Cumulus and Clear Channel’s Next Moves

In the months ahead both Clear Channel and Cumulus will be undertaking some moves that could have a major impact on what’s left of the radio industry.

And it is tantalizing …

1.  Which one will acquire perhaps as many as 50 or more stations and which one may sell.  Be ready because all this could happen within less than one year. 

2.  How Clear Channel is going to kick the can down the road – so to speak – as it enters the next few years of having to repay debt as high as $19 billion.  They know what they’re going to do and it’s not what they are saying publicly.

3.  What are the two biggest threats that both Cumulus and Clear Channel face.  Forget the Dickey hype or Pittman PR – these two issues are really what could derail one or both of radio’s largest consolidators. 

4.  Why Wall Street could care less about radio revenue from digital.  Even Wall Street knows that Clear Channel, Cumulus and for that matter most radio companies are losing the race to the digital space.  Here’s their strategy for winning the day while failing in the mobile Internet.  Unbelievable.

Plus … who will buy Clear Channel?  Read on, I’ll tell you.

Cumulus and Clear Channel despite the hype – are in big trouble.

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Not AC – My Fix for Radio’s AC Format

Adult contemporary radio stations are continuing to take a beating in the latest ratings – the format is not likely to recover without a courageous total reinvention.

If you run an adult contemporary station, I’ve got 11 fixes for you to stop the audience erosion. 

If you compete against a reluctant AC brand that only wants to tweak their format, this is your best chance to steal the playbook and their audience.

1.  Do you change the current music slowly or blow up the playlist and make a radical change.  Both work but one approach – and I’ll reveal which one – will only delay inevitable audience erosion.  Best to avoid it.

2.  Why the oldies library is so dangerous to the new AC station.  Songs you would have included before can kill the audience now.  Here’s a safer approach.

3.  What CBS learned when it turned its oldies into classic hits stations. I’m saying you want to go to school on CBS because if you don’t, their classic hits stations (and ones like them) will become the new adult contemporary.

4.  My yardstick for deciding what oldies songs provide the most fire power for the new AC – it has something to do with Glee.  It never fails the test.  You’ll need to know.

5.  Why making the music tempo faster on AC stations – as many are currently doing – may only speed up the format’s audience erosion.  You’ll get a better answer.

6.  What about the classic AC morning show.  You’re not going to like taking this medicine but if you don’t, within a year and a half you won’t be able to have a strong morning personality show. 

7.  A new way to look at commercial loads and how to schedule them in a music hour.  Critical.

8.  Voice tracking – still okay after morning drive?  New rules.

9.  How do you save that sappy advice show you’re running a night.  Are its days numbered or do you like these new options better. 

10.  What about streaming? Should you stream your on-air AC station once you make the fix?  New thoughts on that.

11.  The one way to build your new brand that not everyone in the market can choose.  Is this strategy for you – it almost always works to build audience and brand recognition.

Plus… there is one format already out there that could replace adult contemporary as is -- without making one single change.  Know your enemy.

You can read anywhere that AC has big ratings problems.  But here you get 11 actionable ideas to fix it or beat AC stations that resist changing.

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In Radio Work Here, Not Here

Friends don’t let friends drive their radio careers into the ground.

With the radio industry kicking up turmoil these days  – and the largest group (Clear Channel) possibly in play – targeting solid companies to find a radio career that can last has become more difficult.

Until now.

My no-holds barred assessment is in this article and includes …

1.  The safest radio companies to work for.  That means, work here, not there.  I name names.  Read this and save the grief.

2.  Which radio groups are career killers?  You know one, but do you know them all?  You should if you want to keep working in radio.  And avoid them.

3.  Future employers with whom you must proceed with caution – and why.  You know me; I’ll lay it out honestly.

4.  A break down of each of the following radio groups:   CBS, Clear Channel, Saga, Entravision, Cox, Cumulus, Townsquare, Cox, the new Hubbard, the old Bonneville, Entravision, Beasley, Spanish, Salem, Radio One, Emmis, the merged new Citadel and Entercom. 

Plus, the four best radio companies with a bright digital future.  You’ll want to know which companies these are because radio without a strong digital component could be a dead end even if your future employers are nice.

Nowhere in print or online will you read a more complete list of where to work and who are radio’s jerks.  Must have.

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The Citadel Bloodbath Begins After Labor Day

In just months, Lew “Tricky” Dickey gets to take over Citadel and make Cumulus the second largest radio group. 

Lots of changes are ahead and in this article I have put together a list of 10 big ones I think you can expect.

1.  What will happen to Citadel local sales?  The folks at the former ABC stations will drink hemlock when they hear what Dickey is about to do to sales.

2.  What about commissions?  Top earners will cringe at this plan.

3.  Where new business will come from – even you will be surprised.

4.  Corporate sales meetings even at WABC.

5.  Who will call the shots on local programming and what will those “shots” be.  Here’s a taste.

6.  Imagine a sales climate that reminds you of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.  It’s already happened at a major Cumulus market.  An insider tells all.

7.  Do you know what the new mantra of Cumulus will be once they get Citadel? It’s three words you’ll be hearing a lot of. 

8.  Dickey’s response to Groupon, which is increasingly stealing local radio dollars.  This is a classic.

9.  Imagine how Citadel stations will look after Dickey merges with Cumulus.  I’ll describe it in words for the brave hearted.

10.  Big changes ahead for the former ABC Radio Networks.  Dickey has a new mission in mind for Citadel Media but you won’t believe what it is.

Plus … contact information for two lawyers who are giving Cumulus fits in their employment litigation … just in case.

I’ve got your back.  And this story is worth it.

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Predicting Apple’s New iCloud

The cloud will change everything in June when we see what Apple is up to.

You see some hints out there already.

Google and Amazon jumped the gun to beat Apple with their cloud-based music locker system but neither could work out a deal with the record labels.  Ironically, the labels are siding with Apple this time.  And that tells me that Steve Jobs is up to something big that promises the labels a significant financial reward – somewhere down the line.

So what will iCloud be and how will it affect the music industry – and for that matter radio – as well as TV and movies?

For consumers, how will they soon access music, content, movies and TV?  What the price point will likely be.  What the tricky transition from storing content on digital devices to content on the cloud will be like Apple-style.  What’s the likelihood of Apple going after Pandora or the other monthly paid subscription music services.

For content creators, who will be your new competition?  How fatal will it be if you can’t deliver content from the cloud?  What is it that has record labels siding with Apple all of a sudden in licensing talks?  I’d hate to be Google and Amazon next month when Steve Jobs makes his big announcement.  Just how effective a strategy can cloud distribution be if improved fidelity is part of the deal. And, how the cloud could allow Apple to get into the radio business.

I’ve had a pretty good record of predicting Apple’s moves – a dangerous living at best. 

Here’s what I’m sensing about Apple’s new iCloud and its potential impact.

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