Longer Shifts, Stretching On-Air Talent

You could almost see this coming.

iHeart and other radio groups are already setting up another major salary dump by quoting Edison research. 

Entercom has a plan that is even more reckless because it raises the ire of unions, over works their on-air talent and provides even more cover for another reduction in work force.

Speaking of that, the 2nd quarter radio revenue reports are due within the next few weeks and that is the accelerant that will set off more firings.

Even top name talent is now in the crosshairs.

Radio doesn’t need the coronavirus as an excuse for firing, the worse RIF in iHeart’s history occurred before the lockdown this past winter and as usual programming will take the biggest hit.

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Newstips   

Radio’s Next Act: Subscriptions, Alexa & Video

It’s not podcasting or reselling Facebook and Google ads that is the future of radio.

It’s money from paid subscriptions, Alexa and short-form video.

That doesn’t mean that desperate radio CEOs are going to do anything different, but we know one who is and he’s already dispatched his teams to develop income streams in these three key areas.

What this looks like is completely crazy to Bob Pittman and David Field who seem to be hanging on to podcasting as if it was a life.

But let’s take a look at crazy so as not to be the last to see the future.

Radio’s significant free cash flow is the engine that will fund a hurting radio industry that is now looking to a new model to make up for low rates and advertiser interest in digital media – the next act explained.

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Newstips  

No Townsquare Layoffs Through Year End

Entercom, iHeart and Cumulus have been conducting massive layoffs and furloughs this year – Townsquare did one in April.

All radio groups have been reducing work force due to unmanageable debt although they blame it on the coronavirus.

Townsquare is drawing up a unique contingency plan that provides the possibility of future job security.

Most radio groups are getting ready to do another round of cutbacks within weeks of quarterly revenue reports.

Some big Townsquare cuts are in the pipeline but they are not going the Entercom route.

There is only one radio group that has an actual plan to save jobs in spite of debt, COVID and the economy – their long-term plan revealed.

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Newstips  

No Ad Rescue in Radio’s Political Revenue

This is the worst-case scenario come true.

The political advertising windfall that radio usually receives is not happening as the first metrics start coming in.

And this is no time for that with the lockdown economy causing 25-57% declines in revenue compared to last year.

No radio group can withstand these losses which can now be documented.

The real question is – is there still time to make up for the early losses and if not, what options are on the table.

It’s not just a battleground state problem – we can now document that political advertising is booming for competing media, so why is radio getting so severely snubbed?

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Newstips   

Radio Seeking Non-Radio Merger Partners

Liberty’s takeover of iHeart changes everything.

Soon one company with a satellite radio monopoly, one of the top three streaming music services, a live events platform and iHeart’s 850+ terrestrial stations and an array of side businesses will redefine radio’s place in the media business.

Standalone radio companies will be left with their debt and not much else including digital with which to compete.

Radio groups other than iHeart will now have to be thinking of how they could bring their free cash flow and bury their debt in to a larger growth platform.

Let’s start with Entercom, the most vulnerable radio group once Liberty merges with iHeart -- what would Spotify and Entercom look like together?

And what non-radio media company buys Beasley or Townsquare?

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Newstips  

Entercom Hiding Serious Financial Risk

There are signs that Entercom is fighting a losing battle to keep the radio group afloat.

No one cuts more operating costs per station than Entercom and even that looks like it will not turn out to be enough.

In better times, they would likely have years to turn the company’s finances around – now that time frame has been revised.

Entercom doesn’t have a Liberty Media waiting in the wings with which to merge like iHeart does– the second biggest radio group will have to do it as essentially a pureplay radio company in spite of all their hype about live events and podcasting.

Behind the scenes Entercom has made moves to keep the wolf away from the door and now we know the price they are paying for them.

Entercom is a public company that values its privacy but unless the coronavirus magically disappears, it will have to downsize everything and do things it has vowed not to do.

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Newstips  

Radio’s 2nd Quarter Losses Expanded

This is the worst quarter in radio’s history as financial analysts prepare to warn their clients about new data.

That means even greater losses than the ones radio groups previously predicted.

What’s worse is how many quarters the industry can sustain further losses before more drastic measures will be taken especially as a second lockdown looms in many states.

No radio group can sustain these losses looking to the current third quarter and for whatever happens for the entire year.

There are some surprises as to which radio groups are doing better and losing less.  No company will likely post positive growth for the year.

There is only one radio group that is already restructuring to stay afloat and one that – believe it or not – could become immune to coronavirus losses within 6-9 months.

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Newstips  

Entercom to Cut Remaining Talent Pay

It’s come to this – David Field chipping away at talent salaries (especially CBS Radio) until he has run out of time.

Even though Entercom is in the process of reducing live talent to no more than one person (and salary) at a station (if that), the surviving personality tends to be highly paid.

This is Field’s war on what he considers highly paid air talent and there’s a timetable.

It’s going to focus on salaries and redeploy what talent remains in a unique way.

Not all will be offered a chance to stay and those that do are going to see their compensation devastated.

Debt and the second lockdown of local businesses will prompt Entercom to rethink the pay structure – yes, of even personalities who generate the most revenue. 

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Newstips  

Liberty/iHeart Merger Set to Weaken Competitors

  • Now that the DOJ has given Liberty the greenlight to buy up to 50% ownership of iHeart, the new satellite, streaming, podcasting, terrestrial radio and live events behemoth will target Beasley, Entercom, Cumulus, Saga and smaller operators.
  • None of Liberty’s potential competitors joined the public interest groups in fighting the DOJ’s approval – and now they will pay.
  • Liberty will pay down iHeart debt and then use a shrewd tactic to eliminate most local radio costs including programming, sales and management while competitors fail to keep up with their own debt payments and are forced to restructure.
  • The feared “Malone Bundle” will put pricing control for the entire radio industry squarely in Liberty’s hands.
  • And radio groups not named iHeart or Liberty will be frantically searching for non-radio merger partners – here’s what that looks like.

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David Field Makes His Move on All-News Content

  • The inherited CBS all-news formats might just be the CEO’s biggest frustration.  Dropping ratings as all but two of Entercom’s seven stations languish on the AM dial.
  • Restrictive union agreements. And, all are run by PDs who worked for CBS. Some date back to the Group W days.  You know how Field really feels about CBS.
  • Something unusual caught the eye of Entercom insiders last week: a mysterious job posting for a VP/News, to “manage all broadcast and digital news content across 8 All News and 18 News/Talk stations in 23 markets working with brand managers [PDs] and news directors across the country.” (For the record, there are seven, not eight all-newsers – somebody forgot they sold WBZ-AM to iHeart.)
  • This is a brand-new position for Entercom. Under CBS ownership, all “format captains” carried VP titles, which were dropped when Entercom took over. The last VP/News was Steve Butler, who also programmed KYW in Philadelphia.
  • New concerns about mixing advertising with news content and the hiring of a czar to transform the all-news franchise.

Read the full article now

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