Westwood One is an American radio network. It is based in New York City, and it was previously managed by CBS Radio, the radio arm of CBS Corporation. The company is now owned by the private-equity firm The Gores Group and describes itself as "platform agnostic" but still focuses mostly on radio as well as online audio products.
The company was founded by Norman J. Pattiz in 1976. At the time, he was a former advertising sales executive with KCOP-TV, a Los Angeles TV station. He was listening to a local radio station doing a Motown weekend, and decided to syndicate The Sound of Motown to radio. The show was a success. He added several more shows during the 1970s, including Dr. Demento. Westwood One made history with the first ever concert "simulcast", broadcasting live (in conjunction with with MTV and Startfleet radio) Frank Zappa's Halloween shows (October 31, 1981). By 1982, Pattiz was distributing his radio shows via satellite through an arrangement with idb Communications in Culver City. Mr. Pattiz took Westwood One public in 1984, and with the money raised by the IPO, he purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1985, and the NBC Radio Network in 1987. Other highlights in the late 1980s include the purchase of three radio stations, the trade paper Radio & Records, and the hiring of Casey Kasem from ABC. The company purchased Unistar Radio Networks in 1994 (later spinning off Transtar in 2006), and then purchased Metro Networks in 1999 in a three-way merger involving Metro Networks, Copter Acquisition Corp. and Westwood.
In 1985, Westwood One purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of the "Big Four" of the 1940s in American radio, and continued to operate it as a separate network program service into the 1990s. However, by the early 1990s Mutual ended up simply being a brand name for programming provided by Westwood One. Westwood One discontinued using the Mutual name in favor of CNN Radio in 1999 and the Mutual name passed permanently from use on the air.
Two years later in 1987, Westwood One purchased the NBC Radio Network from General Electric. The "NBC Radio" brand is still occasionally used, including once daily at the conclusion of the early morning news magazine First Light. In 2003, NBC News began contracting with Westwood One to produce a new radio news service, "NBC News Radio," consisting of one-minute updates written by Westwood staffers and read by NBC News talent. Westwood One also distributes the audio of "Meet the Press" and the monologues of NBC's late night programming, which effectively unites all of NBC's programming under one network.
Westwood One provides operational, sales and marketing support for the CBS Radio Network, whose properties are owned by the CBS Corporation. The CBS Radio news and sports broadcasts are distributed from the CBS/Westwood One Master Control at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.
Westwood One also provides alternate feeds of NFL football games to Sirius Satellite Radio.
Westwood One expanded into digital media with the hiring of radio veteran Gary Krantz in 2006; Krantz remained with the company until March 2008.
In October 2007, Westwood and CBS Radio signed a new contractual agreement by which Westwood would hire its own officers and directors, and CBS would benefit from Westwood One programming and trademark licenses. Westwood will also enjoy the benefit of CBS trademarks, under the agreement, which was filed as part of the companies' public disclosures with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The new agreement took effect on March 3, 2008, the same day that Gores Radio Group invested $12,500,000 dollars as part of a multi-stage investment takeover of Westwood One. The second stage of the Gores investment happened only two weeks later, with an identical investment of $12,500,000, which gave Gores Radio direct ownership of more than 14,000,000 shares of stock in Westwood One. Gores Radio Group companies states it has been investing in media since the late 1980s..
Westwood One stock was formerly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but was delisted as of November 21, 2008 for failing to maintain market capitalization requirements. As of November 2008, shares of the company trade publicly on the Pink Sheets under the stock symbol WWON.PK. After further stock losses, the Gores Group bought the company outright in March 2009.
The company is one of the largest producers and distributors of radio programming in the United States. It broadcasts entertainment, news, weather, sports, talk, and traffic programming to about 7,700 radio stations across the USA. The company is America's top provider of local traffic reports through its subsidiaries, Metro Networks, Shadow Broadcast Services and SmartRoute Systems. Westwood One also offers weather services; originally using Accuweather, Westwood switched to The Weather Channel in 2009.
Talk radio personalities distributed by Westwood One include Phil Valentine, Dennis Miller, Jim Bohannon, Billy Bush, Fred Thompson, Drew Pinsky (Loveline), Kevin and Bean, and an audio simulcast of Larry King Live. Hot talkers Tom Leykis, Opie and Anthony, Mike O'Meara and Adam Carolla were also carried on the network, but with format changes at those shows' flagship stations and the end of the Free FM network that was the backbone of these syndication efforts, those shows were all canceled.
The company syndicates these shows across AM and FM affiliates, and does not sell the programs to satellite radio. Westwood One distributes the radio news operations of CNN and NBC as well as its former corporate cousin, the CBS Radio Network.
In the early 2000s, Westwood One handled the distribution of Fox News Radio; that has since moved to Premiere Radio Networks. (One Fox program, The Radio Factor, hosted by Bill O'Reilly, continued to be distributed by Westwood One until O'Reilly's departure from the show in January 2009.)
In 2009, the network added several short-form features based on television series syndicated by CBS Television Distribution: The Doctors' Orders, Ask Dr. Phil, Rach on the Radio, and The Insider Radio Minute.
Until 2006, Westwood One distributed a number of 24-hour radio formats via satellite to affiliate stations. These formats included: Adult Rock & Roll (classic rock), Adult Standards (formerly AM Only), Bright AC (hot adult contemporary), CNN Headline News, Hot Country, Mainstream Country, SAM - Simply About Music (variety hits), Soft AC, The Oldies Channel and Westwood One 70s. The 24 hour formats, originally acquired through Westwood One's purchase of Unistar in 1993, were spun off in 2006 and are currently distributed under the Dial Global brand (now owned by Triton Media Group). (Westwood One 70s was abandoned prior to 2000.)
The lone exception is the audio feed of CNN Headline News, which remains part of the CNN Radio branding under Westwood One.
Westwood One syndicates several popular programs for a variety of music formats. Shows include The Beatle Years with Bob Malik, Beatle Brunch with Joe Johnson, Country Countdown USA, Absolutely Live, Superstar Concert Series, Country Gold (in most markets, also known as Country Gold Saturday Night, but also available on Sunday), Randy Jackson's Hit List with Randy Jackson and Kesha Monk, 106 and Park Weekend Countdown with Terrence and Rocsi, MTV TRL Weekend Countdown, Off the Record with Joe Benson, VH1 Concerts and Specials, Out of Order with Jed the Fish, and the Country Six Pack of holiday music specials. The Dr. Demento Show was carried by Westwood One from 1978 to 1992, and rights to those shows are still held by Westwood One.
Westwood One is most notable for its coverage of live events. The company broadcasts live concerts, and holds exclusive national radio rights for many sporting events including National Football League and college football games, the Olympic Games, the NCAA Basketball Tournament (this and NFL coverage are co-produced with corporate sibling CBS TV), the Masters and U.S. Open golf, Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Frozen Four of college hockey, and the GRAMMY Awards. For many years the network also aired Notre Dame football and National Hockey League games.
Westwood One also handles sales and advertising for the Sports USA Radio Network, beginning in 2009.
In 2005, Westwood One, Inc. and its traffic subsidiary, Metro Networks, sent several existing officers and directors of Westwood to Canada and Australia to unify a number of helicopter aviation companies that were already providing reports to Westwood One and Metro Networks' affiliates. The result was the incorporation of a company called Global Traffic Network, which began taking deliveries of Robinson R44 news helicopters in 2005. The companies signed a three-way content and data sharing agreement in November 2005, which is part of documents on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C.