SiriusXM Just ‘Slammed’ Radio With This Great Initiative

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A Dec. 1 announcement that was widely ignored by the broadcast media trade press caught the attention of RBR+TVBR Editor-in-Chief Adam R Jacobson.


Why? Because this news, from Sirius XM, deals with something radio stations across the U.S. should have been doing for the last 25 years. It’s another reason why broadcast radio still has a long way to go to be as local as industry leaders proclaim it to be.

By Adam R Jacobson

We’re not going to lie: We have a professional crush on David Field, President/CEO of Entercom.

We love what he’s done in the short time that his company has owned the stations formerly owned by CBS Radio.

We also really like Jeff Smulyan for his attitude and efforts to make NextRadio a success (even though few of my friends still know what the heck it is, some 15 months into my tenure at RBR+TVBR).

But, the radio industry still has a lot of “F” grades out there, and swimming out of the muck that’s been created by years of neglect and ignorance of media preference shifts will still take some time.

Of course, there are those that continue to take their collective tunas and toot the tune that radio’s strong, it’s local, it’s the most undervalued and underutilized advertiser tool out there and it’s a great value! Look at the ROI it brought to Bob’s Laundry and Subaru or Wagon Wheel Pizza and Financial Services! 

Unfortunately, Sirius XM just did something that reinforces why they even exist, with individuals paying obscene amounts of money to get their obscene Howard Stern jollies in between hearing the same damn Elvis Costello records, thanks to a really good royalty payment deal on that artist.

What Sirius XM just did also begs the question, “Where the hell has your radio company been in not doing this at one of your stations?”

On Dec. 1, SLAM Foundation announced that high school students will produce and present national programming with the launch of SLAM Radio, a 24/7, 365-day-a-year student-run channel that will air on SiriusXM radio.

“The innovative educational-professional model” will begin as a pilot program at the Miami-based Sports Leadership Arts and Management (SLAM) charter school network.

Holy crap, David! 

With a focus on sports, entertainment and journalism, SLAM Radio will align with SLAM’s mission to provide students with an introduction to the sports media industry as part of its college-preparatory curriculum.

Between 30 and 60 junior and senior high-school students will launch the project and develop programming content as part of the pre-production process.  Plans also call for a morning show to anchor the channel hosted by Larry “The Amigo” Milian, formerly the  Marketing Director at Vicky Bakery — a Miami staple for any party snacks — and now full-time at SLAM.

Milian also happens to be a producer and production coordinator/host for Generation ñ Media. This role includes serving as host of “The Dos Amigos Show” — a bilingual sports talk program originating from Miami.

How fitting that a Miami-based entity is leading the charge with getting high schoolers interested in a career in radio — even if it took a satellite radio company to do the job broadcast media should have been doing back when Hootie was Hootie and not some guy named Darius Rucker headlining the 33rd annual 99.9 KISS Country Chili Cookoff.

(Now that we’ve mentioned this awesome event, can we get a media pass, David?)

It is Miami that has really been the market of the future for the radio industry. Back in 1971, Storer Broadcasting put a Top 40 station on at 96.3 MHz, WMYQ. It was a big deal, given that FM was in its infancy in just about every other market. By 1974, WHYI-FM “Y-100” was establishing itself as a national pioneer under Cecil Heftel, giving away gobs of money as car owners added FM adapters so they could tune to FM.

Today, Miami radio listeners are just as likely to go to a SiriusXM Channel as they are to a local radio station — and SiriusXM’s partnership with SLAM is a natural extension of how South Florida consumes “radio.”

By the way, there’s a little known law that states one Armando Christian Perez, a.k.a. Pitbull, must be involved in anything involving Miami, or radio, or an opportunity to say ¡Dale!

In all seriousness, Señor Pitbull is the co-founder and Brand Ambassador for the SLAM charter school network.

Couldn’t he have done this with iHeartRadio? Or Entercom, now that its snazzy new Miami home off of NE 79th Street in a hot, trendy neighborhood is almost ready to open?

There is certainly time on radio’s side. SLAM Radio is expected to launch in fall 2018.

And, reflecting the high schooler’s likely listening habits for audio entertainment, SLAM Radio programming will be available on the Sirius platform, online at siriusxm.com, and via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and other connected devices.

Rene F. Ruiz, SLAM co-founder and President of the SLAM Foundation, commented, “SLAM Radio is an impressive and innovative model for student learning that will complement our rigorous academic standards by offering students exciting real-world experiences.”

We agree.

Plans to launch SLAM Radio began in fall 2017 with the development of a yearlong pre-production timeline encompassing educational, technical and financial responsibilities. Designed to equip students with professional-level skills and resources prior to beginning on-air broadcasts in fall 2018, pre-production will include integrating a new course focused on professional standards into the pilot school’s existing multimedia production curriculum, which enables students to earn both high school and college credit; enhancing its already-impressive production facilities; and planning for a capital campaign to raise funds for new production facilities at other SLAM campuses across the country.

“SLAM Radio will make radio history by providing high school students with access to the day-to-day activities of running a professional radio channel,” said Milian, who will also serve as student advisor for SLAM Radio on SiriusXM. “This national platform will positively affect the industry and those aspiring to pursue careers in the fields of radio and communications.”

Indeed, it will.

It’s just a shame that it took satellite radio to do what broadcast radio has been able to, but never took the initiative to develop and roll out.

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