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Thursday, May 6, 2021

| May 6, 2021

Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 15.5%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Saga Communications announces net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decline of 15.5% from the $26.1 million reported in Q1 of 2020. Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year.  Station operating income was $4.7 million, down from the $5.5 million reported in the first quarter 0f 2020. Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communications reports net income of $758,000 in the first quarter, compared to $1.7 million in Q1 2020. The company’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. Saga’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021. Capital expenditures in the first quarter were $534,000 compared to $1 million for the same period last year. Saga expects to spend approximately $4.5 – $5.5 million for capital expenditures during 2021.

Nielsen Q1 Revenue Up 2.5%. Ratings and analytics giant Nielsen Holdings plc reveals its financial results for the first quarter of this year and revenue was $863 million, an increase of 2.5% on a reported basis. Nielsen notes that these results reflect the March 5, 2021 sale of the Global Connect business (consumer data) for $2.4 billion in net proceeds, which resulted in a $542 million preliminary gain on sale, net of taxes, recognized in the quarter. Of the net proceeds, $2.28 billion were used for debt reduction in March and April 2021. Beginning in the first quarter of 2021, Global Connect results were reclassified to discontinued operations for all periods presented. Nielsen CEO David Kenny comments, “We delivered a solid first quarter, as our teams executed incredibly well. We closed on the sale of Global Connect in March and are now singularly focused as the global essential data, measurement, and analytics provider for the entire media ecosystem. We are investing in our future and we are well-positioned to drive new growth from new solutions across all of our end markets globally. In particular, we are pleased with the advances we’ve made in Audience Measurement, Outcomes and Gracenote Content Services. We are executing as planned and we are increasing key elements of our 2021 guidance.”

FOX Corp Acquires Clay Travis’ Outkick. Yesterday (5/5), FOX Corporation announced an agreement via its subsidiary to acquire Outkick Media, LLC, the digital media platform founded and led by Clay Travis, and related assets. FOX says, “Outkick is an omnichannel leader in sports, opinion, politics, and pop culture content across its radio, podcasts, online and social outlets, as well as being one of the foremost sources of sports wagering information in the United States. Further, Outkick is in an exclusive marketing agreement with FOX’s partner FanDuel and serves as a significant source of sports wagering referrals.” FOX Corp executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch comments, “As FOX further diversifies our growing digital portfolio and broadens our position in the sports wagering ecosystem, there could be no better acquisition than Outkick. Clay and his team have quickly made Outkick a content powerhouse with a very large, loyal and engaged audience. We expect the synergies presented across FOX’s existing portfolio of assets will turbocharge this exciting business.” Travis adds, “Outkick has grown out of my passion for producing bold, well-informed, and entertaining content about sports, current events and, more recently, sports wagering. With the power of FOX behind us, we look forward to maintaining Outkick’s unwavering commitment to that mission, as well as further accelerating the growth of our audience, and continued leadership in the sports wagering affiliate category.” Clay Travis will remain integrally involved at Outkick and serve as its president. The price of the acquisition has not be announced.

Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ Hits 100 Million Download Mark. The “Call of the Day” podcast from Dr. Laura Schlessinger has reached the 100 million-downloads mark. The podcast is a feature that’s taken from Dr. Laura’s daily SiriusXM talk show in which she features a call she designates as the best from each day’s show. The “Call of the Day” podcast was launched in 2017 and has consistently ranked #1 in Parenting on Apple Podcasts, is top ranked in Kids and Family, and is among podcasting’s Global 200 according to Chartable. Dan Brady, director of podcast operations and program audio content for Take On The Day LLC, says, “We set forth to make this podcast a new avenue to hear Dr. Laura. It turns out we made it one of the most popular focusing on families and parenting. Take On The Day LLC president Geoff Rich adds, “In addition to its popularity with listeners old and new, Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ has proven to be a great opportunity for advertisers who want to reach the desirable demographic of women 25-54.  It’s been a win-win for everyone.”

Todd Starnes Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Entrepreneur, syndicated talk show host, radio station owner, author, columnist, and conservative/evangelical thought-leader Todd Starnes is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” After working as a radio news reporter and news columnist for a number of years, this colorful and controversial personality began hosting a syndicated talk radio show on FOX News Radio in 2017. In 2019, he moved on from FOX, launching his own independent syndicated show which just recently cracked the 100-affiliate milestone. In January 2020, he significantly expanded his media empire by purchasing Memphis talk station 990 AM KWAM which now serves as the flagship for his growing radio show and political/industry influence. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Report: Future of Centennial’s WINC-AM, Winchester, Virginia Uncertain. A story in the Winchester Star shines a light on the status of Centennial Broadcasting II’s Winchester, Virginia news/talk outlet WINC-AM. Company CEO Allen Shaw tells the paper that WINC-AM “hasn’t had great financial success” lately and that the death of Rush Limbaugh has added to the station’s woes. Shaw tells the Wincester Star that his company is selling WINC-FM and WZFC-FM, to Fairfax, Virginia-based Metro Radio Inc. for $225,000 and that Centennial offered WINC-AM as well “practically for nothing” but Metro didn’t want it. If Centennial can’t sell WINC-AM, it would consider donating it to a college or a religious group before it would take the station dark.

COVID-19, Trump vs Liz Cheney/Future of GOP, Facebook Trump Ruling, Giuliani Investigation, Border Crisis, Newsom Recall/Jenner Run, and Peloton Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). The rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the move to waive COVID vaccine patents, and the soaring death rate in India; Donald Trump’s orchestration of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s fall from power in the House and the future of the GOP; Facebook keeps Trump account suspended but allows for further review; the FBI’s investigation into Rudy Giuliani and the mainstream media’s reporting errors; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Caitlyn Jenner’s plan to run for the office; and Peloton recalls all of its treadmills after numerous accidents and one death were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, January 16, 2019

| January 16, 2020

WBZ-AM, Boston Cuts Four Air Staffers in ‘Employee Dislocation.’ News of which on-air personalitiesiHeartMedia has let go in its “employee dislocation” program continues to become known.  The Boston Globe reports that Boston’s heritage all-news WBZ-AM is losing four news staffers.  Gone are political commentator Jon Keller (who continues to serve with CBS TV at WBZ-TV), morning drive news anchor Deb Lawler, sports anchor Tom Cuddy, and talk show host Bradley Jay.  It’s not clear yet if the station will ask other staffers to share those duties or if they will be handled remotely.

More iHeartMedia Cuts. In addition to the downsizing noted in the story above, here are more of the broadcasters who lost their gigs with iHeartMedia stations whom TALKERS magazine has learned about: Joe Concha, “WOR Tonight” host, WOR, New York; Cliff Avril, sports talk host, KJR, Seattle; Chris Merrill, talk host, KOGO, San Diego; Marilyn Harris, host, WKRC, Cincinnati; Jarred Diglio, APD, WRKO, Boston; Dale Donovan, host, WKRC, Cincinnati; Lori Schmidt, sports reporter, WTVN, Columbus; Dario Melendez, sports talk host, WRNW, Milwaukee; Shea Raftus, producer, WRNW, Milwaukee; Dan Nawrocki, PD and host, WSPD, Toledo; Jerry Pickering, morning show staffer, WSPD, Toledo; Don Zellers, morning show staffer, WSPD, Toledo; Joe Gallagher, weekend host, WGY-AM/FM, Albany; Tank Spencer, host and news anchor, WWNC, Asheville; Tony Bristol, program director, WTAG, Worcester; Carl Falk, sports talk host, WHTK, Rochester; Cameron Hendricks, news director, WKIP/WJIP, Poughkeepsie; Dianne Zanin, reporter, WKIP/WJIP, Poughkeepsie; Alex Womer, host, asst. production director, WFNN, Erie; Bill Hickok, sports talk host, KBMR, Bismarck; and Steve Bortstein, program director, KCQL, Farmington, New Mexico.

iHeartMedia Ups Three Programmers to EVP. In conjunction with iHeartMedia’s new Markets Group structure, the company promotes three of its senior programming executives to division executive vice presidents of programming for the iHeartMedia National Programming Group, effective immediately.  Jeff Hurley, Tony Travatto, and Angela Watson Charles join current EVPs of programming Andrew Jeffries, Thea Mitchem, Maynard, and Gene Romano.  They report to National Programming Group COO Brad Hardin.  Each member of the EVP of programming team will partner with the company’s division presidents, “collaborating with each Division to provide national programming assets, services and resources.”  Here’s how it breaks down: Mitchem and Jeffries will work with Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck and the Region Division, comprised of the company’s largest markets (i.e. New York and Los Angeles); Romano and Maynard will work with division presidents Tom McConnell, Tony Coles, and Linda Byrd and the Metro Division.  Travatto, Hurley, and Watson Charles will work with division presidents Shosh Abromovich, Nick Gnau, and Dan Lankford and the Community Division.  iHeartMedia chief programming officer Tom Poleman says, “We’re excited to add Angela, Jeff and Tony to our already extremely talented executive vice president of programming team.  They each have deep experience building great local brands with a blend of math and magic, and they’ll provide excellent leadership to our programmers in our Community Division markets.”

Doug MacGunnigle Rises to PD for WPRO and WPRV in Providence. At Cumulus Media’s Providence station group, programmer Doug MacGunnigle is promoted from assistant program director to program director for news/talk stations WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM and WPRV-AM under new operations manager Mary Ellen Kachinske.  MacGunnigle has been APD since October of 2017.  Cumulus Providence VP and market manager Holly Paras says, “Doug MacGunnigle is a tremendous asset to our news/talk stations.  With 20 years’ experience in Providence radio, Doug knows the market and stations inside and out.  He was the natural choice to lead WPRO and WPRV moving forward.”  MacGunnigle comments, “I grew up listening to WPRO and it is truly a humbling honor to be given an opportunity to lead this legendary radio station.  I look forward to helping bring these stations into the future, while continuing to protect and grow WPRO’s legacy as one of the great news/talk stations in the country.”

Joe Pags Fills Afternoon Role at KXNT, Las Vegas. Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo is the new host of the afternoon drive show on Entercom’s KXNT, Las Vegas.  Pags’ program is based at iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio and is syndicated via Compass Media Networks.  Entercom Las Vegas SVP and market manager Dan Kearney says, “We are excited to bring the energy and passion of Joe Pags to our listeners throughout Las Vegas and the Valley.  With Americans facing another crucial election year in 2020, his common-sense approach to current events and natural ability to navigate breaking news will fit perfectly in our already superstar KXNT lineup.”   The Joe Pags Show also recently added iHeartMedia’s WKBN-AM, Youngstown, Ohio and Alpha Media’s KFOR-AM, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Phil Valentine’s New Podcast Takes Off. WWTN-FM, Nashville afternoon drive host Phil Valentine says his newest podcast, “I’m Calling Bovine Scatology,” is already charting on news and politics formats on Apple Podcasts.  He reports the show is ranked at #130 on the news chart and #35 on the politics chart.  Valentine jumped into podcasting a year ago with his son, Campbell, on their podcast, “The PodGOATs.”  It was a top 10 History podcast for all of 2019 on Podbean.  Valentine says, “Look, podcasting is to radio what FM was to AM in 1968.  I worked for the first FM talker in the country – the late WWDB in Philadelphia.  WTN, where I am in Nashville, was one of the first FM talkers.  I’m used to being on the cutting edge.  Trust me, podcasting is where everything is going.”  Valentine, who says his show finished 2019 as the #1 talk show in Nashville with a 12.9 share with Men 25-54, inked a new deal with Cumulus Media last year that includes a deal to sell advertising on his podcasts.

WSB, Atlanta Broadcasting in HD. Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM is now broadcasting in HD on the 95.5 frequency.  Cox Media Group moved WSB’s transmitter and antenna in August of 2019 from Flowery Branch to East Atlanta.  WSB director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs says, “Combined with the recent transmitter and antenna move, listeners will get an even more enhanced sound coming from their speakers on HD-enabled radios.  The addition of HD is another part of the ongoing strategic move WSB has made to offer our listeners the best possible listening experience and our advertisers the best possible exposure for their goods and services.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth is serving as guest host on the nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” today and tomorrow (1/16-17).  Hayworth served six terms in Congress and for years hosted his own daily talk radio program in Phoenix.  He’s also filled in for such national hosts as Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Mike Huckabee.  The “Todd Starnes Show” is heard on some 60 affiliate stations and is distributed by Hamilton Strategies…..WGCL-TV, Atlanta reports that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has named talk radio personality Martha Zoller – along with two other appointees – to a seven-year term on the Georgia state Board of Education.  The body makes policy for Georgia’s 1.8 million public school students.  Martha Zoller currently hosts the 9:00 am to 10:00 am show on Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia.  In addition to her radio career, Zoller was an aide to U.S. Senator David Perdue from 2014 to 2018.  She served on Governor Kemp’s campaign.  She left her radio career to run for Congress in 2012 but lost in the Republican primary to Doug Collins, who won the seat…..Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports on what he calls the “musical chairs” in the news department at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM.  He says the station wanted to move current afternoon drive news anchor Lauren Cohn to middays, along with news director John Dempsey’s move from mornings to afternoons and Nick Gale’s move from middays to mornings.  But Cohn apparently viewed the move as a demotion and fought it.  As it turns out, Dempsey will move to middays and Gale will anchor during Erich Mancow Muller’s morning show…..Nationally syndicated host and clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner celebrates her 22nd radio anniversary on February 1.  She’s also the author of The Selfish Path to Romance (2011, Winans Kuenstler Publishing, LLC) and she can be booked for interviews in advance of Valentine’s Day by reaching out to syndication@drkenner.com…..Affiliates of Envision Networks nationally syndicated financial talk show “The Jared Dillian Show” – hosted by self-made millionaire Jared Dillian – can receive the show’s podcasts to include as part of their program offerings on their websites.  Dillian says, “I’m pleased we’re able to make parts of the show available in one of my favorite formats.”  “The Jared Dillian Show” is part of the 24/7 Smart Talk Radio Network based in Chicago and distributed by Envision Networks.

Dan Brady Promoted at Dr. Laura’s Take On the Day LLC. Media pro Dan Brady is promoted to director of podcast operations & program audio for Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s Take On the Day, LLC.  In this role, Brady will be responsible for managing the Dr. Laura podcasts, including the “Call of the Day,” as well as the Dr. Laura Family Premium podcasts.  Take On the Day co-owner Geoff Rich says, “Dan has been critical to the success of Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ podcast, growing it to over 2.5 million listens per month in two years and making it a top 10 podcast in Apple Podcasts Kids and Family and Parenting categories.  It’s a thrill to tap into Dan’s knowledge, experience and creativity.”

British Broadcaster Graham Mack Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Veteran British talk personality and program director of FIX Radio in London, Graham Mack, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Mack take a deep dive into the major international news stories emanating from the United Kingdom – including the rise of Boris Johnson and the latest developments regarding Brexit as well as Megxit – the crisis facing the Monarchy in the wake of the Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex bombshell. Don’t miss this fun, fascinating, and informative conversation! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column of the TALKERS email newsletter and on every page of Talkers.com.

Impeachment Moves to Senate, Presidential Election, Putin Power Grab, U.S.-China Trade Deal, Record Dow/The Economy, and MLB Sign-Stealing Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/15). The articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate and Lev Parnas’ interview on CNN; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in November and the row between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders; the Russian government resigns as Vladimir Putin seeks constitutional changes to remain in power; Trump’s trade deal with China; the Dow closes over 29,000 and the roaring U.S. economy; and the MLB’s sign-stealing scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

New Studios for Griffin Communications’ Radio Stations in Tulsa. The five Tulsa, Oklahoma radio stations owned by Griffin Communications have moved to the company’s eight-year-old facility on North Boston Road.  The stations – including news/talk KFAQ and four music brands – join the company’s television properties.  The facility was constructed in 2011 for the television stations with room left over for the future expansion that it would ultimately use for the radio stations.  Griffin CEO David Griffin says, “We are very excited to bring these stations home.  Combining radio with our TV stations, billboards, websites, and digital products deepens our commitment to the Tulsa market and provides an unmatched footprint.  Additionally, it provides these radio stations with new, state-of-the-art studios and synergy opportunities so that they can continue to serve Green Country with exceptional content and broadcasting capabilities.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Tomorrow night (1/17), Coldplay will perform at the inaugural RADIO.COM Live event series in front of a small audience of KROQ, Los Angeles listeners to mark the grand opening of the new HD Radio Sound Space – a state-of-the-art entertainment hub – in the heart of Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard. Entercom’s RADIO.COM will stream the special performance live nationwide starting at 7:00 pm PT/10:00 pm.  RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo says, “We’re honored Coldplay will kick off the RADIO.COM Live event series at the grand unveil of the HD Radio Sound Space.  We are excited to offer fans exclusive access to this once-in-a lifetime performance, live via the RADIO.COM app and website nationwide as well as on select HD Radio stations. This is the first of many events that we will be hosting live from the heart of the city and we are looking forward to giving fans everywhere insider access.”…..Entercom names “Nick and Kristen” (pictured at left) the new morning show on country KWJJ, Portland “99.5 The Wolf,” effective January 22.  The duo was most recently the morning drive show at Bonneville International’s adult contemporary KOIT, San Francisco.  They say, “We are so thrilled to work alongside [SVP/MM] Kim Martinez and [OM/PD] Scott Roddy.  Both are dynamic and inspiring leaders in our industry who elevate their staff and their stations.  We’re equally as excited to share our lives and bring the best new country to Portland.”…..Air personality Kacie Kozman is officially named midday host at Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB Phoenix.  Kozman has been hosting the daypart since Ian Camfield exited last month to join Entercom’s alternative KVIL, Dallas.