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Friday, July 20, 2018

| July 20, 2018

Report: Silver Lake Offers $500 Million Investment in iHeartMedia. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, private equity firm Silver Lake has offered to invest $500 million in iHeartMedia, though the piece says the company’s largest creditor group led by Franklin Mutual Advisers and Pacific Investment Management Co. has not accepted the offer.  Silver Lake’s intent is to invest prior to iHeartMedia’s emergence from Chapter 11 reorganization, expected to happen in November.  Such an investment would give iHM more cash to disperse to creditors.  The WSJ piece says Silver Lake’s investment offer is in the form of convertible preferred shares that are a hybrid instrument of debt and equity.  Convertible preferred shares usually pay interest.  They are called convertible because they include an option to convert to common equity at a specified share price.

WFAN’s Joe Benigno Returns to Air on Monday.  After the Wednesday filing of a sexual harassment/hostile work environment suit against WFAN, New York and midday sports talk personality Joe Benigno, the station tells the New York Post that the company will fight the allegations made by former WFAN sales exec Laura Lockwood and that Benigno – on vacation this week – will be back on the radio on Monday (7/23).

Star City Broadcasting Launches Lafayette, Indiana News/Talk Station. The new station emanates from WSHY-AM and is simulcast on translator W282CJ.  It’s a flip from the previous sports talk format and is being branded “The Patriot 104.3 FM.”  It will feature Premiere Networks programs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, as well as Westwood One’s Michael Savage.  Star City Broadcasting general manager Billy Huggins says, “This area is booming and there has been a huge demand for news and talk on the FM dial.  We will combine the power of top national talk shows, local personalities, and news from our growing TV stations to create a radio station that will most definitely be ‘The Voice of Greater Lafayette.’”  Huggins adds that the station is auditioning local voices “to make sure we cover the whole story and how it impacts Greater Lafayette.” Star City operations manager Ski Anderson comments, “Combining the resources of Star City’s four television stations and our well-established radio stations will give us a solid base to launch and grow news and talk, crystal clear on the FM dial.”

FCC Pushes Back Against Sinclair. Television operator Sinclair Broadcast Group appeared shocked by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Monday (7/16) release in which he stated that he has “serious concerns” about the Sinclair-Tribune deal.  Two days later, the commission adopted a Hearing Designation Order in which the transfer applications for WGN-TV, Chicago; KDAF-TV, Dallas; and KIAH-TV, Houston will go before an administrative judge.  The commission’s concerns are outlined in the following paragraph from the Order.  “Among these applications were three that, rather than transfer broadcast television licenses in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston directly to Sinclair, proposed to transfer these licenses to other entities.  The record raises significant questions as to whether those proposed divestitures were in fact ‘sham’ transactions. By way of example, one application proposed to transfer WGN-TV in Chicago to an individual (Steven Fader) with no prior experience in broadcasting who currently serves as CEO of a company in which Sinclair’s executive chairman has a controlling interest.  Moreover, Sinclair would have owned most of WGN-TV’s assets, and pursuant to a number of agreements, would have been responsible for many aspects of the station’s operation.  Finally, Fader would have purchased WGN-TV at a price that appeared to be significantly below market value, and Sinclair would have had an option to buy back the station in the future.  Such facts raise questions about whether Sinclair was the real party in interest under Commission rules and precedents and attempted to skirt the Commission’s broadcast ownership rules.  Although these three applications were withdrawn today, material questions remain because the real party-in-interest issue in this case includes a potential element of misrepresentation or lack of candor that may suggest granting other, related applications by the same party would not be in the public interest.” This transaction would transfer ownership of news/talk WGN-AM to Sinclair, which currently owns three Seattle radio stations – talk KVI, all-news KOMO-AM/FM, and hot AC KPLZ – in addition to its television holdings.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Convention Videos All Posted.  Videos covering the entire nine-hour agenda of the recent TALKERS convention held on June 8 in New York City – from the opening breakfast to closing cocktail reception award ceremonies – are now posted here at Talkers.com.  Seventy-one industry luminaries spoke at the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention.  The videos – 19 in all – will remain posted for the rest of 2018 on a convenient page sponsored by Comrex Corp and are available for unlimited free viewing by TALKERS readers.  To see any or all of the speeches, workshops, panels, and presentations at this tremendously successful gathering, please click here.

Trump-Putin Meeting Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 16-20.  The Helsinki meeting between President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the Trump-Russia investigation and the related request by Russia to interrogate former Russia Ambassador Michael McFaul and financier Bill Bowder.  Coming in at #3 was the case of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, followed by the fallout from President Trump’s recent NATO meeting 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. View this week’s entire chart here.

Adrian Cronauer Passes at 79.  The man whose military radio show entertaining the troops in Vietnam was loosely adapted into the movie Good Morning Vietnam– Adrian Cronauer – died on Wednesday at age 79.  Robin Williams’ portrayal of Cronauer got him an Academy Award nomination.  The real Cronauer had broadcasting in his blood.  After his military service, he worked in New York doing voice work for radio and TV.  He programmed a TV station and managed a radio station.  Later in life, he would again serve his country as a confidential advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) from 2001 through 2009.  He represented the POW/MIA Office at meetings within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at various outside functions, including liaison with the leadership of veterans’ service organizations as well as family and activist groups.

Ralph Nader Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Iconic political activist, consumer advocate and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Nader – a Princeton and Harvard graduate – came to prominence in the mid-1960s with the publication of his book, Unsafe at Any Speed (Grossman Publishers, 1965), a critique of the safety record of American automobile manufacturers in general, and particularly the first-generation Chevrolet Corvair. In 1999, a New York University panel of journalists ranked Unsafe at Any Speed 38th among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century. Nader makes a case that news/talk radio – both commercial and public – no longer offers the American listener the level of ideological diversity that it did in years gone by before going in a “corporatist” direction. This has led him to launch a show of his own, “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour,” a weekly talk show broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network, and available as a podcast on iTunes. Nader is joined by comedic co-hosts Steve Skrovan and David Feldman for what is described as a lively, informative hour of interviews with some of the nation’s most influential movers and shakers plus thought-provoking discussions of the week’s news. Harrison and Nader, whose friendship goes back about 30 years, gently spar – agreeing and disagreeing on a number of issues, including whether or not Nader’s refusal to withdraw from the historic 2000 presidential race prevented Al Gore from winning that election. A number of progressive media gatekeepers have held that against Nader for the past 18 years. Upon posting this interview, Harrison states, “Ralph Nader is one of the most influential Americans of the past century and has a voice that still deserves to be heard. His radio show on Pacifica is an excellent vehicle not only for his ongoing commentary but also as an alternative platform for provocative guests not often heard by the American public in today’s flash headlines-oriented media environment.” 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.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At country KGGO, Los Angeles, Amy Mangola-Soler exits the morning show where she’d been serving as a cast member alongside Graham Bunn and David Bugenske.  She’d been with the Mt. Wilson Broadcasters station since 2015…..iHeartMedia Las Vegas announces that Las Vegas radio personality Mark DiCiero joins the company to host weekend shows on adult contemporary KSNE “Sunny 106.5.”  He’d been a radio personality in the market for the past 18 years as co-host of the “Mark and Mercedes in the Morning” program on Entercom’s crosstown hot AC KMXB “Mix 94.1.”  KSNE program director Chris Pickett says, “Mark is a well-known and beloved personality here in Las Vegas.  He has developed a genuine bond with the market and we’re happy that our listeners can connect with him on the Valley’s most popular radio station.”…..The Premiere Networks-syndicated Bobby Bones morning show is being added to the program schedule at Community First Broadcasting’s country KKIA, Ida Grove, Iowa “The Moose.”  The show replaces “The Fish Tank” with host Matt Fisher.

PPM Analysis: Alternative. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a report on the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on alternative rock.  June was pretty good to alternative stations in PPM markets with 54% seeing their 6+ AQH rise.  Comparing June 2017 numbers to June 2018, 48% of alt rock stations enjoyed an increase AQH. Houston is the only market in which an alternative station ranks in the top five, with iHeartMedia’s KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz”  occupying the #5 spot with a 6+ weekly AQH share of 5.0%. See the whole report here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

| July 10, 2018

WSJ: Liberty Still Interested in iHeartMedia.  After taking its offer of $1.2 billion for 40% of iHeartMedia off the table a couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that now Liberty Media is “working on revamping its original offer.”  The story goes on to say that Liberty’s return to the table could signal a bidding war between it and private equity firm Silver Lake.  Last week, the New York Post reported that Silver Lake is in talks with iHM.  The Wall Street Journal story says Silver Lake has made an offer for 20% of the reorganized iHeart, though a dollar figure is not being reported.  Both Liberty – owner of a controlling interest in SiriusXM and a minority interest in Pandora – and Silver Lake are also said to be in talks with iHeartMedia creditors Franklin Advisors Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co., both of which are expected to control the post-reorganization iHeartMedia.  For Liberty, the obvious synergies make it an attractive suitor with iHeart itself stating in a recent filing that Liberty’s original offer didn’t take into account some $500 million in annual synergies.

TALKERS News Notes. A Louisburg, Kansas woman prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled a lower court should not have dismissed her civil rights complaint against local police officers who ordered her to stop praying in her own home. The case developed after neighbors called police on Mary Anne Sause because she was listening to Michael Savage too loudly.   She claims police didn’t tell her why they were there, and she became frightened and asked to pray.  She says the officers then attempted to stop her from praying.  Read the account in The Hutchinson News here…..At the Podcast Movement event in Philadelphia on July 24, Edison Research will present the results of its latest podcasting study.  Titled, “Podcasting’s Next Frontier: 100 Million Listeners,” the address promises to “provide a research-based road map for the podcasting industry to grow audience and increase exposure to podcasts.”  It will provide “attendees with a look at the tens of millions of Americans who say they know what podcasting is but haven’t (yet) become regular listeners to the medium.”…..Fort Myers rock outlet WRXK “96 K-Rock” drops the Bubba the Love Sponge program from the morning drive daypart.  The Beasley Media Group station had Bubba’s show in morning drive there for the past 10 years and says an announcement about the new morning show is forthcoming. Beasley’s decision comes just days after Bubba Clem and Nielsen settled their lawsuits against each other…..Entercom Atlanta inks a deal with Georgia State University for sports talk WZGC “92.9 The Game” and sister news/talk WAOK to broadcast the school’s football and men’s and women’s basketball games, beginning with the 2018-19 season.   Entercom Atlanta SVP and market manager Rick Caffey says, “Expanding our sports content is an important part of our strategy to remain the leaders in sports radio.  We remain strong advocates of our local community and of delivering quality content to our city and beyond.  This agreement with Georgia State University is another step in that direction and we look forward to an exciting season with an excellent sports program.”  As part of the partnership, “92.9 The Game” will also host weekly interviews with Georgia State football coach Shawn Elliott on “Mornings with John and Hugh.”  Men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter will join “Dukes and Bell” for a weekly interview.

TALKERS Continues Posting Videos Today of the Recent TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Convention – Today’s Post: Special Luncheon Greetings by WNYM (AM 970 The Answer), New York Morning Host Joe Piscopo and “Humanitarian of the Year” Award Presentation to the Late Matt Patrick.  Today (7/10), TALKERS magazine continues posting individual events from the recent TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! convention held in New York City on June 8.  Each business day, another session will be posted in the order that they originally took place.  Today’s 11th installment is a video of convention luncheon greetings by WNYM (970 AM The Answer), New York morning host Joe Piscopo with an introduction by Salem SVP Phil Boyce; and the posthumous presentation of the “Humanitarian of the Year” award to the late Texas and Ohio radio talk show host Matt Patrick by Michael Harrison with an acceptance by his widow and show producer, Paula Ryan.   Already posted: the panel discussion titled “Adding the Video Component to Talk Radio” moderated by Livestream head of news, Clayton Rose and featuring panelists Krantz Media Group CEO, Gary Krantz and KTRS, St Louis host, McGraw Milhaven; the panel discussion titled “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in 2018” moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor, Kevin Casey; introduced by Crossover Media Group managing member, Ron Hartenbaum; and featuring panelists Asa RX host, AsaBold Gold Media Group CEO, Vince BenedettoHowie Carr Radio Network president, Kathy CarrWestwood One president, Suzanne Grimes; WBAL, Baltimore president/GM, Cary Pahigian; and KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz owner, Michael Zwerling.  Other videos already posted include the special presentation by Amplifi Media CEO, Steven Goldstein titled “Radio Broadcasters and Smart Speakers with an introduction by GCN personality, Dr. Daliah Wachs ;  a special presentation by PodcastOne chairman and CEO, Norm Pattiz titled “Radio Broadcasters and Podcasting” with an introduction by Voice of America and National Public Radio anchor/reporter, Lori Lundin;  a special presentation by WFAN personality, Mike Francesa titled “Sports Talk’s Role in Media and Popular Culture” with an introduction by author and former radio producer, Bernadette Duncan;  Salem SVP, Phil Boyce’s address titled “What Has Donald Trump Done to Talk Radio?”; the fireside chat between TALKERS publisher, Michael Harrison and Beasley Media Group CEO, Caroline Beasley including Harrison’s presentation of the 2018 “Woman of the Year” award to Beasley; Harrison’s fireside chat with FOX News Radio/FOX News Channel mega-star, Brian Kilmeade with an introduction by Westwood One syndicated host, Walter Sterling and special remarks by Sean Hannity; opening remarks by the convention’s co-emcees, TalkersRadio GM, David Bernstein and Good Day Networks/DJV Show CEO/host, Doug Stephan; KGO, San Francisco host, Ethan Bearman delivering the event’s welcoming remarks and Pioneer Valley Radio GM/host, Brad Shepard introduction of Bearman.  Also posted: the presentation of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech (“Freedom of Speech Award”) by TALKERS managing editor, Mike Kinosian to SiriusXM Satellite Radio host, book publisher, Hunter College professor, and former New York Daily News/Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Karen Hunter.  To view the page, please click here.

Former KSTP, Minneapolis Talk Host Barbara Carlson Dies at 80.  Twin Cities talk radio fans are remembering Barbara Carlson, the former KSTP-AM, Minneapolis talk show host who died yesterday (7/9) at age 80 after a battle with lung cancer.  Carlson was a two-term Minneapolis city councilor during the 1980s. Prior to that, she was married for more than 10 years to former Minnesota Republican Governor Arne Carlson.  She hosted her talk show at KSTP from 1990 to 2002. See the Twin Cities Pioneer Press obit here.

Trump Supreme Court Nomination, Illegal Immigration Policy-Judge Rejects Trump Request, Trump-Russia Investigation/Impending Putin Meeting, U.S.-China Trade War, U.K Brexit Complications, Thailand Cave Rescues, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/9).  The anticipation and announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as nominee for Supreme Court Justice; the Trump administration’s illegal immigration policies and a federal judge’s rejection of administration’s bid to modify child detention policy; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the planned meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin; new tariffs and concerns over a U.S.-China trade war; the challenges facing British Prime Minister Theresa May in executing the British exit from the EU; the rescue of the boys’ soccer team from flooded caves in Thailand; and Major League Baseball action 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.  Programmer and air personality Eliseo “Short-E” Cierra joins iHeartMedia’s Fort Myers station group to serve as program director for hip hop WBTT “105.5 The Beat” and hot AC WZJZ “Y100.1.”  He was most recently music director and an air personality at Entercom’s hip hop KSFM, Sacramento.  iHeartMedia Fort Myers SVP of programming Louis Kaplan states, “I’m thrilled to welcome Short-E to iHeartMedia Fort Myers. He genuinely understands our market and brings adept format experience and lively energy to our team.  He’ll be leading two of our most popular brands, ‘105.5 The Beat,’ which has been a huge success for over 15 years, and ‘Y100,’ the area’s home for the Elvis Duran show, and I know his vast industry knowledge and creativity will take our stations to even higher levels.”…..iHeartMedia Los Angeles names Tamo Sein midday personality at alternative KYSR “ALT 98.7,” effective July 16.  KYSR program director Lisa Worden says, “We believe the ‘ALT 98.7’ audience will immediately take to Tamo’s relatable and down-to-earth approach.  Plus, she loves alternative music and is a food and wine enthusiast!  She’ll fit right in with LA.”  Sein comes to LA from iHeartMedia Charlotte where she was APD and music director at alternative WEND “105.5 The End.”.….Hubbard Radio’s country WIL-FM, St. Louis officially welcomed Mason and Remy to their new gig as afternoon drive team on the station. They take over for Stacey and Jonah, who move over to the company’s adult hits WARH “106.5 The Arch” for afternoons.  The changes took effect yesterday (7/9)…..S-R Broadcasting flips KRKO-AM/K237GN from sports talk to classic hits. General manager Chuck Maylin says the new station is “custom designed to meet the musical appetites of local listeners, with a strong focus on information and activities of importance and interest in the greater Snohomish County area.”