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Examining The CBS/Beasley Deal

Lance's Line RadioInsight Blog

CBS Radio Beasley 92.5 WXTU Philadelphia 96.5 KYW-FM Tampa Charlotte MiamiThe biggest radio deal in years is now on the books as CBS and Beasley are exchanging nineteen stations in four Top 25 markets. How will this affect each cluster?

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is likely the lynchpin of this entire exchange. CBS has been attempting to add an additional FM in the market for years, twice being outbid for what is now EMF’s 106.9 WKVP. With this deal CBS doubles the amount of FMs it owns in the market as it adds Country 92.5 WXTU and Rhythmic CHR “Wired 96.5” WRDW-FM to its Sports 94.1 WIP-FM and Classic Hits 98.1 WOGL. CBS drops an AM in 610 WIP, but still retains News 1060 KYW and Conservative Talk 1210 WPHT. CBS is now maxed out at six radio stations in Philadelphia as it also owns CBS 3 KYW-TV and CW “Philly 57” WPSG.

If there were to be any drastic changes as soon as the deal closes, WRDW-FM would appear to be the place. Wired is currently in sixteenth place in the market with a 2.6 share. Whether its an Amp Radio relaunch or a more likely move to a News simulcast of KYW, which has dropped in recent months from its usual perch in first or second in Philadelphia all the way down to tenth place in the September PPMs something will happen at 96.5.

On the Beasley side, the company adds “CBS Sports Radio 610” WIP to its pair of brokered AMs (800 WTMR and 860 WWDB) in Philadelphia. 610 will likely go that route as well as Beasley also quietly maintains stand-alone brokered AMs in Atlanta and Boston.

Miami

CBS will enter Miami radio for the first time with the acquisition of Beasley’s three stations. Sports 560 WQAM, Rhythmic CHR “Power 96” WPOW, and “99.9 Kiss Country” WKIS will be joining a pair of television stations in the market: CBS 4 WFOR and MYNetworkTV 33 WBFS.

The purchase makes Denver the only market where the company owns a CBS affiliated television station but no radio stations. As the company’s divestitures continue on the radio side will the pairing of both mediums save CBS clusters in smaller markets like Sacramento and Baltimore?

Charlotte

Moving on to the markets being acquired by Beasley there is a historical connection to the market for the company. Beasley owned 101.9 WCKZ from 1988 until 1994. Through the course of deregulation in the mid/late 1990’s that station and others eventually passed to Evergreen Media who would then trade them to American Radio Systems for two stations in Philadelphia. ARS would later be folded into CBS Radio.

Beasley now returns to Charlotte with a seven station cluster that geographically fits well with their existing clusters in Fayetteville and Greenville/New Bern, NC.

Tampa

Just like Charlotte, the six Tampa stations acquired by Beasley make a nice pairing with their cluster down the road in Fort Myers.

Before the deal became official we pondered on Twitter whether there could be a Beasley/Bubba The Love Sponge connection. Bubba exited Cox’ “102.5 The Bone” WHPT last month and has been teasing a new multi-market deal. He was quick to point out the deal today:

Bubba currently airs on “96.1 K-Rock” WRXK in Fort Myers and could be a needed boost for the currently struggling “98.7 The Fan” WHFS-FM.

What’s Next For CBS

Just a couple weeks ago CBS CEO Les Moonves stated his plans to drop around 40 stations from CBS’ holdings. After this deal with Beasley there will still be at least 25 more stations to divest.

Are there other potential swapping candidates for CBS? One sticks out like a sore thumb. Lincoln Financial Media’s four markets are now ones where CBS operates in some form. Lincoln has two stations in Atlanta where CBS has three. Lincoln has five stations in Denver where CBS has only a TV station. Lincoln has 1 AM and 3 FMs in Miami. And in San Diego, Lincoln has 4 FMs (One a suburban fill-in) and CBS has 2. It should also be noted that in August Lincoln Financial Media agreed to transfer the FM rights to Atlanta Falcons football games from their “Star 94” WSTR to CBS’s “92.9 The Game” WZGC.

Would Cumulus divest a stand-alone like KRBE Houston to expand elsewhere? Could a Bonneville or Hubbard swap Seattle or Phoenix stations where CBS could grow? There’s lots of potential armchair scenarios to consider, but at this point nothing is close to becoming a deal.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

25 Comments

  1. Profile photo of stelly


    Unless the demand for timeslots in Philadelphia is so intense that it justifies owning three separate brokered stations, it might make sense for Beasley to stay the course and keep WIP with CBS Sports (or another sports network, if CBS for some reason chooses not to renew the affiliation.)

    The local programming has mostly (if not all) moved to the FM, leaving the AM to run the network feed. It’s an inexpensive, low-maintenance format that doesn’t need ratings to pull in advertisers on a frequency that already has cache with sports radio listeners in the region.

    And as a bonus, If the Bubba multi-market deal comes through, add him to the WIP lineup for instant major market clearance.

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      I don’t know if this will come into play, but I have heard that a few Conservative Talk operators were looking to broker or acquire a station in Philadelphia to clear their programming. 610 would make some sense for that.

    • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


      Again, what value is 1210’s current format? I doubt that CBS is willing to part with a major clearance for their sports radio network and retain a format that not only has hemorrhaged listeners nationwide and is suffering from demos that are aging rapidly, but is hemmed in by KYW’s standing in the cluster that they CAN’T emphasize local news content (which is the saving grace for WLW and WGN).

      It’s a pretty safe bet that, by the time this swap goes through, 1210 will flip to CBS Sports Radio, along with the WIP calls.

      • Profile photo of Lance Venta


        Would you rather have a station with a 2.0 share or one with a 0.1 share?

        WPHT’s demographics may skew older by the day but at least there’s some audience and revenue generation. I would bet the company is being paid at least something to give Hannity a clearance in the market.

        CBS Sports Radio is on 610 simply because there’s nothing else to put there.

        • Profile photo of homerjay


          I might rather have something that costs nothing (or darned close) in personnel costs, if that means the bottom line is better.

        • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


          Premiere is obviously paying CBS to run Rush, Hannity and C2C. But they could also pay Beasley the same amount to run all three shows on a talk-formatted 610 for the same result.

          • Profile photo of shodges


            What we could see is if a talk format lands on 610, which by the way I expect the calls to get changed on the 610 becuase CBS owns 94.1 which has WIP.
            But if a talk format lands on 610, I think that 1210 will end up hurting and perhaps move the CBS sports radio to 1210, and 610 will take the talk format..

  2. Profile photo of shodges


    What isn’t mentioned is WXTU is the Only country station in the immediate philadelphia area, and it does very well and has done very well with the format for the past 30 years,
    Wxtu and WRDW have simlar signals and simlar coverage areas, WRDW has 15000 watts and wxtu had 9000 but it doesn’t appear to make much of a difference with coverage areas
    WXTU is 4th in the market while WRDW is 17th it would make so much sense to switch 96.5 to news and I belive it will do very well there. WOGL which is already owned by CBS is like third in the market so I expect no changes there.

    With this move however we can expect a new website and new studio location for wxtu.

  3. Profile photo of oasisrulz


    Wouldn’t it make sense to move the country format to 96.5 instead of 925xtu make it 965xtu. The 92.5 signal has been poor, since the days of WIFI when they were 50kw at 500′ then after a stint at that site as WXTU they finally got the move ok’d to move to the antenna farm with a directional signal. the 96.5 signal is far superior so why not put the cash cow on the bigger signal.

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      Is there really enough of a difference between two Class B signals to spend the marketing money necessary to shift 30+ years of brand equity to move a station that is being quite successful at its current facility? Where’s the logic in that?

      • Profile photo of homerjay


        No, there’s not. This signal thing is overblown. It has demonstrably done nothing to harm WXTU along the way.

        • Profile photo of shodges


          Both signals cover the area well, 96.5 does a little better but not enough to prompt a move in my mind.

  4. Profile photo of Dr. Akbar


    Here in the Valley of John McCain, the Nurse and I have long wondered if CBS is that interested in Phoenix. Their 3 FMs do okay, but Moonves has his eyes on a bigger prize. What would make operating here a lot more profitable would be if CBS could get their hands on Meredith’s two stations: KPHO CBS5 and Indie KTVK 3. Gannett, Scrips-Howard and FOX aint letting go of their stations. So without a TV connection, that leaves CBS to slug it out against Bonneville & Hubbard. We don’t think they have the stomach for it.

    • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


      Hubbard could emerge as another trade partner with CBS. If they want to use it, Hubbard has the ultimate bargining chip in WTOP/WFED (whom CBS has lusted over for decades).

      • Profile photo of shodges


        WTOP in Washington, CBS doesn’t own the station in wash. WUSA. GARENTT does

    • Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


      Flipping it around a bit, might the new, broadcast-only Scripps try picking up some radio stations in markets where it only owns TV? So far, it seems that (publicly, at least) the company doesn’t mind holding on to the combos that it’s getting from Journal (including in Tucson).

    • Profile photo of bill1820


      I doubt CBS would be able to buy the Meredith TV stations in Phoenix. Meredith’s CEO Stephen Lacy earlier this year told analysts the company intends to “continue to grow its television footprint”. http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/73695/meredith-bullish-on-buying-stations

  5. Profile photo of shodges


    CBS Attempted to get the 106.9 signal in Philly, but lost twice,. I think it’s in their best interests to have lost

  6. Profile photo of Mike704


    CBS must have wanted in those markets very badly to have a net loss of 9 stations and no cash. I’m no expert but it sure looks like a great deal for Beasley.

    While the Charlotte cluster is the smallest market at #24 most of the stations in that cluster are good performers.

    • Profile photo of e gill cvi


      CBS had publicly stated their intention to get rid of a slew of stations so, in light of failing to get 106.9, this swap makes perfect sense for them. In fact, it totally erases how shocked I was that they weren’t trying harder to get 106.9. Perhaps the swap was their Plan A all along.

  7. Profile photo of Mike704


    Oh and note to CBS… AM radio died a long time ago in Miami. The once great WQAM is ancient history, it no KYW, that’s for sure.

  8. Profile photo of e gill cvi


    I am in the Tampa area 2 or 3 times a year. While there, we spend quite a bit of time driving and we are always locked on CBS’s Q105. There’s more variety than WOGL on its best day and I love the mix of old school Top 40 jingles. The jingles, by the way, are the most reliable thing about the station. They fire at the same time every hour and they haven’t been updated in as long as I can remember. It ain’t broke so don’t fix it!

    Probably never been a secret that I’m Beasley’s smallest fan. I really, really hope they don’t mess with Q105. Just cut the “CBS radio station” out of the top-hour and keep on keepin’ on.

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