Painting a Career in Radio

My radio career spanned four decades. I did quite well actually. However, I didn’t purposely choose broadcasting as a career. I wanted to be a commercial artist.(updated from original posted 11/29/15)

Nearing the end of my first year as an art major at Illinois Wesleyan University, I started looking for a summer job back home in Kewanee, Illinois. I sent out two applications. One went to a sign company, where I thought my Art 101 class might impress, and another to the local radio station, WKEI, which blasted all of Henry County with 100 watts of power.

I got a job offer from each of the businesses. When school ended, I started work at Brown Sign Company. My first assignment was to make a sign to hang in a laundromat. It would read, “No Dyeing.” It took me most of the day to carefully paint the sign, as there were no computer graphics (nor computers.) When it was finished, I presented it to Mr. Brown, who said, “not bad for a first try.” Then I said, “Mr. Brown, you never told me how much I get paid.”

He said, “Oh, you don’t get paid. You’re an apprentice.”Paint Mic Montage

“No. . .I don’t want to be an apprentice,” I told him, “I want to be a radio announcer.” The next day I took the job as an announcer at WKEI, starting at one dollar an hour. Some forty years later, I retired from broadcasting after becoming Executive Vice President and General Manager of Mid-West Family Broadcasting, a five station group in Madison.

In 2002, I started my own graphic design business and have designed, among other things, websites and logos for broadcasting companies throughout the U.S. and a few in Europe. And…thanks to computer graphics, I find I can turn out a “No Dyeing” sign in about thirty seconds.

In 2013, I was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association “Hall of Fame.”


Bill’s Hall of Fame Video
produced by Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

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