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October 31, 2014

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First Mediaworks


1/8/01 Heading For The Ultimate Radio Company
When I was 16, most of the kids I knew dreamed about building race cars and rebuilding carburetors. When I was 16, I dreamed of building the ultimate Radio company.
Over time, as experiences molded my career, my vision for a Radio company became crystal-clear in my mind. Whatever it took, I was determined not to run a company like those for which I had worked ó companies that did not consider people valuable assets.
Perhaps I was naive and inexperienced, but certain things mattered in the ultimate Radio company. I wanted to build a company that had well-designed corporate headquarters and cool studios with state-of-the-art gadgets. I wanted a company that employed lots of interesting people ó the best, most talented Radio people on earth. I wanted my company to be the place where everyone wanted to work.
People would want to work for my imaginary company because we respected talent and stayed out of the way. (Remember, I come from the talent side of this business.) People wanted to work for me because we were always innovating, finding ways to keep Radio entertaining and interesting. We did the hottest promotions and had the finest air talent, the biggest transmitters and the most listeners.
So far, my dream has not become a reality, perhaps because my dreams changed. When I did own stations, reality jolted me awake. Quickly, I learned that creating the ultimate working environment with top facilities and the best people was expensive and difficult. Itís not easy to build any type of company that can meet the dreams you once had and do so in a fiscally responsible way.
I suppose that the ultimate Radio company doesnít exist. Certain companies meet some of my criteria but fall short in other areas. Many companies have huge staffs and great personalities but often wonít let them do what they do best ó entertain.
Other companies have strong signals and make great money, but their people are not happy. Itís rare to find a company that places a high value on people, quality entertainment, quality facilities and profitability. Usually, profitability means sacrificing the other features.
There are some good Radio companies in America, and each has its benefits. If I had to choose the one company that comes closest to my dream, it would be Emmis Broadcasting. CEO Jeff Smulyan has accomplished what others could not ó a great place to work and excellent profits, all while placing emphasis on people, talent, quality and a cool work environment.
Itís not easy to build any type of company, and building one while maintaining such high values and ethics is practically impossible. Jeff Smulyan, however, has done just that, and he continues to innovate, as evidenced by his LMIV [Local Media Internet Venture] project. He has brought a "cartel" of stations together on the Internet. This required guts, vision, trust and great salesmanship.
Thatís why Jeff Smulyan is our Radio Executive of the Year for the year 2000.
ó B. Eric Rhoads

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