Thinking Beyond the Transmitter

At times, radio can be a tough business; ratings rise and fall, musical tastes change, formats perish and instability is on the rise.  At the same time, there are fundamental changes occurring right now in the choices people have to consume audio and many are beyond a transmitter and an AM/FM radio. 

Tom Leykis knows a lot about this. 

Tom is a venerable talk radio host having worked in several major markets and later a syndicated program on Westwood One.  In 2009, even though he had a sizable following on a station in Los Angeles, the station was failing and so Leykis, along with Adam Carolla, Danny Bonaduce and others found themselves without shows. 

Tom knew the radio landscape was changing.  He understood getting back on the air in an age of cutbacks and consolidation might be difficult.

He also knew he had assets including good market familiarity, a loyal core audience and a database with over 10,000 names. 

Streaming was a nascent business back then, but sitting at his kitchen table, Leykis did his homework and started mapping his own business plan using streamed audio, on-demand audio, apps and social media to continue his show without the benefit of a transmitter.

He converted a laundromat in Burbank, Ca. to a studio, started mastering “bit rates” and social media.  He learned how to use Quickbooks.  He cut a deal with Compass Media to represent his inventory and after waiting out a non-compete, in April 2012, Tom was back “on the air” - this time on his own 24/7 internet channel he calls “The New Normal Network.”

While his show is live in the afternoon, it is streamed 24/7 so people can listen at any time, which has significantly increased his weekly audience.      

He also has a podcast called “Premium Tom”  and a commercial free version called Super Premium Tom. 

Lean at the start, today "The Tom Show" has a producer, screener and engineer. 

Leykis says “it is the most rewarding work I have done in 20 years, but it’s work.” He says he does not miss commercial radio, calling it “toxic and difficult to be creative any longer.”  He also doesn’t miss the rating imperative to shock people and be over-the-top.  

Tom also took his deep interest in wine and created a weekly podcast called “The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis,” and markets his own brand of wine. 

Leykis, Adam Carolla, Mark Marin and others had their radio careers disrupted, but by thinking beyond the transmitter have each built robust success.  Tom is a great example of using today’s tools and technology to become a multi-platform winner. 

Think beyond the transmitter.

This item originally appeared on All Access

Steve Goldstein will be moderating AM/FM/Podcast: Radio's Pathway to Podcasting, a key panel at Podcast Movement in Chicago on Thursday July 7, with Larry Rosin/Edison Research, Traug Keller/ESPN Audio, Greg Strassell/Hubbard Radio, Sarah Van Mosel/Acast, and John Rosso/Triton Digital 

On Friday July 8, a presentation with compelling data about podcast listening in a short attention span world: "They Aren't Listening to Your Entire Podcast - 7 Ways To Fix It."