Oversees all programming, content, and operations for ABC News Radio.
By Bonnie Eissner“Your integrity is key and it’s critical to your success in life.”—Steve Jones ’89
Steve Jones ’89 sold his first news story—a crime piece—to the New York Post when he was 15. By his freshman year at Adelphi, he was hired full-time as the late-night news broadcaster at New York’s WPIX FM. He began working at ABC News in 1986 as a freelance writer, and is now vice president and general manager of ABC News Radio, which bills itself as the largest commercial radio news organization in the United States. He oversees all programming, editorial, and operations for the division.
The key to his success, he says, is that he loves what he does. “I’m really so—and it sounds kind of corny to say this—but I’m still so thankful and appreciative of the career I have and the work relationships I’m involved in because I love it so much and there is no disconnection between work and the rest of my life,” Mr. Jones says. “And now I hope that’s not in an unhealthy way. (You might want to ask my wife.) But I don’t believe it is. I’ve really sort of tapped into my passion. And that, to me, is the key.”
Asked how he keeps ABC News Radio on top, Mr. Jones says, “I have a healthy dose of fear…the fear that at any point things can change based on external factors. And I continually try and anticipate what those factors might be. And I think we’re essentially, even though we’re a news content creation company, we’re very engaged in customer relations…I respond to pretty much every email I get from a listener.”
Like many of us, Mr. Jones begins and ends his day reviewing email on his Blackberry. His official work day begins with a 7:05 a.m. call with the manager of the newsroom to discuss what stories to cover that day and where people should be deployed. He then drives to work so that he can sample broadcast radio, satellite radio, and, increasingly, digital radio through a mobile device. “From a business opportunity, the vehicle is the environment we want to own; that’s the next battleground,” says Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones sees a bright future in digital radio. “We’ve gone from primarily a very linear broadcasting experience where you would hear the top story, determined by us, followed by the second story, the third story, the fourth story, to the opportunity to hear whatever story you want by listening or skipping and that is through some of our digital partnerships,” he says. “I still very much love storytelling and engaging in how language is used and how facts are presented,” Mr. Jones says. “I understand how people listen to news and how to tell a story. But so much of what I enjoy doing is business development now.”
His advice for those starting out in the media business? “The most important thing…is your integrity is key and it’s critical to your success in life,” he tells new hires. “If you can’t be trusted as somebody who is going to be honest, caring about their work, and about their colleagues, you’re not going to go far in any business.”
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