Shawn Dietz - February 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month
The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC are proud to announce Shawn Dietz of OnTheGoMedia, Inc. in Hampton, IA as the February 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month.
OnTheGoMedia is a full-service, community-oriented media company. OnTheGoMedia owns two radio stations – 104.9 KLMJ-FM, Hampton and 98.9 KQCR-FM (99 The Wave), Parkersburg – and helps small businesses market themselves with their broadcast assets as well as online across digital platforms. As Shawn Dietz, Owner and President/General Manager, points out, “When you think about the business we’re in, we’re not really a radio company anymore. We’re a media company and that needs to be the focus for the future: digital media is the future of radio and we need to grab onto that.”
Shawn Dietz purchased the broadcast assets of KLMJ/KQCR and the online property of RadioOnTheGo.com from CD Broadcasting, Inc. in 2023. In high school, he had a strong interest in advertising and marketing management. “When you take that and my other interests in music and media, combine them all together, there’s really only one thing I could do professionally,” Shawn said. Shawn started at CD Broadcasting in 2009 as a part-time board operator. He came into the business with little experience but a strong desire to find the right path for himself. Shawn said, “It was the Great Recession and I was coming out of working a factory job. When that facility closed, I got some advice from a co-worker who told me ‘Things look down right now but you just look at it as an opportunity. Instead of going to work and doing a job you don’t want to do, look for something you do want to do.’ And I took that to heart.” During his years under the tutelage of previous owner Craig Donnelly at CD Broadcasting, Shawn developed a deep knowledge to accompany his passion for radio. In 2022, Donnelly reached out and asked if Shawn would be interested in buying the business. He said yes and began planning.
Shawn reached out to Brook Boehmler, Director of the North Iowa Area SBDC, to ask for his guidance on the entire range of issues of buying and running a business. Shawn said, “Brook was very transparent and made me feel comfortable to ask any question. Since I was buying an existing business, we went through financing, how to assess fair value, how does the cash flow work, and how to identify any potential trouble areas.” Shawn also credited his community partners in Hampton for their support. “I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off without community partners. First Bank Hampton stepped up to the plate, and acknowledged that unless the radio station was bought by someone in the community, it was very likely it would be sold to one of the larger or even national companies that have no local interest whatsoever. It’s very important to this community and the communities around us that we have this business, not only as a radio station but as a growing media presence to help inform, to entertain, and to help market our local businesses.”
OnTheGoMedia is both future-focused and community-focused. Under Shawn’s leadership, the business is adapting to meet modern challenges and customer needs. “Adapting is a process that will never be complete. There’s always going to be something new. I don’t want to see us fight the trends. I want to see us meet our audience where they’re going,” he said. OnTheGoMedia now offers streaming radio stations and local content podcasts in addition to their broadcasts. They also provide comprehensive marketing plans for local businesses. Shawn noted that their website is currently getting a facelift with these goals in mind: providing greater access to their audience in the formats they want.
OnTheGoMedia is a key resource for North Iowa business. Shawn noted, “It’s not necessarily unique for a radio station to offer these products but what is unique is our knowledge of the demographics in the area and the challenges in attracting the market to a small business in a rural area.” Shawn is looking forward to continuing to grow OnTheGoMedia. “For 30 years KLMJ has been going along great at cruising altitude at 35,000 feet. My goal is to turn on the digital button and take us to the next level, up to 45,000 feet and see if we can fly higher and fly straighter. Let’s see if we can make things more efficient by utilizing technology and opening some of those doors.”