In a wide-ranging video Q&A (below) at the IHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas with Billboard Saturday night, John Sykes, Clear Channel president of entertainment enterprises and Tom Poleman, Clear Channel President of national programming platforms, indicated that they are in the planning stages of producing a country music festival and a TV Awards show and will bring the Jingle Ball to a much wider audience.
The IHeartRadio Music Festival will air Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 on The CW, marking the latest in a series of broadcasts Clear Channel signed with the network in a multi-year pact earlier this year. At the time of the deal’s announcement in May, Sykes said the company was “about six months out” from announcing two other new franchises for a to-be-determined broadcast partner.
When Billboard asked Sykes and Poleman about whether one of those events would be a country music festival, to take place in Austin next March, Poleman laughed. “Yeah, we haven’t quite announced that yet. Shhh. But yeah, we may or may not be doing that.”
Sykes had a similar response to a question about whether Clear Channel was prepping its own VMA-esque music awards show. “We are thinking about that. You’re a good reporter.”
But, Poleman added, “Here’s what we can tell you. I’ve been doing Jingle Ball since 1996 in New York, and one of the things John and I have been able to do together now that we’re on the same team is like, ‘hey you have this great timing, why don’t you put it on TV and blow it up?’ We’re doing the IHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour now, not only in New York but in 12 other markets and we’re gonna televise that as well.”
For Poleman and Sykes programming the IHeartRadio Music Festival begins by checking everyone’s egos at the door. How else do you reconcile a Saturday-night lineup that began with Paul McCartney, featured at least three songs from acts like Tim McGraw, Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Miguel, Ke$ha and Drake, and ended with Justin Timberlake.
“We like to say it’s headliners from start to finish,” Poleman, Clear Channel’s president-national programming platforms, said in a backstage Q&A at the MGM Grand Arena Saturday night. “If Paul can go first, we can put anybody anywhere.”
“You’re sharing the some production, the same lighting,” Sykes, Clear Channel’s president of entertainment, adds. “These guys, they’re all old pros. All they want to do is get their shot — to get up and perform. So that’s why you see them really working the crowd.”
Also in the interview the duo talked at length about programming IHeartRadio, the long rehearsal process this year’s artists put in and which releases they’re excited about for fourth quarter (including, notably, Arcade Fire.)