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Monday Memo: Profiting from the Pandemic. “Turning lemons into lemonade,” as consultant Holland Cooke puts it. In this week’s column he lists six retail opportunities his client stations are selling to right now. Read it here.
De-Fund Police Movement/Rayshard Brooks Killing, Seattle ‘Autonomous’ Zone, Trump Health, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, U.S.-China Relations/Outbreak in Beijing, Presidential Race/Trump Tulsa Rally, Financial Markets/Jobless Claims, and MLB Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concept of de-funding police departments as demanded by some protestors and the cop shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta; the controversy over the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle; the health of President Trump after his apparent unsteady gait at the West Point graduation on Saturday; the regions of the U.S. that are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases; the movement to remove public statues commemorating Confederate or Colonial-era figures; the tense U.S.-China relations and a new COVID-19 outbreak appears in Beijing; the November presidential race, concerns about voting practices, and Trump’s planned rally scheduled for Tulsa on Saturday; the activity in the world’s financial markets and the recent jobless claims figure for the U.S.; and negotiations between the players and the league as the MLB tries to salvage its season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Time to Practice. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that “every performance-driven activity you can think of requires some form of practice. Athletics, the performing arts, public speaking, teaching, bar mitzvahs, all require practice. Even your doctor, dentist, and lawyer required practice before they could open their… practice. So, what about the professional sales rep? Sellers, especially in today’s warp-speed changing environment must practice.” Read his column here.
Beasley Reports Flat Q1 2020 Net Revenue; Net Loss of $8.8 Million. Reporting on its first quarter 2020 financial numbers, Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. – parent of Beasley Media Group – announces its net revenue was flat at $57.7 million compared to the same period in 2019. However, after posting operating income of $6.8 million in Q1 of 2019, the company posted and operating loss of $7.1 million in Q1 of this year. Beasley reported a net income of $1.4 million in Q1 of 2019 and this year is reporting a loss of $8.8 million. Beasley’s flat net revenue figure “reflects strong political advertising revenue, an increase in digital advertising, and esports revenue and contributions from the August 2019 acquisition of WDMK-FM, partially offset by a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue and other revenue related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Despite these challenges, first quarter net revenue was $57.7 million, primarily reflecting strong performance across our station clusters in seven markets during the months of January and February driven by robust political ad spending and contributions from WDMK-FM, as well as significant growth in digital and esports revenue. However, our top-line growth was not able to fully offset the acute challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic during the three-month period, resulting in a year-over-year decline in first quarter SOI and Free Cash Flow. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 49% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 9% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 6% of total revenue in the prior year period. In addition, Beasley launched the first major esports event featuring the Houston Outlaws, which the company acquired in November 2019, securing several new sponsorships as the team began competing in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League matches in February. With our focus on quality content production and consumer engagement, we are growing audience share across our digital and esports platforms while delivering multi-platform turnkey marketing solutions to advertisers and brands. Overall, we are pleased with the momentum and trajectory of these digital and esports initiatives, which have been less impacted by COVID-19, and look forward to this growth trend continuing throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.”
Townsquare Media Q1 Down 1.4%; Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 0.5%. The company says it will file its first quarter 2020 report on or before June 25 but issues some preliminary figures and held an investor conference call this morning (6/15). Townsquare Media, Inc CEO Bill Wilson says, “While our first quarter started strong with high single-digit net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth in January and February, beginning in March we experienced a significant negative business impact to our Advertising and Live Events segments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, offsetting the momentum we established in 2019 and early 2020. First quarter net revenue increased 0.5% on a pro forma basis resulting in our 9th consecutive quarter of pro forma net revenue growth. In addition, Q1 2020 marked the first time our digital revenue exceeded 40% of our total net revenue, up from 35% in 2019, powered by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a significant decline in our Advertising revenue in March, but we were still able to generate positive first quarter year-over-year Advertising net revenue growth. Our Advertising net revenue declined further in April but has shown sequential improvement in both May and June to date. We also cancelled or postponed our live events scheduled in March, April, May and June, which negatively impacted our net revenue. Thankfully, our Live Events segment is a much smaller component of our company today after we had the foresight to sell our large, out-of-market live event assets, including North American Midway Entertainment and several multi-day music festivals over the past two years. We have taken a number of steps to reduce our cost base in an effort to help mitigate the decline in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, we have enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings and anticipate the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue. In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, and our board of directors has elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward. All of these actions have strongly bolstered our liquidity position.”
Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay Airing Content from WRNW-FM, Milwaukee. In a content deal with iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game,” Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay is replacing its daytime programming with the daytime lineup of “The Game.” The new WNFL lineup is: Steve Czaban in morning drive, John Kuhn (from WNFL’s studios) with Brian Butch in late mornings, Ted Davis and Dario Melendez in early afternoons, and “Drew & K.B.” in afternoon drive. Gone from the WNFL airwaves is the statewide syndicated Bill Michaels show. FOX Sports Radio rounds out the evenings, overnights, and weekends. Midwest operations manager Jason Hillery says, “We’ve signed a deal with Milwaukee’s ‘The Game’ and have picked up 12 hours of their amazing Wisconsin-focused programming each weekday. We’re excited about this lineup, and we’re excited about the future of this radio station.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Zimmer Radio has inked a letter of intent to buy the five-station cluster currently owner by Meyer Communications that includes news/talk KWTO-AM, sports talk KWTO-FM “JOCK 98.7,” and two music brands. Zimmer Radio co-owner Don Zimmer tells the paper they are in the early stages of due diligence. “There’s nothing set. We’ll see how things go with regards to the due diligence, and with five stations, it’ll probably take a while.”…..In recognition of the 48th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, ESPN is launching “espnW Presents: When We Play,” a three-day, women’s sport-centric, multi-platform initiative that will be anchored by more than 125 total hours of female-focused programming across ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Additional content will be available on ESPN.com, ESPN Audio and the espnW social handles. “espnW Presents: When We Play” will run from Sunday, June 21 through Tuesday, June 23…..HRN Media Network, a Gen Media Partners company, is expanding its platform and the result is one of the largest Hispanic audio networks in the U.S. All of Gen Media Partners’ Hispanic assets – including Sun Latino and GLR – will now operate exclusively under the HRN umbrella, creating an easy one-source solution for advertisers, agencies, and radio stations for all things Hispanic…..Public media organization WGBH names Pam Johnston general manager for news. Johnston is currently senior director of strategy and audience for “FRONTLINE,” the investigative documentary series produced by WGBH. She will succeed Phil Redo who is retiring at the end of this month. WGBH president and CEO Jon Abbott says, “Pam has deep roots in Boston news, and with her public media and multiplatform experience she is ideally suited to lead the WGBH news team into the digital future. Her expertise across all forms of media will build on the quality and award-winning local journalism WGBH has become known for under the leadership of Phil Redo. We’re grateful for the strong foundation he established and we’re excited about the innovation Pam will bring to how we serve our community.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Norfolk, Virginia hot AC WMVN “MOViN’ 107.7” launches the new “Valentine in the Morning Show” starring Valentine and co-hosts Jillian Escoto and Kevin Manno. Station PD DJ Fountz says, “We’re thrilled to introduce ‘Valentine in the Morning’ to the people of Hampton Roads. The show is polished, the crew has great chemistry, and we know that they’ll be the perfect way to get our listeners movin’ in the mornings.”…..iHeartMedia names DJ Loui Vee program director for hip hop WBZY, Atlanta “105.3 The Beat.” iHeartMedia Atlanta SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “Very excited to have DJ Loui Vee in Atlanta. He is an exceptional talent who will continue to build the brand of ‘105.3 The Beat Atlanta.’ His creativity and passion along with his incredible leadership skills make him the perfect talent to program ‘105.3 The Beat.’”…..Morning personality Guy David exits Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver. Co-host Tracy Dixon continues to host mornings along with producer Patrick Knight for now…..On-air pro Scott Fisher announces his retirement from iHeartMedia’s classic hits KODJ, Salt Lake City where he hosted middays. Fisher thanked his listeners in a message on the station’s website. He also notes that his weekend talk show, “Extreme Genes – America’s Family History Show,” will continue to air on the company’s sister news/talk station KNRS-FM.