Limbaugh and Cumulus anything but cloud nine… News made way over the weekend that Rush Limbaugh’s show may end its affiliate agreement with Cumulus Media, the second largest radio ownership in the U.S. Limbaugh’s camp is reportedly upset at Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey blaming his program for advertising losses following his controversial remarks on Sandra Fluke.
Speculation has been rampant for months that Limbaugh and Cumulus are at some point likely to part ways, but not at the choice of Limbaugh. While Cumulus is the second largest radio owner in the country, Clear Channel is number one, and it is Clear Channel that owns Premiere Radio, the company Limbaugh is contracted to.
While Cumulus has been buying up more and more news/talk stations in recent years, they’ve also been launching their own line of syndicated conservative shows, with Mike Huckabee, Geraldo Rivera and Michael Savage. Huckabee’s show runs head-to-head against Limbaugh. While Limbaugh’s show airs on many Cumulus-owned stations, including WLS-AM 890 in Chicago and WABC-AM 770 in New York, it’s seems to be a matter of when, as opposed to if, Cumulus will eventually decide to syndicate drop all Premiere programs from their stations, presumably as soon as existing contracts expire. Al Peterson of NTS MediaOnline has compiled the top ten markets that would likely be affected in the event of a parting ways with added speculation on potential alternative stations Limbaugh could land at.
While I’m not going out of my way to defend Limbaugh, blaming him for the problems at Cumulus is a bit unfair. Dickey has himself to blame since he and his company are one of the largest culprits (along with Clear Channel) in the consolidation of radio — something that many argue has already ruined the industry. Cumulus is notorious for cutting staff and forcing individual stations to do more with less. And Dickey wonders why his stations continue to drop in ratings. Memo to Dickey… stop placing the blame on your sales staff!
As for Limbaugh, I’m not holding out any sympathy for him. While in some markets he will be left without a station, many more markets have duplicate news/talk stations that air primarily conservative syndicated shows. Limbaugh will still have plenty of stations to blow smoke at.
Dickey defends consolidation of radio… Speaking of Cumulus Media, company Co-COO John Dickey had some choice comments at Friday’s World Wide Radio Summit. Following those in attendance via Twitter, including Perry Michael Simon and Fred Jacobs, Dickey defended the consolidation of radio, that it will only continue and that radio can’t return to 1975.
Sure Dickey, go right ahead. When your company destroys stations, such as WLS-FM 94.7 in Chicago, those stations just might be better (aka, more cost effective) to adapt a one-size fits all template that shares the same playlist and voice tracked personalities as other classic hit stations around the country. Meanwhile, the rest of planet earth will eventually catch up and get their music fix, if not from their iPods or Pandora, from possibly other viable outlets such as AccuRadio or Sky.FM.
AllAccess.com further recaps statements by Dickey and other radio industry folks from Friday’s event, which in all honestly, sounds more like corporate jargon than anything with real meaning.
Twitter’s Head of News and Journalism... Many eyebrows were raised last week when Twitter announced it was seeking someone to occupy their new “Head of News and Journalism” position. From the job description, I get the sense Twitter will still be a clearing house and not an actual originator of news content.
The area of the description that has perplexes me is where it states the person occupying the role will have “an essential part of the operations and strategy of news organizations and TV news networks.” I wonder if Twitter may start a separate dedicated timeline of tweets posted by only the most qualified news organizations or reporters, while this news head at Twitter acts as a liaison of sorts.
Regardless of what it turns out to be, the Guardian’s Michael Wolff outlines how monumentally historic this position can potentially be.
Kurtz feeling the heat… Howard Kurtz has taken several beatings for mistakes he made last week while covering the coming out of NBA player Jason Collins. Radio veteran Paul Harris did an excellent job at putting the entire situation into perspective, while also . Harris also summarizing what took place among Kurtz and other media critics on yesterday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN.
Automobile manufacturers thinking about the future… Though the article title “Automakers tuning out traditional in-car radios” is a bit misleading, I still think the Detroit News’ story on the future of car radios and how drivers will eventually consume their media is a fascinating read. The article omits any mention of the potential for cars eventually driving themselves, leaving “drivers” more free to consume media.
Rocky Wirtz wanted Susannah Collins out… News surfaced later on Friday that it was Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz who initiated the firing of sideline reporter Susannah Collins from Comcast SportsNet Chicago. In a letter to CSN Chicago, Wirtz said that the organization was disturbed at the videos of Collins as co-host of the web show “Sports Nutz.” Wirtz stated had he been previously aware of them, objections would have been raised at the time of her hiring. As noted Friday by Larz of Chicagoland Radio & Media, CSN Chicago was aware of Collin’s role on “Sports Nutz.” There’s also been rampant speculation that the Blackhawks may have already had grievances towards her, while a separate source of mine strongly indicated on Friday she was already on her way out prior to last week’s slip of the tongue.
Who knows how much more lies beneath the surface. If it was a simple case of Rocky Wirtz demanding her removal because of those videos, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s unfair that Collins was let go for something that her employer was fully aware of when hiring her.
Wirtz has fully demonstrated that he is indeed his late father’s son.
[At the time of originally posting this, I accidentally referenced John Dickey as CEO of Cumulus when describing his defense of radio’s consolidation. John is the Co-COO while his brother Lew is CEO. That has since been corrected. I apologize for the mistake.]