I learned yesterday that my alma mater is closing. Brown College in Mendota Heights, Minnesota (formerly Brown Institute of Minneapolis) will discontinue operations following a teach-out of existing classes. The roots of this heritage institution go back to 1946 when it was founded as American Institute of the Air. In 1954, the name was changed to Brown Institute. The school became Brown College in 2001, then Sanford-Brown College in 2014.
Back in the day, Brown Institute was the place to go if you wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting. Their instructors were top-notch. Under the direction of Mike Kronforst, Brown was able to achieve a student placement success rate of more than 95%. Over the years, literally tens of thousands of new radio and television broadcasters were able to find jobs after successfully completing their course of study at “The Voice Factory of the Midwest.” I personally enjoyed a successful 16 year career behind-the-mic after graduating on June 17, 1983.
I guess the demise of Brown shouldn’t surprise me. We all knew this day was coming. Due to corporate consolidation and resulting automation of radio stations, the number of available jobs in the industry has shrunk dramatically over the past 15 years. There just isn’t much demand for entry-level broadcast talent anymore. Still, it’s sad to see a school go down after 69 years. Especially when it’s the school you graduated from.
R.I.P., Brown College. You had a great run. On behalf of broadcasters around the world, I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘thanks’ for the opportunities you made possible for us.