RFD-TV founder to launch radio channel through SiriusXM

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:00 am

The Omaha company behind rural cable television network RFD-TV will expand into a new broadcast medium when it launches a radio channel through SiriusXM satellite radio.

The move into radio is expected to result in the hiring of 25 people in Omaha and 25 people in Nashville, Tenn., said Rural Media Group founder Patrick Gottsch.

Rural Radio will launch July 15 on Channel 80 and include commodity market news, weather, original and classic country entertainment and western sports programming.

Rural Media Group programming then has the potential to reach SiriusXM’s growing subscriber base, which Sirius XM reported in April had reached a record 24.4 million.

Gottsch said he’s been working to make this connection since 2006 and finally won over SiriusXM officials.

“The success of RFD-TV and Rural TV really had a lot to do with it. We had a lot of credibility when we walked in,” Gottsch said.

He expects SiriusXM subscribers to listen “in their cars, pickups, tractors and combines.” And he expects to reach listeners who have never heard of RFD-TV. He hopes they’ll then go home and turn on some of the network’s TV programs.

CEO Randy Bernard said the group is trying to break into more urban markets, where he said “rural is a way of life” even for city dwellers. “SiriusXM’s coast-to-coast coverage gives us the ability to reach listeners nationwide,” he said. “The lineup of programming we’ve developed and accumulated for this launch solidifies and expands our brand across North America.”

All the revenue from the radio deal will come from advertising; Rural Media is responsible for selling the ads and gives a portion to SiriusXM, Gottsch said.

Gottsch, formerly a satellite dish installer in Elkhorn, launched RFD-TV in 2000 as a nonprofit after hearing satellite customers complain about a lack of programming serving the interests of rural communities. The company moved to a for-profit model in 2007, and last year created its first board of directors and hired its first chief executive officer.

Rural Media cable television programming now is distributed to more than 63 million homes, including the RFD-TV, Rural TV and FamilyNet channels. Holdings also include RFD-TV the Magazine and RFD-TV the Theatre in Branson, Mo.

The radio station’s broadcast operations will be based in Nashville, Tenn., and its corporate functions will be handled in Omaha. The Omaha jobs will be in sales and marketing, customer service and traffic control, or the scheduling of programs and advertising.

A launch celebration is planned for Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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