The Single Station Strategy

How would you run each of your radio stations if it was the only station you had? What format would you choose, which on air shifts would you cover live, how often would you hit the streets, what kind of on-air promotions would you do?

Having multiple stations within a market has a lot of benefits, consolidation of resources, the ability to bundle and cross-promote. But, the major downside is it almost always leads to neglecting one or more under-performing stations to shift resources to the top billing station(s). Anyone who’s been in the business long enough has probably worked for one of those neglected stations, it’s low pressure which can be less stressful but it’s also low reward which can be very demotivating.

From a purely financial standpoint this can be problematic. As we all know, there are some hard costs that are the same regardless of a station’s performance, utility bills, transmitter, tower and equipment maintenance. Plus, stations aren’t sold on potential anymore, they’re sold based on a cash flow multiple, so under-resourced and under-performing stations lower the value of the entire group. That’s why it’s not uncommon for some stations to literally get thrown into deals for free.

Ratings and revenue-wise those stations leave groups vulnerable to competitors with less stations that are able to focus their on-air, and promotional resources. Also, groups with multiple stations tend to be uniform on things like spot break length, website design and overall sales strategy for a whole host of good reasons. However, that gives them less flexible to tailor any of those to a specific station or format. That’s why the fastest way to take over any market is to purchase a single station with a good signal and put more resources into it than any other individual station within that market. Have more live airshifts, create more original content both on-air and digitally, bigger and better promotions, outside marketing, a better website, more active socials and a more professional facility. I call this the single station strategy. It’s not new by any means, it’s actually how virtually everyone did it at one point in our industry’s history with the newer digital components added.

I’m not suggesting that groups with multiple stations in a market shouldn’t share resources where and when it’s appropriate. I’m simply suggesting that stepping back and asking ourselves how we would run each individual station if it were our only one, will lead to a better overall approach that helps to maximize the value of each individual property.

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What do you think? Is the single station strategy a good or bad idea? Let me know in the comments below or email me at

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