Dressed in a slate-gray, two-piece suit and striped tie, Tom Humm walks the halls of Beasley Broadcast Group’s Las Vegas headquarters.
On his journey, he pops in to see Terrie Springs, midday host of KKLZ-FM (96.3). The two chat for a minute before Springs gets back on-air. During the brief tour of the Beasley compound on East Tropicana Avenue, Humm chats casually with a few more members of his staff, including Melissa T and Cadillac Jack from KCYE-FM (102.7).
Humm, a native Las Vegan, proudly fills his 80-person staff with other natives. He has nurtured many a Las Vegas broadcast career.
“In the course of 35 years, I’ve worked with most of the on-air talent in Las Vegas. The great thing about radio is that you work with a lot of young people who are full of enthusiasm, excitement,” he said.
As vice president and general manager, Humm oversees the five Las Vegas area Beasley radio stations: KCYE, KDWN-AM (720), KKLZ, KOAS-FM (105.7) and KVGS-FM (107.9). In August, Humm is set to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Nevada Broadcasters Association.
But perhaps nothing is more important to him than his love of Las Vegas and its people.
“In my mind the two biggest things that we do, are to take folks from our public school system and integrate them into our industry. And we serve our community,” Humm said.
A Bishop Gorman High School football receiver, Humm received a full scholarship to attend the University of Nebraska and play football. Humm, who was born in Las Vegas Hospital in 1953, his brother David, and his three sons all played for Gorman.
Humm returned to Las Vegas after earning his degree and married his high school sweetheart, Marcy Romeo. During college, he’d come home in the summers and work in a local clothing store. Years later, his former store manager was working at KLUC and hired Humm as a sales representative for the top-40 radio station.
“I just worked my way up from there,” Humm said of his career.
Humm went door-to-door, learning as he went, following advice his father gave him: “If you’re honest with people and sincere about taking care of them, they do business with you.”
Over time, he developed a client list and most of them have stayed with him his entire career, he said.
“This is a very small town,” Humm said. “We have a lot of transiency in this town, but we, the old timers, we did business a certain way, in a very honorable way.”
Question: What are one or two of your proudest career moments?
Answer: There are two things I’m very prideful of. I’ve hired and watched young people from the university, 40 people, that have gone to great success. I’ve hired hundreds of part-time folks who have gotten their feet wet in radio and decided to get into journalism or different fields. And through the stations, we’ve raised millions and millions of dollars for charitable organizations.
Question: What’s the most unique aspect of doing business in Las Vegas?
Answer: The most important thing about doing business in Las Vegas is honesty and integrity and follow through. Again, because we’re such a transient town, if you take business seriously, when you tell people something it has to be 100 percent of the truth and 100 percent of the follow through. And again, when you’re selling radio advertising, it’s an intangible. You want to make sure your client understands fully what commercials they’re going to get, when they’re going to get them, what promotion they’re going to get, then you document and go through it with them as you work through the different advertising campaigns. That’s a very important part.
Question: How would you describe the local business community?
Answer: Business leaders from Vegas in the 1940s and 1950s are the best business leaders in the world. They built this community. They built it from 10,000 people. Those people set the groundwork. We get a reputation because of one long street in the middle of our town. But this is a very, very nice conservative town. A great place for families. And it all started with the people who built the town.
Question: What is the state of your industry right now?
Answer: Like every industry, we have gone down. Radio advertising is probably off by about 20 percent over the last five years. At one point four or five years ago advertising was a luxury, because people were just trying to keep people employed and pay their bills. Over the last 18 months business and industry is coming back. We’re seeing all our advertisers either coming back or start to spend more money in advertising. The other big question is how are we affected by the Internet and online, Pandoras and the SiriusXMs. We’re impacted marginally right now, as 93 percent of the U.S. population still listens to radio. We are free. We’re over the air, convenient and people want to be in tune to their local disc jockey, the local news, local events, the local happenings and the great music we play.
Question: What’s the future of your industry?
Answer: Our business model over the next five years is going to change dramatically. But again we’re ahead of the curve on that in that all of our radio stations stream. We stream all of our on-air content except our commercials. There’s a very big initiative right now that the top 10 radio groups will be put into Sprint phones within a year. We’re supplying them with advertising on all of our regular stations and then there will be an app on Sprint phones that will allow people to listen to FM radio.
Question: What was one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Answer: We’ve been through three recessions and this last one was the worst I’ve ever seen. And the irony is that all the businesses we deal with, you’re almost a psychiatrist developing marketing and advertising plans for them. As business wanes or declines, you’re concerned about those folks because they’re not only your clients, they’re your friends. You just kind of work through it all as every day brings a different challenge. We’ve had to downsize staff like everybody and cut our expenses and different things like that.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.