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Monday, December 20, 2021

| December 20, 2021

Monday Memo: Happy NEWS Year? “Not likely,” consultant Holland Cooke predicts; adding “that spells opportunity…for now. THEN what?” In this week’s column, HC suggests how recent Chris Wallace and Brian Williams sign offs point to what might be “talk radio’s next format.” Read it here.

 

Pending Business: What You See Is What You Get. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says that despite the significantly increased traffic on our roads as more people return to working away from home – which means more people listening to radio in their cars – radio sales pros may still have plenty of inventory to sell. He says it’s time to review four basic concepts that help any talk radio seller fill those avails. Read it here.

Audacy Renews Employment Agreements with CEO David Field and COO Susan Larkin. The company has entered into new employment agreements with president and CEO David J. Field and EVP and chief operating officer Susan Larkin. In a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, Audacy reports that Field will continue to serve as the company’s president and CEO and becomes effective January 1, 2022. The Field agreement has an initial term of three years with automatic one year extensions following the initial term unless either party provides prior notice of non-extension. Field’s annual base salary will be $1,350,000 and a target annual performance bonus of up to 200% of Field’s base salary. Field is eligible to receive a one time “EBITDA Bonus” of $3,000,000 only if, prior to December 31, 2024, the company’s EBITDA for the immediately preceding consecutive 12-month period exceeds $400,000,000. Field is also entitled to an equity grant of 1,000,000 restricted stock units (“RSUs”), subject to the company’s shareholders’ approval of a new Company equity incentive plan at the 2022 annual shareholders meeting. Seventy five percent (75%) of these RSUs have performance-based vesting conditions while the remaining twenty five percent (25%) have time-based vesting conditions. Fields’ performance-based RSUs come after achieving company stock price increases. He receives 250,000 RSUs for hitting the stock price of  $6.00; 250,000 for hitting $9.00 per share and 250,000 for reaching the $12.00 per share threshold. Audacy also retroactively amended EVP and COO Susan R. Larkin that increases her annual salary to  $750,000 and applies retroactively from June 1, 2021 through May 4, 2023. Her agreement further amends the provision related to future equity grants so that Larkin will be entitled to an increased amount of future grants of restricted stock and/or stock options with an aggregate annual target amount of $500,000.

KBOI-AM, Boise to Add FM Signal. Effective January 3, 2022, Cumulus Media’s Boise news/talk KBOI-AM will have an FM simulcast as current sports talk KTIK-FM becomes KBOI-FM. The sports talker keeps its FM signal (a simulcast of KTIK-AM) on FM translator K237HA at 95.3 FM. In a statement, KBOI program director Nate Shelman says, “Being a part of any positive station launch or new venture is exciting. Our audience has asked for this over the years and it’s exciting to see KBOI return to the FM dial after KBOI-FM switched call signs to KQFC in 1985. The growth in the Treasure Valley and changes in technology have warranted the need for an FM outlet. Interference from powerlines being the most prevalent.”

KABQ-AM, Albuquerque to Flip to Sports Talk. Albuquerque talk station KABQ-AM is flipping to sports talk as “FOX Sports 1350 AM”, effective Monday, January 3. The iHeartMedia station will broadcast FOX Sports Radio programming around the clock on weekdays and weekends. “FOX Sports 1350 AM” will feature “Two Pros and a Cup of Joe with LaVar Arrington, Brady Quinn & Jonas Knox,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Doug Gottlieb Show” “Straight Outta Vegas with R.J. Bell,” “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon” and “The Ben Maller Show.” iHeartMedia market president Hope Romero says, “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the sports talk leader back to Albuquerque. FOX Sports Radio leads the industry with the biggest names and best shows.”

Audacy Names Sarah Foss Chief Technology Officer. The company promotes Sarah Foss to chief technology officer, a role in which she’ll spearhead Audacy’s efforts to innovate and differentiate its products and services via new technological capabilities. The company says that Foss will manage Audacy’s key technology initiatives including: software development, ad tech, business intelligence and analytics, data solutions, and Audacy’s recently acquired live and on-demand audio streaming business, AmperWave. Foss had been serving as Audacy’s chief information officer since joining the company in 2020. Audacy CFO and EVP of strategic initiatives Rich Schmaeling comments, “Audacy continues to invest in technology to create innovative offerings for its listeners, advertisers and clients. We are excited to have Sarah leading these critical areas to drive our transformation faster and further.” Foss states, “Audacy is in the enviable position that we have unique content, great platforms, and an appetite for transformative growth. I am excited that technology is seen as an accelerant and differentiator for us at Audacy.”

Biden’s Build Back Better Plan/Economy, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Civil War Fears, Russian Ukraine Aggression, Kim Potter Trial, Ghislaine Maxwell Trial, and Spider Man Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Negotiations over Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan between the White House and Senator Joe Manchin break down and the cooling predictions for the U.S. economy; the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, vaccines and mandates; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol; retired U.S. generals warn of possible U.S. civil war; Russia’s military aggression toward the Ukraine; the trial of former police officer Kim Potter; the defense rests in the trail of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell; and the new Spider Man movie’s blockbuster opening were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.