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Thursday, April 29, 2021

| April 29, 2021

RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”

Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”

Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”

SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure.  These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”

RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast.  The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.

Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 15, 2020

| June 15, 2020

Monday Memo: Profiting from the Pandemic. “Turning lemons into lemonade,” as consultant Holland Cooke puts it. In this week’s column he lists six retail opportunities his client stations are selling to right now. Read it here.

De-Fund Police Movement/Rayshard Brooks Killing, Seattle ‘Autonomous’ Zone, Trump Health, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, U.S.-China Relations/Outbreak in Beijing, Presidential Race/Trump Tulsa Rally, Financial Markets/Jobless Claims, and MLB Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concept of de-funding police departments as demanded by some protestors and the cop shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta; the controversy over the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle; the health of President Trump after his apparent unsteady gait at the West Point graduation on Saturday; the regions of the U.S. that are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases; the movement to remove public statues commemorating Confederate or Colonial-era figures; the tense U.S.-China relations and a new COVID-19 outbreak appears in Beijing; the November presidential race, concerns about voting practices, and Trump’s planned rally scheduled for Tulsa on Saturday; the activity in the world’s financial markets and the recent jobless claims figure for the U.S.; and negotiations between the players and the league as the MLB tries to salvage its season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Time to Practice. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that “every performance-driven activity you can think of requires some form of practice. Athletics, the performing arts, public speaking, teaching, bar mitzvahs, all require practice. Even your doctor, dentist, and lawyer required practice before they could open their… practice. So, what about the professional sales rep? Sellers, especially in today’s warp-speed changing environment must practice.” Read his column here.

Beasley Reports Flat Q1 2020 Net Revenue; Net Loss of $8.8 Million. Reporting on its first quarter 2020 financial numbers, Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. – parent of Beasley Media Group – announces its net revenue was flat at $57.7 million compared to the same period in 2019. However, after posting operating income of $6.8 million in Q1 of 2019, the company posted and operating loss of $7.1 million in Q1 of this year. Beasley reported a net income of $1.4 million in Q1 of 2019 and this year is reporting a loss of $8.8 million. Beasley’s flat net revenue figure “reflects strong political advertising revenue, an increase in digital advertising, and esports revenue and contributions from the August 2019 acquisition of WDMK-FM, partially offset by a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue and other revenue related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Despite these challenges, first quarter net revenue was $57.7 million, primarily reflecting strong performance across our station clusters in seven markets during the months of January and February driven by robust political ad spending and contributions from WDMK-FM, as well as significant growth in digital and esports revenue. However, our top-line growth was not able to fully offset the acute challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic during the three-month period, resulting in a year-over-year decline in first quarter SOI and Free Cash Flow. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 49% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 9% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 6% of total revenue in the prior year period. In addition, Beasley launched the first major esports event featuring the Houston Outlaws, which the company acquired in November 2019, securing several new sponsorships as the team began competing in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League matches in February. With our focus on quality content production and consumer engagement, we are growing audience share across our digital and esports platforms while delivering multi-platform turnkey marketing solutions to advertisers and brands. Overall, we are pleased with the momentum and trajectory of these digital and esports initiatives, which have been less impacted by COVID-19, and look forward to this growth trend continuing throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.”

Townsquare Media Q1 Down 1.4%; Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 0.5%. The company says it will file its first quarter 2020 report on or before June 25 but issues some preliminary figures and held an investor conference call this morning (6/15). Townsquare Media, Inc CEO Bill Wilson says, “While our first quarter started strong with high single-digit net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth in January and February, beginning in March we experienced a significant negative business impact to our Advertising and Live Events segments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, offsetting the momentum we established in 2019 and early 2020. First quarter net revenue increased 0.5% on a pro forma basis resulting in our 9th consecutive quarter of pro forma net revenue growth. In addition, Q1 2020 marked the first time our digital revenue exceeded 40% of our total net revenue, up from 35% in 2019, powered by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a significant decline in our Advertising revenue in March, but we were still able to generate positive first quarter year-over-year Advertising net revenue growth. Our Advertising net revenue declined further in April but has shown sequential improvement in both May and June to date. We also cancelled or postponed our live events scheduled in March, April, May and June, which negatively impacted our net revenue. Thankfully, our Live Events segment is a much smaller component of our company today after we had the foresight to sell our large, out-of-market live event assets, including North American Midway Entertainment and several multi-day music festivals over the past two years. We have taken a number of steps to reduce our cost base in an effort to help mitigate the decline in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In total, we have enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings and anticipate the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue.  In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, and our board of directors has elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward.  All of these actions have strongly bolstered our liquidity position.”

Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay Airing Content from WRNW-FM, Milwaukee. In a content deal with iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game,” Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay is replacing its daytime programming with the daytime lineup of “The Game.” The new WNFL lineup is: Steve Czaban in morning drive, John Kuhn (from WNFL’s studios) with Brian Butch in late mornings, Ted Davis and Dario Melendez in early afternoons, and “Drew & K.B.” in afternoon drive. Gone from the WNFL airwaves is the statewide syndicated Bill Michaels show. FOX Sports Radio rounds out the evenings, overnights, and weekends. Midwest operations manager Jason Hillery says, “We’ve signed a deal with Milwaukee’s ‘The Game’ and have picked up 12 hours of their amazing Wisconsin-focused programming each weekday. We’re excited about this lineup, and we’re excited about the future of this radio station.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Zimmer Radio has inked a letter of intent to buy the five-station cluster currently owner by Meyer Communications that includes news/talk KWTO-AM, sports talk KWTO-FM “JOCK 98.7,” and two music brands. Zimmer Radio co-owner Don Zimmer tells the paper they are in the early stages of due diligence. “There’s nothing set. We’ll see how things go with regards to the due diligence, and with five stations, it’ll probably take a while.”…..In recognition of the 48th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, ESPN is launching “espnW Presents: When We Play,” a three-day, women’s sport-centric, multi-platform initiative that will be anchored by more than 125 total hours of female-focused programming across ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Additional content will be available on ESPN.com, ESPN Audio and the espnW social handles. “espnW Presents: When We Play” will run from Sunday, June 21 through Tuesday, June 23…..HRN Media Network, a Gen Media Partners company, is expanding its platform and the result is one of the largest Hispanic audio networks in the U.S. All of Gen Media Partners’ Hispanic assets – including Sun Latino and GLR – will now operate exclusively under the HRN umbrella, creating an easy one-source solution for advertisers, agencies, and radio stations for all things Hispanic…..Public media organization WGBH names Pam Johnston general manager for news. Johnston is currently senior director of strategy and audience for “FRONTLINE,” the investigative documentary series produced by WGBH. She will succeed Phil Redo who is retiring at the end of this month. WGBH president and CEO Jon Abbott says, “Pam has deep roots in Boston news, and with her public media and multiplatform experience she is ideally suited to lead the WGBH news team into the digital future. Her expertise across all forms of media will build on the quality and award-winning local journalism WGBH has become known for under the leadership of Phil Redo. We’re grateful for the strong foundation he established and we’re excited about the innovation Pam will bring to how we serve our community.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Norfolk, Virginia hot AC WMVN “MOViN’ 107.7” launches the new “Valentine in the Morning Show” starring Valentine and co-hosts Jillian Escoto and Kevin Manno. Station PD DJ Fountz says, “We’re thrilled to introduce ‘Valentine in the Morning’ to the people of Hampton Roads. The show is polished, the crew has great chemistry, and we know that they’ll be the perfect way to get our listeners movin’ in the mornings.”…..iHeartMedia names DJ Loui Vee program director for hip hop WBZY, Atlanta “105.3 The Beat.” iHeartMedia Atlanta SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “Very excited to have DJ Loui Vee in Atlanta. He is an exceptional talent who will continue to build the brand of ‘105.3 The Beat Atlanta.’ His creativity and passion along with his incredible leadership skills make him the perfect talent to program ‘105.3 The Beat.’”…..Morning personality Guy David exits Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver. Co-host Tracy Dixon continues to host mornings along with producer Patrick Knight for now…..On-air pro Scott Fisher announces his retirement from iHeartMedia’s classic hits KODJ, Salt Lake City where he hosted middays. Fisher thanked his listeners in a message on the station’s website. He also notes that his weekend talk show, “Extreme Genes – America’s Family History Show,” will continue to air on the company’s sister news/talk station KNRS-FM.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

| June 2, 2020

KFI, Los Angeles Front and Center in Coverage of Chaos. Los Angeles is another American city in which authorities are trying to quell civil unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. KFI, Los Angeles – which, on the strength of a 5.5 share in Nielsen’s April PPM survey, shot to #1 in the market – has been front and center in covering the story. Program director Robin Bertolucci tells TALKERS that KFI “was and will continue to be wall-to-wall on this story. KFI’s news team, led by Chris Little, was all over this, covering the protests and the ensuing chaos. One of our reporters, Kris Ankarlo, was so close to the action in the Fairfax district that his tires were slashed. In addition to covering it for KFI, we covered it with updates all weekend long for all of our iHeartMedia LA stations.” Bertolucci shared with TALKERS the content of a memo to all staffers sent Sunday. “I want to remind everyone that as this situation unfolds, we are in NEWS mode. This goes for all shows, news or talk. This is the time to tell people what’s happening and explain all the sides of the story. This is a dynamic situation and we need to cover it clearly, first and foremost. We should try to refrain from drawing grand conclusions, making pronouncements or adding to the overall tension and confusion. The tone is INFORMATION and CLARITY. There are many different factions at play in this story… business owners, antifa, police, looters, the national guard, and let’s not forget the original focus of this… the protest about race and police brutality that launched this moment in history. This has become something very different and awful, but we need to stop talking about this as if it’s an us/them situation. We are all part of the same community and we need to find a way to talk about what is going on. Let’s get the whole story and let’s talk to different members of our community. No, I’m not condoning any bit of this horror show but I am asking us not to simplify this, not to paint everyone with the same broad brush and to find the nuances and tell the stories.”

WSB, Atlanta’s Drew Anderssen: Proud of WSB and CMG News/Talkers. WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta director of branding and programming Drew Anderssen tells TALKERS magazine, “I’m very proud of the work that WSB and frankly all of our Cox Media Group news/talk stations have done in response to local market protests. In Atlanta specifically, our 95.5 WSB news center was staffed around the clock and we aired wall-to-wall coverage of the protests throughout the weekend. ‘The Show’ with Shelley Wynter and Malanikai, which features a predominantly black cast, were integrated into our news coverage and helped facilitate conversations about how we move forward each night as a community while protests continue. We added 22 hours of local programming this weekend focused on the impact of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement, featuring talk with prominent Atlanta leaders in government, civil rights, entertainment, and faith. We continue to monitor the developments of the historic protests happening across the country and are making real-time decisions on adjusting programming to meet the needs of our listeners and to serve our community.”

KPCC, Pasadena Reporter Shot with Rubber Bullet. As reported by LARadio.com, KPCC-FM, Pasadena reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was shot in the throat (at right) by a Long Beach police officer. LARadio.com notes that the law allows reporters access to protests in order for them to do their jobs and KPCC had “confirmed with officials from L.A. County and the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica that journalists were among those exempt from the curfew.” Guzman-Lopez tweeted that he’d just finished interviewing a man with his iPhone when he saw a police officer take aim and shoot. He tweeted, “The rubber bullet hit stings like a mf, and is starting to hurt, talked to doctor friends, said if not having trouble breathing then ok. Going home.” He later tweeted that an ER doctor confirmed no damage to his windpipe.

New York Landmark Boarded Up. In New York City, WABC talk host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa tells TALKERS he’s been “leading the Guardian Angels patrols at night to stop the looting in Soho and return in the morning to broadcast on WABC about what I just experienced hours before.” The photo above is a still from video Sliwa shot of the Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square – all boarded up. Sliwa adds, “The NYPD seems unable to address these safety issues.  So, the Guardian Angels have stepped in and are now patrolling these hot spot areas around the clock. It is uncertain how long the mayhem will last but we are in it for the long haul. We have been here since 1979 and we don’t intend on going anywhere.” You can see Sliwa’s eerie video of the Macy’s storefront here.

Rush Limbaugh and ‘The Breakfast Club’ Air Conversation About Race. In a first for the Premiere Networks personalities, conservative talk star Rush Limbaugh and “The Breakfast Club” hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God had a 30-minute conversation about race relations in America that aired on both of their programs. The point of contention between Limbaugh and the “Breakfast Club” cast was the issue of white privilege. During the conversation Limbaugh said he doesn’t believe in the concept of white privilege, calling it a “construct of today’s Democratic Party.” Charlamagne called Limbaugh “delusional” for his stance on the matter. You can hear the exchange here.

Dimes Media Launches ‘K-NEWS 98.5’ in San Luis Obispo. The San Luis Obispo market has a new news/talk station as Dimes Media unveils “K-NEWS 98.5 The Power of Information” on KWWV-HD2/K253BR. Dimes Media president and CEO Eric D. Fahnoe says, “‘K-NEWS 98.5’ now provides San Luis Obispo county residents with a voice and perspective they didn’t have before. We look forward to enhancing the diversity and dialogue regarding issues ranging from local to national which our resident’s face daily. The importance of hearing and considering other perspectives cannot be overstated during these current times. Our culture will best evolve and compromise through informed discussions and we look forward to ‘K-NEWS 98.5’ contribution to the conversation every day.” The station’s weekday lineup includes: “The Armstrong & Getty Show,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Savage Nation with Michael Savage,” “The Andy Caldwell Show,” “The Larry Elder Show,” “The Dennis Prager Show,” “Red Eye Radio” and “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Weekend programs include: “Handel on the Law,” “Free Talk Live,” “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” “Townhall Review,” “Meet the Press,” “Armed American,” and “The Christian Outlook.”

George Floyd Protests, Trump vs Governors/Military Threat, Trump Church Visit, Facebook ‘Walkout,’ COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, and Limbaugh-Breakfast Club Conversation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/1). The ongoing violence and looting accompanying the protests over George Floyd’s death; President Trump calls U.S. governors “weak” for failure to stop protests and threatens the call in the U.S. military; Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church in DC; Facebook employees stage a virtual “walkout” over Trump posts; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; and the radio conversation between Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and the syndicator’s “Breakfast Club” hosts were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Down 3.7%. Reporting its financial data from the first quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says total revenue was $58.3 million, down 3.7% from the same period in 2019. After reporting net income of $322,000 in Q1 of 2019, Salem reports a loss of $55.2 million this year. Breaking down the company by segment, net broadcast revenue decreased 2.0% to $45.2 million. Same Station net broadcast revenue increased 0.6% to $44.3 million. Digital had a tough quarter, dropping 11.1% to $9.1 million.  Speaking during Monday’s investor conference call about the company’s strategy for surviving the economic impact of COVID-19, CEO Ed Atsinger said, “First of all, we’ve reduced discretionary spending such as travel and entertainment, which of course has been easy so far. We’ve eliminated open positions, we’ve instituted a hiring freeze, we’ve made request for discounts or forbearance from vendors and landlords, and we laid off and furloughed about 10% of our employees. We have limited capital expenditures to emergency expenses only, we suspended the quarterly dividend, we suspended the 401(k) match, and we’ve taken advantage of the ability of deferred payroll taxes of approximately 3.6 million under the CARES Act, and we’ve reduced base salary for every employee with salary cuts ranging from between 5% and 10% depending upon the salary levels.” Company EVP and CFO Evan Masyr says the company will not be offering Q2 guidance but delivered some April data. “April revenue is down 24%. I’ll break that decline down in a little bit more detail. Broadcast revenue in total declined 24%; local spot advertising was down 49% and national spot advertising was down 38%; local programs were down 26% while national programs were down 2%; local digital revenue was up 30%; national digital revenue declined 11% and publishing revenue declined 45%; and in May, revenue was down just around 23%.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. You can read the whole conference call transcript here.

TALKERS News Notes. KXTV-TV, Sacramento reports that KHTK-AM, Sacramento sports talk host and Sacramento Kings play-by-play voice Grant Napear has been placed on leave by station owner Bonneville after a Twitter exchange with former King’s player Doug Christie in which Napear said, “all lives matter.” The Sacramento Kings issued a statement saying they are investigating the incident with broadcast partners KHTK and NBC Sports California…..This Thursday (6/4), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of COVID-19-related Town Hall broadcasts. This edition is titled, “NJ Back to Business.” The station says, “Even as more New Jersey businesses are permitted to reopen, the road to economic recovery will be long. With unemployment at record levels and the state facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit due to lagging tax collections, critical decisions will be made in the months ahead that will determine how quickly businesses will recover, or if they will recover at all.” Vice president, senior political director and director of special projects Eric Scott leads the discussion with New Jersey State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. LARadio.com reports that Muerelo Media has let a number of staffers go from classic rock KLOS, Los Angeles. Frosty Stillwell – who had been on furlough from the Frosty, Heidi & Frank morning show – is let go permanently. Joining him are afternoon drive host Gary Moore, as well as Jim ‘JD’ Daniels, Steve Jones, Frazer Smith, and Greg Beharrell.…..On-air pro Matt Ryan – assistant brand manager and afternoon host at Townsquare Media’s hot AC WJLK, Asbury Park, New Jersey “94.3 The Point” is named host of “Pop Crush Nights.” He takes over for Lisa Paige. He’ll continue his role with WJLK.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

| May 14, 2020

Entercom Reports First Quarter Net Revenue Down 4%. On revenue of $297 million, Entercom reports a drop of 4% for the first quarter of 2020 compared to Q1 2019 in which net revenue was $309 million. Digital revenue was up 41% year-over-year for the quarter, “propelled by strong audience and revenue growth in podcasting and digital audio advertising.” Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $34.5 million, down 19% compared to $42.7 million in the first quarter of 2019. Whereas Entercom reported a net gain of $3.1 million in the first quarter of 2019, it is reporting a net loss of $9.1 million for Q1 2020. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “I want to salute the outstanding work and dedication of the Entercom team, which has risen to the unique challenges of these unprecedented times to serve the American public, our customers and our communities. Entercom began the year on a strong note driving revenues up over 7% through February before facing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have taken important actions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and are well positioned financially to operate effectively through the crisis. Strategically, we are well positioned to fully participate in the recovery and the attractive growth opportunities in the audio space, with strong leadership positions in broadcast radio and podcasting, the fastest growing digital audio platform, unparalleled leadership in news and sports, and strong data and analytics capabilities.”

Round Three of April PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s April 2020 survey period covered March 26 – April 22. You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets and notes some of the following moves of significance: In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM tacks on three-tenths to finish with a 7 share and moves up to the #2 rank in the market; Entercom’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte adds another 1.4 shares to its March total for a 7.1 share and a rise to the #3 rank; iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOAI-AM, San Antonio busts out with a 2.1 share increase, climbing to a 7.9 share and the #2 rank; In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK continues its climb adding 1.3 shares to finish #1 for the fourth straight survey with an 11.6 share; Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City rockets up 2.8 shares into first place with an 8.8 share; and iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati also rises 2.8 shares to repeat at #1 with a 12.9 share. See all of Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.

Rod Blagojevich to Host WLS-AM-Produced Podcast. Titled, “The Lightning Rod,” former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich begins hosting the weekly podcast for Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago. Blagojevich was sentenced to prison after the feds recorded phone conversations of him trying to “sell” Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat – a charge he denies to this day. President Trump commuted his sentence after serving almost eight years in a Colorado federal prison. The new podcast launches on May 20. Cumulus Chicago vice president and market manager Marv Nyren says, “Blagojevich is a polarizing political figure who served his time and now he’s serving up the truth, only on WLS-AM. It will be messy; it will be raw, and it will be Rod as you have never heard him before.” Blagojevich comments, “After a long exile, I made it home. It’s a brand-new day. I’m finally free and fired up to speak my mind, provide insights from the inside, and share what I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks.”

Michelle Franzen Named Midday Anchor at ABC News Radio. Rising from correspondent at ABC News Radio is news pro Michelle Franzen, who is named midday news anchor, joining Cheri Preston, Daria Albinger, and Rich Cantu in the weekday lineup. ABC Audio director of news programming Scott Goldberg says in a memo to staffers, “Michelle is a trusted journalist with top-notch storytelling skills. Just yesterday she, along with a stellar producing team, won a Gracie Award for their heartwarming story on NICU cuddlers, volunteers who spend time swaddling and hugging newborns when parents or nurses aren’t around. Michelle began her ABC News career in 2014, reporting for all platforms, and joined our ABC Audio family in 2015 as a correspondent. Since then she’s been instrumental in our coverage of so many major stories, including the 2016 presidential election, the tragic mass shooting in El Paso and the impeachment of President Trump. Last year Michelle’s story on organizations working to feed the hungry during the holiday season was featured in our special ‘America’s Bounty.’ She’s currently back in touch with one of those organizations, reporting its shift in efforts to fill the need during the pandemic.”

Radio Hall of Fame Opens Nomination Process. The Museum of Broadcast Communications announces that the Radio Hall of Fame Nominating Committee is now accepting suggestions for 2020 nominees and will continue to accept them until May 29. Inductees will be honored at the annual Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which is returning to Chicago in late October 2020. The exact date of the gala will be announced shortly. Suggestions for Radio Hall of Fame nominees can be made in the following categories: Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more), Active Local/Regional (10 years or more), Networks/Syndication (10 years or more), Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more), Music Format On-Air Personality, and/or Spoken Word On-Air Personality. Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “The annual Hall of Fame ceremony is a traditionally heartfelt event that evokes emotion from inductees and attendees. These talented radio broadcast individuals are honored for accomplishments that most only dream of. Being the 100th anniversary of radio makes this year’s celebration even more special.” The Radio Hall of Fame says that 100th anniversary of the radio industry will be part of this year’s celebration and notes that KDKA, Pittsburgh is often cited as the first commercial radio station in the United States for broadcasting the 1920 presidential election returns. The first national radio network was NBC in 1926, followed by CBS in 1927. ABC became a spin-off of one of NBC’s networks in the 1940s. You can make a nomination suggestion by visiting www.radiohalloffame.com and clicking on the NOMINATE tab.

Raiders Continue Relationship with Compass Media Networks. The Las Vegas Raiders sign a multi-year extension with Compass Media Networks in which the company will continue to produce and broadcast all Raiders’ play-by-play-audio for distribution on terrestrial radio, Raiders.com, SiriusXM, TuneIn, and Verizon Mobile. Raiders president Marc Badain states, “The Raiders are thrilled to continue our decade-long partnership with Compass Media Networks. We look forward to Brent Musburger and Lincoln Kennedy bringing all the action to a passionate audience of Raiders fans nationwide on game day.” Compass says that in this coming season, it will offer expanded pre-game and post-game coverage – in addition to all of the play-by-play action.

Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening Controversy, Financial Markets/The Economy, Bright Testimony, Michael Flynn Case, Presidential Election, GOP Special Election Victories, Burr Investigation, and Sports Leagues’ Plans Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/13). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future infections; the controversy over re-openings in various states; the financial markets react to coronavirus news and Fed chair Jerome Powell’s warning about the effect on the U.S. economy; Dr. Rick Bright’s Thursday testimony before a House panel; Judge Emmet Sullivan’s oversight of the case of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; the November presidential election and the allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; the GOP wins seats in California and Wisconsin in special elections; the investigation into Senator Richard Burr’s sale of stocks; and the various sports leagues’ plans to play games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WHP, Harrisburg PM Drive Host Ken Matthews Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The afternoon drive host on iHeartMedia’s heritage station WHP, Harrisburg, PA, Ken Matthews, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.”   Matthews, a staunch conservative in the capital of a key battleground state, is also on the select roster of fill-in hosts who sit in for Rush Limbaugh. A member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred, Matthews describes himself as having a passion for people, politics, pop culture, pistols, pianos, and alliteration. He’s a 35-year veteran of radio whose career has been marked by tremendous ups, downs and ups again.  Harrison and his guest candidly discuss the politics of COVID-19, the presidential race, and the years Matthews has spent in the trenches of both music and talk radio. It is a fascinating overview of the times in which we live and the “real world” life of one of the industry’s hardest-working professionals.  Don’t miss it!  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. Rock programming pro James Kurdziel is named program director for Cumulus Media’s classic rock KQRS, Minneapolis, taking over for Scott Jameson. Kurdziel serves as regional VP of programming-rock – a position he’ll continue to hold – and PD/midday personality for the company’s alternative WEDG-FM, Buffalo. He’ll continue in that role until a successor is named. He says, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m beyond grateful. Being at the helm of KQRS and working with Tom Barnard and the talented staff there is humbling and I am thrilled.”…..Cumulus Media’s hot AC WNTR “107.9 The Mix” drops the Christmas music it’s been playing for the past month and re-positions as “107.9 The Mix from the ‘80s to Now!” It also unveils a new jock lineup that includes Nikki Reed in afternoon drive…..According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, a talent shuffle takes place at Hubbard Radio’s hot AC WTMX. Both producer Cynthia DeNicolo and social media manager Melissa Dever exited recently as part of the company’s COVID-19-related cuts. Now, traffic reporter Violeta Podrumedic begins handling social media duties for the morning show as morning personality Melissa McGurren adds traffic duties.

Friday, May 8, 2020

| May 8, 2020

LiveXLive Acquiring PodcastOne in All Stock Deal. The digital media firm LiveXLive Media, Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Courtside Group, Inc., the owner and operator of PodcastOne in an all stock deal. The press release states that the transaction is valued at $18.1 million based on LiveXLive’s closing price on May 7, 2020. LiveXLive will acquire 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group, Inc. and issue to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.45 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock, which would be subject to a 12-month lock-up period and certain trading restrictions thereafter. The proposed acquisition is expected to close by June 2020, subject to certain closing conditions. PodcastOne recorded gross revenue of $27.5 million in calendar year 2019. LiveXLive chairman and CEO Robert Ellin says, “We’re excited to expand our business into the fast-growing podcast category, complementing our music platform of streaming audio, on-demand video, and live event performances. The acquisition will add to and diversify our revenue with a strong advertising component. Once acquired and integrated, we will have a significant opportunity to cross-sell and cross-promote to our respective subscribers, advertisers, and sponsors as well as provide our collective artists and on-air talent with an expanded platform to increase their social media and online presence.” PodcastOne founder and executive chairman, Norman Pattiz is joining LiveXLive as a significant shareholder and remains as executive chairman of PodcastOne. Pattiz comments, “All of us at PodcastOne are excited about joining the LiveXLive team and taking advantage of obvious future synergies between our businesses. I look forward to working with Rob Ellin to close the acquisition and achieve the growth we both envision. PodcastOne is a premium producer, distributor, and revenue-generator for audio-on-demand programming. PodcastOne’s well-established podcasting business is an excellent complement to LiveXLive’s  ‘live social music network,’ delivering premium livestreams, digital audio, and on-demand music.”

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   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.  The new episode titled “Demographic Genocide?” looks back at this past week of May 4-8, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSRic Edelman, financial advisor / talk show host; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Kate Delaney, talk show host, GCN; Barry Farber, talk show host, CRN; Dick Morris, pundit / author; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. 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 WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network, Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA, Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), 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.

iHeartMedia’s Q1 Revenue Down 1.9%. After a strong financial performance in January and February, the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll in March and iHeartMedia finished the first quarter of 2020 with revenue of $780 million, down 1.9% over the same period in 2019 (and down 4.8% excluding political). The company reports an operating loss of $1.7 billion, “driven primarily by non-cash impairment charges” that “reduce intangible asset and goodwill book values established in May 2019 upon required application of fresh start accounting where the macroenvironment was significantly different than today.” Adjusted EBITDA was $140.3 million, down 10.6% year-over-year. Free cash flow from continuing operations was $69.9 million, a decrease of $43.8 million or 38.6%. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “As America’s #1 audio company, with unparalleled reach both nationally and locally, we play a critically important role in providing companionship, connection and key information to all the communities we serve, and we are incredibly proud of our employees’ commitment to that mission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although businesses and brands across the country have been impacted, we are working closely with them on their marketing needs and are focused on helping them generate the consumer demand to reopen or ramp up. Our multiplatform offering, our unparalleled reach and our unique data and analytics position us well to benefit as a company from this returning advertising demand.”  Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Given the current economic environment, iHeart has taken actions that we believe expand the company’s financial flexibility and provide sufficient liquidity to operate effectively even in an extended period of economic weakness. We believe that iHeart’s fundamentally strong free cash-generation model, substantial current cash balances, incremental benefits from our cost savings initiatives, and flexible capital structure will enable us to build effectively on our audio market leadership and position us favorably to capitalize on the eventual recovery in advertising demand. With our experienced management team and our unparalleled assets, we are confident in our business and continue our focus on driving shareholder value.”

Edison Research: U.S. Moms Relying More on Tech. This latest installment of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2020” study includes data from The Infinite Dial series from Edison Research and Triton Digital, and a recent online survey conducted during COVID-19 restrictions. The report highlights how moms with kids under the age of 18 in the household continue to hold tight to their tech tools while sheltering at home, and they are relying on their technology and media to get through the day. Edison VP Melissa DeCesare says, “This virus has turned life upside down and parents have the added pressure of guiding children through this unsettling time.  Moms are masters at balancing tasks in normal circumstances, but they have found even more capacity to multi-task in this pandemic. Additional responsibilities like distance learning and managing the family dynamic while in isolation are increasing the need for media and technology in the home. This year’s study shows us that moms are meeting these challenges by relying on media, devices and technology to help them get through this new normal.” Some of the findings are: Moms are using their devices more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely, helping children with distance learning, and keeping in touch with friends and family are driving heavier use of all digital devices; Moms are facilitating distance learning with 54% of moms saying they are spending a lot of time helping their children with distance learning; Moms are using social media with 39% agreeing that social media is the main source for staying up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic in their community and 56% of moms say that they are grateful for social media during the pandemic; and while it is unknown how long this new normal will last, nearly 4 in 10 moms think their current media habits will stay with them even after it is over. See more here.

Three Entercom Podcasts Nominated for Peabody Awards. The nominations for Peabody Awards have been announced and three podcasts from Entercom’s Podcast Network are included among the nominees. “Headlong: Running from COPS” and “The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow” from Pineapple Street Studios, and “Gangster Capitalism, Season One: The College Admissions Scandal” from Cadence13’s C13Originals studio were nominated. Winners will be announced at a later date. Pineapple Street Studios co-founders Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky say, “For our small shop to get two Peabody nominations is just an incredible testament to the care, thought, and creativity the entire Pineapple Street Studios team puts into the work. Working with world-class talents like Dan Taberski and Ronan Farrow is an honor and we’re thrilled by the recognition for our incredible staff and these two critically important shows, which we were so proud to put out into the world.” The Peabody Awards honor the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media. See all the nominations here.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 4-8. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the projections for future cases was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. healthcare system.  Coming in at #3 was a tie between the economy, the debate over re-opening, and criticism of the airlines, followed by the presidential race, politics, and the Michelle Obama film at #4. See the entire chart here. 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.

TALKERS News Notes. A special, virtual town hall meeting produced by SiriusXM is taking place today on the Business Radio channel featuring host Dan Loney of Wharton Business Daily that addresses the questions on Americans’ minds about how and when to safely reopen the economy. Guests on the program include: Hyundai Motor Company’s Jose Munoz, Ford Motor Company COO Jim Farley, Kahn Academy CEO Sal Kahn, Cleveland Federal president Loretta J. Mester, Board of Scientific Counselors chair Dr. Thomas Inglesby, Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff, chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, DHL CEO Greg Hewitt, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao…..The Talk Shows USA syndicated program “The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” adds new affiliate stations to its roster. They are: WRTA-AM/FM, Altoona, PA; WGNC-AM, Gastonia, NC; WPAY-FM, Garrison, KY; KBST-AM, Big Spring, TX…..Jenn White is named as the new host of the WAMU-FM, Washington-based, NPR program “1A.” White has been serving at Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago hosting the midday “Reset with Jenn White” program.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A Memorial Day weekend show from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville celebrates the start of summertime. “Summer Kickoff with Dustin Lynch” is a salute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and some military veterans will join Lynch in the tribute. Fellow artists will share their favorite holiday memories and summer activities throughout the special, including: Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, and Carrie Underwood. The four-hour-long special will be available for stations to air over the holiday weekend beginning Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25, any time between 6:00 a.m. and 12 midnight.