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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

| November 2, 2021

Bongino Off the Radio This Week; Still Hosting Podcast. This may be the week that the rift between Westwood One parent company Cumulus Media and nationally syndication talk host Dan Bongino is settled – one way or the other. Bongino’s 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET show is being guest hosted this week after the syndicator ran best-of shows last week during his absence. At issue here is Bongino’s stand against the company’s vaccine mandates and his publicly calling out the company and demanding it rescind the requirement that all employees get vaccinated. He is still producing his daily, one-hour podcast for the iHeartRadio platform this week and on it he’s addressing vaccine mandates and his belief that they are ultimately doing the nation more harm than good. As far as Cumulus Media is concerned, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the company retreats on its vaccine mandate and since Bongino is obviously serious about his ultimatum, it looks like the two parties are likely headed for a separation.

Interep Radio Founder Ralph Guild Passes at 93. Legendary radio sales figure Ralph Guild – long credited with creating what is now the standard operating structure for television and radio rep companies, passed away yesterday (11/1) in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 93. Guild launched Interep Radio in 1981 to offer the communications and marketing expertise he believed radio stations would come to expect from their representatives. Created as a holding company, Interep brought independent rep firms together under a single corporate umbrella and grew to over $1 billion in sales. In 1986, under Guild’s stewardship, Interep launched Group W Radio Sales, which ultimately became CBS Radio Sales. Other dedicated rep companies created by Interep included ABC Radio Sales. Guild began his radio representation career in 1957 as a young executive at McGavren Radio – a San Francisco-based firm devoted to representing radio advertising. The company sent him to New York to open their first east coast office, and by 1967 McGavren Radio had become McGavren Guild. In 1973, Guild had become the company’s president and chief operating officer, and later its chairman. Guild’s son Marc, who was also a well-known radio industry executive, passed away in 2020. Guild is survived by his children, Gale, Lynn, Sharon, and Adam, his 16 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Townsquare Media 2021 Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 17%. The company reveals the results of its 2021 third quarter financial report and says net revenue was $111.3 million, up 16.7% compared to the same period in 2020 and just 1% shy of the net revenue in Q3 of 2019 – just prior to the pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $12.9 million, up from $1.3 million in Q3 of 2020. Townsquare Media reports its business in three segments: Townsquare Interactive, the company’s digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising, which includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events, which is comprised of the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.9 million, or 16.2%, to $21.1 million, Advertising net revenue increased $10.3 million, or 13.3%, to $87.4 million, and Live Events net revenue increased $2.7 million to $2.7 million, each as compared to the third quarter of 2020. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “Townsquare’s strong performance continued in the third quarter of 2021, highlighted by robust year-over-year net revenue, Adjusted EBITDA, and net income growth.  Adjusted EBITDA surpassed 2019 levels for the fourth consecutive quarter, and net revenue was at 99% of 2019 levels… As a Digital First Company with approximately 47% of total net revenue (excluding political) coming from our digital platform and solutions, we continue to separate ourselves from the local competition. In the third quarter, total digital revenue increased 20% year-over-year (+29% vs. Q3 2019), and we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $188 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of September 30, 2021) to $250 million in just three short years. Our digital revenue growth, combined with strong profit growth, allowed us to reduce net leverage to 4.9x as of September 30, a meaningful reduction of 2.9x year over year. I am incredibly proud of the Townsquare Team and the results we have delivered to date, which sets us up to noticeably exceed 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in FY 2021, marking a record profit level for our company. Although COVID is far from over, we have been able to achieve our revenue and EBITDA targets faster than we had initially planned for while gaining market share. As such, we are quickly moving towards our ultimate goal of being the number one local media company in each of our 67 markets.”

Beasley Media Group Q3 Net Revenue Up 26.7%. For the third quarter of 2021, Beasley Media Group reports net revenue of $62.9 million, an increase of 26.7% over the same period in 2020. The company reports a net loss of $1.6 million, down from the $2.7 million net loss reported in Q3 of 2020. Station operating income rose to $11.7 million, up 36% from the $8.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2020. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong third quarter financial results reflect the operating and financial benefits of our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives, which are becoming more visible as we move deeper into the post-pandemic economic recovery. Accelerating demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and multi-platform marketing solutions drove third quarter net revenue of $62.9 million, marking a 6% increase over second quarter 2021 levels and a 27% increase over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth, combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant 45% year-over-year increase in SOI to $11.7 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.7 million. While the Delta variant impacted some markets during the quarter, strong growth in core radio advertising and digital advertising revenue resulted in year-over-year total revenue increases across nearly all of our markets, with healthy double-digit growth in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa and Wilmington. The growth was primarily driven by a significant increase in sports betting revenue. Beasley continues to generate positive results from strategic investments in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities, which are further strengthening the long-term competitive position of our diversified media platform. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 67% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for 13% of total third quarter revenue. With our ongoing focus on premium audio and digital content, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions for the second consecutive quarter, with total digital impressions growing 13% over the prior year period, including a 17% year-over-year increase in our total digital streaming audience. On the esports front, we recently launched AXLE-R8, our first expansion team marking our entry into the Rocket League Championship series, which attracts a highly engaged and growing young audience. As we continue to build our esports portfolio, we remain focused on looking for new, innovative ways to monetize this content to drive profitable long-term revenue growth. In summary, we continue to make significant progress on our near-term goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels, as we integrate our leading broadcast platform with our fast-growing digital solutions while maintaining deep local connections and reach within our markets.”

Duke Brooks Exits Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach. Talk show host Duke Brooks tells TALKERS magazine that he left his position as host of the afternoon drive program at Resort Broadcasting’s news/talk WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on October 15. He says, “I’ve been honored to have the company of thousands of Delmarvans every weekday afternoon for over six years, but WGMD plans a new programming direction in which I have no experience. That, among several other reasons, meant that it was time for me to depart Resort Broadcasting, LLC.” Brooks first joined WGMD in the fall of 2009 as evening talk show host but, along with several other staffers, was let go on February 2, 2011. He then worked as communication director for the Sussex County GOP and then for Kevin Wade’s (R-DE) campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He returned to WGMD on March 13, 2015.

Fisher House Radio Special Available for Veterans Day Weekend. In time for this year’s recognition of Veteran’s Day, Fisher House Foundation announces that The Jeff Wyatt Group has a free, fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 NOW available for download. You can hear the demo, register, and download today here. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for ALL formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The 3-hour, 1-hour, 25 and 30-minute radio specials are hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt and features stories of our nation’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families.

Biden Spending Bills, Election Day, COVID-19, SCOTUS Abortion Law Case, COP26, and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial to Begin Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/1). The status of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic plan and Congress likely to act on them this week; today’s tight gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine mandates, and vaccine approval for children; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the case of Texas’ restrictive abortion law; the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow; and the beginning of the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, October 31, 2014

| October 31, 2014

2014hhsports-header only 200TALKERS Magazine Presents 2014 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk.  Today (10/31), the editors of TALKERS magazine present the third annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America.  This list ranks sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from 1 to 100, based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors.  The genre of sports talk radio has evolved greatly and grown exponentially over the past 10 years to go from being a fringe format to an important sub-genre of spoken-word radio programming.  With this in mind, the editors of TALKERS debuted the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk in 2012 to acknowledge the hard-working air personalities on sports talk radio.  The results of this list are, admittedly, subjective.  Being  true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due.  Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness.  The other concrete qualification for inclusion is hosts must be working – that is, have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station – at the time of publication.  Now you know the criteria, so who’s #1 this year? Number two, and three?  Click here to find out.

ppmunitRound Four of October PPM Data Released.  The fourth of four rounds of October 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford.  The survey period was September 11 through October 8.  TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here.  In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.

salemcommunicationsTwo More Salem News/Talkers Take ‘The Answer’ Brand.  Joining the 11 Salem Communications-owned news/talk station to begin using “The Answer” as their brand are WRC, Washington and KLUP, San Antonio.  Beginning November 4, they become “AM 1260 The Answer” and “AM 930 The Truth,” respectively.  Salem VP director of spoken word format Phil Boyce comments, “Since this is decision day in America, we felt the perfect time to make the brand name switch was on Election Day, and both markets were ready to go.”  Boyce says the brand has resonated with listeners in the markets where the company is using it.

napabroadcasting logoSchechtman Launches Local Digital Effort NapaBroadcasting.com.  Napa Valley broadcasting pro Jeff Schechtman – for the past 10 years the GM of radio stations KVON and KVYN in the region – is launching an online radio station targeting the Napa Valley community.  Schechtman is partnering with Napa Valley College and the operation’s offices and studios are located on the school’s campus.  In a press release, Schechtman notes that since leaving KVON and KVYN, former local talk station KVON flipped to sports using Fox schechtmanjeffSports Radio and he says both stations have outsourced their news.  “There is currently no original audio reporting and no chance for the community to hear the voices of local leaders, opinion makers or other citizens.”  He says his venture hopes to provide that local content.  “Suddenly it became clear to me and others in the community that there was a huge need for local programming that wasn’t being served.  Napa also provides a unique economic opportunity, because in addition to local news and talk, we can expand the effort to incorporate wine, food and health programing, which has both local and worldwide appeal.  We can use the internet for both local, regional and worldwide purposes.”  The partnership with Napa Valley College provides both programming and creative personnel.  Music programing will also start in January.  Schechtman believes that being on a college campus helps provide the energy and creativity that represents what this effort is about.  “This is radio for the way we live now,” he explains.

r'nelgaryOdds & Sods.  With the move of evening host Rich Zeoli from the evening shift to afternoon drive at CBS RADIO’s WPHT, Philadelphia, current afternoon drive co-host Gary R’nel slides back into the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot.  R’nel has been working with Dick Morris who exits the station on November 5…..New general managers are named by Salem Communications for its San Diego and Sacramento station groups.  Dale Hendry relocates to San Diego to lead the team there. He moves south from the company’s Sacramento cluster where he’s been serving as GM.  Taking over Hendry’s role in Sacramento is Mark Durkin who is promoted from his director of sales position.  And Scott Hamilton becomes general sales manager in Sacramento.

B&OLive showBig Bax & O’Brien Bash in Springfield.  The long-running, highly-successful morning talk team of Bax & O’Brien (Mike “Bax” Baxendale and John O’Brien) of Saga Communications’ classic rocker, WAQY (Rock 102), Springfield, Massachusetts presented their second annual “Thursday Night Live” show last night (10/30).  The bawdy, irreverent comedy spectacular played before a sold-out house of more than 200 core fans at downtown Springfield’s prestigious City Stage theater whoharrisongoldsteinBOsmall paid $27 each for the honor of being entertained by a slew of guests and performers that included salty crooner Red Peters & the Alan Pinchloaf Singers, show producer/newsman/sidekick Steve Nagel, a “mystery guest,” comedic appearances by several high-profile local sponsors as well as hilarious video drop ins from Lionel of LionelMedia.com and show regular, Fitsy. Pictured above (l-r):  Bax & O’Brien on stage.  Pictured at right (l-r): Saga Communications EVP Steve Goldstein and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison with a photo bomb appearance of associate publisher Matthew B. Harrison taken at a selfie machine set up in the theater lobby.

journalcommunicationsJournal Reports Radio Revenue Up 5.1% in Q3.  Bucking the industry-wide third quarter trend, Journal Communications is reporting a downright outstanding quarter for its radio and television division.  On the radio side, operating earnings were up 16.1% and the net revenue figure of $21.6 million saw a percentage hike of 5.1%.  Television net revenue was up 22.8% but publishing fell 5.4%.  The irony here is that Journal is entering into a complex deal with E.W. Scripps that would put the combined TV and radio properties into one company and the publishing platform into another called Journal Media Group.  Journal Communications CEO Steve Smith states, “Journal benefitted from continued growth in television retransmission revenue along with significant political and issue advertising spending in a number of our markets.  Our focused broadcast sales efforts grew both television and radio revenue, excluding retransmission and political, by approximately 3% and drove television and radio digital revenue up 22% and 31%, respectively.”  Journal has fared better than other radio station owners in the political advertising arena by luck of the draw – it owns stations in states and markets with tight and high-profile races and ballot issues.

wmaldiner10-14Another Stop on the ‘WMAL Diner Tour.’  This photo is from the latest stop on the October “WMAL Diner Tour” in which the station broadcasts (each Friday this month) live from a different diner in Maryland or Virginia.  It’s all part of the station’s content leading up to Tuesday’s elections.  Seen here are (from left to right): guest Ed Henry, Fox News White House correspondent; WMAL “Mornings On The Mall” hosts Larry O’Connor and Brian Wilson.

Mid-Term Elections Take Over Top Spot on Talkers TenTM.  After three weeks of the Ebola pandemic threat as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, the run-up to Tuesday’s mid-term elections was the prevailing topic this week.  At #2 was the domestic Ebola cases and the threat of a global pandemic.  Coming in at #3 was the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Western citizens joining the radical organization, followed by the 2016 presidential prospects at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

KFWBsports legendsLos Angeles Sports Media Legends.  The opening of the Los Angeles Clippers 2014-15 season was the reason for the remote broadcast from “Fan Fest” outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the team’s flagship KFWB “The Beast 980.”  Pictured here are (from left to right): Ralph Lawler, who appears on the station at 7:30 each morning; midday personality Fred Roggin; and late morning syndicated talk host Jim Rome.  Additionally, the station’s other weekday personalities Marques Johnson, Jeanne Zelasko, Brett Winterble and George Wrighster appeared at the broadcast.