The absolute failure of radio consolidation
For years we have been told that radio consolidation has been a good thing. Allowing a few companies to own the majority of the stations would lead to cost savings, more creativity, and more formats.
Those not wearing tin foil hats knew the consolidation promises were lies, intended only for early investors to build a portfolio and cash out, leaving investors, employees and even listeners holding the bag as the pyramid scheme could not sustain itself.
Prior to consolidation, radio was worth a lot. Competing creative formats brought in listeners, ad revenues were strong, and radio looked solid. In the consolidation years, listeners got tired of bland repetitive formats and found alternatives, ad revenue dropped, and radio is worth so little that even CBS got out.
Recently Cumulus Radio entered bankruptcy after failing to make an interest payment on the $2 billion in debt it owes. It hopes to restructure into a leaner company more able to compete. Hard to say it it will work, but the odds are long with the news that came out this week.
iHeart Radio, once known as Clear Channel and one of the largest radio company in the world — including ownership of KFI (640 AM), KEIB (1150 AM), KLAC (570 AM), KBIG (104.3 FM), KOST (103.5 FM), KIIS-FM (102.7) KRRL (92.3), and KYSR (98.7 FM) locally — seems to be playing the same card as Cumulus by withholding an interest payment of $106 million, a partial amount of the interest owed on a debt that totals roughly $20 billion.
iHeart told industry website AllAccess.Com that it actually has the money but is withholding the payment to “proactively and comprehensively address iHEART’s capital structure.”
The Wall Street Journal is unconvinced, reporting that they expect iHeart to declare bankruptcy by the end of March. According to the Journal, such a move follows “a decade of ballooning debt and faltering growth, drawing the curtain on one of the biggest leveraged buyouts before the 2008 financial crisis.”
The problem of course is that most restructuring in radio leaves the people who created the problem in charge after all is said and done. What really needs to happen is the return of local control so that radio serves local communities better and returns listeners to the bands. If it isn’t too late.
Mike Kaplan, former programmer of Alt 98.7, did leave the station on his own terms. He’s moved to New York to program a new alternative station owned by Entercom.
Mike Catherwood is gone from the Dr. Drew Midday Live show on KABC. No word on the reason, but replacing him as co-host with Dr. Drew Pinsky is KTTV Channel 11 news anchor Lauren Sivan, who also is a fill-in news anchor at KABC itself. The show is heard in San Francisco on KGO as well as in Los Angeles; that part is likely a cost-cutting move.
To the management of SiriusXM Satellite Radio: Please drop the really bad segments that either recreate old movies or songs (etc.) working “‘70s on 7” into the script or lyrics. They are almost cringeworthy when they come on; the DJ or a jingle would be a vastly superior alternative.
Speaking of SiriusXM: The Billy Joel channel has returned and will be heard on Channel 30 through March 3rd. Love Billy Joel? This is where you want to be.