A surprisingly large number of local radio stations still rely on syndicated music formats – that used to be provided by several competing companies. All of those competitors are now owned by Cumulus Media under the Westwood One branding.
Those formats had value because they were to some degree “live”, and hosted by people with very long careers in the type of music, like adults standards, classic country and classic hits. The alternative would be to buy a computer program that randomly plays a playlist – not very interesting, but cheap.
These 24 x 7 formats are produced and distributed by Westwood One. At the end of last week, Westwood One terminated about 90 people, with the idea that their music curators could be replaced by some guy from South Carolina being paid minimum wage, doing voice tracking in his “spare time”. This obviously is motivated by more Cumulus cost-cutting – however this programming is carried by thousands of non-Cumulus radio stations, who didn’t realize the threat from allowing their competitors to control their programming. Westwood One was not a threat, because Westwood One owned no radio stations, although it was closely related to CBS radio. Burger King would never buy their hamburger meat from McDonald’s. The reason is pretty obvious. Time for local radio to do some hiring and work for a living.