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%.”