Saturday, January 21, 2012

On This, Our 400th Post, We Republish a Possible CTO Encounter

Hard to believe.  I looked up and this is my 400th post.  Thanks to all Confessors and fly-bys for continued growth and ever-improving content -- because the best stuff is usually in the comments these days. 

A couple of Anonymi and I have been kicking around what we view as promotional inattention to The Little One.  This has gotten under someone's skin, and I think I know whose skin it is, and I think that skin is not paired with Ben, but instead resides at The Ticket's plush new digs, but it doesn't matter.  He provides some excellent information in the following somewhat dyspeptic comment to the last post:

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The "CTO's" aren't going to spend thousands of dollars advertising as long as the Ticket is still #1 M25-54. and guess what? They're still #1 M25-54, by a long shot. the Fan has hurt KESN's ratings more than they've hurt the Ticket's ratings.

Lack of capital investment? Stop by the 4th floor of 3090 Olive and you'll see capital investment.

And as for the signal, let's remember something. 1310 sold in 1994 from Bonneville to Cardinal Communication for 3 million dollars. Cardinal sold out to SFX a year later for 8 million
(
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/SFX+BROADCASTING+TO+ACQUIRE+KTCK(AM)+IN+DALLAS.-a016601127)   And then it sold to Susquehanna for about 14mil in May of 1996.
(
http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/company-structures-ownership/7226952-1.html)    98.3, a crappy FM siganl sold a few years back for 16mil+.
(
http://www.radiobroker.com/)

To get a 'good' FM signal, or a significant upgrade to an AM signal would require in the 10's of millions of dollars. Check that broker's site for an understanding of pricing of stations. And realize that any station that has a decent signal will probably have decent billing. And with common BCF multiples of 5-8, the CTO's aren't going to pay 50-80 million let's say, for a better signal when KTCK is billing just fine with the crap signal they've got. Not to mention that to buy a better signal, you've got to have someone willing to sell a signal. Why would Clear channel, CBS or anybody else sell them a better signal? And as for other signals in house, flipping 570 and 1310 would kill 570 and whatever billing it has. And 96.7 is a halfway decent signal north of town, and it sucks south of town. It's 104.1 slightly closer to town.

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A few reactions:

(1)  Thanks very much.  Great info, I've always wanted a compact history of The Little One's transactions, and there it is.   And I'm a freak for all that radio inside stuff, too, although not in any media business myself.  I think I mentioned that awhile back I shopped around for a radio station to buy (not in a major metro) and got a little educated on this stuff and found that there was this amazing fanatical radio techno-financial subculture out there.  Very cool and fun.  Our Anonymous benefactor here is, I'm pretty sure, a Ticket guy, as no mere Confessor would have any interest in defending the CTO's lassitude with such conviction.   And, I think, a pretty solid and credible Ticket guy, wouldn't you say so, AP?

(2)  No one -- not me, not any commenter -- has said that the CTO aren't spending money on The Ticket.  We all know about the move announced a year-and-a-half-ago and the shiny new studios.  Although to hear the hosts talk about it, those studios are somewhat less desirable for The Ticket than for other Cumulus properties who will be billeted there.  Yeah, it's a "capital investment," albeit not allocable entirely to The Ticket, but it is 100% irrelevant to the point I and some commenters were making, which related to investment in reaching more ear buds and how people find out about it.   Don't get me wrong, it's great that there's going to be a technical upgrade -- although it sounds like a lot of the old equipment that didn't work so hot on Maple has been hauled over there.  But that equipment could be manufacured by Tag Heuer and it won't bring in one additional listener or retain one straying P1.

(3)  Also 100% irrelevant:  Amounts paid for The Ticket broadcast property.  Our point has to do with a new playing field for sports radio in DFW in the future, a field that is being prepared for planting by The Fan, and not The Ticket.  No one doubts that The Ticket is valuable.  No one doubts that its ratings are presently strong (also 100% irrelevant to our point).  The question is not what was paid for The Ticket in 1995 or 1996 -- over fifteen years ago when The Ticket had no competition. 

And by the way -- it is misleading to suggest that those purchasers were paying solely for the 1310 signal, as though the Ticket talent and format pounded together by Mike Rhyner and other founders  had nothing to do with it.   The Ticket went on the air on January 24, 1994 (an early Happy Birfday to all), and by the time of the SFX transaction in 1995 it was already the number one station among males 25-54.  

And the question is not whether The Ticket's talent overcomes the rotten signals to achieve dominant ratings in the here and now.  The question is what happens five years from now when the present talent has been on the air for (in some cases) over two decades, and some of it may have moved on.  And the listener demo is trending in the other direction.  What then?  Will you have done anything for your brand other than beg long-time talent to stay on?   Will people think to tune you in because you're The Ticket and not because they like Junior, or Mike, or Bob?

(4)  100% irrelevant:  The purchase price of a new FM signal.  No one here has suggested that Cumulus buy a new stick for The Ticket, and this site has never done so.



(5)  Not 100% irrelevant is the information about signal swaps.  But pretty close to 100% unpersuasive.  Either 93.3 or 96.7 would be an immediate material improvement in the Ticket signal.  Stations swap signals with some frequency in metro areas.  The Score in Chicago has done it several times, improving its coverage area and signal strength every time, even taking over the long-time news-talk signal for NBC in that market.  You know what they pay their talent there, talent that doesn't come close to The Ticket's?  Huge.  Mike North (no longer, but in his heyday):  Well over a million dollars a year.  (I sure as hell hope Mike R's deal is somewhere well north of altruism.)  The point:  Swapping signals has been real darned good for The Score and its talent.

But let's look closer to home -- much closer to home.   In March 2010, 96.7 was KPMZ, Ron Chapman's "Platinum" 60's-70's station.  One day, listeners were startled to learn that Citadel Broadcasting began simulcasting WBAP News/Talk 820 on 96.7.      So the first point to make is:  signal swaps are easy.

The second point to make is:  Why is Cumulus committed to continue to simulcast WBAP on 96.7?  820 AM is 50,000 watts and clear-channel omnidirectional at night -- a blowtorch.  And it's talk.  It doesn't need an FM signal.  (Neither does The Ticket -- it just needs a growed-up signal, irrespective of the variety of modulation.)  

As for 96.7's signal coverage, it's plainly better than 104.1 for DFW-area listeners.  Citadel thought highly enough of it to plop WBAP in there.  Don't rely on me or Anonymous -- see for yourself:  Compare 104.1 signal coverage (http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=KTDK&service=FM&status=L&hours=U) with 96.7 signal coverage (http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=WBAP&service=FM&status=L&hours=U)).   Improvement is obvious.  And, let's face it -- where are The Ticket's listeners? 

But if you long-suffering Confessors really want to dream, take a look at 93.3 KLIF-FM "i93":  http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=KLIF&service=FM&status=L&hours=U).  How is i93 doing, by the way?  (I'm serious -- I really don't know if it's a worthwhile format in this market, or just more of the same you can find on a half-dozen other stations.  Someone tell me.)  If i93 is still a ratings-suck, then it's still a strong swap candidate, too.  Replace those billings with excellent and creative programming on 104.1 and/or 1310.

The basic point is as it was the last time I addressed this:  If you had a bucket of broadcast properties that included a monster numero uno Ticket format and talent, and were coming anew to DFW, you would never, ever, stick The Ticket on 104.1 and 1310.  Where would you stick it if you had the Cumulus stable of signal sticks?  Well,  that's where you should stick it now.

(6)  So the CTO isn't going to spend "thousands" (?????) of dollars on advertising while The Ticket is Number 1.  I suppose that's why you see so little advertising for Coke, Microsoft, Apple, Toyota, AT&T, and other market leaders these days.  Good lord, as Danny would say.  I love your station, and I love you, but tell your CTO buddies that brands require a little nourishment, a little love, to flourish and grow.

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So:  Great info, and I really do sincerely thank the crypto-CTO for checking in.  I'm serious.  It didn't touch our point but it was great stuff and I cordially invite you to continue to instruct Your Plainsman when I wander into error or plainly have no idea what I'm talking about.  But it seems to me that even with all this tasty info, my and commenters' suggestions that The Fan is doing some things that are elevating its profile in this market, and that its strategies can only assist it in competing with The Ticket in the long run (especially if those strategies are ignored and unmet by Cumulus), are entirely sound.

And finally:  Were you really inviting me to drop by the new studios for a visit? 

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2 comments:

The Plainsman said...

Any FCC-hip Confessors have any information on the status on Cumulus's request for a power upgrade for (I assume) 1310 AM?

ap said...

"And, I think, a pretty solid and credible Ticket guy, wouldn't you say so, AP?"

That would seem to be the case, although your guess is as good as mine. Either way, I certainly belcome the information.