Buyouts at CBS Radio News in advance of Spin-Off
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Thread: Buyouts at CBS Radio News in advance of Spin-Off

  1. #1

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    Buyouts at CBS Radio News in advance of Spin-Off

    With all the talk of the actual stations leaving the CBS fold, it was a little unclear to me what was going to happen to CBS Radio News.

    Long distributed by Westwood One I worried that without the all-news stations under the same corporate umbrella, they would lose carriage of the still very very good newscasts (see: ABC News & its former radio stations). Or, would the Radio anchors and reporters spin off with the new company, with a content agreement in place to use TV's resources when necessary?

    I started to get a little worried when Harvey Nagler announced his retirement a few weeks ago. But I chalked it up to someone nearly the end of their career that just doesn't have the will or energy to drive the organization through the next transition (I've witnessed numerous people do that over the years, at companies I've worked at, when we've gone through M&A activities).

    Looks like the other shoe dropped last week.

    http://nypost.com/2016/12/02/big-nam...ws-makes-cuts/

    Exec Producer Charlie Kaye
    Washington National Correspondent Barry Bagnato
    Evening Anchor Bill Whitney
    Afternoon Anchor Harley Carnes
    Washington Bureau Chief Howard Arenstein

    All took a retirement buyout.

    All of these guys are in their 60s; a couple of them may be at or already past 65. They're all long time veterans. I'm going to miss them.

    But I have some mixed feelings. If CBS actually brings in some newer, younger talent (at lower salaries, sure), I'd be hopeful for the product. Eventually, the old guys have to retire and make room for those trying to climb the ladder themselves.

    But I'm afraid we're going to see another dilution of a what was a great radio news product, much like we've seen at ABC. Fox News Radio is the only one whose news product is growing, and they sound really good with quite a bit of experienced, but younger talent.

    Today, Dave Barrett anchored afternoons, and the World News Round-Up Late Edition (the same schedule Bill Whitney worked until about 2006). White House Correspondent Pam Coulter had Harley Carnes' Sunday night spot over the weekend, and was doing the evening newscasts tonight.

    Bill Whitney says goodbye, on 12/1, at the very end of the Late Edition:
    http://audio.cbsradionewsfeed.com/20.../Hourly-19.mp3

    Howard Arenstein says goodbye, at the end of the Weekend Roundup.
    http://audio.cbsradionewsfeed.com/20...01_3657177.mp3

  2. #2
    Hopefully the 'new' CBSR keeps the content from CBS. It is a fine product and it would be a shame to lose it.

  3. #3
    As long as the all news stations get access to audio feeds (actualities, sound-bites, wraps, de-briefs), I would not be sad to see the TOH newscasts go. They are obsolete given that local stations can easily have access to the same resources as the network. Without the TOH news, news stations can lead with the most compelling stories - whether local or national. CBS started top of the hour newscasts November 28th, 1960 (after the radio network ended daytime soaps the previous Friday). CBS was the last major network to offer TOH news (ABC was first on weekdays with news "live at 55," although NBC started "Monitor News on the Hour" on weekends two years before). 56 years of TOH news is a good run but it's out-lived it's usefulness - even for all news stations. Currently WINS and KYW do not carry TOH newscasts, as do many affiliates which use material from the audio feeds and run the network spots. In a good many markets, CBS' TOH news is not aired at all (or only in off-hours).

    I imagine people here can generate a pretty complete list of markets without CBS newscasts already. Off the top of my head, Wilmington DE is one where the affiliate only uses CBS for two-ways with local hosts.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    I imagine people here can generate a pretty complete list of markets without CBS newscasts already. Off the top of my head, Wilmington DE is one where the affiliate only uses CBS for two-ways with local hosts.
    But, CBS's hourly newscasts DO run on some big stations in very big markets. They air in New York City, Boston, Washington, Dallas, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles. Just to name some off the top of my head. There's value in that. With all the braying over the death of radio and AM radio specifically, these outfits still command listeners.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by KMan View Post

    I worried that without the all-news stations under the same corporate umbrella, they would lose carriage of the still very very good newscasts (see: ABC News & its former radio stations).
    The fact is that several of the all news stations have never carried TOH CBS Radio News. The best example is KYW in Philadelphia. Previously, they had been owned by Westinghouse. CBS News was on WPHT. WINS has never carried TOH CBS Radio News for the same reason. My understanding is that an affiliation agreement is in place with the CBS owned radio stations to continue to carry the TOH news for a specified period of time.

    But here's another thing to consider: Just as the CBS Radio News veterans who just accepted buy outs were all in their 60s, so is the audience of those heritage AM news stations. It's not getting younger. There's nothing those stations can do to appeal to younger listeners. They can't adjust the playlist like music stations. Very few of the CBS TOH newscasts are carried on FM stations. TTBOMK, none are carried on music stations. So looking forward, who will listen to that great product 10 or 20 years from now? That's the real issue here.

    The challenge for these companies will be to reinvent themselves to create relevant content that will appeal to the next generation. Back in the 1980s, it was obvious that the traditional radio network was dead. The networks that had provided radio shows in the 30s and 40s had become a shell. All that was left was TOH news and affiliate news feeds. Those companies realized they were in trouble, and formed new entertainment divisions that attempted to appeal to FM music stations. NBC Radio created The Source. CBS started RadioRadio. ABC added two new news networks and a satellite-delivered Entertainment division. The goal was to get network programming on the new growing FM music stations. It worked for a while. It kept those companies going for another 20 years. Now it's a new time. Time for some new innovation. The old model is dead or dying. Syndicated talk shows are aging. Casey Kasem has passed away. Who will carry the banner for these kinds of services moving forward?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post

    The challenge for these companies will be to reinvent themselves to create relevant content that will appeal to the next generation.

    Bingo. Which is why Les Moonves wants to ditch the radio group. He would probably like ditch the TV & O&O's too. Operating over-the-air broadcast facilities are expensive; expensive to staff, to operate and to ensure compliance with regulations.

    These big companies, CBS (and Viacom), Fox, ABC (and Disney) and NBC (and Universal) etc. are interested primarily now as being content creators. It's why Moonves wants a movie studio. In these times, One can produce and sell "radio" - read: audio content - and deliver it to the audience cheaply without using over-the-air radio. In fact, the listener will often take on the cost of listening! They do so by paying for mobile data and/or subscription fees.

    CBS is starting down that road with television via it's "CBS All Access" App. It's new spin-off series of "Star Trek" (Hardly an nonperforming franchise) will not be seen on "TV" but on their app which you can watch on your TV set. Or your tablet, or phone or whatever.

    "CBS Radio News" is not part of "CBS Radio." It's part of "CBS News" and a money-making part of it, at that. They will continue to produce product. It will evolve as time goes on to accommodate the new ways people listen.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by NewsStud View Post
    But, CBS's hourly newscasts DO run on some big stations in very big markets. They air in New York City, Boston, Washington, Dallas, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles. Just to name some off the top of my head. There's value in that. With all the braying over the death of radio and AM radio specifically, these outfits still command listeners.
    What is the "value" in creating an artificial and arbitrary divide between local news and national/network news? In forcing national stories to lead the hour? In having to go back after the network news to cover the local angle on some story the network did? We have network news because 80-30 years ago, stations did not have the resources to get sound from outside their areas. Now they can. Heck, I have more resources on my smartphone than I even dreamed of having in the first several newsrooms in which I worked.

    The markets you list are ones in which CBS owns stations (except DC). Why do those stations still run the network news? Corporate pressure? Inertia?

    And if network news is so all-fired important to all news stations, why doesn't CBS provide a "bottom of the hour" newscast (beyond the "update")? CBS all news stations operate on half hour cycles but network news is only available every other cycle. At the bottom of the hour, local people do national stories (if needed). Network news doesn't sound all that necessary.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    Why do those stations still run the network news? Corporate pressure? Inertia?
    Nothing wrong with inertia. It worked for Isaac Newton. A body in motion, and all that. WTOP in Washington doesn't have to run CBS TOH news. They're the top billing radio station in the country, and can afford to do it themselves. They do it because it's a familiar element of their station that characterizes their brand. That's fine. No problem

    Complaining about all-news stations running network news is nit-picking. It's certainly not a major issue, and dropping it won't attract younger listeners to an aging format. My point is that it's basically the only thing CBS Radio News does, and it's not growing. There's no new innovation going on. That's what radio needs to do, and we look to these big national organizations to come up with new products that we can't live without. So far, I'm not seeing a whole lot.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    What is the "value" in creating an artificial and arbitrary divide between local news and national/network news? In forcing national stories to lead the hour? In having to go back after the network news to cover the local angle on some story the network did? We have network news because 80-30 years ago, stations did not have the resources to get sound from outside their areas. Now they can. Heck, I have more resources on my smartphone than I even dreamed of having in the first several newsrooms in which I worked.

    The markets you list are ones in which CBS owns stations (except DC). Why do those stations still run the network news? Corporate pressure? Inertia?

    And if network news is so all-fired important to all news stations, why doesn't CBS provide a "bottom of the hour" newscast (beyond the "update")? CBS all news stations operate on half hour cycles but network news is only available every other cycle. At the bottom of the hour, local people do national stories (if needed). Network news doesn't sound all that necessary.

    There is value in in network news on radio because it's a definite time and place to hear a roundup (if you will) of the world's events. There are still people who like that on the radio.

    From a programmatic perspective, it's a way to kick off the hour. Not the only way. Some all-news stations don't, and they might have a focus on more local things. WINS in New York City is an example of that. KYW in Philly, too. WCBS or KNX, or WTOP, etc. have built brands on providing that service every hour at the same time. These stations do very well, despite being older-skewing and on the AM band. And many of them are proud to run CBS News on the hour. It's got little to do with pressure from corporate.

    CBS's bottom of the hour update is what's available because that's what enough of the affiliates want. If enough of the stations demanded (and committed to airing) a five or six minute bottom-of-hour cast, you can be sure the network would do it. It's in the business of serving clients.

    And to your point about the usefulness of network newscasts every hour 80 years ago being only because a local station couldn't get as good audio itself, I would say it's pretty hard for a single station to get a reporter on the air from the White House or a war zone. Not every station is going to afford to have their own person for that. A network would, and if your station runs the cast, you'll get such a feature on your station. Plus you can have the off-air feeds of the reporter on scene for local playback. Or even get a call-in by the reporter. And you don't have pay the guy a fee since he comes with your network affiliation.

    And if you don't like having a national newscast on your clock at :00, delay it. I worked at a station where we digitally delayed the network TOH, to allow us to do a local tease followed by a traffic report when the top of the hour hit. The network cast usually started playing about 90 seconds after top.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    As long as the all news stations get access to audio feeds (actualities, sound-bites, wraps, de-briefs), I would not be sad to see the TOH newscasts go. They are obsolete given that local stations can easily have access to the same resources as the network. Without the TOH news, news stations can lead with the most compelling stories - whether local or national. .
    Your argument fails, not for the logic of the content analysis, but for the way radio is used.

    "Top of the Hour" is not a valid benchmark on which to develop product strategy. Radio listening may start at any minute during the hour, with no particular minute having more or less inflow of listeners.

    Unlike TV, which is (save for the DVR universe) based on hours and half hours that start at :00 and :30, radio is "minute agnostic".

    Even the concept of the TOH station ID has been modified, with most stations falling back on the "at a natural break in programming" to do the ID. So there is really nothing special about the Top of the Hour at all. It is not a peak listening moment, is not any more important than the rest of the hour for ratings, and is not tied to any other type of listening habit or preference.
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