This site's good friend DA writes in a comment at the end of the last thread:
Say The Musers make 40%+ of the station revenue. If Cumulus sold The Ticket and the 1310 signal, what would the investors by buying long term? Mike and Norm are at the end. Each of the Musers could move on quickly if Cumulus voids contracts and trying to bill equal to The Musers after if even one leaves becomes an issue. Plus, the off air staff costs and sales turnover is a constant radio issue.
That is a very interesting and valid point. I would issue not so much a mild and respectful disagreement, as a perspective that shifts the assumptions somewhat.
DA's point applies broadly to any asset that depends on individual talent. Think about a sports team. It's worth more if it's talent is good and the talent is assured of sticking around for awhile. What distinguishes the teams that are valuable year after year from those that have their ups and downs? It's management -- the ability to keep the inventory of talent strong and fresh. It's other things, too, but I'm focusing here on DA's point. (NB: The analogy is not perfect -- there are a limited number of Big Four sports teams to buy and sell, and so scarcity drives up the price irrespective of athletic or management talent.)
My view is that The Ticket is like those teams with lots of talent that is backed by strong and savvy management. Think about it: The individual talent of the hosts is undeniable. But management -- invented, in the beginning, by Mike Rhyner and other founders -- is responsible for both permitting and encouraging the highly-personalized, draw-back-the-curtain type of talk that results in an identification between them and the listeners. It combines this with strongly show-identifiable features (O-Deck, Homer Call, E-News, etc.), station promotions (GNO, Fight Night, etc.), and other lesser touches that make the station stand out. The talent is the foundation, but management provides the framework and direction -- and sometimes the discipline -- in which it can succeed.
Even though the current hosts have all been around a long time, I would also suggest that a critical element of The Ticket's success is management's identification and strategic promotion of new talent. New voices are added, some stick and fit in with the Ticket ethos, some don't. Gradually, some get more exposure. How does this fit with DA's point? Consider his scenario of host departure for some reason. Wouldn't most of us listen to Country Force over the competition if it got a slot? Shake Joint? Cirque (when not on a frequent vacation; also, Cirque probably the least likely replacement as its hosts have other things to do)? Not a Podcast has its partisans. And wouldn't that keep The Ticket on top? And valuable?
[Side note: Unless there were a bankruptcy, I am doubtful that Cumulus would be able to unilaterally "void contracts." But to DA's major point -- contacts certainly do expire and Cumulus could chose not to renew them.]
|"I'll start the bidding at $700 -- but I only want David Mino."|
Despite rumbles of it being near the end for Mike and Norm and even some younger hosts who want to do other things, I think both of those worthies, and even the younger voices, are going to be around for quite some time. Got no concrete inside poop on this and DA may well be right that their days are numbered. But it's just the feeling I get. The P1 has been anticipating their exit for quite some time, but my sense is that this is just way, way too sweet for each of them, and Norm has some big fans in upper management.
Another point is that the a buyer of a business will take steps to avoid the very problems DA has identified. It would make sure it had its main hosts under contract for a meaningful future period. It would also likely insist on noncompetes, for which it would pay the affected hosts extra as part of the deal. And it would tie up key managers and executives in exactly the same way.
So if The Ticket were on the block, I think buyers with dollars would be lined up around it.