Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cumulus Declares Bankruptcy

Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, owner and operator of 446 U.S. broadcast radio stations including D.C.-area stations WMAL 630 AM and 105.9 FM, WRQX 107.3 FM, and the Westwood One radio network, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy according to an article published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Cumulus President and CEO Mary Burner cited, "... the debt overhang left by previous years of underperformance remains a significant challenge that we must overcome for our operational turnaround to proceed."

Coming on the heels of Viacom's shedding of CBS Radio, Cumulus' decision symbolizes Big Radio's time of reckoning after overleveraging itself acquiring stations in the mid-to-late 90s.  The bills are long overdue -- Cumulus defaulted on $24 million debt payment earlier this month -- and radio stocks across the board are in the tank  It's safe to assume Cumulus will liquidate some of its portfolio, and that it will have to do so in a buyer's market.  We can also take for granted Cumulus will hold on to its properties in major markets, including their chronically underdeveloped and underperforming DC outlets.  The question is whether this reorganization will cause Cumulus executives to re-think the corporation's business model to improve its competitiveness 3-5 years into the future.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against WOOK Founder

February 14, 2017 - D.C. Superior Court Judge Jennifer Di Toro dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit brought against William L. Tucker, Jr. by a D.C.-based nonprofit and one time fiscal sponsor to his LPFM project.  The lawsuit, filed by Sincere Seven, sought to block Tucker, 54, from identifying himself as having any involvement with the radio station venture, directing its operations, and managing its assets-- including the call sign letters 'WOOK'. 

Tucker launched the project in 2013 to establish a low-power radio network for showcasing D.C. art and culture, then secured Sincere Seven as its fiscal sponsor in order to qualify for a LPFM permit from the Federal Communications Commission.  After winning a construction permit for 103.1 FM, the relationship between Tucker and the sponsor began to deteriorate with the latter's attempts to seize control of the project intensifying as time moved forward.  Sincere Seven's fiduciary misconduct against Tucker and the project continued into the following year, with its effort to oust Tucker in January 2015 and failure to respond to several FCC inquiries.  Citing questions raised by D.C.-based media conglomerate Radio One over the omission of Sincere Seven's director, Perry Redd, as a party to the application, and Redd's criminal record, the FCC rescinded WOOK's construction permit for 103.1 FM in November 2015, and dismissed the application in May of 2016.     

With the suit now dismissed and the construction permit for 103.1 FM since rescinded, Tucker is making final preparations for launching WOOK's low-power AM station this March from studios on Buzzard's Point.  He has also reorganized his nonprofit organization to promote community broadcasting and the production of hyperlocal media content.