The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Blog says the changes to auto download policy in Apple’s iOS 17 will benefit content creators as well as advertisers. It used to be that if a consumer subscribed to a podcast and signed up for auto downloads, their iPhone would often download all, of the back episodes published before they subscribed. Since many if not most of those were never listened to, the data about listening habits was inaccurate. As the blog notes, podcasts that publish frequently will be most affected. “This is a crucial reset for the podcast industry, a much-needed rightsizing of audience data. This is a defining moment advertisers and podcast creators should both welcome. As hosts look at their downloads and reach for the Advil, they should know Apple is putting the podcast industry on the road to more accurate data. Better audience data inspires more confidence among advertisers and agencies.” Another new feature in iOS 17 is that users who haven’t listened to five downloaded episodes over the past two weeks will stop getting automatically downloaded podcasts. See the blog post here.
A piece by Max Tani at Semafor looks at the ramifications of Apple’s September 2023 changes in reporting how many people listen to podcasts has dramatically affected the official listener numbers for many of the biggest podcasts. About Apple’s change, Tani writes, “The dominant podcasting platform had begun switching off automatic downloads for users who haven’t listened to five episodes of a show in the last two weeks. But while few users noticed the shift, some of the biggest podcasts in the world saw their official listener numbers drop dramatically. Long-running shows that publish frequently were hit particularly hard. A user who listened to a show like The New York Times’ ‘The Daily’ a few times, subscribed, but stopped listening would continue to count as a download indefinitely. Even better under the old rules: For people who listened to a show, dropped off for a while, but started listening again later, Apple would automatically download every show in between. The arrangement drove big download numbers, a crucial metric for ad sales and a sign of the vast reach of podcasts as a medium.” Read the full story here.
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
Bulletin: “Linear TV” is no longer the winner.
Linear TV is tech talk for combining over the air and cable TV, and according to Nielsen, July 2023 was the first-time streaming TV was the winner, as streaming captured most TV viewing.
From Netflix to YouTube, we are watching more content on streaming channels than linear TV. You have read about the resurgence in “Suits,” the legal drama that originally aired 2011-2019 and is now drawing 18 billion minutes of viewing on Netflix. Whether those 18 billion minutes are part Meghan Markle curiosity or part writers’ strike, does not matter. Those 18 billion minutes of viewing helped drive streaming viewership to an all-time high. Maybe streaming grabbed a page from that old radio handbook that starts with “Content is King.”
But the companies controlling the streaming ad-free experience on Netflix, Disney, Hulu, etc. seized the opportunity and raised rates. Soon, it will cost you more every month to watch your favorite content ad-free.
Wait a minute! Did I just say the ad-free experience as in commercial free or no interruptions? Did the streaming guys just take another page from the well-worn radio programming handbook and turn the commercial-free model upside down to increase income? Streaming channels will deliver commercial free programming and charge you anywhere from $13.99- $21.99 a month as the fees double and triple depending on when you started your subscription.
How about our friends at Amazon Prime jumping on “Thursday Night Football,” or Apple and Peacock pushing baseball? Do not forget the YouTube NFL packages starting at $250. No, this is not a veiled plug for paid programming, nor is it a critique of the value propositions offered in the streaming world. Time for a long look in the mirror:
— The commercial-free experience began when radio programmers dropped the commercials, programmed longer, commercial-free segments to drive listenership and ratings up. In the short term it worked. My hand is in the air, guilty as charged. Maybe I was one of the lone radio management voices who asked, “Then what, run the spots and drive the audience away? Are we sending the wrong message?” We were dumb. After commercial free came rates, packages, and promotions. None of us said, “Raise the rates when the commercial-free stops!” The streaming guys got it right – just raise the rates.
— There is no older radio programming mantra than “Content is King.” You can name the iconic talents with one word, Howard, Rush, Imus, yet major radio organizations struggle as they search for great, soon-to-be iconic talent. It is faster, easier, and more lucrative to become a Tik-Tok, YouTube, or Instagram star.
These are all just examples of how radio was first in and stopped innovating. There is some good news on the horizon. Facebook is stepping back from the news business as news organizations ban together and ask for compensation. This could be the first chink in Facebook’s 113-billion-dollar ad armor. Maybe not. Either way, the old school top-of-the-hour newscast, or large market all-news radio should be re-imagined, opening the door to the next generation of innovators.
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.
Podcast Radio announces that it is launching a new production house to “create, promote and distribute podcasts alongside its radio stations.” The company says, “The new venture will provide end-to-end bespoke podcast production solutions to brand partners worldwide. Suitable podcasts will be made and distributed on Podcast Radio itself and other platforms such as Apple, Spotify and Google. Podcast Radio will also provide promotional opportunities by way of advertising campaigns and on-air interviews with the podcast host or contributors.” Company founder and CEO Gerry Edwards adds, “This is a natural extension of what we do. We’ve made our own Podcast Radio Originals for some time, but we now want to extend our extensive production skills to brand partners as well.” Podcast Radio intends to take podcast content to radio listeners. It plans to begin distributing a 24/7 American version of its programming to radio stations and groups across the US beginning soon. To that end, it has partnered with New York-based KMG Networks to syndicate the programming.
Monday Memo: Yes, You Need More Cume. “It’s a never-ending problem” because budgets are tight, and with new-tech competitors chipping-away at AM/FM Time Spent Listening. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke outlines three specific goals for on-air promotion; but cautions that “the only people who hear it are already listening.” Read it here.
Pending Business: The Aftermath of Ian. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa has been affected by natural disasters numerous times during his career – including the long list of hurricanes that have impacted Florida in recent decades. In today’s column, he offers five takeaways for radio sellers working in markets affected by Ian, as well as those who may face a similar situation in the future. Read it here.
Morning Host Chris Stigall Re-Ups with Salem’s ‘The Answer’ in Philly. WNTP-AM, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” morning host Chris Stigall signs a multi-year extension to continue with the Salem Media Group news/talk station. The host of “Philadelphia’s Morning Answer with Chris Stigall” says, “It’s been the highlight of my career to call Philadelphia morning radio my professional home for 12 years now. It’s so gratifying to work with principled, faith-first broadcast partners in Salem Media Group who genuinely respect their audience, their clients, and their broadcasters. Thank you to Salem Media, our sponsors and the smartest audience in all of radio for allowing me the privilege to continue hosting your morning show for years to come. All glory and honor to God!” Salem Philadelphia general manager Lorenzo Caldara adds, “Since the day Chris began with Philadelphia’s ‘AM 990 The Answer,’ he has engaged Philadelphians in intelligent and relevant conversation that has served to entertain and stimulate much thought in the minds of our audience. He has secured such an attentive audience that can’t wait to listen and call in to him everyday Monday through Friday.”
‘Smart Money Happy Hour’ Podcast Debuts at #1. The latest podcast from the Ramsey Network, “Smart Money Happy Hour,” debuted last week at #1 in Apple Business, #1 in Spotify Business and #19 in all Apple podcasts. Ramsey Network says the “Smart Money Happy Hour” is a mix of solid advice and snark from two friends who also happen to be money experts. Co-host Rachel Cruze says, “People will talk about almost anything these days, except money. These conversations shouldn’t be awkward or boring, but rather give listeners a sense of relief that they aren’t alone in their money journey – whatever circumstance or stage of life they’re in.” Co-host George Kamel adds, “The show is a good balance of real-life humor mixed in with money advice listeners can relate to. We’re willing to go there, have those conversations, and be that friend for you.” “Smart Money Happy Hour” topics include: Is Convenience Worth Being Broke? The TV Network That Brainwashed Us All; How to Leave a Royal Legacy for Your Family; and Can the Middle Class Still Afford to Go to Disney?
SRN’s Mike Gallagher Raises Funds for Hurricane Ian Relief. Pictured above in front of what’s left of a Venice, Florida car dealer’s lot is Salem Radio Network personality Mike Gallagher broadcasting live. In the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastation in Florida and the Carolinas, Gallagher is broadcasting from disaster sites today (10/3) and is raising funds to help people impacted by the huge storm. Gallagher is partnering with Christian non-profit relief organization Food for the Poor to rush hurricane emergency kits and hurricane flood relief kits to impacted areas. Gallagher says, “This is what radio does best: opening the hearts and wallets of listeners to help fellow Americans they will likely never meet.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new deal between FOX Sports Radio and LaVar Arrington’s Up On Game Presents and Brinx.TV provides for distribution of programming across both platforms. The sports platform Brinx.TV is operated by John Brenkus – host of “Sports Science.” As part of the agreement, “The NIL House” will be the first joint property to be distributed by the Up On Game Presents podcast feed (available on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard) and Brinx.TV. The venture launches today (10/3) at 3:00 pm ET. Arrington says, “We are thrilled to be partnering with a pioneer like John Brenkus and Brinx.TV. This relationship will dramatically expedite our slate of programming and positively impact the sports entertainment industry.”…..Cumulus Media’s news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for the Central California Food Bank for the 2022 Feeding Families Fund Drive. Gar Bennett Inc. matched every donation with 50 cents on the dollar as the effort raised $656,000 to fight hunger in the Central Valley. Cumulus Media Fresno VP and market manager Patty Hixson says, “I’m overwhelmed by the support of our community. We can always count on the generosity of our KMJ listeners! A special thanks to Karen and Greg Musson of Gar Bennett, Farm Credit and Amazon for their massive contributions and to our talented on-air team for their hard work on this important effort.”
Russia-Ukraine War, Hurricane Ian Aftermath, Economy/Financial Markets, Mar-a-Lago Documents Case, Brazilian Elections, and Indonesia Soccer Riot Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The move by Vladimir Putin to attempt to annex parts of Ukraine as he calls up more troops in Russia’s war against its neighbor; the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s destruction of the Fort Myers-Naples region; inflation and the bear market that’s pushed the world’s financial markets to lows not seen since 2009; the battle between former President Donald Trump’s lawyers and the Department of Justice over the Mar-a-Lago records case; conservative Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro forces runoff election with opponent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; and the soccer riot in Indonesia that left 125 dead were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Saga Communications CEO Ed Christian Passes. The company announces that its founder, chairman, president and CEO Ed Christian passed away on Friday (8/19) after a short illness. Warren Lada, a member of Saga Communications’ board of directors and former COO, has been appointed by the board to serve as the Interim CEO. “The Board is confident that Warren’s vast experience in the broadcast industry as a sales representative, sales manager, general manager, vice president of operations and ultimately as COO of the company will fill the void that Ed leaves as the company prepares for the next chapter in ‘Saga’s ongoing adventure.’” Saga says that Christian founded the company in 1986 and has fostered its growth to owning 79 FM radio stations, 35 AM radio stations and 80 translator stations in 27 markets. Under his leadership the company became a publicly traded company in 1992 and continues to be traded under the ticker symbol “SGA” on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The company adds, “The broadcast industry has lost a pioneer and giant. Saga expresses its heartfelt condolences to the Christian family and Ed’s friends and colleagues. Ed will be missed but not forgotten. He is and was a true radio broadcaster that never lost sight of his ‘true north’ in an industry he loved.”
Monday Memo: “Stay Safe.” “Because these are NOT normal times,” consultant Holland Cooke follows-up last week’s column about leveraging the news half of the news/talk format, with specific imaging copy points. Read it here.
Pending Business: This Is Urgent. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column Apple’s announcement it will soon sell approved advertisers space on the “Today” page of the App Store is a super-sized version of radio’s call-to-action ads. He says copywriting 101 and radio sales 101 intersect at the call-to-action and he offers six points to prove its efficacy. Read it here.
KWAM Celebrates 75 Years of Service to Memphis. News/talk radio station KWAM-AM, Memphis “The Mighty 990” – owned by Starnes Media led by talk media industry personality and best-selling author Todd Starnes – threw a bash to celebrate its 75 years of service to the Memphis market. Pictured above at right are some of the 300 people who attended the event.
FBI Raid/Documents Investigation, Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, The Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, CDC/COVID/Monkey Pox, and Extreme Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The aftermath of the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago and the documents investigation; the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees for the 2024 presidential race; inflation, the financial markets and the Inflation Reduction Act; a car bomb kills Darya Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, the “spiritual guide” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the CDC’s announced overhaul, the rate of COVID cases and the concerns over Monkey Pox; and the nationwide drought & the Texas floods were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
The announcement surrounding the “Today” concept in the App Store is particularly relevant to the radio business.
Monday Memo: The Lightning Round. Reader warning: “Grab the arm rest!” In this week’s column, Holland Cooke admits he is “validating the consultant stereotype” by sharing “9-ideas-in-8-minutes” for sales, programming and news. Read it here.
Pending Business: King Content. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says the “sports world seems to be redefining how we view value and utilize king content” when we hear about Apple’s reported $2 billion bid for NFL games and media platforms. The NFL brand and its unique content can drive multiple platforms. What does this have to do with selling news/talk radio? Read about it here.
Cary Pahigian to Leave WBAL-AM and ’98 Rock’; Dan Joerres to Assume Radio Management. Broadcasting executive Cary L. Pahigian is leaving his role with Hearst Television Baltimore at the end of this month to explore several new professional opportunities. Pahigian has been president and general manager for the company’s two radio stations – news/talk WBAL-AM and rock WIYY-FM “98 Rock” – since 2014. Hearst will assign the radio station management duties to WBAL-TV general manager Dan Joerres. Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb says, “When Cary joined us eight years ago, he brought a wealth of experience at many of the nation’s most honored radio stations. His passionate advocacy for local broadcasting and his strong appreciation for broadcasters’ important community service role were hallmarks of his spectacular success in managing WBAL Radio and 98 ROCK to even greater heights. We wish him great success in his well-deserved next chapter.” Prior to joining Hearst Television, Pahigian was president and GM for Saga Communications’ nine-station Portland, Maine station group. He’s also served with WBZ-AM, Boston and WIP, Philadelphia. He comments, “I joined WBAL and 98 ROCK because of the exceptional leadership team and extraordinary culture at Hearst Television. And my longtime teammate and friend Dan Joerres epitomizes that level of managerial acumen. I know he will lead the outstanding teams throughout WBAL-TV, WBAL NewsRadio and 98 ROCK to even greater achievements. While I plan more adventures for my ongoing career, I leave Hearst with my gratitude for their support and providing me the opportunity of a lifetime.”
KRMG-FM, Tulsa Names Jen Townley Co-Host of Morning Show. Television news pro Jen Townley is named the new co-host of the “KRMG Morning News with Dan Potter” on Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-FM, Tulsa. Townley most recently served as a news producer for Cox Media Group’s KOKI-TV “FOX23.” KRMG director of branding & programming Levi May says, “We’re happy to be able to hire someone who is already a part of the Cox Media Group family. We already know Jen’s skill set is top-notch. Her impressive news background and engaging personality will add depth to our content that I cannot wait to get on-air.” Dan Potter comments, “I’m thrilled to be joined by an on-air partner with the energy, experience and personality Jen has. Her connections to newsmakers through her years of experience as a senior news producer coupled with her devotion to family life – not to mention her sense of humor – make JT the perfect choice to co-host the ‘KRMG Morning News’ with me.”
Mike Gallagher Covers ‘People’s Convoy.’ Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher in Hagerstown, Maryland as he covered the 1,000-vehicle “People’s Convoy” that converged on the Washington, DC beltway this weekend. Gallagher recorded one-on-one interviews with convoy participants that he’ll air on his program today (3/7). Gallagher says, “My show has always believed that the most important voice we present is our listeners. So, going one-on-one with the People’s Convoy is covering an important breaking news story the mainstream media is virtually ignoring.”
New Stephen K. Bannon Show Launches on John Fredericks Media Network. Today is the launch of a new talk radio program on the John Fredericks Media Network. “War Room: Battleground,” hosted by Stephen K. Bannon is his newest daily show and airs from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET that will focus on news, analysis, and the personalities of the 2022 midterm elections. The program is being aired on all eight of Fredericks’ owned and or operated radio stations, including WJFP-AM 740/W277DL/W237EH in Philadelphia, Delaware, and South Jersey “Liberty Radio”; WJFN-AM/FM in Central and Southeast Virginia; and WMLB-AM, Atlanta, and all corresponding streams. Fredericks says, “We are very excited to add Steve Bannon’s ‘War Room: Battleground’ to our radio network lineup. This is the most critical next nine months in the nation’s history, and all of our focus is on the upcoming primaries and nomination conventions. That’s why ‘War Room: Battleground’ is critical to giving our listeners and viewers critical insight into the various candidates and their policy positions.” Bannon comments, “The MAGA movement has a unique opportunity to destroy the Democratic Party as a functioning institution during the coming midterm election on 8 November. This is the moment to relentlessly focus on the America First agenda of President Trump. ‘War Room: Battleground’ will be that platform.”
Longtime WHAS-AM, Louisville Morning Host Wayne Perkey Dies at 84. The Courier-Journal reports that former longtime WHAS-AM, Louisville morning personality Wayne Perkey died yesterday (3/6) at age 84 after complications from COVID-19. His family tells the paper that Perkey was vaccinated and boosted so they were surprised when Perkey contracted the virus. Perkey acknowledged his supporters after revealing via Facebook that he’d been hospitalized, saying, “Thanks for all the good wishes. They are taking good care of me. I am so grateful for the good wishes and prayers. These are the times when we are so grateful for our friends and family.” Longtime WHAS colleague Terry Meiners is quoted in the paper saying, “He’s the voice of a generation. The thing I want people to know about Wayne is that his effervescent personality set the tone for the whole staff at the radio station. He was the positive ray of sunshine that everyone else sort of fell in line with.” Perkey joined WHAS in 1969 and worked there until his retirement in 1999. After leaving radio, he worked selling real estate.
TALKERS News Notes. The weekend program “Intelligence Matters” from CBS News Radio is setting its sights on the war in Ukraine. This past weekend, host Michael Morell hosted Mike Vickers – former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Special Forces officer and CIA operations officer – as the two discussed whether and how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may have been a gross strategic miscalculation, how and when the West might have deterred his moves, and what future scenarios for the conflict exist…..Westwood One will present a broadcast slate of 23 NCAA Men’s Basketball games from Conference Championship Week as well as three broadcasts of Women’s Championship games. Westwood One’s postseason basketball coverage began last weekend and continues through Selection Sunday, with the broadcasts of the Ivy League, the SEC, and the American Athletic Championship games…..Cox Media Group Tulsa held its 3rd Annual Big Spring Clean – an annual initiative with the goal of diverting tons of items from the dump into area recycling programs. The CMG Tulsa cluster includes news/talk KRMG-FM. Market VP Cathy Gunther says, “Since the inception of this effort, CMG Tulsa and our partners have diverted more than 155 tons of trash from hitting landfills. The event is open to all Green Country residents, and we are really proud to offer this service to our community.”…..PodcastOne announces that the “Ladygang” podcast has lined up a roster of their famous friends to step up and fill in for podcast founder Becca Tobin while she’s on maternity leave. Guest hosts include Heather Dubrow, Danny Pellegrino, Jackie Schimmell, TINX, Jason Tartick, Garcelle Beauvais, Michael Yo and Josephine Skriver.
Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19/People’s Convoy, Oil Prices/Inflation, Brown SCOTUS Confirmation Process, and Deadly Iowa Tornado Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The ongoing Russian attack on the Ukraine and the rest of the world’s response to it; the falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the loosening of mask mandates, and the convoy of trucks and vehicles protesting mandates around Washington, DC; the soaring price of gasoline at the pump and the continuing high retail prices for consumer goods; the Republican strategy for the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson; and a tornado kills at least seven in Des Moines were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Steve Lapa
The sports world seems to be redefining how we view value and utilize king content. The trailblazer is arguably the biggest brand in sports: the National Football League.
The NFL wrote the book on how constant improvement and innovation, especially in media coverage, could drive a brand to unmatched heights in event marketing, viewership, influence, and income. It is no accident the NFL is now in the spotlight again moving the media innovation needle to 5.0.