Tag Archives: general manager

Revamped Radio

March 18, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When the band Train came to Omaha’s Baxter Arena for a concert in December 2016, there were plenty of flashing lights and excited fans. “But when the lights go out and the audience starts screaming, there’s no rush like it in the world,” says Andy Ruback, general manager of NRG Media. Ruback knows a great deal about screaming fans—when a big concert comes to town the likelihood is that Ruback had his hand in the planning. His role as general manager has evolved over the years from managing radio stations to include managing events brought to town by NRG Media Live.

The business is a natural fit for NRG, which owns stations ranging from Power 106.9 to 1290 KOIL. The company was looking to the future for broadcasting and leaning toward live shows as a way to increase profitability. NRG used their strengths in connecting people to music to expand into the business of concert production. With the radio stations’ on-air talent knowing their listeners’ preferences, the media company naturally knew what acts had potential to bring in revenue, and which ones might not.

Ruback came to Omaha from Lincoln, where he served as general manager for their NRG stations. Upon his arrival at the NRG offices in Omaha in 2012, Ruback went full speed ahead. He says the intention was never to focus on live shows over radio shows; rather, he called his plans a method for “diversifying for growth.”

Concert production is a challenge that Ruback gladly accepted, but in it, found unique bumps in the road. Some of those bumps included special requirements, such as permits, that needed the legal team’s help. Shock rocker Alice Cooper, for example, required the team to acquire special insurance because of the pyrotechnics involved with his show. Ruback and his team figured out how to get the right insurance, and now know who to ask the next time someone wants to light up fireworks onstage.

Ruback says some of the more surprising challenges he and his team have faced come from smaller, more routine details.

“I would say it’s more about the crowd experience logistics,” Ruback says. “How do we try to work with the arenas to make sure there’s enough concessions on the floor? What should be the entry ticket price? What should be the price for the front row?”

Logistics is the simplest description for the business of producing concerts. Is the specific artist available at the time? Is there enough interest in this artist to fill the seats? Is a venue available on the day needed?

“We could have the great idea, and the right price, but there could be a UNO hockey game and a Lancers game on the night we want, and we’re out of luck,” Ruback says.

It is a revenue stream in which many community businesses desire to participate, and there are many ways for them to participate, including attaching their name to experiences such as meet-and-greets with the band before or after the show, and attaching their name to souvenirs. Attendees at the Train concert, for example, vied for flashing bracelets and cups branded with a sponsor’s logo. Signage prominently displayed throughout Baxter Arena featured sponsor logos.

The scenario is beneficial to everyone involved: the band gets to play to a well-attended venue, the fans get to enjoy the band, and the sponsors get to present their message in an effective way.

“On that day, no other media group is producing a concert,” Ruback says. “So you’re looking at content that advertisers want to be a part of, but no other client can do.”

The diversification proved wildly successful. Ruback says that since 2014, more than 100,000 people have attended an NRG Media Live event. Associate athletic director for University of Nebraska at Omaha Mike Kemp enjoys his business dealings with NRG Media Live and says that when Ruback puts on a concert at Baxter Arena “… it’s not just a concert—it’s an event. He has great vision and ideas and that’s the true charm of what he does.”

“I think NRG Media does a great job of engaging the community to get behind the events,” adds Kemp. NRG Media has the ability to promote coming shows using the radio stations on their roster and their strong social media presence. This equals solid attendance numbers at concerts and happy sponsors.

“Andy’s full of energy and great ideas,” Kemp says of Ruback. “He’s an honest guy with great enthusiasm for what he does.” Rubak’s vision has evolved NRG Media into much more than an organization simply running local radio stations. In fact, the next time there is a popular concert in town, there is an excellent chance that Ruback can be found there, smiling and enjoying the rush.

Visit nrgmedia.com for more information.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Cindy Meister Diaz

March 19, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Cindy Meister Diaz has one heck of a commute. As the general manager of American Airlines in Omaha who lives part-time in Dallas, she frequently commutes from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Omaha’s Eppley Airfield.

Diaz, originally from Scottsbluff, Neb., has been with American Airlines for 24 years. She worked her way through the ranks until she ended up at DFW as the general manager, doing everything from reception to managing the union guys on the ramps.

“I was working in Dallas for about a year and a half or so when the general manager in Omaha got a job in Orange County,” Diaz says. “It was right as we were getting ready to merge with US Airways, so they were looking for an interim to come up here as a commuter.”

It was Omaha itself and a push from her now-husband that led Diaz to apply for the promotion, which was originally supposed to be a six-week stint. After naming a few people she thought would be good for the opportunity, Diaz threw her own name into the discussion and now commutes about every other week back to Dallas.

“My favorite commute is on Friday afternoon when the last flight is going out to Dallas, and I hop on it to spend the weekend with my family. Then I come back Sunday night,” Diaz says.

The flight that is “one hour and 23 minutes at an altitude of 33,000 feet” hasn’t quite become routine for Diaz yet.

“I still love it. I still love the way it feels when you take off, I love a little bit of a bumpy landing,” she says. “And I’m an obsessive crocheter when I fly. I bring my own in-flight entertainment!”

But she’s not alone. American Airlines has more than 25 employees that have crazy commutes. She says her favorite thing is asking a fellow employee where she’s headed and hearing, “Oh, I’m working Rome tonight, I’ll see you Thursday.”

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