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Monday, July 18, 2022

| July 18, 2022

Pending Business: SiriusXM’s Chutzpah. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says AM/FM radio needs a stronger response to attacks like the broadside leveled at it by SiriusXM last week in its “Why waste your time with AM/FM radio? campaign. “Timing is everything and as much as it hurts, the “Why waste your time?” ad was well played. AM/FM radio can’t afford to ignore a broadside attack. Playing the local, free and emergency cards is a solid first step. Every AM/FM radio listener and advertiser can use a reminder. Just like a utility, we take it for granted until it’s not there when you need it.” He offers three concepts for development that support radio’s value. Read it here.

Monday Memo: Dine with Seinfeld’s Parents. Consultant Holland Cooke continues his month-long series “Inflation Hacks, money-saving tactics for your listeners (and yourself).” In this week’s column, HC offers “escape from Ramen, and your dentist!” Read it here.

‘The Big Picture’ Panel Video from TALKERS 2020 Posted. Today (7/18), the video of the panel discussion titled, “The Big Picture,” from the recent TALKERS 2022 convention at Hofstra University is posted. The panel was moderated by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison (who was introduced by Dottie Herman, vice-chair, Douglas Elliman Real Estate and host of “Eye on Real Estate” heard on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer”) Panelists included: Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Lee Habeeb, host/producer, “Our American Stories”; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; and Chris Oliviero, president/market manager, Audacy New York. See the video here.

Salem Rises to Prominence in Conservative Media. In a profile piece published in TALKERS magazine today (7/18), executive editor Kevin Casey chronicles some of the history of Salem Media Group and highlights the company’s steadily growing prominence in the conservative media universe. At the very heart of Salem Media Group is its philosophy and mission. Co-founder and executive chairman of the board Ed Atsinger says, “Salem’s leadership enthusiastically embraces the concept of American exceptionalism – that America is unique in human history as a place where no matter your social status, your ethnicity, your religion, or your country of origin the American dream is available for the taking. Today there are ideologies conspiring to tear us apart by promoting identity politics under such euphemisms as ‘critical race theory.’ Salem is committed to do all that we can to counteract the forces that would tear us apart, and we have created a company uniquely positioned to achieve that goal. Fortunately, there are enough Americans committed to religious faith and conservative values to help us achieve that goal.” Company SVP of spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “When I joined Salem’s team in early 2012, I had no idea the company was positioned to explode onto the conservative landscape like it did. My 14 year’s experience programming WABC in New York – the most-listened-to news/talk station in the nation – had prepared me well for the explosive times we were about to enter at Salem. We’ve been in a culture war for years in this country, and Salem is able to use its assets to further the cause, doing good, while informing and entertaining our audience.” Read the entire story here.

LiveOne to Spin Off PodcastOne into Separate Company. On Friday (7/15), LiveOne revealed its intention to spin off wholly owned subsidiary PodcastOne, as a separate public company to be listed on a national exchange and its plan to dividend a portion of PodcastOne’s common equity to LiveOne’s more than 15,000 stockholders as of a future record date. LiveOne says it hopes to complete the spin-off be year’s end. Related to the anticipated spin-off, PodcastOne closed a private placement financing of convertible notes and warrants totaling approximately $8.1 million prior to offering expenses, including $3 million invested by LiveOne, whereby the terms of the financing value PodcastOne at a pre-money valuation of $60 million. LiveOne CEO Robert Ellin states, “The goal of both our management team and board of directors is to maximize stockholder value. PodcastOne has been a tremendous addition to LiveOne since our acquisition in 2020, and we feel strongly that the market value of our stock dramatically undervalues the sum of our parts, which includes our PodcastOne subsidiary. Upon the successful completion of the spin out, we believe PodcastOne will be the only major pure play podcast company trading on a national exchange.” PodcastOne president, Kit Gray comments, “The podcasting business has exploded over the past five years and PodcastOne is one of the largest independent podcast companies in the world. The company is one of only two independent podcasting publishers in the top 10 of Podtrac’s list of Top Publishers. We believe that by trading as a separate public company, PodcastOne will have the opportunity to access the public capital markets as well as be better positioned to both acquire podcast platforms and attract significant podcast talent.”

Round Four of June PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2022 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s June 2022 sweep covered May 26 – June 22. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM adds eight-tenths to finish the survey with an 8.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) that lifts it to the #3 rank, while Curtis Media Group’s crosstown news/talk WPTF is up two-tenths for a 1.7 share good for the #17 rank. Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee solidifies its #1 finish after adding 1.1 shares for an 11.4 share finish, while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk WISN sheds six-tenths for a 9.0 and falls back to the #3 rank. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WWTN-FM, Nashville adds a full share for a 6.9 share finish but remains in the #4 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WOKV-FM, Jacksonville remains ranked #2 after dipping four-tenths for a 9.2 share finish. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first three rounds) here.

Up on the Roof.  Posing for promo shots on the roof of the Imperial Square Building (that housed the radio station) in Hempstead, Long Island during the Winter of 70-71 is the original airstaff of the legendary progressive rock station WLIR. Pictured (l-r): Richard Neer, Pete Larkin, Don K. Reed and Michael Harrison. All went on to colorful and groundbreaking careers in the media. Reed, who would serve for many years at WCBS-FM, New York, died over the weekend. His cause of death was not reported but it is believed he had been battling heart issues. You can see the memorial tribute video created by Art Vuolo here.

KXEL, Cedar Rapids Celebrates 80th Anniversary. Pictured above is Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signing the document declaring Thursday, July 14 “KXEL Radio 80th Anniversary Day” in the state. Standing next to her looking on is KXEL host and program director Jeff Stein. The NRG Media news/talk station was the first station in the U.S. to sign on with the maximum 50,000-watts on a clear channel signal. It first took to the air at 5:30 am on July 14, 1942, from studios in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. It was founded by Joe DuMond, a Waterloo native who came to national prominence portraying “Josh Higgins of Finchville” on NBC Radio in the 1930s and 1940s.

Biden in Middle East, Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, The Economy, Uvalde Report, January 6 Hearings, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19, European Heatwave/Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East and his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud; the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees for president in 2024; the high inflation rate, unstable stock market, and fears of a recession; the release of the Uvalde School Shooting report; the ongoing January 6 hearings; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the global economy; the climbing rate of subvariant BA.5 COVID cases in the U.S.; the intense heatwave gripping Europe and the Mediterranean wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, April 12, 2021

| April 12, 2021

Monday Memo: Sound Bites. After major radio networks have rebranded as “Audio,” and the third-biggest station owner changed its name from one made-up word to another, consultant Holland Cooke reckons that, “you might be wondering what business you’re in.” In this week’s column, he recommends channeling the timeless wisdom of Yogi Berra. Read it here.

Pending Business: New and Improved. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column about promoting the value of your new talent to advertisers and asks if there is any language in your sales sheet that explains why this new and improved talent is good for the advertiser’s business. He asks six questions to help you illustrate the value of your talent to advertisers. Read it here.

Marty Bannister Joins iHeartMedia Chillicothe as News & Sports Director. Ohio sports and news media pro Marty Bannister is joining iHeartMedia’s Chillicothe station group that includes news/talk/sports WBEX-AM and six music brands as news & sports director. Bannister has served with the Ohio News Network and ESPN Radio in addition to being a former Ohio State University announcer and sideline reporter. He currently works with the Ohio University Bobcats. He comments, “I started in the business in 1981. I’ve worked on Ohio State games. I do a lot of work now for Ohio University on ESPN3 on their football and basketball radio networks. I’ve been a part of ONN, the Ohio News Network for many years. I’ve called Wittenburg football and basketball and have been on the Ohio High School Athletic Association radio network for years. I’ve worked pretty much about everywhere in the state, and there’s no place I would rather be than doing this. I’m excited about this. People rely on their radio stations in communities this size for their information.”

New Executives Named to Positions with LiveXLive. Three new executives are joining LiveXLive Media – owner of PodcastOne, Slacker Radio, React Presents, and Custom Personalization Solutions. Nikki Hart Caldeira joins as SVP of strategic development and Ari Molovinsky is named SVP of corporate development and strategy. The company says both will focus on expanding LiveXLive’s “industry leadership through the expansion of relationships with global consumer brands, monetization of programming and content, business development and unification of new and existing assets that align with LiveXLive’s flywheel — listen, watch, attend, engage and transact — through lifestyle, music, pop culture and exceptional content and tech across all platforms.” Nikki Hart Caldeira most recently served with AXS Group LLC, AEG’s now wholly-owned ticketing company that services worldwide music venues and live sporting events. Molovinsky joins LiveXLive from SiriusXM Radio where he was instrumental in the launching of their streaming service. Additionally, Jonathan Flax joins LiveXLive as vice president, social media and marketing and will “oversee and drive the brand’s continued growth across social channels via the creation and execution of multiplatform content strategies for both earned and owned media.” Prior to joining LiveXLive, Flax was VP, Howard Stern Video where he directed video content strategy and social media programming for Stern at SiriusXM. LiveXLive chairman and CEO Robert Ellin says, “The hiring of Nikki, Ari and Jonathan comes at a time of significant growth in our flywheel of businesses and divisions. LiveXLive’s expansion has come from offering exceptional content, providing a talent platform that allows us to maximize social visibility, sponsorship opportunities and new business development while growing our employees by over 220% in less than three years and expanding audiences across our platforms organically and globally.”

Tomorrow Is Deadline for Radio Cares: Feeding America Radiothon. Tuesday (4/13) is the deadline for radio stations to join more than 200 stations and several major networks already signed on for Wednesday’s “Radio Cares: Feeding America Radiothon.” The grassroots charitable radiothon to relieve hunger in America is presented by the Independent Broadcasters Association and Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the U.S., with a member network of 200 local food banks. Radio stations do not need to be IBA members to participate and all donations go directly to Feeding America. IBA president and Adams Radio Group CEO Ron Stone says, “Last year’s inaugural ‘Radio Cares: Feeding America Radiothon’ helped provide 5 million meals to people experiencing food insecurity in America. As little as $1 can provide 10 meals! People who were making ends meet before the pandemic now find themselves in a perilous situation, unable to feed themselves and their families. Over 3,000 stations participated last year. This is radio’s chance to participate in a nationwide event for a great cause. Radio, working together and executing locally, can drive listener donations to help feed families in America.”

FCC Opens iHeartMedia Request for Increased Foreign Equity for Public Comment. The petition filed with the FCC by iHeartMedia requests that the foreign equity and voting interests in it held by Bahamas-incorporated Global Media & Entertainment Investments Ltd be increased up to a non-controlling amount not to exceed 9.99%. On November 5, 2020, the Commission granted iHeart’s July 25, 2019, petition for declaratory ruling, authorizing up to and including 100% aggregate direct and/or indirect foreign investment (voting and equity) in iHeart and specifically approving two groups of foreign entities not including GMEI or the GMEI reporting persons to hold more than 5% of voting and/or equity interests in iHeart. That ruling included the provision that iHeartMedia must obtain Commission approval for any new or additional foreign entity to obtain more than 5% of equity and/or voting interests, or a controlling interest in the company. GMEI’s recent acquisition of 8.7% of iHeart requires it to seek approval from the Commission. Interested parties must file comments no later than May 10, 2021.

COVID-19, Minneapolis Police Shooting-Protests, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Matt Gaetz Investigation, Border Crisis, BLM Founder’s Real Estate Portfolio, Strike on Iranian Nuke Site, and Death of Prince Philip Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The status of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the deadly weekend Minneapolis police shooting and the protests that followed; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan; the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sexual relations with a minor; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border; criticism of Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Kahn-Cullors’ acquisition of several high-priced real estate investments; the weekend strike on an Iranian nuclear site; and the death of England’s Prince Philip at 99 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

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.