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Appalachian to start nation’s first farm system for radio broadcasters

BOONE – Appalachian State University has received a $500,000 commitment from The Kellar Family Foundation in Alexandria, Va., to create the Kellar Radio Farm System Institute in its Department of Communication.

The program is being established as a farm system for future radio broadcasters and will be directed by one of the radio industry’s top consultants, Dan Vallie. For many years, broadcast industry members have discussed the need for an organized talent development system for radio. Now, for the first time, the broadcast industry will have this innovative concept that delivers talented, enthusiastic young adults qualified to excel in radio stations and broadcast groups across America.

“There is a need to bring fresh talent into the industry at every level, to contribute to make the industry even more dynamic, and there are plenty of people in the industry who want to help young people enter the industry and be successful,” said Art Kellar, president of the foundation. “The foundation is interested in helping young people, primarily the underprivileged, and wants to give them the opportunity to develop.”

The Kellar Radio Farm System Institute is a 10-day summer program, set to start in the summer of 2007, designed to attract, train and create opportunity for talented students who have a passion for the broadcast industry and ownership. Those attending will be juniors and seniors with a communication major or minor.

The first year is open to Appalachian students only, but in the future the program will expand to students from across the state.

The Kellar Radio Farm System Institute will prepare students to excel in entry-level positions upon their graduation and to better ensure they get a start in and have a successful career in broadcasting. The students will work through the intensive institute to gain a greater understanding of each aspect of the industry including: on air, news, writing, sales, traffic, programming, management, ownership and all other aspects of the industry.

Kellar has a long history in the radio industry. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., he was trying to determine what he was going to do in life. One day while listening to the Arthur Godfrey Show on the radio, Godfrey had two guests on and had each of them read a commercial.

“The first one did a good job on it, the second one was terrible,” said Kellar. “I thought ‘I can do better than that.'”

He went to a broadcasting school in Chicago and from there started his first job in 1947 at a radio station in Ronceverte, W.Va.

“I got off the train and walked the two blocks to the (radio) station, and when I walked inside my very first thought was ‘I’ve got to own one of these,'” he said.

He did, just eight years later, while working as sales manager for WPIK in Alexandria, Va., when he bought WEEL, also in Alexandria. He eventually sold that station in 1972 but not before he had bought his first FM station in 1968, WEZR in Manassas, Va. That station was the beginning of EZ Communications. The company grew with purchases next in Richmond, Va., then Charlotte, New Orleans., and Pittsburgh. Eventually, Kellar owned stations across the country from Philadelphia to Seattle.

“Broadcasters at the highest level understand the importance of bringing new talent into the industry, even so, we have never developed an organized and systemized farm system until now,” stated Hill, who now serves as general manager for WASU, Appalachian’s radio station. “I am excited that Appalachian State has embraced this innovative concept and is teaming with the industry to find, train, coach and develop fresh young talent in every area of broadcasting. I expect other leading broadcasters will want to support this innovative radio farm system as well.”

Appalachian’s Department of Communication serves more than 800 students and is the second largest major on campus.

The Kellar Family Foundation’s gift is received by the Appalachian State University Foundation, a support organization of the university created in 1970 that receives and invests private funds to help further the institution’s academic mission.

For more information about the Kellar Farm System Institute, contact Dr. Glenda Treadaway, communication chair, at (828) 262-2221 or treadawaygj@appstate.edu.

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