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College of Information and Communications


First person: My experience at the 2018 Kellar Radio Talent Institute

Posted July 26, 2018
By Derrick J. Vaz, junior public relations major

In June, public relations major Derrick Vaz attended the Kellar Radio Talent Institute on the campus of Appalachian State University. This program brings in industry professionals to teach aspiring broadcasters. Read more about Vaz’s experience and how it built upon the skills he learned in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.


Attending the 2018 Kellar Radio Talent Institute has been one of the most educational, exciting and eye-opening experiences I’ve been through to date. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with dozens of professionals in the broadcast industry, including program directors from iHeart Media, on-air talents from various morning shows, including The Ace & TJ Show, and sales directors from some of the largest media groups in the United States.

Aside from the once-in-a-lifetime meet and greet, I also worked with professionals from the Radio Advertising Bureau to learn about the world of radio advertising and sales, and I even received my Radio Marketing Professional Certification.

Held at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, the institute was a ten-day immersive experience into the realm of radio broadcasting, management, salesmanship and technology. College students from all over the southeast applied for the program, but only 23 were chosen to attend.

I also had the chance to be on-air on 90.5 WASU-FM, the official college radio station at Appalachian.

Aside from learning and interacting at the college campus, our group visited some amazing places.

The first place we visited was the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where we learned about the Performance Racing Network’s broadcasts, employees and events. We got lessons on how to use your best voice, how to act on the air, and how to properly run and manage a network. Doug Rice, president of the PRN, appeared at the speedway and gave us a run-down of life in the professional world of sports broadcasting.

We also had the chance to go around the racetrack at 100 miles an hour!

While in Charlotte, we headed to the Bank of America stadium, home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Mick Mixon, play-by-play announcer for the Panthers showed us around the facility, discussed his “seven rules for living your best life” and gave us tips on play-by-play announcing and live broadcasting.

Since the institute, I’ve connected with various industry professionals who I met while there who have led successful lives in their respective areas. I’ve been keeping in touch with music directors, production managers, promotion directors, voice-over talents and account executives from media groups all over the U.S.

The J-school at USC has helped me thrive in this environment because of my experience working with press releases, advertising, public service announcements and graphic design. Much of what I learned during the program was new to me, but the broadcast skills I learned at Kellar gave me a broader understanding of the communications industry.

Being in PRSSA has given me a new outlook on planning events, maintaining positive connections and keeping my personal brand strong – all of which helped during the institute. I would like to thank Ph.D. student Jane Weatherred and Dr. Leigh Moscowitz for the knowledge on how to present myself, build a successful portfolio and write like a true industry professional. I’d also like to thank Dan Vallie, president of the National Radio Talent System, who headed up the Institute again for this year. He has a strong record of success in the radio industry, and I cannot thank him enough for an amazing experience.

After graduation, I plan on becoming a media sales consultant. My Kellar experience along with my current job as a sales representative at Cricket Wireless have all pointed me in the direction of sales as a career, and I have no doubt that everything I learned there — along with my degree from the J-school — will get me there. After all the hands-on experience in radio broadcasting with professionals from around the country, I know that this is what I want to do with my life. And because of my passion, I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the J-school and look forward to my next two years!