In the way of the modern media world, a couple of stories on the problems roiling Cumulus radio are causing a stir. This first one is a story at Breitbart that was picked up by Drudge and sat prominently among the Drudge Report's media stories. The Breitbart story, reported by Wyntnton Hall, is titled “Clouds Over Cumulus: Radio Ratings Plunge.” It goes into considerable detail on a new story published over in Inside Music Media by industry reporter Jerry Del Colliano. We have been following this story for some time now as it directly affects conservative talk radio. But as we have also noted, there is a larger story here that has nothing to do with talk radio. While our focus has been on the abysmal treatment by the Cumulus-owning Dickey brothers of Sean Hannity, the larger story is the sinking ratings of Cumulus across the board and the future of talk radio itself. While this has had a direct and negative effect on conservative talk radio — there is more to Cumulus than that. It includes other formats including country, classic and contemporary music as well as sports. Del Colliano, who keeps an eagle eye on the business of radio in his subscription-only column, sums up his report in his irreverent style by saying the company’s ratings have “tanked 36%.” He also discusses CEO Lew Dickey’s plans to single-handedly “finally kill off the talk format.” Del Colliano repeatedly refers to brother Lew Dickey as “Lew-Lew Lemon” and asks how he can get away with repeated failure. Ouch. Del Colliano’s story is bolstered this week with this story from an All Access story out of Little Rock, where two hosts — one on board for 14 years — and a news director were fired. All Access is a site devoted not to politics or conservatives but the radio and music industry. These are amazing stories. As we predicted long ago, the Mike Huckabee gambit was doomed to failure, and sure enough, the plug on the Huckabee radio show has has been pulled. Launching a show that was supposed to get a conservative audience by directly attacking Rush Limbaugh was foolish beyond belief. Rush sails on, Huckabee is gone. But as Del Colliano points out in his report on a 36% drop in ratings, while the objective at Cumulus may well be to pull the plug on talk radio, the larger story here — and it’s a big one — is the business story of Cumulus itself. Which, in reading these stories from last week, appears to be not a very good story to say the least. Stay tuned.
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