Two Young Men With a Radio Dream

Montauk station WELJ(FM) is run by a pair of 20-year-olds

By age four Mozart was playing violin and piano. Pablo Picasso was an established artist before he was 15.

Matthew Glaser and Andrew Adams

Matthew Glaser and Andrew Adams may not be quite so young; yet it doesn’t feel like a stretch to call them prodigies as well.

Both are age 20 and still in college, but they are business partners and majority owners of WELJ(FM), a Class A FM with 6 kW power broadcasting at 104.7 MHz and licensed to Montauk, N.Y., at the eastern end of Long Island. They acquired the license last year from Joule Broadcasting, a spinoff trust of Cumulus Media, which had most recently aired a “NASH Icon” format on the frequency.

The lads believe they are among the youngest people in the United States to own a commercial FM. They selected a market a little over 100 miles from New York City, one known as a playground for the rich and famous.

The pair had attended Smithtown High School East in St. James, N.Y., about 70 miles from Montauk. “The creation of Bold Broadcasting was an idea that Andrew and I had back in high school,” said Glaser.  “But we wanted a media company that would have a broader reach than just radio.

“We believed that corporations and members of the community needed different ways to interact beyond what most media firms focus on. We produce the Long Island Summer Festival, which gets about 20,000 attendees a year, and this is another avenue for us. Bold Broadcasting can use events like this in the marketing mix across the spectrum.”

RADIO IN HIS BLOOD

Glaser comes by his interest in radio naturally. His father Michael was a chief engineer with Barnstable Broadcasting in the Long Island area for 16 years and is now with Cumulus in New York.

“It’s genetic,” said Glaser the younger. “My father took me to visit his stations several hundred times, and I guess radio has just been a part of my life.” (Adams too is related, though more distantly, to a radio engineer.) But Glaser the elder had no hand in helping his son raise money for his incursion into the field.

“We have owned other companies prior to this one,” said Matthew Glaser, including the festival as well as an events production company, Bold Entertainment. “Andrew and I funded a portion of WELJ, and we also had venture capital involved in the purchase.”

Adams said they identified the opportunity through public listings. “We negotiated it ourselves, only had an FCC attorney for some legal help.” They declined to discuss the sale price for the license, which several published reports placed at $197,000.

Andrew Adams
PROGRAMMING AND PROMOTIONS

The team began selling airtime last fall. The station went on the air with all-Christmas music in November and switched to an “easy favorites” format at the end of December, according to Adams, who serves as promotions manager in addition to his full-time gig: He is a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh, studying marketing, while Glaser is a senior at Stony Brook University in New York, studying political science.

“I didn’t have broadcast experience prior to getting involved with WELJ,” Adams said. “But we have a great team working beside us, real professionals. For example our program director is Keith Allen, who launched WBZO(FM) on Long Island, known at the time as B103. Our station will become a staple in the community and a place for people living in the East End to interact with us online and at our events.”

Glaser said that, while the station is automated for now, WELJ plans to unveil a lineup of live air talent in the spring.

“Over the last two decades, radio has become over-commercialized and has not been done the way it should be,” he said.

“We’re not just all about the commercials; we are about building the community. That’s something a lot of stations don’t do. We see the value of giving back, and I think that’s why we’ll be successful.” Asked where ad business will come from and whether it will be seasonal, Adams said in a followup email, “A lot of advertisers thus far have approached us looking to reach second home owners and the higher income market of the East End. We think the advertisers will be seasonal but the overall business will not.”

At the new WELJ, social media will definitely be part of the mix.

“Our festival is in its third year, and we have about 4,000 people on its Facebook page,” said Glaser. “My partner and I are good with digital media, and we’ll offer it to our clients, as well as using it to attract our own audience.   Normally, station websites have an events page, contests and pictures of the artists. Maybe a ‘listen live’ button. But our website, welj.com, is an information hub. You can listen live, but in the coming weeks and months, we are rolling out an arts section, partnerships with journalists, shopping, dining and real estate sections, too. We want people to take us with them online, even if they can’t pick up the station.”

Has their age presented any problems for these entrepreneurs?

“Well, it does tend to be difficult when we try to expand into other media because people think we’re quite young,” said Glaser. “Regarding the people with whom we want to do business, I’m younger than some of their kids! The biggest challenge we have is demonstrating our abilities and our competence, but I think that everyone, from local store owners to large institutions, is learning that Andrew and I are very capable.”

WELJ’s studios are in East Hampton not far from the transmitter, while the production studio is 45 minutes away. “That’s just a product of the expense of living here,” he said. “But we’ll be revealing a new studio soon, and it’ll have a vibe to match our music. We also have a 30-foot mobile studio that we’ll use for live broadcasts across the east end. I want to show our community that young people like us can have a good head on their shoulders.”

Ken Deutsch says he too is live and local and can be seen by anyone who cares to look around the beaches of Sarasota, Fla.



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