What Happened to “The Dream”?

The American Dream (or “I always wanted to own a radio station…what happened”): A recent study of consumer spending (the Yankelovich Multicultural Study 2010) for the Futures Company, indicates that three-quarters of African-Americans (75%) and Hispanics (76%), along with over two-thirds of Non-Hispanic Whites (68%) believe the “American Dream” is just that–more dream than reality.When I was young and immortal, I always wanted to own my own radio station. A college friend who graduated with me and actually went on to own two or three stations once advised me “you just have to own at least one in your lifetime”. This was just after he had his first nervous breakdown!

Well, I did own one, then another one, and another. Sold them all…wish I hadn’t. But my point is this: it doesn’t matter whether you’re male, female, white, black, brown, red, yellow, or polka dotted, owning a radio station is getting harder and harder.

The FCC and Congress has jerry-rigged the regulatory and ownership system to the point where young startups start with two strikes against them. Money was hard to come by before, it’s pretty much impossible now. We can’t collateralize a license so banks don’t want to talk to us. If there are 20 stations in any given market, 15 of them are owned by two group owners. If a new entity is lucky enough to bid too much at auction and then wants to sell for a capital gain in less than five years, the FCC imposes an “unjust enrichment penalty”…how’s that sit with possible investors? Why is it “unjust”?

The times have certainly changed and the number of ownership entities has steadily shrunk since the passage of the Telecommunications Act which was partly supposed to increase the number of “voices” in the broadcast environment. It didn’t. For many of you out there who have never had the fun of owning your own station, of knowing that it might be a peanut whistle, but it’s your peanut whistle, I understand.

But, it’s not totally impossible. There are opportunities. Just look around our monthly newsletter and website and the websites of other media brokers. Get your equity together…relatives, friends, credit cards, however. With some equity, there will be someone willing to carry paper.

Keep the faith and don’t give up.

That’s 30 for now…for what it’s worth!