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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

| May 4, 2022

Cumulus Media 2022 First Quarter Net Revenue Rises 15%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media’s total net revenue for the period was $232 million, an increase of 15% over the same period in 2021. The company says it was the fifth straight quarter of sequential improvement in revenue performance versus a comparable quarter in 2019. Cumulus also reports a Q1 net loss of just $0.9 million, down from the net loss of $21.9 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. The broadcast radio segment is broken into two parts – spot, which rose 11.9% over the same period a year ago, and network, which was up 5.2%. The company’s digital segment was up 18%, led by digital marketing services (+35%) and podcasting (+22%). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Our outstanding first quarter results once again demonstrate the positive impacts of our ‘audio-first’ strategy to transform the company from a one-dimensional radio broadcaster to a multi-dimensional audio media company. Following a strong 2021 performance, this quarter’s results underscore our ability to deliver value to our shareholders through sustained profitable top- and bottom-line growth and balance sheet de-levering. We delivered sequential revenue improvement for the fifth straight quarter versus the comparable 2019 quarter, grew EBITDA by 250% year-over-year, and generated continued strong cash from operations, which collectively allowed us to achieve the company’s lowest net leverage in over a decade. Given our best-among-peers balance sheet, strong financial momentum and the company’s positive 2022 outlook, we expect ongoing cash flow generation that will support a meaningful return of capital to shareholders now and in the future. Accordingly, as a first step, today we are announcing a $50 million share repurchase program with a plan to commence share repurchases in the near-term. This capital return program is underpinned by our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued.”

 

Cumulus Rejects Unsolicited Acquisition Bid. The last sentence of Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner’s statement outlining its first quarter results says it all: “The company is significantly undervalued.” That was also the theme of a memo from Berner to Cumulus shareholders regarding the unsolicited offer from a consortium led by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw to acquire Cumulus. Berner says, “The company recently received an indication of interest in acquiring the company for $15 to $17 per share. After a careful and thorough review, conducted in consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the board unanimously concluded that the indication of interest significantly undervalues the company and is not in the best interests of its shareholders. The company’s board is open to all paths that continue to drive superior shareholder value. Our strong momentum across business lines, multiple digital revenue growth drivers, operational efficiency and superior cash flow provide the company with substantial untapped upside that it expects to continue to realize on behalf of its shareholders. Given these facts and circumstances, the board unanimously believes execution of the company’s strategy will deliver significantly more value to shareholders than this indication of interest.”

 

Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ Debuts This Week. The Bill O’Reilly-hosted program from Key Networks debuts this week on 58 stations across the U.S. Key Networks says “No Spin News” is “a full hour of trailblazing journalist and bestselling author O’Reilly’s fair, smart, fact-based analysis” airing every weeknight. The one-hour show has been airing in New York on 77 WABC for over a year under the title, “Common Sense with Bill O’Reilly.” The program now joins the suite of shows syndicated by Key Networks that includes: “The O’Reilly Update,” “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” and “The O’Reilly Update – Weekend Edition.” O’Reilly says, “We are beyond happy that radio stations from coast-to-coast are spreading the ‘No Spin’ mantra. We provide something that’s badly needed in the USA: honest fact-based analysis.” Key Networks COO Dennis Green comments, “Based on the success of ‘The O’Reilly Update,’ the marketplace was ready for more content from Bill O’Reilly. ‘No Spin News’ provides analysis on what is happening in the world that listeners want to hear. This is content you won’t get anywhere else, and I expect stations to add Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ in large numbers!”

 

WABC-TV, New York Opens Long Island Bureau at Hofstra University. New York City’s WABC-TV is opening a new, Long Island bureau today (5/4) inside the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. The small bureau will have a full-time reporter and two production trucks in Long Island, New York. WABC has a history of supporting the journalism program at the university, donating significant quantities of valuable equipment and providing internship and career opportunities for many students. Hofstra students will have regular exposure to WABC journalists, expanded internships, guest lectures and seminars held by WABC professionals. The Long Island bureau, located in the newsroom of Hofstra’s award-winning, student-run radio station, WRHU-88.7 FM, reinforces WABC-TV’s commitment to Long Island, as well as the Herbert School’s commitment to community journalism, including the newly launched community news site, LongIslandAdvocate.com. Lawrence Herbert School of Communication dean Mark Lukasiewicz states, “Our journalism program emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning and encourages our student journalists to engage with Long Island communities to tell impactful stories. The Eyewitness News Long Island bureau, located alongside WRHU’s newsroom, will provide that kind of hands-on opportunity – a daily chance for students to observe and learn from great local journalists doing the work of New York’s top broadcast news operation.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Rob Carson Show” joins the 1400 Investments, LLC-owned Nevada Talk Network. The program, syndicated by Newsmax and airing in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, is being heard on KELY-AM, Ely; KNNR-AM, Sparks-Carson City; KDJJ-FM, Fernley-Fallon; KPKK-FM, Amargosa Valley; KAVB-FM, Hawthorne; and KPVM-TV 25.6, Pahrump…..The syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – adds new affiliate station KTXW-AM/FM, Austin “The Bridge” to its roster of affiliate stations…..FOX Nation – FOX News Media’s “on-demand streaming service designed to complement the FOX News Channel experience with a members-only destination for its most passionate and loyal super fans” – is premiering a documentary series about music and television industry star Sharon Osbourne in September. Titled “Sharon Osbourne: To Hell & Back,” the four-part program features “a candid and heartfelt look into Osbourne’s personal and professional life, highlighting how she found herself in the crosshairs of the cancel culture movement after exiting CBS’s ‘The Talk.’”…..SiriusXM is presenting nationwide, comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/7). The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network.

 

Roe v Wade Leak, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, the Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Reactions to the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade; the primary elections in Ohio and Indiana, the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the activity on the world’s financial markets, the supply chain woes, and concerns about a recession; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the effects across the globe; and concerns about new Omicron variants and the possibility of a serious summer COVID wave were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, April 15, 2022

| April 15, 2022

 

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS, is now posted. This new episode titled “Hostile Takeovers” looks back at this past week of 4/11 to 4/15. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSCurtis Sliwa, talk show host, WABC, New York; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood One; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; Bill O’ Reilly, talk show host/commentator, No Spin News; and Matthew B. Harrison, associate publisher, TALKERS/law professor. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas;  WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast Radio UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

 

Report: Connoisseur’s Jeffrey Warshaw Offers to Buy Cumulus Media. According to a report from Reuters, Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is leading a consortium that is offering to acquire Cumulus Media “for close to $1.2 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.” Warshaw’s offer is to take the company private for $15 to $17 per share. Before the news broke yesterday, Cumulus was trading at around $11 per share. After the news broke, Cumulus stock closed Thursday’s trading at $14.21 per share. Warshaw says the consortium would be willing to pay more, subject to due diligence. Reuters says that “a Cumulus spokesperson confirmed that the company had received ‘an unsolicited, non-binding, highly conditional indication of interest’ and that its board of directors was reviewing it alongside its financial and legal advisers.” Cumulus operates 406 radio stations, syndicator Westwood One, as well as its digital platform. The Reuters piece notes that in February, Noble Capital Markets analysts put a $27 price target on the stock, saying that “Cumulus is seeing strong advertising demand driven by sports betting, government, restaurants and cryptocurrency platforms.”

 

iHeartMedia Division President Linda Byrd Announces Retirement. Forty-year iHeartMedia staffer Linda Byrd announces she is retiring from her role as division president for iHeartMedia Florida and moves into an advisory role, effective July 15. The company says that “as a company leader for four decades at iHeartMedia, Byrd has contributed to the success of nearly 50 different markets and countless employees.” iHeartMedia says one of the duties in her advisory capacity will be the continued involvement in iHeartMedia’s Hispanic footprint, where she has made significant contributions. Byrd says, “It’s hard even to say the word retire. I have had the most fantastic career working in an industry that I absolutely love. I’ve never even thought about doing anything else. And I am so fortunate to have been on this iHeart train, and previous companies, for the last 40 years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am thankful and excited to have the opportunity to transition into an advisory role for the next stage of my life. And I’m truly appreciative of the support and partnership I have had for so many years with Bob [Pittman], Rich [Bressler], Greg [Ashlock] and Hartley [Adkins]. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to learn from and work with.”

 

John Rowe to Lead Cumulus Northeast Wisconsin. Radio executive John Rowe is promoted to vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s combined business unit of Cumulus Green Bay and Cumulus Appleton/Oshkosh. Rowe has been serving as vice president/market manager for Cumulus Appleton/Oshkosh for nearly eight years and adds leadership responsibilities for the Green Bay market, effective immediately. In the two markets, Cumulus operates sports talk WDUZ-AM/FM, Green Bay and news/talk WOSH-AM/FM, plus seven music brands. Rowe comments, “I am excited to lead both Wisconsin clusters on behalf of Cumulus Media. The combination of talent and quality programming in each market makes this an ideal role and provides a host of opportunities going forward. My primary focus will be to enhance these great brands while meeting the needs of both our listeners and advertisers. I want to thank Mary Berner, Bob Walker, and Mark Sullivan for this opportunity.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk KKFN-FM, Denver “104.3 The Fan” afternoon drive personality Darren “DMac” McKee is named Denver’s best talk show host in alt-weekly Westword’s Best of Denver 2022 edition. The Bonneville station notes that the recognition was not specific to the format of sports, or even the field of radio. McKee co-hosts “The Drive with Tyler Polumbus and DMac.” It was a week for kudos for the duo as Polumbus was honored by the Colorado Broadcasters Association with their 2021 Award of Excellence in the category of Best Regularly Scheduled Entertainment Program for his “Mount Polumbus” segment…..SiriusXM announces the launch of Amanda Seales’ “Smart Funny & Black Radio,” a new morning show on Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Radio channel. The weekly program kicks off on Monday (4/18) at 10:00 am ET. Seales is joined by co-hosts Taj Rani and JeremiahLikeTheBible. Kevin Hart says, “I’m beyond excited to have the amazing Amanda Seales join Laugh Out Loud Radio’s expanding family, as we continue to deliver a dynamic slate of voices to the channel. Passionate, unapologetic, brilliant, talented, and most of all funny, her show is going to be a can’t-miss experience for our SiriusXM listeners nationwide.”…..Larj Media and iHeartMedia debut the new serial podcast “Nobody Should Believe Me,” hosted and executive produced by novelist Andrea Dunlop. The podcast investigates Munchausen by proxy, a form of medical child abuse in which a caregiver feigns, exaggerates, or induces illness in their child for the purpose of receiving attention and sympathy from medical staff, their family, the community, and even strangers online. Dunlop first became interested in the subject when her older sister was investigated for Munchausen by proxy. This catastrophic series of events that followed tore her family apart and set her on a journey to understand this most taboo form of abuse. In this groundbreaking podcast, Dunlop talks to some of the top experts in the world to explore the criminology and psychopathology behind Munchausen by proxy and to reveal the wide swath of destruction these perpetrators leave in their wake…..Audacy announces that its premium podcast studios, including Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, have garnered 22 nominations for the 2022 Webby Awards, the leading international award honoring excellence on the internet, representing the most across the industry. Audacy’s nominations span original series, partner series, partner networks, and branded content across 20 categories, including Arts & Culture, Crime & Justice, Documentary, Diversity & Inclusion, and Sports.

 

Russia-Ukraine War Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 11-15. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the greater topic of U.S. foreign policy was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the U.S.  economy, including high gas prices, inflation and employment figures, followed by the Brooklyn subway shooting, crime, and guns at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

| January 5, 2021

Mike Luery Named Assistant News Director for KFBK, Sacramento. Radio and television news pro Mike Luery joins iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento “News 93.1” as 24/7 News and KFBK assistant news director for iHeartMedia’s Pacific region. iHeartMedia Pacific region news director Jayson Campadonia says that in this role, Luery will “help oversee news in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. He’ll report on everything from breaking news to politics to state fairs. With his vast experience in the news business, he will additionally play a critical role in developing young news talent.” KFBK program director Bill White states, “We look forward to Mike being an integral partner in contributing to the news content on ‘The KFBK Morning News with Cristina Mendonsa and Sam Shane’ as well as ‘The KFBK Afternoon News with Kitty O’Neal.’ Mike, with his decades of news experience in Sacramento, will be an excellent addition to our team of Northern California news veterans.” Luery served with Hearst Television’s KCRA-TV, Sacramento for 24 years. He began his career as news director at KZOZ-FM in San Luis Obispo, California.

WGY-AM/FM, Albany Adds Doug Goudie to Morning Show. Longtime Boston media figure Doug Goudie becomes part of the morning show at iHeartMedia’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany on Thursday (1/7), partnering with current air personality Kelly Lynch. Goudie assumes the role left vacant after Chuck Custer retired from the station in December following a 36-year career with WGY. Goudie, a.k.a. V.B. – short for Virgin Boy – got his nickname from Boston talk radio legend Howie Carr during his time working on Carr’s show at WRKO, Boston where he began his media career back in the late 1990s. WGY program director Jeff Wolf says, “With Doug’s rich experience as a recent midday talk host on iHeartMedia Boston’s WRKO, TV commentator on WFXT-TV, and long-stint on The Howie Carr Radio Show, I’m confident that he will satisfy the expectations of WGY listeners for years to come. The heart of what brings so many Capital Region listeners to WGY in the morning will remain unchanged. Doug and Kelly will both entertain and inform with meaningful conversations on the important local and national stories of the day but having fun will continue to be part of the show as well.”

Steve Czaban Exits WTEM, Washington; No Change to WRNW-FM, Milwaukee Gig. Sports talk host Steve Czaban announced via Twitter that he’s exited Washington, DC sports talk outlet WTEM “The Team” as his contract was up and new owner Entercom took control of the station from Urban One. While he won’t be doing a daily show in Washington, he will remain with Entercom on a part-time basis and will host a Saturday morning program on sister sports talker WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Czaban says the change in DC has no effect on his Milwaukee radio show heard daily in morning drive on iHeartMedia’s WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game.” Czaban calls his exit from WTEM a mutual one, telling the MBJ, “As my contract was coming to an end, I had been contemplating a change of pace and direction for some time now. This is the right move for me at the right time. I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity, and any others that may present themselves in the future.”

Beasley Media Group Begins 60th Anniversary Celebration. The logo you see here is being unveiled by Beasley Media Group to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary. The company says, “On December 2, 1961, a young high school principal named George Beasley launched WPYB-AM in Benson, North Carolina with the vision of providing a voice for the voiceless in the local community! Today, Beasley Media Group is a multiplatform media company providing advertising and digital marketing solutions across the United States with 64 radio properties located in 15 large and medium markets across the country. Beasley also offers capabilities in audio technology, esports, podcasting, ecommerce, and events. Featured on the NASDAQ, BBGI is ranked among the publicly traded media companies in America.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We are so thrilled to be able to celebrate the incredible legacy that our father, George, began back in 1961 when he built his very first AM station in Benson, North Carolina. It’s such a privilege to be able to build upon his forward-thinking vision and continue to blaze new innovative trails in today’s ever-changing industry with our outstanding employees and management team. Here’s to the next 60 years!”

Noted Record Producer and “Urban Philosopher” Robbie Stevens Rejoins TalkersRadio.  The TALKERS editorial board announces the return of Robbie Stevens to the talent roster of TalkersRadio. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). On the return of Stevens to TalkersRadio, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie brings a real East Coast urban perspective that is reflective of both the street and academia to the news/talk radio conversation. His ‘tell it like it is’ style is a provocative blend of gruff ‘everyman’ street talk and intelligent, eclectic inquiry into the mysteries of the universe, combining politics with pop culture, science and down-to-Earth sociology. You don’t hear his progressive position that often on today’s terrestrial news/talk radio and frankly, regardless of your politics, it is amazingly refreshing.” For example, Stevens has served as vice president of the board for a well-known youth basketball/education program that’s won national championships and helps kids from diverse backgrounds reach their academic goals. To listen to Robbie Steven’s new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 by TALKERS magazine to provide the industry with a “work out space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Radio Advertising Bureau Updates Board of Directors. With the new year comes an update to the board of directors for the Radio Advertising Bureau. Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is the vice chair and Townsquare Media COO Erik Hellum is the finance chair. The RAB also announces that Cumulus Media EVP corporate marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes joins the executive committee. Neuhoff Media COO Mike Hulvey continues to serve as chair and Univision president and regional radio general manager Sabina Widmann is serving as secretary.

New York Public Media Names Nsikan Akpan Health and Science Editor. Joining New York Public Media’s WNYC Newsroom is Nsikan Akpan, who begins his role as health & science editor on January 11. Akpan was most recently serving with National Geographic as science editor, overseeing COVID-19 coverage in addition to other types of science, health and technology news. Prior to that, he served for more than four years at “PBS NewsHour.” He and his team won a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.”

Georgia Runoff Elections/Trump GA Appearance, Trump’s Call to GA Sec. of State, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, UK Lockdown, China and Pandemic’s Origin, Iran Seizes South Korean Oil Tanker, and the NYSE’s Chinese Telecom Delisting About Face Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/4). The buildup to today’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats and Donald Trump’s appearance to stump for the Republicans; the controversy over Trump’s call to Georgia’s Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss in that state; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the UK orders a lockdown to stem the tide of COVID cases; questions about China’s stifling the investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Iran seizes a South Korean oil freighter in the Persian Gulf; and the New York Stock Exchange reverses course on plans to delist three Chinese telecom companies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Radio Show: Broadcast Finance 2020 – The Pandemic Edition

| October 8, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Before conventions went-virtual, I was always impressed by how – even after a night of revelry – this first-thing-in-the-morning session was standing room only. And this year’s version lost nothing in translation to Zoom.

Moderated by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP partner Scott Flick, remote panelists Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris and Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw reflected on their stations’ response to the pandemic shutdown, and projected their sense of where we go from here.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

| March 28, 2019

iHeartMedia and Connoisseur Agree to Erie, PA and Frederick, MD Swap. The stations that Connoisseur Media is getting in this deal – news/talk WFMD-AM and country WFRE-FM in Frederick, Maryland – come from the Aloha Trust that iHeartMedia created 11 years ago for stations it has to sell to comply with ownership caps.  In exchange, iHeartMedia will get six stations from Connoisseur Media in Erie – CHR WRTS-FM, rock WRKT-FM, adult hits WXBB-FM, country WTWF-FM, news/talk WJET-AM and sports talk WFNN-AM and adult contemporary WLTM-FM in Mina, New York.  The companies expect the deal to close in the second quarter of this year.  Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw says, “iHeart is getting a remarkable team and an amazing array of brands.  We have owned the stations for 13 years and have tremendous gratitude for the people of Erie. We are excited to enter the Frederick market with these legendary properties.” Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Allentown/Harrisburg region president Dan Lankford states, “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to expand our reach and establish a presence in the Erie and Mina markets.”

PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/TalkTALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on public radio news/talk.  More public radio news/talkers were up (60%) than down (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the January survey to the February survey, with perennial uber-performer KUOW, Seattle showing the best increase of 0.6 shares.  About half of the stations on the panel were down (51%) from last February to this February, with KQED losing 2.3 shares in the San Jose market and 1.7 shares in the San Francisco market.  However, both KUOW, Seattle and KQED, San Francisco ranked #1 in those markets in the February 2019 survey.  Also ranking #1 in their respective markets were KPBS, San Diego; KCFR, Denver; and KUT, Austin.  See the entire report here.

Backbone Demonstrating ‘Total Radio – In the Cloud’ at NAB Show. The NAB Show in Las Vegas gets underway on April 6 and among the “hot topics” that will be addressed at the huge confab are: content in the cloud, streaming, and podcasting, all of which attendees can see in operation at the Backbone Networks booth.  The company says it will show how users can create a completely virtualized radio production environment – all operating in the cloud.  Backbone Networks will have a SUNY college radio station broadcasting live to demonstrate how students produce live and automated shows in the cloud, stream them, and automatically generate and publish podcasts – all done with just a Mac, a mixer, and a couple of mics. Attendees can see the broadcasters using Backbone’s Production Suite – the whole turnkey bundle for a complete radio station that includes: Backbone Radio – professional streaming radio station in the cloud, live and automated, always-on 24/7; Backbone Talk – broadcast multi-line call-in phone system; Backbone Co-Host – unlimited SIP/OPUS remotes and multi-location shows with no boxes or hardware; Backbone Hub – cloud assistant for automated production, podcast publication, Alexa briefings, and scheduling live audio and FTP show syndication to AM/FM stations; and more. If you’re going to the NAB Show, check out the Backbone Networks booth (#N6319).

ESPN: Live Sports Reached 22.3 Million 12+ Fans Via Radio Last Fall. The sports media giant says that its ESPN Audio segment conducted a custom live sports audio study with Nielsen for the period of August 30, 2018 to January 17, 2019 that concluded an estimated 22.3 million people – 9.2% of the 12+ population – listened to live sports on ESPN Radio on terrestrial stations.  The study consisted of the company’s play-by-play broadcasts of college football including bowl games and the College Football Playoff, regular and post-season MLB action, and NFL & NBA games.  ESPN VP, multimedia sales John Fitzgerald says, “ESPN Radio’s live events are at the core of what makes it so valuable to our advertisers.  This study has shown that once again our unparalleled lineup of marquee matchups continues to grow our audience nationally and increase the reach of ESPN Radio.”

TALKERS News Notes. “I would probably say not,” is the quote from Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about getting back together with Mike Francesa on Entercom’s sports talk WFAN, New York.  Russo made the comment to WEPN, New York personality Michael Kay on his afternoon drive program.  The competition between Kay and Francesa in afternoons in the Big Apple has been a big story in New York media lately…..Radio personality Walter M Sterling is serving as the guest star on KMOX, St. Louis’ late night, 10:00 pm to 2:00 am show.  Sterling, whose Westwood One show “Sterling on Sunday” airs on KMOX, is sitting in for host Ryan Wrecker…..Today is Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and SiriusXM is beginning its season of presenting live play-by-play broadcasts of every game, all season long to accompany the news and analysis of baseball heard on the MLB Network channel on the satellite radio service.

Mueller Investigation Report Aftermath, Trump Administration’s Obamacare Battle, Charlottesville Guilty Plea, Jussie Smollett Case, Border Wall/Immigration Issue, Green New Deal, Brexit Chaos, NBA Action and NCAA Tournament Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/27).  The aftermath of the completion of the Trump-Russia investigation and President Trump’s appearance on ‘Hannity’; the Trump administration’s moves to do away with the Affordable Care Act; James Alex Fields pleads guilty in the deadly car attack at the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally; the controversy over the Illinois state’s attorney not to press charges against actor Jussie Smollett; the status of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reports of migrant overcrowding in El Paso; the U.S. Senate’s vote on the Green New Deal; the political chaos in Britain over Theresa May’s EU exit proposal; NBA action and the NCAA tournament 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. There are two programming announcements from iHeartMedia Cleveland. First, programmer Carletta Blake moves from the company’s Raleigh country station WNCB “B93.9” to Cleveland to assume the PD post at country WGAR-FM, effective April 8.  Simultaneously, cluster programmer Jason Carr is named PD for adult hits WHLK “106.5 The Lake.”  He adds this role to his PD duties at alternative WMMS-HD2/W256BT “ALT 99.1 FM” and his APD responsibilities at rock WMMS.  iHeartMedia North Ohio president Keith Hotchkiss says, “I could not be more excited for Carletta and Jason.  Both are incredibly adept and have proven, extensive track records of success with aligning our market-leading iHeartMedia brands across all platforms.  They are a perfect match for the vision of these stations and I know they will continue to move WGAR and ‘The Lake’ forward with music and content our listeners love.”…..At Griffin Communications’ Tulsa radio cluster, programmer Brian Jennings exits his position as PD of country KVOO and classic country KXBL “Big Country 99.5” after 15 months with the stations…..iHeartMedia rock WZZO, Allentown “95.1 ZZO” adds the WMMS, Cleveland-based “Rover’s Morning Glory” program, effective Monday (4/1).  The change comes shortly after the recent death of longtime station morning personality Kevin “The Bearman” Schutts.  Longtime morning co-host Keith Moyer is moving to the afternoon drive to host “The Keith Show.”  He says, “I am thrilled for many reasons.  My dream job has arrived.  No more getting up at 3:00 am, I can actually stay out past 6:00 pm and I can spend more quality time with my family and friends and TV.  I will be doing what I did in mornings, but now in the afternoon thus keeping The Bearman and Keith’s legacy alive!  Plus, being the only live afternoon drive show, I have the freedom to get out of the studio and broadcast from all over the Lehigh Valley.  ‘The Bearman and Keith’ will never be replaced, but ‘Rover’s Morning Glory’ is a great alternative and will be the second best morning show in WZZO’s history!”…..Westwood One’s syndicated country program “The Ty Bentli Show” is being heard across the pond as WWO strikes a deal with the UK’s Bauer Media, making it the only American program that’s part of its Country Hits Radio format.  Bentli and cast members Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ Jenkins” will debut there on April 5 in markets including: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Humberside, Tyne & Wear, Teesside, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Tayside, Inverness, and Ayr…..Entercom and RCS ink a new deal for an expanded, long-term data partnership for the broadcaster’s use of RCS’ Mediabase service.  As part of the agreement, Mediabase will provide Entercom with comprehensive music listening and consumption data for the company’s portfolio of over 235 stations nationwide.  Additionally, Entercom will report the company’s weekly station music adds to the Mediabase platform.