On Monday, our 2017 Radio Executive of The Year issue will be released. By now you know, on the heels of the year’s biggest deal, Beasley Media CEO Caroline Beasley is on that cover. In our interview with Caroline she talks to us about how her family would stop at every radio station while on vacation, what it’s like working with her entire family, what it will take to get radio revenue growing again, and of course, the integration of Greater Media. In this excerpt from that interview, we asked Caroline to give us an idea if more growth was in the cards for Beasley Media.
RI: What is most difficult when merging two companies?
Beasley: It’s doubling our size. It’s just the sheer volume. It’s a mass undertaking. We were beefing up our corporate team in the earlier part of the year in anticipation of this deal happening, but still, when you double the size of the company, when you double the number of employees, the volume is just so big. When you think you’re prepared, you see that while we are somewhat prepared, we have work to do.
RI: How important is it these days to keep a close eye on debt? Are you comfortable with where the company is right now, on that side of it?
Beasley: Yes. On a temporary basis. I think it’s very, very, very important to keep an eye on debt, and we are laser-focused on that. The only way we were able to do this transaction was due to the fact that we kept an eye on our debt and we were constantly paying down our debt and deleveraging the company. That’s going to be our near-term focus, to pay down our debt and delever the company.
We had to sell Charlotte properties (to Entercom), and we wanted to get that done as quickly as possible. That is a deleveraging transaction for us. And with the synergies that we’ve been able to take advantage of with the Greater Media properties, we’re looking to reduce our leverage in 2017 as well and continue to pay down debt.
RI: In an interview in the Naples Daily News in August, you talked about how important scale is. Are you at scale now?
Beasley: Well, we have more scale than we did. Before, we reached about 8 million people, and now it’s over 20 million. I think we’ve significantly increased our scale. We’ve got good scale along the Eastern Seaboard. Clearly we don’t have the scale that a Cumulus or an iHeart has, but I feel comfortable where we are right now. I think that we’ve been able to, or we will be able to, have opportunities come to us that we weren’t able to receive before doing this transaction.
RI: Do you see the company growing more at some point?
Beasley: Longer-term, that would be our goal, to continue to grow our company. Whether that’s diversifying into digital more or buying more stations, we will just have to see what opportunity brings. At this point, near-term, going back to the debt question and leverage, we’re focused on getting that back down and then also digesting and working through this transaction.
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