Jimmy Sledge: It’s About Trust

First Radio Job: KWRF/ Warren, AR, working nights and weekends while I was going to college.

Current Job: Owner & GM,

KGPQ/KHBM/KXSA/KWRF FM & KHBM/KWRF AM

Your school? University of Arkansas – Monticello

Typical work day: In the office by 7am every day. I do play by play for the local high school in Warren. I also do University of Arkansas – Monticello football and basketball play by play.

What are you reading? Nothing. I don’t have time to read.

Best vacation you ever had: My 25th wedding anniversary, my wife and I took a cruise to the Bahamas. Got away from the radio stations and couldn’t be reached by cellphone out there on the boat, and really enjoyed a 3 day/3 night cruise. It was a short time, but it was the best time.

Favorite restaurant: The River in Monticello

Favorite beverage: Dr Pepper

Website:  None

Contact Info: pines.broadcasting@sbcglobal.net, (870)367-6854

“We work to provide for our communities.”

Dad was a broadcaster? He started as an engineer in 1953, and bought the station in Warren in 1959. He retired in 1991, and my wife and I purchased the station from him.

In 2007, I bought the stations in Monticello. Now, we have two studios, one in Warren for KWRF AM/FM. My dad is 87, and he still comes to the office every day. The studio in Monticello houses the other stations, 16 miles away.  We live right next door to the station, and Dad walks to the office to see how everything is going.

Small Market StoriesWhat got you started in radio? Dad offered me a job working and selling some on the side while I was going to college. When I graduated from college with a business degree, I couldn’t find a different job.

I love radio. I enjoy doing the sports broadcasts, even though it takes up a lot of time, and you miss a lot of family time when you are gone. Being a small town broadcaster in rural Arkansas, you have to do what you have to do. People down here are behind their local sports teams, so you try to connect them and keep them connected when those teams travel.

Who have your radio heroes been? A good friend in radio business, Bobby Caldwell, started out in Wynne, AR, and now he owns 16 stations with his East Arkansas Broadcasters. He’s a good businessman, a good operator, and knows what he’s doing in the radio business.

You never left your home town? Born & raised in Warren, and still live there. I commute to the Monticello studios every day.

What’s it like doing play by play for your high school and college alma maters? It’s fun. I took a hiatus on the high school part of it when my sons played, because it’s hard to say something good about your own child, because then listeners will just say “He’s bragging about his kid.” But, it’s hard to say something bad about them, because then their grandmothers are mad at you. That was about 6 years of not doing high school play by play.

Sledge,-Jimmy-KWRFFor college, it’s good to go back and keep people informed. We do it on 93.7 KHPN, and the college also broadcasts it on their web page, so it’s available to all alumni that want to listen on the internet.

Sales? I’m the GM, owner & sales manager for both sites. I still oversee a lot of the sales.

What’s it like selling to people you’ve known your whole life? It’s about trust. You develop that over the years.  They know that you’re not going to sell them a pile of nothing. They know you’ve got their best interests at heart, because they know that if they make money, you make money. You develop that trust with any client, and that makes it easy to walk in and say I’ve got a package for you, and let’s see if we can’t increase your business this week.

How many sales people? 3.

And you’re # 4? Yes.

And you’re selling 6 radio stations? We’re small communities, here in southeast Arkansas. Everybody knows everybody. We already had a good rapport in Monticello, when we were just in the Warren market, and we knew a lot of the merchants in Monicello and in the surrounding communities. People were comfortable with us, they already knew us, and knew what kind of product we were going to put out, and that we would have their interests at heart.

What do you run on each of the stations? KWRF – FM, we run a 2-hour live morning show, 6-8a, and then a noon hour, and then a live hour 4-5p, 6 days a week. Sunday mornings are all live with religious broadcasting, 7a-12n.

Sledge,-Jimmy,-KHBMKHBM in Monticello does a live morning show 6-9a, and then we’re automated the rest of the day.

The AMs are all automated, 24/7.

Music? Spoken word? It’s all music, and we have 6 formats. Classic rock on KHBM 93.7. Hot AC on 99.9 KGPQ. In KXSA 103.1, we do Contemporary Country. On KWRF-FM we do Today’s Best Country. On KWRF-AM, and on a transponder, we do True Oldies. And on KHBM-AM 1430 and 98.9 FM transponder, we do Music of Your Life.

Do you have competitors? We pretty well own it. The closest radio station is 40 miles away, so we’re dominant in the markets we’re in. They try and sell in our town … and we sell in their town.

KGPQHow big are the cities? Monticello is about 10,000 and Warren is about 7,000.

What are you doing on the tech side? There’s a lot. We have to make sure the satellite receivers are working and hitting their breaks, and the automation system is working. That’s how we can run with such a short staff: 5 people. And that’s including my wife, who’s part-time. She’s the bookkeeper, and does the billing. Bonnie Ellis, our office manager, does all of the programming and all of the logs.

Who does the morning shows? On KWRF-FM Richard Garrison does the morning show; he’s been with us since he was in high school, and he’s 55 now. 37 years!

Larry Dogget – they call him the Round Mound of Sound – he does the morning show on KHBM, and he is one of the salesmen. He works 6-9, and then is out selling the rest of the day.

How do you do the PBPs? On the high school level, it’s all done by cellphone. We run it through our little mixer, and then have people back at the stations to run the breaks. At the college, they provide us with landlines.

HD? No. We’re from LA … that’s not Los Angeles, its Lower Arkansas. We’re just thankful to be on the air and broadcasting in stereo on some of the stations … still in mono on one. We work to provide for our communities.

Sledge,-Jimmy,-KXSAStreaming? Social media? Some people may think we’re living in the dark ages, but this is how we do it. Mr. Doggett does do some Facebook.

No website? Why not? I’m not a computer guy, and I am not ready to hire somebody to do it. It’s just not feasible. We’re probably missing some money, but with all we’ve got going on keeping the 6 stations on the air and sounding good, it’s hard to justify hiring someone to do the website.

How do you market the radio stations? Just on-air. We giveaways and promotions in house … it’s the way I was brought up to market the radio station locally.

Events? Lots of festivals. Remotes with retailers and clients. Sports is big. If something happens and we don’t make a sporting event, or we have technical issues and aren’t on the air, then I’m going to hear it the next morning at the coffee shop.

How do you staff all of the games you do? Part-timers? I have a guy that’s helped me for 24 years that does color. In Monticello, we do Monticello High School, and there’s a local banker and lawyer that does PBP and color. In Star City, there’s a school teacher and a nursing home director that helps us out. And then, over in McGee, on KXSA, there’s an insurance salesman and another banker that are very involved in their communities that do the broadcasts.

All of them are very involved in their schools, and it’s a way for them to be involved with their towns. They enjoy doing it. We pay them a little bit, but most of it is volunteer work. They want to be a part of it and  make sure that people that are at home and can’t travel to the games can at least listen to them.

How much of your time is selling versus managing or on-air?   75% selling, probably. Between managing, engineering, and all, that’s the rest of my time.

Who does the creative? Spots are in-house. All of the salespeople produce their own spots. We try and get the clients to come in and do their own spots, and we’re successful with that.

Smarts Broadcast System

Jimmy is a long-time customer of Smarts Broadcast Systems. His company is currently using both our Smartcaster automation system and the Second Generation Traffic & Billing system.

30 Years

About Henry Mowry

Henry grew up listening to the World's Happiest Broadcasters on WHB/Kansas City. He found his way to Los Angeles, where he did radio promotions for Six Flags Magic Mountain. From there, he had a 22-year run with Radio & Records, doing everything from national radio buys to regional night club promotions to eventually becoming Director of Sales for R&R. After a couple of years working with Radio-Info.com, he became Director of Marketing for Smarts Broadcast Systems.
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