As a radio executive with almost 40 years of experience, E. Steven Collins understands the power of broadcast within the urban marketplace.
Collins, who is the director of urban marketing and external relations for Radio One Inc., has played an integral role in helping to shape public opinions.
“We helped to get Wilson Goode elected. We helped to get Barack Obama elected. There is a role so vital in a big city, urban radio space,” Collins said in regard to Radio One’s impact.
An integral part of his position at Radio One entails focusing on sales to major corporations nationally.
“What we do is try to figure out what advertisers need, and we create a program that addresses those needs in a way that is unique to our experiences as African Americans,” said Collins, who been an executive with the multimedia company for the last 10 years.
In the external relations aspect of his role, Collins promotes Philadelphia Radio One stations, 100.3 WRNB, 103.9 Praise and Hot 107.9. Radio One Philadelphia reaches 70 percent of the African-American market every week.
“The external relations part of my job is promoting Radio One and letting people know what we are, who we are and our history. I just love that because a lot of people in Philly are just learning what Radio One is and the kind of things that we involve ourselves in — everything from encouraging people to register to vote to teaching our children to understand their sexual behaviors so that if they have a problem they know where to go,” said Collins, who is a Philadelphia native.
Founded by Catherine Hughes, Radio One is a multimedia company that targets African American and urban consumers. The company owns and/or operates 53 broadcast stations in 15 markets throughout the United States.
Collins also hosts “Philly Speaks” on 107.9 WRNB-FM that features a panel of local and national guests on Sunday mornings.
He has experienced many highlights throughout his nearly 40-year career in the radio industry.
One highlight includes his work with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists to create and develop a televised mayoral debate from the campus of Drexel University that attracted a national and local media coverage.
Collins has appeared on various local and national television news programs including Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, Comcast Newsmakers, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and CNN Newsroom with Rick Sanchez.
Collins started out in radio back in 1973 at WRTI at Temple University. Since then, he’s worked for numerous stations including WHYY, WHAT, WBLS and WDAS-AM/FM, Power 99.
Throughout his years in the industry, Collins has encountered a number of key figures in radio and print media. He credits individuals such as columnist Art Peters; radio personalities Joe “Butterball” Tamburro, Mary Mason and Georgie Woods and journalist Chuck Stone as having a significant impact on his career.
“For me, when I think about my career, these are the people who held my hand. These are the people whose shoulders I stood on,” said Collins.
For 12 years, Collins produced the annual African American Greek Picnic in Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Va. and Long Island, N.Y.
Collins was a part of the team that produced Unity Day, an annual festival that drew millions to the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The event, which started in 1978, had a 30-year run.
He says that it’s important for young people who are interested in pursuing a career in radio to have a good command of the English language.
“Words are our business in this industry. The first most important thing that they can do is understand writing and understand English. No one’s going to give you an award for that, but in the end, people are going to recognize the power that you have when you articulate your thoughts powerfully,” he stressed.
He said it’s also important for young people to seek out internship opportunities and mentors early on.
Collins serves as chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. He is a board member of Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Non-Violence, the Multicultural Affairs Congress of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ivy Legacy Foundation. He is also involved with Concerned Black Men of Philadelphia.
Collins is a graduate of Temple University, where he majored in radio, television and film. He is married to Lisa Duhart Collins and has two sons.