We're all looking for indications that it's getting better, whether it's real estate sales in our market or pacing reports at our stations.
That's why the news that Larry Wilson bought a couple of radio stations in Portland, OR last week struck me as significant given the turmoil that the radio broadcasting industry is in. It has been a tumultuous time, punctuated by a vacancy at the top of the NAB with David Rehr's departure. It seems that just about every day the industry trade contains the obligatory listing of poor financial performances, restructuring, debt loads and other monetary omens that are on the negative side of the ledger.
But as Eric Rhoads pointed out in his blog last week, Larry Wilson's re-entry into radio might be signaling some important changes:
2. Could this be the next chapter for the little guy? As we well know, there are a number of former owners on the sidelines, perhaps waiting for the right moment to get back into the ring. People like Herb McCord and many others have a passion for radio, and there is no shortage of properties for sale.
3. Does this also indicate the beginning of the end for the big-time consolidation that has overshadowed so much of what radio has evolved to over the past decade? When you think about Clear Channel circa 1999, you were looking at a company of more than 1,200 radio stations, TV stations, a concert company, an outdoor company, and tentacles that made it one of the largest entertainment conglomerates in the world. Today, there are questions about Clear Channel's future.
A renaissance for smaller companies, and operators, who are truly passionate radio people, has an appeal to many radio professionals - me, included. It would be refreshing and smart for new people to re-enter radio with different ideas, strategies - and less debt.