Sunday, August 3

KDKA Radio's Future?

This summer I visited my friend Marshall Adams-- KDKA Rado Program/News Director and checked out the newsroom during the station's live coverage of the Bonus Gate indictments involving current and former state lawmakers. The station's newsroom is getting upgrades, new Dell computers (why Dell? I can't stand Dell), etc.

The PG published an interesting article on Saturday suggesting KDKA radio may be for sale. I find this interesting the article focused on radio. The old traditional media companies are all trying to unload old media-- radio and TV. Just look at NBC/Universal unloading it's owned and operated stations in Miami, Columbus, Hartford, etc. I suspect CBS/Viacom may be looking to do the same with radio and TV-- but radio is cheaper to maintain and program in the scheme of things in the digital future. TV is expensive to maintain and program. Plus KDKA radio and KDKA TV share space and resources in Gateway Center. Perhaps KDKA-TV is also on the auction block or will be soon? Maybe Viacom is looking to dump both? Just a theory.

Is KDKA radio for sale?
Saturday, August 02, 2008

Could the nation's oldest radio station -- and a Pittsburgh institution -- be on the selling block?

That's the speculation after CBS Radio, which owns KDKA-AM and three FM stations here, announced plans to sell 50 stations in midsize markets.

The plans to sell off 50 of the 140 stations it currently owns coincided with Thursday's announcement of CBS's lackluster second-quarter earnings. During a conference call with analysts, CBS said it would divest itself of stations in around 12 midsize markets in order to concentrate on its larger markets. "By selling selected stations in these markets, we can focus on the larger market stations, many of which are showing growth," said Les Moonves. CBS Radio president and chief executive officer.

Like most media companies, CBS is dealing with a downturn in advertising revenues. In the three months ended June 30, net income rose a scant 1 percent, boosted by the sale of its shares in The Sundance cable channel. Revenue in the radio division fell 10 percent, while operating income was off an even larger 16 percent.

Karen Mateo, CBS Radio's communications vice president, yesterday said the company "is not commenting at this time" on what stations or what cities are candidates for sale. But the company's emphasis on concentrating on larger markets -- the top 15 -- would put Pittsburgh's CBS stations on the potential for-sale list. Pittsburgh ranks 24th in Arbitron's national ratings.

In addition to news/talk KDKA, CBS Radio locally owns contemporary hits WBZW-FM (93.7), country WDSY-FM (107.9) and hot adult contemporary WZPT-FM (100.7) here.

Michael Young, senior vice president and Pittsburgh market manager for CBS Radio, told gathered KDKA staffers Thursday after the earnings announcement that because Pittsburgh isn't part of top 15 markets, "we could potentially be in play as a cluster or station for sale.

"But we don't know that. We don't have a specific list."

Radio industry observer Tom Taylor, news editor of the broadcasting trade journal Radio-Info, believes Pittsburgh's stations could be sales candidates, but he said whether that holds will depend in part on whether buyers would be interested in this market. Until specific stations and potential buyers are named, the speculation and uncertainty will continue for CBS employees here and in similar-sized markets, such as Baltimore, Cleveland and Charlotte, N.C.

CBS already has sold some 40 stations in smaller markets. But the economic environment has changed, Mr. Taylor points out. "Credit is hard for everybody. And there are a lot of radio stations out there for sale."

While radio stations have changed hands frequently since the ownership consolidation wave began, KDKA's ownership has been steady -- now with CBS and formerly of Westinghouse Electric, which acquired CBS in 1996 and ultimately shed its industrial divisions and took on the CBS name.

KDKA had been a Westinghouse broadcasting property since its first broadcast on Nov. 2, 1920, providing listeners with a rundown of the Harding-Cox presidential election returns.

For many, the potential sale of KDKA radio is as unthinkable as the someone other than the Rooney family owning the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's hard to imagine CBS not owning KDKA," Mr. Taylor said.

1 comment:

Mike Wolenski said...

I find this one hard to believe. I like to think there is a lot of nostalgic value in owning KDKA but maybe a certain FM news talk station has put the pressure on.