There has been some intense intrigue, speculation, and countless ideas as to what the hell Cumulus has plans on doing in this market.
An endgame if you will? I mean, they've destroyed KGO and marginalized their other radio properties here; (and other markets too). To wit:
--From Inside Radio:
Ten stations drag second quarter Cumulus revenue down:
Cumulus Media reported a pro-forma revenue decline of 3% for the second quarter. But CEO Lew Dickey told investors yesterday that just ten stations – primarily news/talkers in the top 10 markets – were the culprits behind the revenue shortfall. Billings for the ten stations sank by more than $10 million in the quarter. The top three under-performers were off by a combined $5.5 million. That’s more than the company’s total $4.8 million revenue shortfall in the quarter.
One of those "news-talkers? Uh, take a wild guess. Uh, yeah, KGO...what a shocking surprise. When you run an operation into the ground, alienate your core listener base, hire and fire staff with a wanton disregard and without any reservation, chances are you're going to have chaos. And chaos reigns at Cumulus SF. There's a ton of information and some delicious stories. Some, I can't prove. Some, with the help of sources who work right inside the building, have been fact-checked and are reliable. It's a complicated web, bear with me. From one of the sources who like all, spoke on condition of anonymity: Again, some of the following is a bit of endless minutiae and the mother of all complicated webs, but it's pretty darn accurate. .
We digress to the thrust of the Cumulus inner workings. From one of my moles:
Seems a lot of people on the blog are up in arms about the decisions being made by Cumulus higher-ups, but I can assure you in a situation like theirs, no one is making any final decisions. What will be happening, over and over and over, is qualified people will quit, or take severe pay cuts. Quitting is usually the alternative, or being fired, which was apparently the case for the sports personality Ralph, (Barbieri); not aware the company was making a case against him for months, and will assuredly lose any court case regarding his termination, unless he has scantily clad photos of the new owners doing things they shouldn't. He also doesn't have the deep pockets for a fight, and most large companies will not allow a precedent to be set involving a lawsuit.
I actually think Barbieri has a case, but I'm not a lawyer. We move on.
Regardless, this is the process. Along the way really weak candidates will take jobs they could not normally get, and in this case, it seems to be most of the management types on the KGO side. Fun thing is in reading the blog I'm noticing an expectation by readers, who I am guessing are/were in the business, that the people in these jobs will quit, step down, or acknowledge incompetence. I am not sure what fantasy land this actually happens in, but I can assure you it does not happen in the real world, as I'm sure you know. People will hope to do as good a job as possible, and keep a job. The company hopes they can do the job, and can pay them little in the interim. Usually, neither thing works out. USUALLY, the person does the job at an average level, and the company ends up paying them even more to keep them on because a REAL replacement with experience will cost A LOT more.
I was messaging with my buddy inside the Cumulus cluster building--he asked me why I was "so interested in this?" Well, everyone likes drama, right? I'm no different. I also explained to the individual that I've never heard such unmitigated garbage on the air ever. Ever. High-school stations don't operate like this. And I'm being kind. Not to denigrate some of the good newspeople, the reporters, the few anchors and editors and people over there at KGO who know I'm aware of the fact that they have to make a living and it's tough out there. It is.
I'm speaking more about the usual suspects that have surfaced out of nowhere on the air--let's refer to them as complete imbeciles. Weekend should be highlighted here and ingrained into the brain. The train wreck that constitutes some of KGO, (and KNBR too) so-called "prized" pupils. Good grief, if you read this blog, you know what I'm referring to, so pay attention.
Let's get back to the stories, shall we? OH, here's a good one:
Ronn Owens will obviously be leaving at the end of his contract because they cannot pay him what he makes. That's no secret. What is a secret is how a man with so much experience and relevance to the station has not even been given an office, according to my source. (NO OFFICE? The ego must have run amok.) Still embarrassing for your top dog.
We move further into the abyss, again, from someone way, way up in the food chain:
The Cumulus business plan (this is not coming from Cumulus people in San Francisco) is to merely get a piece of the advertising pie. They are not concerned with being Top 5 in the market, regardless of market. Only in being in the Top 10, which they believe is a high enough rating to garner ad dollars. If there are only 2 Talk/News stations within the Top 10 then they are basically going after the same dollars, which they believe they can get, especially with a cheaper staff. It's not only happening to them in San Francisco, but is also happening in New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. They believe news costs less, and that getting the to the top is not worth the effort. News will be a consistent thing if successful, with few fluctuations, which in turn should create a steady stream of ad dollars which their investors want to see. The ONLY way KGO, or any news station which has changed formats, will go back to "what it once was" is if they cannot for the life of them get any ad revenue in the door. If they consistently cannot get into the Top 15, or within a single ratings point (give or take), they would consider the move back. Yet that is unlikely since they have a built in audience (regardless of what they lost), and their product will compete with the other news station in the market.
*RICH LIEBERMAN 415 MEDIA EXCLUSIVE
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