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Dennis Worden is the new GM at McK­ibbin Media Group. Courtesy | Twitter

Dennis Worden, a former Hillsdale College employee, began working for Hillsdale’s WCSR as general manager of McK­ibbin Media Group on Feb. 17.

McK­ibbin Media Group, founded by Jamie McK­ibbin in December 2019, started with four former Jackson Radio Works sta­tions and added Hillsdale’s WCSR 99.5 and 92.1 FM in early 2020.

“It’s kind of like coming back home,” Worden said. “And the snow is def­i­nitely proof of it.”

McK­ibbin pre­vi­ously worked for Bruce and Sue Goldsen for 23 years by running the Jackson Radio Works sta­tions, which Goldsen sold to him in December 2019. The Goldsen family owned the sta­tions from 1997 to 2019, who moved back to their home state of Con­necticut after living in Michigan for about 30 years.

McK­ibbin died in a tragic drowning accident in November 2020. His widow, owner Katina McK­ibbin, who is a school­teacher in Jackson County, decided to hire a full-time general manager, Goldsen said.

The Goldsens, who had stayed on as con­sul­tants for the media group after selling their sta­tions, have been helping to run the sta­tions since McKibbin’s death and are assisting with the tran­sition to new man­agement. They will remain to help the company in a con­sulting role after the hire, Goldsen said.

Goldsen, who knew Worden when he worked for Michigan Inter­na­tional Speedway, said Worden’s famil­iarity with the local area made him a good can­didate for the job.

“We had a fair amount of interest for the position, but the thing that attracted us to Dennis was that he was from this area,” Goldsen said. “Even though he does not have direct radio expe­rience, he has worked with the media for basi­cally all his career, so he under­stands radio. He under­stands people.”

Worden said he knew the McK­ibbins through business con­nec­tions at MIS. He learned of the oppor­tunity through his sister, who knows the McKibbins.

“It wasn’t because it was just a random job posted online,” he said. “I had some knowledge and that prior rela­tionship with Jamie, which I think was valuable.”

Worden said he grew up in Concord, in neigh­boring Jackson County, and grad­uated from Central Michigan Uni­versity in 1999.

For­merly, he was the sports infor­mation director at Hillsdale College from 2002 to 2005.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Worden said. “I love the college. I got a chance to do a lot with the athlete department and the college itself.”

Worden also worked in NASCAR for almost 16 years.

He started out by working as the public rela­tions manager at the Michigan Inter­na­tional Speedway from 2005 to 2011. Most recently, Worden served as a senior director of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Dar­lington Speedway in South Car­olina from 2011 to 2020.

“I had a lot of great expe­ri­ences with NASCAR,” he said. “I worked with every driver you could think of and worked with every race team and had a really great career.”

Back in October, however, NASCAR went through some restruc­turing because of COVID-19 and had to make some tough layoffs, of which Worden was a part.

“It was hard,” he said. “But when one door closes, another one opens. This gave me the chance to come back home.”

Although this is a new industry for Worden, he said he worked a lot with radio sta­tions while at NASCAR. While he still needs to learn the “ins and outs” of radio, he knows a lot about the industry, he said.

“Part of my job respon­si­bil­ities at Dar­lington and MIS was to work with a bunch of dif­ferent radio groups,” Worden said. “I built a lot of great per­sonal rela­tion­ships with radio sta­tions at both places.”

Worden said it will be a chal­lenge to replace Jamie McK­ibbin because he was a local legend and was well-known in both the Jackson and Hillsdale communities.

“There is going to be some initial getting to know people, but the staff is in a great place,” he said. “It has been a great tran­sition to this point.”

Worden had his first day on the job on Feb. 17, and his first day in Hillsdale was on Feb. 18. Worden will work between the Jackson and the Hillsdale studios, Goldsen said.

WCSR Radio Station Manager Bob Flynn, who has been working for the station since 1986, said he is happy with the hiring of Worden.

“He has a vast knowledge of various types of com­mu­ni­cation skills,” Flynn said.

Flynn said that he thinks that his man­agerial skills will help with the con­nection between the Jackson and Hillsdale stations.

“I think he is going to be able to figure out where we can help each other,” Flynn said. “He has already talked about the ways he envi­sions getting both markets to work together to better both stations.”

Flynn said that though there will be a bit of a learning curve, he thinks he will do great.

“We’re very happy that he has joined our team, and we look forward to working with him,” Flynn said. “We look forward to him helping us achieve a bunch of goals that we have set in the near future.”