Larry Black is founder, host and creator of Larry’s Country Diner, a national weekly variety show that runs on the RFD-TV network as well as TNN. Produced in Nashville and with a viewing audience estimateda at 1.4 million people, the show celebrated its 100th episode on June 4. Nashville Post Managing Editor William Williams caught up with Black to ask him a few questions.
What is your marketing strategy with the show?
We provide wholesome, family-oriented entertainment that anybody can watch. Someone came to me one night and said that every Thursday night, three generations of their family come together to watch the show without fear of profanity or off-color topics that aren’t suitable for all audiences. While much of what happens on the show is spontaneous, its structure is predictable and folks like that. The entertainers and positioning of the show really speak to the “boomer” generation, which is one of the largest of all groups in the nation right now. Because they love it, they have their sons, daughters, friends and family watching it too. Love for the show is really being passed along by word of mouth. Drew Carey even tweeted about it the other day.
How are ad revenues?
Country’s Family Reunion really helps support Larry’s as it has more ad space within the show and sells more product. However, Larry’s is really catching on with the corporate clients and we are proud to have our new sponsor PFI Clothing (BootDaddy.com) join our other sponsors such as Col. Littleton’s Fine Leather Accouterments and Crosley (a manufacturer of retro-styled jukeboxes and record players). And of course, we are always looking for sponsors who share a similar demographics and want to reach our audience of 1.4 million viewers per week. They are a loyal group of fans and are also loyal to our sponsors.
How would you describe your business model?
We sort of pick up where Hee Haw left off in that we really build our audience at the niche-market level. But we take this model one step further by focusing on things as a “manufacturer of product,” rather than on a “producer of television shows.” By this, I mean that our shows are packaged for purchase — that’s the primary purpose of our air time — to serve as a commercial of sorts for the products that we sell. Because of this, we pay royalties based upon the sales of this product, rather than licensing and clearing songs for network airings. This makes our shows much easier to facilitate. And the fans love the product, so it works well for everyone.
You will soon be on TNN. What is the significance of that?
When it comes back, that is clearly an audience we will go after because that’s where we got our start. When TNN ended, they left a huge void in the market for the entertainers who paved the way for so many of today’s mainstream talent. We were proud to give them a platform because there are so many people out there who are hungry for this kind of entertainment.
How would you describe Gabriel Communications (the parent company of Larry's Country Diner) to the average reader?
We create new “old product.” By that, I don’t mean we find old footage and make a compilation of those old performances and sell it. That would be to simply repackage what’s already out there. Instead, we celebrate these artists and provide a platform for new performances and new interviews. We’ve done this not only with music, but with sports teams, race drivers, you name it.
I understand you are considering a bricks-and-mortar retail site. Thoughts?
Ever since the show began, people had always asked, “Is Larry’s a real diner…is it a place we can visit and have lunch?” As our popularity continues to grow and with more and more of our fans expressing their desire to visit our “fictional” diner, we have taken the first step and have purchased land in the Bellevue area to make it a real bricks-and-mortar place. We’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as to when we will open and other details. A few things are certain, though: It’s going to be a family friendly country diner and full of great music and fun.