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Living The Radio Dream

By Ed Ryan

How many of us have dreamed that dream of heading back to small-town America, buying that first radio station we waltzed through as a young aggressive radio rat and living happily ever after? They are the thousands of small town America stations blanketing tiny main streets across the fruited plain where the priorities range from announcing obituaries, school lunch menus, a lost cat and interviewing the Mayor about a ribbon cutting for a new park. To put things into perspective, they are radio stations that bill the same amount of money in one month as WTOP bills in five hours. But as Cromwell Group President Bud Walters tells Radio Ink in our January 23rd cover interview; "The folks that work there have to want to be in that community. They have to want to be a part of that town. They have to care about where they live. If that’s the case, they will do everything they possibly can to make that place better."

                                  LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW WITH MAYNARD MEYER HERE

Fifty-nine-year-old Maynard Meyer is living the radio dream. Meyer is the co-owner of Q-92 FM, 25,000-watt FM in the tiny town of Madison Minnesota, not to be confused with Madison, Wisconsin. Nearly 30 years ago, Meyer sat at his desk, opened a road atlas and with his ruler and a pencil drew a coverage map so he could apply for a station with the FCC. A station he hoped to use to spread local news and community information. Meyer received approval and put the station on the air in January of 1983. Q-92 covers seven counties in a 60 mile radius. Today, without a doubt, Meyer is the biggest fish in that pond.

Meyer isn't too concerned about how to get his radio station on a mobile device or how he'll compete with an Internet music service. His number one priority is to super-serve his community and it's hard to believe anyone would be able to accomplish that goal any better. Not only does Meyer co-own the station, he's the morning man, General Manager and Chief Engineer. He's also the Executive Director at the Chamber of Commerce and the longest serving member of the Madison City Council. He also runs Madison's only local access cable TV station from a back office at the radio station. He has taken community involvement to a level few other people have.

This fall, Meyer was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Send Maynard a note HERE

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We bought a daytime 1000 watt AM with the land (important) that was 100% off of the "Bird" and went to music driven "Live Radio, Real People In Real time" over a period of 6 months in 2001. We play CD's, LP's, 45's and some 78's and do not sound like the "Clear Channel chick singer" plastic banana stations. We play Country/ Americana/ Acoustic and report to 3 charts. I was told this wasn't supposed to work. No Football. No Basketball. I pick the music. We're with you live after every song. No one complained when I changed it and people do say "Thank god for what you're doing". My daughter said "Dad, you bought a dairy parlor". Pretty much. Yes I'm on air too much. We do have some part timers. No one getting rich but we do have loyal listeners who appreciate us being live and a leader in both new and old music. You've got to play it really close to the vest and you've got to want to do it. Would we do better in a less poor area? Sure. But so far I don't see listings for the station(license), tower, studio, and 3 acres going for prices anywhere near what the spot rate can support when you get to "nice" areas. Or you get yourself highly leveraged and are at the mercy of the slightest downturn, you know like car dealers. The key is "Close To The Vest".

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