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NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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. This new episode titled, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media Networks; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; Todd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, 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. For affiliation information, please click here.
iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”
Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”
Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.
‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.
RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.
Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.
TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.
COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. 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 complete chart here.
iHeartMedia Details Cost Savings Initiatives; Provides Business Update. In response to the “weak economic environment resulting from the unfolding novel coronavirus pandemic,” iHeartMedia is announcing its proactive initiatives to address the challenges and is providing an update to the status of its business. The company says it “believes that the major actions announced today – in combination with the company’s highly resilient capital structure – will substantially expand the company’s financial flexibility, provide sufficient liquidity to operate effectively even in an extended period of economic weakness, and position the company for a solid growth trajectory when advertising demand returns to normal levels.” In the full release that you can see here, iHeartMedia details its initiatives and capital structure support. It concludes by stating it believes it’s positioned for success for the following reasons: “The company now has diversified products and revenue streams and no longer relies almost exclusively on broadcast radio revenue and it benefits from favorable growth trends in its emerging businesses, such as podcasting, and from a move of ad dollars to audio, including podcasting. It has the ability to provide digital-like advertising solutions for its broadcast assets using its Smart Audio data and analytics platform, as well as offering its unique programmatic trading platform for broadcast radio. It has also built out its enhanced marketing solutions capabilities, which provide advertisers with comprehensive campaigns leveraging its multiple platforms and other opportunities beyond the more commoditized and traditional media buying, through the company’s direct relationships with CEOs, CMOs and senior advertising agency executives.”
NRG Media: Our People Are Our Brand. In a public statement, Iowa-based NRG Media underscores its dedication to its staffers. The statement from CEO Mary Quass reads: “Back in early March, during a weekly market manager call, we discussed the plan to protect our people as we started to face the unprecedented impact COVID-19 would have on our communities, our business and our company. Our course of action was never in question – NRG Media would stand by its team. We would take care of our people for they are our BRAND – we have their backs! At NRG Media – Great Local Radio means we want to be a part of the lives of our listeners, our businesses, our communities and our people. Great Local Radio means we stand shoulder to shoulder with our team, the lifeblood of our stations and our BRAND. They engage and inform our listeners, shop at their businesses, and support their communities in both good times and bad. The role our people play is now more important than ever. We stand committed to our people, so they can continue to serve their communities without fear of losing their jobs because of COVID-19. Our team is doing amazing things to help their neighbors, friends and families make it through this pandemic crisis – For this, we say THANK YOU!! We are symbiotically tied to our communities. At NRG Media we REALLY are all in this together. I am proud to work alongside each member of our team. I am also proud of radio and the individuals who have worked so hard during this crisis, THANK YOU!! Isn’t that what makes Radio the Best!!??”
Entercom Reports Record Monthly Active Users for RADIO.COM in March. Based on data from Quantcast and Triton, Entercom says it has achieved “a new record 40 million monthly active users and substantial year-over-year growth for RADIO.COM.” The company says RADIO.COM achieved year-over-year growth of 63% across all devices including mobile, smart speakers and desktop, with its web platform more than doubling its visitor base, up 107% year-over-year. Some of the breakdown data includes: 22% (year-over-year) increase in total listening hours; the eighth straight month of double-digit growth 90% year-over-year spike in listenership on smart speakers, with 27% month-over-month growth; and the recently launched RADIO.COM REWIND feature generated a lift of up to 17% in total listening hours on enabled stations. Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley comments, “We are so incredibly proud of our team, and grateful to our listeners, readers, and viewers for letting us serve and entertain them during this critical time. The record audience and engagement numbers we’re reporting today across RADIO.COM and the podcast network, demonstrate the quality and relevance of our content, strong brands, and powerful distribution, and underscores the durability of digital audio’s growth.”
Edison Research: Buying Top 5 Podcast Networks Reaches Half of Weekly U.S. Podcast Listeners. Based on cumulative data from its Podcast Consumer Tracker for the fourth quarter of 2019, Edison Research says that advertisers that buy the top five podcast networks reach 50% of the weekly podcast consumers in the U.S. Edison Research SVP Tom Webster says, “While in its early days podcasting was not considered a ‘reach’ medium, today with the growing size of the leading podcast networks, efficient buys at scale are now increasingly possible. We took a look at the cumulative data from Q4 of 2019 (we are just about to deliver Q1 2020 to clients) to get a sense of the unduplicated cumulative reach of the leading podcast networks. The top network in our tracking study currently reaches 22% of all weekly podcast consumers (which, according to ‘The Infinite Dial 2020,’ is currently 24% of the population ages 12+). When you add the second leading network into a hypothetical buy, and eliminate the duplicated listeners, leaving only the new, unique listeners of the second-leading network, a media buyer can then reach 31% of weekly podcast consumers.”
Bob Romanik Off the Air in St. Louis. After a long game of cat-and-mouse with the FCC, the St. Louis area radio network that aired Bob Romanik’s talk radio show based at KQQZ-AM, DeSoto, Missouri is off the air. Romanik did his last show on Friday (4/10). Earlier this year, an administrative law judge ruled that Entertainment Media Trust – the company operating KFTK-AM, East St. Louis; WQQW, Highland, Illinois; KZQZ, St. Louis; and KQQZ, DeSoto, Missouri – was operated by Romanik, making him de facto owner of the stations in violation of FCC rules preventing convicted felons of owning radio stations. She also ruled that after numerous requests to the Trust’s attorney for documents and information that never materialized for one reason or another, the applications for license renewals would not be granted. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an op-ed piece in support of Romanik’s exit from the airwaves.
McCurdy Retires from Beasley Media Group. Broadcasting executive Bob McCurdy is retiring from his position as vice president of corporate sales for Beasley Media Group. McCurdy, who has been battling a serious medical issue for the past two years, says, “After 45 glorious, exciting, and rewarding years in this amazing business, I am retiring to focus on my health. Bruce [Beasley], Brian [Beasley] and Caroline [Beasley] have been amazing throughout this entire ordeal and I will be forever grateful. Beasley is a great company. I have loved working with everyone and want you to know that you have made the past five years of my career extremely rewarding and satisfying. Good luck, be the best and continue to hustle!” After beginning his career selling local radio in Virginia, McCurdy eventually joined Katz Radio, where he held sales and management positions in Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York. He joined Beasley Media Group in 2016.
TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk personality Eytan Shander adds another show on the SB Nation Radio network. In addition to his weekend evening program, Shander is also hosting the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm show…..Public radio personality Lee Hale is leaving his role as host of the “Preach” podcast produced by University of Utah’s KUER-FM, Salt Lake City to join NPR as an editor and producer for “All Things Considered.”…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington and Feed the Fight announce a community-based partnership designed to recognize and support essential personnel working on the frontlines in response to the coronavirus pandemic. WTOP’s “Frontline Heroes” campaign will select two nominees per day through April 20 and award them with $100 each. In addition, for every hero selected WTOP will donate $100 to Feed the Fight, the Washington, D.C. based nonprofit supporting local restaurants, health care workers and first responders…..Estrella Media, Inc. launches a special, one-hour Covid-19 news program, called “El Informativo,” on its national “Don Cheto Al Aire” radio show. Estrella Media EVP, radio programming Eddie Leon states, “This program was developed as part of Estrella Media’s ongoing efforts to continue being a hub of reliable information for our Latino audience. It is meant to keep our community informed of what is happening with regard to this pandemic, which has had an adverse impact on the communities we serve. The show is comprised of several detailed segments aimed at informing and conveying trust, hope and optimism, without generating or causing unnecessary panic among our radio listeners.”…..Entercom sports talker KWFN, San Diego “97.3 The Fan” partners with the San Diego Padres to broadcast “Padres Social Hour.” The show, produced by the San Diego Padres for their social media platforms, will air at 7:00 pm Monday through Thursday on KWFN-FM and the RADIO.COM app. Entercom San Diego SVP and market manager Karyn Cerulli says, “As the flagship home of the San Diego Padres, we’re excited to partner with the team to bring premium baseball content to loyal fans. ‘Padres Social Hour’ will keep listeners abreast of their favorite team and keep them close to the off-the-field action as we eagerly await their return to the field.” The show is hosted by Padres radio voice Jesse Agler and will feature special guests and co-hosts such as former major league pitcher Randy Jones, Padres television broadcaster Don Orsillo, former major league pitcher Mark Grant, former major league pitcher Bob Scanlan, San Diego Union-Tribune videographer Annie Heilbrunn, “97.3 The Fan” Padres insider A.J. Cassavell and more.
Covid-19 Statistics and Projections, Trump’s Monday Press Conference, Governors Form Coalitions, Trump vs Fauci, WHO Criticism, China Restricts Coronavirus Research, Sanders Endorses Biden, and Celebrities with Covid-19 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/13). The tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the experts’ projections for peak infections; President Trump’s battle with the press at Monday’s daily briefing; governors from coastal states form regional coalitions to battle the coronavirus pandemic; speculation that President Trump and Dr. Tony Fauci are falling out over Fauci’s concluding the U.S. should have acted earlier to fight Covid-19; allegations the World Health Organization is politically deferential to China; the Chinese Communist Party restricts research into the origins of the coronavirus; Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination; and the status of celebrities with Covid-19 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 San Diego, Local Media San Diego’s adult hits KFMB-FM re-brands the station as “100.7 BIG FM” and, after kicking off the change following the playing of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” added the slogan,” We Play Anything.”…..The YEA Networks-syndicated “Tino Cochino Radio” show adds new Urban One affiliate stations CHR WNOW, Indianapolis “Radio Now 100.9” and CHR KROI, Houston “92.1 Radio Now” for afternoon drive. Radio One Indianapolis VP and general manager Deon Livingston comments, “We think the vibe of this new show will really resonate in Indianapolis and Houston.”