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Los Angeles Radio’s Biggest Educator and Influencer – Rebel with a Cause, Lindy Thurrell



Los Angeles Radio’s Biggest Educator and Influencer - Rebel with a Cause, Lindy Thurrell

Spin the dial through Los Angeles’ radio stations beyond the static and the crooning disc jockeys, and an unfamiliar but exceptional fact will be left unheard; the most memorable voices buzzing through AM and FM radio have been students of Lindy Thurrell and The Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting. 

For the last 36 years, Lindy Thurrell and her husband Thomas Gillenwater have owned and operated the West Coast’s best education for those interested in radio and television careers. The Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting is frequented by Los Angeles’ most notable insiders as students and lecturers alike.  The front office walls are layered with headshots of affiliates, educators and famed alumni disc jockeys leaving visitors with the jaw-dropping effect that will keep them coming back for more.

What makes the Academy so unique is that 90 percent of students’ work is hands-on with industry experienced clients. With personalized training, fully equipped studios and the most knowledgeable educators, the academy has a renowned reputation for producing competent and experienced graduates whose content is known for entertaining and advising a wide array of global listeners. “Our philosophy of teaching is that when you graduate from The Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting, you’ll have no surprises. You will go into your first real job knowing that you’ve already done a similar job here at the Academy,” explains Thurrell who concisely elaborates, “Tom and I bought a radio station and we only hired graduates,” in order to guarantee that claim. 

A true workaholic, at one-point Thurrell, owned four businesses in three states all while raising her young children. Her graduate-run radio station debuted as KTHO while she simultaneously directed three academies in Orange County, San Jose, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. By the time her children were 5-year-olds they had their own frequent flyer cards.

Thurrell’s career is clout filled path less traveled, packed with experience to deliver a well-rounded education to the students who cross her path. Beginning as a sound engineer, she was one of the first women to receive the First Class Radio Telephone Operator’s License. She worked first as an engineer and board operator while gaining sharp intellect on the intricacies of the radio business. Shortly thereafter she began disc jockeying for numerous radio stations throughout the United States including KHTZ, KWIZ, KLOK, KDFC, KOLO, KCRL to name a few, all the while eclipsing countless number one listened to radio station spots in giant markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco. From the widespread genres of classical and rock music to the depths of news radio, Lindy Thurrell has experienced it all. It’s her acute understanding of the industry that makes her an incredibly resourceful educator and a savvy entrepreneurial businesswoman.

As if her plate were not full enough, Thurrell’s philanthropic tendencies are always at the forefront of her mind, originating from the example set by her parents. In 2007 her father was awarded by New Hampshire’s Governor as the Volunteer of the Year and throughout her childhood, Thurrell’s mother served as her Girl Scout troop leader. Such a wholesome influence serves as the background for Lindy’s vivacious “feminist rebel” attitude, and combined with her love for the Girl Scouts she continues to lead troops and volunteer – extending herself as the emcee for unlimited Girl Scout ceremonies and performing theater pieces such as the story of founder Juliette Low for her troops. True to form she tells us, “Like for the academy it’s all about the students, for my girl scouts it’s all about the girls. I do not care about the parents, I’m doing it all for the girls.”

As for the other lecturers at the academy, the list is enormous, from Jeff Garcia at Power 106, Yesi Ortiz at AMP Radio, Karen Sharp from KOST, Calipso Aranda – a producer of Ryan Seacrest American Top 40, Bill Rogers the voice-over talent for Disneyland, and Lew Stowers of 790 KABC. It’s a fun experience for Thurrell to listen to her students on the radio. “I like the idea that I can be in my car listening to the radio and I hear a graduate or a lecturer. Just yesterday I heard two of our lecturers on KNX and then I turn onto another station and I heard another lecturer.” Lindy Thurrell and The Academy of Radio and Television are the leading forces behind the populist airwaves of our time. 

For more information on The Academy of Radio & Television Broadcasting, visit:

Rachel Dares is a Former Newscaster | Columnist | Radio Host | President of Rachel Dares PR