Industry News

Salem Media Group Q1 2024 Revenue Down 8.3%

The first quarter of 2024 brought in net revenue of $58.6 million, a decline of 8.3% from the same period in 2023 for Salem Media Group. The company’s broadcast revenue fell 4.6% to $46 million, while its digital media revenue rose 1.9% to $10.7 million. The company reports a net loss of $5.1 million, basically the same as it reported in Q1 of 2023. Regarding its revenue,im Salem states, “Revenue growth from the sale of broadcast airtime is negatively impacted by audiences spending less time commuting, certain automobile manufacturers removing AM radio signals, increases in other forms of content distribution, and decreases in the length of time spent listening to broadcast radio as compared to audio streaming services, podcasts, and satellite radio. These factors may lead advertisers to conclude that the effectiveness of radio has diminished. We continue to enhance our digital assets to complement our broadcast content. The increased use of smart speakers and other voice activated platforms that provide audiences with the ability to access AM and FM radio stations offers potential sources for radio broadcasters to reach audiences. Our broadcast advertising revenue is particularly dependent on advertising from our Los Angeles and Dallas markets, which generated 15.3% and 18.4%, respectively, of our total net broadcast advertising revenue during the three-month period ended March 31, 2023, compared to 15.1% and 18.7%, respectively, of our total net broadcast advertising revenue during the three- month period ended March 31, 2024.”

Industry News

Liberty Media Proposes SiriusXM Merger

Numerous news outlets are reporting the proposal by Liberty Media to merge its business with an 83% stake in SiriusXM – Liberty SiriusXM Group (LSXM) – with the satellite radio company that become aim publicly traded company controlled by the conglomerate. Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei says, “SiriusXM minority shareholders will also benefit from enhanced trading dynamics, including increased liquidity and likelihood of future index inclusion.” A merger between the two would result in SiriusXM minority investors owning about 16% of the new company, with Liberty Media controlling the rest. SiriusXM says it is evaluating the offer. Read the CNBC story here.

Industry Views

The Birth of the Car Radio

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday

imA beautiful night. Paul Galvin and William Lear took their girlfriends to a romantic look-out view. Paul asked, “Isn’t this great?” His girlfriend replied, “It would better if we could hear music.”

That set Galvin and Lear on a mission to get entertainment into the car. A car radio. They were tinkerers. Galvin owned a failed battery manufacturing company. Lear and Galvin were smart but broke.

They ultimately invented a prototype radio for the car, but it was massive and complicated. No car battery could power it, the radio required its own big battery which was stored under the seat. The antenna was netting covering the roof. Their biggest challenge was static generated by the car’s starter, transmission, battery, lights – you name it. Galvin and Lear traced each source to correct the trouble-making components one by one. Parts of the radio had to be placed in different locations throughout the car. For example, the receiver was mounted on the engine, the controls on the dash.

Finally, still broke, they drove their Studebaker loaded with radio to the bank to apply for a loan to back the venture. The banker agreed to test drive the car for a night. Unfortunately, it caught fire in his garage and no loan was granted. Next Galvin traveled 800 hundred miles to a radio manufacturer convention. He sat outside the convention hall, played the radio loud and attracted enough orders for the radio to continue his quest.

The trouble continued. It was an expensive install: $600 for a $3,000 car. Many people thought it was dangerous to listen to the radio in the car – a distraction. Municipalities tried to ban it fearing it was a driver attention hazard. Supporters of the ban argued that many types of radio programming could put drivers to sleep. Surveys showed most Americans believed car radios were dangerous.

Oh, and the name they gave the device was horrible: 7FT1. Galvin came up with a new name that was both descriptive and synched with the times, Motorola. Partner William Lear went on the invent the Lear Jet.

Chevrolet installed the first reasonably priced Motorola radios in the early 1920s.

The objections were overcome by an initiative of the Radio Manufacturers Association: They argued that car radios actually helped people become better drivers. They pointed out that radios informed drivers about hazardous road conditions that lie ahead and weather conditions that may disrupt their travel. Supporters of car radios also said that radios actually helped to keep drivers awake when they became drowsy.

Conclusion: Are they nuts? A car can park itself but can’t handle an AM radio, those tech challenges were solved in 1920 – by the inventors of the Lear Jet and of your cell phone. Are manufacturers looking for a “display allowance?” Satellite radio was launched by paying zillions for a slot in the dash. Do carmakers want that for AM radios? Forget the EAS which nobody has ever heard and wasn’t activated during 9/11 in New York City. Weather, traffic, gospel, more gospel, compelling talk shows. (One Cleveland AM station runs the SAME Al Sharpton show from dusk Fridays till dawn Monday.) The better the shows, well, the better.

Sure, write your Member of Congress but you will find more vigilant allies among the preachers. You may recall that in the 1990s there was great debate about the proper deployment of the UHF spectrum. Allegedly, at his inauguration President Bill Clinton shook the hand of UHF TV icon, Billy Graham, who looked the president in the eye and said, “Don’t take away my TV stations.”

Walter Sabo was the youngest Executive Vice President in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at walter@sabomedia.com. or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at www.waltersterlingshow.comMeet Walter Sabo at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2.

Industry News

SiriusXM Cuts Workforce by 8%

News of satellite radio firm SiriusXM cutting 8% of its staff – about 475 jobs – is being widely reported after CEO Jennifer Witz sent a companywide email revealing the company’s plans. In her comments regarding the company’s 2022 fourth quarter and full-year operating results, Witz called 2022 a “strong year,” but added, “In 2023, we expect SiriusXM to deliver strong operating performance and generate significant cash, even as we face a challenging economic environment and continue to make material investments in our technologyLogo - Trademark infrastructure.” Witz adds, “Over the past five years, our business has grown and expanded with the addition of new acquisitions, business lines, and revenue streams. Now, we have completed an assessment of our departments and functions to determine where we can improve collaboration, consolidate teams to achieve greater efficiencies, and ultimately, design an organization structure that is best positioned to achieve our priorities. As a result, nearly every department across SiriusXM will be impacted. We believe the new operational design will allow us to move faster and more effectively as we take on new challenges across our business.” While numerous companies report net losses each quarter, SiriusXM has been reporting net income for some time. The company reported net income of $1.2 billion for 2022, but that was a decline of $100 million from the $1.3 billion in net income it reported for 2021.