The Business Year

Pedro I. Calderón Bretón

MEXICO - Telecoms & IT

Radio Birdman

Vice-President & General Director, Grupo Fórmula


Pedro I. Calderón Bretón was born in 1951 in Mexico City. He attended the Faculty of Accounting and Administration at UNAM and studied Marketing and Finance. He also went to the University of California to study Administration and Finance. After university, he had a variety of executive jobs including vice-president, director, and commercial director at a number of media outlets before becoming Vice-President and General Director of Grupo Fórmula.

How challenging is competition within the industry? In TV, we have only one channel and we don’t compete with the likes of Televisa. In radio, on the other hand, we […]

How challenging is competition within the industry?

In TV, we have only one channel and we don’t compete with the likes of Televisa. In radio, on the other hand, we are 100% talk radio, whereas most of the other radio stations are music stations. We have numerous unique 24-hour schedules on different stations, so that is tough. I have to determine what programs go where, what themes, and what topics for all those stations. We are our own main competitor. Music radio stations, on the other hand, have to compete with iPods, internet downloads, and CDs, not to mention each other. Music radio stations have much more competition than we do.

Where do you see the most growth potential?

Our listeners are looking for more than just news; they’re looking for entertainment. News is pretty much the same morning to night. We want to entertain our listeners with different styles of news and programming. We try to keep it light, whether it is politics or finance. Our listeners are generally more educated than music listeners. In the US, we have a potential of up to 30 million listeners; however, it is hard to determine exactly how many people listen to our stations. Also, you have to keep track of young listeners. More and more of them are interested in the news, politics, and global affairs as well as culture, arts, and of course sports. Family issues are also important topics. It is vital to keep a balance between all that.

Does piracy still pose a bit threat to the industry?

There is a problem with pirate radio in the south. In Mexico, there are two types of radio stations: the ones that receive government concessions, which are commercial stations, and the ones that receive permission. With the former, you can sell commercial time. With the latter, you can only broadcast cultural programs, music, and indigenous language instruction, for example. The government gives permits to those stations based on the proviso that no commercial activity takes place. However, in the south, those “permitted” stations are sometimes used for commercial activity, so that is where the piracy problem comes in. Generally, piracy isn’t a big problem for us though.

“Our listeners are looking for more than just news; they’re looking for entertainment.”

How much have you been investing in developing your infrastructure?

Our infrastructure is very sophisticated. We can broadcast and sell all over Mexico, as well as in the US. We have 45 different markets, one for each station. In each market, depending on the region or city, those stations can create local programming. For example, the station in Guadalajara or the one in San Antonio, Texas provides the local news and focuses on local topics and issues. It is complicated to control and coordinate all those programs from Mexico City. In music, on the other hand, you just have to know what segment of the population you appeal to and play the same music, whether here or in the US.

How have you been developing your advertising platforms, and what is your growth strategy?

We are still focused on radio for now, but it is growing much more on the internet. We have another company, a below-the-line (BTL) company, which is direct to the customer advertising. We have the opportunity to create intensive special campaigns that are undertaken through various media, including radio, TV, and the internet. These are mostly government campaigns. The BTL business is among the fastest growing markets in the country. We also need to invest in high definition technology, and grow in terms of our satellite presence, both for radio and TV. We also want to set up more 24-hour stations in the US. To achieve this, we have to position ourselves in the main Spanish-speaking markets like Colorado, California, North and South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. The way to grow is by having your own station there; however, it is not cheap. We hope to open a station in Denver soon. We have another station in Los Angeles, and hopefully we will open another one there in the near future, because California is the main Spanish-speaking market in the US.



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