(02/11/13) When Radio Ink turned 20 last year, I made a conscious decision to re-commit myself to radio. Though my head may be grayer, my goal has never really changed: to challenge broadcasters to grow, to consider new innovations, and not to accept the status quo. Since getting into the publishing business 20-plus years ago, I have wanted to help make the radio industry stronger, offer fresh ideas, and be a resource for those of you who own and operate radio stations. While all other print magazines in our sector have disappeared, Radio Ink remains committed. Of course we’re also very digital, with tablet editions, RadioInk.com, and Radio Ink Daily Headlines.
As you know, the radio industry is littered with trade publications, many of which serve a specific niche. They all provide value to the industry, and though we all tend to compete for some advertising dollars or for readers, each has a purpose and a good reason to exist.
Technology is making this a very exciting time; today, any good thinker can put up a blog and be seen by huge numbers of people. There are many news outlets within our industry that essentially amount to an enthusiast with a keyboard. In fact, today most fit into that category, and many do a wonderful job.
An Era Of Publishing Giants
There was once an era of publishing giants in radio. A big gun like Radio & Records had a floor or two in a skyscraper in L.A. and offices in Nashville. Even Radio Ink at one time occupied an entire floor of an office building. But as the Internet became dominant, things changed, and life at those big operations began to falter. No longer was it practical to have a staff of 40 or 50 people. Most publications struggled to survive, and many fell. Fortunately, during that era Radio Ink was challenging radio to embrace new technology, and we had access to the great minds of the Internet as we built our Convergence conference (at that time called the Radio Ink Internet Conference). So we had some indication of what was ahead – in fact, Radio Ink offered the first free online news e-mail and website in radio. We trimmed our operations elsewhere so we could continue to produce a print product, which not only survived, but remains viable today.
Giant Press Teams
Today very few radio news outlets have large teams of reporters to gather the news. A large staff isn’t as necessary when serving a niche of the industry. But staff is still crucial for a publication offering serious news coverage and volumes of data. Since I made a new commitment to radio, it was my goal to seek out strategic relationships and acquisitions to strengthen my own platform and own more than one of the “big gun” publications. After R&R went away, there only three big heritage publications left: Radio Ink, Radio Business Report, and Inside Radio. A research study we recently commissioned from Harker Research indicated that these three brands remain dominant in daily readership. Since Inside Radio is owned by Clear Channel, it became clear to me that my only acquisition target was Radio Business Report. Discussions began.
Targeting A New Life
In 2011, Jim and Cathy Carnegie, the founders of Radio Business Report, made a decision that they would sell the publication when they hit the 30-year mark. Both had worked 16-hour days over many long years, and the idea of the beach, a drink with an umbrella, and life on a golf course sounded very appealing. Plus, Jim wanted to go back to his roots and do some hands-on work with stations again. Jim contacted me at that time and our talks continued, but everything came to a halt when Cathy died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Only slowly, as Jim became able to tear himself away from his grief, did discussions resume.
By now you’ve seen the announcement that this very strategic acquisition has been completed. Today RBR is part of the Streamline team, and today we offer the industry two of the big gun publications in radio. Each will remain independent. We won’t share stories. RBR and Radio Ink serve the same industry, but each serves a separate purpose.
Radio Ink has always been a manager’s tool, helping owners, managers, sales managers, and sellers with strategic ideas to improve their businesses. Our news leans toward solution-based thinking, and “What would I do if this happened to my station?” RBR leans toward the financial sector, offering deep data and deep analysis. They “follow the money.” Both publications play critical roles. Of course, RBR also has TVBR, which puts Streamline in the television/cable reporting business as well. TVBR is widely read and respected. RBR-TVBR offers free daily news, but also offers deep analysis and detail for operators and investors, available only to subscribers. Though it’s already a huge success, we intend to expand the content with more white papers and reports, and deep intelligence to help broadcasters make more money, understand trends, and make sound decisions.
Radio Ink, meanwhile, will enhance the depth of its commitment to the hands-on operator. Both publications will carry our passion and commitment to this industry.
Committed To Radio
As a business founder who shows up at my desk and stays there for 16 hours most days, I too know the day will come when I have to part with the dream I’ve built. At our closing with Jim Carnegie, I realized that it must be a bittersweet parting -sweet with dreams of retirement, travel, and a different brand of fun, and sweet because Jim’s consulting practice will afford him the time to influence stations and companies. But bitter because he is parting from the team he built, most of whom have been with him 15 years, 20 years, or more. He remains passionate and committed to radio.
I want to encourage you to give your heartfelt thanks to Jim Carnegie for his 30 years of devotion to radio. Love him or not (he tends to have strong opinions and a no-BS attitude), he gave our industry a great brand in RBR-TVBR, and gave you 30 years of his life.
Sadly, Jim and Cathy never got to realize their dream of retiring together. But Jim, in his normal headstrong, disciplined manner, is hell-bent on living up to the commitment he made to Cathy, which I think is admirable.
Practicing High Standards
At our closing, I learned of all the companies that tried to get RBR. Jim could have sold it to anyone, including a giant radio company that chased it, a competing trade publication, and a large, well-funded start-up. At the end of the day, he lived up to his own standards: to make sure his loyal team was in good hands, make sure the publication remained independent so it would never be putting company press releases before real news, and making sure RBR went to someone full of passion for the industry. Jim and Cathy had no children; RBR was their child, and it was their intention to have its new adoptive parents have similar standards.
An Industry We Love
Though it’s no secret to Jim or anyone else that we have often disagreed about style, one thing we never disagreed on was our passion for an industry we love. We both started our careers on the air at a young age. I’m honored that Jim Carnegie made the decision to place the future of his enterprise in our hands, and I can assure his readers that we’re not here to change it, to cut its staff and trim expenses, or to strip RBR-TVBR of its resources. We’re here to operate it, grow it, and add it to our platform, to offer viable solutions and give our readers and advertisers two of the big guns in the radio trade press.
As my grandmother used to say, “This is a red letter day.” Indeed, it is cause for celebration!