Wednesday, May 1, 2019

| May 1, 2019

iHeartMedia Announces Completion of Restructuring. Almost 14 months after entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, iHeartMedia announces it has “successfully completed its restructuring process.  As a result of the comprehensive balance sheet restructuring, iHeartMedia’s debt has been significantly reduced – from $16.1 billion to $5.75 billion.”  With the balance sheet reorganization comes the separation of iHeartMedia and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings into two independent, publicly traded companies.  iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that iHeartMedia now has a capital structure that matches our exciting operating business.  The focused dedication of our employees and the unwavering support of our new owners and advertising partners enabled iHeartMedia to seamlessly complete the restructuring process and reach this final milestone.  iHeartMedia enters this next phase of growth as a multi-platform audio company with a vastly improved financial profile. We are well-positioned to continue to innovate and offer cutting-edge technologies, products, and services to our audiences and advertisers.”  Pittman continues to serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the new iHeartMedia, Inc.  Rich Bressler continues to serve as president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.  A new board of directors has been appointed, including Bob Pittman, Rich Bressler, and the following members: Jay Rasulo, Gary Barber, Brad Gerstner, Sean Mahoney, and Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan.

David Field on Spoken-Word Radio and Sports Gambling.  During the first quarter earnings call with analysts yesterday (4/30), Entercom president and CEO David Field talked about the value of his spoken-word formatted radio stations, saying the group – all-news, news/talk, and sports talk – account for “roughly about 40% of our revenue mix across our stations.”  The company operates 235 stations and, by TALKERS‘ count, approximately 30% of its stations are spoken-word.  Separately and responding to a question about the gambling category and the trend towards legal sports gambling across the country, Field expressed hopes for the future of the sports gambling advertising category, saying the company’s large group of sports talk stations should be able to capitalize on that.  He stated, “We have seen estimates that the sports gambling advertising market could be in the neighborhood of $2 billion.  If you think about radio getting a chunk of that, a reasonable chunk of it and Entercom’s prowess in the sports market, we think this could become a $1 million or $2 million category for Entercom over time.  That is certainly a reasonable aspirational goal.”  Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript.  Subscribers can see the rest of the transcript here.

‘The O’Reilly Update’ Show Launches. This is the week “The O’Reilly Update” – the new, 15-minute daily radio program featuring Bill O’Reilly – debuts on more than 100 stations.  Key Networks is syndicating the program and reports that inaugural affiliates include: WBAL, Baltimore; WDTK, Detroit; WHK, Cleveland; KUFO, Portland; and KTSA, San Antonio.  Key Networks says the program is airing in four of the top 10 DMAs, nine of the top 20 DMAs and 18 of the top 50 DMAs.  It is also being rolled out on 21 non-news/talk stations, including on country and classic hits outlets.  The show – with all network spots included within the show and two minutes of local avails – is delivered daily at 11:30 am ET.  WBAL president and general manager Cary Pahigian says, “Bill O’Reilly has a track record of insightful and unfiltered commentary on vital topics and issues.  His familiar voice and dynamic point of view augments our lineup of outspoken hosts and commentators.”  Alpha Media news/talk/sports content director Bruce Collins says, “Bill is a true natural storyteller.  I’m extremely excited to have him on-air in Portland on ‘Freedom 970.’” Meet Bill O’ Reilly at the forthcoming Talkers 2019: Telling the Storywhere he will be delivering a special keynote address.  The convention is rapidly nearing a sellout.  For registration information, please click here.

 

TALKERS CONVENTION SPOTLIGHT:  Overcoming the Public’s Distrust of the Media Spotlighted at Forthcoming Talkers Convention.   The highly polarized nature of today’s political climate has created a widespread public distrust of the media in general.  Dealing with this complex issue has become one of the fundamental challenges facing news/talk hosts of all political stripes.  It also creates new opportunities.  Talkers 2019: Telling the Story, set for New York on Friday, June 7, is featuring a panel discussion addressing this concern and all matters of credibility titled “Overcoming Distrust of the Media.”  Panelists include (in alphabetical order): Thom Hartmann, host, WYD MediaJoe “Pags” Pagliarulo, host, “The Joe Pags Show;” Doug Stephan, CEO/host, Stephan Multimedia; and Rick Ungar, host, “The Rick Ungar Program”/editor-in-chief, TheDailyCentrist.com.  Don’t miss this session!  The discussion will be moderated by Jim Bohannon, host, Westwood One.  The conference is rapidly moving toward being an early sellout.  To see the entire up-to-the-minute agenda and registration/hotel information, please click here.

Midwest Closes on Alpha Media Acquisitions. The $21.6 million deal between Alpha Media and Midwest Communications that gives Midwest six Peoria market radio stations closes.  The station group includes news/talk WMBD-AM/W262BY and five music-formatted signals.  The Duke Wright-led Midwest Communications owns 75 other radio stations in states including: Tennessee, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.  This is its first Illinois acquisition.  At the time the sale was announced, Wright stated, “The first time my wife and I visited Peoria was to visit son Michael enrolled at Bradley University.  We were most impressed with the city and its radio stations.  My thought was that here was a market that would probably nicely fit into the Midwest Communications radio group.”  KALIL & CO., INC. was the exclusive broker for this transaction.

Indiana’s Legendary WHBU-AM Relaunches as Talk-Music Hybrid.  The Anderson, Indiana-licensed station is owned by Woof Boom Radio and the company is re-launching the “oldest commercial station” in the state to more intensely serve the Muncie-Marion market.  The station will feature talk shows to focus on Anderson and Madison counties plus classic hits from the 60s and 70s.  New morning host (and Hoosier native) Mitch Henck handles the 7:00 am to 9:00 am show.  He says, “I am really excited to help launch a new morning news/talk show on WHBU. We really put Anderson and Madison county first. We want to capture stories about the special people who live here as they pursue their hopes and dreams every day.”

Dan Mason Named Chairman of VSiN.  Longtime radio executive Dan Mason is named chairman of VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network) the media network dedicated to sports betting information.  In this role, Mason will “work closely with VSiN’s management team to capitalize on the emerging growth and partnership opportunities in the sports betting and media space.”  VSiN founder and CEO Brian Musburger says, “There are few media executives with both the experience and reputation that Dan brings to the table.  He’s already brought invaluable guidance to our team as a senior adviser and investor, and we look forward to having even greater access to his unmatched depth of knowledge and relationships in this industry.  We’re thrilled to work even more closely with this consummate leader and better leverage his C-level expertise to build on and accelerate the recent growth we are experiencing at VSiN.”  Mason adds, “Brian and his team have caught lightning in a bottle here. Besides establishing itself on the satellite platform, recently extending its agreement with SiriusXM, VSiN has made tremendous inroads into the OTT space with Sling TV and fuboTV, as well as growing its own subscription offerings.  We will now look to further expand our reach across video and audio channels, including terrestrial radio where sports have thrived for decades.”

TALKERS News Notes. The National Association of Broadcasters is announcing it is accepting nominations for the 2019 NAB Marconi Radio Awards through May 31.  The NAB’s Marconi Radio Awards recognize overall excellence and performance in radio. Finalists will be announced in July and winners will be honored at the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner & Show at the Radio Show in Dallas on September 26.  Stations and on-air personalities may nominate themselves in the categories of “Station of the Year by Market Size,” “Station of the Year by Format,” “Personality of the Year by Market Size,” “Legendary Station,” and “Best College Radio Station of the Year,” which has been renamed from “Noncommercial Station of the Year.”  Nominations will also be accepted for new awards categories of “Legendary Manager of the Year” and “Best Radio Station Podcast.”  Syndicators and affiliates may also submit nominations for the category of “Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year.”  Nominations must be submitted online here…..Radio America‘s nationally syndicated  “The Dana Show” starring Dana Loesch announces new affiliate stations WJJF-FM, Nassau (Long Island); WSIC-AM/FM Charlotte; WFTW-AM Ft. Walton Beach, Florida; and KPNW-AM/FM Eugene, Oregon all add the program to their daily lineups…..Bustos Media’s news/talk KVOI, Tucson announces that two of its programs – “Eye on the Ball” with Steve Rivera and “Around the Table” with Dawn and Jennifer English – are swapping dayparts.  Rivera moves to the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and the English’s move to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot.  Also, the station adds the independently syndicated Dave Ramsey show to the program schedule, airing from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm…..This month is being declared the Second Annual Maryland Podcast Month.  Brian Griffiths founded Maryland Podcast Month last May in order to “bring together podcasts of all stripes and cross-collaborate and cross-promote in order to create more opportunities for podcasts to get new listeners.”  It’s non-partisan and non-ideological and consists of all sorts of locally produced content, including podcasts about news, politics, sports, life, culture, food, wrestling, and other shows.  Being featured in Maryland Podcast Month are a couple of shows from WBAL, Baltimore personalities…..Team Broadcasting‘s sports talk KQTM, Albuquerque “ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team” is partnering with local soccer club New Mexico United to bring 15 of the team’s matches to the station’s airwaves.  New Mexico United is in its inaugural season in the USL Championship, a professional soccer league that has a partnership with Major League Soccer…..Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” recently hosted The Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy in professional sports, on the “Felger & Massarotti” show.  Pictured below in the “Sports Hub” studio in Boston are (From l-r): host Mike Felger985thesportshub.com hockey writer Ty Anderson, WBZ-FM personality Big Jim Murray, and host Tony Massarotti.

Mueller Report Release/Barr Testimony Request, 2020 Presidential Politics, Trump Tax Returns/Business Earnings Issues, Venezuela Unrest, Deadly UNCC Shooting, Southern Border Crisis, NBA Playoffs, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30). The release of the Mueller report, Robert Mueller’s disagreement with Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the report and Barr’s requested testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee; the Democrats vying to run against President Trump in 2020; the request by New York State for Trump’s tax returns and the investigation into Trump business deals with foreign governments; the political unrest in Venezuela; the shooting at University of North Carolina Charlotte that took the lives of two and injured others; the migrant influx status at the U.S.-Mexico border; the NBA playoffs; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Phoenix, midday personality and music director Tom Peake is leaving his on-air role with Entercom’s classic hits KOOL-FM.  He’ll continue to serve as music director.  Peake tells the Arizona Republic that it was not his idea to give up his air shift, but he understands the reasons and has no ill feelings.  Peake started at the station as a part-time jock in 1979.  He became the full-time evening personality in 1981…..Beasley Media Group’s hot AC WJBR, Wilmington, Delaware “The New Mix 99.5” names John Baublis, a.k.a.Johnny B, program director.   Beasley EVP of programming Justin Chase says, “Johnny’s a programming veteran with years of proven success and past experience in the Wilmington market.  Plus, he shares our values of great local radio with an emphasis on serving the community.  We’re proud to have someone like Johnny on our team at JBR.”…..Two programming announcements from Midwest Communications.  First, Ryan Fantozzi is named brand manager for rock WOZZ, Wausau, Wisconsin “Rock 94.7,” effective May 13.  Fantozzi comes to Midwest from NRG Media where he was PD at rock WBWB, Bloomington, Illinois.  Fantozzi replaces Terry Stevens, who is promoted to operations manager for the company’s Lansing, Michigan cluster.  Stevens will oversee the operations of rock WJXQ, CHR WLMI, country WWDK and adult hits WQTX.

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