Premiere Networks to Syndicate “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in Rush Limbaugh’s Old Daypart. A source at Premiere Networks confirms the story in today’s Wall Street Journal that reports Premiere will begin syndicating “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, beginning June 21. Sexton, a former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert currently hosts an eponymous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show for Premiere Networks and Clay Travis – founder of Outkick (which he just sold to FOX) – hosts the morning drive “Outkick the Coverage” show on FOX Sports Radio. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott is quoted saying, “We’re not going to replace Rush Limbaugh, we’re going to have an evolution of the show with fresh voices — those that grew up on Rush and admired him.” Clay Travis writes a piece at Outkick today explaining that this has been in the works for months and he gives his rationale for leaving the morning sports show behind to work with Sexton on the new talk radio show.
‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ to Debut on July 4. The launch of Cumulus Media’s new talk station is set for July 4 and the company announces that WKIM-FM, “News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis” will be the official flagship radio station for the University of Memphis Tigers. As such, the deal with Tiger Sports Properties means the station will air every football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game starting in August. The agreement also includes broadcasting of the weekly one-hour football and men’s basketball coaches’ shows with Ryan Silverfield and Penny Hardaway, respectively. Cumulus does not reveal the daily programming to be heard on the station outside of Westwood One’s newly launched “Dan Bongino Show.” Cumulus Memphis VP and market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “At Cumulus, we believe strongly that ‘what’s good for Memphis is good for us,’ and that commitment to our community drives all that we do. One of our most important priorities and responsibilities as a local broadcaster is to help make Memphis a better place. Becoming the flagship radio partner of Memphis Tiger Athletics, an entity that is so beloved by our city and its residents, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Cumulus Memphis has the largest live, local and homegrown team in the radio industry – all of whom are incredibly excited about becoming the radio home of the Memphis Tigers. We are thrilled to put the full power of four 100,000-watt stations behind the partnership. KIX-106, 98.1 The Max, 103.5 WRBO and the all-new ‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ will work in concert to raise the level of awareness and celebrate all that is Memphis Tiger Athletics. Rebranding ‘98.9 The Bridge’ and changing the format of the station is just one more step to showcase Tiger Athletics and all that it means to Memphis. We are excited and eager to begin a new and long-lasting partnership with the University of Memphis, Learfield IMG College and Tiger Sports Properties.”
Real Estate Powerhouse/Radio Talk Show Host Dottie Herman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Dottie Herman, is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” She is also the host of a long-running talk show, “Eye On Real Estate” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” that has evolved into a weekend radio institution in the Big Apple. Herman has received numerous high-level honors for both her executive and entrepreneurial leadership in the field of real estate and is on just about every prestigious magazine list of the most powerful women in American business. Michael Harrison says, “Dottie Herman is at the potentially explosive junction where real estate and talk radio meet. The topic is hot and getting hotter tying into all aspects of American life – politics, economics, business, education, and the entire menu of news/talk radio staples. Not to mention, it can attract advertisers from a wide array of industries from banks to home maintenance. Dottie Herman brings the ‘wise woman’ persona reminiscent of some of radio’s greatest talk performers and on-air advisors into a modern context. We discuss everything from her dramatic childhood to her dynamic self-made career as a real estate giant to her role in talk radio including the economy, her perspective on Donald Trump based on her relationship with him in the real estate business, and entrepreneurism in America.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
WVHU, Huntington, West Virginia’s Tom Roten Celebrates 20 Years. Talk radio personality Tom Roten, known to his listeners as “The Straight Shooter,” celebrates his 20th year hosting the morning show on iHeartMedia’s WVHU, Huntington “NewsRadio 800.” Roten began his career with WVHU in 1991 when he began his 15-year stint as the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. In June of 2001, when the station switched to news/talk, Roten became the morning drive host. Roten recalls how he transitioned to the morning show. “I was wrapping up a high school basketball broadcast when I saw a recently elected first-time member of Congress waiting with other parents for her son to come out of the locker room. I asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to join me for the postgame report. We talked about the game of course, but I also asked her about being sworn into the U.S. House just a month prior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but members of management were listening to the interview and had been looking for a local morning talk host to fill out the lineup of the station’s new talk format. We had Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the lineup was still up in the air.” He was offered the morning gig and agreed to try it for a year. About his 20-year morning talk career, he says, “It’s hard to believe really. I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful the listeners and advertisers have stuck with me in my quest to deliver truth, opinion, and, hopefully, some entertainment. Talking about what’s going on in our region and in the nation from a local perspective has helped me bond with my listeners.”
Cumulus Media Moves to Pay Down $175 Million in Debt. The company announces it is taking steps to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “As I noted on our recent earnings call, the continuing improvement in economic and public health conditions is fueling very encouraging momentum across all our businesses. Against that backdrop, we are accelerating debt repayments, which will de-lever the balance sheet more quickly, reduce interest expense, and further increase our free cash flow. Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018, we have reduced our net debt by almost $600 million, despite the impact of a global pandemic. Looking ahead, our better leverage profile and more than $200 million of available liquidity will provide us meaningful financial flexibility as we continue along our strong rebound trajectory. Cumulus Media’s strong competitive position, proven track record of solid execution, numerous revenue growth drivers, and ability to consistently generate significant free cash flow give us multiple pathways along which to grow shareholder value in the short- and long-term.” On May 17, Cumulus completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. Cumulus was required by the terms of its debt agreements to make mandatory debt prepayments from the proceeds of its previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020, after giving effect to a right of reinvestment. On May 25, the company paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to this mandatory prepayment obligation. Approximately $65 million of the prepayment related to the Land Sale, and approximately $23 million of the prepayment related to the Tower Sale. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, the company launched a tender offer for the Notes at par for approximately $26 million, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. Following the expiration of the tender offer, any amounts that remain untendered will be directed toward an additional prepayment of the Term Loan.
TALKERS News Notes. Former President Donald J. Trump has been making appearances on talk radio programs recently, including a guest spot on the USA Radio Network-syndicated “Wayne Allyn Root: Raw and Unfiltered.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of a new, weekly podcast titled, “That Thing I Do,” starring Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss on which the close friends will share their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests. “That Thing I Do” will be a “raucous deep-dive into the funny and strange quirks of those successful people, and an investigation of what it is about ‘that thing they do’ that makes them who they are.”…..On Tuesday, June 1 ABC News kicks off Pride Month with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ issue-focused podcast, “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” The ABC News contributor says, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”…..WGN-AM, Chicago host and contributor Dane Neal will broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday (5/30), 6:30 am to 10:00 am, leading up to WGN’s coverage of the 105th Indianapolis 500. IMS president J. Douglas Boles says, “We welcome Dane Neal and WGN back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 105th Running of the Indy 500 for a live pre-race show followed by the live race broadcast. Chicago’s Very Own has such a rich tradition with the ‘500’ and the Speedway, as it was a broadcast pioneer by starting its coverage of the race nearly 100 years ago.”…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show is added to the program schedule at Ultimate Caps Inc’s KBFS-AM, Belle Fourche, South Dakota and KYDT-FM, Pine Haven, Wyoming.
San Jose Mass Shooting, COVID-19 Origin Controversy, January 6 Commission, Trump Org Grand Jury, Election Audits, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The shooting deaths of 8 people at a rail yard in San Jose; the growing call for investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and China’s pushback over the lab leak theory; the GOP’s hesitation over creating a January 6 Commission to investigate the Capitol invasion; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. convenes a grand jury to consider indictments in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization; the 2020 election audits taking place in New Hampshire and Arizona; soaring consumer prices and fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and instances of violence against Jews in the U.S. and abroad; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
BIA: Local Radio Advertising to Fall by 10.7% in 2020. Revising its beginning-of-the-year projection that U.S. local radio advertising revenue (consisting of AM/FM, digital, and streaming) would be $14.3 billion, BIA Advisory Services reports that projection to now be $12.8 billion – a decrease of 10.7%. BIA breaks it down this way: $11.4 billion is expected to come from over-the-air sales and $1.4 billion should come from digital sales. BIA says, “By comparison, in 2019 local radio stations generated $12.8 billion in over-the-air revenue and just over $1 billion in digital. This was a 1.6 % decrease in total revenue from 2018.” BIA SVP and chief economist Mark Fratrik comments, “In 2018, we projected that radio’s digital platforms would reach $1 billion by 2019 and last year the industry hit this mark. For 2020, our ad forecast shows that digital sales, including streaming, will stay steady. Then by 2021, Radio online revenue will start to climb back up again. On the over-the-air side, we see a bigger COVID hit, with a steep drop in 2020 and some recovery back by 2021.” What sectors will make up the bulk of radio’s revenue? BIA says the finance/insurance industry will make up $2 billion, retail will account for $1.97 billion, automotive will contribute $1.5 billion, and technology accounts for $1.3 billion. BIA explains, “These industries may benefit from the continuing shift in radio listening from the car to the home as at-home audio environment features give consumers multiple opportunities to consume promotions. Streaming has become a major growth opportunity for broadcasters to maintain existing audiences and attract new, younger listeners. BIA’s revenue estimate drops to $12.5 billion when streaming ad revenue is not included.”
Suit Challenges USAGM Exec Michael Pack’s Firing of Agency Organization Heads. In a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Open Technology Fund and four individual members of its board of directors are asking the Court to declare null and void U.S. Agency for Global Media chief executive Michael Pack’s recent firing of Open Technology Fund and news outlet leaders. The complaint argues that “Although funded by Congress through grants administered by the Agency, the four organizations targeted by Mr. Pack are not part of the government. Their employees are not government employees. They are private, nonprofit organizations with their own leadership and independent boards of directors. That is by design. Their mission, collectively, is to promote the free flow of information worldwide, especially in countries where authorities restrict freedom of expression. They do this through global efforts to combat online censorship and news broadcasts in 61 different languages, reaching 400 million people each day. But they can only be effective in countering disinformation and censorship if they are rightly perceived as independent, professional, and fact-driven—not as official mouthpieces for some partisan agenda.” Open Technology Fund chief Libby Liu tendered her resignation to take effect at the end of July but was terminated immediately by Peck. Also fired were: Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia, Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Cumulus Closes on $74.1 million Bethesda Land Sale. The deal to sell a 75-acre parcel of land in Bethesda, Maryland to developers Toll Brothers has been in the works for some time and yesterday (6/24) Cumulus Media was finally able to announce the $74.1 million deal has closed. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “Given the difficult operating environment, our ability to continue to strengthen our balance sheet with the proceeds of this deal is particularly meaningful, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of Toll Brothers in working with us to bring this five-year effort to completion.” Net proceeds from the sale are expected to be $71.3 million after transaction fees and expenses. Cumulus anticipates achieving minor expense savings from the elimination of real estate taxes after the closing and does not expect any tax liability as it relates to the transaction. Net proceeds from the sale are required to be used to pay down debt, unless otherwise reinvested in the company’s business over the next 12 months.
PPM Analysis: Coronavirus Cume Factor (Part 2). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today presenting part two of his look at cume changes for news/talk stations. In this report, Kinosian presents charts showing news/talk stations ranked from highest cume to lowest, cume increases from the April 2020 PPM survey to the May 2020 PPM survey, decreases from April to May, and a chart displaying the cume for all stations on our panel in the all-news, sports talk, and news/talk radio formats. See it all here.
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, BLM Movement/Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, Seattle CHOP Situation, Second Stimulus, Financial Markets Activity, Presidential Race, Flynn Charges Dismissed, Bubba Wallace Case, and MLB Season to Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/24). The explosion of new COVID-19 cases in some states and projections of future cases and deaths; the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the related move to take down statues of Confederate and Colonial-era statues; Seattle asks CHOP protesters to leave the area and local business consider suing the city; the debate over a possible second COVID-19 federal stimulus package; the world’s financial markets react to COVID-19 data; Democrat Joe Biden enjoys positive poll news in his race against Donald Trump; the DOJ officially dismisses the charges against Michael Flynn; the FBI concludes the Bubba Wallace “noose” incident was not a hate crime; and the MLB prepares to open on July 1 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Today (6/25) at 2:00 pm ET, Cumulus Media | Westwood One is presenting a live webinar to release “brand new insights and studies on the state of the American consumer.” Covered in today’s event will be: Just-released J.D. Power automotive sales data for the week ending June 21 indicating it was one of the strongest auto sales performance weeks for new sales; new “Share of Ear” data from Edison Research on the audience duplication between AM/FM radio and Pandora and Spotify; how advertising can help businesses recover and reopen using a powerful new visual from marketing pro Les Binet; and more…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Program” – syndicated nationally via Talk Shows USA – announces the addition of Free Fire Media’s KCNR-AM, Shasta/K243CT, Redding, California and WCJU Incorporated’s WCJU-AM, Columbia, Mississippi to its roster of affiliates…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-FM, Tulsa and KOKI-TV “FOX23” are partnering with the American Red Cross in a two-day “Red, White and You” Blood Drive today and tomorrow (6-25/26). KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “This is one of our favorite events every year because it unifies our listeners in Green Country to work as a group to help people who live and work in their communities. Every pint donated to the American Red Cross can help save three lives. That’s a pretty impressive return on 30 minutes of your day.”
International Rock Musician/Impresario Leslie Mandoki Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Munich, Germany-based, Hungarian rocker Leslie Mandoki is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Mandoki is a seasoned professional forged by experience, passion and life, who is keeping the spirit and quality of the progressive, jazz rock era alive and well for generations old and new. His ensemble, MANDOKI SOULMATES, is a long-running loosely knit association of some of the greatest big-name musicians on the planet. Their brand-new release, “Living in the Gap & Hungarian Pictures,” is a double album that expresses their ideals of socially aware lyrics and complex musical arrangements – basic tenets of the progressive and jazz rock era. In his youth, Mandoki escaped from communist Hungary to West Germany where he built one of the finest studio complexes in Europe, produced and performed on records, became friends with a wide network of great musicians including the legendary Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and launched a progressive rock juggernaut. Countless gold and platinum records decorate his walls. He also wrote, produced, and performed the superb charity song dedicated to the heroes of the coronavirus titled #WeSayThankYou with Ian Anderson that has garnered positive attention on international radio and on YouTube. Harrison and Mandoki discuss the music, social issues and politics that make Leslie Mandoki a fascinating individual – largely unknown to Americans. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Entercom Partners with Analytics Firm Deep Root. In what Entercom calls part of its “commitment to data-driven capabilities,” the company announces a partnership with audience-powered analytics company Deep Root that will allow Entercom to offer advertisers expanded targeting options. Entercom says, “This partnership will enable agencies, advocacy groups, and political campaigns to identify and reach Deep Root’s custom voter audience segments when advertising throughout Entercom’s robust portfolio of broadcast and digital assets. This includes access to Deep Root’s issue advocacy and political audience segments such as swing voters, blue collar voters, and environmentalists.” Entercom VP, data and analytics Dan McKinney adds, “Expansive reach and national scale allow radio and digital audio to serve as a reliable platform for brands and political campaigns to reach engaged consumers. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to support these advertising partners with increased targeting to accomplish their specific goals. Partnering with Deep Root will allow us to better serve our trusted partners and enhance their capabilities when leveraging our audio assets to reach voters nationally and locally.”
New RAB ‘Open for Business’ Series Announced. The RAB announces that as part of its Business Unusual initiative, a new Open for Business live-video series titled, “Getting Your Billing Back On Track,” hosted by RAB SVP of professional development Jeff Schmidt takes place on July 14 at 11:00 am ET (a repeat viewing is available July 16 at 4:00 pm ET. RAB says, “As businesses across the country are reopening, it is time for sellers to rebuild their selling strategy. In this live-video presentation, Schmidt will share proven tools and resources account executives and managers can utilize to increase stations’ revenue and income at their stations and radio companies.” Registration is free to RAB members. To register, click here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nationally syndicated urban contemporary “The Deja Vu Show” adds five new affiliates including: KBXT-FM, Bryan, Texas; KISX-FM, Tyler, Texas; KSSM-FM, Waco, Texas; KMJI-FM, Texarkana, Texas; and WRKA-FM, Louisville. The WBLS-FM, New York based afternoon drive show is syndicated via ABC Audio, whose executive director of business strategy Heidi Oringer says, “Throughout her career, Deja has drawn high ratings in every market where she’s heard. We’re thrilled that in syndication ‘The Deja Vu Show’ followed suit and is experiencing the same level of success and rapid growth. Deja’s insightful content and her standout personality draw large, diverse audiences. We’re excited that stations are adding ‘The Deja Vu Show’ to their lineups and equally excited that she is so favored by advertisers as well.”…..The Tom Kent Radio Network announces new affiliation deals with more great radio stations. Adding Tom Kent’s “Ultimate Party” is Midwest Communications classic hits WBOW, Terre Haute, Indiana; Draper Communications classic hits WTDK, Salisbury, Maryland adds “My 70s Show” and “Super 60s with Steve Kent”; and Delta Media’s urban AC KFXZ, Opelousas, Louisiana adds “Sweet Soul Weekend with Jeff Foxx.”