Radio’s Most Innovative: Galaxy Communications’ Ed Levine

By Fred Jacobs, Jacobs Media

In 1990, Ed switched gears and turned his focus to ownership in the market area he knew all too well: Syracuse and Utica/Rome, New York. In the years since, Galaxy Communications has become a dominant player in both markets, both in ratings and revenue.  

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New radio station, TONY-FM emerges in Mohawk Valley

99.1 TONY-FM hit the Utica airwaves Thursday morning.

TONY-FM is a new local radio station with the motto, “we play everything!”

The station will feature a wide variety of musical genres and artists, from Billy Joel to America to Van Halen to Depeche Mode to Wham! and Adam Ant.

According to a news release, the playlist promises to be “packed with surprises.”

The station kicked off at 11 a.m. Thursday with an 10,000 song streak with no interruptions.

“Listening ti TONY-FM is going to be wild. You will never know what’s coming up next! There will be a different type of music on the air with each song that is played, plus crazy songs popping up that no other radio in the market plays,” Galaxy Communications President and CEO Ed Levine said.

99.1 TONY-FM is locally owned and operated by Galaxy Communications, with studios in the Landmarc Building in downtown Utica.

The frequency was broadcasting ESPN Radio which can still be heard at 1310 AM in Utica, 1350 AM in Rome and 1230 AM in Little Falls.

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GALAXY TOASTS LONG ISLAND BEER AND WINE EVENTS.

Aug 31st, 2016 by Inside Radio

Galaxy Communications is expanding its event empire. The upstate New York radio broadcaster is acquiring two Long Island-based beer and wine events, the “Hops & Props Craft Beer Fest” and “Taste of Flight Wine Expo” for an undisclosed sum.

Like many radio companies, Galaxy has been diversifying its business by adding live events and using its radio stations and digital media to support and promote the events. In the Syracuse and Utica, NY markets where Galaxy owns stations, the company puts on several festivals, including the popular “Taste of Syracuse” food and beverage event and “The Janesville Beach Hot Air Balloon Festival.” To manage its growing roster of events, Galaxy created a live events division, Galaxy Events.

The Long Island-based events, however, are new territory because Galaxy doesn’t own any radio stations in the market. As part of its purchase of the parent company, DBE Events, Galaxy is also retaining its chief executive, Eric Bell, who is joining the Galaxy Events team. With Bell on board, Galaxy says it can continue to grow the Long Island events and expand them to other markets.

“Buying these two terrific events gives us a foothold into the Long Island market,” Ed Levine, president and CEO of Galaxy Communications, said in a news release. “Having Eric Bell on staff will give us further ability to expand and scale our events division beyond merely where we own radio stations.”

As part of the deal, Galaxy plans to open a Long Island office. Said Bell: “I see this as a platform for growth. I was impressed by the dedication and talent of Galaxy Events team and know that working with them will help to grow the festivals that I started within the Long Island Market and will allow for additional growth in new markets.”

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PLAYING THE ‘HITS’ HAS DIFFERENT MEANING, CROSS-FORMAT.

July 25th, 2016 by Inside Radio

Classic hits, adult hits…what’s the difference right? Just play the oldies! (If you’re a radio programmer, that’s meant to be a joke.) The two goldies formats have plenty of musical crossover but, as Billy Joel covers in “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me,” they each still have a distinct persona.

“There are differences between the two formats, not necessarily because of what the two audiences like as much as what they’ve been trained to expect from the stations,” offers Edison Research VP Sean Ross. “At classic hits, one Duran Duran song is a reliable hit. Adult hits plays five, and if they’ve been built around variety as a selling point, it doesn’t matter to some PDs how the other four test.”

Still, it can be tricky to define—and refine—the format’s signature since gold-based formats must constantly evolve to pinpoint their audience sweet spots. And to make things all the more difficult, there are more than a few of those Duran Duran or “Jack and Diane”-type hits that serve both. This makes differentiating classic and adult hits risky business, although savvy players say they’ve “got this.”

“In Syracuse, I call it the Steve Miller Syndrome. You can hear ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ on no less than five radio stations in this market,” says Mimi Griswold, brand manager at Galaxy Communications. “What plays before and after that song on a classic hits station vs. an adult hits station vs. a classic rock station is what defines the station profile. It’s feel.”

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RADIO EVENTS BRING BANDS, FANS AND BRAND DOLLARS TOGETHER.

June 27th, 2016 by Inside Radio

Radio stations have enjoyed a lengthy legacy of pairing their call letters with local concerts and national tours that roll through town. Today, however, stations have come to dig for—and mine—the off-air gold that comes with adding sponsorship and promotional opportunities to their own expanding portfolio of proprietary events. It’s redefining the breadth of “non-traditional revenue.”

Many broadcast groups now devote entire divisions to live events, while fashioning sophisticated campaigns that increase the bottom line with, at times, double-digit gains.

“Radio marketing has come a long way from hanging crooked banners on concert stages,” says Pam Levine, a consultant with Galaxy Events, an arm of Galaxy Communications, which owns 14 radio stations in Syracuse and Utica, NY. “Experiential marketing has become an important way for businesses to reach customers in our communities. There are situations where the advertiser will say, ‘We don’t want to do radio at this time,’ but we offer a menu of events which might be more in line with their goals. We’ve developed business relationships with event clients that we’ve been able to morph into radio advertisers over time, and vice-versa.”

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