Alpha’s Growing Desperation

So, when last we visited Alpha Paul Stone had made a modest investment in the cash starved Alpha Media and wrestled control from founder and then CEO Larry Wilson.

Today, Stone is calling the shots.

But things are growing more desperate.

What is Stone’s plan to turnaround Alpha now?

Big decisions coming soon.

The “Cumulus” option.

What brokers are peddling now.

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Cumulus Board Split Over Berner

Coming up on one year out of bankruptcy and CEO Mary Berner is presiding over a Cumulus board unsure of what to do next, her own future in doubt.

The company’s bankruptcy court valued Cumulus at $1.3 billion for the purpose of giving haircuts to lenders and other aggrieved parties.

That $1.3 billion is about even with the company’s revenues on a good day.

That means, Cumulus is presently worth nothing.

There is an explanation for the sale of great FM stations in New York, LA and DC along with a strategy to trade stations at this late date.

But there is a shocking strategy going forward if some board members get their way.

What will Cumulus sell next?

What’s the plan for making the company work and revenue grow without the major stations that they recently sold?

The real problems inside Westwood One, the only part of Cumulus that posts a modest profit and there are many.

And how critical is the split over Berner’s game plan?

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Outrageous New Nielsen Rates Coming

Nielsen is getting ready to reveal substantial rate increases to its radio clients even as they fight their own financial problems and feed rumors of a sale.

Radio stations would be devasted by these increases which have leaked to our sources as Nielsen ratings is one of the major expenses radio groups can’t easily get out from under.

But it may be even worse than that.

Just how substantial are the planned rate increases – still not revealed to clients.

Are they retroactive under existing contracts or will they be for future deals?

What about diary markets where continuous measurement is the plan?

And what are the 3 likely take it or leave it options for owners who can’t afford the rate hike?

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Streaming Crisis Ahead

The record industry is booming right now and radio isn’t.

Network television is on the decline and what audience is left is out of demo.

Everything is about to be disrupted again.

Trouble ahead for the music industry and they can’t see it coming.

And even as TV is being redefined, the streaming pay model is showing signs of stress.

What corporate takeover could shipwreck the record industry?

What are the concerns about streaming music services?

Can radio survive performance rights fees?

The replacement for network TV coming soon.

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Why Radio No Longer Breaks the Hits

Increasingly, new artists are rising to prominence and new songs and albums are climbing the charts with little to no radio airplay.

Deniers in the radio industry have a lot of excuses but little understanding of the dangerous dynamic that threatens music radio more than anything else.

In the past few weeks and in recent months radio has flubbed opportunities to drive hit music to the top of the charts – after all, that’s what radio used to do, right?

What has changed now?

Why aren’t radio groups learning from their mistakes?  Just in the past two weeks, another artist lit up the music charts without radio airplay.

Is this a fixable problem or another unfortunate circumstance?

One thing more than any other is forcing program directors to cede breaking new hits to streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music.

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Entercom’s Freefall

If you owned Entercom stock three years ago and held it today through the botched CBS Radio merger, your investment would be down 42%.

More recent news is just as bad.

Shares have been rebounding a little over the past month up 6.5% after a year of sustained underperformance.

Still Entercom is down 39.4% over the past 12 months.

What’s wrong with Entercom – how can it be this bad?

David Field’s broken promise that spooked money people.

What keeps investors up at night about the future of Entercom.

And what’s this insider buying the Field family does to boost the price up a few cents.

What are these rumbling of bankruptcy and when.

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Townsquare Turnaround

Townsquare has been the radio industry joke since it came up with the idea of buying micro-small radio markets, using station help to generate digital content and enter the events business.

The events business fell on hard times and Townsquare sold it for what they could get.

Previously, they tried to sell the entire company and got no takers.

They fired their founder, appointed co-CEOs for a year (a strategy that only troubled companies embrace) and finally gave up.

The giving up part turned out to be the unexpected consequence that could be a model for other stations feeling the advertising downturn.

Why is Townsquare’s future looking up?

If no one wants to buy them at any price, why are they rebounding today?

What is Townsquare doing to successfully operate in a depressed radio market?

A tough question is – will anybody buy them now? 

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The Cumulus Exit

Cumulus is fast becoming Townsquare but without a digital strategy.

That’s awful to say but, really, it’s true.

Cumulus is selling off major market assets to get whatever it can to placate lenders who have already taken a haircut in bankruptcy.

Going forward, the future is not as predictable because there is a belief that even the people running Cumulus – and that includes the new board of directors representing the aggrieved lenders – are not sure what move to make next.

What about the option to sell more of their best revenue producing stations.

What happens to the overall company now that it has lost significant cash flow.

Then there is the problem of losing key people before they are ready to.

Why are they suddenly trading smaller markets while giving away major market class B FMs?

Which option is implemented next.

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Entercom’s Next Round of Operational Changes

David Field spent money recently for the advice of Bain Capital on how to run Entercom.

Never mind that Bain is the genius behind iHeart’s $20 billion bankruptcy.

And a main investor in Nielsen the singlehandedly most controversial way to measure real radio audiences.

What’s in the works starting soon.

Now that David has had a few weeks to digest the gist of the Bain recommendations, he’s ready to implement them and both legacy Entercom and newly-purchased CBS Radio have plenty of reasons to be concerned.

Whose jobs will not be safe under the Bain recommendations -- six job descriptions will either be virtually eliminated or drastically cut back and when it will take place.

What functions will not be affected at Entercom even after enacting Bain’s suggestions.

Bain’s recommendations on employee compensation. 

And talent fees.

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Beasley’s Dominance over Entercom

Entercom is supposed to be the big kahuna in sports having inherited many CBS Radio brands.

But Beasley looks like they have Entercom’s number.

The CBS sports professionals are gone from Entercom and the David Field of Dreams is now the strategy that replaced sports talk.

Suddenly, Beasley is doing things that are not just beating Entercom.

How Beasley is using the old CBS sports playbook against Entercom, the company that bought the CBS stations.

The mixed news on sports programming that makes money but drives listeners away in droves.

Just when Entercom and Beasley are betting their futures on sports, everything just changed again.

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