Richard Neer is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Legendary WFAN, New York sports talk show host/rock radio pioneer Richard Neer and TALKERS founder Michael Harrison have been close friends and radio colleagues for more than half of the medium’s 100-year history. Needless to say, they always have plenty to talk about regarding media and popular culture – past, present, and future. Richard Neer is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview” marking his record-breaking seventh visit since the program debuted as one of the platform’s earliest offerings in 2015. In addition to his rich on-air history, Neer is the prolific author of 10 Riley King murder mystery novels and his historic overview of album rock radio, FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio (Villard, 2001) remains a literary milestone chronicling the golden days of the AOR era. On this podcast, Harrison and Neer talk about a wide variety of topics including Joni Mitchell’s recent performance at the Newport Folk Festival, the high cost of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, the controversial LIV Golf tour backed by Saudi Arabia, changes in the record business, the challenges of writing and publishing historical fiction, movies, TV, CGI and a whole lot more. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Cumulus Media Q2 Net Revenue Rises 5.4%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media reveals net revenue of $236.7 million – an increase of 5.4% over the same period in 2021. The company also reports net income of $8.7 million for the quarter after posting a net loss of $5.9 million during Q2 of 2021. Total broadcast revenue for Cumulus fell 0.3% to $175.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2021. While radio spot revenue was $127 million – up 5.1% over Q2 2021, network revenue slipped 12% to $48.7 million. Cumulus Media’s digital segment rose 20.3% to $37.8 million. CEO Mary Berner comments, “Our ability to deliver yet another quarter of strong results is testament both to the quality of our strategic plan and the discipline and relentlessness with which we implement it. Specifically, we have deployed our multi-platform audio-first content strategy, developed multiple digital businesses, significantly reduced fixed costs, undertaken high ROI internal investments, and created a best-in-class balance sheet that gives the company substantial financial flexibility and capital allocation optionality. Given our track record, we have tremendous confidence in our ability, under this plan, to grow shareholder value. Despite the challenging macro environment, we increased revenue in the quarter by more than 5%, driven by our digital businesses whose growth accelerated in Q2 to 20% year-over-year. Additionally, bolstered by our ongoing focus on fixed cost reductions, this quarter we generated additional cash from operations and increased net income, EBITDA and EBITDA margins vs. the same period last year. We also efficiently executed nearly half of our $50 million share repurchase authorization and bought back $50 million of bonds at a discount, while simultaneously reducing net leverage to 3.8x, the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. With a robust political spending season anticipated, we are on trend toward achieving our net leverage target of less than 3.5 times and EBITDA at the low end of our 2022 guidance range.”
Conservative Media Figures Gather at CPAC 2022. Pictured above (from l-r) are WMAL-FM, Washington, DC morning drive personality Larry O’Connor, Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup, and author and TOWNHALL.com contributor Kurt Schlichter in Dallas for the first day of CPAC 2022. The annual event runs through Sunday and speakers scheduled to address the gathering include: former President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, British conservative leader Nigel Farage, and Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale Talk Host Rich Stevens Passes. TALKERS magazine has learned that former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale talk host Rich Stevens died on July 30 at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack. Stevens worked in music radio prior to hosting his talk show on WFTL, serving at such signals as WPLJ-FM, New York and WJHM, Orlando. He also served at WABC-TV, New York as an entertainment reporter.
TALKERS News Notes. As part of RAB’s Radio Works initiative, the next live presentation in the series titled, “Radio Works for Restaurants,” takes place on Wednesday, August 17 at 1:00 pm ET and will provide industry insights and trends intended to help broadcasters gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the restaurant industry and how radio can continue to serve this category. Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have endured closures, staffing shortages, product supply strains and inflationary pressures making for a challenging business environment. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research & knowledge group at the National Restaurant Association, will provide an update on the “State of the Restaurant Industry” to help radio sellers understand the areas where businesses in this category need support. It’s free for RAB members and they can register here…..ESPN and Omaha Productions are expanding their relationship in the audio space with the premiere of a new show, “Kyle Brandt’s Basement,” led by NFL Network “Good Morning Football” host Kyle Brandt. The daily show debuts August 8 and “explores the ins and outs of the NFL through lively guest interviews with the top voices in the sport and inventive segments unique to Brandt to bring fans closer to the action on and off the field.” Brandt comments, “I’m thrilled about this show, and I’ll be shot out of a cannon every single day. It’s in my own basement and I’ve got games, toys and takes. I can promise one thing: it will not be boring.”…..Pictured at left is WGKB-AM/W269DL, Milwaukee “101.7 The Truth” talk host Tory Lowe during last weekend’s 7th Annual Stop the Violence Peace Walk during which he walked from Milwaukee to Chicago (more than 80 miles) to “raise awareness and bring an end to violence in our communities.” Lowe says, “It is important for us to build a bridge between Milwaukee and Chicago, open the lines of communication, and bring awareness to the violence that plagues our communities.”
Kansas Abortion Vote, Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, Pelosi Taiwan Visit, January 6 Investigation, Russia-Ukraine War, The Economy, COVID-19, and U.S. Rep. Walorski Killed Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. Kansas voters elect to keep abortion rights in the state’s constitution; the primary races for the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees in the 2024 presidential race; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and China’s angry response; the January 6 investigation and the DOJ subpoenas issued to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the impact on the global economy; the falling price of gasoline and the still-high cost of food in the U.S. and concerns about a recession; the rate of BA.5 subvariant cases in the U.S.; and U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and two staffers are killed in a car accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Report: Savage Program Changes the Result of ‘Corporate Censorship.’ In an analysis/opinion piece in The Washington Times, writer Cheryl K. Chumley quotes both Michael Savage and Daniel Horowitz (identified as Savage’s lawyer) in a piece that asserts the coming changes in Savage’s program from three live hours to one live hour and a one-hour podcast and the resulting, anticipated loss of affiliate stations WABC, New York; WLS-AM, Chicago; WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; and KABC, Los Angeles are not business decisions but political ones. Horowitz is quoted saying, “Michael’s voice, unlike [his conservative competitors] has always been very independent. Savage is completely a wild card, right? And that’s what they’re trying to kill. It’s all about corporate control. Taking him off the air is not a business decision.” Horowitz adds, “Networks are actually losing millions of dollars in order to keep Michael’s voice off these stations.” Savage himself seems piqued the aforementioned stations won’t delay-broadcast his shows at night. “The only reason I can see is because of politics. It makes no sense. I have a loyal, large audience. Why not at least do reruns at night?” Read the Times piece here.
Dave Glover Re-Ups with KFTK-FM, St. Louis. St. Louis radio talk show host Dave Glover signs a multi-year contract extension with Entercom’s news/talk KFTK-FM to continue hosting his afternoon drive program on the station. Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan says, “‘The Dave Glover Show’ has been a cornerstone of the afternoon drive at ‘FM NewsTalk 97.1’ from the very beginning and I am thrilled that Dave will be a part of the team for the foreseeable future. I have been honored to work with Dave for the last decade and look forward to continuing to work with him in the years to come. Dave leads the way on so many levels and strives for excellence in everything he does on a daily basis.” Glover has been with KFTK-FM since 2000. The station says Glover’s program finished #1 in 2017 with persons aged 25-54, according to Nielsen PPM ratings.
iHeartMedia Settles Lawsuits Removing Two Roadblocks. Two lawsuits that were partly responsible for postponing iHeartMedia’s Confirmation Hearing in its Chapter 11 reorganization have been settled. Creditors GAMCO and Norfolk County Retirement System objected to iHeartMedia’s use of cash sweeps from Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings and filed suit. An early December agreement between GAMCO and iHM called for iHeart to provide a revolving line of credit of $170 million to CCOH. This latest settlement calls for the revolving line of credit to be hiked to $200 million after iHeartMedia and CCOH become separate companies – part of the Fifth Amended Plan. iHeart is also indemnifying CCOH for up to 50% of certain tax liabilities.
TALKERS News Notes. Beginning January 2, Las Vegas talk radio pro Heidi Harris hosts a three-hour morning show on Kemp Communications’ news/talk KMZQ-AM, airing from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Currently, Harris is hosting the 8:00 am to 10:00 am slot on the station. The station also swaps out Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager and Michael Medved in middays for SRN’s Mike Gallagher and Sebastian Gorka. Harris tells TALKERS magazine she continues to produce her podcast in addition to hosting her radio show. Harris has served with Entercom’s KXNT-AM and Beasley’s KDWN in the Las Vegas market…..Sales pro Ed Krampf joins Sun & Fun Media as senior account executive for its affiliate sales unit. Sun & Fun co-founder Rob Koblasz says, “Adding Ed to our team continues our mission of having the best and brightest minds in the industry serving our affiliates.”…..Premiere Networks announces the continuation of a long-standing “Coast to Coast AM” tradition of listeners being treated to live, holiday-themed programming, including special guest appearances, open lines, music and surprises on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Program host George Noory says, “When I began this journey 17 years ago, I made a promise to our faithful listeners that there will be live programs on the holidays – a time of joy, but also a time of loneliness for some. I look forward to sharing this special time of year with my ‘Coast to Coast AM’ family.”…..Tomorrow, WABC, New York personality Sid Rosenberg, along with WNYW-TV FOX 5 “Good Day New York” host Ines Rosales, will visit Maimonides Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn. The two will deliver presents and holiday surprises from the hospital’s wish list for every child in the unit to make their holidays a little brighter. Rosenberg says, “As the proud and loving dad of two, I can’t think of a better way to spend my holiday season than with the children at Maimonides Medical Center. Bringing laughs to my listening audience is fun but putting a smile on these kids’ faces will be the absolute best.”
Trump-Russia Investigation/Russian Election Meddling, Border Wall-Government Shutdown Threat, Dow Dips 500+/Recession Worries, Obamacare Status, Moonves Gets Nothing from CBS, Criminal Justice Reform Bill, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents and the related intelligence regarding Russian election interference; the battle in Washington over funding for the Mexican border wall that could shut down the federal government; the continuing stock selloff and concerns about a recession; the status of Obamacare in the aftermath of a federal judge’s ruling it unconstitutional; CBS reveals ousted chief Les Moonves will get no severance; the criminal justice reform bill that would reduce sentences for non-violent offenders; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Remembering Dave Robbins. Social media was abuzz Monday night as news spread about the sudden passing of highly respected programmer and general manager Dave Robbins. To see glowing tributes for someone who has died isn’t unusual, but the well-earned praise for Robbins was particularly voluminous and the word “mentor” was frequently mentioned. Held in high esteem for his days programming Columbus CHR WNCI, Robbins was among the most successful PDs who transitioned to the GM’s chair. What follows is a very brief sample from the many weighing in on him. Noted consultant/programmer John Sebastian: “He was my GM in Chicago at WJMK. He was a great boss and a very good man.” Executive vice president/programming operations at iHeartMedia Jon Zellner: “I have two mentors in this business and Dave Robbins is one of them. He literally taught me everything I know through the many years I had the opportunity to work with him at Nationwide and CBS Radio – I am forever grateful. No one was more creative, inspiring or motivating – a true strategist in every sense of the word. Dave possessed every trait of a natural leader, but he also was one of the most nurturing human beings I ever met. It truly brought him joy to see people on his team succeed.” Breakthrough Management partner John Parikhal: “This is terrible news. I was a huge fan of Dave’s and we had some serious fun working together. I’m so sorry to hear this.” WTUZ, New Philadelphia (Ohio) director/operations & programming Steve Kelly: “This is the most difficult post I have ever had to write, but I know our radio family and Dave’s friends will want to know that my dear friend, Dave Robbins, passed away today. Godspeed my friend.” Longtime Chicago programmer/consultant Buddy Scott: “I’m stunned – today we lost one of the greatest guys in radio and in life, Dave Robbins. We worked together twice and were corporate mates once. I loved Dave – he was my friend. [This is] so sudden and so sad.” Zapoleon Media Strategies president Guy Zapoleon: “We lost someone very special today, a broadcast industry legend; mentor to so many in our industry; and a great human being who always had time for anyone who would reach out in need. [This is a] heartbreaking loss for all who were blessed to know Dave Robbins. I was blessed to have worked with and partnered with Dave at Nationwide Communications. I always called him ‘the general’ because he had an amazing strategic mind that he applied to radio and was the greatest strategic mind I’ve met in our business, truly a leader of men. Most importantly, Dave was a wonderful nurturing man who mentored so many people in our business and taught them the secrets of success in radio and in life. Dave was simply a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime human being.” Executive vice president/programming at iHeartMedia Tony Coles: “This afternoon brought the stunning loss of my friend and mentor, Dave Robbins. Dave was the person responsible for getting me into programming. All of these years later, I have never made a major career decision without consulting Dave – I am so thankful to have known him.” Cumulus Media Holdings vice president/programming operations John Dimick: “I am devastated at the news. [Dave] gave me my first shot and truly taught everyone how to be their best self. Programming WNCI with [him] as the GM is a bright spot in my life. The universe is just a little out of balance tonight.” Also “heartbroken” to hear the news of Robbins’ passing was Saga Communications Asheville (North Carolina) operations manager Neal Sharpe: “He was one of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a mentor, a friend, and the greatest radio leader I’ve ever known.” WLNK, Charlotte on-air talent Ramona Holloway remarks that Robbins had, “one of the most unforgettable voices in the business.” Executive vice president of global music marketing & strategy for iHeartMedia Alissa Pollack: “Wow – I’m devastated – I just spoke with him. He was one of my all-time favorites. I’m so sorry to hear this about Dave ‘Rock & Roll’ Robbins.” Three comments from record company executives included this from Alchemy Entertainment owner Bill Pfordresher: “Dave was an amazing bright light in my life. Yes, he was a great radio executive, but also an amazing friend. You always felt special in his presence and he was able to do that with everyone he met. He had true soul and I am deeply saddened at his passing. He is in a good place and will be remembered and loved always.” What’s In-Store Music partner Bob Catania: “I will never forget my first meeting with Dave. He handed me a hand grip, stuck a quarter in it, and told me if I could hold it for five minutes without dropping the quarter, he’d give me an add. Of course, I couldn’t – he had tested it with many a promo person prior. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship [with a] true gentleman and a brilliant programmer. This news breaks my heart.” Hitpredictor owner Rick Bisceglia: “Dave was tough – almost impossible – but highly intelligent and fair at the end. He was compassionate and made me better.” From January 2006 to the time of his death, Robbins was owner and chief executive officer of Windermere, Florida-based Getaway Vacation Homes, where he owned/managed 50 vacation homes and condos along Florida’s beaches and at Walt Disney World. Prior to that, his lengthy radio resume included a five-year stint (2010 – 2015) as senior vice president/market manager for CBS Radio Orlando’s WOMX, WJHM, WOCL and eight years as vice president and general manager for four of that company’s Chicago stations – WUSN, WCFS, WBBM-FM, and WJMK. Prior to that (1998 – 2003), Robbins was VP/GM for Columbus facilities WHOK, WLVQ, and WAZU; as well as vice president and general manager of Nationwide Columbus’ WNCI, WCOL, and WFYI. He spent seven years as Nationwide’s vice president of programming (1988 – 1995) and, from 1982 – 1988, programmed KHTR, St. Louis. Just 59 years old, Robbins was reported to have suffered a massive heart attack. He’s pictured here (center) with his wife Patti (left) and Radio’s Best Friend Art Vuolo (right).
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Syracuse morning duo Ted Long and Amy Robbins have signed a multi-year contract extension with Cumulus Media to continue hosting the “Ted & Amy in the Morning” show on CHR WNTQ “93Q,” something they’ve been doing for 30 years. Long says, “To be able to do what I love for so long, with the same people whom I admire so much, and at a company that not only cares for the audience they serve, as well as their employees, really makes it a no-brainer when it came to re-signing our contract. Amy and I both feel very privileged to hold the positions we have had for so long here in Central New York. I am excited to continue to inform and entertain our great audience of listeners on 93Q.” Robbins adds, “I truthfully find it hard to believe that I have spent more than half my life on the airwaves of ‘93Q.’ We are beyond grateful to our amazing listeners who continue to keep us as a part of their daily lives and to Cumulus Media who continues to recognize how important local talent is to each and every market they serve.”…..Alpha Media names Frank Wright content director for adult contemporary WXLC, Waukegan, Illinois. Wright – midday host on the station – takes over for Haynes Johns, who exited the position in October of this year.