Steve Webster, a sports commentator with local Great Bend radio station 1590 KVGB, took his turn at the podium Friday afternoon at Barton Community College.
He is one of two candidates in the running for the opening of the Barton Community College Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, which oversees the Barton Foundation. At the forum, the public and college employees learned more about Webster and had the chance to ask questions.
While the majority of his experience has been in radio broadcasting, it has brought him in contact with a diversity of people from several different backgrounds and professions. His career began in the local market, first in Pratt and then in Great Bend. In 1987, he became the voice of the Cougars, in fact. That success paved the way for him to become the voice of the Ft. Hays Tigers.
His responsibilities increased over time as he moved through other broadcasting stations in Kansas and Texas. He was asked three times to accept the position of Executive Producer of the Mid America Sports Network before he finally did. That experience was an opportunity to prove himself as he grew the network from the understaffed, underfunded precarious status at the beginning of his tenure to a well funded institution with talent when he left.
In between, he held a number sales and broadcasting related positions. Four years ago, he returned to Great Bend in time for his son to begin high school. The Barton Half Time show and the Hilltop show are two programs he hosts currently, and he credits these with growing his passion for the school.
“Barton shapes the future of young and old alike,” he said. “Barton offers hope, because it provides the training a person needs to be in a better job in six to 12 months.”
He admits, his current position has far fewer responsibilities compared to the directorship. He said he visited with Dr. Ed Hammond, who retired as president of Ft. Hays State University in June, 2014. He worked closely with Hammond as the Sports Information Director at the university, and wondered if Hammond thought he could handle the job. The answer, he said, was yes.
When asked if he felt he had all the skills necessary to fill the shoes of the former director, Darnell Holopirek, he responded that he did not have every skill, but he did have a lot of them, and he knew who to ask to take care of the rest, referring to the current foundation board. Holopirek retired in December, and was present at the forum.
“I also took lots of notes,” she said from the audience.
Dr. Vic Martin, a Barton faculty member, asked where Webster felt he would need to work hardest if he got the job. He responded that while he had a good handle on traditional media, he, like all media people, needed to increase knowledge of how to connect with younger people. That would require learning and keeping up with new technology. Increasing visibility within the county, too, would be helpful.
In light of state funding cuts for higher education, and the decrease in oil valuation that directly affects funding for the college immediately, Webster said his top priority would be to reconnect with current donors.
“The foundation is in great shape now, thanks to the efforts of Darnell,” he said. “Still, we need to find a way to get through this.”