WIP Marketing Director Cindy Webster tweeted a link to this Inside Radio article yesterday outlining one option for CBS’ sale or spinoff of its radio properties, which include WIP and other local stations– a spinoff to a separate, publicly traded company:
Such a maneuver may put the CBS Radio portfolio in a better position to grow through station acquisitions. As it stands now, the radio division competes for capital for investments within the larger CBS Corp., which is intently focused on higher growth areas. For example, if the CBS Radio cluster in St. Louis wanted capital to buy another station in the market, it might compete for funding with a new show CBS wants to launch on Showtime’s over-the-top streaming service. The bean counters would ultimately weigh which investment would produce a better return.
Interesting idea. This sort of arrangement, at least on the surface, would probably have the least impact on operations, since the radio group would still exist as a whole. But there’s reason CBS Corp. sees other verticals as “higher growth areas.” Any new entity, or new owner, would still face the same market challenges. Just because you no longer have to fight with Showtime for funding doesn’t mean you necessarily deserve funding. And maybe I’m naive and millennial, but I don’t see any reason why, at this point, you’d want to grow a radio portfolio.
Where there is value, however, is in the brands, like WIP.
But a sale remains among the options CBS is considering, and existing radio broadcasters may not be the only interested parties. A streaming audio provider may see an opportunity in the unit’s strong brands and local reach, not to mention the ability to better penetrate the local advertising market. SiriusXM Radio could see CBS Radio as a way to cordon off a larger share of the in-car market. In fact, any company interested in being a player in the local media business could be a suitor, including international broadcasters.
This makes the most sense. If a streaming player, or even SiriusXM, were to take on local brand names and bring them into the future with user-friendly streaming options – including changes to format (why do stations treat their podcasts as an afterthought or post them as simply recorded versions of their live shows?) – that would probably make the most sense for all involved. But it would also probably mean the most change for stations like WIP.