As expected, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Christopher M. Lopez approved Audacy’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan in which Audacy will equitize approximately $1.6 billion of funded debt, a reduction of 80% from approximately $1.9 billion to approximately $350 million. Prior to yesterday’s hearing, there were only two objections to the plan filed and both were settled beforehand. Audacy expects to emerge from the Chapter 11 process after approval from the FCC. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David J. Field says, “Today’s announcement marks a powerful step forward for Audacy, positioning the company for an exciting future. As expected, we have achieved a speedy confirmation of our prepackaged Plan, which will enable Audacy to pursue our strategic goals and opportunities in the dynamic audio business. We aim to drive accelerated growth and financial performance, capitalizing on our scaled, leadership position, our uniquely differentiated premium audio content and the robust capital structure that we will have upon emergence. I also want to express my gratitude to our team, who continue their outstanding work to serve our listeners and customers with excellence and fulfill our commitments without missing a beat.” The company notes that under the Plan, trade and other unsecured creditors will not be impaired.
The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2024 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The survey period covered January 4 – 31. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In New York, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC-AM adds half a share to finish with a 3.5 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and remains ranked #11, while iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR-AM rises half a share to a 1.7 share that lifts it to the #17 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI adds nine-tenths for a 4.5 share finish good for the #3 rank in the market. In Chicago, Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM is up a half share, finishing with a 3.1 share and the #10 rank, while Cumulus Media Group’s news/talk WLS-AM rises two-tenths to a 1.9 share and moves up one spot to the #18 rank. And in Atlanta, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM claims the #1 rank after rising 1.2 shares to an 8.6 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets here.
Pictured above is WRVA, Richmond afternoon drive personality Jeff Katz (left) showing off his new Special Olympics of Virginia tattoo. Katz has been involved with Special Olympics for 20 years and during the most recent fundraising drive, he teamed up with Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard (right) and they promised to get matching Special Olympics of Virginia logo tattoos if they were able to raise $15,000. Needless to say, they raised the money, and they got the ink. At center is Mike Ivey, owner of Journey’s End Tattoo Studio in Powhatan, Virginia who donated his services.
Good Karma Brands launches Bucks+ Audio, a new audio platform created by the company and the Milwaukee Bucks. The first five podcasts dropped at Bucks.com/Plus. The initial podcasts are: “Behind the Bucks,” presented by Gallagher; “Hear District,” hosted by Marques and Kris Johnson, “Bucks in Six,” hosted by Greg Matzek, “Thanalysis,” hosted by Thanasis Antetokounmpo and “Courtside with Gale Klappa.” GKB Milwaukee market manager Greg Scalzo says, “Bucks+ Audio connects Bucks fans to the team in an innovative audio format. The first podcasts provide a deeper look into the Bucks and share untold stories of the team and organization.”
Pictured above is Salem Radio Network vice president, news & talk programming Tom Tradup (right) with New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg (left) at the 80th National Religious Broadcasters association conference in Nashville. Rosenberg – founder and editor-in-chief of All Israel News – hosts the weekly “Rosenberg Report” from Jerusalem on Trinity Broadcasting Network. NRB 2024 concludes tomorrow evening with an address by former President Donald Trump.
iHeartMedia chairman & CEO Bob Pittman and COO & CFO Rich Bressler will participate in a question and answer session during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Tuesday March 5 at 5:50 pm ET. A live webcast of the session will be available to the public at the start of the session through a link on the Investors homepage of iHeartMedia’s website (https://investors.iheartmedia.com/). A replay of the webcast will be available in the Events & Presentation section of iHeartMedia’s Investors homepage.
New England Public Media’s popular local radio show “The Fabulous 413” celebrates its first anniversary on WFCR-FM, Amherst, Massachusetts “88.5 NEPM.” Program co-host Monte Belmonte says, “I’m not one to generally look back or laud anniversaries, but I’m very proud to be a part of this program that Kaliis [Smith] and I have built with the team over the past year here at NEPM. We originally likened this show to ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’ for adults, and I hope we’ve done our best to live up to that lofty goal. And whether you’re working in public media or not, what better role model is there to aspire to than Fred Rogers?”
Public media firm GBH announces a $5 million grant from The Fiducia Fund to support “The Culture Show,” a daily news program shining a spotlight on arts and culture. GBH says the grant, pledged over a five-year period, will allow for the show’s sustainability and expansion to multiple platforms, including streaming on YouTube, a daily podcast, a weekly newsletter, events that include live broadcasts at the GBH Studio at the Boston Public Library, and featured segments on GBH News’ Greater Boston, a daily news program airing on GBH 2, and streaming live on YouTube. GBH president and CEO Susan Goldberg comments, “The arts are vital to a thriving community and ‘The Culture Show’ brings the local arts scene to the forefront for our listeners. This extraordinary commitment from The Fiducia Fund is the largest gift ever dedicated to GBH News. It is invaluable to ensuring we can continue to expand our coverage of the arts.”
The presidential race and former President Donald Trump’s FOX News Channel town hall event; the U.S. migrant crisis and Trump’s plans for “mass deportations”; the battle in Washington over aid to Ukraine and the death of Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny; the failed UN resolution for a cease fire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza; the Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are children; Wikileaks founder Julian Assange‘s bid to avoid extradition to the U.S.; and two adults are charged with homicide in the Kansas City Chiefs parade shooting were some of the most-talked-about stories in news/talk media yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Audio analytics and research platform Veritonic, in partnership with computer vision and attention AI company Realeyes, publishes their first Veritonic Audio Attention Report that analyzes effective audio advertising. The report provides data-backed insight into the importance of creative efficacy programs for audio and podcast advertising. Some of the key takeaways include: 1) Attention quality was highest for the audio ad that had the highest voiceover volume (36%) as opposed to the ad that had the lowest voiceover volume (27%) and the ad that had too many competing elements within the creative (25%); 2) 75% of participants reported a good quality audio ad positively influences their consideration to purchase a product; and 3) The inclusion of multiple competing audio components elements within an audio ad caused the ad to score lower in terms of overall quality than the ads without multiple competing elements. You can get the full report here.
KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh morning drive co-host Marty Griffin is currently off the air at the Audacy news/talk outlet and has been admitted to the hospital at UPMC dealing with what he called “crazy, insane” pain in his throat. Griffin, who battled throat cancer several years ago and has been in remission, says that late last week he couldn’t swallow anything and that the pain was something he never felt in his life. At this time, Griffin has been diagnosed with pneumonia, but doctors are also trying to determine if he has an infection of if the cancer has returned.
FOX News Channel signs Court TV’s Chanley Painter as overnight anchor, effective February 26. A Court TV correspondent since 2019, Painter has covered the high-profile trials of Bryan Kohberger, Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard, Alex Murdaugh, Harvey Weinstein, and the death of George Floyd. In 2021 she was awarded the Scripps Give Light award for leadership, dedication, and hard work in legal journalism. She got her start in the industry in 2016, as a legal analyst for Nexstar Media Group, where she went on to become a multimedia journalist. Painter earned a Juris Doctor degree with high honors from the University of Arkansas Little Rock Bowen School of Law.
YHN Media Group, LLC announces that Alabama radio personality J. Holland will retire from the Yellowhammer News Network later this month, putting the wraps on a broadcast career of 50 years. Most recently, Holland has been the afternoon news anchor on the network. During his career, he’s served with more than 25 radio stations. In the early 1990s, he moved into the news/talk format, serving with WAAX, Gadsden before moving on to WVNN, Huntsville and then WERC, Birmingham. He’s been with the Yellowhammer News Network since 2015.
SiriusXM announces a new weeknight political program produced in collaboration with the independent, non-partisan media company, RealClearPolitics. The “RealClearPolitics” show premieres on February 26, airing nightly from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel 124. RealClear Media Group chief content officer Andrew Walworth hosts the show along with co-hosts Carl Cannon and Tom Bevan.
The Library of American Broadcasting Foundation (LABF) announces that Tony Coles, Dr. Caroline Frick, and Leo MacCourtney have been elected to the organization’s board of directors. The announcement was made by co-chairs Heidi Raphael, Beasley Media Group chief communications officer, and Jack Goodman, former NAB general counsel and longtime DC-based communications attorney. Tony Coles is president of multi-cultural business and development and president of BIN: Black Information Network. Frick is an associate professor at the University of Texas, and MacCourtney is president of Katz Television Group.
The battle in Washington over aid for Ukraine and the death of Vladimir Putin opponent Alexei Navalny; the Israel-Hamas war and the U.S. proposal for a temporary ceasefire; the legal battles facing former President Donald Trump and the Fani Willis misconduct investigation; the presidential race and President Joe Biden’s age; the U.S. migrant crisis; the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s attacks in the Red Sea; and the intense rainfall hitting California were some of the most-talked-about stories in news/talk media yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
Have we passed the disappointment of 2023?
If ad sales at your radio station finished last year up double digits (excluding digital) please skip past the next few paragraphs. If you’re in the same boat as most radio ad sellers across the country at various levels – i.e. local, national, syndication, network – last year was a struggle.
Now then, how is Q1 shaping up?
Are you making up for lost ground, like the airline business, automotive business, restaurants or are you still pushing that boulder uphill? Here is some straight-from-the-field unfiltered feedback:
1. Valentine’s Day at most restaurants was one of the busiest on record. People at the packed-in table next to ours waited two hours after sitting to be served. So much for a 6:45 pm reservation. They got free dessert. Seriously?
2. Travel is back, make no mistake about it. Discount airfares are a thing of the past on the big-name airlines. At 6’2” I really believe my knees should not be touching the seat in front of me in comfort class on most major airlines.
3. Try negotiating a new car deal this month. No, not the incentives on the 2023 models, I’m talking 2024 in 2024. As the goodfellows said back home, fuhgeddaboudit.
There is nothing wrong with trying to make up for the lost income of the Covid years. After all, testing the pricing upside in business is the American way. We pay more, tip more, and adjust. It is the Darwin theory eating into our wallets every day. So why are most broadcast radio sales teams at all levels still throwing it against the wall to see what sticks? I see it every day in my marketing work. We have lost touch with the excitement, the “wow” factor, the customizations, the basic intangibles of selling the great talent we represent.
Let us learn from other successful businesses. Travel pitches pent-up demand, restaurants make sure you will get the special occasion marketing message no matter where you are, and the auto business, well the ships and chips are in!
What do we not understand about the current weakness in our broadcast radio sales strategy?
1. How current is your value proposition? Successful podcasters like Joe Rogan and Alex Cooper along with YouTubers, Facebook, Instagram, and all social media have changed the game-forever. How does your value proposition stand out today?
2. Talk radio will not go away. Programmers and talent will learn what they need to adjust to refocus one of the great radio formats ever created since someone said, “Let’s play the top 40 songs over and over.”
3. Let us start re-thinking what broadcast radio sellers need to prioritize to make a difference-today.
Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.
By Holland Cooke
If you’re a news/talk station, don’t assume that you own “news radio” in your market. Imaging is important, but it merely talks-the-talk. You walk-the-walk with local news copy that delivers what solid commercial copy does: benefits. Just doing local news makes you special. But do listeners simply hear a station voice… reading something? Are you merely… accurate? Or do you deliver “take-home pay,” unwrapping the story to tell the listener something useful?
In many homes, there are now fewer radios than smart speakers. And nobody has ever said: “Alexa, please play six commercials.” But she can play millions of songs. So do streams and YouTube.
What can make a music station different from all those other audio choices is the way you help folks cope, how relevant and empathetic you are, how you sound like you have-their-back as day-to-day news has them wondering “What NEXT?”
And boosting tune-in exposes your advertisers better. So, Time Spent Listening is still the ballgame. Specifically, you need to add occasions of tune-in, and this week’s column begins a three-part series of news copy coaching tips that can help bring listeners back more often.
Simply rewriting source material can make a huge difference. Press releases torture the ear. They’re formal, and prone to jargon and spin (especially from politicians). When they’re from the police, they’re written in cop-speak. And most press releases are written inside-out, emphasizing a process, rather than the consequence to listeners.
Process example: “At Thursday’s work session of the Springfield City Council, a decision was made to move forward with Community Days this year. The annual Community Days celebration is scheduled for June 16 and 17th. Council members made sure the Community Days funds will be handled by an independent accountant. Councilwoman Sharon Grant said…”
Re-write to lead with consequence: “The annual Springfield Community Days celebration will be June 16th and 17th. After last year’s controversy, Council members made sure the Community Days funds will be handled by an independent accountant. At Thursday’s session, Councilwoman Sharon Grant said…”
That simple tweak is well-worth the minimal effort. Listeners are mentally busy. Remove “Styrofoam words.” Example: “State Police say they are investigating a possible case of child endangerment after a seven-month-old child was treated for severe injuries.”
Simply delete “say they.”
Next week: Ripped from the headlines…
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “The Local Radio Advantage: Your 4-Week Tune-In Tune-Up,” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn