Meet a Member: Mike Miletich

We're going to be introducing you to your fellow INBA members, in a series we're called Meet A Member. First up is Mike Miletich, 10 p.m. news producer for Heart of Illinois ABC.

One of the biggest benefits of your INBA membership is getting to know professionals in different markets, in different stages of their career, maybe even working in a different aspect of broadcasting or education.

So we're going to be introducing you to your fellow INBA members, in a series we're calling Meet A Member. First up is Mike Miletich, 10 p.m. news producer for Heart of Illinois ABC, a Quincy Media station under the same roof as WEEK-TV in East Peoria.

Mike MiletichHow did you develop an interest in reporting or broadcasting?

From a young age, I knew I wanted to help inform the public. My parents listened to WBBM throughout the day and came home to watch the nightly news on NBC (WMAQ). It was kind of a ritual at my house and nobody went to sleep without knowing what happened that day. I was glad to see several universities in the Midwest had degrees specifically for students interested in news. Illinois State University was one of my first choices. After walking down to the lower level of Fell Hall, I knew that ISU would become my second home.

What was your first broadcasting job?

I started working in broadcast within the first month of going to school at ISU. I was a DJ and news reporter for ISU's student radio station, WZND. ZND was the perfect place for me to learn and grow before starting my major classes with TV-10. I spent time as a reporter, producer, anchor and specialty show host. My experiences at WZND and TV-10 helped me land my first paid job at WGLT in early 2016. I covered town/city council, school boards, and the McLean County board. Some of my best lessons in broadcast writing came from the brilliant minds of Willis Kern and Charlie Schlenker. I am forever grateful for everything they taught me during my time at GLT.

Why do you love being a news broadcaster?

I love being a news broadcaster because every single day brings new experiences. There is never a dull moment if you work in a newsroom. I could have a newscast ready to go 10 minutes before show time and everything can be shuffled with breaking news. This is a high-energy business and I love working under deadlines. 

What broadcast or story you’ve done makes you most proud?

My favorite broadcast since starting at HOI is probably our team coverage of President Trump in Granite City. We had live shots and VO/SOTs throughout the entire day and ended our coverage with an in-depth PKG. Our team, both in Granite City and back in house, put in amazing work that day. I was extremely proud of our PKG for the 10 p.m. newscast. I was able to cut and edit our main anchor's PKG while he drove home from Granite City.

What’s the hardest story or broadcast you’ve had to do?

The hardest story I had to cover was a celebration of life for Army Sgt. Josh Rodgers. Rodgers was killed from small-arms fire in Afghanistan in 2017. Hundreds of people welcomed his body home to Bloomington on May 6, 2017. I covered the funeral and procession for WGLT. I will never forget Kevin Rodgers, Josh's father, taking a moment to thank the community for raising his son. "This man was just as much a product of this community as he was our child. We hope you all take pride in the man you helped mold and, for this, we owe you all a debt of gratitude." There was not a dry eye in that church.

What’s your most embarrassing broadcast moment?

My most embarrassing broadcast moment was forgetting Bob Daiber's name during an interview. I was covering an event hosted by the McLean County Democrats. State Sen. Andy Manar was there to explain his education funding model to members. I was only assigned a story about Manar's education plan, but realized I should also cover the gubernatorial candidate nobody knew. While I conducted the interview as a kind gesture, I felt terrible that I forgot Bob's name. From that point, I always made sure to have names memorized with faces.

Why did you join INBA? 

I joined INBA as a student member at ISU. Laura Trendle Polus told me I would love the organization and make amazing connections before I graduated. INBA conventions became little vacations for me because I was able to get away from the classroom and talk with professionals in the field. It was honestly amazing to know this organization could put me in the same room as some of the best broadcasters I looked up to growing up, like Bob Roberts. I hope to stick with INBA throughout my entire career. This organization is extremely special to me.

Got someone you think we should interview next? Contact Brian Moline.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Ryan Denham

“I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.”

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

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