And, just like that, 53 years of history crafted largely by Joseph Field disappeared with the push of a button as the New York Stock Exchange commenced its April 9, 2021 trading session.
Entercom Communications, which last week changed its corporate identity to Audacy and is in the process of transitioning its Radio.com brand to Audacy, officially said goodbye to its “ETM” ticker symbol. With that symbolic Opening Bell opportunity, a new era officially begins for Field’s son, President/CEO David Field.
The virtual appearance by Field’s C-Suite members as trading began followed a 30-minute interview on Clubhouse with Entercom CMO Paul Suchman, conducted by Radio Ink Editor Ed Ryan, that saw Suchman share details about how the name change to Audacy came to be.
Speaking on Clubhouse, Suchman shared that discussions began in 2019 about how Entercom was a “house of brands,” and that internal chat about what Entercom was evolving toward began in 2017.
With podcast companies Cadence 13 and Pineapple Street major entries into the fast-growing space and a greatly underdeveloped Radio.com coming from CBS Radio in the Reverse Morris Trust-fueled merger with Entercom, “purposefully transforming” the company with a goal of becoming a leader across every audio platform generated from within.
Key to the transition from Entercom was the realization that its “house of brands” was neither delivering a clear value proposition to consumers nor advertisers. “It was hard to buy that,” Suchman said.
As such, movement toward becoming “a branded house” — a single valuable brand in the marketplace — was initiated. This saw Entercom hire WPP “brand transformation” shop Landor & Fitch to help it find its “white space” in the market.
That, Suchman noted, was worthy of Entercom’s time and dollars. “We are really happy with where we landed,” he said.
A PLETHORA OF NAMES TO SELECT
While names like Cadence were already within the Entercom family, Landor & Fitch early on in the rebranding initiative shared the Audacy name. It was an instant hit. “We knew it was right but we let the process roll,” Suchman said.
Thousands of names were considered, he added. Asked by Radio Ink’s Ryan if internal input influenced the C-Suite, Suchman said yes. “We absolutely included our own people,” he said. Many focus groups were held. Input was solicited from various corners of the company. “Our brand needs to be a promise of who we serve, and that doesn’t come from an outside agency,” Suchman noted.
Still, Entercom looked at its competitors in the audio media space, and companies it admires that are similar in nature to itself. This helped usher in the Audacy era.
Suchman assumed the Chief Marketing Officer post at what is now Audacy on September 3, 2019, succeeding Ruth Gaviria. With the appointment, the company selected a man who until 2018 served as the Chief Global Marketing Officer of one of the world’s largest commercial real estate and investment firms: CBRE.
But, his role in-between CBRE and Entercom could explain why Landor & Fitch was hired to help with the name change to Audacy: For the year before joining Entercom, Suchman was “CMO in Residence” at Landor & Fitch owner WPP.
Suchman began the first half of the conversation on Clubhouse with Radio Ink’s Ed Ryan by discussing the mindset of marketers and advertisers toward radio. “It’s not just about reach,” he said, noting that the ability to connect with consumers through the audio medium has become a selling factor anew. Then, there’s radio’s “trust factor” in an age where digital advertising is getting criticized for potentially faulty metrics and data.
Why didn’t Radio get taken so seriously in years past by marketers and agencies?
Suchman replied, “A ‘broadcast first’ mindset had been common.” A shift to a digital first mindset changed this. And, Suchman added, that’s actually been good for radio and audio, as shops have become more nimble.
“How does a brand communicate to you in a screenless world?” was one question at the heart of Audacy’s rebrand and subsequent launch.
It’s a question Audacy will undoubtedly put front and center to advertisers, and now investors, as it propels ahead in the world of podcasting, on-demand audio and good ol’ broadcast radio.
Entercom finished its final trading session at $5.03, on April 8, 2021. As “AUD,” Audacy was up 12 cents to $5.15 as of 10:32am Eastern on April 9.