Cumulus Strikes Back

The bell rings and it is round two of the lightweight fight to takeover Citadel Media.

In one corner, you have Citadel CEO Farid “Fagreed” Suleman looking like King Kong with a nice Florida tan.

In the other, the diminutive Lew “Tricky” Dickey dressed in plaid Yuppie shorts ready to get his head handed to him.

But … new events may change all of that.

If you’re working for Citadel or Cumulus, you’ve got to be worried.  

This piece reveals:

1.  The one thing that would be clearly better than Cumulus buying Citadel?  I’ll name it.

2.  The critical strategic mistake that Dickey is making in his hostile takeover attempt of Citadel.  Fix this and you’ve got a deal.

3.  The brilliance of Fagreed Suleman (don’t choke).  Suleman made a masterful stroke that will render Dickey impotent.  It really is brilliant in the world of greed.

4.  The chance of Dickey upping his bid and offering more money to Citadel shareholders.

5.   All those noisy Citadel shareholders who dislike Suleman – do they have the power to force him to accept the Cumulus offer?  If so, under what circumstances?

6.  The one sure-fire way to get Suleman to change his mind and accept Lew Dickey’s offer.  It’s foolproof and I think you’ll agree this is the key to the entire deal.

This article is about the high stakes of the Cumulus takeover attempt of Citadel and the repercussions that are likely.  It is not politically correct but it is right on the money.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

Radio Suicide by CHR

 

There is a reason why radio owners are tripping all over themselves to switch to hit radio formats.  This piece focuses on:

1. The radio format that CHR is going to make extinct.

2.  The big reason why radio groups are dropping formats to switch to CHR.

3.  What is so attractive to buyers about a format that has phantom People Meter listeners?

4.  The one thing these new CHR stations are doing that will turn off loyal fans.

5.  Two People Meter formats that are cheated out of listeners – take a guess.

6.  The bleak outlook for AM People Meter stations.

7.  More listening or less for the new CHR stations?  We’ll tell you.

This is an article about radio stations anxious to game the People Meter by switching as many stations as possible to CHR and what the unintended consequences may be.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

The Hyperlocal Radio Solution

AOL is investing tens of millions of dollars in it.

The giant Google and its competitor, Yahoo!, are already there.

Radio?

Nowhere to be seen regarding this new push to steal local advertisers from radio and newspapers through hyper-focused local content.

In this article, you’ll get an early warning …

1.  The growing presence of AOL, Google and Yahoo in the hyperlocal media space.

2.  Their strategy to target the very same local advertisers radio stations depend on for their revenue.

3.  The early results and what they may mean to radio operators who want to ramp up their efforts to compete for hyperlocal dollars.

4.  The secret to success.  What promises to work and what we know already does not work in operating hyperlocal media sites. 

5.  Early lessons from one of the few radio operators (a non-profit, at that) that may prove to be critical.

This is an article about a promising new revenue stream for online media giants and a wake-up call to radio to not ignore hyperlocal competition.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

The End of Music Downloads

(Don’t wait another year until you attend my Media Solutions Lab or you will miss the 10 emerging trends that will shape your business and career.  Register here).

The new sales figures are out for record sales and 2010 saw the expected huge decline in CD sales, but a more surprising end of growth to legal music downloads.

What does it mean, because it means a lot.

In this article, I am going to share …

1.  Why music is overpriced and what the real current price really is.

2.  Music has a new role in people’s lives.  It’s not the end entertainment destination any longer.  I’ll tell you what the new purpose for music is in a digital world of young consumers.

3.  What effect streaming audio and video is having and will have in the future on music sales.  It’s not what you’re thinking, I’m sure.

4.  The effect of “the cloud” on music sales in light of what Apple is planning to announce just a few months from now.  Why the labels have no defense for Steve Jobs latest predatory move that I will describe here.

5.  YouTube is the new MTV for a new generation but does it have more juice or is it already running its course.  The answer is critical if you’re in broadcasting, music or the mobile Internet.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

Radio and Records Mergers in the Making

Comcast has reared its ugly media head already days in advance of taking over operational control of NBC Universal.  It showed Keith Olbermann the door in spite of the fact he is MSNBC’s top rated anchor. TMZ reported Comcast was indeed the devil that dealt with the firing details.  Comcast reportedly was tinkering with NBC Primetime even before the sale closed (unofficially, of course!).

That begs the question are we going to see more screwed up businesses in radio and records thanks to venture capitalists?

In this article, I’ve got 6 more to tell you about:

1.  A traffic company may get dealt.  Wait until you hear who the buyer may be?  They sure don’t need a traffic operation – or do they?

2.  Clear Channel’s expected refinance of $19.7 billion in debt may lead to the sale of hundreds of stations to de-lever the new debt acquired to pay down the old debt – do you have that?  I’ve got a timeline for you.

3.  I’m looking for the old Bonneville and the former Bonneville management team soon to be operating as Hubbard Radio as potential buyers for a huge major market radio station.  I will reveal the call letters here.

4.  Don’t forget Cumulus – the little engine that couldn’t – may still take a run at Citadel.  What may wind up happening.

5.  That Clear Channel news consolidation – it may be worse than originally thought.  I’ve got details for you.

6.  50% of the major labels are for sale right now with major repercussions for the music industry. I handicap it for you.

This article is about the disturbing but growing influence of investment bankers in radio and records and how they may reshape these and other media industries over the next 12 months.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

Thank you for your support of my Media Solutions Lab that will be presented this Thursday.  The big changes ahead will be revealed and you are welcomed to attend.  Register here.

Countdown With Farid Suleman

Boy, would Keith Olbermann have a field day with Citadel CEO Farid Suleman, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey and the hostile takeover attempt by the smaller, debt-ridden Cumulus or the larger, debt-free Citadel.

Olbermann is gone just when The New York Times unearthed this dirty little hostile takeover story in our industry over the weekend.

While Olbermann got screwed by NBC and Comcast days before the takeover (ya think Comcast didn’t sign off on his departure?), we in the radio business know a lot about screwing people and getting screwed.

I know how the Cumulus hostile takeover of Citadel is going to end.  And in this article I am going to tell you.  And it’s not what you’re thinking.  It’s actually something you are probably not thinking.  I’ll bet you’ll be floored.

Plus … 5 things that will happen next in Dickey’s attempt to be Lewis the Conqueror:

1.  How Suleman will make Dickey want it more.  You read that right – want to do the merger he is opposing even more

2.  Dickey’s next counterpunch – the move to win the hearts and minds of the Spin Zone.

3.  How nasty it will get – I’ll be specific.

4.  Dickey’s tricky backroom deal to get Suleman’s attention and I want you to keep in mind that Citadel bylaws give Suleman the power to reject Dickey unless or until he is ready – if ever.

5.  The final outcome – the end of the long hello!  A pretty creative way to resolve what appears to be a standoff.  Want to know how I think it will all end?  Please be sitting.

This article is about the biggest potential radio merger in history that would create a new powerhouse and pave the way for substantial changes in radio broadcasting heretofore unseen.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

What do you get when broadcasters, music industry and new media people get together in one place to focus on the consumer and get better?  That’s The Media Solutions Lab this Thursday.  More here.

Bob Pittman’s Radio Kool-Aid

(My 2011 Media Solutions Lab is next Thursday.  To be included, register here).

Bob Pittman is fast becoming the Jim Jones of terrestrial radio.

The Kool-Aid Bob wants the public (and industry to swallow) about radio is very toxic. 

In fact, more dangerous given that Pittman is the likely successor to Mark Mays as CEO of Clear Channel -- a company that I believe has plans that may become the story of the year by next year at this time.

In this article, I am going to decode what Clear Channel is saying instead of what it will be doing:

1.  Deep denial over the 230 million listeners Arbitron says radio has every week.  The numbers are right but the conclusion is all wet.  But nevermind.  It is important that you buy it – for Clear Channel’s sake.

2.  Is Pandora a threat or not?  Pandora does have 75 million happy customers and satellite radio has 20 million.  Here’s the one thing Pittman wants you to forget about radio competitors like Pandora and Spotify. 

3.  Do you know how much actual listening an Internet stream of a terrestrial radio station attracts?  You will and I’ll bet you’ll fall off your chair when you read it.

4.  The true hope for radio is not defending the status quo, it is this …

5.  The one gigantic hole in the media market for something radio can deliver right now.  Would you like to know what that is because it is something you can do if Clear Channel doesn’t want to?  And Clear Channel has other plans, as you’ll see.

6.   Clear Channel’s end game – not what you think it is.

This article is about the methodical approach Clear Channel is taking to pave the way for what’s next – the new Clear Channel and probably a major change in the radio business.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

My Media Solutions Lab is next Thursday, January 27th.  To attend, register here.

The Real Bonneville-Hubbard Deal

(Please accept my personal invitation to attend my upcoming Media Solutions Lab Thursday, January 27 in Scottsdale – info, hotels and a discount await you here).

When Bonneville becomes a seller, everyone is a seller.

But this deal has absolutely nothing to do with the sales and acquisition climate for radio stations.  If other sellers think they are going to get what Bonneville got for their stations, they’ve got another thing coming.

What’s the real deal on the Hubbard purchase of 17 Bonneville stations in four markets? 

Hubbard is not a radio consolidator – only has three stations in Minneapolis, but is a sizeable television operator.

In this article, you’ll learn all the details on this deal including my predictions and insights:

1.  Why Hubbard didn’t buy all the Bonneville stations?

2.  Will Hubbard acquire more radio properties?

3.  How important was Bonneville’s digital platform to the deal.  I’ve got accurate figures on how much Bonneville and the three existing Hubbard stations do in digital billing compared with their total revenue.

4.  Will that lurker Lew Dickey be sniffing around for the remaining Bonneville stations that Hubbard did not buy?  I’ve got a notion on what Dickey will do.

5.  The one thing that makes the purchase of 17 Bonneville stations the smartest radio acquisition since Clear Channel bought Jacor and AMFM.  It’s not what you think.

6.  Did Hubbard overpay or did Bonneville sell at a discount?

This article tells the rest of the story behind the shocking headlines on the Hubbard/Bonneville acquisition and what chances this deal has in setting a precedent for the future buying and selling of devalued radio properties.  It also sorts out the hype from the truth.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

My Media Solutions Lab is Thursday, January 27th.  Preview the program, search for hotels and get a pre-conference discount by clicking here.

Apple Advice for Radio and Music

(Last minute registration for my Media Solutions Lab here).

The news about Steve Jobs taking yet another medical leave of absence has rattled Wall Street and consumers as well.

The iconic Jobs is so strange that he warrants his own college course.  His strategic planning is counter to what so-called successful media companies do that it would be a sin if we could not watch the master at work for a bit longer.

I can name 5 ways Apple can help record labels and radio groups become more successful.  

In this article, I’ve put together what I think Steve Jobs’ advice for radio and records would be based on Apple’s success.

1.  One critical financial move that every radio group and record label violates – every one!  Want to know what it is?  Heck, if they’re not going to learn from Steve Jobs, we can.

2.  How did Jobs get to be so irreplaceable and why isn’t Farid Suleman or Lew Dickey critical to the future success of their radio groups?  It doesn’t have anything to do with brains.  Dickey is a Harvard and Stanford grad.  Steve Jobs a college dropout who took only one course before giving up on higher education.  Here’s a clue:  it’s not even about the person at the top and how talented and brilliant they are.  I’m going to name for you the number one reason Steve Jobs is irreplaceable and I’ll bet you’ll never guess in what way.

3.  Radio has all it can do to post a 3-4% net gain in revenue in 2011 (and that gain is compared to some pretty favorable comps from an awful previous year).  What if I told you that the answer to radio’s sales problems are not at the radio station but in any Apple store.  Would you like to know how?

4.  Can you name the last cool thing radio did or the last cool thing a record label did?  I thought so.  Neither can I – okay, I tried.  But without cool in this day and age you can’t come up with TiVo or Netflix online or Facebook.  I’ve got some answers based on what Apple would do.

5.  Let’s settle it once and for all in this piece – is piracy killing the record business?  If the labels don’t want to see what would sell music like it’s 1999 then how about this advice for entrepreneurs who will be their successors. 

It all starts here.

This article is about 5 strategies that always win for Apple that radio and record labels never even consider. 

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces including another piece I wrote called “If Steve Jobs reinvented Radio”) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

My Media Solutions Lab is January 27th.  Preview the program, search for hotels and get a pre-conference discount by clicking here.

Predicting the Next Radio Layoffs

(9 days until my Media Solutions Lab, the one’s the best media people attend.  One day that will change the way you think about radio, music and the mobile Internet here).

Friday almost 50 news people – some with distinguished careers of more than 30 years – were fired by Clear Channel.  

No notice. 

No hints. 

Just terminated for a regional repeater radio news solution for a seriously bankrupt company.

But if you’re looking for a heads-up – the latest on the radio firing scene – I’ve got some details for you right here in this article:

1.  Prospects for firing at Clear Channel, Cumulus and Citadel now that the heat is back on.

2.  Are John Hogan’s heroes safe this time around?  Who is likely to fall victim.

3.  The one place in a radio station that gets owners the most bang for their firing buck  – I’ll name it so you can try to understand why they all have the same strategy.  It’s predictable.

4.  Clear Channel’s End Game:  Is Bob Pittman your friend or a fiend?  Read this and draw your own conclusions.

5.  Want to understand Dickeyology at Cumulus?  I think I’ve got Lew, Jr figured out and I’ll share how I know what he’s going to do next.  Hint:  Lew speaks in code.  Decode it here.

6.  What personnel is in Dickey’s sights?  Some people get the feeling he actually enjoys this part.

7.  The Cumulus End Game and what the hostile take over of Citadel has to do with their employees’ chances of remaining employed.

8.  The Big Mean Firing Machine at Citadel is no longer CEO Farid “Fagreed” Suleman.  Find out who is in charge of doing the dirty work and what I think will happen in the months ahead.

9.  Why Citadel sales cutbacks are different from other radio companies and why it may not matter if you’re one of their sellers.

10.  Scott Shannon – let’s just put it out there – he’s a programmer who may have lost his way and that doesn’t bode well for talent at Citadel stations.  I’ve got a chilling example for you.

This article, based on my experience observing and calling out the major consolidators for poor management, offers my insights on what jobs will be eliminated next and what their CEOs’ end game means to employees and the industry.

If you would like to read this story, have access to my entire archive (over 1,100 pieces) and get the next month of my writing included, click “read more” for your choices. 

The people I would want to help me with radio’s digital future are already signed up and ready to learn at my January 27 Media Solutions Lab.  One day that will change the way you think about radio, music and the mobile Internet here.