Thursday, September 29, 2016

9.29.16 Heroes of the Day: Jerry and Sheryl Coyne

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Names: Jerry and Sheryl Coyne
Ages: 55, 50
Occupation: radio station owners
Last Seen: Grayling, MI
Awarded For: showing people the PROPER way of owning a radio station


Just four years ago, Jerry and Sheryl Coyne gave up their lives in the big city and headed up north to fulfill their life-long dream of owning their own radio station.

She just happened to work ad sales at CBS Radio in Detroit and he owned a company that did electrical work. They pooled their life savings and bought three radio stations in Grayling in 2012 whose owner suffered a stroke.

When the Coynes formed Blarney Stone Broadcasting that year, the stations they purchased only had one full-time employee and all three stations were fed entirely off of satellite. The stations had very little local programming.

Aside from installing LED lights, Jerry lived and breathed rock 'n roll. He played in several bands in the Detroit area and even wrote articles in a few magazines. He knew that when he and Sheryl bought the three stations, it would be risky flipping the most-powerful station in the trio, 60,000-watt 100.3 from country to rock. In an age where rock stations are either alternative, classic rock or active rock, Jerry's idea was simple: anything goes.

Q100 was born in 2013 and created a tidal wave in northern Michigan. He encouraged listeners to call in with requests and they did. Many of the songs people wanted to hear were songs not played on the air in a while.

I was flustered in the beginning when I heard that northern Michigan had gained yet another classic rock station, but when they started streaming from their website, I wiped the egg from my face. I clearly knew that Q100 was definitely not another KLT clone. It was KLT... on steroids.

Yesterday during the 4:00 hour, I heard a few familiar tunes (Uriah Heep's "Easy Living", Greg Kihn Band's "The Break-Up Song" and REO Speedwagon's "Time For Me To Fly"), a few deep tracks (The Doors' "Spanish Caravan", "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" by The Beatles and Bob Segar's "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight") and a few bands that most have never heard of, such as Ireland's The Strypes and the supergroup Hollywood Vampires, made up of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Aerosmith's Joe Perry. The oddest segue of the hour was Jean Knight's soul classic "Mr. Big Stuff" into Stone Temple Pilots' "Sex Type Thing".

I even chatted with Jerry a few times online and admitted that he's a fan of my blogs and knowledge of the radio business. He seems to be a very down-to-earth guy, unlike the folks at his competitors at KLT...

...A station he and Sheryl just purchased.

That's right: David just bought Goliath.

The Coynes just purchased KLT and its sisters The Fox and ESPN Northern Michigan, though 106.7 Gaylord is being spun off because of ownership caps. This will be the first time in nearly three and a half decades that KLT will be locally owned. It's expected that the Coynes will start running the stations right away.

Not too shabby for a radio group that's only been in business for a few years.

When the Coynes purchased the Grayling stations, they only had one full-time employee. Now, they have 12. Now, they're going to increase that number with the Northern Broadcast stations. According to the press statement released yesterday, they are working to increase the talent at their stations and work with local businesses to increase their footprint. 

There are a few - especially on KLT's Facebook page - who are claiming that because of the Coynes, this is why Omelette and Friends was canceled. But, who knows? All I can say is that with major radio groups like iHeartMedia and Cumulus constantly letting go workers and racked with billions in debt, Blarney Stone is anything but that. Maybe it's time for corporate radio to learn why the Coynes are successful and why they're failing. It is possible for a radio station with a 7,000 song playlist to survive since a lot of people don't want to hear "Carry On, Wayward Son" every two minutes.

Change can do any radio station good.

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