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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

| September 22, 2021

Larry Elder to Return to Salem Radio Network Show Next Month. It’s been more than a week since the California recall election that Governor Gavin Newsom won by a two-to-one margin. Top Republican vote-getter Larry Elder has not yet returned to his nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network talk show that airs from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. As TALKERS readers are aware, Elder took leave of his show to run in the recall election and Carl Jackson is hosting the program in his absence. SRN SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce says in a statement, “Larry is taking an additional 30 days to de-compress after a grueling run for governor of California. He plans to be back on the radio for Salem on or about October 18.  He wishes to thank all of his affiliates who supported him during this trying time, and he assures them when he comes back, he will be on fire and ready to save America once again.” At this morning’s editorial meeting, several TALKERS staffers raised the question as to why Elder wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get back on the air as quickly as possible to capitalize on the current buzz generated by his good showing among the GOP field. After all, in an era of short-term attention span, one must strike while the iron is hot. If he had been elected, he hopefully wouldn’t have taken a month off to recuperate. Salem has been extremely supportive of Elder and his campaign. Is there something else at play here?

Dennis Glasgow to Program iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC. Radio programming pro Dennis Glasgow is the new program director for iHeartMedia’s Washington, DC talk station “104.7 WONK-FM” (WWDC-HD2/W284CQ). Glasgow was most recently with Capitol Broadcasting where he was vice president of operations and program director for three sports stations including WCMC-FM, Raleigh. iHeartMedia regional SVP of programming for Washington and Baltimore Jeff Kapugi comments, “As a veteran in sports and news radio, Dennis brings an unparalleled set of skills and experience to WONK-FM. We are thrilled to have him as part of the Washington, D.C. team!” Glasgow says, “It’s an exciting time to be at WONK in Washington, DC. I am looking forward to creating meaningful and informative content for D.C.’s insiders and thought leaders every day.”

iHeartMedia Re-Brands WINZ as ‘FOX Sports Miami’; Local Morning Show Cancelled. Miami sports talk outlet WINZ-AM re-brands as “FOX Sports 940 Miami,” effective today (9/22). iHeartMedia drops the morning drive Jeff “DeFo” DeForrest show and replaces it with its new nationally syndicated show, “2 Pros and a Cup of Joe with Arrington, Quinn & Knox.” It now airs the complete FOX Sports Radio national lineup. It will continue to serve as the official flagship radio station for Miami Marlins baseball as well as University of Florida Gators men’s football and basketball. iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale market president Shari Gonzalez says, “We are excited to align 940 AM WINZ with a first-class organization like FOX Sports Radio. This partnership ensures passionate South Florida sports fans, and our 940 advertisers will have access to the nation’s top talk hosts and their insights on the most relevant topics facing teams, athletes, and fans.”

Audacy Names Steve Perrault Senior Producer for MLB Content. Sports radio pro Steve Perrault joins Audacy as senior producer for Major League Baseball content for its newly launched 2400Sports podcast studio. In this role, Perrault will oversee the creation and production of all MLB team podcasts and be a contributor to national podcasts co-produced in conjunction with MLB, following Audacy’s content partnership with the league. Perrault will co-host a new Boston Red Sox podcast under 2400Sports, which will debut in 2022 and will also serve as an on-air contributor for WEEI-FM, the flagship radio station of the Red Sox. This is in addition to his current role as co-host of the “Live BP Baseball Show” on the station. Perrault was most recently with Barstool Sports as co-host and producer of the company’s Red Sox-focused “Section 10” podcast. Audacy chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “As we continue expanding our new 2400Sports podcast studio and embark on our new expansive podcast partnership with Major League Baseball, we’re thrilled about adding Steve to our team to launch a new show centered around the Boston Red Sox. This podcast, which will be intensely focused on fan engagement and fan-created content, will lend a unique perspective to everything Red Sox, and we believe Steve truly encompasses the dynamic of the show.”

Burlington, Vermont Sports Talker ‘101.3 The Game’ Drops ‘The Huddle.’ The afternoon drive show “The Huddle” with hosts Arnie Spanier and Rich Haskell has been dropped from the station’s program schedule on Vox AM/FM’s sports talk WCPV-FM, Burlington, Vermont “101.3 The Game.” The Burlington Free Press reports that the station has cited substandard ratings as the reason for the program’s demise. Haskell continues to work for Vox AM/FM, including calling Middlebury High School football on the company’s WVTK-FM. Spanier exits the company but continues his work with FOX Sports Radio on Sunday evenings. Haskell tells the paper, “It’s been a great run and it’s hard to see it end in the blink of an eye. But it’s also the nature of the business, that’s the real difficult nature of format and show changes in radio.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media personality and reporter William J. Kelly returns to the airwaves at WCGO-AM with his “The Citizen Kelly Show” on Monday (9/27). He says, “‘The Citizen Kelly Show’ is back! I’m very proud to be back on AM 1590 WCGO and 95.9 FM. We are a turning point in our nation’s history and, more than ever before, people want the truth. That’s what the Citizen Kelly Show is all about.”…..CNN Audio launches the first episode of “Margins of Error,” a new limited-series, weekly podcast hosted by CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. The company says, “In this series, Harry is on a mission to discover the statistical stories that live just a little under the radar. From making an unusual case for Daylight Saving Time, to the re-examination of a century old-dating rule, this podcast is a love letter to every listener who may need a pause from the news-of-the-day headlines, but still want the rigor of CNN reporting”…..John Davis joins the support team at Wheatstone. Davis – who has 18 years of on-air experience with Cox Media Group and continues to host weekend shows for the company – was most recently with Logitek Electronics Systems as a support manager. Davis has a background in AoIP support of almost 20 years and has previous experience in broadcast automation as the marketing manager for OMT Technologies.

COVID-19, Debt Ceiling, Biden UN Speech, Infrastructure Bill, Southern Border Crisis, Trump Sues Niece and NYTimes, and Gabby Petito Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the debate over booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the battle in congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to avoid default on the nation’s debts; President Joe Biden’s speech before the UN general assembly; debate in congress over the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill; the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the status of Haitian migrants; former President Donald Trump sues his niece Mary Trump and The New York Times over the disclosure of his tax information; and the homicide case of Gabby Petito and her missing fiancé Brian Laundrie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

| February 10, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group’s Q4 2020 Net Revenue Declines 5.1%. Reporting on the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – reports net revenue of $68.5 million for the fourth quarter, a decline of 5.1% over the same period in 2019. For the full year, net revenue was $206.1 million, a decrease of 23.7% from the $261.6 million reported in 2019. There was positive news from the fourth quarter as operating income rose 54% to $19.6 million and station operating income increased 25.2% to $20.1 million. However, for the full year of 2020, the company posted an operating loss of $4.3 million and station operating income declined 86% to $24 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s 2020 fourth quarter financial results reflect the ongoing recovery of our business and solid execution by our teams in generating sequential quarter-over-quarter revenue growth that exceeded the high-end of the preliminary range we announced in January. During the quarter, we continued to navigate the ongoing pandemic-related challenges exceptionally well. The meaningful actions we have taken over the past nine-months, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with service providers and partners, resulted in 28.8% year-over-year growth in SOI and improved SOI margin as well as a 62.4% increase in station operating income less corporate expenses. In addition, despite the pandemic and restrictions in certain markets, we generated fourth quarter free cash flow of $16.8 million, inclusive of the $4.6 million net gain from dispositions, which compares very favorably to the $20.7 million of free cash flow in the year ago period which benefited from $21.8 million in dispositions. Record fourth quarter net political revenue of $10.2 million, combined with the resumption of advertising in key categories, drove year-over-year revenue increases in six of our station clusters. Excluding political revenue, Beasley continued to generate sequential month-over-month revenue growth, with October up 8.3% over September and November up 2.0% over October, while December paced slightly behind November due to a tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in certain markets. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters in the fourth quarter, according to Nielsen, and our cumulative on-air audience share has grown consistently since March.”

TALKERS and Industry Mourn the Passing of Marcia Daly. Longtime TALKERS executive art director and advertising coordinator Marcia Daly, 67, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, February 4 at her home in Westfield, MA. One of the original members of the TALKERS staff since its launch in 1990, she was a key component of both the company’s management and production teams and a beloved friend and colleague to countless professionals in the broadcasting industry across America. In that capacity, she worked closely with some of the biggest names in the talk show industry on their art, logos and advertising campaigns and was widely respected for her tremendous talent and reputation for kindness. In announcing the sad news, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison said, “Marcia Daly was an invaluable component in the rise and ongoing success of TALKERS for the past 31 years serving as an ever-dependable teammate and friend to those of us fortunate to have had her in our lives. In addition to being an extremely accomplished and talented artist, she was known far and wide for having a heart of gold and being one of the kindest and most generous people one could ever hope to know. All of us at TALKERS are stunned by this terribly sad news and pray for Marcia’s family and friends.” She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Joseph Daly. Born in Springfield, MA to Donald Van der Wolk and Betty (Moynihan) Van der Wolk, she leaves behind children, Kathleen Daly of Westfield, MA and John Daly of Medford, MA. A dedicated member of Blessed Sacrament Church, in Westfield, MA, Marcia Daly actively volunteered with the Soup Kitchen and Take & Eat. A cat lover, gourmet cook and baker, and a huge fan of crime dramas, she made friends everywhere she went and had a positive impact on everyone she met. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 11:00 am ET in Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church, 127 Holyoke Road, Westfield.  It can be virtually attended via livestream at https://my.gather.app/remember/marcia-daly. In lieu of flowers, donations in Marcia Daly’s honor may be made to The Sisters of St Joseph, 577 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104.

Entercom and TEGNA Strike Deal for Locked On Podcast Network. This new content agreement between Entercom and TEGNA – which recently acquired the local sports podcast network Locked On Podcast Network – puts Locked On’s extensive lineup of professional and collegiate sports podcasts featuring analysis from local experts, writers, reporters, and insiders, on Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform. The deal also calls for the development of new content, including co-produced and co-branded podcasts, a daily sports news podcast featuring hosts from leading RADIO.COM sports stations and local experts from Locked On, and two weekly one-hour programs, produced by Locked On, available on Entercom radio stations and RADIO.COM. Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “We’re aggressively leveraging the value of our national dominance in sports programming and content in audio, digital and sports betting platforms and our agreement with Locked On reflects continued progress on this front. As the number one creator of live, original local audio content, we’re excited to add Locked On’s collection of top-rated podcasts to our portfolio, welcome their eight million monthly listeners nationwide to the RADIO.COM platform and make their inventory available to our advertising partners.” The first podcast co-produced under the partnership will be “Locked On Today,” hosted by “Locked On Packers” host Peter Bukowski. The program will be “a fast-paced take on the biggest sports stories of the day, going beyond the scoreboard and behind the scenes for insight and perspective from the local experts of the Locked On Podcast Network and Entercom sports radio stations.”

iHeartMedia Unveils iHeart 3D Audio for Podcasts. A new slate of podcasts from iHeartMedia will be released using the binaural or 3D audio technology the company is calling iHeart 3D Audio that “places listeners into the middle of an audio soundscape, immersing them in the story like never before.”  The company says 3D audio “creates a sense of movement, location and triggers other senses, enhancing listening experiences and providing a new way for people to hear high quality, surround sound, immersive content, and reproducing real-life experiences, much like virtual reality has done for video, right in their own homes.” iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Podcasting has undoubtedly stepped in as one of this year’s most relied upon forms of entertainment. We’ve seen a huge spike in listenership and iHeart wants to ensure we’re meeting this growing audience in new, innovative ways. This is virtual reality for the ears, and by expanding our 3D audio offerings, our goal is to place fans at the center of the stories they love – in an even more immersive, innovative format.” iHeartMedia will launch a new slate of podcasts that is underpinned by the unique recording technology.

Moore and Squire Promoted at iHeartMedia Philadelphia. Two executives at iHeartMedia’s Philadelphia station group are promoted. Jeff Moore is named market president, rising from his previous post as senior vice president of sales, and Chris Squire is elevated to the SVP of sales position. Moore says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this great team of successful sales and programming professionals in Philadelphia while representing some of the most iconic brands. My mission is to continue to build a winning culture that attracts the best talent and has a positive impact on our employees, brands and the community we serve.”

TALKERS News Notes. Based on data from the Podcast Consumer Tracker, Edison Research releases its first chart of the U.S. top 50 podcasts of 2020. In the top five positions are: 1) The Joe Rogan Experience 2) The Daily 3) Crime Junkie 4) This American Life and 5) My Favorite Murder. You can see the complete list here…..LiveXLive Media, owner of PodcastOneSlacker Radio, and React Presents, announces today’s release of “Valentine’s Day In Hell.” The six part musical-horror-comedy podcast marks the first production of the recently announced joint venture with LiveXLive and Audio Up Media. “Valentine’s Day In Hell” features some of today’s hottest recording artists, top social influencers, and media personalities in starring roles. Those starring in the podcast include iann diorjxdnOliver Treephem, and recent Billboard 21 Under 21 artist, Carlie Hanson – with Adam Carolla playing the devil.….Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the weekly podcast, “Brown Ambition,” to the Westwood One Podcast Network. Hosted by Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche, the program offers “life-changing financial advice and resources for women and other communities that have been excluded from the essential financial conversations necessary to thrive. Business Insider named ‘Brown Ambition’ one of ‘the best personal finance podcasts of 2021.’” Woodruff says, “When we started ‘Brown Ambition’ more than five years ago, we knew we wanted to create a unique space for women of color to feel empowered to build wealth and take charge of their careers unapologetically. I’m so proud of the organic growth we have achieved with the show thanks to the loyal listeners who have made us part of their weekly routine all these years.”…..The “Under the Hood” car talk show, hosted by Shannon Nordstrom, Russ Evans, and Chris Carter, moves into new studios. The program says that “this expansive project features all-new, state-of-the-art equipment throughout, including HD streaming video with an automatic switching system.” The show is also broadcast live in its home market on KELO-AM, Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the syndicated version of the radio show airing on more than 240 stations.

Impeachment Hearing, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO’s China Investigation, Deadly Minnesota Clinic Shooting, and Supremes Singer Mary Wilson Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/9). The opening day of the impeachment case against Donald Trump; the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization reports its investigation into the origin of the coronavirus was likely not the result of a lab breach; a Minnesota man kills one and injures five at a health clinic in Minnesota; and Supremes singer Mary Wilson dies at 76 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”