Cumulus Furloughs Likely to be Long

Notice how they’re no longer “layoffs” or ‘dislocations” in the radio industry now.

They’re furloughs – Entercom, Townsquare and iHeart plugging into a term being used by non-radio companies to cut costs and blame it on the coronavirus.

After “Furlough Tuesday” yesterday, Cumulus is not to be outdone.

Cumulus is as bad off as the other radio companies due to their own mistakes when the economy was booming.

We’re beginning to see who is going to get whacked.

And a growing concern by so-called “essential” employees who may survive the week ahead.

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Mass Entercom Firings Starting Today

For the past five years ever since Entercom took over CBS Radio every CBS or Entercom employee feared the last day of a fiscal quarter.

Today, they have real reason.

This is the last day of a terrible quarter for the radio industry and particularly Entercom.

The firings will come fast, the reach will be surprising and the company will eliminate and consolidate expenses to counter its mounting revenue losses.

Make no mistake, this is a large layoff.

A new and different Entercom will emerge.

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iHeart 90-Day Furloughs Could Be Permanent

Yesterday iHeart conducted a “phantom firing” that is shrouded in uncertainty that may be causing more anxiety than even their pre-virus 1,000+ mass “dislocation”.

Publicly, they are saying one thing, but behind the scenes there are a lot of concerns about just who is non-essential and whether they are in fact expendable after the 90 days are up.

This typical smoke and mirrors approach for iHeart is reportedly massive now.

And a handful of draconian cutbacks that probably don’t have anything to do with the effects of the coronavirus on their company – some absolutely jaw dropping.

No one believes the radio industry will come back even when the virus goes away so the real question is – what exactly did iHeart just pull off in the name of the coronavirus.

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Townsquare RIFs 65, Concerns for Digital

Townsquare joined Entercom and iHeart today to initiate cutbacks in time for the end of the first quarter – there is a reason for this timing.

Other benefits are being suspended.

Townsquare is going even further preparing the workforce for a long-term and severe financial crisis.

Future expected firings will be based on data analysis putting 2,200 Townsquare employees in harm’s way.

And the worst news for the industry – not just Townsquare – is what they are saying about radio’s digital business.

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iHeart Suspend Benefits, Entercom Fires Part-Timers

Now the benefits are going.

Part-timers being fired in large numbers – one radio group reportedly fired over 60 of them in one market late last week.

The CEOs of General Motors, Delta Airlines and Southwest among others have taken pay cuts while asking employees to take pay cuts, which radio CEOs are thinking about doing the same?

Great numbers of advertisers are bailing on April ad schedules. 

More firings are being planned on a new time schedule.

We’re now beginning to see not only the “dislocations” but cost savings that will affect the survivors.

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Low on Money, iHeart Readies More Mass “Dislocations”

Everyone knew this was coming but not this soon.

If the 1,000+ January firings didn’t make a dent in iHeart’s money problems, they are planning a series of firings that will.

iHeart is moving to shore up its failing financial situation made worse by the effects of the coronavirus on the economy.

The next “dislocations” are reportedly being moved up because they are burning through cash so fast several doomsday scenarios are now up for consideration.

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Lee Abrams: AM/FM Slowly Destructing

Lee Abrams thinks we are in a new era of audio entertainment and radio is losing the battle.

Yet there are tools and thinking that can powerfully fight the war for the ears of America.  

Radio might be boring itself out of relevance fueled by denial, clichés and dated architecture while its share of the listening pie is shrinking and requires aggressive action to rethink and reimagine itself.  

While other technologies are focused on the future, radio is painfully mired in old techniques and denial.

There are solutions for news/talk, production, voices, image enhancers, visual identity, leadership and local but they require extreme imagination and a retooling of thinking.

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Cumulus Teetering on Another Bankruptcy

Of all the radio groups, Cumulus is the one company that reportedly cannot survive the decline in radio advertising.

They have sold off their iconic major market stations to raise quick cash, sold or are selling real estate and are trying for a second time to unload their towers.

But sources reveal why no one wanted their tower real estate previously.

Ad revenue is plummeting, Westwood One is now reduced to a clearinghouse for cheap remnant ads and podcasting was a red herring all along.

Now it’s down to a few final options.

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Multi-Group Layoffs Start Within a Week

Radio groups can’t survive the advertising implosion based on the coronavirus and the resulting shaky economy that is expected to impact radio for at least the rest of the year.

So, radio groups are moving up the dates of planned layoffs.

These are going to be brutal.

This time, there will be rolling layoffs targeting things that have been previously off-limits as the list of “dislocators” is growing.

What’s troubling is that the coronavirus and sputtering economy are handing failing radio groups a big gift  to quickly do what they’ve wanted to do all along.

Shrink radio.

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Entercom’s Local Revenue Crisis

How can a company this good be doing this poorly?

Its stock is officially less than two-buck chuck and local ad revenue continues to erode.

Begging the question what do investors know who voted with their money to take Entercom from $16 a share to a buck fifty after the CBS merger?

You see why David Field always changes the topic to podcasting?

But recent critical information shows the kind of urgency that Entercom is trying to cover up.

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Cumulus Stuck Paying $13 Million for No Baseball Games


It turns out someone at Cumulus was not watching the store when they were negotiating major sports rights contracts.

And, it couldn’t happen at a worse time.

In this case, the mistakes were many. 

The terms were one-sided. 

What about Entercom which is as quiet as a church mouse right now – did they get screwed, too?

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Cumulus Signaling Coronavirus Cutbacks

In Italy it is now illegal to fire a worker during the current crisis.

But in radio, the virus is a convenient excuse for “dislocations” and “excellence centers” to balance underperforming stations.

Now it appears Cumulus is blinking.

Mary Berner working behind the scenes is freaking out some market managers who know how she operates.

Reports from inside that contradict her rosy outlook including changing policies on new hires and warnings to top management that significant personnel changes are coming.

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Entercom Panics, Mass Layoffs Begin

David Field is officially sweating.

It wasn’t a virus that is causing the start of another round of Entercom firings.  It is David Field’s inability to build shareholder value (Entercom stock is worth $1.57).

The KROQ, LA Kevin and friends morning show went first yesterday with more to come soon.

The narrative of how it happened, when it was planned and why these major layoffs will continue across Entercom is a lesson in cold blooded career murder. 

Entercom plans to use the coronavirus as an excuse for major firings to cover up its inability to make the company viable.

Field’s emergency plan is chilling involving CBS leftovers with plenty of pain reserved for legacy Entercom employees. 

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The iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus, Townsquare Big Surprises

iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus and Townsquare are afraid of the coronavirus but not for the reasons you think.

Their stock is in the toilet (Entercom $2, Cumulus $6, iHeart, $7, Townsquare $4).

Revenue was eroding for years before the current recession triggered by the pandemic.

No buyers – not even private equity firms who could load up on radio cheaply.

In 1999, a major market radio station sold for $100 million or more.

Today, there are no comparables which of itself says $10 million for WAAF-FM in the Boston market is accurate if not pathetic.

Behind closed doors, each of the major consolidators are getting ready to make disruptive moves to avoid bankruptcy and even their employees don’t see what’s coming.

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The Coronavirus is Radio’s Hit Record

One of my mentors in programming was Paul Drew.

The current coronavirus outbreak reminds me of a gem of wisdom Paul imparted to me when he was programming a station I worked for.

“A big news story is better than the hottest hit record in rotation – play it over and over again”.

So here we are as the radio industry is doing the same things with fewer employees while an opportunity to be more viable has just presented itself.

Everyone is paying attention – this is an opportunity to relaunch radio to an audience that has turned to other devices and I’m not talking about news/talk stations here.

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More Virus-Related Radio Firings Are Weeks Away

The iHeart “dislocation” of over 1,000 employees in January was just the start.

Who knew?

The major consolidators slammed by huge stock losses and facing an even larger advertising loss during the coronavirus crisis are preparing ways to shed expenses fast.

The coronavirus will be their excuse for drastic cuts that will be similar to what iHeart did before the crisis.

Watch iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus, Beasley and Townsquare.

Soon we will get a real feel for how much further these groups will go to stop the bleeding.

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Private Equity Looking to Pick the Bones of Radio Groups

They’re baack!

Private equity – the fictional people featured on the Showtime Hit Billions and the real time greedy bastards that ruined the radio business by heaping unpayable debt on it – want back in.

Wait for it -- There are several radio groups anxious to talk to them.

Radio stock prices are declining daily as the coronavirus and expected recession take their toll setting up the perfect storm.

We have identified private equity groups looking to buy back in as radio companies find themselves defenseless against the economy and the debt that prevents them from surviving.

And this time, their plans are even more ingenious and evil.

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3rd Entercom Hack Discovered

Yes, again.

And yes, Entercom tried to hide it. 

But they were legally required to tell all to the state of California that has full disclosure laws and now you can see why they wanted it to go away.

Data exposed, bad actors accessing massive amounts of user credentials confirming fears that personal data was at risk from the previous two hacks.

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iHeart Seeks Foreign Ownership Approval

Something is seriously up at iHeart.

We know that they are cutting $50 million a year for the next two years mostly through layoffs or what they call “dislocations”. 

Now, under the radar, iHeart is petitioning the Feds for the right to let foreigners take over control of the company.

Why would they want to look to foreign investors to save their company?

If the FCC says yes, wait until you see the changes at iHeart.

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7 Critical Issues to Watch in Radio

Is the Townsquare sale a sequel?

Does Liberty prevail in the iHeart takeover?

Will streaming services paid subscriptions like Spotify and Apple begin to peak?

Signs show streaming music subscriptions may be stalling – is there anything else to keep the record industry booming? 

Will political ads save radio during the 2020 cycle?

Can radio stations stay afloat without programmatic buying and commodity selling?

Is anyone in radio going to go after Millennials and Gen Z?

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$50 Million in iHeart Cutbacks Planned This Year

This is unprecedented – no radio group has ever greenlighted such massive cutbacks.

That $50 million figure is directly from iHeart and it means more massive firings are on the way.  This is not my number which I think is even higher.

And in addition to more firings above and beyond the 1,000+ already enacted, there will be a major shakeup in the way iHeart stations will run on what amounts to a shoe-string budget.

The role of an iHeart program director is about to change for those surviving the cutbacks but to accomplish $50 million in savings, iHeart will now have to rethink who gets fired.

Oh, and did I mention that their $50 million cost savings is just for this year.  They’ve budgeted another $50 million by 2021 for a total of $100 million in cutbacks.

Now that they own the number, we get the first accurate look at how drastically iHeart will change.

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Is Susan Larkin Going to Fix Entercom?

Weezie Kramer was a revenue machine until her recent health issues.

Susan Larkin is replacing her as COO.

So, does this change anything?

Entercom lost 13 more cents off its stock at closing yesterday down painfully close to the $2 range.

The $500 million EBITDA David Field promised with the CBS merger is down to $312 million.

The radio industry is hurting, the economy is being held hostage by coronavirus and an economic downturn seems likely.

Larkin is a very interesting choice to replace Kramer and there are more implications that most people realize.

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On Deck: Cumulus Copy Cat “Dislocations”

A huge reduction in workforce is coming to Cumulus.

I’ve been warning that the recent iHeart “dislocations” of over 1,000 employees would provide cover for competitors like Entercom and Cumulus.

Now it looks like Cumulus is next.

Cumulus is reportedly drawing up a fail-safe plan to eliminate, consolidate and further regionalize their operations to save money.

Every Cumulus market is vulnerable including the few remaining majors.

This as fear of an economic slowdown forces Cumulus to come up with a quick action plan to save the company.

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iHeart “Excellence Centers” To Be Expanded

Look, if you wanted to just save some salaries by using a regional network of employees to replace local radio talent, you wouldn’t need “Excellence Centers”, the type iHeart is proudly touting.

And the reason for that is “excellence centers” which are not about excellence but about cost synergies are going to be so much more than regional distribution centers.

In fact, iHeart has gone through great pains to fully think through this replacement of local talent with cheaper and fewer employees.

And it isn’t going to stop with programming and talent.

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Cumulus Struggling with Few Remaining Options

They sold some of the most iconic major market stations for pennies on the dollar to raise needed cash.

Sold off or are selling real estate.

Reconsidering whether to sell its towers – and that’s a real mess. 

Filed for bankruptcy but still have too much debt to operate.

Now with revenue declining, something has to give.

The real numbers shed light on their troubles and isolate the few remaining options Cumulus has left.

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iHeart Just Revealed Its Next “Dislocations”

Something has happened that has forced iHeart back to the drawing board sooner than expected.

There are 150 target markets, over 850 stations and plans are being considered as to how to implement significant cost savings relying on the so-called “excellence centers” that they dreamed up for the first 1,000+ firings in January.

Other means of cost cutting are presumably also underway but reducing the workforce is the fastest way to see the savings on the bottom line.

This as their competitors are also suffering financially and taking notes on iHeart.

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