Thursday, January 30, 2014

Welcome, to the Mile | Vail

"Who Moved My Cheese?"

Remember that MBA read from the 1990's?

Here's a case study on change:

On March 1, 2011, three days before closing on a $1mm FM radio station in Vail our partnership learned that the Federal Communications Commission issued a rule change freezing what were commonly referred to as move ins, or in investment banking terms "technical + spectrum" arbitrage from one city of license to another.

Lots of tension, temper and emotion. Should we pull the deal? Face certain litigation from the seller?

Now what?

Gaining control of two adjacent FM channels took Chuck Lontine the better part of 36 months and countless resources. We bought the Eagle County radio station and an adjacent frequency in El Paso County with the intent to move one or the other into Boulder and Colorado Springs.

Open spectrum on 104.7 MHz at 100,000 watts secured within the scope of the rules at a fair market price and then, the rules change.

So, here we are. Silent signal, broken transmitter, no studio, no format, no name, no staff and no possible technical or financial arbitrage of any-kind with a $1mm investment threshold 100 miles from Boulder.

Again, lots of tension, temper and emotion that could have easily tipped into depositions and all the pivots you'd like to avoid in life.

The challenge was to create a radio station that would appeal not only to the Vail resorts, but ultimately create some real competition with an amazing listening experience online + on the radio.

In short, recalibrate and build a value radio + digital brand for the future.

The outcome? Well, it turned out to be one of the greatest sources of pride and admiration of the firms entire portfolio, even without the move to Boulder.

Welcome, to the Mile.

Vail Daily with Ski Logo Design

First off, a little shout out about our team.

The Mile is the current winner of three first place awards (2013-2014) from the Colorado Broadcasters Association for its spoken word elements created specifically for the radio station by managing editors Jenny Griffin and Paul Reinertson. Jenny was awarded the top award for the second year in a row. Her boundless creativity is further enhanced by what is now considered the Mile sound.

The music format is a unique combination of pop based alternative, singer-songwriters and original collections from local artist aptly called Mile Covers and Original Miles, who performed weekly from our studios (read: Live + Local). And, our mobile app (shown below and developed by Marconi client LiquidCompass) was the single highest radio down-load the week it launched on i-Tunes.

After developing a unique preview audio stream of the new sound with a dangerously creative music team in Boulder, one of Marconi's European clients suggested a different look from the norm to go with the Mile sound. They had radio partners with a unique logo in Berlin and we blended it with similar font from the AMC series MadMen and a mash-up of sorts with The Beach Boys SMiLE cover art. Notice though, we articulated the M to long-gate a V for Vail, this allowed us to trademark the entire logo. Then, a remarkably creative art director at HillAevium further suggested putting it on a snow ski and descending a ski pole atop the call letters to represent the stations alpine roots. We later added a snowboard version too with the help of Sign Language in Denver.

This project was really starting to come together with the help of some very creative friends.

We then put this whole look on a cloud background online to represent the delivery technology we had built into the stations digital DNA.

Our ad in Vail Magazine announcing our digital + social media platform 
It wasn't long before the radio station was featured in the Vail Daily, Sneak Peak Weekly, The Denver Post and the Summit Daily.

Thanks to Mauna Towers, the Mile's signal covers a broad listening area from Glenwood Springs to Copper Mountain reaching over one million active in-car commuters per week.

The stations sound and local features capture the active Colorado lifestyle of the Vail Resorts. We are proud of our team that created the logo, format concept and core music + award winning spoken word content of the Mile. 

Coming up with a name for the radio station was somewhat of a puzzle. Ultimately, we felt the Mile would feel right at home in Vail (in honor of the wildly popular ski/hike trail) and perhaps someday...

The studios of the Mile are state of the art, that include (SaaS) technologies that were designed to ultimately live in the cloud and programmed from virtually anywhere on the planet.

The sound gallery design studio (pictured below) featured a miking and acoustical station that could easily handle a four piece band or a chamber orchestra that was built for us by a Swedish designer we found in Mumbai.

We opted with a "main street" store front in the village of Minturn (literally on Main Street). Within weeks of signing on the air, the director at Masters Gallery in Vail was so moved by the design that the radio station ultimately featured master works from contemporary artists featuring the likes of Bono, Paul McCartney and BB King from Aspen artist Malcolm Farley. Most weekends, the artists themselves would drop in and create oil works while local singer-songwriters performed live on the air.

One last moment of Mile serendipity.

The Postmaster in Minturn proudly walked in with two shiny brass keys one afternoon and presented us with P.O. Box 1047. We thought that was a nice touch, so we included a post office date stamp icon on our website, which was dual designed to be both a digital splash page online but also a :10 second television ad for future use around the state.

If you look closely to the sites ascending-descending graphics, they were designed to interchange with both Vail and Boulder. Lastly, the ski pole was designed to interchange with other clever icons (bikes, snow flakes, maybe even a Christmas tree around the holidays).

The Mile studios were home to live + local performances every week

Because of the dedication and determination of a remarkable team: led by Jayme Bregman, Jenny Griffin, Paul Reinertson, Bill Cochran and Stacey Donaldson...the Mile is our greatest master work.

Simply: a terrific team of broadcasters and a remarkable brand "That's my Mile" became a local catch phrase.

KKVM Radio was sold to Cool Radio, LLC in 2015.

Enjoy...and, welcome to the Mile...

Friday, October 3, 2008

MarconiHallmark: Fine Arts Radio | Denver

In 2001, Colorado Public Radio president Max Wycisk and Chuck Lontine reached an agreement for CPR to purchase KWAB-AM (Radio for Change) for $1.2mm. Thus, expanding CPR's News & Information channel into the Boulder market.

Seven years later, CPR relied on us again when it was time to expand even further into the Denver-Boulder market with the $8.1mm purchase of KFDN-FM from The Educational Media Foundation.

The end result? CPR listeners can now hear both classical music & CPR's News & Information channel on the new KVOD-FM (88.1 MHz) and KCFR-FM (90.1 MHz).

We discovered available spectrum in Morrison, Colorado
The new station as KVOD "Classical Voice of Denver" signed on its new channel this summer (2008) on 88.1 MHz.

Chuck Lontine represented the seller in this transaction.

Preserving fine arts radio in the Denver-Boulder Market will remain a Marconi hallmark for years to come for several reasons.
First, it renewed a heritage FM home for KVOD, which was launched as the regions only classical and fine arts radio station by Gene Amole in the 1960's from a radio tower atop Ruby Hill (ironically not far from Chuck's boyhood home in Denver).

Second, it renewed a very special relationship with Max Wycisk and Jenny Gentry from Colorado Public Radio & our wonderful client Joe Miller at Educational Media Foundation.

For more information about Colorado Public Radio visit:

Friday, September 19, 2008

MarconiHallmark: Local Jazz Radio | Denver

KKHI (101.9 MHz) signed on the airwaves this summer (2008).

Chuck Lontine represented the seller in this $21mm transaction. Post close - the buyer - Amador Bustos turned again to Chuck to research the best use for the new radio station.

The format bake-off included keeping a Regional Mexican format, an Urban AC format or Jazz/Standards. The K-High format was chosen after carefully considering the timing of the format switch of CD-104 in the market from a NAC format to all-sports.

Full page ad in Cherry Creek Magazine
As part of the K-High project we assembled a team of highly skilled and dedicated radio professionals from within the Denver radio market. We were able to perform this task based on multiple key contacts in the Denver radio market.

The K-High team included some terrific people. Steve Hamilton (former program director at KOSI-FM), Pete McKenna (former general sales manager from KFRX) and Patti Ford (former production director at WBOS in Boston - who had also worked with Chuck at WLAN-A/F in the 1990's).

We got a little help from our friends at Emmis too. We shared a frequency with its legendary NAC station in New York City and with its help Chuck wrote and produced our jingle.

Our primary goal was to build an effective infrastructure and launch a high value radio platform for Bustos Media and its investors.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Marconi | Investment Banking

Full page ad in ColoradoBiz Magazine & Broadcasting + Cable
Chuck Lontines' representation portfolio:

The sale of two FM Radio Stations to GE Capital/Lazer Communications of California serving the Central Valley. The sale of four radio stations along the Northern California Coast to Bi-Coastal Media from Wells Fargo Specialty Finance.

Continued growth in Northern California with the sale of KEBR-FM to KQED Public Radio + TV. This transaction marked our pivot into the National Public Radio markets in California.

Our first FM radio transaction in Hawaii, adding to the growth of K-Love Christian Radio.  This was a tipping-point advisory that launched future growth projects with K-Love in Colorado Springs and a strategic divesture in the Boulder-Denver radio market.

In the Rocky Mountain West, the sale of KFVR-FM serving southern Colorado, KPIO-AM to Catholic Radio Network,  KOLT-FM in Cheyenne and KLMI-FM in Laramie, Wyoming, KIMB-AM, in western Nebraska to Legacy Broadcasting, Americom Towers of Colorado to Mauna Towers, KKCS-FM to Bustos Media of Colorado, KCUV & KJAC-FM to NRC Broadcasting in Denver and KVOD-FM to Colorado Public Radio.

Chuck launched his private investment banking advisory with Palladium Equity in New York, New Radio Ventures, LLC, Craven-Thompson Communications, Northwest Capital in Seattle, Citywide Bank of Colorado, growth capital for Greeley Broadcasting Company (KGRE-AM) with First Bank of Colorado and La Voz Publications to Hispanic Print Media with secured funding from Key Bank Corp.

We are particularly proud of the growth of our friends at Greeley Broadcasting around the state of Colorado.

We also made our first foray into television with Telemundo securing a senior debt facility for expansion into markets effected by Katrina in New Orleans with WP Media Lending, LLC of Seattle.

Under a special services agreement, Chuck has provided technical opine/advisory to Kutak Rock and Shugart Thompson & Kilroy on FM spectrum & trustee matters. Chuck also served in a number of interim projects including Chief Operating Officer of Bustos Media of Colorado in a transitional role for the company and its investors, as a director at Headwaters Merchant Bank and as a member of the finance committee of the Open Media Foundation of Colorado.

Chuck Lontine has also conducted special projects for, Boulder Community RadioWay FM Media and many fund raising and advisory services for Colorado based non-profits and charities.

Marconi at NAB
In 2005 we launched our annual Marconi@Mortons Mixers at the National Association of Broadcasters Conventions.

Including an afternoon golf outing, cocktails, dinner & cigars.

Title sponsors for the NAB Events have included: GLR Radio, Wells Fargo/Foothill, BNP ParibisArbitron Ratings Company, Wilkinson, Barker & Knauer,, ISBA/Minority Media Telecom CouncilPalladium Private Equity and The Palm.

Chuck Lontine has also appeared on CNBC, Colorado Public Television, National Public Radio and his work has been featured on KUSA-TV with Business Editor Gregg Moss. He has also been featured in Inside RadioThe Denver Post, Radio World, The Denver Business Journal, Broadcasting + Cable and most recently The New York Times.

Prior to 2000 and beginning in 1975, Chuck held positions both on and off the air with the industries most admired broadcasting companies.

We've had a lot of fun along the way too.

Today, Chucks projects are exclusive to his own radio investments, digital partnerships and non-profits around the west.

If you would like to contact Chuck: or 303-382-1000.