Grilled by the bar


Does radio have a future? Saga Communications CEO Ed Christian assured the Florida Chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association yesterday in Sarasota that it does, but that the industry is going to have to work at bringing in new advertisers. To that end, he said that Katz Radio Group has hired 40 new sellers to work strictly on new business and that he and other clients of the national rep have agreed to pay higher commission rates on national spot sales that are new to radio. For anyone looking to buy stations, broker Stan Raymond noted that sellers still seem to have high hopes based on prices from a few years ago, before the current downturn. But he insisted that operators can still succeed if they focus on local programming geared to their own community. RBR Executive Editor Jack Messmer warned that the current FCC proceeding on localism could produce the opposite of its intention – burdening the remaining Mom & Pop operators with lots of paperwork and even increased staffing costs to the point that some may decide to sell out to larger radio companies. When one member of the audience asked about the future of AM radio, Christian got excited about the possibilities from the FCC’s move underway to allow AM stations to have FM translators. In small markets, where a translator will be sufficient to city-grade the entire community, he sees great potential for handicapped AMs, particularly daytimers, to become much more competitive.

Pictured (l-r) are moderator Will Cox of the Abel Band law firm, Raymond, Messmer and Christian.