Bucking The Trend

One radio station is thriving despite industry slowdown

Economic turmoil may be hurting the advertising industry, but Springfield, Massachusetts-based Cutting Edge Broadcasting Inc., is bucking the trend. The station, which broadcasts adult contemporary music (a mixture of jazz and easy listening) generated $500,000 in advertising revenues through November 2001. This is double what was recorded for all of 2000.

President and General Manager Carole Moore Cutting is looking for national advertisers. To accomplish this, she’s using a variety of methods to reach them, including cold calling and trying to lure national sales representatives.

Cutting founded the company’s station, WEIB 106.3 Smooth FM, in 1999 with $750,000 from her own savings and family contributions. As she learned the hard way, there are just two ways to start a radio station: buy an existing one or wait for a frequency to open up.

Cutting, 53, applied to the FCC to begin broadcasting when the 106.3 frequency became available in 1984 but was quickly challenged by an existing broadcaster, who also wanted the frequency. A lawsuit ensued which lasted nearly eight years. At the first level of the FCC’s Comparative Hearing Process, an Administrative Law Judge ruled in her favor, but the competitor appealed the decision. So the case was remanded to the FCC Review Board and the Washington DC Court of Appeals, where Cutting finally was victorious in 1993.

But her fight was far from over. Despite the lawsuit, Cutting filed the FCC application in 1984 for a location for the station’s broadcast antenna. She had to lease antenna space on a tower from an existing broadcaster. When the FCC granted the construction permit in 1991, she tried to exercise her right to use the space only to find she had to pay for a series of inspections to determine if the tower could support another antenna. The studies concluded that it couldn’t, so every six months she had to file for an extension to the construction permit so she could search for a new tower. It was seven years before she found a new tower.

Now, Cutting’s six-employee company continues to sign up new local advertisers — despite a sluggish economy. She also remains confident that even more will come as the station grows in popularity.

Pierre “Pepe” Sutton, chairman of the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters in New York, of which Cutting is a member, points to Cutting’s ability to persevere as her biggest advantage. “Carole’s success is no doubt borne of her persistence, and the fact that she struggled long and hard to get where she is,” says Sutton.

If Cutting’s moxie can lead to higher revenues in this economy, the outlook for her station will only brighten as industry conditions begin to improve.

Cutting Edge Broadcasting Inc., 8 North King St., North Hampton, MA 10160; 413-585-1112.

ACROSS THE WEB