Millions in Vanishing Revenue at Cumulus


  • Putting aside all the spin, what’s the truth about Cumulus revenue – here’s the final first quarter numbers and current pacing. 
  • The one Cumulus top exec who is not spinning performance statistics so if this guy is worried, be worried. 
  • What’s the one tell-tale sign a radio company is headed into the toilet – guess what, it just showed up at Cumulus.
  • The absolutely wrong thing to do when the majority of your market managers are not able to turn things around – Cumulus did it a few days ago. 

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Connoisseur’s Play for Cumulus

We know that there are at least two bidders looking to takeover Cumulus when it emerges from bankruptcy – or even before if the judge allows outside bidders.

Lew Dickey is one, the founder of the company ousted by Board Chairman Jeff Marcus after Dickey had it out with Marcus over allegedly undermining his ability to run the company.

And now there is Jeff Warshaw, the CEO of Connoisseur Version 2.  Warshaw sold 37 stations in 9 markets to Cumulus for $242 million in 2000 as the original Connoisseur.

Mary Berner continues to spin that she is guaranteed to return to run the debt-free version of Cumulus when they emerge from bankruptcy and lenders and bondholders are stinging from the haircuts they had to take.

  • Warshaw is looking to steal Cumulus from lenders – Connoisseur is in a bit of a financial tight spot itself selling off its Buckley Hartford stations and most recently three stations in New Jersey to Townsquare for $17 million including one of Connoisseur’s most profitable ones, an FM in Trenton.  Approximately 50% of Connoisseur’s acquisitions account for debt of some kind.  That’s why Warshaw may not be just opting for a chance to buy Cumulus but may need it for Connoisseur to survive.
  • How stealing Cumulus buys Jeff Warshaw another day
  • How much of Cumulus would Warshaw keep
  • Who do the lenders want running Cumulus
  • What happens if Cumulus falls into a second bankruptcy
  • Will there be a bidding war for Cumulus 

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Urban One’s Financial Condition

Al Liggins and Cathy Hughes have managed to do the impossible over the years – avoid bankruptcy.

But what kind of shape is a boutique black-targeted media company like Urban One really in?

On one hand, they have seen a lot of competitors fall on hard times not the least of which is the number one group, iHeartMedia with their 850 stations.

And Cumulus with 90 markets, the majority of which are not and have not been making their numbers even before they filed for bankruptcy.

Yet, Urban One is still afloat albeit in uncertain times.

Their employees very much care about whether they can remain whole and avoid the uncertainties of bankruptcy.

Of course, their banks and lenders care.

But so do other radio groups who might covet the major markets they are in if they have to sell properties to stay afloat.

So, what’s Urban One’s financial condition?  

  • They diversified and placed a bet on help from non-radio businesses – As of now, Urban One (formerly Radio One) is reportedly deriving approximately half of its income from sources other than radio station revenue.  That is highly unusual among radio companies, but it was a strategy that Liggins and Hughes personally felt they had to pursue. 
  • What Urban One is doing to as a hedge against increasing debt that other groups may have to do, too

  • The TV One acquisition – accretive or too risky

  • The current biggest threat to Urban One’s future 
  • Can Urban One avoid bankruptcy in a year when 2 of the 3 biggest radio groups could not 

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iHeart & Cumulus Revelations

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            Jeff Warshaw & Cumulus

            SiriusXM Changes

            Glut of Stations for Sale

            Entercom’s Financial Troubles

            Liberty’s Takeover Plan for iHeart

            Connoisseur, Alpha & Townsquare

            Mary Berner’s Job Security

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Jeff Warshaw & Cumulus

Connoisseur CEO Jeff Warshaw is sure acting funny lately.

He has sold off some major assets recently – the Buckley stations he bought in Hartford and the moneymaking WPST-FM, Trenton and two insignificant AM’s near the Jersey Shore for $17 million.

That sale was curious enough because no matter how crunched a radio company is today with debt and cash flow problems, they rarely sell the stations that are producing lifeblood cash flow for them.

That’s the problem Larry Wilson has at Alpha.  He wants to sell the marginal stuff and buyers want the cash producers.

But Warshaw is selling cash flow, a startling revelation unless you believe he has another play ready to go.

From the intel we’re gathering, it now appears Connoisseur wants to make a run at Cumulus. 

  • Warshaw reportedly wants to pull a Lew Dickey – Remember back when Dickey made a hostile takeover of Citadel after it had become virtually debt free?  At the time Dickey’s Cumulus was in financial hot water itself so the only way he could survive was to grow – to buy another radio group free of debt and bury the considerable Cumulus debt in it. Warshaw’s got debt problems of his own right now which might be why he is willing to sell positive cash flow assets to stay afloat. 
  • How spinoffs would be handled

  • What Connoisseur would do with unwanted markets 
  • Why is a relatively small and mediocre company like Connoisseur trying to take over Cumulus 
  • How Warshaw puts Connoisseur at risk by making this hostile takeover try 
  • Warshaw’s takeover bid – by the numbers

  • How does a Warshaw takeover affect Lew Dickey’s take back of Cumulus 
  • What kind of financial shape is Cumulus really in to be getting potentially two offers

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“At first I was reluctant to pay for ‘insightful, deadly honest’ reporting.  I know tons of media people already do.  But, it turned out that 29 cents a day was more than fair for what Jerry tackles.  Now I don’t want to go back to relying on just the free happy talk publications”.