Backyard Broadcasting pulls in listeners

Backyard Broadcasting is like a high-powered megaphone blasting its radio signals from its half-dozen or so radio stations all over central Pennsylvania. The small cluster of stations compromising Backyard bring country-western, rock ‘n roll and oldies music, as well as talk radio and ESPN sports programming.

“We got the gamut,” Backyard co-owner Dan Farr said.

Farr said Williamsport, where Backyard is headquartered, is simply a great radio market. He should know. He’s been working in radio since 1982 in markets around the U.S.

“It’s fun,” he said of his long career in radio. “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.”

Meeting people, working with talented people and serving the community are what radio is all about, according to Farr.

Backyard Broadcasting’s stations include WZXR FM, WCXR FM, WBZD FM, WLYM FM, WWPA AM, and the flagship station, WILQ, with its country-western music format.

Farr said it’s not unusual for a single company to own and operate several stations out of one site.

“It’s more or less the way of radio anymore,” he said. “In any market this size, you will see a cluster of stations in one place,” he said.

Thirty-six people are employed by the company, including 12 part-timers. They include sales and office staff and the on-air talent.

“We are lucky to have very little turnover,” Farr said.

The sales staff of about 10 has remained fairly stable through the years.

Farr said what’s great about radio is touching so many lives. Over the years, the Internet, expanded television programming and other mass communication have grabbed the attention of people, but radio continues to remain more than viable.

“Radio is still the number one local medium,” Farr said. “Radio still grabs 93 percent of the population.”

He said it’s a medium that is popular, even with millennials who’ve grown up with the Internet.

Farr came to Williamsport in the mid-90s after working for more than a decade at stations in sales or as a general manager in such markets as Utica, N.Y., Atlantic City, N.J. and Mobile, Ala.

He helped start a cluster of stations under Sabre Communications, later bought out by Backyard, which in ensuing years began divesting many of its properties.

In 2014, Farr and local investors purchased what are now the local stations.

Each of them has its own format, allowing Backyard to capture a big and diverse overall audience.

“The majority of our revenue comes from Lycoming County,” Farr said.

Community events are a big part of Backyard Broadcasting’s programming.

“It’s great helping people,” he said. “We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we want to.”

Local organizations such as Hope Enterprise and the United Way have worked with Backyard to publicize and promote events. Farr noted that the annual Fourth of July Fireworks in Williamsport is one of the more bigger activities of which it has been involved.