Heather Birks. Making Radio Stronger


Heather Birks started working for the Broadcast Education Association in 2006, after working for the NAB for four years and NABEF for six. BEA is an academic media organization for educators, students, and professionals. BEA hired Birks, because in the six years she worked at NABEF, she helped build, manage and produce the Service to America Awards, and helped launch and run the Broadcast Leadership Training Program.

She tells Radio Ink she absolutely loves this industry. “Being part of the BLT and helping broadcasters who were clearly passionate about their jobs was the most unique and rewarding opportunity. I felt lucky that I was surrounded by people were so dedicated to the business. When the BEA position opened, I thought how amazing that I could be on the other end of the radio spectrum (so the speak) and help all those BLT graduates fill their newly purchased stations with graduates taught by BEA members. That I could be in a position to help build better broadcasters by helping faculty connect with the industry, promote research and creative work done by faculty and students, providing a collaborative environment for educators to exchange knowledge and information to keep them up to date latest in technology and information, and financial scholarships to student interested in radio.”

BEA conducts several programs a year. An annual convention co-located with NAB Show, a creative competition called the Festival of Media Arts and a regional fall conference called BEA On-Location. BEA works closely with RAB and NAB to run the Radio Show Student Scholars program. With the support of 27 companies, BEA is also able to offer registration scholarships to students interested in radio. After two years of the program BEA has helped over 200 students to attend the Radio Show. Heading into year three Birks says her goal is to keep making this program better – to give the students useful contacts and information before, after and during the convention. “We want them in the business and want their experience to launch a continued desire to stick with it.”

Heather Birks will appear on Radio Ink’s 2017 Most Influential Women in Radio list set for release on June 19.

Here is our extended interview with Heather

Radio Ink: Exactly what are you responsible for on a daily basis?
Heather Birks: On a daily basis I’m responsible for running an academic media association – our members are college and university faculty, undergrad and graduate students, and industry professionals. I organize strategic alliances with corporate and academic organizations, oversee our marketing and membership outreach efforts, and work with our board of directors to keep research and creative initiatives relevant through our website, journals, annual convention, and other events and activities.

Radio Ink: What are you doing to make the radio industry stronger?
Heather Birks: We’re preparing and engaging the next generation of broadcasters. Because we cover a variety of members — faculty and students — we’re trying to do this on several different levels. The goal is to offer professional development, support, knowledge, and access to faculty and students. We provide opportunities for our faculty members to learn new technology, meet with industry professionals, share research, creative work, teaching tips, techniques, and experiences –- to keep them current and relevant as educators. We provide students with opportunities to share creative and research as well, but for the past few years have been working with RAB and NAB to fully expose students to the industry at the Radio Show. Thanks to the support of 29 radio groups and associate businesses, we have been able to offer the Radio Show Student Scholar Program. The Student Scholars receive registrations to attend the Radio Show and BEA manages the program providing guidance to get them there, and once they are there, help them process what they learn while making sure they take advantage of all the Radio Show has to offer.

Radio Ink: What advice do you have for readers on how to be successful in radio?
Heather Birks: I think the mark of success in anything is to sincerely enjoy what you do. Radio offers incredible options: You can enjoy connecting with the community, making a difference, helping people, selling as many spots as you can, building an empire, producing unique content, managing a team, or making your voice heard. Match one, or several, up with a love for radio, and you’re set.

Radio Ink: What steps can or should they take to advance and head toward achieving their goals?
Heather Birks: Meet as many people as you can –- and make eye contact when you talk to them — and listen to what they tell you. Never say, “That’s not my job.” Smile. Don’t burn bridges.

Radio Ink: What is it about you that you believe makes you successful and influential?
Heather Birks: My parents set me up with a pretty intense work ethic, so I’m a hard worker. This comes in handy at BEA since we’re a staff of three. I have been able to partner my work ethic with the fact that I take pride in being thorough, helpful, accessible, and approachable, and try to be as positive as I can. I want our members and partners to walk away feeling like we helped them learn something valuable, or that I helped them connect with someone that can help them advance personally or professionally. I’ve also been lucky at BEA because our small team is nimble and we have been able to accomplish a lot.

Radio Ink: What do you want to see radio do better?
Heather Birks: Continue to connect with the next generation.

Reach out to Heather Birks and congratulate her on being one of Radio’s Most Influential at [email protected]. Subscribe to Radio Ink in time to receive our popular Most Influential Women in Radio issue. GO HERE


  1. Very good article, Heather! Straight up – it was refreshing to see and read about someone dedicated towards making future radio better! Radio needs more leaders concerned about “what they COULD do, rather than “look what I’ve DONE”.


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