If you’ve been following this story, you are aware that Urban One is late with this Securities and Exchange Commission filing because of accounting issues related to the valuation of its investment interest in MGM National Harbor, which the company sold for cash proceeds of approximately $136.8 million on April 21, 2023. Re-evaluation of the accounting required adjustment to the company’s filings for the four quarters of 2021 and Q3 of 2022. For the fourth quarter of 2022, net revenue was approximately $132.6 million, an increase of 1.6% from the same period in 2021. The company reports operating income of approximately $14.3 million for the period, compared to approximately $20.3 million for Q4 of 2021. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $47.6 million, an increase of 7.9% from the same period in 2021. Net income was $856,000 compared to approximately $5.3 million in net income for the same period in 2021. The company has yet to file its operating results for Q1 of this year, but its preliminary results from the quarter show same station radio segment revenue up 2.0% on a same station basis.
Audacy announces a new “sales and enablement team dedicated to accelerating growth within the company’s sports vertical” to be led by the company’s Lee Davis, who is named senior vice president of the team. Audacy says Davis’ team is “charged with developing high-value, high-return programs leveraging the power of Audacy’s sports platform across its broadcast, streaming, podcasting, and wagertainment properties. Under Davis’ leadership, the team will be responsible for sales and execution, managing the entire client lifecycle.” Audacy chief revenue officer Brian Benedik comments, “No medium delivers more value for sports than audio. People are spending more time than ever with broadcast radio, streaming and podcasts, and the demand for compelling sports content across these channels is growing exponentially. Through our best-in-class sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.” Audacy says, “From 1990 to 2005, Davis was key in building WFAN into America’s #1 sports radio station, overseeing local and national sales, programming and marketing, helping shape it into the highest-grossing station in the country.” Davis rejoined Audacy in 2018 to lead the reboot of Traffic Weather Information Network’s on-air content and ad operations teams.
Salem Media Group reports its operating results for the first quarter of 2023 and reveals consolidated revenue was $63.5 million, an increase of 1.4% over the first quarter of 2022. The company’s total operating expenses increased 17.4% to $67.7 million leading to an operating loss of $4.2 million as compared to operating income of $5 million posted in Q1 of 2022. Salem reports a net loss of $5.2 million, compared to Q1 2022’s net income of $1.7 million. Salem reports in three segments – Broadcast, Digital Media, and Publishing. Broadcast revenue for the quarter was $48.3 million (down 0.2%), Digital Media was $10.5 million (up 2%), and Publishing revenue was $4.6 million (up 19.7%). Looking ahead, the company is projecting total revenue to decline between 5% and 7% from the second quarter 2022 total revenue of $68.7 million and expects operating expenses to increase between 3% and 6% compared to Q2 of 2022.
By Holland Cooke
Local news sponsorship is an opportunity to “fish for whales,” institutional advertisers who can associate with something special. And, well-done, local news sure is special, because:
New-tech audio competitors don’t do it, and most AM/FM broadcast hours are now robotic.
Newspapers are in a tailspin swapping print dollars for digital dimes; and their – and TV stations’ – websites aren’t as portable as radio.
And it’s easier to add occasions of listening than to extend duration-per. Translation: There’s very little we do can keep someone in a parked car with the key on Accessories.
First things first: Plan NOW for The Big Story. In a recent column here I outlined the “break the glass” plan you should prep.
As for day-to-day local news:
Who are you talking to? Habitual radio users – especially news/talk – are older-than-younger. Think Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), who control most retail spending. And report information that matters to people with children of any age living at home (super-spenders) and people driving (what’s happening right now, and what threatens to block their path). Think “car radio” for busy people and you won’t turn-off anyone sitting-stiller.
What: INFLATION, health and safety, “survival information” (weather = news). Jim Farley, my successor managing WTOP, Washington, hung a sign in the newsroom: “WGAS,” his litmus test for relevance, “Who Gives A Shit?”
Where: What’s happening within your signal pattern? And when everyone’s buzzing about a big story elsewhere, localize by asking pertinent sources “if it happened here?” and Man-on-the-Street interviews (local accents) reacting.
When: What JUST happened…what’s happening right NOW…what happens NEXT. When you’re wall-to-wall, do frequent resets, because people believe your promos, and are tuning-in to know. Other times, specific goal: Each newscast sounds different than the last.
Why it matters to your listener: News people I coach will chisel this onto my tombstone: Report consequence, not process. Don’t give me the minutes of the City Council meeting, tell me how what-was-discussed will impact me. Rewrite press releases, which aren’t easy on the ear (“The public is asked…”), tend to be process-laden, and are often self-congratulatory.
Longtime ABC News executive Av Westin, one of two industry icons we lost in 2022: “I believe the audience at dinner time wants to know the answers to three very important questions: Is the world safe? Is my hometown and my home safe? If my wife and children are safe, what has happened in the past 24 hours to make them better off or to amuse them?”
— Emulate your network’s writing style.
— HIGHLY recommended reading: “Writing Broadcast News: Shorter, Sharper, Stronger” by Mervin Block.
— Rewrite to favor The Magic Words “you” and “your” and avoid third-person-plural (words like “residents”). Instead of “Business owners interested in applying for these loans should contact…” say “If you’re a business owner…”
— Arrange with a local TV station (“our news partner NBC28”) to use their sound, in exchange for attribution (which will enhance their standing and serve to promote their newscasts).
I am encouraged by how much 2022 work sought me out, asking that I review stations’ local news copy, and work with the local newscasters whose work can habituate listeners and make money.
Make your work count twice.
— When you’re covering a meeting or event, ask people there something else too. “How are YOU feeling inflation?”
— Say WHERE you gathered comments. “We spoke to shoppers leaving Star Market in West Springfield.”
— Al Primo, inventor of “Eyewitness News,” who also passed away last year: “People can tell their stories better than we can write them.”
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book and FREE on-air radio features “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke
By Holland Cooke
I asked ChatGPT, “What IS ChatGPT?”
Instant reply: “ChatGPT is a pre-trained language model developed by OpenAI. It uses advanced natural language processing techniques to generate human-like text responses to questions and prompts, based on patterns it learned from a massive amount of text data. It is designed to assist with a wide range of tasks, including answering questions, generating creative writing, and translating text between languages. ChatGPT is built using the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture, which has been state-of-the-art in many NLP tasks.”
If ever there was an elevator speech that sounded robotic, that’s it. But pick almost any other topic, and – quicker than you’re expecting, ChatGPT scours the Internet – and most of what it spits-back can seem eerily conversational. Including my question about conversation itself: “What DJ or talk show host habits do listeners find most annoying?” Mere moments later…
“Here are some habits that listeners may find annoying in DJs or talk show hosts:
— Interrupting guests or co-hosts: Listening to a conversation that is constantly being cut off can be frustrating for listeners.
— Talking over music: A DJ who talks over the music can detract from the listening experience for music lovers.
— Shouting or excessive enthusiasm: An over-the-top delivery style can come across as insincere or artificial to listeners.
— Unnecessary repetition: Repeating the same jokes, phrases, or segments repeatedly can quickly become tiresome for listeners.
— Lack of preparation: A lack of research or preparation can lead to awkward silences, missed opportunities, or inaccurate information.
— Poor phone manners: Rude or abrupt treatment of callers can be off-putting to listeners and impact the overall tone of the show.
— Ignoring listener feedback: Failing to respond to listener feedback or questions can make listeners feel unvalued and disengaged.
— Being too political: Focusing exclusively on political topics or taking a one-sided approach can alienate listeners with differing opinions.
— Playing too many commercials: Excessive commercial breaks can make the listening experience feel repetitive or disjointed.”
With most AM/FM broadcast hours now automated, syndicated, and voice-tracked, even a robot knows what it takes to keep our fellow humans from wandering-off to less-cluttered music streams and greater topical variety that podcasts offer.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke
Urban One Net Revenue Up 8.9% in Q3 of 2022. The company issues its third quarter 2022 financial data and reports net revenue of approximately $121.4 million, an increase of 8.9% from the same period in 2021. Urban One reports net income of approximately $4.2 million compared to the net income of $13.9 million it reported in the third quarter of 2021. The company says broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $50.8 million, an increase of 3.5% over the same period in 2021. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Q3 was another very solid quarter, during which we grew both revenues and Adjusted EBITDA. Following a soft July for radio advertising, August and September rebounded and we finished the quarter +1.4% on a same station basis, and -1.3% excluding political. Same station radio pacings for Q4 excluding digital are currently +16.0% including political and +0.1% excluding political. Layering in the recent Indianapolis acquisition should push radio revenues to a double-digit percentage increase for Q4. Political spending has steadily gathered momentum, and we anticipate net political advertising revenues to be between $12-$13 million, of which radio is $9-$10 million, which is significantly ahead of both our budget and the 2018 cycle. Our cable TV business had another successful broadcast upfront season, and we were able to increase both our CPM’s and total dollars committed. Our Digital segment posted growth of approximately 40% in both revenue and Adjusted EBITDA as demand for our audience and digital products remained strong. Our liquidity and leverage profile remained robust, and we continued to opportunistically repurchase our 7.375% bonds in the open market.”
Saga Communications’ Third Quarter 2022 Net Revenue Rises 3.9%. Third quarter 2022 financial results for Saga Communications, Inc. reveal net revenue of $30 million – and increase of 3.9% over the same period in 2021. Station operating expense increased 2.8% for the quarter to $22.3 million compared to the same period last year. For Q3 of this year, station operating income increased 4.1% to $8.9 million, and operating income was $1.1 million compared to $4.6 million for the same quarter last year. Free cash flow was $1.6 million for the quarter compared to $4.0 million for the same period last year. Saga reports a net loss of $104,000 for the quarter compared to net income of $3.5 million for the third quarter last year. The company says, “Despite strong underlying performance the results were impacted by one-time payments related to the passing of our founder Ed Christian. As a result, the company is required to make several payments to his estate as outlined in his employment agreement. These expenses were accrued as of September 30, 2022 increasing the reported corporate general and administrative expense line item by $3.8 million for both the quarter and nine-month period ended September 30, 2022. Without these expenses operating income would have increased 5.8% to $4.9 million, free cash flow would have increased 36.5% to $5.4 million and net income would have increased 7.9% to $3.7 million.” Saga’s balance sheet reflects $58.3 million in cash and short-term investments as of September 30, 2022 and $45.3 million as of October 31, 2022.
Round Three of October PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2022 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s October 2022 sweep covered September 15 – October 12. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM drops 1.1 shares to finish with a 7.3 share (6+, weekly AQH share) but remains ranked #4 in the market, while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KEX adds four-tenths to wrap the survey with a 3.9 share that lifts it to the #9 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOAI, San Antonio stays ranked #10 after dipping three-tenths for a 3.6 share, while Alpha Media’s crosstown news/talk KTSA sheds one-tenth for a 3.3 share finish and falls to the #12 rank in the market. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-AM/FM puts up seven-tenths for a 12.3 share that cements its #1 rank as Bonneville’s crosstown news/talk KSL-AM/FM adds six-tenths for a 7.3 share finish that puts it in the #2 slot. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds) here.
Andrew Colton to Host Mornings on WIOD, Miami. Taking over for longtime South Florida broadcasting legend Jimmy Cefalo on January 9, 2023 as host of the morning program on iHeartMedia’s WIOD “NewsRadio 610 AM” is Andrew Colton. He comes to iHeartMedia from his most recent work as CEO of Colton Legal Media Worldwide. He’s also been an award-winning national correspondent for ABC News, CBS Newspath, and hosted the nationally syndicated “Wall Street Journal This Morning” program. Cefalo will continue to provide commentary on WIOD as well as his role as play-by-play announcer for the Miami Dolphins. “South Florida First News with Andrew Colton” will include veteran news anchor Nathalie Rodriguez, William Althoff with more news and sports, Doug Lindsay with traffic and the Weather Channel’s Ray Stagich. Vice president of news and AM programming Florida Region and iHeartMedia NTS brand coordinator Grace Blazer says, “Jimmy and Andrew both share a passion for news, information, commonsense, and our South Florida lifestyle. We are excited and fortunate to have Andrew Colton continue WIOD’s spoken-word tradition and digital expansion.”
Philadelphia Sports Radio Broadcasters Honored with Hall of Fame Inductions. Two Audacy Philadelphia sports radio personalities are being recognized for their contributions to the Philadelphia sports media landscape. Longtime WIP radio host Howard Eskin is being inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on November 3. Eskin says, “It’s an honor to be selected and to be in such great company – really overwhelming. They say do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. As hard as I work, I have to admit, it is a labor of love.” Al Morganti, co-host of WIP’s morning show, is being honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame and will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism. Morganti comments, “It’s the honor of a lifetime to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a huge part of any success I have had is because of the fans of Philadelphia. Having been on WIP for so many years and working at the Philadelphia Inquirer, I can attest that the emotional investment Philadelphia fans make to their teams makes everyone raise their game. Thank you!”
TALKERS News Notes. Legendary college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and SiriusXM ink a multi-year agreement for Krzyzewski to continue hosting his exclusive weekly SiriusXM show, “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.” Krzyzewski has been hosting the show since 2005 and today (11/3) the first episode of the show’s 18th season drops. Krzyzewski says, “This will be the first fall in nearly 50 years that I’m not on the sidelines, and I’m so pleased to extend my long relationship with SiriusXM and continue hosting ‘Basketball and Beyond.’ Having the creative freedom to do a really unique show has been incredibly important and rewarding to me. I can be a part of the national conversation on basketball, while also exploring interesting topics with a variety of guests who make an impact far beyond the basketball court.”…..Red Apple Audio Networks announces it is signing 17 stations to its affiliate roster, including 11 Saga Communications stations. The newly added stations are carrying shows hosted by Larry Kudlow, Rudy Giuliani, and Judge Jeanine Pirro, as well as Frank Morano, host of “The Other Side of Midnight.”…..Compass Media Networks partners with Wisebuddah and its sister company imager – European providers of sonic branding, radio imaging and jingles. The London-based companies currently curate the sound of BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, Bauer Media and Virgin Radio alongside dozens of radio stations (iHeartMedia, Alpha Media Group) in the United States.
Midterms/Trump in 2024, The Economy/Fed Rate Hike, Elon Musk’s Twitter, Russia-Ukraine War, and Pelosi Attack Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/2). The campaigning ahead of the November 8 midterm elections and expectations that former President Donald Trump will announce his 2024 presidential campaign shortly thereafter; the state of the U.S. economy and the Fed’s decision to hike interest rates again; the spate of celebs claiming they are leaving Twitter as a result of Elon Musk’s taking ownership of the social media platform; Russia’s war on Ukraine and its relationship with Iran, North Korea and China; and the conspiracy theories surrounding the attack on Paul Pelosi were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Mixed Messages,” looks back at this past week of 8/1 to 8/5. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Jack Heath, talk show host, The Pulse of NH, New Hampshire; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; and Greta Van Susteren, talk show host, Newsmax TV. The show airs weekends (Friday evenings to Sunday nights) on almost 100 broadcast signals and networks across the U.S. and U.K as well as having developed a significant international following as a podcast. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
iHeartMedia Q2 2022 Revenue Up 10.7%. The company reports that its 2022 second quarter consolidated revenue was $954 million, an increase of 10.7% over the same period in 2021. For the quarter, iHeartMedia posted net income of $15.2 million compared with the net loss of $32 million it reported for Q2 of 2021. iHeartMedia reports financial data in three segments: the Multiplatform Group (broadcast, networks, and sponsorships & events), Digital Audio Group, and Audio & Media Services Group. The company says revenue from the Multiplatform Group increased $27.5 million, or 4.5% year-over-year, primarily as a result of the continued recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadcast revenue grew $12.2 million, or 2.7%, driven by higher spot revenue and political advertising revenue as 2022 is a midterm election year, partially offset by lower trade and barter revenue due to the impact of the timing of the iHeartRadio Music Awards show, while Networks grew $3.9 million, or 3.2%. Revenue from Sponsorship and Events increased by $9.5 million, or 33.2%, primarily as a result of the return of live events. Revenue from iHM’s Digital Audio Group increased $54.6 million, or 27.6% compared to the same period in 2021. Digital, excluding podcast revenue, grew $22.4 million, or 15.5%, driven by increased demand for digital advertising. Podcast revenue increased by $32.3 million, or 60.4%, driven by higher revenues from the development of new podcasts as well as growth from existing podcasts. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We’re pleased to report another quarter of solid results for iHeart in terms of consumer usage, revenue and earnings growth and, most importantly, strong free cash flow generation. The Digital Audio Group continues to deliver industry-leading growth, and our Multiplatform Group continues to demonstrate that it is a growth engine for the company as well. As the #1 audio company in America across broadcast radio, digital radio and podcasting – and the largest consumer reach audio company in the U.S. by far, we remain committed to building our businesses for future growth and continuing to deliver both trusted companionship to our listeners and significant and unique value to our advertising partners.”
Audacy Q2 Net Revenue Rises 5%. Citing “declining macroeconomic conditions,” Audacy reports net revenue of $319.4 million, an increase of 5% over the same period in 2021. The company says that core spot revenue was $200.5 million – flat compared to the second quarter of 2021, and digital revenue was $69.3 million, up 19% compared to the second quarter of 2021. The company reports a net loss of $773,000 in Q2 of 2022 compared to the net income of $1.4 million it reported during the same period a year ago. Audacy breaks down its revenue by format categories and says that the news/talk category revenue (news/talk and all-news stations) was $51.8 million, an increase of 4.2% over the same period in 2021. Audacy president and CEO David Field comments, “After a very strong first quarter in which we grew revenues by 14% and significantly increased margin, our second quarter results were adversely impacted by declining macroeconomic conditions and ad market headwinds which reduced our top line growth to 5%. While we navigate the turbulent current market conditions, we are excited by our future growth potential across our scaled, multi-platform businesses, capitalizing on a number of important recent developments that include an enhanced national sales organization, expanded podcast and streaming audio networks, and during the second half of this year, the rollout of a new, reimagined digital platform and ad tech capabilities that will enable us to unlock pools of ad demand and supply that we can’t effectively monetize today. Our transformational development over the past couple of years has meaningfully enhanced our competitive position, strengthening our capacity to serve listeners and customers and enabling a powerful set of opportunities for revenue and EBITDA growth in the dynamically growing audio market.”
Audacy Gets Listing Standards Notice from NYSE. The company received notification from the New York Stock Exchange that its Class A common stock is not in compliance with the exchange’s continued listing standard requiring a minimum average closing price of $1.00 per share over 30 consecutive trading days. The notice does not result in the immediate delisting of the common stock from the NYSE. Audacy says it plans to notify the NYSE that it intends to regain compliance and is considering all available options that are in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. Audacy can regain compliance during a six-month cure period if, on the last trading day of any calendar month during the cure period, the common stock has a closing share price of at least $1.00 and an average closing share price of at least $1.00 over the 30 trading-day period ending on the last trading day of that month.
Salem Media Group Revenue Climbs 7.7% in Second Quarter of 2022. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2022, Salem Media Group reveals total revenue of $68.7 million, an increase of 7.7% over the same period in 2021. The company also reports net income of $9.1 million, an increase of more than 300% from the net income of $2.25 million reported in the second quarter of 2021. Salem reports in three segments: Broadcast, Digital Media, and Publishing and for Q2 of 2022, net broadcast revenue increased 12.1% to $52.5 million. Digital Media revenue increased 4.5% to $10.8 million, while Publishing revenue decreased 18.5% to $5.4 million.
Saga Communications Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 6.3%. For the second quarter of 2022, Saga Communications, Inc posts net revenue of $29.8 million, an increase of 6.3% over the same period in 2021. Station operating income increased 10.6% to $9.3 million and operating income was $5.4 million compared to $4.6 million for the same quarter last year. Free cash flow was $3.2 million in Q2 of 2022 compared to $4.2 million for the same period last year. Capital expenditures for the quarter were $2.6 million compared to $921 thousand for the same period last year. Capital expenditures for the quarter included the $1.1 million purchase of a building in Norfolk, Virginia that will replace the company’s existing leased studio and office facility. Saga reports net income of $3.8 million for the second quarter of 2022 compared to net income of $3.3 million for the same period a year ago.
Audacy and CBS Sports Digital Patner for Content Distribution and Ad Sales. This exclusive, multi-year deal between Audacy and CBS Sports Digital makes Audacy the exclusive, ad sales and distribution partner for CBS Sports’ network of sports podcasts. The press release states that CBS Sports Digital has grown to reach more than 90 million monthly active users, making it the second-largest sports group in the U.S, and with more than 65 shows and nearly 100 million downloads in 2021. Audacy EVP of digital sales Ken Lagana says, “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with CBS Sports in the podcasting space – properties I know well from my time spent there. Adding this family of content to our roster provides Audacy with a number of the leading sports, fantasy sports and betting podcasts, areas we have enjoyed significant success to date and are important to our clients. This partnership could not come at a better time with football season fast approaching.”
TALKERS News Notes. The John Fredericks Media Network announces a programming agreement for the newest member of its growing portfolio of radio stations as the network’s programming is now airing on Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corporation’s WTJZ-AM, Portsmouth, Virginia. JFMN chief operating officer Anne Fredericks says, “The Norfolk market is critical to our Virginia network as it represents the biggest U.S. naval base in the world at a very uncertain time for our nation’s Navy personnel. The uncertainty of potential hostility in the Asian perimeter and the South China sea makes this opportunity more important than ever. We will continue to provide all our listeners with extensive and in-depth coverage of China’s military and economic moves in the area, as well as top-flight analysis of the evolving events.”…..FOX Sports Radio’s LaVar Arrington announces an addition to his Up On Game Presents podcast lineup as musician, songwriter and creative director Flash Garments launches the “Under Appreciated with Flash Garments” show. Arrington says, “We’re super excited to have Flash Garments join the Up On Game Presents lineup with the launch of his ‘Under Appreciated’ podcast. Flash knows everybody, is very well respected, and has a lot to say! I think listeners will really enjoy this inspiring and enlightening program, and we look forward to sharing it with our audience every Friday!”…..WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk host John DePetro has been filling in this week for WPHT, Philadelphia’s Dawn Stensland on her 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program…..The GCN-syndicated program “Classic Radio Theater with Wyatt Cox” adds new affiliate stations as KVOE-AM, Emporia, Kansas and KGEZ-AM, Kalispell, Montana adds the show to their program schedules. Cox comments, “I grew up on Sunnyslope Street in Emporia and listened to KVOE, enjoying some of the great music of the 60s and the fun personalities like the late Roger Hartsook. It’s a source of pride to be back in Emporia, if just virtually, every weekday.”
Video Tribute to Rich Stevens. The radio personality died on July 30 after suffering a heart attack. Rich Stevens enjoyed a career in music radio as well as in the talk radio format, hosting a program on Hubbard Radio’s WFTL, Fort Lauderdale. “Radio’s Best Friend” Art Vuolo put together a tribute video that you can see here.
The Economy Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 1-5. The state of the U.S. economy – the still-high cost of food and gasoline and the threat of a recession – was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between partisan politics, the elections, and abortion rights, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan tied with the related U.S.-China relations at #3. 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Urban One First Quarter 2022 Net Revenue Rises 23%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Urban One, Inc. – parent of Radio One – says its net revenue was approximately $112.3 million, an increase of 23% from the same period in 2021. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $48.4 million, an increase of 33% from the same period in 2021. Net income was approximately $16.4 million or $0.32 per share (basic) compared to $7,000 or $0.00 per share (basic) for the same period in 2021. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III, states, “We had extremely strong first quarter performance across the platform, with advertising revenues up double-digit percentages in all of our operating segments. Digital revenues were up 49.5%, cable TV advertising revenues were up 46.9%, and radio advertising, excluding political and digital, was up 17.4%. This enabled us to grow Adjusted EBITDA by 38.9% year-over-year, and by $14.3 million or 51.6% vs. Q1 2019. Looking back at pre-pandemic revenues, when we aggregate our radio broadcasting, syndication, events and digital operations, net revenues were up 11.5% compared to Q1 2019. Second quarter core radio advertising is pacing up mid-single digits, as we start to lap the tougher comps from 2021. Our balance sheet continues to strengthen, with $166.4 million of cash and net leverage down to 4.07x.”
Cumulus Announces $25 Million Stock Buyback. On the heels of yesterday’s first quarter financial report and the board’s authorization of a $50 million buyback program, Cumulus Media Inc. announces its intention to commence a “modified Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase up to $25 million of shares of its Class A common stock, or such lesser number of shares of its Class A common stock as are properly tendered and not properly withdrawn, at a price not greater than $16.50 and not less than $14.50 per share of Class A common stock, to the tendering shareholder in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest (the “Offer”). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Following yesterday’s announcement of the board’s authorization of a $50 million share buyback program, we are launching this tender as a first step in our capital return plan. This action is underpinned by our strong financial and operating momentum, our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued and our desire to allow shareholders who seek it the ability to take advantage of the liquidity we can provide them. It is also our expectation that, even with this tender offer, we will be below our target of 3.5x net leverage by year end with significant continuing liquidity and financial flexibility for accretive M&A.” Cumulus will conduct the Offer by means of a procedure commonly called a “modified Dutch auction.” This procedure allows shareholders to select the price, within a price range specified by Cumulus, and the number of shares they are willing to sell at that price (or, should a higher price be determined as the “purchase price,” such higher price). The Offer is being made under Cumulus’s previously announced $50 million share repurchase program.
Saga Communications Net Revenue Increases 12% in Q1 of 2022. For the first three months of 2022, Saga Communications, Inc. net revenue increased 12% to $25 million compared to $22.3 million for the same period in 2021. Station operating income increased 17.8% to $5.6 million and operating income was $1.7 million compared to $883,000 for same period a year ago. Saga reports net income of $1.2 million compared to net income of $758 thousand for Q1 of 2021. The company paid a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share on April 8, 2022. The aggregate amount of the quarterly dividend was approximately $970 thousand. Additionally, the company paid a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share and a special dividend of $0.50 per share on January 14, 2022. To date Saga has paid over $78 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend was paid in 2012. Saga Communications reports that it had $55.2 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2022.
Russia-Ukraine War Correspondent Gregg Stebben is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Veteran media editor/reporter Gregg Stebben is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Stebben is a former longtime editor of Men’s Health magazine who served 20 years as its radio spokesperson. He is currently reporting on a volunteer basis back to the U.S. via the beamz.live platform from Poland and Ukraine where he has been interviewing refugees and local citizens in both adjacent nations in addition to doing whatever he can to provide comfort and support to the frightened, displaced people in conjunction with international humanitarian groups. Harrison caught up with Stebben on the Ukrainian side of the border on May 2. They discuss the human element of the crisis and the catastrophic impact and escalating deadly potential of the war. Harrison states, “Not only is the information being gathered by Stebben of great value, he is a shining example of independent talk radio reporting in action serving as a one-man field unit reporting on the war while supporting Ukraine as a volunteer. I find his effort truly inspirational.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Premiere of 2,000 Mules Takes Place at Mar-a-Lago. The premiere of Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary film 2,000 Mules took place last night (5/4) at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida as former president Donald J. Trump presided over the event. The film was executive produced by Salem Media Group and a number of its current and former talk hosts appear in the documentary. Pictured above are (from l-r): D’Souza, Sebastian Gorka, Eric Metaxas, Trump, Larry Elder, Charlie Kirk, and Dennis Prager.
Triton Digital Streaming Metrics Ranker for March 2022 Released. The Streaming Metrics Ranker for the U.S. for March of this year has been released by Triton Digital. The ranker is based on Average Active Sessions and charts the top 25 performing digital audio publishers. For the daypart 6am-12am Mon-Sun, iHeartMedia leads the pack with 303,162 AAS. Some of the other radio-related companies appearing in the ranker include at #2 NPR Member Stations (81,035 AAS), #3 Audacy (69,281 AAS), #4 Cumulus Streaming Network (42,569 AAS), #7 Beasley Broadcasting Corporate (19,203 AAS), #8 Hubbard Broadcasting (15,233 AAS), #11 Salem Communications (9,591 AAS), #12 Urban One (8,577 AAS), and #13 Bonneville International 7,612 AAS). See the complete ranker here.
WCKG-AM, Chicago Owner Buying Time on WLS-AM to Reach Voters for U.S. Senate Campaign. Chicagoland radio station owner Matt Dubiel – whose company DuPage Radio LLC owns and operates talk outlet WCKG-AM, Elmhurst – is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican and is taking an interesting tack in his campaign. He says in a press release that “in the spirit of former presidential candidate and businessman Ross Perot, Illinois businessman Matt Dubiel has purchased airtime on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM.” He will host a two-hour show every Saturday afternoon from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm until the primary election on June 28. Dubiel adds, “Nothing can replace the reach of radio. I’m consistently being shadow-banned on social media, corporate media refuses to cover my campaign, and the issues we need to discuss like CRT/SEL in schools, medical freedom, and other hot topics are virtually banned on social platforms that censor We the People, in America! The Illinois GOP even has me blocked on Twitter, and I’m running on their ticket! Hosting my own show on the radio home of Bongino, Shapiro, and Levin will allow Dubiel to speak directly to the people. The people in every county across Illinois need to know they have a guy who will actually represent them for a change. I am looking forward to talking to ALL Illinoisians about the issues that matter to them.” The 45-year-old Dubiel says he began his career in radio at 17, interning for the legendary Steve Dahl. He worked his way up through the radio ranks in Chicago, serving as a producer and talent, before transitioning into management.
Jeff Katz Show Honored by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Pictured above is WRVA, Richmond afternoon drive talk host Jeff Katz (right) with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (left) as the governor recognizes the 6th anniversary of Katz’s “Lt. Jan McTernan Blue Friday Honors Program” that pays tribute to Central Virginia police officers by highlighting their positive contributions.
TALKERS News Notes. Radio pro Jon Zaghloul is being promoted to sports director at DuPage Radio LLC’s WCKG-AM, Elmhurst, Illinois. In this new role, Zaghloul will continue to host his weekend program “Sports Talk Chicago” on the station. He says, “I am honored to be a part of this exciting new challenge with WCKG. Over the past two years with the station, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the chance to provide Chicagoans with hard-hitting sports opinions and insightful interviews. Now, it is time to expand our iconic brand, and I am actively on the hunt for both fresh, and established local sports talent to bolster our daily lineup.”…..Los Angeles Comic Con, partners with iHeartRadio to produce the podcast, “Comic Con Meta*Pod.” The show launched on Wednesday (5/4) with a “May the 4th Star Wars” special featuring “Mandalorian” actor Giancarlo Esposito, “Clone Wars” and “Bad Batch” composer Kevin Kiner, and more. The podcast is hosted by Hector Navarro and art/culture critic Joelle Monique…..Pictured below is “Florida Man Radio” afternoon drive host Shannon Burke (left) with former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik (right). Kerik appeared on Burke’s radio show on Wednesday (5/4) and the two discussed Kerik’s former police chief role in New York City, working with Donald Trump, the January 6 Committee, and more. “Florida Man Radio” is broadcast on WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach.
Roe v Wade Leak/Protests, Fed Raises Interest Rates/Economy, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, Russia-Ukraine War, January 6 Investigation, COVID-19, and Dave Chapelle Attack Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/4). The leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Roe v Wade and the protests taking place around the country; the Fed raises interest rates a half percent and the effect of high gas and food prices; the primary elections for November’s midterm races and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its effects on Europe and the global economy; Donald Trump Jr. sits for testimony before the January 6 committee; concerns about new Omicron variants causing a summer wave of infections; and Dave Chapelle is attacked while on stage at the Hollywood Bowl were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Lots of response to last week’s “Weekend Warriors, Renegotiate.” SOME stations were horrified by what I’m telling their brokered ask-the-expert hosts. SMART stations already offer the win-win template I outlined. ICYMI: https://www.talkers.com/2022/03/21/monday-memo-weekend-warriors-renegotiate/
FMs are scrambling. AMs? Ugh.
As if AM wasn’t already suffering listener demographics, technical interference, caricature programming, and too little local content, now comes the proposal to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. From November through February – when local sunrise would come between 8:00 am and 9:00 am – later pattern and power change times would cripple full-time stations. Daytimers would be utterly screwed if smart ones with translators hadn’t already rebranded as FMs (as have so many full-time AMs).
NAB Takes Stand on Russian-Sponsored Programming. As Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine continues, the National Association of Broadcasters issues a statement from NAB president and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. He says, “The National Association of Broadcasters is a fierce defender of the First Amendment and the critical importance of the ability to freely express views, both popular and unpopular. While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, however, it does not prevent private actors from exercising sound, moral judgment. To that end, given the unprovoked aggression exhibited by Russia against the free and sovereign people of Ukraine, NAB calls on broadcasters to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents. While we know that airings of such programs are extremely limited, we believe that our nation must stand fully united against misinformation and for freedom and democracy across the globe.”
FOX Audio Network and Spotify’s Megaphone Partner for Advertising & Distribution. A new partnership is announced between the new FOX Audio Network, which combines all of FOX’s news, sports, and entertainment podcasts into a scaled, diverse portfolio of original audio content, and Spotify’s Megaphone for advertising and distribution as the exclusive hosting platform for their growing slate. FOX Corp says, “The outsized reach of the FOX Audio Network’s 60-plus podcasts creates a unique opportunity for advertisers to access the broadest possible audience across all of the hottest FOX original audio content efficiently and effectively.” FOX News Media SVP, digital ad sales Dan Realson states, “The establishment of the FOX Audio Network provides unique opportunities for advertisers to reach a broad audience of our loyal podcast listeners across a diverse range of programming genres from our entire portfolio. Podcasts continue to be a popular and rapidly growing medium and we’re excited to collaborate with Spotify’s Megaphone to bring this opportunity directly to the advertising marketplace.” The press release goes on to say that FOX Audio Network advertising will be managed by the FOX ad sales team with additional inventory being sold through the Spotify Audience Network. Podcast publishing platform Megaphone will empower FOX Audio Network to monetize, measure, and grow FOX’s podcast content and audiences through best-in-class publishing and monetization tools.
Urban One 2021 Q4 Net Revenue Rises 15.3%. 2021 Fourth quarter financial data from Urban One, Inc. is being reported and the company says net revenue for the period was approximately $131.0 million, an increase of 15.3% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $44.1 million, a decrease of 14.9% from the same period in 2020. For the full year of 2021, net revenue was $441.4 million, an increase of 17.3% over the full year of 2020. For 2021, Urban One posted consolidated net income of $40.7 million compared to the consolidated net loss of $6.5 million it reported for 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III comments, “We had another very strong quarter, with revenue exceeding expectations, allowing us to significantly exceed our previous Adjusted EBITDA guidance for the year of $140-$145 million. There was some noise in the expenses, predominantly related to returning events, TV programming amortization and annual staff bonuses, all of which were anticipated and factored into our guidance. Demand for our audience remains extremely robust across the platform, and, excluding political, advertising revenues for the quarter were up double-digit percentages in all of our operating segments. Digital revenues were up 42.9%, and we exceeded $50 million in annual digital revenue for the first time. Cable TV revenues were up 43.6% helped by strong upfront demand and higher average unit rates across both TV One and Cleo. Looking back at pre-pandemic revenues, when we aggregate our radio broadcasting, syndication, events and digital operations, net revenues were up 25% compared to Q4 2019, and Adjusted EBITDA up 21%. We expect to continue to exceed pre-pandemic revenues and Adjusted EBITDA in 2022, and this is supported by first quarter 2022 core radio pacings up low double digits, and up mid-teens including digital revenues.”
100 Points! Impossible! Yesterday, March 2, marked the 60th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s legendary 100-point game against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. The game has taken on a mythical quality, with the details seemingly lost in the mists of time. Talk radio host and voice artist Mark Wainwright discovered that the actual backstory of the game – and how the precious final minutes of the radio broadcast were discovered and preserved – is a long saga and even more remarkable than the myth and legend. It was once thought that all evidence of one of the greatest individual performances in the history of sport was lost forever, and it almost was…except for one Philadelphia radio station and two alert listeners. Read Mark Wainwright’s complete feature story here. Photo: Paul Vathis/Associated Press
TALKERS News Notes. A new iHeartRadio original podcast debuts as “The Important Things with Bobbi Brown and Anjali Kumar” joins the company’s podcast network. The new program asks the age-old question: how can you lead a life of fulfillment? The ongoing pandemic has required us all to reexamine what matters most and prioritize what brings us true contentment. Through candid conversations with friends, thought leaders, creators and entrepreneurs, beauty industry titan Bobbi Brown and best-selling author and attorney Anjali Kumar explore the strengths, skills, habits, and mindsets that have helped their guests live their most authentic and gratifying lives. The inaugural episode will feature renowned activist Gloria Steinem, followed by upcoming guests such as designer Jennifer Fisher, soccer legends Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, philanthropist Christy Turlington Burns and “Jeopardy” champion Amy Schneider…..SiriusXM is recognizing Women’s History Month across SiriusXM, Pandora, and Stitcher with special themed programming and limited-engagement channels. SiriusXM will ensure “She’s Got the Mic” by raising the voices of both prolific and up-and-coming female artists in honor of Women’s History Month. Four limited-engagement music channels will launch in March, spanning genres and representing artists from across the decades, including channels curated and presented by Avril Lavigne and Maren Morris, as well as a full channel dedicated to the iconic Tina Turner. There will also be a channel devoted to the defining, female-led festival tour of the 90s, Lilith Fair…..The Freakonomics Radio network is expanding on its growth with the hiring of a new editorial director, Gabriel Roth, alongside consultant Jared Hohlt. Before joining the Freakonomics Radio team, Roth worked at Slate for seven years, where he oversaw podcasts and helped launch the groundbreaking series “Slow Burn,” along with many other shows. Roth says, “I’ve been a fan of the Freakonomics Radio team’s work for more than a decade, and I’m thrilled to get the chance to work on their terrific podcasts and help grow the network.” Hohlt, Slate’s former editor-in-chief, has also begun helping Freakonomics Radio as a part-time consultant. Roth will oversee all existing and future shows in the network, with a special concentration on the flagship show, and Hohlt is focusing especially on two new podcasts, one in the early stages and the other in piloting mode, while helping with the existing shows as well.
Russian Ukraine Invasion, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, State of the Union, The Economy/Inflation, Midterm Elections/Trump & the GOP, and MLB Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/2). Russia’s continuing invasion of the Ukraine and the West’s reaction; the White House issues its National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as the next step in dealing with the pandemic; the January 6 House select committee alleges that former President Donald Trump and attorney John Eastman took part in a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election; reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address; the turmoil in the world’s financial markets and the soaring prices of consumer goods and gasoline; the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; and the stalled negotiations between the MLB’s owners and players that’s put the 2022 season in jeopardy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.