(By Deborah Parenti) With the close of the Entercom/CBS Radio deal last Friday, David Field proved beyond a doubt that he and his executive team truly have “the right stuff” when it comes to executing the “art of the deal.” And what a deal it was.
From smart use of a complex reverse Morris trust arrangement designed to alleviate some tax consequences that had been a huge hurdle in the sale of CBS, to satisfying DOJ concerns about over-concentration in various markets, watching David play this intricate chess game was a lesson in careful maneuvers and steady patience.
It’s easy to imagine the cases of champagne that have been uncorked in celebration. And well deserved. This is a victory and a major milestone for Entercom and David Field. With approximately 235 stations in the top 50 markets, the now No. 2 revenue producer will enjoy even greater clout among advertisers and audiences. That’s good for Entercom.
And it should be good for radio. Because if David Field can deliver on the initiatives he announced Friday, the radio industry stands to benefit.
If it stands with him.
Reducing spot loads and dropping bottom feeders from the advertiser mix will enhance the environment and appeal to audiences. I would add that in the case of the former, it might also be a good idea to run a social media campaign that informs listeners and encourages them to tune in for a new, more appealing audio experience that is free and easy to access on any device.
But even with Entercom’s vastly increased reach, it can’t take on radio’s battle for a bigger slice of the revenue pie alone. It’s going to take the village.
If Entercom’s goal of increasing revenue depends on better pricing and rate integrity, not higher spot loads, it needs the rest of the market to show the same commitment and not deep-dive for share. That can be a tough challenge, especially when ad budgets are small and station sales budgets aren’t being met. It’s easier said than done to display that determination and grit, but long term, this initiative is in everyone’s best interest.
How do you grow your business if you don’t position its value? How can you expect others to appreciate your radio assets if you are too quick to agree to give them away? As one manager I knew was fond of saying, “You can’t soar with eagles if you hunt with flies.”
David Field has put the world on notice that he intends to use his newly minted clout and industry influence to improve radio’s “strong value proposition as America’s No. 1 reach medium.” Let’s hope others will follow his lead and develop their own like-minded initiatives. There could be no better way to go into a New Year.
Congratulations, David and Entercom. And may radio be the ultimate winner!
Deborah Parenti is The Publisher of Radio Ink Magazine and can be reached at [email protected]