Home > PUM One on One with WAMO100’s New General Manager Gary Gunter-An Accessible & Responsive Leader in the Driving Seat poised to build on WAMO’s great heritage and legacy

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WAMO100, owned by Martz Communications Group, recently named Gary Gunter General Manager of WAMO100. Prior to this new appointment, Gunter was the General Sales Manager of Radio One Baltimore stations WWIN-AM/FM, WERQ-FM and WOLB-AM. Gunter replaces Laura Varner Norman who served as the General Manager when WAMO returned to the market in June 2011.
Prior to Radio One Baltimore, Gunter was Director of Integrated Marketing for Clear Channel Radio in Chicago. He created and developed integrated marketing programs for their 6 top radio stations (WGCI, WVAZ, WNUA, WLIT, WKCS and AM1390) in the Chicago market.
“I am excited to be a part of a company that has a history in the city of Pittsburgh,” Gunter says. “My main objective, in addition to increasing revenue, will be to improve upon the work that has already been done and to continue the legacy of WAMO being the urban voice in the city of Pittsburgh.”
Gunter earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He is also a 2007 graduate of the National Association of Broadcasters Executive Development Program for Radio Broadcasters from Georgetown University and awarded the NAB’s Executive Radio Mentor Fellowship in 2008.
WAMO100 is Pittsburgh’s Home for Hip-Hop and Hottest Hits and can be found on 100.1FM, 660AM, WAMO100.com and WAMO100 App for all phones.
PUM One on One with WAMO100’s New General Manager Gary Gunter-An Accessible & Responsive Leader in the Driving Seat poised to build on WAMO’s great heritage and legacy.

PUM: Gary so nice to connect with you and welcome to the BURGH, first, let’s get the most important question out the way –Are you a Steelers Fan?

GG: Well do you want the politically correct answer? Of course I am a Steelers Fan, I’m looking forward to busting out my Ben Roethlisberger jersey and sitting in front of the TV on Sunday’s rooting for the men of steel. But you know it’s kind of hard now coming from a market like Baltimore we just got through raising the trophies so… but I guess I will turn it all end just to show my commitment to my new family here in Pittsburgh.

PUM: Your vision in coming to the city, it’s going to be a difficult job it seems with the heritage and the legacy of a station like WAMO-what is your immediate goal?

GG: Right off the bat just coming in evaluating and assessing the current situation of the radio station and I have found out over the past few days I’ve been here it’s in a very healthy state.  We still have our pre-teen one listeners, our focused target –the community is behind us and as you said yes, it is a bit of a challenge to try and replicate the success of the old WAMO, but I think with the brand equity of the station and WAMO it’s just a matter of putting great people in the right places with the hopes of having great things to reoccur, so we are going to come out of the gate very aggressive, we are going to make sure that we are out in the community being seen, doing the right things in everywhere and anywhere and just letting Pittsburgh know that even though the dial position and the frequency has changed the call letters reflect the same type of great media outlet, and great product that they have been used to with the heritage station of WAMO of the past.

PUM: Will we see any program or format changes? Back in the day WAMO had talk shows, news and information? Are you going to focus primarily on the R&B –Hip-Hop genre?

GG:  I think right now we are going to focus and stay in the lane that we are in currently, again with the whole evaluation and assessments of the product in the market, you will start to hear maybe some minor tweaks as we become more laser focused on our listener and our specific target demo that we are going after, I think we have to make sure we are true to that target and once we’ve done that evaluation and understanding of their likes and needs and wants those sorts of things we will start to then tweak some things to make sure we are facilitating those for that target demo.

PUM: Gary you have been in the radio game for 25 years with just an extensive background –where are we with this music called hip-hop, R & B, urban formats as it relates to radio? Is black radio a think of the past?

GG:  I think over the past three and four years you have been hearing that all types of information coming out about radio is dead, or radio is not going to be around in ten years, all the negative things about radio and with the new mediums coming out like satellite radio, but I know and I think that this will always persevere that is listeners want real time and local information and local programming where they can go to some source and hear someone say there city’s name, their neighborhood, what the temperature is in that time in that neighborhood or that town, where they can come out to and see a person live, touch feel and rap with that personality live on site, so you can only get those types of things from terrestrial radio, and with the urban format as a whole I just think that the influence now with hip-hop- rap and the crossing over it into the general market is more powerful than it’s ever been so I think that format is here to stay. I think its only going to get bigger as it starts to cross over even more I think what you are seeing is a rebirth of what it was in the 50’s and 60’s when Motown and R&B basically was the  development of rock n roll derived from that other genres of music. I think you are seeing resurgence and a rebirth of how history always repeats itself and that’s what we are going through now.  

PUM: When you think of an urban market, who is your primarily target market?

GG: What we’ve done through different studies and different testing, WAMO’s primarily listeners is basically a 23-25 year old African American male, our P-2, coming into a close second would be a 20-to 21 year old African American female, so as it relates to WAMO and its primary target, if you laser focus in on that specifically that would be the target. Now as a demographic we would be looking at a young adult between the ages of 18-34 as our primary target.

PUM: Are you also including young white listeners in that target?

GG: The format is the music, so as I’ve said earlier in the interview, the music, Hip-hop and rap have now exploded within the general market audience, so we will never discriminate against any of our listeners no matter what their color creed or nationality, so we are true to the music and true to the format, right now the focus of that music is for the demographic that I expressed as it relates to the 23 year old African American male and African American female 20 years old, but there is a growing segment of the total 18-34 demographic now that is white- female and male that is listening more and more to the WAMO format, then WAMO as a radio station, so I think there’s defiantly growth coming in as a part of that outside of our target market.

PUM: Back in the day WAMO had the Gospel shows and various shows for an older listener, is that in your plans?

GG: No that’s not our focus right now, but in order to serve the community as a whole since there really is not older adult contemporary urban station in the market, we do try to be sensitive toward the overall African American market and community in Pittsburgh metro, so yes you will hear us giving away tickets away to a Sly and the Family stones --older targeted acts and performers, just so that we can make sure to be able to satisfy --because of course from the past, WAMO has been and was a heritage station which crossed multiple age demographics so now even though we are laser focused on the 18-34 year olds we are still sensitive to not only the listeners who may be out of that demographic but also advertisers that really don’t have any other place to go to find a format that can closely or relatively hit their target as it relates to customers to purchase their programs.

PUM: Often when it comes to the advertising dollar, many of the advertisers are not spending their money with urban mediums that target African Americans? Is there something you are going to do to reach the advertiser to get your fair share of the advertising dollar?

GG:  I totally agree with that, and I think that it’s not that they don’t want to spend the money in most cases; but it’s that we have to give them a reason to spend the money. A lot of sales reps and a lot of stations they just show up and say you should be spending money with me because I’m number one I’m number two, but now days when there is so many different options and different choices that an advertiser can make as it relates to his media mix and how he spends his money, you have to come to the table with more of a viable targeted program as to why he should spend his money with you. I always use the formula when it comes to a market-- ok, how much money is being spent in the market, for example if 100 million dollars is being spent in media advertising in Pittsburgh, then I say what is the African American population in that market, which is what I target in that market, so I say 7 or 8 percent so then I would say, I should be getting 8 percent of that money spent in the market place which would be 8 million dollars, or urban media should be getting 8 percent of the money being spent in that market. So I can look at my bottom line and say ok, I’m defiantly not getting my fair share or I’m not getting my unfair share, and how do I improve on that?   But I think we need to have valid business reasons to be able to go in and get money. Now there are cases, where there are still no urban dictates out there, where companies and brands just won’t spend money on anything targeting or reaching African Americans, but I think that we have to do a better job of positioning ourselves with the right information to be able to get these advertisers to spend adequate amounts of money, we can just show up any more and say we are black media you need to use us, it has to be more strategy with what their goals are and it has to match up with what their plans are, so there’s a lot of leg work that needs to be done and I’m going to be spending a lot of time training my sales team not only on how to strategize and go after this money but also how to feel like your product is valuable, because what I have noticed in different markets that I’ve gone in is that sales people dealing with urban radio stations feel like they should just take whatever they should get, or they don’t try and up sale a client, or try and get more money because the station is that valuable and the listeners are that valuable, so it’s about instilling in your sales team the importance of your listeners and they deserve to be paid, because they defiantly have value, so it’s going to be a process, it’s almost like turning around the Titanic and we know how long that was.   



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