The big got bigger, sweeping up syndicator Westwood One and taking a significant stake in streaming service Rdio
How do you follow a year when your radio company more than doubled its size? For Cumulus’ Lew Dickey, after completing the acquisition of Citadel Broadcasting in 2012, it was business as usual, starting with another acquisition: syndicator Westwood One. Add the launch of the Nash-FM country brand, a partnership with digital music service Rdio, and, just as 2014 began, the purchase of Merlin Media’s two Chicago stations, and one can understand why Dickey’s excited about what lies ahead.
“We’re focused on creating a large platform for content creation and distribution across broadcast and digital,” he says. “As consumers ultimately are becoming more distribution-agnostic, we like how we are positioned to move forward as platforms shift and evolve.”
A year after WNSH, Cumulus’ first Nash-FM station, signed on in New York—giving the No. 1 radio market its first country outlet since 1996—Dickey’s multimedia plan for the brand is taking shape, with a goal of 85 stations under the Nash banner plus an additional 1,200 through Westwood One’s network, along with print, video and digital elements to be rolled out through 2014. “Think ESPN for country,” Dickey says, “a touchstone for 90 million fans across the U.S. to relate to their passion.”
Westwood One and Rdio were missing puzzle pieces in Cumulus’ plan to offer broadcast and digital distribution of original content, including custom curated channels online that, Dickey says, “will draw upon the expertise of [our] radio programmers to create a unique digital streaming experience for listeners.”
It’s no surprise that making radio a more efficient advertising medium is the intended upside of all of Cumulus’ moving and shaking, and it’s something Dickey feels works in its favor in a potentially up economy. “As the media world continues to evolve, advertisers are looking for integrated solutions and ease of access and execution. Radio is emerging as a powerful reach medium with high targetabililty, particularly on a local level, for advertisers to get their message across.”