Round Two of September PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s September 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s September 2020 survey period covered August 13 – September 9. You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. Also, today TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Rating Takeaways from this second round of markets. In the Washington, DC market, Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM adds one-tenth to finish with an 8.0 share but slides back to the #3 rank as Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR-FM powers into the #2 rank. Across town, Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM remains in the #1 spot on the strength of a one-share gain and a 9.5 share finish. iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston jumps a full share to finish the September survey with a 4.9 share and the #8 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM falls five-tenths to a 6.1 share good for the #5 rank. After six consecutive months at #1, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle falls into the #2 spot after losing eight-tenths and finishing with a 6.4 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
Newsmax TV Reaches 9.6 Million Cable Viewers. According to Newsmax TV, the cable channel’s “total household reach jumped to 9.6 million, up from 2.9 million in August 2019, according to Comscore data.” Newsmax Media Inc CEO Christopher Ruddy says that viewership has increased steadily all year and he credits viewer interest in Newsmax’s election coverage coupled with its new shows like “Greg Kelly Reports,” “Sean Spicer’s Spicer & Co.”, and “The Chris Salcedo Show.” Ruddy says, “Viewers are clearly voting for Newsmax TV with their remotes. The growth is even more remarkable when one considers we just launched our first prime-time show in July.” The company says Newsmax TV has live or original news shows airing from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm ET and has launched significant daytime coverage on weekends. The network is also planning a daily morning show to debut in the next 60 days, with more prime-time show launches expected soon.
iHeartMedia Expands Board of Directors; Appoints Cheryl Mills to Board. The board of directors of iHeartMedia, Inc. is expanded to eight and Cheryl Mills is named to the new seat. Mills is the founder and CEO of BlackIvy Group LLC, a firm that builds and grows commercial enterprises in Sub- Saharan Africa to meet the needs of an expanding consumer population and growing business sector. Mills previously served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and counselor to the U.S. Department of State. She also was SVP for corporate policy and public programming at Oxygen Media and was deputy counsel to the President at the White House and served as an associate at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Hogan and Hartson. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are extremely pleased that Cheryl Mills is joining the iHeart board. Her depth and breadth of experience, her leadership in policy, business and entrepreneurship, education and media, and her deep commitment to public service, will provide strong and unique value to our board and our company, and we are looking forward to her contributions.”
Cumulus Media Completes Initial Closing on $208 Million Tower Deal. This news from Cumulus Media Inc is relative to the $213 million deal that transfers its tower assets to Vertical Bridge. This initial closing is for the $208 million tower portfolio monetization transaction. Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner says, “We are thrilled to have expeditiously completed the first closing of this significant transaction. Pro forma for its completion and based on our Q2 ending cash balance, we will have reduced net debt by nearly $325 million during 2020 and by nearly $580 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018. Our further improved liquidity position and covenant-lite, long-dated debt will continue to support our growth initiatives and allow us to take advantage of accretive opportunities as we navigate through near-term uncertainties to drive long-term shareholder value.” After transaction fees and expenses and related costs, Cumulus received approximately $202 million in net proceeds at the initial closing. The use of net proceeds from the transaction are governed by the company’s Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 and its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026. As defined in the debt agreements, net proceeds of approximately $64 million from assets being sold and not being leased back and net proceeds of approximately $96 million from assets being sold and leased back are required to pay down the Term Loan and be applied to a tender offer with respect to the 6.75% Notes on a pro rata basis. The paydown from the Sale-Leaseback Proceeds is required to be made at closing for the Term Loan portion and within thirty (30) days of closing for the 6.75% Notes. As such, at closing, the Company paid down approximately $49 million of its Term Loan at par, and it intends in the near future to launch a tender offer for up to approximately $47 million of the 6.75% Notes at par. Cumulus Media entered into a master lease agreement for the continued use of substantially all of the towers that were sold. That deal includes the 10-year initial term of the lease, followed by five option periods of five years each. The annual lease payment obligation for the assets leased back in the initial closing is approximately $13.2 million, subject to customary escalators, and will be accounted for as a reduction of the financial liability and interest expense. Cumulus anticipates that one or more subsequent closings will be held for the assets comprising the remainder of the previously announced $213 million purchase price, subject to adjustment based upon due diligence and the curing of outstanding site defects.
TALKERS News Notes. Pictured at right is Starnes Media Group principal, nationally syndicated talk show host, and KWAM, Memphis “The Mighty 990” owner Todd Starnes (right) at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to the Majority” conference in Atlanta where he served as a keynote speaker. He’s pictured here with conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (left)…..The “Margaritaville Podcast” joins the portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. The recently launched podcast, hosted by Jimmy Buffett’s production coordinator Heikki Larsen features interviews with friends, colleagues, and fans of the Margaritaville global lifestyle brand inspired by the singer, songwriter and best-selling author. Recent guests have included Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt, Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and Jimmy Buffett video producer Stan Kellam. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “Fans of the Margaritaville lifestyle constitute an extremely devoted, enduring, cohesive, socially conscientious and upscale fan base. Heikki and his show are a valuable addition to the CMGS portfolio, as it enables us to offer an even more diverse and versatile slate of inventory for marketing partners.”…..AdLarge Media announce its newest sports partnership with National Sports Network for exclusive ad sales representation of NCAA basketball play-by-play coverage on radio. AdLarge Media co-founder and co-CEO Gary Schonfeld says, “We’re very excited to offer our advertisers these NCAA basketball games on radio. With the addition of these top-tier college basketball games from National Sports Network, the AdLarge sports portfolio delivers continuous access to engaged sports fans.”…..PodcastOne acquires the exclusive distribution and sales rights for the health and wellness podcast “The Dr. Gundry Podcast.” The program is hosted by New York Times best-selling author of The Plant Paradox (Harper Wave 2017), Dr. Steven Gundry. He says, “I’m proud for ‘The Dr. Gundry Podcast’ to now be part of PodcastOne. Its robust podcasting network is a great platform to continue to empower listeners and share the knowledge and tools to help people live their best life.”
Wayne Allyn Root Organizes Las Vegas Parade. On Wednesday (9/30), a pro-police, pro-Trump parade of cars organized by KBET, Las Vegas-based talk show host Wayne Allyn Root drove down the Las Vegas strip. Root, pictured here with supporters, tells TALKERS magazine he estimates there were more than 1,000 cars taking part in the parade. Root says he waited at the parade’s finish line – the Nevada Governor’s office building – and “shook hands, and high-fived, and took photos, and thanked every single car of my fans.” You can read the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s coverage here.
The Presidential Race/Debate Aftermath, Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, New Stimulus Deal, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, Down Financial Markets, BLM Movement/Protests, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/30). The November presidential election and the aftermath of Tuesday night’s debate; the debate over the reliability of mail-in voting; the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Midwest and talk about a fall/winter second wave; negotiations between congress and the Trump administration over a new stimulus package; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. financial markets suffer their worst month since last March; the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in various cities; and the deadly California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
DYNAMIC DUO EXCLUSIVE! “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and John Catsimatidis Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. Radio enthusiasts won’t want to miss this brand-new audio gem! Legendary music radio personality “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and WABC, New York owner John Catsimatidis are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Morrow (also known as “Cousin Brucie”) is one of the last of his generation still standing. He is the quintessential heritage disc jockey who has been a major on-the-air radio figure in New York City through several golden eras since 1959, performing on such storied stations as WINS, WABC, WNBC and WCBS-FM and, until recently, across the nation on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Just a few weeks ago, to the delight of his multi-generational legion of fans, he was hired to host a Saturday evening music show on WABC, the station where he played to millions back in the 1960s and early 1970s during the heyday of his magnificent career. The other member of this dynamic duo, Catsimatidis is a well-connected radio lover and big business heavyweight whose Red Apple Media purchased WABC – now a news/talk outlet – from Cumulus Media late last year. He’s a prominent New York City-based, self-made mogul and syndicated radio talk show host involved in an array of industries that, in addition to communications, includes supermarkets, energy, and real estate development. He’s also a former and potential future New York City mayoral candidate. The result is a free-wheeling conversation that covers radio, music, politics, several surprises and the New York state of mind – an instant classic. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-Air pro Julie Guy signs a multiyear contract extension with Entercom’s adult contemporary WLYF-FM, Miami “101.5 LITE FM” to continue co-hosting the “Julie Guy & Tamara G” morning show. Entercom Miami SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “As a veteran of the station, Julie encapsulates the spirit of ‘101.5 LITE FM’ and sets the tone for our programming slate each morning. Her distinct energy and solid rapport with Tamara translate to a quality morning show and I’m happy to keep her in the fold for years to come.” Guy has served as a morning show host for “101.5 LITE FM” since 2013…..Cox Media Group’s urban contemporary WALR-FM, Atlanta “KISS 104.1” adds the nationally syndicated program “The Sweat Hotel,” with host Keith Sweat to air in the 9:00 pm to 2:00 am slot. Station director of branding and programming Terri Avery comments, “Keith Sweat is an R&B legend and ‘KISS 104.1’ is excited about him joining our lineup. Keith brings just the right blend of slow jams and sensual sounds that will keep our listeners entertained throughout the night.”