One of the great things about working with clients for many years can be the conversations. It’s the shoptalk that can’t usually happen in a meeting.
Over the weekend, I got one of those calls. It was a burning question from Rich Homberg, the General Manager of Detroit Public TV. Sometimes, we talk about TV. Sometimes, we talk about radio, the medium that started both of our careers. That was the subject that led to a question that sure got my attention.
“What’s the most successful radio station in the state right now?”
I had to think for a second. “Commercial?”
“Non-commercial or commercial.”
I answered quickly. “Michigan Radio.”
That is exactly the answer he had in mind.
It was easy to get on the same page. In an era of continued corporate contraction, intense profit pressures and crippling debt challenges for much of commercial radio, the public broadcaster has grown. It’s raising more money and has a bigger terrestrial footprint, adding towers in Lansing in Port Huron recently. The station has won every major news award in recent years and is considered relevant by its audience as a credible source of news, information and perspective during the years during that has been at a premium and as valuable as ever.
Homberg said he had Michigan Radio on his mind as he salutes its retiring General Manager, Steve Schram.
“I so admire Steve, both personally and professionally, Homberg said. “He reinvented Michigan Radio, positioning it as one of the highest rated, best managed stations in the country, through a relentless commitment to the audience and to the incredible team he has built. His positive spirit and focus are a lesson for all of us as we look to build our organizations.”
While too many in radio feel like the industry has been hampered by accountants and others who just see it as a struggling cash factory, it’s heartening to hear Schram’s words from his 2016 induction into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He started as a Top 40 DJ before becoming a station music director, program director, operations manager and ultimately, sales leader, what he called “critical building blocks” of career that “I have loved and cherished.”
“Please know that I absolutely embrace the term and being called a broadcaster because that is what I have always wanted to do and to do well,” Schram said while promising “new heights in excellence in journalism” at Michigan Radio.
That’s something we wish we heard more of, up and down the dial, all across the state and country.