Cumulus Media Networks
|January 1, 1927|
|Dissolved||December 2013 (Taken over by Westwood One)|
Cumulus Media Networks was an American radio network owned and operated by Cumulus Media. From 2011 until its merger with Westwood One, it controlled many of the radio assets formerly belonging to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), which was broken up in 2007; Cumulus owned the portion of the network that was purchased by Citadel Broadcasting that year. The network adopted its final name in September 2011, following Cumulus's acquisition of Citadel; prior to this, it had been known as Citadel Media Networks since April 2009, after licensing the "ABC Radio Networks" name from The Walt Disney Company for nearly two years. ABC now operates a revived ABC Radio Network that owns no stations but produces (mostly short-form) audio content.
It was also (as ABC Radio Networks) the penultimate of the major radio networks to still be owned by its original founding company until 2007, CBS Radio being the last. Mutual Broadcasting Network was dissolved in 1999 and then NBC Radio Network, after selling all of its stations in 1988, followed suit in 2004.
Prominent hosts carried by Cumulus Media Networks included Don Imus, Geraldo Rivera, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Jim Brickman, Adam Bomb, Kix Brooks (American Country Countdown), and Tom Kent.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 References
WJZ/NBC Blue Network
WJZ, originally owned by Westinghouse and its informal network were absorbed into the National Broadcasting Company in 1927. To the parent company Radio Corporation of America, WJZ and affiliates were known as the Blue Network while New York station WEAF (later WNBC and now WFAN) and its affiliates (also absorbed into NBC) were known as the "Red Network." On the air, both were identified as "NBC, the National Broadcasting Company;" the distinctions between the two chains were only to staff and advertisers.
Both NBC networks were owned by RCA; following a Federal Communications Commission investigation into the network's influence over advertising, strict ownership rules were introduced in 1941. RCA was compelled to sell one network and three local stations.
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RCA put an asking price of $8 million on the Blue network; after two years on the market, it was sold in 1943 to businessman Edward J. Noble, owner of Life Savers candy and the Rexall Drug store chain, for the asking price. After Noble took over, the network identified itself on-air as "The Blue Network." It was officially renamed the American Broadcasting Company, Inc. in June 1945 after the company bought the rights to the name from (what would later become) Storer Broadcasting.
With about 65 affiliates, ABC began with few of the big names and popular shows the other networks offered, so counter-programming became an ABC specialty. Industry policy had been to forbid taped or pre-recorded programs; ABC lured some big-name stars by adapting the tape technology developed in World War II. To add to its programming, ABC bought stations KECA (now KABC) in Los Angeles and WXYZ (now WXYT) in Detroit, the latter home and originator of many popular serials such as The Lone Ranger.
Financially unable to match the larger networks, ABC merged with United Paramount Theaters early in 1953. Through the 1950s, network radio declined in popularity, and ABC radio gradually became more oriented to its local stations, especially its two pop-music powerhouses, New York's WABC (formerly WJZ) and Chicago's WLS (which was owned and operated by the Prairie Farmer in a time-share arrangement with ABC-owned WENR until both stations merged in 1954; ABC acquired the Farmer's minority stake in 1959).
Some network programs held on into the television era: Don McNeill's Breakfast Club, one of the first and longest-running morning shows in the country, hosted by Don McNeill, ran from 1933 to 1968. Other long-running ABC programs included the National Barn Dance, running from 1924 to 1960, and Paul Harvey's daily commentary, which ran from 1951 until his death in 2009. In 1958, ABC collaborated with its sister television network to produce the first national stereophonic sound broadcasts, when it simulcast The Plymouth Show (one of two shows hosted by Lawrence Welk at the time); the TV side broadcast one audio channel and the radio side broadcast the other in synchronization; viewers had to tune into both devices to achieve the stereophonic effect.
John F. Kennedy assassination bulletin
ABC Radio broadcast the first nationwide report of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was shot in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas at 18:30 UTC on November 22, 1963 and ABC Radio's Don Gardiner anchored the network's initial bulletin at 18:36:50 UTC, minutes before any other radio or television network did the same.
A surviving aircheck from New York shortwave station WRUL includes the first ABC Radio bulletin. Gardiner interrupts Doris Day's recording of "Hooray for Hollywood" to tell listeners at 13:36:50 EST (UTC−5):
|“||We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin from ABC Radio. Here is a special bulletin from Dallas, Texas. Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade today in downtown Dallas, Texas. This is ABC Radio. To repeat, in Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade today. The president now making a two-day speaking tour of Texas. We're going to stand by for more details on the incident in Dallas. Stay tuned to your ABC station for further details. Now we return you to your regular program.||”|
ABC Radio Networks
|Network||News aired||Ad/minute $||Launched||Ended|
||:55-:60||$2,500||January 1, 1968 |
|American Information Network||varies||$1,500|
|American Entertainment Network||$1,250|
|American FM Network||:15-:20||$650|
|ABC Rock Radio Network||:45||N/A||January 4, 1982|
|ABC Direction Radio Network|
|ABC Talk Radio||1980s||1980s|
|ESPN Radio||January 1, 1992|
|Radio Disney||November 1996|
|Urban Advantage Network (UAN)||January 1, 2001|
Ralph Beaudin, group vice president, ABC Radio came up with the idea of splitting ABC Radio Network into four different networks. He felt that there was more product then stations could broadcast causing a sale issue. The four separate networks would allow advertisers to better market to their preferred audience. Paul Harvey and the Breakfast Club were designated as Entertainment network features. Before the split, ABC obtained a waiver of the FCC's "Chain Broadcasting" rule on December 29, 1967, which had forced the sale of the Blue network in 1943. Though each of the four new networks were carried on the same 5 kHz telco line (3.5 in some cities), the move allowed ABC to have as many as four affiliates in one city – a major competitive advantage and a dramatic turning point in the history of network radio. However, the FCC insisted that there be no overlap of any ABC network broadcast in a single market, and the network required affiliates to get approval before any delayed broadcast of network programming. The new networks were launched on January 1, 1968.
Two additional networks, ABC Rock Network and ABC Direction Network were added on January 4, 1982. ABC Rock's anchor affiliate was WPLJ in New York City and had many Album-oriented rock formatted station move from American FM Network with a total of 40 affiliates. Executives in charge of ABC Rock at launch were vice president Tom Plant and program director Denise Oliver. The Direction Network was under ABC Entertainment Network's executive's charge and was for adult (25-45) formats stations and started with 57 affiliates.
ABC Radio acquired Watermark Inc., best known as the syndicator of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley, in 1982. Kasem left ABC in 1988, reclaiming the American Top 40 name from ABC in 1998, and selling the AT40 brand to AMFM Radio Networks (later absorbed intro Premiere Radio Networks). Kingsley left ABC in 2005 and 'ACC' continues to air as part of the ABC stable with Kix Brooks as host since 2006. Dick Bartley joined the network in 1991 with the AT40 spinoff American Gold and his live Saturday night call-in oldies show, before leaving at the end of March 2009.
ABC launched a foray into talk radio with ABC Talk Radio (similar to rival NBC's Talknet) in the 1980s. Among its most notable hosts were Tom Snyder and Barry Farber. However, the rising popularity of conservative political talk radio, fueled by The Rush Limbaugh Show, led to the network's demise. After Snyder's retirement in 1992, ABC ostensibly filled the slot with Leslie Marshall, at the time the youngest syndicated host ever, but most major affiliates instead picked up Limbaugh. The network was shut down shortly thereafter, though one program from that network, Bob Brinker's Moneytalk is now in its twenty-fifth year nationwide.
ABC acquired the Satellite Music Network, the first satellite-delivered music radio network, and its nine channels of programming in 1989. The division continues to operate semi-autonomously as Cumulus Music Radio at Cumulus's Dallas-Fort Worth cluster.
ESPN Radio Network was formed in September 1991 by both ESPN, Inc. and Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.'s ABC Radio Networks and launched as Sports Radio ESPN on January 1, 1992. Radio Disney was test launched in November 1996 in four markets by ABC Radio Networks with a Los Angeles station added on August 26, 1997.
ABC again began building a talk network, this time with an emphasis on political talk, in 2001. Among the first hosts heard on the new ABC talk network were Sam Donaldson of ABC News television, Sean Hannity of WABC, Larry Elder of KABC, and John Batchelor of WABC. Donaldson left his show after a short time. Mark Levin was added in 2005 and eventually replaced Elder in 2007, and Mark Davis of WBAP had a brief syndication run on the network in 2005. Hannity has been the most successful, displacing Laura Schlessinger as the most popular host in the time slot within a few years (especially on the East Coast); the network shared the program with Premiere Radio Networks from 2008 to 2013 before Premiere took over the program entirely beginning in 2014.
Sale to Citadel
In 2005, ABC began to explore the sale of its radio division. The two leading competitors for the purchase of the network, which included twenty-two of ABC Radio's top stations, as well as ABC's talk and music networks, were Bala Cynwyd-based Entercom Communications and Forstmann Little & Company's Citadel Broadcasting unit. Citadel was chosen as the top bidder and the deal to purchase the stations and the network was struck in February 2006. The deal did not include Radio Disney, ESPN Radio (or its Spanish counterpart ESPN Deportes Radio), any of the five ESPN Radio stations (or the myriad of Radio Disney stations) Disney owned at the time, or any of ABC's television assets (the ABC name, which also remained in Disney's hands, would be licensed to Citadel for two years). Disney's ABC News unit will also still produce ABC News Radio programming for distribution by Citadel. Despite the change in ownership, Citadel Media still lists "ESPN Radio" & "ESPN Deportes" as part of its advertising sales family. The acquisition of ABC Radio by Citadel Broadcasting was officially completed on June 12, 2007  and the "ABC Radio Networks" logo was licensed from Disney until April 2, 2009.
Shortly after the announcement of the ABC/Citadel merger, the "FM" network was reactivated. It now provides an hourly two-minute newscast, similar in format to when the network formerly operated. Those newscasts carry the on-air brand "ABC News Now."
On April 2, 2009, the staff at Citadel Broadcasting changed the branding of this network from ABC Radio to "Citadel Media" to reflect on its current ownership of a major radio network. However, "ABC News"; and its programming/satellite format listings would remain.
It was reported that Cumulus Media absorbed all the assets of Citadel Broadcasting, including Citadel Media in September 2011, and the name change to "Cumulus Media Networks" immediately took effect upon acquisition. Previously, its former parent company Citadel turned down previous acquisition offers months after emerging from bankruptcy.
On August 29, 2013, it was announced by The Wall Street Journal that Cumulus Broadcasting purchased Dial Global (Westwood One as of September 4). Cumulus paid $260 Million in cash for this programming syndication service, part of which has paid off Dial’s debt before it was folded into this network service. Cumulus funded the sale by making a pair of station deals with Townsquare Media.
On July 31, 2014, Cumulus acquired the rights to CNN’s content to distribute to radio stations (the company had held CNN radio rights since its acquisition of Dial Global, but CNN had not produced any radio content since April 2012). The content will be distributed by its newly acquired WestwoodOne network and allow stations to implement the content under their own branding. As an example Cumulus stated that its "Nash" branded Country stations would run the content under the Nash News name. The programming deal started on January 1, 2015 when its broadcasting rights to ABC's news division expired. ABC relaunched an entirely new ABC Radio network.
The merger of Cumulus Media Networks into Westwood One was completed in mid-2015.
The following programs, previously on Cumulus Media Networks, can be heard on Westwood One.
Cumulus Media Radio Network
- Imus in the Morning
- The Herman Cain Show
- The Mark Levin Show
- The Savage Nation
- The John Batchelor Show
- Red Eye Radio
- Moneytalk with Bob Brinker
- Larry Kudlow
- America's Most Wanted (short form feature)
- Focus on the Family daily commentary (short form feature)
- Radio Perez with Perez Hilton (short form feature)
- America's Morning Show with Blair Garner
- Nash Nights Live with Shawn Parr
- American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks
- Kickin' It with Kix
- Country Weekly On Air with Lisa Manning (short-form feature)
- Flashback and the Flashback Pop Quiz
- The Bob & Tom Show (joins January 2014)
- The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show
- Your Weekend with Jim Brickman
- The Adam Bomb Show
- Backtrax USA
- The Daly Download with Carson Daly
- Cafe Mocha with MC Lyte, Angelique Perrin and Loni Love (produced by Miles Ahead Broadcasting)
In 1989, ABC Radio Networks acquired The Satellite Music Network which originally started in Chicago. To this day, the division, known as "Westwood One Music Radio" (formerly "Citadel Music Radio" and "ABC Music Radio"), provides 10 satellite-driven formats to affiliate stations, mostly in small & mid-size markets and on major market HD Radio subchannels. However they can also be used on some major market stations as alternative or permanent programming. They could operate their stations virtually unmanned with nothing more than a computer and a satellite hookup offering major market talent that some radio stations could never afford. The "clock" included options for a 2-, 3-, or 5-minute newscasts at the top of the hour, followed by other holes for local spots. While some of the programming is live (some is done by voice tracking), DJ's had to avoid references to the weather or anything else that would not be appropriate in many time zones (time reports, for instance, were given only in minutes before or after "the hour"). An 800-line was eventually added, allowing the live DJ's to take phoned in requests. Cumulus Media Networks's 24-hour-music formats before CMN's closure included:
|Network Name||Format||Additional Notes (if any)|
|Best Country Today||Country||Formerly known as "Country Coast to Coast", "Best Country Around", "Best Country Today". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.|
|The Christmas Channel||Christmas Music||Available the day before Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day.|
|Classic Rock||Classic Rock||Formerly "The Classic Rock Experience". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.|
|Classic Hits||Classic hits from 1960s to 1980s||Formerly "Pure Gold" and "Oldies Radio". Merged with WestwoodOne counterpart in 2014, some staff retained.|
|Hits & Favorites||Adult Contemporary||Formerly known as "Starstation". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.|
|Real Country||Traditional Country|
|The Rhythm||Contemporary R&B||Previously known as Classic Hip-Hop and R&B.|
|Today's Best Hits||Hot Adult Contemporary||Also known as "ABC Hot AC" (formerly identified on air as "Best Hits, Best Variety"). Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.|
|The Touch||Urban Adult Contemporary||Briefly rebranded as "MyFavStation" in January 2010, formerly known as "Heart & Soul"|
|Good Time Oldies||Oldies/classic hits||Revived 2014.|
Other network holding(s)
|CBS Sports Radio||Sports||Produced in conjunction with CBS Radio.|
|Nash FM||Hot country||Only syndicated to Cumulus O&O's; some programs syndicated outside the network.|
|Nash Icon||Traditional/mainstream country||Joint venture with Big Machine Records.|
= Active on terrestrial radio affiliates through Westwood One.
= Active on a seasonal basis.
Former network properties of ABC Radio/Citadel Media/Cumulus Media Networks
|Network Name||Format||Fate of Network|
|ABC News & Talk||News/Talk||Discontinued since September 24, 2007.|
|ESPN Radio||Sports/Talk||Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale, although Cumulus still does advertising sales for the network.|
|ESPN Deportes Radio||Spanish Sports/Talk||Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale, although Cumulus still does advertising sales for the network.|
|Jack FM||Variety/Adult Hits||Spun off to Dial Global. Ironically, Cumulus acquired DG and renamed it as Westwood One.|
|The Nerve||Active Rock||Ceased operations in 2013.|
|Radio Disney||Children's Radio||Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale. Discontinued most terrestrial affiliates in 2015.|
|Rejoice! Musical Soul Food||Urban Contemporary Gospel||Spun off to Urban Choice Media.|
|Timeless||Oldies/Standards||Discontinued since February 13, 2010.|
|Unforgettable Favorites||MOR||Merged into "Timeless" format. Feed still active as seasonal Christmas Channel.|
|Z Rock||Active Rock||Discontinued since December 31, 1996.|
|True Oldies Channel||Oldies||Discontinued since June 29, 2014 on Cumulus but retained by Scott Shannon.|
- The New York Times, February 10, 1953
- on YouTube
- "ABC REVAMPS FOR 4 FORMATS" (PDF). Billboard. September 2, 1967. p. 8. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- "600 stations set for new ABC" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1968. pp. 42–44. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- "ABC Radio plans get FCC's qualified OK" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1968. pp. 44–45. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- "New Lineups For ABC Networks" (PDF). Billboard. January 16, 1982. p. 21. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- "ESPN, ABC Planning to Form Sports Radio Network in 1992". Lso Angeles Times. Associated Press. September 5, 1991. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Zumoff, Marc; Negin, Max (June 20, 2014). Total Sportscasting: Performance, Production, and Career Development. CRC Press. ISBN 1317906764. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Hochman, Steve (August 27, 1997). "Radio Disney Makes L.A. Debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- "Citadel to Buy Most of Disney Radio Assets," The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2006.
- "ABC Radio to Merge with Citadel Broadcasting." Official press release. February 6, 2006.
- List of radio services from CitadelMediaNetworks.com
- "Disney and Citadel Announce Completion of ABC Radio Merger" Official Press Release. June 12, 2007
- :: Abc Fm News ::
- ABC Radio Networks Changes Name To Citadel Media - Citadel Media (released April 2, 2009)
- "Cumulus will be digesting Citadel fast, once it takes over in late Q3". Radio-Info.com. March 14, 2011.
- Cumulus Makes Dial Global And Townsquare Deals Official - Radio Insight (released August 30, 2013)
- Cumulus/WestwoodOne To Establish CNN Powered News Service Radio Insight (Published July 31, 2014)
- ABC Radio to Expand Operations Radio Insight (Published August 7, 2014)