Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”
Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”
Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”
WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV. Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”
Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.
COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Jim Horn to Retire from WSBA, York. One of the most well-liked and admired broadcasters in news/talk radio, Jim Horn, is announcing he will be retiring from his dual position as program director and morning co-host at Cumulus Media‘s WSBA, York, Pennsylvania effective August 1, after serving nearly 34 years at the station. For the past four years, he and co-host Gary Sutton have presided over mornings at the station and have earned a spot in the Talkers 250 during each of them. Sutton will remain with the station as Cumulus searches for a new PD and morning co-host. Horn tells TALKERS, “After being with WSBA for almost three and a half decades, I want to take a very long vacation – something I do not remember ever doing – and then take the time to explore new opportunities both inside and outside radio and see if something interesting comes along. I am very excited about entering this new chapter of my life.”
Speculation About FM Sports Signal in New York Heats Up. There’s almost always chatter in the Big Apple about when CBS Radio’s WFAN will finally get an FM signal, but a recent story at FishbowlNY is fueling even more. Jerry Barmash’s piece cites a former CBS Radio employee who indicates the upcoming rights battle for New York Yankees baseball may be the catalyst for CBS Radio to drop “Fresh 102.7” and give The Fan an FM signal. Another factor cited is the coming CBS Sports Radio Network. The company will certainly want to have a New York outlet for its national programming and the source tells Barmash, “I wouldn’t be surprised if CBS uses 660 as a clearinghouse for the CBS Sports Network while 102.7 maintains a local angle.” Getting back to the Yankees, it’s believed this will be the last year for Yankees baseball on WCBS and if CBS wants to try to keep both the Yankees and the Mets (currently on The Fan), it’ll need two sports signals. FishbowlNY’s source says the Yankees are likely to want to buy the time from their next radio outlet and take production and sales in-house.
Programmer Lee Feldman Exiting Beasley’s WQAM, Miami. A plum sports program director position is opening up as WQAM, Miami PD Lee Feldman is preparing to exit the station in two weeks. Assistant PD and Dan Sileo show executive producer Andy King will be serving as the interim program director but the word is the station is seeking a permanent replacement for Feldman.
St. Louis’ Grand Slam Sports Changes Calls, Image of KSLG. The station formerly known as SportsRadio 1380 KSLG in St. Louis becomes KXFN, St. Louis with the handle “The Fan 2” – indicating its position as sister station to “The Fan,” KFNS at 590. The change takes place today and general manager Katy Pavelonis states, “We will now have 590 The Fan and 1380 The Fan 2. This will allow us to cross promote our programming as we continue to be ‘The Voice of the St. Louis Sports Fan.’ Sports fans have become accustomed to the coverage and entertainment we offer as the heritage sports station with 590 The Fan. 1380 The Fan 2 is simply an extension of our brand.” Pavelonis says Grand Slam Sports conducted a study, led by a Saint Louis University MBA class, that revealed most sports fans associate “The Fan” with 1380 sister station KFNS.
Eliot Spitzer Joins NY1’s Political Roundtable Show. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who replaced Keith Olbermann on the Al Gore-founded cable channel Current TV, will become a regular panelist on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.” NY1 is Time Warner’s local cable news channel for people living in the Tri-State area. Regular panelists on the program include former New York Mayor Ed Koch and former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato.
Chris Vernon Takes Over Middays at WMFS-AM/FM, Memphis. Sports talk host Chris Vernon moves from KQPN, Memphis to crosstown WMFS-AM/FM to host the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm show on the Entercom sports talker beginning today. Entercom vice president and market manager Dan Barron says, “92.9 FM ESPN is the number one sports and spoken-word station in the market. Adding Chris Vernon enhances that already strong position. Chris is a top talent who brings a high-energy approach and national experience. He’s a perfect fit for Entercom/Memphis and our advertisers.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Jim Bohannon will be the announcer for CBS Television’s “Face the Nation” on July 22…..Country singer Hank Williams, Jr. has a new album out with free song downloads for radio stations coming this week. PR maven Janet Fallon says there are a couple of political songs on the disc and the country legend is none too pleased with President Obama…..Illinois talk host Michael Koolidge hosts his annual “Michael Koolidge Show Summer Party” at Perry Rock Restaurant in Rockford, Illinois on Thursday, July 26. Koolidge, whose show is syndicated to numerous markets in Northern Illinois, is throwing the party that’s free and open to the public to thank his listeners for their support for the growing program…..Local Focus Radio president Kay Olin is named chair of the board of directors for the Alliance for Women in Media. Olin will lead the AWM board in its mission to “harness the promise, passion and power of women in all forms of media to empower career development, engage in thought leadership, and drive positive change for our industry and societal progress.”…..Bloomquist Media receives a 2012 Finalist Award from the New York Radio Festival for the Christmas radio program “The Gift, A Holiday Tribute to Military Families.” The program won in the Social Issues/Current Events category and helped raise awareness and funds for the Fisher House Foundation.