POWER MOVE: The $2.5 billion purchase of Citadel Broadcasting, which added 320 stations and 53 markets to Cumulus’ reach.
THE RUNDOWN: Since it was founded in 1997, more than 150 transactions have helped build Cumulus Media into America’s second-largest radio broadcaster. But no single deal has had as much impact on the company and founder/chairman/CEO Lew Dickey than its $2.5 billion purchase of Citadel Broadcasting, which closed last fall.
The sale combined Citadel’s 320 stations in 50-plus markets with Cumulus’ existing portfolio of 380 stations in 67 cities. After attrition and other moves, the new company now boasts 570 stations in 120 markets. In addition to its radio operations, Cumulus provides exposure for national, regional and local advertisers through targeted email, social media and other promotional campaigns. “Cumulus really grew up this year,” Dickey says.
The Citadel acquisition demanded that two challenges be faced head-on: integration and turnaround. Bringing new stations into the fold was easy since Cumulus had made several previous purchases, while addressing the underperforming outlets was far tougher. “We’ve turned around radio markets over the years, but this was a lot to do all at once,” Dickey says. “It required an entirely new level of bandwidth, so we had to really increase our infrastructure.”
So far, the new Cumulus has validated Dickey’s original reason for such a huge undertaking: the need to achieve more critical mass. “Major national advertisers are looking for large, integrated solutions to activate audiences,” he says. “It’s increasingly important to have the scale to compete effectively.”
Lew Dickey photo by Adam Komich