Art Holt • Holt Media Group
This interview was conducted by Sandi Bergman
Sandi: What did you do before becoming a media broker?
Holt: Like so many broadcasters, I started out in radio as an announcer and disc jockey, with engineering thrown into the mix. I worked Texas medium markets including Amarillo, Lubbock, and Austin, and then I made it to the big time in Big D. By the time I got to Dallas I had wised up a bit and was much more interested in advertising sales than in being the next Ed McMahon, so I happily left the microphone behind to hit the street with a rate card. It turned out that I was a pretty good salesman, so next came manager gigs in some in pretty good markets…Buffalo, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco…and then some time in New York as the VP of a national radio rep company. I also got plenty of hands-on experience by personally owning and operating a successful 20 station group in good medium markets for three decades.
Sandi: What influenced your decision to become a media broker?
Holt: Radio legend Gordon McLendon got me started down the brokerage road. I had managed three major market radio stations for him, and in a stroke of good luck, Gordon decided to make me a VP for his national radio group. It turned out that my main job for Gordon, along with group operations, was scouting out AM and FM acquisitions and negotiating with owners and their brokers all over the country. I got totally hooked on the fascination of putting deals together for buyers and sellers. I took the plunge and started Holt Media Group, and four decades and six hundred deals later, I still am inclined to believe that doing a station deal is pretty much the most fun a person can have with their shoes on.
Sandi: Where do you see station sales today?
Holt: Times have never been better for a buyer to go into medium and small market radio ownership! The big corporations continue to ignore true localism; they’re focused on cost cutting to service their huge debt hangovers from their spending sprees in the last decade. The local newspaper is no longer the formidable presence or strong advertising competitor it was in the past. This is a great opportunity for a local owner! The conglomerates’ problems have become the local operator’s opportunity! There are strong opportunities for station turn-around and format changes at neglected stations for the new DIY operator. In selected markets, brokers can offer strong cash flow deals at workable multiples to qualified buyers. Good and talented radio people are being made redundant daily by the giant corporations, and as a result, localism in radio is now pretty much just a memory except when a local owner comes in to take over and super-serve the community. And, it’s a fact that the best and most advertiser-effective radio is local radio. For displaced radio executives, this is definitely a golden age of radio ownership… with wide open opportunities to fill the need for good local radio, both on the air and on the street. Local radio markets welcome local owners who become involved in the community and who know the local advertisers on a first name basis.
Sandi: Highlight three listings that would be good opportunities for displaced station personnel and/or first-time entrants:
Holt: Owning a radio station begins with a call to a station broker. For example, I have for sale three very viable stations with current cash flow that make perfect sense for a new station buyer. Let’s talk!
- Great FM station opportunity for a qualified buyer in a very popular and well-known affluent coastal Southern golfing and resort city. Extensive local involvement and strong local listenership with a bright popular music format. The station is cash flow positive with annual sales nearing $800K. Excellent staff. Modern equipment. Signal easily blankets the market. Great market visibility and highly promoted — community presence and local involvement second to none.
- FM station in a popular Gulf Coast beachfront vacation destination and retirement area. This station is the only local FM in the community. Well-established mainstream format. Signal extends well beyond primary market. Well-established and stable client base. Sales of $750K in 2012 (this year trending higher). Positive cash flow for years. Staff and equipment is as turn-key as it gets. Long-time owner looking to retire but would be available as needed.
- Well-established FM News/Talk in a growing medium market Southern city. Impressive revenue track record ― years of solid numbers, now at near record all-time high in the new Spring ratings. Even with absentee ownership this FM station has generated years of +$100K cash flow. Active and involved local ownership could quickly double the bottom line.
Art Holt, President
Holt Media Group
2178 Industrial Drive, Suite 914
Bethlehem, PA 18017