Joe Walker, center, and Bill Kurtis share a laugh after Dan Stoddard of Clovis presented them with their first dollar as a Clovis business. Walker and A&E documentarian Kurtis are partners in Tallgrass Broadcasting. (CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson)
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
With a renowned documentarian and a lifelong businessman at the helm, Tallgrass Broadcasting is taking root in Clovis.
Owners for Tallgrass held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday at the building that houses KICA, KKYC and KMUL stations that broadcast to Clovis, Portales and Muleshoe.
The station is the ninth outlet purchased by Tallgrass, which includes documentarian Bill Kurtis and Joe Walker. Walker said the company plans to have 36 stations purchased by the end of the year and will use its Clovis office as a central command area.
“The upside from being in this area five years from now is incredible,” Walker said.
Walker is the business partner of Bill Kurtis, an on-air personality for the History Channel and A&E.
Kurtis got his start in broadcasting and worked with CBS for 30 years. He worked mainly on documentaries and wanted to keep the format alive when “48 Hours” and “CBS Reports” were no longer profitable.
He said he never really focused on crime, but the market shifted that way and he became the on-air personality and executive producer of A&E’s “Cold Case Files,” “Investigative Reports” and “American Justice” series.
Kurtis said he enjoys the Clovis area because he grew up in a miltary family and he owns a cattle company.
“It’s booming economically. We see a population that is growing and an opportunity for these stations to serve it.”
They’ll serve the area with more than $2 million in new equipment. Walker said fiber optics have been installed and a computer system will be set up in the office capable of controlling 250 stations.
Buying small media outlets is the plan, Kurtis said, because there will always be a market.
“The Internet is a major, tectonic change in media businesses,” Kurtis said. “By losing newspapers on a national level, losing cable, advertisers are losing platforms for reaching people. They are turning more to local newspaper and radio stations. There is always hope for community connections.”
The Internet and portable technology have also changed the radio consumer, Walker said.
“We understand we’re in an iPod world,” Walker said.
Walker said the local stations are undergoing appropriate changes, with emphasis less on artists and more on music with a consistent sound.
If your average listener is 41 years old, Walker said, a classic rock station will heavily feature music from 1982, when that listener was 16, with songs from 1978 to 1988.
The music is put through a computer, Walker said, which filters it and creates a list of about 1,400 songs that get played each week — about the capacity of a six-gigabyte iPod mini. An average station, Walker said, cycles through about 320 songs in week.