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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

| November 28, 2018

Former KPAM, Portland Personalities Win Unpaid Wages Case.  In a case before the Bureau of Labor and Industries in the state of Oregon, former KPAM, Portland personalities Margie Boule and Carl Wolfson prevailed in a decision to pay them back wages.  Pamplin Broadcasting, which no longer owns the station, hired Boule and Wolfson as independent contractors and argued that as such, they were not due overtime wages.  Pamplin argued that, alternatively, that if the two were employees, then they were exempt creative professional employees.  The BLI did not buy Pamlin’s arguments and ordered the company to pay Boule and Wolfson $12,361.52 each.  It also ordered Pamplin to pay $30,700 in civil penalties.  The agency concluded that although the two were called independent contractors by KPAM, they were treated like full-time staffers.  For example, witnesses for KPAM testified that requests for Boule and Wolfson to attend client events, charity fundraisers, and seminars – duties outside execution of their radio show – were “purely optional.” But the BLI ruled that “part of any job is to cooperate with people with whom one works” and claims that requests were optional are not “credible.”

Grappler’s Guide To Grinding Out Pinpoint Podcasts. Managing editor Mike Kinosian talks with pro wrestler and podcaster Brimstone about his new venture, “The Grindhouse Radio” podcast. Brimstone says he’s aware people find the huge number of podcasts out there daunting.  “Some are amazing and others aren’t so good.  Podcasting gives people a taste of the grandeur of show business. People can do it from their phone or from one microphone in their bedroom. It is fantastic that podcasts can be done at so many different levels.  Many other podcasts don’t take pride in sound quality like we do.  Our show is classified as ‘comedy,’ but we are all about popular culture.  While we aren’t comedians, we are fun and funny.”  Read the whole story here.

Entercom Honored for Mental Health Special. The September nationally broadcast special “I’m Listening” earns Entercom a 2018 Community Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness North Texas. “I’m Listening” was a two-hour live, commercial-free broadcast special to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention as part of Entercom’s multi-platform “I’m Listening” campaign. The broadcast aired across all of the company’s stations nationwide on Sunday, September 9, 2018 and via their respective livestreams on RADIO.COM to mark the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.   The special broadcast welcomed medical experts, artists and celebrities connected to the cause to join the conversation about mental health, as well as live calls from listeners.   The year-long campaign also included suicide prevention PSAs, on-air promos and a dedicated website with information and resources to end the stigma around mental health discussions.  Entercom SVP programming innovation Liana Huth says, “‘I’m Listening’ is one of our signature productions meant to save lives.  We know that talking makes a difference and our stations are proud to help remove the stigma around mental illness.  It’s okay to not be okay.  Many thanks to our partners, including the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. Together we are part of a vast network working every day to help and serve those affected.”

‘Coast to Coast AM’ Christmas Album Re-Released to Benefit Veterans Charity. The holiday album “Holiday Magic Coast Style” is being re-released in time for this year’s holiday season.  Sales of the disc benefit various veterans’ hospitals across the country.  It features traditional holiday songs and poems performed by fan-favorite guests of the Premiere Networks-syndicated radio program, including best-selling author Whitley Strieber, author and paranormal expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley, paranormal investigator Joshua P. WarrenUFO Phil, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, actor/singer Pat Boone, and others.  “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory also performs a special rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  It is produced by “Coast to Coast AM” senior producer Tom Danheiser and TDClark Entertainment and is currently available for purchase on Amazon.

Facebook Takes Big Step in Gaining MRC Accreditation. Considering all the negative press Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg have been getting lately, clearing this step in the Media Rating Council accreditation chase is good news. Broadcasters won’t be happy, but Facebook and Instagram have passed an audit of its internal data collection process and that’s a step toward getting accreditation from the MRC for third-party measurement of ad viewability.  The next step in the process is for the MRC to audit the process of Facebook and Instagram getting their data to third-party measurement firms. See the Ad Age story here.

Trump-Russia Investigation/Manafort Plea Deal, Caravan Migrants/Border Wall Issue, Trump Denies Climate Change Report, Russia-Ukraine Tensions, Hyde-Smith Wins Miss. Senate Seat, GM Job Cuts, Pelosi’s House Speaker Battle, Brexit Deal, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/27). The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the related collapse of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s plea deal; the caravan of Honduran migrants amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border and the related border wall funding issue; the government’s ominous climate change report and President Trump’s declaration he doesn’t agree with it; Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine; Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins the Mississippi U.S. Senate seat race; reactions to GM’s announcement that it will cut U.S. jobs and close plants; Nancy Pelosi’s battle to regain the House Speaker role; the latest action in Britain’s move to exit the EU; and the weekend’s NFL 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. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that 11 positions in all and two overnight jocks were let go from Hubbard Radio’s Chicago station group.  The air personalities – Mike Roberts of hot AC WTMX “101.9 The Mix” and Brian Travis of adult contemporary WSHE “100.3” – both hosted the overnight daypart.  While there were criticisms of Hubbard’s decision in the comments section of Feder’s story, he points our that “Hubbard Radio Chicago had been among the last local station groups to broadcast live around the clock at all of its stations.”…..Premiere Networks announces the availability of a country music holiday special hosted by CMT personality Cody Alan.  “Home for the Holidays” is a four-hour, barter-free show highlighted by conversations with country music stars including: Braid Paisley, Maren Morris, and Martina McBride, among others, who will share stories of Christmas memories, favorite gifts, and family traditions.  The radio special will also feature a mix of chart-topping and holiday-themed songs. It’s available for air from December 22-25.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

| March 6, 2018

Will Tomorrow Be the Day iHeartMedia’s Future Becomes Clearer? On Sunday, iHeartMedia and Consenting Lenders entered into a Forbearance Agreement that put off iHM’s defaut on an interest payment on 14% Senior Notes until midnight tomorrow (3/7).  That gives both sides more time to work out a solution to the company’s $20 billion in debt and avoid putting the matter into the hands of a bankruptcy judge.  Analysts watching this case are taking note of the fact that John Malone’s Liberty Media purchased $400 million of iHM’s debt last week and now becomes a creditor in the event of a bankruptcy.  Just how important Liberty’s involvement as a creditor becomes remains to be seen but, remember that Liberty came to the aid of SiriusXM when it needed cash and now controls a majority interest in that company.  A lot of the consumer press stories covering the iHeartMedia debt saga that TALKERS editors have seen imply the company is on the verge of “failure.”  But the reality – borne out by its quarterly financial reports – is that the company is making money.  It’s just not making enough to cover interest payments on the massive debt.  The latest term sheet from iHeartMedia summarizes a proposed restructuring of the company that would reduce its debt (in exchange for equity) to $5.75 billion.  As part of the proposed terms, it would spin off Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings.

And ‘The Loop’ in Chicago Goes to…Educational Media Foundation!  At first, today’s FCC filing to transfer classic rock WLUP-FM, Chicago from Merlin Media to non-profit Christian broadcaster Educational Media Foundation for $21.5 million seems surprising, but EMF did recently acquire KSWD, Los Angeles from Entercom and, unlike many secular, commercial broadcasting companies, it has money in the bank.  If approved, it’s expected that EMF will install its “K-Love” Christian contemporary format on the station.  Unfortunately, the deal means the current staff – including morning personality Erich “Mancow” Muller – will be out of work.  The other Merlin Media station still on the block in Chicago is alternative rock WKQX.

Salem Media Group LMAs KPAM, Portland.  In a press release issued Monday (3/5), Salem Media Group acknowledges that it is operating news/talk KPAM, Portland and adult standards KKOV “Sunny 1550” – both stations in the process of being sold by Pamplin Broadcasting to Intelli LLC.  The presser is titled, “KPAM is Alive and Well” and notes that KPAM airs “live and local drive-time programs – ‘First Edition’ from 6am to 10am and ‘Afternoon Northwest’ from 3pm to 6pm – and syndicated programs such as ‘The Clark Howard Show,’ ‘The Schnitt Show,’ ‘The Michael Medved Show,’ and ‘The Joe Pags Show.’  Hourly news, weather, and sports as well as drive-time traffic are also featured.”

WRKO, Boston Adds Joe Pags Show for Evenings.  The WOAI, San Antonio-based Joe Pags show – hosted by Joe Pagliarulo – is joining the program lineup of iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston.  The Joe Pags show – heard in more than 100 markets across the country – airs in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot.  WRKO program director Michael Czarnecki says “We are thrilled to have Joe join the WRKO weekday line up.  Joe does so much more than just political talk.  He entertains, makes you think, makes you laugh, heck he even sings.  This makes him the perfect addition to the WRKO family.”  Pagliarulo states, “When you hear the call letters WRKO, you hear heritage – and a station most hosts can only dream of being on.  I’m psyched beyond words that my show is coming to this amazing station.  It’s an opportunity I cherish and simply cannot wait to talk with the great people of Boston on a daily basis.  Thank you so much to the management team for the trust and support!”

Saga Communications’ Fourth Quarter Net Revenue Rises 2.3%.  During 2017, Saga Communications executed the sale of its television stations and purchased radio stations in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina.  Those transactions resulted in net income increasing $9.9 million during the fourth quarter of 2017 and $36.5 million for the year.  Saga reports that net revenue increased 2.3% to $31.5 million during Q4.  For the entire year, net revenue decreased 0.7% to $118.2 million.  For the fourth quarter, operating income decreased $433,000 to $5.3 million when adjusted for the $1.5 million charge for impairment of intangible assets.  Station operating expense increased 5.4% to $23.2 million (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations) primarily due to the acquisition of the Charleston and Hilton Head radio stations.  Free cash flow was $6.3 million compared to $7.6 million last year.  Same station net revenue decreased 4.2% to $29.5 million primarily due to a decrease in gross political revenue of $1 million and same station operating expense decreased 2.5% to $21.5 million for the quarter.

Urban One Reports Q4 2017 Net Revenue Down 4%.  The silver lining in this fourth quarter 2017 financial report from Urban One is that broadcast and digital operating income increased 2.8% compared to the same period in 2016.  But overall, net revenue was approximately $109 million, a decrease of 4% from the same period in 2016.  Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $38.7 million for the quarter, compared to $30.9 million for the same period in 2016, an increase of 25.6%.  Urban One president and CEO Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall, we produced a strong quarter from an Adjusted EBITDA standpoint, and as a result we were able to show full year Adjusted EBITDA growth, despite the challenging market conditions.  Our core radio revenues were up slightly for the quarter, excluding the impact of political revenues.  Our TV advertising revenues suffered from weak ratings delivery, which was somewhat offset by growth in affiliate revenues.  Our digital business benefitted from the integration of our acquisition of the Bossip, Madame Noire and Hip Hop Wired brands, and was up significantly in both revenue and Adjusted EBITDA compared to prior year.  We were able to control costs, most notably at TV One and Corporate.  During the quarter, we repurchased a further $20 million of our 9.25% notes at a discount, and we remain strongly committed to reducing net leverage.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports giant ESPN announces James Pitaro is the company’s new chief, taking over for John Skipper, who suddenly stepped down from his position in December in order to address what was termed a long-time substance abuse issue.  Pitaro has been serving the Walt Disney company in an executive capacity in the digital realm.  Pitaro will also serve as co-chair of Disney’s television segment…..JVC Media’s Long Island news/talk outlet WRCN, Riverhead “LI News Radio 103.9 FM” is presenting a “Spring Back to Business” event designed to be a “networking social get-together” on March 26 at its studio operations at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.  Station personality Frank MacKay will introduce FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade who will take part in a Q&A with attendees.

Bill Lally Dies After Battle with Cancer.  Family, friends and the Southern California radio community are mourning the loss of Bill Lally, who passed away over the weekend after a long battle with cancer.  Lally was a longtime operations manager and APD at KFI, KLAC and KTLK in Los Angeles who exited the company in 2009 during the massive round of layoffs that took place at then-Clear Channel that year.  Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Lally had also served with WABC, New York; Westwood One; WMCA; and CBS RADIO during his career.

Trump-Russia Investigation/Sam Nunberg Subpoena, Financial Reforms Rollback, North Korea-South Korea Talks, Trump Tariffs/Trade War, Senate School Safety Bill, Netanyahu-Trump Meeting, the Oscars, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/5).  The investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents and the bizarre media tour by former Trump aide Sam Nunberg after being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposes rolling back reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis; North Korea’s Kim Jong Un meets with South Korean officials; President Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s move to block them; the U.S. Senate proposes a school safety bill in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting; embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington and his meeting with President Trump; Sunday night’s Academy Awards show; and NBA 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.  The morning show at iHeartMedia’s hip hop WUSL, Philadelphia “Power 99” adds Roxy Romeo to the cast.  She’ll join the “Rise & Grind Morning Show” featuring Mikey Dredd and Mutha Knows, effective March 12.  iHM Philly director of urban programming Derrick Corbett says, “To be able to add a talent the likes of Roxy to our staff is phenomenal.  She’s an incredible personality who has the ability to make you feel as if you’ve known her for years upon first listen. We’re excited to be able to share her voice with the city of Philadelphia, and that she’s chosen to make ‘Power 99’ her new home.”  Romeo was most recently midday jock, APD and music director at the company’s “REAL 103.9” in Las Vegas…..Nate Bell is named program director at iHeartMedia’s hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “Mix 92.3” in Detroit.  EVP of urban/hip hop programming Doc Wynter says, “We are so excited to have Nate back in our urban programming brain trust.  He was missed, but it was destiny for him to come back to iHeartMedia.  Things are about to heat up in Detroit!”…..In Charlotte, iHeartMedia names Brooke Morrison afternoon personality for CHR WHQC “Channel 96.1.”  Station PD A.J. says, “We are very excited about what Brooke will bring to Charlotte.  Her high level of engagement, work ethic and passion for music and entertainment make her a superstar on and off the air.  I look forward to her joining the team as we build the next chapter of ‘Channel 96.1.’”