Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Radio Stocks

Whether you have an IRA or 401k or even invest directly in stocks you cannot escape the bad news. Every sector is down. It's just been depressing. But particularly hard hit was "terrestrial radio stocks." These formerly promising IPOs are now lining the parrot cage. In 2005 there was some talk of a rebound. Today they're considered a lost cause. CNBC's Jim Cramer trashed them earlier this year in a 7 minute histrionic rant.

I always avoid current events as a topic here. But in terms of radio history: their procession through the stock market is a summary of the changes in the radio industry: the move toward automation, the new competing media platforms, the damn Ipod... You can see it in every rise and fall. It's only this year that Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital have taken CC private, departing the NYSE. Radio has had four phases in it's first century: The hobbyist phase, the golden era, the post-Television era, the FM era and now... the decline. (Hold your rebuttal until after the last paragraph.)

Clear Channel Communications
CCU/NYSE
IPO 7/6/1994 - 29.9
Peak - 11/5/07 - 38.4
went private.. took their stock and went home.


Cumulus Media CMLS/NASDAQ
IPO - 11/16/2001 - 6.99
Peak - 4/23/2004 -22.25
Currently 1.77

Saga Communications SGA/NYSE
IPO - 10/15/1993 - 5.4
Peak - 5/3/2002 -23.20
Currently 4.9

Entravision Communications EVC/NYSE
IPO - 8/11//2000 - 18.1
Peak - 8/18/2000 - 20.0
Currently 1.3

Citadel Broadcasting CDL/NYSE
IPO - 8/1/2003 - 20.09
Peak - 12/26/03 - 22.7
Currently 0.26

Regent Communications RGCI/NASDAQ
IPO - 3/4/2000 - 13.12
Peak - 3/11/08 - 13.68
Currently - 0.7

Cox Radio CXR/NYSE
IPO - 10/11/1996 - 7.2
Peak - 12/31/1999 - 33.25
Currently - 6.85

Entercom Communications ETM/NYSE
IPO - 3/12/1999 - 29.68
Peak - 2/4/2000 - 65.8
Currently - 2.34

Down, down down down way down. But it's not the end. It's a decline owing to an utter refusal to accept a new media model. Automation, mergers, consultants, voice tracking and homogeneous playlists that have converted the early freewheeling FM stations into homogeneous zombie transmitters looping identical playlists. That was cost-effective. It had it's time. That time is over. Change or die boys.