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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

| November 2, 2021

Bongino Off the Radio This Week; Still Hosting Podcast. This may be the week that the rift between Westwood One parent company Cumulus Media and nationally syndication talk host Dan Bongino is settled – one way or the other. Bongino’s 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET show is being guest hosted this week after the syndicator ran best-of shows last week during his absence. At issue here is Bongino’s stand against the company’s vaccine mandates and his publicly calling out the company and demanding it rescind the requirement that all employees get vaccinated. He is still producing his daily, one-hour podcast for the iHeartRadio platform this week and on it he’s addressing vaccine mandates and his belief that they are ultimately doing the nation more harm than good. As far as Cumulus Media is concerned, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the company retreats on its vaccine mandate and since Bongino is obviously serious about his ultimatum, it looks like the two parties are likely headed for a separation.

Interep Radio Founder Ralph Guild Passes at 93. Legendary radio sales figure Ralph Guild – long credited with creating what is now the standard operating structure for television and radio rep companies, passed away yesterday (11/1) in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 93. Guild launched Interep Radio in 1981 to offer the communications and marketing expertise he believed radio stations would come to expect from their representatives. Created as a holding company, Interep brought independent rep firms together under a single corporate umbrella and grew to over $1 billion in sales. In 1986, under Guild’s stewardship, Interep launched Group W Radio Sales, which ultimately became CBS Radio Sales. Other dedicated rep companies created by Interep included ABC Radio Sales. Guild began his radio representation career in 1957 as a young executive at McGavren Radio – a San Francisco-based firm devoted to representing radio advertising. The company sent him to New York to open their first east coast office, and by 1967 McGavren Radio had become McGavren Guild. In 1973, Guild had become the company’s president and chief operating officer, and later its chairman. Guild’s son Marc, who was also a well-known radio industry executive, passed away in 2020. Guild is survived by his children, Gale, Lynn, Sharon, and Adam, his 16 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Townsquare Media 2021 Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 17%. The company reveals the results of its 2021 third quarter financial report and says net revenue was $111.3 million, up 16.7% compared to the same period in 2020 and just 1% shy of the net revenue in Q3 of 2019 – just prior to the pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $12.9 million, up from $1.3 million in Q3 of 2020. Townsquare Media reports its business in three segments: Townsquare Interactive, the company’s digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising, which includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events, which is comprised of the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.9 million, or 16.2%, to $21.1 million, Advertising net revenue increased $10.3 million, or 13.3%, to $87.4 million, and Live Events net revenue increased $2.7 million to $2.7 million, each as compared to the third quarter of 2020. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “Townsquare’s strong performance continued in the third quarter of 2021, highlighted by robust year-over-year net revenue, Adjusted EBITDA, and net income growth.  Adjusted EBITDA surpassed 2019 levels for the fourth consecutive quarter, and net revenue was at 99% of 2019 levels… As a Digital First Company with approximately 47% of total net revenue (excluding political) coming from our digital platform and solutions, we continue to separate ourselves from the local competition. In the third quarter, total digital revenue increased 20% year-over-year (+29% vs. Q3 2019), and we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $188 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of September 30, 2021) to $250 million in just three short years. Our digital revenue growth, combined with strong profit growth, allowed us to reduce net leverage to 4.9x as of September 30, a meaningful reduction of 2.9x year over year. I am incredibly proud of the Townsquare Team and the results we have delivered to date, which sets us up to noticeably exceed 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in FY 2021, marking a record profit level for our company. Although COVID is far from over, we have been able to achieve our revenue and EBITDA targets faster than we had initially planned for while gaining market share. As such, we are quickly moving towards our ultimate goal of being the number one local media company in each of our 67 markets.”

Beasley Media Group Q3 Net Revenue Up 26.7%. For the third quarter of 2021, Beasley Media Group reports net revenue of $62.9 million, an increase of 26.7% over the same period in 2020. The company reports a net loss of $1.6 million, down from the $2.7 million net loss reported in Q3 of 2020. Station operating income rose to $11.7 million, up 36% from the $8.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2020. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong third quarter financial results reflect the operating and financial benefits of our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives, which are becoming more visible as we move deeper into the post-pandemic economic recovery. Accelerating demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and multi-platform marketing solutions drove third quarter net revenue of $62.9 million, marking a 6% increase over second quarter 2021 levels and a 27% increase over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth, combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant 45% year-over-year increase in SOI to $11.7 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.7 million. While the Delta variant impacted some markets during the quarter, strong growth in core radio advertising and digital advertising revenue resulted in year-over-year total revenue increases across nearly all of our markets, with healthy double-digit growth in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa and Wilmington. The growth was primarily driven by a significant increase in sports betting revenue. Beasley continues to generate positive results from strategic investments in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities, which are further strengthening the long-term competitive position of our diversified media platform. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 67% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for 13% of total third quarter revenue. With our ongoing focus on premium audio and digital content, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions for the second consecutive quarter, with total digital impressions growing 13% over the prior year period, including a 17% year-over-year increase in our total digital streaming audience. On the esports front, we recently launched AXLE-R8, our first expansion team marking our entry into the Rocket League Championship series, which attracts a highly engaged and growing young audience. As we continue to build our esports portfolio, we remain focused on looking for new, innovative ways to monetize this content to drive profitable long-term revenue growth. In summary, we continue to make significant progress on our near-term goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels, as we integrate our leading broadcast platform with our fast-growing digital solutions while maintaining deep local connections and reach within our markets.”

Duke Brooks Exits Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach. Talk show host Duke Brooks tells TALKERS magazine that he left his position as host of the afternoon drive program at Resort Broadcasting’s news/talk WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on October 15. He says, “I’ve been honored to have the company of thousands of Delmarvans every weekday afternoon for over six years, but WGMD plans a new programming direction in which I have no experience. That, among several other reasons, meant that it was time for me to depart Resort Broadcasting, LLC.” Brooks first joined WGMD in the fall of 2009 as evening talk show host but, along with several other staffers, was let go on February 2, 2011. He then worked as communication director for the Sussex County GOP and then for Kevin Wade’s (R-DE) campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He returned to WGMD on March 13, 2015.

Fisher House Radio Special Available for Veterans Day Weekend. In time for this year’s recognition of Veteran’s Day, Fisher House Foundation announces that The Jeff Wyatt Group has a free, fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 NOW available for download. You can hear the demo, register, and download today here. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for ALL formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The 3-hour, 1-hour, 25 and 30-minute radio specials are hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt and features stories of our nation’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families.

Biden Spending Bills, Election Day, COVID-19, SCOTUS Abortion Law Case, COP26, and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial to Begin Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/1). The status of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic plan and Congress likely to act on them this week; today’s tight gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine mandates, and vaccine approval for children; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the case of Texas’ restrictive abortion law; the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow; and the beginning of the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

| August 18, 2020

Brian Davis Named OM for Cumulus Appleton-Oshkosh. Programming pro Brian Davis returns to Cumulus Media to take on the operations manager position for the company’s Appleton-Oshkosh, Wisconsin cluster that includes news/talk WOSH-AM, country WPKR-FM, classic hits WVBO-FM, alternative WWWX-FM, and nostalgia WNAM-AM. Davis served as a programmer in Cumulus’ Bloomington, Illinois cluster from 2011-2016. Most recently, he was a brand manager for Townsquare Media’s Dubuque, Iowa station group. Cumulus Appleton-Oshkosh VP and market manager John Rowe says, “This is a homecoming of sorts for Brian, having worked in the marketplace a few years ago. We’re thrilled to have Brian’s passion for radio and know he will make an immediate impact at a time when programming leadership is critical to the cluster’s continuing success.” Davis comments, “I am very excited to be rejoining Cumulus and returning to Northeast Wisconsin. We have an outstanding team and a great lineup of stations, and I know we’re going to do great things together!”

Entercom Names ‘D-Lo and KC’ Midday Show at ‘ESPN 1320’ in Sacramento. The new 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm show at Entercom’s KIFM-AM, Sacramento “ESPN 1320” is “D-Lo and KC,” hosted by Damien Barling (left) and Kenny Caraway (right). Entercom Sacramento Stacey Kauffman says, “Damien and Kenny are two incredibly talented, local personalities that bring passion, energy and enthusiasm to 1320. Damien’s market experience coupled with Kenny’s passion for Northern California sports make this a winning combination. I couldn’t be more excited to see what they’re able to accomplish right out of the gate on air and on our digital platforms.” Barling previously hosted on sister KHTK-AM’s “The Lo-Down.” Caraway is a content creator across multiple mediums, including podcasting, sports radio host, podcast and radio producer, as well as co-host for The Athletic’s Sacramento Kings podcast, “Throne Room Breakdown.”

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Present Back to School Town Hall. This year’s “back-to-school” season is very different from past years due to COVID-19 and Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in its Town Hall broadcast series to help New Jersey parents prepare for the start of the new school year. New Jersey has more than 600 school districts with each setting its own policies regarding how and where kids will begin school, leading to great confusion among parents. Station special projects director Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing health and education experts together to answer parents’ questions. He says, “Kids may be permitted to attend some in-class learning, but is it safe to do so? We will get parents the answers they need to make the best decisions possible for their children.” The program’s expert panel will feature: Marie Blistan, president, New Jersey Education Association; Patricia Wright, executive director, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; Dr. Margaret Fisher, world-renowned pediatric infectious disease specialist; and Dr. Steve Tobias, director, Center for Child and Family Development. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour. The broadcast takes place Thursday (8/20) at 7:00 pm and is being streamed on Facebook Live and via the New Jersey 101.5 app.

‘97.1 The Fan’ in Columbus Unveils New Lineup. Columbus sports talk outlet WBNS-FM “97.1 The Fan” unveils its new program schedule, including its new morning drive show. The Tegna station puts ‘Fan’ personality Brandon Beam together with former Ohio State linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel for the “Morning Juice” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. The station also creates a new midday show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Station director of operations Matt Erhard says, “In addition to the energy and excitement of launching ‘Morning Juice,’ I’m excited to team up Anthony Rothman, who’s been covering sports in Central Ohio for 27 years, with Matty “Ice” Hayes, a born and raised Ohioan who brings fresh perspective and insight as he makes the move from producer to host. I’m extremely proud to see these next career steps for guys who have helped shape ‘The Fan’ into the sports powerhouse that it is today.” The station is making a move physically as well. Vice president and general manager Todd Markiewicz says, “I am also excited to announce that we are moving our radio studios from Front Street to the 10TV building on Twin Rivers with brand new, state of the art broadcasting facilities. Creating synergy between 97.1 The Fan’s sports lineup along with 10TV’s sports anchors allows us to create ‘The Best Damn Sports Team In The Land.’ With TV and radio’s sports personalities under the same roof, we will be able to provide the most thorough and entertaining sports information to fans in Columbus for years to come!”

Lisa Ann Bonk Joins JAM Media Solutions as National Sales Manager. Radio sales pro Lisa Ann Bonk is named national sales manager for JAM Media Solutions. The company operates seven radio stations – three music brands in Iowa, plus news/talk WZPR-FM, Nags Head, North Carolina and three music brands on the Outer Banks – as well as digital publication OBXToday.com and a New Jersey-based direct response ad agency. Bonk worked with new company COO Steve Borneman at WABC, New York and also served as a regional manager at Interep Radio. Borneman says, “I am happy to be reunited with Lisa! Lisa hired me many, many years ago at 77 WABC and I am looking forward to the contributions she will make at JAM. Lisa is one of the best sales leaders I’ve had the pleasure of working with and she’s an all-around wonderful person!”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at Crossing Broad, Beasley Media Group is going to lease the old WIP-AM – now WTEL-AM – to iHeartMedia and that company plans to flip the format. It’s currently airing sports as “610 ESPN Philadelphia.” Beasley acquired the signal in a swap with CBS RADIO…..Good Karma Brands’ “ESPN Cleveland” is launching a new daily podcast titled, “The Daily Grossi,” hosted by Cleveland Browns analyst Tony Grossi and Matt Fontana. “ESPN Cleveland” director of content Matt Fishman says, “Tony is the eyes and ears for the fans this year at training camp. ‘The Daily Grossi’ podcast provides fans an inside look at Kevin Stefanski’s first season as the Browns head coach as he tackles the additional challenges 2020 has provided.”…..FOX Sports Radio’s Colin Cowherd appeared on the August 14 edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” in which he talked about the possible impact of the college football season on the presidential election, how major sports leagues have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to salvage their seasons, and a variety of other sports topics. You can see it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/College Outbreaks, USPS Funding/DeJoy Testimony, Presidential Race/DNC, Southwest Heatwave/California Power Woes, and Protests/Urban Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/17). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for more cases, and the outbreaks at some college campuses; the state of the U.S. Postal Service, its funding woes, and next week’s testimony before Congress by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy; the November presidential election and last night’s opening of the Democratic National Convention; the record-setting heatwave in the Southwest and the rolling blackouts in California; and the Portland protests and urban violent crime increase in several cities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

PPM Analysis: Adult Hits. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the adult hits format. In this report, you will find charts that show weekly 6+ AQH share movement compared to the June 2020 PPM survey, the July 2019 PPM survey, as well as market rank and market share. See the whole report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Notifying their listeners via social media, country WQMX, Akron program director and afternoon host Ken Steel and station music director Jody Svoboda Wheatley have been let go by owner Rubber City Radio Group. Noting that their departure is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wheatley posts to Facebook: “Exactly two weeks ago I celebrated my 19th year working at WQMX, and it turns out that today is my last. Our company decided that I should be their first COVID casualty, along with my favorite co-worker, Ken Steel. I guess if I wasn’t going to leave the company on my own terms, at least I left in the next best possible way…at the top with the best ratings WQMX has ever had, and next to the best boss and co-worker/friend that I’ve made along the way. So I guess it only makes sense that we exit this ride together, even though we both don’t deserve it. It’s definitely their loss. Not sure what’s next for me, but I guess I’m ready to find out.”