At the Radio Show next week in Dallas, Radio Ink‘s Radio Wayne awards will be handed out. The Radio Wayne awards recognize radio’s best at sales, sales management, and station management. These are the only awards in radio that recognize these extremely important categories.
Today, and all week long, we are going to highlight our 2019 finalists. They are the best of the best in radio today. We start off down south in Orlando where Cox Media Group’s Jason Meder is a finalist in our Market Manager/General Manager category.
CMG’s Keith Lawless says his co-worker should be the Poster Executive for the radio industry. “As one of THE most dynamic leaders in our industry, Jason has earned every promotion he has received. Today, he leads one of the biggest growth radio clusters in America… Cox Media Group Orlando. From ratings, revenue, and culture, Jason has grown them all. Our industry is in dire need of innovative thinkers with a passion for our industry and profoundly strong moral compass. Jason is that person.”
Jason has been in radio for 24 years. “It started for me as it did for most kids, I had a fascination with the radio and being a DJ. I used my dual cassette boom box to pretend to be a DJ in my room and recorded songs from the radio. After high school I was selling advertising for the school newspaper while I attended the University of Central Florida. I was in an advertising class my junior year when an AE for a local television station came into my advertising class and started talking about media sales. His name was Rod Poole and he just recently retired from the business. He sold for WFTV Channel 9 where I became Cox’s GM along with our radio properties in 2017. Full circle. He told me back in 1994 that if I wanted to get into television that I should start in radio. I sent my resume to every radio property in Tampa and Orlando and by the time I graduated from UCF I had a job working for WYUU, then owned by Entercom in Tampa. I fell in love with radio from day one and have never thought about doing anything else!
Radio Ink: What is the key to managing multiple stations today?
Jason Meder: Hiring GREAT Talent. Plain and simple. People always make the difference. Fortunately, I work for a company that always places the emphasis on people first. A group of talented people with a common goal is a formidable force. We focus on aiming at targets outside of the building versus internally. Finding ways for our brands to work together is critical not just to reduce shared listening but to dominate an audience or demographic. In Orlando we have seven radio brands, our job is to maximize each brand without detracting from another. This requires a strategic approach to each brand that includes tactics that must be flawlessly executed daily. When you have the right people in the right seats, thinking strategically and executing tactics flawlessly, you win. CMG Orlando is proof of that right now.
Radio Ink: What is the key to successfully managing so many people?
Jason Meder: Having positive people who want to win as passionately as I do. Every department in our business has a reduced head count from just 10 years ago. Everyone is doing multiple jobs and still has to get it all done. Finding people who are committed to winning and doing it with a positive attitude outweighs any workload. Given the workload that our teams are tasked with, we have to be transparent so that they have purpose in their work. I have found that through transparency, employees discover their own purpose and engage at levels that you only get when someone is brand new at their job. Imagine having an entire team of people who are experienced, knowledgeable, and engaged at creating a better working environment for everyone all working in harmony to fight our battles outside of the building versus the petty stuff that arises internally. I have found this simple formula to work perfectly, it worked for me in Tampa and it has changed the culture here in Orlando.
Radio Ink: Is radio really challenged by digital in your markets or is radio still battling radio?
Jason Meder: Yes and yes. Radio battles radio because we have to take more than our fair share of available listening while growing the overall pie. We are also battling digital on both the listening front and the advertising front. Radio has to continue to be what digital audio can’t be. Live and local. Our content, our execution, and our listener experience has to be better than the digital competitors. We all have to be better at that. Local radio needs our competitors to be better. Listeners don’t just tune out of one station, they will tune out of all of them if we aren’t better across the board. We need to stop fighting fire and work on fire prevention. Running commercial loads that are irresponsible to make up for lower rating points is not the answer. We have to do a better job of continuously establishing value for our brands and not taking the easy route of adding spots to make up for lost ground. It’s bad for our competitors, which means it’s bad for all of us. As an industry we can do better or we will end up like newspapers.
Radio Ink: What is your number one challenge heading into 2020?
Jason Meder: Maintaining double-digit revenue growth and continue to grow our cluster’s rating share again while maintaining spot loads at current levels. For all of the reasons I listed above, it would irresponsible to grow our revenue without regard to spot loads. That’s the easy fix but not the right one.
Radio Ink: What is your biggest success story from the past year?
Jason Meder: There are so many stories that I am proud of here in Orlando. The number one success is, the team is fully engaged and actively participating in our success. Last year we made major leadership changes in sales and programming. Since January of 2018 we have adjusted formats, created new events, successfully grown our revenue — both spot and digital revenue. To date in 2019 we are up 11.3% in total revenue while the market is only up 1.5%. We are the only cluster in the Orlando market with revenue and overall ratings share growth 2018 to 2019. This is a collective effort that everyone in the building has contributed to. Every team member is responsible for ratings and revenue. We talk about it every month in our staff meeting and our team is empowered to make the right decisions to grow our business forward.
Radio Ink: Tell us what’s made you the proudest about the people and stations you’ve led over the last year.
Jason Meder: The team has belief. There is belief in our brands again, there is belief in our ability to get great results. There is belief in our leadership team and in one another. Most importantly, people have belief in themselves again. We have adopted a quote from the great Muhammad Ali, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” This team is a great example of that!
Reach out to Jason to congratulate him on being a 2019 Radio Ink Radio Wayne finalist at [email protected]