A Time For Gratitude

December 2, 2014


Peter Smyth

Peter Smyth

The natural instinct for busy people is to rank the most important and most urgent items highest on their to-do list.  We then rush through our day, trying likeblazes to get everything crossed off the list before we run out of time.  Then, it’s time to fight rush hour to make it home in time for a teacher conference, civic meeting, or to shuffle kids to their extra-curricular activity.  Then, a little must-see TV and it’s off to bed.

The next day is much like the one described above.

What gets compressed out of a daily schedule like this one is the time for reflection and appreciation for the people around us – our coworkers, our staff members, our clients and our listeners.  Gratitude is in short supply in this world, and it is an essential part of business.  Yes, business runs better with gratitude.  I am sure you’ve seen the research about Millennials and their somewhat mysterious attitude toward work.  They want to be involved, contribute and do something significant with their work hours.  It is pretty clear – they want to be appreciated by their organizations.  They would like a bit of gratitude.

We are now officially in the feel-good time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas and there is no better time to renew our commitment to gratitude.

I’m grateful for an outstanding group of men and women who give their hearts and minds to their radio stations and therefore to the strength of Greater Media as a company. It is their work, creativity and dedication that powers our company.  When every company has the same transmitters, research and music, the only differentiating factor is the quality of our people.  They are what really makes Greater Media Greater.  To each of these individuals, whether a manager or a part-time employee; whether in sales, support, promotion or programming:  you have my gratitude for all of your contributions to our company, but most especially for the contributions you have made that  have not been formally recognized and the ones that no one knows about.

I am equally grateful to our advertisers who entrust us to contribute to the success of their businesses.   Through the ups and down of the recent business cycle, we have loyal advertisers who know the value of our stations to their marketing and sales efforts.   We are working with them in a new and more integrated fashion to comprehensively help them get their message to the right consumer at the right time.   There is nothing more rewarding than calling a client and finding out that their weekend sale, which was heavily promoted by your station, was gangbusters.  We are grateful for those moments and we rejoice in our clients’ success.

Our listeners, our audience, our community – all of these terms apply to the individuals who believe what we do on the radio and online is worth a place in their daily lives.  We know how powerful radio is to raise your mood or make your day a bit more fun or keep you up to date, but it is each one of you who chooses to come back to us, time and again.   We are grateful for your loyalty and participation in our station brands.  Without you, our effort and creativity would be far less rewarding than it is.

Even in this age of digital transformation, radio has maintained its relationship with listeners because we are good, local companionship for listener segments in each of our markets.  We believe this is because we listen to and respond to our listening audiences with sincerity and an open mind to new innovations.  We are a human presence in a world of algorithms.

And last but not least, each one of us who works in this wonderful medium of radio has good reason to be grateful to our family. They are the ones who support us through the up and downs, the good times and the not-so-good times.  And, yes, we all experience both.  Our families tolerate the extra hours for location promotions, the late night phone calls, the weekends shot for a big station event, the last minute travel.  It all adds up; they understand, as we do, that this is no 9 to 5 job.  They deserve our gratitude for their patience and tolerance because radio cannot take a day off.

As we make time for friends and family during the holiday season, let us be certain that we take a moment to express our gratitude to all of those who enable us to pursue our passion.

November 2014 – What’s the Forecast?

November 5, 2014

Not the weather outside, although Fall has arrived in New England.  I’m referring to Forecast 2015, coming up Peter Smython the 19th of November.   It’s the annual gathering of broadcasters, investors and financial advisors who provide the capital to keep our industry vital and growing.  I am pleased to be the moderator of a discussion with three respected investment leaders.  Artie Burns of Citizens Bank, David Bank of RBC Capital and Brian McNeill from Alta Communications will join me for a lively discussion of how our industry is viewed by investors.

This is a significant topic, for I believe that a number of investors are not fully informed of the strides that the radio industry has made to adapt to the ongoing digital disruption of our industry.  It is more important than ever that representatives of our innovative radio companies explain what they have done to transform their companies; which experiments are working and which efforts have failed. Too often, our pitch for radio sounds like an effort to put a happy face on a low-growth industry.

While it is true that the past several years have been challenging, the important thing to note is that broadcast radio has fared very well in comparison to other disrupted legacy media such as newspapers and magazines.  We are also a natural companion to digital initiatives, complementing their one-to-one engagement with a one-to-many delivery of the message.  Broadcast can get customers into the purchase funnel; digital can convert them to purchasers.

Each year for the past five year, radio has shown growth in its digital revenue, proving that we have adjusted our efforts and are now serving our clients with integrated, multi-platform solutions.  Certainly, I would like to see more revenues from more clients, but we need to remember that clients have many more of competing sellers to choose from.  Radio account executives now compete with a broad spectrum of pure-play digital sellers, digital business directories, self-serve search and SEO platforms and online display ad networks that number literally in the hundreds.

We are optimistic that, as this period of client experimentation evolves, radio can and will leverage its historic advertiser relationships to aggressively retain and expand our relationships to include full digital services.  A number of innovative radio companies are moving in exactly that direction; the activity is there and we will see it in the revenue metrics.

The radio industry is in the midst of transforming itself into a trusted, results-oriented media company, and in that process, will create relationships with an entirely new class of local advertisers.  Whether we are making sales calls to a traditional broadcast client, an integrated program buyer, or a digital-first advertiser, radio sellers will become more adept and knowledgeable about a very full range of tools that can be brought to bear to solve client challenges.  We have a long track record of effective brand-building, promotional integration, and excellent ROI that point to a promising future.

These points are often lost on an earnings conference call, or even in a capital call meeting.  It takes time to fully explain how innovative radio has become.  We have some excellent broadcast leaders doing great things, and we need to have them on hand to make their case to our investors. It is a necessity and a privilege to have someone invest their hard-earned capital in your business endeavors.  To maintain their confidence, we need to share our future vision with them.


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