This week’s blog post from Cumulus Media | Westwood One’s Audio Active Group reveals data from studies indicating that audio personalities – both AM/FM and podcast hosts – are highly effective in connecting listeners to advertisers. According to Jacobs Media Techsurvey 2023, DJs/hosts/shows are the main reason for listening for 60% of consumers. According to a study by MARU/Matchbox, there are a number of reasons listeners gravitate to AM/FM. First is comedic relief: 90% strongly or somewhat agree that their favorite DJs make them laugh. Second is local feel: 73% say personalities understand what makes my city/town unique. And third is thought-provoking: 64% agree that they make them think. Additionally, Magna and Vox Media surveyed 2,028 weekly podcast listeners and asked, “Whose influence matters most?” A stunning 75% cited podcast hosts while only 15% named social media influencers or TV/movie celebrities (10%). See the complete blog post here.
iHeartMedia and P&G are again joining forces during Pride Month for the return of “Can’t Cancel Pride 2023 – The Future Starts Now,” an evening recognizing the LGBTQ+ community and celebrating organizations creating a more inclusive and equal world. The special event will feature performances from some of today’s hottest artists and appearances from influential voices in the LGBTQ+ community June 15 at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles and remote locations across the country.
Award-winning public media journalist Tonya Mosley is been named co-host of “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” the interview program produced by WHYY, Philadelphia and distributed by NPR. Terry Gross continues as executive producer and host. Mosley is a correspondent and former host of “Here & Now,” the midday radio show from NPR and WBUR, Boston, and the creator and host of the podcast “Truth Be Told.” She has been a regular contributing interviewer for Fresh Air since 2021.
Today, WNYC and Gothamist announced the new, thrice-daily podcast “NYC NOW.” The programs will present breaking news, top headlines, and in-depth coverage in three audio updates throughout the day. Each episode features WNYC and Gothamist reporters, editors, producers and hosts around New York City and across the region. “NYC NOW” is updated throughout the day in three, three-to-10 minute segments – morning headlines: WNYC newscasts available on-demand and on the go, midday news: expanded coverage of developing news stories, and evening roundup: a full collection of the day’s local news.
As reported by the AP, FOX News and talk media personality Dan Bongino have parted ways. Bongino’s relationship with FOX News goes back almost 10 years. The former cop and Secret Service agent has been a commentator on FOX and has hosted the Saturday night show “Unfiltered” since 2021, as well as the “Canceled in the USA” program on FOX Nation. Bongino said on his radio show and podcast that they just couldn’t agree on a new deal. “It’s not some big conspiracy. There’s no acrimony. This wasn’t like some WWE brawl that happened. We just couldn’t come to terms on an extension.” The report indicates Bongino may even make guest appearances on FOX in the future. Read the full story here.
This week’s blog post from Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group focuses on podcast consumer and smart speaker trends and is based on data from Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” Report from Q4 2022. Among the report’s eight key findings are: 1) Smart speaker ownership has stalled with the last growth spurt occurring Christmas 2020. From 2017 to 2019, smart speaker ownership soared from 7% to 33%. The pandemic froze purchases until Christmas 2020 when ownership jumped to 40% in Q1 2021. Since then, ownership has stalled with no post-Christmas “pop” in 2021 or 2022; 2) Smart speaker ownership rates are in the mid-40s for 13-54s but only 26% for those over the age of 55; 3) As smart speaker ownership flattens, the share of AM/FM radio streaming on smart speakers also stabilizes.The proportion of total U.S. AM/FM radio streaming occurring via the smart speaker has stabilized as device ownership growth has stalled. According to Triton Digital, since 2021, AM/FM radio streaming via smart speaker has stabilized, growing slightly from 23% to 26%; 4) Smart speakers are vital to U.S. AM/FM radio as they are now more likely to be the only “radio device” in the home. Edison’s 2022 Infinite Dial study revealed that 40% of smart speaker owners do not have a radio in their home, up from 28% in 2018; and 5) Aggressive promotion pays off as AM/FM radio is number one for smart speaker ad-supported audio shares. AM/FM radio stations are consistently number one in ad-supported audio shares on smart speaker devices. No wonder, as streaming now represents 20% of all time spent to AM/FM radio. See the complete blog post here.
Benztown, a global leader in radio imaging, voiceover, programming, podcasting and jingles, announces the release today (4/13) of two new episodes of “Chachi Loves Everybody,” an original podcast produced by Benztown and featuring Benztown president and audio brand builder Dave “Chachi” Denes. The first new episode features Chachi’s recent chat from Benztown’s Los Angeles studios with Michael Harrison, founder and publisher, TALKERS. In the second new episode, Chachi talks to Wayne Johnson, founder and owner of Rockaway Records in Los Angeles.
“Chachi Loves Everybody” takes listeners with Denes – better known as “Chachi” – as he sits down for candid conversations with radio’s legends, master brand builders, up-and-comers, and innovators in the burgeoning audio space, revealing the true stories behind their successes and their insights into building iconic brands through audio. According to Harrison, “Chachi is one of the most effective media platform interviewers I’ve ever encountered. He pulled stuff out of me that I’ve never said publicly. Radio freaks are going to love this podcast.”
Today’s Benztown press release states: Before founding TALKERS, radio innovator and thought-leader Michael Harrison worked at legendary radio stations from coast-to-coast, including WNEW-FM in New York, KMET in Los Angeles, KRPI in San Diego, WTIC in Hartford, CT, and WCBS-FM in New York. He also founded the AOR format, hosted several syndicated shows, and was the first managing editor for Radio & Records. Harrison has been a columnist for Billboard, a radio station owner, and member of the band Gunhill Road.
Harrison shares with Chachi and his listeners:
— How he started his career by creating one of the first progressive rock radio stations on Long Island with his colleague Richard Neer
— What it was like to work in NYC radio for three different formats at once – and teach at NYU at the same time
— About his move to San Diego and his instrumental role in the creation of the AOR format
— Stories behind the syndicated shows he hosted and what it was like working with Norm Pattiz in the early days of Westwood One
— How he published his own radio/music charts in his Goodphone publication and being bought out by Billboard
— Moving to talk radio and founding TALKERS magazine, TALKERS.com and the TALKERS Convention
— Joining the band Gunhill Road and releasing music with them
— What the radio industry must do to stay relevant
— And more!
iHeartMedia appoints Jon Kurland to the EVP of business affairs and chief entertainment counsel position. The company says that in this new role, Kurland will lead iHeartMedia’s business affairs team and focus on strategic deals and relationships with the company’s podcast, music, entertainment and new media partners. He will be responsible for business and legal affairs across the company’s divisions including multiplatform assets, digital audio and tentpole events. In addition, Kurland will oversee the company’s entertainment legal functions across podcasts, live events, and new media initiatives as well as its music licensing strategy, including maintaining and renewing all music industry licenses for iHeartRadio’s digital services and performance licenses through PRO agencies. iHeartMedia EVP and general counsel Jordan Fasbender says, “Jon’s vast experience and dealmaking skills in the audio industry will be incredibly valuable as we continue to innovate and expand our partnerships and opportunities that leverage and enhance iHeartMedia’s position as the leading audio company in the U.S.” Kurland joins iHeartMedia from Amazon, where he served as senior corporate counsel in the Global Media & Entertainment group.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger – via her company Take On The Day, LLC – is launching a new podcast called, “Dr. Laura’s Deep Dive,” in which she “guides listeners through a 360-degree review of a single subject such as marriage, family dynamics, dating and parenting. In the first episode, Dr. Laura deals with the growing crisis of dysfunctional families in America and how they are tearing our country apart.” SXM Media, the combined advertising sales group from SiriusXM Holdings Inc., has exclusive global ad sales rights for “Dr. Laura’s Deep Dive.” Dr. Laura says, “I’m excited to go deep into topics that are so important to the everyday life of my listeners. Focusing on one topic per episode gives me time and space to analyze the challenges, demonstrate real world examples, and share solutions on how to navigate out of the muck and mud of bad decisions and wrong-headed analysis and achieve a fulfilling life.” Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s “Dr. Laura Program” is in its 13th year on the SiriusXM platform.
iHeartMedia announces that the health and wellness podcast, “On Purpose with Jay Shetty,” joins the iHeartPodcast Network. The press release says the mission of the podcast is “to reach people in today’s global, hyper-connected world – as 1 in 4 people have suffered from loneliness and depression – the biggest factor this generation has ever faced. Despite the pandemic pushing people into overload, creators like Jay Shetty have opened up their heart, mind and platform to reinforce today’s greatest lesson – that vulnerability is a great strength and that people are stronger together.” Shetty comments, “‘On Purpose’ is on a journey to help make people happier, healthier and more healed. Through insightful and vulnerable conversations with icons, experts and cultural figures and weekly workshops, ‘On Purpose’ is dedicated to giving our community the habits and tools to live a more fulfilling life. I’m so grateful for our loyal and ever-growing community who come back every day to listen, learn and grow. As the podcast has scaled globally it made perfect sense to join together with the number one podcast publisher – iHeartMedia. We are so excited for this new chapter for ‘On Purpose.’”
Salem Media Group announces the launch of the podcast show “Senior Fitness with Meredith” on Salem-owned SeniorResource.com. Host Meredith Chen is an AFAA-certified personal and group fitness trainer with over 15 years of experience. Each week, “Senior Fitness with Meredith” examines a wide range of topics including physical and mental wellness, nutrition, positivity, and the motivation seniors and families need for leading healthy and active lifestyles. Chen says, “We hope to reach a wider audience and help shed more light on important topics regarding physical fitness, mental health, and wellness that matter most to seniors as we continue to roll out podcast episodes now and into the future. We’re proud to be a part of a great network of people who are like-minded and dedicated to providing the best content online for a demographic that we feel is underserved, and we are looking forward to helping that change.”
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
Have you picked up the most recent buzz around Artificial Intelligence? It’s hard to miss it.
Seems like the AI buzz is getting louder as more companies face the pressure to improve efficiency and profitability during this roller coaster economy. From Silicon Valley’s tens of thousands of layoffs to Steak ‘n’ Shake closing 30 locations, the heat is on.
Companies vested in the terrestrial radio business have known this pressure for years as we function in a world of single-digit growth and AM radio stations going dark as the real estate is worth more than the FCC license. For the first time, some of the players on the podcast side are feeling the financial heat as the congested podcast world fights for highly competitive ad dollars.
How can AI be a resource in the broadcast radio and podcast ad sales world? Here are two examples of what could be around the corner on your next sales email, Zoom or from the office phone pitch.
— AI audio/phone recognition. Imagine software tracking your phone pitch or Zoom call collecting phrases that identify rate objections, efficiency objections, competitive objections, talent objections, even content objections. Management teams skilled in reviewing the “phrase data” analyze everything from the number of times the objection is raised to the category or tenure of advertiser raising the objection(s). Fast forward to solutions. If your team is made up of multiple sellers with various levels of experience and similar objection(s) appear frequently, management responses and adjustments happen faster, with less stress as the numbers tell the story, not the seller in a confessional. Those adjustments appear in coaching bubbles on your screen as you engage.
— AI shows us the phrase that pays. By now you should know many of the key words and phrases that are sales friendly, grab attention and move you to a close. As well as the opposite – those dreaded turn-off words that turn a warm conversation into stone-cold ghosting. What if the AI software interfaces with your emails? AI could be programmed to identify the key phrases that help close a deal as well as those that are deal busters. I once attended a sales seminar that coached away from using the word “contract.” Not a good takeaway for me. All I could imagine was the legal team slapping their foreheads.
Something tells me the AI software discussed already exists working in the field somewhere helping a sales team become more efficient and crushing the earnings barrier. It’s only a question of when our radio/audio world will be smart enough to adapt the tools for a smarter sales path.
Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com
iHeartMedia is launching new brand safety technology for podcast advertising powered by Sounder. iHeartMedia says it is the first to go live with Sounder’s AI and Machine Learning (ML) technology, giving brands episode-specific safety assurance, a level of precision previously unavailable in podcast inventory, at scale. Sounder says its technology is the first to help advertisers deem if a podcast episode is brand safe before an ad runs, enabling advertisers to plan and execute campaigns with confidence. iHeartMedia chief data officer Brian Kaminsky says, “Audio had been without a truly operative brand safety tool that gave advertisers the ability to run without risk at a national scale. The process was labor intensive, fragmented, and often failed to deliver the level of protection brands truly needed. We looked at every potential solution in the industry, and Sounder’s technology is far ahead when it comes to brand safety and suitability. This new tool changes the future and opens up endless possibilities. Brands are now able to opt out of content they deem unsafe and inappropriate. Our partnership with Sounder has set a new benchmark for transparency in audio advertising that has been long overdue.”
— Software firm vCreative and radio creative service Yamanair Creative announce a deal in which vCreative’s vPro will be the primary operational platform for all of Yamanair’s services. vCreative CEO Mary DelGrande says, “Yamanair is a force in radio creative and we are thrilled that they have chosen our new vPro platform. This partnership will streamline operations for our mutual customers who will see immediate and impactful efficiencies in their creative process.”
— FOX News Audio is expanding its true crime content with a new weekly podcast as well as a True Crime Minute for smart speakers. “Outnumbered” co-host Emily Compagno will debut “The FOX True Crime Podcast with Emily Compagno” today (2/28) with new episodes dropping Tuesdays and Thursdays every week. Compagno will be joined each week by a team of FOX News Digital true crime reporters, legal and law enforcement experts and the FOX News Investigative Team. The first episode of the podcast will examine the Murdaugh trial, while the second will analyze an Alabama hostage situation from 2013 involving the murder of a bus driver and the kidnapping of a kindergartener in Midland City.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio is providing listeners nationwide with coverage of the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis today (2/28) through Saturday (3/4). SiriusXM NFL Radio hosts in Indianapolis will include former NFL front office executive Pat Kirwan, former NFL coach Charlie Weis, former NFL players Charles Davis, Jim Miller, Kirk Morrison and Solomon Wilcots, and Bruce Murray.
By Michael Berry
Host, The Michael Berry Show
KTRH, Houston – iHeartRadio
Growing up in a small town, “word of mouth” was the most powerful form of advertising. It could make – or break – a business. Malcolm Gladwell’s important Tipping Point book explained that movements, pandemics, and other things that “catch on” do so because of the influence of “connectors” – people who are asked for their opinion. Today, the media world likes to call them “influencers.”
For 17 years, I’ve entertained listeners on the radio and on podcast. Our show has built what many in the industry tell me is an impressive business model. Like Gladwell, I created our own vocabulary and I am strident in enforcing the use of it. Because words matter. I explain to companies that they are our “sponsors,” not “advertisers.” I explain that they put their name behind our show, just as I do for them. In a commercial break stop-set that will be several “commercials” for “advertisers,” but only a couple of my “endorsements.” I don’t speak for a company unless I believe in what they do and how they do it. Likewise, I encourage listeners to send me feedback on their experience with my show’s sponsors. I forward those to the sponsors, either with a request that they address the shortcoming in the service or an attaboy for a job well done.
Listeners tune in to radio, particularly talk radio, to hear the opinions of the host. The host’s opinion matters. If he shares his opinion on movies he likes, foods he enjoys, political candidates he supports, that opinion can affect what the audience does. It is also true that – if his recommendation is trusted by the listener – it can affect the choices the audience makes when they buy something or hire someone to perform a service. But it has to be an “endorsement.”
The radio industry, for many, many years, failed to recognize the value and power of an endorsement. Sellers would sell advertising to clients and get the on-air talent to read the copy points the client (or agency) wrote. Often listlessly, just reading. That is not an endorsement. It is not a host suggesting to his audience where he would personally buy a new door for his home, or take his wife for dinner. If, however, the “read” (a term that reflects that the host is simply reading words someone else wrote) were instead an endorsement, he wouldn’t need all those details. Instead, with just the name of the company, and the owner, and the phone number, as well as what category they are in, he would be able to speak for 30 seconds about why that business is special, why he would (and hopefully has already) use them.
An endorsement is a stamp of approval. It says you believe in someone or something. If an endorsement is really an endorsement, it doesn’t need new copy points to be “freshened up.” It doesn’t include discount offers, seasonal sales, “get in quick before they run out” scares, or other silly tricks Americans long ago learned to ignore. Using that language kills credibility. If I ask you where I should buy my car, and you have a dealer you believe in, you’ll refer me to them, and, if you really like them, call them yourself and ask them to take care of me. “Hook me up” as the kids say. I’m not going anywhere else after an endorsement like that.
Radio (and podcast) has a big future, because of the connection audiences have with hosts. Why abuse that connection? Why cheapen it? Sales reps should understand that and make it part of their pitch. My best sales reps literally dial up companies in industries I identify and start with the question, “Do you listen to The Michael Berry Show?” If the answer is no, I don’t want them as sponsors. I want folks who understand why I’m controversial, why my audience listeners, what my values are.
Radio and podcast’s future is dependent on a sound business model that understands what makes us special, unique, and better than other forms of media.
Here is my list of suggestions to sellers and hosts, in hopes of facilitating better results for show sponsors:
— Sellers should never pitch a client without asking the talent first.
— Talent should not endorse a company without researching and approving them.
— Talent should tell sellers what sorts of things they WANT to endorse. Guns, cigars, home improvement, cars, medical. The best endorsement is something the talent will use himself. An avid gun owner is going to present a very compelling (and effective/profitable) endorsement for a gun range he visits once a week. Look at how weight loss sponsors have profited when the host follows their program and endorses it on air.
— If a sponsor isn’t committed to a yearlong relationship, don’t do it. It ruins credibility to change the endorsement inside the same category. Again, credibility is everything.
— Talent should develop personal relationships with sponsors. They can help listeners this way and the sponsors become show content.
— The value of talent to the station is far more than just ratings. Half my audience is 55+, so the 18-34 or 25-54 rating is less useful to me. But when show sponsors stay on air for 10 or more years, it is a ringing endorsement that what we do works. They vote with their dollars. The whole point of ratings was to show agencies how many people listened, in hopes that that vast listening audience would respond to the commercials they hear, thus monetizing the show, right? Why not go straight to the “dollars in (from the sponsor), dollars out (listeners spending money with sponsors)” model? Show sponsors who get tangible results from their partnership with talent don’t cancel their buy.
— Openly discuss how much money a talent brings into the station. The programming side of radio loves to talk about things that don’t generate dollars, while the sales side is often disconnected from the actual product they are selling. Fix that.
Michael Berry is a longtime, high-ranking member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred. He’s heard daily on KTRH, Houston and across the country on his own independent network. Michael Berry can be emailed at MichaelBerry@iheartmedia.com.
According to the Black Podcast Listener Report 2.0 from Edison Research with SXM Media and Mindshare USA, 43% of the Black 18+ population in the U.S. has listened to a podcast in the last month. Edison says that percentage is larger than the percentage of the overall 18+ population that reports listening to a podcast in the last month, which is 38%. Other findings of note from the study include: 1) Black women podcast listeners are more likely to be monthly listeners and Black men podcast listeners are more likely to be weekly listeners: Among Black monthly podcast listeners, 55% are women, but among Black weekly podcast listeners 52% are men; 2) Many Black monthly podcast listeners have begun listening to podcasts recently: 48% have been listening to podcasts less than a year; 27% have been listening less than six months; 3) 34% of Black monthly podcast listeners have stopped listening to a podcast they used to listen to regularly, but creators can address some of the reasons why: 24% of those who stopped listening said it was because the show stopped producing new episodes, 20% said they forgot about the show between seasons, 12% said the host offended them; and 4) Black weekly podcast listeners are more likely to engage with podcast advertisers than the overall U.S. weekly podcast listener: After hearing an ad on a podcast they regularly listen to, 61% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 49% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) recommended a product to a friend or family member; 68% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 63% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) gathered more information about a company or product; 52% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 44% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) purchased a product or service. Find out more about the report here.
Beasley Media Group is producing a new program hosted by developmental psychologist Dr. Cooper Lawrence and radio personality Anthony Michaels that will air in evenings (7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight) on WRXK-FM, Fort Myers; WPBB-FM, Tampa; and KXTE-FM, Las Vegas. Beasley says that “Cooper and Anthony” is a “new conversational talk show, geared towards men, that will focus on sex, relationships and advice!” The duo has worked together since 2006, including a formerly syndicated radio show and a podcast. Beasley Media Group chief content officer Justin Chase says, “As someone who grew up listening to fun and edgy night shows like ‘Loveline’ and others, I’m very excited to launch the ‘Cooper & Anthony’ show on three of our great rock brands. They will most certainly make radio a lot more interesting at night in Fort Myers, Tampa and Vegas.” Cooper states, “This is the show I got into radio to do. I’ve been waiting for the right team with the same vision. We found it with the amazing folks at Beasley. Anthony and I can’t wait to share this show with our listening family, because it’s all about them!”
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
It looks like the podcast business is hitting those ever-present speedbumps.
No, I am not predicting a demise. I’m just asking why there weren’t a few more hardball questions.
If you sell or manage with eyes wide open, you’ve already read what the February 15 New York Times article chronicled. The cutbacks, drops, and hiring freezes hitting the double-digit-growth podcast business has some in the radio business saying, “Told ya so.”
Who has the chutzpah to say that to Tom Brady and Michael Strahan of Religion of Sports, or Michelle Obama of “The Michelle Obama Podcast?” When your bank account is on fumes, you speak the economic truth. The formula of star power driving unique audio content didn’t instantly convert to super-sized audience levels attracting super-sized revenue. What did VOX, Spotify, Amazon, NPR and other well-respected players miss?
— Never assume, (because assuming…) An out-of-the-box assumption listeners would pay for content to create a separate income stream, didn’t really take. Even the most aggressive marketer would think twice before assuming that listeners generating millions of downloads of free podcasts would suddenly pay to listen. Maybe a select few passionate followers would, but could you change the historic perceived value of the masses? When it comes to paywalls for play, be sure to test, adjust, and re-test before you project income.
— Ad sales sell out levels. A typical podcast has about a quarter of the inventory available in a typical hour of most news/talk and sports talk programs. Yet despite podcasts with limited inventory and higher CPM for host-read ads inside the podcasts, the projections from those well-respected companies tanked. The reason is elegantly simple. Too much podcast inventory chasing too few dollars.
— It’s the economy, stupid. Thank you, political strategist James Carville. The story goes the phrase was on a sign in Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters and helped Clinton beat Geroge Bush in 1992. Did any of the gurus consider the economy?
— Who would have thought print newspaper sales have something in common with podcasts? Did anyone consider the impact of endless ad inventory becoming a commodity despite celebrity content? Never easy to predict which celebs will convert from the big screen or TV to podcast audio.
I had the privilege of producing cast members of Discovery’s “American Chopper” in a 39-episode podcast series. Even those crazy motorcycle dudes were challenged bringing their millions of TV and online fans to the podcast world. Hindsight is 20/20. Let’s never stop learning so we can always aim for higher earnings.
Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com