On September 2, 2011 a devastating fire on Main Street in Hutchinson, Kansas destroyed the offices and studios of Ad Astra per Aspera Broadcasting. The station had been in that location for 25 years.
Eighteen hours after the fire broke out, the building was bulldozed, the debris was hauled to the landfill. Six months later the stations had rebuilt in a new location. GM Cliff Shank got to thinking about that empty downtown 3,750 square foot lot. That lead to a very unique NTR business for the company.
After being unable to find radio stations to expand the business, Shank and his team put on their thinking caps and got creative. Hutchinson is a community of 42,000, located in Reno County, with a population 65,000. Shank tells Radio Ink the community had not had a miniature golf course since the mid 1980s. “The nearest miniature golf course was in Wichita, 50 miles away. After researching miniature golf, it was determined the downtown lot was not large enough for miniature golf, but a seed was planted in the community.”
After researching the commercial real estate market in Hutchinson, a potential lot was found, but the price tag was too high. Then, a few years ago the lot with the high price tag was put up on the auction block. It was billed as an absolute auction, but Shank was the only bidder interested in the property so the auction was cancelled and Ad Astra purchased the property for 25% of the original asking price. Shank says the dream of miniature golf in the Hutchinson community was alive. “Out of the ashes of the devastating fire, a miniature golf course was about to be born. One of the things that made the property attractive was a large parking lot adjacent to the property, owned by the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. A shared parking agreement was worked out, and the serious work of building a miniature golf course started.” Ad Astra hired Harris Miniature Golf to build the course. Harris Golf has been in business over 50 years and has built over eight hundred golf courses around the world.
Shank tells Radio Ink when you work for a company too small to hold huge concerts and events, this type of idea is the next best thing. “Lots of broadcasters have expanded into the entertainment world. For small-market radio broadcasters, Ad Astra could possibly be the only radio broadcaster to own a miniature golf course.” They named the course Hutch Putt and a great sounding jingle was produced and is airing all over the Ad Astra airwaves, of course. What better way to grow your business? (LISTEN TO THE JINGLE HERE)
So we asked Shank how business is going. “So far business has exceeded expectations, even though the weather has been extremely hot — the high temperature Saturday was 108 degrees. Building an entertainment business is a great opportunity for small-market radio broadcasters to directly tap into the huge amount of dollars spent on entertainment in the U.S. It is a great opportunity to take advantage of the 93% reach and frequency of saturation radio advertising.”
Ad Astra per Aspera Broadcasting has owned and managed radio stations in Kansas longer than any other company. Cliff Shank has been a G.M. in Hutchinson since 1981.
Reach out to Cliff Shank by e-mail at [email protected]
Check out the golf course website at www.hutchputt.com
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