Meet One Of Radio’s Most Influential Women


On June 16, Radio Ink will release the 2018 Most Influential Women in Radio list. We’ve been publishing the MIW list for over 20 years now. Over the next several weeks we’ll be previewing that issue with extended interviews with many of the broadcasters who’ve made our list. And, of course, Broadcast Education Association Executive Director Heather Birks is on our list.

Birks is responsible for running the academic media association whose members are college and university faculty, undergrad and graduate students, and industry professionals interested in growing the next generation of broadcasters.

Heather organizes strategic alliances with corporate and academic organizations, oversees marketing and membership outreach efforts, and works with the BEA board of directors to keep research and creative initiatives relevant through the BEA website, journals, an annual convention, and other events and activities.

Here is our extended interview with one of radio’s Most Influential Women of 2018, Heather Birks

Radio Ink: Why do you believe you are successful? 
Heather Birks: I think one of the reasons I have been successful is because I take serious pride and ownership in my job. I’m constantly editing, reassessing, and tweaking everything from emails to website content so our best foot is forward. In most cases this means constant revision to make things work, so I have to manage that fine line between being detail oriented and obsessed, but I’ll work as hard as possible to produce a final product I feel good about.

NOTE: Our MIW list will not be available online. It will only appear in the June 18 print issue of Radio Ink Magazine. To subscribe in time to receive this issue GO HERE.

Radio Ink: What do you do to stay sharp, keep learning?
Heather Birks: I learn by asking a lot of questions. If I have a project that involves something I’m not familiar with, I get in touch with financial and investment partners, board members, interest division leadership, or our BEA members that do know. I’m smart enough to admit what I don’t know and seek expert advice, and BEA has an endless supply of knowledgeable and talented people. I attend conferences and talk to other association executives to gather innovative ideas and insight into new ways to do things. I also listen to our members and find out what they want and what they need. Based on the feedback, I try to allocate time and resources to make sure we continue to create value for them.

Radio Ink: What are you doing to make the radio industry stronger, and why do you believe it’s important to help the industry grow?
Heather Birks: We’re preparing and engaging the next generation of broadcasters. Since BEA represents a variety of member types — faculty, students, and professionals — we’re trying to do this on several 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.

It’s important for EVERY industry to grow. To do that, you must invest in the future of the industry, otherwise we’ll lose these future broadcasters to companies that are investing in young talent. We need to show aspiring professionals how incredible this industry is.

Radio Ink: If we were able to put you on speaker phone and every radio manager was on the other end listening, what would you say to them?
Heather Birks: If I was on a speaker phone with every radio manager I’d encourage them to adopt a college or university. Pick a school and then make a commitment to talk to a class at least once every semester. Form a relationship with the professor, they’ll help feed your pipeline.

Radio Ink: What one goal has eluded you so far?
Heather Birks: I have trouble saying “no.” I have a tendency to hear an idea — an idea that I think is unique and will help BEA in the long run — and I am very quick to take it on as a project. While the projects are great, sometimes they are time consuming for our small staff. I need to do a better job of picking and choosing.

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

NOTE: Our MIW list will not be available online. It will only appear in the June 18 print issue of Radio Ink Magazine. To subscribe in time to receive this issue GO HERE.

Reach out to Heather on being one of Radio’s Most Influential at [email protected]



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here