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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.

Friday, August 3, 2018

| August 3, 2018

Beasley Broadcast Group Q2 Revenue Up 1%; Station Operating Income Up 3.5%. Net revenue for the second quarter of 2018 was $61.6 million for Beasley Broadcast Group – an increase of 1% over the same period in 2017.  For the first six months of 2018, net revenue was $116.8 million – up from $114.8 million in 2017.  Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley comments, “Beasley’s second quarter results reflect our ongoing execution of strategies to drive revenue, productivity and growth across our local radio broadcasting and digital platforms.  The 1% year-over-year increase in second quarter revenues combined with essentially flat station expenses and the operating leverage related to the top-line growth resulted in a 3.5% increase in second quarter SOI.  Overall, our second quarter results again demonstrate the efficiencies we are realizing related to our expanded scale and the operating leverage in our model, which collectively led to a 28.6% increase in earnings per share.  During the second quarter, Beasley remained committed to enhancing shareholder value through capital returns and capital structure improvements.  In this regard, we declared our nineteenth consecutive quarterly cash dividend. In addition, interest expense decreased approximately 20% year-over-year to $3.8 million, reflecting the recent refinancing of our senior debt, which reduced our interest rate by 200 basis points.  We used cash from operations to make voluntary debt repayments of $2 million in the second quarter and ended June 30, 2018 with total outstanding debt of $220 million.”  As previously reported, on May 1, 2017, Beasley completed the sale of six stations in Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, and on December 19, 2017, Beasley completed an asset exchange transaction whereby it exchanged its Boston adult contemporary station WMJX-FM and $12 million for Boston’s sports station WBZ-FM.  The results reflect the operations and results from WBZ-FM in the three and six months ended June 30, 2018 and WMJX-FM in the three and six months ended June 30, 2017.  The results also reflect one month of contribution from the Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville stations in the three-month period, and four months of contribution in the six-month period ended June 30, 2017.  The $0.6 million, or 1.0%, year-over-year increase in net revenue during the three months ended June 30, 2018, reflects the inclusion of WBZ-FM Boston, partially offset by the disposition of WMJX-FM Boston and the Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville stations.

E.W. Scripps Radio Revenue Hit by Write-Down of Stations Value. The sale of its radio stations has been the focus of industry news about E.W. Scripps as it re-aligns to concentrate on its television and OTT businesses.  As a result, it has been reporting its radio segment as “discontinued operations” in recent quarterly reports.  In the second quarter of 2017, the radio segment’s income was $1.7 million.  The second quarter of 2018 has produced a loss of $2.9 million as the result of “non-cash charges of $25.9 million to write down the assets of the radio business to fair value.”  Scripps has agreed to sell its five-station Tulsa cluster to the local Griffin Communications for $12.5 million and its Milwaukee duo to Good Karma Brands for $16 million.  The company has 27 stations in six markets for which it continues to seek buyers.

Report: Cain to End Talk Show on WSB-AM, Atlanta.  As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho, talk show host and former presidential candidate Herman Cain is exiting his daily, 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program on Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM “News 95.5 and AM 750.”  Cain – who assumed the late morning show slot after Neal Boortz’s retirement in 2013 – will continue with the station doing a daily, two-minute commentary leading up to the noon newscast.  To fill the hour, Eric Von Haessler’s program will expand to the entire 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart.

Spotify Pulls Some Alex Jones Podcasts For Violation of ‘Hate Policy.’ Media personality Alex Jones has had a number of his podcast episodes pulled from Spotify’s service after the digital audio platform concluded that the episodes violated its hate content policy.  According to the Associated Press report, the episodes became notorious on social media, forcing the company to act.  It issued the following statement: “We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community.  Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of ‘The Alex Jones Show’ podcast for violating our hate content policy.” According to the AP story, Jones said the action is “what I expect. I was born in censorship.  I was born being suppressed.”

Perry Stone Named OM for Mid-West Family Broadcasting in Springfield, Illinois. Programmer and air personality Perry Stone joins Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s Springfield, Illinois four-station cluster to serve as operations manager for news/talk WMAY-AM/W234CC and rock WQLZ-FM, effective August 6.  In addition to his OM duties for both stations, Stone will host the afternoon show on WQLZ.  Stone was most recently with Saga Communications in Charlottesville, Virginia as operations manager for news/talk WINA-AM/FM and rock WWWV.  The company says Stone “has worked on-air in markets as large as New York City and San Francisco and as small as Carbondale, Illinois.  So, he not only knows Illinois, but he understands the opportunities and challenges in markets of all sizes.” Mid-West Family Springfield general manager Harvey Wells says, “We conducted a nationwide search for this position and Perry’s experience both in management and on-air made the difference.  I’m looking forward to him joining our off and on-air team.”  Stone remarks, “It’s great to get back to the Midwest.  I spent time in Carbondale and in Milwaukee and have always enjoyed the people and places there.  I’m looking forward to getting to know all that Central Illinois has to offer.  In addition, Mid-West Family Radio is one of the most respected companies in radio. I could not be happier.”

Wilson and Parcell New Midday Hosts on WFNZ, Charlotte ‘The Fan.’ After Chris Kroeger was named the new play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, Entercom sports talk outlet WFNZ “The Fan” conducted a search for his replacement in middays and announces that Nick Wilson (inset) and Josh Parcell (right) begin as the new midday stars on Monday (8/6).  Wilson was most recently with the company’s WKRK, Cleveland “92.3 The Fan” where he hosted the evening program.  Parcell has done fill-in work on WFNZ and has served as a producer for ESPN.

Smith Promoted to VP of Engineering for Beasley Media Group. Moving up from his regional engineering director & corporate project manager position with Beasley Media Group to vice president of engineering is Lamar Smith.  He’s been with the company for the past seven years and he’ll continue to be based in Charlotte where he’ll manage large corporate projects throughout the country as well as assist in overseeing the company’s engineering staff.  Smith also currently serves as vice president of the Emergency Broadcast Association.

Mickey Moore Appointed VP of Sales at iHeartMedia Minneapolis. Media sales and marketing pro Michelle “Mickey” Moore is the new vice president of sales at iHeartMedia’s Minneapolis station group that includes news/talk KTLK and sports talk KFXN “The Fan.”  iHM Minneapolis also has franchise partnerships with the Minnesota Vikings, the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and the University of Minnesota.  Moore joins iHeartMedia Minneapolis from Franklin Covey, where she served as a client partner.  She previously worked at iHeartMedia as the general sales manager for KDWB-FM from 1994 to 2001.  Moore’s sales background also includes American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio, where her positions included managing director of inclusion and community impact, senior director of organization development and senior director of underwriting sales.  Region vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s Western Great Lakes Region Greg Alexander says, “We are pleased to have such a respected, seasoned leader like Mickey join iHeartMedia Minneapolis. Her wealth of industry experience and her ability to blend creativity and sales strategy will benefit both our sales team and our clients.”

TALKERS News Notes.  It was a frightening experience for WWJ-AM, Detroit reporter Mike Campbell as an apparently disturbed man smashed the window of his station vehicle while he was filing a live report on a fatal car crash in the city.  He was unhurt in the incident and was able to successfully file his report. Numerous reporters form various outlets were on the scene when the suspect (who was subsequently tasered and subdued by police) used a metal baton to smash the windows of two station vehicles while shouting obscenities and racial slurs…..Former NFL tight-end Martellus Bennett debuts his new podcast, “Revenge of the Jocks,” on PodcastOne Sportsnet.  The company says the weekly program “goes beyond Martellus, the athlete, as the Super Bowl champion explores the infinite world of creativity.  Speaking firsthand, as an entrepreneur, musician, animator, sketch artist, children’s author and app creator himself, Bennett will be joined by fascinating friends to discuss a broad spectrum of topics, including what it means to be a creative, activist, and overall culture-shaping world-changer.”…..Entercom sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia relaunches the “Go Birds” podcast hosted by station personalities John Barchard and James Seltzer.  The radio show will continue to air on Saturdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on “SportsRadio 94WIP.” The podcast will be available on Radio.com.  Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff states, “Both the podcast and radio show have been Eagles fan favorites and we are excited to continue the tradition.  The name of the show might be changing, but fans can expect the same insight into their favorite football team.”…..VSiN – the network dedicated to sports gambling information – announces a partnership with sports talk KNBR, San Francisco that taps VSiN to deliver daily Bay Area-focused updates for the station. Starting Monday (8/6), KNBR will run “VSiN Action Updates” covering how the sports betting markets are reacting to Bay Area sports teams. VSiN will supply one report in the 9:00 am hour and another in the 5:00 pm hour each weekday from its Las Vegas studio at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.   KNBR program director Jeremiah Crowe says, “We are excited to partner with VSiN in bringing top-notch gaming updates to the KNBR airwaves.  VSiN continues to be an industry leader in this space and VSiN founder Brent Musburger has had his finger on the pulse of sports gambling for decades.”…..SAG-AFTRA and New York Public Radio announced that they have reached a Voluntary Recognition Agreement that will add per diem and temporary employees working in SAG-AFTRA covered titles to the union’s longstanding contract that currently covers more than 100 full-time workers at NYPR.  The Agreement adds more than 30 people to a larger group that has been represented by SAG-AFTRA since 2000…..Longtime Purdue University sports broadcaster Larry Clisby is fighting stage 4 lung cancer and metastic brain cancer.  The problem is Medicare doesn’t cover all of his medical bills.  Family have started a GoFundMe page to which people can donate.  Clisby became the radio voice of Purdue men’s basketball in 1984.  He also called Boilermakers football for 10 seasons.

Trump-Russia Investigation Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 30 – August 3.  The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Donald Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on financial fraud charges.  Coming in at #3 was the Trump administration’s immigration policy tied with the related story of the Portland mayor’s battle with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, followed by the midterm races and the reports of continuing Russian election interference 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 the entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A GoFundMe page has been set up for former triple A KINK, Portland program director and air personality Sean Demery.  He is battling to recover from a brain stem stroke suffered in January of this year and his insurance has run out, causing financial struggles for him and his family. You can donate here.…..An ill-advised Facebook post has cost classic rock WKLR, Richmond morning personality his job.  Brady DeAngelo posted a picture of the back of a woman sitting at a bar and a caption that contained coarse language. You can see WTVR-TV, Richmond’s coverage, including a screen capture of the post here.  DeAngelo commented, “I made a joke that some thought was inappropriate on my personal Facebook page and it became more of an issue than I believe it should have become.”.….KLAL, Little Rock “Alice 107.7” morning show personalities Heather (left) and Poolboy (right) were honored with the Best Radio Personality award from The Arkansas Times.  This marks the fourth consecutive win in the Best Radio Personality category for the duo.  CHR KLAL was named Runner-Up Best Radio Station for 2018, a category it has won or received runner-up in each year since 2010…..iHeartMedia announces it has partnered with Super Hi-Fi to introduce “new AI capabilities” that will make the iHeartRadio digital platform sound more like a live radio show.  iHeartMedia says, “The new integration brings the best of live broadcast radio to digital streaming music by delivering flawless song transitions, including precise crossfades, volume leveling and truly gapless playback to iHeartRadio’s listeners.”