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Thursday, October 1, 2020

| October 1, 2020

Round Two of September PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s September 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s September 2020 survey period covered August 13 – September 9. You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. Also, today TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Rating Takeaways from this second round of markets. In the Washington, DC market, Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM adds one-tenth to finish with an 8.0 share but slides back to the #3 rank as Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR-FM powers into the #2 rank. Across town, Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM remains in the #1 spot on the strength of a one-share gain and a 9.5 share finish. iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston jumps a full share to finish the September survey with a 4.9 share and the #8 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM falls five-tenths to a 6.1 share good for the #5 rank. After six consecutive months at #1, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle falls into the #2 spot after losing eight-tenths and finishing with a 6.4 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Newsmax TV Reaches 9.6 Million Cable Viewers. According to Newsmax TV, the cable channel’s “total household reach jumped to 9.6 million, up from 2.9 million in August 2019, according to Comscore data.” Newsmax Media Inc CEO Christopher Ruddy says that viewership has increased steadily all year and he credits viewer interest in Newsmax’s election coverage coupled with its new shows like “Greg Kelly Reports,” “Sean Spicer’s Spicer & Co.”, and “The Chris Salcedo Show.” Ruddy says, “Viewers are clearly voting for Newsmax TV with their remotes. The growth is even more remarkable when one considers we just launched our first prime-time show in July.” The company says Newsmax TV has live or original news shows airing from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm ET and has launched significant daytime coverage on weekends. The network is also planning a daily morning show to debut in the next 60 days, with more prime-time show launches expected soon.

iHeartMedia Expands Board of Directors; Appoints Cheryl Mills to Board. The board of directors of iHeartMedia, Inc. is expanded to eight and Cheryl Mills is named to the new seat. Mills is the founder and CEO of BlackIvy Group LLC, a firm that builds and grows commercial enterprises in Sub- Saharan Africa to meet the needs of an expanding consumer population and growing business sector. Mills previously served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and counselor to the U.S. Department of State. She also was SVP for corporate policy and public programming at Oxygen Media and was deputy counsel to the President at the White House and served as an associate at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Hogan and Hartson. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are extremely pleased that Cheryl Mills is joining the iHeart board. Her depth and breadth of experience, her leadership in policy, business and entrepreneurship, education and media, and her deep commitment to public service, will provide strong and unique value to our board and our company, and we are looking forward to her contributions.”

Cumulus Media Completes Initial Closing on $208 Million Tower Deal. This news from Cumulus Media Inc is relative to the $213 million deal that transfers its tower assets to Vertical Bridge. This initial closing is for the $208 million tower portfolio monetization transaction. Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner says, “We are thrilled to have expeditiously completed the first closing of this significant transaction. Pro forma for its completion and based on our Q2 ending cash balance, we will have reduced net debt by nearly $325 million during 2020 and by nearly $580 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018. Our further improved liquidity position and covenant-lite, long-dated debt will continue to support our growth initiatives and allow us to take advantage of accretive opportunities as we navigate through near-term uncertainties to drive long-term shareholder value.” After transaction fees and expenses and related costs, Cumulus received approximately $202 million in net proceeds at the initial closing. The use of net proceeds from the transaction are governed by the company’s Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 and its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026. As defined in the debt agreements, net proceeds of approximately $64 million from assets being sold and not being leased back and net proceeds of approximately $96 million from assets being sold and leased back are required to pay down the Term Loan and be applied to a tender offer with respect to the 6.75% Notes on a pro rata basis. The paydown from the Sale-Leaseback Proceeds is required to be made at closing for the Term Loan portion and within thirty (30) days of closing for the 6.75% Notes. As such, at closing, the Company paid down approximately $49 million of its Term Loan at par, and it intends in the near future to launch a tender offer for up to approximately $47 million of the 6.75% Notes at par. Cumulus Media entered into a master lease agreement for the continued use of substantially all of the towers that were sold. That deal includes the 10-year initial term of the lease, followed by five option periods of five years each. The annual lease payment obligation for the assets leased back in the initial closing is approximately $13.2 million, subject to customary escalators, and will be accounted for as a reduction of the financial liability and interest expense. Cumulus anticipates that one or more subsequent closings will be held for the assets comprising the remainder of the previously announced $213 million purchase price, subject to adjustment based upon due diligence and the curing of outstanding site defects.

TALKERS News Notes. Pictured at right is Starnes Media Group principal, nationally syndicated talk show host, and KWAM, Memphis “The Mighty 990” owner Todd Starnes (right) at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to the Majority” conference in Atlanta where he served as a keynote speaker. He’s pictured here with conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (left)…..The “Margaritaville Podcast” joins the portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. The recently launched podcast, hosted by Jimmy Buffett’s production coordinator Heikki Larsen features interviews with friends, colleagues, and fans of the Margaritaville global lifestyle brand inspired by the singer, songwriter and best-selling author. Recent guests have included Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt, Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and Jimmy Buffett video producer Stan Kellam. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “Fans of the Margaritaville lifestyle constitute an extremely devoted, enduring, cohesive, socially conscientious and upscale fan base. Heikki and his show are a valuable addition to the CMGS portfolio, as it enables us to offer an even more diverse and versatile slate of inventory for marketing partners.”…..AdLarge Media announce its newest sports partnership with National Sports Network for exclusive ad sales representation of NCAA basketball play-by-play coverage on radio. AdLarge Media co-founder and co-CEO Gary Schonfeld says, “We’re very excited to offer our advertisers these NCAA basketball games on radio. With the addition of these top-tier college basketball games from National Sports Network, the AdLarge sports portfolio delivers continuous access to engaged sports fans.”…..PodcastOne acquires the exclusive distribution and sales rights for the health and wellness podcast “The Dr. Gundry Podcast.” The program is hosted by New York Times best-selling author of The Plant Paradox (Harper Wave 2017), Dr. Steven Gundry. He says, “I’m proud for ‘The Dr. Gundry Podcast’ to now be part of PodcastOne. Its robust podcasting network is a great platform to continue to empower listeners and share the knowledge and tools to help people live their best life.”

Wayne Allyn Root Organizes Las Vegas Parade. On Wednesday (9/30), a pro-police, pro-Trump parade of cars organized by KBET, Las Vegas-based talk show host Wayne Allyn Root drove down the Las Vegas strip. Root, pictured here with supporters, tells TALKERS magazine he estimates there were more than 1,000 cars taking part in the parade. Root says he waited at the parade’s finish line – the Nevada Governor’s office building – and “shook hands, and high-fived, and took photos, and thanked every single car of my fans.” You can read the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s coverage here.

The Presidential Race/Debate Aftermath, Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, New Stimulus Deal, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, Down Financial Markets, BLM Movement/Protests, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/30). The November presidential election and the aftermath of Tuesday night’s debate; the debate over the reliability of mail-in voting; the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Midwest and talk about a fall/winter second wave; negotiations between congress and the Trump administration over a new stimulus package; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. financial markets suffer their worst month since last March; the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in various cities; and the deadly California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

DYNAMIC DUO EXCLUSIVE!  “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and John Catsimatidis Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. Radio enthusiasts won’t want to miss this brand-new audio gem! Legendary music radio personality “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and WABC, New York owner John Catsimatidis are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Morrow (also known as “Cousin Brucie”) is one of the last of his generation still standing. He is the quintessential heritage disc jockey who has been a major on-the-air radio figure in New York City through several golden eras since 1959, performing on such storied stations as WINS, WABC, WNBC and WCBS-FM and, until recently, across the nation on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Just a few weeks ago, to the delight of his multi-generational legion of fans, he was hired to host a Saturday evening music show on WABC, the station where he played to millions back in the 1960s and early 1970s during the heyday of his magnificent career. The other member of this dynamic duo, Catsimatidis is a well-connected radio lover and big business heavyweight whose Red Apple Media purchased WABC – now a news/talk outlet – from Cumulus Media late last year. He’s a prominent New York City-based, self-made mogul and syndicated radio talk show host involved in an array of industries that, in addition to communications, includes supermarkets, energy, and real estate development. He’s also a former and potential future New York City mayoral candidate. The result is a free-wheeling conversation that covers radio, music, politics, several surprises and the New York state of mind – an instant classic.  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 on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-Air pro Julie Guy signs a multiyear contract extension with Entercom’s adult contemporary WLYF-FM, Miami “101.5 LITE FM” to continue co-hosting the “Julie Guy & Tamara G” morning show. Entercom Miami SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “As a veteran of the station, Julie encapsulates the spirit of ‘101.5 LITE FM’ and sets the tone for our programming slate each morning. Her distinct energy and solid rapport with Tamara translate to a quality morning show and I’m happy to keep her in the fold for years to come.” Guy has served as a morning show host for “101.5 LITE FM” since 2013…..Cox Media Group’s urban contemporary WALR-FM, Atlanta “KISS 104.1” adds the nationally syndicated program “The Sweat Hotel,” with host Keith Sweat to air in the 9:00 pm to 2:00 am slot. Station director of branding and programming Terri Avery comments, “Keith Sweat is an R&B legend and ‘KISS 104.1’ is excited about him joining our lineup. Keith brings just the right blend of slow jams and sensual sounds that will keep our listeners entertained throughout the night.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

| August 5, 2015

alphamedia logoAlpha 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 aredigity 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 logoTownsquare 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 localpricesteven 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.”

vertical bridge logoTownsquare 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.

giroccodawnDawn 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 Cumuluskabclogo 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.”

scottdrewDrew 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.”

stapletonjasonUSA 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 andusaRadioNetworks 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 logoNielsen 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.

hubbardradio logoHubbard 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-hewitthughhour 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.