David Field is Done …
I promise that I was going to let go of the CBS Radio-Entercom merger, in spite of my concern of what the merger may mean to the radio industry. But then I read something on Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com that I couldn’t let go without comment:
“We are done apologizing about radio,” said David Field, CEO of the new Entercom. “(It’s) America’s #1 reach medium, which is massively undervalued.”
This one quote says volumes about Field and what is wrong with radio. Frankly, if I owned stock in Entercom, I would be very concerned. But it does explain a lot. To wit:
• One of radio’s greatest problems is revenue. Ad sales dropped in 2008 and have not rebounded. A major reason? Radio under the current corporate model has changed radio itself — with rare exceptions — from being a foreground activity with listeners actively engaged and is now a background service with listeners changing stations as soon as the advertising begins.
• To attempt to make up for lost revenue, stations added more commercials each hour, making the stop-sets even less tolerable to listeners. Add to that the sponsorships for everything “traffic is brought to you by …” and the issue is compounded. No advertiser in his right mind would pay a premium to advertise on a station run this way … which includes Entercom stations as well as iHeart and Cumulus. This explains why revenue among major corporate stations is flat in spite of ad minute increases.
• In order to supposedly move the merger ahead, Field sold the one station in Los Angeles — The Sound (100.3 FM) — that bucked the trend and had a fiercely loyal audience that did listen actively. This could have been exploited by the CBS sales department, but he looked at the spreadsheet instead of the audience. That he didn’t realize what he had or didn’t care is very telling … it would appear that Field just doesn’t get it, and that may be the saddest part of this merger. He really should know better.
In conclusion, David, you are right: you don’t have to make apologies. But you’re in for a rude awakening if you think things are OK. Listeners still have ever increasing choices, and your programming and management decisions can either reverse … or instead hasten, the trend away from radio.
Dumping The Sound instead of, say, Jack (93.1 FM) shows your reliance on spreadsheets over understanding the art form and the true potential of well-programmed radio. There is still time to change, and I hope you do as you have the potential to do great things; in the meantime don’t apologize … just keep your resume current.
Cumulus Media stock was officially delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange, and is now traded “over the counter” due to the company not maintaining a stock price over $1 as required by NASDAQ. As I write this, Cumulus is trading at 16 cents per share, with a total market cap value of less than $5 million dollars. Just last year, Cumulus — which owns KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) locally — did a reverse split to try to maintain the price but it was ultimately not successful.
What does this mean for Cumulus? Operationally, nothing. A company’s stock price doesn’t necessarily mean anything directly. The problem is with debt of more than $2 billion on which the company is apparently unable or unwilling to make payments. This will be a story to watch.
A reader who wanted their name kept secret asked, “Could you please let the readers know what happened to Warren Olney on KCRW 89.9 FM?”
Olney gave up his daily syndicated show heard locally on KCRW, and is now doing a podcast. Find it via Olney’s Facebook page at facebook.com/KCRWToThePoint/
Go Country (105.1 FM) began playing holiday music last week as they did last year. It’s a good alternative to KOST (103.5 FM); I actually like it a little better. But I miss the country tunes.