Entercom Reports Q3 Revenue Down 4%. Bucking the trend of recent third quarter reports from other broadcasters showing generally moderate revenue growth, Entercom’s Q3 2013 financial statement indicated revenue down 4% on $98.4 million. President and CEO David Field stated that station expenses increased 5% and the resulting adjusted EBITDA was down 22% to $26.2 million. Field did tell investors during yesterday’s conference call that the company has been paying down debt, “We also continued to direct our substantial free cash flow towards debt reduction. During the third quarter alone, we cut our net debt by $20 million, and have now lowered our net debt by nearly $450 million over the past six years.” Field reported that local sales were down 5% and national revenue was basically flat. Field admitted the company’s sales effort was the problem, stating that in the markets in which the company operates, total radio revenue was up 1%. “Plain and simple, our sales performance in the third quarter was poor. We failed to get the job done and that is unacceptable. We lagged our radio peers by a significant margin, and failed to capitalize on our strong brands, ratings and marketing capabilities.” Field reminded investors that the company anticipated a down third quarter due to recently enacted changes in the company’s sales strategies and practices and that the changes will make the company stronger in the long run.
Saga Communications Inches Up 1.6% in Net Revenue. For the third quarter of 2013, Saga Communications says the $35.8 million (ex political) resulted in a net revenue increase of 1.6%. CEO Ed Christian told investors during yesterday’s conference call that considering how much the company is down from the loss of political from last year to this, the results are not bad though he had hoped to be up 2%. Christian can be downright chatty during these conference calls and he took the time to reference a Barron’s article indicating America may be at the beginning of decades of slow growth and suggested radio’s prescription for adapting to such an economy is to focus on rebuilding radio’s image. He says research shows people like radio but there needs to be more trust and respect. “If we blend the community – and you can define community any way that you like it – if we blend the community and we blend radio into one, we’ll continue to survive and prosper, even in a 2% GDP world.”
Salem Communications’ Broadcast Division Announces Flat Q3 Numbers. The broadcasting division of Salem Communications was up just a hair – 0.3% on $46 million dollars for the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago. During yesterday’s conference call, CFO Evan Masyr broke down the company’s performance by format, reporting, “Thirty-nine of our radio stations are programmed in what we call our foundational format Christian Teaching and Talk, these stations contributed 45% of total broadcast revenue and increased 1% for the quarter. Block programming increased 2.3%, while infomercials were down 29.7% as we continue to reduce the infomercials on our radio stations to improve the overall programming on the stations. Our 26 news/talk stations had a decrease of 6% in revenue for the quarter. Overall, these stations contributed 14% of total broadcast revenue. The revenue from the 12 contemporary Christian music stations contributed 24% of total broadcast revenue and had an increase of 5% for the quarter. Again, we continue to see strong results from many of our music stations, most notably in this quarter Los Angeles and Dallas. The seven stations that we have programmed in Spanish language, Christian Teaching and Talk grew by 26%, and these stations comprised 2% of our broadcast revenue. Finally, with respect to the formats that we focus on the 10 stations in a business talk format, and that format contributed 3% of our broadcast revenue and had a decrease of 2% in revenue.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the entire call here.
Nielsen Promotes Mitch Barns to CEO. The ratings giant – which recently brought radio ratings into its fold with the acquisition of Arbitron – announces that Dwight M. “Mitch” Barns will succeed David L. Calhoun as chief executive officer effective Jaunary 1, 2014. Barns has been with Nielsen for the past 16 years, currently serving as president, global client service, which oversees $5.5 billion in revenue and leads the efforts of Nielsen’s Watch and Buy client service teams worldwide. Upon Barns’ succession, David Calhoun will become executive chairman of the board of directors, at which time Nielsen’s current Chairman of the Board, James M. Kilts, will step down as chairman, but will remain a board member. Calhoun states, “Nielsen is successfully implementing its global strategy, and the time is right to name the next leader to take the company to its next phase of growth. Mitch’s strong track record at the helm of a number of key Nielsen business units around the world – combined with his vision and commitment to our strategic plan – puts the company on solid footing for continued global expansion and value creation. I will continue to remain invested in Mitch’s success in my new role.” Barns adds, “I am honored by this opportunity to serve Nielsen as its chief executive officer, and I am thankful for the board’s vote of confidence. Throughout my 16 years at this company, I’ve been privileged to work side-by-side with talented leaders and associates in Nielsen businesses across the world. I look forward to continuing our work together to anticipate client needs with ongoing innovation and expand our footprint in developing markets, while consistently delivering growth and enhancing shareholder value.”
KFI, Los Angeles Critic Files Petition to Deny License Renewal. It’s probably not surprising to anyone at Clear Channel’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles that Alex Nogales, representing the National Hispanic Media Coalition, has filed a Petition to Deny the station’s license renewal application. Nogales has long been a critic of the station’s programming. It’s hard to say whether Nogales actually believes the FCC would act on his assertions that because hosts such as John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou speak against illegal immigration that their show is “harmful and dangerous” and this could qualify as actionable or whether he just wants to get some publicity by announcing the filing of the Petition. Regardless, as we’ve seen countless times before – and most recently with the Commission’s refusal to deny license renewal for Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM, Washington – disagreements with the opinions of talk show hosts are not valid reasons for non-renewal. As it wrote in the recent WMAL case, the FCC states, “The Commission is prohibited from exercising any power of censorship over broadcast stations with respect to content-based programming decisions. A licensee has broad discretion – based on its right to free speech – to choose the programming that it believes serves the needs and interests of the members of its audience.”
Programmer and Consultant Greg Moceri’s Son Tony Writes New Hannity Theme Music. Tony Moceri is the 13-year-old son of talk radio programmer and consultant Greg Moceri and resides in Ada, Michigan. Tony has been playing piano since he was five and currently is a percussionist in his middle school’s band. Greg Moceri tells Mlive.com that, though he’s worked with Premiere Networks star Sean Hannity in the past, his connection didn’t influence the use of his son’s work. He says Hannity’s staff was seeking new music, “They wanted a change and asked for something upbeat and lively for the show opening. I wasn’t thrilled with what I was finding and then I remembered Tony’s piece and sent it to some people that I work with. They all thought it was perfect and so I sent it to Sean. I didn’t tell him where it came from; I didn’t want him to feel obligated. But he loved it and now they are using it.” Hannity told Mlive.com, “Isn’t this a great story? When Greg sent me the music, I thought it was a pop song and wondered why I had never heard it. I have a son about the same age…and I listen to a lot of kids music. I love music and this is spectacular.”
Odds & Sods. Hockey is back and so is WGN, Chicago’s broadcast series, “Chicago Blackhawks Live,” a number of one-hour radio remotes during the 2013-2014 season that take place over dinner and feature current Blackhawks players, legends, and front office executives. It’s hosted by Blackhawks radio broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray and the season premiere will feature Blackhawks forwards Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. It takes place on November 11 at 7:00 pm at Old Town Pour House in Chicago…..Cuts at Rogers Communications are affecting some of the company’s spoken-word outlets. The Ottawa Citizen reports that CIWW, Ottawa is losing seven staffers as the station will simulcast sister CJCL, Toronto “Sportsnet 590” for weekends and part of the weekday programming. In all, Rogers is reportedly laying off 94 staffers…..MLB‘s Miami Marlins games will be heard on Clear Channel‘s sports talk WINZ, Miami beginning with the 2014 season. This past season, Marlins play-by-play was heard on Lincoln Financial Media‘s WAXY, Miami.
KIRO-FM, Seattle’s Dori Monson to Take on Governor Inslee in Hoops Challenge. KIRO-FM, Seattle talk show host Dori Monson gets to face off with Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a charity basketball game tonight that will be broadcast live on KIRO-FM. The “Clash on the Court” will benefit Food Lifeline and Sports in Schools. The program consists of a five-on-five co-ed game between local youth, coached by Monson and Inslee, followed by a five-on-five game featuring show hosts from KIRO Radio and “710 ESPN Seattle” up against local politicians handpicked by Jay Inslee. The event will conclude with a one-on-one game between Monson and Inslee. Monson jokes, “This may be my first and only opportunity to force a local politician to go right! This proves that, for us aging basketball players, we check our politics at the gym door. I’m thrilled Governor Inslee and I – along with our colleagues – are able to get together to raise money for two great organizations.”
ObamaCare Criticism, Presidential Approval Polls, Election Day, Toronto Mayor Crack Case and NFL Bullying Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/5). Criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; new lower numbers for President Obama’s approval ratings; the high-profile races in Tuesday’s elections, including gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey; the admission by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford that he’s used crack cocaine in the past; and the accusations of bullying within the Miami Dolphins organization were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
All-Hannity Stunt Points to New FM Talker in Philly. Merlin Media dropped the Christian talk on its new WKDN-FM, Philadelphia and began airing Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity round the clock. The move seems to back the speculation that Merlin will not follow the footsteps of its New York and Chicago FMs with an all-news format but will go news/talk. It’s expected the station will soon clear Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and possibly Glenn Beck as well as it builds an FM talk station with Philadelphia native son Al Gardner as PD and morning drive host. Merlin also changed the call letters of the station to WWIQ-FM.
News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Wins March PPM Battle. It’s not often a commercial news/talk station is ranked the top station in a PPM market, but Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles topped sister Top 40 KIIS-FM by a tenth of a point to win the March PPM contest with a 4.9 share. A few news/talk stations have landed in the top spot in the monthly PPMs – Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee has a track record of dominance in that market as does Cox Media‘s WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville – but for the most part, the number one slot is usually nabbed by a music or all-news station. It goes to show the astounding cume KFI has in the market.
Clear Channel Reorganizes Marketing Structure; Tim Castelli Replaces Charlie Rahilly. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment makes a major move to “unify and align its marketing offerings under one umbrella” with the creation of a new, unified sales and marketing group led by former AOL executive Tim Castelli. CC states, “This move, the latest in the company’s transformation to a fully integrated, multi-platform media and entertainment company, creates an unprecedented opportunity for partners to tap into the company’s unparalleled reach of 237 million people a month (the largest of any radio or television outlet in America) and unmatched collection of media assets.” CCME chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “This is an entirely new way to leverage the unmatched national reach with local engagement capabilities of Clear Channel Radio Sales, Strategic Partnerships, Clear Channel Connections, Digital, event sponsorships and Premiere Radio Networks Sales supported by innovative programs and world class custom marketing insights.” In addition to Castelli’s hiring, Clear Channel announces Condé Nast’s Holly Lang joins the company as senior vice president, marketing solutions. Lang is responsible for conceiving and implementing innovative marketing programs for national advertisers, with a special focus on consumer brands. Also, Chris Monteleone, formerly vice president of partner strategy at Madison Square Garden, has been named senior vice president, event sponsorship sales and development.
New Jersey 101.5 Gives Steve Trevelise the Evening Show. Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton – New Jersey 101.5 – announces part-time staffer Steve Trevelise is named permanent host of the evening show on the station. Trevelise has been sitting in hosting the evening program since the station parted ways with Michelle Jerson. Now, brand manager Eric Johnson states, “There are few in radio that I know who sound more Jersey than Steve! We are thrilled he is bringing his passion and knowledge of the state to weekday evenings on New Jersey 101.5. Having been here part-time for a few years now, he has worked hard to earn this position and knows how to relate to our more than 1 million listeners.” In addition to his radio career, Trevelise is a stand-up comic and has performed at comedy clubs throughout New Jersey. He currently owns and operates Sarcasm Comedy Club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago Joins iHeartRadio. The Windy City’s urban talk outlet, WVON, is the latest station to join Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s mobile/digital radio service iHeartRadio. Midway Broadcasting chairman Melody Spann Cooper states, “I think this is a win-win for both WVON and iHeartRadio. We’ll reach a national audience, our listeners will have the benefit of taking the station wherever they go by using their smart phones, and iHeartRadio gets the benefit of our best-in-class urban talk format.” The station says it is embarking on an aggressive promotional campaign to introduce iHeartRadio and to educate its listeners on its usage.
Gabe Hobbs Named Strategic Advisor at Listener Driven Radio. Former Clear Channel news/talk and sports corporate programmer Gabe Hobbs joins Listener Driven Radio to spearhead the company’s LDR.TopicPulse – what the company describes as “a new system that offers real time social media topic tracking, so news/talk stations can see what local audiences are talking about up-to-the-second.” LDR further describes LDR.TopicPulse as “valuable real-time information to show producers and hosts on which topics and news stories are ‘getting buzz’ in their market on social media. The system scans all available news sources, local blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media. Then, producers can see a report – which is updated to the second – on the hottest trending topics and their shelf life.” On his new position, Hobbs states, “LDR’s team is the finest group of interactive innovators in the country. I’m proud to join the team to translate the success LDR is having at music radio to the news/talk/sports formats.”
Salem Radio Network Host Dr. Richard Land Responds to Plagiarism Accusations. Southern Baptist Dr. Richard Land – host of the “Richard Land Live” Saturday program syndicated by Salem Radio Network – responds to accusations he pulled direct commentary for a monologue about the Trayvon Martin case from an editorial by Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times. Land admits he failed to provide verbal attribution on the program for using some content and apologizes. Land states he did not intend to deceive and always posts his source material on his program’s website. SRN VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “SRN stands firmly behind Dr. Richard Land, whose ethical standards and intellect are recognized around the world. An oversight in giving an on-air mention to a source he clearly posted on his website hardly rises to the level of ‘plagiarism.’ That standard is reserved for individuals like Vice President Joe Biden, who was forced to abandon his 2008 presidential campaign when it was revealed he was recycling entire speeches from British Labour Policy figure Neal Kinnock. Or President Obama himself, who was found to be lifting entire sections of speeches formerly delivered by his friend DeVal Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts. It says a lot about Richard Land that he has acknowledged that he can do better…and that he has pledged to do just that.”
Dial Global Names Michael Schreck SVP/Director of Corporate Sports. In his new position as senior vice president and director of corporate sports, Michael Schreck will be responsible for sports sales and marketing as well as league and team negotiations for Dial Global. Co-president and CEO David Landau states, “Michael has a proven track record of success in cultivating both advertiser and league partnerships. With his leadership, we are looking forward to continuing to define great moments for our advertisers and the millions of sports fans our broadcasts touch.”
Dave Ramsey Invades San Antonio. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey (pictured here on stage in San Antonio) addressed more than 6,000 fans during the presentation of his “Total Money Makeover Live.” Ramsey also spoke before some 1,000 local business people as he presented his EntreLeadership 1-Day event. Affiliate KTSA, San Antonio benefitted from Ramsey’s appearance in town. General sales manager Coreena Hazelett says, “One of the invaluable things about Dave’s Live Event visit is the time he puts aside for our sponsors. The clients really get the opportunity to connect one on one with Dave, and they are moved by his desire to see their businesses succeed. He’s not just a host on the radio, he’s a true partner who’s committed to the success of our station and our advertisers.”
Secret Service Prostitute Scandal, 2012 Presidential Race, ‘Buffet Rule’ Blocked by Senate GOP, GSA Wasteful Spending and ObamaCare Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16). The backlash against the Secret Service after agents found in prostitution scandal in South America; the 2012 presidential race including the flap over Ann Romney homemaker comments; the Senate GOP’s blocking of the ‘Buffet Rule’ to tax the super rich; the investigation into wasteful spending by the General Services Administration and the legal status of ObamaCare were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.