The Radio Show, produced by the RAB and NAB, kicks off this coming Tuesday in Austin. As everyone gears up to make the trip to Texas, Radio Ink has been interviewing industry executives about what they’re expecting to see when they arrive in the Lone Star State. Larry Patrick is the managing partner at Patrick Communications and one of the industry’s most successful brokers. He also owns radio stations. Here’s what he’s expecting next week.
Radio Ink: Are you expecting a lot of executives to make the trip to Austin talking deals at the show?
Larry Patrick: I think that the number of executives attending the show continues to slide a bit. I am talking about CEOs and COOs. Overall attendance may be up from general managers and programmers. As consolidation continues, many groups simply send fewer top executives. They can also do deals anytime, not just at the show.
Radio Ink: How has the deal chatter been in your world so far and what are you expecting we’ll see in the next six months to a year?
Larry Patrick: The deal chatter in radio has been good. Listings are up a bit. Still some uncertainty from the iHeart, Cumulus, and SBS situations. Overall concern is with flat revenues other than for digital. The hope is that CBS-Entercom will once again attract Wall Street to the medium. Steady flow of small- and medium-market deals continues. Townsquare continues to develop websites and digital assets at a very strong rate.
Radio Ink: How is the inventory out there?
Larry Patrick: Inventory is solid. There are actually more sellers than buyers right now. Some congestion with buyers unwilling to stretch for most deals. An awfully lot of bottom-feeders looking for steals though. These are often time-wasters for brokers as they expect a miracle like buying for less than five-times for a performing cluster. Just not going to happen unless some element of distress is there.
Radio Ink: Are companies waiting on the sidelines building up their money, just waiting for something to break?
Larry Patrick: I do not think that companies are waiting on the sidelines and holding their money. Some, like Saga, need to reinvest their TV spectrum auction proceeds fairly quickly. Others are being cautious as they learned from having too much debt on their books for the past decade or so. A few made some less-than-great deals a few years ago and are still paying for their purchases. The money is there to support established owners who want to expand. Think Hubbard, Bonneville, Duke Wright, Saga, and Forever. Great companies with good balance sheets ready to purchase strategically.
Radio Ink: Name three companies you expect to see the most activity from in the next year.
Larry Patrick: Most activity—Saga, Entercom, and Hubbard.
Radio Ink: What have you been most surprised about in the last year in your business?
Larry Patrick: I was most surprised that David Field, a great deal-maker and group executive, was able to convince CBS that his company was the right partner for their radio assets. Congratulations to David and his team.
Radio Ink: Are you going to Austin for the show? If not, why not? If yes, where can people find you?
Larry Patrick: We will be in Austin at the J.W. Marriott.
Reach out to Larry by e-mail at [email protected]