iHeartCommunications Declines to Make $106 Million Cash Interest Payment. This move, like Cumulus Media’s similar tactic last fall, is designed to spur action in the company’s efforts to restructure its debt. Today, iHeartCommunications, Inc. (iHeartMedia is the parent company of iHeartCommunications) announced that its board of directors elected not to make a cash interest payment of $106 million (due today, 2/1) to holders of its 14% senior unsecured notes due 2021 as active discussions continue among its lenders, noteholders, and financial sponsors regarding a comprehensive debt restructuring. “The board elected not to make the payment in connection with ongoing efforts to proactively and comprehensively address the company’s capital structure. The decision will not trigger an event of default under the indenture as the company will utilize a 30-day grace period under the indenture during which it retains the right to make the interest payment to the holders of the notes and remain in compliance with the indenture governing the notes. The board is considering options as part of its strategy to achieve a comprehensive restructuring of the company’s debt.”
SiriusXM Q4 Revenue Up 8%. The satellite radio company did take a loss of $37 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, but that was due to a $185 million charge associated with the revaluation of the company’s deferred tax assets as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For the year of 2017, SiriusXM’s net revenue was positive to the tune of $648 million. In the fourth quarter, SiriusXM recorded a decrease of approximately $72 million in the fair value of its investment in Pandora, reversing the prior quarter’s unrealized gains. The satcaster reports that it gained 1.56 million self-pay subscribers during 2017 to put its total self-pay subscribers at approximately 27.5 million. SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “The fourth quarter capped a strong year for SiriusXM and was our best quarter for self-pay subscriber growth in five years. We exceeded all of our 2017 subscriber and financial guidance, even after increasing these targets during the year. I am particularly pleased that we achieved this growth in an environment of slowing auto sales.”
‘Radio War’ Gets KBME, Houston Booted from Super Bowl Radio Row. A good old-fashioned radio war tactic escalated tensions between iHeartMedia’s KBME, Houston “SportsTalk 790” and Entercom’s KILT-AM “Sportsradio 610,” resulting in KBME losing its credentials to broadcast from the Super Bowl LII radio row. It all started when KBME morning host Josh Innes sent his producer, Jim Mudd, to video KILT-AM’s Seth Payne and Mike Meltser as they did their show. It had the intended consequence of riling up Payne, who soon was in a verbal argument with Innes. Audio from the confrontation ended up on both stations’ airwaves. WEEI, Boston’s Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane (mornings on the Entercom sports talk station) were broadcasting their show nearby and captured the donnybrook on video. After it was all over, the NFL removed KBME from the radio row. See the Houston Chronicle’s story and the WEEI-shot video here.
KXL, Portland Announces New Afternoon Team. The new afternoon drive team for Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” is Lucinda Kay and Cooper Banks. Kay is promoted from her part-time position with the station. She has an extensive background in radio and television news. She launched her career in journalism in 1994, working as a TV news anchor and reporter – in both English and Spanish – for several years. She hosted her own talk show in Spokane. She started freelancing for KXL in 2016. Cooper Banks worked as an afternoon DJ at KWKJ, Warrensburg, Misourri in 2004. He was hired as news director for KMXL/KDMO, Joplin, Missouri two years later. He later jumped to KMBZ, Kansas City as a producer, reporter, and news anchor. Alpha Media Portland content director Bruce Collins says, “I am extremely excited to work each day with Cooper and Lucinda. They have the talent that will take KXL to a new level in pm drive.”
Westwood One at Super Bowl LII. The official network radio partner of the NFL and Super Bowl LII reports that it is on the scene in Minneapolis preparing for its coverage of the game. Westwood One says it’s been busy taping interviews and special features for the coverage. In addition, its personalities (and some from partner NBC Sports Radio) have been visiting radio row. Above is Super Bowl XXXI-winning coach Mike Holmgren (center), one of Westwood One’s Super Bowl LII analysts, doing an interview with KKFN, Minneapolis “K-FAN” personalities Dan Barriero (right) and Justin Gaard (left).
26th Wing Bowl Takes Place Tomorrow Morning. With SportsRadio 94WIP’s Wing Bowl 26 taking place tomorrow morning at the Wells Fargo Center, the official weigh-in takes place tonight, live on WIP, Philadelphia from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm from Chickie’s and Pete’s. The Entercom sports talk station has scheduled 29 eaters to record their official “eating” weight and record their age, height, and hometown. Members from each eater’s entourage and Wingettes will be on hand to cheer on their favorite eaters to victory. This year, WIP personalities Marc Farzetta, Ava Graham, Al Morganti, and Rhea Hughes will also compete in Wing Bowl 26. The Overall Winner of Wing Bowl 26 gets a 2018 Hyundai Sonata courtesy of Colonial Hyundai of Downingtown, plus Steven Singer Jewelers is presenting $5,000 cash and a custom Championship Medal and Ring. The First Responders Champion Prize is a Harley Davidson XL 883N Iron Sportster Motorcycle courtesy of Barb’s Harley Davidson. The Wingette of the Year walks away with $5,000 Courtesy of Dr. Steven Davis & Davis Cosmetic Surgery, and Best Wing Bowl 26 Entourage wins $5,000 cash, courtesy of Steven Singer Jewelers.
NRG Media Names New General Managers in Omaha and Wausau. There are new general managers at NRG Media’s Omaha and Wausau station groups. Kurt Luchs leaves the Wausau, Wisconsin station group where he’s been GM for almost five years to lead the Omaha cluster that includes news/talk KOIL and sports talkers KOZN and KOZT. In Wausau, Aleese Fielder is promoted from director of sales to general manager. NRG Media president/CEO Mary Quass says, “The goal of NRG Media is to be a destination company for our team to build a career, so I am very excited to be able to promote from within. These promotions are well deserved, together Kurt and Aleese turned Wausau around and helped make it one of the most successful markets in the company. We like to reward a job well done and these moves are a definite win-win for two very talented teams.
Major National Programming Executives Set to Speak at TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The roster continues to grow as the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention continues to name what will be a stellar list of some 50 or more leaders from the programming, talent, sales, management, ownership and technical sectors of the field. Convention organizers have named (in alphabetical order): Canadian radio giant Bell Media national news/talk format head (and PD of NEWSTALK 1010, Toronto), Mike Bendixen; iHeartMedia SVP of news/talk/sports programming, Chris Berry; Salem Media Group SVP/director, spoken word format, Phil Boyce; and Cumulus Media EVP of content and programming, Mike McVay. These outstanding individuals join (in alphabetical order) Beasley Broadcasting CEO, Caroline Beasley; Premiere Networks/FOX News Channel star Sean Hannity; Westwood One president, Suzanne Grimes; PodcastOne founder/executive chairman Norm Pattiz; and Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott as conference speakers. More speakers will be announced here in the days and weeks ahead leading up to the event. For more information about TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! see story below.
TALKERS Convention Early Bird Discount Ends Tomorrow! The opportunity to attend the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important convention at a significantly reduced registration fee comes to an end tomorrow (Friday, February 2 at 5:00 pm ET). Those registering before the deadline will save $50. TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will take place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the new digital age and at the dawn of a rapidly accelerating era. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology – the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing the modern-day talk broadcaster and broadcasting organization. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception — all in a single power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited, and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
TALKERS News Notes. In the Winchester, Virginia market, Centennial Broadcasting changes the simulcast of classic country on WZFC-FM, Strasburg, Virginia and will instead simulcast its news/talk WINC, Winchester “Newstalk 1400” on WZFC’s 104.9 FM signal. Company market manager Larry Weiss says, “Centennial Winchester is excited about the prospects of extending the reach of our highly regarded ‘Newstalk 1400’ station programming further south in the Shenandoah Valley, utilizing the powerful WZFC signal. This move will allow us to extend the news/talk brand, including our roster of well-established national hosts, south of Winchester into the Warren and Shenandoah County areas.”…..WVLZ, Knoxville “Sports Radio 1180” owner Doug Mathews is selling the station to fellow Knoxville station owner Aaron Ishmael. He owns crosstown oldies WKCE. Ishmael begins operating WVLZ under an LMA today (2/1). The Knoxville News reports that two WVLZ personalities Tony Basilio and Jayson Swain – have ended their brokered arrangements with WVLZ. It’s not known if Ishmael intends to change the sports talk format…..JVC Media signs an extension to carry Frank MacKay’s two programs – “Breaking it Down” and “52 Players” – on WRCN, Riverhead (Long Island) and WSWN, Belle Glade, Florida (West Palm Beach).
State of the Union Address, FBI Memo Controversy, Trump-Russia Investigation, DACA Status/Immigration Policy, Gowdy to Leave Congress, Flu Epidemic, Social Media Fraud, Black Panther Film, and Super Bowl LII Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/31). Tuesday evening’s State of the Union Address by President Trump; the battle over whether to release the FBI memo that alleges law enforcement abuses and Congressman Adam Schiff’s allegation that Congressman Devin Nunes made changes to the memo; Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives; the status of the Obama-era DACA Act and the Trump administration’s immigration policy; Congressman Trey Gowdy announces he will not seek re-election; the flu epidemic that’s sweeping the U.S.; the social media scandal involving allegations numerous high-profile people bought artificial followers from a firm called Devumi; the new superhero film Black Panther; and the build-up to Super Bowl LII were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Powerful Candid Conversation with WABC, New York Personality Curtis Sliwa on Harrison Podcast. New York City radio icon Curtis Sliwa is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” Sliwa, whom Harrison describes as a “performance artist,” is the founder and leader of the grassroots crime fighting organization the Guardian Angels, as well as serving as the chairman of the New York State Reform Party. Sliwa is a longtime Big Apple talk show host heard mostly on WABC during the past few decades. He is currently recovering from serious surgery in the aftermath of an ongoing battle with Crohn’s Disease and other gastroenterological issues – resulting in him having to dry out from opioid addiction. Harrison and Sliwa talk about a range of subjects including prescription drugs, the state of radio, street crime, politics, Donald Trump and the peculiar nature of ego. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Some of the performers taking part at the March 11 iHeartRadio Music Awards are being announced by iHeartMedia. The fifth “fan-fueled” iHeartRadio Music Awards takes place at the Forum in Los Angeles and will feature: Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Maroon 5, Camila Cabello, Charlie Puth and Backstreet Boys will be among the performers. The event is being hosted by Hailey Baldwin and DJ Khaled and is being simulcast live on TBS, TNT and truTV at 8:00 pm ET…..Alpha Media Dayton names programming pro Bo Matthews operations manager for the cluster and content director for adult hits WGTZ “92.9 Jack FM” and country WCLI “101.5 Hank FM.” Matthews was most recently SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Cincinnati. He began his career in Youngstown, Ohio with then-Jacor and worked his way up the programming ladder at Clear Channel and iHeartMedia. Alpha Media EVP of content Scott Mahalick comments, “Bo is a world-class, ‘A’-level programmer who is energized, pursues excellence as a habit, and understands the mission and how to achieve it. We look forward to his leadership on the Alpha content team.”…..Envision Networks announces that its ‘90s rock weekend show “The Core” adds new affiliates, bringing the Envision Rock Network affiliate count to more than 350. Adding the program are: KUBQ, La Grande, Oregon; WTCX, Ripon, Wisconsin; and WKBH, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Albany, Knoxville Set to Pick Up Sports Outlets. For more than five years, Kirkland Wireless’ WVLZ, Knoxville used “Tennessee Sports Radio” as its handle, until transitioning to classic hits-oldies in late-August last year (2014). Its tenure as a classic hits-oldies outlet is extremely short-lived: On Monday (1/5), WVLZ will return to its sports roots as “1180 The Volz.” Program director Seth Stokes and Jayson Swain will handle 7:00 am – 10 am duties; Jon Reed and Kyle Tasman-hosted “Four Quarters” follows for one hour (10:00 am – 11:00 am); and Dave Hooker is slotted for 11:00 am -1:00 pm. Yahoo! Sports Radio will supply the bulk of the station’s other programming. Meanwhile, one week from Monday (1/12), Pamal Broadcasting Albany (New York) will jettison adult alternative on WZMR “The Peak” in favor of “Win 104.9” (and new callers – WINU). “Win” will carry CBS Sports Radio programming, most recently heard in that market on cross-town Empire Broadcasting‘s WPTR, which becomes an NBC Sports Radio affiliate. Neither WVLZ nor WZMR appeared in print in their respective market’s most recent Nielsen Audio quarterly ratings report.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Thom Hartmann, Multi-Platform Talk Show Host, Receives TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award. Today (7/25) marks the ninth consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with part 4 of the event’s traditional “Talkers Awards Ceremony,” emceed by legendary Westwood One talk show host Jim Bohannon and featuring the presentation of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech to multi-platform progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann. The presentation is made by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who tells the audience that he personally and his organization [TALKERS magazine and Talk Media, Inc.] are “vehemently non-partisan,” however, also “vehemently supportive of the First Amendment.” Harrison says, “Doing talk radio is extremely dangerous. Exercising free speech is not only dangerous because, throughout most of history and in much of the world, you can be shut down by the government and thrown in jail – you can also be KILLED! People have been killed doing talk radio.” Thom Hartmann graciously accepted the award recounting a personal anecdote from an experience he had as an 18-year-old radio announcer dealing with and succumbing to police pressure to repress coverage of a local story that abridged his rights and duties as a broadcaster – a situation that he says he “regrets to this day” but inspired him to champion the First Amendment. Hartmann says, “Because of the presence of talk radio in our nation over the past 20 years or so, we have found our voice to talk back to authority.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming Monday: A special address titled “Radio in the Digital Age” by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Beasley Q2 Revenue Down 3.6%. This morning’s release of Beasley Broadcasting Group’s 2014 Q2 financials conforms to many experts’ conclusions about the second quarter of the year: Ad spending in radio was down across the country. BBGI reports the net revenue figure of $25.9 million for the 2nd quarter of 2014 (compared to $26.9 million during the same period in 2013) “primarily reflects lower advertising revenue at the company’s Philadelphia, Wilmington and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville market clusters. The decline in net revenue was partially offset by $0.7 million in other revenue, resulting from an agreement with an electronics company and its affiliate concerning the use of our and their respective logos.” Chairman and CEO George Beasley comments, “Second quarter revenue levels reflect slower advertising spending across most markets where we operate which led to declines in seven of our eleven markets and lower station operating income. Overall, we outperformed in our five market clusters that report to Miller Kaplan. In these markets, which accounted for approximately 78% of total second quarter revenue, Beasley station cluster revenue declined 5.2%, compared with the total revenue for all reporting radio stations in these markets which were down 6.0% for the quarter. Our year-over-year revenue decline is partially attributable to difficult comparisons with 2013 second quarter results when we generated double-digit revenue gains in markets including Philadelphia and Las Vegas. However, our initiatives to expand our digital offerings are delivering results as we recorded an approximate 24% rise in digital revenue during the quarter. Notwithstanding the challenges faced in the second quarter, our market positions remain healthy based on our organization-wide focus on strong core programming and targeted localism. This focus is vital to the company’s ratings strength and long-term success.”
WEEI-FM, Boston’s Dennis & Callahan Show to Lose NESN Simulcast. According to a report by Chad Finn in the Boston Globe, when the contract between regional sports cable network NESN and Entercom’s WEEI, Boston to simulcast the morning drive Dennis & Callahan show ends in September, the cable network will not renew its deal. Finn reports that sources say the non-renewal has nothing to do with cast member Kirk Minihane’s recent high profile criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ performance on the MLB All-Star Game broadcast. The story notes that John Dennis and Gerry Callahan’s contracts with WEEI are also up around the same time and that negotiations are ongoing. The simulcast has been ongoing since November of 2010 and the report indicates NESN is considering doing more local programming with its own talent in the morning drive daypart. Read Finn’s piece here.
Townsquare Media IPO Raises $91 Million. It’s hard to judge the IPO of a radio and digital media company that’s so young in corporate terms, but the sale of 8.3 million shares of class A stock made the company a little more than $91 million – short of the $125 million the company was hoping to raise. Some analysts are noting that the IPO price was not in the low teens dollar figure the company had hoped for and even the $11 share price was a bit too high as the sale didn’t take off until the price dropped to $10.74. Still, the offering results in a cash infusion for Townsquare Media. Only time will tell if Townsquare’s plan to build revenue with small and medium market radio stations augmented by its stable of digital publications will pay off for investors and the company.
Odds & Sods. With the demise of Oskie Media-owned sports talker WVLZ, Knoxville “Tennessee Sports Radio” on July 29 (a new format will replace the sports talk), it will be the end for most of the shows currently heard on the station. But Jayson Swain’s “The Swain Event” show will live on at Blount Broadcasting’s country WKVL, Knoxville airing from 7:00 am to 10:00 am beginning September 1. According to a story in the Knoxville News, Swain’s on-air producer Seth Stokes will remain with the show and regular contributors (and, like Swain, former Tennessee Volunteers football stars) Jamal Lewis and Leonard Little will also continue to be part of the show…..David Singer is leaving his executive producer position at ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles “ESPN Los Angeles 710” to join the NFL Network in a talent booker role.
‘Talk 1300’ Albany’s Paul Vandenburgh Wins ‘Best of’ Honor. The annual “Best of” edition of the Capital Region’s alternative weekly Metroland is out and WGDJ, Albany “Talk 1300” owner, GM and morning drive host Paul Vandenburgh takes ‘Best Radio Talk Show’ honors. The paper says, “Yes, we all enjoy his rages, but you can learn a lot about the ins-and-outs of local politics from Vandenburgh and his guests.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia adds the nightly edition of “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge. Also, the program is added to the program schedules at KBYR, Anchorage and WLWI, Montgomery…..The Pam Oakes-hosted “Car Care for the Clueless: Daily Edition” feature is added to the programming at KCAA, Loma Linda, California and WOMI, Owensboro, Kentucky.
On Remote in Downtown Tucson. Program director and morning show host Bill White (left) interview’s Fred Ronstadt (right) – yes, Linda Ronstadt’s brother – during a remote broadcast of “Tucson’s Morning News.” The live event was designed to promote the grand opening of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar which local businessman Ronstadt helped build.
Gaza Strip Violence Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of July 21-25. The escalating violence in the Gaza strip and Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in brokering peace between Israel and Hamas was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. Following at #2 was the downing of Flight 17 and Russia’s role in supplying weaponry to the Ukraine rebels. At #3 was the child illegal alien crisis in the Southwest followed by the two recent ObamaCare court rulings at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.