2015 Worldwide Radio Summit Backstage Podcast: Interview With Jeff Smulyan, CEO Of Emmis
September 8, 2015
Last Spring, All Access and A&R Worldwide hosted the fifth annual Worldwide Radio Summit at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in California. The multi-day conference is an opportunity for radio broadcasters to gather together and exchange ideas. (You can find details on the 2016 conference here.)
I was backstage at the event, recording interviews with leaders in the radio broadcasting industry, including air talent, executives, record label representatives, and more. Starting today, I'll publish a new episode each week so fellow radio geeks can listen in on my conversations. For those of you thinking about producing a podcast for your own radio station, I'll also give you a glimpse under the hood so you can see how I put this podcast together.
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Episode #1: Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Emmis
My first conversation was with Jeff Smulyan, the founder, CEO, and Chairman of Emmis Communications. I was particularly excited to sit down with him because he has always been, first and foremost, a radio broadcaster. Among the topics we discussed:
- He got his law degree from the University of Southern California and wrote a law review article on the Clear Channel Doctrine
- Many years ago, David Letterman was Jeff's midday jock at WNTS
- Emmis was born when WSVL in Indianapolis flipped to WENS in 1981
- Emmis was involved in print publishing for a while with monthly magazines in cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta
- Magic Johnson was once featured in an ad for Magic 106 in Los Angeles, the AC station featuring on-air personality Robert W. Morgan
- Emmis flipped Magic 106 in Los Angeles to Power 106 in 1984
- Hot 97 in New York City was originally on 103.5 until it swapped frequencies in 1988
- Everybody thought Jeff was crazy when he wanted to launch an all-sports station; despite being an initial disaster, WFAN, the nation's first all-sports station, has become an incredibly successful institution
- Don Imus was key to the success of WFAN
- Jeff and Emmis bought the Seattle Mariners in 1989
- Emmis went public in 1994
- Emmis bought TV stations because it believed that television would get retransmission rights
- Jeff focuses his time on Next Radio these days (which has gained support from T-Mobile and AT&T since this interview)
- Hot 97 was the #1 radio station on TuneIn in 2014, but it lost $400,000 streaming
- Jeff was one of many Indiana CEOs who signed a letter opposing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by Governor Mike Pence because it could be used to discriminate against gays
- Longtime Power 106 morning show host Big Boy departed for a rival radio station, leading to a legal dispute that is still ongoing
- Emmis had been grooming new Power 106 morning show host J Cruz for some time before moving him into the time slot
Under the Hood
Looking to create a podcast for your own radio stations? Here are some tips…
Once you have your first podcast episode as a completed audio file, you need to upload it to an audio host. It's best to use a hosting service that specializes in podcasting. Libsyn and Blubrry are two reputable hosts used by many podcasters. I created a Libsyn account for this podcast series. This short video will show you how I uploaded the audio file to Libsyn:
This video will show you how I set up my show settings in Libsyn:
Next week, I'll share my conversation with Jacobs Media founder and President (and my new boss), Fred Jacobs.
Special thanks to my producer, James Clausen.
NEXT STEP: Enjoy the podcast episode!