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Has Consolidation Critically Injured Radio?

1-3-2012

Ed Levine received a lot of praise for "telling it like it is," on the topic of consolidation yesterday. Our story with the Galaxy Communications CEO generated pages of comments to us and an inbox full of e-mails for him. Levine said messages started rolling in at 6AM and never stopped. Consolidation is one topic that always generates enthusiastic passion from our readers and Levine plucked that nerve. With the NAB and the big groups in favor and pushing for even more deregulation "so radio can better compete with a changed media landscape," is the divide between big and small destined to get worse? And how does that help the industry "tell a better story" hoping to bring home a bigger share of advertising revenues.

One of Levine's supporters wrote yesterday, "Well said, Ed. There really is a growing divide between the big groups and us independents. I marvel at the accolades, high regard, and deference lavished by Radio Ink and so many others on these "industry leaders" who have critically injured a once-great industry."

Levine was congratulated by many for saying what others are apparently thinking. We went back for more from our interview with Levine which will appear in our January 21st issue. This time we asked Levine to talk about the people in the radio industry, how they've been treated, how they should be treated and how to keep good people on your team.

Show them some respect, Levine says. "That's one item that's vanished from the radio business these days. The guys I just hired from Cumulus (on-air) came into the Syracuse market two years ago. Nobody knew them. Within a couple of years they became a top team in the market. Cumulus simply let their contract expire. These guys wanted to stay there. They asked multiple times, "What's our status?" They received no answer. That's basic disrespect. That doesn't help anybody."

"Nobody has to work at your radio station. We have treat employees well. Way more than compensation or anything financial. It starts with basic respect for them as business partners. When somebody does a good job, tell them they are doing a good job. If they don't do a good job, it's your responsibility to deal with that too. The lack of respect for employees in the radio industry in the last ten years is horrendous. I think that is one of the things that needs to change, too."

Reader Paul Robinson posted the following comment yesterday, "The one element that is sorely lacking in radio today is "fun"... It is contagious and everyone - the listeners, your station's business partners, your staff - all desire nothing more out of life than to have fun - at least once in awhile. Create an environment where everyone enjoys being involved and success will follow. BTW: The trade-off is a significant decrease in those 50% operating margins. So, if greed is your primary motivation you need to find an alternative career/investment opportunity."

Larry Patrick, who owns radio stations in addition to being one of the most respected brokers in the radio industry is also in our upcoming small market issue. He spoke about the importance of how you treat your people. "I think generally, this industry, typically in the larger markets that we read about all the time, people have been treated rather poorly in the last couple of years. They are treated like commodities. Depending on what the quarterly call has been and how things are going for private equity operators. It's just sort of a box they put themselves in. People get fired. People get told you're not programming locally, you're doing other things. It's a business where, unfortunately, sometimes the best and the brightest, if they don't have this burning passion for radio, they are sometimes lured to just give up and go into a different business."

" I think the best thing you can do is, and this sounds trite, but do sincere thank you's. Catch them doing things right. We try to do a hundred little things to say thank you to the people. It may seem silly but, I have an engineer that came to Wyoming not because he wanted to work at our radio stations, but because he's an avid fly fisherman. After he built us a station or completed some other huge project, we often send him up to the mountains to a cabin with some new fishing rods and bait or lures and tell him to take 3 or 4 or 5 days and go fishing. We say thank you a lot."

So, has consolidation critically injured radio by gutting its good people? Or is this just a natural step in the evololution of an industry? Will additional deregulation actually help us generate more revenue? Leave your comments below or reach out to Ed directly at galaxyceo1@gmail.com or Larry Patrick at larry@patcomm.com

To read more from Ed Levine, Larry Patrick and others about Small Market Radio in our January 21st cover story, order an 1-year subscription to our digital issue HERE. To get a print subscription, go HERE or call 561-655-8778.




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