After a 13-year run in television marketing and sales management (working for ABC and Multi-Media), Greg Davis made the decision to go out on his own. His original goal was to purchase a television station. But after he couldn’t find a TV station he wanted in Columbus, GA, Davis heard there were radio stations available for purchase in Augusta. “Sales is sales,” he says. “If you can sell television, you can sell radio, and that’s how we got into the business.” In 1986, with the purchase of stations in both Augusta and Columbus, Davis Broadcasting was born.
Greg Davis and his wife, Cheryl, started the company 30 years ago, with Greg as the CEO and GM and Cheryl as the operations manager. They are still running the company together today, along with their son Greg, Jr. and daughter Geniece Granville. Granville, who’s been with Davis Broadcasting for about eight years, was a practicing attorney before she joined the company. Greg, Jr. went to grad school and worked for Sony before coming to work for the radio stations nearly six years ago. Davis is now one of the longest-running African American owned radio companies in the United States.
Today Davis Broadcasting has four stations in Atlanta (all Hispanic formats) and six stations in Columbus, GA (it has also owned stations in Macon and Charlotte). The company superserves the communities in which it operates by hosting annual events such as the Needy Children’s Christmas Party, where over 1,000 toys and over 200 bikes are given away to the community each year. Another staple, the Family Day Music Festival (formerly Family Day in the Park), began 30 years ago as a free concert for local families.
DBI also hosts the Jazz on the River concert series, Tools for School school-supplies giveaway, free drive-in movies, a turkey giveaway, free haircuts for kids and styles for girls, a Spring Break Concert and Talent Show, and the annual Women’s Empowerment Luncheon.
Radio Ink was very honored to interview one of the nicest and most humble radio broadcasting families in America. Here is our interview with Greg Davis Sr. and his children Geniece and Greg, Jr.
Radio Ink: What is it like working together?
Greg Davis, Jr.: I came into the business in 2011. When I left Morehouse, it was a question of whether to come into the business or work for another company first. I was blessed to work for Sony Corp. for a number of years in both sales and marketing. It’s always interesting working with your family, but when you all have the same idea about where the company’s going, and desire to see it grow, it makes it a little easier.
We’re blessed that we get along inside and outside the office. Definitely not the Brady Bunch, but we communicate well, and that’s the great thing about us. Mom and Dad set the example of what it’s like to be family members as well as co-workers.
Granville: I would like to ditto what Greg says. It has its challenges because you get so intense about where you want to see the company go. You have to realize at certain times you still have to leave business with business and be able to enjoy family. That’s something I’m really thankful for.
My whole family is here in Columbus, and to be able to go down the street, even though you’ve been with each other all day, and have dinner together — I’m thankful for that because it doesn’t have to be that way. We may not always agree on the best path, but we always agree on what the final mission is. Mr. Davis, my dad’s, mission, or the theme of the stations, has always been “Moving Forward Together.” And that’s been our goal, to move forward together in what we do. I’m very thankful for working with my family.
Radio Ink: When you are sitting around the dinner table, does the conversation ultimately come back to radio, or are you able to leave it at the office?
Greg Davis, Jr.: It’s hard sometimes because we’re engulfed in the business, but we force ourselves to say, “No more talk about radio. Let’s talk about something else.” My sister has two sons, and they keep us entertained so that we don’t always talk about radio.
Granville: We have one other sister who’s a nurse practitioner. Whenever she’s home, she wants to know about the radio business, but she helps keep the conversation open to more than just radio.
Radio Ink: What is everyone’s responsibility at Davis Broadcasting?
Granville: Ultimately, we all do sales. I started in the business office, doing accounts payable and receivable, doing some in-house counsel, but really learning broadcasting and learning the business. At this time I assist Mr. Davis as assistant GM here in Columbus.
Greg Davis, Jr.: I’m director of sales and marketing. When I came back, I started working as sales manager in Columbus. Our mother is the operations manager. She’s been here through it all — not only is she operations manager, she’s the project lead on a lot of different events we have, such as our Woman’s Empowerment Luncheon in March. She started that 15 years ago.
Radio Ink: What do you believe your stations mean to the Columbus community?
Mr. Davis: When we came here in 1986, we were the only Urban stations in the marketplace — there were no other Urban-formatted stations. The community was and still is 40-45 percent black, and we had a chance to superserve our community. One thing I’ve always thought was important for our success is that we put back into our community.
“The more that’s given, the more that’s required” — I always tell my kids that. We have an obligation to do things and make our community better. For the most part we’ve done that; I think if you ask the community, they will say Davis Broadcasting has done a lot for the community. It’s not all about making money. It’s about feeling good about the quality of life that we try to provide.
Granville: It’s all that, and, to put a little meat on it, it’s about providing free events so all in the community can attend, and to provide programming that allows people to have a voice. We’ve done Sunday conversations, town hall forums on issues that are important to the community — and we make sure the work we do has some impact, whether it’s giving out turkeys or bikes or school supplies. It’s not an option, it’s part of our mission. We do hope we add some value to the add some value to the community — but we do remind the community we sell ads, too.
Greg Davis, Jr.: From the sales perspective, we want to make sure we’re results
oriented. We want to make sure our clients know we drive results, and hopefully that’s because of the hard work of the staff and of the programming department. We also want to be a trustworthy media source. We want people to know they get accurate and timely information if something’s going on in the African American or Hispanic community.
Radio Ink: How important is live and local?
Mr. Davis: That’s the basis of our whole existence. If you’re not local or live, you’re out of business. It’s very important.
Granville: Part of what has made our business what it is, and this truly goes to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, is that they have valued people. Yes, we have nationally syndicated programs, but we have the most live DJs in the city. It’s the investment in the people who work here — you should see the number of people who’ve worked here more than 30 years. That’s a testament to Mr. Davis’s focus on radio being local; it can’t just be national. It’s great to have celebrities, but if the people turn on the radio and don’t know who they’re listening to, they’re not likely to keep listening.
Mr. Davis: One thing I’m very proud of is that we have several air personalities who have been at the station 35 years or more.
Greg Davis, Jr.: We have only owned the company for 30 years, so they were here before we owned it, and before I was born.
Radio Ink: Do you want to grow the company?
Mr. Davis: There’s an old saying that if you don’t grow, you have to go. We’re going to
grow, but selectively, and focus on our region. It’s important to stay within a region where we can operate efficiently and effectively. We are comfortable in the Southeast.
Radio Ink: Do you think the capital is out there?
Mr. Davis: That’s always been a sore topic. Access to capital is the most difficult thing, especially for small companies, especially minorities. We just have not had access to capital. It’s difficult these days, especially if you don’t have enough cash flow. We’ve been very fortunate; we’ve been able to have people over the years to help us grow the company financially.
Radio Ink: What are your thoughts on the radio industry these days?
Granville: I’m encouraged and excited. I’ve always felt it’s one of the most powerful mediums out there. I see what it does here in Columbus and how powerful it is.
Greg Davis, Jr.: I’m optimistic as well. For a while we received information from the trades that said radio was dead, or would be dead, and to be honest, it’s the most trustworthy source of media now in today’s society. I believe in live and local, and that’s what we are. If we continue to superserve our community, then radio as an industry will continue to grow and be successful.
Mr. Davis: We’ve been in the business for 30 years, and we’ve had some good times and some not-so-good times. It has not grown as fast as some of the other media sources, but I’ve always felt radio is local media that can identify with the people in our individual communities. It also allows us to focus on what national companies cannot provide. Radio is here to stay.
Radio Ink: Why has Davis Broadcasting been a successful company for 30 years?
Mr. Davis: We’ve been very blessed to be here this number of years. We recognize we did not get here by ourselves. There have been a lot of people who have helped us and given us advice, guidance, and direction, and have played a major role in the success of our company. I’m thankful to have had my children for these 30 years, and now I’m at the point in my life where I’d like to somewhat turn things over to them. That’s what I’m looking forward to. It’s something I know they’re committed to. They have the desire to be here. And that’s what we work for. As parents, we want our children to be successful. They have prepared themselves to be in the position they are in.
Greg Davis, Jr.: I would add that my dad is a humble person. The reason why my sister and I have been so interested in the industry is because how both of my parents have been pioneers. As you know, there are very few black-owned radio stations that have been around for 30 years.
We’ve been doing an event called the Davis Family Day Music Festival. We remember back in the day, some of the artists that first came on the scene, whether it’s Boyz II Men or Mary J. Blige or Jamie Foxx, artists that we actually had at events here in Columbus, before they were huge. We started that because Mr. Davis said he wanted to provide a free event for the community so families can enjoy each other, and for individuals who couldn’t afford to go on vacations and go to expensive concerts. We’ve been able to successfully put that on for years.
Reach out to Greg Davis to congratulate him and his family on a fabulous run of 30 years (and counting) representing the radio industry with tremendous class and dignity at [email protected]