Brett Miller • MCH Enterprises, Inc.
This interview was conducted by Sandi Bergman
Sandi: What did you do before becoming a media broker?
Miller: I started in broadcasting in 1966, working my way through college: everything from cleaning the coffee pot, to DJ, news, and sales. I finished the BA and MA degrees while working for various radio and TV stations in the Fresno and Santa Maria markets in California. I managed several cable TV systems in California, and then did mergers and acquisitions work for a Denver-based cable TV company. In 1989, my wife and I started consulting and brokering and our company name says it all: MCH: Miracles Can Happen. Twenty-four years and we are still in business. Along the way we also owned our own radio stations in California and Washington, which we think gives us a unique skill-set when working with owners, sellers, and buyers.
Sandi: What influenced your decision to become a media broker?
Miller: After a couple of years doing acquisitions in the cable business, I took a position in Southern California for a multi-media company with holdings in cable, film, and some odd broadcast interests. I just got to that point where I said “I’m tired of working for other people,” so with computer, fax, phone, and a copy of the Broadcasting Yearbook, I became a consultant and broker affiliated with a company headquartered in Florida. Before the year was up I was completely on my own. We’ve been consulting and brokering for 24 years and while we’ve seen lots of changes, the basics remain the same: in our opinion, small market radio is the true heart and soul of broadcasting and community service.
Sandi: Where do you see station sales today?
Miller: In our little corner of the industry, we are experiencing roughly the same number of buy/sell transactions as when we started; only now the deals are smaller and buyers’ struggles to obtain financing grows bigger. Seller financing is almost a requirement as all-cash deals are becoming harder to find and fewer between. In addition to brokering transactions, our consulting side has grown to include transaction management and FCC support as first-time buyers enter the market, and we are doing more appraisals as banks are experiencing greater scrutiny from their examiners or coping with bankruptcies and liquidations. We see a good number of first-time buyers with solid experience, but with no financing and no ability to collateralize licenses in order to obtain financing (hello, FCC? there’s a hint there), we sense a lot of frustration in the marketplace…not only with prospective buyers, but with sellers. There remains a fairly large gap between buyer and seller expectations. The margins are slim and the multiples are shrinking as the new economic reality sets in. To some degree, what buyers want, they can’t afford and what buyers can afford doesn’t interest sellers. While it frustrates everyone, there are still good opportunities for the right person: someone who knows how the business works, someone who is not afraid to get out on the street and make sales, and someone who wants to become an integral part of the community. In our opinion, it is the power of radio that will ultimately lead the way for the economic recovery of Main Street.
Sandi: Highlight three or four listings that would be good opportunities for displaced station personnel and/or first-time entrants:
Northern Arizona Combo: These stations generate a significant amount of sales and cash flow, well worth the asking price. The community is a thriving one and current ownership has done an outstanding job of serving the community and creating a local mind-set that says “it pays to advertise.” Sales for 2013 (January – August) are up 21.5% over the same period last year. The asking is $725,000 for the combo and the office/studio building can be purchased separately, leased, or optioned. There is enough cash flow to service debt AND pay yourself a decent living wage.
California Central Coast AM: Small market (approx. 55,000 people covered) and needs a hands- on owner/operator. The asking is $160,000. A new owner will need to locate an office/studio and will need origination equipment plus an STL of some type. Transmission facilities are new or newer to include the two towers. Currently the automated format is Country which would be available or pick your own. The new owner will need traffic/billing/automation.
Oregon Coast FM: Small market and virtually a start-up. The asking is $125,000. A new owner will have to acquire office/studio space (some of which happens to be right next door) and install traffic/billing/automation, and a basic studio complement. STL and transmission equipment is in very good shape.
In addition to these, there are some new situations coming on the market in the next couple of weeks that I think are going to represent great opportunities. I just can’t talk about them yet, so give us a call…and keep checking with RadioTVDeals.com!
MCH Enterprises, Inc.
8200 Stockdale Highway, M-10, #164, Bakersfield, CA 93311