Townsquare Announces Stations Acquisition; Deal Worth Approximately $281 Million. Townsquare Media, LLC announces that it has executed definitive documentation related to three transactions with Cumulus Media Holdings, Inc. and Peak II Holding LLC which, upon consummation, will result in Townsquare acquiring assets including 71 radio stations in 15 markets. After the deal is consummated, Townsquare will own 312 radio stations in 66 markets and have operations in 25 states, making it the third largest owner of radio stations in the United States and the largest, “best-capitalized owner and operator of radio stations solely focused on small and mid-sized markets.” In a press release this morning, Townsquare reports it is acquiring assets including 53 radio stations (three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust) in 12 markets (Battle Creek; Cedar Rapids; Danbury, Connecticut; Faribault-Owatonna, Minnesota; Kalamazoo; Lansing; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, New Hampshire; Quad Cities; Rochester, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Waterloo, Iowa) from Cumulus for cash. Townsquare is also acquiring Peak, which owns assets including 11 radio stations in two markets (Boise and Fresno) for cash and equity units of Townsquare. Finally, Townsquare will exchange certain assets including five radio stations, in Fresno it is acquiring from Peak, for Cumulus assets including 15 radio stations in two markets (Dubuque and Poughkeepsie) and a de minimis cash settle-up payment in favor of Townsquare. In total, Townsquare will be acquiring 68 stations from Cumulus, three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust, and eleven Peak stations, five of which will be exchanged to Cumulus, resulting in a net increase of 71 stations. Townsquare expects to finance the transactions with a mix of secured and unsecured debt financing, Townsquare equity units and cash on hand. Townsquare has received debt financing commitments from its various financing partners in connection with the transactions and will complete its financing in compliance with the covenant package of Townsquare Radio, LLC’s existing Senior Unsecured Notes indenture. “These transactions represent the continued evolution of Townsquare Media into one of the nation’s largest local media companies and allow us to reach a scale which opens the door to new strategic opportunities,” comments Townsquare Chairman and CEO, Steven Price. “The assets we are adding to our portfolio are market leading brands with strong competitive positions in their respective small and mid-sized markets. We are excited by the opportunity to deploy our differentiated local-media strategy across a broader footprint in order to better serve our communities and our advertising clients.”
Cumulus Announces Expected Dial Global Acquisition. Cumulus Media Inc. issues a press release this morning announcing “a series of strategic transactions that solidifies the company’s position as a leading producer of high-quality content and continues to reshape its footprint focused on the top 100 markets.” The transactions announced today include:
• Acquisition of Dial Global, Inc. for $260 million in cash (consisting of approximately $45 million attributable to equity and the retirement of $215 million of debt)
• Sale of 53 radio stations in 12 small and mid-sized markets to Townsquare Media for $238 million in cash (inclusive of the acquisition of net working capital)
• Swap with Townsquare Media of 15 radio stations in two small & mid-sized markets in exchange for the receipt of five stations in Fresno, CA (market #68)
“These transactions give us the necessary scale to provide the marketing and enterprise solutions our advertising and affiliate partners require,” said Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus. “Our goal is to be the leading producer of premium audio content distributed through multiple platforms while continuing to build our broadcast platform in the top 100 U.S. markets.”
The acquisition of Dial Global will add sports, news, talk, music and programming services content – enabling Cumulus to provide a wider variety of options to approximately 10,000 U.S. radio stations, other media platforms and international platforms. New content acquired through the Dial Global acquisition will include NFL, NCAA, NASCAR, Olympics, AP Radio News, NBC News and other popular programming. Cumulus expects the transaction to be deleveraging based upon identified cost synergies of approximately $40 million, with additional upside from revenue growth potential through the creation of new content vehicles for broadcast radio advertisers. Additionally, Cumulus believes the opportunity exists to distribute premium, curated audio content across emerging new media platforms. Further, Cumulus intends to service broadcasters’ demands for premium content and enterprise solutions in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
WGN, Chicago Announces New Lineup. Yesterday (8/29), TALKERS reported the reuniting of Chicago radio personalities Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Now, the station issues a release detailing the programming changes – some of which were reported a few weeks ago – that take place on Tuesday, September 3. As reported earlier, Steve Cochran assumes morning drive duties; he’s followed by Wendy & Bill from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; husband and wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano (pictured at left) air from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and Garry Meier continues to host the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. David Kaplan maintains his 7:00 pm show start but wraps at 11:00 pm when Pete McMurray, who expands his role with the station, starts hosting the 11:00 pm to 2:00 am program. As reported earlier this week, Nick Digilio becomes a full-time host with the station on the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot. Weekends are spotlighted by the return of Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (pictured lower right) to the station in the Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot beginning September 14. Other changes include: “The Design Dude with Frank Fontana” airing from 6:00 am to 7:00 am, followed by “Mr. Fix-it with Lou Manfredini” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. When not affected by sports preemptions, Bill Moller will follow Kathy and Judy from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and “Sports Central” will remain in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. The Sunday lineup will introduce a new show dedicated to the discussion of the Chicago political landscape. Chicago Tribune writer Rick Pearson will host “Chicago Way: Politics with Pearson” on Sundays from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. “The Dean Richards Sunday Special” will follow at 9:00 am, extending an additional two hours until 1:00 pm. In addition to his Saturday show, Bill Moller will air from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Brian Noonan remains in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot, followed by the return of Chicago treasure, Rick Kogan, from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Comedian and media personality, Patti Vasquez, will air from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am. Playing a feature role in the future of WGN’s new lineup will be “720 Snackables.” These spotlight segments will live online and on-air as interviews, video shorts, and podcasts. They’ll feature the WGN family of experts including Dean Richards’ “A-List Interviews,” “Legally Speaking with Karen Conti,” “Bertrand on Books” with Steve Bertrand, “Flavor HD” with Hannah Stanley & Dane Neal, “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” Paul Green’s “Paul & The Politicians,” “Good Cents with Ilyce Glink,” and more.
Chris Carl New RTDNA Chair. WDEL, Wilmington, Delaware director of news and programming Chris Carl is the new chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association. Pictured here is outgoing chair Vince Duffy of Michigan Radio (l) passing the gavel to Carl (r). Carl notes that for the first time in the organization’s history, the RTNDF chairman, RTDNA chairman and RTDNA chair-elect are all radio people as Duffy moves to the Foundation chair for the next year, and the membership elects Amy Tardif of WGCU-FM, Fort Myers as the chair-elect.
Odds & Sods. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to make regular appearances on CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan.” Every Tuesday he’ll join the “Vinnie & Cook” show at 11:00 am…..Guaranty Broadcasting’s KYPY, Baton Rouge flips from classic country to a simulcast of sister sports talk WNXX “104.5 ESPN”…..New Jersey Devils hockey will continue to be heard on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM and beyond. The club signs a new, multi-year deal with the station to keep games on for the ninth straight season beginning in October…..Clear Channel moves Portland Trailblazers basketball from news/talk KEX to sister sports talk KPOJ for the coming season to avoid preemptions…..Bob Smith retires from his post as host of “1370 Connection” at pubcaster WXXI, Rochester, New York after a 25-plus-year career with the station. Smith suffered a stroke in April and is still undergoing rehabilitative care.
More Than $3.3 Million Raised in Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Entercom sports radio WEEI and regional cable sports channel NESN have teamed up for 12 years to air a two-day radio-telethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This week’s event helped raise more than $3.3 million – about the same amount raised the year prior. This puts the 12-year total at more than $34 million. Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “The outstanding generosity of our listeners across New England year after year not only supports a great cause but betters the lives of those who need it most. These past two days have been the most emotionally rewarding for the entire WEEI and Entercom Boston family this year. We remain both humbled and thrilled to have played a role in helping the selfless team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in their fight against cancer.” A check was presented at last night’s Red Sox game. Pictured (from l-r) are: Red Sox owner John Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, Entercom Boston VP/market manager Jeff Brown, Jimmy Fund director Suzanne Fountain, WEEI executive producer Joe Zarbano, WEEI director of marketing Adam Ralston, NESN president Sean McGrail, and Wally the Green Monster.
Wilmington, NC Sports Talk Show Adds Saturday Edition. The weekly “Sports Connection” show hosted by Port City Daily sports writer Joe Catenacci adds a Saturday edition that begins a run on Sea-Comm-owned rock WBNE, Wilmington “103.7 The Bone.” Joe Cat’s show began as a co-operative effort between the Port City Daily and Sea-Comm news/talk WNTB and WLTT airing Monday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Beginning tomorrow (8/31) Catenacci and co-host Cori Stukes will broadcast live every Saturday from Hell’s Kitchen on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington. He says in the Port City Daily, “Over the last eight months, we have connected the local community with some of the top names in sports from across the country. Even with a focus on local, we continue to get some of the household names when it comes to industry. Locally, every high school football, basketball and baseball coach has made an appearance on the show at least once, as well as UNCW coaches and players.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by a number of new affiliate stations, including: WCKG-AM, Chicago; WBAT-AM, Marion, Indiana; KENT-AM, Parowan, Utah; WRSB, Canandaigua, New York; WASB, Bridgeport, New York; W286AE-FM, Fairport, New York; and WNZS, Bangor, Maine…..“Late Night Health Radio” with host Mark Alyn joins the programming lineup at KABC, Los Angeles…..Talk Media Network’s “Frontlines of Freedom” with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem is added to WFPA, Fort Payne, Alabama…..The “Unlock Your Wealth” feature by Heather Wagenhals is added to affiliate stations WPGR, Pittsburgh; KFIV, Modesto and KWSX, Stockton, California; and WEZO, Augusta, Georgia.
U.S. Syria Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 26-30. The question of whether the United States should take action against Syria was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the March on Washington anniversary tied with American race relations. Following at #3 was Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMAs and at #4 was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Jim Bohannon Says Good Relations with Affiliates Got Him the Shot Replacing Larry King. In an exclusive interview conducted with TalkersTV at the recent “Talkers New York 2013″ (6/6), TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Jim Bohannon (r) tells interviewer Mike Kinosian (l) that the key to his being offered a shot at replacing Larry King, upon the legendary pioneer’s retirement from the Mutual Broadcasting overnight show, was his good relationships with the program’s affiliates. He explains that during the 11 years he served as King’s backup host he never missed an opportunity to visit an affiliate when on the road and offer to be of service to them. He often called affiliates on the phone and showed interest in their situations. When the time came to consider a replacement for King, the management of Mutual thought that they needed someone with a higher national profile than Bohannon – even though Bohannon was a proven, outstanding radio talent. It was the program’s affiliate advisory board that pressured Mutual into giving “Jimbo” the shot saying “he earned the right to fail.” Of course he did NOT fail and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Radio Hall of Famer Bohannon, who received the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from TALKERS celebrating his 53-year career in the industry, tells Kinosian he was “overwhelmed” by the honor. When asked if he was still having fun being on the air he said, “Doing talk radio was like playing shortstop… you never know what is going to come at you. If someone gets tired of doing a talk show it means they are tired of life.” To see the video of the Jim Bohannon interview, please click here.
WHAM, Rochester Fires Craig Schaller for Blog Post Comments. Commenting on the state of women’s golf after the final round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship in nearby Pittsford, New York, WHAM personality Craig Schaller wrote in a blog post comments about the ethnicity of many of the players in what he terms “tongue-in-cheek.” In the post he wrote, “…there are too many gosh darn foreigners on the tour and more specifically, I’m talking about Koreans and Asians in general…It’s hard to remember specific golfers when half of them seem to have names that sound like the sound you get when you bang pots and pans together.” Interviewed by local television outlet WHEC-TV, Schaller states, “I had an inkling it might be a little controversial. I actually said in the blog, I might offend some people I’m sure, but what I said I didn’t think was over the top…I regret the way it was taken. I meant it as a tongue-in-cheek kind of comment made for humor. I think a lot of people maybe not take things as light as they’re meant when you write them sometimes. That was definitely the case. I shouldn’t have said it that way. I admit that. It was poorly phrased and it was definitely offensive.”
CBS Radio’s KRLD-AM, Dallas Wins Edward R. Murrow Award. The station’s “KRLD Afternoon News” is named winner of the 2013 National Edward R. Murrow Award for “Best Newscast” for large market radio, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced on Wednesday. CBS Dallas vice president of news, talk and sports programming Gavin Spittle states, “This is an amazing honor and a milestone in KRLD’s 87-year history. News director Paul Mann and the entire staff genuinely deserve this recognition.” Mann states, “I couldn’t be prouder of the work the KRLD News team produces every day and I’m thrilled to see that work acknowledged with such a prestigious award. It’s truly humbling.” The National Edward R. Murrow Awards will be presented at a gala on October 14 in New York City.
CBS Radio’s ’92.9 The Game’ Grabs Atlanta Hawks Basketball. CBS Radio and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks announce sports talk WZGC-FM, Atlanta “92.9 The Game” becomes the official flagship station of the team beginning July 1. The multi-year agreement that begins with the coming season includes the station broadcasting all NBA regular season and postseason basketball games played by the Atlanta Hawks, all pre-game and post-game broadcasts as well as dedicated Hawks programming with their on-air basketball talent that includes Rick Kamla, Sam Mitchell and Dennis Scott. Long-time Hawks voice Steve Holman will continue his role as play-by-play announcer with the station, adding to his 2,050th consecutive game broadcast. Hawks president Bob Williams says, “Entering into a partnership with ’92.9 The Game’ will create exciting opportunities for both the Atlanta Hawks and our new flagship. CBS Radio’s sports talk investment in the greater Atlanta market, the NBA and the Hawks, boasting one of the most powerful signal strengths in the Southeast, means more Hawks fans than ever will be able to follow and support our team and interact with the basketball savvy on-air talent at ’92.9 The Game’ 24 hours a day, year-round.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Hawks PA announcer and “V-103″ morning show host Ryan Cameron; Hawks CFO Andrew Steinberg, “92-9 The Game” program director Terry Foxx; senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Atlanta Rick Caffey; Hawks general manager Danny Ferry; and Hawks and Philips Arena president Bob Williams.
Playboy and PodcastOne Hook Up. PodcastOne announces it has struck a deal with PlayboyRadio.com to add the Playboy Radio podcast lineup to PodcastOne.com, via the PodcastOne mobile app, PlayboyRadio.com and iTunes. Additionally, Playboy Radio will be represented for advertising sales by Podcast One’s rep firm Launchpad Digital Media. PodcastOne and Launchpad Digital Media chairman and founder Norm Pattiz states, “Few brands are celebrated by so many, in so many places. In fact, the Playboy Advisor was one of the first radio programs in the original Westwood One syndicated radio lineup. It’s good to be back with old friends in the new age of cutting-edge, on-demand digital entertainment.” Available for download will be programs such as “The Playboy Morning Show with Andrea Lowell and Kevin Klein,” “Playboy’s Happy Hour with Jessica Hall” and “The Bachelor’s Bob Guiney,” and “Swing and Dark Matter with Dave Navarro.” Playboy Radio GM and program director Josh Cooperman says, “Playboy Radio is celebrating 10 years producing fun, sexy and sophisticated radio. We are excited to make our shows available through podcast and equally excited to be working with Podcast One on this project.”
NBC Sports Radio Network Adds South Bend Affiliate. The NBC Sports Radio Network announces it signs Talking Stick Communications sports talk outlet WAOR, Nappanee, Indiana “95.7 FM The Fan” to its affiliate list. The Dial Global/NBC Sports national syndication initiative is now heard on more than 265 stations across the country. WAOR program director Mike “Ragz” Ragozino says, “I knew one week after adding the NBC programs “Under Center,” Stashower, and Amani & Eytan, that we made a smart business decision. I am extremely confident that these shows give our station the best all-sports entertainment in Northern Indiana, from sun up to sun down.”
Frank Flores Appointed VP of Hispanic Marketing and Sales at SiriusXM. The satcaster announces Frank Flores is named vice president of Hispanic marketing and sales. He’ll oversee the marketing and advertising sales initiatives surrounding the SiriusXM Latino channels, which include ten exclusive commercial-free music channels covering a wide variety of music genres, and multiple Spanish-language sports and talk channels. President and chief content officer Scott Greenstein states, “We are excited to have Frank Flores join SiriusXM as we continue the expansion of our Latino subscriber initiative for a national audience of bilingual listeners. Frank will help lead the growth of SiriusXM Latino, which contains the most comprehensive Latin programming lineup on radio. He is a dynamic executive with deep experience and we welcome him to the SiriusXM team.” Prior to joining SiriusXM, Flores was SVP of sales marketing for National Latino Broadcasting.
Big Apple Beauty. Posing for the TALKERS camera with a big green apple in hand at the recent Talkers New York 2013 conference is none other than nationally syndicated Radio America star Dr. Joy Browne. The perennial Heavy Hundred relationship-talker was one of more than 555 industry luminaries who attended the smash event in the Big Apple last Thursday.
Zimmer Radio Buys FM Translator for KWOS, Jefferson City, Missouri. Zimmer’s KWOS, Jefferson City “News Radio 950” is acquiring FM translator K265CT from religious broadcaster Lifesounds Inc. for $35,000. The signal is a 250 watt FM with a construction permit to raise the height of the tower.
NSA Surveillance Case, Amnesty Legislation, Financial Markets Activity, and Zimmerman Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/12). The NSA data mining program and the case of Edward Snowden; the immigration legislation that includes amnesty for illegal aliens; the turbulent global financial markets; and the jury selection in the trail of George Zimmerman were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Miss Universe Credits Rhode Island Talk Radio with Inspiration. Miss Universe 2013, Olivia Culpo, (c) made a surprise appearance at Talkers New York 2013 last week (6/6) and told the attendees during a brief impromptu interview with Michael Harrison that she listened to talk radio growing up in her home state of Rhode Island and was inspired by it to hone her formidable speaking skills. She is pictured with TALKERS staffer (and Massachusetts “Miss Bay State” pageant winner) Emma Leigh Gilbert (l) and WPRO, Providence talk star John DePetro (r).
October Northeast Storm Knocks Two Weeks Out of November PPM in Hartford. Arbitron delivers the news to the Hartford market that the November 2011 PPM report – consisting of the time period October 13 through November 9 – will not include the two weeks of October 27 through November 9 during which a substantial portion of the market was without power. In a message to clients, Arbitron writes, “Arbitron has carefully monitored Average Daily In-Tab and other performance metrics throughout this interval. Based on these metrics, Arbitron will be releasing a November 2011 Hartford-New Britain-Middletown report based exclusively on November Weeks 1 and 2 (October 13-October 26).” It is painfully ironic that radio – relied upon during times of emergencies such as these and often lauded for its tremendous dedication to keeping listeners in the market informed under difficult circumstances – is at the mercy of a ratings system that relies upon electricity at a time when stations in the market should get credit for the huge number of people who used it during that period.
CBS Radio’s KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas Names Kevin Wall PM Drive Host. Several months after parting ways with longtime station personality Alan Stock, CBS Radio Las Vegas announces the new permanent PM drive host at FM News Radio 100.5 KXNT is Kevin Wall. Most recently at Border Media Partners’ KTSA, San Antonio, Wall has also served as a fill-in host for Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett and Fox News Radio. KXNT program director Andrew Paul states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Kevin join our team. Kevin is talented, bright, articulate and an excellent communicator. Heading into next year’s general election, we face a critical juncture in our nation’s future. Kevin will be able to relate the important issues to Southern Nevada through his informative and entertaining style.” Also from KXNT, Jason Pothier is named the new producer for Kevin Wall’s “Live and Local” program. Pothier spent eight years in Boston as a producer at WEEI, WRKO and WXKS. Samantha Stone joins the station as the new morning news anchor. She worked for many years in Reno as a reporter/producer for Nevada Newsmakers and a reporter for Vegas PBS and Cumulus’ KKOH. Trevor Smith also joins KXNT as a news reporter after spending the past four years as news director at KZBI-FM in Elko, Nevada.
Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to KNST, Tucson; Drops Spanish Music on 97.1. Beginning Monday, November 28 the Spanish language music format at KTZR-FM ends and a simulcast of KNST begins. Clear Channel Tucson market manager Shanna McCoy states, “Bringing our heritage News Talk KNST 790 to 97.1 FM will help us deliver the most powerful programming lineup in the market. We’re committed to bringing our listeners the absolute best programming.” Market operations manager Chris Pickett says, “KNST will join the growing movement of great news/talk programming moving to FM. This is an important time for listeners to tune in with a presidential primary coming in February, and I can’t think of a better time to make the change.” Journal Broadcast Group has been operating news/talk KQTH-FM in the market since April of 2007.
MSNBC Names Meghan McCain Contributor. The daughter of Senator John McCain has been a media figure for some time now and has been a frequent guest on cable news/talk TV. Now MSNBC puts her on the payroll as a contributor. In a statement, Meghan McCain says, “I couldn’t more be more excited to be joining the MSNBC family. It’s a unique opportunity to share my perspective as a Republican on a network I respect and have built a relationship with over the past two years.”
Jim Bohannon Recognized by RTDNA. Dial Global talk personality Jim Bohannon – host of the “America in the Morning” news program and his eponymous overnight talk show – is being honored by the Radio Television Digital News Association with a Special Recognition First Amendment Award. Bohannon and three other journalists will be honored at the RTDNA’s 22nd annual First Amendment Awards Dinner on March 15 in Washington, DC. The RTDNA states, “Bohannon is the originator of National Freedom of Information Day, a concept he first presented to the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists at their 1979 convention in New York City. Bohannon has broadcast dozens of programs about freedom of information issues.”
BookMarc from Miami. Sirius/XM talk host Bob Edwards (l) chats with WNDB, Daytona Beach talk personality Marc Bernier (r) about Edwards being forced out of NPR. Bernier took his special program about books to the Miami Book Fair International where he interviewed 43 authors over the course of the weekend. Broadcasting live from Miami-Dade College, the site of the nation’s largest book fair, it was Bernier’s seventh visit to the annual event as he conducted 10 hours of interviews on Saturday and Sunday live on WNDB and produced streaming video of the event on kenneytv.com.
Super Committee Fails, Markets Tumble, 2012 Presidential Race, Egypt Unrest, and Freeh to Head Penn State Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/21). The failure of the Congressional Super Committee to come to terms on federal spending cuts, the financial markets’ reactions to Euro Zone debt and the Super Committee’s failure, the 2012 presidential race, new political unrest in Egypt and Louis Freeh’s appointment to lead the Penn State sex abuse scandal investigation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
A Complex Web of Debt. There’s little reason to wonder why large radio companies are trying to find every available dollar – and that is most visible to the industry and the public in the form of reductions in force – when we read today’s news of Cumulus’ bankruptcy filings. According to Bloomberg, a subsidiary of Cumulus Media Partners (which Cumulus Media Inc finished purchasing in August) — AR Broadcasting Holdings — was put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it owes creditors as much as $100 million with assets of between $10 million and $50 million. AR Broadcasting Holdings consists of stations in San Francisco, Houston and Dallas. AR Holdings states it has a prepackaged plan “supported by 100 percent of one class of creditors that voted for the restructuring proposal.” Another Cumulus subsidiary, CMP KC LLC – owner of two stations in Kansas City and two in Houston – has been in default on debt. It also is filing a pre-packaged bankruptcy protection plan that will cut the debt from almost $95 million to about $20 million and lenders in turn will end up with equity in the stations.
WBAL, Baltimore’s Ron Smith Ends Chemotherapy. Baltimore talk radio legend Ron Smith announced Thursday (11/17) that he will continue to host his daily talk show on the Hearst news/talk station he’s worked at as a host for 27 years as long as he can, but he is ending his chemotherapy. Smith announced on October 17 that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other organs. The 69-year-old personality said at the time his doctors believed he had a chance to beat the disease with treatment. However yesterday he told his listeners he would end chemo and receive only palliative care.
The RTDNA Asks for Electronic Coverage of SCOTUS Health Care Case. When the United States Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s health care law, the RTDNA hopes to be able to have TV cameras and audio recording devices in the chamber. RTDNA chairman Kevin Benz writes to the Court, “Health care overhaul has divided the nation since it was signed into law. The Court’s ruling undoubtedly will shape the 2012 presidential campaign and most certainly will serve to define Congress’ ability to address national issues. There is no better time than in anticipation of this watershed case for the Supreme Court justices to suspend the ban on cameras in the courtroom and to allow live electronic coverage of this and other proceedings of keen interest and import to the American public.” It’s unlikely the Court will allow this as it historically has had little interest in putting itself into the mainstream electronic public media landscape – no matter how convincing the argument for such coverage may be.
Canadian Freedom of Speech Case to Hit Courts. Damian Goddard was fired from Toronto-based Sportsnet in May after firing off a Tweet that the only “true marriage” is that between a man and a woman. Goddard is a devout Catholic and believes he has “2,000 years of Christian history” backing him up. Sportsnet claims it intended to fire Goddard before the Tweet and has documentation of that but Goddard’s attorney says he’s yet to see any such documentation. What this appears to come down to is Canada’s intense restrictions on free speech. The six-year-old law that made gay marriage legal in Canada even contains a clause that clearly states citizens have the right to freedom of conscience, religion and speech with regard to this matter. One attorney anonymously tells the National Post, “Hate speech needs to be related to inciting violence, not hurting feelings.” The Canadian courts will eventually have to rule on whether citizens – including broadcasters – have the right to express their beliefs if done so responsibly.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Talk Radio Network/Washington Times produced “America’s Morning News” with John McCaslin and Dana Mills adds WLVJ, Boynton Beach, Florida; KEWI, Little Rock; WRCG, Columbus, Georgia; and WFDM, Fort Walton Beach, Florida…..America’s Radio News Network has its “Afternoon Edition” with Ernie Brown picks up WCFO, Atlanta; WFBL, Syracuse; and WUTI, Utica…..The “Free Talk Live” Sunday evening edition with Mark Edge and Stephanie is added to the schedule at WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina…..Dial Global’s Clark Howard joins the lineup at KVI, Seattle and WIBX, Utica…..Dial Global’s “Jill on Money” with Jill Schlesinger adds WMGG, Dunedin, Florida and WDNG, Anniston, Alabama.
Catching Up with Regis! ABC News Radio’s Andrea Dresdale (r) interviews TV personality Regis Philbin (l) as he makes his way from an appearance on “The View” to the set of “Live with Regis and Kelly” for one of his final press conferences as co-host of the program. Today is the 80-year-old Philbin’s last program as he retires from the daily morning talk program he’s hosted since it went from a local New York show into national syndication in 1983. Philbin successfully morphed from a game show host to talk show host and holds the Guinness Book of World Records top spot for most time spent on television – almost 17,000 hours!
‘Occupy’ Shutdowns/Protests Top Talk Radio Topic for Week of November 14-18. The closing of many of the nation’s ‘Occupy’ encampments and the resulting protests landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week. Following at #2 is 2012 presidential race. At #3 is the European debt crisis and the related financial markets activity followed by the Penn State scandal at #4. The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart by clicking on the banner below.