iHeartMedia to Sell Towers to Vertical Bridge for $400 Million. The press release from iHeartMedia says the deal is for select tower assets and it doesn’t go on to list which towers that includes, but suffice it to say, the company is using the deal to bring in a cash infusion of $400 million and prepare for the day when it may no longer need the towers to transmit AM/FM signals. Admittedly, that day may be down the road a ways but it might be a good start to reducing the expense of the real estate and tower maintenance. iHeartMedia will still have to pay lease fees for the transmitters and it reminds investors that will incur an expense. iHeartMedia president and CFO Richard Bressler states, “This is a great example of how we continue to optimize our balance sheet and maximize liquidity — and how we continually review our entire portfolio of assets to ensure we operate them in the most efficient way possible and invest our resources in the highest return opportunities.” The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2015.
Station Snapshot: WMAL, Washington. The conventional wisdom from (mostly non-radio-industry) pundits is that the news/talk format is dead – or on life support, depending on to whom you speak – and that talk radio practitioners should just call it a career and go home. But there are news/talk stations across the country doing well (quite a few, in fact) and Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington is one that has consistently improved its performance in Nielsen’s PPM ratings over the past year. TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian profiles the heritage talk outlet that operates in the most political city in the country. Read his story here.
Boston Radio Icon Carr Adds New Bedford Affiliate. Boston-based regional talk show host Howie Carr has added another station to his quickly-growing independent afternoon drive network. WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts joined the program as the newest affiliate earlier this week bringing the affiliate total of his new independent network to 16 covering most key population centers in New England. Carr tells TALKERS, “I’m thrilled about adding WBSM to the program,” adding, “I’m looking forward to connecting with my fans in New Bedford-Fall River and to making many new ones.” Michael Rock, OM of Townsquare Media-owned WBSM (which throws a strong signal into the Providence market) remarks, “We are so excited to welcome a New England Radio legend like Howie Carr to “The New 1420 WBSM’s lineup. Howie’s a blue collar guy who is unapologetic about watching out for people who work and pay taxes. He’s certainly going to rattle some cages here in New Bedford…and we’ll love every minute of it!” One of the things that makes the new Howie Carr Radio Network notable is it is proving that a regional talk network built around a major personality can be extremely effective. The program airs weekdays 3:00 -7:00 pm ET. There is also a “Best Of” program for weekend use, and is delivered on XDS via Westwood One. Interested affiliates can contact Kathy Carr at 781-249-0102 for more information.
Odds & Sods. Pittsburgh news/talk outlet WJAS adds Fox News Radio to its programming lineup airing news reports on the hour and half hour. The station is also airing the company’s Fox Business reports…..iHeartMedia will program to Spanish-speaking hoops fans this season as the company will broadcast eight Atlanta Hawks games in Spanish on the company’s regional Mexican WBZY “105.3 El Patron.” Station talent Jose Manuel Flores will provide the play-by-play…..iHeartMedia San Antonio announces it raised $291,430 for the Elf Louise Christmas Project from the December 5-6 radiothon. The Elf Louise Christmas Project was founded in 1969 by Louise Locker, and is a non-profit organization staffed completely by volunteers to ensure children in San Antonio can have a merry Christmas. WOAI program director Brian Gann comments, “The response during this year’s radiothon was remarkable. Listeners, local businesses and city leaders all stepped up to give families all over San Antonio a Christmas to remember.”…..Bonneville‘s KIRO-FM, Seattle “Radio 97.3 FM,” is hosting the 26th Annual Foster Child Holiday Magic Radiothon today (12/11) in partnership with Treehouse — a non-profit agency that ensures that kids in foster care have access to the essential services required to help them make it to high school graduation and beyond. The past two years, the “KIRO Radio Foster Child Holiday Magic Program” has raised more than $500,000 each year through listener donation and sponsor matching funds.
TalkersTV Presents Tribute to Voices that Radio Will Miss in 2015. What started out as a simple social media video project created by consultant Holland Cooke has been picked up by TalkersTV as a special year-end presentation honoring some of the unforgettable voices that passed on to that great broadcast studio in the sky in 2014. Cooke tells TALKERS, “Radio is about storytelling… and these people were such stories unto themselves. What we do next stands on their broad shoulders.” TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “There is an elegant simplicity in the way these powerful video vignettes were produced. Parts are silent with text and images; some employ potent sound bites that touch the soul. We are so pleased that this sweet production found an appropriate home on our platform this holiday season.” To view, please click on the TalkersTV box at the top of the right hand column on every page of this website.
CIA Torture Report, Police Killings Protests, Government Shutdown Issue, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Looming Lima Climate Talks, Sinking Oil Prices, and Marvin Lewis ‘Midget’ Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/11). The political battle over the veracity of the CIA torture report released this week; the aftermath of the police killings protests that have taken place across the country; the issue of a possible government shutdown; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the climate change talks scheduled for Lima, Peru; sinking oil prices and the effect at the pumps; and the flap over Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis’ calling Johnny Manziel a “ midget,” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.