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Cumulus Media vs. Dickey Broadcasting: Is there a difference?

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What comes to mind when you hear the name Lew Dickey? What about Dickey Broadcasting? Still nothing?...then I am sure you will recognize and have some thoughts about this name: Cumulus Media.

All of those names are intertwined and closely related. Cumulus Media is a corporation whose controlling family is that of a man named Lew Dickey. What about Dickey Broadcasting, you ask. Well, his family not only controls Cumulus, a corporate radio conglomerate, but also controls a small local Atlanta cluster of radio stations called, you guessed it, Dickey Broadcasting, among other assets.

But how are they different, you ask, because they both have executives with the last name Dickey. So, after all, what's the difference, right? You might be thinking "So what? It may as well could be a coincidence." Well, I don't know about you, but I don't know many people with the last name Dickey. Also, those of you who follow radio probably have heard of the family to which I am referring.

The Dickey Family is a group of mostly brothers who own multiple assets, among them Cumulus Media, which also happens to be their largest asset. Among their other assets include Dickey Broadcasting Company, a group of about 3 radio stations located in Atlanta, GA that the second generation of the Dickey family (the aforementioned brothers) inherited from their father, the late Lew Dickey Sr.'s Midwestern Broadcasting Company. On a side note, I have a theory as to why the 2nd generation chose to keep Dickey Broadcasting separate from the larger, public company that is Cumulus. My theory is that there must be a family trust set up by Lew Sr. prior to his passing, that prohibits the brothers (or anyone for that matter) from taking ownership of the three Atlanta stations. Although, the larger Cumulus Media houses the three Dickey stations in the same building as its radio station cluster in Atlanta.

Back to the big picture: Another Dickey asset is a company by the name of Dickey Publishing, a company run by brother Michael, which publishes 2 or 3 Atlanta regional magazines and also owns, as of 2012, Modern Luxury Media, the largest regional magazine publisher in the country. According to a press release from the company, through this fairly complicated deal, "the Dickeys commissioned their publicly-held radio broadcaster Cumulus Media's Structured Management Services division to operate the company." While that means little to the average person, it means a great deal in the business world. Let me put it in layman's terms. It means, while the Dickeys will own the stock in Modern Luxury, they will save money in the long run by running it through Cumulus Media, which has more resources, capital, and personnel at its disposal.

Now, to the difference between Cumulus and Dickey. Well, to start with, Dickey is smaller so they can afford to be live and local, while Cumulus might lose money if they invest too much in to live and local. Another difference is scale. Cumulus is a large public company with about 460 stations and two radio networks serving about 10,000 affiliates while Dickey Broadcasting is a small company privately owned by the Dickey family consisting of solely 3 AM stations in Atlanta. Yet another difference is age. Cumulus is a fairly new firm, founded in 1997 by the Dickeys and businessman Richard Weening, while Dickey Broadcasting dates back to the early 1990s before deregulation, when the Lew Dickey made his first acquisition and bought WCNN (A.K.A 680 The Fan) before starting Cumulus.

Overall, there are plenty of differences and similarities that go along with this famous Atlanta business family.

Hope you enjoyed reading and, until next time, keep listening to the radio because, after all, you are the ones that will keep it alive!

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