With a few moments of emotion in her voice, Alison Cameron has told radioinfo that it was a hard decision for her family to sell a business that has been built up over three generations, but that in the end it just made good business sense.
“Particularly in the digital sphere, you need some scale to be able to invest and get a return on investment for that. Certainly our board has been talking about that. SAC has put a lot of money into LiSTNR, we just would never have the capacity to do anything like that, so now, combined with ARN we will have that scale to do that. I think that’s exciting to the stations, actually,” Alison told radioinfo.
The decision came down to two key factors, the need for scale as the audio market changes and some strategic thinking about handing the business on to the next generation of the family, who are still young.
But the decision was also about the people who work for Grant Broadcasters, people the Alison, her mother Janet Cameron and brothers, Grant and Duguld, have come to know as friends. If they were going to sell they wanted to sell to a company that had the right fit with the family radio business that they had built up over 8 decades. ARN was that good fit.
ARN approached Grant Broadcasters in late August and after a short period of negotiation, the deal was agreed in just 10 weeks.
“Once we started talking, it was quite obvious that to us that that was the right thing to do,” Alison told radioinfo.
“There wasn’t a lot of back and forth. Most of it was the family actually making the decision that, yes, the this was the right thing to do. Is now the right time is the right time for the family, so on and so forth. Once we come to the conclusion that yes, based on the offer that had been made, it was the right time, then yes, we had an Ah Ha moment and went forward.
What does the family matriarch Janet think of the deal?
“Very mixed emotions, obviously. You know, she’s run the business for so long. All she’s ever known is radio. I think probably to be true to her, her preference would have been that we didn’t sell. But she understood it and understood the reasons behind it, so she said yes. I’m quite sad too, only because the people I love, the people I work with… I’m sad that I won’t be able to see them every day.”
Alison will still have involvement with radio because she will take up a seat on the HT&E board. The family will retain Geelong, which would contravene ownership rules if it was sold as part of the deal, and the family will still retain holdings in the joint venture radio stations it runs with Kevin Blyton.
Ciaran Davis told radioinfo that as soon as the two companies began talks, he knew the deal would be a good fit for both companies.
“I think we’ve got very similar mindsets in terms of radio and radio operations of the the power of live and local content of local personalities and the importance of it and the engagement that those that those local talent have with their audiences, their communities. We’re both very passionate and very strong about that… it seemed very quickly that there was a strong cultural fit between us as discussions were going on.
“We understand radio. We’ve got a similar philosophy on radio. That was very important to the Cameron family because of what they built, which is a fantastic business, over 80 years. They wanted to make sure that that it was maintained in many respects and wasn’t going to a home that was going to look to cut costs or syndicate content. That’s not what we’re going to do at all. We really believe in hyper local content, in local personalities who are plugged into their markets.
“That’s really important. And we’re going to work really hard to make sure that that’s a point of difference, especially against the likes of regional TV and regional radio.”
Listen to our chat with Alison Cameron above and Ciaran Davis below, in two special radioinfo podcasts.
Read the history of Grant Broadcasters here.