Tag: "Alfred Liggins III"
Talk Host Craig Silverman and KNUS, Denver Have Different Takes on His Departure. Only this appears to be agreed upon by former Denver chief deputy district attorney Craig Silverman and Salem Media Group’s news/talk KNUS, Denver – he exited during his Saturday program. Silverman claims he was ousted in the middle of his show after a segment critical of President Trump aired. But KNUS general manager Brian Taylor tells FOX 31 Denver that he was removed after appearing on a competing station. Taylor says, “He decided that it was important to work across town and so on Saturday on his program he announced that, and that’s what prompted our decision to take him off the air. The notion that he was relieved from his program because he criticized President Trump is absolutely untrue. We’ve never told Mr. Silverman the position to take on his impeachment.”
Monday Memo: What’s really ‘Official?’ With AM/FM broadcasters now competing with SO many audio competitors, the timing couldn’t be worse to blend-into the blah-blah-blah with dated-sounding station imaging. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke warns against what he calls “the most-abused word” in promo copy. Read it here.
iHeartMedia Announces $500 Million Private Offering. Via a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission,iHeartMedia, Inc. announces its intent to offer, $500 million aggregate principal amount of Senior Secured Notes due January 2028 in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers. Proceeds from the notes – guaranteed on a senior secured basis by iHeartCommunications’ direct parent, iHeartMedia Capital I, LLC, and the subsidiaries of iHeartCommunications that guarantee iHeartCommunications’ term loan facility – are intended (together with cash on hand) “to prepay at par a portion of the outstanding borrowings under its term loan facility, to pay accrued and unpaid interest thereon to, but excluding, the date of prepayment, and to pay fees and expenses related to the offering of the Notes and the use of proceeds therefrom.”
Dunlap Maintains Innocence; Has New Attorney. On Friday (11/15), the Times-Picayune’s Ramon Antonio Vargas wrote an updated story on the case of former WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans sports talk host Seth Dunlap, who was fired from the Entercom station on October 31 in the aftermath of in investigation into the September 10 posting of a gay slur on the radio station’s Twitter account. If you’ve been following this story, you are aware that Entercom, based on its own investigation, believes Dunlap sent the text himself several days after posting to his own Facebook page an open letter to New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees complaining about Brees’ work with Focus on the Family, an organization that is not LGBTQ-friendly. Dunlap also went public with his own struggles in the radio biz as an openly gay man. Several days later the anti-gay slur appeared on the WWL Twitter feed. Entercom turned the investigation over to the New Orleans Police Department and recently, a judge denied the NOPD a warrant for Dunlap’s arrest on extortion charges. The request for a warrant was based in part on WWL’s statement that Dunlap sought $1.8 million from the station for him to drop his planned lawsuit against it for allowing a hostile workplace. Dunlap has since changed lawyers. Megan Kiefer no longer represents him. Dunlap tells the Times-Picayune that Billy Gibbens is his attorney. Another new development is that Dunlap says he no longer has the iPhone from which WWL and police believe he accessed the station’s Twitter account. The NOPD says their investigation is ongoing and Dunlap says he is still considering suing the station.
Jimmy de Castro ‘Retiring’ from Entercom. In a memo to staffers last Friday, Entercom COO Weezie Kramer announced that Jimmy de Castro – senior vice president and market manager for the company’s Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison station groups – is retiring from his position with the company. He’s expected to leave in mid-December. Kramer says of de Castro in her memo, “Jimmy was tasked with breathing new energy and positivity into the organization as we embarked on our journey as a new team. And Jimmy delivered. His spark, creativity, experience, and business acumen were just what was needed to improve our brands, our culture, our business, and our building in Chicago.” De Castro tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder that he’ll continue to operate sports marketing and consulting firm After The Whistle LLC and his firm The Content Factory, and through the latter he hopes to get into sports betting and gaming content.
Place Assumes Mornings on New Hampshire’s WNTK-FM. The Valley News reports that market on-air pro Jason Place is taking over the morning drive show on Sugar River Media’s news/talk WNTK-FM, New London, New Hampshire. Place takes over the program from former host Keith Hanson. Hanson – a local Republican committee chairman – exited the station in October after his controversial use of profanity on social media in defense of his decision to bring Jihad Watch author Robert Spencer to the area for a presentation caused a stir. Though the Valley News says station officials deny his exit had to do with that incident. Place tells the paper he isn’t hosting the show to espouse a certain political philosophy; he wants to have conversations with listeners. “What matters is what the listener thinks. Hopefully, we can get a conversation going, learn something. and have some fun. … God, I just hope I don’t take myself too seriously.”
TALKERS News Notes. St. Louis news/talk KMOX “News Radio 1120” announces it signs a contract extension to continue to serve as the flagship radio station for St. Louis Cardinals games through the 2024 season. Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan says, “We are honored to continue to work with the world class St. Louis Cardinals. ‘News Radio 1120 KMOX’ and the Cardinals are synonymous institutions here in this great city and we couldn’t be more excited to continue this fantastic partnership.”…..Westwood One Podcast Network announces that “The Dan Bongino Show” adds a once-weekly interview show to its daily lineup. The new program launched with an interview with President Trump. During the interview, the president shared thoughts about why he uses social media, the impeachment hearings, the whistleblower’s identity, Ukraine’s new president, looking forward to the new Inspector General report, draining the swamp, tax cuts, the economy, capital gains indexing, Obamacare, and more. Bongino is a former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer, and a New York Times best-selling author…..AdLarge Media announces that Dave Boretti is named its vice president of Midwest sales. Boretti comes to AdLarge from a similar position with PodcastOne. Chicago-based Boretti says, “I’ve had conversations with Don for a few years about moving to AdLarge and this came together at the perfect time. AdLarge is an exciting company with leadership that consistently is ahead of emerging trends in audio. I look forward to marshalling their assets to help AdLarge’s advertisers achieve their goals.”
Impeachment Testimony/Ukraine Allegations, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Fresno Football Party Shooting, Hong Kong Protests, China’s Muslim Detention Docs, Prince Andrew Interview, Iran Protests, Venice Flooding/Climate Change, and Kanye West at Osteen Church Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The impeachment testimony against President Trump and the related allegations of impropriety with regard to Ukraine’s military aid money; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020 and Michael Bloomberg’s entrance into the race as a Republican; the shooting at a football watching party in Fresno that took the lives of four; the protests at Hong Kong Polytechnic University; the revelation of Chinese documents indicating detention of Muslims; Prince Andrew’s awkward interview with the BBC regarding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein; protests in Iran over the doubling of gas prices; the city of Venice suffers its third flood in a week that officials are blaming on climate change; and Kanye West’s appearance at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
2019 Giants of Broadcasting & Electronic Arts Honored. Pictured above are the nine distinguished members of the media industry who were honored Friday (11/15) at the 17th Annual Library of American Broadcasting Foundation’s Giants of Broadcasting & Electronic Arts awards ceremony held at New York City’s famed Gotham Hall. Clockwise from top left are: CW Television Network president Mark Pedowitz, Urban One CEO Alfred C. Liggins III, Patrick Communications founder and CEO Larry Patrick, CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn, Advanced Television Systems Committee president emeritus Mark Richer, PBS president & CEO Paula Kerger, journalist Connie Chung, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, and Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. Photo: Wendy Moger-Bross
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Albuquerque CHR outlet KKOB-FM re-brands as “93-3 The Q.” Cumulus Media Albuquerque VP and market manager Jeff Berry comments, “‘93-3 The Q’ is the natural evolution of 93.3, a highly rated radio outlet with compassionate personalities, an enormous fan base, and market-leading, multi-platform content. ‘93-3 The Q’ brings renewed passion for and connection with the city of Albuquerque and its people. It is a reflection of our commitment to Albuquerque listeners and we couldn’t be more excited to grow and expand the brand when it is healthy and take it to the next level.”…..iHeartMedia Asheville announces the debut of “The Woody & Wilcox Show” on its WKSF-HD3/W266CP “ALT 101.1.” iHeartMedia Asheville SVP of programming Brian Hall says, “We are pumped to add ‘The Woody and Wilcox Show’ to the lineup. Woody and Wilcox can’t deliver food to your door, but they will deliver a morning wake-up call that Asheville listeners will love.”
iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Rises 3%. Revenue for iHeartMedia, Inc. – whose shares became listed on the NASDAQ on July 18 of this year – was $948.3 million, an increase of 3% compared to the same period in 2018. Digital revenue increased 33.4%. Looking at the first three quarters of 2019, revenue was $2.66 billion – an increase of 2.8% over the same period in 2018. The company says, “Our traditional radio business, which is comprised of our Broadcast and Networks revenue streams, is stable and growing. Broadcast revenue declined by 0.6% on a reported basis and increased 0.4% excluding the impact of political revenue, while Networks grew 9.2% year-over-year driven primarily by growth in our Total Traffic & Weather network. Networks also grew sequentially by almost 300 basis points over the second quarter. Our growth was also driven by our Digital revenue stream, which grew 33.4%. Digital revenue growth was primarily driven by growth in podcasting, as well as other digital revenue. Audio & Media Services declined 14.3% on a reported basis and increased by 0.2% excluding the impact of political revenue. Political revenue primarily impacts our Broadcast and Audio & Media Services revenue, and therefore these revenue streams tend to show greater variance in non-political years. Sponsorships increased by 4.4% year-over-year. Importantly, all of our revenue streams grew year-over-year excluding the impact of political revenue, demonstrating the continued momentum in our business.”
Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q3 Net Income Up 1.5%. Net income for Beasley Broadcast Group’s 2019 third quarter was $66.1 million, an increase of 1.5% over the same period in 2018 and the company says that “reflects increased revenue in the Company’s Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Charlotte, Fayetteville, and Wilmington market clusters. Net revenue for the three months ended September 30, 2019 was comparable to net revenue for the same period in 2018 at the Company’s other market clusters.” For the first nine months of 2019, net income was $189.5 million, an increase of 4.1% over the same nine-month period in 2018. Station Operating Income increased 12.7% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2019. The company says the year-over-year increase is primarily attributable to higher revenue in the 2019 third quarter and lower station operating expenses related to $1.7 million of non-recurring bad debt expense that was recorded in the comparable 2018 period, partially offset by higher expenses at recently acquired stations. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Throughout the third quarter, we continued to advance our revenue diversification initiatives and actively manage our local radio broadcasting and digital platforms, while implementing our operating disciplines at recently acquired stations to drive SOI growth and margin expansion. Record third quarter net revenue of $66.1 million was driven by the strength of our station clusters in four of our top five largest revenue markets, as well as contributions from recent acquisitions and more than offset the approximate $0.9 million of combined political, spectrum and United States Traffic Network traffic revenue recorded in the 2018 third quarter, which did not recur in the 2019 third quarter…Third quarter results also began to reflect financial contributions related to our new and expanding digital development and diversification initiatives. Beasley generated a year-over-year increase in digital revenue of approximately 37%, with digital now accounting for 7.4% of total revenue, compared to 5.4% of total revenue in the prior year period. Going forward, we remain committed to increasing digital share of total revenue as we continue to aggressively roll out our digital transformation strategy across the organization.”
Urban One Third Quarter Net Revenue Basically Flat at $111.1 Million. While third quarter net revenue was up just 0.3%, Urban One’s broadcast and digital operating income was up 3.2% on $44.8 million, compared to the same period in 2018. Operating income was approximately $32.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019, compared to approximately $32.1 million for the same period in 2018. Urban One CEO and president Alfred Liggins III says, “During the third quarter we completed the sale of WDMK to Beasley Broadcasting, as a result of which our cash position improved, and net leverage was reduced. On a same station basis, our third quarter radio revenues were up 4.2%, and I was pleased that we were able to grow the Radio Broadcasting segment Adjusted EBITDA by 6.6%. Same station core radio revenues, excluding political, are currently pacing down low single digits for the fourth quarter. Cable Television advertising was robust in the quarter, up 7.8%. While digital revenues decreased by 6.4%, we were able to post significant Adjusted EBITDA growth in that segment as a result of improved cost control. Overall, we were able to grow Adjusted EBITDA by 5.8% for the quarter, and I believe we are well positioned to achieve our strategic goals for the year, with Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $138-$140 million.”
Nielsen Announces Plans to Split into Two Companies. Along with its third quarter financial results, Nielsen Holdings Plc is announcing that it will “separate the Global Media and Global Connect businesses through a spin-off of the Global Connect business.” Global Media is the audience measurement division and Global Connect is the consumer data division. CEO David Kenny says, “We are pleased with our third quarter results. Both Media and Connect revenues were ahead of our expectations, reflecting strong execution as well as our focus on driving faster, bolder decisions to enhance value for Nielsen and for our clients. We also announced today the conclusion of our strategic review and our decision to separate Global Media and Global Connect. As we look forward, we remain focused on executing on our growth strategies and positioning both businesses to create value for our shareholders.” The strategic review was led by chairman of the board of directors James Attwood, who says, “Nielsen has two strong and global franchises — Global Media and Global Connect. Following an extensive review process, which included an in-depth analysis of our businesses, strategies and market opportunities, the Board concluded that separating into two independent, publicly traded companies is the best path to position each business for long term success and maximize value creation. As independent companies, both Nielsen — the Global Media business — and the new company consisting of Global Connect will enjoy added flexibility and further strengthen their paths toward a new phase of growth, productivity and industry leadership.”
Q3 2019 Flat for Saga Communications. Third quarter net revenue for Saga Communications, Inc. was $31.3 million, basically flat compared to 2018’s Q3 figure of $31.7 million. Station operating expense increased $171 thousand to $23.6 million and operating income decreased $520 thousand to $4.8 million compared to $5.3 million for the same period in 2018. Net Income decreased $361 thousand to $3.3 million for the quarter. On a same-station basis, third quarter net revenue decreased $1.4 million to $30.3 million. Looking at the first three quarters of 2019, net income was flat with the same period in 2018 at $9.4 million. Net revenue decreased $610 thousand to $91.3 million. On a same-station basis for the nine-month period, net revenue decreased $3.8 million to $88.1 million. Saga reports having $42.3 million in cash on hand as of November 4, 2019. The company’s total bank debt was $10 million as of the end of the quarter.
PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey, today focusing on the public radio news/talk format. More than 60% of public radio news/talk stations were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) compared to the September 2019 survey. Year-over-year, the results were split about 50/50, with half the stations up and half down. Four high-performing public outlets ranked #1 in their respective markets in October. They were: WAMU-FM, Washington; KPBS-FM, San Diego; KOPB-FM, Portland; and KUT-FM, Austin. Perennially top-ranked public outlet KQED, San Francisco ceded the #1 spot to Entercom’s all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco in October. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Sun Broadcast Group to Rep All of Envision Networks’ Products in 2020. This agreement between Sun Broadcast Group and Envision Networks is an expanded sales representation agreement that now includes all Envision Networks shows and services. Envision Networks CEO and president Danno Wolkoff says, “We started with Sun Broadcast Group selling all of our Spanish inventory and began adding more general market advertising to their networks as we grew. SBG’s ability to maximize our lineups and create networks with such high advertiser demand fueled the development of many new shows and services. It’s only fitting that Jay [Bailey], Julio [Aponte] and the Sun team now represent all of Envision Networks’ advertising sales in 2020 … we’re thrilled to be working together.”
TALKERS News Notes. Greenville, South Carolina news/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” adds a translator to its broadcast. Now carrying the station’s signal is W270AM, Anderson, South Carolina at 101.5 FM. Anderson is about 25 miles southwest of Greenville. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “We’re happy to meet the demand from listeners and advertisers to expand 106.3 WORD’s over-the-air signal to Anderson County using 101.5 FM. Anderson is a fast-growing market that we are looking forward to serving with 106.3 WORD’s programming on all of our platforms.”…..Kentucky sports talk host Matt Jones will be off his WLAP-AM, Lexington-based program after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission. Jones has announced he’s exploring the possibility of running as a Democrat for McConnell’s senate seat. The iHeartMedia station asked Jones to step away from the program after the complaint was issued. Jones was relieved of his duties at WLEX-TV, Lexington in July after he made his political ambitions known…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting a news special titled, “30 Years After the Fall: The Legacy of the Berlin Wall,” that explores the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Correspondent Chas Henry hosts the program as he reports from the site where the Berlin Wall once stood. He talks to scholars about why the wall was constructed and with residents who watched it come down. The half-hour program airs Thanksgiving weekend. Stations interested can contact Jim Jones at email@example.com or 202-840-7933 for more information.
Impeachment Process, Ukraine Affair, 2020 Presidential Race, Tuesday’s Election Results, Mormon Family Massacre, China-Hong Kong Tensions, New HIV Strain, and OK Boomer Meme Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/6). The impeachment process against President Trump; the testimony about President Trump’s alleged quid pro quo offer to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; Democratic victories in Virginia and Kentucky in Tuesday’s elections; the massacre of nine members of a Mormon family by drug cartel members in Mexico; the ongoing tensions between Hong Kong and China; the discovery of a new strain of HIV; and the controversy over the “Ok Boomer” meme 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 Fresno market, iHeartMedia names Angel “Visa” Jarquin program director for hip hop KBOS “B95.” He comes to “B95” from his most recent position with the company’s CHR KDON, Monterey where he was afternoon drive personality and assistant program director. iHeartMedia SVP of programming for Central California and Nevada Tony Matteo says, “Angel’s incredible track record of success and his experience in the format make him an ideal fit to spearhead this market’s leading brand in Fresno. We’re excited to bring his energy to the ‘B95’ team.”…..JVC Media announces the addition of Long Island radio personality Bill “The Wiseman” Wise as morning host at WPTY-HD2/W251BY, Patchogue, New York “Oldies 98.1” JVC New York general manager Bruce Shepard says, “The Wiseman is a great addition to our staff. He will not only be on the airwaves of ‘Oldies 98.1,’ he will also work with the team to develop new and exciting live events and concerts for ‘Oldies 98.1.’ I am thrilled to have him on board.”…..Country outlet WYCD, Detroit hosted last night’s “Stars and Strings Presented by RAM Trucks Built to Serve” event that raised more than $25,000 for Folds of Honor, the organization that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. Entercom has now raised more than $275,000 to support the cause. The RADIO.COM event featured performances by Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Brett Young, and Ryan Hurd…..iHeartMedia’s rock WJRR, Cocoa Beach, Florida announces the all-star lineup for its “Earthday Birthday Number 27” music festival taking place on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds and Orlando Amphitheater. Performing will be: Shinedown, Halestorm, Theory Of A Deadman, Beartooth, Fozzy, Dirty Honey, New Years Day, Crobot, and Dinosaur Pile-Up, with more to be announced…..Cox Media Group classic hits WSRV, Atlanta “97.1 The River” will celebrate its 14th birthday with “The River’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash Presents: Journey with Pretenders” on Thursday, August 13 at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta. Station director of branding and programming Chris Eagan says, “We can’t wait to celebrate The River’s 14th birthday with our awesome fans. Journey and Pretenders will definitely put on an unbelievable show to help us party on August 13!”
Will Tomorrow Be the Day iHeartMedia’s Future Becomes Clearer? On Sunday, iHeartMedia and Consenting Lenders entered into a Forbearance Agreement that put off iHM’s defaut on an interest payment on 14% Senior Notes until midnight tomorrow (3/7). That gives both sides more time to work out a solution to the company’s $20 billion in debt and avoid putting the matter into the hands of a bankruptcy judge. Analysts watching this case are taking note of the fact that John Malone’s Liberty Media purchased $400 million of iHM’s debt last week and now becomes a creditor in the event of a bankruptcy. Just how important Liberty’s involvement as a creditor becomes remains to be seen but, remember that Liberty came to the aid of SiriusXM when it needed cash and now controls a majority interest in that company. A lot of the consumer press stories covering the iHeartMedia debt saga that TALKERS editors have seen imply the company is on the verge of “failure.” But the reality – borne out by its quarterly financial reports – is that the company is making money. It’s just not making enough to cover interest payments on the massive debt. The latest term sheet from iHeartMedia summarizes a proposed restructuring of the company that would reduce its debt (in exchange for equity) to $5.75 billion. As part of the proposed terms, it would spin off Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings.
And ‘The Loop’ in Chicago Goes to…Educational Media Foundation! At first, today’s FCC filing to transfer classic rock WLUP-FM, Chicago from Merlin Media to non-profit Christian broadcaster Educational Media Foundation for $21.5 million seems surprising, but EMF did recently acquire KSWD, Los Angeles from Entercom and, unlike many secular, commercial broadcasting companies, it has money in the bank. If approved, it’s expected that EMF will install its “K-Love” Christian contemporary format on the station. Unfortunately, the deal means the current staff – including morning personality Erich “Mancow” Muller – will be out of work. The other Merlin Media station still on the block in Chicago is alternative rock WKQX.
Salem Media Group LMAs KPAM, Portland. In a press release issued Monday (3/5), Salem Media Group acknowledges that it is operating news/talk KPAM, Portland and adult standards KKOV “Sunny 1550” – both stations in the process of being sold by Pamplin Broadcasting to Intelli LLC. The presser is titled, “KPAM is Alive and Well” and notes that KPAM airs “live and local drive-time programs – ‘First Edition’ from 6am to 10am and ‘Afternoon Northwest’ from 3pm to 6pm – and syndicated programs such as ‘The Clark Howard Show,’ ‘The Schnitt Show,’ ‘The Michael Medved Show,’ and ‘The Joe Pags Show.’ Hourly news, weather, and sports as well as drive-time traffic are also featured.”
WRKO, Boston Adds Joe Pags Show for Evenings. The WOAI, San Antonio-based Joe Pags show – hosted by Joe Pagliarulo – is joining the program lineup of iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston. The Joe Pags show – heard in more than 100 markets across the country – airs in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot. WRKO program director Michael Czarnecki says “We are thrilled to have Joe join the WRKO weekday line up. Joe does so much more than just political talk. He entertains, makes you think, makes you laugh, heck he even sings. This makes him the perfect addition to the WRKO family.” Pagliarulo states, “When you hear the call letters WRKO, you hear heritage – and a station most hosts can only dream of being on. I’m psyched beyond words that my show is coming to this amazing station. It’s an opportunity I cherish and simply cannot wait to talk with the great people of Boston on a daily basis. Thank you so much to the management team for the trust and support!”
Saga Communications’ Fourth Quarter Net Revenue Rises 2.3%. During 2017, Saga Communications executed the sale of its television stations and purchased radio stations in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Those transactions resulted in net income increasing $9.9 million during the fourth quarter of 2017 and $36.5 million for the year. Saga reports that net revenue increased 2.3% to $31.5 million during Q4. For the entire year, net revenue decreased 0.7% to $118.2 million. For the fourth quarter, operating income decreased $433,000 to $5.3 million when adjusted for the $1.5 million charge for impairment of intangible assets. Station operating expense increased 5.4% to $23.2 million (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations) primarily due to the acquisition of the Charleston and Hilton Head radio stations. Free cash flow was $6.3 million compared to $7.6 million last year. Same station net revenue decreased 4.2% to $29.5 million primarily due to a decrease in gross political revenue of $1 million and same station operating expense decreased 2.5% to $21.5 million for the quarter.
Urban One Reports Q4 2017 Net Revenue Down 4%. The silver lining in this fourth quarter 2017 financial report from Urban One is that broadcast and digital operating income increased 2.8% compared to the same period in 2016. But overall, net revenue was approximately $109 million, a decrease of 4% from the same period in 2016. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $38.7 million for the quarter, compared to $30.9 million for the same period in 2016, an increase of 25.6%. Urban One president and CEO Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall, we produced a strong quarter from an Adjusted EBITDA standpoint, and as a result we were able to show full year Adjusted EBITDA growth, despite the challenging market conditions. Our core radio revenues were up slightly for the quarter, excluding the impact of political revenues. Our TV advertising revenues suffered from weak ratings delivery, which was somewhat offset by growth in affiliate revenues. Our digital business benefitted from the integration of our acquisition of the Bossip, Madame Noire and Hip Hop Wired brands, and was up significantly in both revenue and Adjusted EBITDA compared to prior year. We were able to control costs, most notably at TV One and Corporate. During the quarter, we repurchased a further $20 million of our 9.25% notes at a discount, and we remain strongly committed to reducing net leverage.”
TALKERS News Notes. Sports giant ESPN announces James Pitaro is the company’s new chief, taking over for John Skipper, who suddenly stepped down from his position in December in order to address what was termed a long-time substance abuse issue. Pitaro has been serving the Walt Disney company in an executive capacity in the digital realm. Pitaro will also serve as co-chair of Disney’s television segment…..JVC Media’s Long Island news/talk outlet WRCN, Riverhead “LI News Radio 103.9 FM” is presenting a “Spring Back to Business” event designed to be a “networking social get-together” on March 26 at its studio operations at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. Station personality Frank MacKay will introduce FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade who will take part in a Q&A with attendees.
Bill Lally Dies After Battle with Cancer. Family, friends and the Southern California radio community are mourning the loss of Bill Lally, who passed away over the weekend after a long battle with cancer. Lally was a longtime operations manager and APD at KFI, KLAC and KTLK in Los Angeles who exited the company in 2009 during the massive round of layoffs that took place at then-Clear Channel that year. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Lally had also served with WABC, New York; Westwood One; WMCA; and CBS RADIO during his career.
Trump-Russia Investigation/Sam Nunberg Subpoena, Financial Reforms Rollback, North Korea-South Korea Talks, Trump Tariffs/Trade War, Senate School Safety Bill, Netanyahu-Trump Meeting, the Oscars, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/5). The investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents and the bizarre media tour by former Trump aide Sam Nunberg after being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposes rolling back reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis; North Korea’s Kim Jong Un meets with South Korean officials; President Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s move to block them; the U.S. Senate proposes a school safety bill in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting; embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington and his meeting with President Trump; Sunday night’s Academy Awards show; and NBA action 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. The morning show at iHeartMedia’s hip hop WUSL, Philadelphia “Power 99” adds Roxy Romeo to the cast. She’ll join the “Rise & Grind Morning Show” featuring Mikey Dredd and Mutha Knows, effective March 12. iHM Philly director of urban programming Derrick Corbett says, “To be able to add a talent the likes of Roxy to our staff is phenomenal. She’s an incredible personality who has the ability to make you feel as if you’ve known her for years upon first listen. We’re excited to be able to share her voice with the city of Philadelphia, and that she’s chosen to make ‘Power 99’ her new home.” Romeo was most recently midday jock, APD and music director at the company’s “REAL 103.9” in Las Vegas…..Nate Bell is named program director at iHeartMedia’s hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “Mix 92.3” in Detroit. EVP of urban/hip hop programming Doc Wynter says, “We are so excited to have Nate back in our urban programming brain trust. He was missed, but it was destiny for him to come back to iHeartMedia. Things are about to heat up in Detroit!”…..In Charlotte, iHeartMedia names Brooke Morrison afternoon personality for CHR WHQC “Channel 96.1.” Station PD A.J. says, “We are very excited about what Brooke will bring to Charlotte. Her high level of engagement, work ethic and passion for music and entertainment make her a superstar on and off the air. I look forward to her joining the team as we build the next chapter of ‘Channel 96.1.’”