Lowry Mays, Clear Channel Founder & Radio Tycoon, Dead at 87 – Billboard


Lowry Mays, the San Antonio petroleum engineer whose broadcast big Clear Channel dominated the radio, live performance and outdoor-advertising companies for many years, died Monday at age 87. His alma mater, Texas A&M, didn’t specify a location or explanation for demise in its announcement.

Mays purchased his first radio station in 1972 — he really co-signed a word for an FM station in his San Antonio hometown, prompting Forbes to name him the “unintended broadcaster” years later — and shortly expanded his holdings to Tulsa, Louisville and elsewhere. It wasn’t till he purchased a bigger station, San Antonio’s WOAI, and adjusted the format from rock ‘n’ roll to news-talk that he “simply began cash-flowing cash,” as he mentioned in a Voices of San Antonio interview years later.

“Lowry is the basic American story of taking experience, dedication, and an thought and keen it into successful,” former mayor and U.S. Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros advised San. Antonio Report in 2018.

Ultimately, Mays expanded into TV associates across the U.S. and out of doors promoting, an {industry} he shortly dominated, shopping for billboards in 65 totally different corporations. “I advised our salesmen, ‘We’re not within the out of doors enterprise or the radio enterprise or another enterprise,’” he advised Voices of San Antonio. “We’re within the enterprise of promoting different folks’s merchandise.”

Within the Nineties, Clear Channel took benefit of the Telecommunications Act, signed by President Invoice Clinton, and have become one of some corporations dominating the published enterprise, proudly owning 1,200 stations that made a collective $3 billion per yr in revenues. In 2000, the corporate turned to the live performance enterprise, paying $4.4 billion for SFX Leisure, which had spent the last few years rolling up unbiased live performance promoters across the U.S.

On the time, Mays declared the corporate’s aggressive media consolidation obligatory for its digital future. “It’s more and more clear that the web is a crucial part of our firm’s future progress and shareholder return,” he advised Billboard in 2000.

However others within the radio and live performance companies had been anxious: A normal supervisor at one of many Clear Channel-bought stations declared the corporate “low cost channel” at a Minneapolis {industry} occasion, in response to Billboard; Eric Boehlert, the late former Billboard radio reporter, headlined a Salon Clear Channel report “Radio’s Large Bully”; and a Denver promoter sued Clear Channel, alleging it used its radio and live performance holdings in a monopolistic option to stop rivals to promote out there, “leading to greater costs and fewer choices for shoppers.” (The case later settled.)

In 2005, Clear Channel spun off its live performance unit into a brand new firm, Reside Nation, which has since remained the highest promoter within the U.S. Mays’ son, Randall, has been on the corporate’s board of administrators since its inception.

Born in Houston, Mays earned his petroleum-engineering diploma at Texas A&M College and labored as a summer season roughneck on the oil {industry}’s drill ground. He served within the Air Power and wound up engaged on a pipeline in Taiwan, the place he managed 10,000 individuals who dug by hand. He later earned an MBA from Harvard Enterprise Faculty and moved again to San Antonio to type an investment-banking firm in 1970. That was when he co-signed the word for the FM radio station. “I didn’t resolve to enter radio,” he defined, including that when the banking government advised him he owned the station, he mentioned, “Oh, my God, what’s going to I do now?”

By 2008, Clear Channel had a $17 billion market cap, controlling 9% of U.S. radio stations and 18% of radio-industry income. That yr, the Mays household offered Clear Channel for a reported $25 million; the corporate, at this time known as iHeartMedia, is the world’s greatest broadcaster, proudly owning 860 stations in 160 markets, from Z100 in New York to Alt 98.7 in Los Angeles, in addition to Premiere Networks, which syndicates voices from Steve Harvey to Sean Hannity.

By way of his household basis, Mays contributed $163 million to charities, serving as head of San Antonio’s Chamber of Commerce and United Means president; he chaired Texas A&M’s board of regents from 2003 to 2005, after serving two phrases as regent. A staunch conservative, Mays donated frequently to Republican candidates, from his buddy, the late President George Bush, to President George W. Bush to Sen. Marco Rubio.

Within the Voices of San Antonio interview, he gave this recommendation to younger entrepreneurs: “Work laborious, get a powerful work ethic as younger as you’ll be able to and attempt to construct one thing worthwhile, whether or not it’s a performing arts studio or whether or not it’s a tv station. One thing that can hold you excited you could proceed to develop.”

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