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Jim Rome, Scott Ferrall to CBS: Can Sports Radio Drive Revenue?

Stocks in this article: CBS DIS NWSA CMCSA SIRI LMCA

In recent weeks, CBS hired two of the nation's biggest sports radio personalities. Jim Rome left Clear Channel's (CCMO) Premiere Radio Networks and Scott Ferrall will join CBS after seven years at SiriusXM (SIRI).

Rome already hosts a show for the CBS Sports Network, a cable television entity that, relative to ESPN and the NBC Sports Network, has limited penetration. Long ago, Rome made the transition from radio guy to multimedia personality.

With Rome's role expanded across platforms, it might make sense for CBS to do the same with Ferrall. He's certainly capable -- maybe more so than Rome -- and he appeals to younger audiences that often get left on the table in both radio and television.

Remember, Ferrall was not simply on SiriusXM. He was part of the satellite radio network's Howard Stern stations, Howard 100 and Howard 101. It's one thing to have a show on Sirius XM -- they'll give one to just about anybody -- it's entirely another to win, let alone maintain, an endorsement from Stern.

I talked to Ferrall yesterday. Here's part of what he had to say:

Stern was awesome to me for seven years. He handpicked me for the gig. Could of chosen a million others but chose me -- honored and humbled by the experience . . . Howard and Tim Sabean are awesome to work for and so was Sirius.

If SiriusXM (or, more than likely, Liberty Media (LMCA)) is smart, it'll pick up Ferrall's new show; they're not going to find an equally-as-dynamic replacement. And, clearly, he leaves on good terms.

There's little question that the future of media is cross-platform, on demand and mobile. Early adopters in these areas tend to be on the younger side. That's where guys like Rome and Ferrall crush it.

In part because they're known primarily as radio guys, incredibly talented individuals such as Rome and Ferrall can get, relatively speaking, buried.

I expect CBS to up Ferrall's profile just like Rome's. While radio has never been and never will be a significant revenue generator for companies the size of CBS, it has always acted as a breeding ground for world-class talent.

Look no further than Stern. Or, for a different example, Ryan Seacrest. Clear Channel pays Seacrest incredibly well. He got his start in radio. The rest is history.

That's not to say Ferrall can reach that level - it's only the subject matter he deals with that holds him back. But there's no question, CBS, if it plays its cards right, can turn Ferrall into a major star. This could not only help it ding ESPN, Fox and NBC, but drive meaningful revenue.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.
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