Fifty years ago, Jerrell Shepherd mastered a form of broadcasting alchemy that turned small town radio lead into gold. It wasn’t much of a secret, however, since he readily shared it with countless radio station owners and managers who made the pilgrimage to Moberly, Missouri, in hopes of bringing some of Shepherd’s sales and programming magic back to their stations.
While most small market broadcasters were content to get “their fair share” of local advertising budgets (the bulk went to the local newspaper), Shepherd’s sales reps were trained to ask for it all and believed in their hearts they deserved it.
Mr. Shepherd’s approach to programming his stations was deceptively simple: report anything and everything that happened in each of the communities covered by his stations’ signals. The KWIX and KRES “Red Rovers” showed up just about every high school football game, junior high choral concert and chamber of commerce ribbon-cutting. And the Shepherd stations put it all on the air. Always with local sponsors. Lots of local sponsors.
Dave Shepherd grew up in the radio business and built on his father’s success, growing The Shepherd Group to 16 stations before selling them to a Florida-based company called GoodRadio.TV, for $30 million earlier this year.
I got Dave on the phone for a little chat and he talked about where small market radio has been… and where it’s going. He shared some thoughts on the Internet, iPods, HD, satellite and Google Radio.
He says he decided to sell because it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. And, in the next breath, he wondered if some of his father’s small town magic might work in The Big City.
AUDIO: Interview with Dave Shepherd 25 min MP3