The “Secret Sauce” That Makes This Company Successful- Radio Ink

https://radioink.com/2019/02/06/the-secret-sauce-that-makes-this-central-ny-media-company-tasty/

 

 

Galaxy Media, with 13 stations serving Central New York, has a sizeable footprint that keeps advertisers happy. CEO Ed Levine says a big part of the success of the nearly 30-year-old media company is venturing outside of its Syracuse and Utica footprint.

Radio Ink: How was Q4 for you?
Levine: Our fourth quarter was pretty much flat. It’s a little hard to measure because we closed our transaction with Townsquare, selling one of our Utica FMs to them in the beginning of the fourth quarter, so everything is sort of pro forma. What I’m looking at is the entire year that shows our overall group was up 7.8 percent. Our radio mirrored what the rest of the Syracuse market did, we were down 2.3 percent. What made 2018 successful for us was what I refer to as our “secret sauce” — our event division. In 2018, our event division, for the first time, accounted for more than 50 percent of the overall cash flow for the company. We also got very serious about digital in 2018. From a complete start, our digital revenue in Syracuse was five percent of our radio revenue. This year it’s going to be 10 percent of our radio revenue, and we anticipate at this point that it will be 20 percent by 2020. Q4 was also good for our Sports Marketing Division. We are the flagship for Syracuse University Athletics not only play-by-play but coaches shows as well. We are also the flagship for AHL teams in both markets and we are affiliated with both the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.

Radio Ink: With more than 50 percent of your 2018 cash flow generated by your Events Division, do you plan to grow your experiential model?
Levine: Yes. In the last 12 months we expanded our Events Division outside of our radio footprint. We tested our model in 2017 and really let it go in 2018 and did highly successful events in Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Albany, Saratoga, and on Long Island. We own no radio in any of those markets, so we partner with at least one radio group in each of the markets we go into. The events ran the gamut of being somewhat profitable to extremely profitable. This weekend we are doing our first event in North Carolina and another event on Long Island. We are doing a wine and chocolate event in Greensboro and a high-end craft beer event in Uniondale.

Radio Ink: What are your top categories?
Levine: A couple will sound familiar. Auto was very strong, medical particularly dental — we had five or six dental practices that were very active with us in Q4. Hospitals were also active. Financial was near the top as we have a couple of local banks that are very active and we saw some significant Credit Union activity too.

Radio Ink: Any surprises in where the ad dollars are coming from?
Levine: The one that did catch my eye is funeral services. We have five different competing advertisers in that category. I think what happened is one of them came on as a “trendsetter,” they got results, and the others heard about it. It’s like legal services: you don’t go out every day and say I need a DUI lawyer, but when you need one, top-of-the-mind awareness comes into play. That’s how we present it to the funeral directors: you’re not going to need it until you need it. I believe nothing works better for top-of-the-mind awareness than radio. As the population ages you can consider funeral services a growth business. The spots are tasteful and they are getting results.

Radio Ink: How is Q1 2019 looking so far?
Levine: Our two markets combined, not including events, just radio, sports marketing, and digital, is up almost five percent in January. In February, I think we are going to hit budget by the end of this week and then add another four to five points by the end of the month. I have a very clear vision that through April we are in going to be in good shape. We have pretty aggressive combined goals for 2019. I think radio is going to be flat and I’m not counting on exponential growth in the radio market. We need to be aggressive in creating demand and not wait around for avails to pop up.

Radio Ink: Is consolidation good or bad for business?
Levine: I think we need a loosening of the rules. I think comparing the facts from 1996 to where we are now is irrelevant. Today, you have non-radio competitors that are taking money out of our local markets on a daily basis. Radio needs to be allowed to get bigger to compete.

Radio Ink: Are you facing much competition from Google, Facebook, and other digital services?
Levine: Absolutely. We commissioned a study in Syracuse that used 2015 data, so that was a long time ago in the digital world. But it showed then that Facebook and Google were taking more revenue out of the Syracuse market than all radio stations combined. It also showed that by 2020 the revenue drain will be almost two-to-one. One of my pet peeves is that we have radio competitors that will ask for 100 percent of the share of the radio buy to keep other groups off. That thinking is so shortsighted. You want 100 percent of seven percent? Stop thinking about the radio guy across the street. It’s a circular firing squad aimed at seven percent. The real money out there is the revenue that the Googles and the Facebooks of the world are getting. Digital is not the end all to be all, it needs to be combined with legacy media to be potent and powerful.

Radio Ink: What is you biggest challenge?
Levine: Finding quality marketers and salespeople. Getting younger staff people involved in the business is very important. We’ve been blessed at Galaxy. We have three folks this year who will be retiring and to me that is an incredible compliment to our company that they have stayed with us a long time. I’m excited by the fact that I’m going to be bringing in some new folks with new ideas and perspectives. Getting the younger generation involved in legacy media, radio to be specific, is the biggest challenge.

Reach out to Ed Levine by phone at 315.472.9111 or e-mail galaxyceo1@gmail.com

Levine lands new investors, including Boeheim, for Galaxy

June 11th, 2018

BY CHARLES MCCHESNEY
cmcchesney@cnybj.com

SYRACUSE — Galaxy Communications has a new name
and new investors.
CEO Ed Levine says the company is now Galaxy
Media and is bringing aboard up to 10 new investors
to buy out the shares that had been owned by a private
investment firm and help the company reduce debt.
Those investors are local people, Levine says, including
his long-time friend Syracuse University basketball coach
Jim Boeheim.
“We’re thrilled to have Coach Boeheim as a part of the
team,” Levine tells CNYBJ in a phone interview, noting
the two have done business together since the late 1990s
and are personal friends.
Boeheim is one of seven investors who are buying the
portion of Galaxy Media that had been owned by Atalaya
Capital Management, Levine notes. As many as three
more individuals may join them.
Levine has used private investments in his company to
build it from a single station in Utica in 1990, to 14 stations
around Central New York today, as well as an eventsmanagement
business that operates around the state and
recently began providing services in North Carolina and
South Carolina.
In addition to the investors, Levine says he secured
a 10-year Small Business Administration-backed loan.
When that loan is paid off, the company will have no senior
debt, he says. “At that point the company functions
as an annuity,” he says.
Regardless of whether he ends up with seven or 10
new investors, Levine says he intends to keep for himself
ownership of the lion’s share of the company, at least
73 percent. Investors will get preferred equity, he says,
meaning they get paid even before he does.
Reflecting on his career in radio, first as a disc jockey
whose dream was to one day manage a major-market station
or, “maybe own a single station – so I could work for
myself,” Levine says he never saw himself in the position
he is today.
Galaxy Media has 100 employees. “I’ve got 100 families
that are depending on me to make the right decisions,” he says.

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Daniel Baldwin Gets His Game On

November 7th, 2017 from RadioInk.com

ESPN Syracuse has created a new local sports talk show featuring actor Daniel Baldwin. The Daniel Baldwin Show airs from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Baldwin is the main host, joined in studio by co-host Josh Grosvent, who is also the host of The Show mornings on K-ROCK (WKRL-FM and WKLL-FM).

 Ed Levine, Galaxy Communications CEO, said, “The Daniel Baldwin Show does not fit into the typical sports show mold. Although Daniel knows every bit of his X’s and O’s, he will weave stories in around the scores. The show has a spontaneous and fun feel. Think of it as intermission to your day of sports talk.”

The Daniel Baldwin Show on ESPN Syracuse is heard at 97.7 and 100.1 FM, 1200 and 1440 AM, and online at www.espnsyracuse.com.

 

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Radio’s Top 20 Leaders

April 17th, 2017 by Ed Ryan (RadioInk.com)

One of the many features Radio Ink has become known for is its world-famous lists — like the 40 Most Powerful People in Radio, the Most Influential Women in Radio, and the Best Program Directors in America, just to name a few. In 2017, for the first time in many years, we are launching a brand-new list. And we let you, the readers, decide who deserves to be on it.

Voting took place at radioink.com over three weeks, and you broke the Internet (well, maybe you put a dent in its side panel). Thousands of votes were cast, and thousands of comments were made about those you nominated. We ranked and updated the standings every day, which brought a massive amount of traffic to our website and led to even more voting.

Who are Radio’s Top 20 Leaders? They are the people in the radio industry whose employees love working for them, and they are the people everyone wants to work for. They may not always be the executives getting all the daily trade press recognition, but you can be sure they are behind the scenes, making this industry tick. You know them. Many of you are working for them now. They are the people who know how to motivate their teams to success. They are winning at sales, programming, and management. Have they even climbed a tower or two? Probably!

They are relentless in what they do, and they do not fail. They hire the best people, give them the tools and training to succeed, then get out of their way. They are developing radio’s next layer of leaders. They are the most positive people in radio, and still excited to be in the industry they love. They are the people who take the time to mentor others and have a positive and lasting impact on the careers of their colleagues. They give time back to the radio industry to help it grow.

Our list of Radio’s Top 20 Leaders was created by you, the rank and file, the foot soldiers working the business every day. We set only a few rules before the voting on our website began, then let you have at it. They were: The person must be active in radio today and have at least five years of experience in the industry. Nominations could come from any department of a radio station or cluster. And executives who were on our most recent 40 Most Powerful People in Radio list could not be nominated for this list.

Once the list was decided,  we interviewed all 20 leaders, and then turned to the business of helping you. We picked their brains and asked them about leadership, how they achieved their level of success, what advice they have for others, and their opinion on the current leadership in the radio industry today. This issue, in addition to recognizing 20 great people, is one of the strongest training manuals you will come across in your career. Imagine having 20 of radio’s strongest leaders in one room and picking their brains for hours. This issue does that for you. And they were all a joy to interview.

HERE ARE RADIO’S BEST LEADERS FOR 2017…Ed Levine featured in top 20! Click the link below to view the article.

RI041717Leadership-Small (004)

 

NEXT INNOVATIONS IN HD RADIO SIDE CHANNELS: PATHS TO REVENUE.

April 3rd, 2017 by Inside Radio

Companies have used HD Radio side channels to create innovative content that is flowing well and easily through their respective markets. However, the overall monetization plans for these extra frequencies? That’s more like an inconsistent drip. But among the trendsetters, some profit ideas are already in the pipeline.

One of the industry’s marquee success story belongs to Saga Communications, a longtime champion of the space. CEO Ed Christian has consistently touted HD’s potential, so much so that he coined the term “metro station” to define new outlets launched by the company on HD radio-fed FM translators. Christian has also consistently lauded his company’s crafty “The Outlaw“ classic country format, now in six markets—Des Moines, Asheville, Springfield, IL, Jonesboro, Clarksville, TN and Manchester, NH—and spreading, all via HD side channels and FM translators.

“There’s real money there,” Christian recently told Inside Radio. “One of our HD metro stations billed about a half-million dollars last year, revenue that we would not have without it.” Saga COO/executive VP of operations Warren Lada is equally bullish: “Metro stations either fill a void format-wise, complement an existing format or act as spoilers. As such, it gives us an incredible opportunity to promote the stations and monetize the investment.”

CBS Radio, which has launched 130+ HD side channels, is also exploring creative sales approaches. “HD Radio has been around a long time, but it’s relatively nascent as we explore approaches to monetization,” VP of Programming Jeff Sottolano tells Inside Radio. “We recognize there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.” Thus, the radio giant has sized up the ways that work best for them. CBS has found success in some markets selling on-air spots on side channels in the traditional way—as a complement to AM/FM buys. And Sottolano adds that signing one brand to sponsor a channel has been a win-win.

Case in point: In Philadelphia, Sottolano helped launch “Phillies 24/7” on the HD-4 channel of classic hits “98.1” WOGL, sister to sports WIP-FM, which has broadcast rights for the baseball franchise. “The channel is unique with team replays, condensed game versions, Phillies daily and weekly talk shows exclusive to the channel,” Sottolano says. “From a monetization perspective, we have been successful in presenting a single partner.” In 2017, it is RE/MAX.

CBS complements the sponsor buy with promotion on its Philly AM/FM stations, digital assets and social media. Sottolano adds, “It’s much like any 360-degree title sponsorship.” And providing added value, the Phillies 24/7 website is kind enough to provide a link: “Don’t know what HD Radio is? Click HERE to find out more.”

Also breaking revenue ground with HD is Nashville-based Cromwell Radio Group. Owner Bud Walters insists that HD side channels need not suffer any kind of inferiority complex among radio sales teams. “These original formats are ‘real’ radio stations providing alternative program choices,” he says. “In Decatur, we are getting listenership and ratings. We sell them just like full-power stations and do not push [the term] HD. Our stations are all streamed and have websites and apps.”

Galaxy Communications’ Syracuse NY classic rock “TK 99” WTKW airs ESPN on its HD-2 channel, which also broadcasts on WTLA (1200). Says the company’s Syracuse Market manager/director of Sales Steve Vasick, “This has allowed us to generate significant sports marketing revenue through sponsorships of local sports talk shows, exclusive broadcasts of NCAA tournament coverage and specialty ‘On the Road’ and pregame coverage of Syracuse University Athletics and Yankees baseball.”

The ESPN AM/FM combo allows coverage, such as the NCAA tournament on AM, while the FM could, for example, broadcast a local talk show covering breaking news about Syracuse University basketball. “This is a luxury afforded us by creatively utilizing the HD side channel. It has given us an outlet for programming that we previously had no place to broadcast,” Vasick says.

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