In Conversation With...

Issue 72

STUART LANDRETH A 50% shareholder in Frisk Radio Ltd. Owner and operator of Frisk Radio - a station targeting an 18-35 demographic in the North East of England and providing affordable advertising options to local businesses.

He is also a 50% shareholder in a computer software company, BeeBox Systems Ltd, who manufacture background music and digital signage systems for the leisure industry.

They have systems in bars, pubs, restaurants, bowling alleys and cruise ships which are managed by a network of resellers who provide sales and service on a regional or “by-market-sector” basis. On top of that, he owns Landreth Enterprises Ltd., which operates a mixed-use office building in Blyth, where rooms are rented to small, start-up businesses in the retail and beauty sectors.

What were your career ambitions?

Strange one that…I never really had any! I knew I was always ‘good with computers’ so would probably be destined for the IT industry – most likely as a software developer. What I didn’t expect was that I would end up being ‘my own boss’. I paid very little attention to business studies at school, yet when the first company I worked for folded due to spiralling debts, I knew that I had developed some fantastic software for the leisure industry, and with the right team behind it, it could be the base of a profitable business. It was the case of learning on the job! Cashflow forecasts, business cliché lingo like ‘going forward’, how to deal with people (a particularly difficult skill to master for a computer programmer).

Your current role within Frisk Radio?

Founder, Director, Head of IT, Software Developer, music-team member and coffee maker – because nothing gets done until coffee gets done! Radio is a very expensive business – the only way to succeed is to wear many hats and learn to juggle work around. I took the idea to create a dance-music-led radio station and wrote all of the software required to manage the station from scratch to try and keep down licencing costs. I spent hours listening to music to try and come up with the ideal playlist to appeal to our target audience of grown-up millennium era clubbers. And to glue the tracks together, I learned the ins-and-outs of audio production so I could knock up jingles and sweepers in-house.

Proudest business achievement?

The purchase of 5 Stanley Street in Blyth – which is the building where Frisk Radio is based. I felt it was important that Frisk had a permanent residence which could be remodelled as the station and company grew. At present I rent out the unused space to fledgling start-ups in the retail and beauty sectors which provides a source of revenue while simultaneously helping out local businesses. Blyth has faced many problems over the years, with drugs abuse and the running down of the town centre. It’s great to be able to connect with young entrepreneurs who are driving enterprise forward in Blyth, and to help them along with trading space, marketing support and business advice.

How has the industry has changed?

In radio, the biggest change has been the closure of local radio stations with staff being made redundant, and the output networked from corporate head-offices in London or Manchester. There are very few stations now who are actually based in their own transmission areas. Once Frisk is live on all 3 North East DAB transmitters, we will be at the geographical centre of our region and hope to cover news and events relevant to Newcastle, Tyneside and Northumberland. What are you currently working on? We are now in the ‘final countdown’ to launch. We are busy installing and testing the equipment in the Blyth studio, and finalising the schedule of presenters and shows ready for our DAB debut. As well as that, I’m busy refining the contact management software that supports the sales process – making it as easy as possible for our sales team to on-board new sponsors and advertisers to the station.

Tell us about the team you work with.

I’ve known Mick for about five years. He used to fix the equipment at Newcastle’s legendary ‘Pop World’ club where I used to DJ. Chatting to Mick, I learned more about his company CTS, which installs and maintains audio-visual equipment in homes and commercial venues. Through banter on Facebook we discovered a shared love of dance music, and after trialling the Frisk format as an internet station, Mick pushed me to try and find a way to get it on to actual broadcast radio. When the small-scale DAB opportunity came along, Mick was the logical choice to bring on-board to help develop and finance the plan. Anne, our sales manager, was introduced to us by an agent. We knew that we needed someone who was the ‘best in the business’ and I have every confidence that Anne is going to deliver us some amazing results. As well as the core team, we have a whole host of talented DJs and presenters who will work hand-in-hand with a fast-growing promotions crew to drive the Frisk product and get the brand out there in the North East.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

‘Go big or… go bigger’, Grant Cardone. When I first seen him on Secret Billionaire, I absolutely hated this guy. His over-the-top, cocky stance and ‘no b******t attitude’ seemed very out of place. However, I did come to admire his techniques and persistence when I saw he became a great leader and inspiration to his team and followers.

What has been your biggest challenge?

It’s chicken and egg for a new radio station – and a huge gamble. You build a kick-ass station, but nobody knows who you are. You need to promote your station, so you invest in a promotions team, in, merchandise, in a PR company. The bills rack up, but you still struggle to sell because ‘nobody knows who you are’. You also don’t have any listener figures: You can subscribe to a system called Rajar which ‘estimates’ your figures based on the results of a few hundred pseudo-randomly chosen members of the public filling in a paper diary. But this outdated method severely penalises small and new stations like Frisk. That is the challenge. However, Frisk has built up a blazing social media following; feedback from industry colleagues has been fantastic, and our app downloads are increasing every week. We have every confidence that there are businesses out there that will be happy ‘to take a punt’ on Frisk – and get a very good deal on sponsorship or advertising for themselves!

Who are your heroes inside and outside of your business?

Grant Cardone, I mentioned before, David Allen I’ll come on to…The dragons off of Dragon’s Den. All great business people.

Sign-up to our newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.