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Meet Joel Burke, KBEY operations manager

KBEY's Joel Burke and dog Bubba

Joel Burke, KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune's new operations manager, sometimes brings his 15-year-old rescue dog, Dierks 'Bubba' Bentley, with him to the studio for his afternoon show, which airs from 3-7 p.m. weekdays. Bubba was named after Burke’s friend and country music artist Dierks Bentley. Photo by Shelley Burke

The first radio listeners to ever hear Joel Burke’s voice over the airways lived in Rawls, Texas, where the then-16-year-old spun country tunes and directed church services from a station inside a furniture store. Now, with 41 years’ experience working in some of the nation’s biggest music markets, Burke can be heard from 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune in the Highland Lakes. 

“This is a local station that cares about community,” said Burke, KBEY’s new operations manager. “That’s what attracted me to come here.” 

Burke and his wife, Shelley, a singer-songwriter-musician, moved to Marble Falls from Dallas, where Burke spent the past eight years as program director for First Dallas Media’s KCBI, a Christian station. 

Other jobs have included corporate program director over 47 stations for Three Eagles Communications and program director of country stations KASE and KVET in Austin. 

He has won an impressive list of awards, including the Radio and Records Country Program Director of the Year in 2004 and 2008, and was named one of Radio Ink magazine’s top 15 Country Program Directors six years in a row. During his 10 years at KYGO in Denver, the station won five Country Music Association awards, five National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards, and three Radio and Record awards. 

What he learned over his four decades in radio is that success is all about what he calls “localism.” 

“It all starts at connecting with listeners and making them feel ownership of the station,” he said. “I want listeners to say, ‘That’s my station.’ When you do that, everything else falls into place.” 

Another lesson learned on the airwaves revolves around the evolution of media.

“We are not in radio anymore — we are a media platform,” he said. “Radio is in the center, but you’ve also got an app, social media, you’ve got a website, it’s all connected.”

As part of Victory Media Marketing, KBEY does indeed have a website, an app, and multiple social media outlets. Burke embraces it all as part of radio’s present and future.

“Back in the day, all you had to pay attention to was the station,” he said. “Now, you have all these other platforms, and you have to be there, you have to be engaged consistently.” 

Running a community-based radio station that connects with its listeners “is a one thousand-piece puzzle every day,” Joel continued. 

He comes to the job well prepared.

“Victory Media is excited to welcome Joel to the team,” Publisher Mandi Goldsmith said. “He brings a professionalism and personality that fits in well with our community-based organization and staff. I look forward to hearing him on the radio and working with him to make KBEY an even better community partner.” 

suzanne@thepicayune.com