|Predecessor||Dial Global, X Radio Networks, Jones Media Group, Cumulus Media Networks|
New York, New York
|Suzanne M. Grimes, President|
Westwood One, owned and operated by Cumulus Media, is an American mass media company headquartered in New York, New York, specializing in radio syndication and audio content. As the radio network and national brand of Cumulus, Westwood One distributes hundreds of programs to radio stations and partners across the United States.
The company was, at various times, managed by CBS Radio, the radio arm of CBS Corporation and Viacom. It was later purchased by the private equity firm The Gores Group and then sold to Dial Global in 2011. In September 2013, Dial Global rebranded under the name Westwood One and announced a merger agreement with Cumulus Media; the transaction was closed on December 12, 2013.
Westwood One now includes the combined network of Westwood One and Cumulus Media Networks, the former radio network of Cumulus.
The company takes its name from an earlier network also named Westwood One, a company founded in 1978 before merging with Dial Global in 2011.
Westwood One delivers content and services to thousands of radio stations and digital partners across the U.S., including music and entertainment; talk; and sports programming, including coverage of the NFL on Westwood One Sports.
Dial Global was founded as X Radio Networks, a division of Excelsior Radio Networks. It merged with Dial Communications and Global Media in 2006, from which it derived the Dial Global name. Dial Global initially specialized in syndicated weekend music programs of various types. In 2007 it acquired the former Transtar Radio Networks from the original Westwood One. Triton Media Group, a subsidiary of Oaktree Capital Management, purchased Excelsior in early 2008, and soon bought two of its three main competitors: Waitt Radio Networks and Jones Radio Networks. Triton used the Dial Global name for all of its programming and later bought the remainder of Westwood One in 2011, folding it into its Dial Global subsidiary.
Dial Global began exhibiting signs of financial distress in late 2012, a possible side effect of its numerous acquisitions. On November 15 of that year, Dial Global announced a disappointing third quarter that it attributed in part to the financial impact of its exposure to the controversy surrounding a certain controversial talk personality, which was widely assumed to be a veiled reference to Rush Limbaugh in the wake of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy (although Limbaugh has no direct association with Dial Global). It simultaneously announced that it had filed for delisting from NASDAQ. At the time of the announcement, Dial Global stock was trading at $2.00 a share; by mid-January 2013, DG's stock was trading at .30 a share. In a SEC 8-K filing dated January 15, 2013, DG announced that it had extended a loan waiver agreement with certain lenders.
On August 29, 2013, it was announced by The Wall Street Journal that Cumulus Broadcasting will be purchasing Dial Global. Cumulus will be paying $260 million in cash for this programming syndication service, part of which will be used to pay off Dial's debt before it is folded into Cumulus Media Networks. To fund that sale, Cumulus will make a pair of station deals with Townsquare Media, Oaktree Capital Management's radio station ownership division.
On September 4, 2013, Dial Global announced that - as of that day - the company was renaming itself Westwood One.
Both transactions on the Cumulus-Townsquare deal were closed on November 14, 2013 and the transaction on Cumulus' buyout of Westwood One was also closed a month later on December 12, 2013. As a result of all of these acquisitions, Cumulus Media now controls the remnants of all four of the major networks from the Golden Age of Radio: the former NBC Radio Network, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the distribution rights to most of CBS, the former ABC Radio Network, and CBS Sports Radio (CBS Radio owned stations, but were merged with Entercom on November 17, 2017; ABC, which still owns a few stations outside its original network primarily for ESPN Radio as of December 18, 2015, pulled its content from Cumulus on January 1, 2015; and NBC, after having its content dropped from Westwood One in 2015, moved its content to iHeartMedia in 2016.) Among the numerous other holdings Cumulus now controls are the libraries of Transtar, RKO, Waitt, Jones, BPI, Watermark, and Drake-Chenault.
The company's numerous acquisitions prompted rival Talk Radio Network to file an antitrust lawsuit against what was then Dial Global in August 2012. Cumulus settled the lawsuit with TRN on amicable terms in March 2014, which was followed by TRN filing another lawsuit over the issue in April 2016. Cumulus won the lawsuit in late 2017, and TRN ceased operations at the end of that year.
Cumulus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2017. In January 2018, it began moving to terminate its broadcast contracts, including those through Westwood One.