Embrace Change for Your Media Career – Lessons from WBAY-TV

By Jaquelynn Pettinato (@lynnypett)

By Jaquelynn Pettinato (@lynnypett)

Most individuals learn from a textbook in college amidst a classroom atmosphere. But in the real world, life is not going to be like a textbook. In Media Organization and Management, a journalism course taught by Dr. Sara Steffes Hansen, students learn via a hands-on approach, touring companies that some of us may work at one day.

One of those tours centered on a visit to the WBAY television station in Green Bay. So for those of you who have never been to a television studio, this post may provide some insights.

We started our day with eight of us pulling up to a historic brick building with large, white pillars – home to WBAY, which is owned by Young Broadcasting, and the ABC television affiliate in Green Bay. It carries Storm Center 2 24/7, retro television, weather channel and broadcasts UHF digital channel 23. The company is made up of 100 employees, some which have been with the company since the 1960s. Mike Harrison, the senior director of WBAY, has been with the station since 1963, when television was still in black and white.

“I remember when I had difficulty finding a parking spot, now there are lots of open spaces,” said Harrison.

Nowadays, most broadcast organizations are increasing automation and monitoring of local stations. Advanced technology in the industry means less people are needed for station operations. Technology is causing media industries to change and these changes are already becoming apparent. When robotic cameras enter the studio, individuals will lose their jobs. There will be no font people, floor directors holding the camera, master control, video person or audio person.

Harrison noted that the best way the company is dealing with change is not fighting it but embracing it. Smarter technology does work with fewer people, Harrison said. And by allowing smart technology to expand, such as automated TV stations, opportunities develop for new forms of media to be shared with society.

On the way home, I thought about what one of the employees of WBAY kept reiterating to us during the tour: “Choose your profession wisely.” If there is one thing I grasped from visiting WBAY and talking with the employees, it’s embracing change not only in life but also in your media career.


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