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Derrick Jones

What is your official title?

I am a Director at Cumulus Media.


What’s an average day in the ‘Zoo look like for you?

There’s no such thing! Usually I start my day kicking off a sales meeting at the office, recapping the client’s expectations, going over proposals, promotions, things like that. So in my role, I’m responsible for overall operations of sales and marketing; we have a team in Kalamazoo and a team in Battle Creek. With our four stations that we run, the team is out in the field selling radio commercials to businesses in Southwest Michigan. I myself am helping develop media plans, and setting up some structure for my team.

I always try to do lunch with someone that’s not for business reasons so I can stay involved in what’s going on in our community, stay engaged with the events, business development, those types of things. Business meetings sometimes become the lunch priority, but if I can take 45-60 minutes to get together with someone not related to the business I absolutely do it.

The rest of the day is for conference calls, sometimes to corporate, which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. I run training sessions for sales and marketing for things like time management, processes and strategies to help the seller in the field – pretty much anything that’s going to help them be successful to increase not only our sales, but the revenue and the success of the businesses they are working with. On Fridays we have a round table, kind of an open forum, and pick everyone’s brains on what went on during the week to see if we can share ideas they came across to stimulate some innovative and diverse thinking. These people are hitting close to 200 companies a week, and they are meeting with decision makers to help grow their businesses, so it’s important to take the time to do this. It’s also great because then we all get a pulse on the business environment of Southwest Michigan.

Outside of my “corporate type” job, I am very involved in ballooning! I’ve directed events in the midwest for 15 years, mostly in the state of Michigan. I created my own non-profit called Holiday Balloon Fest. It was a mission of creating a balloon event that was focused on families and children from ages 1-18 years. We started small with seven balloons, and then we grew to having thirteen, and it’s great to see that we’ve increased the number of balloons and sponsors over the past 15 years. I also direct an event in Frankenmuth annually. It’s just nice to see the awareness of the sport take off – what started with a dozen people years ago has now turned to over 300 people on the team, and we’re still growing!


What kind of projects are you currently working on?

As far as Cumulus, there are several projects going on. We are focusing on category percentages, and a huge project for me for Q3 and 4 is increasing the auto industry category. I spent 12 years of my life working in the automobile industry, so I know a lot of these folks. There are 54 main dealerships in our area that stretch from Jackson to Lansing, Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo, Battle Creek to Coldwater; it’s crazy how many we have on this side of the state!

From a community standpoint, I do around 40 events a year, both personally and through work. The one I’m most excited about currently is the High on Kalamazoo Balloon Fest happening September 27-29th at the Air Zoo. There has been a mission to bring ballooning to Kalamazoo that started years ago, and we were approached by members of the Air Zoo to bring this signature event to their space honoring their mission to preserve the legacy of flight for present and future generations. What’s so cool about this is that the first ballooning event that was held in the U.S. was in 1963, so 50 years ago, and it was held in Kalamazoo! So this is our 50th anniversary of ballooning as a sanctioned sport. There will be neat events and competitions happening all weekend for the community to observe. Both cities of Kalamazoo and Portage have been extremely supportive in getting this thing off the ground, and we are so excited to have it come to fruition.


Any upcoming events that you’re particularly excited about?

High on Kalamazoo Balloon Fest! Cumulus is also a part of all of the events that go on downtown, we are very involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters and March of Dimes, so we always find fun ways to participate in their events.


What do you love most about Kalamazoo?

I was born and raised in Battle Creek, so I visited Kalamazoo quite often as a kid. But living here now is amazing. When you’re here, there’s just an atmosphere of feeling alive, you know? It’s diverse, it’s fun, it’s booming; the growth is amazing! There’s new buildings going up all the time, new companies coming into town, renovating buildings into condos and lofts – it’s just a lot of fun. I love bringing my family and friends here to have dinner or walk around downtown. There are just so many things to do, and I really enjoy sharing that time with my family at least once a week.

I also am a big runner, and the running groups in Kalamazoo are amazing. The people are amazing, from nutrition to basic health and wellness information, they are always there and supporting their runners. Gazelle has done so much to support all of these local runs, have Urban Herd on Wednesdays, they help organize Run Camp to train for a half or full marathon, and they teach you to do it in the proper ways. I’m currently training for my first full marathon in Detroit, and they’ve been very helpful.


What can be done to improve our beloved Kalamazoo?

I think we’re doing it! There is more information about downtown’s development getting out to the public, the medical school going in and having that space located downtown is great. I know of eight businesses in the area coming up within the next two years, so I think the vision that the city has cast with small business growth has continued to be a success. The growth of the colleges just brings a diverse group of people into our community, which is wonderful. The health and wellness initiatives continue to strengthen. And you want it all to be sustainable, so I think we have a good grasp on that right now.


What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

Well, I learned to fly before I learned to drive, and you learn all sorts of things, with that. It’s all about growing up and continuing to learn with everything you do.


What have you been jammin’ to recently? What’s on the iPod?

The last song I listened to was Macklemore. I love my tunes, I sing in the shower, I sing everywhere, I don’t really care if anyone’s listening or not! I listen to Top 40, and country music – it’s the fastest growing genre by about 10%.


What is next up on your reading list?

I read eBooks and I keep up on the news. I read investments, Bloomberg; to me, if I can keep up with current events and happenings, you know those are the key things that are going on that are driving our success personally and regionally, so I’d rather read up on the news to stay educated and on top of things.


How do you take your coffee?…or do you?

Starbucks, vanilla latte – skinny.


What is your favorite app to use?

Facebook is number one. And then stocks, and weather!


Do you have a “go to” spot in Kalamazoo?

The Union. Food Dance is also one of my favorites. I can go their every Sunday for a mimosa and lunch. Away from downtown, I do really enjoy Fieldstone Grill.


Derrick, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Be sure to follow us on facebook and twitter for updates.