According to data from Podtrac (based on U.S. unique monthly audience), The New York Times’ “The Daily” stays atop its Top Podcasts chart for the period of August 2023. The Daily Wire/Cumulus Podcast Network’s “The Ben Shapiro Show” stayed in its spot at #7, iHeartPodcast’s “Stuff You Should Know” remained at #9, Cumulus Podcast Network’s “The Dan Bongino Show” rose one spot to #11, and FOX Audio Network’s “FOX News Hourly Update” fell one spot to #16. Other data from Podtrac from this report includes: 1) U.S. unique monthly audience increased for all but one of the Top 20 publishers in August 2023 over July 2023; 2) The average U.S. unique monthly audience for the Top 20 publishers was up 13% month-over-month and down 3% over July 2022; 3) Total global downloads for the Top 20 publishers were up 7% month-over-month and flat year-over-year; and 4) The combined audience for the Top Sales Networks was up 15% month-over-month.
Pending Business: When Controversy Strikes. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says, “If you’ve been selling or managing talk radio for a longer than you would like to admit, there is a good chance you’ve experienced the pushback when a talent inadvertently steps over a line. When it becomes a deal breaker or a cancellation, you’re not alone. Sometimes a talent will make an honest mistake and your management will step in to right the ship. Sometimes not, and we all know how that ends.” Read more here.
Monday Memo: The Resourceful Podcaster, Parked. The pandemic shutdown forced radio and TV broadcasters into working remotely. Many in radio continue to. “They’re podcasters with transmitters” consultant Holland Cooke quips. In this week’s column, his scrappy tip for giving podcasts the polish that broadcast listeners expect. Read it here.
iHeartRadio Tops Podtrac’s July 2022 Top Podcast Publishers Chart. The Top Podcast Publishers chart for the month of July has been published by Podtrac. The chart, based on unique monthly audience (United States), places iHeartRadio in the #1 spot with a UMA of 29.5 million. Wondery comes in second place with a UMA of 21.2 million, followed by NPR at #3 with a UMA of 17 million. Other podcast publishers of note making the Top 20 chart include: PodcastOne at #8 (UMA 6.1 million), FOX Audio Network at #11 (UMA 4.4 million), and Cumulus Podcast Network at #15 (UMA 3.6 million). See the complete chart here.
Joe Benigno Returning to WFAN, New York in Part-Time Capacity. During an appearance on the afternoon drive “Carton & Roberts” show on WFAN, New York on Friday (8/5), former midday talk host Joe Benigno revealed he’s going to be returning to WFAN to host a regular Saturday morning show on the station as well as a Monday segment with midday hosts Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney. He says he’ll also do some fill-in work on “The Fan.” Benigno, who co-hosted the midday show with Evan Roberts, retired from the Audacy sports talk station last November.
Inflation Reduction Act, CPAC 2022, China’s Taiwan Threats, Alex Jones Trial, Gaza Fighting, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19/Monkey Pox Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Senate’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act that moves to the House this week and President Joe Biden’s claim of victory for American families should it become law; the CPAC 2022 weekend convention highlighted by a keynote speech by former President Donald Trump; China ramps up military exercises near Taiwan in the aftermath of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the island; the Texas jury in the Alex Jones defamation case levies $45.2 million in punitive damages against him; the fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza; the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S. and the global spread of Monkey Pox were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Mike “Bax” Baxendale, Morning Talk Show Co-Host at ‘Rock 102,’ Springfield is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Often referred to by Michael Harrison as a “talk radio pound-for-pound champion” Mike “Bax” Baxendale – who has reigned over Western Massachusetts radio ratings and revenue for the past 27 years on an extraordinary level – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Known to his loyal legion of listeners simply as “Bax,” Baxendale has been enormously successful as a key member of the evolving WAQY “Rock 102” morning team since 1995 and is still going strong. First, he enjoyed an amazingly long run with talented co-host John O’ Brien (Bax & O’ Brien) and now the momentum continues with co-hosts Steve Nagle and Dave Coombs (“Bax, Steve and Dave”). See photo (l-r) Bax, Steve Nagle and Dave Coombs. Bax has become, according to Harrison, “a quintessential example of the notable breed of radio talker operating within the context of a duo or team on a music FM station where politics is mostly local, unpredictably non-partisan and not the only focus of interest.” Harrison continues, “This hard-working broadcaster talks politics, music, sports, and a wide scope of day-to-day issues and his range covers silly to serious, irreverent to respectful.” Harrison and Bax talk about the business realities faced by duos and teams on radio as well as the differences between how talk show hosts on music radio stations approach their audiences in terms of subject matter and attitude and those who perform on traditional news/talkers. Harrison refers to his own talk roots in FM music radio. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Podtrac Releases Top Podcast Publishers and Podcasts for May. Releasing its Top Podcast Publishers and Top Podcasts for the month of May based on U.S. unique monthly audience, Podtrac reports that iHeartRadio is #1 with a unique monthly audience of 29.4 million. NPR comes in at #2 with a unique monthly audience of 18.9 million. Other publishers in the top 20 include Daily Wire at #7 (repped by Cumulus Podcast Network), PodcastOne at #8 FOX Audio Network at #11, Blaze Media at #13, and Cumulus Podcast Network at #16. For the top 20 podcasts based on unique monthly audience, Podtrac ranks “The Daily” from The New York Times at #1, followed by “NPR News Now” at #2. “The Ben Shapiro Show” is ranked #5. Other radio-related shows include iHeartRadio’s “Stuff You Should Know” at #8, “FOX News Radio Hourly Newscast” at #11, and “The Dan Bongino Show” at #13. See the complete charts here.
Glades Media Names 25-Year Rush Limbaugh Engineer as Chief Operating Officer. Radio pro Brian Johnson – who served for 25 years as the radio broadcast engineer for “The Rush Limbaugh Show” – is the new chief operating officer for Glades Media. The company co-founders – Robert Castellanos, chairman and chief executive officer, and James Johnson, chief financial officer – will continue their roles. Castellanos says, “For the past year, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Brian and seeing first-hand what an outstanding broadcaster he’s become. Brian’s passion for radio and people is evident in how he approaches every opportunity and challenge. I look forward to building upon our business partnership as we continue navigating the broadcast media landscape.” Johnson spent 25 years as Limbaugh’s personal engineer, a role that began when the conservative radio icon moved to Palm Beach in 1996. Johnson comments, “It was a blessing to work side by side with the greatest broadcaster in our business. I’m eager to apply that experience and insight into my new role at Glades Media.” Johnson also owns BMZ Broadcasting, LLC and leases WLMX-FM to Glades Media.
Bret Burkhart Joins Audacy’s All-News KCBS-AM, San Francisco. Bay Area news pro Bret Burkhart is joining Audacy’s all-news KCBS-AM as a news anchor. Burkhart joins the station after spending the last 23 years at Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk KGO-AM and most recently was an anchor during the station’s morning and midday shows. Audacy San Francisco SVP and market manager Stacey Kauffman states, “We are incredibly fortunate that Bret is continuing his already illustrious career as an anchor for his hometown KCBS. He brings to KCBS a comprehensive and complex skill set that we will all benefit from. Bret knows politics, the Bay Area, what makes a good story and how to tell it, and we look forward to welcoming him aboard.” Burkhart comments, “KCBS is the gold standard for news around the Bay Area and beyond and I feel so fortunate to be joining an amazing group of broadcasters and storytellers.”
Adams Radio Launches Voluntary Employee Donation Drive to Benefit the Broadcasters Foundation of America. The company says that this voluntary employee donation drive is designed to “help create awareness and raise funds for the Broadcasters Foundation of America, a 501(c)3 charity that provides aid to fellow broadcasters in acute need from life-altering illness, accident, or other disaster.” The plan allows all Adams Radio Group employees the opportunity to set up automatic payroll deductions, in any amount, as donations to the Broadcasters Foundation. Adams president Ron Stone states, “When I learned that the sole mission of the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide financial assistance to our colleagues who, through no fault of their own, are in desperate need, I knew we had to get involved. These broadcasters are our colleagues. I would ask every radio group to consider helping the only charity that is dedicated solely to helping our colleagues.” BFoA co-president Jim Thompson says, “We’re very grateful to Ron for launching a voluntary employee donation drive to benefit the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation. With help from broadcasters like Ron, we can continue to provide aid to those in our industry who need it most.”
Cumulus Media Extends ABL Credit Facility. The company states that its indirect wholly owned subsidiary – Cumulus Media New Holdings Inc. – is entering into an amendment of its existing $100 million revolving credit facility. The amendment, among other things, extends the maturity from 2025 to 2027 subject to certain springing maturity conditions. As of June 8, 2022, there were no amounts outstanding under the Revolving Credit Facility. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “By extending the ABL through 2027, we are locking in a long-term, favorable source of liquidity – enhancing our already strong balance sheet and increasing our financial flexibility as we continue to evolve from a one-dimensional radio broadcaster to a multi-dimensional audio media company. This action follows the expiration of the $25 million tender offer pursuant to our $50 million share buyback program and demonstrates our continuing commitment to making operational and financial decisions that enhance shareholder value.”
iHeartMedia Rebrands WBZT-AM, West Palm Beach as “1230 The Gambler.” The West Palm Beach sports talk station is rebranding as “Sports Radio 1230 The Gambler” and is using content from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network iHeartMedia’s WBZT-AM will air 22 hours of live VSiN programming daily in addition to Miami Marlins baseball games and University of Florida football and basketball matchups. Additionally, ‘The Gambler’ will feature “The Greek Zone” live from South Florida, weekday afternoons from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Station PD Brian Mudd comments, “We’re thrilled to bring this informative and entertaining brand of sports talk to local sports fans. Sports betting as a 24/7 format, and specifically the expert analysis from VSiN and our very own Greek, is a perfect choice for ‘The Gambler.’”
Primary Elections/Trump & the GOP, January 6 Hearings, the Economy, Attempted Kavanaugh Attack, Gun Violence-Legislation, Russia-Ukraine War, Extreme Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/8). The results of Tuesday’s primary elections, the ouster of San Francisco’s liberal DA, and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; today’s beginning of the January 6 Committee hearings; the soaring price of gasoline & food and concerns about a recession; a California man is arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home intending to do him harm; the recent spate of gun violence and attempts to craft gun control legislation; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and is effect on the global economy; and the severe heatwave forecast for the Southwest were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
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.