Selling Radio Successfully. It’s All About The Relationships.


Michael Mayer is considered one of the best National Sales Managers in the history of Greater Media. He’s also a 2016 Radio Ink Radio Wayne finalist. Mayer started his radio career as the PD at WRIF in Detroit. His path in radio lead him into sales, where he rose through the ranks to become the NSM of the company’s three radio properties: WRIF-FM/WCSX-FM and WMGC-FM. He has held that position for the past three decades. Mayer’s dedication and commitment to the business, coupled with his leadership, has made him one of GMD’s most beloved team members. His secret…great relationships. We spoke to Mayer at length about his career. Here’s his story.

Radio Ink: Why did you choose radio as a career?
Michael Mayer: I fell in love with music and with radio at age six, listening every minute I could and falling asleep to my transistor radio every night. Detroit has always been an incredibly exciting radio town. I was initially inspired by the fantastic Top 40 and soul stations in the 60s, then the Motor City rock radio explosion that began in the late 60s and rocks on to this day on Greater Media’s WCSX and WRIF. My passion and my goal beginning in my early teens was to get my own rock radio show in Dee-troit Rock City – and I did it!

Radio Ink: What lead you into management?
Michael Mayer: I’ve held management positions in programming and sales. I was hired by Fred Jacobs to be Music Director of WRIF in the 80s and was part of the brain trust that led Riff to victory over arch-rival WLLZ. When Fred left, I fought for the opportunity to build on what we had accomplished and succeeded Fred as WRIF PD. We had a tremendous team of talented people dedicated to winning and having fun doing it. We earned huge ratings and did promotions with artists like The Who, The Police, Queen, Bob Seger and many more. Fred, John Hare, and Arthur Penhallow were just three of many WRIF co-workers who taught me what it meant to be a dedicated, successful broadcaster.

Radio Ink: What attracted you to sales and how did you become a National Sales Manager? 
Mayer: After leaving the WRIF Program Director position, I thought long and hard about moving over to sales. While not a typical career move, I firmly believed the experience of programming and marketing a major market station would give me a unique advantage in positioning and selling my stations. I was right. Greater Media Detroit gave me the opportunity to start my sales career at Classic Rock WCSX-FM. After selling locally for several years, I returned to management as NSM – representing CSX and GMD’s recently acquired second rock station – WRIF. From Riff PD to Riff NSM – that was a very special day for me. To travel the country representing these two iconic brands remains a privilege and an honor.

Radio Ink: What is the key to being a successful NSM today?
Mayer: Be a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for your stations, your products, your company and your industry.
· The will to win for your company and your client.
· Be a person of integrity – deliver everything you promise.
· A close partnership with your national reps so they’ll go the extra mile for you.
· Strong relationships with your agencies and your local clients. You must be a resource to them, providing marketing/promotional solutions, digital opportunities, NTR programs, everything that can help them accomplish their sales goals.
· Develop and maintain close relationships with every person in every department in your company – sales, programming, digital, promotions, traffic, engineering, and business office. A tight team pulling in the same direction is a successful team.

Radio Ink: What motivates you to work in the radio business every day?
I love my job, I love our Greater Media stations, and I love radio!
· I’m very proud to be a member of the talented and dedicated Greater Media Detroit family.
· I love to compete, I love to win, I love to exceed budget and make a strong national contribution to our bottom line.
· I love the challenge, the excitement, and working with all the people involved in the national arena.
· I like working closely with our Katz partners, strategizing on how to win the biggest share possible on a buy.
· I’m proud to represent WCSX and WRIF with their combined 73+ years of connecting with their listeners and serving the Metro Detroit community.
· I’m excited to work on establishing our brand-new station 105.1 The BOUNCE.
· I’m very grateful to work for great broadcasters and fine, caring people like Peter Smyth, Tom Bender, and Steve Chessare.

Radio Ink: What keeps you up at night?
Mayer: The necessity for the radio industry to commit to serious and sustained investment in all our digital platforms, including websites, mobile apps, streaming, podcasts, social media, the connected car, exclusive video content and more. Our only path to continued success is to be everywhere our audience is at all times.

As the audio and video worlds both move quickly to the mobile environment, radio must do the same. As a seller for a company with cutting-edge digital offerings, and as a daily Tune In Radio app user and a heavy weekend Internet radio listener, I speak from personal experience in saying that radio must firmly commit to being a major player in the digital space moving forward. Equally importantly, we as sellers must continue to strive for greater monetization of these valuable digital assets.

Radio Ink: How do you educate yourself so you are always on top of your game, and should other managers?
Mayer: Constant education is a necessity as our industry continues to change at warp-speed, driven largely by the digital revolution. There are so many issues directly affecting the future of the radio industry right now (e.g. the connected car, podcasts, pure plays, the migration of audio consumption to mobile, programmatic buying, etc.) that one must invest the time to stay current or be quickly left behind.

I read the trades, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Detroit News/Free Press, and various tech sites to stay on top of the entire media landscape

The ongoing decline of reading is very concerning, because non-readers will not be up-to-date industry experts and will also miss learning about a lot of business opportunities in their markets.

Greater Media Detroit also works closely with our consulting firm Creative Resources, a very effective partner primarily for their marketing-idea generation process, but also for their systems for targeting, winning, and tracking business.

I also talk with our local sales team, national reps, agencies, and clients, as everyone has different perspectives/challenges that will make you more knowledgeable and better equipped to do your job successfully.

As Ben Franklin told us: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Reach out to Michael and congratulate him on being a 2016 Radio Ink Radio Wayne finalist [email protected]

And check out the 2016 Radio Wayne finalists HERE


  1. Mr. Mayer said, “Develop and maintain close relationships with every person in every department in your company – sales, programming, digital, promotions, traffic, engineering, and business office.”

    I’ll also add the Production / Creative Services Departments.

    Very good profile.


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