MIW Spotlight - Jill Kowalski
Jill Kowalski is the Director of Sports Sales and Marketing for Enterom Communications in Buffalo. In a male dominated business, sports sales, Jill Kowalsi is in charge of one the hottest sports station in America, WGR, and the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres Radio Network, which generates over $3,000,000 in revenue. Kowalski is one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Radio we will feature in our upcoming June issue of Radio Ink Magazine. Here is a more in-depth look at how Kowalski made it to the top of her profession and what she believes it will take to succeed in radio moving forward.
RI: Describe exactly what you do at your job every day.
Kowalski: If you have ever seen the Road Runner, that will give you a visual of what I look like every day, except I'm in heels! There are so many moving parts to selling sports and play by play.?not just play by play for one franchise, but two. The Bills and the Sabres. No two days are ever the same. I meet with the AEs and strategize what clients are good sports prospects, help them landscape and develop VBRs. I'm out on the C.N.A.s, creating the concepts and positioning statements, developing the presentations, pitching, closing, and making sure the campaigns go off without a hitch. I'm coaching and training every day and listening to WGR constantly to "feel" the next program or campaign I can give life to.
I'm driving Allan Davis, my PD, nuts, making sure that all of my features and sponsorships are being executed? or calling him with my next idea. I'm working on NASCAR programs, March Madness, the draft , the combine, training camps, trade deadline days, coaches shows, player shows, alumni shows, and game day execution-- and the sports list goes on and on.
RI: How and why have you succeeded?
Kowalski: I think for me, success has stemmed from my creativity. I'm always the "well, what if we did this" type of person. I know that sounds pretty basic, but I look for different ways to "tackle" (football pun intended) everything. Just because it's the "way we've always done it," doesn't mean that it's the best way! I think as leaders in this industry, it is our obligation to be innovators and visionaries and show others that you can put a square peg in a round hole, you just need to figure out a way to do it.
But perhaps the biggest reason for my success is the simple fact that, along the way, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by some amazing women (and men) in radio. How can you go wrong when Weezie Kramer takes you under her wing? And, in 2009, I was fortunate enough to be a MIW Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Mentee and that opportunity had a profound impact on me personally and professionally.
RI: What does it take to succeed in radio in 2015 and beyond?
Kowalski: You must embrace the direction radio is heading and be excited and passionate about all of the different opportunities and ways we have to reach our fans. I can't think of a more personal medium that can affect people so profoundly. We need to mentor and groom the next generation of radio advocates, but for them to truly be successful, they need the fundamentals that all success is built upon?hard work, drive, and integrity.
RI: How have you overcome your biggest challenge(s)?
Kowalski: It is no secret that being a woman in this industry is challenging. And for me, in particular, being the woman that heads up the sports sales and marketing department? it's even more challenging. There is always going to be that guy who thinks that because he understands the game better, he would be better than I am at what I do. But while he's analyzing the game, and talking to all the other guys analyzing game? I?m busy demonstrating how radio connects the game, and our fans, to our sponsors.
I've had to work all that much harder to prove myself, but that's how you overcome almost anything, with hard work. So yes, most men know sports better than I do, but proof is in the pudding, and I make them eat it every day.
RI: How accepting are others both in and out of the industry, being that the position that you have achieved is mostly occupied by men?
Kowalski: I think that my clients or potential clients are the most accepting. Many times when I first walk into a meeting, especially if it's primarily with men they do give me a look, an inquisitive "hmmm?."
But what I do is really about marketing their business, so once I start asking questions relative to that, and then discuss the opportunities I can create to achieve their goals through sports marketing and radio, the hmmm turns into a wide-eyed, "I can't wait to hear more, see more!"
I thoroughly study potential customers, I know the right questions to ask, I have a myriad of success stories and a ton of ideas already spinning in my head. I think that my enthusiasm and passion for what I do comes across so differently than my male counterparts, the walls immediately come down.
It's very different "in" the industry. In some ways, it's still very much a "boys club," and that's probably the main reason there aren't more women in my field. The good news is that it's changing and I am proud to be among the few, and hope one day to be among the many.
Congratulate Jill for being a 2015 MIW at firstname.lastname@example.org. Followe her on Twitter at @Sports_chick27
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