By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND — “…so are The Days of Our Lives.” The intro to that soap opera – er, daytime drama – is SO old that it outlived star MacDonald Carey, still heard voicing-over the beginning of each show on NBC-TV every weekday…until today. After 57 years and 58 Emmy Awards on broadcast television, the venerable melodrama will now be seen exclusively on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.
Sirius XM Reports Revenue Up 11%. SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin tells analysts the satcaster has seen subscriptions increase by 405,000 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Revenue for Q1 of 2012 was $805 million, an increase of 11% over the same period a year ago. Karmazin states, “SiriusXM is starting the year with tremendous operational momentum. We grew subscribers faster than any first quarter since our 2008 merger of Sirius and XM, and we improved our self-pay monthly churn rate to 1.9% despite implementing a price increase at the beginning of the year. Rising auto sales and our strong execution should enable us to exceed our prior 2012 subscriber growth guidance of 1.3 million, which today we are raising to 1.5 million.” The continued good news for SiriusXM includes: its subscriber growth rate accelerating to boost its subscriber base to an all-time high of 22.3 million; reduced its monthly churn to 1.9%; and was able to show positive free cash flow in the first quarter of a fiscal year for the first time – free cash flow was $15 million for 2012’s Q1. SiriusXM EVP and CFO David Frear states, “Our growing cash flow is reducing our leverage substantially and this improving credit profile should benefit stockholders as we refinance or pay down more than $1 billion of high coupon debt over the next 15 months.”
2012 Q1 Report: CBS Radio Down 2%. CBS Corporation announced its first quarter revenue for 2012 and although the company as a whole was up 12% on revenue of $3.92 billion over the same period a year ago, the revenue for the CBS Radio division was down 2%. Content licensing and distribution revenue were responsible for much of the company’s growth.
Harris to Exit Broadcast Business. Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation employs some 17,000 people worldwide but the bulk of its revenue does not come from the radio equipment sector – not even close. And that’s why the company announces it is divesting itself of the Broadcast Communications arm. The company states a review of its business structure revealed, “the (radio) business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. The plan to sell these assets supports our disciplined approach to capital allocation, and we intend to use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders and invest in growing our core businesses.”
KTRH, Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Won’t Be Charged in Fender Bender Case. Former Houston City Councilor and KTRH, Houston talk host Michael Berry will not face charges of hit and run in connection with a parking incident outside an area bar that happened in late January. The District Attorney’s office tells the Houston Chronicle that based on its findings, there will be no charges filed against Berry. It appears there’s no evidence to show Berry’s vehicle hit the car of a club bouncer who told authorities a car matching the description of Berry’s car hit his. The incident happened outside of TC’s Show Bar in Montrose – a club known for gay clientele. The local media made a big deal out of the incident and, in addition to the connection between the conservative Berry and the gay bar, questioned whether the former city councilor received special treatment from authorities investigating the incident. Berry maintained his innocence and excoriated the local media on his radio show for running fast and loose with the facts. He blamed much of the attention he received from the incident on politics.
Merlin Media’s New York Programming Chief Is Mark Austin Thomas. “FM News 101.9” has been without an official programming chief since Liz Aiello was let go in December. Now, it’s being reported that former KABC, Los Angeles news director and news anchor Mark Austin Thomas is in the programmer’s chair. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports an announcement from Merlin Media about Thomas’ status may come as early as this week. All-news WEMP-FM, New York has been holding steady with a .7 share in the monthly PPM ratings.
Dave Milner Named Market Manager at Clear Channel Sacramento. Reports of Jeff Holden’s departure from the building at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Sacramento cluster turned out to be true. The company announces Dave Milner takes over the president and market manager role. Milner has been serving as vice president of sales at Entercom’s San Francisco station group. He previously worked for Clear Channel in the Portland market. Clear Channel EVP of operations, Western Region Susan Karis states, “Dave brings an extensive track record of sales and management expertise with him to the Clear Channel Sacramento market. I’m excited to have him back with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to lead our business in Sacramento to continued success.”
KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds Tony Katz to Permanent Weekend Show. Emmis Communications’ KFTK-FM, St. Louis announces regular fill-in talk host Tony Katz gets a weekly Saturday afternoon show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Katz is the go-to fill-in guy for midday talk host Dana Loesch. KFTK-FM program director Jeff Allen says, “Tony is a rising star and I am thrilled that we can launch a fresh, new talent into our Saturday evening line-up. Tony is passionate, informative and most importantly, fun to listen to!” Katz also hosts a regular internet talk program on allpatriotsmedia.com.
Commercials Are Content, Too. The phrase “content is king” may be a cliché but the sentiment is true. However, it’s important to remember that spots are content too and broadcasters should give attention to spot quality, according to H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz. In his latest column for TALKERS, Herskovitz cites examples of commercial copy gone wrong that could have been avoided. Read his piece here.
FM Sports Talker Coming to Twin Falls, Idaho. Lee Family Broadcasting principal Kim Lee tells MagicValley.com that he’ll drop the AC music on KMVX-FM for sports talk on May 24. The station will carry ESPN programming and be the local radio outlet for College of Southern Idaho sports. The school’s radio voice, Jonathan Drew, will join the station as sports director and PM drive host of a local sports talk show.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Bob Throndsen retires from his news director position at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO-AM/FM. Throndsen has worked at KOMO radio and KOMO-TV for much of the past 30 years…..The debut of Michael Patrick Shiels’ new morning talk show based at local Fox TV outlet WSYM-TV, Lansing, Michigan will come not this week but next, according to a piece in the Lansing State Journal. Shiels, who recently left his WJIM, Lansing based program after a contract dispute, plans to syndicate the new show to talk radio outlets across Michigan…..KBJR-TV, Duluth sports director Tom Hansen joins KDAL, Duluth-Superior as co-host of the late morning show alongside Dave Strandberg. Hansen maintain’s his position with the television outlet…..Talk show host Tom Donahue, host of Tom Donahue Reports, announces his new flagship network for his syndicated show is Orion Talk Radio. The program airs live from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Second Annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic. The Broadcasters Foundation of America sets June 12 as the date of the second annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic – the fundraiser named in honor of the former Katz Media head who died in December of 2010. Since its inception, the fund has raised more than $500,000 to benefit the foundation. The event costs $250 per player and proceeds go directly to the fund. Reservations to take part in the golf outing can be made by calling Jim Thompson at 212-373-8250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 Presidential Race, Obama Afghanistan Visit, U.S. ICE Scam and Ohio Bridge Terror Plot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1). The 2012 presidential race; President Obama’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan and the Taliban violence there; the Immigration and Customs Enforcement scandal; and the Ohio bridge terror plot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rusty Humphries Has Movie Role in “Flicka” Film. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment just released the movie “Flicka Country Pride” starring Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black. Appearing in the role of the announcer at the championship horse competition is Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries. Humphries spent several days last November in British Columbia filming his scenes. He says, “It was an honor to be asked to be a part of a major motion picture and to learn from some of the best talent in the movie making business.” In a scene from the film, Rusty is seen here in his announcer role at the judge’s table. Rusty Humphries’ star continues to rise on a number of fronts. He has proven himself over the years to be like “the little engine that could.” In addition to accruing steadily increasing ratings and affiliations, his marketing campaigns continue to attract industry attention with significant sales of such items as Rusty Humphries Beef Jerkey and Rusty Humphries cigars. His position on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred took a leap from #35 in 2011 to #20 in 2012. Meet Rusty Humphries at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7 where he will be appearing as one of the debaters on the Talk Rumble. The industry-only event is near a sellout. For reservations, hotel or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.