A cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California with a B.A. 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.
After operating two radio stations – WNTS in Indianapolis and KCRO in Omaha - Smulyan formed and became principal shareholder of Emmis in 1980. A public company since 1994, Emmis owns and operates 20 FM and 2 AM radio stations in the nation’s largest markets; six local, regional and national magazine operations; and radio stations in Slovakia and Bulgaria. In 1995, Emmis became the first company to own top-rated stations in New York and Los Angeles simultaneously.
A former director of the National Association of Broadcasters and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau, Smulyan served as past chair of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a consortium of CEOs from central Indiana’s largest corporations, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the University of Southern California. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of Finish Line, Inc., an athletic apparel company. He is a member of numerous civic boards and committees. As principal shareholder, he led a group that purchased the Seattle Mariners baseball team in 1989, selling the club three years later. During that time, Smulyan served on the Major League Baseball owner's Ownership and Television committees.
In 2000, Smulyan was honored with the American Women in Radio and Television’s Silver Satellite Award, the National Association of Broadcasters’ National Radio Award, and as Radio Ink’s “Radio Executive of the Year.” In 1995, the radio industry newspaper, R & R, voted Smulyan one of the 10 most influential radio executives of the past two decades. He received the American Women in Radio and Television's Star Award in 1994 and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young the following year. In 2004, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Other honors include the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Breath of Life Award; the Jewish National Fund's Tree of Life Award; the Indianapolis Business Journal's Entrepreneur of the Year Award; the Leukemia Society Diamond of Hope Award; the State of Indiana’s “Sagamore of the Wabash”; and he has been inducted into the Indiana Business Hall of Fame. In 2006, The Broadcasters’ Foundation honored him with its Golden Mike Award in recognition of his charitable efforts.
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 United States Ambassador, he represented the U.S. in various bilateral meetings, negotiating a landmark agreement between Israel and the PLO.
In 2005 Emmis was named one of FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Smulyan, who enjoys sports, politics and reading, resides in Indianapolis with his wife, Heather. He has three children: Samantha, Cari and Bradley.