MADISON, Wis. — Recruiting new Soldiers and Airmen is a fundamental principle of building readiness in the Wisconsin National Guard, and the Guard relies in part on its ongoing relationship with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association to help attract new recruits.
Every radio announcement you hear or commercial you see advertising the Wisconsin National Guard is the result of that partnership.
During a Jan. 30 business luncheon at the Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Association winter conference in Madison, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, addressed members of the organization, updating them on the Wisconsin National Guard’s role and mission. He also expressed his gratitude for the partnership with the WBA.
“In order to continue this organization, we have to reach out to new men and women, and share with them our story — why being in the National Guard might be a good thing for them to consider doing,” Dunbar said. “Without being able to rely on you with the television and radio outreach that you bring, it would be very difficult for us to reach those men and women and tell them our story.”
The Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Association is comprised of 95 percent of all radio and television stations in the state, and other associate companies who provide services to the state’s broadcasting industry.
The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s partnership with the WBA has spanned more than 20 years. The Army Guard has a Non-Commercial Sustainment Announcements contract with the WBA. The Army Guard supplies radio and TV ads to the WBA, who in turn lobbies member stations to play them. The stations play the ads free of charge, similarly to a public service announcement. In 2018, stations provided over $3 million worth of air time for the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
“The collaboration between the WBA and the Wisconsin Army National Guard is vitally important for the Army Guard to make end-strength and remain fully manned,” said Sgt. 1st Class Chad Sullivan, a senior marketing noncommissioned officer.
Maintaining the strength of the force and ensuring positions are filled with qualified men and women directly affects the Wisconsin National Guard’s readiness to fulfill both its state and federal missions as the state’s first military responder, and as the primary combat reserve for both the Army and Air Force.
“To make our numbers, it is important that we engage every option to educate the public about the National Guard as an option,” Sullivan added.
This year, the Wisconsin Air National Guard has also formed a partnership with the WBA for the first time since 2014. The Air Guard signed a six-month contract to use the WBA’s Public Education Program for the current fiscal year, marking the third time the Air Guard has used the program. So far this fiscal year, the Air Guard has received approximately $15 worth of messaging for every dollar spent on the program.
Senior Master Sgt. Zach Brewer, the Wisconsin Air National Guard recruiting and retention superintendent, said he is working with leaders from National Guard Bureau to see if they would support a contract with the National Broadcaster’s Association so that every state could experience the benefits of the Public Education Program.
“It’s an awesome program I wish we could do every year, as it really hits the entire state with our general awareness message,” Brewer said.
In his remarks at the WBA’s winter conference, Steve Wexler, the chair of the WBA, said the Wisconsin National Guard has been a tremendous supporter of the Association.
“I always feel a little bit awkward when they say ‘thank you’ to us, because I think we all know that we’re thanking them for everything that they do on our behalf,” Wexler said.