iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network (BIN), which launched with great fanfare in June, aims to be “the most trusted and the most used source for audio news for the Black community,” BIN President Tony Coles says. “It’s an aggressive goal,” he admits. “If we go into work every day with that as our mission and we do everything we can to make sure that we are credible and trusted and respected, and we are telling our story to as many people as we can every day, we believe that we can achieve that.”
Coles was the featured guest on the National Association of Broadcasters podcast series, speaking with NAB Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Duke, where he provided a firsthand account on the launch of the network.
The business model of the network allows Coles and his team to focus on quality reporting and not ratings. The network instead relies on sponsorship support from a group of founding partners, including Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe, and Verizon.
“Under a traditional model, we would be very focused on ratings, because ratings would dictate what we would be able to do from a revenue standpoint. Under those models we would have to turn to sensationalized journalism in a lot of cases,” Coles explains. “We were very upfront with our advertisers, and our founding partners, that this network would be built first on quality journalism and we wanted to align ourselves with companies that were comfortable with that.”
Since its June 30 launch, Coles says “the reception has exceeded our expectations.” The warm reception is not just from listeners, but also from other radio groups. “They want to see us grow and do well,” he continues. Some groups, he says, would like to use some of BIN’s content, which is another goal of the network.
“I want to find a way to make our content available to other broadcasters,” Coles says. “This is much more than a business decision for us. We believe that if we have the ability to share content with others, we want to do that.”