foundation Director for Catholic Churches, Jerome was heavily involved in radio broadcasting. He remains involved with radio and shared some perspective about what it takes to be a good leader. He says you have to figure out a way to manage people’s energy. He had us do an exercise to show how important it is to change focus from a negative force to a positive force. “This will enable you to be a great leader, and have great respect from your staff.” Jerome mentioned that he got his leadership skills from ‘humble service.’ His advice to all of us is to “take that first step to help someone or something in your community and make your commitment to be the best person you can be.”
The National Weather Service was our 6th stop of the day. Shawn Jacobs-Warning, Coordination Meteorologist, told us the role of the NWS. He said their sole responsibility is issuing watches and warnings for the entire country. Their mission: protection of life and property. Our local office has 22 staff members, and serves 26 counties. They are open 24/7, 365 days per year. Aviation forecasts are addressed for snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain, thunderstorms, lightning, fog, low visibilities and low hanging clouds. In Nebraska, we are exposed to these things annually. When asked what we could do to become leaders in our community, Shawn suggested taking a storm spotter class.
Sam Seafeldt-Manager of the North Platte Regional Airport, Lee Bird Field, met with us and discussed the functions and responsibilities of the airport. Their primary status is as a commercial service airport. They are operated by a 5-member publicly elected Airport Authority board. Currently, there are 7 full-time and 2 part-time employees. Sam explained they need to maintain 10,000 boardings each year to receive large funding. Currently they are serviced by SkyWest Airlines, offering 12 round trip tickets per week on a 50 passenger jet. Since SkyWest Airlines took over the schedule, flights have increased drastically resulting in greater funding for the airport. The airport is responsible for maintaining lighting, signage, pavement, landscape, drainage, snow and ice control, building maintenance and wildlife hazard mitigation. The 2019-2020 airport funding is $1.3 Million for Operations and $5.5 Million for Capital Improvement, a great increase from 2017-2018.
To complete our tour, LLC members witnessed a weather balloon release. This is done twice per day. Right now the times for release are approximately 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. It was amazing to see how quickly the balloon became airborne and how it remains visible for quite some time, even though it was miles above in the air. It was interesting to learn how much information can be gathered from these balloons that travel all over the United States.
It was a great finish to a very productive day!
Customer Service Supervisor
1002 South Dewey Street