Radio Ink Magazine

Radio's 30 & under Superstars

We launched this brand new list back in 2019 with the goal of highlighting the next generation of radio superstars. Our thought was that there would be no better group of broadcasters to debunk the myth that radio is a dying medium than those who are joining radio fresh out of high school and college. Year one was a tremendous success.

This year, we had even more nominations than in 2019, which not only told us we hit a home run producing this list, but that there are plenty of young men and women joining the industry.

Our 2020 class of 30 and Under Superstars come from nearly every position available at a radio station, from on-air to sales to engineering. We gathered a lot of great content from each and every one of them, and you’ll be reading even more of that content in future issues of Radio Ink magazine.

In this issue, we asked them why they chose radio as a career and how they counter the myth that radio, now 100 years old, is a dying medium.

Here is our 2020 class of Radio’s 30 and Under Superstars.

NICOLE BARLAGE

 Age: 28 Digital Program Director WXTU & WBEN-FM/Philadelphia Beasley Media Group 5 years in radio

Nicole Barlage is the digital program director for Beasley Media Group’s Philadelphia market, specifically working with WXTU-FM and WBEN-FM. That makes her responsible for content across the station websites and social media platforms, working with programming to ensure the digital brand reflects the on-air brand. It’s a job the five-year veteran relishes for the challenges and creative options it offers every day.

“One challenge I face every day is merging the huge digital world into the world of terrestrial radio,” she says. “Both are extremely powerful tools alone, but if their power could be harnessed to work together efficiently, it would be huge. I overcome that by working with the PDs to help align the brand messaging on both the on-air and digital products and continuously collaborating on ideas to help both products thrive together.”

Her advice to managers who want to recruit fresh talent into the business is simple and direct: “Invest in the young people you currently have. My generation talks and is open about things like salary and benefits of the job. When young people feel they are appreciated by their company, other people will know about it.

“Take the time to mentor and groom young people. They look up to their manager or supervisor and see them as role models for what they aspire to be in their own careers. When young people feel valued, they will value their jobs and want to work harder to achieve success, not only for themselves, but for their company as well.”

BEN BRUST

Age: 29 On-Air Host/Marketing Consultant Good Karma Brands/ESPN Madison, Wisconsin 4 years in radio

Ben Brust caught the radio bug listening to Waddle & Silvy on Chicago’s WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000). “Oftentimes while listening to their show, I would arrive at my destination and not want to get out of the car because I didn’t want to stop listening,” he says. “I realized that’s what I wanted to do — create fun, entertaining moments and compelling content that makes people forget about daily life, whether it’s as simple as their drive home or as complicated as the 9-to-5 job they’re grinding through. I wanted to be that escape for people.”

As fate would have it, the station that inspired him is now owned by the company he works for today, Good Karma Brands. After breaking into the business in 2016, Brust moved to Good Karma’s ESPN in Madison, where today he serves as co-host of the daily Scalzo and Brust Show and as a marketing consultant, creating customized solutions and marketing campaigns for clients. Of his on-air co-host (and manager), Greg Scalzo, he says, “His growth mindset and ability to create compelling and entertaining content while holding strong and well-educated opinions are a few qualities that I strive to emulate in my work each day.”

He also sings the praises of another mentor, Evan Cohen, vice president of content at Good Karma Brands. “One of the most rewarding things about having Evan as a mentor and coach is that he always pushes me to take everything one step further.”

Summing up the importance of mentoring, Brust offers this: “One reason I have been successful is because of the encouragement and coaching I have received.”

MIKE DORRIS

Age: 29 Partner Inrush Broadcast Services Chicago 11

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