Monday Memo: Podcasters, Tell The World. “While broadcast content must be mass-appeal, your topic can engage followers – everywhere – if it is specialized and high-affinity.” That’s the word from consultant Holland Cooke who this week explains why “broadcasters need to think ‘narrow-cast’” to make it as podcasters. In addition, he includes three useful links; read more from Holland Cooke here.
Pending Business: The Water Bottle. In today’s column, Lapcom Communications Corp president Steve Lapa, writes “You feel like the second half of 2021 will be a walk in the park compared to the COVID numbers of 2020. Experienced sellers often reach a point where autopilot kicks in and personal improvement stops.” Lapa then asks, “How does a top biller improve when #1 is as good as it gets?” Since “nobody bats 1000,” he advises, “never stop learning.” Grab a fresh, unopened bottle of your favorite brand of bottled water and read more here.
Round Three of May PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 sweep covered April 29 – May 26. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets. Albeit -1.6 from April 2021 (12.7 – 11.1), iHeartMedia-owned WLW “700 Cincinnati’s News Radio” (Reds flagship) is the lone mainstream news/talk outlet from these 12 markets to reach #1 (May 2021, 6+). Off a combined two full-shares from April 2021 are Bonneville Salt Lake City’s KSL “News Radio” (8.3 – 6.8, -1.5, first to second, 6+) and cross-town iHeartMedia’s KNRS-AM & KNRS-FM “Talk Radio” (6.3 – 5.8, -.5, fourth to sixth, 6+). Only two news/talkers in these markets that finished in the top 20 post April 2021 – May 2021 improvements: WLW cluster-mate WKRC “55 KRC The Talk Station” (4.2 – 4.3, +.1, unchanged at #8, 6+) and Audacy Las Vegas’ KXNT “News Talk 840” (1.9 – 2.2, +.3, #21 to #20, 6+). The latter’s Cleveland sibling – WKRK “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan” – registers sports talk’s heftiest April 2021 – May 2021 increase (3.2 – 4.3, +1.1, #12 to #10, 6+). You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds of markets) here.
Audacy Adds Seven “BetQL Network” Affiliates. The following Audacy outlets will rebrand today (Monday, 6/21) as part of the “BetQL Network”: KIKK “650 AM The Bet,” Houston; WJFK-AM “1580 AM The Bet,” Washington, DC; WXYT-AM “1270 AM The Bet,” Detroit; WJZ-AM “1300 AM The Bet,” Baltimore; KXST “1140 AM The Bet,” Las Vegas; and KWOD “1660 AM The Bet,” Kansas City. WWWL-AM “1350 AM The Bet,” New Orleans will make the switch next Monday, 6/28. According to Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano, “When we launched the ‘BetQL Network’ in January, we committed to giving our national audience a home for compelling sports betting content as this new landscape was rapidly growing. This expansion is the next step in that goal and we’re pleased to bring new and dynamic ‘BetQL Network’ programming to additional markets and new digital platforms. We are proud to build on our local and national sports audio leadership position with this expanded commitment to production and distribution of entertaining sports betting content to audiences across the country.” The aforementioned rebrands are in addition to previously launched “The Bet 93.1 HD3,” Los Angeles; “The Bet 105.9 FM-HD2,” Chicago; and KEZW “1430 AM The Bet,” Denver. “BetQL Network” programming will also be heard in various times on WTEM “980 The Team,” Washington, DC; WQAM “560 The Joe,” Miami; and WRNL “The New Sports Radio 910 AM & 105.1 FM,” Richmond. The expanded “BetQL Network” weekday programming lineup includes: “The Daily Tip” with Chelsa Messinger and Michael Jenkins (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Joe Giglio (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); and “Bet MGM Tonight” with Quinton Mayo and Ryan Horvat (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm).
Cumulus Media Birmingham Taps Robinson As VP/MM. Former Univision Communications San Antonio vice president/director of sales, radio, television & digital James Robinson is appointed vice president/market manager of Cumulus Media Birmingham. Cumulus Media’s cluster in that Alabama metro consists of: sports talk WJOX-FM “JOX 94.5”; sports talk WJOX-AM “JOX 3 690 AM”; sports talk WJQX “ESPN 100.5 JOX 2”; news/talk WZRR “Talk 99.5”; news/talk WAPI; and urban AC WUHT “Hot 107.7.” Senior vice president, operations Mark Sullivan remarks, “I’m extremely pleased that James will be bringing his experience and talent to the Cumulus Media team. I’m looking forward to many shared successes with him.” Robinson states, “Now is the best time to work in radio [and] Cumulus Media is a dynamic and innovative company. I’m honored to join the talented team in Birmingham. The Cumulus Media stations in Birmingham are iconic brands that have a history of deep commitment to the community and partner success. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on this success with the talented team in Birmingham.” Prior to his San Antonio tenure, Robinson was director of sales for Radio One Houston; vice president of sales for iHeartMedia Washington, D.C.; and general sales manager for iHeartMedia in St. Louis and Memphis.
Video Coverage of TALKERS 2021 Begins Next Monday June 28. Every keynote speech, fireside chat, special presentation and panel discussion that took place at the recent 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running, largest and most important national convention – TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University – was recorded under the direction of renowned industry videographer and chronicler Art Vuolo. These videos will be posted one per business day beginning next Monday June 28, right here on Talkers.com. If you were unable to attend the event in person, you will not want to miss the opportunity to take in some of the most pertinent industry conversation about the state of radio, talk programming, and related media to take place since the start of the pandemic.
COVID-19 Delta Variant, Post-Summit Analysis, January 6 Investigation, Southern Border Crisis, Juneteenth, and the Western Heat Wave & Drought Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. COVID-19 – particularly the Delta variant and the rate/progress of vaccinations – continued to be a dominant topic on talk shows over the weekend along with microscopic analysis of the optics of the Biden–Putin meeting in Geneva on news/talk stations across the nation. Immigration Reform remains a front burner topic, fueled largely this weekend by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan for the Lone Star State to build a wall on its own. The naming of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday came at a very timely juncture for the weekend and the Western States Heatwave & Drought could not be ignored, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
“Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Open Raises $45,000+. Held this past Friday (6/18) at the Linwood (New Jersey) Country Club, the 14th annual Harry Hurley in the Morning Charity Golf Open was not only a sold-out success, it raised roughly $45,000. Event founder/chairman/morning host of Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” Hurley states, “We had an amazing day with picture perfect weather. We have a wonderful community comprised of some of the most generous people in America.” Hurley’s morning show aired live on-site (6:00 am – 10:06 am) from the country club. With more to follow, the charity this year has awarded grants to: The Broadcasters Foundation of America; The Shore Medical Center Foundation; Stockton University; FACES 4 Autism; Atlantic County Toys For Kids; and The Joan Fineran Nursing Scholarship. In the photo at the right, Hurley (left) – who appears at #37 in the recently released TALKERS Magazine 2021 “Heavy Hundred” – is pictured with Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City president/chief executive officer Mark Giannantonio.
TALKERS News Notes: As reported here last Friday (TALKERS, 6/18), Premiere Networks debuts the “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” today (Monday, 6/21) in the timeslot formerly occupied by talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm). Victor Lisle is selected as image/brand voice of the new venture and states, “I’m genuinely humbled beyond belief for this amazing opportunity. Never in a million years did I expect something of this magnitude could happen.” … The entire “JOX Roundtable” morning show – consisting of Lance Taylor, Jim Dunaway, Ryan Brown, and Sean “Rockstar” Heninger” – departed Cumulus Media Birmingham sports talk WJOX “JOX 94.5” last Wednesday (6/16). The four call the exit “amicable” and will start a still undisclosed digital project … According to The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, former KSRO, Santa Rosa (California) morning talent Pat Kerrigan has returned to the Amaturo Sonoma Media Group news/talk station to host a series of hour-long monthly specials, as well as a podcast, “Pat Kerrigan Unleashed.” … University of Hawaii football announcer Robert Kekaula died Saturday morning (6/19) at the age of 56. Prior to becoming the television play-by-play voice of the Rainbow Warriors in 2011, Kekaula was radio analyst for Hawaii football (1992-2010) … Benztown and P1 Media Group will host a free 30-minute webinar this Thursday (6/24) at 1:00 pm EST/10:00 am PST. Hosted by Benztown CEO Andreas Sannemann and P1 Media Group partner Ken Benson, “Next: Creating Amazing Radio, Round 2” will feature Lee Abrams. The programmer/consultant will field attendees’ questions and cover topics that will include: how to create “entertainment magic” on a station; radio predictions for 2026; the future of streaming and podcasting (and how that will affect radio); if contesting is still relevant; and how radio should be using social media … On the opening day of the National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas, SRN News’ Lori Tradup (seen in the photo at the left) interviews the head of Voddie Baucham Ministries, Voddie Baucham. Approximately 3,500 delegates from the U.S. and around the globe are attending the annual conference at the Gaylord Texan Hotel … Additions to “The Erick Erickson Show” include Pinehurst Broadcasting news/talk WEEB “Talk Radio 97.3 FM & 990 AM,” Southern Pines, North Carolina and WULK, Crawfordville, Georgia; the show broadcasts via Premiere XDS.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, 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 magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine 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.
iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”
iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJar, Unified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer. Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”
Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.
Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.
TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.
COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.