A longtime, avid listener of talk radio, Michael Bull set out three years ago to fill a void on the airwaves. He had become bored with programs focusing on home refinancing, lawn care and presidential politics. As founder and president of Bull Realty, an Atlanta-based commercial real estatefirm, he felt strongly that there was a need for fresh and informative content.
The veteran broker began to approach local stations about his plans for a show dedicated exclusively to commercial real estate, a smart program where best practices and ideas could be shared. But when the real estate market started to tank, Bull put the brakes on plans for the show. “I said, ‘No, I've got to concentrate on closing transactions.’”
In 2010, Bull Realty had a strong showing due in no small part to its robust REO services business (74 lenders have utilized its services in this cycle) and a gradually improving economy. Bull's vision to launch a radio show had been delayed, but would not be denied. The concept was embraced by Atlanta radio station WAFS, branded locally as biz 1190 on the AM dial. The station is owned by Salem Communications.
A momentous occasion
The inaugural broadcast of “The Commercial Real Estate Show” aired on Saturday, Oct. 2 with Bull as host. The hour-long program focused on commercial loan workouts. A panel of industry experts discussed the issue from the perspective of both borrower and lender, provided examples of recently completed workouts, and shared best practices.
“Right after I left the first show, it kind of hit me that it was going to be bigger, better and more informative than I had originally envisioned,” recalls Bull, who acknowledges that playing the role of talk show host doesn't come naturally to him. “I'm not a media person. I've got a good, broad range of knowledge on a lot of different property types. I think I do a good job of getting the right guests and getting the right information, which powers the show.”
The program is recorded each Wednesday and airs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on biz 1190 WAFS and on the Internet at www.commercialrealestateshow.com. Each program is archived as a podcast and available on demand at the same web address. The show can also be accessed with a smart phone. Bull says that going forward he's looking at various ways to syndicate the show.
The weekly broadcast covers all property types. During the program's first four months, the topics have ranged from retail leasing strategies to commercial real estate auctions to land and development. Each show begins with a market update from a data provider such as Trepp LLC or leadingsource that helps set the table for the expert panel discussion that follows.
First-time listeners may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the show isn't an infomercial on Bull Realty. “The guests we've had on the show and the information we've provided have been incredible. Once people hear the show, they are blown away,” says Bull.
The show seeks to inform and entertain not only commercial real estate professionals, but also those involved in related businesses such as construction, accounting and law. Lawyers are among the most frequent listeners of the show, says Bull.
Brokers across the country are definitely interested in the show. Some have contacted Bull to inquire about how they can access the program. “When you add in the property managers, the REITs, and everybody who is in the industry, it's a pretty big market nationwide.” The show does have sponsors and is financially breaking even at this point, according to Bull. No figures on the size of the audience were provided, however.
Bull and two staff members spend a combined 50 hours a week preparing for each broadcast. The discussion points, the overall flow of the program and the timing are granular details that must all be ironed out well in advance. After dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights, Bull routinely works until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. researching his upcoming guests and their companies. “Luckily, it's a subject I enjoy learning about.”
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