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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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