Cumulus Media Reports 2016 Q4 and Full-Year Financials. The company had not been hiding the fact that the news of its revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 or the whole year would not be positive, and the results were not surprising. Cumulus Media reports its Q4 net revenue was $299.5 million – down 3% from the same period in 2015, and the full-year net revenue was $1.14 billion – a dip of 2.3% compared to all of 2015. Separating the company’s two reportable segments – the radio station group and Westwood One – for the fourth quarter of 2016 the radio station group was up 1.3% on net revenue of $209.7 million. However, Westwood One was down 12.3% on net revenue of $89.1 million. For the whole of 2016, the radio station group’s net revenue was $802.3 million, an increase of 0.8%. Westwood One’s net revenue was $336.6 million, a decrease of 8.8% from 2015. Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “We entered 2016 with a singular objective: to fix the core business problems – poor culture, poor ratings and poor operational execution – which was essential to establishing a foundation on which to build improved financial results. Throughout the year we made significant progress addressing each of these areas, most visibly in ratings growth where we’ve outperformed the industry for 15 straight months. In fact, with two back-to-back quarters of revenue share increases on the station side, a trend which continued through January, we have early evidence that, despite a tough industry environment, our foundational work is beginning to translate into improved financial performance.”
Legendary WSB-AM, Atlanta Celebrates 95 Years On Air. It was on the Ides of March in 1922 that WSB-AM began broadcasting to the citizens of North Georgia. On Wednesday, Cox Media Group celebrated the anniversary. WSB manager of program operations and community affairs Condace Pressley states, “In 1922, WSB was licensed to deliver weather reports. Today, delivery of accurate and dependable news, weather and traffic remains our calling card, but this station and its people are so much more. Service to the Atlanta community is in WSB’s DNA.” Station director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs adds, “The WSB brand of local news, weather and traffic has grown from being on AM only to now serving north Georgia on FM, mobile, and digital. It all boils down to our slogan – Depend On It!” See a cool presentation of WSB’s 95-year history here.
WVON, Chicago Adds Maze Jackson to the Matt McGill Morning Show. Local political commentator and strategist Maze Jackson is joining Midway Broadcasting Corporation’s morning program, the “Matt McGill Morning Show,” on WVON, Chicago, effective April 3. The station says this move is being made to secure WVON’s position as a contributing voice in the upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections, in addition to increasing the station’s overall rankings. McGill has been solo host of the morning show on WVON for the past six years – a role in which he’ll continue. Jackson joins the show after contributing for the past two years as a weekly commentator and guest host. WVON says, “Jackson has a diverse array of experience in the worlds of business, politics, and community engagement. Jackson spent over 20 years lobbying for high profile clients, creating community-based solutions and driving the discussions that shape impactful policies as former executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.”
TALKERS Magazine Publisher Michael Harrison Joins WPHT, Philly’s Rich Zeoli for His New Podcast. At CBS RADIO’s WPHT, Philadelphia, afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is launching a new podcast that features content not heard on the WPHT airwaves. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison joined Zeoli for his inaugural show. In addition to addressing such topics as the Trump Administration’s impact on news/talk radio and the influence of politics on talk radio, the two delved into “inside” radio subjects including the evolution of the talk radio format, changing media technology, and the public’s evolving media habits. Listen to it here.
Desert Broadcasters Brings Palm Springs AMs Back to Life; KGX Branded ‘Real Talk.’ The two Palm Springs signals – KPSI-AM 920 and KWXY-AM 1340 – went dark last August after longtime owners Rozene and Ric Supple decided to exit the radio business. Enter Garry Wing and Desert Broadcasters who acquired the stations and just put KPSI – now KGX “Real Talk” – and KWXY back on the air. KWXY is a soft AC. The Desert Sun reports that Wing wants to create a talk station with less political vitriol (and less “fake outrage”). Radio America personality Chad Benson’s show is featured on the station. Wing says the station will air a combination of local and national talk shows. Both stations occupy the early 1960s-era broadcast facility pictured in the photo here, taken from the Desert Sun’s video report.
iHeartMedia Unveils ‘SmartAudio’ Advertising Product at ‘SoundFront.’ At Wednesday’s client-focused “SoundFront” up front event, iHeartMedia introduced its SmartAudio digital data advertising product, now a part of the programmatic solution SoundPoint. iHeartMedia says SmartAudio goes farther in leveraging the power of SoundPoint to help advertisers evaluate, plan and buy broadcast radio, enabling them to build innovative campaigns that target key audience segments. iHeartMedia president of national sales, marketing and partnerships Tim Castelli says, “We’ve been testing SmartAudio with some of the top brands and we’re already seeing additional impact for those using it. They’re able to leverage the product’s flexibility to decide which specific ad to run based on something as simple as whether the local sports team won or lost last night’s game…Industry response to our SoundPoint platform has been so well received that we’re now unveiling SmartAudio which allows audience segmenting and dynamic creative capabilities all in one planning and buying tool.”
TALKERS News Notes. Public radio outlet WBEZ, Chicago is debuting a new podcast series called, “Written Inside: Stories About Prison Cells.” The series consists of essays by inmates at Illinois’ Stateville Correctional Center about their prison cells – shedding light on the everyday experience of incarceration. The series was the idea of award-winning, Chicago-based author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz. He began working with the inmates through Northwestern University colleague Jennifer Lackey, who invited him to speak to a class she taught at the correctional center. Kotlowitz asked the 15 male inmates facing long sentences to complete a writing exercise describing their cells. He recognized the potential each story possessed to reveal the realities of life in prison…..“Motley Fool Money” host Chris Hill (left) is pictured here with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin (right) recording a segment for Hill’s program at SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this week. Hill says, “We talked about the scene in Austin, what the major entertainment companies are doing to lure audience, Apple’s foray into original programming, VR in movies and a lot more.”
Trump Travel Ban Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 13-17. The second travel ban order by President Donald Trump and its block issued by a Hawaii judge was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Trump Administration budget cuts. Coming in at #3 was the interest rate hike by the Fed, followed by the GOP health care plan 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.
Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2017. The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame announces its class of inductees for 2017. They include: Johnny Dowd/Jaybeau Jones from “JB 105,” Providence; French-language broadcaster and current WNRI partner Roger Laliberte; WHJJ and WPRO personality Myrna Lamb; current WPRO-AM program director Tony Mascaro; former RAB SVP and Rhode Island radio manager Dick Rakovan; and former WICE personality Frank Kingston Smith. Also the Shepard Award – created to recognize the founders of radio in the Ocean State by John and Robert Shepard, owners of the Shepard Department Stores, and to honor present-day contributors to the industry through leadership, dedication, achievement, innovation and spirit – will go to Mowry Lowe –a pioneering New England newscaster, gifted announcer and premier radio executive. The Station of the Year Award will be presented to iHeartMedia Providence to commemorate a successful multi-station food drive to feed the hungry in Rhode Island. The Legacy Station of the Year award recognizes top 40 WICE-AM. A reunion with some of the station’s legendary Hall of Fame DJs, staff and listeners is planned.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Appears on WJR, Detroit’s Paul W. Smith Show. This morning’s WJR, Detroit live broadcast of the Paul W. Smith St. Patrick’s Day show was not the first appearance on the station by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He’s been a guest on the show before. Pai (left) is pictured here with Smith (right) on stage at The Cube Theatre inside the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
PodcastOne Executive Chairman Norm Pattiz Guests on Harrison Podcast. The executive chairman of PodcastOne and noted industry pioneer, Norm Pattiz joins TALKERS founder Michael Harrison for an in-depth conversation about the general state of radio, podcasting and audio media on this week’s installment of the award-winning series, “Up Close and Far Out.” The compelling dialogue was recorded this past Friday, inspired by the Thursday release (3/9) of the annual Edison Research/Triton Digital 2017 Infinite Dial Study. Pattiz sums up his impression of the study as follows, “I was very encouraged relative to the audio medium as a whole by the information that came from the study. There’s good news in it for almost everybody that’s in the audio space.” Pattiz and Harrison cover a lot of ground touching upon advertising trends, the evolution of audience measurement metrics, in-car listening habits and much more in this conversation that is a must-listen for radio and audio media professionals. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, 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.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Imaging, voiceover and production firm Benztown announces it has brought Katrina Woolverton, J.D., LL.M, aboard to serve in the newly created position of general counsel…..On Monday (3/20), WBBM-FM, Chicago “B96” is hosting Warner Bros. Records recording artist Bebe Rexha as its guest to host a cooking demonstration at the brand new CBS RADIO Chicago Culinary Kitchen. Rexha will show off her culinary skills while being interviewed by “B96” morning show hosts J Niice, Showbiz Shelly and Producer Gabe. The segment will take place in front of a live studio audience made up of about 20 station contest winners who also get tickets to Rexha’s concert that evening at the Metro theater.
Arbitron/Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2013 Indicates Radio Still Dominates In-Car Listening; the Smartphone Is the Hot Delivery Tool. Tuesday’s webinar from Arbitron and Edison Research provided a treasure trove of data for radio execs and sales personnel wishing to prove that radio is still a relevant medium in today’s world. But much of the data also showed that over the course of the past 15 years, it’s been easy to see the leaps and bounds by which digital media is gaining on the traditionals – AM/FM and broadcast television. Some of the key takeaways for talk stations:
- Of those surveyed (18+) who’ve ridden/driven a car in the past month, 84% used AM/FM radio; 63% used the CD player; 29% an iPod or mp3 player; and 12% used online radio.
Obviously, the online radio usage (defined as AM/FM stations over the internet as well as pure plays) will continue to rise as that technology becomes more available and easier to use.
- 58% of those surveyed report AM/FM radio as the medium used “almost all of the time” or “most of the time.”
- 72% of respondents do not have a Bluetooth connection in their car. A technology that would aid online usage in the vehicle. That will change quickly as manufacturers make them standard in new cars.
The Smartphone. Reaching potential listeners via smartphone technology is crucial to the future of content providers. Fifty-three percent of Americans (estimated to be 139 million) own a smartphone – up from 44% just last year.
- About 75% of persons 18-34 own smartphones
- Of all people (12+) who own smartphones, 44% have ever listened to online radio. Expect that number to grow rapidly.
- Although just 18% of smartphone owners listen to online radio daily, that’s still a big number – more than 25 million Americans (12+) – and that is also likely to grow exponentially.
Podcasting. Although podcasting listening has leveled out over the past two or three years – about 12% or 32 million Americans have listened to an audio podcast in the last month – more than 25% of weekly podcast users have listened to six or more during that period. The takeaway for stations/talk hosts/content providers producing podcasts is that loyal podcast users consume a lot of them. That’s good for sales to know. Also, the goal of converting P1s into podcast users is a worthwhile one since it appears they often become hooked on the format.
Some of the key observations by Arbitron’s Bill Rose and Edison’s Tom Webster from this year’s Infinite Dial research project include:
- Over the population, digital platforms do not appear to replace traditional media usage, they tend to enhance them;
- The smartphone is the most important device media businesses are dealing with and the smartphone is functioning as a “two-way” radio today;
- Online radio reaches 86 million people per week for an average of 12 hours, with so many choices it is imperative to have a strategy that cuts through the clutter;
- 66% of those surveyed who wake up to a smartphone use the alarm sound, not music to talk content, convince them to do otherwise!
Clay Hunnicutt to Receive 2013 “Humanitarian of the Year” Award at Talkers New York 2013. The 2013 recipient of the Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Broadcaster (also referred to as “Humanitarian of the Year”) has been selected by the TALKERS editorial board. This year’s recipient is Clear Channel Media & Entertainment EVP of programming, Clay Hunnicutt. The 25-year veteran of radio broadcasting has been selected for this important honor in recognition of the key role he has played in paving the way for the Fisher House Foundation to become one of the radio industry’s most actively spotlighted charities, thus providing invaluable support in the form of free housing to the families of service men and women injured in combat during their visits to them at the hospital. To learn more about Fisher House Foundation visit www.fisherhouse.org. While serving as CC’s SCP/Community Engagement he arranged for a company-wide 2010 Veterans Day initiative in support of Fisher House. Every CC station spotlighted Fisher House on that day and urged listeners to donate online or via text. That event was repeated in 2011. These campaigns alone (2010 and 2011) raised a total of $1.2 million for Fisher House. In addition, the company donated $3 million in PSA airtime around Veterans Day 2012. Fisher House representatives inform TALKERS that Hunnicutt has also helped them make vital connections at the local level. Hunnicutt tells TALKERS, “If you’ve never been to a Fisher House – you must go! Just one visit will change your life because they are making the lives of so many soldiers and sailors better. They took the challenge of helping the men and women that put their lives on the line for our freedom every day to a whole new level. It is a world class organization that delivers on everything they say they will do, and that always puts the needs of other first. This is something we should all aspire to do, and make a priority with our individual time and our stations.” Hunnicutt will be presented the award on Thursday, June 6 at Talkers New York 2013 during the afternoon “Freedom of Speech Award Ceremony.” The event, which is nearing a sellout, is open to members of the working media. Registrations can only be booked over the phone at 413-565-5413.
Dennis Miller Celebrates 6th Radio Anniversary. It’s been six years since comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Dennis Miller began a daily radio talk show on the old Westwood One radio network. On Friday, March 29, Miller celebrated his 6th anniversary on the Dial Global network hosting some friends from the old days. Fellow SNL cast members Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon, along with Seth Meyers appeared on the program as did fellow television star Tim Allen.
WDAE, Tampa’s Steve Duemig Returns to Air with New Deal. Tampa sports talk host Steve Duemig was taken off the air at Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa last week after the two sides hit some sort of snag in their contract negotiations. According to the Tampa Bay Times’ Eric Deggans, Duemig said he was asked to sign a new contract before the window that would allow him to speak with other companies opened. When he refused, he was taken off the air. Now, Duemig says he’s back with a three-year deal that, according to the paper, includes no new money. He tells the Times, “But am I happy? I won’t answer that.”
Proof of Performance, Transmitter Control and Other Technical Stuff Radio Station Staffers Should Understand…at Least a Little. In a page out of the Engineer’s Truth is Stranger than Fiction files, renown engineering wizard and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray cites a couple of “strange but true” examples of how crazy things can get in to today’s radio station environment when it comes to “little” things like which buttons to press when the transmitter goes haywire and avoiding trouble with the FCC by staying within compliance. In the process he sheds light on standard concepts like “proof of performance” and “turning a transmitter on and off” that programming-types really should know and in language that they can actually understand…we hope! To read Tom Ray’s column, click here.
Mike Francesa Signs Long-Term Renewal with WFAN, New York. American sports talk radio icon Mike Francesa inks a deal to remain the afternoon drive host on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York for years to come. The exact term of the contract is not being disclosed but CBS Radio president Dan Mason states, “Mike has earned his place in radio history as a great broadcaster and we’re thrilled to continue our relationship with sports radio’s most celebrated host. WFAN and Mike Francesa are synonymous with the absolute best in sports programming excellence. These two powerful brands have endured the test of time, and remain a very relevant force in the industry nearly three decades after they first went on the air.” As part of the deal, Francesa’s long-running Sunday morning “The NFL Now” show will be aired on the CBS Sports Radio Network beginning this fall. Vice president, sports programming, CBS Radio Mark Chernoff states, “Mike represents the heart and soul of WFAN, and we’re proud he will continue to make the station his long-term broadcast home. Like no one else, Mike can take a story to the next level and involve his listeners in thought provoking ways with topical and opinionated conversation. He has set the standard for what represents an entertaining and informative radio program.” Francesa says, “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished at WFAN. I am also honored and thankful to CBS Radio for its continued commitment, and most of all to the listeners for their enduring loyalty.” Mike Francesa will be the sports talk keynote speaker at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6. The event, which is nearing a sellout, is open to members of the working media. Registrations can only be booked over the phone at 413-565-5413.
Odds & Sods. WGAU, Gainesville, Georgia-based talk show host Martha Zoller announces the coming debut of her Georgia politics website called Zpolitics. Zoller states, “I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new website, Zpolitics. We created this online hub to satisfy the desire for relevant news, smart political commentary, and sharp analysis from Georgia’s top pollsters, strategists, and grassroots activists.”….. The “Mo’Kelly Show” celebrates its one-year anniversary on Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles this Saturday, April 6 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Show host Morris O’Kelly reports that over the past 12 months, guests have included NAACP president Ben Jealous, Pleasanton Tea Party president Dr. Bridget Melson, members of Congress, state leadership from both the Democratic and Republican parties and entertainment guests such as actresses Gabrielle Union and Tamara Tunie, comedian Cedric the Entertainer and musicians Joe Sample, Will Downing and Eric Benét. O’Kelly also hosts various mornings on sister progressive talk station KTLK and serves as American political correspondent for the BBC…..Sunrise Broadcasting flips oldies WGNY-AM, Newburgh, New York to sports talk using ESPN Radio. The company also plans to flip country WZAD, Wurtsboro, New York (Poughkeepsie market) as a simulcast soon.
The Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Announces 2013 Legacy Inductees. The following Georgia broadcasters will be honored at the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame 7th Annual Induction Awards on October 19, 2013 at the Atlanta/Marietta Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. The Class of 2013 includes (in alphabetical order): Palmyra Braswell, the first black female disc jockey in Macon, Georgia (WBML ) and educator; George Crumbley, sales manager at WSB, Atlanta and father of The Peach Bowl; Jimmy Dunaway, WSB, Atlanta farm director and news anchor; Al Evans, Jr., WVLD, Valdosta owner, on air known as Danny Dee; John Holliman, WSB reporter and Peabody Award recipient; Don Kordecki, WKRW, Cartersville owner and civic leader; Royal Marshall, WSB, Atlanta talk show host and producer; Leonard Postero, creator and voice of weekly sports program “Leonard Losers”; and Annie Lee Small, WYTH, Madison co-owner and Atlanta’s first female announcer. The Legacy inductees join other honorees: James “Alley Pat” Patrick, 2013 Founders and Directors Award and Jim Woodruff, Jr., 2013 Elmo Ellis Spirit Award. Pictured here are: Top row (l-r): Palmyra Braswell, George Crumbley, Jimmy Dunaway, Al Evans, Jr., John Holliman. Bottom row (l-r): Don Kordecki, Royal Marshall, Annie Lee Small, Leonard Postero.
North Korea Threats, Gun Legislation, ObamaCare Effects, Illegal Immigration, and Rutgers Basketball Coach Fired Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2). The ongoing concern over North Korea’s threats of military action against South Korea and America; the myriad gun legislation proposals; the effects of the Affordable Care Act; chatter over illegal immigration and amnesty legislation; and the firing of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice after a video goes viral were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.