iHeartMedia and Debt Holders Reach Agreement in Principle. The company announces that it has reached an agreement in principle with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt and its financial sponsors that reflects widespread support across the capital structure for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that will reduce its debt by more than $10 billion. To implement the balance sheet restructuring contemplated by the agreement in principle, iHeartMedia and certain of its subsidiaries, including iHeartCommunications, Inc., have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries did not commence Chapter 11 proceedings. The Company has filed with the Bankruptcy Court a series of customary motions seeking to maintain business-as-usual operations and uphold its commitments to its valued employees and other stakeholders during the process. These “first day” motions, which the Company expects to be granted in short order, will help facilitate a smooth transition into Chapter 11. The company says it believes that its cash on hand, together with cash generated from ongoing operations, will be sufficient to fund and support the business during the Chapter 11 proceedings. In the press release, iHM chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “iHeartMedia has created a highly successful operating business, generating year-over-year revenue growth in each of the last 18 consecutive quarters. We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers. The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure. Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia’s position as America’s #1 audio company.”
Deke Bellavia Exits WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Longtime sports talk personality Deke Bellavia – known as to many as “Big Chief” – has exited Entercom’s New Orleans news/talk WWL-AM/FM in what appears to be a budget-related move. NOLA.com reports that Entercom has made no public comment about Bellavia’s departure. For the past 10 years, Bellavia has worked alongside Bobby Hebert on the daily “SportsTalk” program. He was also part of the “Point After” Saints post-game program. Since he exited, Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic has been working with Hebert. See the NOLA.com story here.
TALKERS News Notes. Now that CNBC and Westwood One personality Larry Kudlow has joined the Trump Administration as economic adviser, what will happen to his weekend, syndicated radio show? Westwood One has not issued a public statement about the future of the program, so its status is unclear. On one hand, Kudlow may be too busy to continue hosting the Saturday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm call-in show that deals with “where money meets politics,” but the administration may also enjoy having a presidential adviser speaking to the talk radio audience about economic issues. Stay tuned!…..Speaking of Westwood One, the radio network partners with Amazon and XAPPmedia to give listeners the ability to hear live audio coverage and post-game recaps of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship via Alexa. In addition, Alexa users will also be able to hear Westwood One’s coverage of Division II Men’s Basketball Championship, the NIT semifinals and final from Madison Square Garden, and the regional finals, Final Four and National Championship Game from the Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament…..CNN makes a talent move, shifting morning drive star Chris Cuomo to a new program airing at 9:00 pm ET called, “Cuomo Prime Time.” The changes include current prime time personality Jon Berman moving to morning drive where he’ll work beside Alisyn Camerota on the “New Day” program. CNN’s prime time ratings – both total viewing and 25-54 – have lagged behind MSNBC and FOX News Channel in recent ratings reports…..Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice will make on-air appearances on Entercom’s San Francisco sports talker KGMZ “95.7 The Game” this season as a contributor. Rice will contribute to coverage throughout the 2018 NFL off-season, including breaking news, the NFL Draft, and free agency. During the 2018 season, he’ll join “Mornings with Joe Fortenbaugh, Lorenzo Neal and Dan Dibley” Monday mornings at 8:00.
Pennsylvania Special Election, Stormy Daniels Case, U.K.-Russia Tensions, Trump-Russia Investigation, Stephen Hawking Dies, Toys-R-Us Liquidation, Katy Perry ‘Idol’ Controversy, NFL Free Agency, the NCAA Men’s Tournament, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/14). The Pennsylvania special election won by Democrat Conor Lamb and speculation about the 2018 mid-term elections; the legal battle between porn star Stormy Daniels and President Trump; the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the U.K. and that country’s growing diplomatic tensions with Russia; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; renowned physicist Stephen Hawking dies; toy giant Toys-R-Us announces it will sell or close all of its American stores; the controversy over “America Idol” judge delivering an unwanted kiss to a contestant; the NFL’s free agency activity; the NCAA’s Men’s basketball tournament; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Great Hotel Deal Arranged for Attendees of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The organizers of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! are pleased to announce a special deal has been arranged to provide attendees of the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention with a conveniently located and affordable hotel at which to stay. The one-day, power-packed convention is set for Friday, June 8, 2018 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in the colorful Chelsea District of Manhattan. The official convention hotel is the Hilton New York Fashion District located at 152 West 26th Street, New York – right across the street from the convention venue. A special block of remarkably priced rooms has been reserved for convention attendees. They will only be available until May 8 or until they sell out – whichever comes first. The TALKERS editorial board strongly recommends that industry professionals planning on attending the convention make their registrations and hotel reservations as quickly as possible. An early sellout is imminent! For the latest details about TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! please read the story below. To make hotel reservations, please click here.
Speaker Roster Growing for TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The TALKERS editorial board has begun naming industry leaders who’ll be speaking at TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! – the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. The following individuals have already been set to speak at the one-day, power-packed event on Friday, June 8 in New York City (in alphabetical order): Jack Armstrong & Joe Getty, hosts, Armstrong & Getty Show; Asa Andrew, host, Dr. Asa Network; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY-FM, Springfield, MA “Rock 102”; Ethan Bearman, host KGO, San Francisco; Caroline Beasley, CEO, Beasley Broadcasting; Mike Bendixen, PD, CFRB, Toronto and national news/talk format head, Bell Media; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; David Bernstein, GM, TalkersRadio; Chris Berry, SVP/news-talk-sports programming, iHeartMedia; Jim Bohannon, host, Westwood One; Phil Boyce, SVP/director, spoken word format and operations VP, New York Region, Salem Media Group; Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS; Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Kathy Carr, VP/sales & marketing, Howie Carr Radio Network; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Czarnecki, PD, WRKO, Boston; Mike Francesa, sports media personality, New York; Dom Giordano, Host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steven Goldstein, CEO, Amplifi Media; Suzanne Grimes, president, Westwood One; Sean Hannity, host, Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Thom Hartmann, host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, VP of News/Talk, Cumulus Media and program director, WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC; Karen Hunter, host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Harry Hurley, host, WWPG, Atlantic City; Alex Jones, director of media operations, Infowars and host, Genesis Communications Network; Steve Jones, VP/GM, ABC News Radio; Brian Kilmeade, host, FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel; Mike Kinosian, managing editor, TALKERS; Scott Lakefield, APD, WOR, New York; Scott Masteller, PD, WBAL, Baltimore; Mike McVay, EVP content & programming, Cumulus Media; Greg Moceri, consultant, Moceri Media; John T. Mullen, OM, WRHU-FM, Hofstra University; Cary Pahigian, president/GM, WBAL, Baltimore; Norm Pattiz, executive chairman, PodcastOne; Chris Plante, Host, Westwood One; Wayne Allyn Root, host USA Radio Network; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York; Brad Shepard, GM/host, Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Todd Starnes, host, FOX News Radio; Doug Stephan, host/CEO, Stephan Multimedia; Walter M. Sterling, host, Westwood One; Tom Sullivan, host, Talk Media Network; Julie Talbott, president, Premiere Networks; Fred Toucher, morning co-host, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub”; Dan Yorke, host, WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence; and Michael Zwerling, owner, KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz. More speakers will be added in the days and weeks to follow. TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will take place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception – all in a single, power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions,TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! 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. The convention is already well on its way to being an early sellout. Don’t be shut out! To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Hot AC WQAL, Cleveland “Q104” adds Jack Freeman to “The Jeremiah Show” hosted by Jeremiah Widmer. Freeman becomes co-host of the morning show on Monday (3/19). Entercom Cleveland SVP and market manager Tom Herschel says, “We’re excited to have Jack come on board at ‘Q104’ and use his energy and sense of humor to wake up Cleveland. Our goal is to keep our listeners engaged with premiere live content tailored to the local community and we’re sure that Jeremiah and Jack will deliver on that.” Freeman was most recently with iHeartMedia Detroit as part of the “Mojo in the Morning” program on WKQI…..Midwest Communications promotes Trent “Moose” Pender to the newly created position rock format captain. “Moose” hosts the morning drive show on Midwest’s adult hits WCJK, Nashville “96.3 JACK FM.” The company says that in this new role, he’ll work closely with company rock brands WHBZ, Sheboygan, Wisconsin; WJXQ, Lansing, Michigan; KRRO, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; WWVR, Terre Haute, Indiana; WABX, Evansville, Indiana; WIMZ, Knoxville; KQDS, Duluth; WZOX, Kalamazoo; and WOZZ, Wausau, Wisconsin. Pender says, “It’s an honor to put additional focus on these rock brands and help them grow. I can’t thank everyone at Midwest Communications enough for their unwavering support and this incredible opportunity.”…..iHeartMedia reports that, according to the recent Nielsen Social Content Ratings’ weekly top 10 list, the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards ranked first with 10.858 million social interactions – five times larger than “The Bachelor” season finale that finished second. The Nielsen Social Content Ratings’ weekly top 10 list ranks series and specials by the total number of social TV interactions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.