iHeartMedia’s Thea Mitchem is kicking you-know-what and taking names in a world dominated by men: programming radio stations. Mitchem is iHeart’s Executive Vice President of Programming for the Northeast Division, and Program Director for the influential Power 105.1 in New York City. She’s been in radio for 21 years, programming for 15, and has experience in CHR, Urban, and CHR Rhythmic formats. Mitchem will appear on Radio Ink‘s 2016 Best Program Directors in America list, which comes out on May 9.
2015 was a great year for Power 105.1 in a very competitive battle for 18-34-year-olds with Z100 and HOT 97 in New York City, and Mitchem says, “Power 105.1 has become the station that listeners turn to find out what is going on in pop culture, Hip Hop, and issues that affect its listeners socially and politically. We just don’t report on the stories. Power 105.1 is part of the landscape, pushing the Urban Hip Hop culture forward. We are the voice of New York City, with great talent who represent and are ingrained in the fabric of the city.” For years the station was considered the underdog in NYC, but thanks to the leadership of Mitchem, it has grown substantially over the past 2 years. Power was ranked #1 Persons 18-34 in New York for 2015, and that is a huge success with killer stations like Z100 and HOT 97 in town.
iHeartMedia President Northeast Division Hartley Adkins tells Radio Ink, “Tens of millions of listeners may never hear Thea’s name, yet they hear her programming brilliance every day across scores of stations. I feel fortunate to have witnessed her magic in motion for so many years. This recognition is perfectly placed.”
Mitchem has won the Ronnie Johnson Radio Mentor of the Year award (2010), the Living Legend Award (2008), the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment Executive Milestone Award, and she was Urban PD of the Year in 2013 and 2014, CHR PD of the Year 2010, and R&R Urban PD of the Year twice.
iHeartMedia New York Region Group President Scott Hopeck tells Radio Ink, “Thea is a dream partner in New York. Her unmatched passion, combined with her thoughtful approach to ratings and revenue, put Thea in a class of her own. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.” So what’s the secret to Thea Mitchem’s success as a programmer? Mitchem tells Radio Ink a successful PD must be able to evolve quickly in a crowded landscape as radio competes for listeners’ attention. “As different devices and sources vie for the consumer’s attention, our content must be that much better and compelling. Radio is the listener’s daily companion. PDs have to continue to anticipate listeners’ needs, expectations, and wants, and give it to them any way they want to consume the content. For PDs, it’s important to understand the science of programming but equally important to know it doesn’t replace the art of programming — it complements it. Be strategic and analytical, but it’s the art that makes our listeners feel and connect to us as a medium.”