Blog: Tim Martz

Tim Martz is president and CEO of Martz Communications Group (MCG), a privately owned radio broadcasting company based in San Francisco, Calif.  MCG is the umbrella organization for a number of companies owned by Tim, a veteran radio broadcaster who has owned radio stations for more than 25 years.  
    
Historically, the company's strategy has been to purchase underperforming stations in small markets, increase power and move the stations to larger markets. Tim has owned and operated more than 25 radio stations.  Most of these stations were sold at strategic times to maximize profitability.

After the sale of six more stations three years ago, Tim currently operates seven radio stations and owns licenses for seven additional stations.  Those currently operating are based in Detroit, Pittsburgh and Montreal.  The most successful one is WYUL-FM (94.7 HITS), Montreal's #1 Hit Music Station.

Over a year ago, Tim began buying licenses for low-power FM radio stations outside of major markets including Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Memphis, Kansas City, Dallas/Ft. Worth as well as Detroit and Pittsburgh.  The company is in the process of moving each of the stations into these cities.

A native of Canada, Tim has a B.A. in business from McGill University in Montreal and his MBA from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.  A financial manager by training, he ran mergers and acquisitions programs for a number of larger corporations including Cleveland-based Eaton Corporation.  He currently resides in San Francisco.

Tim Martz - Most Recent Posts:

Post 1: Why did we dial into Detroit?

Metro Detroit has had to fight for its smooth jazz station, but we're in the business of giving the D formats that Detroiters want.  
Martz Communications Group had traditionally been a small market radio broadcaster until 10 years ago when we engineered a move into Montreal and programmed a Top 40 radio station for that market.  Based on our success in Montreal, we've looked for other opportunities to engineer moves into other major radio markets and we jumped on the opportunities to move into Detroit and Pittsburgh.

We think Detroit is a great market with major potential.  Much maligned, it has so much going for it that does not make the national media.  Now that the economy and auto industry has stabilized and shown signs of coming back, so has Detroit.  It's the 9th largest market in the country and it would be crazy to pass Detroit up.  

Market radio revenues offer the best barometer of the state of the economy.  Once at nearly $250M annually, it plummeted to $150M three years ago, and has steadily started to come back.  Current year estimates are in the $180-$190M range.

Detroit is also a great music and radio market, with so many innovations as well as historic musical roots.  Detroit was and is one of the best jazz markets in the country, and its radio stations reflected and tapped into the jazz market - first WJZZ and more recently CBS Radio's V98.7.  When CBS dropped the smooth jazz format two years ago for yet another Top 40 format, it left a huge void in the market.  It was that void that attracted us and we targeted it from the moment we got the license.

We launched 104.7 The Oasis on April 20 and have been overwhelmed by the response from Detroiters.  According to Arbitron, the June ratings (released to the public July 13) show The Oasis with nearly 100,000 in weekly listeners.

The Detroit radio audience shares similarities with other large urban markets, especially Chicago and but Detroit is arguably one of the strongest jazz markets in the country.  Smooth Jazz has a strong history in Metro Detroit and we're really excited to see where we can take 104.7 The Oasis.


Post 2: The Guerrilla Show

Originally credited to author Jay Conrad Levinson, Wikipedia describes guerrilla marketing as "unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources".  The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create buzz by using unconventional eye and ear-catching and oft-time outrageous concepts.

With our roots in small market radio, we've never had huge marketing budgets, and relied on more unconventional techniques.

Guerrilla marketing is most effective with a younger audience, which tends to be more receptive to outrageous stunts and slogans, and in general and within limitation, the more outrageous the better.

In radio, if you are targeting an established radio station, you want to target the station's listeners.  One of the most successful strategies is to send logo station vehicles or mobile billboards to competing radio station events.

In Montreal, the target of our 94.7 HITS-FM was heritage station Mix 96.  For the first three months of our existence, our entire on air and billboard campaign revolved around "Nix The Mix".  Our website was nixthemix.com, our telephone number was 888-NIX-THE-MIX.  And we appeared at every Mix 96 listener event.   Not surprisingly, Mix 96 was not thrilled about our approach.  The campaign was so successful that the parent company of Mix 96 invested in our company.

In Detroit, our 94.3 The Bone has targeted younger skewing Alternative Rock 89X, a Canadian station that we felt was vulnerable.  

More recently, the emergence of social networking has opened up additional avenues, and made it easier to target a competitor's audience.  We've created an interesting conversation between the listeners and the station and whether you receive criticism or encouragement, you've got people talking about your station and tuning in to see what the chatter is all about. 

Post 3: David vs. Goliath – Saving The Oasis

It was May 19, 2011, the day Detroit battled over the new smooth jazz station 104.7 The Oasis and showed the radio industry just how important the listeners are.

Texas-based multi-national corporation, Clear Channel Radio, filed a complaint and aimed to shut down Martz Communication Group's newest station addition and silence 104.7 The Oasis. Clear Channel's lawyers filed a Complaint with the Federal Consumers Complaints (FCC) demanding that the FCC order the station off the air due to 104.7 The Oasis interfering with the reception of one of its Toledo, Ohio radio stations – not in Ohio – but in parts of the Metro Detroit area. The Oasis listeners were outraged and took action.

Long a favorite with Detroiters, the smooth jazz format disappeared from the radio dial previously in 2009 when another mega media corporation (New York-based CBS) switched V98.7 to Top 40. The smooth jazz format was revived in April when we signed on The Oasis.

As soon as we received the complaint we went to work establishing a grass roots effort through a special Save The Oasis website as well as social and traditional media campaigns. We received an outpouring of support, we called on fans to react and asked for their help with petitions and letters to the Mayor, congressmen, representatives, any one who would listen.

Fortunately we were able to come to an agreement with Clear Channel and solve the issue amicably, but I don't think that would have happened if the listeners hadn't gotten involved. We were able to keep 104.7 The Oasis on the air - it just goes to show you can't take smooth jazz from Detroit.

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