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"What impressed me most was what an incredible concentration of power and reach Infinity has in the major markets in America. We reach 61 million listeners in a single week."

SYKES PSYCHED ABOUT INFINITY

Veteran Exec Meets New Team, Preps for Future
When John Sykes was named Infinity Radio Chairman/CEO by Viacom's Mel Karmazin in March, it marked yet another new area of the music business for the exec to tackle. Can a Bill Clinton Morning Zoo be far behind?

Sykes, who started as a promotion rep for Columbia Records while still attending Syracuse and was part of the original team that launched MTV back in ’81, has been a manager (Champion Entertainment), agent (CAA), label president (Chrysalis), publishing exec (EMI) and, most recently, network head (VH1).

The veteran exec officially introduced himself to his new company with meetings held last week at New York’s Sheraton Hotel, flying in 400 general managers, program directors and sales executives from Infinity's 183 stations. Among the PD superstars attending were WXRK's Steve Kingston, KROQ's Kevin Weatherly, WBCN's Oedipus, WBMX's Greg Strassell, and KMXV's Jon Zellner.

"It was an opportunity for me to hear their creative ideas," explains Sykes. "And for me to share where I want to take this company."

Heads of labels, major advertisers, along with representatives from Viacom's MTV and Blockbuster were brought together, including Tom Freston, Judy McGrath, Van Toffler, CMT's Brian Phillips and sociologist William Strauss, who spoke on shifting audience demographics.

"We talked about the strengths of partnerships within the company," says Sykes. "We managed to exchange thoughts with some of our most important partners, both inside and outside the company."

Sykes stressed that throughout his career he's been a proponent of considering the music industry as important partners. "Their stars make our business more successful. I respect the contributions they can make by delivering incredible artists and backing them with great marketing ideas. Anything I've done, it's always been about putting the artists first.

"What impressed me most was what an incredible concentration of power and reach Infinity has in the major markets in America. We reach 61 million listeners in a single week."

Infinity's 183 stations, many in major markets, generate almost $2.4 billion, compared to Clear Channel, with 1,200 stations and $3 billion in revenue, but Sykes stresses he's not in competition.

"I'm just into making these stations great, and helping maximize the talent we have at our disposal," concludes Sykes. "Now will you excuse me? I've got Mel on the other line."

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