By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — It is being reported by Jerry Del Colliano that radio giant Entercom has suffered its second major cyberattack in the last three months. The attack which occurred over the weekend appears to be another ransomware attack. In a September ransomware attack, it was reported that the hackers demanded a ransom of $500,000 to return control of affected systems which included email, phones, production, billing, and other crucial systems. These ransomware attacks are not isolated incidents. In the last year, other major radio companies including Townsquare Media and Radio One were hit with similar ransomware attacks, as were numerous smaller radio stations. You are never too big or too small to be a victim of a ransomware attack.
By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — Radio and television stations are prime targets for hackers with a myriad of different motivations. Some hackers may simply be looking to hack your station’s websites and computers to temporarily take control of these media to embarrass the station or make a political statement. Other more profitably inclined criminals are hacking into your computers to trick station employees into downloading ransomware, threatening to destroy your data if you do not pay a ransom. Still others, motivated by identity theft, are seeking to steal information including W-2s and other personal information for purposes of identity theft, including income tax identity theft. Finally, some radio and television stations will be targeted by hackers seeking to gain access to your station’s bank accounts or to lure the stations into paying phony invoices.
Cumulus Media’s 2016 Q1 Net Revenue Down Slightly; Challenging Quarter for Westwood One. New CEO Mary Berner says that her company is in the “early stages of a multi-year turnaround.” The first quarter saw Cumulus Media’s net revenue reach $268.5 million, that’s down just 0.9% compared to the same period in 2015. Adjusted EBITDA was $41.9 million, a dip of 6.1% year-over-year. Berner says, “Our first quarter results and second quarter pacings are consistent with the considerable challenges we must overcome. However, we are seeing some signs of progress in each of our turnaround initiatives – enhancing operational blocking and tackling, instituting a strong and positive culture, and driving improved ratings.” It was not a good quarter for Westwood One. Unlike iHeartMedia, which reported growth in its syndication sector (especially in the news/talk realm) during Q1, net revenue for Westwood One was $91.5 million – down 3.2% from the same period a year ago. And Westwood One has exclusive national radio rights for the NFL and the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, both of which took place during the first quarter. Berner tells investors on Thursday’s conference call that decline at WW1 was the result of “a noteworthy falloff in scatter demand as the quarter progressed.” She continues, “Westwood One is facing difficulties in the second quarter, currently pacing down high-single digits, with virtually all upfront account in at this stage we saw a pretty meaningful weakening demand in the scatter market with limited dollars in the pipeline in relation to what we saw during the same period a year prior. While some of this weakness appears to be market driven, our challenges in the network have some unique elements which will take more time to address, given the new leadership of the business and the much longer sale cycle. At this stage, we’re working to tactically influence the back half of the year while more strategically positioning the business for the 2017 upfront cycle.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript of the conference call. Members can read the whole transcript here.
E.W. Scripps Reports Radio Segment Down 4.6%. The first quarter of 2016 resulted in radio revenue of $14.6 million for E.W. Scripps – that’s a decrease of 4.6% from the same period in 2015. In the company’s financial report, it states guidance for the second quarter of this year appears similar: Radio revenue is expected to be down in the mid-single digits. Segment profit in the radio division was $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2016, about flat with the 2015 quarter. The company’s television and digital segments were both up over the same period in 2015.
Analysis: 2016 Moms & Media. Media consultant Holland Cooke took in Thursday’s webinar from Edison Research (sponsored by Triton Media) in which Edison VP Melissa DeCesare presented data from the company’s 6th annual “Moms & Media” study. The good news for radio is that 77% of moms use radio weekly (either AM/FM or online). Moms are very connected with 91% owning a smartphone. For moms, online listening averages 12 hours and 19 minutes per week but 46% of that TSL is added media consumption time – it’s time that’s not taken from another medium. For more about the media habits of this demographic – one that often is in charge of much of a family’s decision making – click here.
Your Station Is in Danger of Being Hacked. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman warns station operators of the new and insidious ways in which your radio station could easily be hacked. Chances are you’re aware of recent stories about hospitals being made victims of ransomware. They were forced to pay the hackers ransom in order to regain control of their computer systems. As Weisman writes, ways of preventing this crime – or others like it – happening to your station exist and are affordable, but the first step begins with your employees. Read this insightful column here.
The Presidential Race Continues to Dominate News/Talk Discussion. Not surprising is the fact that the presidential race was this week’s most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio. It has been for weeks and will probably continue to be so through November. On this week’s Talkers TenTM chart, the Hillary Clinton emails case landed at #2. Coming in at #3 was U.S. immigration policy, followed by Russia-NATO tensions at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated super star Rush Limbaugh and Mahindra USA are again honoring the service and sacrifice of U.S. military personnel via the program’s Mahindra Military Salute Giveaway promotion. This is the third annual Mahindra giveaway. Last year, more than 6,500 service men and women entered the contest and Retired Army Colonel Shep Snow of Sagle, Idaho won a Mahindra eMax 22HST tractor with loader. All current and former military service members are eligible to enter to win this year’s prize: a Mahindra mPact® XTV 750S utility vehicle in camo. Entries are being accepted between May 2 and May 29. The winner will be selected in a random drawing on May 31…..Pacific Palisades resident and Weiss Agency founder Eric Weiss recently won a contest to give the official slogan to the town’s Fourth of July Parade. Weiss – who confesses to the Palisades News that he’s always loved slogans – heard about a contest to give the parade a theme being orchestrated by the paper. He brainstormed and came up with the winner: “Independence Day – the Palisades Way.” The Weiss Agency represents numerous radio performers…..When Tom Leykis put up the second billboard of 2016 in the Los Angeles area promoting his internet program and ran a contest to reward a listener for being the first to see it, he never though it would be “Adam-12” star Kent McCord. But, it was! Leykis tells TALKERS magazine, “We put up our second Tom Leykis show billboard somewhere in the LA area and had a listener contest. First listener to find and submit the billboard along with its specific location would get a free, one-year subscription to our on-demand library. This time, we told them, it’s not on a freeway, but it is in a prominent location. It only took a couple of days before we had a winner. But we were blown away by who the winner was. McCord submitted the photo you see here saying he was strolling down the Sunset Strip when he saw the billboard on the south side of Sunset Boulevard…..Music Ventures Inc.-owned news/talk KFKA, Greeley, Colorado is holding its third annual 1310-a-Thon in conjunction with The United Way of Weld County. On Thursday, May 26, the station will speak with United Way of Weld County staff members, volunteers, board members and those impacted by what the United Way does to raise funds for the charity.