Radio One's New GM Vows to Preserve Majic's Spirit

Jessica Harper | 7/21/2010, 1:30 p.m.

Politicians, community leaders and media gathered at the Maryland corporate headquarters of one of the nation's largest radio broadcasting companies to meet the person charged with ensuring that ratings do not plummet, listeners remain loyal and the community spirit of the station remains in-tact.

Nearly 100 people showed up to meet Christopher Wegmann, the new vice president and general manager of Radio One, Inc., in Lanham, Thu., July 15 during an afternoon meet-and-greet, an occasion that afforded Wegmann an opportunity to hobnob with Prince George's County movers and shakers and community stalwarts.

"Majic is a great voice in the community," said Gerron Levi, a candidate who is running for Prince George's county executive. Levi said that she expects great things from Wegmann and anticipates a gain in listenership as a result of his efforts.

"I think this is a dynamic media entertainment company, and I'm really hopeful for the new direction it will go in," she said.

Wegmann, a broadcasting veteran with more than 20 years experience in the business, currently manages the company's Dallas and St. Louis markets. Today, his position has expanded to include the Washington metropolitan market - a challenge he meets with great enthusiasm and lots of new ideas.

"My job as the general manager is to make sure that we are operating smoothly and consistently," Wegmann said.

"This means following the FCC's guidelines, and because we're a public corporation, making sure we're fulfilling our responsibility to shareholders as well."

The switch from a diary-based to a Portable People Meter (PPM) rating system played a crucial role in forcing the station to reevaluate the way it reaches its audience, Wegmann said.

"Majic [102.3] was the Number One radio station in the Washington D.C. market with the diary method. When the station switched to the PPM method, it slipped in the ratings," Wegmann said.

"We then determined that we had to change the way we had been doing it all these years. We had to tighten our jocks, refresh our music, and make sure we were on target with our audience."

RBR.com recently reported that Majic 102.3 WMMJ-FM DC is shifting to a younger urban adult contemporary format with its theme being "The 80s, 90s and today." Like Wegmann, James Dula, advisory board chairman for Prince George's Suite Magazine also challenged the music industry to adjust to the D.C. area's changing demographics.

The retired U.S. Air Force commander described Prince George's County as, "a growing renaissance."

"I think this change is going to bring very good things not only to Radio One, but to the listeners as well," he said.

"Some people look at change as a bad thing, but with it, you get new ideas, innovations and management styles."
Despite the changes, some of the station's mainstays will remain the same. For example, because Majic 102.3 targets 30-plus Africa- American female listeners, Wegmann said there is a "definitive plan" in place to retain the, "30 and Over" card--the key that unlocks the door to a myriad of Majic prize packages.

Director of News and Community Affairs Shelia Stewart said she looks forward to seeing Wegmann's leadership style in action.

"Chris is wonderful," said Stewart, one of the event organizers. "We are all excited about Mr. Wegmann being here. He's very community-wise."
Wegmann vowed to avoid a music-centric format. The general manager said above all, he intends to uphold the station's spirit of community engagement.

"This is not a jukebox," Wegmann said.

"This is a community-involved radio station."