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Thursday, May 13, 2021

| May 13, 2021

Mary Walter Exits WMAL-FM, Washington. In a Facebook post, morning drive co-host Mary Walter announces she’s done her last show with Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington, DC. Walter says the news that Cumulus is bringing its air personalities back from their home studios to the radio studios forced her to make a lifestyle choice. She writes, “Before COVID I spent 4 years living in an apartment in MD, while my husband lived in NJ. Every Fri after the show, I would go back to my apartment (that had like 3 pieces of furniture), pack my car and drive the 4 hrs back to NJ.  I’d get in, collapse and be in bed by 7p. Saturday was spent unpacking, doing laundry, housework and all the other ‘stuff’ that needs to be done. Sunday morning I would start show prepping, pack and then it was back in the car for the 4 hrs back down to MD. Plus I think it’s the only morning show in the country that starts at 5am instead of 6am and getting up at 3 wears you down. Add in that I missed every funeral, graduation, Confirmation, birthday party or life event that didn’t take place on a Saturday and I decided it was time for a change. Being able to work remotely for the last 14 months really opened my eyes to quality of life and I chose living with my husband in the house I’m paying for, seeing friends again and living as opposed to money. Don’t know where I’m going from here, but for now, I just want to read a NON-POLITICAL book, turn off the news and attend to things that have been ignored for 4 years.”

Dan Bongino to Host FOX News Channel Weekend Show. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and regular FOX News Channel contributor Dan Bongino is getting his own weekend talk show on FOX News Channel. Bongino – whose 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET radio show is syndicated by Westwood One – will host a 10:00 pm ET Saturday show on FNC beginning June 5. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who’s been serving as an FNC contributor since 2019. Additionally, Bongino’s Westwood One radio program will be streamed by FOX Nation beginning May 25.

RTDNA/Newhouse School Study: More Local Radio News in 2020. The first installment of this year’s RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University study has been released as it focuses on the quantity of local news in television and radio. With regard to radio, the study finds, “More radio stations report running local news in 2020, with an increase among AM stations offsetting a slight decrease among FM stations. 70.4% of radio survey respondents overall report airing local news, though stations with news may be more likely to participate in the survey.” Going a bit further in depth, the study finds that “the average number of weekday minutes of news went up overall by less than four minutes, with all market sizes except medium markets going up modestly. Last year, medium markets led a small overall increase in local news. Weekday median – or typical – number of minutes is now fairly close from one market size to the next… The reason that the average weekday minutes in major markets is so much higher than all others is because that’s where most of the all-news stations are. Note that those stations have little effect on the median or typical number of minutes. The percentage of stations that increased the amount of local news rose by more than 10 points compared to a year ago. The percentage decreasing local news stayed about the same. The bigger the staff and the bigger the market, the more likely that local news content increased. Non-commercial stations were twice as likely to increase the amount of local news (44.1% to 21.1%) compared to commercial ones. Stations in the West were more likely to increase local news than any other region. Otherwise, no other variable made any consistent difference one way or the other.” See more here.

IAB: Podcast Revenue to Exceed $1 Billion This Year, $2 Billion by 2023. This is the fourth annual IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue study, prepared for IAB by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (and sponsored by audio firms including Audacy, Cumulus Media, and iHeartMedia), and it predicts that podcasting revenue will “grow as much in the next two years as it did in the past decade.” The medium had a strong fourth quarter of 2020 (up 37% year-over-year). In 2020, podcast revenue was $842 million compared to $708 million in 2019. The study results in the prediction that podcast revenue will hit $1 billion by the end of this year and $2 billion by 2023. Among the study’s findings: dynamic ad insertion is growing rapidly – it accounted for 48% of revenue in 2019 and 67% in 2020. It also reveals that annual buys decreased by 5% from 2019 to 2020 while remnant buys increased by 6%. Cost-per-thousand is still king as 93% of podcast revenue was based on CPM while series ownership dipped from 10% of revenue in 2019 to 5% in 2020 (flat fee accounted for 2%). When it comes to podcast genre, news is still the top dog accounting for 22% of revenue in 2020. However, the genre of science jumped from just 3% of podcast revenue in 2019 to 12% in 2020. See the complete study here.

iHeartMedia and Catalina Partner for Measurement of Offline Sales. This partnership between iHeartMedia and Catalina will help the former “measure and attribute the impact of podcast advertising on offline sales in physical stores, which continue to represent the majority of CPG (consumer package goods) purchases.” Catalina describes itself as “a leader in shopper intelligence and omni-channel media solutions that personalize the shopper journey.” In a press release, the companies say, “To date, podcast measurement capabilities have helped advertisers understand the impact of an ad campaign on brand lift metrics like purchase intent or message recall, as well as attribution of digital user activity such as website visits from those listeners exposed to that campaign. Now, CPG partners will also gain visibility into the true offline sales impact of their marketing dollars within podcasting.” In addition, as part of this data partnership Catalina will provide iHeartMedia with audiences and measurement services within iHeartMedia’s SmartAudio platform, for CPG ad campaigns that air on the latter’s linear and streaming radio programming. iHeartMedia EVP of national research David Shiffman says, “We have been impressed with Catalina’s ability to deliver highly-scaled, extensive data and insights for CPG advertisers, enabling them to measure the effectiveness of their brand messaging on in-store sales. We continue to focus on cross-platform measurement and attribution capabilities for advertisers and now in partnership with Catalina we can provide CPG advertisers tools to maximize their podcast campaigns’ ROI, with measurement and attribution solutions to more effectively plan and execute their multi-platform audio campaigns.”

WABC ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ host Frank Morano Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Overnight host Frank Morano of WABC, New York is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Morano is one of the rarest species of on-air talent in the radio business today – he is the host of a live and local all-night radio show. There are several syndicated all-night shows that are heard on hundreds of stations by millions of listeners… but very few live and local for people working all-night or just spending what could be isolated or lonely time comforted by the intimate company of a radio delivering the voices of nearby people, in real time, right there in their local city or community. When business titan, former NYC mayoral candidate and radio broadcasting maverick John Catsimatidis took ownership of WABC in 2019, he began instituting a number of innovative programming changes including, in 2020, restoring the lost tradition of broadcasting overnights with a live, local, and extremely engaged host. Morano is the perfect radio broadcaster to carry out that mission. He’s a relatively young broadcaster with a long history of loving and studying radio and he sounds great on the air. Don’t miss this insightful conversation! To listen to the podcast in its entirety please click here.

GOP vs Cheney/Influence of Trump, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Hamas Fighting, Voting Rights Bill, Stocks Decline/Inflation Fears, and Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/12). Republicans oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership role in the party and former President Donald Trump’s influence on the GOP; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and CDC guidelines; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline and the resulting gas shortage in the Southeast; the violence between Israel and Hamas and concerns about an all-out war breaking out; the debate in the U.S. Senate over President Joe Biden’s For the People voting rights act; this week’s decline in the stock market and fears of inflation; and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

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 michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

| October 16, 2019

Results of WWO’s Podcast Download Fall 2019 Report. This third annual fall study looks into the audience and advertiser trends for podcasts.  Cumulus Media’s Westwood One conducted the study in conjunction with consumer research firm MARU/Matchbox.  It was fielded online late this summer using a nationally representative sample of 601 respondents over the age of 18 who listened to at least one hour of podcasts within a week.  WWO president Suzanne Grimes says, “On the audience side, our latest study finds the majority of new podcast listeners are women and that there is a disconnect between smart speaker ownership and smart speaker usage for podcast.  For advertisers, it’s important to understand that podcast ad preferences for the industry and listeners are at a crossroads – listeners want host-read ads, while the use of traditional pre-produced ads is growing.”  The study found that compared to July 2017, weekly female podcast listeners are spending +23% more time with podcasts.  It also learned that podcast events are a huge growth opportunity for content providers and advertisers.   “Podcast listeners are willing to travel, intend to go to more events, and are open to spending. These podcast event-goers skew male, Millennial 18-34, and are heavy podcast and audio users. One out of five heavy podcast listeners (19%) reported attending a live podcast show.  52% of podcast event-goers are willing to travel over 25 miles to see a live show.”  However, the study also reveals that while smart speaker ownership has increased, “there is little podcast listening on smart speakers…although podcast listeners are 33% more likely to own a smart speaker, their device ownership is not translating into smart speaker podcast listening.  From 2017 to 2019, the number of weekly podcast listeners who use smart speakers to listen to podcasts only grew from 16% to 18%.”  See more here.

Advertiser Sentiment Study Shows Positive Trends in Podcast Advertising. In more podcast-related news and in advance of today’s IAB Podcast Upfront taking place in New York City today (10/16), Westwood One commissioned a study by Advertiser Perceptions to get a handle on podcast advertising sentiment among agencies and advertisers.  The study compares results from the first questionnaire of some 300 agency and marketer respondents in 2015 with this year’s responses.  It indicates that the number of advertisers considering podcast advertising this year is holding steady compared to 2018, with 42% of agencies and marketers definitely considering podcast ads in the next six months.  That’s up from the 18% considering podcast advertising in September of 2015.  As far as actual usage goes, 39% of agencies and marketers are currently advertising in podcasts, up from 32% in May 2018 and up from 15% in September of 2015.  See the Westwood One blog post here.

iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles and Voice Coach Roger Love Launch Podcast. A new iHeartRadio Original Podcast is being launched by iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles and renowned voice coach Roger Love.  Titled, “Love Your Voice,” the program is designed to “take listeners on a journey to discover how their voice can positively affect all aspects of their life, from personal to business.  Using real life examples, and with the help of some of his celebrity students like actor Eric McCormack, host Roger Love will help listeners ‘Love Your Voice,’ and then use that voice to change their life.”  Love says, “Our voice tells people a lot about us.  From breathing to melody and tone, your voice can determine the quality of your life and how much success you achieve.  In this new podcast, I’ll take my more than 30 years of experience with singers, actors, actresses, and public speakers and teach you how subtle changes to the way you breathe and speak can change your voice for the better.”

TALKERS News Notes. “The Breakfast Club” star Angela Yee is the guest on the first episode of the Premiere Networks and Dr. Dave Creative Entertainment podcast called, “The Spirited Actor.”  The program is hosted by world-renowned casting director and celebrity acting coach Tracey Moore.  On the show, Moore welcomes celebrities, actors, and industry insiders to discuss the challenges, obstacles, and truths about working in show business.  Yee appears on the podcast to talk about her work as a transitional actor…..The ABC News Investigative Unit and ABC Audio are producing a new podcast titled, “Have You See This Man?,” hosted by “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin with ABC News’ senior investigative reporter Matthew Mosk.  As the title implies, it investigates the cases of most-wanted criminals in the U.S. and the first two episodes focus on convicted murderer Lester Eubanks, who’s been on the run for more than 45 years.  The podcast reveals Eubanks’ crimes and prison escape and features exclusive interviews with key players who knew both Eubanks and his victim.  Listeners are encouraged to provide tips on Eubanks’ whereabouts to the U.S. Marshals.

Democratic Debate/2020 Presidential Race, Impeachment Inquiry, Ukraine Controversy, U.S. Pulls Out of Syrian Conflict, Catch and Kill Book, U.S.-China Relations/Hong Kong Bill, and Brexit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/15). Last night’s Democratic debate and the 2020 presidential race; the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against President Trump; the controversial Ukraine dealings involving Hunter and Joe Biden and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani; the state of the war in Syria after the U.S. withdrawal; the controversy surrounding Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill book; the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China and the Hong Kong bill making its way through congress; and the U.K.’s Brexit procedure 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. Air personality Karina Farias is promoted to program director for Bonneville’s classic rock KUFX, San Jose “98.5 KFOX.”  She’s been a weekend personality at sister adult contemporary KOIT, San Francisco.  Director of programming and operations Brian Figula states, “Karina has quickly elevated our music and programming initiatives for both KUFX and KOIT.  Her passion, commitment, and digital talents will reinforce the market-leading classic rock position we have on 98.5 KFOX.  Nobody deserves this opportunity more than Karina.”…..Bustos Media Holdings closes on the acquisition of KRCW-FM, Royal City, Washington (in the Tri-Cities market) from Farmworkers Educational Radio Network, Inc.   The station airs a regional Mexican format.