Entercom Communications Corp. announced Friday (Nov. 17) that it has completed its merger with CBS Radio Inc., making it the No. 2 radio operator in the U.S. by revenue behind iHeartRadio.
First announced in February 2017, the merger expands Entercom’s nationwide footprint from 127 stations to 235 stations in 47 markets across the U.S., including 23 of the top 25 markets.
The merger has triggered several changes to radio formats across multiple genres nationwide, including the return of alternative to NYC’s airwaves with the switch of contemporary hits station 92.3 AMP Radio to ALT 92.3 FM — the city’s first new alt-rock station since 2011. Entercom will also become the market leader in Adult Top 40 formats, with CBS Radio owning all of the top 10 Adult Top 40 markets as ranked by Nielsen Audio.
“We are thrilled to officially close our transformational merger with CBS Radio and welcome their talented employees and iconic brands to Entercom,” David Field, president and CEO of Entercom, said in a statement. “We look forward to capitalizing on our unique positions in sports, news, music, podcasting, live events, digital and more to provide outstanding experiences for our listeners and compelling integrated marketing opportunities for our advertisers.”
In a staff memo, Field also expressed his bullish stance on the future of the terrestrial radio format in America’s media landscape. “We will play to win. We are done playing defense; it is time to play offense,” he wrote. “We plan to make big investments in our brands, people, capabilities and innovation. We are also done apologizing about Radio, America’s #1 Reach medium, which is massively undervalued and offers superior ROI to other media competitors.”
CBS Corp., which began exploring options to divest its shrinking radio business in March 2016, paints a slightly different picture — claiming that spinning off radio was a smarter move for its broader focus on content monetization. “We started on this path several years ago with the split-off of our outdoor advertising business,” Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., said in a statement. “And just as we did with outdoor, we believe our radio transaction will allow us to unlock more value for our shareholders and further grow our revenue.”
According to the latest research from Nielsen, radio’s share of consumer listening time in the U.S. has declined year-over-year from 26 to 24 percent, while that of streaming has jumped from 32 percent to 41 percent. Nonetheless, as a music discovery tool, radio has far greater penetration into the U.S. market than streaming, at 49 percent versus 27 percent respectively.