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Monday Memo: We’re Late

| November 29, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Like those network spots for “The Ben Ferguson Podcast” that air on many talk stations, TV networks are using their affiliates’ air to divert viewing to their own digital platforms. Some network-produced shows being promoted are only available on streams. “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” is shown on Peacock before it airs on NBC at 11:35 pm.

It gets worse. The extended Dish Network/Tegna stand-off over lucrative retransmission fees stations charge cable and satellite providers blacked-out CBS stations I tried to tune-into in hotel rooms in Washington and Texas in the last two weeks, in the middle of football season.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

| September 20, 2021

Monday Memo: “Cave Syndrome.” Even with COVID numbers mounting, “enough anti-vaxers are dug-in that we’re now told we will not reach herd immunity.” So, consultant Holland Cooke reckons that, “if you liked April, you’re going to love October.” Many did, and will, according to survey data. On his TV show, HC and talkers Harry Hurley and Jon Elliot discuss why “many of our listeners are hooked-on staying-home” and they outline an opportune call-in topic. Read it here.

 

Pending Business: 2022. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column about budgeting for 2022. Yes, it’s still September of 2021, “as we push into October and the balance of Q4, before you can hit the send button, 2022 will be on your budgeting agenda. Start thinking now about how key metrics will play into your game planning for next year. This cycle will require more thought as we navigate the sales recovery from a COVID-impacted 2021.” Read his piece here.

FOX Sports Radio Unveils New Morning Drive Show. With “Outkick the Coverage” host and founder Clay Travis now hosting a midday news/talk show for Premiere Networks with Buck Sexton, FOX Sports Radio officially launches the network’s new morning drive show that takes Outkick’s place. “2 Pros and a Cup of Joe” starring LaVar Arrington, Brady Quinn and Jonas Knox takes over the 6:00 am to 9:00 am daypart, effective immediately. Premiere Networks SVP of sports programming Don Martin says, “The FOX Sports Radio family was so proud when Clay Travis was chosen to team up with Buck Sexton to continue the tradition of excellence created by Rush Limbaugh. At FSR, we make a commitment to each of our affiliates to deliver the best national sports lineup in the country, 24/7. Clay’s departure left a hole in our roster, but today, we proudly continue that commitment as we serve up a breakfast of champions with the launch of ‘2 Pros and a Cup of Joe.’” The trio of personalities, who currently host several weekend programs on the network, have guest hosted FSR’s weekday morning timeslot since late May 2021. FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro adds, “Bolstering what’s already the best national sports talk lineup, we are injecting fun, personality, credibility, strong doses of caffeine, and thought-provoking conversation into morning-drive. After already getting rave reviews from the audience over the past couple months, we are fired up to have this dynamic trio start the day with a smile every morning!”

Triton Audio Marketplace Set for Q1 2022 Launch. The Triton Audio Marketplace will officially launch in the first quarter of 2022 and creator Triton Digital calls it “an innovative new global open audio exchange that, for the first time, will aggregate audiences at scale across three exploding audio segments: broadcast, podcast, and streaming, making it easier than ever for marketers and agencies to plan, buy and measure the impact of cross-platform audio advertising.” Further, Triton says, “The new Triton Audio Marketplace will offer access to the largest single pool of audio audiences, with more than 100 billion audio impressions per month across broadcast, streaming and podcast properties, and allow marketers and agencies to transact on ALL forms of audio inventory and have access to unmatched, sophisticated measurement and targeting tools across a range of audiences, from mass reach demographics to narrower, more precise targets… the Marketplace will include radio, streaming and podcast inventory from more than 250 media companies, including 17 of the top 20 broadcasters; more than 700 hit podcast titles from the iHeartPodcast Network, the largest podcast network globally; the biggest audio creator platforms, Voxnest and Spreaker; and world-class content from thousands of creators.” Triton Digital president – market development John Rosso says, “Triton has always been the leading innovator in streaming and podcast technology. Based on WARC & Lion’s Intelligence’s new study that shows that 31 percent of the average consumer’s media consumption is now audio, with less than 9 percent of brands media spend being allocated to audio, this new Triton Audio Marketplace is designed to now close this gap by making it easy for any marketer to find their audience in one place and plan and buy these audiences at scale across more 250 audio media partners.”

SiriusXM Names Three to Cross-Brand Marketing Organization. Three new senior marketing executives have joined SiriusXM as the company “expands its digital and streaming focus and launches new national brand advertising that reaches larger audiences.” Jasmin Chanana is named SVP, digital and customer experience; Anne Milan Alo joins as executive creative director, and Kimberly Wilson is appointed SVP, brand and advertising. SiriusXM chief marketing officer Denise Karkos says, “We are very excited to add these accomplished leaders from top companies to our marketing team as we expand SiriusXM’s leadership position in audio. Their collective experience across major consumer and business-to-business brands will help accelerate our brand and business growth. The diversity of this set of leaders at my table is imperative in our pursuit to build SiriusXM to new heights.”

COVID-19, Biden Spending Plan, Peril Book/Gen. Milley Actions, Justice for J6 Rally, Afghanistan, Stock Slide/Inflation, Gabby Petito Case, and Emmy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rationing of health care due to overcrowded hospitals, and mask & vaccine mandates; the debate in congress over President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan; the Bob Woodward & Robert Costa book Peril and reaction to Gen. Mark Milley’s communications with China’s military; the sparsely attended Justice for J6 Rally in Washington; the aftermath of the U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan; the slide in global financial markets and concerns about inflation; the search for Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie; and Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value

| January 25, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Value is one of the most difficult concepts for any professional seller to advance, but easily one of the most important. Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric, important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.

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Pending Business: This Year in Review

| January 4, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Remember getting on an airplane before TSA security measures? As we move to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are accustomed to the changes in our daily lives that horrific experience created. The same will hold true as we persevere through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology, a changed business landscape, and income reboots will dictate a smarter, more flexible seller, marketer, and manager.

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