Lance’s Line

A New Aesthetic For Commercial Radio?

Yesterday’s launch of Austin City Limits Radio may go down as a flash in a pan attempt to salvage a failing AAA, but there are also multiple pieces within there that can become a template for commercial radio going forward. Branding In the past big local radio brands were big enough to stand on their own. Everyone in a town no-matter if they were a dedicated listener or not knew KISS-FM, 99X, K-Rock, WGN, WBLS. That started to fade with the proliferation of drop-in signals in many markets in the 1990s but with all of the digital options it is much, much harder for a new brand or format to break through. The KGSR of 2018 was a far cry from the KGSR of the 1990s and early 2000s. It had lost its way and faced increased FM competition from University of Texas’s 98.9 KUTX and the &#...[Read More]

A Letter To David Field And The Radio Industry On Today’s New York Accusations

Dear David, I’m sure you enjoyed waking up this morning to see yet another series of accusations in the New York Post about current employees that you inherited from CBS Radio. Today was supposed to be about the reimaging of WCBS 880 and not the racist and anti-semitic comments of your WCBS-FM midday host and further claims about the toxic nature within your New York cluster. You’ve already begun a top-down restructuring of the local market management, but now is the time to take further action. Everyone still employed at 345 Hudson Stree that had anything with looking the other way during the CBS Radio ownership of the actions of Dan Taylor, Joe Benigno, or anyone else needs to be suspended until an outside party discovers what role they played in sweeping aside the complaints...[Read More]

Podcast Movement: The Medium Has Matured; But Has Radio’s Understanding Of It?

It was very easy to identify radio industry folks at the Podcast Movement convention in Philadelphia this week; they were the ones wearing business attire as opposed to casual wear. Don’t take that to mean that most in podcasting don’t believe there’s money to be made or a lack of professionalism. Podcast Movement 2018 may have been one of the most upbeat industry conventions I have been to. Nearly everyone present was there with a willingness to learn, share ideas, and figure out how to better there crafts regardless if they were a newcomer or a CEO. At this morning’s executive panel Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris summed it well when describing her company’s podcasting strategy, “Be as open minded as we can and to learn from those of you who know about ...[Read More]

The Potential Aftershocks Of Today’s Philadelphia Deals

Last week I heard rumblings of a major deal coming in Philadelphia but couldn’t narrow specifics of who was involved. In nearly every logical scenario I ran through in no way would the three-way deal between Beasley Media, Entercom, and Jerry Lee Broadcasting announced today have even entered the thinking. Up until the dueling press releases were sent this morning I would have labeled it as the type of fantasy deal making you would find on a message board and maybe not there. But it makes sense on multiple levels. Entercom gets the crown jewel of its home market, while Beasley gets back a station it owned for over thirty years and was one of its major market acquisitions as both companies increase their revenue concentration as the last big FM standalone in any major market finally c...[Read More]

Mary Berner’s Merlin Magic Trick

Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner called all of Randy Michaels’ bluffs and still came away with most of what they wanted. Cumulus began operating 97.9 WLUP-FM and 101.1 WKQX via LMA in January 2014 that included a put and call agreement where either side had the right to trigger the deal to be converted into a purchase within ninety days of the fourth anniversary of the LMA. That came when Merlin exercised its end of the agreement for Cumulus to pay he greater of $70 million minus the aggregate amount of LMA fees or $50 million for the two stations last October. Had it not been for Cumulus’ bankruptcy filing in November that would have been the end of the story. Whether or not Cumulus liked the deal they would have been contractually obligated to close the deal. Under the cover of ...[Read More]

We’ve Finally Reached Rock Bottom – What The iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Really Means

Cumulus Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring in November, iHeartMedia joined them last night. The two biggest albatrosses hanging upon the radio industry for nearly a decade now were the billions of dollars in debt payments owed by two of the biggest operators. Once Cumulus and iHeartMedia come out of the process, their financial status will be much improved and without the debt payments to hold them down they will be in a much more viable position to invest it their businesses. As Bob Pittman emphasized in a memo to iHeartMedia employees today, their company generated more than $6 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion of OIBDAN over the past 12 months. Nearly all of that revenue went back into debt payment as opposed to operations and growth. During the bankruptcy no interest...[Read More]

EMF: Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

I originally wrote this last September after the purchase of KSWD Los Angeles, but after today’s purchase of 97.9 WLUP Chicago it bears repeating. EMF is just taking advantage of the weaknesses of the remainder of those capable of buying radio stations in this current landscape. Some have likened them to Star Trek’s Borg, others to Star Wars’ Galactic Empire. As Educational Media Foundation assimilates radio stations into its collective leaving nothing but a transmitter in its wake many have begun to wonder how they got to this point and how to stop them. To look at how EMF has gotten to this point you have to first look back to where they came from. What would become the national “K-Love” brand started out in Middletown/Santa Rosa CA in 1982 as “FM 92 K...[Read More]

Thoughts On Who Could Buy Scripps’ Properties

With Scripps announcing it plans to divest itself of its 34 radio stations across eight markets, the biggest question being asked is who would want the properties. In the past a company who operates in mostly top 100 markets that put its properties on the block would be full of suitors. With station groups like Alpha Media, Cumulus and iHeartMedia having financial issues it would be hard to see them as likely bidders for the Scripps properties. That could leave groups like Townsquare Media, Saga, SummitMedia and Entercom interested in most if not all of the Scripps properties. Going on a market by market basis let’s look at what’s in Scripps portfolio and who may be interested. Milwaukee Scripps only possesses News/Talk 620 WTMJ and Country 94.5 WKTI, Entercom has to be seen as...[Read More]

Don Imus, Ronn Owens & Chicago; Yes They’re All Connected

In his statement today announcing the coming end of the Imus In The Morning show, Don Imus clearly stated why the move happened and why he won’t be the only Cumulus employee or station effected. “The company Cumulus, because my contract runs out in December of this year. At which point I was going to stop doing Imus In The Morning. I was going to stop doing it on December 2, 2018. Somewhere in that area. But they began to talk to me and the lawyers about; as long as I wasn’t going to be with the station past that what would be the point of paying me millions of dollars when they can save that. So we tried to make some sort of deal.. (gibberish). So they declared bankruptcy. Well when they declared bankruptcy then they don’t have to pay anybody including me. They dec...[Read More]

Building The Biggest Morning Show Tree

At the end of each NFL season as the carousel of hirings and firings goes into full swing one of the big stories becomes which new assistant coaches will get the nod to become a head coach. Certain existing head coaches seem to have a greater knack for getting their assistant coaches into those jobs than others such as Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Seven of the current 30 head coaches (not including vacancies in Arizona and Tennessee that does not have a rumored candidate awaiting the completion of their current team’s season) come from branches off of Reid’s tree just as Reid was an assistant of Mike Holmgren who was a branch of Bill Walsh. With a smaller bench for talent to start on weekends and move up through the dayparts until making their way to mornings, talent tha...[Read More]

Our 2018 Radio Industry Predictions

While large-scale dealmaking in radio has been slow the past couple of years outside of the Entercom/CBS Radio merger, the action has been heavy on the television side. As some of the biggest television operators reach the current limits of the amount of television they will need to look to other mediums to continue to grow their revenue streams. That is why we are making the prediction that 2018 will be the year we begin to see the big television group operators acquire radio groups. Some television operators have seen the benefits of having integrated television and radio stations such as Hearst’s WBAL/WIYY/WBAL-TV Baltimore, Sinclair’s KOMO/KPLZ/KVI/KOMO-TV Seattle, Tribune’s WGN/WGN-TV Chicago and Tegna’s just purchased KFMB/KFMB-FM/KFMB-TV San Diego. With the F...[Read More]

The Biggest Radio Launch Nobody In Radio Is Even Aware Of

In a universe far away from where traditional AM/FM radio broadcasters live a massive radio station launch took place this week that is getting more national media attention than nearly every commercial radio launch this year combined. Musician Frank Ocean launched “a radio station” in the most recent update to the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. Ocean’s “Blonded Los Santos 97.8 FM” is the nineteenth station in the game and features 28 songs stretching from Ocean himself, Jay-Z, Mervin Gaye, Migos, and Todd Rundgren. Like every station in the game, which are available as players are driving around on missions, the station features personalities (in this case Vegyn, Roof Access, and Federico Aliprandi who hosted Ocean’s Blonded Radio on Apple’s Beats...[Read More]