Blogs

April 1996: Las Vegas Sees Multiple Flips

We continue our month by month recap of the deals and changes that shaped radio in 1996. Acquisitions Sinclair Broadcasting, then and now a mostly Television based operation, made the big splash of the month with the acquisition of River City Broadcasting for $1.2 billion. The deal added 10 TV stations and 34 radio stations to Sinclair’s holdings including clusters in Albuquerque, Buffalo, Greenville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis and Wilkes-Barre plus 1580 KBLA Los Angeles. Evergreen Media purchased Rhythmic CHR “Wild 107.7” KYLD San Francisco from Crescent Communications for $44 million to pair with Hot AC “K101” KIOI and Urban 106.1 KMEL. OmniAmerica swapped Rock 100.7 WMMS and Oldies 105.7 WMJI Cleveland to Nationwide Communications for Hot AC...Read More

Where Do They KGO From Here?

Following last week’s massive cuts at Cumulus News/Talk 810 KGO and AAA 104.5 KFOG, I was willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt pending the reveal of the new lineup. After seeing what Cumulus has come up with for KGO, it is very easy to see what this is. A way to cut costs and let the station continue on the path to irrelevance. KGO was the longtime powerhouse in the Bay Area holding the top spot in the Arbitron ratings for 27 years straight until 2010. While many pundits will quickly point to owners Citadel and later Cumulus Media as the cause of the demise of KGO, the chips in the armor could begin to be seen as Talk Radio aged in the later days of ABC’s ownership of the station as the station dominated with audiences out of the sellable demographics. The true ...Read More

March 1996: The New Normal

Following the passage of the Communications Act in February 1996 and without a big city format change, March 1996 was quiet in comparison. Sales March began seeing the buy and trade approach to station acquisitions. Entercom briefly entered the New York market purchasing Active Rock “Q104.3” WAXQ from GAF Corp. for $90 million, but then immediately turned around and traded it to Viacom for 1210 KBSG/97.3 KBSG-FM/107.7 KNDD Seattle. EZ Communications swapped their New Orleans cluster of 1450 WBYU/97.1 WEZB/99.5 WRNO to Heritage Media for 1090 KRPM/106.1 KCIN Seattle. That deal would give EZ three Country stations in the Seattle market leading to a format change at one. Infinity Broadcasting made the biggest deal of the month as it acquired Granum Communications’ twelve sta...Read More

February 1996: The Floodgates Open While WKTU Shakes Up New York & CHR

On February 8, 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law leading the the ownership limits we know today. The act raised the ownership limits to a maximum of eight stations (five on one band) in markets with 45 stations or more, seven stations (four on one band) in markets with 30-44 stations, six stations (four on one band) in markets with 15-29 stations, and no more than half (three on one band) in markets with 14 stations or less. While it would take a few months for the FCC to issue rulemakings for the new law of the land (the entire act and subsequent rulemakings can be read here), dealmakers wasted no time to begin consolidating. Sales Looking back it is not much of a surprise that the first group to acquire an eight station cluster was led by Rand...Read More

Focus On The Mainstream; But Support The Niches

Earlier today CBS Radio killed off the Freeform Rock “Freeform WBCN” of 100.7 WZLX-HD3 Boston and the company’s Radio.com streaming platform/app replacing it with Adult Standards as “The Lounge“. The format was programmed by Sam Kopper, who was 104.1 WBCN’s original Program Director and Morning host when it flipped to Rock in 1968. He was joined by a team of part-time DJ’s who kept the station live for 6-8 hours daily from their home studios. The WBCN branding is also used for a jockless Modern Rock format on 98.5 WBZ-HD2 focusing on the format the original WBCN carried in its later days through its demise in 2009. The two channels shared a non-descript sub-page on WZLX.com that hadn’t seen a new posting in nearly two years and a now-deleted ...Read More

January 1996: Starting The Year That Everything Changed

Next week will be the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by Congress. With now two decades in the rear view mirror there have been millions of words written on the positives and negatives of the changes brought on by the passage of the bill. Over the course of this year we will look back at 1996, as it took place. We’ll look at the programming changes and deals that paved the way to the radio landscape we know today. And we start with where we were in January 1996. When 1996 began the big news in technology was the reveal of the digital versatile disc. The first DVD’s held 133 minutes of video per side of the disc and players were set to hit the market later in the year starting at $500. The radio industry buzzword was duopoly. A 1992 revamp o...Read More

Causes And Effects Of iHeart’s Seattle Shuffle

The four station format shuffle that iHeartMedia pulled off yesterday may have caught many off-guard but the pieces started coming together over six years ago. In 2009, then Clear Channel rounded out their Seattle cluster with the acquisition of CHR “Kiss 106.1” KBKS Tacoma/Seattle as part of a seven station swap with CBS Radio. That deal at the time gave Clear Channel full control of the younger demographics in the market as KBKS joined Rhythmic CHR 93.3 KUBE in their holdings. That monopoly ended up leading to the demise of both stations as they were known. In 2010, Sandusky (now part of Hubbard) flipped “Movin 92.5” KQMV to Rhythmic leaning CHR and the station quickly became not just the dominant CHR in the market, but the dominant station in the market. In the l...Read More

Never Settle For Mediocrity

Welcome to the new and improved RadioInsight.com. It has been less than a year since our last redesign, but quickly the flaws became apparent. We aspire to put forth a professional appearance and the old design was anything but. With the tenth anniversary of the site coming in April, I wanted something that proudly conveyed our legacy and our future. And this is just the beginning. Next week we’ll begin integrating the new layout into our Community along with a major upgrade to the system that powers it. We’ll also be debuting a new monthly feature this week looking back at 1996 and its affects on the industry today. After that comes the launch of PodcastingInsight. If you’re not happy with the presentation your brand do what you have to do to change it. Even a slight mod...Read More

Radio 2016: What We’ll Be Talking About

As we enter the new year the list of stories that will dominate the talk of the radio industry in 2016 is already filling up. Sure there will be format changes, layoffs, and sales that fill up the daily news, a few topics will overshadow everything in 2016. The B Word Will this be the year Cumulus or iHeartMedia finally break and file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection? New Cumulus CEO Mary Berner continues to claim that they won’t need to file for bankruptcy but with $2.5 million in debt due in a couple years and the stock price stuck around 33 cents a share and being threatened with delisting is there any alternative? iHeart’s debt is around $21 billion. The company’s stock dropped over the past year from a high of $8 to it’s current 90 cent value. They sold man...Read More

Why Is It So Hard To Say Goodbye (To Old Formats)?

Radio stations have been on the internet for two decades now. They’ve been changing format for nearly a century. How after all of this time has the radio industry failed to understand how easy it is to use the internet to communicate with their past, present and future listeners. When Wilks sold two of their Columbus OH properties to Radio-One and saw Classic Country “K107.1” WHOK-FM flip to Gospel, we received plenty of searches for keywords along the lines of “Where Did K107.1 Move?” and “Columbus Classic Country”. The format change took place on November 16, yet as I write this nine days later, the website for the old format remains online with no reference to the format’s demise. How hard would it have been to put up a post thanking the a...Read More

Suggestions For Cumulus’ National Platforms

This is Part Two of a series of suggestions for how to turn around some of Cumulus’ most-struggling platforms. Part One can be read here. Cumulus under the Dickey Brothers had a habit of launching a new content strategy and then quickly putting it on the back-burner after it failed to meet expectations. In the past few years we’ve seen Sweetjack, CBS Sports Radio, Nash, Rdio and Westwood One all have their turn in the spotlight. We checked on Nash last week and Sweetjack and the Daily Deals industry is more or less dead at this point. What about the others? CBS Sports Radio Thanks to the CBS and Cumulus owned stations that picked up the network, CBS Sports Radio at launch was established in the #3 slot of the five national 24/7 sports radio networks. ESPN Radio and Fox Sports R...Read More

A Plan To Fix Cumulus Part 1

As Mary Berner gets settled into her office at Penn Plaza, I thought I’d give her a hand with some suggestions to help get her started on where to place her focus as Cumulus is rebuilt without the influence of the Dickey Brothers. Talk As the 2016 Presidential Election season kicks into high gear, the former core ABC owned stations will be looked upon to increase revenue. In the October PPM ratings released this week the big Cumulus stations pulled the following shares: 770 WABC New York 1.6, 790 KABC Los Angeles 0.5, 890 WLS Chicago 1.9, 560 KSFO and 810 KGO San Francisco 1.9 each, 820 WBAP Dallas 2.8, 570 KLIF Dallas 0.3, 630 WMAL/105.9 WMAL-FM Washington 4.5, 106.7 WYAY Atlanta 1.4, and 760 WJR Detroit 5.0. The Dickeys spent lots of time tinkering with their Talkers over the past ...Read More

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