Alumni Achievement Award

Craig Swimm

Senior Vice President, Audacy Springfield

Craig Swimm today (above) and as a 40 Under Forty winner in 2007.

Craig Swimm today (above) and as a 40 Under Forty winner in 2007.

Craig Swimm was in the very first class of 40 Under Forty honorees.

That’s was 2007, for those who don’t know the history. And for Swimm, who would turn 40 just a few months later, he acknowledged that this would be his only shot at attaining that honor.

As he reflected on all that has changed since he received his plaque on the stage at the Log Cabin that spring, Craig paused a second, said “wow,” and then paused again as if deciding where and how to start.

Indeed, there have been momentous changes, in his own life and career obviously, and in radio and with his broadcast group, which now includes 94.7 WMAS, sports station 105.5 WEEI, and a new Spanish station, Nueva 98.1 WHLL. And in general, with the Great Recession, other economic ups and downs, a pandemic and its aftermath, the emergence of social media, and so much more.

As for radio and the changes that have come to the industry and his group in particular, Swimm had to do some counting.

“Let’s see — there’s been one, two, three mergers, two bankruptcies, and a lot of other changes,” he said while giving the Readers Digest version of the progression from Citadel Broadcasting, which he served as sales manager when named a Forty Under 40 honoree, to the entity known as Audacy, a huge group with a presence in more than 100 markets, including Greater Springfied.

But what he chose to focus on more is what hasn’t changed over all that time — the team at Audacy Springfield, which has remained largely intact over those years, even through mergers and downturns in the economy; the fact that station WMAS remains live and local, at a time when far fewer stations can make those claims; and especially the stations’ commitment to the community.

That commitment, through Swimm’s direction, now includes everything from book drives to job fairs to the hugely successful radiothon to benefit Baystate Children’s Hospital, which, in many ways, eptoimizes the station’s commitment to the community and Swimm’s own desire to use its impresssive reach to make an impact.

“Success to Craig is watching his team become better versions of themselves.”

“We’ve raised more than $4 million since we started this,” he said, adding quickly that the station’s efforts have also yielded books, winter coats, bike helmets, and much more.

Those who nominated Swimm for the Alumni Achievement Award — and there were several from Audacy Springfield that did so — described him as a caring and effective manager, but also a mentor.

Craig Swimm (center) with Dina McMahon and Chris Kellogg from the WMAS Kellogg Krew.

Craig Swimm (center) with Dina McMahon and Chris Kellogg from the WMAS Kellogg Krew.

“Success to Craig is watching his team become better versions of themselves,” wrote Chris Duggan, an account executive. “That can be said for current employees, but also past employees who have gone on to new careers. They all will say that they owe their success to Craig for the type of manager and mentor he was.”

Dina McMahon, an on-air personality and member of the Kellogg Krew, agreed, and talked about something she called Swimm’s ‘1% philosophy.’

“Craig has strongly supported many local organizations, but he is always looking to make something bigger, better, stronger,” she wrote. “His philosophy is always do 1% better today than the day before, and he lives by that motto.

“One of our biggest community efforts is the 94.7 WMAS Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Radiothon for Baystate Children’s Hospital,” McMahon added. “Each year, Craig spearheads the station’s effort, encouraging more sponsors to support the cause, coming up with new and innovative ideas to encourage donations and volunteers. And he is the first to say after the event, ‘OK, let’s meet and come up with new ideas for next year.’”

Lucie Rubba, sales planner and administrator at Audacy Springfield, had this to say: “Craig possesses an exceptional resourcefulness, consistently navigating through challenges with adeptness and resilience. His ability to improvise effectively when faced with obstacles underscores his leadership prowess, demonstrating fairness and astuteness in all his endeavors. He embraces every challenge with open arms, whether it’s a 3K run/walk, a food drive, or particularly an event for children. He is invariably present, ready to lend his support in any capacity needed.”

For his part, Swimm said his job comes down to leading Audacy Springfield through the myriad challenges now facing all radio stations and groups — and all media outlets, for that matter — and also making sure that Greater Springfield, one of the smaller markets in the huge Audacy portfolio, is heard loud and clear. And while doing that, he’s always looking for new ways to make an impact within the community.

“Every day is a little different,” he acknowledged. “But I’m always focused on our two clients — the listeners and our advertisers. Every one of my decisions involves making sure we’re putting out a good product and that we’re connecting to the community.”

He points to numerous success stories, but especially the CMN radiothon and the job fairs, conducted in conjunction with MassHire Springfield, that are staged at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The job fairs have changed and evolved as the economy has, he told BusinessWest, noting that, most recently, they’ve become a way for employers struggling to fill openings to become visible and tell their stories to those looking to enter the job market or take their next career step.

“We started during the Great Recession, and I think we’ve found jobs for 10,000 people since we started this,” he explained. “Back then, we had three companies and 5,000 people show up; now we have 40 companies and 300 people show up. I’m super proud of it because we’ve found so many people jobs; people have walked out of these expos who were hired on the spot. They’re walking through the Hall of Fame, and they’re saying, ‘I got hired.’ They’re happy, there’s tears, and … you’re part of that.”

He’s been part of a great many things since he joined the 40 Under Forty club 17 years ago, and he’s continously looking for ways to add to that list, while continuing to be an effective manager and mentor. This is the very definition of the Alumni Achievement Award and the reason why Swimm is now a finalist for that honor.

—George O’Brien