By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter. Messages on your phone and computer find you based on what you’ve told the world via your posts. Advertisers are also buying Google keywords. They’re telling (or, if they’re smart, asking) you JUST enough to tempt you to click for more of the pitch.
CBS to Explore Options for Radio Division. The company has always enjoyed the cash flow that the CBS RADIO division brought to its bottom line but CEO Les Moonves has often indicated that radio is not a core business for CBS Corp. Yesterday’s announcement by Moonves at a CBS investor day that the company will explore “strategic options” for the radio division in order to “hone its asset portfolio” is being greeted by the radio industry with mixed emotions. Potential buyers are thrilled by the thought of acquiring CBS’ heritage, major market signals, but few operators have piles of cash on hand and it will require taking on debt to buy these stations in a climate where debt can be difficult to pay off. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison offers the following comments on the Moonves announcement, “Broadcast (FM/AM) radio can still be a very viable business if stations can be acquired at realistic prices. There is still a lot of life left in the medium if it can run within a business model that makes sense per the times. Also, broadcast radio has a large audience and provides a vital set of services for millions of Americans. It just needs to be relieved of stifling debt. Radio has to be able to afford to do radio. Fresh capital within a realistic debt structure and the influx of invigorated, passionate ownership will create a much better product for radio which will further add years of vitality to the industry.” However, Harrison points out, “CBS has been and still is one of the better-run major companies in radio, so its decision to get out – although advancing the cause of de-consolidation – is not an act of desperation as much as it is indicative of their long-term asset strategy.” Moonves told investors that it views CBS TV and Showtime as its premium brands. The company is focusing intently on its digital efforts CBS All Access and Showtime via the Internet to cater to consumers’ growing on-demand preferences. CBS owns 117 signals in 26 markets, many of those clusters are in major markets. Given what CBS hopes to get for the stations it is unlikely that one buyer will be able to swallow the whole group. Since radio is not considered a growth industry by investors, finding favorable financing for radio station acquisitions – especially in light of the enormous debt fellow operators iHeartMedia and Cumulus are dealing with – will be a challenge. Moonves said all options are on the table, meaning the company would consider a spinoff or a split as well as an outright sale. CBS RADIO’s net revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 was down 5% compared to the same period in 2014.
American Broadcasters Participate in Radiodays Europe. Several prominent US radio broadcasters participated as speakers in the just-concluded seventh annual installment of Radiodays Europe – the growingly popular international radio convention that took place March 13-15 in Paris. Among them were TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison who delivered a speech titled “Lessons Learned by American Radio During the Dawn of the Digital Era” and moderated a “Fast and Curious” roundtable discussion titled, “Making Radio Indispensable;” Jacobs Media CEO, Fred Jacobs who participated in a group presentation titled, “”Radio in Car: Dashboard Disaster;” Geller Media International president Valerie Geller who conducted a workshop titled “Create Powerful Radio,” spoke in a group session titled “30 Ideas in 45 Minutes” and debuted the brand new French language edition of her book Creating Powerful Radio; iHeart Media syndicated personality Elvis Duran and VP of talent development Dennis Clark who both appeared on the panel titled “Morning Radio Superstars – In Talent We Trust; NPR producer Bianca Giaeve, who presented a session titled “Storytelling in New Medias” and appeared in the group session titled “30 Ideas in 45 Minutes;” and Futuri Media CEO Daniel Anstandig who presented a session titled “Winning the First Tune-In Occasion of the Day.” It was announced that next year’s Radiodays Europe will take place in Amsterdam. Pictured at right is Valerie Geller with her Puissance Radio French publishing team (l-r) Philippe Chapot, Francois Quairel and Frederic Bruhaltour at the debut of the French version of her classic Creating Powerful Radio.
Cumulus Kansas City Names Lance Tidwell Cluster OM and KCMO PD. Programmer Lance Tidwell joins Cumulus Media’s Kansas City station group to serve as cluster operations manager and program director for news/talk KCMO-AM. He’ll also supervise the Chiefs Radio Network. Tidwell was previously SVP of programming for iHeartMedia’s San Antonio cluster. On KCMO-AM, Tidwell replaces Steve Sutton who recently exited the PD and talk host roles at the station.
Odds & Sods. The photo at right shows a billboard in the Tampa market for “102.5 The Bone” morning personality Mike Calta. Cox Media Group-owned talk outlet WHPT is also promoting the afternoon drive Drew Garabo show with a similar ad. “Bone” program director John Brennan comments on the Trump-inspired boards saying, “We’re kicking off 102.5 The Bone’s ‘CamPAINFUL’ coverage and have launched a series of parody billboards ‘Trumped’ in ridiculousness only by the 2016 Election itself.” Calta will appear at the Talkers 2016: Bridging the Generations conference at Hofstra University on May 20 on the “Millennials and the Media” panel…..It’s being reported that the Marilu Henner talk radio show will wrap after its last broadcast on March 31. The program is no longer listed on the Sun Broadcast Group site. It is distributed by Genesis Communications Network. “Free Talk Live” principal Ian Freeman reports the news to affiliate stations. His show is also distributed by GCN…..Speaking of “Free Talk Live,” the show announces it has added new affiliates in WWHP-FM, Bloomington, Illinois; KQQQ, Pullman, Washington; simulcast KEIR, KEII, and the four translators in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Pocatello, Idaho; and WSDT, Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee…..Greg Janoff returns to CBS RADIO New York as director of news sales for all-newsers WINS and WCBS-AM. Janoff was most recently with Townsquare Media as regional VP for New Jersey.
Round Two of February PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of February 2016 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was January 28 – February 24. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Super Tuesday II/Presidential Race, Syrian Conflict-Russian Involvement, Scalia Replacement, U.S Immigration Policy, and ‘Pawn Stars’ Cast Member Bust Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). Yesterday’s Super Tuesday II primary elections and the issues surrounding the presidential race; the Syrian conflict and Russia’s announcement it is removing its troops from the region; the controversy over the replacement of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; debate over the immigration policy in the U.S.; and the arrest of “Pawn Stars” cast member Chumlee were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.