Photo of Jeff Smulyan

Jeff Smulyan

Chairman, CEO and Founder, Emmis Communications Corporation; Board of Councilors, USC Annenberg

Jeffrey H. Smulyan serves as founder and chairman of the board of Emmis Communications Corporation, an Indianapolis-based media company principally focused on radio broadcasting with stations in five U.S. markets. Jeff is the leading advocate of getting FM-enabled wireless devices in smartphones. He shepherded the unification of the radio industry behind the installation of the Emmis-created NextRadio application in a broad array of FM-enabled wireless devices, allowing consumers to listen to their local radio stations without data charges. 

Smulyan formed and became principal shareholder of Emmis in 1980. A public company since 1994 (NASDAQ:EMMS), Emmis owns 11 FM and three AM radio stations in New York, Austin and Indianapolis. Emmis developed and licenses TagStation; developed NextRadio, a smartphone application that pairs FM radio broadcasts with visual and interactive features on smartphones; and created DialReport, a data attribution platform for the radio industry. Emmis also owns a controlling interest in Digonex, which provides dynamic pricing solutions across multiple industries, and its hometown Indianapolis Monthly magazine. Emmis owns one of the world’s top hip-hop brands, HOT 97 in New York City. 

Smulyan is a former director of the National Association of Broadcasters, former chair of the Radio Advertising Bureau, past chair of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and a member of numerous civic boards and committees. As principal shareholder, he led a group that purchased the Seattle Mariners baseball team in 1989. He also served on the Major League Baseball ownership and television committees. 

Smulyan has been recognized as a “Giant of Broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting, received the National Association of Broadcasters’ National Radio Award, and was inducted in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Indiana Business Hall of Fame. The Broadcasters’ Foundation honored him with its Golden Mike Award. In 2017, he received the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Emmis was named one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for its vibrant, collaborative culture. 

In 1994, Smulyan was named by the White House to head the U.S. Delegation to the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunications Union. As a U.S. ambassador, he helped negotiate a landmark agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

A cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California with a BA in History and Telecommunications, Smulyan earned a Juris Doctor degree from USC School of Law, where he served as note and comment editor of the USC Law Review. Smulyan resides in Indianapolis with his wife, Heather. He has three children: Samantha, Cari and Bradley, and one grandson, Liam.