On-Air for 60 Years and Counting
My parents started Leighton Media 60 years ago with the goal of serving, connecting and celebrating our communities. While the industries changed over the years, those core values have not. This year, as our employees and I join in celebration of the future of our company, it’s also rewarding to reflect.
HOW IT BEGAN
Leighton Media traces its roots to owner and founder Al Leighton's purchase of KDLM AM in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in 1963. Today, KDLM is still thriving, 60 years later under the leadership of my brother and market General Manager, Jeff Leighton.
In 1975, my father, Al purchased KFAM AM/FM in St. Cloud, MN – now known as KCLD/KNSI. With the expansion to St. Cloud from Detroit Lakes, the corporate headquarters relocated to St. Cloud, MN.
In the 1980’s, as the company grew, so was the space required to expand my father’s vision of ownership of more radio stations and the number of employees that would be required to successfully operate and expand. It was with that vision that the historic Radio City Music Mall was built in what was the former Woolworth Building, and still remains in Downtown St. Cloud, MN.
The 1990’s were full of more exciting expansions in our broadcast family including: Wild Country 99 (KZPK-FM) St. Cloud, MN; KNOX News Radio (KNOX AM/FM) Grand Forks, ND and 99.9 LITE FM (KCML FM) St. Cloud, MN.
HOW WE PROGRESSED
In 2007, I took over as CEO. I saw a company rich in talent and creativity and soon had a vision for us to embody the niche of being a true, full-service, marketing company. In 2010, the transformation from being a “radio only” company began.
- Vye, formerly known as Leighton Interactive, was developed in 2010. Today, it’s a strong company and is making a substantial mark in the agency world throughout the country.
- Magnetic Spark, our promotional products division, also emerged in 2010. They specialize in marketing promotional items and decorated clothing. They are an excellent compliment and partner to our events division and promotional department, as well.
- Leighton Events is our events division. Established in 2014, Leighton Events manages both niche’ and large scale community events from start to finish. At the time of this blog, we have nine different events ranging from Craft Beer Tours to Kids & Parents Expo’s.
- Leighton Engage, our new digital services department, was launched in 2020 to serve small to medium sized businesses in the digital marketing space.
As the above four companies developed and grew, we continued to look for the additional radio stations to complement our existing station holdings.
In 2015, we expanded into the Fergus Falls and Winona, MN communities gaining 10 radio stations through the acquisition from Jerry Papenfus.
Most recently, in 2020, just before the pandemic hit, we acquired the Paradis Media radio stations in Alexandria, MN.
Today, Leighton Media’s radio group is 26 stations strong across seven markets in MN and ND.
What you stand for matters. Our company’s Core Values, developed over a decade ago, help us navigate the waters of change including the acquisition of new broadcast companies as well as challenging times like those we faced together in 2020.
- Success: Working together to help one another and the community
- Passion: Showing up with energy and enthusiasm for our “why” and striving for excellence in all we do
- Dedication: Unwavering accountability to self and team
- Community Involvement: We believe in building our community through time, talent and treasure
- Ethical: Always striving to do the right thing for our listeners, clients and employees
- Professional: We are committed to the ongoing professional and personal development of our employees
Leighton Enterprises is not your “typical” radio company with “typical” employees. Our clients’ results and employee retention are both indicators of the truth, in this statement. As a whole, we remain united and committed to live our passion statement: To Serve, Connect and Celebrate Our Community.
As we celebrate our 60th year, I would like to say thank you to our employees who bring their passion, dedication and professionalism to work, every day. Also, we greatly appreciate our clients for choosing Leighton Media, Vye, Magnetic Spark, Leighton Events and Leighton Engage for their marketing, digital advertising, community event and promotional needs.
I will conclude with a quote from my father shared in the 1980’s upon the completion of the Radio City Music Mall in St. Cloud, MN – as the words still hold true, today:
ABOUT LEIGHTON ENTERPRISES, INC.
Leighton Enterprises, Inc is a marketing company dedicated to serving numerous industries across all of Minnesota, Eastern North Dakota and throughout the USA. Leighton Enterprises believes in partnership and ensuring consistent marketing messages founded in a solid strategy across all channels; Leighton Media a radio group with 26 stations across seven markets, Vye, a digital advertising agency, Magnetic Spark a promotional products division, Leighton Events an event production company and Leighton Engage a digital advertising and social media strategy department.