A dream realized

These are the last days that my company will function independently as DONATA Communications. Beginning Thursday, I’ll be joining my old friend Jerry Gumbert and his innovative company, Audience Research and Development of Dallas. Six great minds make up the core of AR&D, and I’m honored to now be in their midst.

AR&D has acquired DONATA as a part of the deal, and we’ve yet to decide what will happen to the name. Let’s hope my little damselfly survives somehow.

AR&D is a leader in research and consulting for the local broadcasting industry, and we’re joining forces to take the vision of opportunity to local television. The company has been quietly percolating a vision for broadcasters that includes both the traditional and beyond, and by bringing me into the mix, it will explode on the industry this year. These are smart, smart people, and we’re putting the industry on notice today that there are real solutions to the real problems broadcasters face and that we have the model. We’re in a business cycle where stations must be amphibious and exist in two completely different worlds. It’s tricky and there are a lot of people who think you can be one or the other, but this is provably false.

I couldn’t be more excited, because Jerry is an old and trusted friend. I’ll be running AR&D’s Digital Development Unit. I also love the fact that the first word in AR&D is audience, because that’s the key to successful local media downstream. While most broadcasters are fixated on revenue, the real problem is audience. Money follows eyeballs, not the other way around (the Donald Trump exception noted).

And I will continue to assert that the biggest threat to local media companies is outside technology companies coming in to take advertising money out of the local market. Google didn’t start out as a media company, but they certainly have become one. Same with Yahoo and a legion of others. I’m sorry, but obsessing only with your slice of a shrinking broadcast pie is the road to the tar pits. Audience is the problem. Fix the problem!

One of the big things I’ll be bringing to the table is a knowledge of and comfort level with technology and technology companies. I think it’s important that TV stations move to tech platforms designed and built by cutting edge players instead of those with media backgrounds. This is what we did with WKRN-TV, and the things that are on the drawing board there will amaze you. I’ll be keeping my old clients, and that’s important to me.

As I said, this is an extreme honor for me but also for the vision that Allie and I shared and to which we dedicated our lives — with little compensation — during the two and a half years we were together. I know that she’s beaming with pride today, and that feels pretty nice.

Jerry and I have agreed that I will continue blogging and writing essays, although I need to be realistic about that. I’m entering the world of corporate secrets, and I think you know I’ll respect that. I do promise, however, that I won’t pull any punches and that I’ll try to remain as transparent as I always have. These are fascinating times we’re in, and I’ve no wish to be a part of the b.s. pool that’s already out there.

As I’ve shared so many times before, broadcasting is and was my life. I still have many friends who work in the industry, and I want to do everything I can to help local television remain viable for the long term. This isn’t just some fancy dream; it’s a real mission (I feel like the Blues Brothers), and by joining with the quality people, connections and resources of AR&D, I’ve moved beyond the “voice crying in the wilderness” phase. As Mike James wrote in NewsBlues today, “the nutty professor has gone legit.”

And I’ll have health insurance, what a concept!

Here’s the official press release.


  1. Hey Terry,

    I wish you good luck for the future! And keep on blogging. It’s a great source of inspiration! and not just for Americans

    greetings from germany


  2. mel taylor says

    Good Luck Terry.

    I KNOW you will do quite well.

    Just try to keep writing as much as possible !

    Mel Taylor

  3. Best of luck, Terry. I worked with AR&D more than once during my tenure with Belo in Dallas, and I really like those folks.

    Good company just got better!

  4. Great news, but bummer if you’re relocating. I liked knowing you were around here somewhere. ;-p

  5. Happy to hear the good news and wish you the best of luck over at AR&D. Hopefully I’ll run into you at Bloggercon IV.

  6. Congrats on the big move Terry… sounds like the fun is just starting.

    Look forward to seeing you at Bloggercon or Gnomedex (are you goin this year?).

  7. So glad to hear your and Allie’s good news, Terry. You deserve it. Thank you for sharing everything with us.

  8. Hey, Terry! This is wonderful news. All the best to you in this very exciting new chapter!

  9. More bloggers selling out to THE MAN!. What IS the world coming to? 🙂


  10. congratulations on your new adventure, Terry! and, even though you’re now working for The Man, I’m sure you’ll still be able to find lots and lots of stuff to blog about 🙂

  11. Yay! Congrats and good luck my new found friend!

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