10 Questions with ... Sherman K. Kizart
February 19, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Graduate of Cleveland High School and the University of Mississippi.
- SVP/Urban Radio Interep - Relaunched Power of Urban Radio Symposium, radio industry's leading Urban forum
- 1998 Recipient of Radio Wayne Award - Radio industry's top award in sales and marketing
- Chairman's Circle Award Winner - Two-time winner( company's top award)
- Launching of Kizart Media Partners - 2008 after the closing of Interep
1. Where and what was your first job in radio?
WQAZ/Cleveland, MS. Account Executive.
Walter Scott, Douglas Johnson of Clear Channel, Allan Pryor and former WDIA GM Chuck Scruggs
2. What was/were the most influential radio station(s) growing up?
WDIA-A/Memphis. WDIA is the standard by which all Urban Radio stations are measured. WDIA saved an entire community (Mound Bayou, MS) with a week-long radiothon. WDIA's focus on service to the community has lasted over 50 years, and I witnessed it firsthand.
3. Share a little about your thoughts on your Power Of Urban Radio Forum and where you think Black radio is headed.
Urban radio has made significant strides in growing its share of ad dollars. There's plenty of room for improvement. People such as Neil Golden and others who understand the "Power of Urban Radio" and who have worked with me to help increase the pie for Urban radio and explain just what Urban radio needs to do going forward. There have been many who understand formidable African-American marketing and media model and the strategic importance of the African-American consumer market.
4. Tell us a little more about Kizart Media Partners. Who are some of your clients and some of your immediate plans for the future?
Kizart Media Partners is sales marketing consultancy firm that specializes in developing and increasing revenue for media companies (both traditional and new media). Clients include radio networks, syndicated television properties, national magazine, digital media ownership and interactive properties.
5) What do you see as the most important issues facing Urban radio and its advertising base? Are things getting better?
Growing revenue in a recession has been Urban Radio's greatest challenge over the past five years. Unemployment has hovered at 9.6 % in the general market, but it's more than double in African-American communities. If it impacts the African-American community, it impacts Urban radio. Now the good news: Radio, especially Urban radio, is experiencing double-digit growth, especially among some national marketers over the past year. Political advertising, Q4 and in the next year, 2013 are projected to show continued growth.
6) What are the actions that you feel are going to allow Urban radio stations to grow their advertising base going forward?
Urban radio has a unique value proposition as compared to other media. The Great Recession has forced advertisers to clearly focus on media that deliver results. Urban radio delivers results unlike any other media platform. Urban radio must focus on educating national marketers on the strategic importance of the $1 trillion African-American consumer market. That education provides a perfect transition from the strategic importance of the African-American consumer to why Urban radio is the best tactic for marketers to use in engaging African-American consumers. Bottom line is Urban radio delivers results. Urban radio owners, managers, and marketers must be focused on continuing to deliver results for marketers both locally and nationally.
7) Are African-American agencies under attack? And if so, what can be done to ensure that they are given a fair shot and a chance to succeed?
Yes, African-American agencies are facing their greatest challenges since they came into existence. Global marketers in key consumer categories are dropping African-American agencies such as insurance, automotive and recently QSR (quality-service restaurants). In the past year, three major insurance companies dropped their African-American agencies, and chose not to hire another African-American agency. That trend among global marketers is very alarming and equally disturbing for African-American agencies and especially Urban radio. Strong African-American agencies are always in the best interests of Urban Radio today and in the future. Urban Radio leaders must strategically align CEOs of African-American agencies to educate and advocate the importance of African-American consumer market at the highest level among national marketers and their boards level if possible.
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Better leveraging my contacts and relations to drive more immediate success for my clients and being a better listener.
9) When you look down the road, what do you see in store for Urban stations in general and African-American owned stations in particular? Are there going to be any new business developments as far as new owners are concerned? Do you feel there are going to be new challengers from other formats?
Increasing African-American ownership remains equally if not more important today because the numbers have decreased substantially over the past decade. Consolidation dating back to passage of the Telecommunication Act of 1996 reversed the growth of African-American owners. The Obama Administration via the FCC isn't focused on increasing African-American radio owners. Its focus is on digital and Internet as an ownership vehicle for minorities. The reality is there's room to significantly African-American ownership with traditional ownership (radio) and new media (digital and interactive).
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets. God has blessed and touched my life to take advantage of the opportunities that I'm focusing on today.
What would people who think they know Sherman Kizart be surprised to know about you?
My belief is that we grow both professionally and personally only through the service of others. My late mother provided the best example.
What can Urban radio stations do to support black agencies?
Urban radio needs to stand with African-American agencies as they work to ensure that African American agencies remain not just viable but strong.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
What current radio stations do you admire and why?
WDIA (Entire Clear Channel/Memphis-Urban cluster), and WYLD (Entire Clear Channel/New Orleans-Urban cluster). My ultimate dream remains having an opportunity to manage or own those stations respectively. These stations super-serve their respective communities unlike any other and to manage or own them is a sacred trust
How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM replacing the diary?
Electronic measurement via PPM will continue to be an effective tool that will position and enable Urban Radio to grow its audience and revenues both short term and long term.