For the first time in five years, radio listeners will have a voice in selecting inductees to the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Using social media, the public will be invited to vote later this year in two categories among eight nominees to be designated by the 18-member Radio Hall of Fame steering committee.
The committee also will designate another 16 nominees in four other categories, to be voted on by a 400-person panel, including radio executives, programmers, past inductees, executive directors of state broadcast associations, and members of the trade media.
All six inductees — plus as many as three more chosen directly by the steering committee — will be honored November 5 at the 2015 induction ceremony. The Chicago-based shrine to radio’s top personalities and programs is housed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street.
Since 2011 the public has been shut out of the Radio Hall of Fame voting process despite requirements that the steering committee consider recommendations from the public, announce multiple nominees in four categories, and conduct public voting online. Instead, the steering committee announced each year’s inductees as a fait accompli.
The public voting process didn’t always run smoothly. Critics said it encouraged special interests to mobilize voters, resulting in such controversial picks as James Dobson, the anti-gay founder of Focus on the Family, who was inducted in 2008.
The new procedure, recently approved by the steering committee, was established under Kraig Kitchin, who succeeded Bruce DuMont last July as chairman of the Radio Hall of Fame. “You can make the nomination process and the voting process as transparent as possible to the entire industry,” Kitchen said in a 2014 AllAccess.com interview. “Voting is one part of the process that should be open to the public. The nominating committee knows the radio industry well enough to take into account the entire body.”
Kitchin, co-founder and former president and chief operating officer of Premiere Radio Networks, is co-president of Los Angeles-based Sound Mind Inc., which offers management services to radio, television and production companies. He also is co-president of Big Shoes Productions, a programming production company owned by syndicated radio host Delilah.
Working with the Radio Hall of Fame to develop the social media voting tools will be Darren Davis, president of networks for iHeartMedia.