iHeartMedia and Creditors Still at Odds Over Asset Shift. According to a report from Bloomberg, iHeartMedia and a number of its creditors have broken off talks to try to resolve the rancor over iHeartMedia’s shift of 100 million shares of Clear Channel Outdoor to a new subsidiary called Broader Media. Creditors including D. E. Shaw, Canyon Capital, Franklin Advisers and Franklin Mutual sued iHeartMedia over the move claiming that it violates the debt covenants. iHeartMedia argues that’s not the case and the move is designed to allow the company to deal more effectively with its $20 billion in debt. iHeartMedia told a Texas judge that if the creditors’ bond defaults are allowed to proceed, it would cause as much as $15 billion of the company’s debt to come due quickly and that would force the company into bankruptcy protection. The creditors argue that is not what they are trying to accomplish. iHeartMedia SVP and treasurer Brian Coleman says the company’s maneuvers are part of its Project Indigo, a long-term strategy designed to allow it to study ways to deal with its debt.
The Panama Papers, The Presidential Race/Wisconsin Primary, Iran Arms Shipment Case, North Korean Nuke Threats, Tennessee Bible Bill, and NCAA Championship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/4). The so-called “Panama Papers” that reportedly link numerous world leaders to schemes to hide wealth in off-shore accounts; the activities of the candidates for president and today’s Wisconsin primary; the capture of illegal arms being shipped by Iran; the threats of nuclear attacks by North Korea; the controversial Tennessee bill that makes the Bible the official state book; and Monday evening’s NCAA Men’s Basketball championship were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Eric Zane Lands at Sports WBBL, Grand Rapids. After exiting the nationally syndicated “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show based at Townsquare Media’s rock WGRD, Grand Rapids, Eric Zane has landed the morning show gig at Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports talk WBBL, effective April 7. Zane officially left the show in mid-February after being absent from the program without explanation. It appears Zane’s departure was the result of a contract dispute. Now, he’ll compete in the Grand Rapids market directly with his former co-hosts Gregg “Free Beer” Daniels and Chris “Hot Wings” Michels. The “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show is syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks.
Lineup at ‘Altitude Sports’ in Denver to Launch on Friday. The newest sports talk radio station in the Denver market will officially launch on Friday, April 8 – the home opener day for the Colorado Rockies. Much of the news about Stan Kroenke-owned KRWZ, Denver (recently purchased from Entercom) is not really news as it’s been rumored and reported in the Denver media for some time. Here’s the lineup: Josh Dover hosts “The Morning Lineup” from 6:00 am to 7:00 am; the morning show will feature Tom Helmer, Lauren Gardner (an Altitude TV reporter), and former Denver Nuggets star Scott Hastings. Middays will be hosted by Vic Lombardi and Kyle Keefe. The station will also carry play-by-play of the NBA’s Nuggets, the NHL’s Avalanche; the MLS’ Colorado Rapids; and the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth.
Odds & Sods. There’s been a morning show and midday program re-build at CBS RADIO’s KHTK, Sacramento. Carmichael Dave is now joined by Kayte Christensen and former midday host Nate Goodyear. In middays, Jason Ross is partnered up with newcomers Ken Rudolph and Damien Barling. Jay Johnson joins the station as executive producer…..Long Nine Inc.-owned news/talk WMAY, Springfield, Illinois adds an FM translator to its broadcast with the addition of W234CC, Sherman, Illinois at 94.7 FM.
Dr. Toni Grant Dead at 72. The cause of death is unknown at this time, but the Los Angeles Times is reporting that former radio talk show host and psychologist Dr. Toni Grant died in Beverly Hills on March 27. Grant’s radio career was launched on KABC, Los Angeles in 1975 in the overnight daypart. Her show eventually moved across town to KFI. It went into syndication and at its height was heard on some 180 affiliates. She was off the air from 1990 to 1997 when she re-entered the business. She last worked on air at KABC in 2001. Read the Times’ obit here.
Cool Job Opportunity. “PowerTalk 1360 and 1280” is searching for a local talk show host for afternoon drive in California’s Central Valley. Applicants must have spoken-word experience. General necessities include a passionate, opinionated, outspoken, larger-than-life personality with decidedly conservative values, obsession for news, politics, pop culture, and sports. The ideal candidate will bring an intuitive understanding of the unique values, morals and issues of the California Central Valley and be in sync with those values and perspectives. You must have the ability to speak to the audience as one of them; put a voice to their thoughts and beliefs…much more important than professional polish or experience. In a perfect world you have spent time working in the Central Valley but you don’t have to presently live in the Modesto/Stockton area. You will fully embrace the role of a LOCAL personality: specifically address and engage the LOCAL community issues, organizations, and interests, capitalize on endorsement opportunities, serve as station ambassador, be visible at all community functions, spearhead station and cluster community outreach. You must understand and dedicate your performance to the bottom line: your goals are ratings and unique visitors. See required skills and submit resume and demo here.
Major Market Swapping Among Entercom, LFM, Bonneville. Official settlement has been reached between Entercom Communications and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding Entercom’s acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media. The proposed transaction involving LFM properties in three markets was announced last December. Another player entered the mix, and as part of the DOJ resolution, Entercom gains entry into the second-largest market by exchanging four Denver stations with Bonneville. Somewhat resembling an MLB mega-swap conducted prior to baseball’s July 31 trading deadline, Entercom is cutting ties with adult contemporary KOSI “Continuous Lite Rock,” KYGO “#1 For New Country,” KKFN “Sports Radio – The Fan,” and sports KEPN “The Zone” in exchange for Bonneville Los Angeles classic rocker KSWD “The Sound” and $5 million in additional consideration. After the dust settles, Entercom will have facilities in four (new for them) top 20 markets – Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, and San Diego. Leading their respective stations there – and all having the Entercom title of vice president and general manager are: Peter Burton (Los Angeles); Mike Fowler (Atlanta); Doug Abernethy (Miami); and Bob Bollinger (San Diego). Amy Griesheimer remains in place as vice president and general manager of Entercom Denver; she has been with the company since 2002. Entercom president and chief executive officer David Field comments, “We are delighted to be moving forward on our long-delayed acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media and adding their terrific brands, markets, and people to our organization. We are also very excited to be acquiring ‘The Sound,’ the fastest growing radio station in Los Angeles, through our station exchange with Bonneville. Adding Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, and San Diego to our footprint will meaningfully enhance our ability to serve our listeners, customers, employees, and shareholders. This is a great day for Entercom that will enhance our competitive position and bolster our growth potential well into the future.” According to Entercom chief operating officer Weezie Kramer, “Lincoln Financial Media, Bonneville, and their teams have built world-class brands. We are excited about the opportunities to continue to grow these stations and to provide our listeners and customers with the best compelling local content and dynamic, integrated marketing solutions. I am excited to welcome Doug, Bob, Mike, and Peter to Entercom. They are great leaders and managers with a proven track record of success. As we enter these vibrant markets, we are thrilled to have such talented and experienced media veterans at the helm. Amy has been a tremendous leader for Entercom Denver. We know her experience, leadership, and vision will continue to drive ratings, revenue, and audience engagement for our stations [there].” Meanwhile, Bonneville president Darrell Brown remarks, “Denver is a vibrant, growing area where we see great opportunity. The stations we are acquiring are legacy brands and provide a powerful cluster in this market. They align well with our existing portfolio, allowing us to expand our regional footprint. Bonneville’s core mission is building and lifting the communities where we own broadcast properties. We have a commitment to provide quality sports, news, and entertainment products and we are thrilled to serve the Denver market.” After spending seven years as director of sales for Lincoln Financial San Diego, New York native Burton joined Bonneville seven years ago. Entercom Los Angeles will consist of KSWD “The Sound,” which in 12 of the last 13 Nielsen Audio PPM ratings periods, has been in the 3.0 – 3.9 range. In the most recent sweep (June 2015), it ranks sixth (3.7, 6+); “The Sound” registered a 3.9 in March, April, and May. Fowler most recently was director of sales for ESPN Chicago. The LFM cluster that Entercom is acquiring in Atlanta is comprised of hot AC WSTR “Star 94,” which has back-to-back increases (3.0 – 3.2 – 3.8, April-May-June, 6+) to finish #11, and WQXI “ESPN 790 The Zone” (.2, 6+). Abernethy joined Entercom three months ago, following ten years as a Radio One regional vice president. Among the three Miami stations Entercom is picking up from LFM is adult contemporary WLYF “Lite-FM,” which – in May – finally unseated Cox Media Group urban AC WHQT at #1. With consecutive up-trends (6.8 – 7.1 – 7.3, April-May-June, 6+), “Lite” remains at #1. The other two Miami stations Entercom is acquiring are classic hits-oldies WMXJ “Magic 102.7” (4.4, #7, 6+, June 2015) and sports WAXY “The Ticket” (1.9, #20). It was just last week that Bolinger exited CBS Radio San Diego as senior vice president and market manager. As is the case in Miami involving adult contemporary WLYF, Entercom is getting a #1 station (6+) in San Diego with adult contemporary KIFM “Easy 98.1” (5.5, #1, 6+, June 2015). In addition to “Easy,” the San Diego cluster-mates Bolinger will oversee are KSON “New Country” (4.5, #6) and alternative KBZT “It’s About the Music” (2.6, #16). June 2015 (6+) ratings performances for the properties leaving Entercom and joining Bonneville are 5.3, #4 (fourth successive up trend) for KYGO; 4.7, #6 for KOSI; and 2.0, #19 for KKFN; KEPN does not appear in the June sweep. Stations remaining under the Entercom Denver banner are June 2015 pacesetter classic rock KQMT “The Mountain” (6.6, #1, 6+); hot AC KALC “Alice” (4.0, #9); and adult standards KEZW “Studio 1430 – Timeless Music” (.5, #28). They will be joined by Lincoln Financial Media additions rhythmic CHR KQKS “KS-107.5” (3.5, #12, 6+, June 2015); KYGO-HD2 “Comedy 103.1” (#18, trending 1.7 – 1.8, 1.9 – 3.0, 6+); and KRWZ “Cruisin’ Oldies – AM 950” (1.5, #23). Purchase price for Entercom’s Lincoln Financial Media acquisition is $105 million. Approximately three-quarters of it – $77.5 million – is in cash and the remaining $27.5 million in “Series A” perpetual convertible preferred stock held by Lincoln Financial Group. Time Brokerage Agreements will enable Bonneville and Entercom to operate the swapped properties immediately upon closing of the Lincoln Financial Media acquisition. It is anticipated that closing of the Lincoln Financial Media acquisition and beginning of the Bonneville-Entercom TBAs will occur within several business days. Entercom expects the Bonneville transaction will be finalized by fourth quarter.
Connoisseur Media Bought by Management and Petrus Holding Company. Westport, Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media has been bought in a joint effort by the company’s management and Petrus Holding Company, LP, a Perot Company. In a statement issued today, Petrus says existing management team will continue to operate the stations, with Petrus as their financial partner. Connoisseur Media operates 42 radio stations and digital assets in 12 markets across the U.S. Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw states, “We are very excited to partner with The Perot Companies to continue our focused and disciplined growth strategy. It is important for us to have a partner who shares our values and supports our long-term growth strategy.” Perot Companies chairman Ross Perot, Jr. says, “The Perot Companies and Connoisseur share common values, an entrepreneurial culture and a long-term approach to operating and building world-class companies. Our investment will allow Connoisseur to continue investing in its people while ensuring it can remain prudently financed, locally focused and innovative.”
Premiere Networks Names Meghan McCain Host of ‘America Now.’ A new, young host has been named for Premiere Networks’ nationally syndicated radio talk show “America Now.” Media personality and author Meghan McCain takes over the role of permanent host of the show that first featured Andy Dean as host. He left the program in July of 2014 to focus on his ConnectPal digital platform. (San Antonio-based personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo has been hosting the show on an interim basis.) Premiere says the show will continue to be based in Los Angeles and air live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. McCain comments, “I can’t wait to engage listeners across the country as we shine a spotlight on the stories and issues that affect us all. Creating a dialogue to inform, inspire and entertain people is what’s always driven me, and hosting ‘America Now’ is an exciting opportunity to help drive the national conversation. I’m excited to be joining a network with such an amazing lineup of hosts.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott states, “Meghan is smart, enthusiastic and outspoken, and we’re excited to have her join our roster of industry-leading programs reaching diverse audiences across America. As talk radio continues to connect with and engage millions of people across multiple platforms, we’re confident Meghan’s unique perspective and experience in politics will resonate with America Now’s national audience and create powerful marketing opportunities for our partners.”
Ross Promoted to News Director at WBAP and KLIF in Dallas. Moving up from her assistant news director position at Cumulus Media’s WBAP and KLIF in Dallas, Freda Ross is the new news director for the stations. Ross has been with WBAP since 1994 and added KLIF duties after Cumulus acquired the station. She is heard daily on KLIF as midday news anchor. Operations and program manager Tyler Cox says, “Freda has earned the respect of her colleagues and is a long-standing, influential leader in the WBAP/KLIF news department. She was the natural choice for this promotion to news director.” Ross comments, “I’m excited to take on the responsibilities of being news director for WBAP and KLIF. Both are well-respected heritage stations that have served the DFW community for decades. I look forward to the opportunity to continue bringing honest, thought-provoking news coverage to our listeners.”
Cox Media Group Makes ‘Major Senior Leadership Changes.’ These executive moves affect the National Ad Platforms, radio and digital businesses of Cox Media Group. They include: Kim Guthrie being named EVP of National Ad Platforms and president of CoxReps, the country’s largest television advertising rep firm based in New York City; Bill Hendrich takes over for Guthrie as EVP of radio and CMG research, based in Atlanta; and Marian Pittman becomes the company’s EVP of digital strategy and will oversee digital’s content and sales from her base in Atlanta. Guthrie’s assumption of the CoxReps presidency comes as Jim Monahan retires from the company after 35 years. The company says new radio EVP Bill Hendrich joined CMG Radio in 1996 in Orlando and has led countless award-winning teams that have produced outstanding creative content for CMG’s radio audiences, quantifiable sales results for customers, and internal and external customer service satisfaction for CMG’s employees and clients. The company’s Orlando VP/GM Susan Larkin is promoted to regional VP of Jacksonville and Orlando Radio. Finally, Pittman makes her move after serving with the company as VP of news and marketing for television.
Jake Gyllenhaal Visits NBC Sports Radio’s Amani Toomer and Dan Schwartzman. The two co-host “Going Deep with Amani & Dan” from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET on the NBC Sports Radio Network and recently hosted actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the studio about his new movie, Southpaw. The film is the story of a boxer who fights his way to the top only to find his life falling apart around him and features Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Schwartzman, Gyllenhaal, and Toomer.
Obama Strikes Nukes Deal with Iran, Prison Escape of Mexican Drug Lord, 2016 Presidential Candidates, Bill Cosby Rape Allegations, Illegal Immigration Policy-Kate Steinle Death, Greek Debt Issue, Caitlyn Jenner ESPYs Appearance, the MLB All-Star game, and NASA’s Pluto Mission Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/14). The West’s deal with Iran to end economic sanctions on the nation and allow its nuclear program to proceed; the controversial “escape” from prison of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; the renewed chatter about allegations Bill Cosby drugged and raped women; the controversy over the U.S.’s illegal immigration policy, the sanctuary cities, and the death of Kate Steinle; the Greek debt solution and its effect on world financial markets; Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance on the ESPYs tonight and her receiving the Arthur Ashe Award; the MLB All-Star game; and NASA’s New Horizons flies by Pluto were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.