“It’s a free job, you don’t get 10 cents for doing it, but it’s great to serve your community.”
What got you started in radio? I’m a second generation broadcaster; my mother was a program director, and she hired a guy who had just come out of WWII, and he became my father. He was hired to do sports; my first job was hanging out with my Dad doing engineering at the ballgames.
When I came home and bought my hometown radio station, my Dad did the sports PBP for a couple of years.
Royse Radio started in July 1988. It was an AM/FM combo. Back in the day, under the 80/90 docket, all of the class Cs had to get above 1,084’, and I helped the owner figure out where to put the tower, and he eventually sold me the station. It’s the same station my Mom was PD for in 1951 when she hired my Dad. I still have her desk.
Mom graduated from college … girls didn’t go to college much back then. And, of course, back then, a PD didn’t resemble PDs like we have today … she was basically involved in the local news. It was locally generated news programming. I’ve got a picture of her wearing a press tag when western Kentucky’s Alban Barkly, the VP under Truman, came to Glasgow and she covered his appearance.
Today, my son Wes is on in the afternoons, so he’s the third generation at this station.
Who have your radio heroes been? Lon Sosh in Russellville, KY is probably the best promoter I’ve ever known. He understood local radio and how to reach out to local people. I learned to do what I do from him.
You weren’t well known in Glasgow when you bought your stations. How did you become a part of your community? Personally, coming home, I just started from scratch. I was “Hank’s son,” but no one really knew me. I graduated from high school here, but I hadn’t lived here for several years when I bought WCLU AM & FM.
I got involved in the community. Chamber of Commerce, Rotary … in both organizations I started as a member and eventually became the President. I’ve also been very involved in local charities. I’ve emcee’d everything from pet shows at the county fair to shows at the local theater.
My biggest involvement, which I do with a great deal of pride, is to be the chairman of the local hospital. It’s a 187-bed hospital and we are currently doing a $30 million expansion. I’ve been on the board 12 years. It’s a free job, you don’t get 10 cents for doing it, but it’s great to serve your community.
From the radio standpoint, we do 6 full local newscasts every day. We cover the city council meetings live with a reporter.
We carry the championships for Little League, in conjunction with the local cable outlet. Our sports director, the voice of the Scotties, also does the Little League championships, and interviews the players at the end. It’s a great incentive for the teams to play hard and get on the radio. It doesn’t have to be hokey to be local … our PBP guy does a good job.
What are you doing on the tech side? Our Tascam digital recorders allow us to cover community events in person and then instantly have a way to edit it and get it on the air. They are fabulous.
We use the Barix equipment to get studio quality lines from my house and other places. I’ve found that to be surprisingly reliable. We try to be technically sound, but at the same time, we haven’t switched our studios to digital … we’re going to have to, but we need to plan for that.
I’ve been a longtime user of the Smarts automation system. Smarts is very good at helping me figure out ways to do what I need to do on-air. For example, I invented a way that our PBP guy at the gymnasium can control the studio remotely to put our stations into simulcast. Smarts helped me put that together. Good people. You get to know them all by first name.
HD? I replaced the old transmitter with a Harris transmitter that is HD ready, but haven’t purchased the exciter and license. When the time comes, we’ll go HD.
We want to broadcast HD, but like a lot of people, we’re still climbing out of this recession, and we’ll make it just fine. You have to declare the things that you want to do that you can afford to do now, as opposed to launching an experiment that may not pay off for a while.
I like the HD concept. There are many things that could be done with it, even in this market.
Streaming? We stream our locally produced newscasts and sports programs. We’re not streaming music at this time due to the royalties situation.
Website? Our whole web presence is centered around our local news. We stream our locally produced news and sports, which are popular. It helps build and extend our brand name.
For example, on-air we do everything we can to get people to go to the local homecoming football game, and on the website we’ll list the homecoming court and their escorts. We can’t list them on-air in a newscast, but we can list them online, which gives us another avenue to build our news brand.
In the beginning, though, we were reluctant to do anything with the web that would hurt the radio. For a while, we didn’t put a single news story on the web until after we aired it, but we eventually figured out that didn’t help us. Not everybody is going to wait until the 5 o’clock news broadcast.
Some of the newspaper sites are also very reluctant to let their site do things before their print edition. Learning how to use their websites well is changing their industry, too.
We also have the Swap & Shop, and people can submit items through the website. That’s working out well.
Do you make money on the digital side? We don’t make much money, but we get a little bit of money from local businesses selling sponsorships, such as for flower shops on the obituary pages. The main value of the website at this point is to build identity for the radio station.
I had a meeting with a Nashville agency for a local car dealer, and they said “We really like the web, we’re just not going to pay for it.” So in other words, if you want to give it to us, that’s fine, but don’t try and package it as if there’s value there. I found that appalling.
Twitter? Yes, our news is tweeted. Personally, I have not, I don’t want to get into it until I have the time to master it.
What do you do outside of the office? What’s fun? I like doing yard work! I also enjoy going to sporting events. I follow my Western Kentucky Hilltoppers – Big Red.
What would you tell someone who wants to get into the radio business? It is a rewarding career. It’s an industry where you can use your strengths and directly see their benefit. In TV, it takes 10 people to do a newscast. In radio, one person can get on air to promote a local event and see immediate success. It’s very rewarding to see how you can help your community in a very direct way
It’s an industry that is rapidly changing. If you can’t accept change, don’t get into it. Be prepared to change, and you’ll enjoy getting to work with people.
A Traditional Approach! Henry has used our Smartcaster automation system for many years. We’re happy to be a part of WCLU AM & FM.