RBR-TVBR reports that big changes could be raining down from Cumulus Corporate. An escalating battle means the company is taking steps to bring more of its programming in-house, eschewing syndicated programs from Dial Global (formerly Westwood One), Premiere and others. Even ESPN could be swept away by the clouds.
If this plays out like the story intones, KBOI & KTIK would be severely impacted. KBOI is anchored by Rush Limbaugh – and despite current issues on a national scale, Boise is Rush-country. Rumors that former presidential Mike Huckabee might be the in-house pick for Rush’s timeslots abound – but he won’t pull the ratings Rush does.
It’s unlikely that both Limbaugh’s program and the ESPN deal would come open at the same time. But we’ll take them one-by-one:
- ESPN. If Cumulus decides to part ways with ESPNR it causes some major changes for KTIK – starting with its brand name. “FM Sports 93-1″ or whatever they land on won’t have the power behind it that the “worldwide leader” brand holds. While KTIK brands itself around Caves & Prater as well, ESPN holds down massive amounts of time on the station – including evenings and weekends – not to mention Mike & Mike, Cowherd and Scott Van Pelt. Jim Rome comes to the station via Premiere — but who knows if that’s safe either. ESPN would be left in a bind. If the ESPN contract comes up, two groups will make a play: Peak & Impact. While Impact doesn’t technically program a sports station now, you could easily see it re-consolidating the two KINF stations (FM & AM) back to one frequency and doing sports on the other.And while I’m in the middle of wild speculation – whatever happened to this (the station shuffle to move-in a new FM frequency)? The FCC says construction permits for KSAS and KQFC are up. We go down that rabbit hole here for this reason: I think the smart money on that new FM move-in would have it landing in Impact’s bucket… and they’re going to need something to put there. TOTALLY wild speculation.
The other ESPN wannabe will be Peak. Despite all that… bankruptcy… stuff – those stations will end up in someone’s hands. And KFXD/Sports 630 is still in need of programming. This winter, PB picked up NFL playoff programming from Dial Global – a HUGE get. KTIK didn’t have the Super Bowl this year — KFXD did. Whoever ends up in charge will want it badly. I’m sure they’d be willing to trade Fox Sports over to Cumulus.
One other note. I watched KTRV’s final local program – the Potato Bowl pregame show in December. It was hosted by Matt Loveless, Stacey Skrysak and Larry Polowski. Jeff Caves joined the show, and Polowski asked him an oddly phrased question : “So ESPN and KTIK, you guys are going to stay married together forever right?” It seemed like a type of reference to the KTRV/Fox split — but then Jeff’s answer was very non-committal and said “who knows how ESPN wants to play that card, and we want to provide it for the foreseeable future – but there’s no guarantees.” Why did he ask that in the first place? Why was Jeff’s answer so weird?
- Then there’s Rush. If Premiere and Citacumuldel don’t come to terms, then what? In Boise you are going to have the same two players: Impact and Peak. Peak would love to put rush back on KIDO. They were NOT happy when they lost it (remember this?). They’d be more than happy to put him back on the station. Likewise for Impact which just sniped Savage from KBOI and is clearly on the prowl for more content.
One other thing: I heard rumblings last year that someone else wanted to light up a talk station in Boise. It didn’t come to pass – but will it?
There’s a lot of worse case here for Cumulus Boise. Even though it’s obvious corporate wants to bring thing in house – how far and how fast will it escalate that desire? While it has some programming on the shelf, it the items it hands to the competition – in Boise at least – could prove to be very problematic from a competitive standpoint.