On Wednesday, we brought you the story about the 18 St. Louis radio stations that were working together to aid the Red Cross help the victims of the Louisiana flood. Emmis St. Louis Market Manager John Beck came up with the idea to reach out to the others. We spoke to Beck about how it all came together. Here’s what he had to say.
Radio Ink: Why (and how) did you come up with this idea to band together with other radio companies?
Beck: This isn’t the first time the broadcast community has come together. The St. Louis radio and television broadcast community is very close. Most of the owners, and market and district managers, have been here for a long time and have a deep love and concern for St. Louis and its people. Hubbard’s Market Manager John Kijowski, John Sheehan at CBS, District President at I-Heart Beth Davis, Gary Gunther at Radio One, as well as our television managers, Spencer Koch at Tribune TV, Michael Murphy at Meredith, and Exec VP & COO of Tegna TV Lynn Beall, have come together many times before to support causes that help the community. We have banded together three times to support a pro-St. Louis campaign for the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce and each year we all run a campaign to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; and in the recent past we supported campaigns for the March of Dimes.
Radio Ink: Tell us about some of the conversations you had with other market managers?
Beck: Because we have all worked together before, the conversations are very short. We know that we are not doing these campaigns for the benefit of any individual company. We are doing it because there is a need and we are in a unique position to speak to 95%+ of the St. Louis Metro’s 2.8 million people. And because of our charter with the FCC, an important part of our mission is to respond to community needs. Free-over-the-air broadcasters are the only ones in the media chain that have this kind of intense commitment to the community and have the staffs locally to respond. Because of all of this, each one of the local broadcast managers responded immediately with a “Yes, we are in.”
Radio Ink: What has the response been from listeners so far? Do you know how much has been raised because of radio?
Beck: The campaign just started on Monday. I would expect interest to build over the course of the week.
Radio Ink: What do you think this says about radio in general that you are able to, not only pull this off, but quickly start raising funds?
Beck: Radio is incredibly nimble and able to respond quickly to any situation. Radio by itself reaches 93% of the public each week and we do it live. We have the staffs on board to produce and enact a campaign within a couple of hours. Broadcasters across the country do this more often than is typically known because it is part of our DNA to respond to our local communities… and we rarely boast about it. I think that Missouri Broadcasters alone raised nearly 98 million for charities and non-profits over the last year and donate 8,000 hours in airtime each year to public service efforts. Broadcast Associations across the country, including the National Association of Broadcasters, do campaigns such as this, often.
Radio Ink: How can other broadcasters around the country help your effort?
Beck: One positive that came out of consolidation is that there are fewer managers and owners in each market making it easier for us to get to know each other and come together to support our local Chambers of Commerce and our local charities. Like the Red Cross campaign that we are doing now, it took a few phone calls.
Reach out to John for a job well done in St. Louis for folks in need in Louisiana at [email protected]