Radio Needs To Create More Local Stars


That’s the opinion of Community Broadcasters co-owner Bruce Mittman who we recently spoke with about how his company performed in Q3. We also asked Mittman about how he finds good salespeople, political advertising, his thoughts on 2017 and what he believes radio needs to do better in the coming years to compete with all the media choices in the marketplace today. One of the things Mittman says radio needs to improve on is building local stars. “We are not producing personalities as we have in the past given all the voice tracking and syndication.” Here’s our interview with Bruce Mittman

Radio Ink: What is the economy like in your markets, and are you bringing in new advertisers:
Mittman: When my partner Jim Leven and I look at purchasing radio stations, we look for an economic anchor in the markets we are interested in. Therefore, we purchased clusters in three long established military markets, three strong manufacturing markets geared toward business to business, and two markets with multiple colleges as anchors. That provides us some down side protection. Moreover, we have been careful not to get overly leveraged also providing us operating flexibility. Saying that, we are not immune to a recession, but we feel comfortable now and in the near term that our markets will be healthy.

We have been bringing in new advertisers predominantly through NTR events, and our extensive digital platforms. Moreover, we have been able to generate new sponsor dollars from additional Sports play by play broadcasts. Including College, Pro and High School sports.

Radio Ink: How have you done sales wise through the first 3 quarters?
Mittman: Our 8 market group is running up 6% YTD. We feel that we will grow by nearly 6.5% by year end. Only one market is slightly down, two flat, and 5 up…

Radio Ink: What were your strongest and weakest categories?
Mittman: Strongest: Auto is still very solid, Entertainment/food & Banking/Financial. Weakest: Telecom, Insurance, Medical

Radio Ink: Where and how are you finding good salespeople:
Mittman: Tough question. Jim, our GM’s and I suffer with this problem. Our best success to date includes: Linkedin, on-line sites, on-the air and through networking. However, our best new sales people unfortunately continue to come from competitors. We have been trying to expand our pool, but it is a challenge in smaller markets and among millennials.

Radio Ink: How are you doing with political and do u believe the industry will be disappointed with political when the election is over? 
Mittman: We have had some nice limited success during the primaries in SC and Florida. During the general election period, we have had some spotty success in Florida, SC and NY. ;among national, regional & local candidates.

Overall, I believe that the industry will come up short on its expectations. It seems the Washington consultants do not understand how to use radio to help a candidate. Frankly, I think Trump could have utilized radio to counter many charges, given its ability to target and provide cost effective frequency!

Radio Ink: What does radio need to do better:
Mittman: We need to create more local star power. We are not producing personalities as we have in the past given all the voice tracking and syndication. In markets that we have strong personalities, we have strong revenue as well. In addition, we need to attract young, talented individuals to build the next generation of broadcasters. Lastly, we need to promote radio locally and nationally as the real and original influencer medium.

Radio Ink: What is your overall goal with the company?
Mittman: Jim Leven and I are very fortunate to have terrific partners in Northwood Ventures. They have been truly supportive and enthusiastic about our growth and expansion. We continue to seek markets in the 150 and above category , which meet our acquisition criteria. As I mentioned, Jim and I have made sure our debt is not overly burdensome, so we have additional capacity if we wish to grow.

Radio Ink: What are your thoughts about 2017?
Mittman: I believe that 2017 will be a decent year for radio, however, I expect deep discounting from TV as there is no political and no Olympics this year. That will put some pressure on the growth of radio and if you depend on spot business exclusively, I do not believe you will grow this year.

The good part about owning in smaller markets, is that radio tends to be the main media in that market. Therefore, If we continue to expand our NTR and digital we should see growth in 2017.


  1. C’mon, Bobby.
    If what you wrote was true, I would be just another embittered has-been swatting at ghosts in the dark.
    For every criticism I have fired off, I have offered an Rx – solutions to not only correct those matters I critique, but to effectively improve the current state of radio. If I could not provide the solutions, I would be just another whiner in the stands – shouting boos, hisses and cat-calls.
    To the contrary, I have a great optimism for the (so far, unrealized) potential of radio. But, as you say, “Nobody said it was going to be easy.”
    And even though the strategies and methodologies I bring are akin to “rocket surgery” – the operations can still be achieved under a local anesthetic. 🙂

  2. Spoken as a true pessimist Ronald T. Robinson. Sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences. Do you take your own advice and offer proper coaching? Or are you more of a “don’t ever do that again” leader? Developing “talent” (Sales and On-air) is a whole lot like parenting. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

  3. I presume that Bruce and his associates already have an understanding that future, local “stars” won’t be found out in the pea patch with sandwich boards declaring, “Effective Radio Communicator Available – Works Cheep”.
    New, former or older presenters, even those with (alleged) “gifts of the gab” will all have to be re-trained.
    Anything less guarantees a fiasco – and an expensive one, at that.


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