Dan Seeman is the Vice President and Market Manager for Hubbard Radio in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. He oversees KS95, myTalk 107.1, 1500 ESPN, and the 24-station Hubbard Radio Network. Seeman has led radio stations to four NAB Crystal Awards, multiple Marconi awards, a Service To America Award, and six AWRT Gracie Awards for community service.
A 32-year veteran of Minneapolis-Saint Paul radio, Dan’s first job was as an intern for WLOL in Minneapolis-Saint Paul in the 1980s. Since then, Dan has worked in promotions, marketing, sales, and management, and for 15 years was the GM for radio stations that included KFAN, K102, Cities 97, KMJZ, KOOL 108, and KDWB. Seeman has great radio brands, a great team that follows his leadership, and a winning culture in his building. He’ll be a part of our Best Managers in Radio issue coming up later this month. Here’s our extended interview with one of radio’s best managers.
Radio Ink: How important is a degree of local autonomy in making a station successful?
Dan Seeman: Local autonomy is critical and the one of the bedrock principals of Hubbard Radio. We have the opportunity to make fast and effective decisions from the perspective of being in the market. From a ratings standpoint, local content is key to our success. We have the autonomy to make decisions at the local level so we can seize the moment, whether it’s an important news story or a pop culture event. A great example was our station coverage of the death of Minnesota’s beloved Prince. Within moments of the official announcement we were on-air with tributes, online with information and memories, and on-site at Paisley Park and First Avenue. To effectively and respectfully cover the story we had to commit resources, both financial and personnel. We were able to move quickly because we could make local decisions. Listeners tune-in to KS95, myTalk 107.1, and 1500 ESPN because they know they are going to hear live and local talent who truly know the market. We have the same philosophy in our northern Minnesota markets. The stations are fully staffed and serve the community with live and local radio every day. I think our ratings success in all of our markets reflect the relationship that our radio stations have with the communities they serve.
Radio Ink: How are you attracting millenials to radio?
Dan Seeman: This has been a major focus the past few years and I’m proud to say we have a staff filled with bright and passionate millennials. The fastest-growing department in our market is the digital department and it’s filled with millennials who are not only teaching us about social media and digital marketing, but are also influencing the way we program our radio stations. We are trying to keep-up and make sure that our work environment reflects the way people work in 2016. We have a robust podcasting initiative that has attracted and retained a new generation of talent to our business. The key is that we are listening to them. They are helping us define what our business will look like in the next 10 years. Hubbard has an initiative called the NextGen Leadership Program which targets and engages future leaders for the company. Although candidates are not required to be a millennial, it is clear that the program is having an influence on the ways that we can recruit and retain new people to our business.
Radio Ink: How do you manage a healthy balance between work and personal life for yourself — and try to foster the same for your employees?
Dan Seeman: This is definitely a case of do as I say, not as I do. It’s hard to disconnect but it does have advantages. Rather than go on vacation or take a long weekend and come back to 700 emails, you can keep up while you are gone. Hubbard is definitely a family-first company. Makes sense since it’s a family business. We understand that a healthy personal life is best for a productive professional life. I love my job and I love broadcasting but it doesn’t define me. My wife and two daughters and my relationship with my family define who I am. They are priority one but also very understanding that the business of radio can be 24/7. I make it a priority not to miss school functions, theatre performances, and important family events, and give our staff the flexibility to do the same.
Radio Ink: What is the number one challenge you face every day as a manager in 2016, and how are you overcoming it?
Dan Seeman: Our business is changing and we have to be flexible and open to the way that people listen to audio. Content is everything. I’m blessed to work for Ginny Morris and the Hubbard family–they understand that we are in the content business. Every day we are working on ways to make our content available to listeners the way they want to listen, whether it be on-air, streaming, social media extensions, or podcasting. It’s challenging but energizing. I think it’s a great time to be in the radio business!
Radio Ink: Tell us what your biggest/most proud moment at the station or cluster was over the past 12 months.
Dan Seeman: In mid-July there was flooding in northern Minnesota. Many communities and organizations were impacted but one particular story caught our eye. There is a camp for kids affected by HIV/AIDS in northern Minnesota called Camp Heartland. It’s a special place where the stigma stops and kids can enjoy a week of camp with complete acceptance. For kids from all over the country it is the highlight of their year. Because of the heavy rains and floods camp was cancelled for a week, meaning 75 kids from all over the country weren’t going to camp. Airline tickets were cancelled. Plans were cancelled. Hearts were broken. At 9 p.m. on a weeknight, our morning host, Jason Matheson, reached out to us and asked if we could do something. Within 48 hours myTalk 107.1 (KTMY-FM) had brainstormed, planned, and executed a fundraiser to make sure that every kid got a chance to go back to camp later in the summer. The one day on-air fundraiser, called Back To Camp, raised $35,720 so every one of the 75 kids had the resources to rebook flights and reschedule staff so they got their week at Camp Heartland. The week of August 7th Camp Heartland hosted a special session, funded by myTalk 107.1, so every one of the kids impacted by HIV/AIDS got their week at camp. That is the power of radio. That is the power and the passion of local broadcasters that truly care about the communities they serve.
Radio Ink: What is it going to take to get radio revenue growing at a decent pace every year moving forward?
Dan Seeman: Ideas, flexibility and listening. At Hubbard Radio we are blessed with an environment and a culture that fosters new ideas. We need continual ideation to figure out ways to connect passionate consumers with the products and services of our advertising partners. Whether it’s on-air, online, or at events, we need to be open to new ideas (and the risk that comes with new ideas) to connect people and our message. We need to be flexible and understand that our passionate fans consume our content in many different ways. The distribution landscape is changing every day. We need to be flexible and distribute content the way our listeners want it. We need to listen. Listen to the market. Listen to our advertisers. Listen to our staff. Listen to the millennials. There is no more “business as usual.” Great ideas, creative solutions, and new revenue ideas are out there, if we listen.
Reach out to Dan and congratulate him on being chosen one of Radio Ink’s Best Managers of 2016 [email protected]