Undiscovered Radio Network all over map now

Published 10:15 am Monday, January 26, 2009

It’s a business concept that got a lot of its inspiration from a grad school student’s research.

Now Ironton-based entrepreneur Colleen Griffiths is running a fledgling syndicated radio program production business that has employees and markets across the country.

Undiscovered Radio Network Inc. started up in August 2006 with the goal of playing only independent labels and unsigned bands.

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Griffiths got the idea when she was working on her master’s degree at Ohio University researching the effects consolidations in the music and broadcast industries would have on radio in general.

“I saw the impact it was having on the future of radio … of what was going to happen,” she said. “I saw some trends, some things happening and started to get some ideas about a new business that might work.”

Griffiths wanted to take her radio background that included a stint as the marketing and public affairs director at Clear Channel and turn it into a business. But, just as importantly, she wanted to stay in Ironton.

“I have a family and it is a good place to raise a family,” she said. “It is easy with cell phones and computers and travel is so easy. You can literally live anywhere in the world and operate a major company.”

Research also led to her choice of programming, which is exclusively with independent musicians. She discovered that 85 per cent of all music out there came from four major record labels.

“I had a lot of friends … they used to complain about how hard it was to make it as a musician,” she said. “I wanted to create programs that allowed access to the independent artists.”

With assistance from her music director she reached out to independent labels using Facebook and MySpace and magazines that featured the musicians she wanted to promote.

“We’d go and listen to what people had to say, the buzz in different bands,” Griffiths said. “(Independent musicians) don’t have the business model set up to communicate to radio stations. They don’t promote themselves.”

What she has created is a two-hour program based on rock and alternative music that airs weekly on six stations from Syracuse, N.Y. to California. Locally, the spot airs on WAMX in Huntington. Two more stations are getting ready to pick up the program.

“It is going okay. It is a struggle,” said the entrepreneur who is working on a second program on country music.

Originally, the actual production was done in Ironton, but has since shifted to California.

“I hired some people and made them move to the area. They set up a studio,” she said. “But if you are not from this area, there is not much opportunity. They are still with me. They moved to Los Angeles. My music coordinator is based in Columbus.”

To add to the national flavor of her operation, the network’s field rep lives in Minneapolis.

Her choice for this kind of business has another dimension as well. Griffiths said she wants to have an altruistic element to her operation.

“I like to do things for the right reason,” she said. “It is so hard to make that balance in business today. To get ahead it is truly a struggle. I like the fact I can work from my home. I can do things that can help other people, struggling musicians.”