iHeart Targeting “Dislocation” Survivors

Sooner or later this had to happen.

But sooner?  Really?

With over 1,000 “dislocations” accomplished, iHeart has a plan to eat away at other jobs and make it harder for those who survived the first cut to do theirs. 

Some of the second wave of “cost efficiencies” even go beyond the so-called “excellence centers” (regional hubs) and fitting out new offices and studios in virtually all of their 150 clusters – actually, they’ve already started that.

This is worse because it’s going to happen sooner.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Entercom Hiding Growing Debt

Next to iHeart’s $5.8 billion, $1.8 billion in debt doesn’t look all that bad.

But it is hurting Entercom even as the company rushes to cut operating expenses because their debt keeps growing – not something they want to draw attention to.

When radio groups make debt payments by selling assets and redirecting some of the profit to de-lever debt, that’s one thing.

But the mark of a company that has “good bones” is when they pay down debt from cash flow.

Short of that, Entercom expenses must be cut deeper and the fastest way to do that is “dislocations” – the kind iHeart did.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Liberty Slow Rolling the iHeart Merger

Could it get any more disruptive than this?

The only company that can buy iHeartMedia is now slow rolling that acquisition.

Liberty Media is serious enough having purchase an estimated 30-35% of iHeart debt when the company was in bankruptcy.  That debt can be converted into equity.

Liberty wants to add iHeart’s terrestrial radio stations to their multimedia platform that includes SiriusXM, Live Nation and Pandora.

Meanwhile iHeart “dislocates” over 1,000 employees in one week and concocts “excellence centers” to initiate more layoffs.  Why, if a new owner is coming in?

This begs the question is iHeart doing all of this with Liberty’s approval or does Liberty have other plans for iHeart when it takes over?

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Bombshell Lawsuit: Cumulus Firing Men for Younger Women

That will get the attention of radio CEOs who confuse the glass ceiling for a piggy bank.

Cumulus will reportedly get hit with a reverse discrimination lawsuit that involves the increasing radio practice of firing male market managers and replacing them with younger people usually less experienced women.

This same cost cutting technique has been reportedly going on at Entercom in an attempt to reduce expenses and iHeart just “dislocated” over 1,000 people creating a potential boom for lawyers.

The bombshell Cumulus lawsuit is massive in scope – 6 charges.

All it takes is a court victory and there will be a flood of copycat lawsuits setting an unnerving precedent and making it easier and less expensive for claimants to sue.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart’s Sudden Obsession with Debt Reduction

They’re kidding, right?

The company that maintained and grew a $20 billion plus debt for years, is now preoccupied with lowering its debt.

iHeart just did another refinance that they claim is at lower interest rates – remember, iHeart’s kick the can down the road strategy came with a high interest rate price.

Then dropped $200 million on dubious podcasting investments last year and paid for it this year with over 1,000 employee job “dislocations”.

Liberty is slow rolling iHeart on taking majority ownership but they are the buyers in waiting and Pittman knows it.

This obsession with debt reduction is the canary in the coal mine about iHeart’s advanced warning of danger ahead.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart to Build 150 Identical Office/Studios Nationwide

If you still don’t believe that Bob Pittman is as serious as an iHeart-attack to eliminate the expenses related to local radio, maybe this will help.

First, he pulled the trigger on over 1,000 “dislocations”.

Now he plans office and studio “relocations” that are so important to their plan that they are greenlighting them in certain markets.

But all markets will reportedly get these 150 cookie-cutter office/studios on a time schedule that is very ambitious and dependent on the peculiarities of some clusters.

By the end of this year after more “relocations” are forced on employees, we will also get a look at what the physical iHeart station of the future will look like.

It’s important because all the other radio groups that tend to adopt iHeart tactics will be eying it up as well.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Entercom Eliminating Live Talent After 8pm

They may not be called “dislocations” but they look like it.

Of course, Field’s job is safe and his compensation goes up regularly even as the company’s stock goes down.  It is worth only $4.27.

Before the coronavirus started messing with the stock market, Entercom was slipping down again apparently because of a different virus -- their fourth quarter revenue is apparently unimpressive and the market knows these things.

So Entercom will be implementing a strategy that will eliminate a lot of local talent under the cover of iHeart’s recent 1,000+ “dislocations”.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Angling To Replace Live Talent with Artificial Intelligence

iHeart is claiming that the more than 1,000 employee “dislocations” conducted earlier this month were “relatively small”.

If that doesn’t sound like an iHeart alternative universe, try this.

They are working with a company to make voice tracking more intuitive and real with an eye toward eliminating even more live talent.

And, to make local stations sound even more local than with real humans.

Whether you’re believing them or not, iHeart is hot on the trail to do it having spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” and hired experts in artificial intelligence to once and for all eliminate the need for live human beings on the air.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

If you would like to read my comments in Drew Harwell’s Washington Post article and learn more about iHeart’s plan to use artificial intelligence to replace live talent, read iHeart laid off hundreds of radio DJs.  Executives blame AI.  DJ’s blame the executives.

iHeart Copycat Firings Being Planned

Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

Small market Tyler Media blew away most of its air staff on a number of stations in the Oklahoma City cluster.  Their talk station opting for out of market programming and air personalities on their music stations fired to save money.

You see why I have called Bob Pittman’s 1,000+ “dislocations” in a less than a week “the end of local radio.”

iHeart is providing cover for every underperforming owner who can’t pay the bills to make “dislocation” the new layoffs.

That’s bad, but it gets worse.

Only a few groups have insulation against iHeart’s virus-like action against local radio but the list of groups now planning massive cutbacks under the cover of iHeart’s first move is growing.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart’s New Plan to Replace Local Sellers

A new plan that is currently being tested under the radar is critical to iHeart’s eventual move to reduce the local sales headcount with an eye toward eliminating all their commissions, health benefits and expenses.

Bob Pittman appears to be a serious as an iHeart-attack in aggressively reducing the biggest expense in the company – salaries.

Revenue is down are likely to stay down in the future thus the need to cut costs and increase EBITDA, a measure of financial health for companies.

Pittman’s test effort to replace local sellers with a new strategy is being done under the radar and the impact could be disastrous for salespeople in iHeart and their competitors who are likely to be watching closely.

One look at their test site will speak volumes.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Entercom to Launch Its Own “Dislocation”

There’s blood in the water now that Bob Pittman has actually gone there and reportedly fired over 1,000 programmers and air talent.

Pittman is doing it to get ready for Liberty’s (SiriusXM, Pandora, Live Nation) takeover of terrestrial radio.

David Field is doing it because there is no buyer for Entercom and revenue is slipping.

Under the cover of iHeart’s “excellence centers” and employee “dislocations”, Entercom is ready to move quickly to cut costs in what may be an even more dramatic way.

The coming Entercom cuts target two areas – one of which iHeart has missed, at least for now.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Aims for More Stations Than Employees

iHeart is moving like lightning to “dislocate” even more employees than originally thought.

In fact, we have reporting that shows model markets where a startling few number of on-air and programming people run entire clusters.

Not as drastic in the big seven markets that bring in between 30-40% of all iHeart’s radio revenue, but there too.

Meanwhile Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has written to Bob Pittman protesting the drastic cutbacks (Brown’s letter here).

That has no chance of stopping what we’re seeing unfold now in iHeart markets that is absolutely mindboggling.

In other words – here is their template for local radio.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Note:  Yesterday our website was down most of the day.  For me it was like my transmitter being off the air for 30 seconds – an eternity.  My readers were really ribbing me.  One said, “don’t pay the ransom” alluding to the Entercom cyberattacks where David Field is rumored to have paid the hackers.  Another reader suggested that Bob Pittman “dislocated” me for the stories I wrote about their employee atrocities.

So here it is – the story you may have missed when Inside Music Media went missing:

iHeart Planning 2nd Programming RIF

iHeart Planning 2nd Programming RIF

Just 10 days after eliminating over 1,000 radio jobs – mostly programming positions – iHeart is at work on a second reduction of force.

There is the expected takeover of iHeart by Liberty Media but why would iHeart do Liberty’s dirty work?

With 12,500 employees – including part-timers – now down to just above 11,000, how is it even possible that such a massive platform of 150 clusters, 850+ stations and related businesses be reduced any further?

They have a plan for that.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

65 Unnoticed iHeart Firings That Foretell the Future

As insane as it is to call mass firings “dislocations” and their replacements emanating from  “excellence centers”, here’s a significant series of firings that portends even more trouble ahead at iHeartMedia.

The math shows over 1,000 firings in a few days a little over a week ago.

Most of the victims were in programming, operations or were talent.

But not all – iHeart used the programming RIFs as a cover to eliminate other big salaries such as that of Jerry Schemmel, the ten-year veteran of Colorado Rockies play-by-play.  Obviously, Schemmel cannot be replaced by an “excellence center” or digital technology.

But there’s more.

Right in the midst of this massive programming RIF, iHeart chipped away at another source of unnecessary salaries and nobody has noticed.

Until now.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

The SiriusXM Model Coming to iHeart

Liberty Media already owns a significant amount of iHeartMedia’s debt that will translate into equity.

Liberty will be the new controlling owner of iHeart unless the DOJ gets in the way and that isn’t expected.

The more than 1,000 iHeart “dislocations” were just the start of a massive downsizing that will be more in line with how Liberty runs SiriusXM and Pandora.

From 12,500 employees (including part-timers) before the “dislocations” to an estimated 6,000 or fewer setting it up for Liberty Media to run.

This affects their new philosophy on part-timers, talent (especially revenue producing morning shows), local programming and the people who oversee it, cluster and regional management and a new direction in sales.

Not to mention what will happen to all their studios – Liberty has a plan for that, too.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart To Use Technology for Next Round of Firings

When Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler emailed the iHeart staff about firing over 1,000 live employees, they referred to artificial intelligence (AI) and technology that enabled them to thin the ranks of employees and make surviving employees work better.

In the one week since, over 1,000 employees were eliminated and that’s just the beginning.

iHeart is reportedly preparing to reduce its workforce further by employing technology and AI.

This is a giant leap into an area that up until now has been foreign to radio.

What technology is iHeart sitting on that will be used to reduce its current 12,500 workforce by one-half?

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Set to Disrupt Market Managers

With over 1,000 programming “dislocations” complete, iHeart has a reportedly disconcerting plan for 150 markets where they operate 850+ stations.

The programming firings were not the last – there will be more.

iHeart has approximately 12,000 employees (including part-timers) and they are under pressure to drastically reduce that number ahead of a Liberty Media takeover.

Market managers are their most expensive employees except for a few talent contracts so they reportedly have a plan to not only thin the ranks but totally upend the position of market manager for the first time in decades.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Firings Expanded

Bob Pittman must be tone deaf to even allow the use of the term “employment dislocation” to describe the mass firings iHeart initiated this week.

Yesterday, he put three additional new “division” PDs in place to join the existing group that will in effect program iHeart stations without local program directors and talent.

Now that the firings are mounting, it appears that the initial estimate of casualties was too low.

Based on what is unfolding, the number of RIFed programming personnel will be much higher.

We’ve done the math and plugged in their new management structure and it’s not pretty. 

Keep in mind this is only round one and it is still in progress this morning.

This week’s iHeart mass firings is turning out to be deeper than originally thought.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Prepping for 1 Live Body Per Market

  • In the wake of iHeart’s first wave of firing over 1,000 employees, there is a plan afoot to further cutdown the number of people in their 850+ markets.
  • What’s significant is that iHeart’s apparent plan calls for the removal of even more local management and talent.
  • Where do market managers fit in – iHeart has a plan for that.
  • What about regional execs – iHeart has a history of juggling regionals around but we are learning of a change there, too.
  • There’s only one really secure job at iHeart right now and if you don’t have it, you’re likely gone eventually as the move is on to downsize the largest radio group.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

iHeart Day 2: Programming Takes a Big Hit

Bob Pittman must have no shame. 

On the day he gives the go-ahead to axe over 1,000 employees, his press release promotes the company and attempts to justify these people losing their jobs.

“Excellence centers” as replacements for arguably the most excellent large radio group on a local station basis.

Over 1,000 firings are underway with programming virtually eviscerated.  It’s not about excellence, it’s about the sudden need to drastically cut expenses.

What we know is how far iHeart is going to go, who will be spared for now and the reason for the sudden rush to end so many careers.

Read the full article now

Newstips 

Over 1,000 iHeart Firings Starting Today

This is the worst reduction in force at one time ever even going back to iHeart’s Clear Channel days.

And even though I have been warning of what iHeart will look like under Liberty Media’s ownership, if radio had a Richter Scale, what iHeart is about to set into motion is a 10.

What’s worse, once iHeart does something, the lemmings at Entercom, Cumulus and elsewhere are not likely to continue to have a mind of their own.

iHeart is going to eliminate, consolidate and centralize on a massive level at one time.

The markets that are most vulnerable (and that’s about 85% of them) are going to be devastated – there’s no other word for it.

All this as the Liberty takeover looms and we get a real look at what the radio industry will be like as part of a multi-media platform.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Major Staff Cuts Set at Cox

Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

One of the best run, humane family media companies is set to become Clear Channel Lite.

You’re thinking of a few beginning of the year adjustments in staff?

They’re thinking bigger.

As we informed subscribers a few months ago, once the deal went through to sell Cox’s media division to Apollo Global Management, the new private equity owners had their own plans.

The specifics are ugly for managers, PDs and a certain category of skilled Cox people who have made it such an excellent company.

So, the question is how badly are they going to wreck this excellent company and in particular, the radio division?

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Fishy Departure of Cumulus CFO

As predicted, Cumulus CEO Mary Berner allowed CFO John Abbot to fall on his sword yesterday and leave the company.

No immediate replacement is being named.

All of this plus Cumulus’ increasing tendency to adjust revenue figures and “paint lipstick on a pig” has led to speculation that either Abbot won’t put up with it any longer and he resigned or Abbot wouldn’t put up with it any longer and his contract was not renewed.

In either case, investors should be prying their eyes wide open on this one because it means something more than just a personnel change.

In spite of Berner’s happy talk about Abbot no longer having to make the long commute to Atlanta, the real story is scary different.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Liberty’s Coming Dominance of Radio

  • How Liberty Media’s proposed takeover of iHeart will fundamentally change radio.
  • Why aren’t iHeart competitors more aggressively trying to stop it?
  • Will the DOJ stop John Malone’s ambitious purchase?
  • How Liberty’s SiriusXM plans to beat terrestrial radio by owning it.
  • The biggest loser in any iHeart/Liberty merger.

Read the full article now

Newstips  

Radio’s Fake Digital

  • Radio groups like Entercom and Townsquare would have you think that they derive new found advertising from digital, podcasting and even Google keyword buys to enhance radio sales as part of integrated marketing.
  • But a perfectly legal and yet misleading tactic to inflate digital revenue while reporting money they don’t get to keep is feared to be seeping into radio.  It’s pure genius – evil genius.

Read the full article now

The Vanishing Music Listener

  • “Old Town Road” was number one on the Billboard chart for a record breaking 19 weeks in a row without radio airplay before it was knocked off by another song that was discovered without airplay.
  • Radio thinks it has the answer.

Read the full article now

The Toughest Non-Compete in Radio

  • Tough non-competes are nothing new to radio – iHeart, Cumulus, Entercom and others are more than willing to dismiss people they don’t need and then prevent them from working in return for severance – often a mere pittance.
  • Summit Media has gone the big consolidators one better – or worse – with the most restrictive non-compete ever and now the big radio groups are taking notice.

Read the full article now

Cumulus’ Decoy

  • Mary Berner says revenue is up, ratings are great, expenses are being cut, podcasting is killing it and Cumulus has now become an audio company.
  • But she’s hiding four important things that should have investors and employees really worried.

Read the full article now

The New Cox Media Group

Read the full article now

  • What’s going on here? A venture capital group buys a media company and keeps it so together than nothing changes. Or does it?
  • No one is being fired, just a change of ownership – is Apollo a rare venture firm that doesn’t produce cost synergy cuts? Can Cox employees be sure of this?
  • Is Apollo like Bain or a “forever” owner?
  • And just to be sure, what is the doomsday scenario for Cox Media Group’s new owners. 

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Townsquare’s Non-Turnaround

Read the full article now

  • On the surface, Townsquare looks like the little engine that could compared to iHeart, Entercom and Cumulus especially in digital, but are they turning it around?
  • How they are withholding revenue figures that show a revealing picture.
  • Why the big push to make it appear Townsquare is outperforming the larger radio groups.
  • Can they manage their debt while iHeart, Entercom and Cumulus can’t manage theirs?
  • How selling the company fits in to their new CEO’s plans.

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Pittman’s Blueprint for iHeart

Read the full article now

  • iHeart is the best large radio group in the industry, so what does its CEO’s plan to stop being a radio company really mean?
  • The biggest reason advertisers won’t buy iHeart ads spurring a decline in revenue.
  • How iHeart plans to change the way it sells radio advertising while holding on to predatory pricing tactics.
  • Why iHeart’s blueprint is a stop gap – here is when new owners are likely to take over. 

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The Sale of Universal Music Group

INSIDE …

  • Why would parent Vivendi want to sell when Universal Music Group and all record labels are expected to thrive for years to come.
  • Who has the inside track?
  • What about Liberty that very publicly stated its desire to own part of UMG.
  • Where does Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon fit into all of this.
  • Will a private equity firm pay for a growth business trending up for the next decade?

Read more ...

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What Cumulus is Hiding

INSIDE …

  • Everyone knows Cumulus doctors their revenue figures to make them look better, but savvy analysts have unmasked the real numbers.
  • For example, the actual reason why they sold WPLJ-FM, New York and other major market stations is not what you think it is.
  • What’s the real EBITDA – they say it’s $230 million, here’s the real number.
  • How Cumulus is capitalizing commissions for new local revenue contracts which would have the impact of decreasing operating expenses.
  • Why did Cumulus just recently sell a telling $500 million bond at 6.75% -- if you said to raise more money, you’ve only got half of it (and not the main reason).

Read more ...

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Numbers Tell a Sobering Story on Entercom

INSIDE …

  • Here’s what Entercom is covering up when they try to assuage a really bad second quarter, and another quarterly letdown.
  • What Entercom intends to do about David Field’s $110 million cost cutting merger synergies problem.
  • How specifically Entercom is hiding its poor performance.
  • Why it’s hard to believe their quarter revenue projections now – here are the real figures without lipstick on them.
  • Remember David’s promise of $500 million EBITDA, then $400 million, $300 million – here’s where it is right now and what’s their leverage.

Read more ...

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iHeart Firing Employees for Its New Owner

INSIDE … 

  • I know, you don’t believe it – and I didn’t either until it was reconfirmed.
  • What’s up with the future of iHeart when they are reportedly firing in the name of a so-far unidentified new owner. Did they know something and say something?
  • Which two divisions were hardest hit in the latest firings that have not been made public in the radio trades?
  • What about age discrimination suspicions – did iHeart even go there? What we know at this point.
  • The shameless line that was reportedly being used to make it seem like iHeart’s new owners wanted them fired.

Read more ...

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Entercom Now Outsourcing to India

INSIDE …

  • Things are going from bad to worse with each revenue miss – how David Field is now starting to outsource to India to cut expenses.
  • What outsourcing to India means for Entercom employees.
  • But wait – at the beginning of this week iHeart started outsourcing, too – here’s where and what is expected to spread throughout the company.
  • Is David Field looking to acquire more stations.
  • What Field is saying about revised plans for cutbacks going forward.

Read more ...

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Entercom’s Market Meltdown

INSIDE … 

  • Entercom did not become a $4 stock yesterday as expected, it became a low $3 stock (for a while $2) – what spooked investors and why they are bailing on Entercom.
  • No, David didn’t just do that! How David Field did the exact worse thing that he could do to reassure investors.
  • More bad news on the declining CBS all-news franchise.
  • Where’s Weezie?She’s supposed to be driving revenue, does such a big miss mean her head will roll?
  • If you insist on owning a radio stock, here’s the one to buy.
  • What’s next for Entercom Communications.

Read more ...

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#1 to #7 — How Entercom Destroyed its Philly Market Leader

INSIDE …

  • The 6 fatal errors that drove Entercom’s top revenue producer from first to 7thplace for the first time in decades under David Field’s management.
  • Founder and now former owner Jerry Lee gave the one secret to staying number one to Entercom – here’s the advice they rejected.
  • Shareholder alert -- How decisions are being made about big revenue producers like WBEB that are beginning to erode Entercom ratings and revenue.
  • The hilarious rumor about how and why Field changed WBEB’s name from “More FM” back to “B-101.1” that could illustrate capricious decision-making and lack of strategic thinking.

Read more...

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iHeart’s Decision on Medium/Small Markets

INSIDE …

  • This dramatic plan to stay alive while burdening too much debt.
  • How iHeart showed its hand last week on what it plans to do going forward.
  • Even without a new buyer, circumstances have now changed for iHeart forcing some painful decisions.
  • What hopeful buyers need to know before they take the bait.
  • The chances of iHeart keeping all or most of its 850+ stations.

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Entercom’s Secret Spending Spree

INSIDE …

  • David Field, the same person who is pushing $110 million in CBS Radio cost synergies appears to have a secret spending problem.
  • Examples of what Field thinks is worth spending on for the future of Entercom.
  • What stakeholders don’t know – they are looking at debt, losses, revenue and not secret expenditures of the type explained here.
  • How one Entercom major market station continues its demise because they can’t spend the money they need to turn it around.
  • Meanwhile the list of CBS employees leaving is getting longer – here’s a major CBS employee who is leaving soon but few know it.

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Radio Getting Left Behind in Media Spending

INSIDE …

  • Radio has some really good news and yet the industry is getting screwed by advertisers – look here, every other medium you can name is getting a better break. Time spent listening vs. ad spend. 
  • Even print gets a better break than radio – how radio is getting left behind in media spending.
  • A startling new finding about ecommerce and retail sales.
  • Why there are problems ahead for targeted advertising, the category that has been siphoning off radio ad dollars.
  • Should radio be worried about time spent with digital media?

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iHeart Entertaining Offers

INSIDE … 

  • Keep an eye on Bob Pittman – in running all of his previous companies Pittman knew the exact time to depart – how that applies to iHeart now.
  • Why iHeart can’t continue the way it is for very much longer – how much longer?
  • What’s on the table in dealing iHeart – the entire company or this handful of attractive assets.
  • As I have said previously, Liberty Media wants iHeart and now we know how far they are willing to go to put themselves in the best position to steal it.
  • What their market managers know about the sale of iHeart.

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Major Cumulus Asset Sale Coming Soon

INSIDE …

  • The next shoe is ready to drop – here’s where.
  • I’ve been tickled by how Cumulus is taking what little they get for WPLJ and other major market stations saying the proceeds are being used to pay down debt – but here’s the truth about who is really getting the proceeds.
  • When will Cumulus finally acquire a station instead of just sell them as they’ve been promising -- the board is under pressure to reshape Cumulus – here’s how.
  • How Cumulus is looking like Reader’s Digest, Mary Berner’s first bankruptcy.
  • Lew Dickey, Townsquare and the new Cumulus – what they all have in common now.

Read more …

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EMF’s Mastery of Radio

INSIDE … 

  • I know few hardcore radio people who like what EMF is doing buying up stations cheaply, but they may have stumbled over the future of commercial radio as well – here’s a page out of their playbook.
  • How EMF is prepared to deal with local markets in which they operate but have no presence.
  • The way EMF is handling one-to-many broadcasting in an era of on-demand content.
  • Non-profit EMF refuses to price acquisitions based on revenue multiples suggesting new options for commercial broadcasters looking to expand.
  • What does EMF know about radio that makes them an aggressive buyer in the digital era.

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Emmis Reinvented

INSIDE …

  • Jeff Smulyan is sitting on $100 million from the 76% sale of Hot 97 and WBLS in New York.  Here’s what he’s aiming to do with it.
  • Smulyan is a radio guy so is he shopping for station sales that are steals?
  • Why split the radio company from whatever comes next – here’s the reason.
  • And what’s up with this guy Soo Kim of Standard General – I am hearing that he likes radio at fire sale prices and he’s got a lot of money. Is he a buyer of more distressed properties?
  • To be painfully honest, is all this the end of Emmis or the beginning?

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Entercom Revenue Decline Revealed

INSIDE …

  • I’ve got the revenue info for you for 2ndquarter 2019 compared to 2018 – important because this is the “pig” Entercom will be putting the “lipstick” on soon for analysts.
  • Best and worst markets, flat ones, troubling trends – not touched up by spin.
  • How Entercom will hide the major market revenue losses.
  • Now you see what investors are worried about – where revenue fails, why Entercom quarterly comparisons can’t be believed and the latest on their debt problems.
  • City by city revenue trends – the real trends – and why they are up or down.

Read more …

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The Next Radio Boom

The present slump can’t last forever.

Radio station valuations are at an all-time low.

But some interesting things are beginning to happen.

Emmis and Cox have found ways to hand their debt to investors while they retain a minority interest and still get to manage their former companies.  Is that a sustainable model for others?

Apple Music and Spotify are cleaning up with audiences under 40 and yet a path forward is becoming evident for radio stations without having to have their own streaming music service.

What is projected to be the right time to start buying radio stations again and what will the next radio boom look like?

Read the full article now.

Free samples of our work here.

Report Newstipsconfidentially in our Witness Protection Program here.

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Visit our website for more – InsideMusicMedia.com

Entercom’s Forced Errors

Yesterday Entercom stock (ETM) lost yet another 20 cents driving it to within 50 cents of being a $4 stock.

I have said many times over that the market knows a bad deal when they see it and from virtually the moment the CBS merger was announced Entercom stock crashed from the $16 range to $5.53 where it closed yesterday.

I’d like to have a dollar for every CBS survivor or victim purged by David Field who warned that Field was screwing up a merger so good all he had to do was essentially stay out of the way.

That didn’t happen and now even more information is coming forward to confirm that many if not most of what’s wrong with Entercom comes from forced errors that did not have to happen.

What’s worse, there are more huge mistakes that even investors don’t know about until this morning.

Read the full article now.

Free samples of our work here.

Report Newstips confidentially in our Witness Protection Program here.

Talk to Jerry privately here.

See a complete list of my previous stories here

Public Market Prepping for Entercom’s Fall

INSIDE …

  • Entercom stock is less than a dollar away from being worth only $4 – what is the public market fearing about Entercom.
  • Think the CBS firings have stopped – think again.  An update.
  • Why a CBS exec thinks CEO David Field is “guilty of malpractice”.
  • Sports was to be a big part of Entercom’s revenue, now this revelation.
  • And the one thing that absolutely cannot happen without Entercom’s revenue taking a huge hit is if 1010 WINS and/or other all-news money machines slip. Well, are they?

Read the full article now.

Free samples of our work here.

Report Newstips confidentially in our Witness Protection Program here.

Talk to Jerry privately here.

Visit our website for more – InsideMusicMedia.com

iHeart In Worse Shape After Bankruptcy

INSIDE … 

  • Alright, Pittman and Bressler got most of what they wanted in bankruptcy, now almost 3 months later the 3 things that threaten to drive iHeart into ANOTHER bankruptcy.
  • What happens to the company now?
  • All radio companies are experiencing hard times right now, so what happens next if iHeart can’t service their new, reduced debt load (from $16 billion to $5.75b).
  • How long before Bob Pittman’s $100 million bet on podcasting pays off?
  • What are the new iHeart revenue initiatives in the pipeline?

Read the full article now.

Free samples of our work here.

Report Newstips confidentially in our Witness Protection Program here.

Talk to Jerry privately here.

Visit our website for more – InsideMusicMedia.com

Entercom Debt Problems

Just last week, a capital investor known as WY Capital put out a puff piece on Entercom calling it “Another Unappreciated Radio Company”.

The fantasy piece was so pro-Entercom that it could have been written by David Field himself.

It’s not known whether Entercom paid WY Capital for setting the record straight but that is a practice that is employed in the investment world these days.

Why all the happy talk now?

Why has David Field’s father, founder Joe Field, spent nearly $12 million in the first six months of this year alone to prop up Entercom’s drooping stock price?

If Entercom is so worried, what are they so worried about now?

Read more …

View a list of all stories here

Connoisseur Becomes a Zombie Company

  • A Zombie company is one that needs bailouts in order to operate, or an indebted company that is able to repay the interest on its debts but not repay the principal – what went wrong at Connoisseur.
  • What did the principals have to pay to rescue Connoisseur from their chief lender.
  • So, what happens now – selling assets like Cumulus, swapping or buying stations.
  • What’s the real deal – what does the burned equity lender get?
  • What does the Warshaw led management group get?
  • And what about Warshaw’s alleged connection to the Cumulus reorganization – exposed here.

Read the full article now.

Free samples of our work here.

Report Newstips confidentially in our Witness Protection Program here.

Talk to Jerry privately here.

See a complete list of my previous stories here

Cumulus Bay Area Dilemma

New York is almost gone – one more FM is in the process of being sold.

Atlanta and LA have been eviscerated along with other Cumulus stations that are able to be sold for whatever the market can bring which in these cases amounts to deep discounts.

The biggest dilemma for Mary Berner and her new board of directors who were forced to take over ownership when Cumulus couldn’t make their debt payments is whether to stay or whether to go.

A bellwether market for Cumulus is San Francisco where things are happening so fast that the company may be forced into emergency mode soon.

Read the full article now

The Stephens/Mapleton Takeover

Kagan is estimating that $771 million of radio deals were done in the second quarter.

They are guessing at multiples like the 7 times forward cash flow for Cox FMs and 6 times for AMs, a generous estimate at that.

And there’s the Meruelo steal of Cumulus’ KLOS for only $43 million in LA and other insulting offers taken by opportunists who believe now is the time to start buying radio again.

The big guys are on the ropes but a troubling trend for smaller market owners is also emerging.

Take the Stephens takeover of Mapleton.

When you look inside the deal, it presents a scary scenario for a segment of radio markets that are thought to be bulletproof.

Read the full article now

Taylor Swift and the Relevance of Major Labels

When Taylor Swift left Big Machine for Universal, she left her masters behind.

Now there’s a big kerfuffle over whether Swift was entitled to her masters as she seems to believe while at Big Machine begging the question just how important are the big 3 record labels in the era of streaming music?

There is new evidence that answers this question.

And some interesting new attitudes about the role of radio in hitmaking.

Read the full article now

The Cumulus Dallas Sale

Most of New York and Washington are gone, LA is gone.

Cumulus continues to liquidate its assets as their lenders who in essence became the new owners after taking a $2 billion bankruptcy haircut assess whether they even want to be in the radio business.

Now there is new reporting on Dallas, other major markets and big corporate assets.

What the company is saying publicly and what is reportedly going on behind the scenes are two different things.

If Cumulus sells its network or prosperous revenue producing markets like Dallas will they be able to remain a going concern?

So, which one is it going to be? 

Read the full article now

Subscription Radio

Clip Interactive wants to get radio stations to use their app so listeners can bypass long commercial stopsets and replace it with other things like a different station in the company featuring the same musical genre that is not in a commercial break.

Or podcasts, favorite songs, talk segments, traffic and weather and all the while staying synchronized to the station’s terrestrial signal.

They have their own research that claims terrestrial and even satellite radio listeners would pay $12 a month for this.

Clip thinks stations can even keep their revenue from ads that continue to irritate listeners on the air while mining a new stream of revenue from subscriptions to a new app.

Are these people nuts or are they onto the future?

Read the full article now

What was Emmis Thinking?

Emmis sold ¾ of its New York stations, retains ¼ ownership and gets paid to manage them.

Cox sells TV and radio and retains minority ownership and management stays in place.

There’s a trend developing here to take advantage of declining station prices and help owners get out of the debt business.

In fact, there’s a third group thought to be ready to sell partial ownership next.

Read the full article now

Rolling Stone’s New Non-Radio Music Charts

Can you imagine an album or hit song music chart without radio airplay as a component?

Rolling Stone can and their new charts reflect it.

The radio industry has a new role in making hit music and it’s nowhere near as critical to an artist’s success as it used to be.

While consumer-driven metrics are reshaping how we look at the apparent popularity of songs and artists, they are fast becoming more relevant than radio airplay.

This begs the question can radio continue to thrive when it is now being excluded from hit music ranking?

There are two important things stations can do to become more relevant again.

Read the full article now

The WABC Giveaway

If you thought the sale price for WABC, New York was shocking, how it came about is more shocking.

Even as WABC goes, Cumulus has reportedly distributed brokerage “books” out on stations some of which they claim are not for sale.

And there’s this -- two more Cumulus stations are likely to be given away to the best offer they can get within the next 30 days.

Employees are panicked.

And freaked out by the change in the way Cumulus is reportedly treating its employees during the asset selloff.

Read the full article now

The Story Behind the Cox Radio Sell Off

Cox Radio went to the group that bought its TV stations earlier and specifically did not want radio.

What lead to Apollo Global Management suddenly changing their mind?

There were a lot of other potential buyers (radio groups) interested in Cox stations but not in the usual way.

Did Cox leave money on the table?  Who was the runner up?

So now with a venture capital firm running the show, what happens next to the well-run and profitable Cox radio stations now?

Read the full article now

Radio’s On-Demand Dilemma

FREE PREVIEW

At the recent Conclave gathering in Minneapolis, I had an opportunity to question Lew and John Dickey about what went wrong with their version of Cumulus, what the future looks like for radio as an on-demand business as well as what jobs will be available.

Radio is linear – that is, a one-to-many broadcast medium.

The world (which means anything surrounding a mobile device) is increasingly on-demand and radio does not presently have an answer for that.

That’s why the industry’s reach and advertising revenue is eroding as on-demand solutions are becoming more popular with audiences and advertisers.

To remain relevant, radio will some decisions to make.

Read the full article now

The Fate of Local Radio

If there is one constant in the radio industry, it is that since consolidation was allowed in 1996, local radio jobs have been eliminated every year.

The estimate at Clear Channel/iHeart is somewhere north of 15,000 local radio jobs lost since then and even the less aggressive operators have succumbed to less local and little or no live.

Some markets have empty studios in what looks like a ghost town.

It turns out consolidators have an answer for what to do with the remaining footprint of local radio.

Read the full article now

The New Formats Young Audiences Crave

What’s amazing is that the radio industry always focuses on formats that they are already doing – never something new.

They may make changes to, say, adult contemporary by offering a softer version as Entercom and others are trying to do now with “The Breeze” but essentially it’s a spinoff of what radio already does shifting listeners from one format to another almost like it.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that in an industry that doesn’t fully grasp that streaming music services and not other radio stations are now their chief competitors, it is long overdue to come up with a few new radio formats that only a radio station can do.

Here are 4 totally new, never done before radio formats that have a revenue stream of eager advertisers waiting to support them.

Read the full article now

Monthly subscription now available

The Dickey session Conclave video -- 

  1. What happened at Cumulus under the Dickey's control -- regrets, successes, etc.
  2. How radio will necessarily become an on-demand business rather than the current linear one-to-many broadcasting model (Lew Dickey wrote a book on this topic and the audience was interestingly receptive to this view).
  3. The future of jobs in what eventually will be the Third Evolution of Radio (from its inception, competing with television and now on-demand digital).

The session was live streamed but in case you missed it and would like to watch, click here.

John Dickey, Jerry Del Colliano, Lori Lewis, Lew Dickey

Phase 3 Entercom Cutbacks

There’s no denying Entercom has been laying people off especially in programming for most of the first half of this year.

Jenny Q and Blake Powers were blown out Friday at KLUV, Dallas.

Jenny Q did middays.

Powers nights.

And so the pattern of firing former CBS staffers that Entercom thinks are superfluous.

But there is a next wave coming as Entercom anticipates not making its numbers again as the year progresses.

This time David Field goes where few consolidators have been willing to go to save money.

Read the full article now

Entercom’s Big Little Lies

FREE PREVIEW, RIGHT HERE

  • Obscure and unintelligible claims like the really important thing they left out of their claim to have saved $45 million in the first quarter.
  • Hiding why Entercom was forced to buy expensive debt that doesn’t benefit shareholders.
  • Proof CFO Schmaeling and CEO Field are not on the same page.

Read the full article now

The Fate of the Big 3 Record Labels

FREE PREVIEW, RIGHT HERE

  • The threat of Spotify, TikTok and even Fortnite on record label dominance.
  • The move by Spotify and others to encourage artists to go direct and bypass record labels.
  • New competition for record labels in discovering artists and picking the hits and where it leaves radio.

Read the full article now

The Cumulus Debt-Reduction Plan

FREE PREVIEW, RIGHT HERE

  • Shock deal:The market Cumulus would sell in a New York minute.
  • What is the Cumulus business plan now that they have vacated key markets?
  • Are the rumors true about Cumulus’ next big move?

Read the full article now

Cutbacks On Deck for Entercom

FREE PREVIEW, RIGHT HERE

  • What this means for markets that will become “hubs” and those that will become “spokes”.
  • How programming, management and sales shakeups will go down.
  • The future of sales commissions at Entercom.

Read the full article now

Katz Strong-arming Stations

FREE PREVIEW, RIGHT HERE

  • The push to force reluctant stations into programmatic selling
  • The one-sided arbitrage that lines Katz’ pockets
  • How the take-it-or-leave-it offer actually works

Read the full article now

Panic at Entercom

David Field is starting to sweat.

He’s ordering severe layoffs right now because he promised lenders $110 million in cost savings when Entercom took over CBS Radio and two years later, the actual realized savings is approximately half that.

No radio consolidator has ever promised and actually delivered cost synergies that ambitious probably because it is dangerous to do so but Field’s world is beginning to get uncomfortable.

The stock has lost more than $10 a share since the merger was announced, Field’s EBITDA growth figures have been consistently devalued and Entercom is in the same industry with iHeart and Cumulus – one that is selling advertising for less than it is worth making it impossible to deliver consistent year-over-year revenue growth.

The dew is off the lily for Field which is why his plans to shrink expenses will soon be right up there with iHeart and Cumulus.

Dig deeper into Entercom's severe cutback plans

Nielsen’s Overnight Ratings

The CEO of Media Monitors is selling the benefit of their new overnight Nielsen ratings like this:

“We found that the number of quarter hours increased toward the close down of WPLJ on Friday. This was due to more panelists tuning in more often just to hear the swan song of that station.”

Philippe Generali was talking about those high-interest final hours of broadcasting for the iconic WPLJ in New York before it switched to religion.

Why suddenly measure overnights – turns out there is an answer for this and a lot of radio stations are not going to like it.

How this move has little to do with radio as we know it – it’s a sly move with another end in mind.

Even the planned name for Nielsen overnight’s is not going to be called Nielsen Overnight giving a revelation of what this move portends.

With radio groups and stations trying to cut expenses, why is Nielsen and Media Monitors trying to sell them something else at this sensitive time?

Read the full article now

The Emmis, Beasley, Urban One Deals

So, let’s get this straight.

Emmis sells its 50.1% interest in its Austin radio properties for $39.3 million.

That’s only about $3 million less than Cumulus got for KLOS-FM, Los Angeles, a storied station in the second largest market.

And much more than Cumulus got for one legendary WPLJ-FM, New York that was bundled with WRQX-FM, Washington and WYAY, Atlanta with three more smaller market stations thrown in for the low, low price of $103.5 million devaluing WPLJ to garbage status.

And then yesterday, Beasley buys WDMK-FM, Detroit and three translators thrown in for only $13.5 million – and yes, I get that Detroit is not New York or LA or even Austin but something is seriously wrong with the radio industry with fire sales like these going on.

If the good stuff is selling for pennies on the dollar, how does that value the rest of the radio industry?

Cumulus was working on the WPLJ sale for months only to just give it away.

What other stations are on the block and under the radar?

But wait, has the market finally bottomed out for radio stations?

And is it a good time to buy?

Read the full article now

Entercom’s Expense Cutting Shortfall

From almost day one David Field has been telling investors and lenders that there are lots of financial savings to be realized once the two companies merge.

In fact, Field upped his predictions from $25 million in cost cuts all the way to $100 million and even later added another $10 million on top of that.

So far best estimates show approximately half of that $110 million in cutback savings has been reached – some of them came from CBS which was coerced to do them by Field prior to the merger.

Now Field is having a tough time grinding out more savings which sounds like great news for current CBS employees who want to hold on to their jobs except it isn’t.

Read more... 

Radio’s 3 New Rising Competitors

Ask any radio person and they likely cannot name one of the three most potent threats to time spent listening to radio.

And you thought it was consolidation and greedy bankers.

That, too.

But under the radar three alternatives to radio are rapidly gaining strength while the people who are running the radio industry can’t see them coming.

And we’re not talking about digital – it is a factor no doubt, but not the next thing.

More concerning is that these new threats are targeting both young and older, available radio listeners.

Read the full article now

The Liberty Takeover of iHeart

  • Liberty has been buying iHeart debt at pennies on the dollar
  • iHeart isn’t necessarily against a Liberty takeover
  • The iHeart board has open spots for Liberty appointees
  • Can Liberty be stopped?
  • Other potential buyers

Read the full article now

The Demise of the Morning Show

If you caught any of the farewell jock appearances on WPLJ late last week, you heard more radio personality that exists in an entire lifetime on the air for one last goodbye.

It was odd to hear Scott Shannon with Todd Pettengill together considering that Pettengill reportedly went to Cumulus and supposedly offered to take over the WPLJ show for a lot less money getting Shannon fired.

Still, for a few final days the airwaves oozed of what makes radio great – personality and that station had tons of it from the early Allen Shaw ABC days up to and including Cumulus, the company that sold WPLJ for a quick buck.

There was a time when a good morning show drove 50-60% of the total stations revenue but consolidators found a way to weaken these important shows in the name of saving money.

But it’s heading in the wrong direction again.

Radio groups can’t make their revenue numbers without adjusting them to look better.  You saw how Entercom dumped in all that heavy billing from WBEB which it purchased in Philadelphia late last year totally misrepresenting year over year revenue.

Now, faced with more declining revenue, hard-pressed group owners are revisiting ways to cut the great expense of paying for talent in the morning.

They’ve already tried syndication, promoting second bananas to take the helm and other strategies.

Bean counters are readying some frightening new ways to diminish or replace talent driven morning shows.

Don’t even ask.

Read the full article now

Trade & Remnant Ads Blowing Up

In a Midwest market very recently, Cumulus paid a 50% commission to one of the top barter and remnant agencies to secure a buy.

For years, barter and trade have been rearing its ugly head in radio at the hands of desperate radio groups looking to grab whatever ad dollars they can even at the overall expense of the industry.

All of this in a boom economy!

Can you imagine what would happen to radio if an economic downturn feared by economists currently actually kicked in?

So right now, trade and remnant advertising is hitting new highs or should we say new lows.

The rules are being re-written on the fly and one gigantic change that will make matters absolutely worse has taken off with a vengeance. 

Read the full article now

Competing Against Streaming Playlists

Spotify and Apple offer more music than listeners can ever consume.

It’s like a cable channel to older people where they watch only a handful of channels even though they are paying for hundreds.

But now there is new evidence that radio isn’t losing audience to Spotify, Apple Music and streaming music services mainly because they offer too few songs.

It’s not about that at all.

Instead, the few main objections to radio are solvable. 

It’s just the industry is looking at streaming music competitors the wrong way.

The fix.

The easy part and one thing that will take some guts.

How to compete with such potent streaming services.

And the quickest way to start winning young listeners back.

Read the full article now

The iHeart & Cumulus IPOs

Radio has not been able to successfully launch an IPO for years now.

Think Alpha Media.

So why are iHeart and Cumulus even trying now when there is even less interest on the part of lenders and investors?

iHeart signaled some type of public offering in their bankruptcy.

And now it appears Cumulus, out of bankruptcy but not out of financial trouble, may be on the verge of having what iHeart is having.

There are two IPO options to look for – it will be one of these.

How iHeart’s IPO will be priced.

How the Cumulus IPO must deal with distressed debt partners.

Read the full article now

The Cumulus Foreign Ownership Waiver

They’re kidding, right?

A special waiver to allow foreign investors to own 100% of Cumulus?

Or at least some of it.

Why now and why look to offshore financing?

Their stock is trading at close to $17 – and they just dumped $1 billion in debt out of bankruptcy – so what’s driving this sudden move.

What if the FCC says no?

The repercussions at Cumulus clusters – will there be more nationalizing local jobs, cutting costs, etc.

Read the full article now

Meruelo’s One Market Strategy

It’s hard to believe with its purchase of KXOS-FM, Los Angeles, Meruelo is a dominant player in the second largest market with its fifth radio station.

All it took was money of which Meruelo has plenty thanks to the casino business.

And radio stations desperate to sell at pennies on the dollar.

Of which the industry has many owners waiting in the wings.

But that alone is not the future of radio.

Meruelo becomes a big player in LA.

Now what other markets do they need to be in.

These people have a plan that is so unlike that of traditional radio owners that it deserves a closer look.

What the radio industry is looking for next after consolidation may be what Meruelo is doing.

Why are they so bullish on a radio industry barely able to break even?

Here’s the next piece of the puzzle. 

What the greater radio industry should go to school on now that consolidation has failed.

Read the full article now

Cumulus Cash Flow Crisis

Cumulus is back in financial hot water.

Real operating cash flow numbers have been revealed.

The local revenue and trade numbers without adjustments.

They’ve had to trade more and report it as cash revenue – here is that number.

Their recent firing of hundreds of traffic directors is juxtaposition against real expense figures that they legally have to disclose.

How is podcasting working out?

And what is Cumulus becoming more dependent on.

Read the full article now

Why Are Spotify & the Record Labels Getting into Podcasting?

Go figure.

Spotify, Apple Music and the other streamers have become the new radio among in-demo listeners.

But they barely make a profit because music rights fees are so high.

The music industry is soaring.

So why are streaming services like Spotify going into podcasting, a place where Apple already resides without earning its usual profit margins.

Spotify is spending hundreds of millions to build its podcasting platform concerning the music industry.

Now the record labels are jumping in.

Two just launched podcasting deals.

Radio can’t seem to profit from this nascent business.

What do the record labels know that radio doesn’t?

Read the full article now

The Westwood One Dilemma

Lew Dickey didn’t spend $260 million for Westwood One only to see it wither away like this.

Mary Berner all but announced everything is for sale at Cumulus publicly (except Dallas) but she artfully stayed away from commenting on the big elephant in the room – their underperforming radio network.

No statement of support and continued ownership.

No growth plans other than previously mentioned podcasting rep deals.

No sale sign.

Yet Westwood One has two big insurmountable problems begging the question – what are the Cumulus lenders currently overseeing the company going to do with Westwood One.

Are there any interested buyers remaining?

Why is their profit shrinking faster than anticipated?

Is there a plan for shedding Westwood One entirely in a breakup?

The mixed signals as described by those behind the scenes.

Read the full article now

Entercom & Cumulus Outsourcing

Radio is fast adopting outsourcing as a business model.

Nothing is sacred. 

The newsroom at Entercom’s 1010 WINS for example is an expense so great that Entercom is urgently looking for ways to cut the head count down.

But now, faced with the inability to grow revenue, control costs and post a real profit that isn’t adjusted to look good, Entercom and Cumulus are ready to adopt new ways to run radio stations as if they were SiriusXM.

How programming, management and sales will be affected at these two radio groups.

Cumulus and Entercom both have ambitious outsourcing plans.

The time frame is aggressive.

Ignoring the risks they are fully aware of – one group has actually tried outsourcing experimentally and it didn’t work – how they are going through with it anyway.

The body count – first real numbers on just how many jobs will be lost in just one job description by year’s end.

Read the full article now

Should Radio Be Rebranded Audio

Bob Pittman’s first post-bankruptcy news release did not have the word radio in it one time in spite of the fact that terrestrial radio delivers the lion’s share of iHeartMedia’s total revenue.

Even more so since iHeart split Clear Channel Outdoor from the media platform.

Entercom’s two favorite words are Radio.com and audio presenting a somewhat split message.

And iHeart and Entercom plan to appear together to promote audio to the trade as the amazing platform of the future as a united industry searches for ways to brush away the tarnish they, among others, inflicted on radio through vicious cost cutting.

Podcasting is audio and iHeart has spent $100 million while still in bankruptcy staking out a bulkhead – perhaps that’s a clue.

But is radio right to be rebranding terrestrial radio as audio?

What are the advantages that these radio groups seek other than the obvious one?

Is there a downside risk?

And, there is a better way.

Read the full article now

Summit Media as a Potential Buyer

Radio buyers are hard to find these days.

Prices are going down but have yet to bottom out.

And lenders are vanishing – not high on financing radio acquisitions.

There’s EMF, Meruelo and then not too many more potential buyers available right now.

One potential buyer is Carl Parmer’s Summit Media, the company that originally bought a handful of smaller Cox market spinoffs and has been building from there.

With station prices going down, is Summit a player ready to pounce?

And what markets would they be interested in?

Read the full article now

The Projected Effect of Podcasting on Radio Listening

iHeart has spent over $100 million lately to enhance its podcasting efforts.

Cumulus while spending virtually nothing is using podcasting as its savior from poor spot revenue results.

Entercom – check, podcasting spoken there, too.

Meanwhile Spotify, one of the giant music streaming services along with Apple, invested over $400 million of late – with more to come – to make podcasting a co-equal with music much to the chagrin of record labels.

The questions are – can a radio company compete with mega apps that have such dominance?

And what about the law of unintended consequences?

In other words, do we have first clear look around the corner at how podcasting will affect radio’s main terrestrial business?

Does it cause radio listening declines?

Will podcasting help or hurt music streamers and radio?

What will be the effect on younger audiences?

Is it smart to promote podcasting as much as radio does?

Read the full article now

The Cumulus Leftovers

Mary Berner recently sold over $100 million in prime major market radio properties to Educational Media Foundation (EMF), more to others and traded stations and/or clusters to Connoisseur and Entercom in a desperate attempt to raise money.

She settled for EMF pricing – the bottom feeders of station buyers.

And she had to give up former cash cows like Bridgeport, CT cluster because to be blunt, they fired the manager with all the know-how and revenues tanked.

The new Cumulus board may have forced Berner to start selling assets to make them more whole but the rushed way in which it was done leaves them with orphan stations, a dinged Westwood One network and AM stations they seemingly can’t give away.

What they did wrong to be left holding so many unsellable properties.

The options going forward for selling additional stations.

What Cumulus will have to do to repair the damage done to Westwood One in unloading major market stations.

And, what’s not for sale.

Read the full article now

Entercom’s Cost Cutting

iHeart and Cumulus may have had no choice but to resort to bankruptcy, but Entercom is flirting with even more danger than these two competitors.

The CBS Radio merger that David Field wanted to do so badly that he allowed CEO Les Moonves to dump $1.5 billion of debt on the company before he sold it has not gone well.

It’s more than mismanagement and firing the wrong CBS executives, it’s deeper.

Quarter by quarter Entercom promises a turnaround and even using “adjusted” accounting procedures, they can’t deliver causing their stock to suffer.

What was worth over $16 a share before the merger, is now in the $6 range and slips to $5 and change regularly.

Now, there is only one way to survive the last three quarters of the year and it is to slash expenses.

The cuts will come from three format groups and are likely to target all job categories but one in particular.

Read the full article now

iHeart’s New Beginning

With the court’s blessing iHeart Media has emerged from bankruptcy and reduced their debt from $16 billion to a much lower number -- $5.75 billion.

iHeart says it’s back to business as usual but what does that look like after bankruptcy?

Will they now be able to service the $5.75 billion in debt at unfavorable interest rates in a declining ad market for radio?

iHeart split Clear Channel Outdoor and the radio division and that comes with new pros and cons.

The real question is, is the focus back to terrestrial radio?

How do they service even reduced debt when it is so high?

And is a buyer ready to move in and take over?

Read the full article now

Entercom Programming Cutbacks

No announcements have been made.

The radio trade press is in the dark.

Entercom is at work retooling its radio stations.

This is the same Entercom that less than two weeks ago was bragging to investors and lenders that they are growing by leaps and bounds.

Turns out David Field is running out of ways to cut costs.

The new retooling plan targets certain types of Entercom stations.

Evidence of how desperate Entercom is to save money as actual revenue falls short.

Those who are being targeted have the one thing in common.

And there is already a pattern of where these layoffs can be expected right down to the specific daypart.

Read the full article now

The Increased Agency Commission Sham

Several years ago, iHeart began searching for ways to annihilate their local competitors by drastically dropping rates and generously upping commissions.

It was a nuisance that competitors had to suffer.

Now, Entercom has gone all in with iHeart in a “price fixing monopoly” of sorts unlike anything ever seen before.

The price is not fixed by agreement, it’s fixed by greedy competition to drive radio rates down at all costs until one of the two predator radio groups is left standing and any third parties are effectively kept out of major buys.

How are they able to do this – burned market managers know exactly.

Why increased agency commission is becoming the new “trade”.

The three buying services leading the race to the bottom.

More shocking is what these three buying services do with the extra commissions that are the highest ever offered.

The actual year to year metrics that show the disastrous downward effect rate dropping is having on radio comparing big advertisers such as USAA and Cox.

What radio operators not named iHeart and Entercom are doing to push back.

Read the full article now

Mike McVay’s Cumulus Exit

Mike McVay is gone.

And the decision to cut him loose says more about the new direction of Cumulus than it does about McVay.

McVay was hired by the previous regime hated by current CEO Mary Berner.

She stuck with him until no matter what happened because if there is one thing about Mary Berner, she protects her small but compliant management team.

So, beyond the corporate spin, what made McVay fall on his sword at this late date?

Does this mean that market managers can have renewed hope that regional VPs Bob Walker and Dave Milner will be next?

How is the removal of McVay and the uncertainty of Cumulus management related to their future plans?

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Entercom’s True Financials

Last week Entercom told analysts reporting on the first quarter 2019 revenue that the company grew revenue by 43%.

Did it?  

Some Wall Street people are beginning to ask the question how is Entercom doing as good as David Field claims when their stock is hovering so close to a mere $4 a share, the acknowledged breaking point.

So, we took the un-doctored 10k filing Entercom is required to produce as a public company and we asked financial experts with high level radio experience to dig into the legal figures that Entercom cannot parse in search of the true numbers.

Is David Field telling big little lies about the merged company with CBS Radio?

How much cutting back did Entercom really do and at what level are further cost synergies accurately projected going forward.

What about cash flow – this is the true measure of a radio company’s viability – how does Entercom do on that?

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Larry Wilson Eyes a New Radio Group

Here’s a man in his 70’s who is not running for president but can’t seem to give up his addiction for radio.

He built and sold Citadel for a profit.

Turned that into some seed money for Alpha which he planned to cash in on an IPO just when radio was falling out of favor with Wall Street.

Wilson was ousted from Alpha by Paul Stone, something you may want to remember as Larry reportedly wants back in with yet another group.

Not Alpha – could his new company be called Beta?

What Wilson sees that others don’t in buying radio now.

Wilson wrote an email to 141 of his closest friends – what’s in it.

Who is ready to back Larry Wilson – and you’ll need to take a seat for this one.

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Entercom’s Hidden Problems

Entercom is a company selling false narratives.

EBITDA up 42% -- but it’s not real EBITDA, it’s adjusted to make it look like growth.

Revenue barely up in the first quarter.

What happened to David Field’s promised cost synergies?

What’s Entercom’s real EBITDA using generally accepted accounting principles?

Meanwhile, there are new revelations about Entercom.

Why is it a risky investment?

How the future of the company is uncertain.

And what’s the real truth about Entercom’s financial problems.

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