Richard Neer is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Legendary WFAN, New York sports talk show host/rock radio pioneer Richard Neer and TALKERS founder Michael Harrison have been close friends and radio colleagues for more than half of the medium’s 100-year history. Needless to say, they always have plenty to talk about regarding media and popular culture – past, present, and future. Richard Neer is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview” marking his record-breaking seventh visit since the program debuted as one of the platform’s earliest offerings in 2015. In addition to his rich on-air history, Neer is the prolific author of 10 Riley King murder mystery novels and his historic overview of album rock radio, FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio (Villard, 2001) remains a literary milestone chronicling the golden days of the AOR era. On this podcast, Harrison and Neer talk about a wide variety of topics including Joni Mitchell’s recent performance at the Newport Folk Festival, the high cost of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, the controversial LIV Golf tour backed by Saudi Arabia, changes in the record business, the challenges of writing and publishing historical fiction, movies, TV, CGI and a whole lot more. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Cumulus Media Q2 Net Revenue Rises 5.4%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media reveals net revenue of $236.7 million – an increase of 5.4% over the same period in 2021. The company also reports net income of $8.7 million for the quarter after posting a net loss of $5.9 million during Q2 of 2021. Total broadcast revenue for Cumulus fell 0.3% to $175.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2021. While radio spot revenue was $127 million – up 5.1% over Q2 2021, network revenue slipped 12% to $48.7 million. Cumulus Media’s digital segment rose 20.3% to $37.8 million. CEO Mary Berner comments, “Our ability to deliver yet another quarter of strong results is testament both to the quality of our strategic plan and the discipline and relentlessness with which we implement it. Specifically, we have deployed our multi-platform audio-first content strategy, developed multiple digital businesses, significantly reduced fixed costs, undertaken high ROI internal investments, and created a best-in-class balance sheet that gives the company substantial financial flexibility and capital allocation optionality. Given our track record, we have tremendous confidence in our ability, under this plan, to grow shareholder value. Despite the challenging macro environment, we increased revenue in the quarter by more than 5%, driven by our digital businesses whose growth accelerated in Q2 to 20% year-over-year. Additionally, bolstered by our ongoing focus on fixed cost reductions, this quarter we generated additional cash from operations and increased net income, EBITDA and EBITDA margins vs. the same period last year. We also efficiently executed nearly half of our $50 million share repurchase authorization and bought back $50 million of bonds at a discount, while simultaneously reducing net leverage to 3.8x, the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. With a robust political spending season anticipated, we are on trend toward achieving our net leverage target of less than 3.5 times and EBITDA at the low end of our 2022 guidance range.”
Conservative Media Figures Gather at CPAC 2022. Pictured above (from l-r) are WMAL-FM, Washington, DC morning drive personality Larry O’Connor, Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup, and author and TOWNHALL.com contributor Kurt Schlichter in Dallas for the first day of CPAC 2022. The annual event runs through Sunday and speakers scheduled to address the gathering include: former President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, British conservative leader Nigel Farage, and Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale Talk Host Rich Stevens Passes. TALKERS magazine has learned that former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale talk host Rich Stevens died on July 30 at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack. Stevens worked in music radio prior to hosting his talk show on WFTL, serving at such signals as WPLJ-FM, New York and WJHM, Orlando. He also served at WABC-TV, New York as an entertainment reporter.
TALKERS News Notes. As part of RAB’s Radio Works initiative, the next live presentation in the series titled, “Radio Works for Restaurants,” takes place on Wednesday, August 17 at 1:00 pm ET and will provide industry insights and trends intended to help broadcasters gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the restaurant industry and how radio can continue to serve this category. Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have endured closures, staffing shortages, product supply strains and inflationary pressures making for a challenging business environment. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research & knowledge group at the National Restaurant Association, will provide an update on the “State of the Restaurant Industry” to help radio sellers understand the areas where businesses in this category need support. It’s free for RAB members and they can register here…..ESPN and Omaha Productions are expanding their relationship in the audio space with the premiere of a new show, “Kyle Brandt’s Basement,” led by NFL Network “Good Morning Football” host Kyle Brandt. The daily show debuts August 8 and “explores the ins and outs of the NFL through lively guest interviews with the top voices in the sport and inventive segments unique to Brandt to bring fans closer to the action on and off the field.” Brandt comments, “I’m thrilled about this show, and I’ll be shot out of a cannon every single day. It’s in my own basement and I’ve got games, toys and takes. I can promise one thing: it will not be boring.”…..Pictured at left is WGKB-AM/W269DL, Milwaukee “101.7 The Truth” talk host Tory Lowe during last weekend’s 7th Annual Stop the Violence Peace Walk during which he walked from Milwaukee to Chicago (more than 80 miles) to “raise awareness and bring an end to violence in our communities.” Lowe says, “It is important for us to build a bridge between Milwaukee and Chicago, open the lines of communication, and bring awareness to the violence that plagues our communities.”
Kansas Abortion Vote, Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, Pelosi Taiwan Visit, January 6 Investigation, Russia-Ukraine War, The Economy, COVID-19, and U.S. Rep. Walorski Killed Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. Kansas voters elect to keep abortion rights in the state’s constitution; the primary races for the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees in the 2024 presidential race; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and China’s angry response; the January 6 investigation and the DOJ subpoenas issued to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the impact on the global economy; the falling price of gasoline and the still-high cost of food in the U.S. and concerns about a recession; the rate of BA.5 subvariant cases in the U.S.; and U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and two staffers are killed in a car accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
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.
Cumulus Media Q2 2021 Net Revenue Rises 54%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $224.7 million, an increase of 53.9% from the same period in 2020. During the second quarter of 2020, Cumulus posted a net loss of $36.3 million. That loss shrank almost 84% to $5.8 million in the second quarter of 2021. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “This quarter’s results clearly reflect the success we are having in accelerating our positive revenue trajectory. In addition to the continued improvement in the core radio business, total digital revenue grew by 55% year-over-year, with each of our digital channels posting new all-time highs. Additionally, we enhanced our considerable stronghold in the news/talk ecosystem with ‘The Dan Bongino Show,’ now on over 300 radio stations – the largest launch ever for a new and original syndication. We also significantly deepened our position in the fast-growing sports betting space with an innovative and expansive multi-year, multi-platform marketing and content partnership with WynnBET, which is poised to become one of our largest clients through this new relationship.” Cumulus breaks down its revenue into Broadcast and Digital segments. The Broadcast segment is further divided into Spot and Network (Westwood One) divisions. For the second quarter of 2021, Spot revenue was $120.8 million – up 67% from Q2 of 2020 – and Networks revenue was $55.3 million – up 32.5% from Q2 of 2020. Digital segment revenue was $31.4 million, an increase of 54.5% compared to the same period in 2020.
CMG Promotes Kris Hackett to Director of Sales for Atlanta Cluster. Radio sales pro Kris Hackett is promoted from general sales manager to director of sales for Cox Media Group’s Atlanta station group that includes news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM and three music-formatted outlets. In this new and expanded role, Hackett will be responsible for the oversight of all multimedia sales efforts for CMG Atlanta’s radio cluster. Hackett joined CMG Atlanta in 2013 as GSM. Prior to that, she spent seven years as GSM for the company in Richmond. Cox Media Group VP and market manager Jaleigh Long says, “Kris is a proven leader with a keen ability to grow market share, deliver enhanced revenues and develop high caliber sales teams while building relationships with key partners that fit perfectly with our customer-centric sales culture. I’m thrilled to have such a visionary and talented leader inside CMG to promote into this critical role.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM weekend news anchor Dave Marsett is retiring from the Audacy station after 20 years. Marsett is also an ordained minister and he’s retiring from that calling as well. The 74-year-old radio pro served with Satellite Music Network as news director for many years prior to joining WBBM…..Cumulus Media and Imperative Entertainment announce the new true-crime series “Fox Hunter” joins the Cumulus Podcast Network. Host Sean Kipe investigates the mystery surrounding the murder of 18-year-old Rhonda Sue Coleman in 1990 which has been a thorn in the side of the small community of Hazlehurst, Georgia, for over 30 years…..The content creators at New Hampshire Public Radio have voted to form a union and are being represented by SAG-AFTRA. NHPR is an NPR member station based in Concord, New Hampshire and covers nearly the entire state, as well as portions of Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. The new 31-member bargaining unit of content creators includes producers, hosts, editors and reporters…..Pictured below are WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” air personalities Hardy, a.k.a. Rob Poole, Scott Zolak, and Marc Bertrand broadcasting live from Gillette Stadium for the start of the New England Patriots’ training camp. WBZ-FM is the flagship station for broadcasts of Patriots football games and Bob Socci and Zolak will once again call all preseason and regular season games. The duo will also get back on the road this season, traveling to each away game broadcast.
Former KYW, Philadelphia Reporter Ed Kasuba Dies at 74. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that former KYW, Philadelphia reporter Ed Kasuba died on August 1 of heart failure at the age of 74. Kasuba was the longtime South Jersey bureau chief for the station. He retired from the all-news outlet in 2008 at a time when the Great Recession was forcing then-owner CBS Radio to make cuts. He served as a shop steward and president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and left the radio station voluntarily so others would not be laid off during company cutbacks.
COVID-19 Delta Variant and Masks, Biden’s Eviction Moratorium, Cuomo Allegations, Pentagon Officer Slain, January 6 Investigation, Infrastructure Bill, and Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/3). The fast-rising rate of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in some parts of the U.S. and the battle over vaccination mandates and mask policies; President Joe Biden extends the eviction moratorium and critics question its legality; the numerous allegations of sexual improprieties against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and calls for his resignation; a Pentagon officer is slain by an attacker; the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the bi-partisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill; and Simone Biles wins bronze in the balance beam at the Tokyo Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Walter Sterling
Talk Show Host