The changes began back in October of 2017 when Steven Price stepped aside as CEO and Bill Wilson and Dhruv Prassad (pictured here) were appointed co-CEO’s. On Wednesday Prassad announced he was leaving the company he co-founded with Price. On February 1 Bill Wilson becomes the solo CEO. Prassad and Wilson were #9 on Radio Ink’s 2018 Most Powerful People in Radio list.
In 2018, the two men went to work re-focusing the company on local and getting it out of the town fair business. Their plan included focusing on local content and sales execution, reducing complexity by reorganizing its live events and national digital divisions, allocating resources to Townsquare Interactive, and product innovation. They sold North American Midway Entertainment to North American Fairs for $23.5 million in May after purchasing NAME in 2015 for $75.5 million.
In July Wilson told Radio Ink he was very proud of the progress of his team. Although we are never satisfied, it was gratifying to grow our net revenue at the fastest pace of any radio company in Q1 2018 (+6.6%); just as we have since Townsquare was formed in 2010. As a management team, we have been spending a lot of time in our local markets, and various offices, around the country and hearing and meeting directly with all our employees and team members. Our mantra is “you matter” as each team member knows that our Company’s overall performance is 100% correlated with their personal performance – not any new technology or other external variables. Lastly, and importantly, over the past year we have super-served the local cities and communities that we operate in by entertaining and informing audiences while at the same time driving growth in our clients’ businesses. We very much look forward to our performance over the next year given the strength of our team, the strength of our brands and the power of our cross platform (on-air, online & on-site) solutions for local businesses.”
Prasad co-founded Townsquare in 2010 and served as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Operations and Executive Vice President, Live Events before being appointed Co-Chief Executive Officer in 2017. He said he was very proud of what he accomplished since founding the company with Price 9 years ago. “From scratch, we created not only the nation’s third-largest radio broadcaster, but also built new, profitable businesses in live events and digital. With the Company on strong footing and in the hands of an outstanding senior management team, it’s time for me to move on to my next challenge.”
Wilson thanked his soon-to-be former co-CEO. “Together, we were able to reorient Townsquare to focus on our “Local First” strategy, and successfully rationalize our non-local businesses. I look forward to continuing this strategy, which has driven strong local growth in 2018, particularly within our digital businesses, and solidified our position as the premier local advertising and marketing solutions company in the heartland of America.”
So what’s next for Townsquare’s 320 plus stations in over 50 markets as the company heads into 2019? Wilson told Radio Ink back in July that the company loves radio and was bullish on the opportunities they were seeing for 2019. “We have made significant investments over the past few years in our first party data and targeting capabilities (Townsquare Ignite) platform as well as digital marketing solutions (Townsquare Interactive) and importantly attribution tools (via Analytic Owl) that demonstrate the effectiveness and strength of our marketing solutions for clients. When you factor in the fact that our strategy is to operate in small and mid-sized markets (ranked #51 and below in terms of DMAs), it is clear we are the best positioned company for local businesses to partner with to grow their business. As a result of our investments and corresponding solutions and new products, employees can expect very healthy growth to continue but they are very well aware of that given that our employees have been and will continue to be the drivers of that strong growth. Overall the industry is clearly in a stronger place with the 2 largest radio owners exiting bankruptcy as stronger companies, which all are very pleased to see. Additionally as the industry overall adopts attribution tools, like Analytic Owl, that clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of radio (terrestrial and online) on a client’s business, that in my view will help the radio industry overall.”
Wilson also had high expectations for the company he will now lead alone. “Townsquare will continue to maximize radio revenue but as we have continually stated, we are agnostic to what solution a business chooses to work with us to grow their business. The majority of times it is a combination of our three main platforms of radio, digital and live events but sometimes it is just one platform. Whatever works best for the client is most important. So while I expect radio to continue to capture 7% of all media spend, I expect our $100 million annual digital business to continue to grow in the double digits each year for the foreseeable future driven by our local radio branded web sites (300+), Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite.”