Spirit of the radio

Shamrock Communications

John Burkavage and Willobee Carlan of Shamrock Communications in their still under construction station on Plumb Lane.

John Burkavage and Willobee Carlan of Shamrock Communications in their still under construction station on Plumb Lane.


For more information, or to participate in Shamrock’s radio survey, visit www.facebook.com/ MyRenoRadio or www.MyRenoRadio.com.

There are four new radio stations coming to Reno. Times-Shamrock Communications, a medium-sized, family-owned media company based in Scranton, Penn., acquired the licenses a few years ago, and hopes to launch at least the first two stations before the end of the summer. The formats of the stations are a mystery not yet revealed.

The formats have not yet been announced partly because the formats have not yet been finalized.

“No decisions have been made,” says Willobee Carlan, director of broadcast operations for Shamrock Communications Reno. “We have formats we’re leaning towards, but we might still change our minds.”

The company is eliciting community feedback about the potential radio stations through an online survey accessible through www.facebook.com/MyRenoRadio and www.MyRenoRadio.com. The survey asks for favorite musical genres and artists, as well as the question, “How would you improve Reno radio?”

Though Carlan and other Shamrock staffers are careful not to reveal too much about the potential directions of the stations, Carlan says that the feedback they’ve already received has prompted them to rethink at least one format.

“Our initial research suggested that we should definitely do one particular format,” he says. “But after we started this dialogue with the community, we realized, ‘Oh, that would be a big mistake.’”

The launch of the stations has been delayed repeatedly—because of radio tower construction and extensive remodeling of the Plumb Lane office building that will serve as station headquarters. Carlan says they decided to use that extra time to double-down on local market research—thus the website and other efforts to generate dialogue.

“We’ve been doing our homework, extensive research,” he says. “We’ve talked to everybody—everybody. We’d go into a restaurant, gather up the entire staff, and ask them, ‘What kind of music do you listen to? What’s missing from Reno radio?’”

There have been rumors floating around town that one Shamrock station will have an alternative rock format—a format that’s been absent from Reno since longtime alternative station KRZQ changed formats last year. Carlan won’t confirm or deny plans for the alternative rock format, but he says that Shamrock Communications has acquired the rights to the KRZQ call letters, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll use them.

“We want to honor the history and heritage of what has happened in Reno radio over the last 25 or 30 years,” he says.

Carlan also acknowledges that he’s sensitive to the fact that many longtime Nevadans are sometimes suspicious of companies that move into the state.

“We’re here to stay,” he says. “We didn’t buy these stations to build them up and sell them. … We’re not here to strip mine the gold and send it out of state”—a metaphor that might seem especially astute to many Nevadans.

Carlan and general manager John Burkavage are both company men who moved to Reno to start the stations, but most of the rest of what will eventually be an approximately 25-person staff, including promotions director Scott DelOstia and the potential on-air talent, has been hired locally. Carlan says that all the programming will be done locally.

“The people on our team will eat, drink, breathe Reno,” he says.