Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”
Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”
Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”
SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”
TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19. Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”
COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Rush Limbaugh Dead at 70. Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh passed away Wednesday (2/17) at his home in Florida at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. First diagnosed in February of 2020, Limbaugh told his national radio audience in October that his cancer was terminal. Limbaugh’s impact on not only the issues-oriented talk radio business but on media in general was profound. At the height of its popularity, The Rush Limbaugh Show laid claim to 20 million weekly listeners according to longtime syndicator Premiere Networks. His influence on other forms of conservative media – especially cable news/talk television – can’t be underestimated. Greater than any other single talent, Limbaugh was widely credited for not only reinvigorating the politically geared talk show, but also for prolonging AM radio’s very existence. The aggregate amount of revenue he generated for operators of AM facilities carrying his daily talk show is nothing short of astonishing. After a decade of bouncing around from market to market as a top 40 DJ, Limbaugh took a PR position with the Kansas City Royals. He returned to radio and at KFBK, Sacramento he honed his conservative talk radio personality. In 1988, a partnership between Limbaugh and former ABC Radio executive, the late Ed McLaughlin, The Rush Limbaugh Show was offered in syndication in middays via EFM Media. In 1997, Premiere Networks and EFM Media were acquired by Jacor Media and Limbaugh’s program became a Premiere product. While his radio success made him the most successful news/talk host of the modern era, he endured issues in his personal life. In the fall of 2001, Limbaugh had a cochlear implant to deal with the loss of hearing he was suffering. In 2003, Limbaugh underwent treatment for pain pill addiction. In 2012, his calling Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying for contraceptive services from the Catholic school, gave talk radio a black eye from the standpoint of ad agencies whose clients put the show on “do not buy” lists. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says,“ Limbaugh’s radio talent and dedication to the medium are unparalleled in the modern talk industry. At a time when the very future of radio and its talent pool could very much be on the wane in terms of cultural relevance and prestige, he raised it to a level of importance on a par with the most influential media platforms and players of our time.” TALKERS will continue coverage of this story and Rush Limbaugh’s relevance to radio and the nation in the coming days and weeks.
iHeartMedia to Acquire Triton Digital for $230 Million. In a move that iHeartMedia says makes it “the only company to provide a complete set of advertising technologies and measurement solutions for all forms of audio media,” it will acquire Triton Digital from E.W. Scripps for $230 million. iHeartMedia says it will now be able to provide audio content to producers and advertisers with an industry-leading full ad service package for streaming and podcasting no matter their size, reach, or distribution method. iHeartMedia says, “The addition of Triton Digital’s vast array of infrastructure and measurement solutions will complement iHeartMedia’s current advertising technology services, data platforms, and programmatic platforms while providing additional solutions for those in the digital radio industry, allowing iHeartMedia to be the first and only company in the audio market to provide four distribution methods for audio, including on-demand, broadcast and digital streaming radio and podcasting, and to service all audio assets programmatically.” Triton Digital is a global advertising technology SaaS (software as a service) platform for audio streaming, podcasting and metrics that enables publishers to monetize their audiences by providing digital audio measurement and advanced audio-focused infrastructure to maximize the yield of audio inventory. The company’s two lines of business focus on advertising infrastructure and measurement, including a content delivery system that distributes digital audio streams and podcasts to listeners while dynamically inserting ads and measurement business that tracks audience and creates ratings reports. This deal comes on the heels of recent audio technology acquisitions by iHeartMedia that include the October 2020 purchase of Voxnest, as well as its acquisition of buying platform Jelli Inc, cloud-based audio playout platform Radiojar, and social advertising data intelligence platform and solutions provider Unified. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “Adding Triton Digital and its industry leading services to the iHeartMedia audio ecosystem establishes iHeartMedia as the only company with a total audio advertising technology and data solution. iHeart, with our strong leadership position in podcasting, digital radio and broadcast, already provides cutting edge audio management, programmatic and data solutions for the broadcast radio, digital audio and podcasting industries, and this acquisition further strengthens our position as the #1 audio company in America and provides unique – and critical – solutions for the industry and for advertisers.”
UWG CEO Monique Nelson Named to Entercom Board of Directors. Joining the board of directors of Entercom Communications Corp is multicultural advertising and marketing agency UWG chair and CEO Monique Nelson. With this addition, Entercom’s board expands to 11 directors. In making the announcement, Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “During this transformative time for our company, we’re excited to welcome Monique to Entercom’s board of directors. Her extensive career in advertising and marketing leadership make her an outstanding addition to our board.” Nelson has served as the chair and CEO of UWG since 2012. In this role, she has expanded the agency’s client list and has led her team in the development of several award-winning campaigns. Prior to joining UWG, she was the global lead for entertainment marketing at Motorola. She currently sits on the Advertising Week global board, AdWeek diversity & inclusion council, the Brandeis board of trustees, The Eagle Academy board, as well as the New York advisory board for The Posse Foundation. Nelson says, “Entercom is in an exciting and pivotal moment and I’m delighted to be joining the board. It’s clear Entercom is truly committed to moving the needle significantly in the audio space.”
Kim Komando Assists Arizona Pharmacies with COVID Vaccine Website. Being a fan of talk radio and the Kim Komando radio program – heard locally on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix – turned out to be good news for the director of pharmacy for the Bashas’ grocery chain. He recently learned that his 40 pharmacies will soon be getting COVID vaccines but he had no infrastructure in place to handle the flood of inquiries from customers. As a longtime listener to the Kim Komando Show, he emailed her explaining his situation and asking for advice, and specifically if she could design a website. Komando responded that she would make a few calls and reached out to various contacts and officials around Arizona and ended up discussing the situation with Congressman David Schweikert. He connected Bashas’ with the Arizona Department of Health Services and now the two are striking a deal to white label the state’s web application for vaccine scheduling to the grocery chain. This was all a direct result of the content airing on KTAR-FM and Kim Komando.
The Alliance for Women in Media Announce 2021 Board of Directors. The Alliance for Women in Media and its Foundation – AWM/F – are pleased to announce their 2021 national board of directors. New to the AWM board are: Kenetta Bailey, senior vice president, marketing, Clear Channel Outdoor; Marsha Cooke, senior vice president, global news and special projects, Vice Media, LLC.; and Melissa Wright, chief content officer, Twin Cities PBS. New to the AWM/F board are: Svetlana Gans, vice president & associate general counsel, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; Mike McVay, president, McVay Media Consulting; Josie Thomas, former chief diversity & inclusion officer, CBS; and Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group. Officers of the board have been announced as Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, serving as chair; Annie Howell, chief communications officer, Crown Media Family Networks, serving as incoming chair; Keisha Sutton-James, vice president & CEO, Sutton Button Productions LLC, serving as immediate past chair; Joyce Fitch, legal consultant, serving as treasurer; and Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions, serving as incoming treasurer. AWM/F president Becky Brooks says, “The role of the AWM and Foundation boards is to lead our organizations and industry as we recognize, connect and educate women in all facets of media. We have a true working board. As AWM celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, it has never been more important to have strong, insightful leadership. This year’s new directors have voiced their dedication to donating time and resources to guide these organizations to the next level. We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.” The following individuals will continue to serve as directors at large of AWM: Katina Arnold, vice president, corporate communications, ESPN; Abby Auerbach, executive vice president, chief communications officer, TVB; Abby Greensfelder, founder & CEO, Everywoman Studios; Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz Foundation; Sandra Rice, senior vice president, outreach and strategic partnerships, Center for Talent Innovation; Esther-Mireya Tejeda, chief marketing & communications officer, SoundExchange; and, Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBC. Deborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk and RBR and TVBR will continue to serve as a director at large of AWM/F. AWM/F is also pleased to announce that AWM/F board members Heather Cohen, Annie Howell and Mike McVay will continue to serve as chairs for the Gracie Awards.
TALKERS News Notes. The LadyGang Network on PodcastOne, announces it has acquired the exclusive sales and distribution rights to the “Black Girls Texting” podcast, hosted by Glynn Pogue, Sade Parham, and Chelsea “Pinky” Rojas. The first episode drops today (2/17) kicks off with Robin Thicke as the guest talking about life after loss, co-parenting with ex-wife Paula Patton and the benefits of therapy…..Cadence13, a podcast company that is part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, and Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, the creators and producers of the Emmy-nominated series, “Unsolved Mysteries,” announces the launch of the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast, a weekly show based on the long-running hit television and popular Netflix streaming series. Narrated by award-winning voice actor Steve French, the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast presents all new unsolved cases from the vast “Unsolved Mysteries” database — including unsolved crimes, missing persons, fugitives, mysterious creatures, and the paranormal — with each episode taking a deep dive into one specific mystery.….The GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs Show adds two new affiliate stations as Radio Pacific’s KONP-AM, Port Angeles, Washington and Midwest Communications’ WNMT-AM, Nashwauk, Minnesota add the program to their on-air schedules.
TuneIn Announces New Leadership Team. Streaming and on-demand audio service TuneIn announces new executive appointments to its leadership team that include: Paul Brody to chief technology officer, Rob Deichert to chief revenue officer, and Joe King to chief product officer. Yasmin Coffey is elevated to chief legal officer, and Kevin Straley continues to serve as chief content officer. This news comes on the heels of the recent appointment of Richard Stern to CEO, and a new investment in TuneIn led by Innovation Endeavors. Additionally, six new members will join TuneIn’s board and bring their deep expertise in the areas of business, technology, media and entertainment, including: Eric Botto, Steve Cakebread, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Greg Coleman, Rick Scanlon, and Harpinder Singh. Stern says, “TuneIn’s mission to reinvent radio for our connected world has been greatly accelerated during this unprecedented time when live audio has quickly become a trusted companion for millions of new listeners adjusting to the new normal. I’m proud to welcome a distinguished group of senior leaders and board members to TuneIn who will help us build on the incredible momentum of 2020 to drive innovation and growth at a global scale.”
Biden in Milwaukee, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Stimulus Negotiations, Trump Acquittal Aftermath/State of GOP, Capitol Riot Investigation, Freezing Winter Weather, and North Korea Pfizer Hack Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/16). Tuesday evening’s Joe Biden town hall in Milwaukee; the declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the negotiations in Congress over Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill; the political climate in Washington following the acquittal of Donald Trump and Trump’s angry letter against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; the freezing weather that’s left millions in Texas without power; and the allegation that North Korea attempted to hack Pfizer’s vaccine data were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.