Insights and Observations
Thursday, June 15, 2006
By Henry Hinton
Here's the 'no spin' story
on radio saga
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The new radio deal just
announced gives East Carolina the best coverage in the history of the
network. Obviously, we at Talk 1070 are ecstatic that we will be helping to
provide it for the next five years.
One thing is for certain,
the passion of ECU fans carries over to scrutinizing every facet and
decision of the program. But let’s enter the “no spin zone” and consider the
East Carolina sold the
rights to all of its media and marketing efforts earlier this year to ISP
Sports, the college sports marketing conglomerate in Winston-Salem. ISP has
steadily become a huge force in college athletics and has the muscle to
bring new and larger dollars to the program.
As rights-holder, it is
ISP’s job to take the radio network to a higher level. Job One was to get
the games, particularly football, on a big power station that can reach all
of eastern North Carolina. For years there have been Pirate fans who have
complained that coverage was sketchy in areas away from Pitt County.
This lack of coverage has
affected everything from Pirate Club donations to season ticket sales.
Mostly, it has been an inconvenience for loyal fans who desire to sit in
their homes and listen.
I have been told many
interesting stories about passionate fans who would do such things as get in
their cars in far away places and position their vehicles in different spots
of the yard trying to hear one of our old low power FM stations in
Greenville in the old days.
In short, no one can
argue the need for big power stations.
Finally, for the first
time in many years, this new agreement delivers them. WSFL 106.5 FM, the
classic rock station from New Bern, will carry Pirate football as part of
this new five-year deal. (No, it’s not true that John Boy and Billy will
replace Jeff and Carlester).
WSFL is owned, as is Talk
1070, by Beasley Broadcasting which is one of the top radio companies in the
Before our current
programming partnership agreement with Beasley on Talk 1070, our company
owned three FM stations in eastern North Carolina. We are proud that every
station we owned, including our own 100,000-watt station — which is now WMGV
103.3, also now a Beasley station — carried every single ECU football and
basketball game during our ownership.
Eventually, we sold all
three stations to large media conglomerates. The post-Reagan deregulation
era continually created an environment at the Federal Communications
Commission (the agency that regulates radio and television stations) that
allowed ownership of multiple stations in individual markets.
When we bought our first
station, WCZI 98.3 FM in 1989, the university desperately needed coverage. I
will never forget calling then-AD Dave Hart on the phone and telling him we
were considering buying the station. His reaction was one of exuberance in
that ECU was in search of a station to work with. He pledged his support and
in turn we pledged to do more programming than ever before to help the
At that time, any company
could own just one FM station per market. That quickly changed and soon
larger companies started moving into eastern North Carolina. It became
obvious over time that our company either had to get much larger very
quickly or we would be eaten alive by the bigger companies moving in. The
other option, of course, was to sell the stations to some of these larger
companies, which we opted to do when they came calling.
Our decision to do that
was bittersweet in that we had developed a niche in the area for being
involved locally and of course our ECU programming. Selling the stations
was, plain and simple, the most reasonable business decision. There were no
other emotional influences on our decision to sell.
Quite the contrary, some
of the highlights of those years included developing programs to help ECU
create excitement, including expanded pre-game and post-game coverage of ECU
football and basketball.
We also developed nightly
programs featuring members of the area media and coaches. In short, we did
more programming and cheerleading for ECU than any other college sports
program enjoyed anywhere.
Other highlights of that
era included our decision, at the request of Keith LeClair, to increase the
number of baseball games broadcast. And I am proud to say we did it prior to
any of the LeClair-era NCAA regional appearances. Coach LeClair asked us to
do more to help create excitement for his new program when he arrived and we
complied. Boy were we glad we did. ECU baseball quickly became a juggernaut
Before, during and since
all of those days, our company has continued to do whatever we could to help
ECU. Have we agreed with every decision made? Of course not. Neither have
thousands of other loyal alumni. But we have never stopped supporting our
university in any way we could.
university now enjoys one of the best periods in its history for strong
administration. Most will agree that we have finally concluded a dark period
in our history that got the program off track. As Terry Holland gingerly
likes to say, ‘We were distracted.’
However, we have never
stopped wanting the best for ECU and have worked to help it attain its
goals. That includes this recent negotiation which has just concluded that
led to the WSFL-Talk 1070 partnership. Bringing in a third party like ISP
was the right thing for East Carolina. What it did, however, was totally
change the dynamics and needs.
We are happy that we will
be working with ISP to provide this expanded coverage which will include new
listening areas for Talk 1070 after the finalization of our upgrade to
50,000 watts in the next few weeks.
Talk 1070’s coverage
footprint will expand to include nearly all of eastern North Carolina during
the daylight hours. After the sun sets we are hopeful that our new 10,000
watts allocation for those hours will also allow new listeners to hear
Pirate sports, particularly basketball and baseball.
What is clear is that all
areas previously covered at night will have a clear signal for future years.
Let’s hope it’s even better than that when all the work is done.
We will be announcing our
new Pirate sports programming lineup in the next few weeks and we think it
will be the best ever. As the ECU program gets better, it is our pledge that
we will do everything possible to make this venture a successful one for ECU
and Pirate fans everywhere.
I would like to say a
word of personal thanks to the Chairman of the Board of Beasley
Broadcasting, Mr. George Beasley, along with the local market managers Bruce
Simel and Brad Hood for helping to make this happen for East Carolina.
Our company is proud to
be associated with Beasley and excited about the future of our new agreement
with ECU and ISP Sports.
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:01 PM.