‘Find your passion,’ radio exec tells students on homecoming to USU

LOGAN—John Dimick, an Aggie alumnus and corporate vice president for radio programming, came home to Utah State Friday to give students and faculty a glimpse of where the radio business is heading, and to talk about the life lessons he still carries from USU. “The medium is changing for news but it’s not dying,” Dimick told an audience about 50 as part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. Dimick is vice president for radio programming and operations for Lincoln Financial Media in Atlanta, supervising the corporation’s 15 radio stations in San Diego, Denver, Atlanta and Miami. Dimick came to USU in the 1980s as a “country boy” from Helper, Utah, who, at 7:30 a.m. on his first day of class, found twice as many people in his very first USU history lecture as had been in his entire high school graduating class. That first class at USU changed Dimick’s life, he said, because he connected with his professor, historian Ross Peterson. Peterson is now USU’s vice president for development, but in the 1980s, he made all the difference for Dimick on his first day of class. “I felt like he was looking right at me, like he was talking to me,” Dimick said. He didn’t want to let his professor down. “This professor made me want to engage, made me want to do better. He looked at me; when he lectured it was like he was lecturing to me.” Dimick—who says he was on the “eight-year plan” to complete his USU degree—took a couple of years off and ultimately came back to USU. Peterson, who was head of the history department, helped him graduate in history after trying many other majors even though he already had launched his radio career. As he spoke Friday to an audience that included his former professor, Dimick teared up. “One of the things that you find as you’re going forward is the people who make a difference in your life,” he said. Those life lessons have stayed with Dimick over the 20 years in radio since he left Logan. He has been program director and manager of radio stations across the country, including KVNU and Q92 in Logan, and Hot97 in New York, the biggest hip-hop station in the country. Now his job is to consult with his company’s 15 big-market radio stations to keep them competitive. “I’m a small-town guy, but where you come from doesn’t mean that’s where you have to go,” he said. “For me, I came to USU because Salt Lake was too big. The irony is that now I’ve lived in New York, LA, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake. Sometimes being that stubborn country boy who won’t take no for an answer was how to get a job done.” Radio, he said, is far from an obsolete medium. While radio may be considered an “old” medium, Dimick said, it reaches over 97 percent of Americans 6 years and older. When Twitter can put 55,000 people in Giants Stadium for a hip-hop concert—as one of Dimick’s radio stations did—or when Facebook can reach as much of the population as radio; or “When Pandora can come on the air and send hundreds of thousands of tons of food to Haiti or New Orleans [as radio stations have done], then tell me that radio doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

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