Independent Radio’s Agility Is Its Strength, Say Execs


Local, independently-owned radio stations remain the lifeblood of their communities and can still be a profitable venture, but with economic turmoil, the world’s digital shift, and uncertainty ahead, broadcasters wonder how radio’s small business survives and succeeds. The Forecast 2024 session, “Main Street Media: Where Local Broadcast Survives & Thrives,” moderated by Justin Sasso, CEO of the Colorado Broadcasters Association, featured a panel of industry leaders discussing the vitality and future of local broadcasting.

Bold Gold Media Group CEO Vincent Benedetto emphasized the strength of his company, highlighting record broadcast revenues and the effective integration of digital strategies with over-the-air broadcasting. He stressed the importance of functioning as a local business, helping small businesses understand the synergy between digital and traditional media.

Midway Broadcasting Corporation Chair Melody Spann-Cooper discussed the resilience and adaptability of independent broadcasters. She highlighted the careful approach to expansion and the positive impact of recent investments in her company like a new transmitter and hiring a content director. These steps were crucial for staying agile and relevant in a changing market.

Bridge Media Network CEO Vince Bodiford shared his perspective on the challenges of streaming and digital ad placements. Drawing parallels with the print industry’s digital transition, he underscored the need for local broadcasters to innovate and connect communities with unique offerings. Lilly Broadcasting CEO Brian Lilly addressed the dual nature of digital as both a benefit and a threat, emphasizing the pressure to adapt. Spann Cooper agreed, noting the necessity of remaining creative and responsive to audience needs.

The panelists discussed various strategies and tools in navigating these challenges. Benedetto mentioned the book Built to Last by Jim Collins, advocating for a focus on company values over product-driven goals. Lilly emphasized cleverness and outthinking competitors, especially in markets dominated by larger companies.

Spann-Cooper shared her venture into digital streaming platforms, highlighting the importance of culturally relevant content. Bodiford spoke about using AI in newsrooms to work faster and more accurately, while Lilly and Benedetto expressed caution in adopting AI for on-air talent.

The session concluded with a look at 2024 opportunities. Spann-Cooper gave a powerful closing about how young talent, both on-air and in sales, are out there for radio and as willing to work as ever in a field they’re passionate about. Bodiford was excited about political advertising potential, while Lilly stressed the importance of refocusing content back to broadcasting. The panelists agreed on the importance of local engagement and innovation in maintaining the relevance and success of local broadcasting in an increasingly digital world.


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