Katz Launches Westwood One Division, Disney Dumps Radio

August has been a busy month for radio, but it’s not all good news. On the positive side, this week Katz Radio Group announced that it is launching a new division, Westwood One National Sales, to serve stations owned by Cumulus, which acquired Westwood One last year. However, this week Disney announced that it is getting out of the radio business altogether, an ominous sign that calls into question the health of the industry overall.

The new KRG Westwood One National Sales division will have exclusive responsibility for handling national ad sales for Cumulus and will give advertisers and agencies access to all Cumulus stations, as well as the company’s new traffic system, which is designed to shorten turnaround time for radio ad campaigns, including real-time pricing and minute-by-minute availability data across all markets.

Westwood One, which creates and distributes radio programming to thousands of affiliates across the U.S., was acquired by Cumulus in August 2013. Before that it was known as Dial Global, which merged with the original Westwood One in August 2011. Cumulus resurrected the Westwood One name after last year’s acquisition.

According to Westwood One president Steve Shaw, the collaboration will allow Westwood One to focus on “creating more multi-platform solutions for our advertisers including our assets in network, spot, digital, sports and spoken word.”

KRG president Mark Gray stated:  “Our common goal is to get radio a much bigger share of advertiser spending by solving their marketing problems and showcasing the unmatched results radio delivers.”

Turning to the bad news, this week the Walt Disney Co. announced its intention to sell off nearly all its broadcast radio stations and move its audio content distribution to digital platforms. The move will include around 200 layoffs.

Disney plans to offload 23 radio stations across the U.S., keeping just one station, KDIS-AM in Los Angeles, as a production studio for audio content. The list of stations to be sold includes 22 AM stations and one FM station, located in markets including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

In 2013, the company sold six AM stations and one FM station located in small- and mid-sized markets, and in 2010, it silenced five stations and another station operated under a local marketing agreement.

Radio Disney already has extensive digital distribution, via partners including Sirius-XM, Aha Radio, Show Mobile, and Disney’s own Watch Disney mobile app.

"Radio" photo from Shutterstock.

2 comments about "Katz Launches Westwood One Division, Disney Dumps Radio".
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  1. Jim O'neal from Independant Media Consultant, August 15, 2014 at 5:22 p.m.

    Sad to see terrestrial Radio Disney go away...I was part of the launch at ABC back in the day...guess the kids don't get AM Radio any longer...wondering how long AM will last in general??

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 17, 2014 at 5:44 p.m.

    A sign of the times. I happen to have seen the P&L figures for the ABC owned radio stations when they were riding high with popular music formats and they were almost universally cash cows. For a while, the AM people scoffed at the new FM guys but within ten years, the latter had overtaken AM, which had to regroup mostly with talk formats. While some AM outlets are still doing well obviously Disney wishes to go in another direction.

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