The main man came to town.
Larry Wilson, the owner of 250 radio stations across the country, visited his Alpha Media Topeka stations Tuesday and Wednesday.
Founder and chairman of Alpha Media Live-Local-USA, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Mr. Wilson was spending a few days in Kansas City visiting family.
Admitting a need “to get away from the grandkids,” Mr. Wilson drove to Topeka, after flying to the city in his own personal airplane earlier in the week.
Mr. Wilson was with department heads of 580 WIBW, The BIG 94.5 Country and Country Legends 106.9, Tuesday afternoon.
The entire staff, now 44 employees, had a sit-down visit with Mr. Wilson the next morning, as he spent the afternoon touring the building, talking to everybody there.
During the morning get-together, Larry Riggins, general manager of the Alpha Topeka stations, reviewed transitions since Alpha Media takeover, and introduced Mr. Wilson.
“You have a great stable of stations. It’s really pretty cool what you have to offer,” Mr. Wilson assured. “With such a powerful tower, our stations are the cream of the crop.”
Recognizing that incorporation of Country Legends along with 580 and 94.5 had required adjustments, Mr. Wilson insisted, “I’m very optimistic, very bullish for the future of Alpha Media in Topeka.”
Briefly reviewing his life in radio and acquisition-changes within the past year, Mr. Wilson emphasized: “We practice what we preach. We’re live and local. That distinguishes us from most of the radio stations here and around the country.”
Relationships are essential for progress. “We must work for our listeners and for our clients. This is a two sided business,” Mr. Wilson said.
Community involvement and creating live events make Alpha Media stations the recognized servant for the radio audience.
The importance of employee wellness was noted, as Mr. Wilson talked about his personal exercise-dietary changes. “We must be in good physical shape to be in shape financially,” he said.
Alpha Media has more than 2,400 employees, working in the 250 stations, in 51 markets making it the fourth largest broadcast company in the United States.
Mr. Wilson, along with Endeavor Capital and other partners, in 2009, formed Alpha Broadcasting which originally operated six radio stations in Portland, Oregon. In 2012, Mr. Wilson formed L&L Broadcasting, and began to acquire additional radio stations across the country.
In July 2014, the two companies merged creating Alpha Media covering all formats. In early 2016, Mr. Wilson led the efforts that doubled Alpha Media’s size with the acquisition of the 116 Digity radio stations.
“It was a long tedious process to get this accomplished, but important to make our station group more powerful,” Mr. Wilson stated.
In addition to the radio stations, Alpha Media owns intimate live performance venues in three states.
Earlier in his 35 year radio career, Mr. Wilson co-founded Citadel Communications in Phoenix, With Mr. Wilson’s leadership, Citadel expanded its radio presence to 26 states and grew to own and operate 205 radio stations in 42 markets. Citadel Communications was sold in 2001.
Mr. Wilson first began managing and investing in radio stations while he served as an executive at Combined Communications, after finishing his law degree at the University of Arizona. He received his undergraduate degree in accounting at Northern Arizona University.
Known for philanthropy to animals, land and medical needs, Mr. Wilson resides in Bigfork, Montana with his wife, Lynn, and his dogs, Bear and Muddy.
Bear was rescued by Mr. Wilson and now appears in caricature at Alpha headquarters, in print and online. “Bear runs the company. I’m just this figurehead,” Wilson claimed.
When going above and beyond regular duties, employees at the Topeka stations receive a “Bear” patch for their Alpha Media jerseys, signifying them on the “A Team.”
Topeka general manager Larry Riggins presented Mr. Wilson a special Alpha Media Topeka jersey and a “Bear” insignia.
“Our commitment to the communities and the radio industry is to never stop learning and recognizing opportunities for growth,” Mr. Wilson said.