Published on Friday, 03 August 2012 14:33
The owners of the popular Chicago-based radio industry website Radio-Info.com have agreed to merge their company with that of the parent organization of radio industry magazine website, Talkers.com. The transaction becomes effective on August 19th.
Rick & Diana Fleming, the owners of In3media, Inc., the parent company of Radio-Info.com
, decided it was time for them to retire. They reached out to Talk Media, Inc., the parent company of Springfield, MA-based Talkers
magazine, who agreed to a corporate merger. While Talkers will still be wholly corporately owned and operated by Talk Media, Inc., Radio-Info.com will now be owned and operated by a new corporate entity: Radio Info, Inc. The Flemings will be minority owners in the new company, but not directly responsible for Radio-Info.com's operations anymore.
Once the deal is finalized, Radio-Info.com will no longer be based out of its Chicago headquarters at 65 E. Wacker Place, but will instead be operated out of Talk Media, Inc.'s headquarters out east. Michael Harrison, Publisher of Talkers, will now also serve as Publisher of Radio-Info.com.
As these are all privately held companies, exact terms of the transaction are not being made public.
The plan is to continue to maintain both Talkers magazine/Talkers.com and Radio-Info.com as separate entities, both with their own independent branding, identities, and of course, websites. There will be changes to be expected at Radio-Info.com after the merger, though.
One major change has already happened, prior to the merger officially taking place. Radio-Info.com is suspending, or in most cases, canceling its many newsletters and columns, as of this week. (The one exception: Tom Taylor's daily email of radio news will continue on for one more week.) Phyllis Stark, who wrote the regular "Stark Country" e-newsletters, wrote yesterday in her column entitled "Goodbye (For Now)
," this sad farewell:
"This will be the final edition of Stark Country, as published by Radio-Info.com. As I mentioned in Tuesday's article, 'Stories That Have Inspired, Amused And Enlightened,' the company is ceasing publication of its format newsletters, effective immediately. I will be leaving the company tomorrow. And as you may have read in this week's farewell columns from my talented colleagues Sean Ross, Dana Hall, Valerie Geller and Daniel Anstandig, I am not alone."
Some of Radio-Info's current staff will be invited to continue on with the new ownership, while others will not be able to do so. Exact names and numbers of who will be staying or going are not yet known.
Though they are semi-retiring from the business, Rick & Diana Fleming will maintain ownership of In3media, Inc. They will also retain ownership of Radio-Info.com's message boards. Currently, those message boards do not figure into the upcoming plans of the new Radio-Info.com after Radio Info, Inc. takes ownership. Nothing has been definitively decided on the future of those message boards. They could be moved elsewhere to a new domain name, could be merged with another radio industry website, could be dissolved, or could remain via a link on the new Radio-Info.com (although that last option seems unlikely at this time).
Michael Harrison told CRM by telephone today that the plan is make Radio-Info.com more of a supportive, online magazine for the terrestrial radio industry. The industry has faced some tough times recently, and he wants Radio-Info.com to be the top promoter and supporter of it, as radio can use all the help it can get right now. Unlike Talkers.com, which focuses primarily on radio's talk shows, Radio-Info.com will focus on the entire industry, not just one portion of it.
For those who fear that by having Radio-Info.com owned by Talkers, the website would focus too much on spoken word formats, there is nothing to fear. In fact, Michael Harrison said to CRM today, "For talk radio to thrive, terrestrial radio must have a healthy music radio format." The two very different styles of radio are both equally important to the industry as a whole.
Radio-Info.com was started in 1999 by Doug Fleming, Lance Venta and Tanim Hussain. The three young men merged together some regional radio message boards that had been started a few years prior, and made a website full of radio message boards for the entire country. For the most part, Venta and Hussain oversaw the message boards (with the help of a system administrator and numerous volunteer moderators), while Fleming oversaw the business operations of the website, hoping to one day make it both bigger and profitable. In July 2005, Doug Fleming passed away at age of only 28. Ownership of the domain names was held by Fleming and was then given to his parents Rick & Diana Fleming after his death.
The Fleming family was able to assume full, legal ownership of the website and less than a year after Doug Fleming's passing, decided to take the website in a different direction. Diana Fleming took over the running of the website, and in April 2006, fired Venta, Hussain, and most of the moderators. (Venta went on to form a competing website, RadioInsight.com
.) As a tribute to her late son and to continue to push forward some of the concepts that Doug Fleming had planned for it, Diana Fleming decided to make the website less of a niche haven for "radio geeks," and more of a respectable, commercial, radio industry resource. She hired a handful of writers from other publications (Billboard, Radio & Records, etc.) to contribute news items and columns, found advertisers, and greatly increased the website's popularity.
Publisher Michael Harrison founded the print publication Talkers magazine in the summer of 1990, with its content focusing primarily on the talk/spoken word programming of the radio industry. The magazine is now online-only, found at Talkers.com, with daily news updates and many special features, including its highly talked about annual "Talkers 250" list, with its "Heavy Hundred" ranking.