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Cumulus Planning to Drop Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told Politico on Sunday. Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets. New York Daily News New York radio observers have been expecting for the past year that Limbaugh and probably Hannity would leave WABC, which is owned by Cumulus, for rival WOR. Speculation about possible replacements at WABC for Limbaugh’s noon-3 p.m. show and Hannity’s 3-6 p.m. show has focused on Mike Huckabee and WABC evening hosts Mark Levin and Michael Savage, who signed with Cumulus last year. Deadline Hollywood In May, Limbaugh reportedly mulled leaving Cumulus after receiving blame for advertiser decline in the wake of his controversial Sandra Fluke comments. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey told Bloomberg TV at the time that “we have the premier talk distribution platform in the business and if you want to be on a big stage in this game, you need to be on our stations in the largest markets. They’re the biggest signals, the heritage brands and everybody knows that.”
Posts Tagged ‘Cumulus Media’
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On the heels of Cumulus shaking up the radio landscape by bringing Country back to New York, there’s word that the media company may be ready to become even bigger. The New York Post reports that Cumulus may ultimately purchase CBS Radio. Cumulus is the second largest radio outfit in the country behind only Clear Channel.
The newspaper says the first step would be a spinoff of the CBS billboard division. That has fueled the fire that a radio acquisition would follow, although likely not for another year or two.
The Post says the buyout would likely fall to the hands of Cumulus, and honcho Lew Dickey. Taking over the CBS Radio properties would make Cumulus comparable in size to Clear Channel.
The Cumulus/CBS deal is not far-fetched. The Atlanta-based radio company has joined forces with CBS to help the CBS Sports Radio network take off.
However, a CBS spokesperson would not play the rumor game, telling the Post, “We just bought a major station in New York and launched the CBS [Sports] Radio network. We are not selling CBS Radio.”
Cumulus ended its WPLJ simulcast with new acquisition 94.7. The station with call letters WRXP began the final push before it debuts the new format.
The station will unveil its format of choice tomorrow morning, fittingly at 9:47 a.m.
Until that time, Cumulus is having some fun with listeners. In an entertaining stunt called “Wheel of Formats,” it is spending the weekend spinning the wheel of possible genres. Some are serious contenders, while others are completely throwing everyone off.
For example, the short previews take listeners from a Michael Jackson station to all Disco music. There was the comedy format, and separately “Weird” Al Yankovic and his pop parodies, along with a Beatles “Fab Format.” Those are in the extremely unlikely category, as are the 24/7 polka tunes.
But, a stronger contender is a country format. The “wheel” landed on a pair of country possibilities–one featuring Nashville “legends,” with the other highlighting current artists.
Also, on the station during this weekend was the whimisical all-New Jersey music, with songs from Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and Whitney Houston. Her signature, I’ll Always Love You segued into a Love Songs format.
There are dozens of radio traffic reporters in the New York market. Many of them could be deemed “interchangable” with a cookie cutter sound. Only a select few in the last 20 years have been able to make a career, and be known to a large number of listeners. And then there’s Jeff McKay!
McKay is clearly the most engaging traffic reporter in the business. Therefore, his stock is constantly on the rise. After many years as a full-time gridlock guy on 1010 WINS, mainly nights and weekends, McKay landed as the morning traffic anchor with a managerial role at Merlin Media’s ill-conceived, FM News. But McKay has never been ill-conceived. His reports stay true every 10 minutes, never crossing into gimmicky. He straddles a line effortlessly from entertaining to informing like few in the traffic world have ever done.
Once the writing was on the wall at Merlin last year, and Merlin fired the majority of its staff, McKay began his quest for the next radio home.
“I was looking at a number of scenarios, in radio, television and outside of broadcasting, and had received several offers I liked,” McKay admits. “However, the possibilities with Radiate Media and Cumulus was the best position for me and my family.”
Don Imus, the legendary morning man, has extended his relationship with Cumulus Media through 2015. The I-Man has inked a deal keeping him anchored to the 77 WABC 6 a.m. to 10 a.m shift for another three years. Imus in the Morning is syndicated to all 50 states.
“I am delighted that our listeners and advertisers have the certainty of knowing Don and his amazing team at ‘Imus in the Morning’ will remain on 77 WABC for at least three more years,” said John Dickey, co-chief operating officer at Cumulus. “Don’s a radio legend and is an important part of our team.”
- Related: TVNewser/Imus Staying Put on FBN
Following a stint in Cleveland, Imus headed to New York’s WNBC in 1971. After being fired by that station in 1977, Imus was back at 660 in 1979. From 1982 to 1985, Imus formed a one-two punch with afternoon personality Howard Stern that led to famous ad campaign with the radio stars,”If we weren’t so bad, we wouldn’t be so good.”
There is word today that Citadel Broadcasting, anchored in New York by WABC-AM, is in negotiations to sell itself to Cumulus Media.
CNBC’s David Faber was the first to break the story today.
He says the deal would be at $37 a share, with $30 in cash and the remaining $7 in Cumulus stock.
CNBC’s Faber adds that in December, Cumulus, led by its CEO Lou Dickie, made an offer of around $31 a share for Citadel, which ultimately was rejected by the company.
Since then, CNBC’s Faber reports, Citadel has been in what he deems “auction mode.”
CNBC’s Faber says he doesn’t expect the exclusive negotiations to linger for a long period of time.
The closest Cumulus get to reaching New York City is WFAS in Westchester and a pair of a stations in Bridgeport, CT.