Hubbard Radio COO Drew Horowitz is one of the most well respected executives in the radio industry today. His rise to COO is one many young broadcasters would be wise to study. It’s ripe with hard work, focus, drive and a commitment to winning.
Former Bonneville CEO Bruce Reese says Horowitz was his first hire as an executive at Bonneville. “If only they’d all been that good. Drew has a remarkable ability to focus on what are going to be long-term successes, develop practical game plans to get there, focus on the required intermediate steps, and be brutally honest when corrections need to be made. Drew has great judgment about leaders and leadership. Ego doesn’t get in the way. He’s one of the great unsung heroes of radio in this era.”
One of Horowitz’s many successes as he climbed the management ladder was turning around US99 in Chicago, a bad country station in a sea of country station’s in The Windy City. When Bonneville eventually sold a big chunk of its stations to Hubbard, and Bruce Reese retired, Horowitz was named President and COO in 2014. Hubbard CEO Ginny Morris: “Bruce is a relentless professional who also knows how to get the job done and make the work fun for everyone. It’s a real privilege to work side-by-side with Drew — he is wicked smart and has such depth of experience that we are all learning from his past experiences and perspective.”
We detail Horowitz’ amazing climb to the top in the most recent issue of Radio Ink magazine that mails this week. Here is an excerpt of that interview.
RI: When you were first hired in Chicago as an AE and thrown the Yellow Pages as an account list, did you ever think you would be where you are today?
Horowitz: No, not in my wildest dreams. I am living my dream. When you’re 24 years old, coming out of the educational system and getting your first job, I don’t think you have a clue. I think your window of perception of time is in increments of months or a year or two. But 10, 20, 30 — you’re a kid. You have no sense of that. I had no clue. I will be totally honest: I did not have this vision of myself that “I’m going to be this one day.” My vision was to always be successful and to win at whatever I did. My feeling was that if you do that, the rewards from that will happen. I never sat there thinking that one day I wanted to be the president of a radio company. Probably a little bit later in the process, but surely not in that first 10 years of my life there. Not even maybe. It didn’t enter my mind.
RI: You turned Country station US99 around in the ’80s. How did you do it?
Horowitz: People have always asked me that. I think I outworked everybody else. I think I, through sheer will — I know that sounds kind of weird, but people talk about this, certainly in sports, and I think it is true in business as well — that through sheer will and focus and desire, you will it to happen. It was a lot of work. It was just very intense. That was when I was really young and super intense. I was working 12- to 14-hour days, and I was just committed to winning. There was nothing that was going to stand in my way of hitting my goal. Five years later, we achieved it. We were a top 10 radio station in the number three market — the only Country station left, moving ’JJD, ’JEZ, and WMAQ out of country music, and had built, I think, a very credible and good reputation for the station and the staff, in those five years. It was great.
RI: You mentioned sheer will, hard work, focus, drive, commitment to winning. But you also need people to follow you that trust you and that see you as a strong leader. What is it about you that made those people want to work for you and succeed themselves?
Horowitz: When you are in a leadership role, people need to feel that you have their backs, that you care about them, that you’re committed to their success, and ultimately, that you will be there for them through the good times and the bad, as you go through the process. I think people have an innate sense of knowing if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, if you do care, if you’re fair and you’re going to be somebody they can trust. They then make that commitment back to you, to work for you.
At the end of the day, people want to win, and people want to be affiliated with a winner. If you’re confident and communicate that you’re going to lead them to a winning record — that doesn’t mean you win them all, but that you’re going to have a winning record — and they can be a part of that and be benefited by that, then they want to be on that team.
I’ve been very blessed, because you don’t succeed by yourself. You succeed because of good fortune, hard work, and great people — either above that have helped you along, or people that you’ve hired and who work for you that made you look good. It’s truly about all of those components that people look for. People know a good leader and a bad leader. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to attract and keep some wonderfully talented, creative people over my career.
Reach out to Drew Horowitz by e-mail at [email protected]
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