Cumulus Media Networks
TypeRadio network
Country
Ownership
Owner
History
Launch dateJune 15, 1945
(78 years ago)
 (1945-06-15)
ReplacedBlue Network
Closed
  • December 12, 2013 (2013-12-12)
  • (68 years, 180 days)
Replaced byWestwood One
Former names
  • ABC Radio (1945–2009)
  • Citadel Media (2009–2011)
Coverage
AvailabilityNational, through regional affiliates

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 ABC Audio which produces mostly short-form audio content for radio stations.

As ABC Radio Networks, it was the penultimate of the original major radio networks to still be owned by its original founding company, CBS Radio being the last. The Mutual Broadcasting System and the NBC Radio Network were both dissolved in 1999 after both were sold to the original Westwood One a decade earlier.

History

Cumulus Media Networks had its origins in an early network set up by WJZ (now WABC) in New York City which provided programs to other stations over Western Union lines.

NBC Blue Network

Main article: Blue Network

WJZ radio, 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 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 networks were, beyond staff and advertisers, mostly a matter of the more popular and established programming appearing on NBC Red.

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.

ABC Radio

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2011)
Former ABC Radio Networks Logo used until 2009

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

ABC Radio Networks

Network News aired Ad/minute $ Launched Ended
  • American Entertainment Network
  • (originally to be called
  • American Personality Network)[4]
:30 $1,250 January 1, 1968[5]
American Information Network varies $1,500
American Contemporary Network :50-:60 $2,500
American FM Network :15-:20 $650
ABC Rock Radio Network :45 N/A January 4, 1982
ABC Direction Radio Network
ABC Talk Radio 1982 1989
ESPN Radio January 1, 1992
Radio Disney November 18, 1996 April 14, 2021
Urban Advantage Network (UAN) January 1, 2001

Ralph Beaudin, group vice president, of ABC Radio came up with the idea of splitting ABC Radio Network into four different networks. He felt that there was more product than 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.[5] 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.[citation needed] 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.[6] The new networks were launched on January 1, 1968.[5]

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 the 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.[7]

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 Talkradio (similar to rival NBC's Talknet) in 1982. Among its most notable hosts were Michael Jackson, Owen Spann, Dr. Toni Grant and Ray Briem. In 1987, an adjunctive network internally known as "ABC Radio Talk" was launched, to wrest some programming control away from local ABC station KABC in Los Angeles. Tom Snyder and Barry Farber were featured on this secondary network, following a notable three-hour guest appearance by Snyder on Ray Briem's program. However, the rising popularity of conservative talk radio, fueled by The Rush Limbaugh Show, led to the main network's demise. Limbaugh had been picked to replace Owen Spann on the main ABC Talkradio network after Spann was forced to retire due to medical issues; this occurred when former ABC executive Ed McLaughlin purchased Spann's former weekday slot, with the idea of giving Limbaugh a national platform following his initial success on KFBK in Sacramento.

After Tom Snyder's retirement in 1992, ABC ostensibly filled his weeknight slot with Leslie Marshall, at the time the youngest syndicated host ever, while most major affiliates instead picked up Limbaugh. ABC's national talk programming efforts ended shortly thereafter, though one program from the original Talkradio/Weekend network, Bob Brinker's Moneytalk remained on the air until 2018.

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[8] and launched as Sports Radio ESPN on January 1, 1992.[9] Radio Disney was test launched in November 18, 1996 in four markets by ABC Radio Networks with a Los Angeles station added on August 26, 1997.[10]

The ABCRadio.com logo used on 22 ABC O&O stations' Web sites before merger with Citadel Broadcasting

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. Rush Limbaugh's program was not part of this network; following a series of mergers in the 1990s, Ed McLaughlin's company, EFM, was absorbed into Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia).

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.[11]

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.[12] Despite the change in ownership, Citadel Media still listed "ESPN Radio" & "ESPN Deportes" as part of its advertising sales family.[13]

The acquisition of ABC Radio by Citadel Broadcasting was officially completed on June 12, 2007[14] 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".[15]

Citadel Media

Logo as Citadel Media, used from April 2009 through September 2011

On April 2, 2009, the staff at Citadel Broadcasting changed the branding of this network from ABC Radio to "Citadel Media" to reflect its current ownership of a major radio network. However, "ABC News"; and its programming/satellite format listings would remain.[16]

Cumulus Media

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.[17] Previously, Citadel turned down previous acquisition offers months after emerging from bankruptcy.

On August 29, 2013, 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.[18]

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 would be distributed by its newly acquired Westwood One network and allow stations to implement the content under their branding. As an example, Cumulus stated that its "Nash" branded Country stations would run the content under the "Nash News" name.[19] 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 (known as ABC Audio as of 2019).[20] ABC Audio renewed an affiliation with most of the Cumulus stations in 2020 when Westwood One made the decision to fold its news division.[21]

The merger of Cumulus Media Networks into Westwood One was completed in mid-2015.[22]

Programming

Satellite formats

In 1989, ABC Radio Networks acquired the Satellite Music Network which originally started in Chicago. Full-time music formats operated by ABC Radio, Citadel Media and Cumulus Media include the following:

Former networks

Former stations

It has been suggested that this list be split out into another article titled List of radio stations owned by ABC. (Discuss) (June 2019)
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (June 2019)

From the very beginning of its broadcast days until the 2007 sale of the original ABC Radio, Inc. to Citadel Broadcasting and then subsequently to Cumulus Media, and again until 2015, when Radio Disney discontinued terrestrial broadcast service—with the exception of KRDC in Los Angeles, Disney/ABC owned and/or operated several radio stations in numerous markets, big and small. ABC also owned and operated several radio formats and networks, mostly during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

ABC Radio stations

AM Station FM Station
City of license / Market Station Years owned Current ownership
New York, NY WJZ/WABC 770 1945–2007 Red Apple Media (John Catsimatidis)
WJZ-FM/WABC-FM/WPLJ 95.5 1948–2007 Educational Media Foundation
Los Angeles, CA KMPC/KTZN/KDIS/KSPN 710 1995–2022 Good Karma Brands
KECA/KABC 790 1945–2007 Cumulus Media
KECA-FM/KABC-FM/KLOS 95.5 1947–2007 Meruelo Group
Chicago, IL WENR 890 1945–1954 Defunct, merged into WLS in 1954
WLS 890 1954–2007 Cumulus Media
  • WENR-FM/WLS-FM/WDAI/
  • WRCK-FM/WYTZ/WKXK/
  • WXCD/WZZN 94.7
1948–2007 WLS-FM, owned by Cumulus Media
San Francisco, CA KSFO 560 1995–2007 Cumulus Media
KGO 810 1945–2007 Cumulus Media
KGO-FM/KSFX/KLOK-FM 103.7 1947–1984 KOSF, owned by iHeartMedia
DallasFort Worth, TX WBAP 820 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
KSCS 96.3 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
KTYS 96.7 1998–2007 KTCK-FM, owned by Cumulus Media
HoustonGalveston, TX KXYZ 1320 1968–1979 iHeartMedia
KXYZ-FM/KAUM/KSRR 96.5 1968–1986 KHMX, owned by Audacy, Inc.
Washington, D.C. WMAL 630 1977–2007 WSBN, owned by Cumulus Media
WJZW 105.9 1997–2007 WMAL-FM, owned by Cumulus Media
WMAL-FM/WRQX 107.3 1977–2007 WLVW, owned by Educational Media Foundation
Atlanta, GA WKHX/WDWD 590 1986–2015 Salem Media Group
WKHX-FM 101.5 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
WYAY 106.7 1993–2007 WAKL, owned by Educational Media Foundation
Detroit, MIWindsor, ON WJR 760 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
WXYZ 1270 1946–1984 WXYT, owned by Audacy, Inc.
WDRQ 93.1 1997–2007 WUFL, owned by Family Life Radio
WHYT/WPLT/WDVD 96.3 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
WXYZ-FM/WRIF 101.1 1948–1986 Beasley Broadcast Group
MinneapolisSaint Paul, MN KQRS/KDIZ 1440 1986–2015 KYCR, owned by Salem Media Group
KQRS-FM 92.5 1986–2007 Cumulus Media
KXXR 93.7 1994–2007 Cumulus Media
WGVX 105.1 1997–2007 Cumulus Media
Pittsburgh, PA KQV 1410 1957–1974 Calvary, Inc.
KQV-FM/WDVE 102.5 1962–1974 iHeartMedia
Providence, RINew Bedford, MA WPRO 630 1986–1993 Cumulus Media
WPRO-FM 92.3 1986–1993 Cumulus Media
ToledoFremont, OH WFRO 900 2002–2004 Defunct, ceased operations in 2004

Radio Disney stations

AM Station FM Station
City of license / Market Station Years owned Current ownership
New York, NY WQEW 1560 2007–2015 WFME, owned by Family Radio
Los Angeles, CA KSPN/KDIS/KRDC 1110 2000–2023 The Walt Disney Company (simulcast of KSPN)
Chicago, IL WRDZ 1300 1999–2015 Polnet Communications
WPJX 1500 1998–2002 Polnet Communications
San Francisco, CA KMKY 1310 1997–2015 Akal Broadcasting
DallasFort Worth, TX KMKI 620 1998–2015 KTNO, owned by Salem Media Group
HoustonGalveston, TX KMIC 1590 1999–2015 DAIJ Media, LLC
Atlanta, GA WKHX/WDWD 590 1986–2015 Salem Media Group
Philadelphia, PA WWJZ 640 1999–2015 Relevant Radio
Boston, MA WMKI 1260 2000–2015 WBIX, owned by International Grace of God Church
MiamiFort Lauderdale, FL WMYM 990 1999–2015 Actualidad Radio Group
Detroit, MIWindsor, ON WFDF 910 2002–2015 Adell Broadcasting
SeattleTacoma, WA KKDZ 1250 1998–2015 Akal Broadcasting Corporation
Phoenix, AZ KMIK 1580 1998–2015 KQFN, owned by CRC Broadcasting Company, Inc.
MinneapolisSaint Paul, MN KQRS/KDIZ 1440 1986–2015 KYCR, owned by Salem Media Group
Denver, CO KDDZ 1690 1998–2015 KDMT, owned by Salem Media Group
TampaSt. Petersburg, FL WWMI 1380 1999–2015 Salem Media Group
St. Louis, MO WSDZ 1260 1998–2015 Salem Media Group
PortlandSalem, ORVancouver, WA KDZR 1640 2003–2015 Salem Media Group
Charlotte, NC WGFY 1480 2000–2015 Charlotte Advent Media Corporation
San Antonio, TX KRDY 1160 2003–2014 Salem Media Group
Pittsburgh, PA WEAE/WDDZ 1250 1999–2015 WPGP, owned by Salem Media Group
Sacramento, CA KIID 1470 2000–2015 Punjabi American Media
Salt Lake City, UT KWDZ 910 2003–2015 Defunct, ceased operations in 2017
Orlando, FL WDYZ 990 2001–2015 WTLN, owned by Salem Media Group
Cleveland, OH WWMK 1260 1998–2015 WCCR, owned by St. Peter the Rock Media, Inc.
Indianapolis, IN WRDZ-FM 98.3 2003–2015 WZRL, owned by iHeartMedia
Milwaukee, WI WKSH 1640 2002–2014 WSJP, owned by Relevant Radio
Providence, RINew Bedford, MA WDDZ 550 2001–2010 WSJW, owned by Relevant Radio
Norfolk, VA WHKT 1650 2002–2010 Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corp.
GreensboroWinston-Salem, NC WCOG 1320 2005–2010 Curtis Media Group
West Palm Beach, FL WMNE 1600 2000–2010 WPOM, owned by Caribbean Media Group
Jacksonville, FL WBWL 600 2002–2010 WBOB, owned by Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corp.
New Orleans, LA WBYU 1450 2003–2011 Defunct, ceased operations in 2011
HartfordNew Haven, CT WDZK 1550 2000–2010 WSDK, owned by Blount Communications
Richmond, VA WDZY 1290 2000–2013 Richmond Christian Radio
Louisville, KY WDRD 680 2002–2010 WHBE, owned by UB Louisville, LLC
Tulsa, OK KMUS 1380 2003–2011 Radio Las Americas, LLC
AlbanySchenectadyTroy, NY WDDY 1460 2002–2014 WOPG, owned by Pax et Bonum, Inc.
AlbuquerqueSanta Fe, NM KALY 1240 2003–2010 KDSK, owned by KD Radio, Inc.
WichitaHutchinson, KS KQAM 1480 2002–2010 Steckline Communications
Little RockPine Bluff, AR KDIS-FM 99.5 2003–2014 Salem Media Group

References

  1. ^ The New York Times, February 10, 1953
  2. ^ "The History of WLS Radio!". www.wlshistory.com.
  3. ^ JFK Assassination: First Radio Network Bulletin on YouTube
  4. ^ "ABC REVAMPS FOR 4 FORMATS" (PDF). Billboard. September 2, 1967. p. 8. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "600 stations set for new ABC" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1968. pp. 42–44. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "ABC Radio plans get FCC's qualified OK" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1968. pp. 44–45. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "New Lineups For ABC Networks" (PDF). Billboard. January 16, 1982. p. 21. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "ESPN, ABC Planning to Form Sports Radio Network in 1992". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. September 5, 1991. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  9. ^ Zumoff, Marc; Negin, Max (June 20, 2014). Total Sportscasting: Performance, Production, and Career Development. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1317906766. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  10. ^ Hochman, Steve (August 27, 1997). "Radio Disney Makes L.A. Debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "Citadel to Buy Most of Disney Radio Assets," The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2006.
  12. ^ "ABC Radio to Merge with Citadel Broadcasting." Official press release. February 6, 2006.
  13. ^ List of radio services Archived August 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine from CitadelMediaNetworks.com
  14. ^ "Disney and Citadel Announce Completion of ABC Radio Merger" Official Press Release. June 12, 2007
  15. ^ "ABC News Now Home Page". www.abcfmnews.com. Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  16. ^ ABC Radio Networks Changes Name To Citadel Media - Citadel Media (released April 2, 2009)
  17. ^ "Cumulus will be digesting Citadel fast, once it takes over in late Q3". Radio-Info.com. March 14, 2011. Archived from the original on March 18, 2011.
  18. ^ Cumulus Makes Dial Global And Townsquare Deals Official - Radio Insight (released August 30, 2013)
  19. ^ Cumulus/WestwoodOne To Establish CNN Powered News Service Radio Insight (Published July 31, 2014)
  20. ^ ABC Radio to Expand Operations Radio Insight (Published August 7, 2014)
  21. ^ "ABC Audio Announces Addition of 124 New Cumulus Affiliates".
  22. ^ "A 'Significant Number' Of People Laid Off At Westwood One". allaccess.com.