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Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”
Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”
Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”
Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.
WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.
SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.
Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.
Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.
Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”
The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.
Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.
AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.
COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413. To view the video, please click here.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “It’s Democracy Stupid!” looks back at this past week of November 9 – November 13, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, North Georgia; Chip Franklin, talk show host, KGO, San Francisco; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Blanquita Cullum, talk show host, WCGO, Chicago; and Paul Vandenburgh, talk show host / station owner, WGDJ, Albany, NY. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
Salem Media Group Q3 Total Revenue Down 5.4%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says total revenue for the quarter was $60.6 million, down 5.4% from the same period in 2019. Operating income for the third quarter of 2020 was $4.8 million compared to the $14.5 million loss it posted in Q3 of 2019. Net income was $329,000 in Q3 of this year compared to the $20 million net loss it reported for the same period in 2019. Looking at Salem by division, net broadcast revenue was $45.4 million, down 4.8% from the same period in 2019, digital media revenue increased by 7.8% to $9.8 million, and publishing was down 25.3%. During Thursday’s investor conference call, Salem director and CEO Edward Atsinger said, “For the third quarter, broadcast revenue increased by 15% when compared to the second quarter but declined 4.8% when compared to the third quarter of last year. Despite that decline, those numbers compare favorably to the industry as a whole. According to Miller Kaplan, in the markets where we operate, the radio industry was down 30.2% compared to last year. And our performance, I think, highlights the difference in our business model with a foundation on national and local ministry block programming and our most recent investments in Salem Surround and SalemNow. Just as a reminder Salem Surround is our local digital multimedia advertising agency and SalemNow is the over-the-top streaming movie business that we launched in Q2… Turning to traditional radio advertising. Spot revenues continue to recover. Total spot was up 26.4% when compared to the second quarter of this year 2020. However, compared to last year, local spot revenue was down 25.8% while national spot revenue only declined 8.4%. Combined total spot revenue was down 21.7% in the third quarter compared to last year. Again, this was much better than the radio industry overall which, according to Miller Kaplan, total spot revenue declined 33.6% for the industry as a whole. Our syndicated network business remained strong and actually grew revenue 4.9% in the third quarter when compared to last year.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the whole transcript here.
WILK, Wilkes-Barre’s John Webster to Retire Next Month. The Citizen’s Voice reports that John Webster will retire from the radio business and his current gig as morning drive co-host on Entercom’s news/talk WILK, Wilkes-Barre in mid-December. Webster has worked in local radio in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the past 40 years. He partnered with Jay Daniels to co-host “Daniels and Webster” on Times-Shamrock’s “Rock 107” for 25 years. Webster joined WILK in 2010 and currently hosts the morning show with Nancy Kman. Entercom Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market manager Ryan Flynn tells the paper that it is currently seeking Webster’s replacement and hopes to have that person in place by the New Year. About his career, Webster tells Citizen’s Voice, “It beats working for a living. As cliché as it sounds, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. What I used to get detention for in high school I ended up getting a paycheck for. I was having a good time, clowning around and fooling around and just enjoying myself. As it turned out, people seemed to enjoy listening to that and it all worked out.”
Roxanne Marati Named Market Manager for Entercom Kansas City. Sales and management pro Roxanne Marati is promoted to SVP and market manager for Entercom’s Kansas City station group that includes news/talk outlets KMBZ-FM and KMBZ-AM, KCSP “610 Sports Radio,” KWOD-AM “1660 The Score” and four music outlets. She comes to Kansas City from her most recent post as VP of sales for the company’s Denver station group. She takes over for Dave Alpert, who exited the company last month. Entercom regional president Doug Abernethy says, “It has been a pleasure to watch Roxanne grow and deliver results the last seven years as our vice president of sales. She is a dynamic leader and a great fit to lead our collection of assets in Kansas City and I am thrilled to continue to work alongside her in this new chapter in her career.”
Independent Broadcasters Association Assisting Job Hunters. In a partnership with Vipology, the Independent Broadcasters Association has created a rapid response opportunity for members of the radio community losing their positions. IBA president and executive director Ron Stone says, “We have been watching the trades for the past two weeks and have been heartbroken by the massive terminations announced daily in the trades in so many markets around the country. We are living in the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression 100 years ago, literally since radio began. To see so many broadcast professionals terminated during the worst of times is hard to digest. We shifted gears on our own website development, built and managed by Vipology, to provide opportunities for those impacted to ‘meet up’ with potential broadcasters that may either be searching for new talent or perhaps be interested in engaging these folks for tracking positions. We just cannot sit by and watch the continuation of more and more terminations without offering help. We are all in this together, and that includes keeping people employed so they can feed their families.” You can see the Talent Available page here. If you are out of work and wish to add your information, you can do that here.
TALKERS News Notes. Television marketing executive Ilana Susnow joins PodcastOne as its head of marketing and audience development. The New York-based Susnow – who will report to PodcastOne CEO Peter Morris – will oversee all marketing initiatives for PodcastOne and its numerous podcasts. Her responsibilities will include developing and executing marketing strategy and audience growth for PodcastOne, including launching new shows and managing the lifecycle of all programs in the PodcastOne network. In addition, Susnow will have oversight and management of all paid media marketing campaigns, trade deals, event planning and PR, as well as collaborating with the sales team on integrations and talent relations…..Pop star Kesha partners with iHeartMedia on a new podcast called, “Kesha And The Creepies,” in which she chats with an eclectic mix of guests about their supernatural experiences, the occult, unexplained mysteries, urban legends, psychedelic art, spirituality, astrology and more. Her first guest is rocker Alice Cooper. She says, “I’m existentially pleased and molecularly stoked to be premiering my new podcast ‘Kesha & the Creepies!!!’ I have had so many experiences in this incarnation that I just can’t ignore or explain, and I’ve always been fascinated by supernatural subjects, the unexplainable, and people exploring alternative thought and lifestyles.”…..ABC Audio announces Thanksgiving weekend programming for radio, including the news and news/talk-formatted show, “Celebrating the Arts,” hosted by ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky. The three-hour special profiles artists, artisans, and creators “who nourish Americans through their work.” The program features interviews with a craftsman turning junk airplanes into pieces of art and one-of-a-kind furniture, a photographer capturing the first moments of connection after COVID-19 lockdowns, and a poet whose words bring comfort. “Celebrating the Arts” also takes listeners to Kansas City’s inimitable jazz scene, hits the streets with buskers, visits drive-in theater productions, and more.
Presidential Election Aftermath Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 9-13. The aftermath of the presidential election was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Georgia runoff elections and the recount of the presidential race. Coming in at #3 was the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, the race for an effective vaccine and the country’s hospital crisis, followed by the Supreme Court’s hearing arguments about the Affordable Care Act 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. The annual Westwood One Nashville country music special, “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration,” is available to stations for the coming holiday weekend. This year’s four-hour program is being hosted by reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and multi-platinum artist Thomas Rhett. WWO says that Rhett and his friends will share their favorite dishes and traditions along with great country music. Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, and many more will join Rhett. Stations can air “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration” any time from November 26-29 from 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.
WGY, Albany’s Chuck Custer to Retire Next Month. Albany radio personality Chuck Custer is retiring from iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGY-AM/FM on December 18. He currently hosts the morning drive program with Kelly Lynch. Before taking on that role in 2011, he served as news anchor on Don Weeks’ radio show. Custer also previously served as news director and program director for “News Radio 810 & 103.1.” Custer began his WGY career as evening news anchor in 1984. iHeartMedia Albany SVP and market manager John Cooper says, “For over 36 years, Chuck Custer has been synonymous with WGY. From his time as the leader of the award-winning WGY news department, his outstanding work with ‘Don Weeks in the Mornings’, his current co-host position with Kelly Lynch, and most importantly all the time he’s contributed to the people of the Capital District. Chuck has been the consummate professional. He’s a great broadcaster who will long be remembered.” Custer comments, “It was a lifelong dream to work at WGY, a powerful, influential station with a great history and heritage. I’ve been very fortunate to have such a great run here. I’ve worked with many tremendous and talented people, made many friends, and I have had an opportunity to take on many different challenges. For 36-plus-years, I’ve loved what I was doing and loved coming to work. Not many people can say that.”
Urban One Posts Third Quarter Net Revenue Decrease of 17.2%. Reporting results from the third quarter of 2020, Urban One, Inc says net revenue was approximately $91.9 million, a decrease of 17.2% from the same period in 2019. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $44.2 million, an increase of 1.3% from the same period in 2019. Urban One posted a net loss of approximately $12.8 million in Q3 of 2020 compared to a net income of approximately $5.4 million for the same period in 2019. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “During the third quarter, we saw continued sequential improvements in radio revenues: compared to Q2 2020, our radio segment revenues were up 54.3%. This improvement will continue into fourth quarter where same station radio division revenues are currently pacing down only mid-single digits compared to Q4 2019, including political advertising. Most remarkably, despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to grow our Q3 2020 Adjusted EBITDA by 2.3% compared to Q3 2019 and by 61.3% compared to Q2 2020. This was largely driven by impressive performance in our TV, Digital and Reach Media divisions, all of which grew their Adjusted EBITDA by double digit percentages, or better, year-over-year. During this 2020 election cycle we have seen record-breaking political advertising revenues, in excess of $20 million across our entire platform of radio, digital and TV assets. I believe this reflects the increasing recognition of the importance of our audience, and the trusted platform we provide our clients to reach Black America… Our cash and liquidity position remains robust, with approximately $102.2 million of cash on hand at September 30. We received strong support from lenders for our recent bond exchange offer, which extends the maturity of both our secured notes and unsecured term loan, thereby giving the Company more flexibility to opportunistically access capital markets during the course of 2021. As part of the exchange agreement we will also reduce our outstanding debt by $25 million.”
KKAT, Salt Lake City Welcomes Dave Ramsey. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey is joining the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KKAT-AM, Salt Lake City in the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot, effective November 16. Cumulus Salt Lake City VP and market manager Patrick Reedy says, “Now, more than ever, Dave Ramsey’s insights and solutions for life and money bring clarity and straight talk to improving listeners’ financial lives. We are incredibly excited to welcome ‘The Dave Ramsey Show’ to the powerful 860AM lineup.” KKAT program director Chris Hoffman adds, “I’ve personally seen the power of Dave’s message change people’s lives. I can’t wait for our audience to experience it for themselves. I look forward to hearing their debt-free screams!”
KYW, Philadelphia Announces New On-Air Lineup. The retirement of morning drive co-anchor Brandon Brooks sets in motion a series of changes at Entercom’s all-news outlet KYW, Philadelphia that take effect November 23. Current afternoon drive co-anchor Ian Bush is moving to mornings to serve as co-anchor alongside Carol MacKenzie. Jay Scott Smith rises from his part-time anchor position to co-anchor afternoons with co-anchor Michelle Durham. Also, fill-in anchor Denise Nakano is named midday anchor. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “As KYW Newsradio broadens its reach on crystal-clear 103.9 FM, we are happy to expand the roles of these outstanding journalists. Ian, Jay, and Denise bring invaluable experience and insight that will help Philadelphia’s most-trusted news team serve our region at this critical time and beyond.” Bush, Smith, and Nakano will all contribute to KYW Newsradio’s growing array of digital offerings, including original podcasts.
Jim Bohannon Goes Back to College. Pictured above on the campus of Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia is Westwood One nationally syndicated talk show host Jim Bohannon (second from right) along with a group of students from the school’s student-run radio station “Z87.7.” Bohannon visited the school to conduct a radio seminar and speak to individual audio production classes about his industry experience as a talk show host. Bohannon also appeared as a guest on the station’s “1:35” program. Pictured with Bohannon are (from l-r) students Christopher Barker, Cameron Verona,Savannah Richards, Zach Swindell, Brett Loftis, Bohannon, and faculty member Dale Van Cantfort.
Harrison Podcast Presents a Special Salute to the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Taking a brief departure from its usual format of spotlighting a single individual, the Broadcasters Foundation of America is the subject of this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison states, “This past week’s election and its aftermath continued the drama, intensity and anxiety that have made 2020 one of the most challenging years in modern history – and thus, one of the most difficult in the lifetimes of those of us born after World War II. The economic crisis sparked by COVID-19 has certainly added to the problems facing millions of people in our country who have either lost their jobs or their businesses and many more who are living with the uncertainty of whether they will still have their jobs and businesses in 2021.” Harrison continues, “All that aside, the radio industry has been hard hit by economic challenges for years leading up to 2020 – through good times and bad – due to a variety of reasons… some unavoidable and some, unfortunately, of its own making… none of which can be blamed on its day-to-day working people. Escalating cutbacks in the radio business are nothing new in the 21st century. The COVID-19 era has only made difficult matters even worse. Firings have primarily targeted the working folks in the trenches, including engineers, producers, programmers, news reporters, DJs, talk show hosts, salespeople, programmers, and mid-level managers.” Harrison adds, “It is important to note radio is always on the front lines of supporting charities and initiatives that rush to the aid of victims suffering from just about every hardship inflicted by disease, natural disasters, and economic calamity. But the only humanitarian organization that I know of that for decades has consistently been standing up for broadcasters facing personal disasters is the Broadcasters Foundation of America.” The Broadcasters Foundation of America derives most, if not all, of its revenues from individuals and companies, large and small, in the radio and television industries creating a process by which broadcasters can support broadcasters in their time of need. 2020 has proven to be a difficult year for the organization due to the economic impact of the corona virus upon its individual donors – and especially with COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of many of the organization’s annual fund-raising events. Harrison concludes, “Keeping in mind that a significant portion of this podcast’s audience are members of the professional broadcasting community, and to personally take a momentary break from the stresses of today’s political turmoil, this installment of our podcast will diverge from its usual path and be devoted to raising awareness of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.” The podcast’s guests this week are WPG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley, Broadcasters Foundation of America president Jim Thompson and Foundation board member and longtime host of TV’s “Inside Edition,” Deborah Norville. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Trump Refuses to Concede/Biden Transition Process, Georgia Recount/Senate Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, Trump Media Ambitions, Veterans Day, and Tropical Storm Eta to Hit Florida Again Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/11). The refusal on the part of Donald Trump and a fair number of Republican members of Congress to admit that Joe Biden won the election and the transition process to President-Elect Biden; the state of Georgia’s intent to do a hand recount of the ballots and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, and Pfizer’s statement its vaccine appears to be 90% effective; speculation about Donald Trump’s post-White House media ambitions; the Veterans Day holiday; and Tropical Storm Eta to hit Florida again were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Condolences to the family and friends of classic rock WIMZ-FM, Knoxville afternoon drive personality Billy Kidd, a.k.a. William Winningham, who died unexpectedly yesterday (11/11). No details of his passing are available but the station posted the following to its website: “It is with the very heaviest of hearts that we here at 103.5 WIMZ bring you the terrible news of the passing of our friend and colleague, William Winningham, also lovingly known as Billy Kidd. We know you have many questions, as do we. Just remember how much Billy loved this community and the people who made it so great! We will be posting and airing tributes to Billy in the days to follow. We appreciate the many friends and listeners who have expressed their concern and love for Billy. Thank you all from the depths of our hearts. We love you Billy!”…..Alpha Media and Superadio, LLC announce an affiliation agreement to bring the “Ebro in the Morning with Laura Stylez and Rosenberg” to its hip hop-formatted stations in Portland, Oregon; San Antonio; and Amarillo, Texas. Alpha Media VP of content Phil Becker says, “I admire and appreciate the talent and perspectives of Ebro, Laura, and Rosenberg and I’m proud of Alpha for continuing to be trendsetters in the media space by becoming the flagship affiliate. The radio industry has become too reliant on phony phone calls and the assumption that listeners want characters over authenticity. ‘Ebro in the Morning’ understands that and will be a wonderful addition to our portfolio of stations, and I look forward to working closely with them.”…..Team Jubal Productions announces its formation to independently launch “The Jubal Show” in national syndication. The program debuts today on iHeartMedia stations KXJM-FM, Portland “JAM’N 107.5”; KSLZ-FM, St. Louis “Z107.7” and WMKS-FM, Greensboro “100.3 KISS FM.” Team Jubal Productions is led by Alex Fresh, Jubal Fresh and Eric Weiss. Craig Whetstine is handling affiliate sales for the show.
Pending Business: Sales Lessons from the Election Cycle. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column that presenting a concise, targeted message of your station’s benefits to prospects is crucial to making the sale and is ultimately more important than how many prospects you toss into the hopper. Read his column here.
Biden Declared 46th President/Trump Refuses to Concede, Georgia Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, the Economy/Stimulus Deal, Tropical Storm Eta, and Alex Trebek Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Democratic challenger Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election and President Trump’s refusal to concede the election; the January run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the rising number of COVID cases in the U.S. and Europe, projections for the fall and winter months, and Pfizer’s announcement that its COVID vaccine appears to be 90% effective; the state of the U.S. economy and anticipation of a new stimulus deal; the arrival of Tropical Storm Eta in Florida; and longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek dies among top news/talk stories over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: 20-20 News. With the holidays looming, and as we are prepping perennial year-end retrospectives, it’s easy to wonder what-the-heck-NEXT? In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers a wider-angle shot, and simple suggestion for radio. Read it here.
Townsquare Media Q3 Net Revenue Down 15.3%. Third quarter earnings from Townsquare Media indicate the company is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic better than some of radio’s larger firms. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $95.4 million, a decrease of 15.3% from the same period in 2019. While advertising revenue was down $16 million or 17.2%, Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.3 million, or 14.5%, to $18.2 million. For obvious reasons, live events net revenue decreased $3.5 million, or 98.2%, to $0.1 million. Townsquare was able to post net income of $1.3 million for the quarter (compared to the $7.3 million in net income in Q3 2019) whereas many broadcasting companies are posting losses for the quarter. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “I am proud to share with you today that Townsquare’s third quarter results exceeded our expectations, driven by sequential net revenue improvement throughout the quarter as our business continued to accelerate despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Third quarter net revenue improved to a decline of -15.3%, as compared to the third quarter of the prior year, which was up from a decline of -34.5% in the second quarter. This translated to a strong increase in Adjusted EBITDA from $2.1 million in the second quarter to $17.5 million in the third quarter. Our better than anticipated third quarter results were due to gains in both our Townsquare Interactive and Advertising segments. Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing subscription business, has delivered net subscription revenue and subscriber growth each and every month of 2020, demonstrating its recession-resistant characteristics and proving to be valuable and a tremendous resource to local businesses. In the third quarter, Townsquare Interactive’s net revenue increased 14.5% over the prior year period, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, and added approximately 1,150 net subscribers, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions and the most quarterly net subscriber adds in nearly six years. Improvement across our Advertising segment was broad based, as revenue declines improved from -37.5% in the second quarter to -17.2% in the third quarter, each as compared to the prior year. Broadcast advertising net revenue sequentially improved throughout the quarter, with and without political revenue, and digital advertising net revenue returned to growth in the third quarter, driven by positive net revenue growth from Townsquare Ignite (+10% year over year), our digital programmatic advertising solution, and AMPED (+9% year over year), advertising revenue associated with our owned and operated local websites. In total, our digital net revenue exceeded 44% of our total net revenue in Q3 2020, and we remain confident that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million of annual net revenue in two to three years… Although 2020 has been a challenging year, we are proud that we did not need to alter our core strategy. Rather, we believe the pandemic has allowed us to separate from our local media peers by placing a spotlight on the success of our strategy. Our focus on underserved small and mid-sized local markets, our investment and commitment to our ‘Local First strategy, and our investment in world class personnel, technology and infrastructure that allowed us to build a strong digital platform with best of breed products, services and solutions that contributes 44% of our total revenue, have all contributed to our ability to mitigate revenue declines and manage quite effectively through this downturn. We believe these actions will position Townsquare to quickly emerge from this crisis and return to our market leading performance quickly once this crisis abates.”
iHeartMedia Cuts Hit WLW, Cincinnati’s Steve Sommers. WVXU, Cincinnati’s John Kiesewetter reports that longtime “America’s Truckin’ Network” host Steve Sommers is a victim of the current downsizing taking place at iHeartMedia. The overnight program has aired on WLW, Cincinnati since it was launched by Sommers’ father, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, in 1984. As Kiesewetter notes, Steve Sommers joined his father on the program in 1996 and took over the program in 2004. Sommers posted to Facebook: “I have been DISMISSED from I-Heart Radio… I’m sorry my friends… 2020 is a bitch!!! I will not have a chance to say GOOD-BYE!!! Thanks for 25 years of friendship!!” It’s unclear what the status of the overnight program is as the “America’s Truckin’ Network” – along with Sommers’ photo – is still listed on the WLW website.
TALKERS News Notes. Washington, DC’s WTOP is partnering with longtime market crime reporter Paul Wagner for a new podcast titled, “Murder in a Safe Place.” Wagner has worked for WTTG-TV “FOX5 News” for the past 20 years covering cases including the murder of Congressional intern Chandra Levy to the Mansion Murders and the police-involved shooting of motorcyclist Terrence Sterling. He served as a reporter at WTOP from 1989 to 1999. In this series, Wagner examines a local cold case from 22 years ago: the murder of Sherry Crandell, a 50-year-old hospital worker who was brutally assaulted and later found dead in her office at Prince George’s Hospital Center. WTOP director of news and programming Julia Ziegler says, “Paul is a part of the WTOP family, and we are so excited to partner with him on this project. This 22-year-old cold case is a horrific and baffling one that will have listeners asking questions. Our hope is that through the reach of this podcast, we can bring closure to this case and the Crandell family.”…..iHeartMedia and the Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg-co-founded Pushkin Industries enter into a co-production and distribution agreement that will make iHeartMedia the exclusive sales partner for Pushkin’s catalog of podcasts that includes “Revisionist History,” “Broken Record,” “The Happiness Lab with Laurie Santos,” and many others. As part of this deal, iHeartMedia and Pushkin Industries will co-produce a slate of new, original podcasts over the next two years. Gladwell says, “We started Pushkin to share the joy Jacob and I have found in creating and producing podcasts. Working with the team at iHeart will allow us to spread this joy at an even bigger scale.”…..AdLarge Media and National Sports Network unveil their slate of NCAA basketball games for the 2020-2021 season for radio. Last month, AdLarge was announced as the exclusive ad sales partner for the NCAA basketball games on the National Sports Network. The networks will air the Creighton Bluejays vs the Kansas Jayhawks on December 8 and the Gonzaga Bulldogs taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 19.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Zannie Glover, a.k.a. Zannie K, is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 the BOUNCE” and urban contemporary WDMK “105.9 KISS-FM,” effective December 1. Zannie K was most recently program director at non-commercial KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis as well as was the associate program director and nationwide night talent for Westwood One’s classic hip hop format…..Urban One Columbus enters into a Local Marketing Agreement with Southern Ohio Broadcasting to operate WWCD-FM, Columbus and launches a regional Mexican/tropical format branded as “La Grande 102.5 FM.” Urban One RVP Eddie Harrell Jr. says, “We are pleased to expand our footprint again in Central Ohio by reaching the fastest growing segment of the population, inclusive of the Mexican community and growing Central and South American communities. Combined with our African American targeted radio/television assets, we are now the largest single source provider of content to African Americans and Spanish speaking residents in Central Ohio.”…..Entercom’s rock outlet KISW-FM, Seattle is presenting the sixth annual “Live Day” tomorrow (11/10). This year’s completely live, virtual event will feature broadcasts of the station’s morning show “BJ & Migs” and afternoon show “The Men’s Room” with no recorded commercials, sound effects or music. Fifteen bands from across the Northwest and multiple voices from across the country will perform throughout the 12-hour program. KISW brand manager Dave Richards says, “For the KISW audience, 2020 wouldn’t be complete without the annual entertainment spectacular, ‘Live Day.’ This year, every artist and performer will participate virtually and distanced. Thank you, technology.”
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled “The Envelope Please!” looks back at this past week of November 2 – November 6, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, London, UK; Dr. Renee Kohanski, psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast; Michael Zwerling, talk show host / owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; and Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling On Sunday.” This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
Entercom and Urban One Announce Station Swap Involving Four Markets. A swap between Entercom and Urban One encompasses stations in three markets. Under the terms of this deal, Entercom acquires WPHI-FM, Philadelphia; WHHL-FM, St. Louis; and WTEM-AM, Washington, DC. Also, Entercom gets the format, brand and creative assets of Urban One’s WFUN-FM, St. Louis “The Lou” which will be moved to Entercom’s KNOU-FM, St. Louis. In return, Urban One acquires Entercom’s Charlotte cluster that includes news/talk WBT-AM/FM, sports talk WFNZ-AM, and hot AC WLNK “107.9 The Link.” Both companies will begin operating their respective acquisitions under LMAs beginning November 23. The addition of WTEM-AM, Washington “The Team 980” gives Entercom a second sports talk outlet in the DC market, complementing WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” Entercom DC SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “For years, WTEM has established itself as the go-to home for everything surrounding The Washington Football Team, and we’re proud to enhance our position as unrivaled leaders in sports radio by adding the station to our portfolio. The Washington Football Team is a pillar in the D.C. sports community, and we look forward to providing our listeners a home to tune in to all the action on game days and stay up-to-date throughout the year.”
Entercom-Urban One Deal Gives All-News KYW, Philadelphia an FM Presence. With Entercom’s acquisition of Philadelphia FM signal WPHI from Urban One, Entercom announces it will simulcast heritage all-news KYW-AM on the 103.9 FM signal. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff comments, “In this critical time for our community and country, simulcasting the iconic ‘KYW Newsradio’ on FM will greatly expand the reach of important, credible local journalism and enhance the listener experience on the crystal-clear FM dial. This station is the heartbeat of the community and we’re really excited about serving more listeners while providing additional access on top of 1060 AM, RADIO.COM, and smart speakers. The simulcast will begin on November 23.
Entercom’s 2020 Q3 Net Revenue Down 30%. On the positive side, Entercom Communications’ net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $268.5 million and that was up 53% from the second quarter of this year. However, that was 30% below the $386 million posted in the third quarter of 2019. The company notes that net revenues improved each month during the third quarter compared to the prior year: July was down 36%, August was down 32% and September was down 25%. Digital climbed 41% over the same period in 2019, posting revenue of $47.3 million. Entercom reports a third quarter operating loss of $259,000, compared to operating income of $79.5 million in Q3 of 2019. Entercom CEO David Field states, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to make significant organizational improvements in the third quarter in the face of the deeply challenging pandemic. Third quarter net revenues were up 53% from the second quarter while our continuing work on enhancing our business model yielded an 18% reduction in operating expenses versus the prior year enabling us to rebound to positive Adjusted EBITDA of $31 million. We expect further improvement in both revenues and Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter. We continue to suffer from the deep impact of the pandemic which has caused many of our advertisers in businesses such as concerts and live events, tourism, gyms, nightclubs, museums, movies, theme parks, public transportation, airlines, restaurants, and others to temporarily cease or significantly curtail their operations and advertising. We look forward to welcoming them back once we emerge from the pandemic. We continue to build and transform Entercom into a leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach, robust data, analytics and attribution capabilities, and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market, including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, events, network, music, sports and news. Entercom is strategically well positioned for future performance as our enhanced capabilities enable us to expand our customer relationships and accelerate growth.”
Cumulus Promotes Ken Roberts to Market Manager for Washington, DC. Rising from his vice president, sales position with Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC duo to vice president and market manager is Ken Roberts. He takes over for Jake McCann, who exits to lead the Philadelphia-based real estate investment firm The HOW Group, LLC. Roberts will lead the duo of news/talk WMAL-FM and sports talk WSBN-AM “ESPN 630 The Sports Capital.” Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner says, “Since joining the Cumulus team in 2016, Ken Roberts has done a terrific job leading our sales effort in Washington, D.C. His creativity, experience, leadership, and performance made Ken the ideal choice for this key role. Ken has earned this promotion and we are excited to have him lead this highly talented and effective D.C. team!”
Twitter Permanently Suspends Stephen K. Bannon’s Account. Former White House chief strategist, former Breitbart chief executive, current talk media host Stephen K. Bannon has had his Twitter account permanently suspended after he tweeted that President Trump should fire Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray and then went further, “I’d put the heads on pikes. Right. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you are gone.” At the same time, Facebook shut down the page of the pro-Trump group Stop the Steal. A Facebook spokesperson commented to CNN, “In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events. The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
The Presidential Race, Electoral College, and Trump Lawsuits Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The 2020 presidential election, the Electoral College, and Donald Trump’s lawsuits combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was congressional races, local races, and propositions, followed by COVID-19 stats & projections and health care at #3. 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
TALKERS News Notes. Based on Nielsen data, Newsmax TV broke its previous ratings records with Tuesday’s election night coverage. Newsmax Media says Newsmax TV reached 3 million viewers with the highest per minute viewership at 592,000 viewers. Moreover. Initial OTT reports indicate the network reached an additional 4 million viewers on Election Day and the day after on OTT services such as Roku, YouTube, Xumo, Pluto and others…..The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that the sale process of sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis is ongoing despite owner Randy Markel’s belief that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19. Markel is selling the station to a group led by current station manager John Hadley. Markel tells the paper that the process is in the hands of the lawyers now and that the deal “will get done.” Hadley is currently tweaking the station to be a true all-sports outlet. Several weeks ago it ended its deal with general issues talker Frank O. Pinion who’d been hosting the afternoon drive daypart…..iHeartMedia receives approval from the Federal Communications Commission for an increase in its authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100% (subject to certain conditions set forth in the Declaratory Ruling). The FCC concludes that the public interest would not be served by prohibiting foreign investment in iHeartMedia of up to 100%. The decision allows holders of iHeartMedia warrants to have those warrants exchanged into Class A or Class B shares of iHeartMedia common stock and affords iHeartMedia flexibility to accommodate increased foreign investment that may result from share purchases by the public…..Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s The Thing” podcast is joining iHeartMedia’s iHeartPodcast Network in January. Baldwin says, “With the shift over to iHeartRadio, we’re breathing new life into a project I’ve been passionate about for nearly a decade. Hosting this show and speaking to so many remarkable people over the years has been such a joy, and I’m eager to see where we go from here.”…..Beasley Media Group unveils the Bravery Network in the Ft. Myers market. The weekend public affairs radio program is hosted by CHR WXKB “B103.9” morning show personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones and is dedicated to shining a light on important issues ranging from PTSD and wellness to saluting Veterans who are making a difference in the local community. Jones says, “Florida has one of the largest veteran populations in the United States. As an Army veteran, I know first-hand the importance of finding resources after service can be both complicated and unique. The Bravery Network hopes to not only streamline these resources but bring awareness to those who don’t know about the struggle of reintegration into society.”…..The Library of American Broadcasting Foundation announces its 2020 Board of Directors. Heidi Raphael, chief communications officer at Beasley Media Group, is named co-chair, effective immediately. She joins Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris as co-chair of the organization. Pierre Bouvard, Gary Chapman, Erica Farber, David Kennedy, Dr. Judy Kuriansky and Heidi Raphael have been re-elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors. In addition, Ginny Morris, Gary Chapman, David Kennedy and Jack Goodman will continue to serve additional two-year terms on the Executive Committee.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A collaboration between Beasley Media Group and Broken Bow Records will result in their first-ever virtual “Country Christmas Concert.” The event will take place on Wednesday, December 16 at 8:00 pm on Beasley’s WKXC-FM, Augusta, Georgia; WKLB-FM, Boston; WSOC-FM, Charlotte; WKML-FM, Fayetteville; KCYE-FM, Las Vegas; WXTU-FM, Philadelphia; and WQYK-FM, Tampa. Beasley says the show will be hosted by local station personalities in an “up-close-and-personal setting.” Artists scheduled to perform include: Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice, Jimmie Allen, Runaway June, Elvie Shane, and Lainey Wilson…..Cox Media Group San Antonio names Craig Jones director of sales for the cluster that includes: classic hits KONO-FM, rock KISS, country KKYX-AM/K285EU, hot AC KSMG, classic rock KTKX-FM, country KCYY, and oldies KONO-AM. CMG San Antonio VP and market manager David Able says, “Craig is an influential leader who has a long track record of success leading highly talented sales teams within our industry. I have no doubt that under Craig’s leadership our sales team will thrive and continue to deliver strong results for our clients.”