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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

| May 10, 2022

Townsquare Media Reports Q1 Net Revenue Up 13%; Tops Pre-COVID Net Revenue by 7%. For the first quarter of 2022, Townsquare Media is reporting net revenue of $100.2 million, an increase of 13% over the same period in 2021 and an increase of 7% over the same period in Q1 of 2019. Townsquare is also reporting net income of 2.74 million for Q1 of 2022 compared to the loss of $6.1 million it reported in the first quarter of last year. Townsquare reports in three segments: 1) Subscription Digital Marketing Solutions – including its subscription digital marketing solutions business, Townsquare Interactive. That segment reported revenue of $21.8 million, an increase of 15% over Q1 of 2021; 2) Digital Advertising – marketed externally as Townsquare Ignite that includes digital advertising on its owned and operated digital properties and its digital programmatic advertising platform. That segment reported revenue of $29.2 million, an increase of 16.6% over last year; and 3) Broadcast Advertising – including the company’s local, regional, and national advertising products and solutions delivered via terrestrial radio broadcast (plus other miscellaneous revenue associated with the broadcast advertising platform). That segment’s revenue was $48.1 million, an increase of 7.7% over the same period a year ago. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson states, “I am proud to announce our strong start to 2022, with net revenue, Adjusted EBITDA and net income increasing year-over-year by +13%, +10%, and $8.9 million, respectively. In addition, net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA exceeded our previously issued guidance due to strong growth and strong margins. As a Digital First Local Media Company, our first quarter performance was driven by our digital platform and solutions, with total digital revenue increasing +16% year-over-year in the first quarter (representing 51% of our total Q1 net revenue) and total digital Adjusted Operating Income increasing +11% year-over year (representing 55% of our total Q1 Adjusted Operating Income). As we move forward, we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue at strong margins, fueling our overall growth and subsequent debt reduction, from 4.66x net leverage today to 4.0x by year end. We are also pleased to re-affirm our 2022 guidance and our 2024 digital revenue target of at least $275 million. These results and confidence in our outlook are due, in part, to the fact that Townsquare is the only local media and digital marketing solutions company of scale focused principally on markets outside of the Top 50 in the United States, a vital differentiator for our company. Our new reporting segments highlight the profit characteristics of our digital platform, which is essentially equal to those of our broadcast platform, each with profit margins of approximately 30%. While we view local radio as an extremely valuable asset with significant and attractive cash flow properties, unparalleled consumer reach, and an important and trusted local connection to our audience and communities, it is not our primary growth driver. With approximately half of our total revenue and profit coming from digital today, we have a strong digital growth engine that will drive significant and consistent growth in the coming years. It is our belief that as a Digital First Local Media Company providing a detailed breakout of our digital revenue and digital profit, Townsquare should be afforded a sum-of-the-parts valuation that gives credit to our digital assets.”

 

MIW Launches State Broadcasters Partnership Program. The non-profit organization Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio, Inc., dedicated to the advancement of female leadership in radio broadcasting, announces a new national program designed to create mentorship opportunities in every state in the union. This three-to-five-year strategic plan exponentially expands the organization’s mentoring outreach across the United States. The first pilot program partners MIW with the Minnesota Broadcasters Association to create, “Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Minnesota.” MIW’s long term plan includes establishing close working relationships with leadership from all interested state broadcasters associations and broadcasters across the country to create mentorship curriculums for female professionals in radio broadcasting. With MIW’s guidance, these state-centered programs will be based on the tenets, structure, and best practices of MIWs broad array of successful and established mentoring opportunities. MIW Board president Ruth Presslaff says, “This program is designed to dramatically expand our mentorship outreach. We couldn’t ask for a better first partner than president Wendy Paulson and the Minnesota Broadcasters Association as we work toward a mentee in every state. Cheers to the first. Forty-nine to go!” Find out more here.

 

TALKERS News Notes. When the Radiodays Europe conference takes place in Malmö, Sweden May 15-17, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley will take part in two sessions. She will participate in a special one-on-one session titled, “American Regional Radio in the Digital Age,” hosted by Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes. In addition, Beasley will take part in the “Audio Summit” panel, featuring Sibyle Veil (CEO Radio France), Linda Pamgren (CEO Bauer Media Sweden) and Cathinka Rondon (head of Radio-NRK). The session will be moderated by Folder Media creative director Matt Deegan…..The nationally syndicated, weekend shooting sports program “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” adds WBIN Media’s WTPL-FM, Hillsborough, New Hampshire and Berkshire Broadcasting Corp’s WLAD-AM/W231DJ, Danbury, Connecticut to its roster of affiliate stations. The program is syndicated by Talk Shows USA…..Chicago-based MediaTracks Incorporated sells “Radio Health Journal” and “Viewpoints Radio” to American Urban Radio Networks, LLC. The two weekly public affairs programs are syndicated on a total of nearly 1,500 stations in more than 200 U.S. markets. Bob Heymann of the Chicago office of Media Services Group served as the exclusive broker for the seller in this transaction…..Audio content, marketing, and advertising services firm Gemini XIII, joins forces with Diversion Podcasts through an investment that will grow Diversion’s offerings under a new premium podcast network called Diversion Audio. Diversion Audio will become Gemini XIII’s content division. The division will leverage sister company Diversion Books’ publishing assets and author relationships to offer a focused content model it says is unique to podcasting: expanding IP from books, authors, and personalities into the podcast medium as original audio content across both high-frequency episodic shows and engrossing narrative limited series. Gemini XIII co-founder and CEO Spencer Brown says, “Through Diversion Audio, we will build upon the successful franchises and proven track record that Scott [Waxman] and his talented team have created at Diversion Podcasts. Together with our recent acquisitions of Phantom Producer and The Infinite Agency, Gemini XIII is well-positioned to optimize these premium assets and capabilities to build and grow a new breed of audio company. The creation of Diversion Audio advances that strategy considerably. We think podcast listeners and readers alike will love what they hear as we launch new podcasts tied to Diversion’s expansive intellectual property library.”

 

The Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, Roe v Wade, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, COVID-19, Vicky White/Casey White Manhunt, and Western Drought/Texas Wildfire Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/9). The falling Dow and NASDAQ, the high price of gas & food, and concerns about a full-blown recession; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns about Vladimir Putin’s health and willingness to use nuclear weapons; the aftermath of the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v Wade; the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the rate of cases, hospitalizations & deaths from COVID-19; the manhunt for Alabama corrections officer Vicky White and convict Casey White ends; and the drought in the U.S. West and the Texas wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, May 9, 2022

| May 9, 2022

Pending Business: Howdy Partner. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes today about the strange use of the word “partner” for the advertiser on a radio program. Lapa says, “Do our advertisers (customers) really want a partnership in the true sense of the word? Or do our advertisers want what everyone else wants: maximum value at the best price?” Aside from the inaccurate nomenclature, Lapa wonders if the “partner” designation affects the sales effort. Read his column here.

 

Monday Memo: “Gas cards? OR…Bitcoin?” “Imagine asking a contest winner to choose THAT?” consultant Holland Cooke asks. In this week’s column, he recalls “when radio stunts were fun,” and how a contest “will sound as big as you make it sound.” Read more here.

 

Audacy First Quarter Net Revenue Up 14%. For the first quarter of 2022, Audacy reports net revenue of $275.3 million, an increase of 14% over the same period in 2021. The company also saw its net loss shrink from $21.6 million in the first quarter of 2021 to $11 million in Q 1 of this year. Audacy provides financial data by segment and reports that spot revenue (national and local) was $173.9 million, while its digital segment (including podcasting) rose 16% to $53 million from the $41.6 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. Audacy also breaks down net revenue by format type and reports music radio revenue was $140.4 million; sports radio revenue was $53 million; and all-news & news/talk revenue was $48.3 million. Audacy president and CEO David Field comments, “I am pleased to report that Audacy posted strong first quarter results, delivering 152% growth in Adjusted EBITDA led by double digit revenue growth in both digital and spot radio. With our scaled, leadership position across broadcasting, podcasting and digital audio and our differentiated premium content offerings, we are well positioned to drive rapid evolution and innovation across the organization to capitalize on the outstanding growth opportunities in the dynamic audio marketplace. In Q1, we launched the Audacy Digital Audience Network, an addressable aggregate of 60 million listeners across our app, streaming content, and podcast lineup, enabling precision targeting at scale coupled with real-time optimization and reporting. We are looking forward to a number of exciting additional product and content launches and enhancements over the course of 2022 that will accelerate our audience growth and bolster our advertiser appeal.”

 

Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q1 Net Revenue Increase of 15.6%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – states that net revenue was $55.7 million, an increase of 15.6% over the same period in 2021. The company is also reporting an operating loss of $2.7 million in Q1 compared to an operating loss of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. The increase in operating loss is primarily the result of an increase in operating expenses, which reflects additional cost of sales related to the revenue increase, other expenses related to sports and marketing, and additional expenses related to the company’s digital agency build out. Beasley’s net loss for the quarter fell to $3.7 million compared to the net loss of $10.7 million reported for the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “First quarter results highlight ongoing progress toward our goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels. Net revenue rose 15.6% inclusive of a 35.5% rise in digital segment revenue, which accounted for 14% of total net revenue in the quarter, marking further success of our digital transformation strategies. Comparing our revenue performance to the first quarter of 2019, revenue was down $2.0 million, or 3.4%, as the 2019 results benefited from events and other revenue that has not fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total outstanding debt as of March 31, 2022 was $300 million, as we did not have any scheduled debt payments during the quarter, and we had $50.7 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand at quarter end. We made an interest payment of approximately $12.9 million in February and repurchased $5 million of our 8.625% senior secured notes at a discount early in the second quarter. Our strong liquidity position enables us to make debt repayments while providing us with increased financial flexibility to pursue a potential acquisition or investment within the digital space, should an opportunity arise that could accelerate our digital growth, provide synergies or improve financial results. Looking ahead to the second quarter and second half of 2022, our focus remains on driving further revenue diversification and audience expansion, improving margins, benefiting from the return of the political cycle, maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, reducing net leverage and growing free cash flow. We expect progress on each of these fronts as we continue to close the gap on our pre-pandemic revenue and SOI levels and grow from there. I am extremely proud of our team members across the company for everything they have done and are doing to help us move past the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have clearly accomplished a lot and I believe we have many more opportunities ahead to build the company and enhance stockholder value.”

 

Ramsey Solutions Wins Webby Award for Borrowed Future Documentary. The documentary film Borrowed Future – produced by Ramsey Solutions – will be recognized as the Best Video Documentary in the Longform category of the 2022 Annual Webby Awards. Known as the “best of the Internet,” the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet. Borrowed Future was originally released as a podcast in 2019 and reveals the inner workings of the predatory student loan industry that keeps borrowers trapped in debt. Directed by David DiCicco, the story follows college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loans, a college graduate who paid cash for college, and a group of high schoolers who haven’t made their choice yet. Leading voices like Mike Rowe, Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey are also featured. For weeks, the film held top spots on multiple streaming platform charts: #1 documentary on Google Play, #2 documentary on Apple TV and #5 documentary (rent or buy category) on Amazon Prime Video. Dave Ramsey says, “There’s no doubt we stirred up a holy ruckus with this documentary, and I’m so proud of the team that put it together. The student loan industry is downright evil. We definitely can’t bank on student loan forgiveness, and it’s about time America said, ‘I’ve had it!’” Webby Awards executive director Claire Graves comments, “Borrowed Future has set the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.” The 26th Annual Webby Awards will take place in New York City on May 16. See more about the film here.

 

Brandon Tatum Joins Salem Radio Network for Syndicated Radio Program. Conservative media figure and former Tucson police officer Brandon Tatum is joining the Salem Radio Network to fill the slot Larry Elder held until his retirement from radio in early April. He will assume duties as host of the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET program on May 16. The third hour of the program will be repurposed into a podcast. Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “Salem conducted a nationwide search, and some very big names were interested in taking this important slot. Brandon brings a unique talent to Salem, and has a strong following among the nation’s youth, with his involvement with Turning Point USA. His compelling story is riveting.” Tatum has been serving as director of urban outreach for Turning Point USA and hosts the popular program “The Officer Tatum Show” on social media platforms including YouTube. Tatum says, “Words cannot describe what a blessing it is to be a part of the Salem family. I am incredibly humbled and honored to continue the legacy of the great Larry Elder. My mission in life is to serve God with the gifts he has given me. Being the voice of and for the people is one of those gifts.” Additionally, Tatum co-founded Blexit with Candace Owens, an organization “dedicated to changing the narrative in the black community through education, community outreach, and empowerment.” Carl Jackson, who has been subbing as guest host in Elder’s absence both last summer when he ran for governor, and more recently after Elder’s decision to retire from radio, will continue as a regular sub for Tatum.

 

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports media legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger announces he’s retiring from his weekend radio program on Audacy’s WIP, Philadelphia. The station reports that Didinger said on yesterday’s program that he co-hosts with Glen Macnow, “Sunday, May 29th will be my final show. I am ready to transition from Ray Didi to grandpop.” Audacy says Didinger covered the NFL for The Philadelphia Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News for over 25 years and in 1995 his name was added to writer’s honor roll in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Didinger also worked as a senior producer at NFL Films, as an Eagles TV analyst on NBC Sports Philadelphia…..SiriusXM announces that Jessica Casano-Antonellis joins the company as SVP and head of communications, reporting to chief marketing officer Denise Karkos. In this role, she will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s communications function, including strategic communications, brand reputation management and media relations. Karkos adds, “Jessica is a valued and respected leader who brings a wealth of strategic communications experience in the media, entertainment and technology industries to SiriusXM. She will be an incredible asset to the company and will play a key role as we continue to tell the story of SiriusXM as a leader in audio entertainment.”…..Former KQQZ, St. Louis station owner Bob Romanik – whose self-given nickname was “The Grim Reaper of Radio” – has died at age 72 while in hospice. According to his obit in the Belleville News-Democrat, Romanik served as an East St. Louis police officer and chief of police in both Washington Park and Valmeyer, Illinois during his career. He was a notorious raconteur who liberally used racial epithets on the air and referred to his programming as W.A.R. or White Awareness Radio. In 2020, after attempting to conceal his ownership of KQQZ and failing to show up for FCC hearings on the matter, the Commission permanently dismissed his application for renewal.

 

The Economy, Roe v Wade, COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, January 6 Investigation, and Musk & Twitter Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The sinking Dow and NASDAQ, the high price of food & gas, and the ongoing supply chain woes; the reactions to the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v Wade; the rising rate of COVID cases in some parts of the U.S., concerns about new variants, and the ongoing lockdowns in China; Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s propaganda; the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

| May 5, 2022

Urban One First Quarter 2022 Net Revenue Rises 23%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Urban One, Inc. – parent of Radio One – says its net revenue was approximately $112.3 million, an increase of 23% from the same period in 2021. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $48.4 million, an increase of 33% from the same period in 2021. Net income was approximately $16.4 million or $0.32 per share (basic) compared to $7,000 or $0.00 per share (basic) for the same period in 2021. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III, states, “We had extremely strong first quarter performance across the platform, with advertising revenues up double-digit percentages in all of our operating segments. Digital revenues were up 49.5%, cable TV advertising revenues were up 46.9%, and radio advertising, excluding political and digital, was up 17.4%. This enabled us to grow Adjusted EBITDA by 38.9% year-over-year, and by $14.3 million or 51.6% vs. Q1 2019. Looking back at pre-pandemic revenues, when we aggregate our radio broadcasting, syndication, events and digital operations, net revenues were up 11.5% compared to Q1 2019. Second quarter core radio advertising is pacing up mid-single digits, as we start to lap the tougher comps from 2021. Our balance sheet continues to strengthen, with $166.4 million of cash and net leverage down to 4.07x.”

 

Cumulus Announces $25 Million Stock Buyback. On the heels of yesterday’s first quarter financial report and the board’s authorization of a $50 million buyback program, Cumulus Media Inc. announces its intention to commence a “modified Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase up to $25 million of shares of its Class A common stock, or such lesser number of shares of its Class A common stock as are properly tendered and not properly withdrawn, at a price not greater than $16.50 and not less than $14.50 per share of Class A common stock, to the tendering shareholder in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest (the “Offer”). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Following yesterday’s announcement of the board’s authorization of a $50 million share buyback program, we are launching this tender as a first step in our capital return plan. This action is underpinned by our strong financial and operating momentum, our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued and our desire to allow shareholders who seek it the ability to take advantage of the liquidity we can provide them. It is also our expectation that, even with this tender offer, we will be below our target of 3.5x net leverage by year end with significant continuing liquidity and financial flexibility for accretive M&A.” Cumulus will conduct the Offer by means of a procedure commonly called a “modified Dutch auction.” This procedure allows shareholders to select the price, within a price range specified by Cumulus, and the number of shares they are willing to sell at that price (or, should a higher price be determined as the “purchase price,” such higher price). The Offer is being made under Cumulus’s previously announced $50 million share repurchase program.

 

Saga Communications Net Revenue Increases 12% in Q1 of 2022. For the first three months of 2022, Saga Communications, Inc. net revenue increased 12% to $25 million compared to $22.3 million for the same period in 2021. Station operating income increased 17.8% to $5.6 million and operating income was $1.7 million compared to $883,000 for same period a year ago. Saga reports net income of $1.2 million compared to net income of $758 thousand for Q1 of 2021. The company paid a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share on April 8, 2022. The aggregate amount of the quarterly dividend was approximately $970 thousand. Additionally, the company paid a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share and a special dividend of $0.50 per share on January 14, 2022. To date Saga has paid over $78 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend was paid in 2012. Saga Communications reports that it had $55.2 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2022.

 

Russia-Ukraine War Correspondent Gregg Stebben is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Veteran media editor/reporter Gregg Stebben is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Stebben is a former longtime editor of Men’s Health magazine who served 20 years as its radio spokesperson. He is currently reporting on a volunteer basis back to the U.S. via the beamz.live platform from Poland and Ukraine where he has been interviewing refugees and local citizens in both adjacent nations in addition to doing whatever he can to provide comfort and support to the frightened, displaced people in conjunction with international humanitarian groups. Harrison caught up with Stebben on the Ukrainian side of the border on May 2. They discuss the human element of the crisis and the catastrophic impact and escalating deadly potential of the war. Harrison states, “Not only is the information being gathered by Stebben of great value, he is a shining example of independent talk radio reporting in action serving as a one-man field unit reporting on the war while supporting Ukraine as a volunteer. I find his effort truly inspirational.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

 

 

Premiere of 2,000 Mules Takes Place at Mar-a-Lago. The premiere of Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary film 2,000 Mules took place last night (5/4) at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida as former president Donald J. Trump presided over the event. The film was executive produced by Salem Media Group and a number of its current and former talk hosts appear in the documentary. Pictured above are (from l-r): D’Souza, Sebastian Gorka, Eric Metaxas, Trump, Larry Elder, Charlie Kirk, and Dennis Prager.

 

Triton Digital Streaming Metrics Ranker for March 2022 Released. The Streaming Metrics Ranker for the U.S. for March of this year has been released by Triton Digital. The ranker is based on Average Active Sessions and charts the top 25 performing digital audio publishers. For the daypart 6am-12am Mon-Sun, iHeartMedia leads the pack with 303,162 AAS. Some of the other radio-related companies appearing in the ranker include at #2 NPR Member Stations (81,035 AAS), #3 Audacy (69,281 AAS), #4 Cumulus Streaming Network (42,569 AAS), #7 Beasley Broadcasting Corporate (19,203 AAS), #8 Hubbard Broadcasting (15,233 AAS), #11 Salem Communications (9,591 AAS), #12 Urban One (8,577 AAS), and #13 Bonneville International 7,612 AAS). See the complete ranker here.

 

WCKG-AM, Chicago Owner Buying Time on WLS-AM to Reach Voters for U.S. Senate Campaign. Chicagoland radio station owner Matt Dubiel – whose company DuPage Radio LLC owns and operates talk outlet WCKG-AM, Elmhurst – is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican and is taking an interesting tack in his campaign. He says in a press release that “in the spirit of former presidential candidate and businessman Ross Perot, Illinois businessman Matt Dubiel has purchased airtime on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM.” He will host a two-hour show every Saturday afternoon from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm until the primary election on June 28. Dubiel adds, “Nothing can replace the reach of radio. I’m consistently being shadow-banned on social media, corporate media refuses to cover my campaign, and the issues we need to discuss like CRT/SEL in schools, medical freedom, and other hot topics are virtually banned on social platforms that censor We the People, in America! The Illinois GOP even has me blocked on Twitter, and I’m running on their ticket! Hosting my own show on the radio home of Bongino, Shapiro, and Levin will allow Dubiel to speak directly to the people. The people in every county across Illinois need to know they have a guy who will actually represent them for a change. I am looking forward to talking to ALL Illinoisians about the issues that matter to them.” The 45-year-old Dubiel says he began his career in radio at 17, interning for the legendary Steve Dahl. He worked his way up through the radio ranks in Chicago, serving as a producer and talent, before transitioning into management.

 

Jeff Katz Show Honored by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Pictured above is WRVA, Richmond afternoon drive talk host Jeff Katz (right) with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (left) as the governor recognizes the 6th anniversary of Katz’s “Lt. Jan McTernan Blue Friday Honors Program” that pays tribute to Central Virginia police officers by highlighting their positive contributions.

 

TALKERS News Notes. Radio pro Jon Zaghloul is being promoted to sports director at DuPage Radio LLC’s WCKG-AM, Elmhurst, Illinois. In this new role, Zaghloul will continue to host his weekend program “Sports Talk Chicago” on the station. He says, “I am honored to be a part of this exciting new challenge with WCKG. Over the past two years with the station, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the chance to provide Chicagoans with hard-hitting sports opinions and insightful interviews. Now, it is time to expand our iconic brand, and I am actively on the hunt for both fresh, and established local sports talent to bolster our daily lineup.”…..Los Angeles Comic Con, partners with iHeartRadio to produce the podcast, “Comic Con Meta*Pod.” The show launched on Wednesday (5/4) with a “May the 4th Star Wars” special featuring “Mandalorian” actor Giancarlo Esposito, “Clone Wars” and “Bad Batch” composer Kevin Kiner, and more. The podcast is hosted by Hector Navarro and art/culture critic Joelle Monique…..Pictured below is “Florida Man Radio” afternoon drive host Shannon Burke (left) with former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik (right). Kerik appeared on Burke’s radio show on Wednesday (5/4) and the two discussed Kerik’s former police chief role in New York City, working with Donald Trump, the January 6 Committee, and more. “Florida Man Radio” is broadcast on WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach.

 

Roe v Wade Leak/Protests, Fed Raises Interest Rates/Economy, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, Russia-Ukraine War, January 6 Investigation, COVID-19, and Dave Chapelle Attack Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/4). The leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Roe v Wade and the protests taking place around the country; the Fed raises interest rates a half percent and the effect of high gas and food prices; the primary elections for November’s midterm races and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its effects on Europe and the global economy; Donald Trump Jr. sits for testimony before the January 6 committee; concerns about new Omicron variants causing a summer wave of infections; and Dave Chapelle is attacked while on stage at the Hollywood Bowl were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

| May 4, 2022

Cumulus Media 2022 First Quarter Net Revenue Rises 15%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media’s total net revenue for the period was $232 million, an increase of 15% over the same period in 2021. The company says it was the fifth straight quarter of sequential improvement in revenue performance versus a comparable quarter in 2019. Cumulus also reports a Q1 net loss of just $0.9 million, down from the net loss of $21.9 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. The broadcast radio segment is broken into two parts – spot, which rose 11.9% over the same period a year ago, and network, which was up 5.2%. The company’s digital segment was up 18%, led by digital marketing services (+35%) and podcasting (+22%). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Our outstanding first quarter results once again demonstrate the positive impacts of our ‘audio-first’ strategy to transform the company from a one-dimensional radio broadcaster to a multi-dimensional audio media company. Following a strong 2021 performance, this quarter’s results underscore our ability to deliver value to our shareholders through sustained profitable top- and bottom-line growth and balance sheet de-levering. We delivered sequential revenue improvement for the fifth straight quarter versus the comparable 2019 quarter, grew EBITDA by 250% year-over-year, and generated continued strong cash from operations, which collectively allowed us to achieve the company’s lowest net leverage in over a decade. Given our best-among-peers balance sheet, strong financial momentum and the company’s positive 2022 outlook, we expect ongoing cash flow generation that will support a meaningful return of capital to shareholders now and in the future. Accordingly, as a first step, today we are announcing a $50 million share repurchase program with a plan to commence share repurchases in the near-term. This capital return program is underpinned by our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued.”

 

Cumulus Rejects Unsolicited Acquisition Bid. The last sentence of Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner’s statement outlining its first quarter results says it all: “The company is significantly undervalued.” That was also the theme of a memo from Berner to Cumulus shareholders regarding the unsolicited offer from a consortium led by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw to acquire Cumulus. Berner says, “The company recently received an indication of interest in acquiring the company for $15 to $17 per share. After a careful and thorough review, conducted in consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the board unanimously concluded that the indication of interest significantly undervalues the company and is not in the best interests of its shareholders. The company’s board is open to all paths that continue to drive superior shareholder value. Our strong momentum across business lines, multiple digital revenue growth drivers, operational efficiency and superior cash flow provide the company with substantial untapped upside that it expects to continue to realize on behalf of its shareholders. Given these facts and circumstances, the board unanimously believes execution of the company’s strategy will deliver significantly more value to shareholders than this indication of interest.”

 

Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ Debuts This Week. The Bill O’Reilly-hosted program from Key Networks debuts this week on 58 stations across the U.S. Key Networks says “No Spin News” is “a full hour of trailblazing journalist and bestselling author O’Reilly’s fair, smart, fact-based analysis” airing every weeknight. The one-hour show has been airing in New York on 77 WABC for over a year under the title, “Common Sense with Bill O’Reilly.” The program now joins the suite of shows syndicated by Key Networks that includes: “The O’Reilly Update,” “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” and “The O’Reilly Update – Weekend Edition.” O’Reilly says, “We are beyond happy that radio stations from coast-to-coast are spreading the ‘No Spin’ mantra. We provide something that’s badly needed in the USA: honest fact-based analysis.” Key Networks COO Dennis Green comments, “Based on the success of ‘The O’Reilly Update,’ the marketplace was ready for more content from Bill O’Reilly. ‘No Spin News’ provides analysis on what is happening in the world that listeners want to hear. This is content you won’t get anywhere else, and I expect stations to add Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ in large numbers!”

 

WABC-TV, New York Opens Long Island Bureau at Hofstra University. New York City’s WABC-TV is opening a new, Long Island bureau today (5/4) inside the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. The small bureau will have a full-time reporter and two production trucks in Long Island, New York. WABC has a history of supporting the journalism program at the university, donating significant quantities of valuable equipment and providing internship and career opportunities for many students. Hofstra students will have regular exposure to WABC journalists, expanded internships, guest lectures and seminars held by WABC professionals. The Long Island bureau, located in the newsroom of Hofstra’s award-winning, student-run radio station, WRHU-88.7 FM, reinforces WABC-TV’s commitment to Long Island, as well as the Herbert School’s commitment to community journalism, including the newly launched community news site, LongIslandAdvocate.com. Lawrence Herbert School of Communication dean Mark Lukasiewicz states, “Our journalism program emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning and encourages our student journalists to engage with Long Island communities to tell impactful stories. The Eyewitness News Long Island bureau, located alongside WRHU’s newsroom, will provide that kind of hands-on opportunity – a daily chance for students to observe and learn from great local journalists doing the work of New York’s top broadcast news operation.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Rob Carson Show” joins the 1400 Investments, LLC-owned Nevada Talk Network. The program, syndicated by Newsmax and airing in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, is being heard on KELY-AM, Ely; KNNR-AM, Sparks-Carson City; KDJJ-FM, Fernley-Fallon; KPKK-FM, Amargosa Valley; KAVB-FM, Hawthorne; and KPVM-TV 25.6, Pahrump…..The syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – adds new affiliate station KTXW-AM/FM, Austin “The Bridge” to its roster of affiliate stations…..FOX Nation – FOX News Media’s “on-demand streaming service designed to complement the FOX News Channel experience with a members-only destination for its most passionate and loyal super fans” – is premiering a documentary series about music and television industry star Sharon Osbourne in September. Titled “Sharon Osbourne: To Hell & Back,” the four-part program features “a candid and heartfelt look into Osbourne’s personal and professional life, highlighting how she found herself in the crosshairs of the cancel culture movement after exiting CBS’s ‘The Talk.’”…..SiriusXM is presenting nationwide, comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/7). The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network.

 

Roe v Wade Leak, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, the Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Reactions to the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade; the primary elections in Ohio and Indiana, the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the activity on the world’s financial markets, the supply chain woes, and concerns about a recession; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the effects across the globe; and concerns about new Omicron variants and the possibility of a serious summer COVID wave were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

| March 10, 2022

Townsquare Media Reports 2021 Q4 Net Revenue Up 1.9%; Full Year Net Revenue Rises 12.6%. The 2021 fourth quarter and 2021 full year financial report from Townsquare Media reveals Q4 net revenue of $110.6 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. For the full year of 2021, net revenue was $418 million, up 12.6 % over the full year of 2020. Townsquare Media reports its financial information in three primary segments: 1) Subscription Digital Marketing Solutions, which includes the company’s subscription digital marketing solutions business called Townsquare Interactive. 2) Digital Advertising includes the digital advertising business sold as Townsquare Ignite, and 3) Broadcast Advertising includes the company’s local, regional, and national advertising products and solutions delivered via terrestrial radio broadcast, as well as other miscellaneous revenue that is associated with the broadcast advertising platform. Company CEO Bill Wilson says, “Beginning with our 2021 year-end reporting, we have re-segmented our business to provide greater visibility for our existing and prospective investors. Importantly, this re-segmentation will highlight the profit characteristics of our digital platform, which is essentially equal to those of our broadcast platform, each with profit margins of approximately 30%. Given this new and more detailed information, Townsquare should be viewed and valued as a Digital First Local Media Company, rather than being painted with a traditional broadcast radio brush. While we view local radio as an extremely valuable asset with significant and attractive cash flow properties, unparalleled consumer reach, and an important and trusted local connection to our audience, it is not our primary growth driver. Our growth engine is and will continue to be digital, which fueled our transformation into a Digital First Local Media Company. With nearly half of our total revenue and profit coming from digital today, we have a strong growth engine that will drive significant and consistent growth in the coming years. It is our hope and expectation that given this new more detailed information, Townsquare will be afforded a sum-of-the-parts valuation that gives credit to our digital assets, credit which to date we have not received.” For the full year of 2021, Townsquare reports net income of $18.8 million, compared to a net loss of $80.6 million reported for the full year 2020, which the company says was primarily driven by approximately $109.1 million of non-cash impairment charges, primarily related to its FCC licenses.

 

Saga Communications Q4 Net Revenue Flat; 2021 Full-Year Net Revenue Up 13.1%. The company reports 2021 fourth quarter net revenue of $29.2 million, basically flat compared to the $28.8 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2020. Net income for Q4 of 2021 was $3.7 million compared to $2.3 million reported for the same period in 2020. For the full year of 2021, Saga Communications reports net revenue increased 13.1% to $108.3 million compared to $95.8 million for the full year of 2020. The company reports net revenue for 2021 of $11.2 million compared to the net loss of $1.9 million reported for the full year of 2020. Saga says its balance sheet reflects $54.8 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2021 and $56.2 million as of March 7, 2022.

 

KOA, Denver Morning Personality April Zesbaugh Announces Retirement. “Colorado’s Morning News” co-host April Zesbaugh announces that she’s retiring from iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOA, Denver in the coming months after a 30-year broadcast journalism career that includes 25 years with KOA. Zesbaugh has co-hosted “Colorado’s Morning News” since 1996 and is one of the longest running news personalities in Colorado. She comments, “Despite my 2:30 am wake-up call for the last 30 years, I feel very fortunate for every second in front of the KOA microphone. It’s time to hang-up my headphones to pursue more family time, play more tennis, travel in our RV and see what it feels like to sleep without an alarm clock.” Zesbaugh is the winner of one national and numerous regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalism excellence by the Radio Television Digital News Association, as well as countless awards for “Colorado’s Morning News” from the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Associated Press. She has also been an influential member of the Denver community and has emceed numerous charity events, including those focused on mental health, Alzheimer’s disease, the challenges of single mothers and animal rescue. KOA program director Greg Foster says, “April is one of the most recognizable and popular voices in Colorado and has set a professional standard which has contributed to the success of KOA. While we will miss our friend and colleague, April has earned the opportunity to enjoy her retirement.” Zesbaugh adds, “I’m grateful to Jerry Bell, former news director of KOA, for hiring me – calling me during my honeymoon to offer me the job – and to the current news director, Kathy Walker, and the KOA news team who have been with me every step of the way in helping to make me a better broadcaster and journalist. I’m leaving our listeners in good hands with my co-host, Marty Lenz. He has great news chops and asks really smart questions.”

 

Chris Hansen is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Multi-platform reporter and predator-hunter Chris Hansen is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” For nearly four decades, Hansen has been on the front lines of crime, enterprise reporting, and breaking news all over the world. Most recently he was an executive producer and reporter for the “Onision: In Real Life” and “Unseamly…The Peter Nygard Investigation” series now on Discovery+ and the current top-rated podcast “Predators I Have Caught with Chris Hansen.” He has also been host and correspondent for the syndicated program “Crime Watch Daily” as well as “Killer Instinct on ID” and “Dateline NBC.” He created the groundbreaking investigations, “To Catch A Predator,” among others. These investigations are responsible for exposing some 400 men attempting to meet children online for sex. Hansen has been honored with 10 Emmys, five Edward R. Murrow awards as well as excellence in reporting by the Overseas Press Club. He also has a substantial digital presence including a YouTube channel, which has more than 375,000 subscribers and 25 million views. The deep-dive conversation between Harrison and Hansen covers two major areas – the rapid evolution of media (including the tenets of building a YouTube channel) to the scourge of crime on our city streets as well as the mean streets of cyberspace where sexual predators continue to prowl for children and young women. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

 

 

SRN’s Eric Metaxas Broadcasts from National Religious Broadcasters Conference. Pictured above (at right) is Salem Radio Network host Eric Metaxas broadcasting his program live from the National Religious Broadcasters conference from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Pictured with Metaxas are U.S. Congressman Allen West (left) and Rick Green, founder of Patriot Academy (center). NRB 2022 continues through this weekend.

 

PodcastOne Joins Top 10 Podcast Publishers. According to data from podcast metric company Podtrac, PodcastOne is ranked #8 on the list of Top Podcast Publishers. Podtrac ranks top publishers based on unique audience counts. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Being recognized by Podtrac with inclusion on the Top Publishers list is a testament to the hard work of the PodcastOne team both behind the mic and behind the scenes. Our hosts are delivering top-notch entertainment and providing content that is resonating with listeners as is evidenced by the growth in audience numbers across the board.” PodcastOne says its growth “comes on the heels of the successes and strengths of tentpole podcasts ‘Baby Mamas No Drama’, ‘Off The Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe,’ ‘The Jordan Harbinger Show’, ‘LADYGANG’ and ‘The Adam Carolla Show,’ as well as acquisitions of top-performing programs such as ‘Coffee Convos,’ ‘True Crime All the Time Unsolved,’ and ‘This Is MONSTERS,’ which all saw significant audience growth since joining PodcastOne.”

 

JVC Broadcasting: ‘Radio is Working and Radio Works!’ Long Island-based JVC Broadcasting is sending a message to the industry – and beyond – that its recent hiring spree shows that the radio market is a good place for job seekers. JVC says that this January, it began a massive recruitment campaign using its local radio stations and social media platforms and the response was overwhelming. JVC announces that is has hired or internally promoted 16 media and entertainment professionals companywide. JVC president and CEO John Caracciolo states, “The current radio market is great for employment. There was a lot of trepidation for media companies in 2020 and 2021. People wanted to see how things would work out and if the radio business would bounce back, and it did stronger than ever. The most important and most rewarding investment an entrepreneur can make isn’t a new client or a cool piece of equipment, it’s your team of employees. I have built this business by surrounding myself with fantastic people who are visionaries and leaders. If all your employees become entrepreneurially minded or leaders in their own right, your organization will grow even faster. And the coolest thing about this entire recruitment campaign is we did all the outreach using only our local radio station assets! So yes, radio is working and radio works!”

 

Russia-Ukraine War, House Omnibus Bill, Gas Prices/Inflation, Biden Cryptocurrency Order, COVID-19, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, and MLB Season Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). Russia’s ongoing invasion of the Ukraine and the West’s reaction; the U.S. House passes an omnibus bill that would include $14 billion in Ukraine aid; the soaring price of gas at the pump and high consumer retail prices; President Joe Biden signs executive order to investigate risks and opportunities of cryptocurrency; the falling rate of COVID-19 cases and the rolling back of mask mandates; the battle for control of Congress in the November midterms and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; and the failing negotiations between MLB owners and players were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.