Emmis and Standard General Form New Company to Buy New York’s WBLS-FM and WQHT-FM. This new company will be called Mediaco Holding and it will buy urban radio stations WBLS-FM and WQHT-FM “Hot 97” for $91.5 million in cash, a $5 million note receivable, and 23.72% of the common equity of Mediaco. Emmis will distribute this common equity of Mediaco pro rata to its shareholders in a taxable dividend. Mediaco will be a public company expected to be listed on NASDAQ, and Emmis will remain a separate public company, as well. Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan will serve as CEO of Mediaco and Emmis will remain active in the management of WBLS and WQHT and provide certain corporate services to Mediaco pursuant to a management agreement between the parties. Investment firm Standard General will appoint a majority of the board of directors of Mediaco and Soohyung Kim, CEO, managing partner and chief investment officer of Standard General L.P., will be chairman of Mediaco. After this deal gets regulatory approval, Emmis Communications will still operate New York’s WLIB and WEPN (through an LMA with ESPN Radio), four radio stations in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Monthly, and Digonex, a dynamic pricing company. Emmis recently announced it is selling its 50.1% ownership stake in eight Austin, Texas stations to Sinclair Telecable for $39.3 million. Smulyan says of this latest deal, “This is a landmark day in the 40-year history of Emmis. We look forward to continuing to manage two of the world’s most iconic radio brands in ‘HOT 97’ and WBLS and employ our award-winning New York team as we partner with Soo Kim and Standard General to form a new public company to invest in media opportunities. The transaction provides Emmis significant capital to aggressively pursue new business opportunities that align with our entrepreneurial spirit and management skills. We are also excited to work with Soo and Standard General to grow Mediaco Holding. We have already been evaluating great investment opportunities and I’m incredibly excited about the future. Today is a great day for the future of Emmis.” Emmis says that no personnel changes are planned, and all New York employees will continue to be Emmis employees with Emmis benefits as part of an Employee Leasing Agreement with Mediaco.
Kietzman Exits WHB-AM, Kansas City in Aftermath of Andy Reid Comments. Kansas City sports talk personality Kevin Kietzman has exited Union Broadcasting’s sports talk WHB-AM “Sports Radio 810” where he’s been hosting “Between the Lines” for the past 22 years. Last week, Kietzman was suspended from the station after he referenced Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s two sons Britt and Garrett – both of whom battled drug issues and Garrett died of an overdose in 2012 – during a monologue about Reid’s ability to fix players with personal problems. In an apology issued last week, Kietzman said his intent was not to blame Andy Reid for Garrett’s death, but he understood how his comments could have been interpreted as such. Union Broadcasting president Chad Boeger issued a statement saying Kietzman’s departure was mutual, but it’s likely Kietzman would have preferred to return to his job. Kietzman was allowed to issue a final statement: “It’s been my honor and privilege to host ‘Between the Lines’ for the past 22 years and I’m proud of being a founding partner of this great local company that is so committed to our community.”
Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Begin Posting Today with Erica Farber and Cousin Brucie Receiving Awards. TALKERS has begun posting key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention today (7/1). The first two videos being posted today are RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. The convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story – took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history. TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com. To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.
Nielsen Releases Total Audience Report for Q1 2019. The latest Total Audience Report from Nielsen has been published and although the time spent with radio relative to other media options shrank from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, in the audio universe it is still the most popular platform with 92% of the 18+ U.S. population. Looking at the daily hours and minutes spent with each platform, among adults 35-49 radio listening dipped from 1:50 minutes per day to 1:45 minutes. In the Millennial group – adults 18-39 – listening time went from 1:25 in Q1 of 2018 to 1:20 in Q1 of 2019. Which platform is seeing the largest growth? It’s the use of an app or the web on a smart phone. That category is up across the board, even with upper demos. In the adults 50-64 demographic, for example, use of an app or the web on a smartphone rose from 2:24 minutes per day to 2:47 minutes from Q1 of 2018 to Q1 of 2019. See more about the report here.
Monday Memo: Copy Worth Copying. Too much commercial and promo copy is…typical. In-one-ear-out-the-other. In this week’s Monday Memo column, consultant Holland Cooke offers examples of effective messages, most of which include “The Two Magic Words.” Read his column here.
Chris Williams Signs Four-Year Extension to Remain with iHeartRadio. Digital executive Chris Williams will continue as chief product officer for iHeartRadio as he signs a four-year contract extension. In this role he oversees digital programming initiatives, product marketing, UXD, and product strategies. He joined the company in 2013 and rose to his current post in 2014. The company says that during his tenure as CPO, he has “expanded the iHeartRadio footprint to over 280 platforms and 2,000 devices and more than tripled its audience to where it currently stands with a registered user base of 130MM. He also led the product initiative to launch two on-demand services, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access.”
TALKERS News Notes. Newsday’s Neil Best writes that Entercom New York regional president Susan Larkin “would love” for WFAN afternoon drive personality Mike Francesa to continue hosting his radio show “forever.” Best’s column speculates about Francesa’s future with the station, addressing both Francesa’s own musings about the challenges of hosting his radio show and doing his digital content for his app as well as the fact that the company is paying eight personalities to host four shows. Larkin tells Best the company is pleased with the ratings and revenue from Francesa’s show. Read it here…..WREX-TV, Rockford, Illinois reports that Midwest Family Broadcasting’s sports talk WNTA-AM is canceling its live and local sports talk shows and replacing them with syndicated fare. Gone from the station are “Randy & Co.,” a two-hour morning show hosted by Randy Ruef and featuring a rotating cast of co-hosts as well as producer Jordan Goethe, and “Full Court Press,” the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm show co-hosted by Jake Logli and Jackson Schwartz…..Pictured at left is Westwood One talk host Jim Bohannon as Santa Claus bringing Christmas in June to kids at the Collins Children’s Home of Seneca, South Carolina.
G20 Summit/Trump Meets with Kim Jon Un and Xi Jinping, Hong Kong-China Tensions, Immigration Reform, 2020 Presidential Race, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, and Stonewall Anniversary Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan and President Trump’s meetings with China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; the protests in Hong Kong against Chinese rule; the Trump Administration’s immigration reform policies; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; Iran’s production of weapons grade uranium; and the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall Riots were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Hartford hot AC WTIC-FM names Ryan “Salt” MacMillan the new morning drive host, taking over for Gary Craig, who recently announced his retirement. Salt began hosting the Entercom station’s morning program with incumbent morning personality Christine Lee today (7/1). Salt comes to Hartford from the company’s Boston hot AC WWBX-FM “Mix 104.1” where he was part of the “Karson & Kennedy” morning program. He says, “Boston has given me so much over the past seven years both on and off the air and I will forever be thankful, but it’s time for a new adventure in Hartford. Gary Craig is a Hartford radio legend and with his long-time partner, Christine Lee, I am honored to try and continue his legacy.”…..Award-winning CMT host and radio personality Cody Alan just celebrated his 2,000th episode as host of “CMT After MidNite.” Alan was surprised with in-studio appearances by Garth Brooks and Keith Urban, as well as a phone call from Thomas Rhett. In addition to this major milestone for “CMT After MidNite,” Alan is also celebrating the 100th episode of his “Cody Cast” podcast and the 10th anniversary of the Premiere Networks-syndicated program “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan.”…..Programmer Kat San Andres adds music director duties for Local Media San Diego’s rhythmic AC XHRM “Magic 92.5” to her responsibilities that also include serving as music director and APD for sister CHR XHTZ “Z90.” She joined “Z90” in 2004 as a morning program intern and has worked her way up through the programming department…..Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation announces its new venture in which Radio Disney has agreed to license Radio Disney video content to SBC. SBC will “telestream” the Radio Disney video content: the audio will be broadcast on SBC’s radio station WIGO-AM, Atlanta and simultaneously the video will be streamed at wigoam.com. Sheridan has a patent which covers telestreaming. SBC says it will launch a one-hour daily program featuring Radio Disney video content in the near future that will tentatively be called “The Radio Disney Hour.” SBC COO Ron Davenport, Jr. says, “We are honored and extremely flattered to be the first radio broadcaster licensed by Disney to use Radio Disney video content. The Radio Disney team has been incredible to work with, and we are very excited about the possibilities going forward.”…..Sun Broadcast Group and “The Michael Baisden Show” announce a renewal of the show’s distribution deal through December 31, 2020. Baisden says, “Now that the show is hitting on all cylinders it’s time to do what I do best…engage with people. I began my career hosting relationship seminars and producing upscale events, it’s time to get back out there and connect with my listeners face-to-face and have some fun!”…..SiriusXM is launching a limited-run music channel called “Madonna’s Madame X Radio” that will be available during the month of July.