Radio syndicator Dial Global is better known for its programs from the NFL, Nascar and the Grammys and others, but like other radio broadcasters, it’s trying to raise its profile in the face of growing competition from satellite and Internet radio services. So today (ahead of its sale to Cumulus Media) Dial renamed itself WestwoodOne, the onetime radio giant it bought in 2011. Paul Caine, who left Time Inc. in March to become Dial's CEO, explains the change and why he thinks radio still has a great opportunity in a fragmented audio market.
It has been two years since Dial Global bought Westwood One. Why change the name now?
Dial Global has a very strong and respected position in the audio marketplace, and there’s a high brand recall among people working in the audio world. The broader advertising and consumer community didn’t have the same relationship with Dial Global. By having to explain who we are, it limited the potential of where we think the company could go. Westwood had consumer recall. For many years, it was a branded radio network. By going under the brand name of WestwoodOne, with the launch of the new NFL season, we built on the strength of the audio marketplace and those who are on the outside.
For young consumers, the name probably means even less.
There’s a growing group of consumers who don’t know the name of the network, but we see that as an opportunity. We’re going to build an affinity with consumers who don’t have a past affinity with the brand. Consumers spend roughly a third of their day listening to audio. We believe sound and audio can play a large role in [advertisers’] marketing objectives.
Beyond the name change, what’s your plan to grow the company? Dial has had a whole host of financial problems, from revenue being in decline, debt, its stock delisting, competition.
Dial Global’s history has really been very positive as it relates to content, advertisers, its position in the radio market. The work I’ve been doing is about building on those strengths and broadening it as the market continues to shift. We’re excited about growing our base of content and broadening out into digital and mobile.
When people can stream a game on their smartphones, and listen to music on satellite or Internet radio, why do they need terrestrial radio?
We think terrestrial radio has, absolutely, a future. What we’re most excited about is not the decline of any one platform but the growth of the medium. Mobile and digital continue to be an opportunity to get people to listen in more and more places. Satellite continues to be an important medium. But it boils down to the strength of content.