The 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 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.
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?
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.
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:
Big radio news. Beasley (who we have worked for since 2008) gets all of cbs stations in Tampa. Hmmmmm this should get rather interesting!!
— Bubba Clem (@BTLSRadio) October 2, 2014
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.