Saga Communications Net Revenue for 2015 Flat; Down 2.1% in Q4. Fourth quarter and 2015 full year financial figures have been released by Saga Communications and the company’s net revenue for all of 2015 was $132.9 million (basically flat at -0.9%). Comparing 2015 Q4 net revenue to the same period in 2014, the company was down 2.1% (including political). Saga reports that free cash flow increased 2.9% to $21.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. Gross revenue without political increased 0.7% for the year. Station operating expense decreased 1.2% to $97.3 million (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations). Operating income decreased $1.9 million. Net income for the year was $13.4 million ($2.29 per fully diluted share).
The Presidential Race, Battle Against Islamic State, Oberlin Prof. Controversy, Netanyahu Cancels White House Visit, U.S. Illegal Immigrant Tally, and Erin Andrews Jury Award Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/7). The activities of the candidates for president and today’s Super Tuesday 2 primaries; the U.S. drone strikes on Islamic State militia; the controversial case of an Oberlin College professor’s Israel-Jewish conspiracy theories; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s abruptly cancelled visit with the White House; a report indicating an estimated 15 million immigrants are in the U.S. illegally; and sports reporter Erin Andrews wins a $55 million jury award in her case against the man who videotaped her and the hotel at which it happen were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Michael Harrison Explores a Wide Swath of Media Theory from Cave Painting to Virtual Reality. In the latest episode of the weekly PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” the TALKERS publisher presents a dynamic series of provocative connections casting a wide net from prehistoric cave painting to humanity’s “wiring of the solar system.” Referring back to early technology, music (“Garland to Gaga”) and culture (including his own childhood memories of playing kiddie records on a phonograph), Harrison talks about the extraordinary influence that the smart phone and other modern appliances are having on the modern human nervous system going forward into the digital era. This is a tour de force certain to stimulate Harrison’s following of “media freaks” both inside the industry and beyond. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
KOZN, Omaha’s Nick Bahe Returns to Air This Week. Sports talk host Nick Bahe is planning to return to the air on NRG Media’s KOZN, Omaha “1620 The Zone” after being off the air since February 17 to have a tumor removed from his chest. The midday personality called in to his own program yesterday (3/7) to tell listeners that the tumor is benign and he will be back on his show this week. NRG reports that podcast plays of the program tallied close to 17,500. KOZN operations manager Dave Tepper states, “Nick has had an incredibly challenging few months with his health. His ‘Zone’ team and listeners share relief in learning his test results are healthy and that he’ll back entertaining his listeners soon.”
Kinosian: John & Leah Show 1st Year Progress Report. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian recently spoke with Envision Networks-syndicated talk personality John Ziegler about the progress his Sunday evening show is making a year into its national distribution effort. The three-hour show that features co-host Leah Brandon (who also serves as WERC, Birmingham morning news anchor) is currently heard on 22 affiliate stations – 15 of which are in the top 28 markets. Ziegler tells Kinosian, “So far, I am surprised there has not been more of a bandwagon effect. Many stations are missing a fantastic opportunity to get their weekdays started in a strong way with this great reason for people to tune in on Sunday nights. I think this is a real missed opportunity for many stations around the country. We would like to help them take advantage of that opportunity. If every medium market manager saw our ratings success in Louisville, they would be calling Envision immediately because it is a remarkable story.” Ziegler understands the challenges of building a national show but he says he’s confident because he believes in the quality of the show. “There is so much clutter out there. If content means anything, this show will be a huge success because our content is better than [that of anyone else]. We are the only show that together has a male and a female with the expansive and unique backgrounds that Leah Brandon and I have. We are also the only show that can do both hard news and soft news in an informative and an entertaining way. No one else can bridge that gap.” Read more here.
Odds & Sods. A joint venture between Salem Radio Network and David Leach’s The Strident Conservative will give a network platform to the latter’s two-minute daily radio commentary. Leach says, “I am delighted to begin this new partnership with the Salem broadcast family. The SC combines poignant and honest opinion, mixed with a touch of sarcasm and satire, in ways that will appeal to listeners who still believe in the America envisioned by our Founding Fathers. I believe we are a perfect fit for the Salem network.”…..Sports talker KLWB, Lafayette, Louisiana is adding Houston Astros baseball to its programming this season. Delta Media Corporation says that will the addition of Astros baseball, it marks the first time in more than 10 years that the Houston club’s games have been heard in Acadiana…..According to Media Monitors, during the last 10 days, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ran the most spots on the radio with a total of 6,815 ads – 3,738 spots from her campaign, 2,906 spots from her Super PAC Priorities USA ACTION and another 171 spots were purchased by the SEIU COPE (Service Employees International Union); Bernie Sanders was in second place with 4,589 spots (of those, the National Nurses United Patient Protection PAC placed 123 spots and the CWA Working Voices PAC added 68 spots; Ted Cruz was in third place airing 3,024 spots; 979 from his campaign and 2,045 spots by the Keep The Promise I PAC; Donald Trump For President ran 338 spots putting him in fourth place; and Marco Rubio cleared 261 spots, with 208 spots bought by the Super PAC Conservative Solutions and 53 spots by the Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy Corporation…..Dielectric will be at the 2016 NAB Show in Las Vegas in April displaying its purpose-engineered antennas and RF systems for TV and radio broadcasters. There it will display its new low- and high-power antennas to cover all power requirements; and a common case FM combiner that supports channel multiplexing across a lighter infrastructure. Dielectric general manager Keith Pelletier says, “Dielectric has invested significant engineering effort into developing economical antenna and RF solutions for FM broadcasters. Innovations include a panel antenna design for low-power broadcasters that reduces the size of the feed system by half, and a ring-style solution for high-power stations that greatly lowers the costs and complexity of sidemount installations. Inside the transmitter building, we’re returning precious real estate to tenants by eliminating components traditionally associated with the filtering process, while simplifying channel tuning. The result is high-quality engineering with a quicker return on investment for the broadcaster.”
PodcastOne Founder and CEO Norm Pattiz to Moderate ‘The Podcasting Session’ at TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations. In a panel discussion designed to serve as one of the informational centerpieces of the forthcoming TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations conference, PodcastOne founder/CEO Norm Pattiz will serve as moderator. “The Podcast Session” will feature the legendary radio broadcasting visionary and original Westwood One founder along with an all-star array of successful talent and leading-edge executives in the emerging field of podcasting. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We are delighted that Norm Pattiz will guide this extremely important session. He is clearly one of the leading experts, movers and shakers in the rise of podcasting – not just as a medium of communication – but as a mighty extension and new platform for the growth of both advertising and subscription-driven digital broadcasting, journalism and entertainment. That will be the focus of this intense panel discussion. Stand by as we announce the panel members over the coming days.” TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations will take place on Friday, May 20, 2016 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. It will be the 19th annual installment of the talk radio and talk media’s longest-running and most important national convention. For more information see stories below.
WW1: Nielsen Data Highlights Strengths of NCAA Tourney Radio Audience. Stating its case for the quality of the radio audience for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Westwood One presents data from Nielsen studies analyzing that group of consumers. The first study analyzed the NCAA listening audience in 48 Portable People Meter markets, examining reach accumulation across the entire NCAA basketball season. The second study of 1,000 college hoops fans titled, “A Day in the Life of an NCAA Fan,” investigates how the March Madness audience follows the tournament across social, video, audio and digital platforms in a variety of locations. WW1’s goal is to show that the NCAA radio audience is a more dedicated audience that its other media counterparts and presents numbers to argue for that. Among the key findings are: NCAA radio listeners are more engaged fans and consume more games on average than the general NCAA basketball audience; 87% of NCAA basketball listeners will follow/watch/listen to the full tournament through the Final, compared with 78% of the overall NCAA basketball audience; and the average number of NCAA tournament games consumed by AM/FM listeners is 12.3, compared to 10.2 for the total NCAA basketball audience. See more from the study here.
National Radio Hall of Fame Voting Starts Today. After a five-year hiatus, listeners again have the opportunity to participate in selecting National Radio Hall of Fame inductees. For the next two weeks (through Wednesday, 8/26), voters can text 36500 with their one vote for the four nominees (each) in the “Music Format On-Air Personality” and “Spoken Word On-Air Personality” categories. National Radio Hall of Fame chair Kraig Kitchin declares, “These eight personalities are beloved by their listeners. Giving the audience an opportunity to participate in the process of acknowledging their favorite hosts for their contributions over the years just makes sense.” Nominees and text info for the “Music Format On-Air Personality” are Delilah (text “DELILAH” to 36500); Elvis Duran (text “ELVIS” to 36500); Steve Harvey (text “STEVE” to 36500); and Ryan Seacrest (text “RYAN” to 36500). Nominees and text info for the “Spoken Word On-Air Personality” are Sean Hannity (text “HANNITY” to 36500); Clark Howard (text “CLARK” to 36500); Jim Rome (text “ROME” to 36500); and Dr. Laura Schlessinger (text “DR. LAURA” to 36500). Listener-chosen winners will be announced at the end of this month (8/31), and we cannot forget that all-important fine print that “message and data rates may apply.” In addition to the two listener-voting categories, four categories are being voted on by a panel of 400 industry professionals. The induction ceremony takes place November 5 at the Museum of Broadcast and Communications in downtown Chicago.
IAB Gears Up For Debut Podcast Upfront Showcase. The one-day marketplace for advertisers and media buyers to preview podcast programming will be held next month (9/10) in New York City. Scheduled to present at Interactive Advertising Bureau‘s inaugural podcast upfront showcase include representatives from AdLarge Media, Midroll, NPR, Panoply, Podtrac, and WNYC. Industry Initiatives, IAB vice president Carl Kalapesi explains, “More and more advertisers are incorporating audio programming into their digital marketing strategies. The individual and intimate listening experience enjoyed by podcast listeners provides a unique vehicle for brands to connect with consumers. IAB is excited to bring so many digital audio leaders together to discuss their upcoming programming and the wide array of advertising opportunities available through podcasts.” Invited executives will get to preview content developments from each presenting company in 20-minute segments.
Cassell (Posthumously) Wins SCBA Radio Personality of the Year Award. The “State Television And Radio” (STAR) awards of the South Carolina Broadcasting Association honor “exceptional accomplishments of the state’s stations and their broadcast professionals.” Entercom-owned talk WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg host Russ Cassell (left), who passed away last year, won the “Radio Personality of the Year” award. Entercom market vice president and general manager Steve Sinicropi declares, “The broadcasting legacy of Russ Cassell lives on; our entire team is grateful for the SCBA recognizing Russ with this important award.” The cluster’s production director Stan Fisher received STAR recognition for best production-multi spot campaign on rock WTPT “93.3 The Planet” for local attorney Rob Ianuario. In the station’s first year in the format, WYRD-AM “ESPN Upstate” sports broadcaster Greg McKinney was recognized with a “Sportscaster of the Year award of merit at the event, which was held in Columbia, South Carolina over the weekend.
McCollim Heads to Colorado Springs as iHeartMedia’s Senior VP/Programming. Transferring from Spokane where he programmed iHeartMedia talker KQNT and KKZX “The Classic Rock Station,” Jason McCollim is appointed senior vice president of programming for the company’s Colorado Springs and Pueblo stations. Senior vice president of programming/regional markets Tony Coles states, “McCollim is one of our rising stars. He has done an incredible job for us in Spokane. His leadership skills and passion for programming will allow him to ramp up quickly and build immediate relationships with the programming and sales teams.” Colorado-Pueblo market president Darci Ewell comments, “Jason’s proven track record in Spokane and his versatile experience will make him an incredible asset to the Colorado Springs-Pueblo cluster. Jason brings a high level of energy and creativity that will greatly benefit our team.” McCollim remarks, “I am very excited about working with the fantastic iHeartMedia team in both Colorado Springs and Pueblo; thanks to Tony Coles and Darci Ewell for the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful parts of our country.” McCollim spent more than 14 years at KQNT and KKZX; he is vice president of the Inland Empire Bloodhounds Search & Rescue. The Colorado Springs stations he will oversee are rhythmic CHR KIBT “The Beat”; hot AC KVUU “My-99.9”; adult contemporary KKLI “Sunny 106.3”; country KCCY “Y-96.9; and classic rock KDZA “Z-107.9.” The three Pueblo facilities are classic hits KPHT; KCCY “Fox Sports 1350″; and talk KCSJ.
Rdio Debuts Live Broadcast Radio. The global music streaming service begins with nearly 500 U.S. stations. Listeners can mark songs they like as a favorite, share the song, start a custom station based on the song or view more music by the artist. Paying subscribers to Rdio’s $3.99 and $9.99 plans can download songs for unlimited listening, add it to a custom playlist, listen to related songs from that artist or recently played songs on that station as often as they want. Rdio chief executive officer Anthony Bay comments, “We are committed to providing Rdio customers around the world with easy access to the audio content they want to hear through innovative features that enhance listening. Broadcast radio brands and talent continue to be the dominant tastemakers in music, so integrating live broadcast radio into Rdio’s critically acclaimed customer experience is an exciting development that we are thrilled to introduce.” Through a September 2013 partnership with Cumulus Media, Rdio has access to Cumulus’ programming and is promoted on Cumulus stations. Cumulus Media chief executive officer Lew Dickey states, “Bringing our national platform of stations to Rdio allows us to instantly create broader access for our listeners and new opportunities for advertisers to reach their target audiences. The combination of our premier broadcast assets with Rdio’s acclaimed user experience and music discovery features creates a full-service listening experience that is unparalleled.” In addition to music, live broadcast programming includes sports content from local stations as well as through Cumulus Media’s Westwood One. Featured stations include Cumulus Media-owned country WNSH, New York; rock KLOS, Los Angeles; triple-A KFOG, San Francisco; urban-rhythmic oldies WRWM, Indianapolis; and country WSM-FM, Nashville. Additional stations will launch later this year.
WOWO Producing 90-Year Retrospective. The Fort Wayne (Indiana) talk outlet is observing its 90th anniversary and – appropriately enough – is putting together a 90-minute documentary. Station executives are in the process of gathering interviews from former employees for the special, which will cover WOWO’s impact and reach. In addition to audio samples of historic and comical moments, Bob Sievers, Jack Underwood, Jay Gould, and Bob Chase are among those who will be featured. Program director Ryan Wrecker (Wrecker@WOWO.com) is seeking station memorabilia that can be displayed during the ongoing celebration, as well as memories past staffers or listeners would like to share. Those contributing will receive a preview edition of the special, which is scheduled to air on Federated Media-owned WOWO (Thursday) November 19.
KNX Schedules Second Annual Blood Drive. In light of the fact that blood donations typically dip during summer months, KNX, Los Angeles is joining the American Red Cross for the CBS Radio all-news outlet’s second annual blood drive. The five-day event at participating Red Cross blood centers starts two weeks from Saturday (8/29) and concludes the following Wednesday (9/2). CBS Radio vice president/Los Angeles market manager Dan Kearney comments, “KNX is proud to team up with the Red Cross once again as we expand our blood drive effort. We know summer is a challenging time for people to think about donating blood, and we hope to raise awareness so our listeners will lend their support and help the Red Cross maintain a safe and stable blood supply.” American Red Cross Southern California blood services external communications manager Tony Briggs notes that although many donors stepped up to give following a pressing call issued earlier this month, “The American Red Cross continues to have an urgent need for blood donors of all blood types to give before Labor Day.” Last year’s inaugural two-day KNX blood drive produced 834 pints of blood, which helped 2,502 patients. Greater Los Angeles/Southern California donation locations include Arcadia, Glendale, Santa Monica, Claremont, Downey, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, Laguna Hills, Long Beach, Pasadena, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, West Covina, Woodland Hills, and Yorba Linda. As an incentive (and while supplies last), blood drive sponsor – The Southern California Gas Company – will give blood donors a KNX emergency preparedness guide; two tickets to Hollywood’s Laugh Factory; a ticket to Madame Tussauds Hollywood; and a sample of Hawaiian Host chocolates.
Maranville Departs USA Radio Networks. One-year USA Radio Networks chief content officer-director of channel development Tim Maranville exits. He expresses thanks to “everyone at USA for all the hard work, especially show hosts Steve Deace, Kevin Jackson, Steve Noble, Jim Sharpe, Joe Messina, Chris and Emilee, Angie Austin, and Tony Perkins. The future is bright and I hope to have one, maybe two, announcements about my next contribution to the planet by mid-September.” Maranville joined USA after a nearly six-year run as vice president of programming at Westwood One. He previously was vice president and director of operations of the Denver Radio Company; vice president and director of operations of Sun City Communications; director of operations at KFRC, San Francisco; and director of operations of Phoenix stations KMLE, KOOL, and KZON. In addition, he owns/operates Mutations Media and he co-owns The Show Must Go On, an independent syndication consulting and affiliation company.
Donald Trump Continued to be the Second Most Talked About Person on News/Talk Radio Yesterday — a VERY close second to Barack Obama (8/11). Top topics include the Presidential Race, the Iran Nukes Deal, Immigration Reform and the Chinese Economy. According to TALKERS research, fallout from last week’s audience record-breaking GOP debate on Fox News Channel continues to dominate conversation on news/talk radio across America and people (and the media) remain fixated on Donald Trump. Other hot topics include the presidential election in general, Hillary Clinton’s email controversy and the global economic impact of China’s devaluation of its currency.