Cumulus, the Atlanta-based parent company for a suite of Rhode Island radio stations including WPRO and 92 Pro FM, has struck an intriguing deal with its chief competitor, Clear Channel.
Clear Channel will begin offering Cumulus's 570 stations on its iHeartRadio service, a streaming app that aims to compete with customized, online radio services like Pandora and Spotify.
Clear Channel will also start promoting Cumulus's Groupon-style deals service, SweetJack, which is currently in 16 markets and which Cumulus intends to roll out in all 120 of its markets - including Providence - by the end of next year.
Some analysts contend that the deals market is already saturated. But Cumulus executives argue that its sprawling network of radio stations - and now, Clear Channel's even larger network - will be a vital promotions vehicle.
The effort is sure to make life a little tougher on the Providence Journal, which recently entered the deals market itself. The Journal, as Rhode Island Pubic Radio first reported last week, is offering buyouts in a bid to trim eight employees from the rolls. Layoffs, including four from the newsroom, will follow if targets aren't met.
Clear Channel is the largest radio company in the country. Cumulus, which closed on a $2.3 billion deal for the Providence stations' former parent Citadel Broadcasting in September, is the second largest.