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Job Title: General Manager, Television Station

Job Overview

General managers are responsible for the physical management and operation of the television station. They set and implement policy and may also be involved in programming and production decisions.

Skills for Success

“Skills are important: can you direct and shoot? Do you have a good eye? Are you a good writer?” asks KBYU Television's general manager Duane Roberts. “Those kinds of things are important, but I think my ability to survive—even flourish—in the broadcasting environment is directly related to the fact that I like people. I like working with them, I like problem solving; that has made all the difference. I love telling stories and using media to tell stories. Those are skills that I have learned and been able to gather that have been really helpful. Over all, I think it's really about understanding and caring about people, because that's who your audience is. It's not about making the product; it's about helping people who are on the receiving end of that product. That sounds kind of philosophical, but I really believe it. That's the way I operate.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

To obtain a management position, candidates generally need advanced education. Experience will be gained while getting that education. Though it is much more difficult, another avenue is to make an independent film that someone might see and then offer you a job. It is important to define what you want to achieve and then set your course to obtain it.

What do you like least about your job?

“I like least, I think, the challenges of trying to reach your vision with resource issues that are constantly upon you. You spend more time trying to find resources to do things than actually doing things.”—Duane Roberts

What do you love most about your job?

“I think what I like most is the opportunity to be involved in creating and delivering content that can change people's lives. To help people be better, to really enrich their experience. I like that at KBYU … we really have a focus on enriching people's lives and their experience. I like that the best because I'm involved in something that is good.”—Duane Roberts

Professional Profile: Duane Roberts, General Manager of KBYU Television

A high school English teacher's writing assignment led Duane Roberts to discover his passion for media production. Students were instructed to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Roberts wrote about being a policeman, even though he had no desire to be one. “I wrote my theme, turned it in, and she gave me an ‘F’. I'm an ‘A’ student; I was pretty upset about it.” The teacher asked Roberts what he did want to be, to which he had no answer. “She said, ‘I've got an announcement for a job opening at the local radio station and I want you to go down there and apply for it. Whether you get the job or not, you write a paper on your experiences applying for this job.’” Roberts applied and got the job.

For the next two years, while in high school, Roberts worked as a DJ for the 250-watt radio station in his hometown of Worland, Wyoming. “I got a paid position to work weekends, run the board, and play the records, read the news, and do the announcements.” He later learned what set him apart from the other applicants was his ability to cold read copy aloud. “I attribute that to my mother, because in our family we read stories to each other out loud from the time I was knee high.”


* “Define what your vision is. What do you really want to do? I encourage anyone that's interested in media to think about what kind of story they want to tell and what's the purpose of those stories. When they've defined that, then they can find a path to get there.”Duane Roberts

* “I think broadcasting media is a great business. I really enjoy it and I think it's more powerful now than ever. I think the opportunity to do good is enhanced, as well as the opportunity to do things that aren't so good. It's a time where you can use your talents to tell stories that uplift and enrich, or that will destroy; or at least push people down into the bottom of the pit, rather than lift them up. I think you have a choice.”—Duane Roberts

Roberts went on to study broadcasting at Brigham Young University, where he became the first student announcer for KBYU-FM. “I had some good mentors at BYU, in terms of how to do good creative work and the technical, operational things. But one teacher kind of opened the world of instructional and educational television to me. I was a freshman and had grandiose plans about being in broadcasting.” Through this teacher, Roberts got involved in instructional television: delivering video instruction from a central location to other places on campus. “It was the first vestiges of distributed learning, I suppose. This one teacher really lit my fire about media being more valuable.”

Roberts earned a bachelor's degree in communication arts in 1967, prior to joining the United States Air Force to fight in Vietnam. Initially enlisting for four years, he stayed on for 24, working in motion picture production, audio/visual production and management, public relations, and media relations. “I made a career of it, all in communications. I learned a lot about media and how it can instruct, inform, and persuade.” During his military tenure, he attended the University of North Carolina to earn his master's degree in radio, television, and motion picture production.

Retiring from the military in 1991, Roberts returned to BYU to work on his Ph.D. and to teach. He was immediately offered an associate news director position and has since become the general manager of KBYU television station. He completed his doctorate degree in instructional psychology and technology. “I guess I had interest in enrichment for a long time. I'm in a perfect position now, because I get to apply what I know about instructional psychology, technology, and creative media with BYU television channel. It's pretty exciting.”

Additional topics

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