McGavren Guild President Lisa Sonnenklar and Barry Fischer, EVP/GM, spoke with RBR about the resurrected rep firm’s mission statement, future plans and what led up to the new financing this week. We’ve also found out a bit about the new financiers. They tell us the deal had been done for a while but could not announce anything until the court trustees signed off and the contracts were released.
Said Fischer: “As you know, the court date was last Tuesday. We’ve been working on our plans since well before that actually. Interep went Chapter 7 towards the end of October and we saw this great opportunity so we started to put the plan in motion.”
The investment group for Local Focus Radio is different from the investment group for McGavren Guild, right?
What can you tell us about your investors? Are they people that have been in radio?
Sonnenklar: “I’ll tell you that they’re involved in media internationally. They get our business and it really makes a difference that they understand what’s currently happening in our business. They’re international investors with significant media experience. They saw a huge opportunity to fund us and get behind this company. They see this opportunity as just fantastic right now. We had a relationship with them for almost two years. Barry’s worked with them on actual client deals.”
How closely are you planning on working with Local Focus? Are there going to be any cross deals being made or are you going to go after the same clients as competitors?
Fischer: “It’s a great question and our stance on that is as many people that we can partner with in this industry the better. Our industry as a whole really would be better served with the challenging economy. Radio is a tremendous medium and as many people that can tell the positive story of radio to the many decision makers that will listen, we would just all be better served. This business has so many attributes that are real and tangible and exciting–especially in a challenging economy that the more people we can partner with, officially or unofficially, you know the rising tide raises all boats. So we don’t plan to specifically compete with anybody on the station basis or business basis. We look to raise the level of the industry and our clients, I certainly believe, appreciate that.”
Sonnenklar: “I think it’s very beneficial for radio to have another option as Local Focus. I think it helps having another group of people going to the advertising agencies and talking to clients about radio as a medium.”
We’ve seen a few former Interep/McGavren clients jump over to Katz and I think your announcement has probably stemmed that tide. What have you been hearing from Interep clients that haven’t signed on with Katz?
Sonnenklar: “Phones are ringing off the hook. We’re talking to everybody. As of yesterday we’ve been talking to everybody and we’re getting enormous support.
What is your value proposition that you’re telling clients or potential clients? What makes you different that the clients will resonate with or want to hear?
Sonnenklar: “Our goal is to deliver our clients’ expectations and to continue to make real face-to-face sales calls, and to continue to sell the value of our individual audiences and clusters where we have them. All of our salespeople have new business backgrounds.”
Fischer: “McGavren Guild is a very, very well known brand, great heritage as you know. We look to use that platform that great heritage and take it to a very new day, raise the level even further. We have a great sales team. We just believe that our company has always been a strong company and we look at that as our value.”
Your clients–who do you, have right now and who is in play right now?
Fischer: “It’s a very obvious and a good question. We would prefer right now not to get into specifics, although certainly as we mentioned the phones have been ringing off the hook. We’ve been speaking to all of the former McGavren clients who have expressed a huge interest in being with us. Our goal is to continue growing so anybody who wants to speak to us is a great opportunity.”
Sonnenklar: “We’re working on several deals right now.”
Well it’s good to know that you are back out there. It’s good to know that there will be competition in the marketplace and it will be better for clients.
Sonnenklar: “Absolutely, options, options.”
RBR/TVBR observation: Now the important key will be a new foundation and if McGavren Guild can rebuild in today’s new media business world instead of selling spots they will evolve as a new media representative company and not a rep firm. There is a major difference between schlepping spots or representing a company’s complete media business plan.