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Thursday, April 29, 2021

| April 29, 2021

RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”

Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”

Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”

SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure.  These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”

RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast.  The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.

Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, November 9, 2020

| November 9, 2020

Pending Business: Sales Lessons from the Election Cycle. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column that presenting a concise, targeted message of your station’s benefits to prospects is crucial to making the sale and is ultimately more important than how many prospects you toss into the hopper. Read his column here.

Biden Declared 46th President/Trump Refuses to Concede, Georgia Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, the Economy/Stimulus Deal, Tropical Storm Eta, and Alex Trebek Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Democratic challenger Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election and President Trump’s refusal to concede the election; the January run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the rising number of COVID cases in the U.S. and Europe, projections for the fall and winter months, and Pfizer’s announcement that its COVID vaccine appears to be 90% effective; the state of the U.S. economy and anticipation of a new stimulus deal; the arrival of Tropical Storm Eta in Florida; and longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek dies among top news/talk stories over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday Memo: 20-20 News. With the holidays looming, and as we are prepping perennial year-end retrospectives, it’s easy to wonder what-the-heck-NEXT? In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers a wider-angle shot, and simple suggestion for radio. Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q3 Net Revenue Down 15.3%. Third quarter earnings from Townsquare Media indicate the company is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic better than some of radio’s larger firms. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $95.4 million, a decrease of 15.3% from the same period in 2019. While advertising revenue was down $16 million or 17.2%, Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.3 million, or 14.5%, to $18.2 million. For obvious reasons, live events net revenue decreased $3.5 million, or 98.2%, to $0.1 million. Townsquare was able to post net income of $1.3 million for the quarter (compared to the $7.3 million in net income in Q3 2019) whereas many broadcasting companies are posting losses for the quarter. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “I am proud to share with you today that Townsquare’s third quarter results exceeded our expectations, driven by sequential net revenue improvement throughout the quarter as our business continued to accelerate despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Third quarter net revenue improved to a decline of -15.3%, as compared to the third quarter of the prior year, which was up from a decline of -34.5% in the second quarter. This translated to a strong increase in Adjusted EBITDA from $2.1 million in the second quarter to $17.5 million in the third quarter. Our better than anticipated third quarter results were due to gains in both our Townsquare Interactive and Advertising segments. Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing subscription business, has delivered net subscription revenue and subscriber growth each and every month of 2020, demonstrating its recession-resistant characteristics and proving to be valuable and a tremendous resource to local businesses. In the third quarter, Townsquare Interactive’s net revenue increased 14.5% over the prior year period, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, and added approximately 1,150 net subscribers, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions and the most quarterly net subscriber adds in nearly six years. Improvement across our Advertising segment was broad based, as revenue declines improved from -37.5% in the second quarter to -17.2% in the third quarter, each as compared to the prior year. Broadcast advertising net revenue sequentially improved throughout the quarter, with and without political revenue, and digital advertising net revenue returned to growth in the third quarter, driven by positive net revenue growth from Townsquare Ignite (+10% year over year), our digital programmatic advertising solution, and AMPED (+9% year over year), advertising revenue associated with our owned and operated local websites. In total, our digital net revenue exceeded 44% of our total net revenue in Q3 2020, and we remain confident that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million of annual net revenue in two to three years… Although 2020 has been a challenging year, we are proud that we did not need to alter our core strategy.  Rather, we believe the pandemic has allowed us to separate from our local media peers by placing a spotlight on the success of our strategy.  Our focus on underserved small and mid-sized local markets, our investment and commitment to our ‘Local First strategy, and our investment in world class personnel, technology and infrastructure that allowed us to build a strong digital platform with best of breed products, services and solutions that contributes 44% of our total revenue, have all contributed to our ability to mitigate revenue declines and manage quite effectively through this downturn. We believe these actions will position Townsquare to quickly emerge from this crisis and return to our market leading performance quickly once this crisis abates.”

iHeartMedia Cuts Hit WLW, Cincinnati’s Steve Sommers. WVXU, Cincinnati’s John Kiesewetter reports that longtime “America’s Truckin’ Network” host Steve Sommers is a victim of the current downsizing taking place at iHeartMedia. The overnight program has aired on WLW, Cincinnati since it was launched by Sommers’ father, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, in 1984. As Kiesewetter notes, Steve Sommers joined his father on the program in 1996 and took over the program in 2004. Sommers posted to Facebook: “I have been DISMISSED from I-Heart Radio… I’m sorry my friends… 2020 is a bitch!!! I will not have a chance to say GOOD-BYE!!! Thanks for 25 years of friendship!!” It’s unclear what the status of the overnight program is as the “America’s Truckin’ Network” – along with Sommers’ photo – is still listed on the WLW website.

TALKERS News Notes. Washington, DC’s WTOP is partnering with longtime market crime reporter Paul Wagner for a new podcast titled, “Murder in a Safe Place.” Wagner has worked for WTTG-TV “FOX5 News” for the past 20 years covering cases including the murder of Congressional intern Chandra Levy to the Mansion Murders and the police-involved shooting of motorcyclist Terrence Sterling. He served as a reporter at WTOP from 1989 to 1999. In this series, Wagner examines a local cold case from 22 years ago: the murder of Sherry Crandell, a 50-year-old hospital worker who was brutally assaulted and later found dead in her office at Prince George’s Hospital Center. WTOP director of news and programming Julia Ziegler says, “Paul is a part of the WTOP family, and we are so excited to partner with him on this project. This 22-year-old cold case is a horrific and baffling one that will have listeners asking questions. Our hope is that through the reach of this podcast, we can bring closure to this case and the Crandell family.”…..iHeartMedia and the Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg-co-founded Pushkin Industries enter into a co-production and distribution agreement that will make iHeartMedia the exclusive sales partner for Pushkin’s catalog of podcasts that includes “Revisionist History,” “Broken Record,” “The Happiness Lab with Laurie Santos,” and many others. As part of this deal, iHeartMedia and Pushkin Industries will co-produce a slate of new, original podcasts over the next two years. Gladwell says, “We started Pushkin to share the joy Jacob and I have found in creating and producing podcasts. Working with the team at iHeart will allow us to spread this joy at an even bigger scale.”…..AdLarge Media and National Sports Network unveil their slate of NCAA basketball games for the 2020-2021 season for radio. Last month, AdLarge was announced as the exclusive ad sales partner for the NCAA basketball games on the National Sports Network. The networks will air the Creighton Bluejays vs the Kansas Jayhawks on December 8 and the Gonzaga Bulldogs taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 19.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Zannie Glover, a.k.a. Zannie K, is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 the BOUNCE” and urban contemporary WDMK “105.9 KISS-FM,” effective December 1. Zannie K was most recently program director at non-commercial KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis as well as was the associate program director and nationwide night talent for Westwood One’s classic hip hop format…..Urban One Columbus enters into a Local Marketing Agreement with Southern Ohio Broadcasting to operate WWCD-FM, Columbus and launches a regional Mexican/tropical format branded as “La Grande 102.5 FM.” Urban One RVP Eddie Harrell Jr. says, “We are pleased to expand our footprint again in Central Ohio by reaching the fastest growing segment of the population, inclusive of the Mexican community and growing Central and South American communities. Combined with our African American targeted radio/television assets, we are now the largest single source provider of content to African Americans and Spanish speaking residents in Central Ohio.”…..Entercom’s rock outlet KISW-FM, Seattle is presenting the sixth annual “Live Day” tomorrow (11/10). This year’s completely live, virtual event will feature broadcasts of the station’s morning show “BJ & Migs” and afternoon show “The Men’s Room” with no recorded commercials, sound effects or music. Fifteen bands from across the Northwest and multiple voices from across the country will perform throughout the 12-hour program. KISW brand manager Dave Richards says, “For the KISW audience, 2020 wouldn’t be complete without the annual entertainment spectacular, ‘Live Day.’ This year, every artist and performer will participate virtually and distanced. Thank you, technology.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

| November 3, 2020

Beasley Media Group Third Quarter Report: Net Revenue Down 25%. The first radio company to report 2020 third quarter financial results is Beasley Media Group which reveals net revenue for the period was $49.6 million, down almost 25% from the $66.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2019. Obviously, the dramatic decrease is the result of a loss of advertising revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company reports operating income of $0.8 million, down from $9.4 million in Q3 of 2019. Beasley reports a net loss of $2.7 million for the quarter compared to the net income of $3 million realized in the third quarter of 2019. Station operating income was $8.1 million, a little less than half of the $16.7 million in SOI reported in the third quarter of 2019. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “The strong recovery of our business continued in the third quarter of 2020. It is clear that the immediate actions we took to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses, headcount reductions, furloughs, and negotiated discounts with landlords, service providers and partners have contributed to Beasley’s ability to rebound quickly. This focus, combined with the resumption of advertising in key categories, the experience of our teams who have managed through previous economic challenges, the quality of our content, and the role we play in the communities we serve, have all contributed to our ability to turn the corner as evidenced by the positive SOI recorded in the 2020 third quarter. Throughout the third quarter our sales teams drove monthly sequential revenue improvements with July up 8% over June, August up 24% over July and September rising 22% over August. Total net revenue for October increased in the low- to mid-single digits, and November revenue is currently pacing down in the low teens. In addition to the resumption of advertising in key categories and the benefit of the political cycle, Beasley generated continued positive results from its digital and esports investments, which have been less impacted by the pandemic. Third quarter digital revenue rose 1.8% year-over-year to $5 million and our new esports operations generated approximately $500,000 of revenue during the period. Digital revenue accounted for approximately 10.1% of total third quarter revenue, compared to 7.4% of total revenue in the prior year period. Reflecting our initiatives to address the pandemic, including reducing operating expenses and corporate overhead and realigning our company-wide cost structure, Beasley’s third quarter total operating expenses declined by 15.9% and the company expects to reduce its operating expenses through year-end by more than $32 million compared to our 2020 operating budget. We anticipate that a meaningful portion of the operating expense reductions realized since the onset of the pandemic will be recurring, as we continue to make fundamental changes to improve processes and efficiencies across the organization. While the last several months have presented unprecedented challenges for ad-reliant businesses, I am extremely proud of the way our corporate and station level leaders and valued team members rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly to enable Beasley to return to positive cash flow in the third quarter. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter and 2021, we intend to continue our focus on growing our cash flow and maintaining a strong balance sheet with liquidity at current or higher levels. Growing ratings, diversifying revenue and delivering exceptional content and services to our listeners, advertisers, online users and esports fans will remain our focus. And we believe the tremendous resilience of our team and steps we’ve taken to strengthen our financial position and achieve ongoing operational efficiencies have helped ensure that Beasley Broadcast Group remains well-positioned for near- and long-term success.”

iHeartMedia Purging Employees; WTVN’s Riley and Schmid Exit. The latest round of “headcount reduction” is taking place at iHeartMedia, with air personalities, producers and more being let go as the company deals with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the ratio of music-formatted stations to talk stations, the majority of those being laid off are from music outlets. Some of those working in talk formats who’ve been let go include WTVN, Columbus morning host Joel Riley and morning program producer Tom Schmid. Riley told Columbus Business First, “I worked there for over 26 years. It was my dream job, that morning show. I’m devastated. I will miss the listeners. They made that job special every day.”

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the all-news format. About half of the all-news stations in PPM markets were up (6+ weekly AQH share) and half were down or flat. Gainers were led by iHeartMedia’s WBZ-AM, Boston (+1.1) and Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington (+0.8). Year-over-year numbers tell a different story as 63% of all-news outlets improve. Top gainers from October 2019 to October 2020 include WTOP (+2.9), Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago (+2.0), WBZ-AM (+2.0), and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle (+1.9). See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

New Firm Major Triad Media Acquires TM Studios from Westwood One. Jingle and production house TM Studios is being acquired from Westwood One by Major Triad Media, a partnership of three TM Studios figures – creative director Dave Bethell, Chris “UK” Stevens, and jingle icon and current general manager Greg Clancy. A press release says the new company will maintain studios in Dallas, Los Angeles, and the UK. Bethell says, “From listening to TM jingles on my local radio station in England when I was a kid to becoming a fan, I’ve always wanted to work for TM. Eventually it was the place where I had my big jingle break back in 2005. I’ve written and produced for TM Studios continuously ever since. As co-owner I’m excited to tell the next chapter of TM’s incredible story with our perfect new partnership.” Stevens comments, “I’m so excited to be part of the team to take TM’s legendary name into a new chapter, and from my home country, no less. It’s been 15 years since I originally relocated from London to Dallas to work with TM. It is a dream come true to become part of the new ownership team.” Clancy adds, “I vividly remember watching my dad sing in TM vocal sessions as a kid and had my first vocal session at TM as a 12-year old boy. I began singing for Tom Merriman and Jim Kirk at 23, straight out of college. Just imagine what this moment means to me. We are standing on the shoulders of giants and can’t wait to grow and extend the TM legacy.” TM Studios will continue to work with Westwood One, with a multi-year agreement to serve as exclusive barter representative to seamlessly serve existing clients.

‘The Fisher House Story’ Available Now in Time for Veterans Day. Veterans Day is next Wednesday (11/11) and the Fisher House Foundation announces that The Jeff Wyatt Group has a fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2020 ready for download. “The Fisher House Story – A Family’s Love” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations in the U.S. and around the world. The three-hour, one-hour, 25-minute, and 30-minute radio specials are available for free. The specials are once again hosted by Mary Walter of WMAL-FM, Washington and feature stories of our nation’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. Your listeners will hear from Ben Breckheimer, an Army combat scout whose vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while driving with his team in Afghanistan; Lt. Col. Patrick Miller, an Army officer who was shot in the 2014 Ft. Hood shooting; and Jeff Sampson, a Navy veteran who needed a double lung transplant. These are just a few of the many stories that will be told “in their own words.” A clock and demo is now available at radio.fisherhouse.org. For more information on this radio special, available cash and barter free, contact Jeff Wyatt at The Jeff Wyatt Group at 301-518-3640 or jw@thejeffwyattgroup.com.

TALKERS News Notes. Tonight, the Westwood One nationally syndicated Jim Bohannon show is presenting election coverage from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET with the help of correspondents Clayton Neville and Linda Kenyon, plus commentary from Jed Babbin of the American Spectator, political science professor Dr. Frank Sorrentino, former Indiana congressman Dave Evans, and commentator Sean Walsh…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces a partnership with Rolling Stone to market and distribute their podcasts “Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper” and “Rolling Stone Music Now.” The agreement includes the back catalogue in addition to future episodes…..Audio and spoken word agency Oxford Road announces the addition of three executive to the company. Kraig Kitchin – former Premiere Networks chief and current Sound Mind LLC principal – joins as strategic adviser. Steven Abraham is introduced as the company’s new president and Jennifer Laine is named head of marketing.

Today’s Presidential Election/Senate and House Races, Law Enforcement Prepares for Unrest, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Terror Attacks, Hurricane Eta Approaches Central America Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/2). Today’s presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as well as the numerous Senate and House races; law enforcement’s concerns about and preparation for keeping voting places accessible and handling public safety in the event protests and violence break out; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections the second wave could be worse than the first; the recent spate of terror attacks in France, Vienna, and Kabul; and Hurricane Eta threatens Central America with record floodwaters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the Twin Cities, Bring Me the News reports that air personalities Steve LaTart, a.k.a. Steve-O of CHR KDWB’s morning show and hot AC KTCZ “Cities 97.1” morning host Hunter Quinn both exit as part of the current downsizing taking place at iHeartMedia across the country…..Cumulus Media’s country WKDF, Nashville names Toni-Marie afternoon drive host. Toni-Marie joins Cumulus Nashville from Entercom’s country KWJJ, Portland “99.5 The Wolf” where she was midday host and APD. She says, “I have never been happier inside of a Walmart than the day that [program director] Paul Williams called to offer me this position! I’ve had the opportunity to do country radio in some amazing markets, but getting to work with Paul and the team at 103-3 in Nashville is a dream come true!”…..Alpha Media Portland announces that Gustav will join the KINK-FM lineup as the afternoon drive host. Alpha Media Portland operations manager Gene Sandbloom says, “Gustav has been an icon in Portland radio for 25 years, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join the KINK team in afternoons. His breadth of musical knowledge and the relationships he has forged with artists throughout his career are most welcome. For more than 50 years the KINK brand has been about serving the needs of Portland and the surrounding communities. Hats off to the Alpha Media management team for making yet another true investment in being live and local.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

| October 22, 2020

Rising Radio America Talk Star Chad Benson is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Described as “a new generation talker,” Radio America syndicated talk show host Chad Benson is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Benson’s rapidly growing three-hour daily syndicated program heard live 6:00 am to 9:00 am MT (9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET) emanates from KTAR, Phoenix where he also is co-host with Larry Gaydos of the station’s popular afternoon drive program. Both of these programs are proving to be very successful with the 25-54 adult demos. In addition to KTAR, Benson’s syndicated show is performing well on such stations as KXL-FM, Portland; WIBC-FM, Indianapolis; KSTE-AM, Sacramento; WOKV-FM, Jacksonville and KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa among others. One of the syndicated show’s unique features is it is updated throughout the day so that it is current regardless of when stations run the program. Benson’s radio career began in his native California in the 1990s at the legendary KRTH (K-EARTH), Los Angeles as the executive producer of the Robert W. Morgan Show and went on to be heard on several California music stations. Building upon his creativity developed on the music side of the business, he honed his talk skills at Talk Radio UK in London as one of the first commercial talk hosts to take on the mighty BBC, boasting over a quarter million listeners per week. With success and experience abroad, he returned to the US and hosted programs in Palm Springs at K-NEWS-FM and in San Antonio at KTSA before eventually joining KTAR. He also played professional soccer while in Europe and was talented enough to be signed onto the rosters of several teams including the Bristol Rovers, the Falkirk (Scotland) Football Club and the Portsmouth Football Club. Harrison and Benson talk about today’s media, politics and sports with an eye on the future. Check it out! 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.

SiriusXM Third Quarter Revenue Up 1%. Reporting on 2020 third quarter financial data, SiriusXM says revenue was $2.02 billion, up 1% compared to the third quarter of 2019. Net income increased 11% to $272 million in the third quarter from $246 million a year prior. While subscriber revenue rose from $1.55 billion in the third quarter of 2019 to $1.59 billion in Q3 2020, advertising revenue was down from $366 million in Q3 2019 to $345 million in the third quarter of 2020. SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “SiriusXM maintains strong momentum heading into year end, and we are increasing all of our full-year subscriber and financial guidance today. Our talented people and our powerful business model have delivered stellar results during a challenging year for our company and country. Our commitment to having the best possible audio content from top talent, as well as leading media and sports brands, has never wavered. First, we are making significant progress in extending our relationship with Howard Stern. We reached a new agreement with Kevin Hart for more content, with LeBron James and Maverick Carter we launched UNINTERRUPTED Radio from the NBA bubble on Pandora, and we debuted our fulltime channel with the members of U2 on SiriusXM. Pat McAfee joined our sports lineup, and we returned to live sports across the MLB, NBA and NFL.  And we brought our listeners special moments like the recent interview between Paul McCartney and Alec Baldwin honoring John Lennon’s 80th birthday on The Beatles Channel.”

iHeartMedia Unveils ‘Building Black Biz’ Initiative. The newly revealed “Building Black Biz” initiative from iHeartMedia New York is designed to “support, sustain and grow local Black-owned businesses in the New York metro area.” In this effort, iHeartMedia New York pledges to support the “Building Black Biz” initiative during the next three months with more than 100 million media impressions on hip hop WWPR “Power 105.1,”CHR WHTZ “Z100,” WLTW “106.7 Lite FM,” hot AC WKTU, classic rock WAXQ “Q104.3,” and news/talk WOR as well as the stations’ websites and social media channels. iHeartMedia New York says that through the “Building Black Biz” initiative, listeners and aspiring business owners can hear from successful entrepreneurs within the tristate area on how they started their business and what advice they would give to new entrepreneurs. iHeartMedia New York president Bernie Weiss says, “I am so proud of our team for going above and beyond and creating this comprehensive campaign. New York needs more Black-owned businesses and I am thrilled we can use the power of all of our six radio stations to do our part in making a real impact.”

Jack Heath Joins Binnie Media to Host Talk Show. A week after exiting iHeartMedia’s WGIR-AM, Manchester, New Hampshire where he hosted the “NH Today” morning drive program, Jack Heath is joining Binnie Media to host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program that will be simulcast across New Hampshire outlets WTPL-FM, Hillsboro (Concord market); WEMJ-AM/W279BS, Laconia; and WTSN-AM/W251CF, Dover. Binnie Media president Massimo Rosati says, “Jack’s show will stay consistent with the content from his former show, while adding some new features, additional geography, and more FM coverage. Jack will be joining our other great on-air talent for a truly star studded cast of broadcasters on our news talk sports stations.” Bill Binnie adds, “We are thrilled to have a talent like Jack join Binnie Media. He brings a breadth of experience and professionalism in journalism along with a connection to politics that will be of interest to our listeners.”

WGN, Chicago Plans ‘Halloween Radio Theatre.’ This Halloween night (10/31) WGN, Chicago will air “Halloween Radio Theatre” hosted by Carl Amari, from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am. The program will feature mystery, thriller, and terror-themed selections from 12 Golden Age of Radio dramas including “Suspense” starring Bela Lugosi, “Lights Out,” “Inner Sanctum Mystery,” “Escape,” “The Whistler,” and “The Sealed Book.” Amari, who has spent decades licensing and preserving classic radio broadcasts from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, is the curator of the Classic Radio Club, and board member of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. He says, “It’s going to be a ‘hair-raising’ seven hours, so stay up late, pop some popcorn, pull the covers up close, and be chilled by ‘theatre of the mind’ classic radio horror and mystery shows.” Last week (10/15), TALKERS magazine published a piece by University of St. Francis professor Tim Weldon titled, “The Scare On the Air” that is an homage to the radio horror genre. If you missed it you can read it here.

TALKERS News Notes. The October 19 interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Entercom’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles generated a lot of coverage in other media outlets – from CBSStephen Colbert to CNN to The Hill to The New York Post – after Dr. Fauci addressed the criticism he received from President Trump. While explaining that he knows Americans are fatigued by the pandemic but that he believes we’ll put it behind us after a vaccine becomes available, he then said, “That’s the only thing I really care about. That other stuff, it’s like in The Godfather: nothing personal, strictly business as far as I’m concerned. I just want to do my job and take care of the people of this country.” Hear the whole interview here…..ABC News Radio offering three hours of live, anchored coverage for tonight’s presidential debate. Programming includes a one-hour pre-show, followed by the debate and live post-debate analysis. Correspondent Aaron Katersky anchors coverage with reporting and analysis by correspondent Karen Travers, political analyst Steve Roberts, political director Rick Klein, deputy political director MaryAlice Parks, and others from ABC News’ and FiveThirtyEight’s political teams…..iHeartMedia and “Bobby Bones Show” co-host Amy Brown are partnering to launch The Amy Brown Podcast Network that will include a slate of health and wellness podcasts that will be co-produced by Brown and iHeartRadio. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne comments, “Our goal is to provide the highest quality programming across every podcast genre – and health and wellness is one of the most important categories in the medium right now, given the engagement of the listeners and the authenticity of the content. Amy is an incredible podcast talent – not just as the host of her own show, but someone who has a great eye for recruiting and developing new podcasts, too – and we want to support that however we can.”…..Entercom Podcast Network’s Cadence13 announces an exclusive partnership with Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, the creators and producers of the Emmy-nominated series “Unsolved Mysteries,” for a weekly podcast based on the long-running television show and Netflix streaming series. The podcast will present all new unsolved cases and each episode will take a deep dive into one specific story. The “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast will be executive produced by Chris Corcoran, chief content officer of Cadence13, and Terry Dunn Meurer, the co-creator of “Unsolved Mysteries,” and will be co-directed and co-produced by Cadence13 and Cosgrove/Meurer Productions. Season One of the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast will launch in early 2021.

The Presidential Election/Final Debate, Early/Mail-In Voting, Iran-Russia Election Interference, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Hunter Biden Hard Drive Case, Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Vote, Pope Supports Same-Sex Unions, Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty in Opioids Suit, and Sports During COVID Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/21). The November presidential election and tonight’s final presidential debate; the issues of early voting and mail-in voting; the allegation that both Russia and Iran are practicing cyber interference in the U.S. presidential election; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for a fall-winter second wave; the allegations that a hard drive from Hunter Biden’s laptop indicates then-Vice President Joe Biden influenced the Ukraine; today’s Judiciary Committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; Pope Francis voices support for same-sex unions; OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma pleads guilty in the opioid epidemic case and will shut down; and pro sports during the time of COVID were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Nine Rules I Learned from Limbaugh. Programmer and talk show host Scott Ryfun was a college student in 1991 when he first heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio. At the time, Ryfun was a conservative college student when he stumbled across Limbaugh’s show while spinning across the radio dial. He became hooked and his love of Limbaugh’s show led him into the radio business. “My goal was to host an issues-oriented talk show and to be insightful and entertaining, but there was only one local political talk show in [my] town and no one seemed interested in letting me have it. So, I decided to learn how to do every job in radio I could so that I’d be a valuable employee while I awaited my opportunity to do the show I wanted to do. I also spent my time trying to deconstruct conservative talk radio and figuring out how it worked and how to make it work for me.” Today, Ryfun is vice president of programming at iHeartMedia’s Brunswick, Georgia operations and morning host at news/talk WGIG-AM/W245DO. He’s written a piece titled, “Nine Rules I Learned from Limbaugh,” that encapsulates much of what he’s learned about great talk radio from Rush Limbaugh. Read his insightful piece here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The 2020 “iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One” is streaming on LiveXLive.com and broadcast across iHeartMedia’s county radio stations tomorrow (10/23) at 8:00 pm ET. Bobby Bones is hosting the seventh edition of this event that will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Riley Green, and special performances by Morgan Evans and Gabby Barrett, recorded live on one stage in Nashville.

Monday, April 27, 2020

| April 27, 2020

Monday Memo: Freebie-of-the-Year? Commercial broadcasters subsist on advertising by businesses, most-of-which are OUT of business now.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke points to a research report “that recommends specific, tested guidance for crafting messages to convey our clients’ – and our stations’ – concern for listeners in a way that will resonate long after the pandemic passes.”   Read it here.

The U.S. Coronavirus Cases and the Death Toll, Weekend ‘Reopening’ Activities, Presidential Race/Biden Accuser, CCP’s Coronavirus Response, ‘SNL,’ and NFL Draft Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll from the pandemic; the “re-opening” activities taking place in some states; the November presidential election and case of former Joe Biden senate staffer Tara Reade who claims Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993; scrutiny of the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic; Brad Pitt plays Dr. Tony Fauci on “Saturday Night Live”; and the 2020 NFL Draft were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Seven Simple Steps. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it’s not easy doing business in this uncertain time.  Yes, audience levels for news/talk are up! But, “you know ad sales are down.  More listeners are tuning in, yet co-workers are getting laid off.  Fear is dominating the content and fear is the most difficult business condition to sell through.  All markets hate fear and uncertainty.  Adapting to this pandemic environment challenges everything we know.”  Read Lapa’s suggestions for helping you adapt here.

Investor Leases XEPRS; Will Launch ‘The Mightier 1090’ This Summer. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Flagstaff, Arizona ad agency owner Bill Hagen is signing a five-year lease with XEPRS, Rosarito, Mexico owner Interamericana de Radio to operate the station.  The signal – for some 16 years a San Diego sports talk station branded “The Mighty 1090” – stopped airing sports talk after previous lessee Broadcasting Company of the Americas was unable to renegotiate its lease.  Hagen tells the paper that former “Mighty 1090” sports talk host Scott Kaplan will rejoin the station but the soon-to-be-rebranded “The Mightier 1090” will not be 24/7 sports talk.  Hagen says the station will be about “lifestyle.” He has no specific date for launching the format but tells the Union Tribune, “We have a ton of work to do.”

PodcastOne Subscribes to Nielsen’s Podcast Listener Buying Power Service.  Podcasting firm PodcastOne announces that it has entered into a deal with Nielsen to use the ratings giant’s Podcast Listener Buying Power service.  As part of the deal, PodcastOne will “have access to podcast insights spanning 18 genres and numerous listening preferences that can be cross-referenced among a variety of consumer purchase behavior patterns and services usage.” Nielsen says its Podcast Listener Buying Power Service (launched last August) allows clients to see the qualitative profile of their shows using program titles collected from subscribers in order to connect specific types of listeners with advertisers and key brand categories.  PodcastOne EVP of sales Sue McNamara says, “Nielsen represents the addition of another powerful tool to our arsenal of research resources.  With these insights, we’ll be able to use podcast listener analytics to provide ourselves and our clients with information that will accelerate monetization opportunities.  With programming in virtually every content category, this information will provide us invaluable research to communicate our importance to podcast advertisers, as well as our partners.”

Emmis to Voluntarily Delist from Nasdaq. The company says in a statement that it plans to voluntarily delist its Class A Common Stock from the Nasdaq Stock Market, and based upon ownership of its shares by fewer than 300 holders of record, deregister its Class A Common Stock and suspend its public reporting obligations.  Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan says, “We’ve undertaken a detailed and thoughtful review of the costs and benefits associated with being a Nasdaq-listed and SEC reporting company.  After careful consideration, our board of directors unanimously decided to voluntarily delist from Nasdaq and deregister with the SEC as we believe the expected savings of more than $1 million per year outweigh the advantages of continuing as a Nasdaq-listed and SEC reporting company.”  After the delisting takes place, Emmis’ Class A Common Stock is eligible for trading on an over-the-counter market, if one or more brokers choose to make a market for the Company’s Class A Common Stock, however, there can be no assurances regarding any such trading.

BIA Advisory: Radio to Take $1.7 Billion Ad Hit Due to COVID-19. Revising its advertising revenue projections for 2020 that were originally laid out in November of last year, BIA Advisory Services now expects the total for all U.S. local advertising across all platforms to be $144.3 billion, down 10.6% from its November 2019 projection of $161.3 billion.  Over the air radio is expected to lose $1.7 billion as it and local television are being hit hard by “decreased ad spend by Leisure and Entertainment, Restaurants and Retail companies, as well as sports cancellations.”  The report goes on to say, “One encouraging element is that political advertising will keep the decrease in both local cable and local OTA television smaller than other media. Other media, without that buffer, will see larger percentage decreases from what BIA originally projected for 2020.”  For radio, political advertising is situational – stations in swing states tend to get more presidential advertising than those in non-swing states.

TALKERS News Notes. Some of the hosts of the New Hampshire-based, nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” talk radio program attended a rally at the state house in Concord to protest the social distancing measures in place.  Hosts including show founder Ian Freeman, Nobody, Vincent, and Captain Kickass were there.  Freeman reports that the local police ignored the event.  He was quoted by the Associated Press in its national coverage, saying, “Even if the virus were 10 times as dangerous as it is, I still wouldn’t stay inside my home.  I’d rather take the risk and be a free person.”…..This Thursday (4/30), a national radiothon will take place to raise funds for Feeding America and its 200-member network of local food banks across the U.S.  It’s called, “Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon,” and is open to any radio station wishing to join……Condolences to the family and friends of WNYC, New York personality Richard Hake, who passed away on Friday (4/24) at age 51 from natural causes.  He as most recently serving as the local host of WNYC’s “Morning Edition.”  He also worked on the national; editions of NPR programs “Weekend Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Talk Host Wayne Allyn Root Organizes Las Vegas Protest Parade.  Pictured above is Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk show host Wayne Allyn Root thanking participants in Friday’s “Open Nevada, Unleash Prosperity, Save America Patriot Caravan.”  Root organized the parade of vehicles that drove down Las Vegas Boulevard to protest the business shutdowns due to social distancing that has all but shuttered the tourist-reliant economy there.  The Las Vegas Sun estimates 500 cars took part in the event but Root says there were “thousands and thousands of cars!”

PPM Analysis: Rock. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the rock format. In this report, you can see which stations improved from the February survey, how their weekly, 6+ AHQ shares changed from a year ago, and how some of the format’s best performers ranked in their local markets.  See it all here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Philadelphia, “Lady B in the Afternoon” debuts on Radio One’s rhythmic oldies WPPZ-FM “Classix 107.9” today (4/27).   Station program director Jay Dixon says, “Afternoons is where Lady B shines.  Philly radio grew up on Lady B. We’re so happy to have her back in this time slot – bridging music, the community, and people – every weekday.  With her team, DJ Touchtone and Roxi Fab, Lady B is like medicine for the soul.”…..Alpha Media’s country KGNC-FM, Amarillo, Texas adds the “Big D & Bubba” show for mornings, starting today (4/27).  The duo say, “It is such an honor to be given the reigns of such a legendary station!  We appreciate Alpha and their leadership giving us this opportunity.”  The “Big D & Bubba Show” is distributed nationally via a partnership between Silverfish Media and Compass Media Networks…..This Wednesday (4/29) “The iHeartRadio Living Room Concert Series Presented by State Farm” will launch, featuring some of the biggest artists in music.  The series will video stream and broadcast every Wednesday to celebrate the importance of community and being a “good neighbor” through the power of music during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wednesday’s performance will feature country artist Thomas Rhett.  It will stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube Channel and broadcast across iHeartRadio stations nationwide at 7:00 pm local time.  iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises president John Sykes says, “The living room has become the new stage.  Until our live music events return, this is a way for millions of fans to stay connected to their favorite artists, while staying safe at home.  We are excited to partner with State Farm on this new music series.”