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Friday, February 28, 2020

| February 28, 2020

iHeartMedia Posts Flat 2019 Q4 Revenue Figure; Full Year Revenue Up 2%. The financial data for iHeartMedia is a bit complex as the result of the company exiting bankruptcy protection in May of 2019.  But revenue of $1.03 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, while flat compared to Q4 2018, was up 4.3% excluding political ad dollars.  For the full year of 2019, revenue was $3.7 billion, up 2.0% year-over-year and up 4.2%, excluding political revenue.  The company reports that digital revenue in the fourth quarter was $112.5 million – up 33.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018.  For the full year, digital revenue was $376 million, an increase of 32.2% over the full year of 2018.  iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler states, “Our financial performance in 2019 was underpinned by the reach and resilience of our traditional business, profitable growth in our other platforms – including our digital businesses and proactive improvement of our capital structure.  Through our innovation and thought leadership in areas like podcasting and our SmartAudio suite of targeting, analysis and attribution services for advertisers, we are at the forefront of driving the audio revolution.  We will continue to work to build long-term shareholder value by maximizing our free cash flow and de-leveraging our balance sheet.”

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news.  Coming off the Holiday 2019 survey 88% of all-news stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go up.  Top performers here included Entercom’s KYW, Philadelphia (+1.4) and KCBS-AM, San Francisco (+0.7).  However, comparing January 2019 to January 2020, 70% of all-news stations were down, with Entercom’s WWJ, Detroit leading that group and absorbing a hit of -3.2 shares and dropping from the #1 rank in the market in January 2019 to #11 this year.  On the positive side, the company’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco was up 1.4 shares to post an 8.4 share and regain the #1 rank in the market.  iHeartMedia’s WBZ-AM, Boston was 0.7 shares better than the year before and rose to claim the #3 rank in January.  KCBS-AM, San Francisco was the only all-news station to rank #1 in January.  Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington ranked #2 in the January 2020 survey, despite falling three full shares from January 2019.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The new episode titled “Brother, Can You Spare a Face Mask?” looks back at this past week of February 24-28, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Tom Sullivan; talk show host, KFBK, Sacramento/Talk Media NetworkKen Matthews, talk show host, WHP, Harrisburg, PA; Lee Abrams, consultant, MediaVisionDeborah Norville, anchor, “Inside Edition;” Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/webmaster, Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET.  It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. See the full story below.

‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ Now Available in Syndication via Talk Media Network.  TALKERS is pleased to announce it has entered a strategic partnership with independent broadcasting firm Talk Media Network for the syndication and distribution of its weekend program, “The Michael Harrison Wrap.”  The show, hosted by Michael Harrison, was launched in May 2019 on iHeartRadio’s WONK-FM in Washington, DC where it airs Fridays at 6:00 pm.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is a fast-paced roundup of the hottest news/talk media stories tracked by TALKERS and is described as “a weekly overview of the national conversation.”  Each installment features Harrison in conversation with several talk media hosts, pundits and experts from around the country representing a variety of popular ideologies. The show opens with a riveting countdown of the week’s most-discussed items with TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey.  Since its launch, several proactive radio stations around the country inquired about the show’s availability to which TALKERS complied – as best it could – on a market exclusive basis. According to Harrison, “We’re delighted that, in addition to our flagship WONK, excellent facilities such as WRKO, KSCO, WVOX, KFNX, KBDT, KQSP, KBKW, WIQO, WGMN, and the Virginia Talk Radio Network among others showed enough interest in the program during its developmental phase to request it for their rosters before it was even officially available for national distribution.”  Harrison continues, “However, we are not a syndication company, nor have any intention of becoming one, and it just became too unwieldy to service more stations efficiently, so we began looking for an appropriate network partner. Talk Media Network is a perfect fit.  TMN is moderately sized, independent, and run by one of the brightest young executives in the network business, Josh Leng.”  Leng states, “We’re honored TALKERS has entrusted the syndication and growth of ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ with Talk Media Network.  It is a pleasure to be working with a professional of Michael’s stature who has dedicated so much of his career to the betterment of the radio industry.”  Leng continues, “What program directors will notice immediately when they listen to ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap,’ is the amount of preparation that goes into each and every episode.  It is amazing how much compelling content is packed into one hour!  Combine that with the ‘best in the business’ talk radio hosts who contribute to Michael’s timely and topical news discussions, and you have an on-air product that features a great group of broadcasters who bring their ‘A’ game for the audience to enjoy.”  Stations interested in affiliating with “The Michael Harrison Wrap” should visit talkmedianetwork.com for more information, and can call Talk Media Network at (616) 884-8616.

TALKERS News Notes. On Super Tuesday (3/4), FOX News Radio is offering affiliates live national network coverage beginning at 7:00 pm ET anchored by national correspondent Jared Halpern, with key insights from FNR political analyst Josh Kraushaar and FNR reporters around the country.  FNR is also offering hourly “Democracy 2020” updates on Amazon’s smart speaker.  FOX News Podcasts is presenting special editions of the daily morning podcast “FOX News Rundown,” as well as new episodes of Bret Baier’s “The Campaign” and “I’ll Tell You What” with Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt.  Additionally, FOXNews.com will carry multiple livestreams from candidate headquarters across the country…..iHeartMedia’s NBC News Radio brings talk and news radio pro Michael Castner aboard to serve as national news anchor.  Castner was most recently morning drive personality at Entercom’s news/talk KXNT, Las Vegas…..iHeartMedia announces it is presenting a new companion podcast for the three-part Hulu series “Your Attention Please” that celebrates the achievements and creativity of Black visionaries.  The “Your Attention Please” podcast is using this medium to continue the conversation past Black History Month, diving deeper into the stories that were highlighted in the show.  The first guests in the series are Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, founders of MAI (Movement Art Is).

The Coronavirus, the Stock Market, and the Economy Top News/Talk Stories for the Week of February 24-28. The status of the coronavirus epidemic, its effect on the world’s financial markets and the global economy came together to make up the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the presidential race and this week’s Democratic debate in Charleston, SC.  Coming in at #3 was healthcare reform, climate change, and race relations, followed by the deadly Milwaukee brewery shooting and gun control at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

Happy Retirement to Pete Spriggs. Current and former Cox Media Group Atlanta staffers gathered last night (2/27) for a retirement bash for WSB-AM/WSBB-FM program director Pete Spriggs who is leaving the company after 27 years with Cox and 19 years at WSB.  Above right is a group shot that includes such guests as Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie, WSB VP/market manager Rob Babin, WSB legend Neal Boortz, syndicated star Clark Howard, and Cox DC bureau reporter Jamie Dupree.  Above left is (from l-r) Spriggs, consultant and former WSB PD Greg Moceri, and incoming program director Drew Anderssen.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A surprise move in national syndication as Ty Bentli leaves his eponymous, Westwood One morning country radio show for an unnamed gig outside of the radio biz.  For now, co-hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins will handle hosting duties.  The Nashville-based show has undergone numerous changes over the past few years.  Blair Garner was the original host when it was called “America’s Morning Show.”  Then it was “Ty, Kelly, and Chuck” with Kelly Ford in the mix and, after her departure in late 2018 (she’s now hosting AMs on Entercom‘s WNSH, New York), was renamed the “Ty Bentli Show.”  TJ joined the program last spring…..A big shakeup at Entercom’s Los Angeles cluster as longtime alternative KROQ program director (and SVP of programming) Kevin Weatherly exits.  Taking over at KROQ is Mike Kaplan, who adds brand manager duties at the station in addition to his alternative format captain position and brand manager post at WNYL, New York “ALT 92.3.”  At the same time, Ralph Stewart is handed the brand manager keys for adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 JACK FM.”  He’s been operations manager for the station in addition to his brand manager role at urban contemporary KTWV “94.7 The Wave.”  Finally, KRTH “K-Earth 101” brand manager Chris Ebbott and CHR KAMP-FM music director and afternoon host Yesi Ortiz will serve as interim programming leaders for “97.1 AMP Radio” while a national search is conducted.  Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “Mike’s name is synonymous with alternative music and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Los Angeles.  Along with Ralph, Chris, and Yesi, this dynamic team will usher in the future of our brands in this important music market.  I’d like to thank Kevin for his years of dedicated contributions to our premier collection of brands and our company.  He has certainly made his mark here and we wish him the absolute best in his new role.”…..Buddy Shula’s Radio One Buffalo has entered into a strategic alliance with Burlington, Ontario-based Byrnes Communications “to serve radio listeners in Buffalo and Southern Ontario.”  Shula says, “I am very excited to add ‘MORE 101.1FM’ (adult hits CFLZ, Fort Erie) and ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ (hot AC CJED, Niagara Falls) to our radio station portfolio. ‘MORE 101.1FM’ has a very large 50,000-watt regional signal that barrels though Buffalo and Southern Ontario.  The music on the station are the ‘biggest hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s’ which target listeners in the 35-64-year-old age group.  ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ plays ‘Todays Best Hits.’ aiming to please women 25-54 years old… With this cluster of radio stations, it increases our potential to reach listeners of every age group and attract more advertisers who can pick and choose which station is appropriate for their advertising needs.”…..Pictured below is the new “Nikki and Laura” morning show at NRG Media’s hot AC KQKQ, Omaha “Sweet 98.5” on its first live remote at Le Peep restaurant.  From left to right are: Nikki Oswald, station program director Jay Michaels, and Laura Blenkush.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

| November 12, 2019

Cumulus Media Q3 Net Revenue Dips Slightly; Up on Same Station Basis. The third quarter financial report for Cumulus Media Inc. shows net revenue was $280.8 million, a decrease of 0.5% over the same period in 2018.  Adjusted EBITDA decreased 5.5%.  However, on a Same Station basis, net revenue was up 3.9% (excluding political).  Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the Company turned in another strong performance with same station revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth of 3.9% and 2.2%, respectively, on an ex-political basis.  Our operating plan has continued to deliver industry-leading digital revenue growth and continuing growth in our national and network channels.  We also made great progress in the quarter on our balance sheet as our free cash flow generation allowed us to fund a voluntary debt prepayment of approximately $29 million, which reduced net leverage to 4.5x.  Additionally, we completed a $525 million term loan refinancing that extended our debt maturity and reduced future interest expense.”  Breaking down the company’s report a little bit shows spot revenue for the third quarter of 2019 was $161 million, down 4.4% compared to the same period in 2018.  Network revenue was $78.4 million – up 3.6% over the same period a year ago.  Looking at digital revenue, Cumulus tallied almost $20 million, an increase of more than 48%.

Key Networks Offers O’Reilly Thanksgiving Weekend Special Interview with President Trump.  A one-hour, Thanksgiving week special is being made available to affiliates of Key Networks’ “The O’Reilly Update”, hosted by Bill O’ Reilly.  The program is an exclusive one-on-one interview with President Donald Trump that Key Networks says will provide listeners with insights from the president on the latest issues impacting the country as 2020 quickly approaches.  It comes on the heels of the release of O’Reilly’s new book, The United States of Trump: How the President Really Sees America (2019, Henry Holt and Co.).  O’Reilly’s 15-minute daily radio program, “The O’Reilly Update,” is currently syndicated to nearly 200 radio stations across the U.S.  This special is the first in a series of specials and exclusive content to be created especially for affiliates of “The O’Reilly Update” throughout the 2020 election season.  The program can air beginning Wednesday, November 27 and throughout Thanksgiving weekend.  Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “Key Networks is honored to provide Bill O’Reilly’s one-on-one interview with President Trump to stations around the country.  The affiliates of ‘The O’Reilly Update’ continue to get the best news and commentary for their listeners and access to O’Reilly’s no-spin analysis.  If your station wants to win in 2020, they need to make O’Reilly a part of their lineup!”

TALKERS News Notes. Holiday programming for the Thanksgiving weekend is available from FOX News Radio.  FNR is providing to affiliates two, one-hour specials, available for download on the affiliate website on Friday, November 22.  The shows are: “The Dean’s List Thanksgiving Special” with FOX’s senior meteorologist and Mostly Sunny author Janice Dean, in which she shares stories of ordinary people taking time to be kind spreading sunshine to others; and “The Campaign” with host Bret Baier, in which he discusses the state of the democratic presidential race, highlights the candidates who are making headlines, and debates with a selection of political guests, who will ultimately rise to challenge President Trump for the presidency next November…..Tomorrow (11/13), ABC News Radio begins providing extensive coverage of the impeachment inquiry hearings with live, anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky in Washington with reporting by multi-platform reporter Ines de La Cuetara at the Capitol.  It will also provide four one-minute Status Reports each hour.  Also, tomorrow ABC News Radio will debut a new feature called “Impeachment in a Minute,” hosted by correspondent Kyra Phillips.  Finally, on Wednesday evening Katersky will anchor an hour-long special at 7:06 pm ET looking back at the first day of public hearings…..Similarly, CBS News Radio is covering the impeachment inquiry hearings.  CBS will provide gavel-to-gavel coverage on Wednesday, beginning at 10:00 am with correspondents Bill Rehkopf, Steve Dorsey, and Steven Portnoy from the Hill.  Also, CBS will provide coverage of the TrumpErdogan presidential news conference beginning at 3:10 pm…..Yesterday (11/11), WABC, New York midday hosts Bernard McGuirk (right) and Sid Rosenberg (left) are pictured below, broadcasting live from 27th Street and 5thAvenue on the route of the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.

SiriusXM’s Karen Hunter Hosts Race Discussion Before Town Hall Audience. Talk show host, journalist, and college professor Karen Hunter recently presented a town hall discussion at SiriusXM’s New York studios before a live audience.  Hunter hosts the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel.  The program centered on race in America, including the wealth gap between African Americans and Caucasians, The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a powerful initiative that explores the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery and its ongoing impact on our society.  Pictured above are (from l-r): Hunter, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, MSNBC Correspondent Trymaine Lee, and OneUnited Bank president Teri Williams. Photo: Maro Hagopian for SiriusXM

Nominees Announced for 2020 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. The second annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles on Friday, January 17 at 8:00 pm PT.  The iHeartMedia event will honor the most entertaining and innovative podcasts of 2019 and will span 30 categories, celebrating the incredible talent and wide variety of leaders across the booming podcasting industry.  Podcasts nominated for Best Podcast of the Year include: “The Daily,” “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “Stuff You Should Know,” “My Favorite Murder,” “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend,” “Revisionist History,” “The Ron Burgundy Podcast,” “The Dropout,” “The Shrink Next Door,” and “The Read.”  See all the nominations in all the categories here.

Impeachment Process/Ukraine Affair, 2020 Presidential Race/Biden on CNN Town Hall, DACA Before SCOTUS, Cold and Snow Hit Northern U.S., and Hong Kong Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/11). The impeachment process against President Trump and the investigation into the Ukraine affair; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election and Joe Biden’s appearance on CNN’s “Town Hall” on Monday evening; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the case of the Trump administration’s desire to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act; the cold and snow affecting much of the northern U.S. this week and the related issue of climate change; and the ongoing violence in Hong Kong 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 drive team of Roula Christie, Ryan Chase, Eric Rowe, and Kevin England – “The Roula and Ryan Show” – at Cumulus Media’s CHR KRBE-FM, Houston inks a multi-year agreement to continue its role there.   Station PD Leslie Whittle comments, “Each day our listeners wake up to laughter, will learn something, and could shed a tear or two, but one thing you can count on is that Roula, Ryan, Eric and Special K are never boring.  They have experienced many personal milestones the past 13 years, which I’ve been proud to witness.  ‘The Roula and Ryan Show’ has also celebrated our beloved city’s accomplishments and milestones and has gotten Houston through some tragedies as well.  I’m honored to be able to work with this great team for another five years!”…..Premiere Networks-syndicated personalities Charlamagne Tha God, Delilah, and Elvis Duran appeared together on the Dr. Oz TV show (pictured at left) on Friday (11/8) to discuss their use of their national platforms to change the conversation surrounding mental health.  The radio hosts shared their personal stories and tips for handling challenging mental health issues, including dealing with social media; finding self-love within, not online; and why it’s important to discuss difficult subjects like depression, anxiety, and suicide…..The Premiere Networks syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show” is giving away thousands of turkeys as part of the show’s Annual Turkey Give.  Affiliates of the show will provide 8,000 turkeys to help those less fortunate celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  Since the Turkey Give was launched in 2009, nearly 80,000 turkeys have been given to those in need.  Harvey recently told his listeners, “We consider it an honor and a privilege to help those who are less fortunate during the holiday season.  On behalf of the entire Steve Harvey Morning Show, Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.”…..TALKERS sends condolences to the family and friends of Emmons “Skip” Woolwine, a founding member of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame, who passed away on November 7 from a heart-related illness.  The TRHoF says, “He was passionate about our group and even though he wasn’t a board member, he continually mentored those of us who are on the board.  He was always willing to help, to lend advice and just offer friendship.”