Over Super Bowl weekend, broadcasting lost one of its legends. And many of you probably never heard of him or you know very little about him.
Frank Magid, the founder and president of Frank N. Magid Associates, passed away. Frank was the brains and vision behind audience research for both television and radio. If you've participated in a perceptual study, phone survey, music testing and the like in your broadcasting career, Frank was the guy who popularized it and first figured out how to apply it to programming to generate better ratings.
And Frank had a huge influence on many of the industry's biggest research and consulting firms - including mine. Along with luminaries like Bill Moyes, Jon Coleman, Bruce Fohr, Alan Burns, Bob Harper and many others, we all did our time at his Marion, Iowa boot camp, learning our craft from Frank and his lieutenants. While many of those I've mentioned will tell you that their experience with Frank was simultaneously a difficult and rewarding experience, we are all better and more successful because we earned our chops in his company.
As a young research analyst, I quickly moved up the ranks with Magid. And the experience there allowed me to have a seat in the boardrooms of legendary stations like KHJ, WJR, KSL, KSTP, B101, WOR, the Associated Press, and many others. Frank N. Magid did research and consulting for the biggest and best broadcasters, and played an important role in the formation of network TV news/entertainment shows like Good Morning America. All from the middle of an Iowan cornfield.
And Frank was in a class by himself. If you called down to central casting for the perfect combination of smart, suave, corporate, and confident to run this kind of company, they would have sent Frank to fill the role. Aside from his vision and thirst to keep coming up with interesting new research tools and products, he early on bought a ranch in some place we'd never heard of called Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and built condos in a then obscure resort area called the Cayman Islands - long before either place became in vogue. He had a great sense for where the public taste was heading.
Part of our services at Magid included talent coaching. TV stations would fly anchormen and weather guys to Iowa for a day of intensive work in front of the camera. One day, we were visited by supermodel Cheryl Tiegs who had recently been hired by Good Morning America for a regular feature. For all those folks cloistered in a small-town Iowa environment, it was quite a thrill.
We all have our mentors and the people early in our careers who trained us, educated us, and helped to light the path. For me, Frank was one of those people. And the next time you're looking over a questionnaire or checking out familiarity and popularity scores of DJs, remember that it was a guy named Frank Magid who brought audience research to our industry.