To see 2018 alumnus Jack Bertelsen looking so completely at home in a broadcast booth, it's easy to assume he's a veteran broadcaster — because he is.
But he just graduated in December. How is that possible?
Like so many Blugolds who secure jobs prior to graduation, Bertelsen (who goes by Jack Ross on air) had built an impressive student portfolio of work and broadcast experience that a local media company could not pass by. As it turns out, that local company happened to be closely connected to the campus radio station that gave Bertelsen his start in the business.
In the spring of 2016, Mid-West Family Broadcasting gifted one of its radio stations to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. The gift consisted of a Federal Communications Commission license, 25,000-watt signal and 390-foot tower. This generous gift allowed for the creation of Blugold Radio LLC and Converge Radio 99.9 FM, an independent radio station whose mission is to provide Blugold students with unique opportunities to learn the broadcast industry, refine their media communication skills and prepare them for potential careers in radio.
Bertelsen, a December 2018 integrated strategic communication graduate, worked as a sound board operator and podcast producer for Converge Radio, and in his final semester was hired by Mid-West as a digital interactive assistant. The position is responsible for managing and updating all station websites and creating graphic design materials for use in promotion and advertising campaigns for the six company stations. In the rapidly changing world of media technology, Bertelsen's relative youth and media savvy provides the stations with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
"In this role, I am helping to transition Mid-West from being a company that owns radio stations to a full-scale digital advertising agency that also happens to own radio stations," Bertelsen says. "This is a trend that all commercial radio stations are starting to follow, as more and more businesses are opting to spend their advertising dollars on digital services like Facebook, Google and Instagram."
General manager for Mid-West Family Broadcasting Lynn Bieritz has high praise for Bertelsen's previous experience and social media understanding, and is delighted that they found the perfect combination of skills in the Blugold graduate.
"Jack had the unique experience of running social and on-line platforms for the Converge Radio, so he understood where we needed to go. His perspective and knowledge about the on-line world has been invaluable and he already has moved the needle. Radio and on-line are a powerful combination and Jack is a key part of our future," Bieritz said.
Bertelsen's work at Converge Radio focused a bit more on the recording and actual broadcast side of the industry than his current role demands, but the wide variety of experience he gained helped him create a vast portfolio of industry work, including sound board technology, graphic design software, public speaking, writing and live event promotion.
True to its stated mission, Converge Radio and station manager Scott Morfitt offered learning opportunities and experiences that not only helped Bertelsen learn the industry, but provided the freedom to fully express his creativity in the very ways that caught the eye of Mid-West Family Broadcasting.
"Scott instills in his employees a great deal of trust to create on-air content," Bertelsen says. "This freedom allows people to rise to the challenge and create to the best of their ability. It is inspiring to work with someone who thinks about the big picture and cares so much. Scott is definitely that person for me. He influenced me to view radio not only as a format for entertainment/news/advertising, but to a larger extent a medium through which people can come together and create something bigger than themselves, which is the mission of Converge Radio."
Morfitt has never taken for granted the public-private partnership that Converge Radio and Mid-West Family Broadcasting have forged and is grateful for Bertelsen's hire becoming such a concrete way of honoring their station gift.
"It's an amazing success story to see a partnership like Converge and Mid-West serve as a connector between UW-Eau Claire and the world of professional broadcasting. Jack was a valued team member and I'm proud to now call him a colleague," Morfitt said.
Photo caption: Jack Ross Bertelsen, a December 2018 integrated strategic communication graduate, was hired by Mid-West Family Broadcasting during his final semester at UW-Eau Claire.