iHeartMedia Reorganization Plan Awaits Confirmation. The Modified Fifth Amended Joint Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization for iHeartMedia is awaiting confirmation by United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur. Yesterday’s filing of the confirmed plan will allow iHeartMedia to erase $10.3 billion in debt off its books, leaving it with $5.75 billion in debt once Judge Isgur has signed the order. Last month, the court approved iHeartMedia’s separation from Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings as part of the reorganization plan. Yesterday’s filing will permit iHeartMedia to begin to implement the plan without seeking authorization from the court. As is usual in bankruptcy cases, once the plan is confirmed by the court, most other claims against the debtor are discharged. In this case, the judge rules that certain liabilities the company is required to honor after the effective date – called a Cure Claim – and that includes the BMI license agreements, an almost $600,000 payment to SoundExchange LLC, and its Framework Digital Distribution Agreement with Sony Music Entertainment. Additionally, the new iHeartMedia must honor all SAG-AFTRA contracts and must assume all contractual agreements with the Denver Broncos. Once signed, iHeartMedia will be in a period between Confirmation and the Effective Date. There are several hearing dates scheduled and they are: January 10 to consider all confirmation issues other than those scheduled to be heard on January 17, and January 22; January 17 to consider all issues concerning the CCOH separation settlement, other than those issues scheduled to be heard on January 22, and any issues continued from the January 10, hearing; January 22 to consider all remaining issues concerning consideration of the class action settlement related to the CCOH Separation Settlement and the GAMCO Motion; and January 23 to consider all remaining confirmation issues.
‘Our American Stories’ Surpasses 160-Affiliate Mark. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” program adds a number of new affiliate stations and now has 163 total affiliates. The program is hosted by Lee Habeeb who is also president of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “Stations told us they wanted a radio program that wasn’t always about politics, to give listeners a break from the news cycle. More importantly they love the topics we share every night and we take great pride in putting stories together that touch our listeners’ hearts and minds. People walk away feeling better when they listen to ‘Our American Stories.’” The program is described as “a two-hour, daily radio magazine program that showcases Americans from various industries, including sports heroes, musicians, film performers, political or cultural icons, business leaders, military heroes and more.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is extremely fond of this program stating, “I fully expect ‘Our American Stories’ to be the surprise breakout program of 2019. It is the classiest, best-researched, meticulously produced, dependable piece of quality content to come down the pike in years. It is conservative news/talk’s knock out answer to public radio and will become an institutional part of the genre for years to come.”
Wayne Allyn Root: I ‘Got the Ball Rolling’ on Trump’s Wall Option. Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk show host Wayne Allyn Root says he first talked about the idea that President Trump can declare a national security emergency and use $25 billion from the Pentagon budget to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Root points to his November 17 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that details, among other things, that the president can declare a “national security emergency” and use military money for the project. Root says, “I shared this column and my idea with my audience on both my Newsmax TV show and USA Radio show in the days before publication. Then I flew to Wyoming as keynote speaker for the Wyoming GOP annual dinner on Friday 11/16/18. I shared my idea with that audience. Result. Two standing ovations. That column was handed directly to President Trump by my great friend Lee Lipton at Mar a Lago on 11/18/18. President Trump has talked about this exact option all week in the media. It’s the hottest topic in the country. My idea started this all… I’m sure it will come up in Tuesday night’s national presidential address.”
Mike Gallagher Films LifeLock Ad on NYC Streets. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Mike Gallagher is pictured above on the streets of New York filming commercials for identity theft prevention firm LifeLock. Gallagher has been voicing spots for LifeLock – as have many talk radio hosts since LifeLock is a big advertiser on talk radio – but not long ago he needed the company’s services. The Salem Radio Network talk host was the victim of a personal security breach when someone accessed his personal information, changed his cellphone number, and tried withdrawing $25,000 from Gallagher’s checking account. He credits LifeLock with alerting him to the compromises and acting to protect his personal assets. He says, “I’ve proudly done their commercials for years. But after seeing for myself how they swing into action, I believe anyone is stupid not to have LifeLock protection.”
Eric Zane Launches Daily Podcast. After being let go by Cumulus Media last week due to the format flip of WBBL, Grand Rapids from sports talk to country music, morning personality Eric Zane tells Mlive.com he’s doing a daily podcast designed to pick up where his radio show left off. He’s offering the show to listeners for free and for a fee with various options, including video. Zane tells MLive he hopes to reach a sizable audience via his 18,000 Twitter followers. He says, “Most people get some content via podcast or streaming content and they’re a different audience. They’re zeroed in because of the programming. They seek it out as opposed to background noise. I won’t ever say radio has no place because it’s still great to get in your car and push a button and there it is. This medium (podcasts), which was laughed at five, 10 years ago, isn’t laughed at anymore because it’s very viable.”
Steve Triplett to Lead Beasley’s Tampa Stations. Sales and management pro Steve Triplett is named vice president and market manager for Beasley Media Group’s Tampa cluster that includes financial talk outlet WHFS-AM and six music radio stations. Triplett has been serving as interim market manager and director of sales for the Tampa operations. He says, “Over the past four years, Beasley Media Group has created something truly special in Tampa. We have a team of the finest media professionals in the industry and it’s an honor to continuing serving them in this new capacity.”
PodcastOne Partners with LadyGang for Podcast Network. “The LadyGang” podcast recently celebrated its 200th episode and 40 millionth download. Now, PodcastOne is entering into a deal with the brand for a podcast development, production, and marketing deal to launch The LadyGang Network on PodcastOne. The network will feature a female-driven, all-star lineup of pop culture, reality television, and motherhood trend-setters. PodcastOne says the deal combines its vast resources and reach with The LadyGang’s brand power and curated talent lineup. The inaugural program under this new network will be “Mama Said with Jamie and Jenna,” hosted by Jamie Lynn Sigler and Jenna Parris. Additional programs will be announced soon.
Hogenson Communications to Rep Americans for Tax Reform Campaign. Talk media is the target for Americans for Tax Reform and it has hired Hogenson Communications to represent the organization to talk media for its 12-month campaign. Scott Hogenson states, “We’re proud to have been selected by Americans for Tax Reform as their talk media partner. As America’s preeminent tax policy organization, ATR brings a lot to talk media audiences by breaking down complicated policy issues in a way that everyone can understand.”
KNUS, Denver Hosts Boyles and Tubbs to Broadcast from Vancouver, BC During Fact-Finding Mission. Talk show hosts Peter Boyles and Steffan Tubbs – air personalities on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KNUS, Denver – will broadcast live from Vancouver, British Columbia during their fact-finding mission to the city’s safe injection sites. The Denver City Council passed an ordinance that will create safe or supervised injection sites for users to inject heroin, opioids and cocaine in locations that will employ trained medical personnel. The KNUS remote broadcasts will take place on Friday (1/11).
iHeartMedia Unveils New iHeartRadio Features at CES. The company announces a number of new consumer technology integrations for its digital platform, iHeartRadio. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, iHeartMedia unveiled new integrations including the Honda Dream Drive Platform, the new Bixby from Samsung, Roku devices, and Google’s Android TV and Android Auto. It also launched the fully redesigned iHeartRadio Family app on Amazon Fire Tablet with iOS and Android coming soon.
Border Wall-Government Shutdown, U.S.-Syria Policy, Tlaib Israel Statement, Kim Jong Un-Xi Jinping Meeting, NCAA Football Championship, and NFL Playoffs Action Among Top News-Talk Stories Yesterday (1/7). The battle over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall and the related government shutdown; the Trump administration’s military policy in Syria; the controversy over freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s comments that GOP senators are more loyal to Israel than the U.S.; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping; Monday night’s NCAA football championship game; and the NFL playoffs 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 nationally syndicated Ty Bentli show is off Cumulus Media’s New York City country outlet WNSH “NASH FM 94.7.” What was originally called “America’s Morning Show” back when Blair Garner was lead host and has twice morphed since then has been the only morning show on the stations since its inception. Now, afternoon drive host Jesse Addy is sitting in hosting mornings as the station teases a new program…..In Los Angeles, “volunteer” air personality Greg Beharrell is named evening host on Cumulus Media’s classic rock 95.5 KLOS…..Afternoon drive host, APD and music director Mark Razz is promoted to program director for Beasley Media Group’s country WXTU, Philadelphia. With this new role, Razz will move from afternoon drive to middays. Beasley Philly market manager Joe Bell comments, “Nobody deserves this opportunity more than Razz. He has been an integral part of 92.5 XTU’s success for years and has demonstrated the leadership, commitment and creativity that you look for in a PD. Plus, he’s an amazing talent, is loved by listeners and respected within the industry.”…..Midday personality Corey O’Brien is named assistant program director and music director at Broadway Media’s alternative KXRK, Salt Lake City “X96.”…..Buffalo market radio pro Joe Chille is named morning drive host at Townsquare Media’s adult contemporary WMSX, Buffalo “96.1 The Breeze.” Chille was a longtime personality at WJYE prior to its becoming WMSX. Most recently, he’d been handling part-time duties at Radio One Buffalo’s oldies WECK-AM…..Beasley Media Group names Sean Varicalli host of the “KICKS Wake up Crew” morning show on country WKXC-FM, Augusta, Georgia. Varicalli was most recently midday jock and APD at Curtis Media Group’s country WQDR, Raleigh…..Alpha Media’s WKXI, Jackson, Mississippi “107.5 Kixie” replaces the Tom Joyner show with the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show.”
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
KANSAS CITY — When you’re in radio and you lose your job, in almost all cases you begin looking for another job at another radio station, whether it’s in the same city or another market. For some, the intrigue of the internet brings them to the digital frontier. If the choice becomes the digital divide, then the question then becomes, “How can you make money?”
For that answer, you can ask “Radio George.”