Michael Bloomberg founded his eponymously named company in 1981 with a handful of computer terminals and a good relationship with a former Dow Jones reporter. Today his news and information empire reaps annual revenues of around dollars 2 billion and comprises a global newswire, a television service, magazines and a book publishing division, among other units.
Michael Bloomberg founded his eponymously named company in 1981
with a handful of computer terminals and a good relationship with a
former Dow Jones reporter. Today his news and information empire reaps
annual revenues of around dollars 2 billion and comprises a global
newswire, a television service, magazines and a book publishing
division, among other units.
Bloomberg Radio (WBBR), the company’s seven-year-old, 24-hour news and
information station, is located at its New York headquarters on Park
Avenue and on the dial at 11:30 AM.
The station’s main agenda is to attract a financially aware
Bloomberg does that by focusing on the verdant economy - from personal
stock portfolios to Greenspan’s effect on the greenback.
Bloomberg Radio gets cranking at 5 am with a one-hour roundup of what’s
been happening on the London, Tokyo and Hong Kong markets before
switching over to the morning drive show, which runs from 6 am to 11 am.
Once the opening bell is sounded at 9:30 am, a dedicated team of around
40 Bloomberg radio reporters begins filing breathless dispatches about
the movements from the main exchanges. The market bulletins run every 10
minutes. ’If there is a market mover, we are on it,’ says Jaime Cohen,
who oversees the radio station as director of news and programming -
though officially employees don’t have titles.
Cohen joined Bloomberg in 1998. He was previously news director at
WGGB-TV in Springfield, MA. He won an Emmy in 1994 during his time as
assistant news director at WSPA-TV in South Carolina; the team was
awarded for live breaking news coverage of Susan Smith, the woman who
was found guilty of murdering her children. Cohen initially joined
Bloomberg as assignment editor and special projects producer for
Bloomberg Television before moving to radio.
’The AOL-Time Warner merger was a great story for us,’ says Cohen. ’We
look for as many sidebar angles as we can. How does the deal impact on
others? Who’s next? How is the stock doing? We love those stories.’
But not all of Bloomberg’s subject matter has to be as huge as the
giants involved in this story. ’The record company K-Tel was going crazy
and it’s not on the S&P 500,’ Cohen explains. ’We did a series about why
people were jumping on the stock and then there was a story when it
dropped.’ But Cohen advises that the team is looking for recognizable
names. Since the station is based in New York, there is also added
advantage in playing up a local angle.
Sandwiched between the market bulletins are the latest business,
financial and political headlines and feature reports at 36 minutes
after the hour.
The features offer relief from the ups and downs of the bull market and
include restaurant guides, headed by Peter Elliot, and entertainment
coverage, overseen by Annie Bergen. Sports stories also take their place
alongside the news. The radio section of the company’s web site,
Bloomberg.com, has minute-by-minute details of the station’s schedule
and details on who to pitch.
Cohen works with four segment producers and encourages PR pros to direct
their pitches to them. Earl Peterson carries the morning agenda, while
the midday show, which kicks off at 11 am and runs until the closing
bell at 4 pm, is Sam Sayegh’s province. The evening coverage, which
focuses on analyses of the day’s market news, is split between Dick
Hinchliffe and Dan Thomas. The evening news often covers the performance
of US stocks on European markets. If interested, these producers will
get one of the assignment editors - Sam Schnipper, Andy Cinko or Lauren
Gargaro - to call back.
The station’s reach is not huge. According to data from radio
measurement firm Arbitron, its weekly audience is 455,300 (aged
18-plus), while the average quarter hour attracted 31,400 in the summer
period 1999, which was up 27% over the previous year.
But although it’s heard only in the tri-state area (New York, New
Jersey, Connecticut), Bloomberg also has a syndication division, which
is a good reason for non-New York PR pros to pitch it. Karen Toulon is
responsible for packaging Bloomberg Market Minute, Bloomberg Morning
News and Bloomberg Urban Business Report, a segment on minority-owned
Toulon, who joined a month ago from Reuters, says, ’We do custom reports
for local stations, looking for companies in their area.’ For example,
she’ll tailor a package for Seattle with a hi-tech installment. She also
has a team doing original reporting and voice-overs. The syndicated
packages run between one and two minutes and focus on the consumer
business market, company stories, business trends and product stories.
Bloomberg Radio has augmented its coverage of the New York area through
several news alliances, taking local material from TV channel New York
One and business stories from Crain’s New York Business and Advertising
Cohen, of course, wants to get new voices on the air, but warns that he
is not interested in taping interviews with spokespeople - he wants the
CEO or the CFO. ’We try to mix up our coverage by airing interviews with
neutral analysts,’ he adds.
If you’re looking to compile an audio news release, Cohen says he’s
’open to anything on tape and pre-recorded interviews.’ He is also happy
for public relations executives to fax their material, but warns he
can’t return all calls.
A good time to pitch ideas is during less busy periods. So try
suggesting profiles and features to fill the days when the stock market
Cohen explains that the station will put together analysis packages on
the previous day’s news and will also turn to what’s happening
Though Bloomberg’s New York audience may be small, it’s syndication
network makes it a viable alternative to AP.
One IR executive comments, ’Radio tends to take care of itself. I don’t
see trader’s listening to radio - they’re watching CNN or CNBC.’ But he
adds that radio is important for firms with a physical presence in small
markets because of the need to address that local audience.
Bloomberg Radio (WBBR)
499 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (212) 318 2530
Fax: (212) 940 1994
Director of programming: Jaime Cohen
Producer, morning drive: Earl Peterson
Producer, midday show: Sam Sayegh
Producers, evening show: Dick Hinchliffe, Dan Thomas
Entertainment reporter: Annie Bergen
Executive dining guide reporter: Peter Elliot
Manager of syndicated products: Karen Toulon
Sam Schnipper, Andy Cinko and Lauren Gargaro