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Business Observer Friday, May 29, 2015 3 years ago

Radio activity

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Jamie Meloni created a platform to share the business success of others. His next goal: Make a profit doing it.
by: Michael Hinman Tampa Bay Reporter

Jamie Meloni wakes up at 5:30 every morning, and is typically on the road from his Lutz home by 6:30.

It's a great way for the Coldwell Banker real estate agent to beat the morning traffic, but that's not the office Meloni heads to. Instead, he goes to the Gandy Boulevard headquarters of iHeartRadio — the company formerly known as Clear Channel Communications.

There, Meloni gets behind the microphone at WHNZ-AM for a daily hour-long program, “That Business Show,” which introduces listeners to Tampa Bay entrepreneurs and business leaders. The show, he says, focuses on positive programming with clear-cut business principles.

“I was tired of hearing all the negativity, all the divisive political talk, and wanted to do something for the community,” says Meloni, who started on WHNZ last year with a weekly show before transitioning into a daily program earlier this year.

Like many hosts on WHNZ, Meloni isn't an iHeartRadio employee. He instead brokers airtime. He spends $12,000 a month to control the hour, and another $500 to stream the broadcast online. That gives Meloni complete say over what he puts on the airwaves, and he can sell as much -- or as little -- advertising as he wants to offset costs or make a profit.

“I'm not there yet; I'm still losing money,” Meloni says. “But that's OK, because the first year is all about building the audience.”

Many of his sponsors are small businesses that need to justify how each dollar spent will create a return. Meloni aims to balance that with more patient larger sponsors that could take “That Business Show” from an expensive hobby to a new career beyond real estate.

“Every time I bring a guest on the show, I get exposed to their networks,” Meloni says. “I make a show card for them so that they can promote it in their social spaces, and if I can get those listeners onboard for one show, I might be able to get them back for future ones as well.”

Meloni is a West Virginia transplant who originally worked as a chemist for a predecessor business to The Mosaic Co. Meloni got into real estate in 2006, and he shifted his focus to bank-owned properties after the crash. In late 2013 he bought an hour a week on WHNZ to help build his real estate client base.

“I started to bring in business owners, and eventually they weren't necessarily real estate-related,” Meloni says. “I found a platform for these people they didn't really have otherwise, and so it was a good natural step to take it daily.”

Many of Meloni's guests come from the Working Women of Tampa Bay business networking group and marketing firm Elevate Inc. President Aakash Patel, a highly connected business leader. Meloni also welcomes community leaders who reach out to him directly, especially if they have a story to tell or strategy to share. Recent guests include inventor and business analyst Ron Klein and Jamie Harden of Creative Sign Designs.

“There are a wealth of guests out there with plenty to share,” Meloni says. “The trends, the practices, it's all important. In the end, you can say almost everything in life is connected to business.”

I'll Be Here All Week
Before he found radio, Jamie Meloni tried his hand at comedy for a year. He auditioned once for the NBC reality competition show “Last Comic Standing.”

Standup comedy, he says, can really toughen a person to many of the uncertainties in life. That includes failure and rejection in business.

“Once you stand up in front of an audience, in front of a hundred people, who could turn on you at any second, there's nothing else that can scare you,” Meloni says.

Follow Michael Hinman on Twitter @BizTampaBay

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