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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

| August 19, 2020

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. Compared to the July 2019 PPM survey from Nielsen Audio, 65% of news/talk stations had better weekly, 6+ AQH shares in the July 2020 PPM survey, according to our report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian. Looking at ratings increases from the June 2020 PPM survey to the July 2020 survey, 43% of news/talk stations were down, with 35% improving. Gainers from June to July were led by iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento (+1.2 for a 3.0 share). Back to the year-over-year comparison, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was the top gainer, adding 4.0 shares to post a 10.6 share, good for the #1 rank in Atlanta. Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington also climbed to the #1 spot (from #6 in 2019) on the strength of an 8.4 share (+3.1). Joining WSB and WMAL in the #1 club in July was Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle after finishing the July survey with a 7.1 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Air Personality Changes at Sports Talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee. According to a piece in the Milwaukee Business Journal, the new program schedule at Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee “ESPN 94.5” includes ESPN television personality Jen Lada joining the 7:00 am to 9:00 am show alongside co-hosts Gabe Neitzel and former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura. Lada is prominent on ESPN’s “College Game Day” and “College Football Live” broadcasts. Other changes at the station include the move of Steve “The Homer” True’s show from the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart to the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot. He’s also being joined by new co-host Tony Smith. In the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot is Greg Scalzo and Ben Brust simulcast from Good Karma’s WTLX-FM, Madison. Good Karma general manager Steve Wexler says of the Scalzo and Brust show, “It’s a very high-energy — and we think super-entertaining — afternoon show. They had really great success on our Madison ESPN station.”

Dave Andreesen Upped to Director of Programming and Ops for Binnie Media’s News/Talk and Sports Stations. Programmer Dave Andreesen is promoted to director of programming & operations for news-talk-sports brands at Binnie Media. Andreesen has been based at the company’s Dover, New Hampshire stations. Company vice president of programming Heath Cole states, “Dave has been an amazing captain of our Dover, NH properties and I’m extremely proud of what he and Mike Pomp have accomplished over the years. Dave will continue in his role with [news/talk] WTSN, Dover as well as [news/talk/sports] ‘107.7 The Pulse’ WTPL-FM, Concord.” Andreesen adds, “It’s an honor to continue in a new role at WTSN, one of the oldest radio stations in the state with a long history of local programming and the personalities who have set the standard for broadcasting. And WTPL is a powerhouse of locally originating programming led by a group of exceptional broadcasters with decades of experience who give the community a voice. Binnie Media is proud to be the home of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots in these two markets.”

Jules Riley Named Operations Director for CMG Jacksonville. Programming pro Jules Riley joins Cox Media Group Jacksonville as operations director for the eight-brand cluster that includes news/talk WOKV-FM, sports talk WOKV-AM “ESPN 690” and six music brands. Riley was most recently SVP of programming at iHeartMedia’s St. Louis cluster. CMG Jacksonville vice president and general manager Katie Reid comments, “Jules brings a wealth of experience and talent to CMG Jacksonville. We are extremely excited she will be leading and growing our team, our brands and the future of our programming.”

TALKERS News Notes. Variety is reporting that former PBS personality Tavis Smiley is being ordered by a Washington, DC court to pay the Public Broadcasting Service $2.6 million after being found guilty of breach of contract. The jury found Smiley guilty of having numerous affairs with subordinates in violation of the morals clause of his contract. The jury awarded PBS $1.5 million for the costs and underwriting revenue for the last two seasons of his talk show. A judge tacked on $1.1 million in damages…..The Props Network and JAKIB Media Partners announce a deal for an exclusive partnership between golf podcasters “The Tour Junkies” and “The Tony Bruno Show w/ Harry Mayes” for the former to provide the radio show with weekly golf content. Bruno says, “We have golf action-yo. Weekly, we will bring you the most comprehensive golf coverage as part of ‘The Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes.’ Our show is unpredictable and this content will deliver listeners the in-depth knowledge and insight that is a cornerstone of our program.”…..The Seneca Women Podcast Network, iHeartRadio and P&G announce the premiere of “Seneca’s 100 Women to Hear,” an original 100-episode podcast spotlighting women who have positively impacted and created change across all sectors of society. The series launched Tuesday (8/18) with an episode spotlighting abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. New episodes will drop over nine consecutive days, through August 26 on Women’s Equality Day, and then move to twice weekly starting in September…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, Inc., announces a new video podcast deal with actress, model, and influencer Amanda Cerny and award-winning Bollywood actress and social media star Jacqueline Fernandez. Launching later this summer on both PodcastOne and LiveXLive’s platforms, “FEELS GOOD” w/ Amanda Cerny and Jacqueline Fernandez “brings these two lost sisters from different sides of the world together to give global weekly inspiring news story updates alongside insightful reviews, unexpected guests, conversations about sex, dating, wellness, and culture, while delivering to audiences what ‘feels good.’”

Radio Execs Make Big Stock Investments in Their Companies. Recently, two executives at major audio media firms have added large amounts of their companies’ stock to their personal portfolios.  Entercom chairman David Field just added more than 121,000 shares of Entercom stock, paying $1.6 per share and totaling $195,000. This adds 4.9% to Field’s share of Entercom’s stock, according to Yahoo! Finance. On August 14, iHeartMedia filed a Form 4 with the Securities Exchange Commission to report that company CFO and COO Richard Bressler purchased, via the company’s Employee Stock Option plan, $4.14 million worth of its Class A Common Stock (416,500 shares at $8.98 per share).

Presidential Race/DNC, USPS Crisis/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/Campus Flare-Ups, Fall School Openings, Senate Russian Interference Report, Financial Markets Gains, Anderson Cooper-Mike Lindell Spat, and California Wildfires-Blackouts Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/18). The November presidential election and night two of the Democratic National Convention; the U.S. Postal Service funding crisis and the related criticism of mail-in voting by President Trump; the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and projections for future cases and the related reports of flare-ups at some college campuses; the debate over school openings in September; the latest Senate report concluding that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election; U.S. financial markets hit highs erasing the spring pandemic losses; the tense exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over Lindell’s promotion of oleandrin as a cure for COVID-19; and the Southwestern heatwave and California wildfires 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. The syndicated rock morning drive program “The Billy Madison Show” is now being represented for ad sales and affiliate sales by Key Networks. The program – based at Cox Media Group’s rock KISS-FM, San Antonio – was originally a cooperative effort between CMG and Nineball Radio. United Stations Radio Networks acquired Nineball in 2016 and had been syndicating it since. It’s heard in the Palm Springs, Corpus Christi, and Salisbury, Maryland markets. Key Networks president and COO Jim Higgins says, “Billy Madison and his team work really hard and deliver a unique brand of passion and humor that has generated huge ratings and revenue for KISS-FM in San Antonio and Billy’s other affiliates. Key Networks is proud to now market his program and get it the recognition and additional stations and listeners that it deserves.”…..Maine’s Binnie Media promotes programming pro Leif Erickson to director of programming and operations for the classic hits FRANK format airing on the company’s WFNK-FM, Lewiston/Portland and WBQX, Rockland. Erickson says, “My predecessor, Stan Bennett, built a powerful brand and taught me a lot. After 15 years of being his right-hand man, it’s an honor to step up and take the reins. Frank FM has been my passion, and I’m excited to keep our winning streak going, aided of course by the best team in the Portland market.”