Hubbard Radio’s KS95 in Minneapolis has won eight Marconi Awards, four Service to America Awards, and three Crystal Radio Awards — and there is no sign the station is letting up or slowing down. In February of 2016, KS95 reached the highest cume in the history of the radio station: 1.11 million people.
The long tradition of success and industry recognition starts at the top with the Hubbard family, who crafted a culture of great radio that continues to this day. Hubbard founder Stanley E. Hubbard is well known for his words, “If you serve your listeners, serve your advertisers, and serve your community, success will follow.”
Market Manager Dan Seeman tells Radio Ink that the culture Mr. Hubbard created is still in place today. “[CEO] Ginny Morris has been an amazing leader for the company her grandfather, father, and entire family built. The bar for ratings and revenue performance, along with community service, is set very high. For 50 years, great people have worked at this radio station, dating back to people like John Mayasich, Chuck Knapp, Michael J. Douglas, and Dan Donovan in the ’80s to the current staff that includes Leighton Peck, Melanie Miltz, John Seidl, and the afternoon drive team of Moon, Staci & Crisco. The awards are a reflection of the truly great people that work at KS95.”
And what about all those people listening? KS95 has a staff that is 100 percent committed to making the community a great place to live. Whether it’s raising money and awareness for breast cancer research or giving a voice to a young man with osteosarcoma who wrote songs to say goodbye to his family and friends, the staff of KS95 has a personal and sometimes poignant relationship with the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
And something that certainly cannot be overlooked in terms of their success: The station is live and local 24 hours a day. KS95 has a large staff, both on and off the air. As Seeman says, “We have the privilege and responsibility to help change lives for the better, and we take that very seriously, but also with great joy. I’m so proud of the work that KS95 does in the community.”
John Mayasich was KS95’s general manager from 1975 to the mid-1990s, and he says the most important thing he did to strengthen the station during his tenure was instilling the team concept. “I constantly and consistently strived to ingrain the concept of team into everything we did at KS95,” he says. “Our station’s slogan, ‘Always 95 and Sunny,’ was the outward expression of our commitment and unwavering goal. KS95 FM was the place to be. It was instilled in the attitude of everyone who was a member of the team, no matter what his or her job was, from the receptionist to on-air personnel, from the sales team to, well, every single person on our team. Our attitude and actions were centered around making it happen, and the result was being the absolute best in the FM space. It was simply our way of work life. Our expectation, at every turn, was that every single employee contributes to the success of the station, every single day, in every single interaction, external or internal — seamlessly. This goal was a strong thread that ran through the entire team and connected us, made us tick.”
Leighton Peck has been PD of KS95 for 15 years, and he’s been with Hubbard Radio for 25. Peck says that, in the age of voicetracking and syndication, it’s hard to see how some stations can stay connected in a meaningful way in the community. “All of our talent live here,” he points out, “and it’s important for them to help when they can. The great part is, every member of our team wants to help where and when they can. They have big hearts and empathy — you can’t ask for more than that.”
Mayasich describes why the community fell in love during his run at KS95, and it all started out with being strong promoters of the station. “FM radio was in its infancy when we began, and we wanted to do FM differently,” he says. “Consumer promotions played a big, big part in our desire to win hearts and minds. Our goal to attract, entertain, and inform our listeners remained uppermost in our actions. We were constant promoters through a variety of fun, attractive tactics: our hot air balloon that sailed the skies of the Twin Cities, eye-catching billboards, appealing on-air promotions, a variety of coveted giveaways. Of course, none of this could have been accomplished without complete and consistent corporate involvement and full support. Corporate provided the tools and support that we needed to enable each employee to achieve their full potential.” That connection to the community has been a big part of what has made KS95 so successful for so many years in the Twin Cities, and Peck says his team is having a great deal of fun, which is what radio is supposed to be all about. “Every member of the staff is someone you’d like to hang out with,” he says. “When you walk through the doors at KS95, you hear laughter. I’ve never been with a group that has as much fun. Everybody supports each other, everyone wants the other to win. We have veteran radio people working side-by-side with up-and-coming talent. It’s pretty incredible.”
Mayasich is in full agreement about radio being fun — and he says being on a winning team makes it fun. “Winning people over is never due to one thing,” he notes. “It is, however, due to consistency — consistency in doing the job right, continuing to surprise and delight our listeners at every contact point. Each listener has a different reason why they turn to KS95 FM. That’s when a brand like KS95 becomes, simply put, an important part of listeners’ lives. It’s obvious that KS95 FM continues to be doing things right. It’s still strong. It’s still vibrant. It remains an integral part of our listeners’ lives.”
Seeman also praised the staff, who make it clear how much they all love KS95. “Many have been here for over 10 or 15 years and completely embrace the culture of serving listeners, advertisers, and the community,” he says. “They are motivated by KS95’s history. They truly understand the responsibility of upholding KS95’s long and storied tradition. We all see ourselves as stewards of a historic brand. Often, when radio stations are recognized as a ‘Legendary Station,’ their best years are behind them. When KS95 won that [Marconi] award, we made a commitment to make sure our best years are still ahead.”
Of course, 50 years in the bank, more listeners than ever before, and shelves full of awards are great, but radio is still a “What have you done for me lately?” business, and the Hubbard market manager knows it. “The challenge is to continue to grow,” says Seeman. “Through streaming, podcasting, and social media, we are looking to provide new options so listeners can enjoy KS95 in the new media landscape. The key is content. We feel the major points of difference between KS95 and our competitors are the personalities, contests, and community service that make listening to KS95 a local experience.”
Send congratulations to Dan Seeman and his team at DSeeman@hbi.com