The Threat of SiriusXM

  • Radio’s nightmare from 25 years ago has come true – satellite radio is the future of traditional broadcasting.
  • What about digital where radio efforts are virtually non-existent – is it advantage SiriusXM?
  • Why 2019 will be the end of live and local terrestrial radio.
  • But SiriusXM has some dirty secrets that they don’t want its radio competitors to know.
  • How does a satellite service that doesn’t compete with radio for advertising and doesn’t offer its programming for free be the future of the radio industry?

Read more >>

The Next Radio Audience

  • The last Baby Boomer has moved past the 25-54 demographic so why are there so many stations doubling down on efforts to reach them?
  • Demographers reveal radio’s new target audience — one that is worth pursuing for a long time to come.
  • A warning about programming to Millennials and why radio can’t program to an entire generation.
  • Why this new “sweet spot” for radio could give birth to 6 or more innovative new formats that can drive new listening for the first time.
  • Surprising revelations about alt-rock and The Breeze (flanker adult contemporary format) — do they hit radio’s new desired demographic target?

Read more >>

Bankrupt iHeart’s $80 Million in Bonuses

iHeart is being pillaged even before it exits bankruptcy.

This is the story of Bob Pittman and 100 junior executives running off with the spoils to the tune of $82 million or more in future bonuses (not counting what was already awarded).

Publicly, Pittman is acquiring companies as if when iHeart emerges from bankruptcy current ownership will be around to manage the whole thing.

Privately, Pittman is planning an exit and the company is going to be sold but the real damage will be to the radio industry that remains.

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            Brutal Entercom Firing

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            Efficacy of iHeart’s New “Breeze” Format

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            Cumulus Closer to a 2nd Bankruptcy

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Brutal Entercom Firing

I get that things are bad in radio right now.

Employees treated like they are less than human while their bosses get all the benefits and respect that, by their performance, they don’t earn.

We get a lot of reports about mistreatment, toxic workplaces and abuse of power.

But the one you’ll read today is as bad as it gets and it’s from Entercom.

This harrowing treatment may be the new normal for today’s radio industry.

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            Efficacy of iHeart’s New “Breeze” Format

            iHeart’s Troubling Bankruptcy Board

            Cumulus Closer to a 2nd Bankruptcy

            Dickey to Strike In 3 Weeks

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Pittman & Bressler’s Removal From iHeart

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            iHeart’s Troubling Post-Bankruptcy Board

            Cumulus Closer to a 2nd Bankruptcy

            Dickey to Strike In 3 Weeks

            iHeart’s Secret Buyer

            $45 Million in Entercom Cutbacks Coming

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Efficacy of iHeart’s New “Breeze” Format

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            Cumulus Closer to a 2nd Bankruptcy

            Dickey to Strike In 3 Weeks

            iHeart’s Secret Buyer

            $45 Million in Entercom Cutbacks Coming

            The Alpha Bankruptcy

            Why Investors Keep Buying Entercom

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iHeart’s Troubling Post-Bankruptcy Board

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            iHeart’s Secret Buyer

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            The Alpha Bankruptcy

            Why Investors Keep Buying Entercom

            Apple/iHeart Investment Rumors

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Cumulus Closer to a 2nd Bankruptcy

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            $45 Million in Entercom Cutbacks Coming

            The Alpha Bankruptcy

            Why Investors Keep Buying Entercom

            Apple/iHeart Investment Rumors

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Dickey To Strike In 3 Weeks

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  • What Lew Dickey’s new company is buying and you can take this to the bank.
  • The part Cumulus plays in all this
  • This is Lew’s first acquisition – what comes second?

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            iHeart’s Secret Buyer

            $45 Million in Entercom Cutbacks Coming

            The Alpha Bankruptcy

            Why Investors Keep Buying Entercom

            Apple/iHeart Investment Rumors

            Market Manager Sues Cumulus

            Alleged Sex Harassment/Disability Issues at Entercom

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YouTube Is the New Radio

Radio is certainly having its trouble attracting new audiences and sustaining advertisers.

Satellite radio, as we mentioned recently, looks better on paper than it does in reality.

An expensive paid subscription service that provides less music discovery than, say, Spotify, is never going to gain traction with Millennials and the Gen Z youth that follow.

Network TV long ago lost its luster with young people who now define TV with the words “Netflix” or “Hulu”.

Times have changed and in the midst of that change is a major reordering of media priorities that cannot be ignored.

  • YouTube is the new radio – This is not sudden.  It’s been happening for many years now although you’d have to be watching teenagers to see the power of YouTube developing.  If you have children – teenagers – then you know YouTube is as potent an instrument as television was when it came on the scene.  But the fact that a video app can also be replacing radio takes a little further understanding.
  • A replacement for talk radio?
  • Pirate radio on YouTube
  • YouTube as a radio with no video
  • YouTube “stars” 
  • Where does this leave the future of radio when radio doesn’t have a competitive model for IP delivered audio?

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iHeart’s Secret Buyer

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            The SiriusXM/Pandora Mistake

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Another $45 Million in Entercom Cutbacks Coming

Summary

  • Revenue down 4% again, stock tanks to $6.85 – how CBS employees will pay with their jobs.
  • The only things that are working at Entercom were started by CBS – here’s the proof.
  • There is already a three-stage plan to start the cost savings – how it is spread out and when.
  • Things are so bad Entercom threatens to double down on the $110 million in cost synergies already promised.

Read more

The Alpha Bankruptcy

It appears that Alpha is headed for the junk heap.

Larry Wilson is out – his plan to grow a live and local radio company ran into the reality that he could never take Alpha public with a market increasingly disinterested in radio.

Yet there is a fascinating set of circumstances that could augur an outcome where the leading lender and the company employees could emerge better off than their founder. 

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            Sexual Harassment Allegations At Entercom

            Entercom’s Operational Problems

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Why Investors Keep Buying Entercom

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            Sexual Harassment Allegations At Entercom

            Entercom’s Operational Problems

            The Coming SiriusXM Meltdown

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Apple/iHeart Rumors

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            Radio Music Performance Fee Surprise

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Market Manager Stands Up Against Cumulus

INSIDE …

  1. If Cumulus employees don’t like Bob Walker and Dave Milner, they’re going to like them less after they read what happened to this Cumulus market manager.
  2. She’s suing and it’s ugly – details.
  3. Awarded, never written up, willing to take a pay cut but something happened where this market manager drew the line.
  4. Alleged verbal abuse so bad she wound up with PTSD – you be the judge.
  5. How this case against Cumulus is being built as employees are learning how to stand up to toxic workplace culture.
  6. The one thing you can never do at Cumulus not matter how good you are and still keep your job.
  7. How the names Lew and John Dickey and Gary Pizzati fit into all of this.

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Alleged Sexual Harassment & Disability Issues At Entercom

INSIDE …

  • How can Entercom afford to fire a $2 million biller when they are losing $25 million a quarter?
  • One who allegedly worked 16 hours many days and ran promotions because their Philly station was understaffed.
  • Details of the heart issues, stress and nervous breakdown that followed – how she pleaded for help and was denied.
  • The Entercom conference call that went wrong when two sales execs allegedly thought the phone connection with this employee had ended and what they proceeded to say about her behind her back not knowing she was still on the line. 
  • The reason for denying an alleged $27,000 bonus claim.
  • The way Entercom fired her immediately after a short disability extension.

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Entercom’s Emerging Problems

About $1.20 in additional losses and Entercom makes it to the $4 stock range.

That would be a catastrophic fall from $16 thanks to a CBS merger that shareholders didn’t like from the word go.

But with expected third quarter losses due to be made public soon, Entercom has so many problems that sooner or later everyone will see its real value or lack of it.

For Entercom to deliver on David Field’s merger promises, he would have to greatly outperform a radio industry that is also experiencing declining revenue.

To be fair this company is still in decent shape but another year like 2018 and Entercom will be in serious trouble.

Their emerging problems are major ones – cannot be ignored.

Wait until you hear about how their much-vaunted sports operation is being received in the sports world and some of the issues Field is trying to outrun.

He can work off this list.

Read the full article now.

SiriusXM Preparing For a Big Meltdown

What kind of b.s. is SiriusXM peddling these days?

They talk about the future like they have one, but satellite radio is ready for its big meltdown based on metrics, generational changes and the one new competitor they can’t even see coming after them.

I’ve got the weaknesses they are trying to cover up for you.

And you’ll be the first to know who is going to knock satellite radio off.

No, it isn’t terrestrial radio.  Come on.

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  1. There’s trouble ahead with paid subscriptions – the kind SiriusXM relies on for most of its revenue.  Here’s what kind of trouble they’d rather not talk about.
  2. Former SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin threatened to stop selling ads altogether.  Here’s why he said it and why they still can’t sell ads very successfully.
  3. The SiriusXM/Pandora merger – this is spooking Wall Street.  Seriously.  It’s seen as a drag on their stock.  Here’s why.
  4. The real value of SiriusXM is a relative secret, but Liberty Media boss John Malone knows what it is and is betting the future on something that I’ll bet you don’t even know. I didn’t – until now.
  5. That expected Liberty/Sirius takeover of iHeart from bankruptcy looks great on paper, but here’s why it is a horror show in reality.

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Dropping Entercom

A few days ago a major lender became the next to the last firm to stop coverage on Entercom.

Wells Fargo remains, but their former analyst Marci Ryvicker lost her job recently and some feel because she overstated Entercom’s upside.

David Field stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that he has blown the CBS merger integration and covers up critical problems that could turn Entercom into bankruptcy babies like Cumulus or iHeart.

As of yesterday, Entercom is now only $2.24 away from being a $4 stock (down from $16).

Now he’s about to make it worse.

Read the full article now.

The Hype Over Podcasting

What’s the big deal about podcasting?

It doesn’t make significant money.

Certainly not enough to make up for mounting radio revenue losses.

Podcasting actually hurts radio station billing.

These are facts.

So why are Bob Pittman, Mary Berner, Ginny Morris, David Field and others betting on podcasting?

Fate of CBS Radio Employees in 2019

DIG DEEPER …

  • Is Entercom finally done ridding itself of CBS employees?
  • What about benefits and salaries?
  • The unsafest job by far for a CBS “leftover” in the year ahead.
  • Year two of the CBS formats all-news and sports under Entercom.
  • CBS female employees under David Field in 2019.

Read the full article now.

Top Sellers Exiting Cumulus

There are stunning new numbers on the extent of the talent drain at Cumulus.

And, like Entercom that has in essence purged CBS market managers and programming talent from their company, Cumulus is doing the same thing with the same results.

The employees they think they don’t need, they are laying off and the ones they can’t afford to lose are leaving – and the evidence is convincing.

Mary Berner did this exact same thing when she bankrupted Reader’s Digest and perhaps you don’t know how that worked out for her.

She was fired (or left) and Reader’s Digest eventually entered a second bankruptcy.

Employees want to know the Reader’s Digest strategy as they fear for their future and want to get a read on what’s going to happen next -- should they stay or go?

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Losing FM on Smartphones

When Jeff Smulyan throws in the towel on his NextRadio smartphone FM project, you know the radio industry is calling Dr. Kevorkian.

No one has been more adamant and perhaps even too optimistic about unlocking smartphones to become ready FM radios than Smulyan.

And in the end, his efforts were thwarted by a small handful of incompetent radio CEOs that can somehow find the money to pay for other non-consequential things they want.

I’m thinking of $55 million to buy an unproven podcasting company, wasteful “advertiser” cruises in the south of France, an investment in the cannabis magazine High Times and pissing away millions on Nielsen. 

The repercussions for a radio industry that is publicly showing such disregard for activating the FM chips in radio will be great.

Some of the trouble starts immediately.

Read the full article now.

Pizzati Raiding Cumulus

On August 1, 2016 Mary Berner called trusted Lew Dickey loyalist and EVP Gary Pizzati into her office and asked him point blank “How do you want to go out?”

He had a three-year $1.5 million no cut contract and asked for a lump sum and contract termination.

Berner refused instead opting to honor the deal to keep him from rejoining Dickey so she benched Pizzati until the end of 2017 when he left.

Then Pizzati’s non-solicit kicked in which prevents him from hiring Cumulus employees during that period.

Now it’s payback time.

Read the full article now.

Entercom Investors Panic

Just when you worried that David Field couldn’t find anyone to replace Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker to carry Entercom’s water over their failed CBS merger integration, another sucker steps up.

Ryvicker lost her gig in a very public way on the eve of the recent NAB Radio Show where she was to be a headliner.  There is no way to know whether her college friend David Field muddied her view of Entercom.

She’s now in the entertainment industry’s version of Siberia so to speak as the managing director of Wolfe Research, a company that covers oil and gas, the trucking industry – not radio, or TV, or digital, her specialty.

A lot of effort is going into covering up the fact that Entercom is ready to crash.

But it’s the changes that haven’t been implemented yet that are of real concern.

Read the full article now.

Change of Plans for Lew Dickey

Lew Dickey has wanted to buy Cumulus ever since he was removed in a bloodless coup by board chairman Jeff Marcus several years ago.

That was then.

In the meantime, Dickey has secured the money it would take for the current board (a group of lenders not operators) to seriously consider his takeover bid.

But something has gone very wrong.

Read the full article now.

Making Sense of the Entercom Mess

2nd quarter numbers that don’t add up.
 
Irrational exuberance for seemingly no reason that drove the stock up and down within 24 hours.
 
Promises about the 3rd quarter and an amazing prediction by David Field about the future of the CBS/Entercom merger.
 
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The Entercom Programming Cuts

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            New Playlists From Listeners' DNA

            Entercom Hired Bain -- Here's Their Advice

            Stations & Studios Are About to Change

            iHeart, Townsquare, Beasley, Cumulus in 2019

            Entercom's Gutting of Jerry Lee's MoreFM  

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New Playlists From Listeners’ DNA

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            Entercom Hired Bain -- Here's Their Advice

            Stations & Studios Are About to Change

            iHeart, Townsquare, Bealsey, Cumulus in 2019

            Entercom's Gutting of Jerry Lee's MoreFM

            Alpha's Surprise Exit

            Startling Revised Purchase Price of Cumulus

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Entercom Hired Bain — Here’s Their Advice

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            Stations & Studios Are About to Change

            iHeart, Townsquare, Bealsey, Cumulus In 2019

            Entercom's Gutting of Jerry Lee's MoreFM

            Alpha's Surprise Exit

            Startling Revised Purchase Price of Cumulus

            A New Warning About Entercom  

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Stations & Studios Are About to Change

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            iHeart, Townsquare, Bealsey, Cumulus in 2019

            Entercom's Gutting of Jerry Lee's MoreFM

            Alpha's Surprise Exit

            Startling Revised Purchase Price of Cumulus

            A New Warning About Entercom

            Nielsen's New Way to Prevent Cutbacks & Cancellations

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iHeart, Townsquare, Bealsey, Cumulus in 2019

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            Entercom's Gutting of Jerry Lee's MoreFM

            Alpha's Surprise Exit

            Startling Revised Purchase Price of Cumulus

            A New Warning About Entercom

            Nielsen's New Way to Prevent Cutbacks & Cancellations

            Streaming is Now 75% of All Music Revenue     

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Entercom’s Gutting of Jerry Lee’s MoreFM

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            Alpha's Surprise Exit

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            Cumulus Expands Cuts

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Alpha’s Surprise Exit

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Startling Revised Purchase Price of Cumulus

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A New Warning About Entercom

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            Nielsen's New Way to Prevent Cutbacks & Cancellations

            Streaming is Now 75% of All Music Revenue

            Cumulus Expands Cuts

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            SiriusXM’s Pandora Strategy

            Entercom Without Marci

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Nielsen’s New Way to Prevent Cutbacks & Cancellations

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            Cumulus Expands Cuts

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            SiriusXM’s Pandora Strategy

            Entercom Without Marci

            How Dickey Will Spend His $300 Million “Blank Check”

            The Uncertain Future of Cumulus

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Streaming is 75% of All Music Revenue

  • Troubling new numbers that indicate a consumer preference for streaming music and a decline in radio as a source of music.
  • Metric based conclusions that radio is morphing into a new role in exposing music to audiences.
  • How record labels now fear losing control of how their music gets played on voice activated smart speakers.
  • Where does all of this leave SiriusXM that has just tendered a $3.5 billion offer to buy all of pioneer streaming site Pandora.
  • Streaming nightmare for record labels:  How Spotify threatens to disrupt music distribution.

Read more …

Cumulus Expands Cuts

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  • The bad news half way through the year that is accelerating Cumulus cutbacks.
  • What’s eating at market managers being squeezed harder.
  • Cumulus revenue trends at the halfway point analyzed from their own Forcebook figures.
  • Mary Berner’s plan to keep market managers from knowing how other markets are performing.

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Voice Activated Listening & Peak Screen

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  • Details on the two opportunities for radio to reignite its reason for existing.
  • The truth about radio listening via Amazon Echo and other smart speakers.
  • Millennials have peaked on staring at their screens – the findings.
  • How radio is missing out on content creation for voice activated listening.
  • Crisis ahead:  who controls the algorithm to decide what music is played when consumers ask Alexa.

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SiriusXM’s Pandora Strategy

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  • Why every radio company wants to be SiriusXM – unthinkable just a few years ago.
  • The thinking behind buying the rest of Pandora outright.
  • The potential sales opportunities SiriusXM can build to drain more revenue from terrestrial radio.
  • The chances SiriusXM’s owner, Liberty, will still buy iHeart.
  • Why the cost of buying a radio station or group just went down with Liberty’s purchase of Pandora.
  • Has the future of satellite radio now changed among younger demos.

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Entercom Without Marci

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  • What does this mean for David Field and Entercom.
  • Why the most powerful Wall Street analyst and Entercom cheerleader was relieved of her duties.
  • And why just days before her high profile appearance at this week’s NAB Radio Show.
  • Now no major lender is left to cover the industry – what does that look like for the future of radio.
  • How losing Ryvicker is almost as important as losing Weezie – maybe more.

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The Only Way Podcasting Can Save Radio

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  • How Cumulus & iHeart are going about embracing podcasting the wrong way.
  • How their game plan comes up short to add more revenue.
  • The one way a radio station can do podcasting and grow a revenue stream every three months guaranteed.
  • Separate sales teams, just one or none?
  • How the Pittman & Berner plans could backfire on radio revenue.

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The Uncertain Future of Cumulus

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  1. What if Lew Dickey takes a pass on buying Cumulus?  How do lenders cash out then?
  2. What changed in the past 2 months that could affect Malone’s iHeart takeover and a Dickey bid for Cumulus.
  3. How employees will pay with their jobs if these two takeovers don’t happen.
  4. Details and timeline of the fire sale that is coming.
  5. The changes that will be forced on Cumulus without fresh money from an outside bidder.
  6. How long before a Cumulus selloff.
  7. The big cost cutting ahead.

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Dickey Steals Lori Lewis From Cumulus

INSIDE …

  • Why Lew Dickey hired radio’s top social media expert away from Cumulus.
  • Why now.
  • How he plans to use her expertise.
  • The other Cumulus employees who also want to join Lew.
  • What happens to Berner’s “toxic workplace”.
  • The rehearsal for what is to come.

Read the full story

iHeart’s $55 Million Podcasting Gamble

Cumulus & iHeart are first to bet radio’s future on an unproven medium…

  • Why bankrupt iHeart is buying a $55 million podcast network
  • How podcasting will kill spot sales
  • The sudden interest in podcasting to replace lost radio revenue
  • The airline industry’s warning to radio about embracing podcasting
  • Why radio is redirecting from digital and social

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Entercom’s Nagging CBS Problem

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  1. Mary Berner feel good tactics are coming to Entercom – here’s a sampling.
  2. The most pissed off CBS employees working at Entercom – and why.
  3. Is it possible for Entercom to undo parts of the merger?
  4. The reason why CBS employees are not assimilating well into Entercom.
  5. How they plan to handle widespread morale problems on the CBS side.

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Radio Revenue Tanking

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  1. How iHeart, Cumulus & Townsquare are putting themselves in extreme financial trouble.
  2. Group owners demanding top dollar – for trade, not cash!
  3. Relaxed advertiser credit standards – how low some radio groups are now willing to go.
  4. The new normal for getting top ad rates – and there’s nothing normal about it.
  5. Townsquare’s mind-blowing barter deals.
  6. How TS explains their loose credit policies in their own words.

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CBS, Entercom, iHeart, Cumulus, Nike

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  • The CBS Merger Fix – What Entercom is going to do now to fix their botched CBS merger assimilation.
  • iHeart’s Bankruptcy Bluff – Why nothing seems to be urgent about coming to an agreement to emerge from bankruptcy.
  • What Cumulus Employees Want – One group of employees actually faced down CEO Mary Berner with this request.  She denied it.
  • Nike, Kaepernick & Radio – How radio used to ignite the passions of P1s – the way Nike just did.

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Dickey’s First Acquisition

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  • The timetable for Dickey’s first acquisitions.
  • What’s the surprise first purchase out of left field.
  • The other acquisitions that Dickey’s New Modern Media is planning.
  • The two radio groups being considered in addition to an expected run at Cumulus.
  • The new management team, re-hires and employment opportunities.

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Entercom Debt Woes

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  • How debt is suddenly squeezing Entercom.
  • The 2 programming issues that worry lenders and investors the most.
  • What happens if Entercom’s quarterly $7 million losses continue.
  • The lone analyst who is not buying Entercom profitability predictions and why.
  • A look at the Entercom plan to fix the botched integration of CBS Radio.
  • Emergency spare cash is almost tapped out – now what?

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Pizzati Hired, Dickey Hovers

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  • How Pizzati’s hiring previews Lew Dickey’s return.
  • Pizzati’s new C-level job, responsibilities.
  • The possibility of recruitment due to future expansion.
  • What’s next with Pizzati in place and an acquisition coming in 60 days.
  • Why competitors – even iHeart deep in bankruptcy – are panicking over digital.

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The Cumulus Trade Cover-up

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  • How trade put on the books as cash will be used to cover-up expected big losses in the third-quarter.
  • How that actually works -- legal but deceptive.
  • The latest Cumulus revenue pacing numbers based on their own metrics with only one month left in the third quarter.
  • The cover-up revealed – even board members may be fooled by this disguise.
  • The Cumulus markets leading the race to the bottom.
  • The most endangered market managers.

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Cumulus Bankruptcy #2

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  • The reasons financial people expect Cumulus to file for a second bankruptcy along with what will trigger it.
  • The affect another bankruptcy will have on the fragile station group and Westwood One.
  • The true financial condition of Cumulus by experts – not speculation or corporate hype we’ve been hearing.
  • The list of costs that should be going down after emerging from bankruptcy that are actually going up.
  • Why Cumulus is suddenly losing key people at the worst time possible.
  • The prognosis for Westwood One.

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5 Questions for the New Cumulus Board

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  • The 5 major questions that the new Cumulus board needs Mary Berner to honestly answer according to analysts and financial people.
  • What constitutes accounting tricks and what are sound and generally accepted accounting principles necessary to stop the bleeding.
  • 11 hours of board questions and concerns boiled down to these indicators of a turnaround or a failure.
  • How to tell the early signs that a second bankruptcy will be needed.
  • Troubling company financial indicators that are rarely discussed in public.
  • The concerning story of what’s really going on today at Westwood One.

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Lew Dickey’s Return

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  • A timetable you can take to the bank – the specific month all of this goes down.
  • What happened to his takeover bid for the failing Cumulus.
  • What Dickey’s first acquisitions will be from these sellers – either in part or whole.
  • The large group that is also being considered.
  • The plan to prevent a repeat of Cumulus 1.0.
  • First look at Dickey’s new management team.

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The Cumulus Lori Lewis Breakup

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  • How a company touting a digital revolution let radio’s acknowledged best social media expert quit?
  • The role “flipping” may have played in her departure.
  • The rumored Mary Berner Hit List – 2 of the alleged targets are gone already – what it means for the others.
  • Money walking out the door – the latest Cumulus top-biller and Key Account Manager also quit Berner.  How that went down.
  • The Cumulus employee who was just fired after commenting on a post by a former Dickey confidant – you have to see this, the post, the comment that ends ugly.
  • Little known details of jealousy and demands of loyalty that may further impact the bottom line that even the board of directors doesn’t know about.

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Entercom’s Toxic Workplace Coverup

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            Cumulus Asset Sales

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            Entercom Commission Rate Cut

            iHeart, Cumulus Market Manager Peril

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Liberty’s iHeart Takeover

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            iHeart, Cumulus Market Manager Peril

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Cumulus Asset Sales

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            Entercom Adopts Cumulus Policies

            Cumulus Future Plans

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            iHeart, Cumulus Market Manager Peril

            Entercom Name Change

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Entercom Adopts Cumulus Policies

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            Entercom Name Change

            Breakup of Alpha Media

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Cumulus Future Plans Leaked

Read the full article now    

  1. Future RIFs – Berner has repeatedly denied saving money through personnel reductions but now we know how much she actually saved – one time or ongoing?
  2. Selling assets – Is Berner ready to start selling off stations to keep Cumulus afloat?
  3. Money to fix and maintain stations – how Cumulus is planning to handle that going forward.   
  4. DC land sale – Something’s up with the troubled $75 million sale of land near Bethesda that keeps getting delayed.
  5. Podcasting to offset declining local radio?  Wait until you see their plans.
  6. Digital – The surprising approach to a category that Cumulus is betting its future on. 

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Entercom to Slash Commissions

David Field loves the iHeart system of cutting commissions for top sales people.

And, yes, that’s what it has come down to.

Entercom badly needs to get revenue back up after its disastrous merger with CBS Radio and yet what he’s beginning to do is likely to have the opposite effect.

If you want to see what poor morale gets your sales department, look no further than Cumulus that lost many of its best sellers when the company sapped them from selling with corporate red tape and unnecessary procedures.

This trick that Field is going to pull – you’ll see the details in a moment – is his dream compensation strategy because iHeart does it and anything iHeart does, Field seems to want to do.

And second, because he will make more money and the sellers will make less.

Field is not a warm and fuzzy guy.  He doesn’t connect with employees because he makes all the money and they get nickel and dimed to death.

This plan being installed at some Entercom stations right now is the future for the entire merged company as well as dangerous temptation for other groups to follow.

Read the full article here

Newstips

Market Managers in Peril at Cumulus, iHeart

INSIDE …

  • Which market managers will be more at risk – the ones at Cumulus or iHeart.
  • Huge cutbacks have been leaked for iHeart employee RIFs – take a look.  Here’s what will trigger them.
  • The new market manager-lite setup coming to iHeart and Cumulus.
  • And it’s not just these two groups – here’s a radio company that is likely to ask their market managers for hometown discounts. 
  • This begs the question if market managers are about to take a big hit, is there a well-paying job in radio that is relatively safe?  Yes – this is the one.

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Cumulus’ Surging Stock Price

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  • How does a just out of bankruptcy radio company with suspended stock worth only a few pennies start trading again at over $20 a share -- $17.70 as of closing yesterday.
  • Cumulus stock is worth more than the merged Entercom and CBS Radio.
  • Cumulus outperforming Entercom?
  • Is this a sign of a successful  “Hail Mary” from Berner?
  • What does the stock market know about the future of Cumulus that everyone seems to be missing?
  • The critical indicators to watch.

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More Entercom Cutbacks

  • Entercom can’t deliver promised cost savings. 
  • 7 Incremental fixed expenses are going up. 
  • Meaning that David Field’s $110 million promise is way too low. 
  • What is Entercom going to do to make good on merger efficiencies it promised lenders?
  • New cuts to CBS stations, Entercom stations or both?
  • Down to one last option.

Read the full article now

Entercom Name Change

  • A name change to double down on radio.
  • A way to stop the unfavorable comparisons with CBS.
  • Rumblings from sellers, buyers and competitors too loud to ignore.
  • The reported leading choice to replace the name “Entercom”.
  • More consumer-oriented.
  • Reportedly inspired by iHeart.

Read the full article now

That 11-Hour Cumulus Board Meeting

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  • WTF?  What was so urgent that it took a virtually unprecedented marathon board meeting to unpack?
  • Their biggest concern -- it’s not what most people think.
  • First read on their feelings about CEO Mary Berner.
  • With big losses to be reported this week, how long are they giving Berner to turn things around.
  • How important is “toxic work culture” to the board.

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The Coming Breakup of Alpha Media

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  1. Why the future of Alpha is no longer assured.
  2. An honest look at the many problems in selling the company that made one strategic mistake after another.
  3. Who is likely to pick the bones of the radio group that once had everything going for it – and how long will it take to liquidate.
  4. But wait, before the stations can be sold off – there is a glitch that could blow up and make things even worse.
  5. What Alpha employees can expect.

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iHeart’s Bankruptcy Promotion

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  1. Why Bob Pittman is handling the bankruptcy like a radio promotion but the “second caller” doesn’t win and the new owner has already been identified.
  2. The main reason – and there is a big one – that Bob Pittman is dragging this thing out.
  3. Why you should keep an eye on this potential bidder.
  4. The surprise ending soon-to-be-burned iHeart lenders want.
  5. The toll this drawn out bankruptcy is already taking on iHeart stations and employees – ratings for this major format are beginning to erode from neglect.
  6. If you want to get past all the circus optics and get to the new owner, here’s who will come in and take iHeart away.

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How Entercom Made a 7% Loss Into a 20% Stock Price Gain

Radio CEOs are just like politicians.

They don’t let facts get in the way.

So yesterday, David Field showed us all what he was doing at Ivy League schools while he should have been learning the radio business.

Field took a whopping 8% decline in revenue and turned it into a 20% stock price gain.

Here’s the stunt David Field pulled off that employees, investors and lenders are going to pay for big time.

Read the full article here

Univision’s 71 Radio Stations

There are rumors that Cumulus is getting ready to buy some or all of Univision’s radio stations.

But Cumulus can’t buy a copy machine right now and Univision is just as dysfunctional as Cumulus.

Here’s why everyone is looking in the wrong place.

READ MORE …

David Field’s 3 Broken Promises

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            Bonneville’s Back – Or Is It?

            Cumulus Reboot – Strange Things You Didn’t Know

            The Sale of Westwood One

            Alpha Media After Larry Wilson

            Entercom/USTN Deal Gone Bad - What Really Happened

            Cumulus & Univision Together

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Bonneville’s Back – Or Is It?

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            Cumulus Reboot – Strange Things You Didn’t Know

            The Sale of Westwood One

            Alpha Media After Larry Wilson

            Entercom/USTN Deal Gone Bad - What Really Happened

            Cumulus & Univision Together

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Cumulus Reboot — Strange Things You Didn’t Know

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  1. Potential conflicts of interest with Mike McVay.
  2. The truth about that new stock Cumulus just issued.
  3. Westwood One has been turning in profits quarter after quarter, so why is Cumulus now acting to separate the two companies.
  4. The rumor that Cumulus is a buyer – well, is it?
  5. The untold story of Dave Milner and Bob Walker.
  6. How is the relationship going between Mary Berner and her new board representing lenders who have traded equity for debt.
  7. The over/under on a second Cumulus bankruptcy as incredible as it may seem.

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Alpha Media After Larry Wilson

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            Entercom/USTN Deal Gone Bad - What Really Happened

            Cumulus & Univision Together

            Panic At Cumulus

            Beasley Blowing It

            Who Will Buy Cox Radio

            iHeart’s Silver Lake Takeover Bid

            Less FM For Entercom

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Entercom/USTN Deal Gone Bad – What Really Happened

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            Cumulus & Univision Together

            Panic At Cumulus

            Beasley Blowing It

            Who Will Buy Cox Radio

            iHeart’s Silver Lake Takeover Bid

            Less FM For Entercom

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Cumulus & Univision Together

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            Panic At Cumulus

            Beasley Blowing It

            Who Will Buy Cox Radio

            iHeart’s Silver Lake Takeover Bid

            Less FM For Entercom

            iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus

            Lew Dickey's Next Venture Heating Up

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Panic at Cumulus

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            Beasley Blowing It

            Who Will Buy Cox Radio

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            Less FM For Entercom

            iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus

            Lew Dickey's Next Venture Heating Up

            Voice Activated Radio Listening on Smart Speakers

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Beasley Blowing It

Inside 

  • Suddenly, their growth plan is in jeopardy.  The serious ramifications. 
  • Can they stop the race to the bottom stock price decline that THEY caused because of bad strategic planning?  
  • How David Field snookered Caroline Beasley. 
  • Future acquisition plans – what now? 
  • Why Beasley is hanging around without any prospect of attaining scale. 
  • Is Beasley a SELL?

Recent Stories

            Who Will Buy Cox Radio
            The likely buyer is the most unlikely buyer

            iHeart’s Silver Lake Takeover Bid
            Another suspicious offer Bain is not accepting 

            Less FM for Entercom
            Repeating how they killed the CBS merger

            iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus
            Which one is the next Toys “R” Us? 

            Lew Dickey’s Cumulus Takeover Bid Update
            When, how & chances of success

            Cumulus Troubles
            Now add the new board to their problems   

            Entercom’s Dire Future
            A bombshell announcement is coming

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Who Will Buy Cox Radio

Summary

  • With Cox Media Group announcing the sale of its TV assets, there is no longer any synergistic reason to keep radio.
  • Which radio groups or investor is most motivated to make an offer to buy some or all of the Cox radio properties.
  • Why this is the worst time for Cox radio to be in play for groups that desperately need their stations more than ever.

Cox has no reason to keep its 60 plus radio outlets when it sells its TV stations as the company announced it would do yesterday.

Either a sale or a merger, but a sale is most likely.

Perhaps to the dreaded Sinclair or to Tribune to make it Sinclair-proof going forward.

Cox radio stations are highly desirable because unlike other radio groups, Cox knows how to super monetize them.  They hire outstanding people and their stations are well managed.

There are a number of radio groups that would like to cherry pick the Cox radio roster and one potential stealth buyer who could buy the entire radio group.

Because even purchasing Cox radio does not make another iHeart or Entercom for an existing radio group but the companies nibbling at some Cox stations are looking to grow more than dominate.

And look what happened when Beasley bought back WXTU-FM, Philadelphia at very high multiples.

Their stock tanked because they will have to issue more stock and dilute current shareholder’s value. Since Monday Beasley stock has dropped from the $9 range to the $7 range.  Does that leave Beasley out of the Cox radio sweepstakes?

Nevertheless, there is a surprising group of suitors who will find the money if they can pry some Cox stations away. 

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iHeart’s Silver Lake Takeover Bid

  • Why iHeart has gotten 2 takeover bids and apparently rejected both.
  • The main reason Liberty pulled its $1.1 billion initial offer for 40% of iHeart.
  • What is suspicious about Silver Lake’s recent and lesser bid.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the company that ran like a circus with CEO Bob Pittman selling snake oil should find itself in a circus-like bankruptcy.

A second company has come forward to bid on iHeart.

Private equity firm Silver Lake is offering $500 million to its largest creditor groups (Franklin Mutual Advisors and Pacific Investment Management) that could go toward making lenders who will be taking a haircut more whole.

But as with the previous Liberty Media takeover bid, iHeart is not acting.

Liberty has withdrawn its $1.1 billion offer for a 40% stake in the company for reasons that are both strategic and concerning.

Why so many bids and none of them being seriously considered?

Read more 

Less FM For Entercom

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            iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus Which one is the next Toys “R” Us?

            Lew Dickey's Takeover Bid Update When, how & will he succeed?

            Cumulus Troubles Now, add the new board to their problems.

            Entercom’s Dire Future – Eye-popping revenue slide coming.

            iHeart Bankruptcy – 2 bidders, so why aren’t they taking any offers?

            Smart Speakers & Radio Truth about Alexa and radio usage at home.

            Ramifications of 8 FM Stations Per Market – Scary unintended consequences.

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iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus

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  • Why is it so difficult for radio’s three biggest groups to start regaining audience and revenue again?
  • iHeart’s biggest strategic mistake.
  • How Entercom keeps losing revenue with all those great CBS stations onboard.
  • Why Cumulus is obsessed with controlling the narrative instead of growing revenue share.
  • How lenders are prepared to turn radio’s best assets into Toys “R” Us.

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            Lew Dickey's Takeover Bid Update

            Cumulus Troubles

            Entercom’s Dire Future

            iHeart Bankruptcy

            Smart Speakers & Radio

            Ramifications of 8 FM Stations Per Market

            Entercom’s Projected CBS Merger Cutbacks

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Lew Dickey’s Next Venture Heating Up

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  • Details on what is Lew going to do with that $207 million blank check that expires in November.
  • Why Dickey is raising even more money beyond what it would take to buy Cumulus back.
  • 3 radio groups from which Dickey could buy stations.
  • First look at his radical new plan and where radio fits into it.
  • We pinpoint the month when Dickey is going to make that offer to buy Cumulus.

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            Cumulus Troubles

            Entercom’s Dire Future

            iHeart Bankruptcy

            Smart Speakers & Radio

            Ramifications of 8 FM Stations Per Market

            Entercom’s Projected CBS Merger Cutbacks

            Cox – Seller or Buyer?

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Cumulus Troubles

  • 3rdquarter ad revenue pacing revealed
  • The July 25th Town Hall
  • The new Cumulus board
  • Those market manager surveys
  • Layoffs

Read the full article now.

Entercom in Worse Shape Than Originally Thought

  • Revenue – why is it continuing to nose dive.
  • How long before an Entercom turnaround.
  • Trouble ahead at their former CBS all-news stations.
  • New danger for 24 major market sports outlets.
  • No ad revenue growth means more cutbacks – whose next and when.
  • An Entercom bankruptcy?  Is that even possible.  What financial people say. 

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iHeart Bankruptcy Leaks

INSIDE …

  • Liberty or Silver Lake – which one is going to make a bid for iHeart.
  • What about all those leaks to the news media about interest in buying iHeart – who’s the source?
  • The major victory for iHeart in bankruptcy court that is going unnoticed.
  • What’s in all this for Bob Pittman.
  • When to expect the serious bidders to make their move.

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Voice Activated Radio Listening on Smart Speakers

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  • The real number of radio listeners who now access their favorite station through smart speakers.
  • Which smart speaker is becoming the most popular – new data shows forget what you think, everything just changed.
  • The unseen dangers of embracing “Alexa” too soon.
  • Radio’s future on smart speakers – not what everyone is betting on now.
  • How radio stations can prepare for smart speaker access other than just put their station stream on in-home devices.

A new subscription also unlocks these full articles …

            The Fear of 8 FM Stations Per Market

            Entercom’s CBS Synergies

            Cox – Seller or Buyer?

            iHeart’s New Buyer

            Beasley’s $250 Million Acquisition Fund

            iHeart’s Threat To Buy More Stations

            CBS Sales Rebellion At Entercom

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The Fear of 8 FM Stations Per Market

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  • Which groups have the most to gain if ownership rules are eased.
  • The unintended consequences in key markets if ownership limits are expanded.
  • The growing list of radio groups lining up in opposition to owning more stations than currently allowed.  And why!
  • The scary new meaning of monopoly if this legislation gets passed.
  • How easing ownership limits could kill some radio groups – say, Entercom to name a big one.

A new subscription also unlocks these full articles …

            Entercom’s CBS Synergies

            Cox – Seller or Buyer?

            iHeart’s New Buyer

            Beasley’s $250 Million Acquisition Fund

            iHeart’s Threat To Buy More Stations

            CBS Sales Rebellion At Entercom

            First Cumulus Report Card After Bankruptcy

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Entercom’s CBS Synergies

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  • How CBS news shakeup is about to get bigger.
  • How much of a pay cut is coming for surviving CBS employees.
  • CBS sports franchises.
  • The CBS format likely to get hurt the most from coming cutbacks.
  • What CBS key exec left the building last Friday.

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            Cox – Seller or Buyer?

            iHeart’s New Buyer

            Beasley’s $250 Million Acquisition Fund

            iHeart’s Threat To Buy More Stations

            CBS Sales Rebellion At Entercom

            First Cumulus Report Card After Bankruptcy

            The Scripps Spinoffs

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Cox Radio – Seller or Buyer?

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  • The Cox radio markets that could be available – 4, possibly 5.
  • Which group will pay big multiples to get Cox stations.
  • The markets where Cox could also be a buyer. 
  • Cox’s new strategy of “convergence” explained.

A new subscription also unlocks these full articles …

            iHeart’s New Buyer

            Beasley’s $250 Million Acquisition Fund

            iHeart’s Threat To Buy More Stations

            CBS Sales Rebellion At Entercom

            First Cumulus Report Card After Bankruptcy

            The Scripps Spinoffs

            The Entercom Exodus

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iHeart’s New Buyer, Layoffs, the Rise of SiriusXM

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  1. Information leaked over the Fourth that there is a second bidder interested in taking over iHeartMedia – which one would be the better owner?
  2. iHeart would emerge from bankruptcy with $10 billion less debt – is it enough or will there be more layoffs to come?
  3. The parts that will likely be sold off to pay down debt even further no matter who comes away with iHeart.
  4. And one bidder would keep selling until iHeart’s debt was de-levered – which one is that?
  5. The rise of SiriusXM – how it fits into Liberty’s plans to remake iHeart programming.

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Beasley’s $250 Million Acquisition Fund

  • Why Beasley filed with the SEC to raise $250 million at this late date.
  • Public speculation about iHeart spinning off stations to Beasley.
  • Alpha, Townsquare and Scripps/Milwaukee – which are now potential Beasley acquisition targets.
  • How Beasley will be impacted by iHeart’s threat to buy more stations not sell if ownership limits are eased.

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iHeart’s Threat to Buy More Stations

  • Why iHeart, the biggest consolidator, is now strongly against easing ownership rules.
  • How owning more stations will sit with Liberty, their buyer in waiting.
  • The real reason iHeart is threatening competitors if the NAB-backed deregulation legislation is passed.
  • How iHeart’s threat to get even bigger might affect Entercom, Beasley, Cumulus and other groups looking to grow.
  • Will more stations be good for iHeart employees?

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CBS Sales Rebellion At Entercom

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  • Why CBS sellers are stewing over the latest Entercom order to get billing up.
  • And they can’t believe it’s being crammed by Weezie Kramer.
  • Panic in Philly – if things aren’t fixed by this date – the entire company may go down.
  • Will there be more resignations ahead in sales.
  • The safest Entercom executive – virtually bulletproof. You’ll be surprised.                                           

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The Eroding Value of Radio

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  • The most significant thing about that Scripps-Griffin sale in Tulsa a few days ago that everyone missed.
  • Buyers market or sellers market?
  • Will relaxation of cross ownership rules impact radio station sales? 
  • How desperate are sellers getting – here’s one that will leave you scratching your head. 
  • What’s a decent multiple today – is anyone getting it?                                            

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First Cumulus Report Card After Bankruptcy

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  1. What’s working and what’s still not working post-bankruptcy.
  2. Will there be a demand for cost synergies?
  3. The first meeting of the new board.
  4. How long is the new board prepared to wait for a turnaround.
  5. First look at pacing now that Mary Berner has regained full control.                                           

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The Scripps Spinoffs

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  • Finally, a spinoff in Tulsa but which group is closing in on the rest of Scripps?
  • The reported lead bidder is a serial cost cutter.
  • What everyone wants to know – did Scripps get 5 times cash flow for their stations (very few others can).
  • The big fish reportedly chasing the Milwaukee cluster.                                                

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The Entercom Exodus

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  • Why CBS executives are now quitting David Field after he wiped out more than 10 CBS market managers and countless programmers and talent.
  • The real story of Chris Oliviero’s surprise exit not the varnished version in the happy talk radio trade press.
  • How Oliviero’s departure could put the nail in Entercom’s coffin – seriously.
  • Startling revelation of the one CBS exec Entercom can’t afford to lose next –in spite of the salary savings benefit.
  • The reason the few ex-CBS employees David Field wants to keep don’t want to work at Entercom any longer. 
  • The new CBS “you can’t fire me, I quit” mentality taking hold at Entercom.

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The iHeart Takeover

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  • A hack attack on iHeart’s sale price.
  • A warning about the huge number one bidder would cut if they take over.
  • Employee nightmare:  highest synergies in the history of radio to make an iHeart takeover work. 
  • The real reason Liberty just officially walked on their $1.1 billion takeover bid.
  • Surprise -- Who is next?

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NewsTips

Entercom’s Secret New Startup

  • Revealed:  Behind the scenes efforts to create an entirely new business that Entercom’s competitors don’t see coming.
  • What damage would it inflict in Entercom markets.
  • What happens to Entercom if this big deal turns out to be a dud.
  • The likely name of Entercom’s new startup.  You won’t believe their choice of a name.
  • All the details of what this new venture will do (their words, their document) and how it will hurt competitors in their markets.

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Cumulus Non-Essential Station Selloff

What the market is learning about Mary Berner is that she could make victims of the Titanic believe there was an upside to drowning.

No matter how she says it – promises, slogans, new logos – her fate and the fate of Cumulus will come down to a second bankruptcy and ending the long decline in revenue that lumbers on quarter after quarter.

It is likely that Cumulus will be the target of a takeover at some point now that it is out of bankruptcy. When it was mired in Chapter 11, Cumulus argued and received permission from the court to bar outside bids while they were trying to get their house in order.

The one thing that would make a takeover less likely – a hostile takeover, that is – is if they got their debt down and revenue up.

So in spite of the happy talk about the future of the company, Mary Berner is going to have to show in real terms that her management team that started the decline leading to bankruptcy is capable of stopping it on a dime.

Your guess is as good as anyone’s.

But assets will have to be sold or a second bankruptcy initiated that brings a slew of additional problems or else Cumulus 2.0 will be dead on arrival by next year at this time.

The painful process of selling assets will shock but here are the options on the table.

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Entercom Getting into the Unwired Network Business

  • Hey, it’s cheaper than buying Westwood One.
  • What David Field has in mind by going full frontal against iHeart.
  • Is Entercom’s new venture a rep firm in drag?
  • How Entercom’s 2 traffic networks come into play.

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Townsquare Merger

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  • How can a small market radio group like Townsquare that can’t find a buyer pull off a merger?
  • The unlikely buyer who looks like the likely merger partner.
  • How urgent is this?

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Major Pivot Coming For Cumulus

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  • What’s the biggest change in the way Cumulus will be doing business under its new owners and board.
  • Who will be getting more authority – here’s the list.
  • What’s the plan to stop the bleeding with Cumulus pacing down again – this time $8 million for the third quarter.
  • More interference or less – early indications of which way they are moving.
  • How cash and trade will be handled now that they are out of bankruptcy.

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            4 New Entercom Cutbacks

            The Timeline For the New Cumulus

            Entercom To Negotiate Pay Cuts

            Downsizing iHeart

            Cumulus Management Reorganization

            Alpha’s Financial Problems

            Saving Townsquare           

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4 New Entercom Cutbacks

Joe Field finally pumped up Entercom stock Wednesday getting it back to $7.  But yesterday, it fell apart again into the $6 range.

Investors lost $100 million in share value since the CBS merger was announced.

Revenue down 7% that translates into a $28 million loss.

EBITDA cut in half.

Today, 4 new Entercom cutbacks toward keeping David Field’s promise of $110 million in merger synergies detailed and revealed in advance.

Luckily, none of them apply to David Field.

BUT … competitors are taking notes.

Real time quote from one of our subscribers who also happens to be an Entercom executive:  “The insights and honesty this industry needs”.

Another Entercom subscriber:  “thank you for your insights especially into Entercom”.

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The New Cumulus Has 1 Year or Less

INSIDE …

  • Can Mary Berner do something different than what didn’t work the first 3 years (with the same people)?
  • Misleading financial claims – how much is Cumulus losing from people intimately familiar with how the company operates.
  • Panic management – a sample of how it will affect one poor market manager next week and more after that.
  • Increased interference – this is how they plan to go about it.
  • The future of remnants and trade.
  • Mission accomplished, right?  Berner killed off Lew Dickey’s takeover bid, right?

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Entercom to Negotiate Pay Cuts

INSIDE …

  • Details on the big time pay cuts Entercom will be cramming on employees.
  • Here’s how it will work – sit down and stay away from sharp objects.
  • And who is going to get clipped.
  • It’s bad enough that Entercom doesn’t have a large representation of women in executive positions – here’s how they are going to handle their female compensation vs. well-paid women CBS managers.
  • David Field has already botched talent pay negotiations so if you’re talent, this is how far your CEO is willing to go to negotiate a pay cut even if he damages ratings and his brand. 

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Downsizing iHeart

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  1. Townsquare and other radio groups are waiting to buy iHeart stations, do they know something we don’t?
  2. Piercing the silence of iHeart’s bankruptcy – what are they hiding with the court’s permission?
  3. What if Liberty withdraws its takeover bid – where does that leave everyday operations of iHeart?
  4. Post-bankruptcy iHeart cost-saving synergies now on the table.
  5. Business as usual or business unusual when they emerge.

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Saving Townsquare

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  • Will the recent sale of their live events division stop the bleeding?
  • Is Townsquare closing in on acquiring some iHeart stations as it is promising publicly?
  • The bankruptcy watch – when does time run out.
  • The one thing that could fix everything if they have the cujones.

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Dismantling of CBS Radio (Phase II)

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  • 10 key CBS employees fired – is David Field done yet?
  • BUT, raising eyebrows by who they just promoted while firing more qualified managers. 
  • Faux promotions.
  • Hiding CBS firings – how Entercom is trying to fool the public while continuing its war on CBS managers.
  • Why has Weezie Kramer turned a blind eye toward so many of her CBS comrades.
  • Lawsuits? 
  • What shareholders know that the public doesn’t that is driving them to sell Entercom.

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The Real Cumulus Financials

WHAT YOU WILL READ …

  1. Cumulus employees out their CEO on how her spin is being used to impress the soon to be installed new board. 
  2. Direct quotes on how Berner is manipulating the revenue numbers to make large losses look better.
  3. 3 markets that are killing Cumulus revenue – expect shakeups.
  4. True pacing figures for the present quarter direct from Cumulus but without the Berner spin.
  5. Things are going to change very soon and here’s what it will mean for the new Cumulus.

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Entercom — $4 Stock by the End of the Year

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  1. Here’s the math – proof positive that Entercom is on its way to $4 a share – or less by year’s end.
  2. How much Entercom shareholders lost as of last week due to the CBS merger.
  3. The amount of value that has been destroyed in just 3 months of Entercom at the helm.
  4. The chance Entercom could find itself in a bankruptcy situation.
  5. Why previously bullish analysts are running for the exit now.
  6. EBITDA is down 50% in the first quarter alone, revenue off 7.5% – here’s where Entercom is with 6 weeks left in the second quarter.

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What’s Holding Up Liberty’s Takeover of iHeart

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  1. Liberty is the only bidder with real money on the table to buy iHeart, what’s holding up a deal.
  2. The strength of Liberty’s interest in buying iHeart at this point.
  3. Why Liberty doesn’t want to pull a “David Field”. 
  4. Is Liberty’s $1.1 billion offer for 40% negotiable. 
  5. What if there is no Liberty deal – where does that leave iHeart after bankruptcy.

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Townsquare Adrift

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  1. How investors are now looking at Townsquare’s future.
  2. With virtually no options to sell, how will Townsquare now operate.
  3. They’ve been acting like the company is off the market – is that true?
  4. Something is fishy with expenses at Townsquare – here’s what’s scaring investors and lenders.
  5. Three radio groups that could be acquired ahead of Townsquare – in order of availability making Townsquare’s exit options almost impossible.

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Entercom’s Real Problems

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  1. You know a merger is in trouble when you do this – what radio’s money people say Entercom is doing that doesn’t bode well.
  2. Not U.S. Traffic, not 6 format flips – what’s wrong with Entercom/CBS that it is losing money already.
  3. David Field is still blaming the CBS stations – the detrimental effect it is having on revenue.
  4. Will the merger pay off by mid-2019 when Entercom will have operated the CBS stations for one full year.
  5. Heads could roll – some could be shockers.
  6. What Entercom is now saying about cost synergies last promised at $110 million.

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Cumulus Lenders Blindsided

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  1. Sources close to Cumulus say lenders expecting a new beginning when bankruptcy ends in June are in for a rude awakening – here’s why.
  2. Amazing as it may seem, how even the bankruptcy judge is reportedly not aware of the rapidly declining EBITDA problem.
  3. The evidence as to why a second bankruptcy will be necessary even if a new owner takes over.
  4. The status of the Lew Dickey hostile takeover bid as of last week.
  5. The one scenario under which Mary Berner can save her job and keep the company – it comes down to this.

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$72 Million More in iHeart Bankruptcy Bonuses

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  1. Over 700 bonuses in a scheme to mislead the bankruptcy court.
  2. Which iHeart employees are among the lucky 700.
  3. Cumulus just got away with the same thing – what are iHeart’s chance of getting a bankruptcy court to go along with their ruse.
  4. iHeart is a company that hasn’t give raises in many, many years – here’s how they changed their tune in a court document.
  5. What happens to the lenders, unsecured bondholders, vendors and others who are facing large losses in bankruptcy.

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Shakeup at SiriusXM, Pandora

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  1. How Liberty Media’s ambition to takeover iHeart is driving synergistic cost savings ahead of any merger.
  2. Big cuts at Pandora in which Liberty has a sizeable ownership investment.
  3. Something is up with SiriusXM ad sales, big changes.
  4. Enticing new ways Liberty could use Katz, Premiere, Pandora and SiriusXM together against traditional radio groups.
  5. How if Liberty follows through Westwood One and Entercom’s new audio network are all but toast.

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CBS Merger Meltdown

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  1. Entercom’s quarterly revenue is scaring the stock market and Entercom employees.
  2. David Field blames U.S. Traffic Network for their revenue problems – is he right?
  3. Now will Field unleash the nuclear option he has threatened in the past?
  4. What’s behind Entercom shunning CBS minds and opting to go with a not-ready-for-primetime group of Field cronies.
  5. A $4 Entercom stock was predicted a month ago, will that happen and wreck both CBS stations and Entercom?
  6. How CBS Radio employees are going to pay for Entercom’s mistakes.

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Cumulus Backs Off Turnaround Promise

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  1. The surprise doom and gloom scenario Mary Berner’s CFO is now offering after initially assuring a reasonable turnaround.
  2. Just how bad is the latest Cumulus financial outlook.
  3. How did the court ignore these draconian predictions and approve the Berner Plan anyway and why unsecured creditors have returned to court to object.
  4. What’s real and what isn’t with Cumulus revenue – here are the confidential pacing’s as of last Friday.
  5. What happens to Lew Dickey’s takeover attempt?  His “blank check” loan expires if no Letter of Intent is signed by mid-November – then what?

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Entercom’s Equity Investment in US Traffic Network

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  1. Why David Field just took a position in USTN instead of buying the whole thing – how much did he buy.
  2. Is buying all of USTN still on the table for Entercom.
  3. Field has complained that USTN killed its revenue in the previous quarter, here’s how Entercom renegotiated the deal originally done by CBS pre-merger.
  4. How stable is USTN’s future.
  5. Westwood One or some other syndicator – Entercom needs one, will they buy one.

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Westwood One Headwinds

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  1. Westwood One has been turning in profits quarter after quarter, so why is there so much concern for its future?
  2. Why Westwood ads cleared on Cumulus stations are killing their revenue.
  3. The small but impressive competitor already eating into Westwood One revenue.
  4. All radio companies now realize any future growth will depend on digital – what Westwood One’s digital plan looks like.
  5. Red flag:  24/7 formats.

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iHeart Employee Crackdown

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  1. Disturbing rules restricting personal behavior – here’s a sampling, all true.
  2. Tons of rules – even on how and when to dispose of birthday balloons (you can’t make this stuff up).
  3. Lamps, work stations, how to behave – new rules for these things and more.
  4. We break into the iHeartMedia Design Guide and share.
  5. Why and how iHeart employees are pushing back and calling management “dumb bastards”.

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The Cumulus Bankruptcy Victory

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  1. A painful reckoning is coming at the end of the second quarter.
  2. The real EBITDA (and value of the company) is … (no more “adjusted” numbers).
  3. The new value of Cumulus and how much is debt after bankruptcy– don’t even try to guess.  You’re wrong.
  4. Berner’s next surprising idea to raise much needed cash.
  5. The lenders got most of the equity but they are in ill-humor – here’s why.
  6. What their quick emergence from bankruptcy means for any takeover bidders.

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Total Traffic & Katz

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  1. The future of Katz rep firm under a new owner like Liberty Media.
  2. Two currently unthinkable options for Katz suddenly are on the table.
  3. The fate of Total Traffic under a new owner like Liberty.
  4. Liberty has already said it would sell Clear Channel Outdoor, but what would be their plans to sell radio stations.
  5. How Liberty could drop billions and still wind up with virtually no debt – what experts think.

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Cumulus Bankruptcy Ruling

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  1. Mary Berner says Cumulus will emerge from bankruptcy at the end of May – what does she know that everyone else doesn’t.
  2. Their unsecured creditors must sign off but they have been resistant – here’s the surprising thing they did just a few days ago to complicate matters more.
  3. Cumulus is offering these resistant bondholders double what iHeart is offering their unsecured creditors – why aren’t they biting and what specifically do they want.
  4. How two reported takeover bids are affecting an end to this bankruptcy.
  5. Cumulus employees want to know what’s going to happen to them when bankruptcy finally ends – here are the two most likely outcomes

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Alpha Pandemonium

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  1. Alpha Media’s continuing battle to keep the company due to debt problems.
  2. How founder Larry Wilson poisoned the well for other radio groups, many of them also in financial trouble today.
  3. Alpha’s tower debacle – now that story can be told.
  4. Could Wilson just walk away from the company if it gets any worse.
  5. Alpha’s biggest lender is running out of patience – here are the options.

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The Spot Overload Crisis

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  1. Compelling evidence that radio is unnecessarily driving even loyal listeners away.
  2. Let’s start with Beasley – you won’t believe what one of their Greater Media  stations was clocked at for spot overload recently.
  3. Which group has well exceeded 30 units per hour – and counting. 
  4. How sales starved groups are using trade to pump up revenue – and deceive their own investors.
  5. Pressure from Facebook and digital competitors is causing radio to take any ad at any price – here’s the percentage of how much digital is bleeding off the local radio spend.
  6. How radio is alarmingly following the magazine industry’s ad practices.
  7. A list of solutions – yes, there are ways to begin to put a stop to spot  excesses and raise local revenue even while being pressured by digitally-minded local agencies.  Some damn good alternatives.

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Total Traffic, USTN Confrontation

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  1. A major shakeup this morning at United States Traffic Network (USTN).
  2. Behind the scenes ownership changes and what they mean.
  3. How uncertain client relationships now pose a bigger threat to the two main radio traffic providers.
  4. Will Total Traffic be retained or spun off after iHeart emerges from bankruptcy.
  5. How radio groups are using traffic services to bust unions and cut local salary costs.
  6. The outlook for radio traffic revenue – still robust or reflecting declining local sales trends.

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How Lew Dickey Will Buy Back Cumulus

Mary Berner says there’s no way Lew Dickey is returning to run Cumulus.

Jeff Warshaw is reportedly already talking spin-offs to buyers who think Connoisseur can steal Cumulus from lenders for pennies on the dollar.

And then there’s Lew Dickey, the founder and CEO ousted in a bloodless coup by the chairman of the board more than two years ago who wants back.

Which one is full of crap?

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  1. For the first time – the Dickey takeover plan.
  2. The timing of the takeover bid.
  3. The biggest thing Lew Dickey has going for him and what’s working against him.
  4. The clueless lenders and bondholders are in for this rude awakening that can totally disrupt the outcome.
  5. The best thinking on when Cumulus can get out of bankruptcy and back to business.
  6. Whether current management is making any progress winning over bondholders who are refusing to sign on to their second operating plan.

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Entercom’s $110 Million in Merger Cutbacks

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Millions in Vanishing Revenue at Cumulus

INSIDE …

  • 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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SiriusXM Changes

While John Malone is waiting for the synergies that will come from owning iHeart, SiriusXM, Live Nation and Pandora, SiriusXM appears to be in for lots of changes ahead of any successful merger.

SiriusXM is run by Jim Meyer currently.

During the year ahead while Malone’s Liberty Media tries to takeover iHeart in bankruptcy, Meyer will direct SiriusXM that may have an expanded role once a merger is completed.

For now, there is plenty of change for the future of SiriusXM.  

  • No new Sirius radios are being manufactured or being installed– They are considered the inferior technology to the one XM subscribers have so Ford, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz vehicles are getting SiriusXM receivers which are actually XM radios. They are considered far superior to the Sirius system and have greater flexibility for change when needed.  There will be no replacement for existing Sirius radios.  John Malone is rich but he’s not going to spring for that.
  • Strategy for dealing with resistant Millennials who won’t subscribe to satellite radio
  • Top management shakeup by the end of the year
  • Ad revenue vs. the subscription model
  • What former CEO Mel Karmazin threatened to do to shake up the revenue stream and why Mel is turning out to be right. 

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Glut of Stations for Sale

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  1. Six times cash flow is a nice number for owners to sell their stations – would you believe what the new number will be and where it’s heading next?
  2. You’ve probably heard of a good number of stations and groups in the market to sell all or some of their stations – now you can add these three to your list.
  3. Potential buyers are now in the driver’s seat, but they are still not buying at favorable prices – why?
  4. Multiples are down, too many stations on the market – what new factor has emerged in the last 45 days as the biggest deterrent to station acquisitions.
  5. The increasing list of sellers have real pressure to get out – here’s what happens if they can’t. 

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Entercom’s Financial Troubles

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  1. Entercom is not a $9.65 stock (that’s not me talking, it’s the market) – here’s what it really is (and the math to prove it).
  2. David Field keeps upping the synergy cutback number from $25 million then quadrupled to $100 million and now an extra $10 million added on to $110 million – if he really plans on cutting $110 million, here’s what that will look like. 
  3. Not one day after the CBS merger happened did investors bet up the prospects for the merged company – in fact, Entercom stock lost 40% of its value and still hasn’t recovered – what the market knows that Entercom is not telling us.
  4. Major benefits cuts are coming to Entercom’s CBS employees – here’s how the law of unintended consequences may backfire.
  5. When does the honeymoon end – here’s what analysts say is Entercom’s put up or shut up date. 

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Liberty’s Takeover Plan for iHeart

  1. Liberty’s plans for iHeart if it succeeds in taking control of the company.
  2. Where Liberty-owned SiriusXM will fit into this possible merger.
  3. Which assets Liberty will likely sell.
  4. How eroding local radio ad sales will affect the prospects for iHeart under Liberty.
  5. New intel on how much of radio’s spend is now going to Facebook, Google and other digital options. 

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Contextual Music Playlists

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  1. Static playlists like the ones radio stations have been using for decades may be a contributing factor to declining hit radio ratings – here’s what music listeners now want.
  2. Even music genres are on the way out (classic hits, CHR, alternative, etc.) – what’s now more important to music lovers than listening by favorite genres.
  3. Spotify is garnering large audiences of former radio listeners – what are they doing other than streaming and how can stations answer the challenge. 

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The Botched Loop & WKQX Deal

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  1. Mary Berner just saved WKQX from slipping away from Cumulus the way WLUP did – here’s the story of how the deal was botched from the very beginning.
  2. So she paid $18 million for WKQX but ability to pay for WKQX and The Loop was never the problem – this was.
  3. Merlin’s Randy Michaels was actually reasonable on pricing – here’s how far he went to help Berner not lose the stations she badly needed.
  4. Cumulus also bought the intellectual property of WLUP – here’s what they are planning.
  5. Cumulus is way under its maximum station count in major markets – what they are going to do about getting more scale. 

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iHeart Takeover Talks

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  1. How iHeart is outsourcing its negotiating for a deal while in bankruptcy.
  2. Why a new offer may be coming in soon.
  3. Will there be a breakup of iHeart’s many platforms.
  4. The most surprising indication of post-bankruptcy layoffs and cutbacks.
  5. How did Lee & Bain make out on their failed investment – a profit or a loss? 

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“Abused” Market Manger to Sue Cumulus for $5 Million

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  1. Preview of the ugly lawsuit with examples of bullying, discrimination and retaliation.
  2. Details of alleged and continuing abuse that led to two hospitalizations, two family leaves, threat of a huge pay cut and the firing.
  3. We reveal the identity of the plaintiff and the charges.
  4. How Bob Walker and Dave Milner were allegedly caught red-handed in the act.
  5. How a feckless HR department punted.
  6. Bullying so bad it caused PTSD – from the company that keeps accusing the previous management of running a toxic workplace. 

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iHeart & Cumulus Bankruptcy Secrets

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  1. Will Cumulus emerge from bankruptcy this spring as promised.
  2. Why iHeart is acting awfully nice to John Malone’s Liberty but refusing its takeover bid.
  3. How Cumulus is misleading lenders and unsecured creditors about the financial health of the company.
  4. Why iHeart employees are being given a false sense of security about the future of their jobs. 

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iHeart’s Massive Station Selloff

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  1. Forbes is claiming iHeart will conduct a massive selloff of stations after it emerges from bankruptcy – what do they know.
  2. Other major changes coming post-bankruptcy.
  3. If Liberty Media wrestles control of iHeart, how will the company be different.
  4. If current owners emerge with a second chance, what will that look like.
  5. How the advertising model drastically changes. 

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Townsquare’s Future

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  1. With so many radio stations on the market, two of the largest groups in bankruptcy and more to follow, where is Townsquare headed.
  2. What to make of a $17 million station acquisition just yesterday.
  3. Is Townsquare still on the market as it was last year.
  4. What about their chief backer, Oaktree, that has wanted out for sometime.
  5. Watch for Townsquare’s “Hail Mary” detailed here.

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The New Cumulus Board

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  1. How this new board can turn Cumulus upside down.
  2. A new way for looking at expenses and revenue that will affect everyone – on the way.
  3. Current management’s report card and what the new board is likely to do.
  4. How the new board will respond to a Lew Dickey takeover attempt.
  5. Today’s half-filled Berner Town Hall, sex predators still working at Cumulus stations, Berner’s end game

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iHeart Under Liberty Media

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  1. Who is likely to run iHeart under Liberty management – some unexpected choices.
  2. What happens to the Katz rep firm.
  3. Is Liberty buying iHeart to retain Premiere and traffic.
  4. Their plans for SiriusXM combined with terrestrial radio.
  5. Will iHeart remain an 850 station group or will Liberty move to downsize.

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Berner Bucks & Bankruptcy Extension

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  1. The correct status of Mary Berner’s millions in bonus money.
  2. Why Cumulus MUST convince a bankruptcy court to give them another four months for exclusive rights to strike a restructuring deal.
  3. Why the Cumulus bankruptcy was unnecessary from day one – and why they chose to do it anyway.
  4. How Liberty Media’s continuing presence in an iHeart restructuring affects the Cumulus outcome.
  5. New confidential revenue numbers that are scaring the hell out of lenders and unsecured creditors worried about the future of Cumulus.

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Why Investors Are Afraid of Entercom

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  1. In spite of the hype, the undeniable sign that Entercom is in trouble already and missing their numbers.
  2. Next cuts and renegotiations – here are three big areas and one Entercom is eying.
  3. What recent corporate decision is not sitting well with investors.
  4. How is confidence in Entercom’s programming ideas compared to the CBS stations they are inheriting.
  5. Growth plans that have little to do with radio.

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The iHeart Bankruptcy

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  1. If the deal Bob Pittman struck with lenders cuts their $20 billion debt by $10 billion, why did iHeart have to file for bankruptcy.
  2. What about Liberty Media’s $1.1 billion offer to buy 40% of iHeart – here’s the status of Liberty’s takeover bid now that iHeart is in Chapter 11.
  3. Odd tactic – why is Clear Channel Outdoor being held out of the radio group bankruptcy.
  4. Already lawsuits are being threatened – here’s the effect they will have on how long iHeart will be in bankruptcy.
  5. Once the litigation finally ends – here is the likely new owner of iHeart.

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Entercom’s New Commission Structure

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  1. How Entercom plans to change the rules for CBS employees.
  2. Unexpected negatives under David Field’s new setup.
  3. And, these unexpected positives under CBS – will soon be history.
  4. Why CBS employees hate the many format flips Entercom has started doing.
  5. $10 million has been added to the Entercom cutbacks – here’s where to look for them.

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Cumulus Ad Revenue Secret

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  1. Phantom or uncollected billing that will terrify Cumulus lenders – the secret is revealed.
  2. How much Cumulus is writing off in bad advertising debt months after they claimed it as revenue growth.
  3. Why Cumulus is asking their bankruptcy judge for another 4 months of exclusive negotiating rights with lenders and bondholders who are increasingly concerned about current management.
  4. Two tricks that make Cumulus operating revenue seem higher – exposed here.