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Friday, July 28, 2017

| July 28, 2017

Entercom Reports Second Quarter Net Revenue Rises 3%.  With the pending EntercomCBS RADIO merger front-and-center in the radio news these days, when Entercom president and CEO David Field talks, people listen.  Analysts and industry watchers were no doubt eager to hear what Field had to say about the merger process and here’s what he told them on this morning’s conference call.  “We’ve made good progress towards completing the transaction. We’re well along in our post-merger integration work, developing our plans to optimize our structure, practices and strategies to ensure we move quickly and effectively to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us.  And we have entered into letters of intent on all of our planned divestitures with strong interest from a significant number of various parties for the various stations and we’re pleased with the outcome of this process.  That said, we’re still working to achieve approval from the Department of Justice on the divestiture plan and are in the midst of that process.  We believe we’ll remain on schedule for closing in the second half of this year.”  To the numbers, Entercom reports net revenue of $125 million during the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 3% compared to the same period a year ago.   Same station net revenue was up 1%, excluding political.  In a statement, Field says, “We continue to make great progress in our planning for our transformational merger with CBS RADIO that will make us the #1 provider of original, local audio content in the U.S. and create the scale to compete with other media for a larger share of ad spending.  As we meet with clients, agencies, and strategic partners, we are more confident than ever about the value-creating opportunities ahead.  Second quarter revenues increased 3% as reported, and up 1% on a same-station basis ex-political.  Expenses were up more than usual due to our acquisition in Charlotte, some significant one-time-only expenses and additional costs related to building the organization in anticipation of the merger.  We expect expense growth to recede in the third quarter and look for meaningful margin expansion post-closing.”  As of June 30, Entercom had outstanding $467.6 million of senior debt under its credit facilities and $27.7 million in perpetual cumulative convertible preferred stock.  The company reports $8.6 million in cash on hand.

SiriusXM Q2 Revenue Up 9%; Subscribers Top 32 Million. Satellite radio operator SiriusXM is reporting 2017 second quarter financial numbers, led by “record” revenue of $1.3 billion, up 9% compared to Q2 of 2016.  Net income was $202 million in the second quarter, up 16% from $175 million in 2016.  The company’s free cash flow rose 6% to $417 million.  During the quarter, SiriusXM added 466,000 net new self-pay subscribers, putting its total self-pay subscribers at nearly 26.7 million.  SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer states, “In the second quarter, SiriusXM continued its strong track record of execution and demand for our premium content bundle pushed our listener base to an all-time high of more than 32 million paying subscribers. We are pleased to raise our full-year guidance for net self-pay subscriber additions, revenue, and adjusted EBITDA. We also made tremendous progress on strategic initiatives in the second quarter with the closing of our recapitalization of SiriusXM Canada, our acquisition of Automatic Labs, and our agreement to acquire a minority stake in Pandora Media.”

TALKERS Hears: Westwood One Signs Syndication Agreement with Walter Sabo.  TALKERS magazine hears that, according to unconfirmed inside sources, Westwood One has signed an agreement to syndicate a three-hour radio show hosted by Walter Sabo.  Sabo, CEO of the New York-based consultation firm Sabo Media, has been hosting a live, weekly two-hour talk show at 11:00 pm on Sunday nights on CBS O&O WPHT, Philadelphia for the past several years.  He uses the on-air name Walter Sterling.  The pact is the result of conversations between CBS RADIO and Cumulus Media to make the Walter Sterling Show (a CBS property) available to Cumulus stations and others in the late night weekend slot including an extra third hour.  TALKERS editors who have been listening describe the show as a departure from typical “left versus right” political news/talk fare focusing largely on social, family, and cultural issues of current life.  Noted radio impresario Kraig Kitchin is reportedly managing Sabo’s emerging on-air career and negotiated the deal. NEXT WEEK:  TALKERS will be presenting a special feature story by managing editor Mike Kinosian detailing the history of Walter Sabo’s colorful career from being a wunderkind 20-something radio executive in the 1970s and 1980s with ABC and NBC through his work as a leading consultant in the 1990s and early 2000s – culminating with his emerging presence as an on-air talent today.

Longtime KTRS, St. Louis Personality Frank O. Pinion Exiting.  After more than 20 years onFrank the St. Louis talk station, afternoon drive host Frank O. Pinion, a.k.a. John Craddock, will wrap his deal with CH Holding’s KTRS on September 14. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Craddock told his listeners that the parting was not amicable – he’s resigned – and that he’s not retiring either.  The paper reports that Craddock is not a KTRS employee but an independent contractor who brokers the show, getting inventory to sell.  Read the Post-Dispatch story here.

Jon Kelly Takes Control of SummitMedia LLC.  The company announces that shareholder and private investor Jon Kelly reaches an agreement to purchase the controlling interest in SummitMedia LLC held by Highpoint Holdings.  SummitMedia chairman/CEO Carl Parmer states, “Jon has been our largest individual shareholder since inception and we are delighted he will become our controlling shareholder, pending FCC approval.  Not only is he a good friend, but he and his family have a long and incredibly successful history in broadcasting in the United States.  His commitment to SummitMedia positions us to take advantage of strategic opportunities and grow our platform in the years ahead.”

Conclave 42.  Consultant Holland Cooke (pictured above with conference chair Lori Lewis, VP/social for Cumulus Media/Westwood One) reports from Minneapolis with his notes on the Conclave Summer Learning Conference.  Among the topics discussed at this year’s conference were: the possibilities for radio with the growth of smart speakers, podcast strategies for radio personalities, the future of radio’s place in the car, and more.  See Cooke’s coverage here.

Salem Hosts at the White House.  Pictured above are some of the Salem Radio Network personalities and some of the hosts whose shows air on Salem Media Group-owned news/talk stations at this week’s “Made In America” radio remote from the White House.  Clockwise from left: Kevin McCullough (WNYM, New York), Joe Piscopo (WNYM, New York), Salem SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce, Craig Silverman (KNUS, Denver) and his son, SRN’s Eric Metaxas and Larry Elder.

Talking Issues with Jon Lovitz. “Saturday Night Live” alum Jon Lovitz (right) is pictured here with talk radio star Lars Larson (left) at Alpha Media’s KXL, Portland studios. Larson tells TALKERS magazine that Lovitz appeared on his radio show and talked “Trump, guns, Caitlyn Jenner and a lot of other things.”

TALKERS News Notes. With the goal of making its 34 radio stations in 13 states available on to Amazon Alexa-supported devices, E.W. Scripps enlists XAPPmedia.  XAPP VP of sales Ryan Higbie says, “We are honored to work with Scripps to bring Amazon Alexa users access to its radio stations’ original audio content.  The technology offers an immersive experience for users to listen to their favorite radio programs on demand.  XAPP is committed to helping Scripps make the most of this new distribution channel and build deeper listener relationships at the same time.”…..SiriusXM announces comedian and actor Godfrey begins hosting a daily show on the Urban View channel on Monday (7/31).  “The Power Hour” will air daily from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm and feature “dynamic and often provocative conversations on politics, pop culture, and social issues in Godfrey’s relaxed, comedic style.”

ObamaCare Repeal and Replace Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of July 24-28.  The GOP’s attempts to vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and efforts to craft a replacement health care plan tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week.  At #2 was the threat by new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to fire the entire West Wing to stop leaks to the press.  Coming in at #3 was President Trump’s ban on transgender soldiers in the military, followed by the announcement by Foxconn of plans for a new plant in Wisconsin at #4.  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.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS 2017 Convention Videos Continue Posting Today (7/28) with Memorial Tribute to Alan Colmes by Jim Bohannon.  The entire agenda of the recent Talkers 2017: A New Era national talk media convention has been video recorded and its sessions are being posted to Talkers.com – one event per day.  Already posted are:

–          The “Welcoming Remarks” by WMAL, Washington, DC afternoon drive host Larry O’ Connor (including an introduction by TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein).

–          The special presentation “You HAVE Options” by consultant Holland Cooke (including an introduction by Yappy Days author Bernadette Duncan).

–          The “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity (with introduction by Westwood One host Jim Bohannon).

–          The “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS managing editor  Mike Kinosian and WFAN, New York sports talk show host Mike Francesa (with introduction by Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo).

–          The special presentation “The Trump Effect: Latest Research of Interest to News/Talk Radio” by Salem Radio Network SVP Phil Boyce (with introduction by Pioneer Valley Radio GM/host Brad Shepard).

–          The special presentation “Podcasting and Local Radio” by PodcastOne excutive chairman Norm Pattiz (with introduction by Hubbard Radio SVP/programming Greg Strassell).

–          The first, second and third in a series of three consecutive “one-on-one” sessions discussing the topic “Maximizing Talk Radio’s Multi-Platform Potential for Reach and Revenue” featuring conversations between WABC, New York, PD Craig Schwalb and KGO, San Francisco host Ethan BearmanBold Gold Media Group president/CEO Vince Benedetto and DGital Media managing partner Ron Hartenbaum, and nationally syndicated host Dr. Asa Andrew and TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein.  All three sessions are facilitated by Sirius/XM Satellite Radio host Karen Hunter.

–          A “one-on-one” dialogue titled “Radio That Makes a Difference” featuring the SiriusXM Satellite Radio husband/wife team of host Joe Madison and executive producer Sharon Madison (introduced by Sirius/XM Satellite Radio VP/GM talk programming Dave Gorab).

–          A “Fireside Chat” featuring former CBS Radio president/CEO and Broadcasters Foundation of America chairman Dan Mason being interviewed by WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley (with introduction by BOB-FM, London morning host Graham Mack).

–          A “Fireside Chat” featuring Emmis Communications CEO/chairman Jeff Smulyan being interviewed by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey (with an introduction by Bentley University professor/TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman).

–          The series of four “one-on-one” dialogues titled “The Challenges of Doing Talk Radio in 2017.”  They feature a conversation between WYD Media syndicated host Thom Hartmann and Cumulus Media corporate PD/WMAL, Washington PD Bill Hess(introduced by Moceri Media president Greg Moceri), a conversation between morning co-host of WAQY-FM (Rock102), Springfield, MA  Mike “Bax” Baxendale and morning host of WOLB, Baltimore Larry Young, and a conversation between Cumulus Media EVP programming and content Mike McVay and Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott (facilitated by ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones).

–          The series of four “one-on-one” dialogues collectively titled, “Where Does Talk Media Go From Here?” featuring a conversation between WRHU, Hofstra University OM John T. Mullen and WRFH, Hillsdale College GM Scot Bertram; a conversation between The New Normal CEO/founder/host Tom Leykis and syndicated host Michael Berry; a conversation between The Weiss AgencyEVP Heather Cohen and Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel host Brian Kilmeade; and a conversation between WPHT, Philadelphia host Dom Giordano and GCN syndicated host Dr. Daliah Wachs  (facilitated by WOR, New York APD Scott Lakefield). At the conclusion, Dr. Wachs is presented the TALKERS “Humanitarian of the Year” award by Michael Harrison.

–          TODAY (7/28) we posted the second of a series of three memorial tributes by Westwood One host Jim Bohannon dedicated to major talk show personalities and longtime TALKERS Convention participants who passed away this past year:  Tom MarrDr. Joy Browne and Alan Colmes.  Today’s posted tribute is for Alan Colmes. Dr. Joy Browne’s tribute will be posted on Monday.  (Introduction by Stephan Multimedia CEO/host, Doug Stephan.)

Within the following days and weeks, every session will be posted and will remain on Talkers.com for the rest of the year.  The Talkers 2017: A New Era video page is sponsored by Backbone NetworksBroadcasters General Store and Comrex Corp.  To view the video page of Talkers 2017: A New Era, please click here.

 

 

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Charlotte, air personality JT Bosch is named the afternoon drive host and assistant program director at iHeartMedia’s country WKKT “96.9 The Kat.”  Effective August 14, Bosch begins hosting the 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm show.  Bosch was most recently with the company as APD/evening personality at WMZQ, Washington.  iHeartMedia Virginia-Carolina Region president Dave Carwile states, “I’m excited to have JT in Charlotte and involved in the programming of WKKT.  He is familiar with the area and his experience in both programming and on-air is unrivaled.”…..Carson Daly is resigning from his morning show duties at CBS RADIO’s KAMP, Los Angeles “97.1 AMP Radio,” in order to focus on his television projects and his other radio work.  He told his radio listeners that his desire to spend more time with his wife and three kids was a big factor in the decision.  “I just want to have breakfast with my kids,” he said.  Daly will still produce the weekend radio countdown show “Daly Download” while handling television duties that include hosting “The Voice,” anchoring on the “Today” show, and hosting “Last Call with Darson Daly.”…..The mystery surrounding the April disappearance of Kathy Hart from WTMX, Chicago’s popular “Eric & Kathy” AM drive show may soon be revealed to some degree or another, according to Chicago media writer Robert Feder.  He writes today that sources say action on her relationship with the station should come soon and it sounds as though she’s negotiating an end to her contract.  However, everyone seems mystified as to what caused her to choose to take a leave from the highly rated program 12 weeks ago, including radio partner Eric Ferguson.  Read Feder’s piece here…..Entercom’s WLNK, Charlotte “The Link 107.9” inks a new deal with Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch (pictured at right) for the two to continue hosting their syndicated “Bob & Sheri” show on the station.  Entercom Charlotte VP/GM Matt Hanlon states, “This is the top-rated show in the market and one of the best, most unique morning shows in America.  We’re fortunate to have the caliber of talent and creative engagement the ‘Bob & Sheri’ show brings to the airwaves every day.”

Thoughts for the New Year

| January 5, 2015

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

sabowriterNEW YORK — The biggest trends and their impact that Sabo Media has been following in this challenging year of disruption:

1) The vital initiative of NextRadio activating the FM chip in your smartphone.  Jeff Smulyan’s endless effort is paying off.  There are two important lessons.  Radio can infiltrate new technological platforms effectively.  Secondly, a solo operator determined to make positive change, can!

2) Major advertisers, such as Coke, moving their money from prime time network TV shows such as “American Idol” to online video.  Sabo Media was the first company, in 2007, to identify online video stars and monetize their work. Our HITVIEWS division persuaded Pepsi, Timberland, US Government, TiVo, Sony, Panasonic and many others to put their products inside user-generated video content.  Not worthless pre-rolls or pop-ups but placement inside web-star shows.  For radio this means that radio divisions within TV companies are becoming more important to total corporate financial health.

Read More

Five Steps to Effective Hiring

| September 3, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO
sabowalterwriterNEW YORK — Since the start of my career as a C suite executive and consultant, I have hired or recommended over 1000 people. I’ve hired them at huge corporations like ABC, NBC and Sirius. I’ve hired them at smaller, successful companies such as Press Communications. Plus, I’ve launched angel funded startups and populated them with sharpies.

Modestly, I have a strong reputation for spotting talented hard workers.  Really hard workers.  People of vision and passion. It is actually difficult to deconstruct how I have been so successful at the hiring process but here are some components of the process:

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Man Myth: “Ours is a Very Big Sports Town”

| August 25, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

sabowalterwriterNEW YORK — As a globetrotting consultant there is noticeable bravado in every city about the local level of sports fandom.

When the topic of sports coverage and sports interest is discussed, the local media mavens always say the same things:

*  “This is a very big sports town.”

* “Even women here are nuts about sports.”

*  “You’ve got to understand that this is the biggest sports town.”

Read More

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

| May 6, 2014

limbaughrushRush Limbaugh’s Camp Responds to Media Matters Piece.  The consumer media war against conservative talk radio – led by Media Matters for America – has, in general, not seen a lot of pushback from the program hosts themselves and the producers of the shows.  But Premiere Networks-syndicated Rush Limbaugh, the chief target of criticism, fired back at Media Matters after a piece by its senior fellow Eric Boehlert was published in The Huffington Post that proclaimed Limbaugh’s program a ratings failure in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.  Limbaugh program spokesperson Brian Glicklich penned a response to Boehlert’s piece in which he takes Boehlert to task for, primarily, publishing the three stations’ weekly AQH numbers with the implication they are Limbaugh’s numbers before clarifying that later in his piece.  He then adds his statistics about changes in Limbaugh’s ratings on those outlets.  With just four months under his belt on these stations, one thing is for sure: Limbaugh is still the primary target for Media Matters and scrutiny of the these signals is something the industry will see a lot of over the next year or so.

sabowalterYou’re Here Because of Ben Hoberman.  The recent passing of Ben Hoberman – the architect of KABC-AM, Los Angeles’ talk format in the early 1960s – has caused some of the industry’s great thinkers to look back at what made KABC and Hoberman so successful.  Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo writes today in TALKERS (5/6) that Hoberman understood the basic premise behind great talk radio: It’s a show.  Sabo also says Hoberman followed a number of other prescriptions for success, including these two: He invested in new technology and he embraced fresh, often outrageous talent.  Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.

paiajitFCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Address AM Revitalization and Cross-Ownership Rules at PAB Meeting.  At the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters meeting in Hershey on Monday (5/5), FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told the assembly that he wants to implement the workable aspects of the Commission’s AM revitalization program by the fall.  He told the gathering, “Small broadcasters and large broadcasters alike want to revitalize AM radio.  So do civil rights organizations and those favoring increased ownership diversity.  Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, the list goes on.  Indeed, I’ve been amazed by the chord that AM revitalization has struck throughout the United States.  When I made this proposal in September 2012, I never imagined the response we would receive…Time isn’t on the side of this grand old band, so let’s commit ourselves to getting this done by Halloween.  Our proposals will not be a panacea for the real problems confronting AM broadcasters.  But they will help.  For example, I’ve heard from numerous AM broadcasters desperate for FM translators.  That’s why we need to move forward with an FM translator window designed for AM broadcasters.  If the FCC acts soon, that window could open next year.  In addition to asking for comment in our NPRM on specific proposals, the Commission also solicited other ideas on how to improve the AM band, both in the short term and the long term.  And we received many suggestions from station owners, engineers, and listeners.  We need to sort through them and figure out which ones merit action and which ones need further study.  Beginning this summer, I plan to hold a series of meetings with stakeholders to discuss these proposals.  And I invite you to participate.  If you have an idea for revitalizing the AM band, don’t be shy. It’s not too late to tell us what you think.”  Regarding the cross-ownership rules, Pai is realistic about what can be accomplished, stating, “Unless the courts intervene, I see no prospect that the FCC will bring all of its media ownership rules into the 21st century in the next couple of years.  But I do see a glimmer of hope when it comes to the newspaper-radio ownership ban.  The Commission has signaled an openness to getting rid of this anachronism.  And as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu put it, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’”

wcpt logoNewsweb Radio to Change Programming on Two Chicago FMs.  The programming on two of the four stations currently airing Newsweb Radio’s progressive talk programming will cease and begin airing a Polish-language format under a time-brokerage deal.  Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story and he reports WCPT-FM, Arlington Heights at 92.7 and WCPQ-FM, Park Forest at 99.9 will begin airing the Polski.FM-branded format on June 2.  Newsweb Radio president Charley Gross tells Feder the move will allow the company to focus progressive talk on its 820 AM flagship, 92.5 FM (which covers mainly the western suburbs and northwest Illinois) and its webstream while providing a source of revenue from the other two stations.

sagaSaga Communications Net Income Down 9%.  Although the company’s net operating revenue was up by 0.8% with $29,423,000 realized in the first quarter of 2014, net income for Saga Communications was down 9% from $2,949,000 in 2013 to $2,439,000 this year.  Saga’s long term debt dropped from $58,828,000 during the same period in 2013 to $46,078,000 in 2014.

millerstephanieOdds & Sods.  Changes in weekend programming at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco put an end to Barbara Simpson’s weekly show…..Clear Channel adds a little FM strength to the market coverage of news/talk WRVA, Richmond.  The formerly dark translator W253BI, licensed to Glen Allen, Virginia at 98.5 FM, gives WRVA more potential coverage in the northern part of the market…..The “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” presented by WYD Media nationally syndicated talk media personality Stephanie Miller rolls into Albuquerque for a show at Popejoy Hall on Saturday, May 10.  Miller, along with fellow performers John Fugelsang and Carlos Alazraqui, will also do a show in Minneapolis on June 7.

sciannapaulScianna Named BRN Director of Communications & Marketing.  That is a brand new title for Bott Radio Network and the one landing it is Paul Scianna, founder/executive director of the first Missouri-based Family Policy Council associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.  Bott Radio Network president and chief executive officer Rich Bott states that, “This new role is consistent with the exciting growth of Bott Radio Network and will help facilitate our continuing expansion and use of new media platforms to better serve our listeners and broadcast ministry partners.  Paul has been a longtime friend of the Bott family, and he has a passion for the mission, vision, and values of BRN. Paul will have a key role in serving our listening audience, broadcast ministry partners and business sponsors, as well as engaging community leaders, pastors and our associates as we implement new ways to advance our vision of getting the word of God into the people of God.”  Scianna comments that he is “excited and humbled” to join BRN “at this point in the organization’s 52-year history.  Bott Radio Network has established a strong foundation on which we can build to fulfill its vision of broadcasting the timeless message of hope.”  Scianna previously was vice president of the college testing company ACT; manager of internal corporate communications for Sprint; and senior vice president of corporate and public affairs for the PR firm Fleishman Hillard.

wsjdealawardgroupEnjoying the Accolades.  The staff of The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “WSJ This Morning with Gordon Deal” poses with their Excellence in Financial Journalism Award received from the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) which recognizes reporters from the national and local press whose work was published, posted or broadcast in 2013 and contributed to a better and balanced understanding of business or financial topics.  The “WSJ This Morning” crew was honored with one of only 11 awards given by the organization for the program’s coverage of the government shutdown.  Pictured here (from left to right) are: Mike Gavin, Gina Cervetti, Deal (holding the award) and Dave Duncan.

Obama WH Correspondents’ Dinner Speech, Mid-Term Election Prognostications, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Rice Withdraws from Rutgers Speech, and Clean Air Act Battle Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5).  Criticism of President Obama’s highly political speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; the most recent polls indicating Democrats may suffer losses in the mid-term elections in November; continued aggression in Ukraine by pro-Russian forces; former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice withdraws from her speech at Rutgers University; and the political battle over the Obama Administration’s restrictions on power plant emissions as part of the Clean Air Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.