SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40



Photo: GOOD KARMA BROADCASTING
Craig Karmazin draws his business distinction because of his stature in the world of sports radio. The son of former Sirius XM Radio CEO Mel Karmazin, he parlayed a $3.5 million loan in 1997 into a string of 12 sports radio stations across the country, stretching from Florida to Wisconsin, eight of which are ESPN-affiliated.

But one of the main areas of focus for Karmazin over the past year — which is only tangentially associated with sports talk radio — illustrates why Karmazin is being honored here.

A bank asked Karmazin to develop a radio marketing plan around the Green Bay Packers. Karmazin realized that radio alone would not be enough, so the executive hatched a plan to buy some of the homes that are adjacent to Lambeau Field. A week after starting a search, he closed on deals for three of the homes, which he now calls the Tundra Trio, and has set them up as luxury destinations for fans who want to see Lambeau.

“We have a unique ability to act on a dime and do something like that,” Karmazin said.

Another example of Karmazin’s knack of knowing his home market came in 2010, when he was negotiating an appearance deal with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, considering his company’s Wisconsin radio stations. Karmazin never wavered, signing the deal at a time when Rodgers had missed two games with a concussion and his team was only 8-6.

“Two months later, he was the Super Bowl MVP,” Karmazin said. “Aaron Rodgers had been unbelievable to us when we had no contract. We want to make commitments to the right types of people. He was the right type of person.”

Industry executives have taken notice of Karmazin’s resolve and tenacity.

“Some guys in his position might coast,” said Traug Keller, ESPN’s senior vice president of production and business divisions. “Craig goes full throttle and then some. His dad may be working for him someday.”

— John Ourand



Age: 37
Title: President/CEO
ORGANIZATION: Good Karma Broadcasting
Education: BBA, Goizueta Business School, Emory University
Family:Wife, Kelli; daughter, Harper (2)
Career: Upon graduating from college, Karmazin launched Good Karma Broadcasting with the purchase of three radio stations in Wisconsin. The company now operates 12 stations and their respective digital assets, including ESPN Cleveland, ESPN Milwaukee, ESPN Madison and ESPN West Palm (Fla.).

First Job: Selling bikes and exercise equipment at The Sports Authority
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?: My daughter and our dogs
Best business advice received: Be fair, be honest, be a good teammate, and create an environment where everyone has a voice.
Worst advice received: Don’t go into business with your degenerate friends from high school. (Those childhood friends now have prominent roles at Good Karma stations.)
TWITTER HANDLE: @craigkarmazin
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: Team, family-oriented. Always raising the bar & rising to the next challenge. The game is never over & it’s all about winning the right way.
Farthest traveled from U.S.: Nagano
Pet peeve: People who think they are a finished product
Guilty pleasure: A terrible romantic comedy with Kelli every Sunday night
Favorite movie line: “I’ll have a bloody mary and a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich.” (“Fletch”)

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