Follow the Smart Money Out of Radio

There is a new trend developing in the radio industry that promises to reshuffle markets and clusters in a way not seen before.

It’s happening now and with the recent announcement that Cox will be selling stations in six markets, the handwriting is on the wall.

Here’s a look at what’s going to happen to radio groups, the industry and a new type of media company emerging only a few years from now.

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1.  What Cox is really up to by selling six radio markets, shuffling staff and buying more TV.  The end of radio for Cox or the beginning of something new?  You may be surprised.

2.  The radio group that is changing the ownership model.

3.  Here’s the future of radio in a nutshell – how the industry may start to look in as few as five years (or less).

4.  How Cumulus and Clear Channel fit into the radio selloff that is beginning to happen.  What if they don’t?

5.  Radio used to be a service and lifeline, but now bigger media companies want to own stations for an entirely different reason.  You’re probably not going to like what they have in mind for radio when they buy it.

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Cox To Announce Sale of 30 Stations Today

Cox Radio is set to announce today at noon that it will sell 30 stations in 5 markets.

This is major because Cox is generally acknowledged as an excellent radio operator and taking the step of reducing its portfolio of stations is unsettling in an industry where consolidators are ruining stations.

Here’s the information from my network of news sources ahead of the Cox announcement today.

Plus, something you will not get anywhere else – the truth about how it will impact the future of Cox, their competitors and the radio industry.

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1.  Is this the start of Cox’s eventual exit from radio?  Yes or no.

2.  Which specific markets are going to be sold.

3.  Big markets?  Small markets?  How Cox made the decision to sell these clusters.

4.  What are the chances Cumulus buys some or all of the 30 Cox stations where they don’t have ownership overlaps?

5.  What’s the over/under that Clear Channel could cherry pick these markets?

6.  Which potential buyers have the strongest chances.

7.  What problems does Cox face in trying to sell these 5 markets.

8.  Two new ownership trends are developing.  You should see them and know them now.

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My next media conference (and, yes, I will be discussing the salvation of radio) is January 30-31/Scottsdale.

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Sketchy New Clear Channel & Cumulus Tactics Exposed

Clear Channel and Cumulus are doing some pretty sketchy things behind the scenes.

Luckily for them, very few people know about them.

Until now.

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1.  A new way to program multiple stations with virtually the same music and content in virtually the same order without making it a network or syndication thus keeping in “local” in a convoluted way.  Wait until you see this “local” programming trick.

2.  One major group has locked out its local program directors from their computer system.  Here’s the new deal.

3.  Cumulus caves – that’s right, caves -- to our pressure to keep one of its promises.  See which one.

4.  A new round of forced endorsements is underway at Clear Channel except as one source reports the product they are being forced to endorse may be harmful to their health.  You can’t make this stuff up.

5.  The 2nd annual iHeartRadio music festival in Las Vegas sold out within minutes.  But listeners are pissed about how Clear Channel is making it up to them – like getting screwed twice.

6.  How successful are Clear Channel and Cumulus when they cut on-air personalities’ pay by 50% or more.  Here are some actual numbers. 

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What’s Becoming More Important Than Ratings

Arbitron won Media Rating Council accreditation for five more markets yesterday and renewals in nine others. 

Los Angeles, Baltimore and San Antonio are now kosher according to MRC.

The news watch stopped for trade publications most of which put out bulletins to announce the “big” story.

But they are missing the big story.

It’s not about People Meter ratings.

It’s what’s becoming more important than PPM – and why it’s critical to know the difference.

Read this article and you’ll be armed for the future and in step with the revenue trail.

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1.  Forget cume.  Forget quarter hour.  Radio stations that can prove to advertisers and agencies that they have this are able to stabilize rates and even get a premium.

2.  Why total audience is more meaningless than ever to advertisers.  If you keep bringing it to them, they’ll keep giving your rates a haircut.

3.  Why media buyers have been having a field day with radio sellers lately and why they fear stations will wake up to the one metric that is more important than quarter hour or cume.  The PPM killer!

4.  How stations are playing into the hands of media buyers who let them brag about ratings and then whack them with this tactic.  Now you know better and can be ready for them.

5.  One major radio group has gone so far as to sweeten the pot for buyers so much that, well – you won’t believe what radio is now giving back to advertisers as an incentive to buy.  And it’s not more spots.  It’s not more digital add-ons.  It’s worse.

6.  How to take a clue from our digital friends who sell more things without big expensive ratings services – often getting a premium for their effort.

Get past the teasers and unlock the full story – you can’t get this elsewhere for nothing and it only costs you 27 cents a day.

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Randy’s Midas Touch

It turns out that almost a year after buying majority interest in several Emmis Broadcasting stations in Chicago and New York, Merlin CEO Randy Michaels is truly the magician Merlin Media is named after.

He made two news formats go away at the wave of his magic wand yesterday – in Chicago and New York and put lots of good news folks out of work.

The stations were an absolute abortion because the Power Pig guy doesn’t know how to do all-news. 

So, we know what Randy is going to get for the moves that he pulled yesterday.

Now, here are the mistakes he’s making that you will want to avoid:

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1.  The format Michaels should have invested in instead of switching to all-music in Chicago and New York.  A proven winner and he left it out there untouched.

2.  The biggest mistake Michaels is making in Merlin’s two new music formats. 

3.  Why buyers are going to beat the hell out of his salespeople even if they get a ratings bump.  This could happen to you so learn from his mistakes.

4.  Yet another boo-boo – a big one.  One that tells the world Merlin is running scared.

5.  The biggest format errors Randy is making from day one.  Behind the scenes he’s already got trouble.

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Clear Channel, Cumulus Reinvent “Layoffs”

As Chubby Checker sang in “Limbo Rock”, “How low can you go”?

You’re about to find out. 

Both Clear Channel and Cumulus are reinventing the way they do layoffs to give them even more bang for the buck.

You might ask, “How can these SOBs save more money than the money they already save from firing people?”

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1.  The new tactic that is being used to get additional savings – in fact, it happened again just yesterday.  And will happen many more times in the next six months.

2.  Go into the Don Imus/Cumulus contract negotiations and you’ll see a handful of new tactics that are no longer reserved for just big names.  I’ll spell it out because it shows you where their heads are at (I’m not touching that one!).

3.  The new try before you buy “non-existent” talent contracts.  How one major group is touting one talent’s availability to advertisers and affiliates and with only a few weeks to go they still haven’t signed him.  Hardball 101.

4.  What big name radio talent is so pissed at one of the major radio groups that he won’t even talk to them.  Are you asking yourself what could possibly piss this personality off?  You should be because the same tactics are waiting for you next.

5.  Look at the dance Cumulus is doing in LA with Brian of Mark & Brian fame.  A few weeks left on Brian’s contact.  He wants to stay and look what Cumulus is ready to hit him with.  Layoffs are becoming more complex.

There is nowhere else you will get this stuff.

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9 Social Media Trends To Watch

Social media is a lot more than Facebook and Twitter and even Facebook and Twitter are morphing into something else lately.

My background as a USC professor and teacher of generational media makes me want to stand up and scream out 9 things everyone needs to know about changing trends in social media.

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1.  The hottest trend of all – no, it’s not another social media site, it’s even bigger than that!

2.  The crisis ahead in email.  That’s right – email!  You’re going to rethink how you use email after you read this.

3.  If there is only one thing to indelibly burn into our brains, it is that the next generation cares most about something more important than the way media people promote themselves and their products.  Get this right and you’ll always win at social media.  Always.

4.  Why baby boomers and Gen X managers can’t name the two things people under 30 care about most.  Do you know?  Can you name one?

5.  Why radio is uncool to Gen Y.  It’s not that radio is analog and is delivered on the FM band – it’s something right under your nose.  And you can fix it if you’re getting it wrong.

6.  Okay, this is worth the money to subscribe – and shouldn’t you be subscribing by now anyway?  The next talk radio.  There, I said it.  I’m going to tell you the next talk radio before anyone else and even how you can adapt today’s talk radio to the trends we’re seeing.

7.  The folly of relying on Facebook as your main social networking tool.

8.  Why Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn are headed for big trouble.  You don’t want to go there with them.

9.  The hot new social network of the future.  It’s not Facebook, Twitter or any of the other challengers.  It is this social phenomena waiting to happen next.

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