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Radio Ink

February 5, 2019


Seven Mountain Media COO Jim Loftus tells Radio Ink the fourth quarter of 2018 was strong for the company he started with late last year. Loftus also tells us which categories are the strongest for Seven Mountains and how the first quarter of 2019 is shaping up. Seven Mountains Media is a 4-year old company that has 31 stations in Pennsylvania.

Radio Ink: How was Q4 for you? Were you up or down?
Loftus: We were up. I’m new to the company, I joined in Q4. The company is doing well, we had double-digit growth for Q4. We call ourselves a media company, not just a radio company. We have a full-service digital department, a full-service creative team, and a full-service video department. Our multimedia team approach has paid off for us.

Radio Ink: What was your biggest surprise?
Loftus: I came from major-market radio in Q4 and I was impressed by how hard this group works and how these markets operate. We have five markets and we just acquired two more markets. We haven’t closed yet because of the delay caused by the government shutdown. When those are complete we are going to have 40 signals in Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York.

Radio Ink: What are your top categories? 
Loftus: For us it is automotive. We did well in Q4 and continue to do well in that category. Consumer services are good for us. Anything from furnishings, personal services, entertainment, and outdoor living. We are in rural Pennsylvania so hunting and winter-related businesses are good.

Radio Ink: How is Q1 2019 looking so far?
Loftus: We are optimistic about 2019. The company is only four years old. We have a process and it’s really working for us. We have taken our Q4 growth into Q1 2019, with more than double-digit growth in January. It is looking good for us. You know I’ve been doing this a long time and I know that today’s records are tomorrow’s averages. It doesn’t take much to humble you quick in this business. We’re taking it one month, one quarter at a time, but we seem to have put together a plan that is working.

Radio Ink: What are you hearing from your advertisers on Main Street about radio?
Loftus: Our customers are supporting us. We have a platform that is really focused on Main Street. I know it sounds cliché, but we really spend a lot of time getting deep with the customer. Sometimes I hear people say, “well nobody listens to radio anymore,” but it’s not the advertisers that are saying that to us. We are seeing radio advertising being very robust. In small-market radio we are how our customers combat Amazon and all the online businesses stealing their customers. Our creative staff is helping our advertisers compete with messages that sound as good as they would get on Madison Avenue. I think the people who are focused on trying to be relevant and local; who are looking for programming that matters and isn’t an automated jukebox, are happy with local radio.

Radio Ink: Are you facing much competition from Google, Facebook, and Pandora?
Loftus: You know, when people talk digital, those are the products that people are talking about; but those are the products and services we are selling locally. An advantage that a lot of the large digital platforms don’t have are large sales teams in the smaller markets we are in. When we go in and present our digital platform we are presenting all of these digital opportunities. You know it’s interesting that radio has always touted the fact that radio together with digital is a great combination. But in these smaller markets, sometimes the digital costs more than the radio. We are using radio to draw interest in the digital, and for us they go hand-in-hand quite nicely.

Radio Ink: Is consolidation good or bad for business?
Loftus: In small-town America where we are, you know a lot of these towns don’t have a daily paper, they don’t have a TV station that’s within 100 miles. So the opportunity for the radio stations to bundle themselves together and offer a consolidation of services and some scale, to me is a very positive thing. Consolidation doesn’t scare me. I understand the benefit of it in smaller markets so I would like to see less restrictions and more opportunities. I also don’t have a problem with newspapers owning radio stations. The print industry is under a great deal of challenge right now, and it would be a terrible thing if we evolve into a society that doesn’t have daily newspapers.

Jim Loftus is Chief Operating Officer/Market Manager – Seven Mountains Media. Reach out to Jim by phone at 814.238.5085 or e-mail jloftus@7mountainsmedia.com

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