A Day In The Life: Shadowing At iHeartMedia

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I decided to start a new series called ” A Day In The Life”  where I document some of the cool and interesting things I have going on. Earlier this month I had an amazing opportunity to shadow at the iHeartMedia Offices in Manchester and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Read on if you’re interested in hearing the inside scoop  on my experience at this awesome company.

For those of you who don’t know, iHeartMedia is the leading media company in the U.S. With 850 radio stations and  245 million monthly listeners, they have the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in the country.  iHeartMedia delivers music, news, pop culture , sports and other content through multiple platforms such as radio, online, mobile apps and live events. Have you ever heart of the iHeartRadio Music Festival? Yeah, I’m dying to go! This company is killing it right now in an ever-changing and media hungry world. They have continued to remain on top and stay relevant by giving listeners what they want and maintaining an attractive brand.

Rock 101 (Manchester, NH)

10:00 am– I arrived at Rock 101 radio station in Manchester, New Hampshire early on a Tuesday morning  eager to see what the day had in store for me. I was greeted by Joseph Graham, President of iHeartMedia of NH. He was so generous and scheduled a visit for me where I would really be immersed in the company and with his employees. The station, which is also home to New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath, was buzzing with excitement from a big event the night before. On-air personality Jack Heath hosted the Voters First Forum, where he was able to interview presidential candidates on issues surrounding the 2016 election.

10:15  am– I met with his producer Samantha and discussed how she runs the show.  Since New Hampshire Today is a morning talk show, she usually starts her day around 4 am! As a producer she is in charge of keeping up with the news to keep the show’s content relevant and interesting to listeners.  Since New Hampshire Today is very political, she does this by scheduling guests, especially presidential candidates, to be on the show that will get people’s attention. Even Donald Trump has been on a couple of times!  She also keeps the show’s website and social media up to date and often adds community spotlights and non-profit work into the sites rotation as well. Samantha is also a blogger, Pretty Sporty Girl, so it was great to chat with her and get some advice. She says her number one tip is to schedule posts in advance. This helps to keep your posting schedule consistent so you don’t lose readers. Another great piece of advice I took from her was that there is a lot of opportunity in the field of media, particularly radio, for a woman, but you have to put in the work to get yourself there.

11:15 am– Next, I met up with Mid-Day host Ioanis. He took me into one of the studios and showed me the “life of a spot” from pre-production, to recording and editing. And by spot, I mean commercial spot. I found out that iHeartMedia records most of their own commercials in-house. Some commercials are even used nationally at multiple stations. To show me how the whole production process works, Ioanis had me record my own commercial for Honda! I spoke into the kind of big microphone you would see at a recording studio. He said the trick to a commercial voice is to talk with a big smile on your face. I probably looked ridiculous but it got the job done! Next came the editing phase. I’ll be the first to admit.. my raw voice track sounded a little rough. He amplified my voice and lowered the pitch a little, and it actually started to sound pretty good. Next he added background music and sound effects and voila, a commercial is born! What’s cool is that he decided to use the commercial as a national spot, so you could potentially hear my voice on the radio if you’re tuned into any iHeartRadio stations!

 11:45 am– After recording my commercial,  I met up with Tim Moore, who is the VP of Programming. He in charge of choosing and scheduling what music goes on the air as well as which talent to hire. He also oversees marketing and promotions for all of the iHeartMedia stations in NH. Tim explained to me that there are two sides of radio that act as Ying and Yang to each other; Programming and Sales. One cannot thrive without the other.  (more on Sales later). We discussed how iHeartMedia has created this superbrand that has become a household name. He told me the secret to successful branding is to create a product that people can create an emotional connection to. If people are emotionally invested, they are more likely to be loyal customers and followers. Music speaks to people. Everyone has that one song that’s their “jam” or song that helped them get over a bad breakup. However, people also become connected to the radio hosts who are bringing them this music. This is why in radio it’s important to find people who can connect with their audience without ever coming face to face with them.

He said people are also always looking for the next big thing, and for the trendsetters who make them known. We talked about social media and which platforms are on the rise. How Facebook seems to be fading but Instagram is more popular than ever. Also Periscope?!  That seemed to come out left field and is quickly becoming one of the hottest platforms. We also talked about Taylor Swift.. He asked “What do you think she’ll do next?” I was kind of stunned for a second and he continued to explain that she has dominated the charts and her music has already reached extreme popularity. So what is her next move? Acting…Fashion? I had never thought about it this way, but in this business you always need to think strategically and be on your toes to the possibility of artists taking on different career paths.

2:00 pm-After lunch, I had a short meeting with another producer Erin as she was creating podcasts from the Voters First Forum. Podcasting is another form of media that iHeartMedia uses to generate traffic to their sites. She cut and pasted segments together for an easily accessible audio clip. Those who were not able to attend the forum are able to stream it online and listen whenever they want!

2:15 pm -My next meeting was with Adam (aka Furious) who has worked his way up in the company and now holds multiple positions there. He is not only the host of the afternoon drive segment, but is also the promotions director for Manchester. Adam plans and runs 10-20 events a month. Since I am interested in promotions, he gave me some great advice. To be successful in promotions you have to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunity.  He also said to get involved and be aware of your surroundings. You need to know your audience and figure out what their likes, dislikes and needs are as a community and facilitate them. Most importantly, to have fun with it. Promotions is a fun job and is a great facet of the company.

3:00 pm – Last but not least I sat down with Jeff, who is a member of Manchester’s Sales team. So what exactly does iHeartMedia sell? On-air commercials, endorsements and promotional events! The job is unlike any other sales job I’ve heard of! Jeff gets to come up with his own promotional ideas to sell to clients. Unlike other sales jobs, he isn’t tied down to a desk, but is out and about in the community. He says sales is all about creating relationships with clients. Some promotions and commercials might not be right for every business, so he gets to collaborate with business owners to figure out what works best for them. (This was the first taste of sales, more to come!)

After I left my meeting with Jeff, I recapped my day with President, Joe Graham. He told me he had arranged another day across the state in Portsmouth at the other iHeartMedia location! The company was nice enough to put me up in a hotel in Portsmouth for the night, so I got in my car and drove over!

Special thanks to Joe Graham and all the employees at IHeartRadio for showing me such hospitality and making this an overall amazing experience for me.

1 Comment

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