The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 December 2009

Failed Citadel CEO May Remain After Bankruptcy


Citadel - ABC Radio Ready To Hand Control To Lenders


With word this evening that the nation's largest owner of talk radio stations is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the industry is in a state of shock.

But it's not the restructuring itself that has stunned insiders, that's been seen as likely for several months (though the timing is about a month earlier than expected).

Instead, indications that the approximately 90 creditors who are to seize control of Citadel (ABC Radio) and its mega-talk stations (WABC, WLS, KGO, KSFO, KABC, WJR, WBAP, KABC, WMAL and many more) will retain failed CEO Farid Suleman seems unfathomable to almost everyone.

As Suleman (shown left) has overseen the complete destruction of this once-promising company, any continuing role in Citadel would seem inappropriate, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that he will likely survive.

Brought down by inept deal-making, programming malpractice and political bias, Citadel has been on a collision course with disaster for several years. Here at the Radio Equalizer, we've been covering its managerial follies during that time and at one point pleaded with its parent holding company to fire Suleman.

As part of the deal to eliminate billions in debt, Citadel's shareholders will see a complete wipeout, though it has been a penny stock for over a year, especially after being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and moved to the dodgy pink sheets (OTC:CTDB).

Under Suleman's rule,
the company's left-wing political bias became so unbearable that it convinced Sean Hannity to move his program to another syndicator.

Just last month, Citadel admitted that the loss of Hannity caused it to lose millions in desperately-needed revenue. More recently, the company booted longtime WABC / syndicated host Curtis Sliwa for reasons that remain a mystery.

Some of the firm's medium and small market stations are viewed as being in relatively good shape, largely because they were built up by Citadel's previous ownership regime and run locally. Many are high-powered news-talk stations.

Whether the restructuring will force the firm to shed some of its stations is unknown at this time.

Suleman's survival removes the last bit of hope many in radio still held regarding a corporate turnaround. Without a change in leadership, prospects for key Citadel - ABC stations will remain highly questionable.

As it is difficult to find Suleman defenders within radio, it's hard to imagine what Citadel's creditors might be thinking. Nonetheless, the details of this restructuring are not yet set in stone and Farid could well find himself out on the street where he belongs.

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  • I get more cynical and conspiratorial every day. Maybe this was done on purpose.

    By Anonymous verbatim, at 11 December, 2009 15:52  

  • If this was not done on purpose, it just shows that libs don't know a damn thing about being successful in the talk radio industry. Why else would you boot Curtis Sliwa in NYC & replace them with Joe & Mika from MSNBC? That's just 1 example.

    The only lasting model of a successful national liberal radio format is National Public Radio. That's right, the libs NEED TAXPAYER DOLLARS to make it work.

    By Anonymous danybhoy, at 13 December, 2009 00:01  

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