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Brace for Impact: What the CBS-Entercom Merger Means for Each Radio Format

Does today's CBS-Entercom merger position the resulting radio supergroup as a stronger force for the music business? It all depends on how you look at it.

Does today’s CBS-Entercom merger position the resulting radio supergroup as a stronger force for the music business? 

It all depends on how you look at it.

With 244 stations between the two radio companies, the combined group still has a way to go to reach iHeartRadio’s 850 — or Cumulus Media’s 460 — station profile. Break it down by new music formats, however, and CBS-Entercom does approach or surpass Cumulus in some cases. 

While it’s easy to focus on Entercom’s strength in non-music formats such as News, Sports and Talk (which make up nearly 30% of the new company’s stations, at least for now) or on the mostly smaller-market stations it brings to the table, the unified company should also offer added value on the music side. 

Here’s how that breaks down by formats crucial to labels promoting new music. Keep in mind this information reflects the combined stations in their current formats, and that in some markets, format overlap or the required divestiture of 15 stations — where CBS and Entercom own more than allowed by FCC rules—could change our analysis.

Mainstream Top 40 
To CBS’ 13 stations, many of which run second to iHeart powerhouses in major markets such as New York and Los Angeles, Entercom adds eight, including Indianapolis’ top-five rated WZPL and Sacramento’s top-ten KNND (The End). The resulting 21 stations bring the group closer to Cumulus’ 33.

Adult Top 40
Entercom matches CBS’ 13 stations in the format with top-ten ranked outlets in Atlanta (WSTR, Star 94.1) and Denver (KALC, Alice 105.9), and Milwaukee’s top-five WMYX (99.1 The Mix). While both have a horse in the race in the aforementioned Sacramento, for the moment the new group’s 26 Adult Top 40s more than double Cumulus’ 11.

Five from each side, including Entercom stations in San Francisco and Denver, put the merged group one behind Cumulus.

While not a strong point for either company, Entercom’s five Urban ACs, including one in Boston and one in San Francisco, significantly improve CBS’ profile, which consisted of just Atlanta’s consistently No. 1- or No. 2-ranked WVEE (V-103).

Entercom’s eight stations, include top-five KSON in San Diego, join CBS’ even dozen. As of now, both groups have Country stations in Seattle.

Mainstream Rock, Alternative or Triple-A
A strength for Entercom, bringing 12 stations in these formats to CBS’s four. That includes Mainstream Rockers in Sacramento (KRXQ, 98 Rock) and Seattle (KISW), top-five and top-ten rated, respectively. Together, these 16 get the group closer to Cumulus’ 24.

From a geographic standpoint, CBS and Entercom each already has a presence in eight markets – the largest of those Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston – while Entercom adds key markets such as Denver, Portland and Kansas City. The resulting lineup of current-based music stations across a wider stretch of the U.S., along with each company’s proven expertise in music programming, suggests a win-win for the combined radio group and record labels.