In June 1990, the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) created a program called COMTRAIN which provides
broadcast management training for new minority broadcast owners of full-service
commercial radio and television stations in the United States. Minorities with
construction permits from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and
minorities who have owned a commercial radio or television station for three years
or less are eligible to receive broadcast management training and consultant
services via this program. ComTrain is administered by NTIA's Minority
Telecommunications Development Program and funded by the U.S. Department of
Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency.
All eligible minority broadcasters interested in participating in ComTrain must
submit a letter of application to MTDP which includes a copy of the original FCC
application with all ownership amendments, a copy of the construction permit or
other FCC authorization, three sets of possible training dates, the desired numbers
of training days, and a résumé or biography. Applicants may include additional
information about their station and broadcast experience.
MTDP reviews all applications to ensure that the candidates meet the
eligibility criteria. Once the candidate is approved for training, MTDP uses the
information contained in the application file to match the broadcast owner with the
most suitable broadcast training facility.
More than 100 stations around the country provide training and consulting
services. These stations are successful commercial stations that are owned by
volunteer corporate sponsors of ComTrain, which include Caballero Spanish Media,
The Cromwell Group, Allbritton Communications, Emmis Broadcasting, Monroe
County Broadcasting, Granite Broadcasting Corporation, Cox Enterprises, Curtis
Media Group, Westinghouse Broadcasting, and EZ Communications.
Once the scheduling is confirmed with the general manager of the
sponsoring station and the prospective trainee, MTDP sends the trainee a letter of
confirmation which includes the training dates, station location, and the name and
phone number of the station's general manager. MTDP also sends the trainee a
packet of nine books on broadcast management and station operation.
On the assigned date, the trainee travels to the station where his training is
scheduled to take place. This part of ComTrain provides minority broadcast
owners with an opportunity to work with the general manager and department
heads of a viable broadcast entity. The training is structured to cover areas of
broadcasting that are of specific interest to trainee. The trainees are fully
responsible for all travel and lodging expenses.
Following the training, the broadcast owner is required to prepare a written
evaluation of the training for his MTDP portfolio. The evaluation is designed to
assess the effectiveness and long-term value of the training, and to solicit
recommendations for improving the program. Graduates of ComTrain have
consistently described their training as a unique and quality experience with
The second part of ComTrain, which is called the Volunteer Consultant Corp
(VCC) offers free consultant services to trainees once their stations are on the air.
The VCC is comprised of broadcasters and broadcast experts who are affiliated
with a station owned by one of the twelve ComTrain corporate sponsors.
After a new minority broadcast owner has completed both parts of the program, MTDP continues to track their progress and provides them with assistance whenever possible.