As the regional vice president and general manager of Urban One Atlanta, Tim Davies is one of the biggest names in Georgia radio.
He currently oversees four radio stations (Hot 107.9, MAJIC 107.5/97.5, Classix 102.9, Praise 102.50), three syndicated radio shows (Rickey Smiley Morning Show, The Willie Moore Jr. Show and the Nightly Spirit with Darlene McCoy), digital platforms, the daily filming of Dish Nation TV and the Urban One Atlanta staff.
What lead you to your career? I chose the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Georgia because of the strength of its broadcasting program and it’s home to the Peabody Awards. The Peabody Awards were established because there was no equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in radio, so the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) established this award. It was all I knew about UGA, but I was sold. I had an idea what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure which path to take. After an internship at a TV station in Charlotte, N.C., I landed my first radio job with a station in Augusta, Ga., selling air time. When I realized I could meet with clients, create on-air campaigns and then see the results, I was hooked.
Who was your biggest influence in your career (mentor, teacher, relative)? What did he/she do? When I moved from Augusta to work for one of the most successful African American radio stations in Houston, two people invested in me. Those two people were Monte Lang, the station general manager, and Kevin Sweeney, consultant and co-founder of the Radio Association of Broadcasters. They taught me about the business not just from a broadcast perspective, but from the client perspective. They taught me about how each vertical (automotive, retail, banking, etc.) made a profit, what their margins were and who were their competitors. They taught me about the importance of really knowing your client’s business and, most importantly, to listen.
What is the biggest challenge in your career or job? Ensuring that the content we create stays relevant for generations to come. Media faces the challenge of competing for the time of their listeners, viewers and unique visitors. Radio was the original social media platform. Our industry has invested in strong and compelling digital platforms. The investment in digital, coupled with the strong foundation in the marketplace, leveraging the medium’s reach, our loyal listenership, unparalleled local presence and strong brands help us stay relevant and compelling. And of course, the other consistent challenge is managing to grow cash flow and market share year after year.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? First, I get to work with an amazing team, pushing out content across all forms of media (radio, TV, digital and events) every day impacting not only Atlanta, but the whole country. Second, I enjoy helping guide our team in their careers, and watching them achieve success and grow their own brands. Their success makes me happy. Third, I enjoy seeing the tangible results from an ad campaign or event. When our advertisers tell us how happy they are with their return on investment, or I see the smiles of joy from listeners at an event we produced…I know if we hadn’t created the campaign or event, they never would have had that unique experience.
What’s the hardest business lesson you’ve learned? To lead with my heart and not let my brain override my feelings about a hire or a specific strategy. Almost every time I go against my intuition, I’m wrong…and when it affects another person’s livelihood, it is a hard pill to swallow. I have to be true to me and with every decision I make, ask myself, “Can I still look at myself in the mirror and be okay with me when I make it?”
How did you get into radio? I spent the summer before college graduation interning at a television station in Charlotte. I found I could combine my creativity, desire to succeed and need to win with a career in media sales. After 24 interviews and 24 rejections in five cities, I landed my first radio sales job with a station in Augusta. That experience taught me a lot about resilience and perseverance. I taped every rejection letter to my wall to motivate me to keep going!
Why do you think Atlanta is such a big market for hip-hop? It is not just hip-hop but many genres of music, from inspirational music to R&B. Hip-hop culture impacts every part of world culture, from fashion to lifestyle and music. Fortunately, Atlanta is the hub. I also think Atlanta has a very strong and vibrant African American community that has fostered entrepreneurship and creativity. The rise of Atlanta’s rap scene dates back to the 1980s. Clive Davis met with Kenneth (Babyface) Edmonds and Antonio (L.A.) Reid, with an intention of discovering and developing musicians in the South. Georgia was one of many Southern states with a thriving music scene, but most talent remained local or went undiscovered. That was the beginning of the dynasty, and Atlanta is now home to dozens of record labels.
What are your goals for 2018? To make sure I engage in meaningful conversations with everyone I meet. Then the work I do to help a non-profit, business or member of our team will be much more impactful than polite conversations.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had in radio? Helping create lifelong memories for our audiences: the smile you see on the faces of a family singing along at a concert or talking to someone who listened to the right message at the right time that may have changed their course.
What do you want your legacy to be? I want to be remembered for the people I worked with, the organizations I helped and the impact our team had on the community. Most of all, I want people to look back and say, “Tim made a difference.”
Born: Montclair, N.J.Lives in: Inman ParkAge: 55Current job: Regional VP and general manager, Urban One AtlantaPrevious job: Regional VP, Clear Channel Memphis Trading AreaEducation: Bachelor’s degree in journalism, University of GeorgiaFamily: Wife, Meagan; children, James (age 24) and Madeline (age 20); 10-week-old puppy, Cooper. Hobbies: Oil painting, music, swimming, working out