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CORONAVIRUS PERSEPCTIVE: RAB President/CEO Encourages Radio Sellers to Proactively Draw Upon Relationships with Clients and Take Leadership Role. In an exclusive conversation conducted early this afternoon (3/16), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison tapped into the perspective of Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) president/CEO Erica Farber about the challenges facing radio sales during the current crisis. She tells TALKERS, “This crisis shows just how important relationships are in radio sales.” Farber advises radio sales reps to take a proactive role in reaching out to clients before they contact the stations and enquire as to their well-being and current business practices during this time when it is no longer business as usual. Farber also encourages stations to revamp existing production and copy not just to add new messaging but to update the tone of commercials, both live and produced, to reflect the current environment. She points out that radio has an advantage over TV in this regard because “entire spots don’t have to be re-shot… just re-written which people can do working from home.” To listen to the entire conversation between Harrison and Farber, please click here.
Monday Memo: Coronavirus, Mental Health Crisis. Because the pandemic story is nearer the beginning than the end, consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “‘Wash your hands’ now sounds old and condescending and remaining political talk media deniers validate a tired caricature. At this stage, news-your-listeners-can-use most is coping advice.” HC recommends interviewing a local mental health professional; and in this week’s column, he recommends questions and talking points. Read it here.
Coronavirus Hits the U.S., Fed Slashes Interest Rates, Trump Flight Ban Effects, Biden-Sanders Debate, Turkish and Russian Action in Syria, and Israeli Government Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The coronavirus pandemic causes states across the nation to limit social contact, closing schools and shutting down bars and restaurants; the Fed cuts interest rates to almost zero to counter the panic selling caused by the coronavirus; President Trump’s ban on flights into the U.S. from Europe and the logjam at airports as incoming international travelers require virus screenings; Sunday night’s debate between Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders; the coordinated Turkish and Russian military strikes in Syria; and Benny Gantz’s attempt to form a coalition government in Israel were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Townsquare Media Q4 2019 Net Revenue Up 2.9%, Full Year Up 5.7%; CEO Wilson Addresses Coronavirus. The company reports its 2019 fourth quarter and 2019 full-year financial data and in addition to providing data for the entire company, it also breaks its data into three segments: Advertising, that includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; Townsquare Interactive, the digital marketing solutions business; and Live Events, the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. For the company as a whole, Townsquare Media’s Q4 2019 net revenue was $112.1 million, up 2.9% over the same period in 2018. For the full year of 2019, net revenue was $431.4 million, up 5.7% over all of 2018. Looking at just the Advertising net revenue, it was $93.9 million, up 0.9% from the same period in 2018. However, excluding political advertising from the mix, advertising net revenue was up 5.6%. For the full year of 2019, Townsquare’s advertising net revenue was $352.8 million, up 4% over the full year of 2018. Ex political, advertising net revenue was up 6.2% over 2018. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “As we look forward, we are excited about the future of our company. We believe that our talented teams, broad multi-platform marketing and advertising product suite and in particular, our robust digital solutions, led by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite, our proprietary digital programmatic advertising platform, will continue to differentiate us in the marketplace. We are proud of our broadcast performance, but our overall financial results clearly demonstrate what I have been stating for quite some time: Townsquare has transitioned from being a traditional broadcaster to being a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company with fast growing, profitable digital products and solutions. We continue to be heavily focused on super-serving our local clients, local listeners and local communities while helping local businesses grow through our ‘Local First’ strategy, while simultaneously delivering results for our stakeholders. While the specific impact of the coronavirus pandemic to our business is unknown at this time, we know that there will be a negative impact. However, we are confident and optimistic about the long-term customer demand for our multi-platform products and marketing solutions. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our employees, their families, our partners and our local communities across the country, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected around the world. We are constantly monitoring the evolving environment in each of our 67 local markets. As the preeminent local media company in each of our local markets, Townsquare has the additional responsibility, obligation and civic duty to lead from the front, continue to inform accurately and provide comfort. I could not be prouder of our Townsquare Team and how each day they are serving their listeners, their clients and their local communities during this important time. Our future remains bright and I am confident that together we will emerge from this challenge stronger than ever before.”
Beasley Issues Statement on Company Coronavirus Policy. On Friday (3/13), Beasley Media Group issued the following public statement about its policy for doing business during the coronavirus pandemic. Chief executive officer Caroline Beasley said, “After careful deliberation, we have taken precautionary measures that are currently being implemented across all of our markets. The challenges we face are extraordinary, but the moment is not unique. At our core, our company exists to serve our employees, advertisers and our communities and keep them safe and informed during times exactly like this. Broadcasters are at our best during uncertain times. We will continue to strive to be at our very best in the coming days, weeks and months.” Through March 31, the company is enacting the following: Over the next two weeks, most full-time employees will be asked to telework. While some full-time employees will be needed in the office, they will be expected to follow CDC guidelines (attached) in an effort to maintain a safe and clean work environment. In addition, the company has instituted a “no work-related travel” policy. To limit public traffic at the radio stations, the stations will not be allowing listeners to pick up contest prize awards. Market managers will have the discretion to make limited exception instances where prizes are time limited. Beasley Media Group will be cancelling and/or postponing events and appearances for the next two weeks to ensure not only the safety of its employees but the communities they serve. The company will continue to evaluate and update policies as circumstances dictate.
Adams Radio Implements Coronavirus Policy. Broadcaster Adams Radio Group is putting its coronavirus work plan into effect and is mandating that all personnel that can work from home do so starting immediately. Adams CEO Ron Stone says, “I want to thank my general managers, engineers and others within our company for being very proactive in guiding the planning for our company. Incredible talent always steps up when faced with a crisis and our management has done just that. We are committed to supporting our workforce family and their families as well as the communities we serve. The time for us to act is now. In taking these actions, our priorities are to ensure the well-being of our work family and clients and to continue delivering the messages of our clients to help minimize as much as possible the disruption of their businesses, and ours, by providing the communities we serve with up to date information on the virus. We have taken appropriate steps to provide our employees with the assets required to work from home without disruption to the excellent broadcast products we deliver to our listeners and communities. Sales, programming, administrators and engineers will all be following this guidance as implemented by local management. This policy is effective immediately and will continue until it is safe for our employees to return to normal activities. We have not received notice that anyone employed by Adams Radio has been in contact with the virus and we are doing our part to keep it that way.”
Skyview Networks Reports 95% Ad Retention Rate in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic. In a public release issued on Friday (3/13) in the aftermath of the NBA, NHL, MLB and other sports leagues announcing they were postponing or cancelling their games and related activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skyview Networks said it “continues to serve its many sports partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Skyview EVP and general manager Jeanne-Marie Condo says, “Skyview Networks has been able to retain 95% of its sports dollars. This has been a remarkable 24 hours, at a time of caution, advertisers one after the other stood strong either building new campaigns with Skyview or choosing to keep the revenue in place for when the leagues commence. It was a tribute to the power of on-air radio and how it delivers for advertisers.”
TALKERS News Notes. In San Diego, KOGO-AM afternoon drive personality Carl DeMaio is back on the air on the iHeartMedia news/talk outlet after losing in the Republican primary for California’s 50th Congressional District seat. DeMaio came up short in a three-way race that was won by Carl Issa, who will face Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar for the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, who resigned after being convicted of misusing campaign funds. DeMaio hosts “The DeMaio Report” along with co-host and political consultant Lou Penrose…..Cox Media Group agrees to set aside its contractual retransmission dispute with DISH Network in 10 markets in order to allow the local news, as well as network content from ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX that has been blacked out by DISH since mid-January to air so citizens can get news and information about the coronavirus. CMG’s Kim Guthrie says, “We are pleased to be able to restore these channels on DISH so that our viewers in these communities can be informed and able to make the right decisions for the safety of their families. We appreciate DISH’s cooperation in agreeing to suspend our dispute so that we can help our viewers navigate through this uncertain time.”…..The nationally syndicated “America’s First News with Matt Ray” is added to the program schedule at iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas in morning drive…..According to surveys of local radio buyers by BIA Advisory Services, if local radio could offer an over-the-air, zoned advertising product like local TV stations can, 54.6% say they would be “very interested.” BIA and Advertiser Perceptions will present that data and more during a webinar being held on March 24 at 2:00 pm ET. It’s titled, “Main Street Versus Madison Avenue on Geotargeted Advertising and Local Radio” and will feature BIA’s Rick Ducey and Advertiser Perceptions’ Justin Fromm, who will highlight the Main Street and Madison Avenue research. They are joined by Kathy Doyle, EVP local investment from MAGNA Global and George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne Advertising, who will explain why they think zoned radio ads would be valuable to their clients. You can register here.
Former, Longtime TRN Exec Greg Doyle Dies. Family and friends are mourning the death of Greg Doyle, who died Sunday (3/15) after a long battle with liver disease. His wife of 39 years, Lynn Finley Doyle, posted news of his passing on social media. Doyle was a longtime executive with the Oregon-based radio syndicated firm Talk Radio Network.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Baltimore radio personality Matt Davis joins Times-Shamrock’s classic rock WZBA “100.7 The Bay” as midday host. Davis previously served with Hearst’s crosstown rock WIYY-FM; WXRK, New York; and WYSP, Philadelphia. Station general manager Jefferson Ward says, “In a world of increasingly nationalized radio, being local matters more than ever. Matt has been a part of Baltimore radio for many years and is passionate about our town, music, and creating great content on all platforms. He is the perfect fit for our team.”…..As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Academy of Country Music has decided to postpone “The 55th Annual ACM Awards,” originally scheduled for April 5 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Arena. The show, set to air on CBS Television, is being rescheduled for September.