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It's Synergy Time


With the Cumulus/WestwoodOne deal now closed, and assuming there are no D.O.J. issues, the next step is integration, which also means finding synergies. What we've learned is that the brand will be WestwoodOne which has a long history and recognizeable name. We also know, so far, that Paul Caine will stay on and run the network. When Cumulus purchased Citadel, CEO Lew Dickey promised $52 million in synergies and delivered them to investors earlier than expected. When announcing the WestwoodOne purchase, Dickey said there would be $40 million in cost synergies. Where will they come from?

Synergies typically means some jobs will be lost or consolidated and some programming will be cut. This purchase, in combination with programming Cumulus Media Networks already has, creates a huge menu of programming options for radio stations. It also creates some duplication that undoubtedly will be part of more than $40 million in cost synergies Dickey has promised. A goal of Dickey's was to create a network that could compete with Clear Channel's Premiere and ESPN, and he believes the Westwood One portfolio of content puts Cumulus on an even playing field with both. But will he need and keep all of that content?

For example, will the NBC Sports Network continue to be aggressively pushed out to affiliates with Cumulus so heavily invested in making sure the CBS Sports Network becomes the number one challenger to ESPN? Or, does it just sit on the shelf as another programming option Cumulus has to offer stations? Dickey has said having both NBC Sports and CBS Sports gives Cumulus a better shot at competing with ESPN. For sure, having the NFL is a big bonus on that front, which Cumulus gets with Westwood, along with NCAA, NASCAR, and the Olympics.

On the Talk Radio side, Dickey has said, "Premiere has a lock on the Talk format with Rush, Hannity, and Beck (although Cumulus has a contract with Limbaugh that starts in 2014). With Westwood One, Cumulus would get the synidcation rights to Clark Howard, Dennis Miller, Ed Schultz, Herman Cain, Stephanie Miller, and others to add to its stable of talkers that already included Michael Savage, Imus, and others. Both Geraldo and Huckabee were recently taken are off the syndication list. Dickey said Premiere is "a great company, an excellent company," but competition is good for everybody and Clear Channel has had a clear number-one spot without any real competition.

And what about news? Cumulus has ABC news. WestwoodOne brings AP Radio news and NBC news.

(12/13/2013 12:04:12 PM)
There he is The Great Lew Dickey! Worshiped endlessly by the willing trade press. This is sad. The trade press even charges to come to conferences to listen to guys like this talk. Why would I want advise from the captain of a sinking ship. Cumulus will implode, Clear Channel will implode. Worshiping guys like Dickey and Pittman is really sad.
What else do you expect from an industry that tells clients that they must spend money to promote but refuses to do so itself.

- bob
(12/13/2013 9:33:37 AM)
Sometime before "synergies" and before "branding" there was "vertical integration".

Joe has it nailed, anyway. Radio's spin doctors have become no more than spin-quacks. But, what they say still, somehow, resonates. Maybe wishful thinking is alive and well.

Radio has been stalled and parked at the side of the road for over 20 years. Try spinning that.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(12/13/2013 8:42:53 AM)
How absolutely grotesque! Synergies?!? Call it what it is- people losing their jobs and again the radio industry trying to squeeze the same product from less people.

And when it all fails, who "synergizes" the CEO?

Another example of corporate conglomerates watering down the industry and product. The demise of a once great industry continues.

But I'm sure next month we'll hear all about how its all about the listener and how radio has 98% of the audience. What a joke!

- Joe

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