iHeartMedia Previews New Podcast Initiative at First-Ever ‘Soundfront’ in NYC. Yesterday, iHeartMedia presented the “Soundfront” event in New York to preview its new original audio programs. The company says this new content “will allow marketers to collaborate with a host of celebrities and talent through customized and creative storytelling.” Speaking about the company’s need to explore the audio-on-demand marketplace is iHeartMedia CMO/EVP Gayle Troberman, who says, “In the age of visual distraction and shorter attention spans, audio has the ability to break through and get heard better than any other advertising. We are seeing increased engagement in audio programming both on air and via podcast, and original audio forces us to get back to the basics of telling stories simply and honestly, which consumers love. We believe most marketers are massively under-invested in the power of sound and the iHeartMedia Soundfront is our opportunity to challenge the industry to explore the creative potential of sound to tell and sell better.” Saying that it is teaming with “a broad spectrum of A-list producers, musicians, actors, music industry veterans and curators,” the company announces some of the people it is working with, including: “Skybound Rundown” (podcast): From the producers of “The Walking Dead” TV show and gaming franchise focusing on the world of indie gaming; “Heart of the Beat” (podcast): Artist and musician Jared Leto will bring sound and storytelling together in this original audio show that allows artists to reveal the method behind their madness; “Who is Marty Hirsch?” (podcast) is the first-ever audio mockumentary, building off successes like “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Almost Famous” to tell a story of a mythical music icon. iHeartMedia has partnered with Trium Entertainment (the creator and executive producer of “The Biggest Loser”) to produce a number of podcasts including: “The Vent” hosted by Jaime Pressly; “Get Mic’d” – a talent search show for the next great iHeartMedia DJ; and “Science of Success” with Jonah Berger. The iHeartMedia-Trium relationship will also produce videocasts and the hiring away of Big Boy from Emmis in Los Angeles is relevant here as he’ll host “Urban Legends with Big Boy,” a hip hop show. “Z100” New York-based personality Elvis Duran will also host a videocast titled, “The Elvis Sessions” in which he “digs throughout the day-to-day gossip and connects with the true passion that drives artists and celebrities.” Other videocasts will include “On the Fly with Paul Costabile” and “My Journey.” iHeartMedia also used the event to announce an expanded relationship with Snapchat, details of which are expected to come in the future. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel was in attendance discussing iHeartMedia’s unique positioning to “use the power of sound to drive social results.” Pictured here are (from l-r): iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises president John Sykes, iHeartMedia president and CFO Richard Bressler, Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, and iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman.
Facing “Weak Markets,” Emmis Seeks Covenant Relief from Lenders. In a filing with the SEC, Emmis Communications presents historical performance data and forward-looking statements as it seeks covenant relief for the quarters ended May 31 2015 through February 28 2017. Emmis says it is outperforming its markets but the problem is that the markets are weak – for example, citing New York figures showing Emmis down 6% while the market as a whole was down 7.3% over the nine-month period ended November 30, 2014. It says the battle between its urban KPWR, Los Angeles and iHeartMedia’s new KRRL (which is benefitting from its luring morning talent Big Boy away from KPWR) is causing it to face “new headwinds.” In New York, the company says the market was weak throughout calendar 2014 – down mid- to high-single digits after being up 5% in calendar 2013. It reports national was off by 30% during the 2014 summer months and down 18% for the nine months ended November 30, 2014. Emmis states that it finished fiscal 2015 under its 6.00x covenant at 5.40x but “wants to constructively manage compliance with sufficient cushion.” It goes on to show its efforts to control costs by noting it has “reduced cash operating costs by $7 million as part of its fiscal 2016 budget.” You can see the entire lender presentation here.
Panel of Radio Hunter-Gatherers to Discuss Generating Revenue in Changing Marketplace. One of the power-packed, panel discussions scheduled for Talkers New York 2015, “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Changing Paradigm,” will tackle the many challenges and identify opportunities in the sales end of the business today. The lineup features a diverse array of what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes as “major league ‘hunter-gatherers’ covering the spectrum of broadcasting situations today.” Moderated by TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian, the lineup presents (in alphabetical order): Vince Benedetto, president/CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Kathy Carr, VP, sales & marketing, Howie Carr Radio Network; Jerry Crowley, VP/GM, WNYM/WMCA, New York; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD Media; Tom Leykis, CEO, The New Normal; and Cary Pahigian, president/GM, WBAL/WIYY, Baltimore. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey adds, “This panel will provide a wide variety of valuable takeaways. You have a dynamic, young owner of a medium-sized, up-and-coming group (Vince Benedetto); a seasoned sales and management pro who has masterminded one of the model examples of a powerful and lucrative regional talk network (Kathy Carr); a veteran major market general manager with an impressive sales track record (Jerry Crowley); one of talk radio’s most aggressive impresarios who has built a major sales rep firm and is instrumental in monetizing the careers of numerous syndicated and satellite radio stars (Ron Hartenbaum); an independent, high-profile radio talent who is doing it on his own in cyberspace and showing a profit (Tom Leykis); and a highly accomplished, medium/large market GM who is at the helm of one of the nation’s most historic heritage properties (Cary Pahigian). This is not to be missed.” Talkers New York 2015 is nearing a sellout. For registration and sponsorship information, please click here.
WGN, Chicago Legend Spike O’Dell to Appear on Steve Cochran Show. Former WGN, Chicago personality Spike O’Dell – an inductee in this year’s class of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame – will be a part of the station’s Steve Cochran show tomorrow morning (4/24). Cochran is broadcasting his show from the CMT Studios in Nashville the day after the Chicago Blackhawks play the Predators in game 5 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. O’Dell hosted afternoons on WGN from 1987 to 2000. He took over the morning show after the death of Bob Collins and hosted it until December of 2008.
Hofstra’s WRHU-FM, Signs Deal with New York Cosmos Soccer Franchise. One of the most decorated college radio stations in America, Hofstra University’s WRHU-FM, Hempstead, NY has added another major league sports franchise to its programming roster. The Marconi Award-winning outlet has signed a deal with the New York Cosmos soccer franchise. WRHU-FM will be the team’s official radio partner and flagship for the 2015 NASL soccer season. Students will perform all on and off air roles as they do with the station’s other major league partner, the NHL’s New York Islanders.
Odds & Sods. News/talk KRDO-FM, Colorado Springs is being sold by Optima Communications to Pike’s Peak Television for $2.5 million. Pike’s Peak is a subsidiary of News-Press & Gazette Company which owns KRDO-AM. Optima has been airing the KRDO-AM news/talk format on KRDO-FM for the past nine years…..ABC News is available on the Apple Watch. ABC says the app will “give you the world on your wrist. From real-time news updates with personalized notifications to live video and audio, the app keeps wearers in the know without disrupting the moments that matter.” Some of the features include “Stories In A Second” – “glanceable news that keeps you up to date with what’s breaking and showcases the latest hand-selected stories in all coverage areas.” The app will allow users to dig deeper into stories and video with the ability to seamlessly hand off to the user’s iPhone…..ESPN Radio is broadcasting the 2015 NFL Draft next Thursday (4/30) beginning at 7:00 pm ET with host Dari Nowkhah, NFL analyst Louis Riddick and NFL Insider John Clayton. Freddie Coleman will host post-draft coverage alongside NFL Insider Adam Kaplan on Thursday and Friday at 11:30 p.m…..Yahoo Sports Radio will present a five-hour program next Thursday for the first day of the NFL Draft. Featured on the show will be Steve Bunin and Yahoo Sports Radio host Jonathan Peterlin. Insider analysis will come from former Carolina Panthers general manager and Yahoo Sports Radio host Marty Hurney, and former NFL Quarterback and Yahoo Sports contributor Shaun King. The program airs from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am ET…..ABC News announces Karen Travers, Mary Bruce and Stephanie Ramos join the news organization as multi-platform reporters covering national and international news for all ABC News platforms with an emphasis on NewsOne, Radio and Digital.
FOX Sports Radio to Broadcast from Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Fight. Prior to the May 2 Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao welterweight fight in Las Vegas, FOX Sports Radio will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The roundtable program will feature JT “The Brick,” Steve Gorman, Tomm Looney and Jeffrey Gorman. Stations wishing to bring some unique expertise to their coverage of this upcoming fight may consider booking Jackie Kallen (pictured here) or Ivan Goldman from Boxing Insider. Kallen has been involved in the sport of boxing for almost 35 years. She started as a boxing journalist, hosted her own talk radio show, then became the publicist for the legendary Kronk Gym in Detroit and eventually segued into management. Her success in the male-dominated business inspired the Meg Ryan film Against the Ropes. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author. He has written for Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He’s a Fulbright Scholar and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. To book either, email: email@example.com.
Earth Day/Climate Change, Baltimore ‘Freddie Gray’ Protests, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ISIS Violence, Saudi Strikes on Yemen, Iran Nuclear Program Negotiations, North Korea Nukes Warning, and Gang Member Amnesty Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/22). The observation of Earth Day and the issue of climate change; continuing protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the violence being perpetrated by ISIS; the military strikes on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.’ naval presence in the region; the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program; China’s warning about the underestimated nuclear weapons arsenal held by North Korea; and the case of a gang member accused of murder receiving amnesty under President Obama’s executive order were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
TALKERS Three-Part Special Feature
The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse
By Jeff McKay
Special features Correspondent
NEW YORK — Since he ventured out on his own and started what has become not only a highly successful syndication company, but one that can truly serve the needs of both the largest and even the smallest radio station, Danno Wolkoff has known that he cannot simply rest on his laurels. Wolkoff will be the first to admit that his company, in order to be and remain successful, must change with radio’s changing times from how companies do business and manage their own businesses, to how companies must do more with less, and the ever-changing technology that could cost a company listeners and their survival.
Envision Networks has changed with the changing times in radio, something Wolkoff identifies as being driven by technology which is now the catalyst for these changes and placing traditional radio at a crossroads.