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 cashes out.
The addition of the market leading WBEB to the Entercom cluster will give them a total 30.9 share based on the June 2018 Nielsen Audio ratings. Re-adding WXTU brings Beasley up to a 24.3 share and gives them another female friendly station to pair with their very male leaning cluster of Rock 93.3 WMMR, Variety Hits “95.7 Ben-FM” WBEN-FM, Sports “97.5 The Fanatic” WPEN-FM, and Classic Rock 102.9 WMGK. The companies will have the two biggest combined shares in the market with iHeartMedia next at a 19.7 share and Radio One at 6.0.
The move of WBEB will likely lead to a domino effect formatically. AC “96.5 TDY” WTDY-FM and its 2.5 share becomes expendable to Entercom. WBEB has outlasted many competitors in the PPM era including now two incarnations of WTDY-FM over the past two years. Entercom has multiple directions to consider for a change at 96.5. The only demographic not being targeted by what Entercom will have is a younger or minority skewing format which could lead to a return to Top 40 or Rhythmic CHR. Something in the Rock vein would help attack Beasley’s third ranked WMGK and fourth ranked WMMR and help expand WBEB and second ranked Classic Hits 98.1 WOGL’s market lead, however with Sports 94.1 WIP, Entercom doesn’t need a station that would target Men 25-54..
However a third scenario may be developing. Entercom Philadelphia Vice President of Music Programming Shelly Easton is rumored to be staying with the company despite originally coming to Philadelphia in 2009 to program WXTU for Beasley. Upon closing of the sales this fall would Entercom consider launching a new Country competitor to WXTU?
The loss of WTDY could also lead to Beasley or iHeartMedia to make an attempt to compete against WBEB? Classic Hip-Hop “Real 106.1” WISX is currently the weak link in the iHeart cluster with a 2.8 share, while Variety Hits “95.7 Ben-FM” WBEN-FM is struggling to hurt Entercom’s WOGL as it trails 7.7-3.0. A move to a format that targets WBEB and WOGL could follow especially if Entercom were to go to Country or a Rock based format.
And this is not the end of Beasley’s dealmaking. The company filed with the SEC in June to offer up to $250 million in stock to raise funds for potential deals. Are there other markets where the company will pad their existing holdings?