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Monday, May 9, 2022

| May 9, 2022

Pending Business: Howdy Partner. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes today about the strange use of the word “partner” for the advertiser on a radio program. Lapa says, “Do our advertisers (customers) really want a partnership in the true sense of the word? Or do our advertisers want what everyone else wants: maximum value at the best price?” Aside from the inaccurate nomenclature, Lapa wonders if the “partner” designation affects the sales effort. Read his column here.

 

Monday Memo: “Gas cards? OR…Bitcoin?” “Imagine asking a contest winner to choose THAT?” consultant Holland Cooke asks. In this week’s column, he recalls “when radio stunts were fun,” and how a contest “will sound as big as you make it sound.” Read more here.

 

Audacy First Quarter Net Revenue Up 14%. For the first quarter of 2022, Audacy reports net revenue of $275.3 million, an increase of 14% over the same period in 2021. The company also saw its net loss shrink from $21.6 million in the first quarter of 2021 to $11 million in Q 1 of this year. Audacy provides financial data by segment and reports that spot revenue (national and local) was $173.9 million, while its digital segment (including podcasting) rose 16% to $53 million from the $41.6 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. Audacy also breaks down net revenue by format type and reports music radio revenue was $140.4 million; sports radio revenue was $53 million; and all-news & news/talk revenue was $48.3 million. Audacy president and CEO David Field comments, “I am pleased to report that Audacy posted strong first quarter results, delivering 152% growth in Adjusted EBITDA led by double digit revenue growth in both digital and spot radio. With our scaled, leadership position across broadcasting, podcasting and digital audio and our differentiated premium content offerings, we are well positioned to drive rapid evolution and innovation across the organization to capitalize on the outstanding growth opportunities in the dynamic audio marketplace. In Q1, we launched the Audacy Digital Audience Network, an addressable aggregate of 60 million listeners across our app, streaming content, and podcast lineup, enabling precision targeting at scale coupled with real-time optimization and reporting. We are looking forward to a number of exciting additional product and content launches and enhancements over the course of 2022 that will accelerate our audience growth and bolster our advertiser appeal.”

 

Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q1 Net Revenue Increase of 15.6%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – states that net revenue was $55.7 million, an increase of 15.6% over the same period in 2021. The company is also reporting an operating loss of $2.7 million in Q1 compared to an operating loss of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. The increase in operating loss is primarily the result of an increase in operating expenses, which reflects additional cost of sales related to the revenue increase, other expenses related to sports and marketing, and additional expenses related to the company’s digital agency build out. Beasley’s net loss for the quarter fell to $3.7 million compared to the net loss of $10.7 million reported for the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “First quarter results highlight ongoing progress toward our goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels. Net revenue rose 15.6% inclusive of a 35.5% rise in digital segment revenue, which accounted for 14% of total net revenue in the quarter, marking further success of our digital transformation strategies. Comparing our revenue performance to the first quarter of 2019, revenue was down $2.0 million, or 3.4%, as the 2019 results benefited from events and other revenue that has not fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total outstanding debt as of March 31, 2022 was $300 million, as we did not have any scheduled debt payments during the quarter, and we had $50.7 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand at quarter end. We made an interest payment of approximately $12.9 million in February and repurchased $5 million of our 8.625% senior secured notes at a discount early in the second quarter. Our strong liquidity position enables us to make debt repayments while providing us with increased financial flexibility to pursue a potential acquisition or investment within the digital space, should an opportunity arise that could accelerate our digital growth, provide synergies or improve financial results. Looking ahead to the second quarter and second half of 2022, our focus remains on driving further revenue diversification and audience expansion, improving margins, benefiting from the return of the political cycle, maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, reducing net leverage and growing free cash flow. We expect progress on each of these fronts as we continue to close the gap on our pre-pandemic revenue and SOI levels and grow from there. I am extremely proud of our team members across the company for everything they have done and are doing to help us move past the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have clearly accomplished a lot and I believe we have many more opportunities ahead to build the company and enhance stockholder value.”

 

Ramsey Solutions Wins Webby Award for Borrowed Future Documentary. The documentary film Borrowed Future – produced by Ramsey Solutions – will be recognized as the Best Video Documentary in the Longform category of the 2022 Annual Webby Awards. Known as the “best of the Internet,” the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet. Borrowed Future was originally released as a podcast in 2019 and reveals the inner workings of the predatory student loan industry that keeps borrowers trapped in debt. Directed by David DiCicco, the story follows college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loans, a college graduate who paid cash for college, and a group of high schoolers who haven’t made their choice yet. Leading voices like Mike Rowe, Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey are also featured. For weeks, the film held top spots on multiple streaming platform charts: #1 documentary on Google Play, #2 documentary on Apple TV and #5 documentary (rent or buy category) on Amazon Prime Video. Dave Ramsey says, “There’s no doubt we stirred up a holy ruckus with this documentary, and I’m so proud of the team that put it together. The student loan industry is downright evil. We definitely can’t bank on student loan forgiveness, and it’s about time America said, ‘I’ve had it!’” Webby Awards executive director Claire Graves comments, “Borrowed Future has set the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.” The 26th Annual Webby Awards will take place in New York City on May 16. See more about the film here.

 

Brandon Tatum Joins Salem Radio Network for Syndicated Radio Program. Conservative media figure and former Tucson police officer Brandon Tatum is joining the Salem Radio Network to fill the slot Larry Elder held until his retirement from radio in early April. He will assume duties as host of the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET program on May 16. The third hour of the program will be repurposed into a podcast. Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “Salem conducted a nationwide search, and some very big names were interested in taking this important slot. Brandon brings a unique talent to Salem, and has a strong following among the nation’s youth, with his involvement with Turning Point USA. His compelling story is riveting.” Tatum has been serving as director of urban outreach for Turning Point USA and hosts the popular program “The Officer Tatum Show” on social media platforms including YouTube. Tatum says, “Words cannot describe what a blessing it is to be a part of the Salem family. I am incredibly humbled and honored to continue the legacy of the great Larry Elder. My mission in life is to serve God with the gifts he has given me. Being the voice of and for the people is one of those gifts.” Additionally, Tatum co-founded Blexit with Candace Owens, an organization “dedicated to changing the narrative in the black community through education, community outreach, and empowerment.” Carl Jackson, who has been subbing as guest host in Elder’s absence both last summer when he ran for governor, and more recently after Elder’s decision to retire from radio, will continue as a regular sub for Tatum.

 

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports media legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger announces he’s retiring from his weekend radio program on Audacy’s WIP, Philadelphia. The station reports that Didinger said on yesterday’s program that he co-hosts with Glen Macnow, “Sunday, May 29th will be my final show. I am ready to transition from Ray Didi to grandpop.” Audacy says Didinger covered the NFL for The Philadelphia Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News for over 25 years and in 1995 his name was added to writer’s honor roll in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Didinger also worked as a senior producer at NFL Films, as an Eagles TV analyst on NBC Sports Philadelphia…..SiriusXM announces that Jessica Casano-Antonellis joins the company as SVP and head of communications, reporting to chief marketing officer Denise Karkos. In this role, she will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s communications function, including strategic communications, brand reputation management and media relations. Karkos adds, “Jessica is a valued and respected leader who brings a wealth of strategic communications experience in the media, entertainment and technology industries to SiriusXM. She will be an incredible asset to the company and will play a key role as we continue to tell the story of SiriusXM as a leader in audio entertainment.”…..Former KQQZ, St. Louis station owner Bob Romanik – whose self-given nickname was “The Grim Reaper of Radio” – has died at age 72 while in hospice. According to his obit in the Belleville News-Democrat, Romanik served as an East St. Louis police officer and chief of police in both Washington Park and Valmeyer, Illinois during his career. He was a notorious raconteur who liberally used racial epithets on the air and referred to his programming as W.A.R. or White Awareness Radio. In 2020, after attempting to conceal his ownership of KQQZ and failing to show up for FCC hearings on the matter, the Commission permanently dismissed his application for renewal.

 

The Economy, Roe v Wade, COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, January 6 Investigation, and Musk & Twitter Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The sinking Dow and NASDAQ, the high price of food & gas, and the ongoing supply chain woes; the reactions to the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v Wade; the rising rate of COVID cases in some parts of the U.S., concerns about new variants, and the ongoing lockdowns in China; Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s propaganda; the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

| November 9, 2021

Audacy Third Quarter Net Revenue up 23%. Reporting its 2021 third quarter financial data, Audacy says net revenue was $329.4 million, an increase of 23% compared to the same period in 2020. Spot revenue was $220.6 million, up 21% compared to Q3 of 2020 and digital revenue was $61.4 million, up 30% compared to the same period a year ago. Operating income for the quarter was $29.2 million, compared to an operating loss of $0.3 million in the third quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field says, “I am pleased to report that Audacy continues to rebound from the pandemic, as third quarter revenues grew 23% over the prior year and 8% sequentially over the second quarter, while EBITDA grew 58% year over year. While many ad categories remain highly impacted as a result of the pandemic, it is great to see an increasing number of categories back above 2019 spending levels. During October, we announced the acquisition of WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming and ad tech business, which we have relaunched as AmperWave, enabling us to accelerate our digital product roadmap and enhance our growth potential… And our podcast studios had a strong quarter of creative, premium original content development including the first release from our 2400Sports studio, our first C13 Features ‘movie for your ears’ in partnership with Endeavor, and the ‘Succession’ companion podcast hosted by Kara Swisher in partnership with HBO Max. We continue to rapidly evolve and fundamentally elevate the organization through a series of strategic acquisitions, organic growth initiatives, structural improvements, talent additions and premium content development and are well positioned to accelerate our growth and capitalize on the exciting opportunities in the dynamically growing audio marketplace.”

Cumulus Audio Active Group: October PPM Audiences Increase. This week’s Cumulus Media Audio Active Group blog focuses on recent information from Nielsen Audio that “as COVID infections fall, public concern over COVID wanes, and commutes to work and school resume,” American AM/FM radio listening “has increased to new highs in the October 2021 48 Portable People Meter markets.” Other noteworthy data includes: 1) Consumers are on the road in their cars; Geopath reports U.S. October 2021 miles traveled were 7% greater than October 2019; Apple Maps says October 2021 driving search volumes surged 59% past pre-COVID levels; 2) U.S. AM/FM radio had its strongest reach performance since COVID, recovering 99% of the March 2020 PPM cume audience in PPM markets; 3) Nielsen October 2021 PPM AQH audiences rose to 96% of March 2020 levels, the second best showing since the pandemic; and 4) Morning audiences exploded to their highest levels in 20 months; Versus a year ago, women 25-54 AQH increased 20% and teen AQH rose a massive 74%. See more from the blog here.

SiriusXM’s Joe Madison Announces Hunger Strike Over Voting Rights Bill. Morning drive talk host Joe Madison says he’s beginning a hunger strike in protest of voting rights not getting passed in the Senate. Madison – a.k.a. The Black Eagle – hosts the morning show on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. He says, “As a political protest, I am beginning a hunger strike today by abstaining from eating until Congress passes, and President Biden signs, the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both bills were recently passed by the House of Representatives and both have stalled in the Senate. Madison adds, “I call it basically starving for voting rights. And that began on this date. And I repeat just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy. Yes, my life matters. My health matters, but our right to vote matters more.”

Hot Radio Guest Speaks at Major Libertarian Gathering. Emeritus finance professor Dr. Murray Sabrin of Ramapo College in New Jersey – one of conservative and liberty-minded talk radio’s most popular “go-to” guests for three decades – recently spoke at the Mises Institute “Supporters Summit” in St. Pete Beach, Florida and outlined his provocative and innovative strategy for medical freedom. Sabrin is the author of Universal Medical Care from Conception to End of Life: The Case for a Single Payer System, where the individual/family is the single payer not the government. In Sabrin’s proposal, medical freedom consists of cash payment for routine care, a super health savings account for more expensive treatment and a catastrophic insurance policy. Also, Sabrin advocates a massive expansion of nonprofit medical centers to replace the $700 billion Medicaid program. He also challenged U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who advocates Medicare for All, a government single payer system, to a debate so the American people can hear two diametrically opposing views on the future of medical care in America. To book Professor Sabrin as a hot guest, contact Victoria Jones of DC Radio Company at 917-865-3991 or victoria@dcradiocompany.com.  To view Dr. Murray Sabrin’s 20-minute speech at the Mises Institute event, please click here.

Outkick Partners with Skyview Networks for Ad and Affiliate Sales, Content Distribution. The new relationship between OutKick’s sports talk network and Skyview Networks will have the latter providing network ad sales, affiliate sales and content distribution to Outkick, beginning with the “Outkick 360” program starring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky. Outkick founder Clay Travis says, “We’re thrilled to work with Skyview to expand OutKick’s brand and reach. Beginning with the ‘OutKick 360’ show, we’re working with the best talent to bring authenticity, perspective and fun back to sports radio. Radio is at the core of OutKick, and we could not ask for better partners than Skyview to grow our network.” Skyview COO and president Steve Jones adds, “We’re excited to be working with the OutKick team in launching a new sports network that provides radio stations dynamic and entertaining programming that will drive ratings and revenue. OutKick’s engaging and knowledgeable hosts with their fan-first sports perspective matched with sports wagering analysis to capture gaming revenue sponsorships fit perfectly with Skyview’s #1 local play-by-play sports position in network radio.”

Audacy Names Brian Benedik Chief Revenue Officer. Media executive Brian Benedik is named chief revenue officer for Audacy, effective December 1. Benedik was most recently VP/global head of revenue for augmented reality developer Niantic. In his new role with Audacy, he’ll lead all aspects of revenue generation across corporate, national, regional and local levels and develop fully integrated, multiplatform sales solutions and breakthrough strategies to attract new revenue streams. Audacy COO Susan Larkin comments, “We’re thrilled to welcome Brian to Audacy and our executive leadership team. His resume speaks for itself, with key roles at audio publishers like Spotify, iHeart Radio, Audible and Katz Media, where his strategic vision enabled the former to quickly elevate from a newcomer in our industry to a multi-billion-dollar leader in the audio streaming space. Brian’s considerable expertise and experience will amplify our revenue generation efforts as Audacy continues its upward trajectory.” Benedik states, “The audio industry is booming with innovation and consumers are enjoying wonderful content experiences across a number of platforms. The Audacy re-imagination efforts are beyond impressive and the portfolio of assets across radio, streaming, podcast, live events, sports play-by-play and sports betting are best in class. I’m looking forward to working with David Field, Susan Larkin and the Audacy executive team to drive value to marketers and our loyal users.”

Biden’s Low Approval Ratings, Supply Chain/Inflation/Gas Prices, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, COVID Travel Ban Lifted, China’s Military Aggression, and Astroworld Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/8). President Joe Biden’s approval ratings slip to an all-time low of 38% with Americans saying he’s not focusing on the most important issues; the effects of the broken global supply chain, soaring retail prices and record high gas prices; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Appeals Court halt of Biden’s vaccine mandate, and the controversial case of Aaron Rodgers; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the U.S. lifts the international travel ban; China’s war games using U.S. ship mock-ups; and the investigation into the deadly Astroworld concert in Houston were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2021

| August 6, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Masks, Mandates and Mayhem,” looks back at this past week of August 2-6. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Grace Curley; talk show host, WRKO, Boston / HCRNDavid Gornoski, talk show host, WHBO, Tampa; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, the Ralph Nader Radio Hour; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / physician; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia Second Quarter Revenue Up 76.7%. The company reports revenue for the second quarter was $862 million, up 76.7% from the same period in 2020 and down just 6% from the pre-pandemic second quarter of 2019. For Q2 of 2021, iHeartMedia reports operating income of $28.1 million compared to the operating loss of $159.1 million reported in the second quarter of 2020. For all of 2020, the company reported an operating loss of $1.88 billion. That loss has narrowed to $48.2 million for the first six months of 2021. iHeartMedia now reports its data in three segments – the Multiplatform Group that includes broadcast radio, networks, and sponsorship & events; the Digital Audio Group that includes digital content and podcasts; and the Audio and Media Services Group, including Katz Media Group and RCS.  Broadcast radio’s revenue was $451.1 million, an increase of 84.9% while networks revenue was $123.6 million, up 28.3%. As a whole, the Multiplatform Group’s revenue was $605.9 million, up 69.7%. Digital, excluding Podcast was up 100.7% on revenue of $144.5 million and Podcast revenue rose 151.5% on revenue of $53.4 million. iHeartMedia reports that its net debt is $5.4 billion.

Audacy Q2 2021 Revenue Rises 73%. Reporting financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Audacy, Inc. says net revenue was $304.5 million, up 73% compared to $175.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. Breaking down the revenue by type, Audacy reveals spot revenue was $202.8 million, up 98% compared to the second quarter of 2020. Digital revenue was $58.4 million, up 41% compared to the same period a year ago. Network revenue was $20.6 million, an increase of 21% over Q2 of 2020. Operating income for the quarter was $17.9 million compared to the operating loss of $45.5 million the company posted in the second quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field states. “I am pleased to report that Audacy accelerated its recovery from the pandemic as second quarter revenues grew 73% over the prior year, led by a 98% increase in spot radio advertising and 41% growth in digital revenues. In addition, our momentum is continuing into the third quarter as we expect that revenues will increase by about 10% sequentially from the second quarter and by about 25% compared to prior year. We continue to make great strides in enhancing our business and elevating our competitive position. During the second quarter, we executed a rebranding of the company as Audacy, a name that reflects our evolution into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and an important leadership position across the full spectrum of the dynamic and growing audio market – including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, events, music, news and sports. Our recent acquisitions in podcasting and sports betting, as well as numerous growth investments have significantly enhanced our ability to capitalize on broader advertising trends, augment our product line and better serve our listeners and customers. This has been an active period of development across the company as we recently launched over 350 exclusive new stations on our Audacy digital platform, unveiled our new 2400Sports podcast studio, commenced a three-year strategic partnership with American Public Media (the creators of Marketplace), expanded our BetQL network, and announced an important partnership with Major League Baseball, making us the league’s official podcast and digital audio partner. We are also pleased to note the significant acceleration in each of our digital businesses, including podcasting, digital audio, and digital marketing solutions. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Personnel Exiting ‘NoogaRadio’ As Station Plans Programming Changes. According to a report at The Chattanoogan, a number of staffers at news/talk outlet WPLZ-HD4/W224AZ, Chattanooga “NoogaRadio” at 92.7 FM are leaving as management plans changes to the programming. The station had been billed as “Local Radio Done Right” and was created by former owner Jim Brewer. After Brewer’s death from cancer, the station is now owned by Sabatino Cuppelli. Station general sales manager Mike Lisowski tells The Chattanoogan, “It is with deep sadness I regret to inform you that as of Friday the ‘Fred the Show’ morning crew, including Jeff Styles, a beloved 29-year veteran of local talk radio, Jen Lambert, also general manager who brought 20-plus years of experience in marketing, advertising, promotions and design, Jason Kirk, also our operations manager who brought a multitude of knowledge and technical expertise, not to mention his sales ability, will be parting ways with NoogaRadio.” Lisowski adds that sports broadcaster Keon Rose is moving to Arizona to advance his career.  The statement continues: “Unfortunately, after four years, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a whole lot of love, the station ownership has chosen to take ‘NoogaRadio’ in a direction that most of us feel we are unable to stand behind. We are so grateful and proud to have been able to entertain you for as long as we have and, as the general manager, I am able to move on with my head held high knowing that I gave it my all. We genuinely hope we can bring our relationship to an amicable end in the most professional manner leaving no burned bridges, hard feelings or severed business relationships.”

WSB Care-a-Thon Raises $1.67 for Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Pictured above are WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta personalities (from l-r) Eric Von Haessler, Scott Slade, and Clark Howard with the check indicating the grand total of $1,671,813 raised during the July 29 and 30 “95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon benefiting the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.” During the 37-hour broadcast, Slade, Howard, Erick Erickson, Von Haessler, Mark Arum, Brian Kilmeade and many other 95.5 WSB hosts turned the airwaves over to the patients and families of Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to raise funds to support research, the Fellowship Program, and the family support team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Over the past 21 years, the 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon has raised over $28 million for the cause. 95.5 WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “This event began as an idea from 95.5 WSB’s Scott Slade, and 21 years later we continue the partnership with the great people at Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This event reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our own lives, there are always others dealing with challenges much more difficult than our own. The passion and heart of our team is represented by the incredible generosity of the 95.5 WSB listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. Albuquerque sports talk KNML-AM/K240BL “95.9 FM and AM 610, The Sports Animal” announces it is partnering with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos to bring all Raiders games and non-conflicting Broncos games to Albuquerque sports fans for the 2021-2022 season. The Cumulus Media station is also airing its current powerful slate of Westwood One Primetime NFL programming. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Jared Hart comments, “Our partnership with The Raiders and Broncos is vital to Albuquerque as it helps bring NFL football coverage to the extensive Raider and Bronco fan base in our passionate sports state. We couldn’t be more excited to have the inaugural season of Las Vegas’ first NFL team, and the love of the Broncos in Albuquerque is palpable. We think this will energize the NFL programming on The Sports Animal better than almost any other NFL team could.”…..iHeartMedia and Salesforce.org are launching a special six-episode iHeartRadio Original podcast series hosted by Emmy-nominated and NYT Bestselling author, Baratunde Thurston, called “Force Multiplier,” that examines the exponential impact businesses and organizations can have on the world by working together. “Force Multiplier” was created to bring leaders from public, private and nonprofit sectors together to discuss how they’re tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, such as nutrition insecurity, health equity, workforce development, racial injustice, mental health & wellbeing and homelessness…..ABC News says its hit podcast “The Dropout” returns with new episodes as Elizabeth Holmes – once the youngest self-made female billionaire – goes on trial for alleged fraud, facing decades in prison, if convicted. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” is hosted by ABC News chief business, technology & economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who’s spent more than a decade covering business and five years investigating Holmes. The Stanford University dropout turned founder and CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos suffered an astounding fall from grace amid the accusations of alleged widespread fraud. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” debuts with two new episodes on Tuesday, August 31, to coincide with jury selection…..Boston NPR member station WBUR announces the next call for submissions for the WBUR Newsroom Fellowship. This Fellowship is a yearlong program for recent graduates or early-career journalists who are looking to build reporting and production skills and have a demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of underrepresented voices in public radio. For the first time, WBUR will select two Fellows for the program who will each receive a salary of $55,000 in addition to a complete Boston University benefits package. The Fellowship provides hands-on training in every aspect of public media journalism. Fellows will develop their skills under the guidance of WBUR’s editors and producers and will contribute to each part of the newsroom, rotating every three months, maximizing exposure to the many aspects of public media, including newscast, live broadcast, digital and reporting. See more about this Fellowship and apply here…..Audacy announces former NFL All-Pro T.J. Lang is joining sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit “97.1 The Ticket” and the Detroit Lions Radio Network, effective August 6. Lang will join Dan Miller and Lomas Brown as the sideline reporter. Lang will also be in studio on the station each week throughout the professional football season, joining “The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen” and “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico” on Monday and Fridays.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccine Hesitancy, Masks and Mandates Combine as Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 2-6. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy in numerous parts of the country, and the controversy of mask policies and mandates combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the New York Attorney General’s report on the allegations of sexual impropriety against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the push for him to resign. Following at #3 was the investigation into the Capitol attack by the January 6 Committee, the voting legislation taking place in various states, and race relations. 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. See this week’s complete chart here.

Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7.   The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media NetworksSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkTodd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here.

iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”

Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.

‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.

Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.

COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. 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. See this week’s complete chart here.