KALA director wins inaugural SAU staff award

St. Ambrose University President Amy Novak, right, presented the new President’s Award for Staff Excellence to KALA-FM General Manager Dave Baker earlier this month in Davenport.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University recently announced KALA-FM General Manager Dave Baker as the inaugural recipient of the President’s Award for Staff Excellence. This new award, with a cash prize of $2,000, recognizes a staff member who embodies the institution’s five As: Adaptive, Accessible, Active, Affordable, and Anchored.

Students, faculty and staff members nominated Baker for the award, citing his outstanding work and dedication to the university. “Dave bleeds blue. He is the embodiment of what it means to be Ambrosian,” said St. Ambrose University President Amy Novak. “One of the student nominators perhaps said it best, referring to Dave’s character as ‘incredibly generous and inspiring.’ Other nominators highlighted his ‘genuine and authentic nature’ and his ‘willingness to always do the right thing, even if it meant more work and effort.’”

Baker said he is honored to receive the new award and to work with a “great group of colleagues.” He is grateful to the nominators for their kind and encouraging words.


He graduated from St. Ambrose University in 1988, majoring in Mass Communications and minoring in History, but his interest in the university, and its radio station, dates back to his middle school years. At that time, he and other members of an amateur radio station took a tour of the St. Ambrose TV and radio facility. “When I got home from the tour, I ran into the house and told my mom and dad, ‘I’m going to SAU, I’ve decided.’ Even that young, I knew St. Ambrose would be home for me.”

Baker began working for the university in 1989 as a marketing assistant with the Galvin Fine Arts Center. He joined the SAU Television Center the following year, making the move to radio in 1993. He has also served as an adjunct instructor in the Communications department.

At the Iowa Broadcast News Association Conference in Des Moines earlier this year, the KALA public affairs program “Relevant or Irrelevant” received two first-place awards, including best podcast in the state. The longstanding program’s success relies on a team of “dedicated community volunteers,” Baker explained. “Our staff is all volunteer, except for myself.”

His top priority at KALA is helping students gain the skills necessary for successful communications careers. This includes emphasizing the value of accurate and fair storytelling and reporting. “It’s been an honor to work here,” he said.

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