Radio station’s demise is a microcosm of the rush
Businesses will come and go as they try to capitalize on boom
Probably everybody who works in media has had this happen at least once: You work hard to put together a story on a new business or an upcoming event, only to find out either moments before or moments after going to print, that the business has already gone belly-up or the event has been canceled for one reason or another.
At one newspaper I worked for, a particularly lazy editor established a loose policy that new businesses had to be operational for at least two months before we would write a story about them. It was a ridiculous way of operating a news organization in a small town, but being burnt more than once highlighted a sickening trend for local businesses. In an economically depressed area, few new businesses could last more than six months. Many didn’t have the wherewithal to survive even one month. One poorly-planned venture went defunct in the four-hour window between the newspaper sending pages to press and receiving printed copies.
There are similarities in the cannabis industry.
On April 27, I spoke with Len Williams, program director for K-High Radio in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The AM channel had just launched the nation’s first all-cannabis all-the-time radio station, a massive transition away from traditional sports radio programming that had been unable to turn a profit.
Williams called the shift an example of “the best of outside-the-box thinking.”
Imagine turning on your usual radio station in the morning expecting to hear about the Denver Nuggets and instead hearing people talk about a different kind of nugget. How far down the road did people get before realizing they weren’t going to hear news about the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos?
Although I know absolutely nothing about the radio industry, I think marijuana-specific media will be an interesting offshoot of the recent legalization movement. Marijuana Venture was a perfect example of that wave, as our publication went from eight pages to nearly 150 in a 16-month time frame. The number of books and television shows about cannabis and the industry has also exploded.
However, within about three weeks of my conversation with Williams, K-High ceased to exist at its 1580 AM home.
The business isn’t dead. The same radio personalities can all be found online at LetsTalkPot.com.
But a web-based podcast doesn’t carry the weight of an FCC-licensed radio station (even if it might actually be a better business model and reach far more listeners via the Web).
It’s the fickle nature of an emerging industry.
There will be smart business ideas out there that will fail.
There will be foolish business ideas that turn into booming successes.
And there are going to be ideas that nobody knows whether they’re smart or foolish, or whether they will be epic failures or overnight trendsetters.
Williams described the staff meeting when the idea of 24/7 marijuana radio was presented as an option.
He said the company president “stood up and said, ‘I’ve got it. How about a 24-hour station dedicated to weed?’ I swear to you, we all looked at this guy like he had two heads.”
The beauty of this industry is that just as many ideas were developed by passing a joint around a circle as they were around a board room. Probably nowhere is this entrepreneurial — and sometimes goofy — spirit more evident than the countless trade shows that can be found throughout the nation.
We already know there’s a billion dollar demand for cannabis and cannabis-related products. But harnessing it