10 Questions with ... Jeffrey Schwartz
May 14, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
A Programming and Sales veteran, Jeffrey Schwartz has been a force in the radio business for over 40 years. He was previously the Manager of Sales and Promotion at WLUP ("The Loop"), Director of Operations at WSCR ("The Score"), and Director of Operations at WMVP ("ESPN 1000") - all three, powerhouse stations in the Chicago area, two of which were all-sports. In addition to founding and leading two successful media consulting firms at various points during his career, Schwartz joined FOX Sports Radio as a consultant in July, 2010, and took a full-time role at the network in 2011. Due to his creative expertise and success in increasing FOX Sports Radio's revenue dramatically, Schwartz was promoted to Vice President, Sports Sales with FOX Sports Radio/Premiere Networks in 2013.
1. You've been a PD/OM and a Sales Executive -- how did you make the move to sales, and why?
I started off in Sales, and found myself always being moved into other departments. But Sales drives the engine and I kept wanting to get back into that area - so I did. The challenges of putting together a great campaign, and then watching it work and making the client happy - that's a great, special feeling.
2. Sports radio has been undergoing tremendous growth lately, with many markets now having multiple stations in the format (and even competing FMs in markets as diverse as New York and Grand Rapids). What do you think are the primary reasons for so many stations to jump in, and for the now-crowded network landscape? Why Sports?
Safe is the answer many people give, but I say it's because of the dynamics of the listener, in addition the listener's engagement with the product, that's so special - advertisers know their message will be heard and registered, which creates revenue opportunities. Sports delivers key demos and those demos deliver back to the advertiser.
3. How is the cooperation between sales and programming these days? Has it changed over the years -- is talent more or less receptive to integrating sales-oriented material into programming? Is the wall between programming and sales still there, or is there more cooperation?
Great question. I think my programming background is what makes my role special. My boss, Don Martin, calls me the "Director of Programming for Sales." The talent trusts me, and in return, I trust the talent to handle the integration. I sit down with them to discuss ideas for the product before the content ever airs, no different than a Program Director sitting down with the talent to go over programming. It's all about relationships and trust.
4. In the same category, take us through the process: How does a typical integrated sales promotion happen? Do you come up with the idea first, do you hammer it out with talent or programming, does the client bring the idea to you? What are the general stages in creating a sponsor integration into a show?
Sales folks come to me in need of an idea to sell to their client. I get back to them with an idea, they take it to the client, and if the client responds with a "let's go to order," I then put the wheels in motion with my on-air sales staff. The talent are the ones who eventually make this work because they are the on-air voice behind the idea, and have to make sure the message is relayed. "Remember," I tell them, "the easiest part of selling is done. YOU have the hard part of making what is sold successful for the client."
5. What prompted you to leave your retirement/consulting status and come back to work for Fox Sports Radio full-time? What was your primary motivation in jumping back into it full-time?
Don Martin, our Senior Vice President of Programming, had a vision to create this unique style of sales for the network. I thought the idea was brilliant and fit into my wheelhouse very well. So, since I hated not being involved in the day-to-day action of it... bye, bye, golf lessons!
6. Put on your programming hat for a second (with apologies to Don Martin): What, in your veteran-PD opinion, makes for a great sports radio show? What did/do you look for in a host and a show?
Energy, creativity, a willingness to listen, and a desire to win.
7. Who were and are your inspirations, mentors, and/or heroes in the business?
That's a dangerous question, like at the Oscars when the actor always forgets to thank someone - so I thank my current inspiration only. Thank you to Don Martin for having the wherewithal to bring in this guy he lovingly refers to as "SCHWARTZ."
8. Of what are you most proud?
Disco Demolition, simply because it was a watershed moment in radio history. But, truly, I am most proud of other people's success where I may have had a hand in helping his or her careers. There are a lot of folks in this business who I'm so proud of having worked alongside in the past, and enjoy seeing where they are today and all they've accomplished.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _____________.
...a Xanax...only joking...without my wife, my best friend in the world, telling me to have a great day and that she loves me - still, after 34 years!!!
10. What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
That "NO" is not an option - you can always figure out a way to get it done...ALWAYS.