Fisher Communications ended its agreement last year with classical KING-FM (98.1), when it reverted back to public radio status.Though everyone knew that was coming, Fisher's radio top line was bashed: cash flow shrank, and revenues fell.
Also hurting revenues, according to CFO Hassan Natha - "the overall market decline" in Seattle, and the format change at KVI (570). They switched it from conservative talk to oldies, and the recent age 6+ trendline has been 0.2-0.2-0.3. Fisher says the radio ratings continue to be strong at hot AC KPLZ (101.5). There's also news/talk KOMO (1000) and its LMA'd FM simulcast, KOMO-FM, Oakville at 97.7.
And then there's the pale pachyderm that is Fisher Plaza. Once touted to be the 9th Wonder of The Media World, they've been trying to dump it since 2005. Since selling it hasn't worked out, CEO Colleen Brown, who still has her job despite all of this, says they continue to "evaluate options." They're getting more "creative," according to Radio-Info, and considering a sale/leaseback or a re-financing.
Brown is confident "there will be a good outcome", though it's tricky trying to sell something that was "built around a TV station."
(photo: "pale pachyderm")
Last week the i's were crossed and t's dotted for the sell-off of the Great Falls, Montana cluster, Fisher is now just a Seattle company, their loopy regional radio dreams are over.
But that their talent- such as John Carlson and Ken Schram - have Internet presence only on Facebook is telling just how digitally hip the company isn't. A cursory glance at the KOMO news site is also telling.
KIRO's shining model, with their triangulation between listeners, news talkers, and their lively, show-pages drives web traffic and radio listenership... and vice versa.
Company gestalt, not unlike their misconceived Plaza, is built around a teevee station. It may take another decade or two to change that- but it's doubtful that Fisher has got another decade or two... This makes us sick-it's the only locally-owned media operation in town (one of a few in the nation) and their greed, bad judgement, and teevee-centricity has turned a thriving business and market leader into a teetering shadow.
(CEO Colleen Brown could write a book, Corporate Survival after Utter Failure- You Too Can Do It! She has an amazing resilience or the Fisher board is soft in their heads, or somebody is getting paid-off or fellated well and regularly. The terrible decisions and horrible hires which have led to the near decimation of this company should have spelled her termination 5 years ago).