By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Long-time-no-convention, pick an industry, any industry. Ours hopes to rally again for an October 2021 NAB Show in Las Vegas, a town that would kill for a crowd. Meantime, as Zoom stock has nearly quintupled in six months, we convene the way we work, online.
Radio Show – Audio/Streaming/Podcasting – Produced by RAB and NAB
The weeklong cyber-conference kicked-off yesterday with NBC senior business correspondent and MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle moderating “CEO Town Hall,” a panel discussion with Cumulus Media’s Mary Berner, Entercom Communications’ David Field and iHeartMedia’s Bob Pittman; dress code Coronavirus Casual.
Alpha Media Announces Intent to Purchase Digity Radio Stations. This deal has been rumored for some time so it’s not a big surprise. The proposed acquisition of Digity LLC’s 116 stations in 26 markets, after approval from the DOJ and the FCC, will bring Portland, Oregon-based Alpha Media’s station total to 251 in 54 markets. Alpha Media chairman Larry Wilson says, “We are extremely pleased to be acquiring from exceptional operators and management who truly understand radio. Dean [Goodman] and his team have done a tremendous job with these stations. They will be a great addition to our live-and-local vision across the country.” Digity CEO Dean Goodman comments, “Larry Wilson and I have a shared vision for the radio renaissance in progress now. Radio is live, local media enhanced by digital delivery and community focused events. Our success is the result of an employee environment of collaboration, transparency and innovation. I am honored to have worked with the great broadcasters at Digity and the dynamic growth they’ve created. Digity and Alpha are a perfect match.” Digity has focused on medium and small market operations. The largest of its 26 markets are Palm Beach, San Jose, Canton, and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, North Carolina. It also operates 11 outlets in suburban Chicago markets. For a complete station list, click here.
Townsquare Media Q2 Up 10.6% Powered by Live Events. The company went public just last summer – on July 24 – and financial data from the second quarter of 2015 indicates Townsquare Media’s 10.6% net revenue increase compared to the same period a year ago, comes on the strength of its live events sector. Live events net revenue was up 50.4% while local advertising revenue rose just 0.6% (1.5% ex political). Townsquare chairman and CEO Steven Price states, “We believe our second quarter net revenue growth of 10.6% highlights the strength of our diversified revenue strategy. We saw growth in each of our operating segments in the second quarter, particularly within our live events segment, which grew over 50% over the prior year. Local advertising net revenue increased primarily as a result of an increase in non-political local advertising net revenue of $1.2 million, which was partially offset by decreases in political local advertising net revenue of $0.7 million. Live events net revenue grew primarily as a result of increases in attendance and revenue per attendee of our live events, including three new music festivals. Other media and entertainment net revenue grew primarily as a result of increases within our digital marketing services offering.”
Townsquare to Sell 43 Towers to Vertical Bridge. At the same time as it reports its 2015 Q2 numbers, Townsquare Media announces it has entered into an agreement to sell 43 towers to a subsidiary of Vertical Bridge Holdings, LLC for approximately $22.8 million in cash, subject to closing adjustments (the Tower Sale). Townsquare will retain ownership of more than 250 towers following this sale. The towers being divested are located on 41 sites in 28 markets and not only house the company’s radio station antenna but are rented by third parties for similar uses. Townsquare has a 35-year deal (an initial term of 20 years and three optional five-year renewal periods) during which it will pay $41 of rent per annum ($1 per site per annum) to Vertical Bridge for the right to house its existing antenna on the divested towers. Townsquare has also entered into an agreement with Vertical Bridge for Vertical Bridge to serve as the exclusive marketing agent for the towers retained by the company.
Dawn Girocco New LA Market Manager for Cumulus Media. Longtime Los Angeles radio sales pro Dawn Girocco has worked for iHeartMedia as GSM and CBS RADIO as VP/director of sales in the City of Angels. Now she crosses the street to serve as vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s classic rock KLOS and news/talk KABC. Cumulus Media SVP of operations Tom Schurr says, “I’ve known and respected Dawn for years. We competed in Houston and worked together at Clear Channel, and I couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with her again. She’s going to be a great leader for Cumulus LA.” Girocco comments, “I appreciate the opportunity to step up to the role of market manager for Cumulus in Los Angeles and the confidence that Tom and Lew [Dickey] have placed in me to drive results with these incredible properties.”
Drew Scott Named Executive Producer of Bubba the Love Sponge Show. The Bubba the Love Sponge program officially announces that Drew Scott is the new executive producer of the Tampa-based, syndicated program. “The revered morning show is looking to make some changes, and they feel Scott’s well-rounded radio career, experience working with affiliates, and contacts make him a perfect fit.” He’s been in the position since June 17. Scott is a Central Florida native who’s been working for Mid-West Family Broadcasting in Benton Harbor, Michigan at rock WIRX “Rock 107.” Scott says, “This opportunity would not have been possible without the management and staff at ‘Rock 107.’ I have grown as a programmer and professional during my time in Michigan and I am grateful to my on-air teams – Dave Doetsch, Gayle Olsen, Jim Gifford, Paul Layendecker, Tom Walker, Randy Hawke, and Tim Moore – for allowing me express my creativity on and off the air.”
USA Radio Network Adds Jason Stapleton to Weekend Programming. He founded his eponymous talk show that’s been available via YouTube, iTunes, and Stitcher Radio but now USA Radio Networks adds the Jason Stapleton program to its weekend lineup, airing live Saturdays at 3:00 pm ET, effective August 15. Stapleton is a former force reconnaissance Marine, entrepreneur, speaker and investor who has been a professional trader for over a decade. USA chief content officer Tim Maranville says, “Jason’s perspective and background are unique and impactful to listening audiences everywhere which makes him an excellent addition to our ever growing lineup of shows.” USA says that Stapleton’s “experience has led Jason to become a highly sought after authority on everything from military strategy and politics to economics. This makes him a rare expert whose unconventional insights offer a perspective not heard in mainstream political and economic discourse.”
Nielsen Audio Releases Second Round of July 2015 PPM Data. The second of four rounds of July 2015 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The July 2015 survey period covered June 18 through July 15. You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
Hubbard Radio Signs Up for Shazam for Radio. The Shazam for Radio service is described by Shazam and radio partner Sun Broadcast Group as “the first-ever interactive radio service designed for every station’s unique content.” The deal between Hubbard Radio and SBG means Shazam for Radio is being deployed on 19 stations in all seven Hubbard markets. Hubbard president and COO Drew Horowitz says, “All of us here at Hubbard Radio are thrilled to be partnering with the great team at Sun Broadcast Group and Shazam for Radio. As we continue to look to the future and new ways of connecting our great brands and the advertisers we serve with millions of our loyal listeners, we believe Shazam for Radio is a game changer.” SBG COO Julio Aponte says, “We are so pleased to be working with Hubbard Radio in bringing another level of interactivity to their great radio properties. Shazam For Radio will allow them to engage directly with their audience by giving them real-time access to all their content, personalities, promotions and advertisers. We look forward to working with Drew Horowitz and his great team of programmers and sales people.”
Odds & Sods. On Thursday (8/6), Salem Radio Networks personality Hugh Hewitt will host a special two-hour program titled, “SRN Presidential Debate Special,” airing from 11:06 pm to 1:00 am ET. SRN says Hewitt will provide analysis of both the “undercard” debate on FOX News Channel — featuring candidates who polled outside of the “Top 10”— as well as the “main event” debate featuring the “Top 10” contenders as determined by public opinion polls. Guests expected to appear on the show include: GOP presidential contenders Carly Fiorina (R-CA) and Dr. Ben Carson (R-MD); Dan Balz of The Washington Post; Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard; Guy Benson, news editor of Townhall.com; Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post; Eliana Johnson of National Review; Mary Katherine Ham, editor-at-large of HotAir.com; and others…..The Denver operations of iHeartMedia announce Crystalyn Portwood is named director of sports sales. The cluster serves as the flagship for play-by-play for the NFL’s Denver Broncos, MLB’s Colorado Rockies and the University of Colorado Buffalos…..FOX Sports Radio’s “Jay Mohr Sports” hits the road for a series of three remotes from NFL training camps. Mohr’s show visits the Denver Broncos on Friday (8/7); the San Diego Chargers on Monday, August 17; and the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, August 20.
2016 Presidential Candidates-Donald Trump Criticisms, Planned Parenthood Videos Scandal, Immigration Policy Debate, Battle Against ISIS and al Qaeda, Hillary Clinton Email Server Case, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The activities of the candidates for president, Thursday’s GOP debate and criticism of Donald Trump; the ongoing controversy over the Planned Parenthood videos showing doctors discussing the price of tissue from aborted fetuses; the debate over America’s immigration policy; the military efforts to combat ISIS and al Qaeda; the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server; and the devastating wildfires in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rumor: Anthony Weiner to Try Talk Radio. Here we go again! Another disgraced politician – this time it’s former congressman and former NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner – is rumored to be in the running for a talk show on one of two New York City radio signals. The New York Daily News is reporting that sources say Weiner is in talks to begin hosting a show on either Cumulus Media’s WABC (where the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot is opening in the New Year) or on Clear Channel’s WOR. WABC operations manager Tony Mascaro tells the paper they are looking at a lot of candidates for the slot but denies Weiner is one of them. The track record of former politicians – especially disgraced ones – succeeding in talk radio is not good. Most managers and programmers are either aware – or find out very quickly – that the tradeoff for hiring such a person is not usually worth it. Yes, one gets instant recognition of the person from the public, but the long hours, challenging work, glamorless working conditions and time needed to get traction in the ratings usually turns off former pols who are used to a different sort of workday. Oh, and then there’s the fact that they almost always have no broadcasting skills whatsoever. Stay tuned, the Weiner-watch is on!
Cumulus Media Holdings to Refinance $2.23 Billion in Debt. According to a Reuters report, Cumulus Media Holdings has set terms on a new $2.23 billion loan that would serve to reduce its interest payments over the course of the loan. The company is marketing a $200 million, five-year revolver and a $2.025 billion, seven-year, first-lien term loan. The proceeds would refinance Cumulus’ current first- and second-lien loans. Moody’s Investor Services VP and senior credit officer Carl Salas is quoted saying, “It’s a meaningful improvement in their annual debt service. They will save upwards of $30 million to $35 million in interest costs which adds nicely to their free cash flow generation.”
CBS Radio’s WJFK, Washington Hears It from Redskins About Game Broadcast Parodies. NFL fans are aware that the Washington Redskins – owned by the litigious and sensitive Dan Snyder – are having a tough season (3-9 right now) after making the playoffs last year. That’s been the source of much frustration on the part of fans and the source of material for WJFK host Danny Rouhier and producer Ajay Atayee who’ve been producing bits that are mock-ups of game broadcasts. Rouhier does the voices of Redskins radio play-by-play announcers Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen and splices in actual drops of color man and former ‘Skin Chris Cooley. The hysterically funny bits have been critical of the team’s play, the fan experience at FedEx Field and Snyder’s public image, so much so that, according to the Washington Post, WJFK Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen was told by team spokesman Tony Wyllie that the bits are so malicious that they could prompt legal action. This may be water under the bridge since the Post reports Wyllie says after talking with the station and being assured it’s all in good fun, the team has no problem with the station’s content. Since the station has no intention of stopping Rouhier from producing more similarly themed bits, we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out.
KYSR, Los Angeles Morning Personality Kennedy to Host Fox Business Net Show. Former MTV VJ and current morning drive host at Clear Channel’s alternative KYSR, Los Angeles, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, will begin a new nightly current events talk show on Fox Business Network titled “The Independents” that will premiere on Monday, December 9. The Hollywood Reporter states that Kennedy will co-host with Reason magazine’s Matt Welch, America’s Future Foundation’s Kmele Foster and a rotating panel of money experts. Kennedy herself writes on her KYSR blog that the show will be “aimed at all the mealy-mouthed, partisan faithful out there. Has the 2 party system totally failed you? Yeah, me too! Tune in 4 nights a week on FBN, and just remember, music and politics go hand in hand. I will always hold hands with you.” Kennedy has been a contributor to FBN making regular appearances on “Stossel.”
Vali Named Interim GM of Ohana Broadcast, Hawaii. The name Austin Vali is widely-known in Hawaii radio and, as Ohana Broadcast Company‘s interim general manager, he will oversee four Oahu stations and five Kauai facilities. Owner/president Jason Wolff comments, “Austin brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and relationships in the Honolulu market. He will be a tremendous asset as we strive to produce the best possible radio for our listeners and clients.” Recently, Vali was vice president/general manager of Cox Media Group‘s three-station Long Island cluster. During his 40-year radio career, he has worked in Pittsburgh, Norfolk, and Louisville; however, Vali is perhaps best known for his experience in Hawaii. Since arriving there in 1978, he worked at Honolulu’s KIKI and KQMQ and he co-owned KRTR-FM and KXME in that market.
PodcastOne Adds Mariel Hemingway Program to Stable. Titled after her best-selling book Running with Nature, actress and author Mariel Hemingway, along with her partner, stuntman, actor, health and wellness expert, Bobby Williams, are launching their new podcast via PodcastOne. The podcast invites listeners to “join them on their adventures; from Hollywood to Holistic healing…transforming relationships to finding the most meaningful ways of living every day, Mariel and Bobby are here bringing laughter, wonder and awe with some great advice.” The first podcast episode “features nutrition tips, a review of her just released documentary called ‘Running from Crazy,’ and exercise tips from Bobby and Mariel’s ‘Meditation Moment.’” PodcastOne COO Greg Batusic says, “Mariel and Bobby offer a refreshing and unique take on life that their fans and new listeners will surely benefit from. We’re happy to have them join our stellar lineup.”
WTOP, Washington’s Bob Madigan to Retire. Drive time news anchor Bob Madigan will retire from his position at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington, DC at the end of the year. Outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley (also retiring, see next story) says in a memo to his DC staff, “Bob has been in this crazy business of ours for 50 years, 20 of them here at WTOP and WASH when both stations were co-owned. He and I worked for 11 years at NBC News….I have been inflicted on Bob for 27 of his 50 years in the business. By the way, if you are wondering how he got in 50 years ago, he started working in radio during high school.” Farley goes on to say that as WTOP’s “Man About Town,” he “was a one-person ‘good news’ department covering everything from charity galas to scholarship awards and chili cook-offs for a good cause. Bob covered so many events, that in less than a year on the beat, he was emcee, announcer or celebrity judge at many of them. He became a one-man marketing machine for WTOP, getting our name out there in a positive way that was priceless! He was chosen to announce the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. At the Bush Inaugural Parade he was paired with…Meat Loaf. For years he announced the start of the Race for the Cure live on WTOP. He has a long, long list of awards and honors including a (rare for a journalist) RAMMY Award, “The Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award.” RAMMY’s are awarded by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
A Farewell to Jim Farley. Radio consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke (right) poses for a selfie with outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley at a retirement bash for the longtime WTOP, Washington programmer at the Newseum in Washington, DC. After 17 years with the station, Farley is “slowing down but not retiring” as he’ll step down from his current post but consult WTOP for the next two years. He’s also open to consult others with their news and/or digital strategies. Current WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo is stepping into the post at year’s end. Cooke reports that modern-day WTOP-ers, Hubbard execs and many alumni toasted Farley at the bash. Among other things said at the farewell party, Farley told staffers, “What a crowd! YOU did it. YOU GUYS do all the heavy lifting, and I got all the credit. I’m gettin’ out before they catch me.”
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Usually that’s the case but at the Entercom AM transmitter site in Westwood, Kansas, just how a good fence is defined appears to be the issue. The towers for KMBZ and KUDL are surrounded by residential neighborhoods – that wasn’t the case in the 1930s when the towers went up. According to the Prairie Village Post, now neighbors are challenging the renewal of Entercom’s special use permit for the site claiming they want improvements there. After meeting with residents, a plan commission sub-committee is suggesting the current chain-link fence with barbed wire makes the property look “blighted” and recommends removal of the perimeter fence and replacement with fencing that complies with current code. Entercom fears liability issues without a perimeter fence. In 2008, a trespassing teenager was killed after falling from a tower on the site. Expect some sort of compromise on this issue since moving the station towers would be very difficult yet protection of the transmitters and towers needs to continue for obvious reasons.
Credit to WJFK-FM, Washington’s “Junkies” for Nabbing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Segment. He’s been one of the hot talk radio topics for the past several weeks (as documented in TALKERS magazine’s weekly top topics chart The Talkers TenTM), so why not book him as a guest? CBS Radio’s “The Junkies” did just that and got a cool 25-minute segment with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on WJFK-FM, Washington today. Ford, who’s obviously been in the news a bit lately and doesn’t seem to be very mic-shy, talked with the Junkies about football (he offered his NFL picks for the week), the drug use allegations against him, President Obama, and his run for re-election next fall (which he says he’ll win because he has the support of the people).
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco is preparing to begin a listener giveaway of tickets and cool memorabilia for its six area pro sports teams. “95.7 The Game” is calling the promotion “The Six Teams of Christmas” and will give listeners a chance to win game ticket packages to see the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland As, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks…..CBS Radio’s New York stations (including sports WFAN-AM/FM and all-news WINS and WCBS) are announcing a new promotion: The Firehouse Chili Cook-Off. After entries were submitted from all across the tri-state area, semi-finalists will compete to see whose chili recipe reigns supreme. At establishments in New Jersey and New York, the staple food of firefighters will be cooked, tasted and judged by local sports figures, and one fire company at each event will move into the final round of the competition. The grand prize winner will receive VIP tickets to a 2014 New York Yankees game…..Entercom’s Boston Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston is broadcasting from the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando next week. Live coverage of the meetings will begin with Salk & Holley from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday through Wednesday. The Mut & Merloni show will also originate from the Swan and Dolphin Resort from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday.
Holiday Magic at KIRO-FM, Seattle. Pictured here is KIRO-FM, Seattle afternoon drive duo Ron & Don manning the tote board at last year’s “Holiday Magic Radiothon.” The Bonneville news/talk station, in partnership with Treehouse (a non-profit agency that ensures that kids in foster care have access to the essential services required to help them make it to high school graduation and beyond), are hosting the 25th Annual Foster Child Holiday Magic Radiothon today. The station set a record last year raising more than $500,000. The 12-hour “Holiday Magic Radiothon” helps local foster kids by raising money to provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support programs and services throughout the year.
Rusty Humphries on the Set in Bucharest. That’s talk show host and actor Rusty Humphries (left) with actor Michael Damian (right) on location in Bucharest, Romania on the set of the romantic comedy Love By Design. Humphries says he plays a reporter covering a big fashion show in New York City. He notes that Bucharest is a popular location to shoot NYC scenes since it can be made to look like the streets of New York and the production costs are much less. The movie also stars Jane Seymour. Humphries was in Bucharest for seven days filming. He tells TALKERS, “I had a blast. I love the fact that I’m having the opportunity to really live out my dreams: radio, TV and film. This is my third major motion picture, and it’s always an honor to be involved with a project as special as this.”
ObamaCare Criticism, NSA Cell Location Database, Obama Millennial Support Diminishing, Detroit Bankruptcy, Bashir Resignation, and Fast Food Minimum Wage Effort Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). Analysis of the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the NSA policy that reportedly gathers the location of cell phone users; the loss of support from Millennials for President Obama; the Detroit bankruptcy case ruling; Martin Bashir’s resignation from MSNBC after his Sarah Palin comments; and the move by organized labor to push for a national minimum wage for fast food workers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.