Townsquare Media reports its financial data for the third quarter of 2023 and says net revenue for the period was $115 million, a decrease of 5% compared to the third quarter of 2022. The company reports a net loss of $36.5 million, compared to the net income of $2.8 million it reported in the third quarter of 2022. Townsquare reports operating results by segment. It’s Broadcast Advertising segment reports revenue of $54 million, a decline of 8.6% year-over-year. It’s Subscription Digital Marketing Solutions segment revenue was $20 million, down 12.6% from Q3 of 2022, and its Digital Advertising segment revenue was $39 million, up 5.5% year-over-year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson states, “The strong cash generation characteristics of our assets allowed us to produce $39 million of cash flow from operations in the first nine months of 2023, an increase of $7 million as compared to the prior year. We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase and retire approximately $14 million of our Unsecured Senior Notes at a discount during the third quarter, bringing our year-to-date total bond repurchases to $27 million. In addition, we repurchased approximately 94,000 Class A shares in the third quarter (in total, we’ve repurchased 1.7 million shares in 2023), and continue to pay a high-yielding dividend while also investing in our business. We also ended the quarter with a strong cash balance of $38 million and net leverage of 4.49x, retaining financial flexibility moving forward.”
PodcastOne releases preliminary financial data for the company’s Q2 fiscal 2024 period ended September 30, 2023 estimating revenue for the period will be more than $10.5 million, an increase of 24%.
Cumulus Media will host a conference call on Friday (10/27) at 8:30 am ET to discuss its third quarter 2023 operating results. The company will issue a press release containing a summary of these results before the call at approximately 8:00 am ET.
SiriusXM launches its coverage of the 2023-24 NBA season tonight with the NBA Champion Denver Nuggets hosting LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, followed by the Phoenix Suns visiting the Golden State Warriors on the SiriusXM NBA Radio channel.
For the first time, Disney is releasing financial data for its ESPN operations in a corporate filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alexandra Canal at Yahoo!Finance writes that ESPN “generated more than $16 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in operating profit in Disney’s fiscal year 2022, which ended on Oct. 1, 2022. The bulk of that revenue and profit came from its domestic business at $14.6 billion and $2.81 billion, respectively.” The filing also shows how important cable television is to ESPN’s bottom line. Canal writes, “The bulk of the sports segment revenue came from affiliate fees at $10.8 billion followed by advertising at $4.4 billion and subscription fees for ESPN+ at $1.1 billion. ESPN typically has the highest carriage fees, or fees pay-TV providers pay to network owners to carry their channels, of all basic cable networks. According to an estimate from SNL Kagan, ESPN charges pay-TV operators $8 to $9 per subscriber.” Read the Yahoo!Finance piece here.
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, “Trick or Tweet,” looks back at this past week of 10/31-11/4. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Dr. Murray Sabrin, professor emeritus of finance, Ramapo College, NJ; Mark Davis, talk show host, 660 AM The Answer, Dallas/Fort Worth; Bobbie Winston a.k.a. La Femme Bobbie, musician/artist/American ex-pat, Rio de Janeiro; Renee Kohanski, M.D., forensic psychiatrist/podcaster, Somerset, NJ; Matthew B. Harrison, Esq., associate publisher, TALKERS/law professor, Springfield, MA. The show airs weekends (Friday evenings to Sunday nights) on 100-plus 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.
iHeartMedia Q3 Revenue Up 7%. Reporting its financial data for the third quarter of 2022, iHeartMedia says revenue was $989 million, an increase of 7% over the same quarter a year ago. The company is also posting an operating loss of $211 million for the third quarter of 2022 compared to the operating income of $80 million it reported for Q3 of 2021. Additionally, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of almost $310 million compared to the net income of $3.6 million it posted in the third quarter of 2021. iHeartMedia breaks its operations into three segments. Third quarter results for those segments are as follows: the Multiplatform Group that includes its radio stations and program networks was basically flat with a revenue increase of 0.1% “as a result of increased political advertising revenue as 2022 is a midterm election year, partially offset by a decrease in revenue due to a more challenging macroeconomic environment. Broadcast revenue grew $2.1 million, or 0.4% year-over-year, driven by higher political advertising revenue and an increase in trade and barter revenue, partially offset by lower spot revenue, while Networks declined $(0.7) million, or 0.5% year-over-year.” The Digital Audio Group was up 23.4% on revenue of $254 million. This group’s revenue increased by $48.2 million compared to the prior year, “including growth from Digital, excluding Podcast revenue, which grew $21.1 million to $162.7 million, driven by increased demand for digital advertising as well as Podcast revenue which increased by $27.1 million to $91.3 million, driven by higher revenues from the development of new podcasts as well as growth from existing podcasts. Digital Audio Group revenue increased as a result of general increased demand for digital advertising and the growing popularity of podcasting.” And the Audio & Media Services Group was up 17.7% on revenue of $77.8 million. Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We’re pleased to report another quarter of solid operating results for iHeart, and our performance in the midst of the current climate of economic uncertainty is a strong indication of the successful transformation this company has undergone in which our high-growth digital revenues comprises 26% of total company revenues. Our Digital Audio Group continues to deliver industry-leading growth, and our Multiplatform Group has again demonstrated its resiliency during a difficult economic environment. We believe the strong positions of both of these groups with both consumers and advertisers give us the ability to both navigate through this period of economic uncertainty and position us for continued growth through the recovery and beyond.”
Salem Media Group Total Revenue Rises 1.3%. The company reports that its total revenue for the third quarter of 2022 was $66.9 million, an increase of 1.3% over the same period in 2021. Salem Media Group also reports an operating loss of $8.8 million compared to operating income of $15.8 million in Q3 of 2021, and a net loss of $11.9 million compared to the net income of $22.1 million is reported during the same period in 2021. Salem presents its financial data in three segments. The Broadcast segment reports revenue of $51.1 million, an increase of 3.1% over Q3 of 2021, Digital Media revenue was $10.2 million, down 4.3% from the third quarter of 2021, and Publishing revenue was $5.5 million, a decrease of 3.7% from the same period a year ago.
Round Four of October PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2022 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. 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 the Raleigh market, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM tacks on three-tenths to wrap the survey with a 9.1 share that puts it in the #1 spot, while Curtis Media Group’s news/talk WPTF sheds one-tenth for a 1.8 share finish to remain ranked #15. The top dogs in Milwaukee flip as iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN adds a full share for a 10.6 share finish that lifts it from #2 to #1, while Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ loses 1.9 shares for an 8.1 share finish that drops it from #1 to #4. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence adds on nine-tenths for wrap the survey with a 6.4 share that lifts it from #6 to #5. And in Jacksonville, Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM is up one-tenth to a 7.9 share good for the #3 rank in the market. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the previous three groups) here.
Comrex Unveils New BRIC-Link III Audio Codec. The company officially unveils BRIC-Link III – the newest addition to its popular BRIC-Link family of codecs. Comrex says there are more than 10,000 BRIC-Link codecs circulating world-wide, and BRIC-Link III is an updated version that takes advantage of the latest improvements in IP audio transmission technology. BRIC-Link III is a true codec, offering a full-duplex stereo encoder and decoder in each box. A jitter buffer manager is incorporated that automatically balances delay and stability, dynamically increasing and decreasing delay based on network performance. BRIC-link III offers a wide range of encoding algorithms including stereo and mono linear mode, FLAC modes, AAC/HE-AAC modes, Opus, G.722 and G.711. BRIC-Link III features a new, more powerful processor for improved reliability. It also features enhanced front panel indicators, including four buttons which will trigger contact closures by default and configurable for auto-connections to other Comrex IP audio codecs. BRIC-Link III is compatible with all other Comrex IP audio codecs, including the ACCESS codec line as well as older BRIC-Link models. BRIC-Link III also works with Gagl, a new service now available for purchase for audio contribution. Gagl turns any Comrex IP audio codec into a hub for up to five remote participants. Like other BRIC-Link codecs, BRIC-Link III includes CrossLock VPN technology, Comrex’s proprietary suite of reliability tools. In addition to bonding technology, CrossLock also includes a Redundancy Mode for mission-critical applications. BRIC-Link III can take advantage of HotSwap, meaning that users can set a 4G/5G modem as a backup connection to only be engaged when the primary internet fails, providing an extra layer of reliability. Customers can also choose to purchase an optional one-time license per codec to utilize SwitchBoard, a private server that Comrex maintains which allows for easy connections between IP codecs. You can get more information on this and other Comrex products here.
GAB Radio Talent Institute Returns to University of Georgia. The RAB’s National Radio Talent System announces the return of the GAB Radio Talent Institute at the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. The institute takes place in person May 15 – 24, 2023 thanks to sponsorship from The Georgia Association of Broadcasters. The talent incubator spans 10 days and is led by broadcast professionals that bring their real-world industry knowledge from around the state and country to educate students. RAB says that college students from universities throughout the state and region apply to be accepted into the GAB Radio Talent Institute. This provides an ideal networking pool for the students and a wide variety of potential interests within the classroom for industry professionals to identify and actively recruit from. Upon completion of the Institute, students can further their networking capabilities with the ability to access the National Radio Talent System’s Career Center. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “We are delighted to have the GAB Radio Talent Institute make its return after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Collaborating with Bob Houghton and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters enables us to bring this world-class program to life in the southeast and further develop the next generation of broadcasters.”
TALKERS News Notes. Inside Towers’ Leslie Stimson writes an interesting piece about the FCC’s creation of a Space Bureau. Stimson writes that FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the move at the Satellite Industry Association meeting yesterday (11/3). “She said the growth of satellite broadband internet plays a big part in why the agency is making the move. ‘Ninety-eight percent of all satellite launches in 2021 were deployed into low-earth orbit to provide internet connectivity back here on Earth. They can help advance the FCC’s goals to connect everyone, everywhere,’ Rosenworcel said. ‘More than that, the success of these low-earth orbit communications satellites could be seen as an early litmus test for the broader commercialization of space.’” Read Stimson’s entire piece here…..Three Hillsdale College students have won national College Broadcasters, Inc. awards for their work with “Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM.” The awards were announced at the National Student Electronic Media Convention in Baltimore. Sophomore Lauren Smyth placed first in Best Newscast or Sportscast category for “Lauren Smyth News,” senior Josh Barker placed third in Best Hard News Reporting for his feature “The Policy Corner: Michigan Voting Laws,” and Rachel Kookogey (class of ’22) received both first and second place for two segments of her feature, “Sports Story Time.” WRFH general manager Scot Bertram says, “I’m very proud of our students for their well-deserved wins. It is great to see our students being recognized on the national level for their continued hard work and dedication.”…..SiriusXM announces its play-by-play coverage of the 2022-23 college basketball season that begins Monday (11/7). The opening night schedule features 24 teams from the men’s Associated Press Top 25, including defending national champion and #5-ranked Kansas facing Omaha and top-ranked North Carolina, coming off their 12th National Championship appearance, hosting UNC Wilmington…..Host Bethenny Frankel, the most successful business mogul to emerge from “The Real Housewives” franchise, and iHeartPodcasts launch a first-of-its-kind rewatch podcast titled, “ReWives.” Frankel, formerly of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York,” breaks down the franchise that launched her career. In each episode, she’s “joined by unexpected celebrity guests ranging from superfans to Housewives newbies for hilarious conversations and surprising insight on real topics.” “ReWives” premieres on November 14 with Elisabeth Moss as Frankel’s first guest. New episodes will post each Monday with additional guests including Jerry Springer, Suze Orman, Kevin Nealon, Dave Portnoy, Griffin Johnson and more.
Broadcaster Raising Awareness of Need for Organ Donors. Western Massachusetts broadcaster and public relations pro Mark Auerbach (pictured) is revealing his battle with kidney disease in an effort to raise awareness of the need for organ donors. Auerbach hosts “ArtsBeat,” “On The Mark” and “Athenaeum Spotlight” on WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. He’s also the ArtsBeat reporter for Pioneer Valley Radio. On today’s program that you can see here, Auerbach reveals his battle with Stage 5 kidney disease and the need for donors. Auerbach says people can help by taking any of three steps: 1) becoming an organ donor upon your death; 2) consider donating while you’re alive (get details at kidney.org); and 3) donating to him at Mass General Hospital’s living donors program (https://mghlivingdonors.org/).
Politics and Midterms Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 31 – November 4. The politics leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the economy combined with the Fed’s rate hike, followed by the aftermath of the Pelosi home invasion 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.
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, “The Bird is Caged,” looks back at this past week of 10/24-10/28. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Mark Davis, talk show host, KSKY, “660 AM The Answer,” Dallas/Fort Worth; Holland Cooke, media consultant/author; Daliah Wachs, M.D., talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; and Brad Shepard, talk show host, Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA. The show airs weekends (Friday evenings to Sunday nights) on 100-plus 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.
Cumulus Net Revenue Declines 1.8% in Third Quarter. Reporting its financial data for the third quarter of 2022 – as well as the first nine months of 2022 – Cumulus Media reveals that net revenue was $233.5 million in Q1, a decrease of 1.8% over the same period in 2021. For the first nine months of this year, the company reports net income of $16.3 million compared to the loss of $360,000 it reported for the first nine months of 2021. Cumulus breaks out its revenue into segments and the total broadcast radio revenue for Q3 of 2022 was $177 million, down 4.7% from the same period in 2021. While spot revenue was $124.8 million – up 2.3%, network revenue was $52.3 million, down 18.2%. Digital revenue was $34.9 million, an increase of 4.7% over the third quarter of 2021. Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner states, “Notwithstanding a difficult macro environment, consistent execution of our strategic plan has put us in an enviable financial position to effectively navigate through the continuing headwinds. Our solid Q3 results reflect that execution – although total revenue declined, driven by weakness in national advertising channels, digital revenue continued to grow, and we increased profitability as well. We also generated $24 million of cash from operations, repurchased $3.9 million of shares, opportunistically retired $2.8 million of senior notes at a discount and finished the quarter with net leverage of 3.7x, the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. Looking ahead, we will continue to rigorously implement our plan, which includes: furthering our multi-platform evolution; supporting growth of multiple, profitable digital businesses; reducing our fixed cost base; investing in high-ROI internal initiatives; maintaining a disciplined approach to M&A, including enhancing cash generation from non-core asset monetization; bolstering liquidity; reducing net leverage; and optimizing a multi-pronged capital allocation strategy. Given our track record, we continue to have strong confidence in our ability, under this plan, to grow shareholder value even in the incrementally challenging macro environment.”
Beasley Names Ron deCastro Market Manager for Tampa. Radio sales and management pro Ron deCastro joins Beasley Media Group as market manager for the company’s Tampa station group that includes business news WHFS-AM “Money Talk 1010 AM” and five music brands. DeCastro was most recently market president and chief revenue officer at WQHT-FM and WBLS-FM in New York. He says, “I’ve spent a significant amount of my career leading some of the most iconic brands in America and I am excited to join the team at Beasley and help continue grow these fantastic brands.” Beasley EVP and COO Brian Beasley says, “We are happy to welcome Ron into the Beasley Media Group family. His vast experience, valuable insight and proven leadership made him the perfect choice to lead and grow our Tampa/St. Pete-based radio properties.”
NPR and Edison Research Unveil Results of Spoken Word Audio Report. The latest Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research concludes that “almost half (46%) of the U.S. population listens to spoken word audio content daily.” This is the fourth version of this study that “explores the ways spoken word media consumption in the U.S. has increased over time, including the number of listeners, and how long they listen.” This year’s study includes a special focus on how younger demographics are increasingly more interested in the medium, and reveals a 214% increase in listening to spoken word audio among those age 13-24. Key findings include: 1) There are an estimated 26 million more people listening to spoken word audio in the U.S. than eight years ago. An estimated 131 million people in the U.S. age 13+ are daily spoken word audio listeners, up from 105 million daily listeners in 2014; 2) Spoken word’s share of all audio is increasing among all listeners. Listeners age 13+ spend 29% of their total audio time with spoken word content, up from 20% in 2014, a 45% increase; 3) Listeners age 13-24 show the most explosive growth with share of spoken word audio. That Gen Z segment spends 22% of their time with spoken word audio, compared with those age 13-24 in 2014 who spent only 7% of their time with spoken word audio, a 214% increase for this age group; and 4) For the first time ever, daily spoken word audio listeners spend a majority of their audio time with spoken word. Those who listen to spoken word audio daily spend 51% of their total daily audio time with spoken word. You can see the report here.
TALKERS News Notes. Just in time for the 2022 Major League Baseball World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros, Audacy drops the new national daily podcast, “Baseball Isn’t Boring,” hosted by longtime baseball columnist, author and WEEI-FM, Boston broadcaster Rob Bradford. The podcast is a project born from the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” campaign instituted by Bradford and major league pitcher Joe Kelly. Kelly and Bradford have also co-authored the soon-to-be-released book, A Damn Near Perfect Game: Reclaiming America’s Pastime. Bradford says, “As we wrap up what has been a very ‘un-boring’ postseason, we’re thrilled to launch this fun new daily podcast to rally behind the great sport of baseball – America’s national pastime. I look forward to speaking with some of the biggest names in sports to prove that baseball is alive and thriving.”…..CNN Audio premieres the new eight-episode, limited-series podcast, “The James Brown Mystery,” that investigates the suspicious death of the legendary musician and questions if he was murdered. The investigation began after CNN reporter Thomas Lake received a phone call from a woman who said she was in James Brown’s inner circle almost 40 years ago and the relationship nearly destroyed her career. Decades later, she’s trying to solve the mystery of Brown’s death. When she makes the call to Lake, “the two stumble into a world of secrets, intimidation, and suspected foul play.” “The James Brown Mystery” is the first podcast hosted and reported by Thomas Lake, who in 2019 published his exclusive CNN investigative series, “Lost in the Woods with James Brown’s Ghost,” exploring unanswered questions around the singer’s death and the many people still calling for an autopsy and criminal investigation. “The James Brown Mystery” expands upon Lake’s reporting and covers Brown’s complicated past, the mysterious death of his third wife, and the biggest questions surrounding his demise…..WDAS-AM/W273DO, Philadelphia “FOX Sports Radio, The Gambler” sports show “The Divide Live” – hosted by Mike, a diehard Mets fan and Corey, a diehard Yankees fan – are broadcasting a one-hour special recorded live from the Toms River Field of Dreams Comedy Night Benefit last weekend (10/22). The special broadcast will include interviews with former MLB third baseman Todd Frazier for his take on the Mets, Yankees, “retirement” and life after the MLB; mixed martial artist Frankie Edgar who breaks down what it’s like to prepare for his final UFC fight at Madison Square Garden; and WFAN, New York afternoon drive star Craig Carton talking career, giving back, life’s successes and unfortunate failures. It airs tonight at 9:00 pm ET…..Edison Research, provider of Edison Podcast Metrics, announces it has developed a complementary service to count downloads for participating publishers. After months of research, Edison is utilizing a new method for determining U.S. downloads that does not employ a redirect nor involve delivery of log files. Edison president Larry Rosen says, “We have developed an elegant new solution that will enhance our unique Edison Podcast Metrics survey. While our survey of 20,000 podcast listeners each year provides the most complete look at the totality of actual listening to podcasts, download data will provide deeper information to subscribers, especially for smaller and short-run shows.”
KTSA, San Antonio Helps Raise Almost $170,000 for Thanksgiving Dinner for Those in Need. San Antonio news/talk KTSA helped raise a record $163,893, during the annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner radiothon Friday, October 21. Funds raised will go to feed more than 25,000 seniors and needy people on Thanksgiving Day. The Alpha Media news/talk says the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner is the largest dinner of its kind in the country. Pictured above (l-r) are KTSA talk hosts Sean Rima, Jack Riccardi, and Trey Ware with a staffer from the Raul Jiminez Thanksgiving Dinner charity.
WCRS, Greenwood, South Carolina Owner Honored for Station’s Service. Pictured above is broadcaster and WCRS, Greenwood, South Carolina owner Anne Eller (left) receiving a proclamation by Charles Moates (right), chair of the Greenwood County Council, in honor of the station’s 81 years of service and Eller’s service to the community. Speaking to The Index-Journal about her work as an independent broadcaster, Eller says, “Each day gives me the chance to connect with my listeners through delivery via traditional radio, livestreaming on the Internet, podcasts on our website and promotions via social media. Radio is as relevant in the business of communications as ever before – maybe more so. I am proud of the honors my station and I have received recently, and I look forward to many more great years as a broadcaster,” Photo by Damian Dominguez, The Index-Journal
Politics and Midterm Elections Tie as Top News/Talk Stories for Week of October 24-28. The debates ahead of the November midterm elections and the politics surrounding them came together as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the economy, including inflation and threats of a recession, followed by former President Donald Trump’s legal issues 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 Second Quarter Net Revenue Rises 10.4%. Reporting financial data for the second quarter of 2022, Urban One – parent company of Radio One – reveals net revenue of $118.8 million, an increase of 10.4 percent over the same period in 2021. Consolidated net income for Q2 of 2022 was $15.8 million, a decline of 14.4% from the same period in 2021. Urban One reports financial data for six separate segments including Radio Advertising ($44.5 million, up 4.5%), Digital Advertising ($17.8 million, up 19.1%), and Event Revenue ($1.1 million, up 2.3%). Urban One CEO and president Alfred Liggins III says, “We had a strong finish to Q2, driven by continued robust growth in digital and cable television advertising, both of which were up double digits. Our spot radio business outperformed the markets in which we operate by 230 Bps, and I was pleased with our overall 10.4% revenue growth, as a result of which we were able to post adjusted EBITDA growth of 6.1% y-o-y. Like other media businesses, we have experienced a slow-down in Q3, particularly in core radio which is currently pacing down low-to-mid single-digits. Given our diversified mix of assets, I still anticipate consolidated net revenues to grow in Q3, and we remain well positioned for political advertising later in the year. We will continue to be disciplined with capital allocation decisions and our cash position remains strong. We finished the quarter with net leverage below 4.0x, in line with our goal to continue to reduce leverage over time.”
Round Two of July PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2022 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2022 sweep covered June 23 – July 20. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, DC, Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM adds six-tenths for a 7.4 share (weekly, 6+ AHQ share) finish but still falls back to the #8 rank, while Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM is flat at a 4.1 share and recedes to the #8 rank. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM remains in first place in Seattle even after dropping six-tenths for a 6.7 share finish, while Lotus Communications’ crosstown all-news KNWN-AM/FM dips two-tenths to finish with a 3.1 share but stays locked in the #14 spot. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, Audacy’s news/talk WCCO adds three-tenths for a 4.4 share finish that boosts it to the #10 rank. Across town, Hubbard’s talk KTMY-FM falls two-tenths for a 3.3 share finish but stays ranked #13, while iHeartMedia’s news/talk KTLK-AM adds three-tenths to wrap with a 3.2 share good for the #14 rank. Hearst Television’s news/talk WBAL-AM leaps to the #10 rank after a 1.1 share increase gives it a 3.4 share finish as WCBM Maryland’s news/talk WCBM-AM sheds half a share for a 2.0 share finish good for the #15 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as yesterday’s round one) here.
Premiere Networks Talk Hosts Front and Center at CPAC 2022. Pictured above (from l-r) at last weekend’s CPAC 2022 conference in Dallas are Premiere Networks talk radio hosts Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Jesse Kelly. Hannity’s address to the attendees covered election integrity, the upcoming midterm elections, the importance of conservative principles and more. Shortly before former President Donald Trump closed out the convention with his keynote address, Glenn Beck took to the stage with a presentation titled, “American History: What You Don’t Know,” and Jesse Kelly entertained the crowd with a satirical skit in which he posed as a news anchor covering the latest headlines at a faux network.
‘ESPN Chicago’ to Present Inaugural ‘Football Fest.’ Sports talk outlet WMVP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” is presenting its first-ever “ESPN Chicago Football Fest” that will bring together the station’s personalities and special guests ESPN senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter and ESPN Fantasy Football expert Field Yates at the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana on Saturday, August 20. Local personalities Tom Waddle, Marc Silverman, David Kaplan, Carmen DeFalco, Peggy Kusinski, Dionne Miller, Jonathan Hood, Chris Bleck, Adam Abdalla, and Jeff Meller will be at the event. Danny Zederman is content director for the Good Karma Brands station. He says, “Football Fest will be an amazing opportunity for ‘ESPN 1000’ fans to connect with our content team to kick off the 2022-2023 football season. Peggy and Dionne will be broadcasting live from the event, giving fans a front row seat to one of the station’s newest duos.”
Comscore Q2 2022 Net Revenue Up 4.3%. The second quarter financial report from digital media firm Comscore states net revenue for the period was $91.4 million, an increase of 4.3% over Q2 of 2021. The company reduced its net loss from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022 from $18.5 million to $5.1 million. Comscore CEO Jon Carpenter states, “I was honored to step into the CEO role in July and remain excited about the opportunity ahead for Comscore. This is a critical time for the industry, and we are committed and focused on delivering innovative products and solutions that our customers want and driving the growth and profitability our shareholders expect. The quarter highlights the momentum in our business, particularly in Cross Platform Solutions, which includes our growing local and national television businesses. While there is still work to be done, I am excited and energized about the opportunity ahead.”
TALKERS News Notes. Urban radio personality Angela Yee is leaving the WWPR, New York-based morning show “The Breakfast Club” after 12 years to launch her own midday program titled, “Way Up with Angela Yee” that will be syndicated via Premiere Networks. It will launch this fall and debut on more than 30 iHeartMedia stations. The company says the show “will feature the iconic personality in a fast-paced, listener interactive show, as she connects directly with listeners on the kinds of hot and timely topics in which she’s garnered trust over her decades on air – from relationships to Hip-Hop and R&B, headline news topics, and overall culture, both in and out of the music industry.”…..Audacy-owned podcast company C13Originals is partnering with Team Downey and Wink Pictures for “The Sunshine Place,” an investigative documentary podcast series examining Synanon, a former California-based experimental drug rehab facility and community that morphed into a dangerous and violent cult, led by its messianic founder Charles E. Diedrich. Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran states, “This is a story we were immediately drawn to and wanted to tell. It’s an honor to be able to tell incredible stories like this with such a great team in Susan, Robert, Emily, and Josh in collaboration with our brilliant C13Orginals creative team.”…..American Public Media Group announces that Barry Gisser is the organization’s new senior vice president and chief financial officer, succeeding Morris Goodwin who after eight years significantly increased the value of APMG’s endowment and led its investment strategy. Gisser’s first day at APMG will be September 6.
FBI Raids Mar-a-Lago/NYC Deposition, Primaries/2024 Race, The Economy, Biden Health & Climate Bill, China’s Taiwan Threats, Russia-Ukraine War, and Serena Williams Announces Retirement Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/9). The FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago offices and his scheduled deposition by New York AG Letitia James; Tuesday’s primary races for the November midterms and speculation about the nominees for the 2024 presidential race; the high rate of inflation and concerns about a recession; the Inflation Reduction Act that affects health care, taxes, and climate incentives; China’s ramped-up military exercises around Taiwan; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine; and tennis great Serena Williams announces her plans to retire from the sport were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Richard Neer is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Legendary WFAN, New York sports talk show host/rock radio pioneer Richard Neer and TALKERS founder Michael Harrison have been close friends and radio colleagues for more than half of the medium’s 100-year history. Needless to say, they always have plenty to talk about regarding media and popular culture – past, present, and future. Richard Neer is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview” marking his record-breaking seventh visit since the program debuted as one of the platform’s earliest offerings in 2015. In addition to his rich on-air history, Neer is the prolific author of 10 Riley King murder mystery novels and his historic overview of album rock radio, FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio (Villard, 2001) remains a literary milestone chronicling the golden days of the AOR era. On this podcast, Harrison and Neer talk about a wide variety of topics including Joni Mitchell’s recent performance at the Newport Folk Festival, the high cost of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, the controversial LIV Golf tour backed by Saudi Arabia, changes in the record business, the challenges of writing and publishing historical fiction, movies, TV, CGI and a whole lot more. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Cumulus Media Q2 Net Revenue Rises 5.4%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media reveals net revenue of $236.7 million – an increase of 5.4% over the same period in 2021. The company also reports net income of $8.7 million for the quarter after posting a net loss of $5.9 million during Q2 of 2021. Total broadcast revenue for Cumulus fell 0.3% to $175.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2021. While radio spot revenue was $127 million – up 5.1% over Q2 2021, network revenue slipped 12% to $48.7 million. Cumulus Media’s digital segment rose 20.3% to $37.8 million. CEO Mary Berner comments, “Our ability to deliver yet another quarter of strong results is testament both to the quality of our strategic plan and the discipline and relentlessness with which we implement it. Specifically, we have deployed our multi-platform audio-first content strategy, developed multiple digital businesses, significantly reduced fixed costs, undertaken high ROI internal investments, and created a best-in-class balance sheet that gives the company substantial financial flexibility and capital allocation optionality. Given our track record, we have tremendous confidence in our ability, under this plan, to grow shareholder value. Despite the challenging macro environment, we increased revenue in the quarter by more than 5%, driven by our digital businesses whose growth accelerated in Q2 to 20% year-over-year. Additionally, bolstered by our ongoing focus on fixed cost reductions, this quarter we generated additional cash from operations and increased net income, EBITDA and EBITDA margins vs. the same period last year. We also efficiently executed nearly half of our $50 million share repurchase authorization and bought back $50 million of bonds at a discount, while simultaneously reducing net leverage to 3.8x, the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. With a robust political spending season anticipated, we are on trend toward achieving our net leverage target of less than 3.5 times and EBITDA at the low end of our 2022 guidance range.”
Conservative Media Figures Gather at CPAC 2022. Pictured above (from l-r) are WMAL-FM, Washington, DC morning drive personality Larry O’Connor, Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup, and author and TOWNHALL.com contributor Kurt Schlichter in Dallas for the first day of CPAC 2022. The annual event runs through Sunday and speakers scheduled to address the gathering include: former President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, British conservative leader Nigel Farage, and Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale Talk Host Rich Stevens Passes. TALKERS magazine has learned that former WFTL, Fort Lauderdale talk host Rich Stevens died on July 30 at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack. Stevens worked in music radio prior to hosting his talk show on WFTL, serving at such signals as WPLJ-FM, New York and WJHM, Orlando. He also served at WABC-TV, New York as an entertainment reporter.
TALKERS News Notes. As part of RAB’s Radio Works initiative, the next live presentation in the series titled, “Radio Works for Restaurants,” takes place on Wednesday, August 17 at 1:00 pm ET and will provide industry insights and trends intended to help broadcasters gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the restaurant industry and how radio can continue to serve this category. Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have endured closures, staffing shortages, product supply strains and inflationary pressures making for a challenging business environment. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research & knowledge group at the National Restaurant Association, will provide an update on the “State of the Restaurant Industry” to help radio sellers understand the areas where businesses in this category need support. It’s free for RAB members and they can register here…..ESPN and Omaha Productions are expanding their relationship in the audio space with the premiere of a new show, “Kyle Brandt’s Basement,” led by NFL Network “Good Morning Football” host Kyle Brandt. The daily show debuts August 8 and “explores the ins and outs of the NFL through lively guest interviews with the top voices in the sport and inventive segments unique to Brandt to bring fans closer to the action on and off the field.” Brandt comments, “I’m thrilled about this show, and I’ll be shot out of a cannon every single day. It’s in my own basement and I’ve got games, toys and takes. I can promise one thing: it will not be boring.”…..Pictured at left is WGKB-AM/W269DL, Milwaukee “101.7 The Truth” talk host Tory Lowe during last weekend’s 7th Annual Stop the Violence Peace Walk during which he walked from Milwaukee to Chicago (more than 80 miles) to “raise awareness and bring an end to violence in our communities.” Lowe says, “It is important for us to build a bridge between Milwaukee and Chicago, open the lines of communication, and bring awareness to the violence that plagues our communities.”
Kansas Abortion Vote, Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, Pelosi Taiwan Visit, January 6 Investigation, Russia-Ukraine War, The Economy, COVID-19, and U.S. Rep. Walorski Killed Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. Kansas voters elect to keep abortion rights in the state’s constitution; the primary races for the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees in the 2024 presidential race; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and China’s angry response; the January 6 investigation and the DOJ subpoenas issued to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the impact on the global economy; the falling price of gasoline and the still-high cost of food in the U.S. and concerns about a recession; the rate of BA.5 subvariant cases in the U.S.; and U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and two staffers are killed in a car accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Beasley Broadcast Group 2022 Q2 Net Revenue Rises 8.8%. The first radio-based audio firm to report 2022 second quarter financial data is Beasley Broadcast Group, which reveals net revenue of $64.8 million, an increase of 8.8% over the same period in 2021. The company also reports an operating loss of $5.4 million and a net loss of $14.5 million and explains the losses saying, “The operating loss in the second quarter of 2022 primarily reflects an $8.6 million non-cash impairment loss due to an increase in the discount rate used in the analyses to estimate the fair value of FCC licenses and goodwill in a rising interest rate environment. For the comparable three months ended June 30, 2021, the company recorded $1.5 million of other operating income, net from life insurance proceeds related to the death of George Beasley, the company’s former chairman. As a result of these factors, Beasley reported a net loss of $14.5 million, or a negative $0.48 per diluted share, in the three months ended June 30, 2022, compared to net income of $0.2 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, in the three months ended June 30, 2021.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley delivered another period of strong top-line results in the second quarter, reflecting solid year-over-year growth across all of our revenue sources. Net revenue increased 8.8%, inclusive of a 4.3% rise in audio revenue and a 34.3% rise in digital revenue, with digital accounting for 16.5% of second quarter net revenue. Digital remains a central component of our revenue diversification strategy, and the momentum we are seeing in our digital business is further underpinned by our ability to grow digital revenue 37% on a quarterly sequential basis, while also improving our digital margin. Our new business performance was robust this quarter, as we recorded $7.8 million in new business revenue, representing a 60% increase from the first quarter of 2022 and 16% growth over the comparable prior year period. In addition, we acquired a small white label digital agency at the end of June, which will immediately contribute positive cash flow and synergies. We believe these results continue to demonstrate the inaccuracy of the perception that radio is more challenged than other segments of the technology, media, and telecom sectors… We are keeping a close eye on the declining economic environment and initiated cost reductions beginning in the second quarter. Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on controlling what we can control, maximizing our growth opportunities, managing our expenses and capital structure, serving our audiences and advertisers and delivering results for our stockholders.”
Monday Memo: Review Airchecks…Later. As “automation and syndication have made radio less-local,” consultant Holland Cooke calls talent coaching “a lost art”; and he uses this week’s column to offer tips “for hosts and DJs who feel neglected.” Read more here.
Pending Business: The One Thing Every Advertiser Should Know. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says that any radio seller who wants to be successful has to answer the following question: “What is the one ‘thing’ every advertiser should know about my on-air talent?” In other words, what is the unique selling point that can be connected to your on-air talent and only the talent you represent. Read his column here.
Alex Silverman to Lead Programming at All-News KNX-AM/FM, Los Angeles. News radio programming pro Alex Silverman is moving to Audacy’s KNX-AM/FM, Los Angeles to serve as director of news and programming, effective September 19. He’s been serving with the company as brand manager for the company’s all-news KYW-AM/FM, Philadelphia since 2018. Prior to that, he was assistant director of news and programming at Audacy’s WCBS-AM, New York. In his new role at KNX, Silverman will “oversee the station’s editorial strategy and newsroom, including broadcast and digital operations, with an eye towards audience and revenue growth and engagement on all platforms.” Silverman states, “KNX News is iconic. I can’t wait to work with the amazing team to build the future of the brand and set the agenda for news coverage in Southern California. Thank you to Jeff Federman, Chris Ebbott, Jeff Sottolano and Bill Smee for their confidence in me and commitment to impactful local journalism.” Silverman is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He serves on the board of directors of the Radio Television Digital News Association and has been an adjunct instructor at Fordham University, where he designed a course titled, “Social Media for Journalists.” Silverman takes over the role from Ken Charles, who did not renew his contract with the company.
Dwight Jaynes Joins Afternoon Show on ‘Rip City Sports Radio 620.’ Sports talk host Dwight Jaynes is joining Chad Doing at iHeartMedia’s KPOJ, Portland “Rip City Radio 620” as co-host of the “Rip City Drive” program that airs from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Jaynes, also known as “The Godfather,” spent 25 years as a sports columnist for the Oregon Journal and The Oregonian covering the NBA’s Trail Blazers and has co-written two books about the team. He also spent 11 years at NBC Sports Northwest, hosting “Talkin’ Ball” and “Posting Up.” Prior to that, Jaynes hosted the “Morning Sports Page” show alongside Doing on KXTG-FM, Portland. Doing says, “I am thrilled to be reunited with my former partner. Dwight is a Hall of Famer for good reason – no one has more experience covering Oregon sports. I look forward to making compelling radio with him every day. His sports knowledge and storytelling are unmatched.” Jaynes comments, “I am beyond excited to return to sports talk radio – especially with my old partner Chad Doing – who I believe to be one of the best in the country. The best part of our shows has always been our willingness to take on the tough issues – sports or otherwise – and find creative ways to shape discussion and opinion. At the same time, you never quite know what we’re going to do next… because we don’t!”
Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Interview Trump at LIV Golf Tourney in Bedminster, New Jersey. Pictured above with former President Donald Trump are Premiere Networks syndicated talk hosts Clay Travis (left) and Buck Sexton (right) at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the site of the LIV Golf tournament. Trump joined the duo live on their show discussing such topics as recession, China and Taiwan, and whether he’ll run for president in 2024, about which he said, “Very hard for me not to run to be honest. And also the polls indicate from the Republican standpoint it would be easy. And I think I was up 11 points on Biden the other day… I don’t know why 11… If you guys ran, you’d be up more than 11… In my mind, I’ve already made the decision.”
Stacey Thomas Named Director of Marketing for iHeartMedia Philly. Eighteen-year iHeartMedia Philadelphia staffer Stacey Thomas is promoted to director of marketing and promotions for the cluster that includes sports talk WDAS-AM “The Gambler” and WTEL “BIN: Black Information Network.” In this role, Thomas will oversee the Philadelphia brand portfolio and will be responsible for developing, planning, and directing all marketing and promotions efforts. She previously served the cluster as media integration director. iHeartMedia Philadelphia market president Jeff Moore says, “It has been remarkable working alongside Stacey and watching her persevere through numerous changes and challenges. A tireless worker who puts the needs of iHeart Philly above all else will now get the chance to put her stamp on the promotions department in a time when making deep and meaningful relationships with our audiences and partners couldn’t be more important.”
Ava Lynn LaRue Named Inaugural MIW Mentee in Minnesota. The Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio, Inc and the Minnesota Broadcasters Association announce that Ava Lynn LaRue is named the inaugural mentee for the “MIW Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Minnesota” program. This partnership between the two organizations is led by MBA president Wendy Paulson and is MIW’s newest mentoring opportunity and the start of its three-to-five year strategic plan to partner with state broadcast associations across the United States and assist in building in-house, ongoing programs devoted to coaching and guiding the next generation of radio professionals. LaRue is the station manager for Q-Media Group, LLC in Red Wing, Minnesota. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff says, “Lightning struck twice! Partnering with Wendy has been positive, productive, and way fun. And then to meet the powerhouse Ava LaRue and have the opportunity to work with her is what the MIWs are all about. Thanks MBA, Wendy, and Ava!” Paulson adds, “A huge ‘thank you’ to all of the incredible women who applied to participate in the 2022 ‘MIW Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Minnesota’ program! The judging committee was blown away by the depth of talented women that applied to be part of this pilot mentorship program!”
Biden’s Energy & Health Bill, Inflation Reduction Act, November Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, COVID-19/Biden Positive Again, Pelosi’s Asia Trip, Russia-Ukraine War/Global Food Crisis, Deadly Kentucky Floods/Western Wildfires, Monkeypox, and Nichelle Nichols & Bill Russell Die Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fate of President Joe Biden’s energy & healthcare bill; debate over the Schumer–Manchin authored Inflation Reduction Act; November’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential race; the rate of BA.5 subvariant infections in the U.S. and Biden’s testing positive again; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Asia and China’s threats if she visits Taiwan; the Russia-Ukraine war and its effects on the global food supply; the continuing threats of flooding in Eastern Kentucky and the Western wildfires; the growing monkeypox epidemic; and actress Nichelle Nichols and basketball legend Bill Russell pass away were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Salem Media Group First Quarter Revenue Rises 5.5%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Salem Media Group says total revenue was $62.6 million, an increase of 5.5% over the same period in 2021. Operating income was $5 million, up 14.2% from the same period a year ago. Salem posted net income of $1.7 million in Q1 of this year compared to the net income of $0.3 million reported for the same quarter in 2021. Breaking down the company’s data by segment, net broadcast revenue increased 10% to $48.4 million from $44 million in 2021, while digital media revenue increased 7.1% to $10.3 million from $9.6 million, and publishing revenue decreased 31.8% to $3.9 million from $5.7 million. Looking ahead, Salem Media Group says that for the second quarter of 2022, it is projecting total revenue to increase between 6% and 8% from second quarter 2021 total revenue of $63.8 million.
The Vastness of Night. “The two most effective, engaging forms of advertising are in-theatre and overnight radio,” says Walter Sterling. “Surrounded by darkness without distractions, the audience choses to receive the advertising message in the comfort of a bed, perfectly adjusted car seat, or reclining throne. Overnight radio is 25% of the broadcast day. Twenty-five percent. A locally hosted all-night show in a major city is a gift to listeners and advertisers.” You say you can’t afford an all-night talk radio host? Read more of what Walter Sterling has to say here.
Tom Millikan Upped to Assistant Brand Manager for WXYT-FM, Detroit. Executive producer Tom Millikan is promoted to assistant brand manager at Audacy’s sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit “97.1 The Ticket.” He will continue in his executive producer role for “The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen.” Audacy Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Tom has done an outstanding job as an executive producer and has played a vital role in the success of the station. He is very deserving of this promotion and we look forward to even greater success with Tom in his new role.” Millikan comments, “Throughout my 20-plus years in radio, I’ve been blessed with countless memories of championships and pure joy. I’m living out a dream. I wanted to work in sports radio since the format exploded in the early 90s and I’ve been blessed by the tutelage of all of my co-workers and peers. I was born and raised in Detroit and Detroit sports are part of my DNA. Listeners might not agree with my opinions or show content all of the time, but I genuinely try to produce shows that Detroit sports fans want every single day.”
ABC Audio Promotes Liz Alesse to VP. Rising from the director and executive producer of podcast programming position to vice president of ABC Audio is Liz Alesse. In this role, Alesse will oversee the organization’s entire audio business, including ABC News Radio, podcasts, and the entertainment content service. ABC News senior vice president of streaming and digital content Reena Mehta says, “She has been instrumental in growing and re-organizing our award-winning podcast team, developing successful content and monetization strategies, and partnering closely within the news division and across The Walt Disney Company to promote our work. Liz oversaw the successful launches of new podcasts, including, ‘Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson,’ ‘Close Up’ and ‘The Book Case with Kate and Charlie Gibson.’ She also spearheaded creating the ‘GMA’ Channel on Apple Podcasts, which holds the new ‘Good Morning America’ podcast and ABC Audio’s growing library of lifestyle, culture and entertainment on-demand audio content. Under her leadership, the team received Webby Awards, a Gracie Award, GLAAD Special Recognition honors and more.”
Edison Research Q1 Top 50 Podcasts Chart; Controversy Has Not Hurt Joe Rogan. The Edison Podcast Metrics chart of the top 50 podcasts in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2022 has been released and the controversy surrounding Spotify’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” in 2021 has not harmed listening; in fact, it appears to have helped it. Edison Research director of research Gabriel Soto says, “Despite a turbulent and controversial ride for Joe Rogan at the beginning of the quarter, his show not only remains the most popular in the U.S., but it has increased in listenership – distancing itself from the number two spot.” This chart by Edison ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on Edison Podcast Metrics (formerly known as the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report). Edison says its list is “the only podcast measurement service that measures the relative audience size and demographics of all podcast networks in the U.S. and measures based on actual podcast listening, not downloads, and does not require an opt-in from podcast networks. Some of the other podcasts making the chart connected to radio-oriented companies include: #6 “Stuff You Should Know” (iHeartPodcasts), #9 “The Ben Shapiro Show” (The Daily Wire), #18 “The Dan Bongino Show” (Cumulus Podcast Network), #31 “The Dave Ramsey Show” (The Ramsey Network), and #39 “The Mark Levin Show” (Cumulus Podcast Network).
TALKERS News Notes. According to data from Nielsen, Newsmax’s live coverage of former President Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania rally pushed the network ahead of CNN in audience viewership on Friday night (5/6). Newsmax says that it pulled 738,000 total viewers between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm ET, with an evening prime-time average of 579,000 viewers. CNN peaked at 645,000 viewers during Anderson Cooper’s show, drawing an average audience of 545,000 on Friday night. Newsmax adds that for the past year, is has consistently held the position as the fourth-highest-rated cable news channel in the U.S. and a top-20 cable channel in daytime, according to Nielsen…..The Independent Broadcasters Association says it is delivering on its promise to provide an efficient way for members to share local talent in which all talent made available to members by members will be on a very affordable cash basis, eliminating the need for costly barter deals. IBA executive director Ron Stone comments, “One of the most costly expenditures for independent radio is paying for syndication, whether by cash, barter, or a combination thereof. Our goal is to provide our IBA members with an opportunity to choose cost-effective talent from other IBA members and eliminate the need to give local inventory to large networks that sell to the very clients we used to do business with nationally, and at far better prices than network pricing. This, I believe, is a huge opportunity to get back inventory used against us at extremely low prices.”
The Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, Mark Esper Book, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Roe v Wade, Musk & Twitter, COVID-19, and Western Drought Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/10). The state of the U.S. economy, the high cost of food and gasoline, and concerns about a recession; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rumors of Vladimir Putin’s poor health, and the U.S. House approves aid to Ukraine; former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s book, A Sacred Oath, that paints former President Donald Trump in an unflattering light; the Trump-approved primary candidates for the November midterms and Trump’s influence over the GOP; the protests over the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade; the controversial attempt by Elon Musk to acquire Twitter; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about new variants, and the Chinese zero-COVID policy; and the drought affecting the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
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.
Cumulus Media 2022 First Quarter Net Revenue Rises 15%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media’s total net revenue for the period was $232 million, an increase of 15% over the same period in 2021. The company says it was the fifth straight quarter of sequential improvement in revenue performance versus a comparable quarter in 2019. Cumulus also reports a Q1 net loss of just $0.9 million, down from the net loss of $21.9 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. The broadcast radio segment is broken into two parts – spot, which rose 11.9% over the same period a year ago, and network, which was up 5.2%. The company’s digital segment was up 18%, led by digital marketing services (+35%) and podcasting (+22%). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Our outstanding first quarter results once again demonstrate the positive impacts of our ‘audio-first’ strategy to transform the company from a one-dimensional radio broadcaster to a multi-dimensional audio media company. Following a strong 2021 performance, this quarter’s results underscore our ability to deliver value to our shareholders through sustained profitable top- and bottom-line growth and balance sheet de-levering. We delivered sequential revenue improvement for the fifth straight quarter versus the comparable 2019 quarter, grew EBITDA by 250% year-over-year, and generated continued strong cash from operations, which collectively allowed us to achieve the company’s lowest net leverage in over a decade. Given our best-among-peers balance sheet, strong financial momentum and the company’s positive 2022 outlook, we expect ongoing cash flow generation that will support a meaningful return of capital to shareholders now and in the future. Accordingly, as a first step, today we are announcing a $50 million share repurchase program with a plan to commence share repurchases in the near-term. This capital return program is underpinned by our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued.”
Cumulus Rejects Unsolicited Acquisition Bid. The last sentence of Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner’s statement outlining its first quarter results says it all: “The company is significantly undervalued.” That was also the theme of a memo from Berner to Cumulus shareholders regarding the unsolicited offer from a consortium led by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw to acquire Cumulus. Berner says, “The company recently received an indication of interest in acquiring the company for $15 to $17 per share. After a careful and thorough review, conducted in consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the board unanimously concluded that the indication of interest significantly undervalues the company and is not in the best interests of its shareholders. The company’s board is open to all paths that continue to drive superior shareholder value. Our strong momentum across business lines, multiple digital revenue growth drivers, operational efficiency and superior cash flow provide the company with substantial untapped upside that it expects to continue to realize on behalf of its shareholders. Given these facts and circumstances, the board unanimously believes execution of the company’s strategy will deliver significantly more value to shareholders than this indication of interest.”
Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ Debuts This Week. The Bill O’Reilly-hosted program from Key Networks debuts this week on 58 stations across the U.S. Key Networks says “No Spin News” is “a full hour of trailblazing journalist and bestselling author O’Reilly’s fair, smart, fact-based analysis” airing every weeknight. The one-hour show has been airing in New York on 77 WABC for over a year under the title, “Common Sense with Bill O’Reilly.” The program now joins the suite of shows syndicated by Key Networks that includes: “The O’Reilly Update,” “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” and “The O’Reilly Update – Weekend Edition.” O’Reilly says, “We are beyond happy that radio stations from coast-to-coast are spreading the ‘No Spin’ mantra. We provide something that’s badly needed in the USA: honest fact-based analysis.” Key Networks COO Dennis Green comments, “Based on the success of ‘The O’Reilly Update,’ the marketplace was ready for more content from Bill O’Reilly. ‘No Spin News’ provides analysis on what is happening in the world that listeners want to hear. This is content you won’t get anywhere else, and I expect stations to add Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ in large numbers!”
WABC-TV, New York Opens Long Island Bureau at Hofstra University. New York City’s WABC-TV is opening a new, Long Island bureau today (5/4) inside the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. The small bureau will have a full-time reporter and two production trucks in Long Island, New York. WABC has a history of supporting the journalism program at the university, donating significant quantities of valuable equipment and providing internship and career opportunities for many students. Hofstra students will have regular exposure to WABC journalists, expanded internships, guest lectures and seminars held by WABC professionals. The Long Island bureau, located in the newsroom of Hofstra’s award-winning, student-run radio station, WRHU-88.7 FM, reinforces WABC-TV’s commitment to Long Island, as well as the Herbert School’s commitment to community journalism, including the newly launched community news site, LongIslandAdvocate.com. Lawrence Herbert School of Communication dean Mark Lukasiewicz states, “Our journalism program emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning and encourages our student journalists to engage with Long Island communities to tell impactful stories. The Eyewitness News Long Island bureau, located alongside WRHU’s newsroom, will provide that kind of hands-on opportunity – a daily chance for students to observe and learn from great local journalists doing the work of New York’s top broadcast news operation.”
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Rob Carson Show” joins the 1400 Investments, LLC-owned Nevada Talk Network. The program, syndicated by Newsmax and airing in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, is being heard on KELY-AM, Ely; KNNR-AM, Sparks-Carson City; KDJJ-FM, Fernley-Fallon; KPKK-FM, Amargosa Valley; KAVB-FM, Hawthorne; and KPVM-TV 25.6, Pahrump…..The syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – adds new affiliate station KTXW-AM/FM, Austin “The Bridge” to its roster of affiliate stations…..FOX Nation – FOX News Media’s “on-demand streaming service designed to complement the FOX News Channel experience with a members-only destination for its most passionate and loyal super fans” – is premiering a documentary series about music and television industry star Sharon Osbourne in September. Titled “Sharon Osbourne: To Hell & Back,” the four-part program features “a candid and heartfelt look into Osbourne’s personal and professional life, highlighting how she found herself in the crosshairs of the cancel culture movement after exiting CBS’s ‘The Talk.’”…..SiriusXM is presenting nationwide, comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/7). The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network.
Roe v Wade Leak, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, the Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Reactions to the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade; the primary elections in Ohio and Indiana, the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the activity on the world’s financial markets, the supply chain woes, and concerns about a recession; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the effects across the globe; and concerns about new Omicron variants and the possibility of a serious summer COVID wave were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.