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Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”

The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.

Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.

AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.

COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Monday, March 16, 2020

| March 16, 2020

CORONAVIRUS PERSEPCTIVE:  RAB President/CEO Encourages Radio Sellers to Proactively Draw Upon Relationships with Clients and Take Leadership Role.  In an exclusive conversation conducted early this afternoon (3/16), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison tapped into the perspective of Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) president/CEO Erica Farber about the challenges facing radio sales during the current crisis. She tells TALKERS, “This crisis shows just how important relationships are in radio sales.”  Farber advises radio sales reps to take a proactive role in reaching out to clients before they contact the stations and enquire as to their well-being and current business practices during this time when it is no longer business as usual.  Farber also encourages stations to revamp existing production and copy not just to add new messaging but to update the tone of commercials, both live and produced, to reflect the current environment.  She points out that radio has an advantage over TV in this regard because “entire spots don’t have to be re-shot… just re-written which people can do working from home.”  To listen to the entire conversation between Harrison and Farber, please click 

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Monday Memo: Coronavirus, Mental Health Crisis. Because the pandemic story is nearer the beginning than the end, consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “‘Wash your hands’ now sounds old and condescending and remaining political talk media deniers validate a tired caricature.  At this stage, news-your-listeners-can-use most is coping advice.”  HC recommends interviewing a local mental health professional; and in this week’s column, he recommends questions and talking points.  Read it here.

Coronavirus Hits the U.S., Fed Slashes Interest Rates, Trump Flight Ban Effects, Biden-Sanders Debate, Turkish and Russian Action in Syria, and Israeli Government Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The coronavirus pandemic causes states across the nation to limit social contact, closing schools and shutting down bars and restaurants; the Fed cuts interest rates to almost zero to counter the panic selling caused by the coronavirus; President Trump’s ban on flights into the U.S. from Europe and the logjam at airports as incoming international travelers require virus screenings; Sunday night’s debate between Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders; the coordinated Turkish and Russian military strikes in Syria; and Benny Gantz’s attempt to form a coalition government in Israel were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Townsquare Media Q4 2019 Net Revenue Up 2.9%, Full Year Up 5.7%; CEO Wilson Addresses Coronavirus.  The company reports its 2019 fourth quarter and 2019 full-year financial data and in addition to providing data for the entire company, it also breaks its data into three segments: Advertising, that includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; Townsquare Interactive, the digital marketing solutions business; and Live Events, the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events.  For the company as a whole, Townsquare Media’s Q4 2019 net revenue was $112.1 million, up 2.9% over the same period in 2018.  For the full year of 2019, net revenue was $431.4 million, up 5.7% over all of 2018.  Looking at just the Advertising net revenue, it was $93.9 million, up 0.9% from the same period in 2018.  However, excluding political advertising from the mix, advertising net revenue was up 5.6%.  For the full year of 2019, Townsquare’s advertising net revenue was $352.8 million, up 4% over the full year of 2018.  Ex political, advertising net revenue was up 6.2% over 2018.  Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “As we look forward, we are excited about the future of our company.  We believe that our talented teams, broad multi-platform marketing and advertising product suite and in particular, our robust digital solutions, led by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite, our proprietary digital programmatic advertising platform, will continue to differentiate us in the marketplace. We are proud of our broadcast performance, but our overall financial results clearly demonstrate what I have been stating for quite some time: Townsquare has transitioned from being a traditional broadcaster to being a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company with fast growing, profitable digital products and solutions.  We continue to be heavily focused on super-serving our local clients, local listeners and local communities while helping local businesses grow through our ‘Local First’ strategy, while simultaneously delivering results for our stakeholders.  While the specific impact of the coronavirus pandemic to our business is unknown at this time, we know that there will be a negative impact.  However, we are confident and optimistic about the long-term customer demand for our multi-platform products and marketing solutions.  Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our employees, their families, our partners and our local communities across the country, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected around the world.  We are constantly monitoring the evolving environment in each of our 67 local markets.  As the preeminent local media company in each of our local markets, Townsquare has the additional responsibility, obligation and civic duty to lead from the front, continue to inform accurately and provide comfort.  I could not be prouder of our Townsquare Team and how each day they are serving their listeners, their clients and their local communities during this important time.  Our future remains bright and I am confident that together we will emerge from this challenge stronger than ever before.”

Beasley Issues Statement on Company Coronavirus Policy. On Friday (3/13), Beasley Media Group issued the following public statement about its policy for doing business during the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief executive officer Caroline Beasley said, “After careful deliberation, we have taken precautionary measures that are currently being implemented across all of our markets.  The challenges we face are extraordinary, but the moment is not unique.  At our core, our company exists to serve our employees, advertisers and our communities and keep them safe and informed during times exactly like this.  Broadcasters are at our best during uncertain times.  We will continue to strive to be at our very best in the coming days, weeks and months.”  Through March 31, the company is enacting the following: Over the next two weeks, most full-time employees will be asked to telework.  While some full-time employees will be needed in the office, they will be expected to follow CDC guidelines (attached) in an effort to maintain a safe and clean work environment. In addition, the company has instituted a “no work-related travel” policy.  To limit public traffic at the radio stations, the stations will not be allowing listeners to pick up contest prize awards.  Market managers will have the discretion to make limited exception instances where prizes are time limited.  Beasley Media Group will be cancelling and/or postponing events and appearances for the next two weeks to ensure not only the safety of its employees but the communities they serve.  The company will continue to evaluate and update policies as circumstances dictate.

Adams Radio Implements Coronavirus Policy. Broadcaster Adams Radio Group is putting its coronavirus work plan into effect and is mandating that all personnel that can work from home do so starting immediately.  Adams CEO Ron Stone says, “I want to thank my general managers, engineers and others within our company for being very proactive in guiding the planning for our company.  Incredible talent always steps up when faced with a crisis and our management has done just that.  We are committed to supporting our workforce family and their families as well as the communities we serve.  The time for us to act is now.  In taking these actions, our priorities are to ensure the well-being of our work family and clients and to continue delivering the messages of our clients to help minimize as much as possible the disruption of their businesses, and ours, by providing the communities we serve with up to date information on the virus.  We have taken appropriate steps to provide our employees with the assets required to work from home without disruption to the excellent broadcast products we deliver to our listeners and communities.  Sales, programming, administrators and engineers will all be following this guidance as implemented by local management.  This policy is effective immediately and will continue until it is safe for our employees to return to normal activities.  We have not received notice that anyone employed by Adams Radio has been in contact with the virus and we are doing our part to keep it that way.”

Skyview Networks Reports 95% Ad Retention Rate in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic. In a public release issued on Friday (3/13) in the aftermath of the NBA, NHL, MLB and other sports leagues announcing they were postponing or cancelling their games and related activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skyview Networks said it “continues to serve its many sports partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Skyview EVP and general manager Jeanne-Marie Condo says, “Skyview Networks has been able to retain 95% of its sports dollars.  This has been a remarkable 24 hours, at a time of caution, advertisers one after the other stood strong either building new campaigns with Skyview or choosing to keep the revenue in place for when the leagues commence.  It was a tribute to the power of on-air radio and how it delivers for advertisers.”

TALKERS News Notes. In San Diego, KOGO-AM afternoon drive personality Carl DeMaio is back on the air on the iHeartMedia news/talk outlet after losing in the Republican primary for California’s 50th Congressional District seat.  DeMaio came up short in a three-way race that was won by Carl Issa, who will face Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar for the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, who resigned after being convicted of misusing campaign funds. DeMaio hosts “The DeMaio Report” along with co-host and political consultant Lou Penrose…..Cox Media Group agrees to set aside its contractual retransmission dispute with DISH Network in 10 markets in order to allow the local news, as well as network content from ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX that has been blacked out by DISH since mid-January to air so citizens can get news and information about the coronavirus.  CMG’s Kim Guthrie says, “We are pleased to be able to restore these channels on DISH so that our viewers in these communities can be informed and able to make the right decisions for the safety of their families.  We appreciate DISH’s cooperation in agreeing to suspend our dispute so that we can help our viewers navigate through this uncertain time.”…..The nationally syndicated “America’s First News with Matt Ray” is added to the program schedule at iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas in morning drive…..According to surveys of local radio buyers by BIA Advisory Services, if local radio could offer an over-the-air, zoned advertising product like local TV stations can, 54.6% say they would be “very interested.”  BIA and Advertiser Perceptions will present that data and more during a webinar being held on March 24 at 2:00 pm ET.  It’s titled, “Main Street Versus Madison Avenue on Geotargeted Advertising and Local Radio” and will feature BIA’s Rick Ducey and Advertiser Perceptions’ Justin Fromm, who will highlight the Main Street and Madison Avenue research.  They are joined by Kathy Doyle, EVP local investment from MAGNA Global and George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne Advertising, who will explain why they think zoned radio ads would be valuable to their clients.  You can register here.

Former, Longtime TRN Exec Greg Doyle Dies.  Family and friends are mourning the death of Greg Doyle, who died Sunday (3/15) after a long battle with liver disease.  His wife of 39 years, Lynn Finley Doyle, posted news of his passing on social media.  Doyle was a longtime executive with the Oregon-based radio syndicated firm Talk Radio Network.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Baltimore radio personality Matt Davis joins Times-Shamrock’s classic rock WZBA “100.7 The Bay” as midday host.  Davis previously served with Hearst’s crosstown rock WIYY-FM; WXRK, New York; and WYSP, Philadelphia.  Station general manager Jefferson Ward says, “In a world of increasingly nationalized radio, being local matters more than ever. Matt has been a part of Baltimore radio for many years and is passionate about our town, music, and creating great content on all platforms.  He is the perfect fit for our team.”…..As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Academy of Country Music has decided to postpone “The 55th Annual ACM Awards,” originally scheduled for April 5 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Arena.  The show, set to air on CBS Television, is being rescheduled for September.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

| November 8, 2016

Salem Third Quarter Net Broadcast Revenue Up 3.2%.  Chief executive officer Edward Atsinger said on the Q3 conference call that Salem Media Group’s total revenue was up 5.6% but expenses were up 7.3%, “resulting in a 1.5% decrease in adjusted EBITDA.”  Atsinger said the expenses increase was almost entirely the result of salemmediagroup-logoincreased health care costs.  Back to the numbers, in the Broadcast segment, net broadcast revenue was $51.1 million, an increase of 3,2% over the same period a year ago.  However, station operating income decreased by 2.1%.  Atsinger reported that although they booked $1 million of broadcast political revenue during the quarter, that was down about 20% from the same period during the 2012 campaign.  However, Atsinger adds, “Network revenue was up 29.2% for the quarter.  Obviously, this extraordinary political year is a major driver in this revenue growth, and our nationally syndicated hosts have significantly increased their profile beyond the exposure of their own radio programs, which has resulted in an increased time spent listening to their shows and better response for advertisers, all of which has led to higher renewals, higher rates of renewals, and additional advertising clients.”

Townsquare Media Net Revenue Flat in Q3.  On a pro forma basis, Townsquare Media’s Local Marketing Solutions segment – the one that includes broadcast and digital – saw net revenue increase 3.8% over the same period a year ago.  It was the Entertainment segment – live events – that had a tough quarter and drew the company down to a net revenue decrease of 0.8%.  Townsquare Media chairman and CEO Steven Price says, “On a protownsquaremedia forma basis, our Local Marketing Solutions segment continued its positive momentum by delivering another quarter of solid growth, with net revenue increasing approximately 4% over the prior year period.  These results were offset by a decline in our Entertainment segment due primarily to exceptionally poor weather at four of our largest fairs.  Excluding those fairs, Townsquare’s pro forma net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA increased approximately 2% and 3%, respectively.”  For the first nine months of the year, Townsquare’s (pro forma) net revenue is up 2.2% and the Local Marketing Solutions segment is up 5.1%.

sagaSaga Communications Q3 Net Revenue Rises 6.8%.   Reporting financial data for the third quarter of 2016, Saga Communications’ net revenue was $36.1 million – an increase of 6.8% over the same period a year ago.  Breaking the radio segment out from the television segment, radio’s net revenue was $29.8 million – an increase of 4.6% over 2015’s third quarter.  For the year so far, Saga’s net revenue is $105.3 million – up 8.3% over the first nine months of 2015.

WABC, New York Officially Names Sid Rosenberg Imus Sports Anchor.  A press release from Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York officially announces that Sid Rosenberg is returning to the “Imus in the Morning”rosenberg show to serve as sports anchor, however the presser makes no mention of Warner Wolf, who exited the show suddenly on Friday (11/4).   WABC program director Craig Schwalb comments, “Sid’s triumphant return to ‘Imus In The Morning’ has reunited him with an incredibly gifted cast.  Their collective chemistry is exceptional.”  Rosenberg adds, “I’m really excited to be back with Imus and the guys in the same role where it all started for me nearly 17 years ago.”  Rosenberg will continue to co-host the late morning show with now-fellow Imus cast member Bernard McGuirk.

NAB to Sue FCC Over Quadrennial Review.  This suit must be filed by Monday and that is presumably what the National Association of Broadcasters will do as EVP of media relations Dennis Wharton says it’s nab-logodifficult to believe the Federal Communications Commission could recommend (on a 3-2 party line vote) going forward with decades-old policy when technology isfccnew moving the industry ahead at the speed of light.  The cross-ownership rules seem particularly out of date considering what’s been going on in other sectors of the media, says Wharton, who tells Broadcasting and Cable, “Broadcasters want to compete in the digital age and continue being a trusted source for local news and information, but FCC rules need to reflect 2016 and not the 1960s.  It defies belief that the FCC allows AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/Time Warner mergers while barring two Topeka TV stations from combining, or a radio station from buying a newspaper.”

Today’s Presidential Election; the U.S. House and Senate Races; Voter Fraud and Poll Hacking Concerns; UVA Administrator Awarded $3 Million in Rolling Stone Rape Story Case; Hillary Clinton’s Emails Troubles; and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/7).  The presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; the down-ticket races for U.S. House and Senate seats; concerns over voter fraud and the possibility of hacking the electronic polls; a jury awards a University of Virginia administrator $3 million in her case against Rolling Stone and the author of a discredited story about a gang rape at the school; the private email server case surrounding Hillary Clinton’s campaign; and the weekend’s NFL Action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Ginny Morris to Chair RAB Board of Directors.  The Radio Advertising Bureau announces the new slate of officers recently to its board of directors and new, incoming directors.  Chairperson and CEO of Hubbard Radio Ginny Morris is elected chair of the RAB board of directors.  Cox Media Group RVP Susan Larkin ismorrisginny the vice chair.  The finance chair is Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Commonwealth rabBroadcasting.  The secretary is Mike Hulvey, COO, Neuhoff Communications, and immediate past chair is Hartley Adkins, president, Northeast Division & Corporate Operations, iHeartMedia.  Newly elected directors are: Brian Beasley, EVP, chief operating officer, Beasley Media Group; Jonathan Brewster, CEO/president, Cherry Creek Radio LLC; Mike Tarter, president/CEO, Forcht Broadcasting; and Sabina Widmann, VP, general manager/director of sales, radio, Univision Radio.  RAB president and CEO Erica Farber says, “We are excited to have Ginny Morris at the helm of the RAB board of directors.  With Ginny’s tremendous experience and passion for this industry, the organization is well-positioned to continue to lead and advocate for radio.”