Prime Radio network buys Zinc and Hot from Rob Gamble | radioinfo

Prime Radio network buys Zinc and Hot from Rob Gamble

Thursday 02 August, 2007
Rob Gamble in Zinc FM's Queensland studios

Prime Television has bought Rob Gamble's Sunshine Coast stations Zinc and Hot 91 for $33.5 million. The stations will be merged with Prime's Queensland radio stations which will base its headquarters in Maroochydore. Gamble will lead the Prime radio division.

Prime Television is the Channel 7 regional affiliate in NSW, VIC and WA and the company also owns radio stations in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone. The purchase of two Sunshine Coast radio stations this week completes the final piece in the building of a fresh new Queensland radio group.

Rob Gamble has told radioinfo he is very happy with the deal, but he will not be pocketing all of the $33.5 million purchase price himself:

“There are other shareholders in the company, my dad (Ray Gamble) and the rest of them will cash out their share and retire from radio. I plan to invest my share back into Prime by taking equity, so I will be staying in the business.”

Rob Gamble and his senior management team of Rick Chapman, Ronnie Stanton and Paula Kerr will now lead Prime’s Radio Division. Gamble has told radioinfo that no management will lose their jobs in the process of restructure, but some functions, such as finance and traffic may be centralised.

“Prime had local managers in place in each station, they will stay, but Prime had not formed a specific radio division leadership team at the time I began talking to them. As it turned out, we could bring to the table that sort of expertise, so it seemed like a very good deal for all of us.”

The deal was conceived about 9 months ago, when Gamble initially approached Prime about a joint venture partnership or merger, but as a public company Prime was not comfortable with that sort of business model, so in the end Prime made an offer for the whole business. As a result Prime buys a family history of expertise in the radio industry, proven current business performance, and a new head of network facility on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. Gamble likes the feel of the deal:

“They are good people. I’ve come to the conclusion in talking to them over the past 9 months that it’s a company with good vision and expertise. I’ve committed to working with them for the long term.”

The new group will own stations from the Sunshine Coast to Cairns and will be on the lookout for further expansion if opportunities present themselves. The most immediate opportunity will be the Queensland stations being jettisoned by Macquarie Regional Radioworks, but Prime will not limit itself to Australian regional radio. Prime has recently invested in Bekker Entertainment and Destra and is known to be interested in metro stations and overseas media acquisitions if the right opportunities come along.

Gamble says the immediate focus however will be on bedding down the new network. The company is also now likely to bring back in-house the radio production and copywriting functions that were outsourced when Prime bought the stations.

Will Queensland National Party politicians be worried about more centralisation of control and declining opportunities for news coverage? Gamble doesn’t think so:

“We currently have local newsrooms and local daytime bulletins in each market, we are not planning to change that.

“This is an exciting time for our team and for the wider business community… A strong commitment to our existing team, combined with bedding up to 20 newly created positions, means it will be a busy time for us all. The end result will be a more well rounded radio company that will provide great radio for our listeners and consistent results for our clients - both on the Sunshine Coast and across coastal Queensland in its entirety.”

Prime Television CEO Warwick Syphers says his company had been committed to building a new radio network across Queensland for some time:

“We are extremely happy to now be part of the Sunshine Coast market. Hot 91 and Zinc 96 in a very short time have attracted a phenomenal listening base due to the experience, commitment and talent of its staff and management. Prime is looking forward to harnessing that talent on a wider scale… we want to provide the best radio that we possibly can to all of Queensland. In now having the Sunshine Coast as our base, we are well on our way to achieving that goal.”

Hot 91 was launched in 2004 and was then owned by DMG under the Group management of Rob Gamble. In its first year on-air Hot 91 achieved the leading position in the Sunshine Coast ratings dominating the 25 – 39 core target of the station. A position it has continued to hold.

The Gamble family bought back in to the station in 2005 when DMG had too many radio stations in south east Queensland following the start of Nova Brisbane. In 2006 the company launched a second Sunshine Coast station targeted 40+, Noosa based Zinc 96, which recently recruited Jamie Dunn to host breakfast.

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