Industry Views

Monday Memo: WHY Are You Podcasting?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imBecause you can? Because you aren’t doing AM/FM radio? Because you are on radio, but can’t-do-there what you can-do podcasting? Because you are making money podcasting?

Podcasters I help must first survive a conversation about WHY. “It’s a success…if…” WHAT?

Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly reckons that “a creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, video maker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 true fans to make a living.”

Devour these four pages he wrote – a genuine whack-on-the-side-of-the-head – and the structure for my coaching: http://getonthenet.com/1000TrueFans.pdf

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What you read there may change how you approach the podcast you’re doing… or nudge you into podcasting if you don’t. As does the Edison Research 2024 Infinite Dial survey. Here’s that download, and a cautionary video from TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison: http://getonthenet.com/podcasting.html

Next Monday is Memorial Day here in the USA, so I’ll be back here on “…the third of June.” If you work mornings, this is my last column you will see before your show that day, so make a note in your bumper file: Bobbie Gentry, “Ode to Billy Joe.”

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of The Local Radio Advantage: Your 4-Week Tune-In Tune-Up,” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn

Industry News

TALKERS 2024: Radio and Beyond Set for Friday, June 7

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TALKERS 2024, the 27th annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national conference is set and going to be one of the storied event’s most important installments. The power-packed, one-day event will again be presented by TALKERS on Friday, June 7, 2024, on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York in association with the prestigious university’s multi-award-winning station WRHU Radio. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We are delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2016 events – and enjoy the remarkable resources that its Lawrence Herbert School of Communication brings to the table.” TALKERS 2024 will boldly address key issues – some existential – facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture of rapidly accelerating technological and societal change as well as identifying the remarkable opportunities inherent in these developments. The focus, as always, will be on talk radio and its changing relationship with the larger arena of “audio” and “video” including podcasting, satellite, and digital venues. News/talk, sports talk, all-news, and general talk will be amply covered. The conference will also provide participants with unique and powerful networking opportunities. There will be over 50 top industry speakers and registration will be limited to insure intimacy. Attendance at the conference is limited to members of the working media and directly associated industries as well as communication students enrolled in accredited learning institutions. All attendees will be required to register in advance on the phone payable by credit card. Because attendance will be limited and the agenda outstanding, the conference is again expected to be an early sellout. The all-inclusive registration fee covering convention events, exhibits, food, and services for the day is $379. Take advantage of the early bird fee of $279 available until 5:00 pm ET on Friday, March 15. Because space will be limited and a sellout is anticipated, all registrations are non-refundable. To register for TALKERS 2024 or to obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413. Nearby hotel information will be posted here shortly.

Industry News

Audacy Files for Chapter 11 and Enters into Restructuring Support Agreement

On Sunday (1/7) Audacy, Inc entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) with a supermajority of its debtholders on the terms of a comprehensive restructuring that the company says will “significantly deleverage its balance sheet and further position Audacy for long-term growth.” Through the restructuring, Audacy and its debtholders will undertake a deleveraging transaction to equitize approximately $1.6 billion of funded debt, a reduction of 80% from approximately $1.9 billion to approximately $350 million. The company does not expect any operational impact from the restructuring, and trade and other unsecured creditors will not be impaired. To implement the deleveraging transaction contemplated in the RSA, Audacy and certain of its subsidiaries commenced prepackaged Chapter 11im proceedings in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas and has filed a proposed Plan of Reorganization that incorporates the terms of the RSA and is subject to approval by the Court. Under the terms of the RSA, a supermajority of debtholders committed to vote in favor of the Plan, which, when approved, will reduce Audacy’s funded debt from approximately $1.9 billion to approximately $350 million. Audacy’s debtholders will receive equity in reorganized Audacy. Audacy expects that the Court will hold a hearing to consider the approval of the Plan in February and to emerge from bankruptcy once regulatory approval is obtained from the Federal Communications Commission. Audacy has filed with the Court a series of customary “First Day Motions” to obtain Court authority for the Company to continue operating its business in the ordinary course without disruption to its advertisers, vendors, partners or employees. Audacy expects to operate normally during this restructuring process under its current leadership team. During the Chapter 11 process, certain of Audacy’s existing lenders have committed to provide $57 million in debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing, comprised of $32 million of a new term loan and a $25 million upsize of the Company’s existing accounts receivables financing facility from $75 million to $100 million. Subject to the Court’s approval, the DIP financing and the Company’s cash from operations and available reserves is expected to enable Audacy to fulfill commitments to employees, advertisers, partners and vendors. Audacy common stock will continue to trade over-the-counter under the symbol “AUDA” through the pendency of the Chapter 11 process. The shares are expected to be canceled and receive no distribution as part of Audacy’s restructuring. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David J. Field states, “Over the past few years, we have strategically transformed Audacy into a leading, scaled multi-platform audio content and entertainment company through our acquisition of CBS Radio and by building leading complementary positions in podcasting, audio networks, live events, digital marketing solutions and our direct-to-consumer streaming platform. While our transformation has enhanced our competitive position, the perfect storm of sustained macroeconomic challenges over the past four years facing the traditional advertising market has led to a sharp reduction of several billion dollars in cumulative radio ad spending. These market factors have severely impacted our financial condition and necessitated our balance sheet restructuring. With our scaled leadership position, our uniquely differentiated premium audio content and a robust capital structure, we believe Audacy will emerge well positioned to continue its innovation and growth in the dynamic audio business.”

Industry News

Webinar: New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube

Steven Goldstein’s Amplifi Media and Coleman InsightsJay Nachlis are presenting a free 30-minute webinar today (9/7) at 2:00 pm ET that addresses what Goldstein calls “truly an important shift taking place in podcasting right now that affects how your podcast will be found. YouTube is now the top destination for podcast listening and discovery. The impact is significant in a variety of ways.” Goldstein says today’s webinar “will show you how people are using YouTube and offer seven key insights on how to maximize your podcast’s exposure in a sea of content.” The link for the webinar is here.

Industry News

Benztown Offers Free Labor Day AudioPack

Radio imaging, voiceover, programming, podcasting, and jingles company Benztown is offering radio stations a free Labor Day Weekend AudioPack. Available now through September 1, the Benztown Labor Day Weekendim AudioPack has 20 pieces of audio available to download including SFX and musicbeds. It includes party ambiance, sunny musicbeds, Labor Day listener drops, glass clinking, beer-drinking, BBQ sizzlin’, pool splashing SFX. Find out more here.

Industry News

iHeartMedia Second Quarter Revenue Down 3.6%

Reporting its operating results for the second quarter of 2023, iHeartMedia reveals net revenue of $920 million, a decline of 3.6% over the same period in 2022. The company reports an operating loss of $897 million compared to the operating income of $82.9 million it reported in Q2 of 2022. After posting a net income of $15.1 million in the second quarter of 2022, the company reports a net loss of $882.9 million in Q2 of 2023. Looking atim iHeartMedia’s financial by segment, broadcast radio revenue was $429 million, a decline of 7.2% over Q2 of 2022. Network radio was $122 million (down 4.2%), digital revenue (excluding podcast) was $164 million (down 1.6%), and podcasting revenue was $96.7 million (up 12.9%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased to report that our second quarter 2023 results reflected Adjusted EBITDA slightly above the midpoint of the guidance range, and more than double the Adjusted EBITDA we generated in the first quarter, and our consolidated revenue were above the guidance range. The continued positive performance of our Digital Audio Group, led by our Podcasting business, and the significantly improved relative performance of our Multiplatform Group during this soft advertising period, are encouraging metrics for us, and we’re seeing indications of improving macroeconomic trends which we expect to have a positive impact for us in the second half of the year, with most of that impact in Q4.”

Industry News

TALKERS Vice President/Executive Editor Kevin Casey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast

Last month marked the 33rd anniversary of the launch of TALKERS magazine – the talk media industry trade publication founded by Michael Harrison in July of 1990. The term “talk media” established and popularized byim the journal refers to AM, FM, online and satellite talk radio, cable news/talk TV, and talk podcasting.

Marking this third-of-a-century milestone, TALKERS longtime VP/executive editor, Kevin Casey is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Casey, then a program director for Clear Channel’s WHYN, imSpringfield, MA, joined TALKERS as its managing editor almost a quarter-of-a-century ago in 2000. The big story during that pre-9/11 year was the excruciatingly inconclusive presidential election between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore that took over a month to settle.

Michael Harrison states, “I’ve been blessed with a tremendous group of media professionals who operated and built TALKERS into the established communications vehicle that it has proven to be in many ways paralleling the growth of talk radio and its offshoots for more than three decades. One of the key individuals who has been responsible for its growth and longevity is my dear colleague, Kevin Casey.”

In a casual conversation between longtime friends and co-workers, Harrison and Casey take stock of the publication’s journey which parallels the historic role of talk radio’s modern era. Hear the complete podcast here.

Industry News

TALKERS Celebrates 33rd Year of Publishing

Today begins the 34th year of publishing for TALKERS magazine as a trade journal serving the talk media industry. The first issue rolled off the presses in the form of a tabloid newspaper on Monday July 23, 1990 focusing primarily on talk radio.  Since then it has grown and evolved with the industry to go through severalim format phases including a full color magazine and eventually a daily online operation geared to providing news, advice and opinions to professionals involved in programming, managing, marketing and operating an array of related platforms in what has come to be known as talk media.  This includes most popular forms of spoken-word AM and FM radio, plus online programming, podcasting, cable television and satellite broadcasting. During this period, TALKERS has produced and presented 26 national conventions in New York and another three in Los Angeles. Add to that more than 35 regional, national and international forums about the field and countless radio rows including several at the White House in conjunction with both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. TALKERS remains and will continue to be a non-partisan proponent of the First Amendment with a great love and passion for talk media’s roots in the century old medium of radio.

Industry News

Harrison and Madison Tackle a Variety of Issues on Sirius Show

Heavy Hundred titan Joe Madison interviewed TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison Tuesday morning (6/20)im on his long-running “Urban View” channel program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The two legendary radio figures took a deep-dive into the subjects of podcasting, AM radios in cars, the role of boomers in today’s culture and the way in which the annual TALKERS Heavy Hundred list is compiled. Don’t miss this conversation! Listen to the audio here.

Industry News

Lee Davis to Lead Audacy’s Reorganized Sports Sales Team

Audacy announces a new “sales and enablement team dedicated to accelerating growth within the company’s sports vertical” to be led by the company’s Lee Davis, who is named senior vice president of the team. Audacy says Davis’ team is “charged with developing high-value, high-return programs leveraging the power of Audacy’s sports platform across its broadcast,im streaming, podcasting, and wagertainment properties. Under Davis’ leadership, the team will be responsible for sales and execution, managing the entire client lifecycle.” Audacy chief revenue officer Brian Benedik comments, “No medium delivers more value for sports than audio. People are spending more time than ever with broadcast radio, streaming and podcasts, and the demand for compelling sports content across these channels is growing exponentially. Through our best-in-imclass sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.” Audacy says, “From 1990 to 2005, Davis was key in building WFAN into America’s #1 sports radio station, overseeing local and national sales, programming and marketing, helping shape it into the highest-grossing station in the country.” Davis rejoined Audacy in 2018 to lead the reboot of Traffic Weather Information Network’s on-air content and ad operations teams.

Industry News

IAB: 2022 Podcast Revenue Rises 26%

At this year’s IAB Podcast Upfront, the IAB released the results of its U.S. Podcast Advertising 2022 Revenue & 2023-2025 Growth Projections study and concludes that “podcasting continues to be one of the fastest growing digital channels, growing two times faster than digital advertising overall.” The report, byim PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, “quantifies annual podcast advertising revenues generated over the past year, analyzes revenue share by ad category and content genre, and forecasts future revenues through 2025.” The study says the top revenue-generating content genres are Sports (15%), Society & Culture (14%), and Comedy (14%) and have taken the lead from News and Political Opinion content (down from 19% to 12%). IAB VP, media center Eric John says, “In-person sports, lifestyle events, and in-store shopping have come back in a big way, taking the lead from news which held the top revenue genre spot since 2018. Podcasting revenue naturally reflects that shift in consumer behavior and it will be interesting to watch how the balance changes going forward.” He adds, “Both mass and niche advertisers like the audiences, targeting, and ROI along with the brand-safe and suitable environments that podcasting offers.” See the complete report here.

Industry News

Audacy First Quarter Revenue Falls 5.7%

The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2023 was $259.6 million, a decrease of 5.7% over Q1 of 2022. Audacy reports that total operating expenses increased 1.9% and it is reporting an operating loss of $12.2 million compared to the operating income of $8.5 million it reported in the first quarter of 2022. Theim company posts a Q1 2023 net loss of $35.9 million, an increase of 225% compared to Q1 of 2022. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David J. Field states, “First quarter revenues were down 5.7% with local sales significantly outperforming national as challenging ad market conditions persisted. Cash operating expenses were up 3% during the quarter but are expected to be below prior-year levels for the remainder of 2023. Notwithstanding the difficult economic headwinds, we remain steadfastly focused on delivering significantly higher future levels of Adjusted EBITDA, capitalizing on our multiple growth drivers and our differentiated premium competitive position in the dynamic audio market. We are making progress on each of our drivers, including our podcasting and digital marketing solutions businesses, our reinvented streaming audio platform, our emerging ad tech and ad products, and our enhanced national enterprise business development efforts. In addition, we are encouraged to see some positive signs in our auto business as we continue our vigorous work to weather the storm and await future improvements in market conditions.”

Industry News

TALKERS 2023 Nearing Early Sellout

With slightly less than a month to go, TALKERS 2023, the 26th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national gathering, is nearing an early advance sellout. The one-day, power-packed conference will take place on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island. It is presented by TALKERS magazine in association with Hofstra’s nationally acclaimed radio station, WRHU-FM/WRHU.org. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “There is particularly strong interest in the event this year – perhaps because of the huge influence talk media – especially news/talk radio, cable news/talk TV, sports/talk radio and podcasting – are exacting on the national conversation. At the same time, all of these platforms are facing major existential issues ranging from challenges generating revenue, navigating controversy, and competing against technologically induced cultural sea-changes.” Casey adds, “The magnificent setting of Hofstra really works well for this conference. The state of the art theater is wonderfully spacious – which means a lot during what will hopefully be the tail end of COVID; the broadcasting facilities for those attendees who’ll be doing their shows live from the site are second-to-none; the breakfast, lunch and closing reception events take place outdoors under an open tent in a delightful and health-minded setting; the agenda features more than 60 outstanding speakers and directly addresses the key questions facing the industry. Knowledge and connections are power. TALKERS 2023 will provide the latest information and it is a fantastic networking opportunity.” Conference director Michael Harrison says, “This industry conference is steeped in history, tradition and dynamic purpose. Careers and lives change at the TALKERS conference!” Register now to avoid being shut out. See more about the agenda, registration, sponsorship and hotel information here.

Industry News

TALKERS 2023 Panel Examines Podcasting Talk Radio Perspective

There’s a lot being said lately about podcasting but much of it is from the consumer or amateur perspective.  Within the talk radio business, podcasting plays an important but idiosyncratic role that has specific ties to talent, sales, and the extension of branding. The forthcoming TALKERS 2023 conference on June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island will present a panel discussion charged with tightly focusing on the relationship between the talk radio industry – specifically its talent, stations and networks – and the burgeoning-but-murky world of podcasting.

Moderated by Lisa Wexler, talk show host, WICC, Bridgeport, CT, the panel will consist of (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, SVP, The Weiss AgencySteve Goldstein, CEO, Amplifi Media;  Ron Hartenbaum, managing partner, WYD MediaChris Oliviero, market president, Audacy New York;  David Pakman, talk show host/commentator, The David Pakman Show; and Larry Young, talk show host, The Larry Young Podcast.

 The session will aggressively address such questions as: What are the different types of podcasts associated with radio and what are their purposes? How can radio companies utilize podcasting to expand their brands while not watering down ratings or personnel energy?  What are the developing models for podcast monetization?  How can a talk talent use podcasting to forge an independent career? Plus a whole lot more.

The details of other panels and sessions addressing programming, sales, sports talk, career navigation, news and more will be posted in TALKERS during the next few days and weeks leading up to the big event.

TALKERS 2023 will take place on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island is on its way to an early sellout.  You can see the list of in-person speakers and get registration and hotel information here.

Industry News

Audacy Insights: Radio Killed the Video Star

An Audacy Insights piece by company chief marketing officer Paul Suchman lays out the case that audio – radio/streaming/podcasts – is a more effective marketing tool than video (the traditional darling of media planners). Suchman writes that this argument “is among the ultimate tussles between media planners and publishers. While some may lean more heavily toward video, we at Audacy respectfully disagree.” He makes a five-point argument in audio’s favor saying it wins in reach, time spent using, is more immersive, activates all senses, and drives recall. Read the complete story here.

Industry News

TALKERS News Notes

Salem Media Group is promoting its planned coverage of the booking of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan today (4/4). Salem Radio Network talk personality Mike Gallagher leads the Special Report coverage streaming on the Salem News Channel at 2:00 pm ET.

Edison Research, in partnership with NPR, is presenting a webinar on April 13 at 2:00 pm ET titled, “Hit Play, Boomer! Podcasting’s Age 55+ Opportunity.” Edison says, “Forty-two percent of Baby Boomers in the U.S. – those age 55+ – have ever listened to a podcast. Attend the webinar to learn more about what has shaped Baby Boomers in the U.S. and what their media habits look like today. Learn how they consume audio and which podcasts index the highest for listening among Boomers.”

The National Association of Broadcasters announces its new campaign highlighting the importance of AM radio in the car for news, community engagement, entertainment and vital public safety information. The campaign includes a website with a grassroots call to action and new tools for stations to highlight the importance of AM radio. This campaign is being launched as some automakers have stripped AM radio out of certain vehicle models.

Industry News Uncategorized

TheVerge: Why iHeartMedia’s Conal Byrne is Bullish on Podcasting

Conal Byrne, the CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group, spoke with Nilay Patel about the podcasting industry at TheVerge’s recent Hot Pod Summit. In the wide-ranging interview, Byrne says iHeartMedia’s structure with its radio group part of the Multiplatform Division and podcasting part of the Digital Audio Group does not limit how the two interact. “To be clear though, there’s a whole lot of fluidity between these segments.Conal Byrne - iHeartMedia One thousand or so of the sellers that I mentioned sit in the multi-platform group, and they certainly sell all the assets we have. We have this mantra at the company that ‘Any seller can sell anything any day of the week wherever they live and work,’ and that has rung pretty true. That’s driven most of our growth in podcasting over the last two, three, four years at the company.” He also credits iHeartMedia’s history as a radio company with educating him about how radio personalities have developed the art of conversation. “But I have learned firsthand and talked a lot about the extent to which broadcast radio talent has honed this craft of conversation over the last hundred years and certainly the last few decades, and the extent to which that has driven our medium, just sheer talent hitting the medium, but also with an awareness of the medium.” Read the full story here.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Being Realistic About Podcast Revenue

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

Talkers Magazine - Talk radioIt 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