On Friday, Inside Music Media reported the inside story behind Sean Hannity’s split with Cumulus Media, owned by the Dickeys:
Sean Hannity, the popular conservative radio and TV talk show host, turns down a recent Cumulus offer to renew his contract to continue airing his show on 40 of their stations….Cumulus tried as recently as the past few weeks to re-up the show but it was Hannity who rejected it. And you know what happens when you reject a Dickey. Hannity and his syndicator Clear Channel-owned Premiere asked Cumulus for a release so they can negotiate a new deal but to date Cumulus has failed to respond. By contract, Hannity can’t renew his syndication deal with Clear Channel until late October even though Cumulus knows that renewal will be completed in a New York minute….Hannity and Rush Limbaugh will leave Cumulus-owned WABC for Clear Channel’s WOR January 1, thus eviscerating whatever ratings WABC had left.
According to the report, recognizing the fact that Hannity had turned them down, the Dickeys decided to unleash oft-boycotted talks how host Michael Savage, who announced via Mediaite that he would be replacing Hannity in the 3-6 PM EDT time slot. “I predict, right here, right now, that I Michael Savage and the Savage Nation is going to take over The Sean Hannity Show time slot by the end of the year,” Savage said.
As Inside Music Media points out, Lew Dickey told investors that Cumulus’ revenue drop was due to Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio skewing older. But Savage is 71 years old and has been boycotted for, among other things, suggesting that virtually every child with autism was “a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out.” He also lost a show on MSNBC after suggesting that a caller was a “sodomite” who should “get AIDS and die.”
Meanwhile, Inside Music Media quotes sources close to Hannity as stating, “he has had enough of cumulus.” Those sources quote Hannity: “The Dickeys are the single worst operators in the history of radio. They have destroyed legendary stations like KGO and KSFO. They are currently in the process of destroying WLS, WABC, WJR, WBAP and WMAL.” Hannity reportedly was overheard stating that WABC was “a ghost town as the Dickeys have fired the program director, the general manager. There’s no personalities and the once vibrant radio station has become a ghost town so the Dickeys can line their pockets.”
Inside Music Media further reports:
Clear Channel is 100% behind Hannity and will replace 80% of the Cumulus stations as soon as the current deal is up. They will renew Hannity for a multi-year extension so he can stay on the more than 500 radio stations that now carry the show through Premiere. Hannity represented close to $20 million in revenue annually to Cumulus. If analysts believe, as Dickey told them a few weeks ago, that the company only has one code-red (underperforming) station left in the top 10 markets, then without the Hannity billing, they’re all headed back to “code-red” status after January….Hannity is in better shape than Cumulus.
According to Inside Music Media, “This self-inflicted wound is a public relations nightmare for Cumulus, a company trying to sell itself to investment banks and venture money as a legitimate company trying to raise $4.5 billion to buy CBS Radio next year.” Why are they buying CBS Radio? Because, “Without a debt-free acquisition like CBS Radio in which Cumulus can bury its significant debt, it’s all over…Cumulus is reportedly not making debt payments on its loans.”