Cumulus Media Networks

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Cumulus Media Networks
Type Radio network
Country  United States
Availability National, through regional affiliates
Owner (NBC) Blue Network:
RCA: (1927–1943)
The Blue Network Co.: (1943–1945)
ABC Radio Network:
ABC, Inc.: (1945–1953)
ABC-UPT: (1953–1965)
ABC, Inc.: (1965–1986)
Capital Cities/ABC: (1986–1996)
The Walt Disney Company: (1996–2007)
Citadel Broadcasting: (2007–2009)
Citadel Media:
Citadel Broadcasting: (2009–2011)
Cumulus Media Networks:
Cumulus Media: (2011–2014)
Launch date
January 1, 1927 (as NBC Blue)
January 9, 1942 (as Blue Network)
June 15, 1945 (as ABC Radio)
April 2, 2009 (as Citadel Media)
September 16, 2011 (as Cumulus Media)
Dissolved December 2013 (Taken over by Westwood One)
Former names
A prototypical network operated by WJZ using Western Union lines (1921–1927)
NBC Blue Network (1927–1942)
Blue Network (1942–1945)
ABC Radio Networks (1945–2009)
Citadel Media (2009–2011)
Official website

Cumulus Media Networks was an American radio network owned and operated by Cumulus Media. From 2011 until its merger with Westwood One, it controlled many of the radio assets formerly belonging to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), which was broken up in 2007; Cumulus owned the portion of the network that was purchased by Citadel Broadcasting that year. The network adopted its final name in September 2011, following Cumulus's acquisition of Citadel; prior to this, it had been known as Citadel Media Networks since April 2009, after licensing the "ABC Radio Networks" name from The Walt Disney Company for nearly two years. ABC now operates a revived ABC Radio Network that owns no stations but produces (mostly short-form) audio content.

It was also (as ABC Radio Networks) the penultimate of the major radio networks to still be owned by its original founding company until 2007, CBS Radio being the last. Mutual Broadcasting Network was dissolved in 1999 and then NBC Radio Network, after selling all of its stations in 1988, followed suit in 2004.

Prominent hosts carried by Cumulus Media Networks included Don Imus, Geraldo Rivera, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Jim Brickman, Adam Bomb, Kix Brooks (American Country Countdown), and Tom Kent.


Cumulus Media Networks had its origins in an early network set up by WJZ (now WABC) in New York City which provided programs to other stations over Western Union lines.

WJZ/NBC Blue Network

WJZ, originally owned by Westinghouse and its informal network were absorbed into the National Broadcasting Company in 1927. To the parent company Radio Corporation of America, WJZ and affiliates were known as the Blue Network while New York station WEAF (later WNBC and now WFAN) and its affiliates (also absorbed into NBC) were known as the "Red Network." On the air, both were identified as "NBC, the National Broadcasting Company;" the distinctions between the two chains were only to staff and advertisers.

Both NBC networks were owned by RCA; following a Federal Communications Commission investigation into the network's influence over advertising, strict ownership rules were introduced in 1941. RCA was compelled to sell one network and three local stations.

ABC Radio

Former ABC Radio Networks Logo used until 2009

RCA put an asking price of $8 million on the Blue network; after two years on the market, it was sold in 1943 to businessman Edward J. Noble, owner of Life Savers candy and the Rexall Drug store chain, for the asking price. After Noble took over, the network identified itself on-air as "The Blue Network." It was officially renamed the American Broadcasting Company, Inc. in June 1945 after the company bought the rights to the name from (what would later become) Storer Broadcasting.

With about 65 affiliates, ABC began with few of the big names and popular shows the other networks offered, so counter-programming became an ABC specialty. Industry policy had been to forbid taped or pre-recorded programs; ABC lured some big-name stars by adapting the tape technology developed in World War II. To add to its programming, ABC bought stations KECA (now KABC) in Los Angeles and WXYZ (now WXYT) in Detroit, the latter home and originator of many popular serials such as The Lone Ranger.

Financially unable to match the larger networks, ABC merged with United Paramount Theaters early in 1953.[1] Through the 1950s, network radio declined in popularity, and ABC radio gradually became more oriented to its local stations, especially its two pop-music powerhouses, New York's WABC (formerly WJZ) and Chicago's WLS.

Some network programs held on into the television era: Don McNeill's Breakfast Club, one of the first and longest-running morning shows in the country, hosted by Don McNeill, ran from 1933 to 1968. Other long-running ABC programs included the National Barn Dance, running from 1924 to 1960, and Paul Harvey's daily commentary, which ran from 1951 until his death in 2009.[2] In 1958, ABC collaborated with its sister television network to produce the first national stereophonic sound broadcasts, when it simulcast The Plymouth Show (one of two shows hosted by Lawrence Welk at the time); the TV side broadcast one audio channel and the radio side broadcast the other in synchronization; viewers had to tune into both devices to achieve the stereophonic effect.

John F. Kennedy assassination bulletin

ABC Radio broadcast the first nationwide report of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was shot in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas at 18:30 UTC on November 22, 1963 and ABC Radio's Don Gardiner anchored the network's initial bulletin at 18:36:50 UTC, minutes before any other radio or television network did the same.

A surviving aircheck from New York shortwave station WRUL includes the first ABC Radio bulletin. Gardiner interrupts Doris Day's recording of "Hooray for Hollywood" to tell listeners at 13:36:50 EST (UTC-5):

Split into four networks

ABC fed hourly radio newscasts to affiliates at :55 past the hour until January 1, 1968, when the traditional ABC radio network was replaced by four separate programming services. The "American Contemporary Network," designed for Top 40 music stations such as WABC, WLS and KQV in Pittsburgh, aired news at :54:30. "American Information Network" news, geared for stations that programmed with a heavy news or talk emphasis, such as KABC Los Angeles and KGO San Francisco, ran at the top of the hour. ABC's "FM" network carried news at :15 past. Originally a general-interest newscast for all types of FM outlets, this service would eventually be refocused to serve FM rock stations. The "American Entertainment Network," pitched to adult-oriented music stations such as WXYZ in Detroit and KXYZ in Houston, had news at the bottom of the hour. Paul Harvey and the Breakfast Club were designated as Entertainment network features.

Before the split, ABC obtained a waiver of the FCC's "Chain Broadcasting" rule, which had forced the sale of the Blue network in 1943. Though each of the four new networks were carried on the same 5 kHz telco line (3.5 in some cities), the move allowed ABC to have as many as four affiliates in one city – a major competitive advantage and a dramatic turning point in the history of network radio. However, the FCC insisted that there be no overlap of any ABC network broadcast in a single market, and the network required affiliates to get approval before any delayed broadcast of network programming. Two additional news networks, "Rock" and "Direction," which carried news at :45 past the hour, were added on January 4, 1982.

Today, only Information and Entertainment remain as separate newscast services, with their programming delivered via satellite. The "Information" network newscasts clear on major-market stations like WABC, KABC, WLS, WBAP in Fort Worth/Dallas, KGO in San Francisco, WMAL in Washington, D.C., and WJR in Detroit—all of which were owned by ABC before their 2007 sale to Citadel. "Entertainment" network news airs mainly on small and medium-market stations. These ABC News Radio newscasts originate from the news division's bureaus in New York, Washington and Los Angeles and air exactly at the top of the hour. They are no longer identified on air by their brand name.

ABC Radio acquired Watermark Inc., best known as the syndicator of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley, in 1982. Kasem left ABC in 1988, reclaiming the American Top 40 name from ABC in 1998, and selling the AT40 brand to AMFM Radio Networks (later absorbed intro Premiere Radio Networks). Kingsley left ABC in 2005 and 'ACC' continues to air as part of the ABC stable with Kix Brooks as host since 2006. Dick Bartley joined the network in 1991 with the AT40 spinoff American Gold and his live Saturday night call-in oldies show, before leaving at the end of March 2009.

ABC launched a foray into talk radio with ABC Talk Radio (similar to rival NBC's Talknet) in the 1980s. Among its most notable hosts were Tom Snyder and Barry Farber. However, the rising popularity of conservative political talk radio, fueled by The Rush Limbaugh Show, led to the network's demise. After Snyder's retirement in 1992, ABC ostensibly filled the slot with Leslie Marshall, at the time the youngest syndicated host ever, but most major affiliates instead picked up Limbaugh. The network was shut down shortly thereafter, though one program from that network, Bob Brinker's Moneytalk is now in its twenty-fifth year nationwide.

ABC acquired the Satellite Music Network, the first satellite-delivered music radio network, and its nine channels of programming in 1989. The division continues to operate semi-autonomously as Cumulus Music Radio at Cumulus's Dallas-Fort Worth cluster.

In 1992, ABC Radio launched Sportsradio ESPN. While not the first national sports talk network, Sportsradio ESPN quickly became the most popular. That network, now known as ESPN Radio, is still in operation today, and remains under ownership of The Walt Disney Company.

ABC Radio launched Radio Disney, a children's-oriented top 40 network, in 1996.[4] Like ESPN Radio, it remains under The Walt Disney Company ownership. Disney plans on shutting down most of the terrestrial network by the end of 2015.

File:ABC Radio 1.png
The logo used on 22 ABC O&O stations' Web sites before merger with Citadel Broadcasting

ABC again began building a talk network, this time with an emphasis on political talk, in 2001. Among the first hosts heard on the new ABC talk network were Sam Donaldson of ABC News television, Sean Hannity of WABC, Larry Elder of KABC, and John Batchelor of WABC. Donaldson left his show after a short time. Mark Levin was added in 2005 and eventually replaced Elder in 2007, and Mark Davis of WBAP had a brief syndication run on the network in 2005. Hannity has been the most successful, displacing Laura Schlessinger as the most popular host in the time slot within a few years (especially on the East Coast); the network shared the program with Premiere Radio Networks from 2008 to 2013 before Premiere took over the program entirely beginning in 2014.

Sale to Citadel

In 2005, ABC began to explore the sale of its radio division. The two leading competitors for the purchase of the network, which included twenty-two of ABC Radio's top stations, as well as ABC's talk and music networks, were Bala Cynwyd-based Entercom Communications and Forstmann Little & Company's Citadel Broadcasting unit. Citadel was chosen as the top bidder and the deal to purchase the stations and the network was struck in February 2006.[5] The deal did not include Radio Disney, ESPN Radio (or its Spanish counterpart ESPN Deportes Radio), any of the five ESPN Radio stations (or the myriad of Radio Disney stations) Disney owned at the time, or any of ABC's television assets (the ABC name, which also remained in Disney's hands, would be licensed to Citadel for two years). Disney's ABC News unit will also still produce ABC News Radio programming for distribution by Citadel.[6] Despite the change in ownership, Citadel Media still lists "ESPN Radio" & "ESPN Deportes" as part of its advertising sales family.[7] The acquisition of ABC Radio by Citadel Broadcasting was officially completed on June 12, 2007 [8] and the "ABC Radio Networks" logo was licensed from Disney until April 2, 2009.

Shortly after the announcement of the ABC/Citadel merger, the "FM" network was reactivated. It now provides an hourly two-minute newscast, similar in format to when the network formerly operated. Those newscasts carry the on-air brand "ABC News Now."[9]

Citadel Media

On April 2, 2009, the staff at Citadel Broadcasting changed the branding of this network from ABC Radio to "Citadel Media" to reflect on its current ownership of a major radio network. However, "ABC News"; and its programming/satellite format listings would remain.[10]

Cumulus Media

It was reported that Cumulus Media absorbed all the assets of Citadel Broadcasting, including Citadel Media in September 2011, and the name change to "Cumulus Media Networks" immediately took effect upon acquisition.[11] Previously, its former parent company Citadel turned down previous acquisition offers months after emerging from bankruptcy.

On August 29, 2013, it was announced by The Wall Street Journal that Cumulus Broadcasting purchased Dial Global (Westwood One as of September 4). Cumulus paid $260 Million in cash for this programming syndication service, part of which has paid off Dial’s debt before it was folded into this network service. Cumulus funded the sale by making a pair of station deals with Townsquare Media.[12]

On July 31, 2014, Cumulus acquired the rights to CNN’s content to distribute to radio stations (the company had held CNN radio rights since its acquisition of Dial Global, but CNN had not produced any radio content since April 2012). The content will be distributed by its newly acquired WestwoodOne network and allow stations to implement the content under their own branding. As an example Cumulus stated that its "Nash" branded Country stations would run the content under the Nash News name.[13] The programming deal started on January 1, 2015 when its broadcasting rights to ABC's news division expired. ABC relaunched an entirely new ABC Radio network.[14]

The merger of Cumulus Media Networks into Westwood One was completed in mid-2015.[15]


The following programs, previously on Cumulus Media Networks, can be heard on Westwood One.

Cumulus Media Radio Network



Country music (Nash FM)


Satellite formats

In 1989, ABC Radio Networks acquired The Satellite Music Network which originally started in Chicago. To this day, the division, known as "Westwood One Music Radio" (formerly "Citadel Music Radio" and "ABC Music Radio"), provides 10 satellite-driven formats to affiliate stations, mostly in small & mid-size markets and on major market HD Radio subchannels. However they can also be used on some major market stations as alternative or permanent programming. They could operate their stations virtually unmanned with nothing more than a computer and a satellite hookup offering major market talent that some radio stations could never afford. The "clock" included options for a 2-, 3-, or 5-minute newscasts at the top of the hour, followed by other holes for local spots. While some of the programming is live (some is done by voice tracking), DJ's had to avoid references to the weather or anything else that would not be appropriate in many time zones (time reports, for instance, were given only in minutes before or after "the hour"). An 800-line was eventually added, allowing the live DJ's to take phoned in requests. Cumulus Media Networks's 24-hour-music formats before CMN's closure included:

Network Name Format Additional Notes (if any)
Triangle-red.svg Best Country Today Country Formerly known as "Country Coast to Coast", "Best Country Around", "Best Country Today". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-purple.svg The Christmas Channel Christmas Music Available the day before Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day.
Triangle-red.svg Classic Rock Classic Rock Formerly "The Classic Rock Experience". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-red.svg Classic Hits Classic hits from 1960s to 1980s Formerly "Pure Gold" and "Oldies Radio". Merged with WestwoodOne counterpart in 2014, some staff retained.
Triangle-red.svg Hits & Favorites Adult Contemporary Formerly known as "Starstation". Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-blue.svg Real Country Traditional Country
Triangle-blue.svg The Rhythm Contemporary R&B Previously known as Classic Hip-Hop and R&B.
Triangle-red.svg Today's Best Hits Hot Adult Contemporary Also known as "ABC Hot AC" (formerly identified on air as "Best Hits, Best Variety"). Discontinued in 2014 after merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-blue.svg The Touch Urban Adult Contemporary Briefly rebranded as "MyFavStation" in January 2010, formerly known as "Heart & Soul"
Triangle-blue.svg Good Time Oldies Oldies/classic hits Revived 2014.

Other network holding(s)

Network Name Format Notes
Triangle-blue.svg CBS Sports Radio Sports Produced in conjunction with CBS Radio.
Triangle-blue.svg Nash FM Hot country Only syndicated to Cumulus O&O's; some programs syndicated outside the network.
Triangle-blue.svg Nash Icon Traditional/mainstream country Joint venture with Big Machine Records.

Triangle-blue.svg = Active on terrestrial radio affiliates through Westwood One.
Triangle-purple.svg = Active on a seasonal basis.

Triangle-red.svg = Discontinued.

Former network properties of ABC Radio/Citadel Media/Cumulus Media Networks

Network Name Format Fate of Network
ABC News & Talk News/Talk Discontinued since September 24, 2007.
ESPN Radio Sports/Talk Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale, although Cumulus still does advertising sales for the network.
ESPN Deportes Radio Spanish Sports/Talk Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale, although Cumulus still does advertising sales for the network.
Jack FM Variety/Adult Hits Spun off to Dial Global.
The Nerve Active Rock Ceased operations in 2013.
Radio Disney Children's Radio Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale. Discontinued most terrestrial affiliates in 2015.
Rejoice! Musical Soul Food Urban Contemporary Gospel Spun off to Urban Choice Media.
Timeless Oldies/Standards Discontinued since February 13, 2010.
Unforgettable Favorites MOR Merged into "Timeless" format. Feed still active as seasonal Christmas Channel.
Z Rock Active Rock Discontinued since December 31, 1996.
True Oldies Channel Oldies Discontinued since June 29, 2014 on Cumulus but retained by Scott Shannon.


  1. The New York Times, February 10, 1953
  3. JFK Assassination: First Radio Network Bulletin on YouTube
  4. Petrozzello, Donna. ABC, Disney to launch children's network; programming, to be tested later this year, will include music, stories, various other features. August 5, 1996. Broadcasting & Cable. Archived on Accessed July 8, 2013.
  5. "Citadel to Buy Most of Disney Radio Assets," The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2006.
  6. "ABC Radio to Merge with Citadel Broadcasting." Official press release. February 6, 2006.
  7. List of radio services from
  8. "Disney and Citadel Announce Completion of ABC Radio Merger" Official Press Release. June 12, 2007
  9. :: Abc Fm News ::
  10. ABC Radio Networks Changes Name To Citadel Media - Citadel Media (released April 2, 2009)
  11. "Cumulus will be digesting Citadel fast, once it takes over in late Q3". March 14, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Cumulus Makes Dial Global And Townsquare Deals Official - Radio Insight (released August 30, 2013)
  13. Cumulus/WestwoodOne To Establish CNN Powered News Service Radio Insight (Published July 31, 2014)
  14. ABC Radio to Expand Operations Radio Insight (Published August 7, 2014)