Cumulus Reports Q4 and 2015 Full-Year Numbers; Net Revenue Dipped 7.5% in 2015. The net revenue numbers for Cumulus Media were not pretty but there was no expectation that they would be. The company’s net revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $308.8 million – down 6.2% from the same period in 2014. For all of 2015, net revenue was $1.1 billion; that represents a dip of 7.5% compared to all of 2014. Other fourth quarter numbers reveal big drops in the digital sector (- 42.7%) and in political advertising (- 78.3%). However, broadcast advertising was relatively flat (- 0.5). Breaking that down further, local advertising was flat (- 0.6) but national advertising was off 10.5% and network advertising was down 2.8%. New Cumulus CEO Mary Berner was brutally frank about the state of the company she’s been leading for five short months. She told investors during yesterday’s conference call, “As you can see by the continued underperformance we experienced this quarter versus our peers, we have a lot of work to do to stabilize the business. We are organizing that work around four foundational issues which I believe are responsible for our underperformance, and I will give you some context for the moves we are making to correct Cumulus’ trajectory. First, a well-constructed operational plan wasn’t or couldn’t be executed at Cumulus due to a lack of management tools and information, as well as a misalignment of authority and responsibility across many functions. Second, the company had a corporate culture characterized by a lack of focus, accountability, and collaboration and under-investment in human capital which collectively resulted in significant turnover and economic leakage. Third, revenue was meaningfully impacted by multi-year declines in ratings across the entire platform in part due to a command and control operating strategy that often ignored local market dynamics. And finally, a substantial amount of leverage on the balance sheet has reduced the company’s capital flexibility while increasing the pressure to execute in operational turnaround quickly. Our operational turnaround strategies thus are organized around these issues and are as follows; enhanced operational blocking and tackling, institute initiatives to improve the company’s culture and drive ratings growth.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the whole transcript here.
Analysis: The 2016 Infinite Dial. Yes, AM/FM radio is still the dominant audio listening device in-car, but, according to the most recent Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, listening to podcasts and use of digital devices (especially smartphones) is continuing to rise at a steady rate. Consultant Holland Cooke attended yesterday’s webinar on the study and files this story for TALKERS magazine. Among some of the more interesting findings: 93% of persons 12-24 own a smartphone; 21% of those surveyed own no AM-FM device in their home; and 60% own an Internet-connected television. See more here.
The Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of March 7-11. The activities of the candidates for president, the primary elections, and the debates were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the Hillary Clinton private email server matter. Coming in at #3 was U.S. immigration policy followed by the European migrant issues 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.
Garry Meier Enters Podcast World. According to a tip from Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Windy City radio legend Garry Meier is launching a new podcast on his garrymeier.com platform. The first show will stream on Saturday night. Meier is hoping to build a subscriber base, converting the free listeners into paying customers. Initially, he will produce three one-hour shows per week for free. His first guest on the program will be Howard Stern, who Feder notes has called podcasting “for losers.” Meier has been off the radio since Tribune cancelled his show on WGN.fm in November of 2014. Read Feder’s story here.
Gallagher Anchors SRN’s GOP Debate Coverage. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher was in Miami last night (3/10) anchoring Salem Radio Network’s coverage of the GOP debate at the University of Miami. The debate was aired on CNN and the audio simulcast was provided by SRN. Gallagher is pictured here speaking with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump after the conclusion of the debate. SRN personality Hugh Hewitt served on the CNN panel that questioned the four remaining GOP candidates.
Odds & Sods. Conservative Review published a short piece about viewers tuning out of last night’s GOP debate and leaving the post-debate coverage on both Fox News Channel and CNN for Mark Levin’s new LevinTV.com. The story features Twitter messages from people announcing their unhappiness with the Fox and CNN coverage and desire to get analysis from LevinTV…..At the Kevin Adell-owned religious urban-targeted station WFDF, Detroit, Oakland county executive L. Brooks Patterson is being paired up with radio pro Nancy Skinner for a program called “B.S. on 910.” The weekly show will air from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. Patterson is a staunch conservative and Skinner is a liberal. Patterson is not being paid for his role on the program…..ABC News is offering a new podcast from staffer Dan Harris, author of the best-selling book 10% Happier. The book recounts Harris’ reluctant journey into meditation. The podcast is called “10% Happier with Dan Harris,” and will involve Harris interviewing gurus, scientists, teachers, celebrities, athletes and executives about their meditation practices “as he investigates whether enlightenment is real and whether there is anything beyond just 10%.”
Canzano’s ‘Bald Faced Truth’ Show Renewed with KXTG-AM, Portland. Sports talk personality John Canzano inks a contract extension with Alpha Media’s Portland sports talk outlet KXTG-AM “750/102.9 The Game.” The two parties say the new, multi-year pact will allow Canzano’s “The Bald Faced Truth” to continue in the daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm time slot. Alpha Media EVP of programming Scott Mahalick comments, “Renewing a seasoned professional varsity multi-media broadcast talent like John Canzano is the perfect centerpiece to The Game’s talent roster.” Canzano has been with “The Game” since its launch in 2008 and also serves as the lead sports columnist at The Oregonian and a sports commentator at Portland NBC affiliate KGW-TV.
Westwood One’s State of American Podcasting. Today, radio consultant Holland Cooke reports for TALKERS on yesterday’s webinar presented by Westwood One titled, The State of American Podcasting. The webinar featured Cumulus Media/WW1 chief marketing officer Pierre Bouvard with guests Stuart Last, VP of popular podcast and on-demand platform audioBoom; Jenna Weiss-Berman, director of audio at the pop culture website Buzzfeed; and Brendan McDonald, co-creator and executive producer of the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.” The growth of podcasting is predicted to continue and the average age of podcast P1s is much younger than the average age of radio users (45) and television (57), according to Edison Research data. Read Holland Cooke’s takeaways from the webinar here.
Odds & Sods. Nashville-based, Westwood One-syndicated talk show host Phil Valentine was recently honored with another award for his screenplay, Derek Dickens & The Dream. The screenplay is the story of one man’s mid-life crisis that turns him into an international pop sensation when he takes on an imaginary persona through which he lives out his lifelong dream. The 50-year-old fabricates a 20-something British band, with himself at the lead, and it takes the world by storm. Valentine just won first place at the Nevada International Film Festival in Las Vegas. Not long ago, he took home top honors at the Colorado Film Festival and placed third in the Atlantic City Cinefest. Valentine comments, “I had no idea this little movie script would be so well received. I’m really delighted to see it’s doing so well. Maybe some Hollywood producer is paying attention and will bring this screenplay to the silver screen.”…..Nationally syndication morning show “Good Day with Doug Stephan” is offering a holiday “gift” to talk stations by making his program available to non-affiliates on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Eve and Day. Stephan says the program will be live on these morning and stations carrying the show will not be required to sign a contract, just call Bob K. at 774-643-6450…..Nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs (pictured at right) reports that 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have regular access to safe, public restrooms. She says, “Not only are they exposed to unsanitary conditions but also many women and children are vulnerable to assault when they’re trying to use makeshift, unsecured stalls. We’re raising awareness by posting pics of us on the toilet and reminding people how blessed we are to have safe sanitation.” Donations are being accepted at www.worldtoilet.org.
Syrian Refugees Issue/Immigration Policy, Paris Terror Attacks Aftermath, 2016 Presidential Race, Minneapolis Police Protests, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson Controversy, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/18). The controversial debate over the handling of refugees from Syria in the U.S. and the larger issue of the nation’s immigration policy; the ongoing search for those responsible for the Paris terror attacks and debate over how to try to prevent further attacks; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; the protests in Minneapolis after the shooting death of a black man at the hands of local police; demands by Princeton students that Woodrow Wilson’s name and image be disassociated from the school because of his racist policies; and action in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cool Job Opportunity. Greater Media Charlotte is seeking a continuity and traffic assistant. Ideal characteristics for candidates include: Enjoys analytics and puzzles, innately curious, meticulous with details, thrives in a fast-paced environment, works calmly and effectively under pressure, reacts quickly to meet tight deadlines, and diplomatic & determined with solid people skills. Position requires knowledge of computer skill and experience with broadcast inventory management and traffic software including Marketron, V-Creative, and Efficio is a plus. Email your cover letter and resume to director of sales Sandra Szoke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
By Holland Cooke
NEW YORK — I should clarify. I don’t mean do what cable news channels are doing — contrived political arguments. That’s being done to death there, and has become an unfortunate “Talk Radio” caricature. When there’s a-war-on…the-war-on…The War on Christmas – and there’s feigned outrage about under-decorated cardboard coffee cups — you know they’re running out of things to talk about.
I’m saying do what you see on basic cable channels and so-called “Over The Top” (OTT) TV such as Netflix. And as I listened to Sony Pictures Television chairman Steve Mosko, the little voice in my kept whispering “podcasting.”
Mosko calls himself “a studio guy” whose independent shop has 35 shows on 18 different networks, “the largest programming provider to OTT services.” He was interviewed by author and veteran journalist Bill Carter (SiriusXM’s “The Bill Carter Interview”) at NAB Show/New York* this week.
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
NEW YORK — Peter Senerchia, Cari Champion, and Farnoosh Torabi. One is a former champion professional wrestler known in the ring as Taz, one is a TV reporter and anchor for ESPN, and the other works in her Brooklyn apartment. However, all three have something in common – they have carved out their own niches and become stars in the world of podcasting… and with their advertisers.
Digital audio has been on a roll over the past 18 months, and this is especially true among younger listeners. A February survey by Edison Research found approximately 46 million people listened to podcasts in February. Meanwhile, ad spending on podcasts is soaring. A recent survey by eMarketer says ad spending for digital audio is expected to reach $2.75 billion, up over 27% from a year ago.
Michael Harrison and Consultant Holland Cooke Discuss ‘How Digital Media is Rewiring the Human Nervous System.’ In the latest installment of Podcast One’s international hit “Up Close and Far Out” posted today (9/15), noted radio and media consultant Holland Cooke joins host Michael Harrison in a discussion of what Harrison describes as the five major tenets of digital media’s effect on the way human nervous systems are becoming “rewired” going into the 21st century. According to Harrison, here are the five major tenets of modern-day media theory for commercial practitioners to consider (from five to one in order of importance):
5. The magic of 20th century media is rapidly disappearing. Radio, television, film, print and records do not carry the same level of mystique that they did for most of our lifetimes. It is no longer just enough getting past the gatekeeper and “being there.” Everybody is or has direct access to being a media star. This development democratizes production and distribution but significantly raises the bar on what must be achieved to actually attract attention and display panache in an increasingly noisy world.
4. Loss of privacy. It is becoming increasingly impossible to engage in modern life “on the grid” and preserve the level of privacy that many consider vital to maintain dignity and personal freedom. It is becoming increasingly treacherous to be famous or a “celebrity.” Media whores beware! It is dangerous out there.
3. Life is becoming one big crazy reality show. Look no further than the media circus known as the 2016 presidential election to see this process at work – punctuated by the adventures of the greatest media exhibitionist of our time, Donald Trump. The once well-defined boundaries between entertainment and real life – fact and fantasy – are becoming increasingly blurred.
2. The rise of the techno-psychic. Modern-day instantaneous communications and data accumulation, punctuated by multi-tasking, social media, and the individual’s immediate access to everyone and all publically archived information, is transforming the human race (Homo sapiens) into a technologically induced telepathic species. People literally are walking around with the voices of others inside their heads. We are just a handful of short years away from having chips implanted inside our bodies that will replace the inconvenience of having to lug around what we currently call “smartphones.”
1. The coming of the quantum age. Don’t expect the digital era to hang around as long as the analogue era has through all of the 20th century and into the 21st. It will be replaced relatively quickly by something truly “far out.” Our increased understanding and coming to cultural terms with quantum physics is changing everything! Although the development of the quantum computer (which promises to replace the digital computer) is still in its infancy, progress is being made at a rapid rate. Quantum computing will exponentially increase humanity’s influence on the very fabric of time and space themselves. Today’s modern technology will seem as quaint as the horse and buggy in a relatively short time. Harrison advises, “Today’s media practitioners interested in being prepared for the onrushing future should study everything they can about quantum physics and the impact it will have on computing and communications.”
Interestingly, Harrison produced this installment of “Up Close and Far Out” on the road under difficult technological conditions stating, “Our studio back at TALKERS suffered an equipment malfunction and our server was undergoing maintenance. I found myself facing deadline with nothing more than two iPhones and a remote guest (Holland Cooke) who also had nothing more to work with at the moment than an iPhone. Somehow we made it work – although I regret that Holland’s usually mellifluous voice sounds a bit like Rudy Vallee singing on his trademark megaphone. Considering the futuristic nature of our rather esoteric conversation, it is ironic that we produced the show under extremely primitive (by modern standards) conditions. All of us who’ve done radio over the years have had the experience of being forced to play MacGyver. This was one such case. Thank you, Holland Cooke, for being a good sport.”
To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here. or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player located in the right-hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Familiar New York Voice Peter Rosenberg to Join WEPN’s Michael Kay Show. New York radio personality Peter Rosenberg is joining the Michael Kay show on ESPN’s WEPN. Rosenberg is host of Emmis-owned hip hop HOT 97’s morning drive show – a position he will continue. Rosenberg will join Don LaGreca – himself recently inked to a contract renewal – as co-hosts with Kay. On this added gig, he comments, “I’m thrilled and thankful for this opportunity to be a part of the 98.7 family and to be part of a show that I have always loved with two guys that I couldn’t respect and admire more. By working for both 98.7 and HOT 97, I’m able to contribute to a wide variety of topics I’m passionate about and provide listeners with a fresh perspective on not just hip hop, but sports, lifestyle, and more.” He begins his new duties today (9/15).He begins his new duties today (9/15).
Martinez Joins ‘News 96.5 Orlando’ for Anchor Position. Trading the cold for sunshine this winter is Heather Jordan Martinez who is leaving iHeartMedia heritage news/talker WHO, Des Moines for Cox Media Group’s WDBO-FM, Orlando “News 96.5.” Martinez has a diverse resume including time in music radio on-air and in promotions. She is also a voice-over talent. Her new gig starts September 28.
IAB Presents Podcasting ‘Upfront.’ The recent “Upfront Showcase” held in New York City by the Interactive Advertising Bureau was held in response to the medium’s recent and meteoric rise on the mainstream consumer’s and advertiser’s radar. TALKERS and RadioInfo special features correspondent Jeff McKay reports, “The Interactive Advertising Bureau put together the event to highlight some of the top-flight podcasters, along with some of the companies at the forefront of digital success and their advertiser successes.” IAB president/CEO Randall Rothenberg explains, “We’re here responding to market demand. Why are we here? The success of ‘Serial’ and President Obama’s interview on ‘WTF with Marc Maron’ – these shows have opened up eyes to podcasting.” Attendee and VP of digital sales for AdLarge, Jay Green states, “You’re saying, ‘I want to hear what this host has to say,’ and that becomes a brand. For advertisers, the spot load is very low. It’s not intrusive. And, the ads are integrated into the show, discussed by the host with their own brand and style.” Read McKay’s entire report from the IAB “Upfront Showcase” here.
ESPN Radio to Finalize New Network Lineup; Jones to PM Drive, Jalen & Jacoby to Assume Early Evening Show. TALKERS magazine sources say the revamped ESPN Radio schedule should be complete within a couple of weeks and, as we’ve reported in recent weeks, Bomani Jones will move from his 9:00 pm ET start to the afternoon drive slot being filled right now by Jorge Sedano and Sarah Spain. As regular TALKERS readers are aware, the changes at ESPN Radio were spurred by Colin Cowherd’s move to Fox Sports. ESPN has already shuffled Dan Le Batard to the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET daypart, leaving an opening in afternoon drive. With Jones in the PM drive slot, TALKERS hears ESPN will move podcast duo Jalen & Jacoby – Jalen Rose and Dave Jacoby – to the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET slot and Jorge Sedano will assume the 9:00 pm to 12:00 ET midnight show. Sedano will reportedly also take on more NBA-related program responsibilities on the TV side.
Salem Media Group to Acquire Radio Disney Signals. Five more Radio Disney AM signals are on their way to a new owner as Salem Media Group agrees to buy 5,000-watt class B KDIZ-AM, Minneapolis for $375,000; 10,000-watt class B KDDZ, Denver for $550,000; 10,000-watt class B KDZR, Portland for $275,000; 20,000-watt class B WSDZ, St. Louis (licensed to Belleville, Illinois) for $275,000; and 9,800-watt class B WWMI, Tampa-St. Petersburg for $750,000.
CORRECTION: Yesterday (9/14), TALKERS magazine incorrectly reported the new time of the “Business Rockstars” show. The correct time is 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. TALKERS regrets the error.
The Trump Campaign, the 2016 Presidential Candidates, European Migrant Tensions/U.S. Immigration Policy, Russia-Syria Military Buildup, Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korean Nuke Threat, California Wildfires and NFL Week One Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The ongoing analysis of the early success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; the migration issues European nations are dealing with and talk about the immigration policy in the United States; reports of Russia’s supplying Syria with weaponry; the controversial nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran; the threats of nuclear missile use by North Korea; the destruction being caused by the Western wildfires; and the first week of the 2015 NFL season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Holland Cooke
- My notes from Sunday’s well-attended RAIN Summit West:
- Clever and profitable ideas from the RAB-at-NAB session “Small & Medium Market Idea Exchange:”
- Bouncing-back-and-forth between the NAB Show and NMX, I’m struck by the value of tips and techniques each group can learn from the other. For instance:
By Michael W. Dean
The Freedom Feens
Genesis Communications Network
Talk Show Host
CASPER, Wy. — Podcasting is sometimes considered “the ugly stepchild of radio,” because unlike radio, podcasting is open to the unwashed masses. Anyone with an Internet connection can reach the world, for no money and with no licensing.
Podcasting was ignored and vilified by radio industry people for years (it still is by some). But these days, almost all talk radio shows also release a podcast archive of their show, either a pay version or for free.
In addition to releasing podcast archives of terrestrial radio shows, some talk hosts become podcasters after voluntarily leaving radio or after being fired. And some people (like myself) start their shows as a podcast before getting syndicated on radio.
By Holland Cooke
WASHINGTON, DC — If you’re a broadcaster, you probably found this story remarkable. If you’re a podcaster, you probably found it relatable:
“By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.”
Internet talk media has become the terrestrial radio farm system
By Michael Harrison
NEW YORK –– On page 23 of this issue of TALKERS magazine we are pleased to launch the third annual installment of a relatively new feature titled, “The Frontier Fifty: A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters.”
It is an alphabetical list of 50 talk “acts” consisting of a wide variety of hosts, teams and shows representing a cross section of the important pioneering work taking place in the burgeoning world of internet talk media. The continuing publication of such an “editorial staff’s choice” in this magazine marks another evolutionary milestone as, together, we experience the fascinating transition between the AM/FM/VHF/UHF (“terrestrial”) domination of pop culture during the second half of the 20th century and the emerging internet media’s (“stickless”) reign over the first half of the 21st –– already more than a decade underway. We thank our friends at Broadcasters General Store for their continued sponsorship of this ambitious and optimistic feature. Their faith in it is a sign that there is, in fact, a “new industry” of enormous potential proportions emerging before us all.