Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Couple of Preliminary Low-Info Thoughts on the Cumulus Shakeup (H/T Confessor DA)



Whenever something stirs in the radio industry, we always look forward to Confessor DA's thoughts.  He posted a couple of interesting tidbits to the last post, suggesting among other things that the new CEO has a history of taking media properties (a print property, in her case) into bankruptcy.  This and other news has suggested to some Confessors that major changes in the sound of the station are in the offing.

Anything's possible, but we need to remember that The Ticket is a very profitable Cumulus property.  I'm betting on no major shakeups in any on-air lineups, talent, or JV assignments at least until contract renewal time rolls around.  DA suggests that belt-tightening starts with sales, but I would think that competition would militate against raising rates, and it's hard to believe that slashing commissions or sales staff wouldn't be self-defeating.  DA, what's your thinking here about how a media turnaround artist deals with the marketing function?

However, I do think that when contract-renewal time comes up, all bets are off.  Bob and Dan took a per-year annual pay cut, and there may be some hosts who are sufficiently well-off that a significant salary reduction would result in some stars being a little loose in the socket and ripe for plucking or moving on to pursue a different way of making a living (or just living).

For all of these reasons, I think the Western Hemispherical Catman faces some real challenges in keeping the station tops in the local sports-talk ratings to protect his team from significant changes.

I hope they don't mess with my Georgio.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy means that the company keeps operating, but the bankrupt must submit a plan for restructuring debt and paying creditors (which requires court approval and negotiation with lenders and creditors to avoid a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy) -- and yes, reducing costs.  I think DA is onto something when he suggests that dumping AM stations might be in Cumulus's future.  He's also probably right that it would be a challenge given today's listener preferences, but there's always someone out there who thinks they can make a go of a media property.  Somewhere out there there are Mike Rhyners who would be happy to pick up a bargain low-wattage 1310-type property to live the dream.  (Black Ticket, anyone?)  (I should add I don't know if Cumulus has a lot of those sitting around.)  May not bring in a lot of cash, but it would eliminate the cash drain and yield some return of capital.

Interesting times ahead for our weekday heroes and the line forming behind them.

23 comments:

Gopher said...

Just a thought here but as well as the Ticket bills and probably WPAB I don't see them selling these properties.If you are hurting for cash, why would you sell off the only stations in your cluster that are making money?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to change the subject but I got to get this off my chest.

Streaming audio looks good on paper but I have yet to find a reliable platform. Having to hear the startup ad every time the app buffers does not enhance my listening experience.

So how about that Cumulus news?

Anonymous said...

I agree that cutting JVers would be stupid but companies headed for bankruptcy make stupid decisions. Doubt anything significant happens with the Ticket but I might have my resume updated if I was a bench player.

A lot of you like to bag on Jake Z. I have had personal and email interaction with him and he has always been pleasant and respectful to me, which certainly can't be said about other on-air talent. I really like his sports knowledge and I think the guy works hard. Sure he can be abrasive sometimes, but no more than other hosts. If you want to see some disrespect, check out this Twitter gem from Sean Bass.

Sean Bass ‏@sbass1310
It's incredible how some of you can't grasp the concept of the magic number

Man, talk about a-hole baseball bully. He should be glad that so many people are wanting to talk about his Rangers during football season. Of the TSJ hosts, SB is the one that comes off as the know it all to me.

KP in Dallas said...

Yeah the Sean Bass tweet last night about Magic Number is one of many reasons I have issues with Sean and why I hate baseball fans. However, Sturm jumped all over him on Twitter about it and the P1s had some really funny responses on Twitter kicking Sean in the nuts. Served him right.

As for Jake, I respect his sports knowledge and I generally like him. I like him a hell of a lot more than Dan on that show. The problem with Jake is his insistence on being more hateful, nasty and belligerent than his leader Danny.

Anonymous said...

So they are going to do a remote from Sigma Chi? I thought Corby had told us that he had distanced from his fraternity. I guess enough time has passed to safely be a frat rat again.

Brad Gilbert said...

I use DFW Tuner. Works well when just listening, but there is no pause or record option. Plus, you have access to the other stations to. Little to no buffering, and rarely drops.

DRW1961 said...

Interesting commentary by the Musers this morning regarding yesterday's mass shootings, the President's response to them and their own viewpoints and feelings. As I drove along and listened, I wondered why I wasn't twisting off as much as I would have been if I were listening to the Hardline saying the same things. Don't get me wrong - I agree with what they were saying, but I couldn't help but think that they were saying it in a way that felt so much better than the rantings of Corby and Danny would have.

Guess it's the difference between "gentle musings" and "ABRASIVE! OVER THE TOP!".

Nonononever said...

DRW - you are on the money.

Anonymous said...

Do you think they are afraid that Kid and Computer will bail if Donovan isn't there?

Gopher said...

Back on top before the Cowboys bump?
[url]http://beta.sportsdaydfw.com/other-sports/moresportsheadlines/2015/10/02/d-fw-sports-radio-ratings-ticket-tops-fan-kesn-football-season-kicks?hootPostID=5a0e7a36040a73a27e02e7fafb7bfe06[/url]

Shaggy said...

Way to go BaD Radio!

DA said...

@Gopher,
Many of the top 10 market Cumulus stations have had decreasing ratings for over two years, even on the FM side. There are a few Breitbart (yes them)articles which cite data from the subscription only “Inside Music Media” blog.

As for ratings, there is an elephant in the radio room, which is a device called Voltair. CBS Radio uses it; iHeart uses it; Emmis uses it, and Cumulus seemed to be the major company which took it on last.

Voltair reportedly increases the ability of the radio signal to be read by the PPM in extreme cases, but does not impact ratings and the data generated by the PPM. So, as it pertains to The Ticket, if you believe Nielsen, even of The Fan has Voltair and The Ticket doesn't, The Fan's ratings gains are legitimate and valid. Nielsen gave a presentation in July about Voltair and but that is another post for another time and probably too sorted then).


@The Plainsman,
I would not classify Mary Berner as a “media turnaround artist”. While she led Reader's Digest through their first Chapter 11 filing in August 2009 which they emerged from in February 2010, but she left in April 2011 and they filed for Chapter 11 again in February 2013.

Cumulus is in 90 metro areas and they are the second largest radio company in the US, so there is a TON of work to be done and while she does not officially start until October 13, she and her management team will look at EVERYTHING in time.

Look here for Berner's pay and the Lew Dickey “golden parachute”.
http://biz.yahoo.com/e/150930/cmls8-k.html

To All: One Anon. Did link the latest Barry Horn story about the sports radio market for The Dallas Morning News, but does someone else on the DMN staff actually take a look at the entire radio landscape? I really haven't really seen that in the last three years, just what the sports stations do. If Horn continues to fail to describe the market as a whole, then he is as lazy as I thought since sports stations are typically in the mid/lower-20's for all stations overall.

In addition, Horn also failed to mention the Cumulus management change.

Anonymous said...

Back on top? More like neck and neck...and only because of The Musers' dominance. And that's without the Cowboys bump. Also, note well the tidbit about men 18-34. Huh, sounds like that kid's comment Pman posted as an article--on how his younger demo buds are turning to The FAN--might be dead on.

...........................................................
The numbers are in for Nielsen's latest sports talk ratings period, known as the "September Book," even if it covers only Aug. 13 to Sept. 9.

The race in the all-important category of men 25-54 finished:

4.7 for Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket

4.5 for 105.3 The Fan

2.0 for KESN-FM (103.3).

On a more intimate level, men 25-54 from Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. when the big-name, high-priced local talent is on the air, it was: Ticket 5.8; Fan 4.2; KESN 2.2.

When it comes to individual shows, The Ticket's Morning Musers remain head and shoulders above a crowded pack. Think of them as the legendary Secretariat racing against the rest of the Belmont field. George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith scored a 9.4 share among men 25-54. Closest were the station's Hardline and the Fan's Ben & Skin, both at 5.0.

Talk notes:
The Ticket will have to wait to earn its third National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Award as "Sports Station of the Year." New York's WFAN won the award Thursday night in Atlanta...KESN's Cowlishaw & Mosley show celebrates its second anniversary next week...The ratings include only the debut week of Donovan Lewis' pairing with Norm Hitzges...Not a single Cowboys regular-season game, a big boost for the Fan, is included in the month. The Fan is trending better among men 18-34.

Here's a breakdown by show of the Monday-Friday men 25-54 in September ratings:
The Musers (Ticket), 6-10 a.m. - 9.4
The Hardline (Ticket), 3-7 p.m. - 5.0
Ben & Skin (Fan), 3-7 p.m. - 5.0
BaD Radio (Ticket), noon-3 p.m. - 4.0
G-Bag Nation (Fan), 10 a.m.-3 p.m. - 4.0
Shan & R.J. (Fan), 6-10 a.m. - 3.8
Mike & Mike (KESN), 5-9 a.m. - 3.1
Norm & Donovan (Ticket), 10 a.m.-noon - 3.1
Cowlishaw & Mosley (KESN), 3-6 p.m. - 2.3
Dennis & Friedo (KESN) 11 a.m.-3 p.m. - 1.6
ESPN Network Subs (KESN), 9-11 a.m. - 1.3

birq said...

"I thought Corby had told us that he had distanced from his fraternity"

The hosts don't choose who buys a remote

Shaggy said...

Hosts have chosen remotes plenty of times before.

Ed said...

@birq so you are saying that Sigma Chi at TCU "bought" that remote last week? I wonder what kind of leveraging they were trying to accomplish by doing that?

Anonymous said...

Barry Horn is the worst writer in the DFW. Someone else in town should write their own ratings article, to prove how bad Barry is.

James said...

Seems like lots of people are bagging on the Hardline,and I promise I am not trying to pile on. But the news story today about the Rangers t-shirts sporting a Dallas skyline reminds me of a peeve I have with Corby and Danny. Every time they hear of Arlington residents protesting when an announcer at an Arlington event (Rangers or Cowboys stadiums) refer to their location as Dallas, The Cobra and Balis express their disdain for such protests and the people uttering them.
I bring this up now because it may come up again today, so I'll say this pre-emptively: Danny and Corby are wrong. Dallas had its chance to build both those stadiums, and Dallas refused. Arlington took it on, and its citizens should get credit. As long as singers who perform shows at Jerryworld insist on saying how great it is to be in Dallas, the Arlington taxpayer is entitled to issue a correction.
Disclosure: I grew up in Dallas and worked in Dallas for years even after moving to Arlington.

Chris K said...

I guess I'd have to ask what credit is it that Arlington wants? Arlington tax payers are simply the ones who got fleeced by a billion dollar corporation. The only reason they were in position to get fleeced is the proximity of Arlington to Dallas and Ft. Worth. It's not like either stadium would be in Arlington if it were a suburb of Lubbock.

Anonymous said...

Drama unfolding on Twitter. TC has blocked P1 Domo.

James said...

Chris, not sure what your point is.
What does Arlington want? I dunno, for TV announcers on televised events to say they're in Arlington rather than Dallas. Doesn't seem too much to ask.

Anonymous said...

The only time I've heard national or visiting teams announcers refer to the stadiums being in dallas are when the DALLAS cowboys play. If it's happened with the rangers, I've never heard it. Even still, doesn't seem like a big deal at all. As referenced, the only reason Arlington is in a position to host said teams is because the closeness to Dallas. Who gives a rip.

Chris K said...

My reply would be that the teams may technically play in Arlington but they are DFW teams. When I travel out of the state I don't tell people I'm from Lewisville I say Dallas. I think it's the samething except no one in Lewisville is going to be upset that I said Dallas.