Broadcasters enjoy a boon market in Tri-parishes

Local Edward Jones broker increases share in partnership
February 13, 2007
Edward Thomas
February 15, 2007
Local Edward Jones broker increases share in partnership
February 13, 2007
Edward Thomas
February 15, 2007

Across the dial, the Tri-parish area radio market is experiencing tremendous growth and the thriving local economy is fueling the expansion.

Ray Saadi, a retired broadcast broker and consultant with decades of experience in the local market said, “Radio stations depend on locally owned business for their advertising revenues and right now the Tri-parish region is booming.”

Over the last few months, local radio has undergone a number of changes. Stations are coming on air and seeking licenses to broadcast locally. The change, local business officials say, are reflective of the dynamic draw of the Tri-parish region.

Just as the population numbers are growing, the number of businesses opening shop is growing. And who better, station managers would argue, to spread the word than the local radio station.

“Our business is going really well in Morgan City. Local businesses are doing really well and they are buying some advertising. Cash registers are ringing,” said Patrick Andras, owner of Spotlight Broadcasting, Inc.

Spotlight operates KMRC-AM. The station’s format is a combination of news/talk and country and western music.

“We think that a lot of it is that we are a smaller media company that can offer really personalized service to our customers,” Andras said. “The Wal-Mart mentality doesn’t really cut it in radio. We believe in the Tri-parish area.”

A number of stations share that philosophy. And at least two more are looking to settle in the Tri-parish area because the market is laden with two vital commodities: A wide listener pool and a thriving advertising market.

Southeastern Broadcasting CEO Wayne Downey plans to begin broadcasting his company’s new station WPAF in four or five weeks. It is yet unknown exactly what direction Downey’s station will take, but he’s certain that the market can handle it.

“Our research tells us Houma can definitely support another station. We’ll be ready to disclose our format in about two weeks,” he said.

Local listeners welcomed a long-time favorite back to the airwaves last week.

Thibodaux radio station KTIB, which originally began broadcasting in 1953, left the airwaves in 2005. It returned at 3:45 p.m. last Wednesday.

KTIB management plans to broadcast a local morning show, with Rush Limbaugh filling the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. slot, Moon Griffon broadcasting from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Michael Savage from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

KTIB will continue to play oldies from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“We felt there was a void in the Houma market in terms of news talk that we felt we could fill,” said George Laughlin, president of GAP Broadcasting, Inc., the station’s new owner. “Being a native of Metairie, and being a lifelong radio guy I felt this was a great opportunity. This station has a great history.”

According to Laughlin, KTIB is currently building its staff and plans to reach all of the Tri-parish area.

The region’s economic strength is not only bringing new players into the local radio industry, but stations that are firmly entrenched in this market are doing very well.

KXOR-Rock 106.3, a Sunburst Media, Inc., station, for instance, is exceeding internal expectations.

John DeLise, operations manager/program director for KXOR, and the host of the “Wake and Bake Morning Show” said, “We are focusing on the listeners. The Tri-parish area listeners. I mean if it rocks we’ll play it. We have set our goals really high and we have met them; that says a lot about economic growth in the Tri-parish area.

“The Tri-parish radio market, if it were rated (only the nation’s 100 largest markets are ranked) would be about 183rd, but pound for pound the Tri-parish region is really strong,” he explained.

DeLise and his on air partner Lisa Logan agree the Tri-parish area’s proximity to New Orleans and small town hospitality make it a great place for radio.

According to Logan, “it’s close enough to New Orleans for urban convenience and it has that hospitable feel.” Adds DeLise, “it’s a great place to do business and raise a family.” The Tri-parishes may not be one of the nation’s larger markets, but with a little innovation broadcasters are finding success in this area.

“Our market research indicated there was a large underutilized potential in Houma, and we have exceeded expectations,” said Danny Fletcher, general manager of Sunburst Media’s four Houma stations.

KCIL (C-107), another Sunburst Media Inc. station serving Houma, was recently rumored to be leaving the area, in large part because Sunburst was granted FCC approval for a city of license change to Jean Lafitte.

Sunburst CEO Don Turner put that rumor to rest saying, “We got the approval for the city of license change to Jean Lafitte because future owners of the station may want to move it to the New Orleans metro area and with new FCC regulations we would have to begin the whole licensing approval process again. We are definitely not leaving Houma. It has been too good to us.”

The same can be said for KBZE owner Howard Castay. The Morgan City station is the market’s only broadcaster serving the African-American audience.

This specialized niche has motivated Castay to try things other stations in this market have not tried, such as Internet broadcasting and broadcasting Nicholls State University sporting events over the airwaves and online. These alternative revenue streams seem to be working.

According to Castay, “we are doing really well right now. Sales are up and business is good.”