President, Founder & Co-owner
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John has had one big interest in life, and that is radio. As a youg boy he was an avid listener back when the news was coming from Edward R Morrow. As a teenager he built and repaired radios and started broadcasting as a junior in high school. During college John held jobs at channel 2 in Denver, KDEN in Denver, and the student radio station KVDU. John graduated in 1961 from the University of Denver and immediately began a job as news director of WSIV radio in Pekin, Illinois. John directed television shows in South America while he and his wife Jan were serving in the Peace Corps, then took a job selling video equipment in Puerto Rico for the Ampex corporation. He was employed for several years at WSMI Radio in Litchfield, Illinois, then John and Jan started their own station in Emmetsburg, Iowa. It was the Emmetsburg experience that convinced John to start finding ways to integrate computers into radio, and Smarts Broadcast Systems was born.
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High school and a part time job led me to major in library science at the University of Denver. I met John Schad the first week of college, and we were married the day after graduation. Somewhere along the way my major was shifted to Journalism, with a minor in Radio-TV-film. I worked for the Pekin Daily Times, Pekin, IL, following graduation. John and I entered the Peace Corps for a very interesting project producing and directing instructional television programs in Bogota, Colombia. We then moved to Carlinville, IL and John worked for WSMI Radio in Litchfield, IL. We became the parents of John, Jeanne and Margaret. We moved to Emmetsburg, IA, my home town, in 1976 to put KEMB radio on the air. This led us to create our first software product, and the rest is told in John’s bio. I love what I do, especially the software development and testing. It is a challenge to predict what a customer is going to want before he/she knows they want it. My hobby is our house — an 1898 Queen Anne Victorian — we spend many hours in front of a fireplace, or on the front porch. I grew up on a farm and then moved to a small Iowa town. I will always be grateful for the problem solving abilities and practical common sense gained by living in rural Iowa.
I grew up in radio. My earliest memories are of playing with a “bingo” machine in the front office of WSMI’s studio in Carlinville, IL. To me, terms like MARTI, Yagi and Teletype were as common as Tonka and Fisher-Price. Over the years I’ve added to those terms: Stereo 80, Stack 55, Carousel, Sequencer, Go Cart, TRS-80, MODEM, BBS, BASIC, FLOPPY DISK, SMARTS, MS-DOS, 8088, Hard Disk Drive, VAX VMS, Smartcaster, 286, Satellite Automation, 386, Compact Disk, 486, Music-on-Hard-Drive, Pentium, Internet, e-mail, Web Browser, Windows, Y2k, Linux, Internet Streaming, the “Cloud”, and eventually Skylla. Somewhere along the line (probably between “Hard Disk Drive” and “VAX VMS”), was college where I studied: Philosophy, Japanese, PASCAL, Communications and Radio. Upon graduation, I started working for SMARTS full-time doing product testing. Soon I was doing technical support and a few years after that, development.
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Dave first knew Jan and John Schad as neighboring broadcasters when he owned a station in Spencer Iowa. He later became a Smarts customer, and since 1991 has been Sales Manager for Smarts Broadcast Systems. Dave has been associated with radio since 1963. Dave’s radio experience includes being an on air personality, sales, management and ownership. As Sales Manager at Smarts Broadcast Systems, Dave feels that the association with the customer becomes a friendship.
Dave has a special interest in sports. In 1965 he started covering World Series Baseball Games and All-Star Games; he has interviewed a number of top sports legends. For over 20 years he did a daily radio show, Sports Celebrity Spotlight, interviewing the top professional and college sports stars, coaches and managers. Dave serves on the Clay County Fair Board of Directors (Spencer IA) as Grandstand Superintendent for over 20 years. He has worked with a number of entertainers, including Bob Hope, Red Skelton and many others who have appeared at the fair.
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It was in second grade that Stuart saw his first station, KAKE/Wichita. At 12, he got paid a dollar at KABH/Midland, TX for doing his first commercial. Finally, he got his first part-time air shift doing Sunday Mornings in New Orleans when he was 16. On his first day he was running half hour religious programming on the AM, hosting Easy Listening music on the FM and simulcasting ABC News at the top of the hour on both stations. “A little before noon, the PD called. I thought I was going to be fired or something, but he asked if I could stay on the air since the afternoon guy was sick. I couldn’t believe my luck! Around 5, he called again to ask if I could cover the night shift because of another sick announcer. On my first day, I got to sign the station on and off, worked an 18 hour shift and I couldn’t have been happier to do it!”
Stuart did the news for the Bill Mack Show on WBAP/Dallas, and became the first jock on when WBAP-FM became KSCS. In the mid-seventies, he hosted the legendary Beaker Street night-time program on KAAY/Little Rock. While working there, he met Bob Nelson, who is now one of our programmers at Smarts Broadcasting. Stuart then did mornings in Memphis on Rock 103, PD at KLPQ-FM/Little Rock, WZEW-FM/Mobile before returning to Dallas. He spent over a decade at TM Century which launched the UDS 2 digital audio system, which is now part of the Smarts Broadcasting family. While at TM, Stuart worked with Brenda Burt and Jim Broadwater, also current members of the Smarts family. After TM, Stuart worked with Computer Concepts, Broadcast Electronics, CBSI and Scott Studios over the next decade. He then spent over ten years with the ABC Radio Networks, as it evolved to Citadel and then Cumulus Media Networks.
Director of Marketing
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Henry’s love affair with radio began while listening to Jack Buck and the St Louis Cardinal broadcasts on his transistor radio … after a day of listening to the “World’s Happiest Broadcasters” on WHB/Kansas City. He eventually started on the client side, buying time and doing radio promotions in Los Angeles for Six Flags Magic Mountain. He moved to Radio & Records in 1987 to do national radio promotions and eventually lead the sales effort for “the industry’s newspaper.” After a brief stop as Director of Sales with Radio-Info.com, Henry joined SMARTS in 2011.
Kathy Roethler started working for the Schads in 1984 when they owned KEMB Radio. She currently is office manager and inventory control manager for Smarts. Kathy is a lifelong Iowa resident, having grown up about 65 miles from Emmetsburg, in Fort Dodge Iowa. She is married to Bob, who is known state wide and nationally for his achievements in coaching high school wrestling. They have one son, Robert, and two grandchildren. Always active in her community, Kathy currently serves on the local school board. She has also served on the city board of adjustments, and many other committees in the sports area. She likes to do craft projects, such as painting and making Christmas cards.
A long time resident of Iowa, George has studied at Buena Vista College and worked 14 years at a motel honing his customer service skills. He is an avid reader and would love to someday visit both Japan and England.
Lonnie has made a career of helping people. He’s worked customer service in a wide array of industries, from retail to agriculture, from recreation to high tech. Lonnie maintains our record of customer support calls to ensure that when people call, we know the history of their system and station.
Lori Hebel grew up in Denver, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO. She later received her master’s from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS (and yes that’s how Pittsburg, KS spells it). Lori likes cats and quilting.
Jim Broadwater has been in the radio industry since his mid-teens, when he passed the test for his FCC license six weeks prior to getting his driver’s license. He has worked as a disk-jockey (with real records), editor and engineer. Jim moved to Texas to work for a nationally-known syndication company, and has been with SMARTS Broadcast Systems since their acquisition of On Air Digital USA in 2001. Along the way he’s been involved with just about every kind of program delivery system there is, from tape-based automation to Compact Discs to today’s computer-based digital systems. Jim and his wife are avid photographers, living in North Texas under the watchful eyes of their three cats.
Steve Sick graduated from high school in Ida Grove, IA, in 1980. He graduated from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, IA, in 1988. Steve is a bench technician and builds and maintains the hardware for Smarts.
Connie Coombe attended St. Cloud State College with full scholarship beginning 1968, majoring in psychology and minoring in art. She took Social Service classes in 1969 at St John’s University, and in 1980, she was certified to teach reading and writing to adults by Hibbing Community College. She begain studying office management and radio/TV media in 1984, and in 2000, she moved on to small business management. Beginning in 1970, she managed a department/grocery store for two years in Grey Eagle, MN. From 1972-1975, Connie worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Sauk Centre, MN, and moved to Hibbing, MN that year. She began her work in radio in 1983 at WKKQ/Hibbing, also working at WEVE-Eveleth, MN /WAKX-Duluth, MN, and WMFG-Hibbing, MN. She began working at Smarts in 1995. Connie and her husband Craig have three children and four grandchildren.
A native of Pittsburgh (born in the same McKees Rocks hospital as TV infomercial pitchman Billy Mayes), Bob Nelson’s fascination with radio is natural. His hometown is where broadcasting began with the iconic KDKA Radio. In elementary school, he was taught to remember the importance of these years: 1492, 1776 and 1920, the year KDKA sent itsfirst transmissions into the ether. His career in radio started at WNAH in Nashville (where singer Pat Boone launched his career as an announcer several years before Bob arrived on the scene in the Music City), General Electric’s WSIX also in Nashville (meeting country stars including Kris Kristofferson, Roy Acuff, Sonny James and Dolly Parton) and then onto KAAY in Little Rock, a 50,000 watt station blanketing the entire midwest and 28 states (as well as Cuba) at night with its revolutionary rock and roll format. Then it was back home to Pittsburgh for a 3-year stint doing PM drive at WLTJ (which began as KDKA’s pioneering FM facility) and then to Group W’s (yet another Pittsburgh connection since Group W’s parent, Westinghouse, is Pittsburgh-based) KQZY in Dallas, for a 4-year run in the PM drive slot. While there, Bob rubbed shoulders with visiting celebrities hosted by the station such as Leslie Neilsen, Dana Carvey, Jim Belushi, Christopher (Superman) Reeve and Watergate’s G. Gordon Liddy.
While at KQZY, an offer was made to join TM/Century to develop software for radio. Initially hesitant, he was persuaded that radio automation would be the future of radio. So in 1991, the leap was made from daily broadcasting to providing services for radio, a post he still has. While with TM Century and its later ownership of SMARTS, Bob has traveled the world setting up and training broadcasters in places ranging from Istanbul, Taipei, the Cayman Islands, the Panama Canal Zone, Italy and Sao Paulo. His well-stamped passport shows a number of other stops long since smudge beyond recognition. His web page tracing the meaning of call letters has been maintained on the world wide web since 1988 at http://nelson.oldradio.com/origins.html. Recently the subject of a special 80th Anniversary edition of “Broadcasting and Cable” magazine, this tribute to broadcast history was featured in the Dell paperback, “Acronymania” and was the subject of a New York Times article. Now a 20-year veteran of broadcast software development and maintenance, his free time is spent bicycling, running, watching sports and, of course, keeping tabs on the ever-changing radio world. And he still is an avid radio listener, tuning into the Dallas sports station, “The Ticket” during the morning and afternoon commute.
After a 4 year stint working on transmitters in the Air Force, Pete entered radio in 1982 and became Assistant Chief and then Chief engineer at WIBV-AM. While at WIBV, a request from the Program Director for “something to generate 50 random numbers” turned into the MusicLog program, which wound up being sold by The Management and was in use at several hundred radio stations. Pete later (1987ish) moved over to KWK-FM/KGLD-AM in St. Louis (later known as WKBQ-FM and KASP-AM) as Assistant Chief Engineer. A few years later, he also helped a friend part-time with the St. Louis kids station, WFUN-FM, providing a home-brewed automation system which used several Pioneer 6-disk changers and hardware/software to cue and play music. After getting tired of beepers and driving to transmitter sites at 2am, Pete moved to Fort Worth to write software for The Management. There, he helped rewrite the Super Log traffic software for version 4.0, continued work on MusicLog and helped write the audio production module and several CD changer modules for the AXS system. After the company was purchased by Scott Studios, Pete continued work on AXS, and wrote several new minor programs. In 2003, Pete came to Smarts, where he’s written the MagicView add-on for Smartcaster, rolled out an entire custom respin of the RedHat Linux distribution, and is writing the core module for the Skylla system. He’s currently also working on the Skylla Production module, and several other utilities.
Dennis graduated from both Northfield High School and Heartland Career Center in Wabash, IN, in 1997 before attending and graduating from ITT Technical Institute in Fort Wayne, IN, in 1999. From 1995 to 1997, he was a V.I.C.A. member at Heartland Career Center, and in 2007, he became a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. In late 2004, he constructed part of KEMB-LP, and worked there as voluntary air talent from 2005-2010. He has been working in WebRadio as air talent since 2005.
Debbie Kribell (pronounced “cry-bull”)
I am constantly amazed at how much the technology has changed for the radio industry. I got hooked on radio in high school when I was able to get out of class to read the school lunch menus, over the phone, on KBJM-AM, 60 miles away. During college I worked at the student run TV and radio stations(KYOT) in Vermillion, SD. I interned at KKCR in Pierre, SD. A year before graduating in 1984 with a degree in radio and television, I started working for KVRA-AM/FM in Vermillion, SD, the local commercial radio stations, which were then changed to KOZY-AM and KVHT-FM. Prior to working for SMARTS Broadcast Systems, I have been an Announcer, Copy-writer, Traffic Director, Salesperson, and Manager. I am definitely not a good engineer! I started working for SMARTS in 1994. I mostly do troubleshooting, training, and testing for the traffic system(s). I help with Digital Program Director (DPD), and know enough to be dangerous on our automation systems. I ‘talk radio’, more than ‘computer’. I enjoy working with our SMARTS customers; it’s like helping friends and family. My husband Jeff and I have four unique children, and I’ll save ALL those stories for another time.
Hooked on radio by a ham. My dad (K0DXN) taught me Morse code when I was 5 years old. Now I’m AA4WS, albeit a little older. How that translated into commercial broadcast radio was through my addiction to computer programming. I spent 6 years in USAF first as an Automatic Tracking Radar technician then programming. As a civilian I went to Sperry Univac at Robins Air Force Base, and Register Data Systems Perry Georgia in 1980, Smarts Broadcast Systems in 1991, Columbine Golden Colorado (Columbine JDS) in 1994. A degree in 1998 and back to Smarts in 2001. How that code helps me now is identifying NDB (Non-Directional Beacons) when I’m flying but not much else. My hobbies include Amateur Radio (Amateur Extra Class), motorcycles, flying (private pilot), music (play a little guitar) and diving (PADI openwater) when I can. I’m currently working on/with SecGen, maintaining it, adding new functionality and features and thoroughly enjoying the whole process.
Brenda has been involved in radio since the early 70’s being ‘married’ to an original KZEW/Dallas rock jock. What a fun time when AOR radio was in it’s infancy. In the 80’s, she worked at a station in Beaumont, Texas doing traffic and billing and production, then back to Dallas with HNWH National Sales reps in the 80’s, Y-95 Dallas as a sales assistant and then 9 years with TM Century selling GoldDiscs, jingles and other products for radio. Her experience includes selling digital audio for the early Scott Studios systems, Powergold and Musicmaster. She has been with Smarts since 2002 and enjoys working with all of our wonderful clients doing Customer service. Being the mother of an autistic child, she is involved in Autism awareness on a very personal level. She and her husband, Rick who works in radio as well and is a musician, both enjoy music in every form. She loves people, camping, animals, art, cooking, bunco, crafts, children, working with the elderly, playing games that are mentally stimulating and as well as pursuit of the mysteries of the human spirit.