See if you can follow the bouncing ball on this scenario. A few years ago Richard M. Fairbanks got tired of waiting for the bubble of his cash cow radio stations to burst so he sold them. The last few to go were right here in West Palm Beach where he put Jim Hilliard in charge of selling them. Jim quickly sold them to Clear Channel which produced a small problem for them. CC couldn’t buy them all because it put them over the FCC’s station limitations so Tim Reever and I talked Jim into buying WRMF. We both felt strongly that it still had lot of growth left in it even though it was doing very well at the time.
Tim and I had recently done some good work together in Boston using a bunch of sales promotions but which all really sounded more like programming promotions. We used this technique to boost both the revenue and ratings at the same time. Our power ratio was off the charts so we kinda figured what with the great ratings WRMF had not to mention the name air talent that worked at the station who could drive the promotions we thought this concept should work even better in Florida. When we added in my brother Reg’s new hi tech invention of The Rewards Program which merged the radio station with the Internet we knew were on to something and it wasn’t long until we were taking a ton of money off the table and we ended up doing 20 – 25 % of the market consistently. This sales performance eventually led to Emmis Communications offering Jim 103 Million Dollars for the station. Now all is well with the world and our job seems to be complete. Except when Emmis does their due diligence they cant quite figure out how we are doing what we are doing because the power ratio is way beyond anything they have ever seen before. They have no idea how they are going to keep up with that let alone do even more with their cost per point style of radio so they walk away from the deal.
After a little tire kicking by a few other radio companies Great Hill Partners offers Hilliard 70 Million which still was a record sale but certainly not the 103 Million the cash flow multiples supported. Great Hill Partners moves in and takes over WRMF we wish them well and a few of us move on. But not long after our departure they start getting rid of some of the name air talent plus some of the higher paid sales people.Their plan I guess is to install their own version of the Clear Channel kinda systems that is supposed to make them more efficient while heading upwards and onwards. But the system turns out to be just another version of the old school “cost per point” method of sales. The opposite effect of upwards and onwards begins to happen and their share of revenue starts shrinking to the reported 12 % they now have. To make things even worse the ratings are no longer anything to write home about either. You would think they would catch a break soon, but no here comes the recession which takes the all important cash flow down even further. Hello can you shout Fire Sale !
As this sorry saga with what seems like bad karma written all over it continues a well respected Broadcaster by the name of Carl Hirsch comes to WRMF’s rescue last Friday and buys the station for 16.5 Million which gives the now very lean staff some new found hope and everybody sighs a sigh of relief. He immediately dies on Monday.
Our Mothers tried to convince us that it is not about winning or losing it’s about how you play the game. Our Fathers said no no son it is all about winning or losing. But as I look around I’m convinced that it may not be whether you win or lose at all it may be just about how and where you place the blame.
Bob Christy said he was walking through Costco and caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror and in shock said … What the hell is my father doing here out of the grave.
Donna Schaneen asked what she has to do to make my Blog.
Speaking of Donna, according to her I’m having a lot more fun than I realized or at least my reputation is.
I wonder how many of the auto workers who were making Doctors wages at job my youngest daughter probably could have done take any responsibility for the demise of Detroit.
Anyone can buy a radio station that just takes money but making them successful can only be done by very special people.
I just saw a funny bumper sticker that read … BEER! Helping Ugly People Get Laid Since 1862.
Randy Newman said at this years Oscars when asked how one would break into the music business … Why the hell would you want to do that he replied, it’s like breaking into a bank that’s already been robbed.
I think the problem with most of our radio leaders today is they all took “business” classes at Harvard Business School type institutions, but none of those places offer “show” courses that I’m aware of so I figure they only got half an education.
Jay Williams told me that an old adage states that if you have a Hundred Dollars making a Hundred and Ten takes a lot of hard work. But if you have a Hundred Million making a Hundred and Ten is automatic. I’m sure he heard that from Richard M Fairbanks.
Brent Farris of KZST said when he interviewed Ken Mansfield who used to be “The Beatles” American Manager this morning, Ken told him that Paul didn’t want to release Hey Jude as a single because it was too long. He changed his mind when Ken informed him that Jim Hilliard then PD of WFIL said he would play it.
I think our Government spends a way too much time worrying about the rich and the poor.
Even though I like to pretend I designed my new Web Page it was really a talented on air guy by the name of Rich Stevens who has a company that does this sorta thing called Thinkful Solutions that did all the heavy lifting. If I’m not mistaken he snuck a link onto my page.