The media landscape in the Springfield area is highly competitive, and traditional media such as print and broadcast have faced major challenges in the past few years. Kevin O’Dea, General Manager at Neuhoff Media, has witnessed these changes and challenges first hand.
"Many things, as General Manager of four radio stations and a very highly visited website Channel1450.com. My responsibility is that I oversee all of those, and fifty employees full time and part time, and the day to day operations, including programming the stations and website, sales which is very important because it generates revenue. Technological stuff and anything regarding the FCC, and all of our business operations, I oversee all of that,” O’Dea said.
He sees many young people come in the doors of the radio stations he manages interns or first-time hires, and encourages them to pursue their dreams of working in radio and podcasting.
“I would say be prepared, whatever part you are working in, whether it be in front of a mic, in front of a camera, behind one, vise versa. Be a good listener and do whatever whether it is sweeping floors or whatever, pay attention, and if it your dream, then go for it and work hard, because a lot of times dreams come true,” O’Dea said.
O’Dea has been in this business for 37 years. He says that he wants someone else to pick up the torch of his position once he retires.
“I see it staying where it is at, and retiring in a few years because I am an old guy, I am sixty-four. I just want to keep our radio group going, it is a very successful radio group. Ratings wise and financially. Then, I will turn it over to somebody to grow it even more,”
The industry of radio has been around for many decades, and has withstood the test of time, without being deemed obsolete even as technology has progressed and other mediums for content consumption have emerged. It is an ever-changing landscape. O’Dea explains his vision for the future and where he sees the industry heading.
“Well I always think, you know, everybody has said that the death of radio is now. They said it when TV came about, but it didn’t, then color TV, and then Satellite TV was supposed to kill it, but it never did. and later when the internet came about. I always thought that as long as radio stations provide local content, you know,” O’Dea said.
“Whether it be in Springfield, Chicago, St. Louis, or wherever, as long as you are providing local content, people will find you and they will listen. Now, it may not be over a traditional radio, there will come a day when WUIS and WFMB do not have radio towers. I think it will be all delivered via the internet or something similar. And even right now, a lot of people listen to us via our apps. So, I think the industry will survive and stay alive and we will be where people will be able to access it,” O’Dea said.
Radio has stood the test of time, and O’Dea is ready for the next challenge.
For NPR Illinois Podcast Academy, I’m Roman Durand.