Kerby Confer

Through the support of lifetime broadcaster Kerby Confer, the National Radio Talent System and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania are proud to present the Confer Radio Talent Institute, which is committed to discover and prepare a new generation of radio professionals.

Confer, an inductee into the Pennsylvania Radio Hall of Fame, commented, “The quality of the mentor teachers assembled for this ten day ‘radio immersion’ is amazing. This is just what the industry needs...it’s important...and the digital age is upon us; this couldn’t come at a more opportune time. I’m excited to be able to extend the National Radio Talent System to Pennsylvania and the Northeast United States at Bloomsburg University.”

Kerby Confer's first job was selling measuring cups and handmade potholders (which he made) door-to-door when he was 9 years old. A resident of Williamsport, PA, Kerby landed his first radio job at the age of 16 working for Galen (Dave) Castlebury at WMPT, Williamsport.

When he was 14 years old, there was the birth of Rock and Roll, and he discovered that when the sun went down, he could hear these 50,000-watt clear channel radio stations from all over America. He started listening to Buffalo and Chicago and Nashville, hearing all the latest songs. He would start listening around 8:00 PM and sometimes listen until one or two o'clock in the morning.

"By the time I was 15, I was copying down the clever things the DJs would say and was practicing doing it myself. Then, when I was 16, a guy came along and announced he was going to build a third radio station in our town. I showed up the first day and said I would help build the station when I wasn't in school. I said I'd be there seven days a week and wouldn't charge him anything, but when the station went on the air, I wanted a job as a DJ at minimum wage. That was a buck an hour back then. He said, 'Deal.' I helped him for a year. I was a gopher; cleaned the toilets, changed the light bulbs in the tower, and did whatever had to be done. When we went on the air, I was the first voice on the station. I even picked the station's call letters. I was there for a couple of years,
and then I heard about a job that was open at WCAO. There were 50 guys auditioning for the job, and I drove all night to get down there at eight o'clock in the morning, and by some miracle I got the job. Six months later I was emceeing the Beatles in Baltimore." Those amazing days led to a local TV dance show in Baltimore from 1967 to 1970. "Then, in 1969, I had the biggest break of my life right there in Baltimore. I had been on the radio and TV for about 5 years; I was 29 years old and I'd emceed the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Iron Butterfly, James Brown, and every soul act you can think of. I didn't want to be 40 and just going through the motions because I had really enjoyed everything I'd done. Then I got a magic phone call.” "A man named Marvin Mervis called me and said, 'Kerby, you don't know me, but I've been watching you on TV and I've heard you on the radio. I own a radio station in Annapolis, MD. My manager has left me; I've had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass, so I can't work anymore. I'd like to talk to you.' “About what?” I asked.” “Somebody told me that your dream is that someday you want to own a radio station”, he said. He was right. Mervis said he thought he could make it happen. He invited Kerby to lunch, and made him an offer. "He said, 'If you come down and work for me for a year, and we set the goal, I'm going to teach you how to sell and manage. I'm going to teach you how to administrate the radio station because I can only come in about an hour a day. So you'll come down; you'll be a DJ in the morning, and then you'll go sell commercials all day long. I'll show you how to do it. If you make the goal that we both set - not that I set, but that you and I agree on - I'll cut you in for 10% ownership of the station.' I had to think about that long and hard," Confer said. "There was a famous DJ on the air in Baltimore at the time that was probably on the air for more years in Baltimore than any other DJ. He was the program director at the station I worked, WCAO. He said, “You're quitting to do what?'” "I said, 'I'm quitting because I'm going to be the general manager of a little station in Annapolis.'” “You can't even hear that station up here!” he replied. 'I know,' I said, 'but it's my chance to learn how to run one and the guy's going to cut me in for 10% ownership.' 'Be careful, Kerby,' he said. 'I'm just afraid you're going to become a has-been.' And so it was, I became a has-been DJ."

Nine months later, Confer passed the advertising goal they had set for the entire year and was cut in for the ten percent. Five years later, when Mervis retired and sold the station, Confer walked away with a certified check for $130,000 and bought his own station. "Since then, I've owned a billion dollars’ worth of stations," said Confer. "Bought them broken, fixed them up, and sold them.

Confer formed Keymarket Communications and in the 1980s, initiated dramatic turnaround success with stations around the country, including Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and here in Pennsylvania. During this era, he created the “Froggy” brand for his country music stations. In the 1990s, Keymarket Communications merged with Sinclair Broadcasting to become the 10th largest radio broadcasters in the United States. Since 1969, Kerby has owned an interest in and operated more than 200 station licenses and is still active in 70 properties. In 1991, Mr. Confer, along with others, purchased WFBG AM/FM in Altoona and formed what is now Forever Media. In 2003, Kerby was inducted into the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and he was recently a “Radio” inductee into the 2016 class of the Country Radio Hall of Fame for helping to innovate station branding like “Froggy” as a principal of the Forever and Keymarket groups.

Kerby has long been a leader in civic affairs. He has won numerous community awards and is well known for his charitable and industry work.

 

Bloomsburg University 

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Building on a rich history of academic excellence as one of 14 public universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Bloomsburg University prepares and inspires students to become dynamic and confident leaders.

As the university on the hill, Bloomsburg University overlooks the Town of Bloomsburg and is situated a few hundred yards from the community's business district with Bloomsburg Hospital across the street from a cluster of residence halls.

  • Lower campus is home to seven residence halls, a student services center, campus dining, instructional buildings, library and recreational and social facilities.
  • Upper campus, about half-mile away, is connected by continuous shuttle service and features athletic facilities, three university-owned student apartment complexes, a dining and conference facility, and several maintenance buildings.
  • Upper campus is also home to Huskies athletics, surrounded by the Nelson Field House, Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium and fields for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, baseball and softball and a new tennis center.

Quick Facts

  • Located in Columbia County, about a mile south of Interstate 80
  • Programs of study include sciences, education, liberal arts, and business
  • Campus features 54 buildings across 280 acres
  • Lower campus includes residence halls, academic buildings, student services, the library and administrative buildings
  • Upper campus includes three student apartment complexes, athletic facilities and an outdoor adventure property featuring a 50-foot climbing wall and high ropes course

 

The National Radio Talent System

Dan Vallie, a lifelong radio broadcaster, is the innovator and founder of the National Radio Talent System™ and the Radio Talent Institute™. The program gives each student a learning experience they could not get anywhere else. The National Radio Talent Institute team uses its contacts and reputation in the radio industry to invite radio professionals to teach during the institute.The National Radio Talent System™, the only program of its kind in the world, was created to answer the long discussed issue of a radio talent farm for the industry, an incubator of well-rounded, well-educated college talent with a passion for radio and a determination to get into the business.

“Our industry offers young people the opportunity for entrepreneurship,personal fulfillment, and financial success.  To attract these bright and talented students we have the brightest and most talented radio industry professionals teaching the sessions in each institute. We attract intelligent and talented students with a positive attitude, and the radio professionals that teach them support and encourage a positive attitude that lets them know of the great opportunities in broadcasting and what an exciting time it is.  The ‘professional faculty’ from the industry that come and teach display the same attributes we want to see in young broadcasters entering the industry.”

The National Radio Talent Team works throughout the year with universities and to connect with both young talent who want to be in broadcasting and with radio professionals who embrace the vision and believe and support the mission of bringing young talent into the industry today and who will be leaders in the industry tomorrow as radio continues to thrive.

The vision of a Radio Talent System has become reality and now radio professionals recruit from young talent who are just as determined and passionate about getting into radio as you were. And the talent system continues to grow with more institutes across the country and support from broadcaster groups, individual broadcasters, and broadcast associations.