Westwood One (original)

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Westwood One logo

Westwood One was an American radio network that was based in New York City. At one time, it was managed by CBS Radio, the radio arm of CBS Corporation, and Viacom (1971–2005) and was later purchased by the private equity firm The Gores Group. Due to purchases, mergers and other forms of consolidation in the 1980s and 1990s, at one time or another, it had ownership stakes in or syndication rights to some of the most famous brands in network radio, including CBS, NBC, Mutual, CNN, Fox and Unistar. The company was one of the largest producers and distributors of radio programming in the United States. It broadcast entertainment, news, weather, sports, talk, and traffic programming to about 7,700 radio stations across the United States. The company was the top provider of local traffic reports in the US through its subsidiaries, Metro Networks, Shadow Broadcast Services, SmartRoute Systems, and Sigalert.com.[1] Westwood One also offers weather services; originally using Accuweather, Westwood switched to The Weather Channel in 2009.

Oaktree Capital Management, through its Triton Media Group division, merged with Westwood One in October 2011. Triton then folded Westwood One into its Dial Global subsidiary.[2] The Westwood One name was initially retained for most sports programming. However, starting with the 2011–12 NFL playoffs, Westwood One's sports programming was branded as "Westwood One on the Dial Global Radio Network." [3] After the NFL Playoffs concluded, the Westwood One name was removed altogether in favor of the Dial Global Sports Network, and the sports website was relocated to www.dialglobalsports.com.

On September 4, 2013, Dial Global announced that it was renaming itself Westwood One, citing greater brand recognition. The original Westwood One should not be confused with the company it merged with in 2011, the current Westwood One.[4]

History[edit]

The company was founded by Norman J. Pattiz in 1976. At the time, he was a former advertising sales executive with KCOP-TV, a Los Angeles TV station. He was listening to a local radio station doing a Motown weekend, and decided to syndicate The Sound of Motown to radio. The show was a success. He added several more shows during the 1970s, including Dr. Demento and Mary Turner's "Off The Record.". In 1981 Norm Pattiz started recording live concerts for broadcast with a Chuck Berry recording in January of that year, the company was a leader in live broadcasts and concert recordings for radio, until May 2011 when Westwood stopped recording live concerts. By 1982, Pattiz was distributing his radio shows via satellite through an arrangement with idb Communications in Culver City. Pattiz took Westwood One public in 1984, and with the money raised by the IPO, he purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1985, and the NBC Radio Network in 1987. Other highlights in the late 1980s include the purchase of three radio stations, the trade paper Radio & Records, and the hiring of Casey Kasem from ABC. Although Pattiz long remained a major shareholder and board chairman, control and management shifted to others in the early 1990s. First, in 1993, it was to radio station group owner Infinity Broadcasting, headed by Mel Karmazin, who also took over direct management of Westwood. With Infinity already owning and managing competing Unistar Radio Networks (formerly known as the RKO Radio Networks and later as United Stations Radio Networks, which merged with Transtar in the late 1980s), the two companies were combined under the Westwood name in 1994 (later spinning off Transtar in 2006). After the sale of his Infinity Broadcasting to Westinghouse, then parent of CBS, Karmazin went on to become COO of CBS and under his control, CBS took over management of Westwood. CBS also had a significant ownership stake in Westwood, which then purchased Metro Networks in 1999 in a three-way merger involving Metro Networks, Copter Acquisition Corp. and Westwood. On August 30, 2010, Pattiz stepped down from the board and was succeeded as chairman by Mark Stone, Senior Managing Director of the Gores Group, which by then was majority owner and controlled Westwood. A Westwood press release said Pattiz signed a new contract as a company consultant. Pattiz has now started "Podcastone" providing a central website for listeners to find their favorite radio personalities.

Purchase of Mutual and NBC[edit]

In 1985, Westwood One purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of the "Big Four" of the 1940s in American radio, and continued to operate it as a separate network program service into the 1990s. However, by the early 1990s, Mutual ended up simply being a brand name for programming provided by Westwood One. CBS-run Westwood One discontinued using the Mutual name in 1999 in favor of CNN Radio, to which it had syndication rights from its 1994 merger with Unistar and the Mutual name passed permanently from use on the air.

Two years after the Mutual purchase, in 1987, Westwood One acquired the NBC Radio Network and licensed the use of the name "NBC Radio Network News" (later shortened to "NBC Radio News") from General Electric, which was divesting all of the NBC radio properties created or purchased by former NBC owner RCA. Like Mutual, NBC ceased operating as a network and merely became a brand name, even to the point of being merged into Mutual itself and eventually assimilated into the syndicator. NBC's other services, The Source and NBC Talknet, would last into the late 1990s before being retired.

Until the Dial Global merger, the "NBC Radio" brand was still occasionally used, including twice daily at the halfway point and conclusion of the early morning news magazine First Light (which has since revived the "NBC" branding throughout the program). In 2003, NBC News began contracting with Westwood One to produce a new radio news service, "NBC News Radio," consisting of one-minute updates written by Westwood staffers and read by NBC News talent. Westwood One also distributed the audio of Meet the Press, the monologues of NBC's late night programming, CNBC radio reports, and distribution of localized forecasts for The Weather Channel, which effectively united all of NBC's programming under one network.

Westwood One provided operational, sales and marketing support for the CBS Radio Network, whose properties are owned by the CBS Corporation. In turn, CBS managed production of "Mutual" and "NBC Radio" newscasts from 1998 until the retirement of the original "NBC Radio" top-of-the-hour newscasts in June 2004. The CBS Radio news and sports broadcasts (the latter specifically branded as "from Westwood One") were distributed from the CBS/Westwood One Master Control at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.

Westwood One also provided alternate feeds of NFL football games to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Westwood One expanded into digital media with the hiring of radio veteran Gary Krantz in 2006; Krantz remained with the company until March 2008.

Sale[edit]

On May 4, 2007, the New York Post reported that Westwood One had retained investment bank UBS to seek potential buyers for the network.[5]

In October 2007, Westwood and CBS Radio signed a new contractual agreement by which Westwood would hire its own officers and directors, and CBS would benefit from Westwood One programming and trademark licenses. Westwood will also enjoy the benefit of CBS trademarks, under the agreement, which was filed as part of the companies' public disclosures with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The new agreement took effect on March 3, 2008, the same day that Gores Radio Group invested $12,500,000 as part of a multi-stage investment takeover of Westwood One. The second stage of the Gores investment happened only two weeks later, with an identical investment of $12,500,000,[6] which gave Gores Radio direct ownership of more than 14,000,000 shares of stock in Westwood One. Gores Radio Group companies states it has been investing in media since the late 1980s.[7]

Westwood One stock was formerly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but was delisted as of November 21, 2008 for failing to maintain market capitalization requirements.[8] As of November 2008, shares of the company trade publicly on the Pink Sheets under the stock symbol WWON.PK. After further stock losses, the Gores Group bought the company outright in March 2009. They relisted the company on NASDAQ later that year. It is now listed "dial."

Westwood One announced its merger with Dial Global in August 2011. The merger closed on October 21, 2011, and outside of CBS Radio Sports programming produced by the network (including, and most notably, the NFL on Westwood One), the name Westwood One is no longer in active use. The company name came from the building address of the eary entity.

Overview[edit]

The company was one of the largest producers and distributors of radio programming in the United States. It broadcast entertainment, news, weather, sports, talk, and traffic programming to about 7,700 radio stations across the USA. The company is America's top provider of local traffic reports through its subsidiaries, Metro Networks, Shadow Broadcast Services, SmartRoute Systems, and Sigalert.com. Westwood One also offers weather services; originally using Accuweather, Westwood switched to The Weather Channel in 2009.

Notable personalities[edit]

Talk radio personalities distributed by Westwood One included at various times Don and Mike, Phil Valentine, Dennis Miller, Jim Bohannon, Billy Bush, Robert Wuhl, Drew Pinsky (Loveline), G. Gordon Liddy, Joe Scarborough, Kevin and Bean, Tom Leykis, Opie and Anthony and Adam Carolla. The company syndicated these shows across AM and FM affiliates but did not provide the programs to satellite radio. Westwood One distributed the radio news operations of CNN and NBC as well as its corporate cousin, the CBS Radio Network.

In the early 2000s, Westwood One handled the distribution of Fox News Radio; that has since moved to Premiere Radio Networks. One Fox program, The Radio Factor, hosted by Bill O'Reilly, continued to be distributed by Westwood One until O'Reilly's departure from the show in January 2009. The time slot was later held by Fred Thompson and Douglas Urbanski.

Imus in the Morning was carried on Westwood One from 1993 until the controversy surrounding his remarks to the Rutgers women's basketball team led to his firing in 2007. The program is now heard on Cumulus Media Networks.

In 2009, the network added several short-form features based on television series syndicated by CBS Television Distribution: The Doctors' Orders, Ask Dr. Phil, Rach on the Radio, and The Insider Radio Minute.

Westwood One attempted to secure the rights to The Savage Nation, but current syndicator Talk Radio Network refused to let host Michael Savage out of what apparently is a perpetual contract.[9] By the time the contract dispute was settled in Savage's favor, Westwood One had already dissolved.

Rick Dees moved from Citadel Media to Westwood One in 2011.

24-hour radio formats via satellite to affiliate stations[edit]

Until 2006, Westwood One distributed a number of 24-hour radio formats via satellite to affiliate stations. These formats included: Adult Rock & Roll (classic rock), Adult Standards (formerly AM Only), Bright AC (hot adult contemporary), CNN Headline News, Hot Country, Mainstream Country, SAM - Simply About Music (variety hits), Soft AC, The Oldies Channel and Westwood One 70s. The 24 hour formats, originally acquired through Westwood One's purchase of Unistar in 1993, were spun off in 2006 and are currently distributed under the Dial Global brand (now owned by Triton Media Group). (Westwood One 70s was abandoned prior to 2000.)

The lone exception is the audio feed of CNN Headline News, which remains part of the CNN Radio branding under Westwood One.

Music programs syndicated[edit]

Westwood One syndicated several popular programs for a variety of music formats. Shows include The Beatle Years with Bob Malik, Beatle Brunch with Joe Johnson, Country Countdown USA, Superstar Concert Series, "Absolutely Live," Country Gold (in most markets, also known as Country Gold Saturday Night, but also available on Sunday), Randy Jackson's Hit List with Randy Jackson and Kesha Monk, 106 and Park Weekend Countdown with Terrence and Rocsi, MTV TRL Weekend Countdown, Off the Record with Mary Turner and later Joe Benson, VH1 Concerts and Specials, Out of Order with Jed the Fish, and the Country Six Pack of holiday music specials. The Dr. Demento Show was carried by Westwood One from 1978 to 1992.

Many of these programs were not carried over in the Dial Global merger; Compass Media Networks picked up the rock-oriented programs, the country programs were split up among various networks, and the fate of the pop programs are unknown.

Live concerts and sports broadcasts[edit]

Westwood One was most notable for its coverage of live events, and the location recording of live concerts. They broadcast the famous Grateful Dead concert of June 21, 1989 which was the summer solstice and were able to provide the service of live music to fans around the country, something that no modern AM/FM radio stations do. However with the merger with Dial Global, the company no longer records live music and has shut down the award winning mobile recording department. It still holds exclusive national radio rights for many sporting events including National Football League and college football games, the Olympic Games, the NCAA Basketball Tournament (this and NFL coverage are co-produced with corporate sibling CBS TV), the Masters and U.S. Open golf, Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Frozen Four of college hockey, and the GRAMMY Awards. For many years the network also aired Notre Dame football and National Hockey League games.

Westwood One also handles sales and advertising for the Sports USA Radio Network, beginning in 2009. Notable sports announcers for Dial Global include: Scott Graham, Kevin Harlan, Brad Sham, Dave Sims, Kevin Kugler, John Tautges, John Sadak, Ian Eagle, Tom McCarthy, Chuck Cooperstein, Kevin Calabro, and Dave Ryan. Past personalities include: Marv Albert, Howard David, and Gary Cohen.

Syndicated news and traffic programming[edit]

In 2005, Westwood One, Inc. and its traffic subsidiary, Metro Networks, sent several existing officers and directors of Westwood to Canada and Australia to unify a number of helicopter aviation companies that were already providing reports to Westwood One and Metro Networks' affiliates. The result was the incorporation of a company called Global Traffic Network, which began taking deliveries of Robinson R44 news helicopters in 2005. The companies signed a three-way content and data sharing agreement in November 2005, which is part of documents on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ socalTECH.com - Sigalert.com Acquired By Westwood One
  2. ^ Kevin Roose (August 1, 2011). "Westwood One and Dial Global to Merge". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ PRNewswire. "A New Name on the Airwaves as the NFL Playoffs Kick Off". Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ahead Of Cumulus Merger, Dial Global Changing Its Name To Westwood One Forbes, September 4, 2013, "That's why, as of today, Dial Global is renaming itself Westwood One. That's the name of the radio network Dial Global merged with in 2011, and it's still the name better known to civilians used to hearing it read on the air."
  5. ^ New York Post
  6. ^ EDGAR Filing Documents for 0001193125-08-061100
  7. ^ The Gores Group, LLC
  8. ^ "Westwood is bumped off the New York Stock Exchange". Radio-Info.com. November 18, 2008. Retrieved May 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Talker Michael Savage wants free of syndicator TRN". Radio-Info.com. December 21, 2010. Retrieved May 27, 2011. 

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