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Monday Memo: Listeners Kidnapped!

| May 17, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Notice how often transmitters invite listeners and viewers to leave?

NBC uses affiliates’ air to ask viewers to watch Peacock instead. They even cannibalize their own linear channels. As President Trump recently addressed Congress, Lester Holt anchored on NBC, while MSNBC “Morning Joe” stars anchored coverage on Peacock. As if Brian Williams + talking-heads on MSNBC and Shepard Smith + talking-heads on CNBC weren’t splintering viewership already.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”

The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.

Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.

AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.

COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format?

| May 10, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — He told us that, first-and-foremost, he was an entertainer. And was he ever. As was the late gritty iconoclast G. Gordon Liddy, second-in back when political talk radio found traction. Either of them probably could’ve read the phone book and held our attention. Local hosts chimed-into what became a conservative chorus. Yet, as they still share the same sheet music, it’s not the same without the lead singer.

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Monday, May 3, 2021

| May 3, 2021

Monday Memo: Meet Meg. While syndicated shows compete to fill former Rush Limbaugh hours, some stations are reverting to local hosts. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke introduces you to “a radio newcomer who quickly clicked.” Read it here.

Pending Business: The Long and Winding Road. The seller who needs to provide metrics in a highly accountable media landscape and has no “numbers” to show could be at a competitive disadvantage. But sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa offers strategy for selling news/talk radio when your station doesn’t subscribe to a ratings service. Read it here.

Cardle and Woolley Join KJCE, Austin for Mornings. Austin news/talk KJCE “Talk 1370AM” announces the addition of the “Cardle and Woolley” morning news and talk program to its program schedule in the 7:00 am to 9:00 am slot. Jim Cardle (left) is publisher of the online political newsletter TexasInsider.org and has more than 30 years of connections and experience across the political spectrum, from his years on Capitol Hill and the George H.W. Bush administration, to years of working with elected officials from across the state. Lynn Woolley (right) brings more than 30 years of talk radio experience from markets across Texas, including more than 24 years as host of the syndicated “The Lynn Woolley Show,” heard in several Texas markets. He’s also worked as a radio news anchor in Dallas and Austin, a political writer for The Dallas Morning News and The Epoch Times and has worked on the ad agency side of the business in his native Temple and across much of Central Texas. Audacy Austin SVP and market manager Bob Mackay says, “We are excited to provide Austin and central Texas with a new local outlet to join the conversation on issues and concerns people have that affect our area. The combination of Jim’s and Lynn’s opinions and perspectives will be informative and entertaining as we aim to serve the community.”

Cumulus Media Bids Adieu to WTOD-FM, Toledo; Moves ‘The Ticket’ to WQQO-HD2. With Saturday’s closing on Cumulus Media’s sale of Toledo radio station WTOD-FM to Delmarva Educational, Cumulus announces that the sports talk format “The Ticket ESPN” moves to WQQO-HD2. Cumulus Toledo/Monroe VP and market manager Dana DiModica says, “We are sad to see a station like WTOD leave our cluster but are excited to move forward with the change on 100.7 to ESPN sports and to still carry our alternative rock format, now on 94.5’s HD signal. We were fortunate enough to keep all our employees, and that is always our ultimate goal while carrying great programming for our loyal listeners in Northwest Ohio.” “The Ticket ESPN” is home to Cleveland Browns pre-game and post-game shows, Bowling Green State University sports and Central Catholic sports.

iHeartMedia Dayton to Move to New Offices in Dayton Arcade. WDTN-TV, Dayton is reporting that iHeartMedia’s Dayton stations will move into the historic Dayton Arcade in downtown Dayton with the move-in date expected sometime in late September. The iHeartMedia Dayton cluster includes sports talk WONE-AM “980 FOX Sports,” WIZE “Black Information Network, and six music brands. Market president Dave Litteral says, “We are thrilled to be part of the transformation of this historic landmark and bring our broadcast and digital operations to the heart of our city. Connecting our influencers, marquee talent, and operation staff with the innovation Space and Arts Centers in the Arcade will cement our commitment to the Downtown Dayton Business District. It’s really the perfect location for iHeartMedia Dayton.”

TALKERS News Notes. The weekend program, “Cindy Stumpo is Tough as Nails,” launches its fourth season on iHeartMedia’s all-news WBZ-AM, Boston. Cindy Stumpo hosts the program that airs Saturday nights at 8:00 pm with her daughter Samantha. iHeartMedia says that on the program, “Cindy unpacks the world of construction, real estate, renovations, design and more with help of expert guests. Cindy is known for her raw and uncensored perspective on everything about being a woman who has been successful in the male dominated construction and development industry. Almost nothing is off limits: panic attacks, menopause, abuse, domestic violence, we never know what’s next. Cindy’s social media presence is unstoppable with over 75,000 followers on Instagram and videos on her YouTube Channel regularly garnering 100,000-plus views. Cindy has shown that she is a multimedia force.”…..The Independent Broadcasters Association’s IBA webinar series continues this week with “The FCC EEO Rules and How to Survive Them,” taking place Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Veteran telecom lawyer Gregg Skall will put owners and managers on the path to successful license renewal and FCC EEO audit survival, without FCC fines and sanctions. Most importantly, this one webinar will provide full credit for stations by training management on compliance with FCC EEO requirements. The webinar is for member stations only. See information about joining the IBA here…..This month is the fourth annual Maryland Podcast Month. Founded in 2018, Maryland Podcast Month brings together podcasts of all stripes to “cross-collaborate and cross-promote in order to create more opportunities for podcasts to get new listeners.” Maryland Podcast Month is non-partisan and non-ideological and consists of all sorts of locally produced conduct, including podcasts about news, politics, sports, life, culture, food, wrestling, and other shows. Founder Brian Griffiths says, “Maryland Podcast Month is all about shining a light on locally produced content. In this time of social distancing, there is no better way to connect to others and connect to our community and topics of interest than through podcasting. Maryland podcasters are still producing great content, and they deserve a bigger spotlight.” For the first time, Maryland Podcast Month is sponsoring the Maryland Podcast Awards. Winners will be announced on Wednesday (5/5).

Michael Harrison Embarks Upon Talk Media “Animal Tour.” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has begun a series of talk media interviews on radio, TV, and in print in support of his new music album with the historic rock band Gunhill Road, What Year Is This! and the animal welfare anthem, “I Know You’re Real.” This past week, Harrison has appeared on the Jim Bohannon Show (Westwood One), the Harry Hurley Show (WPG, Atlantic City), “Sterling on Sunday” with Walter Sterling and “The Big Picture” with Holland Cooke on RT America (pictured above). Harrison and Cooke discussed animal welfare as well as the state of media and journalism in the digital era. To view the segment that ran this Friday evening (4/30) please click here. To view the music video version of “I Know You’re Real (spoken version)” featuring Harrison reciting the lyrics he wrote, please click here. Harrison will continue the tour into the spring. To book him on a talk show, please call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.

Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Announces Non-Profit Status. The Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio, Inc. organization announces that it has officially achieved designation as a 501(c)(3) charitable entity. The volunteer organization, formerly known as the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group, consists of top-level female radio professionals who use their experience, influence, and resources to help other women in radio develop management and leadership skills. The benefits of this IRS structure include additional sponsorship options that will aid in expanding MIW’s reach, enhance mentoring opportunities and magnify MIW’s mission of strengthening radio’s next generation of female leadership. The MIWs have dedicated the past 20 years to this vision. Since its inception, the organization has published an annual Gender Analysis Study that tracks percentages of women placed in senior management roles. Additionally, MIW presents educational panels and networking opportunities at radio broadcasting conferences and collaborates with other industry groups aligned with furthering women’s careers in radio. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff says, “Today’s announcement is the culmination of one of MIW’s most ambitious long-range goals. It could not have been done without the leadership of our board treasurer, Valerie Blackburn, and the pro bono work of Foster Garvey PC, we are indebted to them both. We are equally grateful to so many who volunteered their time and expertise to MIW, from the very beginning of the MIW Group in 2000, to those in subsequent years whose participation ensured the continuation of our organization. Each of these women, and men, along with our generous and loyal corporate sponsors, represents a unique and important brick in the MIW foundation.”

COVID-19, Border Crisis/Deadly San Diego Boat Accident, Biden’s ‘American Families Plan,’ Texas Special Congressional Election, Severe Weather in the South, and the NFL Draft Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the vaccine rollout, and the skyrocketing death toll in India; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the deadly boat accident near San Diego allegedly involving smuggling; President Joe Biden’s $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; two Republicans will face a runoff after beating the Democrat in the special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District; severe weather in the South hits Tupelo, Mississippi and threatens more of the region today; and the 2021 NFL Draft were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday Memo: Meet Meg

| May 3, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

WAUSAU, WI — Client stations are sharing feedback from listeners increasingly uncomfortable with “guided” Rush Limbaugh Show reruns. “Morbid,” “forced,” “clinging to the past,” and “icky” are among verbatim comments, as, for instance – three months after Rush passed – aircheck clips react to President Biden’s address to Congress.

Non-iHeart stations (allowed to) are bailing, most to one of a half-dozen other syndicated keepers of the flame. Some stations, however, are recovering the network inventory and reallocating Limbaugh cash clearance dollars to fund live-N-local hosts in his former hours. Last week’s column suggested a creative financing model.

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