iHeart learns from Entercom …
Last week I told of the changes coming to Entercom, owner of 234 radio stations nationwide and locally of KNX (1070 AM), KROQ (106.7 FM), KRTH (101.1 FM), KTWV (94.7 FM), Amp Radio (97.1 FM), and Jack (93.1 FM). Beginning with their country and alternative formats, the company plans to move all stations and formats to national and regional programming, with few stations having more than one local show, if that. A bit ironic considering that Entercom’s webpage brags of local being at the core of everything they do. But I digress.
It appears the same types of changes at Entercom will be coming to iHeart, owner of over 850 stations nationwide and eight in locally: KFI (640 AM), KEIB (1150 AM), KIIS-FM (102.7), KOST (103.5 FM), KBIG (106.7 FM), Real (92.3 FM), Alt (98.7 FM) and KLAC (570 AM).
Note that in both cases the companies actually own more than that listed: iHeart owns seven stations in the Inland Empire, while Entercom owns one (KFRG, 95.1 FM) … which means I misspoke last week when I stated that the country format consolidation would not affect any local stations.
In the case of iHeart, as reported by Jerry Del Colliano of InsideMusicMedia.Com, the focus will be similar, though not identical. Many heart stations are already doing this, but the focus will be solely mornings and afternoons. The time period from 9 or 10 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m. will be an afterthought, as will any shift after 7 p.m. That’s when listening is at its lowest point, and the suits that run radio think it has nothing to do with lack of content. So out it goes.
iHeart apparently also plans to emulate Entercom as far as nationalizing or regionalizing programming, so expect a lot more syndication of shows based out of town and music programming out of town or even out of state. Essentially, local radio is dead among the large companies.
Which brings up some interesting thoughts regarding radio…
• The large companies are dead. There is no way they can compete other than through being cheap, and being cheap can only get you so far. Local content has always been the key for radio, and no one will care about national programming when it’s loaded with the requisite 15-20 minutes of commercials per hour typical on Entercom and iHeart stations. I expect both to be gone, or at least totally irrelevant within four years.
• This opens up opportunities for smaller companies to swoop in and steal listeners. A station that super-serves its local community is vastly preferable to local advertisers, who want an active listening audience. The death of Entercom and iHeart can be a tremendous opportunity for everyone else — ironically, including money-losing Cumulus — to jump in and take up the slack. I want Bonneville back in Los Angeles … it many happen as station prices continue to drop.
• Internet radio suddenly got more competitive. Part of Entercom’s and iHeart’s plan is to make use of virtual radio stations, in which the few DJs actually working do their work from their homes. Well, I can do that too. And I can start allowing local businesses to advertise on my net station. And I can “geo fence” the station to keep my “signal” local if I need to keep streaming and licensing costs down. And I don’t have to pay for an over-priced CEO to drag me down. Don’t believe me? Tune into KNXFM93.com … a recreation of the original Mellow Sound station and a better light-rock format than you’ll find on the air anyway. And you can even hear it via your smart speaker.
In other words, radio is not dead. Large corporate radio is, though. It’s all in how we all handle it. I think — after a tough time — the industry will rebound with fresh ideas and truly good programming. And if it does not, the net-casters will take up the slack.
Ask Dave, the Recovering PD
Have a question about radio that you’d like answered by a true insider? I have just the solution. Former programmer of The Sound (now KKLQ, 100.3 FM) Dave Beasing — who not only programmed, but also consulted stations across the country — has agreed to do a segment called “Ask the Recovering Former Program Director on the LA Radio Waves podcast I do with almost-retired radio guy Mike Stark. You can hear it at facebook.com/LARadioWaves.
Want to know why stations all play commercials at the same time? Why it’s always around the quarter hour past and before each hour? The future of radio and how podcasts can take up the slack? Something else? Send a note to me with the subject line “Ask Dave” to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The signal dropouts that continue to plague reception of SiriusXM in various areas due to interference from cell towers appears to have a possible solution. The problem is, SiriusXM thus far won’t let you install it yourself. This in spite of the fact that I can self-install every other component of any SiriusXM tuner, receiver, or radio. This is unfortunate, as a bandpass filer would be worth trying, but not at the $80 cost artificially inflated due to a professional installation requirement. Come on SiriusXM … time to step up.