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"It's Time to Clean Out My Closet."


Conclave Executive Director Tom Kay announced this week he was stepping down from a job only he has held. Kay has been with the Conclave for nearly four decades. When anyone in radio mentions "the Conclave," they immediately think of Tom Kay and all the work he's done, the time he's put in, and the organization he's worked to build. We spoke to Kay about his decision and his plans.

How long were you with Conclave and in what position(s)?
I began as a member of the original Conclave advisory board 37 years ago while I was a radio PD in St. Cloud (MN), then took on responsibility for staging it (as Conclave coordinator) when I joined Doug Lee in 1979. In 1985, the Conclave formed up as an official 501c3 non-profit organization and I become its first (and so far, only) Executive Director.

You decided to retire. Why?
It wasnt an easy decision, but it's one Ive been kicking around since last spring. My wife has just retired (as a teacher), and Im now in my 66th year on the planet. Weve seen family and friends retire, but many of them did it too late to fully take advantage of this special time while good health was still in their corner. I looked back on my 47 years' worth of contributions (damage?) to the industry and simply wanted to exit on my termssomething that doesnt happen with regularity in our business.

What are a few of your most proud accomplishments?
Its edifying to know that hundreds of broadcasters have come through our doors to learn since we opened shop in 1976, and Im pleased that weve grown to include other educational opportunities like our webinar series (which RADIO INK has been so helpful in promoting!). And the fact that since 1979 the Conclave has awarded over $1 million in scholarships to students wishing to enter the industry is very special to me, as well.

Talk about a few of the things readers may not know about the Conclave that they should know.
Virtually everything the Conclave does is done with volunteers. Im its only paid employee. In fact, Im its ONLY employee. Without a volunteer Board of Directors, the Conclave simply would not be the Conclave. For more veteran readers who remember legends like Bill Gavin, the fact that the first two Conclaves were also Gavin Regional Radio conferences isnt widely known.

What does the Conclave mean to the radio industry?
Thats hard for me to answer, but if the question is what would I like the Conclave to mean to the industry, Im hoping it represents unique educational opportunities for those whose job it is to fulfill the mandate of their license, showing them how to successfully impart important information, inspiration, and entertainment to their communities in the right way.

What will you do now?
Im still on duty until we find a replacement. Once we get somebody in this chair, Ill offer to assist that person and the Conclave in whatever manner the Board might find appropriate. There are some very worthwhile causes that might be able use a good volunteer. And personally, it will be nice to enjoy a summer free of conference-planning. Otherwise, Ill follow the dictates of my children and grandchildren who insist I clean out my closets and the attic before I die!

Reach out to Tom to thank him for what he's done at the Conclave: tomk@theconclave.com



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