Entercom CEO Field says CBS deal could lead advertisers to 'rediscover' radio

Entercom Communications Corp. CEO David Field said Wednesday that the radio industry has been "punching below its weight class" by capturing only about 7 percent of the advertising share, and that he seeks to boost radio's share to 8 percent to 10 percent with his company's CBS Radio deal.

"There is a potential for radio to be rediscovered" by advertisers, Field said.

On Feb. 2, family-controlled Entercom announced it would merge with CBS Radio as part of a $4 billion tax-free stock deal. CBS is splitting off its radio operations to focus on television and streaming.

Field said the merged entity, based in Bala Cynwyd, will be financially stable and locally focused on its audiences as the nation's No. 2 radio-station group, after debt-laden iHeartMedia.

Entercom/CBS Radio expects to sell 14 radio stations in six markets to comply with regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, which must approve the deal. The merged entity will own about 245 stations in most of the nation's top media markets. Shareholders in CBS Corp. and Entercom also have to approve it.

In a conference call Wednesday, Field told analysts that radio has a broad national reach and loyal daytime listeners but has "suffered from inaccurate perceptions and failed to grasp its vibrancy and effectiveness."

With CBS Radio, Field said, Entercom will have the scale to compete with other ad-based media and move the dial on perceptions. CBS Radio is about double the size of Entercom, which does not own radio stations in its hometown, Philadelphia. After the deal, Entercom — which has flown under the radar in this area for decades — will control the six Philadelphia CBS Radio stations, including all-news KYW and sports-talk WIP.

As part of a deal-related road trip, Field and CBS Radio executives visited CBS Radio stations in 14 markets this month. Field will lead the merged entity, and the Field family will control 25 percent of the shareholder votes in it.

On Wednesday, Entercom said its fourth-quarter revenues rose to $123 million, from $117.7 million a year ago. Net income available to shareholders fell to $10.8 million, from $13.7 million.

For the year, Entercom's revenues rose to $460.2 million, from $411.4 million. Net income for the year rose to $36.1 million, from $28.4 million in 2015.