Talktainment Radio aims to help locally-owned stations stay in business

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Charles McCrimmon is going back to his roots.

The founder and managing partner of Matrix Media Services, an out-of-home media advertising agency based in Columbus, has launched an Internet radio station that offers affordable ready-to-air programming to struggling stations.

“Talktainment Radio started in 2005 and initially began  live streaming on UStream,” McCrimmon says. “In early 2010, we settled on the current Internet radio platform and have been building our audiences and programming since then.”

To date, Talktainment has more than 40 talk radio-style programs covering a range of topics, including love and relationships, college sports, Internet technology, Ohio and national politics, personal finance, current affairs, and religion. The programs are professionally produced, recorded live in studio, optimized for online distribution, and available as podcasts on the Talktainment website and through the iTunes marketplace.

“I’m a traditional radio guy, that’s where I started and I am disheartened to see so many local radio stations forced to go off the air because they can’t afford the high price to play music,” McCrimmon says.

Read on to learn who has helped him get his latest enterprise off the ground, how he keeps employee morale up, and what he considers the most rewarding aspect of owning a business.

The Metropreneur: First, can you briefly tell us why the cost to play music has risen?

Charles McCrimmon: In response to the United States House and Senate judiciary committees approval of bills that would require performance fees for broadcast radio, lawmakers encouraged the National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America to negotiate a deal to resolve the issue of performance royalties for traditional radio. Last year, the broadcasters group released a plan that would require radio stations to pay about $100 million a year in performance fees.

This plan would mean the largest stations pay about 1 percent of their net revenue and smaller stations paying smaller fees. If this happens, small and medium-sized radio stations may be unable to play music. We hope to help those stations looking for alternatives to going off the air.

[M]: Your programs are described as “ready-to-air.” What does that mean?

CM: This means stations can purchase Talktainment Radio programs and included in that cost is the content as well as the production of their commercials. When a station receives the program it is ready to play over the air right away.

[M]: How many stations currently air your programs and where are they located?

CM: At this point, stations in Youngstown and Wilberforce, Ohio are considering purchasing Talktainment Radio programming.

[M]: Talktainment offers more than 40 talk radio programs. I know state Sen. Charleta Tavares hosts one of them. Anyone else we might know?

CM: Many people are happy to see the return of Bob Fitrakis to radio. He has revived “Fight Back with Bob Fitrakis” on Talktainment Radio to tremendous fanfare. Bob Fitrakis is a political commentator and long-time columnist with The Free Press. He has a great reputation and following, and we are so pleased to have him!

[M]: You’ve teamed up with two radio industry colleagues –Charles Richardson and Khari Enaharo− to create Talktainment’s radio programs. Why did you choose to work with these men in particular?

CM: Charles Richardson and Khari Enaharo are both media professionals. Both Charles and Khari have extensive radio experience in all areas, with over 20 years individually and tremendous success throughout the country. It was a no-brainer. Richardson is a former general manager and vice president of Radio One, he’s been a head executive with radio stations and networks across the country from Alabama to New York. Besides being  my brother, Khari and I have worked together for years. Plus, he has the highest-rated talk radio show on Radio One.

[M]: You’re also the founder and managing partner of Matrix Media Services. How has that professional experience impacted the work you do with Talktainment?

CM: Through Matrix Media Services I continue dealing with all aspects of media and radio. I  especially understand that it’s not the medium, it’s the message. I understand that all media work, however, some messages are not appropriate for all media outlets.

[M]: What are your goals for Talktainment?

CM: An important goal with Talktainment Radio is to develop content that is broadcast on traditional radio. I want to provide content for small to medium-sized radio stations that want to change their format to talk radio. Also, I want to provide diverse content for radio listeners. Ultimately, I want to make Talktainment Radio competitive in the market and the world, and position Talktainment Radio for syndication.

[M]: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business owner and how did you overcome it?

CM: Keeping people motivated can be challenging. I overcome this challenge with job enrichment by ensuring individuals get a full range of activities within the business and don’t get stuck in a role that isn’t challenging. Many people are now multi-taskers and they get bored easily, so it’s important to give them multiple things to do so they don’t get bored and we lose morale.

[M]: What’s the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?

CM: When you own your own business you are responsible to the people you employ. What’s rewarding is seeing them grow and become experts in their own right. Early on, employees are dependent, but as you continue they become more independent, mastering their field. It’s rewarding to see them grow and develop.

[M]: Is there anything else we should know?

CM: We are here to serve the communities, and I say “communities” rather than “community,” whether they are in San Jose, California, Dallas, Texas, or Columbus, Ohio. There is a groundswell of activity in Columbus and we want people, regardless of where they are geographically, to feel as though they can rely on Talktainment Radio for their information and entertainment.

To learn more about Talktainment, visit TalktainmentRadio.com.