Is Entercom About To Go All-In On Alternative?
As the days tick down closer to the closing of the Entercom/CBS Radio merger, how the integration of the two company’s cultures and strategies will be the biggest story to watch.
We know the new Entercom will be placing an emphasis on Sports Talk and play-by-play with Mike Dee joining the company earlier this year as President of Entercom Sports. Dee, who previously served as President/CEO on MLB’s San Diego Padres and NFL’s Miami Dolphins, will work to tighten Entercom’s relationship with pro and college teams and creating new revenue and marketing platforms and partnerships.
With Sports being one of the few formats targeting a broad male audience, Entercom will have an advertising platform with Sports stations in over 25 markets plus the national CBS Sports Radio network. That platform will include nine of the top ten markets and eleven of the top twenty (with three other markets holding at least one major play-by-play package).
In recent years we’ve seen Cumulus go all-in on Country with “Nash” and “Nash Icon“; iHeart has CHR in 17 of the top 20 markets, its own iHeartCountry sub-brand, and Urbans in most major markets. CBS Radio held a virtual monopoly on News with stations (and two of them in New York) in eight of the top twelve markets. The only other format that Entercom will have a large cluster of markets in a single format is Hot AC with 24 stations in the combined Entercom holdings.
But another format with a demographic that has become the hardest for radio to reach could be within Entercom’s grasp to own. The combined company will own twelve Alternative Rock stations upon closing of the merger with stations in the following markets:
106.7 KROQ Los Angeles (2)
“Live 105” 105.3 KITS San Francisco (4)
“104.3 The Shark” WSFS Miami (11)
“107.7 The End” KNDD Seattle (13)
“FM 94.9” KBZT San Diego (17)
“104.9 WHFS” W285EJ/WWMX-HD2 Baltimore (21)
“94/7 FM” KNRK Portland (23)
“Radio 94.7” KKDO Sacramento (28)
“X107.5” KXTE Las Vegas (31)
“96.5 The Buzz” KRBZ Kansas City (34)
“XL 102.1” WRXL Richmond (54)
“Alternative Buffalo” 107.7 WLKK Buffalo (57)
That gives a solid group to sell to national ad buyers attempting to reach younger male audiences. And Entercom may just not be done there. Rumors have been flying over the past few days that one of the company’s first moves will be to flip CHR “Amp 103.7” KVIL Dallas to Alternative. We reported last month on an anonymous registration of Alt1037.com, which is being used as a decoy to point to iHeart’s “Alt 104.9” KLLT St. Louis and have been told that the domain is likely for use for Entercom post-merger closing. Dallas has been without the format since last November’s flip of 102.1 KDGE to AC.
That would now give Entercom three Alternative stations in top five markets. Add AAA 93.1 WXRT Chicago (as well as 105.5 WMMM Madison) for sales purposes and you now have four and leaving one gaping hole for the format and the company. CHR “92.3 Amp” WBMP New York is currently struggling with a 2.0 share in a market where no non Hip-Hop music station is targeting 18-49 year old men. Adding New York and Dallas enables record label support behind the format and gives Entercom the ability to package the top five markets for national sales and marketing partnerships along with the other eleven stations mentioned.