Michael Martin, CBS Radio's Top 40 Svengali, Renews Contract While Planning a Hollywood Bowl Blowout

Mathew Imaging/WireImage
A general view of the atmosphere  at the Hollywood Bowl on June 15, 2014 in Hollywood, Calif. 

This week is a big one for CBS Radio senior vice president of programming, Michael Martin. The San Francisco-based executive, who programs the company’s national concerts, has arguably his biggest show of the year, We Can Survive, with Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, Pitbull, G-Eazy and more set to perform at the Hollywood Bowl this Saturday. Oh, and CBS announced today that Martin has signed a multi-year contract extension with the company.

Martin, who also serves as program director at San Francisco’s Top 40 station KMVQ-FM, Hot AC station KLLC-FM and i CBS RADIO’s Top 40 format captain, said it was an easy decision for him to renew at CBS.

“The cool thing about CBS is my experience and what they let me do is we can do a couple of things all at once, like maybe all of our local stations can keep the integrity of their local brand and who they are, the audience that they talk to. While, at the same time, we get to build these cool national events that touch multi-markets, so we tap into both at the same time,” he tells Billboard.

The local aspect is a key ingredient for Martin, who argues that what makes and keeps terrestrial radio so relevant to listeners while media attention focuses on the streaming services. 

"[At] CBS we let our programmers program. I can oversee New York, but nobody knows New York better than the people that are there twenty-four-seven," he says. "As far as radio in general, we can get music a thousand different ways. But radio adds personality to it, we add a personal bond with the markets that we program to. And you can’t get that with other services. Even with my phone I can create a 25-song playlist and play that, that’s fine. But as I just land in L.A. and it’s ninety degrees and I turn on the radio I know that my radio station is experiencing the same thing that I am, be it hot, be it cold, be it Wednesday, the week’s not over yet. It can mirror what I’m experiencing and that, to me, is what radio does really well that other services can’t do."

For Martin there is a balance between the national and the local as he programs concerts such as We Can Survive, which is part of the national CBS docket, but based in L.A. and the annual The Night Before gig, which this year featured Metallica and Cage The Elephant, the evening before the Super Bowl. 

He feels the key is to make the show feel like a hometown gig. “It’s a national show because every artist is an A-level artist,” he says. “But, we know walking into the Hollywood Bowl, that audience is filled with Amp [97.1] listeners. So just thinking about the lineup and who goes with who and what kind of a flow should we have that night and just the general artists we look for, I’m sensitive to the fact I know Amp people are going to be in that crowd.”