All grown up

A CEO's message: From humble beginnings, our company has grown up

David Gow, right, with Houston Astros president Reid Ryan. Photo by Michele Lee Sparks/Archer Sparks

Last week, the son of a good friend came up to our office. It had been a couple of years since I had seen him, so I still envisioned that he would be an 18-year-old high-school kid. But, when he walked in the room, I did a double-take, as he was now a mature young man. The kid had grown up, and he was standing before me ready to talk business.

In some ways, the story illustrates Gow Media. Sometimes I come across people who will ask me: "How is 1560-The-Game doing?"

We are not that young kid anymore. We have matured from a sports radio venture to a multi-platform media company. And we, too, stand before you ready to talk business.

Here's the story of that grown-up company, with the following highlights:

  • ESPN 97.5 FM: Dominant sports ratings.
  • CultureMap: A large wave of growth.
  • SportsMap: New content and record traffic.
  • InnovationMap: A banner start.
  • SB Nation Radio: Elimination of a competitor.
  • The Team: New faces in leadership roles.

ESPN 97.5 FM

A year ago, we secured the No. 1 sports ratings position. This past quarter, we dominated. In the latest Nielsen book, we have the top four sports shows in the city, and five of the top six. The top four: (No. 1) John and Lance; (No. 2) The Blitz; (No. 3) The Usual Suspects; and (No. 4) The Charlie Pallilo Show. In morning and afternoon drive times, our ratings share was higher than our two competitors combined. And more good news: this quarter the Houston Press announced "The Best Radio Station" in Houston. The winner: ESPN 97.5FM.

CultureMap

Last week, more than 1,000 people in Houston turned out for our Tastemakers event, which sold out for the second year in a row. It is an amazing sight to see hundreds of folks line up early at the door. The turnout embodied the growth of CultureMap, where online traffic is soaring. Our Houston editorial team of Steven Devadanam, Eric Sandler, Ken Hoffman and others is on a roll. For that matter, the same is true of our teams statewide. We are experiencing double-digit growth year-over-year, yielding a very large and loyal following.

SportsMap

Our deep pool of sports experts has led to record traffic levels. One fun feature: We get to try new combinations such as videos featuring Raheel with AJ and Granato; Lance paired with AJ; Faour and Pallilo. Other must-see videos include Charlie Pallilo and Joel Blank (aka "one-take-Jake"). And we continue to get great written contributions from Barry Laminack, Joshua Jordan, Jermaine Every, Cody Stoots, Jerry Bo and, of course, SportsMap editor Fred Faour.

InnovationMap

Due to the collective efforts of many, Houston is experiencing a great wave of innovation. And now the city has a media outlet to tell the stories. Launched late last year, and backed by blue-chip sponsors, InnovationMap is off to a great start.

When we were planning the site, we were continually asked: who would be the editor? We found a good answer: Natalie Harms, whose fingerprints are all over the site. Last week Natalie was honored by AAF Houston, given the "Rising Star" award.

SB Nation Radio

In this business where we provide sports shows and updates for other stations across the country, we have faced a very competitive landscape the past four years. Finally, in January one of our competitors, NBC Sports Radio, withdrew from the market — enabling new growth and increasing our reach. Our SB Nation Radio Network is now heard on 600 radio stations across the country.

The Team

This has been an exciting season of growth for our people also.In the past quarter, we promoted Josh Jordan to assistant editor of SportsMap; Tyler Scott became assistant programming director. And, most notably, we tapped AJ Hoffman to become program director for 97.5 FM.

Most everyone knows Fred and AJ as leading show hosts, but they are proving to be far more. As Editor of SportsMap for the past 18 months, Fred has been a catalyst for our growth and success online. With AJ, we are tapping into his natural programming instincts and leadership. I have enjoyed watching their talents extend beyond the show and into management.

Another double-take

Let's give sage Ken Hoffman the last word. Some may recall that Ken was with us for a short while in the early 1560-The-Game days. Two years ago, he returned to write for CultureMap — so he has some perspective, having seen both our youth and maturity.

The other day, he wandered into my office. Looking at Gow Media, it appears Ken had done a double-take. He declared: "I have something to tell you. You have the best group of people and talent now. You really do. This is different than before. You are a real grown-up company now."

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David Gow is CEO of Gow Media, which owns ESPN 97.5 FM, CultureMap, SportsMap, InnovationMap, and SB Nation Radio. He is also host of The Boss and The Gloss on SB Nation Radio.

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Doctors are people too — some are even artists. This Houston organization is shining a light on Houston's multifaceted physicians. Courtesy of Arts of Healing

Image your doctor holding a paintbrush rather than a stethoscope. The Arts of Healing is working to connect patients to their medical professionals in a new way, encouraging a more personal connection that extends beyond the exam room.

Established in 2016 by Lori and Isaac Raijman, The Arts of Healing Foundation is a Houston-based nonprofit organization that unites physicians from the major hospitals throughout the Texas Medical Center to showcase their unique artistic talents and fundraise for local organizations. Over the past three years, the organization has raised $188,000 for charity.

Lori Raijman, founder, worked as a public school teacher for 24 years, introducing art as a voice and vehicle for her students.

"After my teaching career, I started managing my husband's art business, and he is a physician who paints," Raijman tells InnovationMap. "People would come to his office and talk to him about art, their first encounter with him was different because of the connection through the art."

The Arts of Healing hosts an annual art show where physicians exhibit their work, from painting and photography to music. The 2019 show will take place on Friday, November 8, at the Post Oak Hotel and will benefit The Sunshine Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting children who are fighting cancer.

The Arts of Healing is also planning events outside of the annual art show where physicians can spend time with the children supported by The Sunshine Kids Foundation. During these events, medical professionals will bring in art supplies and musical instruments to interact with the children.

"It's a different level of giving back in sharing the love you have for creating through an experience," says Raijman.

Past beneficiaries include Lung Force (2018) and Pancreatic Cancer (2017).

Raijman tells InnovationMap that her first art show was in 2008 at Hotel Zaza with an attendance of some 300 people. "Years passed and I was trying to figure out how to have physicians art rotate through the hospitals," said Raijman. "Some hospitals do show photography of their physicians in the call, but there wasn't an exhibit of art anywhere."

In 2017, Issac Raijman's art was noticed by a friend who worked with River Oaks District that offered to display the art inside the stores.

"It was like a lightbulb just went off," Raijman tells InnovationMap.

She then moved forward with gathering a group of physicians to showcase their art at the retail stores and raise money for charity. Some two dozen physicians participated in the first exhibition and around 2,000 people attended.

"You see the physicians willing to show this vulnerability that we don't normally see and as a patient that is refreshing," says Raijman. She explains that she feels patients usually feel vulnerable when dealing with medical professionals, sharing their most personal information.

The Arts of Healing website states that studies show art supports creativity and practice in medicine, making better physicians; it also enables medical professionals to better connect, empathize with, and support their patients.

"It also unifies the doctors of the Texas Medical Center," says Raijman. "When you think about the Texas Medical Center and the gold mine of talent there and it's not been harnessed together in this way before, that's a unique factor."

Raijman is also planning an event that will take place next year for women in the medical field, bringing together medical professionals from a variety or practices and specializations.