Talk radio still dong well considering the state of the economy, other radio formats are getting hammered. Radio Equalizer, an industry magazine, is calling for talk radio to be divorced from music formats because the business is so different.
Yet ABC’s radio syndication company Citadel is losing money hand over foot, not because it is incapable of bringing in radio, but because of the politically motivated decisions by its CEO and his sheer incompetence at running an enterprise.
Topping the list is Citadel CEO Farid Suleman (right), radio’s poster child for managerial incompetence. How this man could survive beyond Monday in his current position is beyond comprehension. As he speaks of coming “belt- tightening”, cost- cutting that apparently excludes him, why is he unwilling to accept blame for his company’s outright destruction?
While Citadel-ABC Radio was encountering a nationwide ad sales meltdown, Suleman was busy sucking up to Don Imus, wasting months crafting an ego- boosting mega- deal for the elderly fossil- talker. Instead of bringing the best programming minds into the fold to confront the challenges of the future, Suleman micro- managed schedule changes in markets as small as Providence.
Now, Citadel’s stock has fallen so low that the New York Stock Exchange was forced to suspend trading and outright delisting now seems a certainty. Shares (NYSE:CDL) are down 87% in just the last year.
Now Citadel is being booted off the exchange and now will be traded OTC. Citadel’s original ownership made a killing by sticking to the two most popular formats, conservative news-talk and country music…. well read on with more from Radio Equalizer:
Booted off of the New York Stock Exchange after it failed to make a convincing case for its future viability, Citadel will cease trading there tomorrow, moving to the illiquid and sometimes shady world of the “pink sheets”. That’s despite a recent move by the NYSE to relax listing requirements.
Ahead of that undignified exit, Citadel (NYSE:CDL) shares closed today at one penny, down nine cents from Wednesday’s trading. In 2004, it traded as high as $22.
That leaves a total market capitalization of just under three million dollars, despite owning some of the nation’s largest radio stations, including WABC / New York City, WMAL / Washington, WBAP / Dallas – Fort Worth, KGO – KSFO / San Francisco, WLS / Chicago, WJR / Detroit, KABC / Los Angeles and dozens of other music and talk stations across the country, from Albuquerque to Providence and all points in between.
Citadel’s original ownership and management team built a highly-successful firm around conservative talkers on the AM band and country music stations on FM, mostly in medium-sized Sunbelt markets. When subsequent owners acquired ABC Radio and saw their own liberal ideology clash with Citadel’s established internal structure, it began to unravel.
Ridiculous decisions by Citadel CEO Farid Suleman include the firing of popular and profitable KSFO host Melanie Morgan, who’s 527 was making TV ads across the country and was becoming a genuine political force. Suleman has been paid millions while driving the company into the ground at breakneck speed.
Today, calls for Suleman to be fired have grown, including USC Professor/ industry analyst Jerry Del Colliano. At Inside Music Media, Del Colliano points to Suleman’s huge salary at the very time he is wiping out programming schedules across the country.
Especially shocking: highly- rated KSFO morning host Melanie Morgan was among those let go. Co- host Lee Rodgers, who had already cut his schedule to just four shows per week, will now be expected to carry on alone. This has sent shockwaves through Bay Area media circles, where even longtime entertainment reporter Brad Kava, a leftist, has expressed his alarm.
This has occurred despite the success of right- leaning talk, due to entirely epic managerial incompetence. And for those inclined to play that game, just take a look at Suleman’s liberal political contribution history.
In addition, Suleman was behind the baffling elimination of Rush Limbaugh from his longtime home in Providence, WPRO-AM.
Suleman was also responsible for bringing Don Imus to WABC with a huge compensation package. How smart of a move was that; well Jay Severin is beating him in ratings.
Here is Citadel’s stock chart for the last five years:
Click to Enlarge
Sean Hannity had finally had enough:
Apparently unhappy with the recently- merged company’s political and business direction, talk radio syndication biggie Sean Hannity is exiting Citadel – ABC Radio (NYSE:CDL) for a yet- to- be- disclosed rival. The move could dramatically reshape programming lineups on a number of major stations.
According to a highly- placed source inside the company, Hannity is unhappy with Citadel – ABC for two reasons: its dismal financial performance and the liberal ideological leanings of CEO Farid Suleman and COO Judy Ellis, which are said to have interfered with good relations between the parties.
Syndicated in over 500 markets nationwide, Hannity’s afternoon drive show is said to bring in $35m in annual revenue, which will now be lost as Sean jumps ship. The program is considered to be the second- biggest cash generator in ABC Radio’s network lineup, with his compensation at a reported $5m per annum.
As for ratings, in New York City under the new Portable People Meter system, he pulled an impressive 5.4 12+ share for February. That was just shy of Rush Limbaugh’s blockbuster 5.6. Nationally, Hannity’s audience is second only to Limbaugh’s.
since they took the reins of the merged company, Suleman and Ellis have made a number of peculiar decisions, including an emphasis on the 65+ audience rather than younger, more advertiser- friendly demographics. That has included a mega- deal with talk fossil Don Imus.
Also highly questionable were baffling decisions to remove Rush Limbaugh from WPRO-AM in Providence and fire nationally- known conservative morning talker Melanie Morgan from KSFO/ San Francisco.
The impact of Sean’s departure will be significant for all parties involved: Citadel – ABC loses millions, while his show will be pulled from key ABC Radio stations in some major cities. At the same time, it will have to compete against his new program, most likely to be syndicated by Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks, home to Rush Limbaugh.
The Sean Hannity Show is now co-managed by Clear Channel and Citadel; a deal they worked out to keep Hannity at WABC and so Citadel would not have to compete against him.