CEO Lew Dickey said that broadcast radio is in the Cumulus DNA and is will remain the core of the company’s approach to business, but he also said that Cumulus needs to compete on all fronts in the new digital world.
A key value of radio, he said, is the high barrier to entry – it has not been possible for years to simply build a new station. The limited like-kind competition puts heightened value on Cumulus’s strong national broadcast footprint and makes it an excellent foundation upon which to build.
Dickey told employees that the company’s two most recent high-profile moves are designed to do just that.
The first was the acquisition of WestwoodOne, which will build the company’s presence in the audio content business.
The second is the company’s still hot-off-the-presses deal with Rdio, which will solidify its presence on the internet.
Dickey addressed four key digital areas and how Rdio was related:
1. On demand: Rdio will allow consumers to rent rather than own music – so instead of paying to downloading and save a song, they will be able to access any one of 20 million songs when they feel like it.
2. Custom playlist: Dickey called this the old “party tape” concept, and said it’s Pandora’s realm, not radio’s. But Rdio brings the capability to Cumulus, and Cumulus experts will be working to refine it.
3. Internet radio: Cumulus plans to use Rdio to leverage the content on the hundreds of stations it owns and thousands it provides programming for into being a strong force on the internet. Dickey is thinking a SiruiusXM-type program service, but with the superior distribution afforded by the easy-to-access internet compared to the difficult-to-access satellite signal used by SiriusXM.
4. Local radio streaming: This is not a Rdio feature, and will continue to be the domain of local stations and the company’s participation in iHeart.
Summarizing, Dickey said, “We are excited to announce this groundbreaking deal with Rdio – the world’s most compelling digital audio platform. This partnership enables Cumulus to leverage our key assets and expertise in content, promotion and sales — making an immediate impact in the evolution of digital audio. Our new relationship with Rdio builds on the recently announced acquisition of Westwood One-Dial Global to ensure that our listeners and advertisers will enjoy broad access to our exclusive content. Our core mission is to provide consumers with the finest audio experience available regardless of device or platform.
The future is extremely bright for both broadcast radio and digital audio, and Cumulus is now uniquely positioned to continue to build a leading media company that successfully integrates the full range of audio content and distribution.”