CBS CEO Les Moonves, who should go fuck himself for whatever role he did or didn’t have in signing off on a two-hour selection show, said today during CBS Investor Day that the company plans on selling off its radio assets.
Moonves said CBS would explore a variety of alternatives for the group include a sale, swap or spinoff of the group, just as CBS spun off its outdoor advertising group in 2014. The goal, he said, is to “unlock value for our shareholders,” but he vowed to the crowd of Wall Streeters that “we will be prudent and judicious as we go, as we are in all such endeavors.”
The Eye owns 117 stations in 26 markets, including clusters in such top markets as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
In recent months Moonves has hinted that CBS was leaning toward selling some or all of its stations. CBS took a $484 million write-down on the value of its radio station group in the fourth quarter, citing “the sustained decline in industry projections for the radio advertising marketplace since 2014.”
[Anyone who calls it "The Eye” unironically should also go fuck themselves.]
As you know, CBS owns WIP, among other Philly stations. What does this mean for them?
Over the course of reporting RADIO WARS I’ve heard from several sources that some of the recent decisions made by WIP gave off the appearance that the station was being prepared for a sale. The Philly Business Journal, which has a story on Moonves’ comment, also notes rumors about CBS radio station sales. Lean and mean is a phrase that you often hear. Conjecture had it that cost-saving initiatives came from big-wig execs in New York and perhaps impacted on-air personality and local executive decisions.
@addisonroberts oh yeah. but i think WIP gets sold off from CBS eventually
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) March 14, 2016
Consider that, over the last two years or so, WIP has transitioned from Glen Macnow, Anthony Gargano, Rob Ellis and Tony Bruno in the Afternoon time slot to the relatively inexpensive Josh Innes and his inexpensive co-hosts, one of whom, Spike Eskin, then shape-shifted into an inexpensive program director replacing the more pricey and somewhat divisive Andy Bloom, who was fired in December. There may be other reasons for any one of those personalities leaving the Afternoon time slot or the station in general – Bruno hung it up on his own – but there’s certainly a trend toward saving money.
Today, those same sources, from various levels of local sports talk radio, confirmed that a potential sale of WIP has been the topic of conversation among those in the industry for the last year or so. A couple stated the obvious and noted that this will leave pretty much everyone without a long-term contract at WIP and other local stations worried. Another felt recent cost-savings efforts were the norm for any large corporation today, and that recent WIP moves may have had little to do with the notion that they could be sold.
Still, costs have been trimmed, and now the the company’s CEO has stated that radio properties would be sold off in some capacity. Does this spell the end of WIP? No, doubtful. Unlike music and general talk stations, WIP deals in a targeted niche in a big market. They may get sold, and things may change, but they won’t cease to exist anytime soon. However, radio stations in general are on the wrong side of history, not wholly unlike newspapers. Like their print counterparts, radio stations can shift to the newer medium (online-podcasts), but years of formatting norms, industry convention, groupthink, and like-mindedness work against progress. It’s not impossible – some legacy publications have done a decent job of transitioning to the web, and some radio stations have done a better job of embracing streaming and podcasting – but the deck is stacked against the old school outlets. This is why I’ve been so steadfast in including streaming numbers in the ratings– it’s too important to just ignore. Indeed, WIP, thanks to its older demo and lackluster streaming options (thanks to CBS!), is hurting badly in this regard.
There’s a lot to be decided – it doesn’t even sound like Moonves knows what the plan is – but change is coming, in some capacity. And I’m guessing I won’t be the only one around here thinking Les Moonves should go fuck himself.