The job offer came up unexpectedly. Radel had consulted station owner Jeff Ziesmann with regards to format and later had an opportunity to do live DJ on the weekends. That’s what he expected to do while still serving as the chamber president for the next two to three years.
As the consultation work progressed, an offer was made, and Radel said it quickly became “too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
“I was looking for someone who was really plugged into the market we serve,” said Ziesmann about the Dayton and Cincinnati regions, and the corridor that connects them. “Kert has a lot of experience in our industry, in those markets.”
Before Radel took over leading the Fairfield chamber, he spent 34 years in radio broadcasting. But prior to his long radio career, he aspired to be a radio DJ as a teenager, mapping out shows for an audience of no one in his bedroom.
His passion led him several years later to an internship at WUBE, “and that whet my appetite even more,” he said. After his first job in radio, he then “went into the business wanting to learn everything.”
Which he did.
Two thousand calling play-by-play for various sports games, worked as a DJ in every format, and rose from being a low announcer to running a major market radio station as a general manager and sales manager in Dayton-Springfield market.
Since taking over the Fairfield chamber in 2008, Radel has grown membership and services. He’s either established or refined major events and programs, like Fairfield Career Fest, the Corporate Challenge, Spring Fest, the Business Roundtable Series, and the Fairfield Chamber Leadership Program.
Radel believes the business advocacy, including the partnership with the city of Fairfield, working with state and federal lawmakers, and local and state leaders, is a big part of his legacy. But so is the day-to-day work with the membership.
“We were always trying to listen to our members and see what their needs are, and met those needs,” he said. “That was the most critical thing because you can offer benefits, but there are other things that they need to have in order to get their business to grow or to save money on their business operations. Working with each member, and each member was very important. That’s the legacy.”
Radel said he plans to continue his involvement with the Fairfield Chamber and Fairfield community despite not being an employee of the chamber. Because like the inability to take the radio out of a radio guy after he leaves the business, one cannot take the passion for the chamber out of the chamber guy.
“I’m not somebody who says, ‘I’m done with that chapter.’ I want the chamber to continue to be valuable to the membership and the business community,” Radel said.
Fairfield Chamber Board President Jamie Bella, vice president of Program Management at Telhio Credit Union, said the board is grateful for Radel’s “strong leadership” over the past 14 years.
The chamber’s board of directors has formed a hiring committee to begin the search for a new president & CEO position, leading the agency that supports 500 members.