Internet Also Creates Advantages for Some Stations
Clear Channel Communications station manager Mike Glickenhaus first realized the power of the new radio medium, one of deregulation and consolidation, as 15,000 people strolled through muddy fields and wet park sidewalks in the middle of a midnight rain.
Eleven of his company’s local stations ran daily promotions for the event and nine were on site to broadcast Balboa Park Exposition 2000 , the last party of the 20th century.
With radio stations ranging from alternative rock to adult contemporary, Clear Channel Communications used its San Diego stations to announce New Year’s Eve events to a cross section of the metropolitan population.
“That wouldn’t have happened before,” Glickenhaus said.
Federal deregulation of media broadcasters through the Telecommunications Act of 1996 opened a giant door for local radio stations, as a single owner could own multiple stations.
In the past, a small, lone station with an exclusive niche in this market would have been blown out of the water by a big money station in the same niche able to hire away talent from the smaller station.
Consolidation allowed companies to allocate resources efficiently to stave off such attacks. It also increased competition among program directors and account executives.
Some general managers and program directors on The List of Largest San Diego Radio Stations praised deregulation.
The large presence of San Antonio-based Clear Channel owned stations in San Diego is a prime example of the conglomerates that formed following the passing of the federal act , as it merged with Covington, Ky.-based Jacor Communications, Inc. in May 1999.
“As we’ve been able to become a bigger company … we can go to advertisers and offer them a package” that includes radio, Internet and promotionals, Glickenhaus said. “We have more resources to do some things we couldn’t do before.”
And that’s changing how companies attract advertisers and market individual plans, said John Dimick, a 20-year radio veteran and current director of programming and operations for Jefferson Pilot San Diego.
Jefferson Pilot account executives cross-sell advertising space via several San Diego stations. With multiple stations in different demographics, Jefferson Pilot has the ability to offer individual advertising packages that fit the needs of particular companies whether a Western supply store or a car dealership.
“Advertisers are becoming more and more understanding of the flexibility and availability of advertising on the radio,” he said.
Even with the smaller companies like two-station owner Midwest Television, advertisers are adjusting. Midwest Television owns KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM, No. 2 and No. 6 on The List, respectively.
“The economy has been very strong, and demand for our products has been better than ever,” KFMB-AM and FM general manager Terry Johnson said. “I think advertisers have become more sophisticated and effective in using our medium.”
– Radio Stations
Radio stations are also taking on the Internet, but not the way it was originally theorized.
A few years ago, it was believed that by now employees with workplace Internet access would listen to audio streaming music from Web pages hidden behind work-related applications.
While stations offer this service, they primarily use the Internet to give a face to the invisible inventory of radio.
Web sites like 91X.com of XTRA-FM, No. 3 on The List, allow the Internet generation to view their favorite on-air personality or let the station know exactly how they feel about programming.
Dimick sees allowing the public to interact with his station as a necessity to staying competitive in the shrinking market.
It’s a policy at Jefferson Pilot for employees to reply to all E-mails received from the public. He views it as one more way his medium stays ahead of the others.
“If you give people a compelling reason to listen they will,” he said. “Radio is still, I believe, the most intimate medium.”
– Internet Advantageous
For Large Companies
The expansion onto the Internet and the availability of advertising has been good for the bigger conglomerates. But for smaller companies like Midwest Television consolidation its squeezing the market , especially talk radio.
“It’s becoming more and more diverse, and less and less local,” Terry Johnson, general manager for both KFMB stations, said.
“Consolidation has caused companies to increase their bottom line by syndicating their best talent and using them across multiple stations. That has created an environment of fewer opportunities for local talk shows to get started and become successful.”
However, all focus right now is on the economy and the large amount of advertisers ready to find new clients.
“There’s a very high demand for our inventory,” Glickenhaus said, especially from E-commerce companies. “But, really, we’re seeing across-the-board growth and that makes us feel good that it’s not all coming from one basket.”