Cumulus Revenue Up 3.1% in Q2; No Comments from Lew Dickey on Limbaugh Situation. As Cumulus Media prepares to hold an investors’ conference call this morning at 11:00 am ET, the company releases Q2 revenue figures that highlight a 3.1% increase in net revenue on $289.7 million compared to the same quarter one year ago. The company notes, “This increase was attributable to a $4.3 million increase in local advertising revenue, a $3.9 million increase in revenue related to digital initiatives and a $2.8 million increase in revenue due to the addition of stations in the Bloomington and Peoria markets we acquired from Townsquare Media in July 2012. These increases were partially offset by a decrease of $2.3 million in cyclical political revenue.” Chairman and CEO Lew Dickey issued the following statement, “This was a solid quarter earmarked by revenue growth and strong expense management. Our targeted growth initiatives are ramping on schedule and our merger integration and problem market turnarounds are largely complete.” During today’s investors’ conference call, Dickey pre-empted any questions about negotiations with Premiere Networks‘ Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity saying he wouldn’t comment while the company is in negotiation mode. When asked later the call if the company makes money on the Rush Limbaugh program, Dickey reiterated his unwillingness to comment but said he’ll have more to say after the process is complete and believes that will be sooner rather than later. Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the call transcript. Members can see the whole call here.
CCM&E Parent Clear Channel Media Holdings Names Richard Bressler President and CFO. Richard Bressler has served as chief financial officer of Time Warner and Viacom and managing director at Thomas H. Lee Partners. His installment as president and CFO of Clear Channel Media Holdings means he replaces Tom Casey, who served in that position for the past three years. The company says, “As president of CC Media Holdings, Inc. and Clear Channel Communications, Inc., Bressler will work closely with Bob Pittman on the further development of strategies and initiatives to ensure that Clear Channel capitalizes on its unique assets.” In a statement, Pittman comments, “I know Rich very well, and we have even worked together – twice – at Time Warner. He has been an invaluable strategic partner for us in his position at Thomas H. Lee Partners, and now he will play an even bigger role in helping Clear Channel fully maximize our unparalleled assets, working closely with me, John Hogan and William Eccleshare and the rest of our leadership team to continue to build the leading multi-platform media and entertainment company in the U.S. with global reach. I recruited Rich for this role because there are few people who have as deep an understanding as he does of our company and the opportunities we have to lead the industry in helping marketers meet the demands of increasingly connected consumers. I’m confident that he’ll add another layer of expertise and experience as we take the company to its next level of growth, and will be a tremendous leader for our financial team. His keen strategic, financial and analytical skills will be a huge asset to all of Clear Channel.” In reporting this story The Wall Street Journal notes that “CC Media reported that its  first-quarter loss sharply widened as revenue dropped, while sister company Clear Channel Outdoor logged a wider loss amid higher expenses tied to interest, depreciation and amortization.”
Alan Colmes: Regarding Limbaugh and Hannity, the Liberals Have it All Wrong. Fox News Radio talk show host and Fox News Channel commentator Alan Colmes, who is also publisher of the liberal blog alan.com, writes an opinion piece for TALKERS magazine in which he states that liberals who are jumping for joy over the mainstream press stories trumpeting Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s possible departure from 40-some Cumulus Media talk stations, need to examine the facts. Colmes says, “Seeing liberal bloggers declare victory about how a boycott of these shows’ sponsors led to this makes my hair stand on end for four reasons.” The first reason, Colmes says, is the most important in that “that’s not at all what happened.” Read Colmes’ entire piece here.
Rush Limbaugh Addresses Premiere-Cumulus Negotiations on Monday Program. Rush Limbaugh didn’t go into any detail – because it wouldn’t be appropriate while negotiations are going on – but he did address the flap that began with a Politico piece that ran over the weekend alleging that Cumulus Media is considering dropping his and Sean Hannity’s programs from some 40 O&O stations due to a breakdown in contract renewal talks. Limbaugh told listeners that “what you’re being treated to is just a public business negotiation.” He implied one party is leaking to the press but assured listeners nothing is likely to change but if it does, the program will be available on even more stations. “And someday, someday I am looking so forward to being able to detail all of this for you, but suffice to say nothing is gonna happen that you will notice. Nothing is going to change…You are gonna be able to get this radio program on as many, if not more, radio stations down the road than it’s on now.”
Art Bell to Return to Broadcasting Via SiriusXM. Rumors of Art Bell’s return had been bubbling for several weeks but now the cat is out of the bag as SiriusXM announces the man who took late-night talk of all things paranormal to the front burner of popular culture in the late 1990s will return from self-imposed retirement with a nightly show on the satcaster. Bell’s new program, “Art Bell’s Dark Matter,” will air from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET and will debut from a studio in Bell’s rural Nevada home on September 16. SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein says, “We are excited to be the exclusive home of Art Bell, who has captivated a nation of listeners throughout his career with his intelligent and inquisitive, yet entertaining style. Art Bell left terrestrial radio after the biggest possible successes. We are honored that Art now wants to work with SiriusXM to write his next chapter. His vision takes advantage of our best strengths and his new show will be uncensored, unrestricted, uncluttered and utterly unique. With his return to radio on SiriusXM, he will be able to reach millions of longtime listeners and new fans everywhere in the nation.” Bell tells the AP’s David Bauder he’s excited about working on satellite radio, “It seems to me they are the next step in technology. I’ve always been a technological junkie. The mix of what they’re giving me, the freedom that they’re giving me, is priceless.” After Bell left the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Coast to Coast AM,” George Noory took over as the regular host. He recently signed a contract renewal to continue that role and TALKERS spoke with him about his work. See the next story for more.
George Noory to Lead Legions of Late Night Listeners for Years to Come. Premiere Networks and “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory recently announced the two sides had just inked a new contract to keep Noory in the host position for years to come. TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian took the occasion of this new deal to speak with Noory about his career, the “Coast to Coast AM” program and much more. Noory says one of the things about his audience that amazes him is the spread of its demographics. “We have received phone calls from 11-year-olds and we hear from people in their 90s. This show is very strong [among 25-54s], but talk radio skews a little older – especially at night. People in older demos still have a lot of money and our advertisers are very happy. People will say that their father used to listen to Art Bell and now they listen to me. This is an all-encompassing show that blankets the entire population.” Read Mike Kinosian’s entire story here.
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Roger Rafson of CMS Station Brokerage. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker Roger Rafson of CMS Station Brokerage in Pittsburgh. Rafson has been in radio since he was 11 years old and has a passion for the medium. He is also optimistic about the deal business and agrees with this publication’s philosophy that now is a good time for out-of-work top executives and first-time entrants to get into ownership and roll up their sleeves at some really fine local opportunities. His company specializes in small- and medium-market station sales. He says, “I’ve never felt comfortable pontificating about the state of the media brokerage/station sales category as a whole. What I can tell you about is what comes across my desk. Yes, we are busy. We sold 14 stations in 2012 and already in 2013 we’ve sold nine. I do get the sense that the worst of the recession is behind us. Better days lie ahead.” He offers up several of these opportunities as well. To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
Allan Handelman Returns to the Air in Triad Market. Curtis Media Group’s WSJS, Greensboro, North Carolina announces talk show pro Allan Handelman makes his return to the Triad market after a 16-month hiatus. Beginning Monday, August 5, Handelman takes over afternoon drive on “The Triad’s NewsRadio 600 WSJS.” His predecessor, Bob Campbell, is leaving talk radio to pursue his passion in music radio. WSJS operations manager Matt Clark states, “WSJS airs more locally originated news and talk programming than any other radio station in the region. Allan Handelman brings world-class credentials to our lineup while upholding our core mission of reflecting the unique tastes and perspectives of local listeners across the Piedmont Triad.” Handelman was last heard in the market on the former “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK where he hosted a daily show from 2005 to 2012. The station abandoned the talk format in April, 2012. Handelman continued his national syndication efforts with both “The Allan Handelman Show” and “Rock Talk.” Handelman says he’s eager to be back on local radio. “I really missed that afternoon connection with North Carolina listeners from the Triad region. There are so many interesting things to talk about that most other shows either neglect or don’t know how to handle.”
Sales Lead, Programming Heads-Up: “The Fixer Mindset.” Radio consultant Holland Cooke writes that the mindset of the contemporary American talk radio listener is ripe for the picking (or selling, if you prefer) of goods and services that appeal to their post-recession desire to make more last longer. But it’s about more than just sending a sales guy or gal out to see if the local independent auto shop wants to advertise on your radio station. There’s a whole thought process that goes along with programmers and sales staffers approaching this client base the right way…plus, there are cool digital opportunities awaiting the client and the marketing department. Read Holland Cooke’s insights here.
Odds & Sods. Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN, Atlanta “680 The Fan” announces it has signed Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to appear every Tuesday during football season on its “ The Front Row” program with Ray Mariner, Sandra Golden and former Falcon Brian Finneran…..ESPN O&O WEPN-FM, New York extends its reach onto Long Island beginning Monday, August 5 as the station’s programming will be simulcast on Livingstone Broadcasting’s WLIR-FM, Hampton’s Bay, New York from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight. That includes shows hosted by Mike Lupica, Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco, Michael Kay, and David Rothenberg…..KOZN, Omaha PM drive co-host John Bishop will handle play-by-play duties for broadcasts of Creighton University Men’s basketball this season. He’ll be accompanied by color analyst and former Bluejay Nick Bahe who begins a daily midday sports talk program on NRG Media’s KOZN on August 5.
Howard Stern’s Wife Beth to Guest Host ‘Animal Radio’ This Weekend. Beth Stern is well known as a model, actress, the wife of radio legend Howard Stern and an animal rights activist. This weekend she’ll be the guest host on the nationally syndicated “Animal Radio” program. Beth Stern serves as the spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League and she spends countless hours fostering animals, cats in particular, in her New York home. The Stern’s live with four adopted cats — Walter, Apple, Leon Bear and Charlie Boy. This doesn’t include the many cats that she’s fostering until they are able to adopt them. Beth (pictured here with a canine friend) says she uses her husband’s SiriusXM show to help find good homes for some of the animals. When asked if her highly visible husband is involved in the fostering process, she replies, “He’s right there with me. He photographs them. He names them. He cried like a baby the other day when I had to hand-off a litter of cats to their new family.”
Limbaugh-Hannity/Cumulus Flap, Weiner Case Political Ramifications, Immigration Legislation, Pope Francis Gay Comments, and ObamaCare Implementation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/29). The mainstream media coverage of negotiations between Premiere Networks and Cumulus Media over carriage of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity; the political repercussions of the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal; the battle in congress over immigration legislation and amnesty; comments by Pope Francis about homosexuality; and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.