ABC Radio Owner Citadel Communications Shares Worth One Penny
ABC Radio Owner Finishes Trading At One Penny
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Even for the most jaded industry professionals, it's stunning to believe shares of one of the nation's largest radio station owners might trade for a single penny.
And yet that's exactly what has happened to ABC Radio owner Citadel Communications, a once-proud group operator destroyed by massive debt, epic mismanagement and a liberal political ideology often at odds with the company's still-successful and profitable conservative talk radio programming.
Booted off of the New York Stock Exchange after it failed to make a convincing case for its future viability, Citadel will cease trading there tomorrow, moving to the illiquid and sometimes shady world of the "pink sheets". That's despite a recent move by the NYSE to relax listing requirements.
Ahead of that undignified exit, Citadel (NYSE:CDL) shares closed today at one penny, down nine cents from Wednesday's trading. In 2004, it traded as high as $22.
That leaves a total market capitalization of just under three million dollars, despite owning some of the nation's largest radio stations, including WABC / New York City, WMAL / Washington, WBAP / Dallas - Fort Worth, KGO - KSFO / San Francisco, WLS / Chicago, WJR / Detroit, KABC / Los Angeles and dozens of other music and talk stations across the country, from Albuquerque to Providence and all points in between.
Citadel's original ownership and management team built a highly-successful firm around conservative talkers on the AM band and country music stations on FM, mostly in medium-sized Sunbelt markets. When subsequent owners acquired ABC Radio and saw their own liberal ideology clash with Citadel's established internal structure, it began to unravel.
Many of these stations still turn in remarkably strong ratings and are lucky enough to feature successful (in both ratings and revenue) talk programs hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others at a time when talk radio is dominating the national spotlight.
But recent meddling by Citadel's incompetent managers have led to baffling moves, such as watering down WABC with incompatible, non-conservative programs such as Don Imus and "Joe and Mika", as well as dumping nearly all local programming in the nation's largest market.
Your Radio Equalizer has been tracking this mess for nearly two years, warning of the consequences of this meltdown. In yesterday's Washington Times, yours truly called for a "divorce" to remove highly lucrative talk radio programming away from sagging music radio formats and their rapidly-disintigrating audiences.
The broadcast industry's rapid deterioration calls into question the Obamist plan to impose a backdoor-Fairness Doctrine designed to suppress opposition voices by breaking up large station ownership groups. Before they even have that opportunity, these companies are far more likely to collapse on their own.
From there, who will own these stations? Will some join the newspaper industry and be forced to shut down?
ELSEWHERE: ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Denies Conflict-of-Interest Generating Conference Calls With White House Staff
ALSO: Joe and Mika vs Olbermann!
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