• Russ Hillard reflects on 52 years in out of home advertising.

    Russ Hilliard has over 50 years experience in the out of home, radio and cable TV.  Russ is CEO of USA Outdoor and Russ’s son Chris is CEO of CK Outdoor.  Insider asked Russ Hilliard to reflect on what he’s learned.

    Russ, how did you get into the out of home business?

    I purchased a significant number of panels when the Highway Beautiful Law went into effect in 1965. I bought Panels at .50 cents apiece I was selling in conjunction with a radio station my family owned, called KOLT. I managed the station for seventeen years and then became active in the cable television industry in 1971.  We sold advertising as a part of the advertising insertion, but primarily in Nebraska. We sold to Charter in 2001 and at that time we had over 40,000 subscribers and Charter did not want the billboards we owned, so I decided to expand our billboard holdings.

    Tell us about your plant

    We now have 650 billboards in a variety of states with the majority in Nebraska. We are dominating in the tri-city area: Kearney, Hastings, and Grand Island.

    Any digital signs?

    We have not ventured into digital at this time and the majority of billboards were purchased from other outdoor operations with the majority of billboards in the trip-city are monopole 12 X 24 ft. faces. All structures are less than 15 years of age. We routinely sell out all the structures we have in the tri-city area.

    How does the out of home advertising business compare with radio and cable.

    Since being in the radio and cable television business these medias have lost ground since I managed them. The FCC has quadrupled the amount of stations on air and television has lost ground because of likes to Netflix and Hulu. The one media that has not lost ground is outdoor and we have a monopoly in many of our towns and because of that we can raise prices throughout our system.

    Insider hears you’d like to grow.

    We have some excellent bankers that like our financial situation and we are poised to acquire additional Outdoor anywhere in the U.S.

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