President of National Programming Platforms
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment
POWER MOVE: Using iHeartradio to experiment with programming resulted in a powerhouse digital EDM format taking over a terrestrial station.
THE RUNDOWN: Whether he’s breaking a band, selling a product or funding a charity, artist-savvy programmer Tom Poleman harnesses Clear Channel’s 850 radio stations and associated digital assets to work in unison. Under Poleman, the company began holding two-day music meetings so labels could play their new projects for top station programmers. At one event early last year, attendees were so smitten by the sophomore outing from fun. that an artist integration program was tied to the release in which hundreds of free promotional CDs were distributed. The move was credited with helping send the young group’s career into overdrive. Such actions “create a personality behind the music,” Poleman says.
Artist development is a top priority for the former WHTZ New York programmer, who books the annual iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas and oversees its concert webcasts. In addition, Poleman and his team use the iHeartRadio service as a digital playground to experiment with long-tail programming. For example, after an EDM channel quickly became one of the service’s most popular offerings, it was folded into a Boston FM outlet, giving a format that was virtually nonexistent on the U.S. radio dial a broadcast home. “We’re always challenging ourselves to think differently,” he says. Last November that involved synchronizing music by Alicia Keys on four New York stations with a light show atop the Empire State Building.
Poleman doesn’t take his job and its attendant power for granted. “You never have the position forever,” he says, “so you just hope that while you’re able to influence people, you do some good.”