In another blow to terrestrial radio, Citadel Broadcasting, the third largest radio company in the U.S., is set to file for bankruptcy before the end of the year. As a result of the Chapter 11 proceeding, all shareholders would lose their stock in the company. Citadel owns 165 stations in over 50 markets, including some rock stations with metal shows like WLKQ/Grand Rapids, WEDG/Buffalo and WKQZ/Saginaw. The company is currently $2 billion in debt, and under the new plan, would “only” be $760 million in debt, according to the Wall Street Journal. There’s no word on what fate will befall Citadel’s stations once ownership is transferred to the 90 lenders, which will include JP Morgan Chase and GE Capital.
It’s no secret that radio is in trouble. The WSJ article states that ad revenue for radio is set to drop 19% this year. And it’s been a long time since any new listeners have been genuinely excited about radio. It’s an old form of media, like network TV and newspapers, who are also suffering. However, radio is still ubquitous and free, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Growing up in a household that didn’t have cable for most of my childhood, radio was the place where I discovered a lot of new music, specifially WYSP/Philadelphia’s weekly “Metal Shop” show, hosted by future Island Record GM Mark DiDia. Radio is definitely serving that purpose less and less, with the internet and iTunes an instant gateway to music. Citadel’s Chapter 11 proceedings back that up. It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the aftermath.