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Radio's Report Card From Bud Walters


Cromwell Group President Bud Walters is perhaps the definitive successful small-market operator. His deliberate and smart approach to building a company has served him well over the years. Hes achieved his goal of serving local communities with a great broadcast product, and his willingness to share his successes and experience with others has earned him a stellar reputation throughout the radio industry. Today, the Cromwell Group consists of 22 stations in towns like Decatur, Effingham, Mattoon, and Vandalia. And throughout the years, Walters has stuck to his plan of looking for undeveloped and underdeveloped stations and and achieving his mission of serving the community. The story of Walters' path to success is detailed in the latest issue of Radio Ink magazine. In it, he looks into his radio crystal ball. Here is a snippet of what he had to say.

"I think we have a great future. We have to find ways for what we do, from a programming standpoint, to be important to somebody. Then we have to make it available to them on whatever device they want it on. That includes smartphones, and obviously the dashboard, with however that changes, and anything else coming down the pipe. From a business standpoint, the fact is, more people are listening to radio now than ever before. If the numbers are correct, 93 percent of the population listens to radio. Its like 235 million-240 million people a week. Those are really huge numbers. It doesnt mean that people arent listening to other services, but thats always been the case. People just have more choices now. Our challenge is to be one of those choices."

"On the advertising side, in a small town, we do have more bigbox stores than we used to have. We just have to keep finding different kinds of clients to do business with us. As the national people come in and go out, you just have to find ways to work with them. I am on the Executive Committee of the Radio Advertising Bureau. RAB is doing some wonderful things not everybody in the industry knows about it right now. The data resources that RAB has, folks are using them more than they ever have before. You can find all the copy you ever wanted. You can find all the information you want about any kind of industry. You can sign up for the articles. RAB has a new customer management system that about 2,000 people are using, small- and large-market broadcasters."

Bryan Broadcasting Vice President Ben Downs says of his friend, Bud didnt pull records for Mr. Marconi, but he has played a role in a significant percentage of radios development. Hes always been willing to share his ideas and things hes learned with people who are new to the business. Radio is blessed with a few special people who get into the business early and stay late. That love for our industry and our communities is what makes Bud and the owner-operators like him unique to radio. Theyre why radio continues to remain relevant as we start looking toward the second century of radio broadcasting.

To see the entire interview now, subscribe to our digital version HERE
To subscribe to our print issue, GO HERE

The Bud Walters issue also includes articles on:
- How to Train New Salespeople
- Changes to the RAB CRMS Course
- Small market Succes Stories

You can leave your comments about Bud Walters below or reach out to him directly at

(1/31/2012 8:27:15 AM)
Excellent story. As a broadcaster who has spent 45 working in small rural markets I take my hat off to Bud. It's good to see there are other people out there who believe radio can be more than a glorified jukebox.

- Maynard Meyer

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