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Monday Memo: Listeners Kidnapped!

| May 17, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Notice how often transmitters invite listeners and viewers to leave?

NBC uses affiliates’ air to ask viewers to watch Peacock instead. They even cannibalize their own linear channels. As President Trump recently addressed Congress, Lester Holt anchored on NBC, while MSNBC “Morning Joe” stars anchored coverage on Peacock. As if Brian Williams + talking-heads on MSNBC and Shepard Smith + talking-heads on CNBC weren’t splintering viewership already.

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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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”

Monday Memo: About Pottymouth

| July 27, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Fine. Call me a prude. Because I still cringe when I hear a radio voice say “pissed-off.” What gets lost if, instead, you say “irked” or “miffed” or “dissatisfied” or some other more-specific and safe-for-the-whole-family synonym?

There are lots of common expressions Mom and Dad use, but not in front of the munchkins. But when a single diary or PPM meter represents thousands as Nielsen numbers crunch, every…Quarter Hour…counts. And with advertisers increasingly wary of content that can appear alongside their digital ads, AM/FM radio has nothing to fear from manners.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

| February 5, 2020

Trump Honors Rush Limbaugh with Presidential Medal of Freedom.  During Tuesday evening’s State of the Union Address, President Trump surprised Premiere Networks nationally syndicated superstar Rush Limbaugh by announcing him as the recipient of the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  This came the day after Limbaugh announced to his radio audience that he’s battling advanced lung cancer and would be missing some time on his radio show for treatment.  First Lady Melania Trump placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck.  The president said, “Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis.  This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.  Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country.  And, Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Buck Sexton to Host Evening Show on WOR, New York. Nationally syndicated talk host – and former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert – Buck Sexton is joining the “710 WOR, The Voice of New York” program schedule as host of a new, local show airing from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, beginning February 10.  He hosts a daily Premiere Networks program that feeds live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Sexton says, “I’m thrilled at this opportunity to speak to my fellow New Yorkers in drive time on the airwaves of the legendary WOR.  I grew up in this city and worked to defend it as part of NYPD Intelligence.  I love this town, it’s my true home – and that’s the passion and experience I’ll bring on air every night to WOR.”  Sexton also appears frequently on FOX News Channel and other outlets as a political commentator and national security analyst.  Pictured above are (from l-r): WOR APD Scott Lakefield, Sexton, and WOR PD Tom Cuddy.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on the commercial news/talk format.  This survey period, when listening shifts to Christmas music for so many people, is always tough for news/talk and this year was no different.  About 60% of news/talk stations in PPM markets saw their weekly 6+ AQH share go down from the December 2019 survey to the Holiday survey.  However, iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston led the 16% pack that went up with a five-tenths increase for a 4.6 share.  Comparing Holiday 2018 to Holiday 2019, 46% of news/talk stations in PPM markets were up, with iHeartMedia’s WREC, Memphis up 1.8 shares for a 4.4 share and both KTRH, Houston and WOAI, San Antonio up 1.7 shares for a 4.6 share and 5.3 share, respectively.  Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was the lone news/talk station ranking #1 in its market during the Holiday 2019 survey.  See all the data here.

RAB and Borrell: Radio Breaks $1 Billion Digital Ad Threshold. According to the latest research released by the Radio Advertising Bureau and Borrell Associates, the radio industry’s digital ad revenue passed the $1 billion mark in 2019 and now accounts for 10% of total advertising revenue.  The report indicates local radio stations grew revenue by 25% in 2019 and are forecast to see growth of 29% this year and that digital revenue is now growing faster for the radio industry than it is for any other media segment that is also selling digital advertising.  RAB president and CEO Erica Farber says, “As radio continues to gain renewed interest by advertisers and the media buying community, they are recognizing radio’s assets beyond broadcast.  This report underscores the importance of being a well-trained and knowledgeable radio professional and the RAB continues to deliver the digital training and professional development required for radio sellers to best serve their clients.”  The annual report showed that the average station made $299,213 in digital revenue in 2019, and the average market cluster made $1.3 million.  The average revenue for the top five performers ranged from $664,651 for top performing clusters in the smallest of markets to $17.1 million in the largest. The findings are a part of the RAB and Borrell’s 8th annual report, “Digital Sales Skyrocket, Hitting $1 Billion.”  It is being released today to RAB members.  It analyzes online ad revenue from 3,488 radio stations, as well as survey responses from 1,006 local radio buyers and a survey of 208 radio managers.

SiriusXM Pro Forma Q4 Revenue Up 6%. That figure is for SiriusXM Holdings Inc – the company that includes SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Pandora Media.  The company also provides figures from the fourth quarter of 2019 and 2019 full-year data in its filing.  Fourth quarter revenue was $2.1 billion – up 38% from Q4 2018.  2019 full-year revenue was $7.8 billion, an increase of 35% over 2018.  Revenue was boosted by the acquisition of Pandora Media on February 1, 2019.  The Company’s net income declined 3% to $243 million in the fourth quarter, while full-year net income totaled $914 million, down from $1.2 billion in 2018 due to higher acquisition, refinancing, and depreciation and amortization expenses in 2019.  On a pro forma basis, fourth quarter revenue grew 6% from $1.9 billion and full-year revenue climbed 8% from $7.3 billion in the prior year periods.  Pro forma figures assume the Pandora acquisition closed on January 1, 2018.  SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer states, “I am so proud of SiriusXM’s milestone performance last year.  Not only did we achieve our 10th consecutive year of one million-plus self-pay net additions, but we successfully completed the acquisition of Pandora Media and drove each business to record-high financial performance.  Looking forward to 2020, we’re excited about a new decade of opportunity before us and confident in reiterating our guidance for the year.”

TALKERS News Notes.  Correspondent and teen influencer for Radio Disney Sammy Jaye – is the star of the new iHeartMedia podcast titled, “Let’s Be Real with Sammy Jaye.”  iHeartMedia says the podcast addresses “a range of topics from mental health, political activism and the pressures of social media to lighter topics like friendships, dating and pop culture.”  It’ll feature interviews with celebs including Meghan Trainor, Kesha, FINNEAS, Julia Michaels, Liza Koshy, activist Nadya Okamoto, and many more…..Cadence13 unveils a new podcast available on the RADIO.COM platform starring Dell and Sonya Curry, parents of NBA star Steph Curry.  The show is titled, “Raising Fame: Sports Edition,” and features “the raw and unfiltered stories, unique perspectives, and personal memories from those who raised icons” in the sports sphere…..The Piscataquis Observer reports that Dale Duff exits Townsquare Media’s sports talk WEBQ-FM, Bangor, Maine “The Ticket” where he was brand manager to return to his hometown of Houlton, Maine and Northern Maine Media’s WHOU-FM.  Duff will work on the company’s WHOU.live video streaming service headlining its sports coverage…..Earlier today (2/5), listeners tuning in to Westwood One’s “First Light” morning program heard program host Michael Toscano (pictured below) interview astronaut Christina Koch from the International Space Station.  The interview was recorded yesterday (2/4) while Koch was in orbit, just 48 hours before she returns to earth after 328 days in space.  Koch talked about her 139 million miles of orbit, her six spacewalks that took her outside the orbiting laboratory for more than 42 hours, and the experiments she was involved with.

Impeachment Trial, Iowa Caucus Snafu, State of the Union, Coronavirus, Financial Markets Activity, and Oscars Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/4). The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump; the technical problems dogging the Iowa Democratic Caucuses; Tuesday evening’s State of the Union Address by President Trump; concerns about a global pandemic of the coronavirus; the financial markets activity in response to the coronavirus; and this Sunday evening’s Academy Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Twin Cities radio star Tom Barnard signs a multi-year contract extension with Cumulus Media to continue hosting mornings on KQRS, Minneapolis where he’s been a fixture since 1986.  In 2017, Barnard was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and in 2018 entered the Pavek Museum, honoring Minnesota broadcasters.  Barnard says, “I’m so grateful to the listeners and advertisers for supporting the ‘KQ Morning Show’ for the past 34 years.  Thanks to them, all my years as a morning host will be spent at the legendary KQRS. Thanks to Shelly for the support system she provides me.  I’m so honored to continue to do what I love in my hometown.  I can’t ask for anything more.”…..Entercom announces the addition of AJ Gibson to the morning show for CHANNEL Q on RADIO.COM’s LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network.  Gibson will join co-host Mikalah Gordon on “The Morning Beat” airing weekdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm ET, effective immediately.  Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “AJ is a talented on-air personality with a great work ethic and commitment to excellence.  We’re excited to welcome him to ‘The Morning Beat’ alongside Mikalah.  AJ is a fixture on Hollywood red carpets and top-selling author who inspires audiences with his story and perspective on a myriad of topics.  We’re looking forward to waking up with him on CHANNEL Q.”…..Portland, Maine salsa maker Kelly Towle is joining morning host Blake Hayes on Saga Communications’ hot AC WMGX, Portland “Coast 93.1” after winning the auditions to take over for co-host Eva Matteson, who is leaving morning radio after 15 years on the WMGX AM show.  Towle works marketing and selling for her Plucked Fresh Foods company and sings in a local funk band…..WHTS-FM, Grand Rapids “105.3 HOT FM” morning program “The Gray and Green Show” – starring Rachael Gray and Jackie Green – is honored by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters with two MAB Broadcast Excellence Awards in the Commercial & Network Radio category: Best Morning Show Broadcast Personality or Team and Best Feature/Use of Medium.  MAB’s Broadcast Excellence Awards will be presented on March 4, 2020, at the conclusion of the Great Lakes Media Show at the Lansing Center in Lansing.

Corpse Blinks: AM Radio Isn’t Dead

| December 8, 2016

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

kinosian-2radioLOS ANGELES — There’s simply nothing groundbreaking about naysayers writing an obituary for AM radio.

This facet of the medium was supposed to be killed years ago by television and FM, or most recently by satellite radio, the internet, or time in general.

Many who claim AM radio has already passed away also choose to believe that all of terrestrial radio is a ghost or soon will be, but that’s another story entirely.

It would be ridiculous to the point of one existing in extreme denial and/or total lunacy to foolishly proclaim AM radio has never been in better shape, but at the same time, despite its plethora of detractors – the AM band is not in the morgue just yet, either.

An AM radio-geared item that appeared in yesterday’s TALKERS (Wednesday, 12/7) struck a nerve.

Quoting from the TALKERS story, “The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council is presenting what it calls 12 imperatives to the Trump Administration that ‘address the persistent challenges in closing the digital divide, and advancing multicultural commercial ownership opportunities to create voices and participation in the telecommunications industry.’ Of those 12 imperatives, #12 is ‘Create a Glide Path for the Short-Term Survival and Long-Term Humane Decommissioning of the AM Band in a Manner that Preserves Minority Ownership.’ It states, in part, that the FCC’s future policies ‘should facilitate the preservation of AM radio’s program services when the AM band disappears.’”

A link was provided that included the 12 imperatives and two lines, in particular, jumped out (just as the last five words above did): “AM listenership is on a steep decline, and AM radio stations are feeling the brunt of it. Realistically, AM may disappear in 30 years or less.”

That could very well be the case, although we might note that roughly 30 years ago, AM Stereo was being called the only salvation for AM operators. There are some rare exceptions (see below) but music on AM radio generally did not make it, whereas spoken-word on that band continues to be viable in many markets as we head into 2017.

As far as the revenue side is concerned, according to BIA/Kelsey, four of radio’s top ten 2015 billing properties were AM stations. They are CBS Radio New York all-news WCBS-AM (#5, $45 million); co-owned, similarly-formatted WBBM-AM, Chicago (#6, $43.8 million); all-news New York sibling WINS (#9, $39.5 million); and iHeartMedia talker KFI, Los Angeles (#10, $37.8 million).

It is true the aforementioned stations are from the top three markets, but at the same time, AM stations do in fact comprise 40% of the top ten list of the country’s highest billers.

Extremely curious to see the true temperature of AM radio, we isolated stations that finished in the top 15 in all 48 Nielsen Audio PPM-markets KFI (November 2016, 6+).

Results appear below and it’s a pretty healthy list, with the lone hard-and-fast rule being only Nielsen Audio subscribers are allowed to be in print.

It should also be noted that some of these AM stations have an FM partner, but in all cases, the primary Nielsen Audio ratings listing is the AM.

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