For more than 25 years, Pat Patterson has moved to the beat of a different drum–his own. As a teen, Pat played the drums, providing the background rhythms for several bands. While still in high school, he found yet another outlet for his passion for music: he became a deejay, entertaining audiences with his over-the-top personality, crazy antics and wholly unique playlists.
Fast forward to 2003. Still eccentric, still vivacious, and still a music devotee, Pat hadn’t changed, but his realm of influence had. Thanks to a radio station in Johnston, SC, Pat hit the air waves hosting a live radio show. Despite being a rookie, Pat’s off-the-charts charisma created a sensation. In short order he attracted the attention of Greenwood, SC’s, Sunny 103.5 FM, which recruited him to emcee the Sunny Beach Party. As his legion of loyal listeners grew, Pat moved to WKRI 91.9 FM radio to host The Beat of the Beach, a daily broadcast featuring the sounds of summer.
Then, in 2009, just for kicks, Pat Patterson and his wife, Robin created the Large Time Radio Network (LTRN), an internet-based radio station introducing a novel music format featuring Beach, Blues and Boogie. Appealing to fans bored by tired, uninspired playlists, the popularity of LTRN surged. Pat’s decision to defy convention and air his unorthodox variety of music struck just the right chord–on average, LTRN listeners tuned-in for nearly six hours per day, more than tripling the industry average.
Five years later, in the first of many promising opportunities to come his way, the owners of WPCC 1410 AM, a radio outlet located in Clinton, SC, approached Pat with an offer to sell him the station. Pat immediately recognized the numerous strategic advantages inherent with this deal. In addition to helping a hometown station keep its 50+ year broadcast tradition alive, Pat could leverage the solid programming platform and listener base of his internet station. Ever the trailblazer, Pat wasted no time in pursuing a lease/purchase agreement that would officially confer ownership to him and add a licensed class D AM radio station to the LTRN business portfolio.
In his first year at the helm of WPCC, Pat worked tirelessly to increase the station’s visibility and acquired 35 new advertisers. It was during this time frame that the FCC sought to help the oldest broadcast service to adapt and thrive in a world of new media and granted small market AM station owners such as Pat the chance to acquire 250 watt FM translator (repeater) stations. For LTRN, this unprecedented move by the FCC provided a relatively low-cost, low-regulatory way to rebroadcast its signal on an FM frequency, improve service quality and reach a much larger audience.
Unfortunately for Pat, who was eager to seize this opportunity, there was a catch–actually, there were two: time and money. The application deadline for the FM license was June 30, 2016, and Pat knew the radio station needed to be in his name in order to qualify. “The FCC’s initiative came as a complete surprise, quickly changing my priorities” said Pat. “At the time of the announcement, I was engaged in preliminary negotiations to purchase a second AM station in a nearby community.”
With the clock now ticking, Pat knew he needed assistance; so he contacted Matt Wiggins, the business consultant for the Greenwood Area SBDC. “I met Matt in 2015 while attending a training session for small business owners,” said Pat. “Given Matt’s background and the resources the SBDC could provide, I was confident that if anyone could help me accomplish the myriad tasks inherent in applying for the FCC FM license it would be him.”
“In our initial conversations, Pat and I agreed that he immediately needed to shift his focus to expediting the purchase of WPCC,” said Matt. “To accomplish this, we worked together to create a solid business plan and compile financial projections.”
By working with a single-minded focus, they were able to expedite our loan application, providing the lender ample time to approve the funding prior to the FCC’s filing deadline. Within days of closing on this loan, in yet another twist of good fortune, Pat was given the option to purchase an FM translator for $40k, nearly half the going rate for this type of equipment. “Due to the scarcity and exorbitant costs of this equipment, Pat’s original intention was to wait at least a year before pursuing this equipment,” said Matt. “But this was a watershed deal that would save LPRN nearly $40k. Needless to say, Pat pounced on this opportunity.”
Once again, facing imposing time constraints, Pat and Matt had to scramble. In an effort to secure the additional capital he needed to purchase the booster equipment Pat approached the original lender. To his dismay, Pat’s request was denied.
“Upon hearing this, I immediately thought of enlisting support from the Upper Savannah Council of Governments to see if they could bridge the funding gap through their revolving loan fund,” Matt said. Before approaching them, however, Matt first needed to revise LPRN’s documents to reflect the new scenario. “After updating the financial documents, we submitted them to the USCOG.” Matt’s efforts paid a huge dividend. Within days of receiving LPRN’s application, the USCOG board met and approved the $18k loan request.
Despite all the challenges he faced throughout this complex and ever-changing process, Pat was able to secure the funding commitments required to cover both the 3-year lease/purchase agreement for WPCC as well as the costs of the FM translator equipment.
“If it weren’t for Matt’s agility,” explained Pat, “I’m not sure we would have been able to navigate the labyrinthine process involved in filing the FCC license application and, in particular, securing the capital we desperately needed to cover our expenses. But, thanks to Matt and his indomitable spirit, not only did we meet the filing deadline, we did it with time to spare.”
Through all of his efforts, Pat has ensured LTRN is well-positioned to grow exponentially over the coming years. While in the midst of accomplishing the formidable milestones involved in the FCC filing, Pat also negotiated a simulcast agreement with Lexington-based WDEK 1170 AM. The successful culmination of both these initiatives has the potential to grow his listener base to ten times the size it was merely two years ago.
“With his heart for music and head for business,” said Matt, “Pat is making an indelible imprint on the radio landscape. During the two years I’ve been working with him, I’ve seen Pat prevail time and again, overcoming challenges that would otherwise thwart his contemporaries. Using LTRN as his platform, I have no doubt that in the not-to-distant-future fans from across the nation will be tuning-in to enjoy Pat’s unique blend of “Beach, Blues and Boogie.”