A record crowd at the Broadcasters Foundation’s annual Golden Mike Award dinner feted Perry Sook, the founder of Nexstar Media Group, who praised the expanding mission of the charity and pledged a $100,000 donation to further its work.
Perry Sook, the chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar Media Group, accepted the 2019 Golden Mike Award from the Broadcasters Foundationof America on Wednesday, at a black tie dinner packed with leaders of the television industry.
Sook, who launched his company with a single station in Scranton, Pa., has built it into what is likely to soon be the largest station group in the U.S., if the company completes its pending acquisition of Tribune Media.
Industry leaders including Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, ribbed Sook for his perpetual tan and resemblance to former House Speaker John Boehner. They also praised him repeatedly as the maverick who obtained the first cash payments from cable operators under retransmission consent rules, kicking off an industry revenue stream that today totals $26 billion.
Accepting the award in front of the largest crowd ever assembled for the annual Broadcasters Foundation dinner, Sook praised the 9200 employees of “Nexstar Nation,” and announced that 2018 was the first year in which the company generated more revenue from non-TV advertising sources than it did from TV.
“Business as usual is not an option for us,” Sook said. “We are a local media business and broadcasting is just one tool for distributing local content.
“Every digital media company would love to have the exposure that TV companies do,” Sook continued. “We need to focus on the assets we have and not the business we are in.”
The most important of those assets, Sook said, are the journalists, sales people and others who work at its stations. “Our best ideas come from our local stations, not the home office,” he said. “We need to facilitate work environments, engage employees and ask them what they think.
“Local media companies are uniquely equipped to survive,” Sook said. “We distribute content across all screens, the TIP initiative is making it easier for agencies to do business with us and ATSC 3.0 brings new opportunities. I am extremely hopeful that these initiatives will bear fruit and be future watersheds for our industry.”
Sook praised the work of the Broadcasters Foundation, noting that two dozen Nexstar employees at the company’s Panama City station, WMBB, received $2,000 grants after their lives were upended during Hurricane Michael.
The foundation, in fact, has expanded its mission, Sook said, providing assistance not just to broadcasters who have fallen on hard times due to injury or illness, but also to those whose affected by natural disasters.
“Sandy and I and the Sook family thank the foundation for a job well done,” Sook said, “and so we’re announcing this evening we’ll be making a $100,000 donation to the foundation this evening.”