SiriusXM’s Curious Investment in SoundCloud

It just seems that while the radio industry pivots to podcasting, the folks at SiriusXM are building a stronger platform that will co-exist or one day supersede even their satellite radio business.

Last week parent Liberty Media – yes, the same people moving in on taking over control of iHeart’ 850+ terrestrial stations – plopped down $75 million to take a stake in SoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform.

Liberty sees an opportunity to spread its influence beyond the 35 million paid subscribers who take the satellite service.

The Liberty move is potentially breathtaking with direct impact on terrestrial radio and the lucrative streaming market.

Few broadcasters understand their strategy but it presents a clear and present danger to radio.

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Townsquare Off the Market, BUT …

This is getting to be a habit – Townsquare trying to sell itself.

A few years ago, they tried and found no takers.

We’ve learned this time, they actually had interested potential buyers but the prospects reportedly didn’t like the way they were handled.

The last prospect standing finally walked a few weeks ago.

What’s fascinating is not so much the usual considerations, but Townsquare’s unorthodox way of trying to sell itself.

Now Townsquare’s owners, Brookfield Asset Management, has a real problem.

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Entercom Selling Even More Stations

So much for all that podcasting revenue, Entercom is desperate for cash.

That’s why it practically gave away a Boston FM station to EMF yesterday and why in spite of what David Field tells analysts, Entercom has deep financial problems.

But the headlines don’t tell the full story.

The desperation sale of WAAF-FM may seem like a one-off but the company reportedly has plans to sell more stations as the failed CBS merger and the decline of radio in a boom economy have finally caught up to Entercom.

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Next iHeart “Dislocation” in Planning Stage

Firing over 1,000 people most of whom were talent and programmers responsible for their on-air product was a gutsy move on the part of iHeart management.

Now, bolstered by the fact that their stations are still on the air with few problems and seemingly doing fine, iHeart prepares for another assault on employees.

Keep in mind that the January firings were not limited to programming and talent, they sneaked in over 50 engineering and IT RIFs as well as non-air related firings as part of the massive layoff.

“Dislocation” helps iHeart make up for declines in revenue that are expected all through 2020.

iHeart has apparently isolated the next victims of “dislocation” based on how virtually seamless the January firings went and it now appears iHeart has decided where to cut next. 

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“Dislocation” Threat to Total Traffic, Premiere & Katz

It’s only been about a month since iHeart ejected more than 1,000 employees, mostly programming and air talent.

Under the shock of the most massive single firing in the history of radio, iHeart also slipped in more than 50 “dislocations” of engineers/IT people, put the ball in motion on a plan to downsize 150 studios and offices in their clusters over the next three years to cookie-cutter suites that are the same in every market making it easier to plug people in anywhere with no virtual learning curve.

And they’re not done.

Katz is their massive rep firm, a virtually monopoly.

Premiere is their syndication arm.

Total Traffic grinds out traffic reports to an audience that has no trouble downloading Waze.

All this as Liberty times its takeover of iHeart and “dislocations” for these businesses that were unthinkable even a month ago are coming soon.

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