Lives in the Law
Sun Jul 15 2018 11:45:25 UA Law | Lives in the Law | Larry Wilson - Updated - 19.09.07
Alum Shares Art of the Deal with Law and Business Students  

Larry Wilson (class of 1972) spoke with Rogers Law College and Eller College students on “The Art of the Deal,” in a lunch-time forum held March 8, 2006.  He recounted stories, laced with equal parts humor and valuable insights, about his career in the communications industry.  The stories surfaced qualities that make for successful entrepreneurship and showed the value a legal education affords a businessperson.

After graduating from the College of Law, Wilson worked for short periods with an accounting firm and a Phoenix law firm before entering the world of communications.  In the 1980s, having served as counsel for a large billboard and newspaper company, he began investing in and managing radio stations, and there made his mark. His Citadel Communications Corporation eventually grew to over 200 stations positioned in nearly 50 mid-sized markets.  The company was sold to the Wall Street investment firm Forstmann Little in 2002.

Asked how to a select a direction to direct entrepreneurial energy, Wilson stated, “You must have a passion for what you choose.”  His own passion for radio, and its ability to broadcast “a theater of the mind” inspired Mr. Wilson’s success.  “If all you want to do is earn money,” he told the students, “you’ll find that gets old fast.”

Wilson traced his own success in part to his hands-on, on-the-ground management style.  Even when his company owned more than 200 stations, he managed to visit them regularly, to meet the sales and on-air people, and to mingle with clients who bought time on his stations.  It’s crucial, he told the law and business students, to be able to read and understand a balance sheet.  As well, he stressed the importance, to success in any business, of developing and nurturing personal relationships.

His law degree helped him to understand the business of making deals in two ways, Wilson said.  First, even when as a business entrepreneur he was not practicing law, his legal education supplied key pieces of knowledge about the acquisition and sales of broadcasting properties.  Second, due to the increasingly complex environment of business practices and regulation, a law education may have become, he suggested, a near-necessity for the businessperson practicing “the art of the deal.”

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