By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Complete chaotic disarray in the radio industry easily prompts one to conjure up an image of a perimeter surrounded by a sea of yellow “Police Line: Do Not Cross” tapes. You can practically hear the utterances of, “Keep moving – nothing to see here.”
Positions have been skewered in a business destroyed by consolidation and no one wants to enter a once-vibrant profession that is close to flat lining on life support.
Okay – hold it – not so fast!
One of the most gregarious, gracious, charming, talented – and altogether colorful – characters one could ever encounter has proof that there is still a palpable interest out there by people wanting to chase a career in the still magical world of radio.
Townsquare Media Q4 Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 9.5%. Reporting 2014 Q4 and full-year financial figures, Townsquare Media announces its pro forma net revenue was $93.7 million – up 9.5% compared to the same quarter a year ago – and for the full year, pro forma net revenue was up 8.4% on income of $384.7 million. While pro forma local advertising net revenue increased 5.6% during Q4, chairman and CEO Steven Price says that “nearly 30% of our 2014 pro forma net revenue was derived from sources other than the sale of terrestrial radio advertising.” He further comments, “Consistent with our January pre-announcement, we are pleased to report fourth quarter pro forma net revenue growth of 9.5% and pro forma adjusted EBITDA growth of 8.6%, with strong growth in each of our operating segments. We are pleased to announce that we have broken out our Live Events business as a separate reportable operating segment and believe this will provide increased transparency to our investors.” The company also explains how the company’s divisions are broken down: “We have two reportable operating segments, which are Local Advertising and Live Events, and report the remainder of our business in an Other Media and Entertainment category. Our Local Advertising segment is composed of broadcast, digital and mobile advertising on our stations, streams, websites and mobile application. Our Live Events segment is composed of a diverse range of live events, which we create, promote and produce, including musical concerts, multi-day music festivals, consumer expositions and trade shows, athletic events, lifestyle events and other forms of entertainment. The Other Media and Entertainment business principally includes digital marketing services, national digital assets and other revenue.”
Kevin Slaten Returns to KXFN, St. Louis Airwaves Today. In a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today by Dan Caesar, it’s reported that notorious St. Louis sports talk personality Kevin Slaten will be on KXFN’s air today (3/16) as the Grand Slam-owned station is being leased by Talkstl.com’s owners. Slaten’s show is currently heard on the digital platform. Caesar writes that Talkstl began the deal over the weekend and began airing Yahoo Sports Radio. He also reports the move is part of a power struggle at Grand Slam that is forcing KXFN to change formats again. Read his piece here.
Programming Quake at WTEM, Washington. According to Dave Hughes’ DCRTV.com, a huge programming maelstrom took place at Red Zebra-owned sports talker WTEM, Washington “ESPN 980” last week that prevented today’s debut of the local “Man Cave” show with Chris Paul and Jason Reid and cost programmer Chuck Sapienza his job. The short version is that Washington Redskins and WTEM owner Dan Snyder doesn’t appreciate former Washington Post writer Reid’s criticism of the Redskins operations and put the kibosh on the show. When Sapienza tried to justify the move, he was dismissed. Read the DCRTV.com report here.
Larry Gifford: Radiodays Europe – Day One.
MILAN – BBC radio is widely considered one of the most innovative media companies in the world, which is the reason BBC radio director Helen Boaden was a good choice to set the tone for Radiodays Europe 2015 in Milan, Italy. In her special Sunday night conference-opening presentation, Boaden laid out one of the big challenges facing radio and offered a road map for those who want to follow.
“You need to understand your company’s space in the digital universe,” Boaden (pictured below during her address) commanded. She encouraged everyone to look at media, telecom, and social media companies and any other company that has entered the space of audio content creation to be sure there is a true understanding of the scale at which we are competing. This is when she referred to Google, Amazon.com, Netflix and Facebook as “the four horseman of the digital apocalypse.” But, she made it clear it’s not just a fight for dollars and ear-space, but for our talent. “We, for the first time, have lost one of our best presenters to Apple.” (She’s referring to DJ Zane Lowe’s recently reported move from London to Cupertino.) She thinks she knows why, too. “What they want is actually the best of radio. Aggregation no longer, they can see, is enough.”
Boaden strongly believes despite the technology changes, at the heart of all good radio is still good storytelling. She oversees what seems like dozens of BBC radio brand extensions each focused on getting fans to listen, watch and share stories.
Listen. Watch. Share.
That is the BBC radio secret: a three-pronged, listener-focused, strategy for every platform. She gave innovative examples the BBC has implemented for each, including pop-up radio stations, animating great radio content, and engaging fans with share-worthy original content. Boaden concluded, “The future of radio relies on you staying close to the audience. Despite how you feel about them sometimes, you can’t sack your audience, but your audience can sack you.”
Radiodays Europe features Elvis Duran as the conference keynote address today (3/16). Duran and iHeartRadio‘s Dennis Clark will discuss how to create a successful morning show. You can keep up-to-date on the conference by following #rde15 on Twitter.
This special report to TALKERS was filed by Larry Gifford. He is a radio programming consultant and talent coach (www.larrygifford.com) and host of the Radio Stuff Podcast. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lew Dickey to Address SXSW Media Conference. At the 2015 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin this Thursday (3/19), Cumulus Media president and CEO Lew Dickey will be featured on a panel discussion during which he’ll speak to attendees about how listeners and artists are benefiting from the integration of broadcast radio and music streaming services. The panel will be moderated by digital news outlet Quartz’s John McDuling, along with fellow panelists Rdio CEO Anthony Bay and Glassnote Entertainment Group president/chief executive officer Daniel Glass. The panel, titled, “The Marriage of Radio & Online Listening,” will address the future for merged relationships between radio and online listening.
Bliss Family Robinson. In this personality profile published today (3/16), TALKERS magazine managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents the story of lifelong radio pro Dick Robinson – founder of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. From his beginnings at WARE in Ware, Massachusetts in the late 1950s, to his time at WDRC-AM & FM in Hartford, to the founding and building of CSB and beyond, Kinosian paints a colorful picture of this fascinating “radio guy” and the storied business he and his family have built and maintained. Read the entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Concerning the conspicuous absence of college hoops legend John Thompson from Westwood One’s broadcast from the Big East Tournament last week, the syndicator reports he had corrective surgery for a benign twisted intestine and is home recovering well. “Unfortunately, he is unable to travel extensively for the next few weeks, otherwise he would be in his favorite spot — courtside for March Madness.”…..New Hampshire Public Radio’s Virginia Prescott, host of “Word of Mouth,” is being recognized by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation with a Gracie award in the category of Outstanding Host – Entertainment/Information category.
VO VIPs. At the recent VO Atlanta voice-over conference, some of the nation’s top voice-over artists gathered. Pictured here are (from l-r): Chris Corley, Randy Thomas, Mitch Faulkner and Jason Garte. Thomas moderated a panel titled, “The History of Radio Imaging,” featuring Garte, president of The Mix Group and Mix Talent Management; Corley, a top promotional announcer and imaging voice; and Faulkner, imaging voiceover talent and founder of MLMI Creative Services Atlanta.