Daily Deals Are in the Air
By Ethan Smith
The chief executive of radio broadcaster Cumulus Media Inc. says that now that the company’s $2.2 billion acquisition of Citadel Broadcasting Corp. is complete, the first order of business is to challenge Groupon Inc., Yelp Inc. and other websites that offer discounts and reviews of local businesses.
The acquisition, which closed on Friday, leaves Cumulus with 570 stations, up from 350 before the deal, each with its own advertising sales force. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says those sales teams offer a competitive edge for SweetJack, a daily-deals site.
“We see this deal as giving us scale in the local arena,” Mr. Dickey says. “We’ll have 2,000 local sellers in 120 cities that all have relationships with key vendors.”
SweetJack started in April in Atlanta and this month expanded to Dallas and Houston. Over the next two months it will move into 18 more markets, including Nashville, Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Mr. Dickey envisions adding one or two sales people per city to focus on SweetJack, working closely with existing sales forces.
Disc jockeys, he says, can promote Sweetjack deals on air without using ad inventory. If, for example, SweetJack members receive an offer for unlimited popcorn at an Atlanta Hawks NBA game, the next day “our morning guys can talk about how full they are,” Mr. Dickey says.
Cumulus isn’t the only radio chain challenging Internet businesses. CC Media Holdings Inc.’s Clear Channel Radio, the nation’s largest radio broadcaster, this month unveiled a website and iPhone application similar to Pandora Media Inc.’s custom-radio service.
Cumulus remains the No. 2 radio broadcaster in the country by stations and revenue.
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