Pending Business: Howdy Partner. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes today about the strange use of the word “partner” for the advertiser on a radio program. Lapa says, “Do our advertisers (customers) really want a partnership in the true sense of the word? Or do our advertisers want what everyone else wants: maximum value at the best price?” Aside from the inaccurate nomenclature, Lapa wonders if the “partner” designation affects the sales effort. Read his column here.
Monday Memo: “Gas cards? OR…Bitcoin?” “Imagine asking a contest winner to choose THAT?” consultant Holland Cooke asks. In this week’s column, he recalls “when radio stunts were fun,” and how a contest “will sound as big as you make it sound.” Read more here.
Audacy First Quarter Net Revenue Up 14%. For the first quarter of 2022, Audacy reports net revenue of $275.3 million, an increase of 14% over the same period in 2021. The company also saw its net loss shrink from $21.6 million in the first quarter of 2021 to $11 million in Q 1 of this year. Audacy provides financial data by segment and reports that spot revenue (national and local) was $173.9 million, while its digital segment (including podcasting) rose 16% to $53 million from the $41.6 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. Audacy also breaks down net revenue by format type and reports music radio revenue was $140.4 million; sports radio revenue was $53 million; and all-news & news/talk revenue was $48.3 million. Audacy president and CEO David Field comments, “I am pleased to report that Audacy posted strong first quarter results, delivering 152% growth in Adjusted EBITDA led by double digit revenue growth in both digital and spot radio. With our scaled, leadership position across broadcasting, podcasting and digital audio and our differentiated premium content offerings, we are well positioned to drive rapid evolution and innovation across the organization to capitalize on the outstanding growth opportunities in the dynamic audio marketplace. In Q1, we launched the Audacy Digital Audience Network, an addressable aggregate of 60 million listeners across our app, streaming content, and podcast lineup, enabling precision targeting at scale coupled with real-time optimization and reporting. We are looking forward to a number of exciting additional product and content launches and enhancements over the course of 2022 that will accelerate our audience growth and bolster our advertiser appeal.”
Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q1 Net Revenue Increase of 15.6%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – states that net revenue was $55.7 million, an increase of 15.6% over the same period in 2021. The company is also reporting an operating loss of $2.7 million in Q1 compared to an operating loss of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. The increase in operating loss is primarily the result of an increase in operating expenses, which reflects additional cost of sales related to the revenue increase, other expenses related to sports and marketing, and additional expenses related to the company’s digital agency build out. Beasley’s net loss for the quarter fell to $3.7 million compared to the net loss of $10.7 million reported for the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “First quarter results highlight ongoing progress toward our goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels. Net revenue rose 15.6% inclusive of a 35.5% rise in digital segment revenue, which accounted for 14% of total net revenue in the quarter, marking further success of our digital transformation strategies. Comparing our revenue performance to the first quarter of 2019, revenue was down $2.0 million, or 3.4%, as the 2019 results benefited from events and other revenue that has not fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total outstanding debt as of March 31, 2022 was $300 million, as we did not have any scheduled debt payments during the quarter, and we had $50.7 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand at quarter end. We made an interest payment of approximately $12.9 million in February and repurchased $5 million of our 8.625% senior secured notes at a discount early in the second quarter. Our strong liquidity position enables us to make debt repayments while providing us with increased financial flexibility to pursue a potential acquisition or investment within the digital space, should an opportunity arise that could accelerate our digital growth, provide synergies or improve financial results. Looking ahead to the second quarter and second half of 2022, our focus remains on driving further revenue diversification and audience expansion, improving margins, benefiting from the return of the political cycle, maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, reducing net leverage and growing free cash flow. We expect progress on each of these fronts as we continue to close the gap on our pre-pandemic revenue and SOI levels and grow from there. I am extremely proud of our team members across the company for everything they have done and are doing to help us move past the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have clearly accomplished a lot and I believe we have many more opportunities ahead to build the company and enhance stockholder value.”
Ramsey Solutions Wins Webby Award for Borrowed Future Documentary. The documentary film Borrowed Future – produced by Ramsey Solutions – will be recognized as the Best Video Documentary in the Longform category of the 2022 Annual Webby Awards. Known as the “best of the Internet,” the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet. Borrowed Future was originally released as a podcast in 2019 and reveals the inner workings of the predatory student loan industry that keeps borrowers trapped in debt. Directed by David DiCicco, the story follows college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loans, a college graduate who paid cash for college, and a group of high schoolers who haven’t made their choice yet. Leading voices like Mike Rowe, Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey are also featured. For weeks, the film held top spots on multiple streaming platform charts: #1 documentary on Google Play, #2 documentary on Apple TV and #5 documentary (rent or buy category) on Amazon Prime Video. Dave Ramsey says, “There’s no doubt we stirred up a holy ruckus with this documentary, and I’m so proud of the team that put it together. The student loan industry is downright evil. We definitely can’t bank on student loan forgiveness, and it’s about time America said, ‘I’ve had it!’” Webby Awards executive director Claire Graves comments, “Borrowed Future has set the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.” The 26th Annual Webby Awards will take place in New York City on May 16. See more about the film here.
Brandon Tatum Joins Salem Radio Network for Syndicated Radio Program. Conservative media figure and former Tucson police officer Brandon Tatum is joining the Salem Radio Network to fill the slot Larry Elder held until his retirement from radio in early April. He will assume duties as host of the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET program on May 16. The third hour of the program will be repurposed into a podcast. Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “Salem conducted a nationwide search, and some very big names were interested in taking this important slot. Brandon brings a unique talent to Salem, and has a strong following among the nation’s youth, with his involvement with Turning Point USA. His compelling story is riveting.” Tatum has been serving as director of urban outreach for Turning Point USA and hosts the popular program “The Officer Tatum Show” on social media platforms including YouTube. Tatum says, “Words cannot describe what a blessing it is to be a part of the Salem family. I am incredibly humbled and honored to continue the legacy of the great Larry Elder. My mission in life is to serve God with the gifts he has given me. Being the voice of and for the people is one of those gifts.” Additionally, Tatum co-founded Blexit with Candace Owens, an organization “dedicated to changing the narrative in the black community through education, community outreach, and empowerment.” Carl Jackson, who has been subbing as guest host in Elder’s absence both last summer when he ran for governor, and more recently after Elder’s decision to retire from radio, will continue as a regular sub for Tatum.
TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports media legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger announces he’s retiring from his weekend radio program on Audacy’s WIP, Philadelphia. The station reports that Didinger said on yesterday’s program that he co-hosts with Glen Macnow, “Sunday, May 29th will be my final show. I am ready to transition from Ray Didi to grandpop.” Audacy says Didinger covered the NFL for The Philadelphia Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News for over 25 years and in 1995 his name was added to writer’s honor roll in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Didinger also worked as a senior producer at NFL Films, as an Eagles TV analyst on NBC Sports Philadelphia…..SiriusXM announces that Jessica Casano-Antonellis joins the company as SVP and head of communications, reporting to chief marketing officer Denise Karkos. In this role, she will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s communications function, including strategic communications, brand reputation management and media relations. Karkos adds, “Jessica is a valued and respected leader who brings a wealth of strategic communications experience in the media, entertainment and technology industries to SiriusXM. She will be an incredible asset to the company and will play a key role as we continue to tell the story of SiriusXM as a leader in audio entertainment.”…..Former KQQZ, St. Louis station owner Bob Romanik – whose self-given nickname was “The Grim Reaper of Radio” – has died at age 72 while in hospice. According to his obit in the Belleville News-Democrat, Romanik served as an East St. Louis police officer and chief of police in both Washington Park and Valmeyer, Illinois during his career. He was a notorious raconteur who liberally used racial epithets on the air and referred to his programming as W.A.R. or White Awareness Radio. In 2020, after attempting to conceal his ownership of KQQZ and failing to show up for FCC hearings on the matter, the Commission permanently dismissed his application for renewal.
The Economy, Roe v Wade, COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, January 6 Investigation, and Musk & Twitter Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The sinking Dow and NASDAQ, the high price of food & gas, and the ongoing supply chain woes; the reactions to the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v Wade; the rising rate of COVID cases in some parts of the U.S., concerns about new variants, and the ongoing lockdowns in China; Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s propaganda; the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Lots of response to last week’s “Weekend Warriors, Renegotiate.” SOME stations were horrified by what I’m telling their brokered ask-the-expert hosts. SMART stations already offer the win-win template I outlined. ICYMI: https://www.talkers.com/2022/03/21/monday-memo-weekend-warriors-renegotiate/
FMs are scrambling. AMs? Ugh.
As if AM wasn’t already suffering listener demographics, technical interference, caricature programming, and too little local content, now comes the proposal to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. From November through February – when local sunrise would come between 8:00 am and 9:00 am – later pattern and power change times would cripple full-time stations. Daytimers would be utterly screwed if smart ones with translators hadn’t already rebranded as FMs (as have so many full-time AMs).
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Madness in March,” looks back at this past week of 3/14 to 3/18. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Mark Simone, talk show host, WOR, New York; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Jonty McCollyer, talk show host, “China Watch Radio,” KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, physician, Las Vegas/talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; and John DePetro, talk show host, WNRI, Woonsocket, RI. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas; WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; 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.
Triton Digital Releases February 2022 Podcast Report. The latest podcast ranking report from Triton Digital is published for the period of January 31 to February 27 and is based on Average Weekly Downloads. The report’s rank of the top 20 podcast networks again has Stitcher Media at #1 with 59.1 million Average Weekly Downloads. The Audacy Podcast Network was #2 with 36.1 million AWD, and NPR came in at #3 with 33.5 million AWD. Ranking individual podcasts, NPR’s “NPR News Now” was #1, audiochuck’s “Crime Junkie” was #2 and Cumulus Podcast Network’s “The Ben Shapiro Show” was #3. Other podcasts with a radio connection that are ranked in the report include: Cumulus’ “The Dan Bongino Show” at #8, Salem Podcast Network’s “The Charlie Kirk Show” at #13, and Cumulus’ “Mark Levin Podcast” at #17. See the complete report here.
Katie Reid to Lead Bonneville Denver. Radio sales and management pro Katie Reid joins Bonneville International as SVP and market manager for the company’s Denver cluster that includes sports talk duo KKFN-FM “104.3 The Fan” and KEPN-AM “ESPN 1600” and two music brands. Reid, who was most recently VP/GM for Cox Media Group’s Jacksonville operations, takes over for Bob Call, who recently retired. Bonneville president Darrell Brown states, “Katie is a dynamic leader who knows how to focus on priorities and grow business. I believe her experience will position our stations for long-term success in Denver.” Reid comments, “I am honored to be joining the Bonneville team and work with these legendary brands. The Denver team continues to deliver excellent results and I am excited for this next chapter.”
TALKERS News Notes. Longtime talk media personality Michael Savage celebrates his 80th birthday today (3/18). Savage, who produces a daily podcast after years of syndication in talk radio, is interviewed by Steve Travers for a piece in Newsmax that you can read here…..Beasley Media Group announces that Cole Croshaw is been named director of traffic operations for the company. He begins the newly created position on March 28. Croshaw was most recently with Marketron serving as the NXT product specialist. Beasley CFO Marie Tedesco says, “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Cole to the Beasley Media Group family. His leadership and vast experience made him the perfect choice to take our company’s traffic operations to the next level and beyond.”
The Russia-Ukraine War Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 14-18. Russia’s now-four-week-old invasion of Ukraine and the attendant political issues surrounding it came together as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was U.S. diplomatic relations with China and Russia with the Ukraine war as the backdrop, followed by the state of the U.S. economy, soaring gas prices and still-rising prices of consumer retail good 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.