David Field has presided over a period of dramatic growth at Entercom Communications, from its acquisition of CBS Radio to a pair of podcast companies. Now he’s looking to supercharge the newfound scale of his audience with synergies to turn his business into a digital-audio juggernaut.
Last month, Entercom announced an agreement to buy full control of Cadence13, a New York-based podcast studio and distribution company — after acquiring a 45% stake for $9.7 million two years ago — in addition to the acquisition of podcast producer Pineapple Street Media. The deals helped pushed Philadelphia-based Entercom into the No. 3 spot among U.S. podcast publishers, after NPR and iHeartMedia.
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While podcasts are a small piece of the overall business for now, “the podcasting business is exploding, and if you don’t create a strong position today I think you’re lost,” Field said on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” Entercom would have moved into podcasting sooner, he added, except it decided to hold off as it integrated CBS Radio.
Entercom is housing Cadence13 and Pineapple Street under its Radio.com streaming division, which came via its CBS Radio acquisition. Field sees podcasts as a business that will work in synergy with Entercom’s 235 radio stations.
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The company is the top purveyor of spoken-word radio in the U.S., Field said, and “there’s no better platform to cross-pollinate and to sample content than by taking podcasting, excerpts from podcasts, take out from personalities from podcast [and] expose them on our radio stations and vice versa.”
Radio.com, which now offers over 300 streaming stations and 3,000-plus podcasts, provided Entercom a foundational platform for digital expansion across music, news, entertainment, sports and other categories. “Without scale, realistically, we were in no position to compete nationally in the digital audio space,” Field said.
“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.