The Story Behind the Cox Radio Sell Off

Cox Radio went to the group that bought its TV stations earlier and specifically did not want radio.

What lead to Apollo Global Management suddenly changing their mind?

There were a lot of other potential buyers (radio groups) interested in Cox stations but not in the usual way.

Did Cox leave money on the table?  Who was the runner up?

So now with a venture capital firm running the show, what happens next to the well-run and profitable Cox radio stations now?

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Radio’s On-Demand Dilemma

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At the recent Conclave gathering in Minneapolis, I had an opportunity to question Lew and John Dickey about what went wrong with their version of Cumulus, what the future looks like for radio as an on-demand business as well as what jobs will be available.

Radio is linear – that is, a one-to-many broadcast medium.

The world (which means anything surrounding a mobile device) is increasingly on-demand and radio does not presently have an answer for that.

That’s why the industry’s reach and advertising revenue is eroding as on-demand solutions are becoming more popular with audiences and advertisers.

To remain relevant, radio will some decisions to make.

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The Fate of Local Radio

If there is one constant in the radio industry, it is that since consolidation was allowed in 1996, local radio jobs have been eliminated every year.

The estimate at Clear Channel/iHeart is somewhere north of 15,000 local radio jobs lost since then and even the less aggressive operators have succumbed to less local and little or no live.

Some markets have empty studios in what looks like a ghost town.

It turns out consolidators have an answer for what to do with the remaining footprint of local radio.

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The New Formats Young Audiences Crave

What’s amazing is that the radio industry always focuses on formats that they are already doing – never something new.

They may make changes to, say, adult contemporary by offering a softer version as Entercom and others are trying to do now with “The Breeze” but essentially it’s a spinoff of what radio already does shifting listeners from one format to another almost like it.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that in an industry that doesn’t fully grasp that streaming music services and not other radio stations are now their chief competitors, it is long overdue to come up with a few new radio formats that only a radio station can do.

Here are 4 totally new, never done before radio formats that have a revenue stream of eager advertisers waiting to support them.

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The Dickey session Conclave video -- 

  1. What happened at Cumulus under the Dickey's control -- regrets, successes, etc.
  2. How radio will necessarily become an on-demand business rather than the current linear one-to-many broadcasting model (Lew Dickey wrote a book on this topic and the audience was interestingly receptive to this view).
  3. The future of jobs in what eventually will be the Third Evolution of Radio (from its inception, competing with television and now on-demand digital).

The session was live streamed but in case you missed it and would like to watch, click here.

John Dickey, Jerry Del Colliano, Lori Lewis, Lew Dickey

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The Berner Board Battle at Cumulus

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  • What’s the status of a total or partial Westwood One sale?
  • Is Dallas for sale or isn’t it? 
  • Mary Berner vs. the Cumulus board – a look at a crazy next 7 months.

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