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Tag: "vaccine mandates"

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

| November 2, 2021

Bongino Off the Radio This Week; Still Hosting Podcast. This may be the week that the rift between Westwood One parent company Cumulus Media and nationally syndication talk host Dan Bongino is settled – one way or the other. Bongino’s 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET show is being guest hosted this week after the syndicator ran best-of shows last week during his absence. At issue here is Bongino’s stand against the company’s vaccine mandates and his publicly calling out the company and demanding it rescind the requirement that all employees get vaccinated. He is still producing his daily, one-hour podcast for the iHeartRadio platform this week and on it he’s addressing vaccine mandates and his belief that they are ultimately doing the nation more harm than good. As far as Cumulus Media is concerned, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the company retreats on its vaccine mandate and since Bongino is obviously serious about his ultimatum, it looks like the two parties are likely headed for a separation.

Interep Radio Founder Ralph Guild Passes at 93. Legendary radio sales figure Ralph Guild – long credited with creating what is now the standard operating structure for television and radio rep companies, passed away yesterday (11/1) in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 93. Guild launched Interep Radio in 1981 to offer the communications and marketing expertise he believed radio stations would come to expect from their representatives. Created as a holding company, Interep brought independent rep firms together under a single corporate umbrella and grew to over $1 billion in sales. In 1986, under Guild’s stewardship, Interep launched Group W Radio Sales, which ultimately became CBS Radio Sales. Other dedicated rep companies created by Interep included ABC Radio Sales. Guild began his radio representation career in 1957 as a young executive at McGavren Radio – a San Francisco-based firm devoted to representing radio advertising. The company sent him to New York to open their first east coast office, and by 1967 McGavren Radio had become McGavren Guild. In 1973, Guild had become the company’s president and chief operating officer, and later its chairman. Guild’s son Marc, who was also a well-known radio industry executive, passed away in 2020. Guild is survived by his children, Gale, Lynn, Sharon, and Adam, his 16 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Townsquare Media 2021 Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 17%. The company reveals the results of its 2021 third quarter financial report and says net revenue was $111.3 million, up 16.7% compared to the same period in 2020 and just 1% shy of the net revenue in Q3 of 2019 – just prior to the pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $12.9 million, up from $1.3 million in Q3 of 2020. Townsquare Media reports its business in three segments: Townsquare Interactive, the company’s digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising, which includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events, which is comprised of the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.9 million, or 16.2%, to $21.1 million, Advertising net revenue increased $10.3 million, or 13.3%, to $87.4 million, and Live Events net revenue increased $2.7 million to $2.7 million, each as compared to the third quarter of 2020. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “Townsquare’s strong performance continued in the third quarter of 2021, highlighted by robust year-over-year net revenue, Adjusted EBITDA, and net income growth.  Adjusted EBITDA surpassed 2019 levels for the fourth consecutive quarter, and net revenue was at 99% of 2019 levels… As a Digital First Company with approximately 47% of total net revenue (excluding political) coming from our digital platform and solutions, we continue to separate ourselves from the local competition. In the third quarter, total digital revenue increased 20% year-over-year (+29% vs. Q3 2019), and we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $188 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of September 30, 2021) to $250 million in just three short years. Our digital revenue growth, combined with strong profit growth, allowed us to reduce net leverage to 4.9x as of September 30, a meaningful reduction of 2.9x year over year. I am incredibly proud of the Townsquare Team and the results we have delivered to date, which sets us up to noticeably exceed 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in FY 2021, marking a record profit level for our company. Although COVID is far from over, we have been able to achieve our revenue and EBITDA targets faster than we had initially planned for while gaining market share. As such, we are quickly moving towards our ultimate goal of being the number one local media company in each of our 67 markets.”

Beasley Media Group Q3 Net Revenue Up 26.7%. For the third quarter of 2021, Beasley Media Group reports net revenue of $62.9 million, an increase of 26.7% over the same period in 2020. The company reports a net loss of $1.6 million, down from the $2.7 million net loss reported in Q3 of 2020. Station operating income rose to $11.7 million, up 36% from the $8.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2020. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong third quarter financial results reflect the operating and financial benefits of our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives, which are becoming more visible as we move deeper into the post-pandemic economic recovery. Accelerating demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and multi-platform marketing solutions drove third quarter net revenue of $62.9 million, marking a 6% increase over second quarter 2021 levels and a 27% increase over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth, combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant 45% year-over-year increase in SOI to $11.7 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.7 million. While the Delta variant impacted some markets during the quarter, strong growth in core radio advertising and digital advertising revenue resulted in year-over-year total revenue increases across nearly all of our markets, with healthy double-digit growth in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa and Wilmington. The growth was primarily driven by a significant increase in sports betting revenue. Beasley continues to generate positive results from strategic investments in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities, which are further strengthening the long-term competitive position of our diversified media platform. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 67% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for 13% of total third quarter revenue. With our ongoing focus on premium audio and digital content, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions for the second consecutive quarter, with total digital impressions growing 13% over the prior year period, including a 17% year-over-year increase in our total digital streaming audience. On the esports front, we recently launched AXLE-R8, our first expansion team marking our entry into the Rocket League Championship series, which attracts a highly engaged and growing young audience. As we continue to build our esports portfolio, we remain focused on looking for new, innovative ways to monetize this content to drive profitable long-term revenue growth. In summary, we continue to make significant progress on our near-term goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels, as we integrate our leading broadcast platform with our fast-growing digital solutions while maintaining deep local connections and reach within our markets.”

Duke Brooks Exits Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach. Talk show host Duke Brooks tells TALKERS magazine that he left his position as host of the afternoon drive program at Resort Broadcasting’s news/talk WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on October 15. He says, “I’ve been honored to have the company of thousands of Delmarvans every weekday afternoon for over six years, but WGMD plans a new programming direction in which I have no experience. That, among several other reasons, meant that it was time for me to depart Resort Broadcasting, LLC.” Brooks first joined WGMD in the fall of 2009 as evening talk show host but, along with several other staffers, was let go on February 2, 2011. He then worked as communication director for the Sussex County GOP and then for Kevin Wade’s (R-DE) campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He returned to WGMD on March 13, 2015.

Fisher House Radio Special Available for Veterans Day Weekend. In time for this year’s recognition of Veteran’s Day, Fisher House Foundation announces that The Jeff Wyatt Group has a free, fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 NOW available for download. You can hear the demo, register, and download today here. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for ALL formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The 3-hour, 1-hour, 25 and 30-minute radio specials are hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt and features stories of our nation’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families.

Biden Spending Bills, Election Day, COVID-19, SCOTUS Abortion Law Case, COP26, and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial to Begin Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/1). The status of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic plan and Congress likely to act on them this week; today’s tight gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine mandates, and vaccine approval for children; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the case of Texas’ restrictive abortion law; the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow; and the beginning of the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

| October 27, 2021

Vaccine Mandates Causing Strife Among Staffers in Broadcasting Industry. The mandate by several radio companies that workers return to the office and get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they do is causing angst for some in the industry. Already, a handful of radio personalities have chosen to be terminated from their positions rather than get a vaccine. TALKERS reported on the dismissal of sports talk host Tim Hill from Cumulus Media’s WNKT-FM, Columbia, South Carolina and Jeff Crank’s exit from Cumulus Media’s KVOR-AM, Colorado Springs for refusing the vaccine. Also, country jock Roxanne Steele exited Cumulus’ WDRQ-FM, Detroit for the same reason. Cumulus is not the only radio company with a mandate. Beasley Media Group also has instituted a vaccine requirement. But the threat by talk host Dan Bongino to leave his program syndicated by Cumulus Media’s Westwood One if the company doesn’t retreat on the mandate has pushed the issue into mainstream news outlets. It has also put WWO in a difficult situation with Bongino as the company has replaced Bongino’s live show with best-of editions so far this week, ostensibly so the company can sort out this matter. Bongino – who is vaccinated but says he’s taking this stand for his fellow employees – has only been syndicated by WWO since May but the company has invested a lot of time and money in his show. His popular podcast was the #8-ranked podcast in terms of average weekly downloads in September, according to Triton Digital’s rankings so this makes Cumulus’ handling of Bongino’s threat very tricky. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison comments, “We haven’t seen this kind of dramatic brinksmanship since the Cuban Missile Crisis… well perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but Bongino has clearly drawn a red line in the sand and both parties have boldly stepped over it. Now it’s a matter of image and pride for each. Unless this is defused by a masterful display of diplomacy in which both sides can save face and move the issue forward to the benefit of all involved – including society at large – [Cumulus CEO] Mary Berner has no choice but to let Bongino go. He made his choice… and Dan must now make good on his threat and live with the consequences, whatever they might be. One thing’s for sure… we’ve come a long way from the old ‘morals clause’ that was a standard part of media talent contracts. We’ll now be seeing the ‘political clause’ become part of the deal in talk media management/talent legal agreements.”

Audacy Rebrands WQAM, Miami; Unveils Tweaked Lineups for South Florida Sports Talkers. A number of changes talk place at Audacy’s South Florida sports talk stations, including the rebranding of WQAM, Miami. The station is leaving the “560 The Joe” moniker behind and the station is now “AM 560 Sports WQAM.” While sister sports talker WAXY-AM remains branded “AM 790 The Ticket,” some programming changes also take place, including the move of personality Jonathan Zaslow to middays (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) on WQAM from his previous role in middays on WAXY. Meanwhile, “AM 790 The Ticket” adds “BetQL Daily” for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.

Hubbard Radio’s Talk KTMY-FM, Minneapolis Launches Marketing Campaign. Twin Cities talk outlet KTMY-FM “myTalk 107.1” is beginning a four-and-a-half month marketing campaign that sets out to differentiate itself from its pure news/talk cousins with the slogan: “Where Talk is Fun.” The first billboard (top) was a teaser that was followed by the next in the series (bottom) featuring morning duo Jason Matheson and Alexis Thompson that reveals the station’s brand. Hubbard Radio VP and region manager Dan Seeman says the next four months will see the campaign expand with bulletins, poster billboards, indoor advertising (women’s bathrooms), OTT, and digital display.

Talk Host John Hancock Honored with Induction into NC Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The North Carolina Broadcasters Association held its annual business meeting virtually this year and presented its annual broadcast awards. Longtime WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte personality John Hancock was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Hancock’s bio says: “John recently retired after 50 years of on-air service with the past 30 years in Charlotte. John arrived in Charlotte and at WBT in December of 1990 and has helped shape the conversation in the Queen City ever since by musing on the issues of the day with his unique perspective. For nearly three decades, John’s daily show provided a mix of information and opinion, peppered with humor and just the right dose of sarcasm, enabling him to become a cherished and trusted voice for the community, known universally as ‘Charlotte’s Most Beloved.’ As an integral part of the community, he showed how much he cared including his 27 year, unconditional commitment to the Kids First of the Carolina’s annual holiday drive, raising millions in dollars, toys, bikes (over 20,000) and services. Additionally, John’s annual ‘Father’s Day’ show on the anniversary of his own father’s death, March 16 and the annual ‘Peanut Butter N July’ benefitting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, became Charlotte traditions. John Hancock aired his final daily show on WBT 1110 AM on October 17, 2019. But, even in retirement, he remains active in radio and at WBT in the form of two commentaries a week and joining Bo Thompson on the WBT morning show for an hour every Friday.

Sean Spicer Celebrates Release of New Book. Pictured above at the launch party for former White House press secretary and current Newsmax personality Sean Spicer’s new book are (from l-r): U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Spicer and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy. Newsmax says, “The top movers and shakers in Washington came out for the launch of Sean Spicer’s new book, Radical Nation: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ Dangerous Plan for America (Humanix, 2021). The book launch party, hosted by Chris Ruddy, drew approximately 40 members of Congress, including many from the top leadership, former Trump administration cabinet members, media personalities, and major policy experts.”

TALKERS News Notes. Finance and investment expert and best-selling author Jared Dillian is launching a podcast titled, “Be Smart: How Not to Be an Idiot with Your Money.” This is an all-new take on an existing podcast. Dillian says, “I’m on a mission to help people live a richer stress-free life, not by renting or borrowing it. I help discover how to conquer money troubles, escape the scarcity mentality trap, and ignite earning power. Yes, people can do it while still enjoying material possessions. You don’t have to live in a van down by the river.” Dillian is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry. He worked at Lehman Brothers from 2001 to 2008 —first as an index arbitrage trader and then as head of the ETF trading desk. He left Lehman to start his own newsletter, “The Daily Dirtnap,” where he shares trade ideas and market commentary for finance professionals and sophisticated investors. He also edits of “Street Freak,” “ETF 20/20,” and the “10th Man.”…..There’s a nice piece in The Southern Illinoisan recognizing 45 years on the radio for River Radio’s WJPF-AM, Herrin, Illinois morning host Tom Miller. The self-described “rock ‘n’ roll guy” has been hosting “The Morning News Watch” for 20 years and he says that during his rock radio days it was all about his image as “off-the-hook crazy, a wild card, loose cannon.” Now, unlike the majority of his talk radio colleagues, Miller says it’s not about him. “I had to remake myself completely. I didn’t use my name; I focused solely on content. I didn’t want anybody to think about any of the other stuff I had done before, because in this format it is about what you say and how you say it. It became about credibility.”…..TeshMedia signs an extension with Compass Media Networks to continue in its role as the exclusive advertising sales representative for its portfolio of radio assets including the daily “John Tesh Radio Show,” a/k/a Intelligence for Your Life, “The Best of the John Tesh Radio Show,” “Intelligence for Your Health with Connie Sellecca,” “The Weekend Show with John Tesh and Gib Gerard” and “Intelligence for Your Life Minute,” as well as “Intelligence For Your Life: The Podcast.”…..Cumulus Media, Imperative Entertainment and Vespucci dropped “Bonaparte,” a true crime podcast series revealing the remarkable journey of one woman’s resolve to help piece together events surrounding the mysterious and unsolved death of her childhood friend 25 years prior. The new, 10-part podcast series, hosted by Jason Stavers, reports on attorney Anne Champion’s endeavor to solve the death of her childhood friend of Laura Van Wyhe. Champion says, “Laura’s death has always stayed with me. There are too many things that don’t add up. A few years ago, I decided to start pushing for answers. I’m working with Laura’s family to see if we can get people to come forward and share new details. Based on my review of the files, it’s clear that there are many inconsistencies and many open issues begging for further investigation. I believe this is a cold case that can be solved, and solving it is long overdue for Laura’s family and friends.”

January 6 Investigation/Executive Privilege, COVID-19, Biden Infrastructure-Social Spending Bills/Unrealized Gains Tax, Virginia Governor’s Race, Bolsonaro Charges, and Rust Movie Set Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/26). The investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and President Joe Biden’s rejection of former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege, the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approval for kids, and protests over Biden’s looming vaccine mandate; the Biden infrastructure and social spending bills and the pushback against his taxing of the wealthy on unrealized gains; the too-close-to-call race for Virginia Governor between incumbent Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; Brazil’s senate recommends criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for his response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the investigation into the death of assistant producer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.