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Dec 10

Written by: Paul McLane
12/10/2013 11:07 AM 

Paul McLane is editor in chief.

A trusted colleague gave me some candid feedback, and I’m sharing it here because I like to put such dialogue in front of you, our reader.

This experienced engineer, who holds a responsible position with one of our industry’s top 10 or 15 radio groups, took exception to a note that we included in a recent NewsBytes newsletter. Here is what we wrote:

Budget Time!
Engineering managers: Did you finish your 2014 cap-ex budget or budget request? What’s your outlook for new projects in 2014? Tell us about it. Email to and we’ll share with your colleagues (anonymously if you prefer). Put “Cap-ex” in the subject field.

I thought that was pretty innocuous. But our friend pulled me aside, rhetorically speaking, with an email. He said he understood why we might want to explore this topic but felt the manner in which the data was being “collected” might rub some group heads wrong. He has done some work in cap-ex, and knows it is a sensitive subject at most companies.

He suggests we “anonymize” our request in the future a little better, as we might with a salary survey; perhaps respondents could pass along info about spending and market size but not share names or other insider data.

“I would also suggest that the timing is off. By now almost every company has their budget requests submitted -- but, approvals usually don’t start happening until January unless it’s an ongoing project from the previous year or something the company is firmly championing (i.e., like someone knows they’re doing a facility move in April because of a lease expiring). I think asking the question in December limits the data set. Ask at the end of January.”

But overall, he said, he really thinks that cap-ex information is considered secret at companies. Of course part of our job here is to explore trends and develop data points that help you, the reader, to do your job and advance in your career. We’re not afraid to ask hard questions and be journalists. At the same time, Radio World is a partner to our readers, and we have no interest in putting managers in a difficult position or asking them to compromise their employers.

What do you think? Should RW ask about cap-ex and expect information? Is it reasonable to ask these questions; and if so, when and how?

Location: Blogs Parent Separator Paul McLane

2 comment(s) so far...


Re: Cap-Ex: Whose Business Is It, Anyway?


I agree that this kind of information can be very useful to share, and ultimately of course the word does get around about who is doing what. But when trying to help others with planning for the upcoming year, it is very difficult to get answers from companies because they are just in the process of making decisions, and don't like to publicize those decisions. Often they can be contriversial, as to who and what gets funded, and the reasoning and justifications may not be understood by the general public. For competitive purposes, both within the company and outside the company, these reasons for how a copmany chooses to spend capital, sometimes should not be aired in public, especially at an early stage in planning. Usually answers are in fact easier to obtain a few weeks into the new year.

Radio World should be asking these questions, but with the expectation that companies should have some "secrets". After all.. surpises are one of the great fun parts of our industry!

By Paul Shulins on   12/11/2013 4:21 PM

Re: Cap-Ex: Whose Business Is It, Anyway?

Over the past half-decade, Cap-Ex at the #2 market AM/FM at which I'm employed has plumeted to virtually zero. There have been no funded capital projects since 2011 - zero, zilch, nada. Fortunately, the infrasture was in pretty good shape prior to current management takeover, now the threads are wearing thin and the cracks are starting to show. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the "no expenses" mandate will be lifted anytime soon, if ever. Radio World would do those of us toiling under these constraints a great service by helping to identify if the 'No Cap-X' crises that we're living though is prevelant within the Industry, or is limited to one or two corporate groups.

By Conor S. Watson on   1/13/2014 9:46 AM

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