Archive for December, 2016
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Because AM/FM radio now has so many non-local new-media competitors, the host/listener bond is a precious asset, especially if competing stations are robotic or mailing-it-in. And with attention so scarce, efficient execution is imperative (and doesn’t THAT sound like a consultant?).
So aircheck review is more important than ever, but that meeting is too rare, for three reasons:
- We’re all busy, and as cutbacks continue, we’ll get even busier.
- Talk radio critique is a lost art. Typically, one person, often from music radio, oversees programming on multiple stations of various formats. He/she may not have honed directing skills, and/or is intimidated by directing older talent.
- Talent resists, for both-of-the-above reasons, and/or because this diligent process isn’t routine, and/or because they think their guano is Haagen Dazs.
Full disclosure: This dearth of direction is good for my business. In addition to coaching talent at client stations, I’m reviewing airchecks sent by DJs and talkers who tell me nobody at their station offers constructive feedback; or because they’re upwardly mobile, and need another set of discreet ears. But you can Do It Yourself…
By Mark Wainwright
Talk Show Host
SYRACUSE — Holland Cooke’s recent commentary on TALKERS TV about local endorsement spots reinforced my long-standing belief in local radio, and it gives me an opportunity to share some thoughts about the success we’ve had doing endorsements in Syracuse.
If I had to narrow it down to one key piece of advice, it would be: Don’t make endorsements just another part of your commercial load. Make them part of your show!
Over time, radio listeners have learned to tune out commercials, either mentally or by actually hitting the button. An entertaining live personal endorsement spot, performed at the start of a stopset, can break that pattern and grab the listener’s attention.
That’s why it’s important that the endorsement be funny, or compelling, or unusual, or crazy, or something other than a conventional straight read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like: “It’s 7:20, Ron Radio here, with a word about your local Chevy dealers…” followed by the air personality simply reading a piece of copy. The host might have a good voice and great reading skills, and since there’s a live human element involved, there’s some improvement over just pressing the button to start the spot cluster– but only marginally so. The listener still thinks “commercial!” and proceeds to mentally or physically throw the switch. The client’s money and the host’s time have been wasted.
Meanwhile, my approach has always been that endorsements spots are part of my show. They are program content, with each one giving me 60 seconds — okay, maybe 65 or 70 seconds, sometimes I cheat a little — to show off my personality, my sense of humor, my perspective, or just allow a few rebellious brain cells to make themselves audible for a moment. I’ve used music, drop-ins, sound effects, character voices, bad puns, plays on words, you name it. Sometimes I do a lot of advance preparation, sometimes I totally ad-lib them on the fly. The point is, they’re different, and if I can get listeners to stop thinking “commercial!” and get them thinking “What is he DOING?” or “Where is he going with this?” or “Did he actually SAY that?”, then I’ve earned my talent fee. It breaks the established tune-out mechanism, the listeners start paying attention, and that’s when the client’s name and selling points sink in.
This approach requires some groundwork, and a lot of trust all the way around. Whenever I meet with a potential client, I make sure they understand what they’re getting when they ask for a Mark Wainwright personal endorsement. Not all clients or station salespeople are comfortable with my technique, or they might be hesitant to cede so much creative control to an individual air personality; I’ve had to turn opportunities down — graciously and diplomatically, I hope — when the client’s discomfort was clearly apparent.
Obviously, you also need the station’s management to support you and respect your professional judgement. This approach doesn’t work if the air talent is always second-guessing himself about what the brass will think. Fortunately, the management folks here in Syracuse cut me a lot of slack. And the clients? Once they give me a chance and they see the results, they pretty much let me get away with murder.
It’s very gratifying to have a client tell everyone in town that your live commercials were directly responsible for a big increase in their business, and it’s great to have listeners come up to you at an event like the New York State Fair and hear them repeating the same gags and catch phrases you’ve been using in endorsements. They’re engaged and responding, and the advertisers know it. That’s local radio.
(And the extra money in your paycheck doesn’t hurt!)
Mark Wainwright is the morning drive host at WSYR, Syracuse. He can be emailed at markwainwright@iHeartMedia.com.
Hubbard Radio Phoenix Names Karis VP/Sales. It marks a return to the day-to-day radio business for Susan Karis, who is appointed vice president of sales for Hubbard Radio Phoenix. She has spent the last nearly four years as group publisher of Cities West Publications and will begin her new duties in several weeks. Hubbard Radio Phoenix market manager Trip Reeb comments, “Having someone of Susan’s stature and background join our cluster and company is an incredible opportunity.” Karis remarks, “Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along that you just know is right – joining Hubbard Radio Phoenix is one of them. I am excited to come back to radio with Trip and his team, and to become part of Hubbard Radio.” For seven years, Karis was Phoenix-based executive vice president of operations for iHeartMedia (Clear Channel); one year as senior vice president of operations; and six years as market manager/director of sales. Prior to that, the Arizona State University grad logged 13 years (1985 – 1998) as general sales manager for Nationwide Communications. Karis replaces Jeff England, who became market manager of Hubbard’s stations in Chicago. The Hubbard Radio Phoenix cluster consists of classic rock KLSX (6.0, #2, 6+, Nielsen Audio PPM, November 2016); KUPD “Arizona’s Real Rock” (5.1, #3, 6+); KDKB “93.3 Arizona’s Alternative” (2.4, #19, 6+); KAZG “Oldies 1440 & 92.7” (1.2, #26, 6+); and KDUS “AM 1060 NBC Sports Radio” (.1, #32, 6+). The market leader is iHeartMedia adult contemporary KESZ (6.3, 6+).
Johnston Joins Beasley Las Vegas As GSM. After five months as senior account executive at crosstown Cox Business, Karolyn Johnston is appointed general sales manager of Beasley Media Group’s five-station Las Vegas cluster. Beasley Las Vegas director of sales Mark Sturcken states that years ago, he “had the pleasure working alongside Karolyn. Her energy, enthusiasm, relationships in the Las Vegas market, knowledge and passion for our business are second to none. With more than two decades of media experience, Karolyn brings tremendous value to our leadership team.” According to Johnston, she is “so happy to be on board. There are great things on deck for us [owing to] Beasley Media Group’s reputation in Las Vegas, along with the smart, seasoned roster of media professionals that make up this group. I simply could not be more delighted to be a part of this team as we move into the new year.” Johnston previously was integrated marketing specialist at iHeartMedia Las Vegas; account executive for Cumulus Media Atlanta; senior account manager for Atlanta’s WQXI-AM “The Zone”; and an account executive for Seattle’s KIRO-TV. From November 2002 to March 2009, she was an account executive at Cox Media Group Las Vegas. With their November 2016 Nielsen Audio PPM (6+) average quarter hour share and market rank in parentheses, Beasley Las Vegas consists of classic hits-oldies KKLZ (7.2, #1); urban-rhythmic oldies KOAS “Old School 105.7” (4.8, #4); country KCYE “The Coyote” (2.5, #15); hot AC KVGS “Star 107.9” (2.3, #19); and talk KDWN (1.1, #24).
Figueredo Named WOKV Director/B&P. Most recently assistant director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group Orlando talker WDBO-FM, Nick Figueredo transfers to similarly-programmed Jacksonville sibling WOKV as director of branding and programming. Cox Media Group Jacksonville director of radio operations Todd Shannon remarks, “After working closely with Nick over the past three months as we interviewed for the position, it became very apparent that he has the passion, vision, and leadership to take WOKV to even greater ratings success.” Figueredo – who has worked for the company’s Orlando cluster the past seven years – notes, “I am very excited and thankful for this amazing opportunity. From the day I was hired at WDBO-FM, I knew my future was with Cox Media Group. I am now taking the next step in my career.” Powered by a hefty October 2016 – November 2016 gain of +1.7 (7.2 – 8.9, 6+), WOKV finishes first in Nielsen Audio’s November 2016 Jacksonville PPM report.
Mason to Mark KEX Homecoming. After leaving KEX, Portland three years ago, Mark Mason will return to the iHeartMedia talk facility for a daily three-hour air-shift beginning next month (1/23). Along with the late Dave Anderson, Mason co-hosted “The Mark & Dave Show” on KEX. He notes that Anderson’s passing and his own health issues involving a blood clot in his leg changed his perspective on life. “It has been such a tumultuous ride that when I found myself able to breathe again, I felt an overwhelming need to take control of my life again,” he writes. “My decision to come back home to KEX was part of it.” Most recently, the public-address announcer for the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers was an on-air talent at crosstown Pamplin’s KPAM-AM. Just over three weeks ago (11/23), Michael Castner departed KEX to begin a podcast. Among persons 6+ in the November 2016 Nielsen Audio PPM, KEX finishes in a four-way tie at #17 (2.1), while Alpha Media talker KXL-FM is at #6 (4.9, 6+). KEX adult contemporary sibling KKCW “K-103” and public KOPB are tied for the lead (7.7, 6+).
Crowley Chosen As NSC Senior Director/Strategic Communications. Immediately rumored to be in line for a position in the Trump administration, former syndicated radio host Monica Crowley will be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council. “I am deeply honored, humbled, and grateful to be asked by the president-elect to join the extraordinary national security team he is assembling,” the Fox News Channel commentator and Washington Times columnist comments. “With vision, courage, and moral clarity, he is committed fully to re-establishing America’s singular place in the world. He is also committed to selecting the best people for the jobs of keeping the American people safe and the country secure. It will be a great privilege to serve with them.” Prior to her combined 10 years of doing syndicated talk radio for Westwood One and Talk Radio Network, Crowley spent four years as an on-air host in New York City on Cumulus Media talker WABC.
Pinto Promoted to BMG VP/Information Technology. Two-year Charlotte-based information technology director for Beasley Media Group – Nick Pinto – is bumped up to vice president of information technology. The company’s chief technology officer Mike Cooney comments, “Nick has proven himself over the past several years and he was invaluable during our recent Greater Media acquisition. Nick will be overseeing the capital budget for IT and supervising the IT managers in the local markets. His strong customer service skills made him the obvious choice for this new corporate position.” Pinto remarks, “I am honored to join our dedicated Beasley corporate team. I have always believed that working hard will you give you many rewards – this promotion is one of them. My thanks to Mike Cooney for his faith in my abilities and to market manager Bill Schoening for his constant support for more than a decade.” Pinto has been overseeing the IT infrastructure in Beasley Media Group’s Charlotte cluster since 2004.
Public WUSF Adds Colombini as Producer. Former WCBS-AM, New York City reporter Stephanie Colombini is named producer of “Florida Matters,” the public affairs show of University of South Florida-owned WUSF, Tampa. In addition, Colombini will contribute to state and local news coverage as part of the “Health News Florida” team. WUSF Public Media general manager JoAnn Urofsky states, “Stephanie will be a wonderful addition to our news team. She has a wide variety of skills, and I know she will play a major role in enhancing ‘Florida Matters’ and many other WUSF programs; we are fortunate to have her here.” New York native/Fordham University graduate Colombini comments, “It is a real honor to join such an esteemed group of journalists. I am excited to start covering news in the Sunshine State.” WUSF ranks tenth (4.1) among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s November 2016 PPM report, while Cox Media Group adult contemporary WDUV “Lite Favorites” is the pacesetter with a 9.4 (6+).
Odds & Sods. Budget cutbacks at KNX result in the departure of three familiar voices. Exiting the CBS Radio Los Angeles all-news operation are mid-day anchor Linda Nunez, who had been with the station the past 26 years; sports director Steve Grad (23 years with KNX); and reporter Ed Mertz who transitioned to KNX in 2009 from former news cluster-mate KFWB where he had been since 2000 ….. Word out of the Windy City via reliable source RobertFeder.com is that after three years on Chicago’s WLS-AM, Westwood One’s Michael Savage will disappear from the Cumulus Media talker at the end of the year. WLS-AM had been delay-broadcasting Savage from 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight ….. Ordinarily, an item about a forthcoming movie wouldn’t warrant much of our attention. In this case, however, it is he identity of the executive producer of “Let There Be Light,” a film about an atheist finding religion, that is noteworthy as it is none other than … Premiere Networks’ host and Fox News Channel talent Sean Hannity ….. In its sixth annual, 17-hour, December 1 “Pasta-thon,” iHeartMedia Los Angeles talker KFI raised over $320,000 and collected 90,000 pounds of food for “Caterina’s Club.” Throughout the KFI “Pasta-thon,” station personalities Bill Handel, Aron Bender, Jennifer Jones Lee, Gary Hoffman, Shannon Farren, John Kobylt, Ken Chiampou and Tim Conway Jr. were on-site, encouraging listeners to donate packaged pasta, jars of pasta sauce, and money to help feed underprivileged children. Everything gathered helps provide a balanced meal every night to more than 1,800 low-income children in over 15 cities in Los Angeles and Orange County ….. Earlier this month (12/3), Alpha Media talker WFTL, West Palm Beach helped to raise more than $40,000 as part of the city’s “Walk to Cure Arthritis.” Station on-air talent Rich Stevens comments, “My mom has been affected by this awful disease and I see the pain it causes her. Now that I have been involved, I know it has nothing to do with age. It can affect anyone at any age, which is why I wanted to be part of this great cause to help find a cure.” Arthritis Foundation development manager Lisa Roeberg remarks, “It was truly inspiring to see so many of our arthritis champions taking another step toward victory.” ….. When Townsquare Media-owned WPGG “Talk Radio 104.1,” Atlantic City (New Jersey) morning man Harry Hurley learned that 100 children who attend Pleasantville’s Christian Ministry Impact of God Church were not going to have Christmas this year, he thought “that was unacceptable” so, the “Hurley in the Morning Charity” is writing a cash grant for the church today (Friday, 12/16). Hurley tells TALKERS, “I have partnered with Atlantic County Toys for Kids program and, we have obtained 100 new children’s toys for the church. I am also going to help raise $500 more in cash donations on-air this morning.”
‘Tis The Season. Celebrating last night (Thursday, 12/15) at the Beasley Media Group Las Vegas Christmas party are Las Vegas-based GNC Network syndicated personality Dr. Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP; market general manager Tom Humm; and KDWN program director-news director-morning anchor John Shaffer.
Trump Transition/Cabinet Nominees Top News Talk Stories for Week of December 12-16. The transitioning of the Trump Administration and President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM for this week. At #2 was the allegation the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC computers, tied with the CIA’s refusal to testify before congress on the matter. Coming in at #3 was Donald Trump’s meeting with Silicon Valley executives, followed by the Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates and the record high Dow Jones industrial average 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.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Step Down. Since the November election, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would remain on the Commission or step down and today he announces he’ll do the latter. He says he’ll step down on January 20. “Serving as FCC Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.” The radio industry isn’t quite as sanguine about Wheeler’s tenure. In general, the radio biz believes it was far down on Wheeler’s priority list – broadband seemed to be top-of-mind for the chairman – and that was underscored by the decision to leave the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership ban in place in the most recent Quadrennial Review. There’s been no indication from the Trump Administration whom it might like to see as FCC Chair, but there is speculation that Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai may be at the top of the administration’s list.
Salem Chicago Re-Signs Dan Proft. Morning personality Dan Proft will continue to co-host the morning drive show on Salem Media Group’s news/talk WIND, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” after signing a multi-year contract extension. Proft – who previously served with Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM – joined Salem’s WIND in 2015. He co-hosts “Chicago’s Morning Answer” with Amy Jacobson. WIND general manager Jeff Reisman states, “We’re extremely pleased with Dan’s contributions to the station. The combination of Dan and Amy Jacobson as a team has helped to grow both the audience and the revenue of this radio station to all-time highs. We’re excited that Dan will be a part of our future and continued success, as well.”
Trump Administration Transition/ Cabinet Nominations, Allegations of Russian Influence in the Election, Fed Raises Interest Rates/Record High Dow, Trump Meets with Tech Execs, Syria Civil War, U.S.-China Relations, Uber Self-Driving Cars, Bitter Cold Weather, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The transitioning of the Trump Administration and President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nomination of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State; allegations of Russian hacking into the DNC’s files to influence the election outcome and that the operation was sanctioned by Vladimir Putin; Fed Chair Janet Yellen raises interest rates and the related record-high Dow Jones industrial average; Trump’s Wednesday meeting with numerous Silicon Valley executives; the Syrian civil war and the violence against civilians in Aleppo; the state of U.S. relations with China after Trump’s Taiwan incident and China’s continued military build-up in the South China Sea; the controversy in California as Uber tests driverless cars in San Francisco; the bitter cold weather affecting much of the northern U.S.; and the week’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Rob Carson is launching a content initiative via Soundcloud and Patreon. After a two year stint at Cumulus Media’s KCMO, Kansas City, Carson tells TALKERS, “I am starting a new venture before my next radio gig. I’ve rebuilt my radio studio to not only to talk around the nation but to do an audio and video podcast. The Patreon site allows passionate followers to pay as little as $1 a month for a daily podcast, audioblogs, syndicated comedy and more.”…..Salem Media Group announces that in Philadelphia, it has appointed Gregg Stiansen as the new general manager of news/talk WNTP and Christian talk WFIL. The former Nassau Broadcasting and Connoisseur Media exec takes over for the retiring Russ Whitnah…..ESPN Radio is providing coverage of 27 college football bowl games, including the matchups from the College Football Playoff, including the January 9 National Championship Game. That game will be called by ESPN Monday Night Football voice Sean McDonough with analyst Todd Blackledge and reporters Holly Rowe and Ian Fitzsimmons.….Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle helped raise more than $502,000 for the non-profit organization Treehouse, which addresses the essential education and enrichment needs of kids in foster care. Yesterday’s 28th Annual Holiday Magic Fundraiser will provide for each youth in the program one significant holiday gift along with support for programs and services throughout the year.
Save the Date! Talkers 2017 Set for Friday, June 2, 2017 in New York City. The editorial board of TALKERS magazine is pleased to announce the date and location of the 20th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. Titled Talkers 2017: A New Era, the power-packed, one-day event will take place on Friday, June 2, 2017 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan in New York City. The conference will feature top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry with a focus on talk radio and its role in the new digital age at the dawn of the Trump Era. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology – the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing the modern day talk broadcaster and broadcasting organization. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. The event will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch and a closing cocktail reception. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “As has always been the case with this annual gathering, all the way back to its days as ‘The New Media Seminar,’ Talkers 2017: A New Era will focus on the future. There is no doubt about it; we are at the dawn of an exciting new era – full of both daunting challenges and fabulous opportunities. Good things happen at this convention. We pack three days’ worth of content and activity into one dynamic day and comfortable space. It is not to be missed!” Complete agenda and hotel details will be posted in the coming days and weeks. As is customary, Talkers 2017: A New Era is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. However, an early bird special ($279 per person) is available for those who register before 5:00 pm ET on Friday, December 23. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
Cumulus Renews Rush Limbaugh Through 2019. The news/talk icon is heard on 33 of Cumulus Media’s news/talk outlets across the country and today’s announcement insures he’ll be heard there through 2019. Premiere Networks and Cumulus Media are extending the affiliation agreement for the Rush Limbaugh show and the deal is what the latter calls a “multi-million dollar” one that “represents Limbaugh’s increased power and audience appeal as the most-listened-to national radio talk show host in America.” Cumulus throws some ratings data into the presser as well, noting that the Limbaugh show “experienced combined audience growth of +49 % with Persons 12+ and +23% with Adults 25- 54 on Cumulus-owned stations in Chicago (WLS-AM), Detroit (WJR-AM), Washington, DC (WMAL-FM), Dallas (WBAP-AM) and San Francisco (KSFO-AM). Nationwide, the program has experienced significant year-over-year audience growth in 2016 with Persons 12+ (+21%), Adults 25-54 (+13%), Adults 18-34 (+12%) and Women 25-54 (+17%).” All data is credited to Nielsen Audio. Cumulus Media SVP of operations and co-head office of programming Bob Walker comments, “Rush is a unique and true broadcaster, and we’ve had a successful partnership for many years. We’re pleased to continue offering the Rush Limbaugh show on our market-leading brands, which connect with millions of consumers and drive positive results for our partners.”
KABC, Los Angeles and Doug McIntyre Ink Two-Year Extension. Los Angeles radio personality Doug McIntyre and Cumulus Media sign a deal that will keep him hosting the “McIntyre in the Morning” show on KABC-AM for at least two more years. KABC operations director Drew Hayes comments, “We’re thrilled Doug will be with us for at least another two years given the dramatic growth he has achieved for us over the past year.” In the press release, Hayes says McIntyre has achieved “an impressive 61% increase in weekly listeners in the third quarter of 2016 over 2015 and 70.6% growth year-to-year in the key 25-54 demographic. Doug has also been a hit with women listeners.” McIntyre says, “I think we’ve found success by evolving talk radio away from stridency; by striking the right balance between today’s headlines and laughs without beating people over the head with ginned-up outrage and demoralizing partisanship.” McIntyre also writes a popular weekly column for the Los Angeles Daily News and is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast and numerous other publications. He is also a much-in-demand emcee, helming the annual “L.A. Political Roast,” “The Cinema Audio Society Awards,” and the annual “Timothy Coughlin Dinner” in New York, a 9-11 related charity. Next month, McIntyre will host four evenings with comedy legend Steve Martin as part of the Southern California Distinguished Speakers Series. In past years he has performed with Monty Python icon John Cleese, Betty White, Ron Howard and Robert Redford among others.
Joe Bell Returns to Beasley to Lead Philly Cluster. Radio sales and management pro Joe Bell worked for Beasley Media Group for 16 years leading its Fort Myers and Miami operations. Now, almost three years after leaving the company, he returns to serve as market manager of the Philadelphia station group. Beasley president Bruce Beasley states, “Joe made us proud as he served at the helm of our Miami cluster in charge of an iconic heritage sports station WQAM, in addition to his experience with major personalities at WPOW ‘Power 96,’ and Miami’s ‘Kiss Country.’ As our company has grown, we have benefitted tremendously from Joe’s successful team management skills. Joe will hit the ground running in Philly!” In Philadelphia, Beasley operates sports talker WPEN-FM and WTEL-AM, rock WMMR, adult hits WBEN-FM, classic rock WMGK, and talk WWDB-AM.
Cumulus Suing JP Morgan Chase for Hindering Refinancing. In this suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Cumulus Media is asking the court to take action forcing creditor JP Morgan Chase to follow through on steps that will allow Cumulus’ debt-for-equity refinancing to happen before the January 27 deadline. Cumulus recently announced that it has reached an agreement with bondholders that would allow it to deleverage by as much as $305 million. But the refinance of those senior notes requires borrowing from Cumulus’ $200 million revolving line of credit and JP Morgan has not allowed the transfer of the revolving line of credit to the new lenders and extended a loan amendment giving the company access to the credit line. In the suit, Cumulus says it is being affected by an industry-wide decline in business and its heavy debt load is affecting its prescription for improving ratings and revenue. This refinancing would help ease that burden. There’s been no public comment by JP Morgan Chase on the suit.
iHeartMedia Announces Strategy in Not Repaying 2016 Legacy Notes. Saying that as part of its “ongoing efforts to proactively address its capital structure,” iHeartMedia reports that a Special Committee of independent directors has decided not to repay the $57.1 million of the 5.50% Senior Notes due tomorrow (12/15) held by affiliate Clear Channel Holdings, Inc. It says it will pay the $192.9 million of 2016 Legacy Notes held by other holders. With this, iHeartMedia will continue to have at least $500 million of legacy notes outstanding on December 15 and will therefore not be obligated to grant certain additional security interests in favor of certain of its debtholders under a so-called “springing lien” set forth in relevant debt agreements. The company announces that it also filed lawsuits in the State District Court in Bexar County, Texas, seeking a declaration that the $57.1 million of 2016 Legacy Notes remains outstanding and that the Company is not currently obligated to grant any of its debtholders the “springing lien” on any of its assets.
Baltimore Talk Personality Allan Prell Dead at 79. Longtime WBAL, Baltimore radio personality Allan Prell passed away on Saturday (12/10) at the age of 79. Prell worked at several stations in Baltimore but made his mark in the talk radio business hosting a show in middays on WBAL from 1982 through the early 2000s, according to Prell’s obit on WBAL.com. Prior to his talk host career, Prell was a newsman who won two Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative journalism. As a talk show host, Prell was named to the TALKERS magazine Heavy Hundred (The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America) for three years straight (1999, 2000, and 2001). He also co-hosted a specialty weekend program called “The Movie Show on Radio” for several years in the early 2000s. Check out David Zurawik’s memories of Prell in the Baltimore Sun here.
David Field Sells $1.2 Million of Entercom Stock. In a legal filing disclosed to the SEC, Entercom Communications Corp. reports that company president and CEO David J. Field sold 79,607 shares of Entercom stock in a December 12 transaction valued at $1,268,935.58. Field sold the shares at an average price of $15.94. After the transaction, Field’s stock ownership stands at 2,053,161 shares valued at $32,727,386.
Odds & Sods. Last month, programmer Bob Shomper quietly exited CBS RADIO’s Twin Cities news/talk WCCO-AM. The company is presently searching for WCCO’s new program director…..Westwood One is now serving as the exclusive ad sales rep for the weekly podcast “The Pollsters,” featuring Democratic pollster/political consultant Margie Omero and Republican pollster/political consultant Kristen Soltis Anderson. The program is available via audioBoom, iTunes, Google, Spotify, and others…..College basketball legend John Calipari is the host of a new, weekly podcast on the Midroll platform, owned by E.W. Scripps. The “Cal Cast” gives Calipari “a new way for me to connect with people and to talk honestly with high profile guests who all have very interesting stories and bold opinions.”
Trump Transition/Kanye West Visits Trump Tower, Trump Cabinet Nominees, the Syrian Civil War/Allegations of Atrocities in Aleppo, New Abortion Legislation, Election Recount/Russian Influence Allegations, New Star Wars Flick, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/13). The transitioning of the Trump Administration and rapper Kanye West’s visit to the Trump Tower in NYC; President-Elect Donald Trump’s choices of ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior; the Syrian civil war and allegations that Bashar al Assad’s forces are randomly killing civilians; the 20-week abortion limit passed in Ohio and an attempt to put restrictions on abortions in Oklahoma; the failed election recount started by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and questions about the extent of Russian influence in the recent elections; chatter about the new Rogue One installment in the Star Wars film franchise; and the week’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.