Talk Radio/Media Industry News
CBS RADIO Dips 2% in First Quarter. When CBS Corp. delivers its quarterly financial reports, the focus is on television and this first quarter of 2016 is no different. As a whole, the revenue for the first quarter was $3.85 billion – an increase of 10%. But looking at radio – which is part of the company’s Local Broadcasting division – net revenue was down 2%. As for the status of the radio division, CEO Les Moonves and CFO Joseph Ianniello reiterated what’s been said publicly over the past few months: The company is pursuing making CBS RADIO a separate, publicly traded company and, at the same time, is listening to any offers to divest of some or all of the stations if it can do so in a tax-friendly manner.
iHeartMedia Reports Q1 Revenue Up 6%. Compared to the same period a year ago, revenue for the iHeartMedia division of iHeartCommunications Inc. increased $41.1 million – a jump of 6%. The company says the hike was “driven primarily by increases in our core radio business, both broadcast and digital, including the impact of trade and barter and political advertising revenues, driven in part by our live events, as well as increases in our traffic and weather business. Revenue also increased in our syndication business driven by growth in our news/talk format. Trade and barter includes the impact of marketing partnerships with our advertisers on live events, as well as revenue recognized in connection with advertising services provided during the quarter in connection with investments made in the fourth quarter of 2015 in certain non-public companies.”
Beasley Broadcast Group Q1 Revenue Rises 13.2% on Strength of New Tampa and Charlotte Properties. The net revenue for the first quarter was $27.5 million – an increase of 13.2% — that is largely the result of its late 2014 station swap with CBS RADIO. Beasley Broadcast Group traded five stations in Philadelphia and Miami for 13 outlets in Tampa and Charlotte (and one AM in Philly). Interim CEO Caroline Beasley (who also serves as EVP/CFO) comments, “While 2016 first quarter revenue included the cyclical return of political advertising, we generated organic revenue growth even without the political spending. In addition, we achieved our goal of our clusters, on a combined basis, outperforming the markets that report to Miller Kaplan for the full quarter and expect this trend to continue in 2016.” Beasley also notes that the company paid down $3 million against its debt, leaving the remaining debt standing at $86 million. She adds, “We intend to continue our use of cash from operations to further reduce debt, pay quarterly cash dividends and to pursue other opportunities to enhance shareholder value and during the first quarter declared our tenth consecutive quarterly cash dividend.”
Envision Networks Debuts ‘Today’s Comedy Network.’ The new comedy radio service from Envision Networks is called “Today’s Comedy Network,” and the company says it’s a “turnkey continuous comedy format for radio 24/7/365,” featuring “non-stop blocks of jokes and one-liners from the best comedians. This fast-paced, safe-for-work and in-the-car comedy fits perfectly for today’s radio listener.” Envision adds it’s “the first one that crosses all lines of income, ethnicity, education and gender. By using easily customizable distribution, affiliates can personalize the station to their own market with content, personalities, and contests. In addition to the informative host, each week a different comedian serves as the special guest host every hour for the entire broadcast week. Listeners will hear tracks from their latest release and inside stories about their travels, friends and insights about comedy.” Regular comics will include: George Carlin, Jim Gaffigan, Jeff Foxworthy, Christopher Titus, Brian Regan, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Bill Engvall, Eddie Izzard, Lewis Black, Gabriel Iglesias, Louis C. K., Ron White, Kathleen Madigan and many more. Envision president and CEO Danno Wolkoff says, “‘Today’s Comedy’ provides the best experience for radio stations to offer their listeners. The format provides the broadest demographic appeal in the crowded talk format arena and most of all; it’s very, very FUNNY!”
Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla Renew Chemistry with PodcastOne Show. For years, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Adam Carolla worked side-by-side on the nationally syndicated (and recently cancelled) radio show “Loveline.” Now, Carolla and Dr. Drew are back together for a daily podcast titled “Adam & Drew” on the PodcastOne platform. PodcastOne chairman and CEO Norm Pattiz says, “Adam and Drew, together again, five days a week – this time on PodcastOne. There’s really not much more that needs to be said. Who said you can’t go home again?”
WFDF, Detroit Adds Second Former State Rep. for Weekly Show. The station, being operated by Kevin Adell, brings former Michigan State Rep. Cindy Gamrat aboard to host a weekly, Thursday program. Gamrat’s joining the station comes not long after former State Rep. Todd Courser also began hosting a show on the station. Both Gamrat and Courser are facing felony and misdemeanor charges for alleged misconduct for trying to hide their romantic relationship while in office. Both are married. The Detroit News reports that Gamrat is taking on the new duties against her attorney’s advice. Both Gamrat and Courser face potential prison sentences for their alleged misconduct in hiding their affair.
The Presidential Race/Indiana Primary, Navy SEAL Killed in Iraq/Battle Against Islamic State, Syrian Civil Conflict, NATO-Russia Tensions, Flint Water Crisis, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). The activities of the candidates for president and yesterday’s Indiana primary election; a U.S. Navy SEAL is killed in Iraq and the ongoing battle against Islamic State in the region; the U.S.’s warning to Syria to begin plans for Assad regime change; the military tensions between Russia and NATO; the Flint contaminated water situation and President Obama’s plan to meet with Governor Rick Snyder; and the NBA and NHL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Joyce Provides Color on Talk Radio Night in Chattanooga. WGOW-FM, Chattanooga early afternoon talk host Brian Joyce (left) poses for a pic with Chattanooga Lookouts play-by-play man Larry Ward (right) in the booth at AT&T Field. Joyce threw out the first pitch at the AA baseball club’s recent game against the Montgomery Biscuits on what the team dubbed “Talk Radio Night.” He says he was honored to be able to join Ward in the booth to do some color commentary. Joyce – a Division I college baseball player at Davidson College – reports that, unlike so many first pitches by celebrities, his was a perfect strike!
Michael Harrison Gets ‘Up Close and Far Out’ with Hubbard Radio Chair/CEO Ginny Morris. This week’s episode of the PodcastOne international hit program for media freaks features TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison in a conversation with the TALKERS 2016 recipient of the “Woman of the Year” award – Hubbard Radio chair and chief executive officer Ginny Morris. Morris discusses a wide variety of topics in a candid, informal phone dialogue including the huge impact that the death of Prince had on the Twin Cities market in which Hubbard is based and in which he made his home and was a beloved local figure. She discusses how Hubbard’s local talk station “myTalk107.1” – nationally known for its ongoing pioneering efforts in creating a spoken-word format specifically targeted to females – responded to the shocking event by going non-stop Prince talk. Listeners were invited to share their feelings and personal stories about living in the same community with the musical legend. Harrison also asks her about the station’s unique and brilliant campaign to promote this programming by putting the message on electronic billboards throughout the market that “myTalk107.1” was talking about Prince right now! She discusses the history of “myTalk107.1” and the many different approaches it attempted on its way to eventually gaining traction with a female-targeted talk format. Morris also relates how it feels being a third-generation broadcaster (her grandfather started the family owned-and-operated company in the Twin Cities back in the early 1920s). She optimistically discusses the challenges facing radio today competing in the digital era as well as attracting younger listeners and employees. Harrison asks her if the recent rapid growth of Hubbard in acquiring stations has generated the pitfalls of a corporate environment to which she answers it has not. She emphasizes that Hubbard’s stations are managed locally and do not receive micro-management marching orders from company headquarters. Morris says that Hubbard is extensively engaged in audience research on a “granular level.” She talks about the cultural importance of preserving radio and television history and heritage and cites her passion for the work being done at the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland among a variety of other topics. Ginny Morris will receive the “Judy Jarvis Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Radio Industry by a Woman” (a.k.a. “Woman of the Year”) at the forthcoming TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention on Friday, May 20 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. To listen to the entire podcast, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com. For complete information about TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations, please click here.
Cool Job Opportunities. KNX, Los Angeles has two openings in the news department. The station is seeking a news writer/editor and a news anchor. For information about the news writer/editor position and to apply, click here.. For details on the news anchor post and to apply, click here.
iHeartMedia and Creditors Agree to Mediation. The legal battle between iHeartMedia and 15 creditors goes into mediation after the parties agreed to extend the existing Temporary Restraining Order the media giant won preventing Notices of Default going into effect. This stems from iHeartMedia’s December 2015 transfer of a million shares of class B common stock in Clear Channel Outdoor into a shell company called Broader Media. The creditors believe this move violates the terms of their loans; iHM believes it does not. If the Notices of Default are allowed to go into effect, that could force iHeartMedia to have to try to pay back some $15 billion in debt within 60 days, something that is not possible and could force the company into bankruptcy. The parties will work until May 16 to resolve the conflict.
Adam Wiener Named to Succeed Ezra Kucharz at CBS Local Digital Media. Named to take over for Ezra Kucharz as EVP and general manager of CBS Local Digital Media is Adam Wiener, who is promoted from his SVP, content, community and operations position. He will report to both CBS RADIO president Andre Fernandez and CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn. Kucharz is transitioning to the new role of special advisor to the chief executive officer of CBS Corporation. Fernandez comments, “Our digital effort is well on its way to realizing our vision of a powerful and compelling destination for viewers and listeners in our local markets. Adam’s proven track record within the digital industry will be vital to the ongoing expansion of our assets and distribution strategy moving forward, and we are thrilled to have him assume this leadership role.”
The Presidential Race/Indiana Primary, The White House Correspondents Dinner, Battle Against Islamic State, U.S. Immigration Policy, Louisville Confederate Monument Case, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/2). The activities of the candidates for president and today’s Indiana primary election; reactions to the routines from Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner; U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State; renewed controversy over U.S. immigration policy and treatment of illegal aliens; the legal battle over the status of a Confederate statue in Louisville; and the NBA and NHL playoff action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Hulk Hogan Sues Gawker Again; Adds WHPT, Tampa’s Mike Calta and Buchwald & Associates’ Tony Burton to List of Defendants. The recent court victory by Hulk Hogan, a.k.a. Terry Bollea, over media organization Gawker, in which he was awarded $140 million for the publication of a portion of a video of him having sex with Tampa-based radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge’s then-wife Heather Clem, is not the end of his legal endeavors. Hogan is now suing Gawker again for publication of the video, but this time because the racist language he used in the video cost him his employment with the WWE. In this suit, WHPT, Tampa personality Mike Calta and his agent Tony Burton (of Don Buchwald & Associates) are being named among the defendants for allegedly conspiring – along with Tampa radio personality Matt “Spice Boy” Lloyd to have the video released. Hogan is seeking unspecified damages plus attorneys’ fees.
Bold Gold Foundation Names Citizen Award Winners. On June 14, the Bold Gold Broadcast & Media Foundation – a non-profit organization that provides funding and resources to educational organizations that train tomorrow’s broadcast and media leaders – will honor Pride Mobility Products owners Scott Meuser and Dan Meuser with the foundation’s 2016 Atlas Award for Citizenship. Scott and Dan will be honored during The Bold Gold Broadcast & Media Foundation’s 2nd annual event at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The keynote speaker for the evening will be Fox News Channel chief Washington correspondent James Rosen. Foundation president Vince Benedetto says the award is being presented annually to individuals who, “through their hard work and bold actions, show what is possible to achieve in a free society, and who exhibit extraordinary dedication to the highest ideals of character, community service, entrepreneurialism, patriotism, leadership, and virtue. We’re extremely proud to be celebrating and honoring both Scott and Dan Meuser with the 2016 Atlas Award for Citizenship. Whether through their efforts in building and leading the magnificent company that is Pride Mobility, their ongoing investments in Northeast Pennsylvania, or serving the local community in the countless ways that they continually do, they embody all the attributes that the Atlas Award seeks to honor.” The Bold Gold Foundation has had an ambitious past 12 months, helping to complete the building of Hillsdale College’s first broadcast radio station and studio in Hillsdale Michigan, as well as an additional production studio at the College’s Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C. The Foundation encourages young people in all areas of broadcasting but it is currently placing particular emphasis on supporting advancement in the various spoken-word and informational formats such as news/talk.
Odds & Sods. This weekend’s Kentucky Derby is being carried on SiriusXM, thanks to a partnership between the satcaster and Horse Racing Radio Network. The deal includes coverage of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and runs through 2018. The wire-to-wire race broadcasts for each are provided by NBC Sports Radio and produced in partnership with HRRN and Westwood One…..This year’s Stanley Cup Final series will be offered to AM/FM radio affiliates via NBC Sports Radio, distributed by Westwood One. The broadcast team will be Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti…..Talk host William J. Kelly, a.k.a. Citizen Kelly, is launching his weekly talk show – “The Citizen Kelly Show” on WCGO, Chicago this Saturday morning (5/7) at 9:00 am.
Tom Becka Returns to Kansas City as KCMO Re-Vamps Lineup. Last week, Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM/K279BI, Kansas City cut ties with 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm personality Greg Knapp. It turns out that was phase one of a programming lineup restructure. Talk host Tom Becka – who previously worked in the market at crosstown KMBZ – joins the station to host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show. Local host Rob Carson remains in the morning drive slot. Current KCMO personality Mike Ferguson moves to the 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm slot, followed by Dave Ramsey from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Westwood One’s Michael Savage from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Cumulus Media Midwest regional VP and market manager Donna Baker comments, “KCMO talk radio takes an exciting step forward today. Welcoming Becka back to KC, Mike Ferguson continuing local community conversations over the lunch hour, and Dave Ramsey returning to three hours in the afternoon are powerful additions to our talented lineup.”
Report: ‘Nearly 40’ Laid Off at TheBlaze. According to a published report by Lloyd Grove in The Daily Beast, close to 40 staffers have been let go from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – just a year after numerous staffers were laid off in May of 2015. Grove’s piece says this is part of a restructuring required by the covenants of a “multimillion-dollar bank loan” recently taken out to keep the company going. Layoffs reportedly affect some 20 at offices in New York, 12 in Washington, five at a dozen in Washington, five at a documentary studio in Columbus, Ohio, plus several in a Los Angeles office. Back in February, Kraig Kitchin stepped down from his CEO role with TheBlaze to focus on “existing commitments.” Director of advertising sales Jeremy Price and director of marketing Liz Julis also exited at that time. The story says these changes do not affect Beck’s Premiere Networks-syndicated show. Read Grove’s piece here.
Kenetta Bailey Named SVP of Marketing for CBS RADIO. Joining CBS RADIO as senior vice president, marketing is Kenetta Bailey. She was most recently heading up her own consulting firm – KB Consulting – in which she worked with a variety of start-up businesses on subscriber growth, social media and branding. She also serves as an adjunct instructor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. CBS RADIO president Andre Fernandez states, “I’m thrilled to welcome Kenetta to our leadership team, and look forward to introducing her creative energy and brand expertise into everything we do. We have a tremendous opportunity to expand the strength of our brands locally and nationwide, as well as define our long range position in the marketplace. I know Kenetta will play an instrumental role in the telling of our story to the industry.” Bailey will be responsible for the marketing and brand positioning of the company, its stations and its digital products. She’ll also provide business-to-business marketing support and work with the division’s market managers and station management to develop and coordinate strategy for their local marketing efforts.
When Your Station IS the News. Last week’s attempted takeover of a media outlet in Baltimore by an allegedly deranged man happened at a television station. But, it could just as easily have been a radio station group. ABC Television Network director of business continuity Howard B. Price writes in a column published today (5/2), that “comprehensive, well-resourced and well-rehearsed emergency planning not only assures your continued ability to operate in times of crisis, but more importantly, shows your staff and clients how much you care.” He notes that the Sinclair-owned station and its staffers were prepared and it showed in how the situation was dealt with. Read Price’s valuable advice for preparing for potential emergencies here.
2015 Acquisitions Help Entercom to Q1 Net Revenue Hike of 23%. During 2015, Entercom added stations to its portfolio in deals with Lincoln Financial Media and Bonneville. Those deals helped the company’s first quarter 2016 net revenue soar to $96.1 million. Company CEO David Field says, “But the bigger news is that we had another great quarter of organic revenue growth. Same station revenues increased 6% for the quarter… In sum, it was a terrific quarter. What is important to note is that is part of an increasingly consistent pattern of Entercom delivering solid growth quarter-after-quarter. This now marks the fourth consecutive quarter of accelerating organic revenue growth for Entercom.”
The Presidential Race/Trump Protests, Iraq Parliament Protest, Seattle May Day Violence, 9/11 Report Controversy, White House Correspondents Dinner, and NFL Draft Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The activities of the candidates for president and the California Donald Trump protests; the storming of the Iraqi Parliament by anti-government protestors; Sunday’s violent May Day protests in Seattle; controversy over the validity of the contents of the 9/11 report and Saudi Arabia’s threat to the U.S. if blamed for the terror attacks; the various political jabs from speakers at Saturday’s annual White House Correspondents Dinner; and the 2016 NFL Draft were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Reports Record Attendance. The immigration-oriented radio row scheduled for June 22-23 in Washington is filling up with radio talk show hosts fast. The “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event is produced by Federation for American Immigration Reform and executive director Bob Dane calls it an all-time high attendance record and adds that it’s “no surprise given immigration is the hottest issue in a high-profile, turbulent campaign.” FAIR says there are three remaining broadcast slots up for grabs. The event on Capitol Hill pulls together talk hosts, lawmakers, law enforcement and media. FAIR covers all expenses and engineering. Call for details at 202-328-7004.
Odds & Sods. Sports talk KDCO, Denver adds an FM presence in the market via translator K284CI at 104.7 FM. Mile High Sports Radio operates the stations under an LMA from Kona Coast Radio….. The Red State Talk Radio Network-based talk show “Standing Ground” hosted by Jeremy Leahy adds new affiliate station WJHC, Jasper, Florida (between Jacksonville and Tallahassee). The show airs at 11:00 pm on Sunday evenings…..Alpha Media’s Mason City, Iowa stations news/talk KGLO and standards KRIB pick up 11 honors in the Small Market Division of the 2015 Iowa Broadcast News Association awards. KGLO’s Bob Fisher won four first-place awards for Best Newscast, Sports Play-by-Play, Political Coverage, and Public Affairs.
Red Sox-WEEI Streak Continues. While financial terms of the highly expected deal were not disclosed, Entercom Boston sports outlet WEEI will carry on its role as the radio flagship of the Boston Red Sox through (at minimum) the 2023 MLB season. WEEI and the Red Sox have been partners since 1995. Entercom chief operating officer David Field states, “WEEI and Entercom are delighted to be extending our outstanding relationship with the Boston Red Sox well into the future. It is a true privilege to be partnered with this extraordinary, iconic organization and their world-class team of professionals, both on and off the field. Red Sox fans across the country will continue to hear outstanding Sox play-by-play broadcasts and 24/7 team coverage on WEEI and WEEI.com, the home of Red Sox baseball.” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy comments, “We are pleased to extend our partnership with WEEI for another seven seasons. We look forward to this new phase of our partnership and sharing more winning baseball through the airwaves with our fans across New England.” The WEEI play-by-play crew consists of Red Sox Hall of Fame announcer Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett, who this year succeeded Dave O’Brien (now doing Red Sox telecasts on NESN); Hamden, Connecticut native Castiglione is in his 34th year in the Red Sox radio booth. In addition to WEEI, the Red Sox Radio Network consists of 55 affiliates throughout the six New England states. To see how WEEI-FM and 28 other MLB radio flagships performed in Nielsen Audio‘s March 2016 PPM sweep, please read today’s exclusive TALKERS special features piece which appears below.
PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian introduces Major League Baseball‘s 2016 radio flagships with a ratings overview based on data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2016 PPM survey period. Highlighted are each key station’s 6+ share; 6+ market rank; month-to-month and year-to-year fluctuations; and a special breakout chart featuring the flagships by league/division. See the first of Mike’s exclusive special feature pieces about MLB flagships here.
TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations Is Nearing a Sellout! If you haven’t made your reservations to attend the forthcoming 19th annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention, now is the time to do so. It is nearing an early sellout and there will be no registrations sold at the door. TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations will take place three weeks from now on Friday, May 20 on the fabulous campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY (on Long Island, just outside of NYC). Featuring a powerful lineup of more than 60 luminous speakers, panel discussions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, closing reception, techno exhibits, live broadcasts and more – this is shaping up to be the most exciting and productive industry networking events of its kind in years. Registration cost is $299 per person and can only be arranged with credit card over the phone. The event is only open to media professionals and communications students. Please call 413-565-5413 for registration, sponsorship, and hotel information. Complete up to date agenda info can be found by clicking here.
Knapp, KCMO-AM Cut Ties. After more than five years as KCMO-AM, Kansas City’s afternoon drive host, Greg Knapp departs the Cumulus Media talk outlet. Regarding his dismissal, Knapp writes on his Facebook page, “I was told repeatedly it was not about my performance. My general manager was very kind in telling me how much she appreciated my show and my work [but] corporate decided it was cheaper to run syndicated programming than it was to pay me a salary. I have consistently had the highest ratings on the station; everyone at Cumulus Kansas City has been very good to me. The good news is I learned a long time ago to always have more than one source of income. I am now ramping up my personal development business [but] I am also looking for new opportunities in radio.” Knapp previously did afternoon drive on KLIF, Dallas; was a syndicated Radio America talk talent; and owned a guest-hosting service. Down or flat for the fourth successive sweep (1.9 – 1.6 – 1.6 – 1.5 – 1.5, 6+), KCMO-AM ranks #21 in Nielsen Audio‘s March 2016 PPM report for Kansas City; Entercom hot AC KZPT “The Point” is the market leader (6.5, 6+).
Presidential Race Tops “Talkers Ten” for Week of April 25 – 29. Activities of the presidential candidates and the battle for delegates were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 were the European terrorism investigations and the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, tied with the United States’ Syria military policy. Coming in at #3 was the controversy over state laws affecting public restroom use and gender identification, followed by North Korea’s recent missile tests at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
“Robbins & Markley” Becomes “Markley & van Camp.” Owing to health concerns that have sidelined Scott Robbins since late-August (2015), there is a title change for the weekday program on Alpha Media Portland’s KXL “FM News 101” and co-owned WMBD, Peoria (Illinois). David van Camp will permanently join Jamie Markley for the “Markley and van Camp Show,” which airs 9:00 am – 12:00 noon on KXL and from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm on WMBD. Alpha Media executive vice president of programming Scott Mahalick comments that, “David van Camp brings a unique perspective to the show and a great balance to Jamie Markley; together, they are magical.” The first official day of the newly-named “Markley and van Camp Show” will be next Monday (5/2).
SiriusXM Q1 Revenue Rises 11%. The increase is to a record $1.2 billion, with SiriusXM net income up 62% to $171 million; adjusted EBITDA improves 11% to $441 million. The satcaster adds nearly one-half million new subscribers, ending with almost 30.1 million. First quarter results exceeded expectations of chief executive officer Jim Meyer who comments, “I am especially pleased we were able to add 465,000 net new subscribers, leading to an 8% increase in subscribers over the prior year. With excellent subscriber growth so early in the year, we are raising our guidance for full year net subscriber additions to 1.6 million. We set first quarter records for revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow, and we are on track to achieve all of our financial goals this year. With a new full-time music channel from Kenny Chesney, live broadcasts from major music festivals, special popup channels for David Bowie, and Billy Joel, as well as new talk shows, and unmatched coverage of the presidential primaries, SiriusXM continues to be the leader in audio entertainment. We are always looking to deliver new, compelling content to our subscribers.” Chief financial officer David Frear notes that during the first quarter, “We reduced our outstanding share count by about 3%, spending $588 million to repurchase 159 million shares of our common stock. Our debt to adjusted EBITDA remained low at just 3.4 times, leaving plenty of flexibility to continue capital returns to our stockholders or make acquisitions while also making investments in our technology, content, and new satellite infrastructure.”
State of the New York Market Report Released. Among the findings from a New York Market Radio Association (NYMRAD) overview is that several industries expanded their footprint in the New York area contributing to a strong first-quarter start. NYMRAD executive director Debbie Beagan remarks, “With luxury retailers and department stores opening locations across the Tri-State area, radio offers high-end businesses an engaging environment for reaching consumers with household incomes of $250,000 and higher. New York market radio reaches 91% of high-income households, $250,000+, [as well as] over 90% of those who own a second home; those planning on buying a luxury car; dined in upscale restaurants; purchased fine jewelry in excess of $500; and vacations in excess of $10,000.” The report addresses latest information about New York’s economy, commuting information, radio and politics, and national radio advertising/usage. Analysis of the New York marketplace is designed to help advertisers understand radio’s impact on consumers and its role in the local advertising landscape. NYMRAD’s “State of the Market Report” provides business trends as well as local information from a variety of sources including Nielsen Audio, Media Monitors, and The New York Times.”
Execs Named to Build Digital Content Network for TheBlaze. Three digital media industry veterans have been added to TheBlaze‘s leadership team. Former Core Media Group chief marketing officer Chris Gannett joins as senior vice president of marketing; previously with CNN and the weekend edition of ABC-TV‘s “Good Morning America,” Matt Frucci is appointed senior vice president of content & programming; and Lisa Fowler – from BET Networks – joins as vice president of talent and culture. TheBlaze president Stewart Padveen notes, “TheBlaze is investing heavily in our mission to redefine the way digital media is delivered and consumed. Chris, Matt, and Lisa are a significant part of a new high-performing culture and a diverse lineup of superstar talent.” Ironically, the additions at Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze come after cuts across offices in New York, Los Angeles, Washington (D.C.), and Columbus, where a documentary group had been based. Sources tell TVNewser, between 35-45 staffers have been pinkslipped. These layoffs follow what a source calls a “brain drain” of talent over the last year. Chief executive officer Betsy Morgan left the company last summer and her interim replacement, former Premiere Networks chief operating officer, Kraig Kitchen, exited earlier this year. According to The Daily Beast, the latest cuts are meant to “satisfy the requirements of a multi-million dollar bank loan taken out recently to keep Beck’s revenue-challenged enterprise running.” TheBlaze is consolidating the company’s operations to its Irving, Texas headquarters.
Jim Rose Promoted to PD at KFAB, Omaha. Both players here are part of the KFAB, Omaha morning show. Longtime KFAB personality Gary Sadlemyer is giving up his program director duties at the iHeartMedia-owned news/talk station. His co-host Jim Rose is being elevated to the PD role. Both will continue as personalities on the “Gary Sadlemyer and the Good Morning Show.” iHeartMedia Omaha SVP of programming Erik Johnson says, “When Gary made the decision to step down as program director for KFAB, we knew we had big shoes to fill. Jim’s tremendous background in news radio and his intimate knowledge of both Omaha and KFAB all make him the perfect candidate to take over for Gary, who will remain an important and integral part of KFAB as he continues to focus on ‘The Good Morning Show.’”
Ezra Kucharz to Exit CBS Local Digital Media. Six-year leader of CBS’ local digital efforts, Ezra Kucharz, announces he’s leaving his president of CBS Local Digital Media position and will consult as special advisor to the CEO as he explores the next chapter in his career. Kucharz heads the division that developed a common platform and unified sales effort for its radio and television station websites and digital components. This comes as speculation about a spin-off of the CBS RADIO division and an IPO is getting more intense. CBS does not say whether it intends to fill Kucharz’s position.
The Presidential Race, Gender Identification-Bathrooms Issue, N. Korea Missile Tests, Prince Death/Opioid Addiction, Colorado Gay Wedding Cake Case, Dennis Hastert Sentenced, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). The activities of the candidates for president, Ted Cruz’s naming of Carly Fiorina as his running mate, and the looming Indiana primary; the ongoing debate over laws governing public restroom use and gender identification; North Korea’s testing of medium-range missiles; the investigation into the cause of death of Prince and the related topic of opioid addiction; the Colorado Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the arguments of a Christian bakery found guilty of violating a gay couple’s civil rights; former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert sentenced for crimes related to sexual assault; and the NBA and NHL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Dave Ramsey Brings Smart Money Event to Raleigh. Nationally syndicated talk radio super star and best-selling author Dave Ramsey was in Raleigh yesterday (4/27) presenting his Smart Money event at the Durham Performing Arts Center. There, Ramsey Solutions personality and youth and money expert Anthony ONeal joined Ramsey on stage. Local affiliate WTKK-FM helped to promote the appearance. WTKK-FM program director Brian Taylor comments, “Over two days, Dave’s visit to Raleigh allowed WTKK-FM three wins: revenue, listener/client interaction while also elevating the profile of our local brand. Adding the Dave Ramsey show to your lineup provides opportunities extending beyond the speakers.” Pictured above are (from l-r): Ramsey, WTKK general sales manager Jeff Rovinsky, Taylor, and ONeal.
NextRadio: Visually Appealing Stations Get More Listening. The data from NextRadio indicate stations that “enhance their terrestrial broadcast with visuals and related content average nearly twice the tune-ins and two hours more listening, per listener, per month, in NextRadio vs. stations which only display their station logo.” The TagStation service that provides stations with artist and title information and interactivity with listeners is provided by NextRadio developer TagStation, LLC (wholly-owned by Emmis Communications). The conclusion comes from TagStation’s analysis of 11 million NextRadio listening hours. NextRadio president Paul Brenner says, “Today, consumers are part of an ever-evolving app world, and they expect to see and engage with content on their smartphones. By providing local FM radio listeners a live look at what is airing in their market before they tune in, NextRadio provides a compelling, new listener engagement option. Stations benefit from NextRadio because it doubles listening through the visualization of FM broadcast radio — making listeners more engaged and loyal. Not only does the data show that these stations experience more tune-ins and overall listening, but it also shows that the listening gap is widening between those that provide enticing visuals and related content versus those that do not.”
Odds & Sods. Chicago news/talk outlet WLS-AM takes home the “Best Newscast” honor in the large market category from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association. This is the third year in a row the station has won the award. WLS-AM PD/OM Peter Bolger says, “I’ve been associated with the news business for many years, and I can tell you it is very difficult to win this honor three years in a row – especially in a market as competitive and as rich with talent as Chicago.” Pictured at right are (from l-r): news director John Dempsey, anchor/reporter Jennifer Keiper, and anchor/reporter Nick Gale (who picked up a second place honor for his reporting on the Fox Lake shooting)…..The NFL draft gets underway tonight (4/28) and SiriusXM is providing coverage via several channels, including the NFL channel. Joining the satcaster’s coverage live from Chicago are football experts Gil Brandt, Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller, Phil Savage, and lead host Jason Horowitz…..Fox Sports Radio is also announcing its coverage of the draft. Leading the coverage are FOX NFL insider Jay Glazer, FS1 NFL reporter Peter Schrager and lead college football/draft analyst Joel Klatt…..“The Beer Guys Radio Show” – based at Salem Media Group’s WGKA, Atlanta – announces two new affiliate stations in its current expansion efforts. The show, co-hosted by Tim Dennis and Aaron Williams, begins airing on WTKI, Huntsville and WEKI, Decatur, Alabama on May 7…..Urban news/talk WVON, Chicago is being sued by FameFlyNet for unauthorized use of its copyrighted photos. In United States District Court in Illinois, the company is suing Midway Broadcasting Corp. for posting two pictures of actress Lupita Nyong’o on its website and is seeking $150,000 in damages per infringement. Midway is just the latest in a series of broadcasters sued by the company for copyright infringement.