Industry News

Audacy First Quarter Net Revenue Rises 1%

Audacy reports Q1 2024 net revenue of $261.8 million, an increase of 1% over the first quarter of 2023. The company reports a net loss of $1.85 million, a marked decline from the net loss of $35.9 million it reported in Q1 of 2023. While local and national spot revenue fell 3.5% to $153.5 million, digital revenue was up 10.2% to $62.7 million and network revenue rose 10.4% to $21.9 million. Audacy also reportsim revenue for its stations by general format and the company’s sports revenue was $56.6 million – an increase of 6.5% – while its news/talk revenue fell 5.5% to $40 million. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David J. Field comments, “Audacy delivered a solid start to 2024 with Q1 EBITDA increasing 173% vs the prior year. Second-quarter revenues are currently pacing up low-single imdigits, and we expect another quarter of substantial EBITDA growth, enhanced by our continuing work on expense reductions. Our improving results are predominantly attributable to a significant acceleration in digital revenue growth, continuing meaningful revenue share gains, and declining expenses as our transformational investments bear fruit. As previously announced, we received court approval of our consensual pre-packaged Plan of Reorganization, which will reduce our debt by 80%, and are now awaiting FCC approval to complete the process. I want to salute our team for their excellent work in driving financial and operating progress while simultaneously executing our reorganization plan, all without disruption to customers, listeners, partners, vendors or our staff.

Industry News

Cumulus Reports Q1 Net Revenue Declines 2.7%

The company reports net revenue of $200.1 million in the first quarter of 2024, a decrease of 2.7% from the same period in 2023. Cumulus CEO Mary Berner states, “While our Q1 revenue was in line with guidance and a marked improvement from 2023 trends, it is also reflective of the uncertainty thatim continues to weigh on advertisers. With the advertising environment still unsettled, these new terms (spelled out in the preceding story) provide us additional time and flexibility to execute against our key business priorities – accelerating digital growth, reducing fixed costs, and continuing to de-lever our balance sheet – each of which is foundational to our ability to build long-term shareholder value.” The company took a net loss of $14.2 million in Q1, but it was far less than the net loss of $21.5 million it reported in Q1 of 2023. Cumulus breaks out its revenue in segments and the total broadcast revenue for Q1 of 2024 was $139.7 million, down 5.6% from Q1 of 2023. Spot revenue was $90.5 million (down 7.3%) and network revenue was $49.2 million (down 2.3%). The company’s digital segment reports revenue of $34.5 million, up 7.3% over the first quarter of 2023.

Industry News

Cumulus Media Q4 2023 Revenue Declines 11.9%

Reporting its operating results for the fourth quarter of 2023 and for the full year of 2023, Cumulus Media Group reveals Q4 net revenue of $221 million, a decrease of 11.9% from the same period in 2022. The company posted a net loss of $54,000 in Q4 of 2022 compared to the net loss of $98 million it reports for Q4 of 2023. For the full year of 2023, net revenue was $844.5 million – a decrease of 11.4%im from the full year of 2022. Cumulus reported net income of $16.2 million for 2022, while posting a net loss of $117.9 million for the full year of 2023. Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “While 2023 was a tough year across the media landscape, we were able to offset some of the effects of the weak national advertising climate through strong execution in our key focus areas. Specifically, we grew our digital businesses, meaningfully reduced fixed costs, and improved our balance sheet. Looking ahead, though national advertisers are expressing interest in increasing their radio buys, as of yet, ad demand remains choppy, reducing our visibility into the rest of 2024. That said, our industry-leading performance during similarly weak macro environments gives us significant confidence in our ability to navigate through this one and rebound strongly when the advertising market improves.” Looking at Cumulus’ business segments, the digital segment to which Berner refers was up 5% in Q4 of 2023 to $39.6 million, but total broadcast revenue during the quarter was down 18.2%. Spot revenue declined 18.3% and network revenue was off 17.9% in Q4 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Industry News

Cumulus Media 2023 Q3 Revenue Falls 11%

Cumulus Media Inc is the first audio group to report third quarter 2023 operating results in a year that’s been challenging for all media reliant on advertising. Today’s Q3 report reveals net revenue of $207 million, a decline of 11% over the same period in 2022. Cumulus reports net income during the quarter of $2.7 million, down 68% from a year ago. However, for the first nine months of 2023, the company reportsim a net loss of $19.8 million. Cumulus reports in segments, and for the Q3 period total broadcast radio revenue was $146 million, down 17.4% from a year ago. Spot revenue was down 15.2% while network revenue declined 22.8% from Q3 of 2022. Cumulus’ digital segment reports revenue of $37.2 million, an increase of 6.6%, year-over-year. Cumulus CEO Mary G. Berner states, “Third quarter revenue and Adjusted EBITDA finished in line with expectations with results reflecting the continued dichotomy between local imand national business lines. Despite the challenging environment, we maximized performance by continuing to focus on areas we can control, including growing each of our digital businesses, reducing costs, and improving our balance sheet through non-core asset sales and debt reduction. These actions have further improved the company’s revenue growth profile, operating leverage, financial flexibility, and strategic optionality and, collectively, position us to rebound when the advertising environment improves. While we are continuing to see weakness in national markets, as companies are starting to set their 2024 marketing budgets, we are seeing some initial indications from key national advertisers in several categories that sentiment is improving for next year. That tone, combined with the anticipation of a robust political spending cycle, gives us cautious optimism that we may be seeing the early signs of a market recovery.”

Industry News

Audacy Q2 2023 Net Revenue Falls 6.6%

On Friday (8/4), Audacy reported its operating results for the second quarter of 2023. Net revenue for the period was $298.5 million, down 6.6% from the same period in 2022. The company posted an operating loss of $135.3 million, compared to operating income of $23.3 million reported in Q2 of 2022. Audacy reports a net loss of $125.8 million, compared to the net loss of $773,000 it reported for the second quarter of 2022. Breaking down the company’s revenue streams, Spot revenue (local and national) was $187.1 million (down 3.7%), whileim Network revenue was $20.8 million (down 4.4%). Digital revenue was $66.7 million (down 4%). Audacy also reports revenue based on radio format and says revenue from sports stations was $65.6 million (up 1.2%), while revenue from all-news and news/talk was $44 million (down 14.8%). Revenue from music-formatted stations was $ 145.3 million (down 8.3%). Audacy chairman, president and CEO David J. Field comments, “Second quarter net revenues were down 6.6% in line with our quarterly guidance, imreflecting challenging ad market conditions. During the quarter, we saw accelerated growth across certain of our key performance metrics including radio revenue share, station audience ratings, and digital platform usage. We also made meaningful progress on our ad tech and ad product roadmap as we work to develop important new pools of digital demand and growth… We have initiated discussions with our lenders to enhance our balance sheet and establish a strong financial footing to enable the company to capitalize on its growth opportunities. Notwithstanding current challenges, Audacy has established a prominent position as a scaled, leading multi-platform audio company distinguished by our exclusive premium content, top positions across the country’s largest markets, and unrivaled leadership in news and sports radio. We continue to invest in our people, platform, content, technology and capabilities and serve our listeners and customers with excellence. Ad market conditions remain challenging but have stabilized entering the third quarter. We are pacing down 4% with local spot considerably stronger than national spot. We expect Audacy’s Q3 revenues to decline by mid-single digits.”

Industry News

Cumulus Media Second Quarter Net Revenue Falls 11%

Cumulus Media Inc is the first radio company to report its financial results for the second quarter of 2023 and post Q2 net revenue of $210.1 million, a decrease of 11.2% over the same period in 2022. The company also posts a net loss of $1.1 million for the quarter, compared to the $8.6 million in net earnings it reported for Q2 of 2022. Breaking down the company’s revenue by segment, digital is the only segment that didn’t report a double-digit decline ($37.5 million, down 0.7%). Spot revenue was $107.1 million (down 15.7%) and network revenue was $39.7 million (down 18.5%). Cumulus notes that its total debt as of June 30, 2023 was $680.9 million.im Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Despite continued challenges in the overall market, our second quarter revenue performed in-line with expectations while Adjusted EBITDA exceeded them. As in prior quarters, we generated strong revenue growth in our digital marketing services business, implemented meaningful cost reductions, and further improved our balance sheet by generating cash from operations and reducing our total and net debt to the lowest levels in more than a decade. Additionally, we executed a highly accretive and opportunistic tender offer, which resulted in the retirement of approximately 10% of our shares outstanding. Our proven track record of strong operational and financial execution in adverse conditions gives us unwavering confidence in our ability to optimize results in the current weak ad market and rebound strongly when the environment improves. In the meantime, we will continue to invest in our digital businesses, further enhance our operating leverage through additional cost reductions, and execute on our strategy to opportunistically deploy capital to maximize long-term shareholder value.”

Industry News

Cumulus Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 11%

Cumulus Media’s net revenue for the first quarter of 2023 was $205.6 million, a decline of 11% over the same period in 2022. The company’s net loss ballooned to $21.4 million from the net loss of $905,000 it reported in Q1 of 2022. Breaking down Cumulus’ revenue by segment, total broadcast revenue was $148 million – down 12.5% year-over-year – led by network revenue (-22.9%), and followed by spot revenue (down 6%). Digital revenue was $32 million, up just 0.6% over the first quarter of 2022. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary G. Berner comments, “Extending our track record of strong operational and financial execution duringim challenging times, in the first quarter, we grew our digital marketing services revenue by more than 23%, completed the sale of WFAS-FM, continued to repurchase shares and retire debt at a discount, and have now executed $10 million of additional annualized cost reductions. That said, the impact of the considerable macro-driven weakness in the national advertising market, as well as the unfavorable prior year political and WynnBET comparisons, ultimately resulted in total revenue and Adjusted EBITDA declines. Though the difficult national market trends persist, we have confidence in our ability to successfully navigate adverse environments such as this one. Specifically, since 2019 through the COVID-impacted years, we have had best-in-class performance in terms of fixed cost reduction, Adjusted EBITDA margin recovery, Adjusted EBITDA to free cash flow conversion and net debt reduction. With our current liquidity profile and solid balance sheet, we believe that we are not only well-positioned to weather the current storm but will rebound strongly when the market eventually recovers.”

Industry News

Cumulus Media Q4 2022 Revenue Dips; Up 4% for Full Year

Reporting its operating results for the fourth quarter of 2022 and for the full year, Cumulus Media says Q4 net revenue was $251 million, a decline of 0.4% over the same period in 2021. For the full year of 2022, net revenue was $953.5 million, an increase of 4% over all of 2021. While Cumulus reported a small loss for Q4 of 2022 ($54,000), the company is reporting net income of $16.2 million for the full year, a decline of 6% from theCumulus Media - Logo full year of 2021. For the full year of 2022, Cumulus’ broadcast radio revenue was basically flat (-0.1%) at $709.6 million and its digital revenue was $142.3 million, an increase of 12.2%. Breaking down the broadcast radio segment, spot revenue was $479.8 million – up 4.9% over 2021 – but network revenue was off 9% for the year at $229.7 million. Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Despite considerable economic turbulence, we delivered fourth quarter financial performance in the upper half of our guidance range, continuing a multi-year period of significant accomplishments. Operating through a series of difficult macroeconomic environments, including the pandemic, we successfully executed a strategic plan under which we developed and drove new areas of growth, right sized the balance sheet, improved the company’s operating leverage and returned capital to shareholders. As a result, we have delivered consistent revenue growth, built several digital businesses to a $150+ million revenue run-rate, reduced our net leverage to its lowest level in more than a decade, and boosted our liquidity to give ourselves optionality regarding capital allocation.” Looking ahead to 2023, we continue to face substantial economic headwinds. However, our battle-tested skill in performing during challenging times, as well as our very strong financial position, gives us substantial confidence in our ability to not only weather this depressed ad environment but take full advantage of opportunities that may arise over the coming quarters.”

Front Page News Industry News

Friday, October 28, 2022

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.

Front Page News Industry News

Monday, May 9, 2022

Pending Business: Howdy Partner. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes today about the strange use of the word “partner” for the advertiser on a radio program. Lapa says, “Do our advertisers (customers) really want a partnership in the true sense of the word? Or do our advertisers want what everyone else wants: maximum value at the best price?” Aside from the inaccurate nomenclature, Lapa wonders if the “partner” designation affects the sales effort. Read his column here.

 

Monday Memo: “Gas cards? OR…Bitcoin?” “Imagine asking a contest winner to choose THAT?” consultant Holland Cooke asks. In this week’s column, he recalls “when radio stunts were fun,” and how a contest “will sound as big as you make it sound.” Read more here.

 

Audacy First Quarter Net Revenue Up 14%. For the first quarter of 2022, Audacy reports net revenue of $275.3 million, an increase of 14% over the same period in 2021. The company also saw its net loss shrink from $21.6 million in the first quarter of 2021 to $11 million in Q 1 of this year. Audacy provides financial data by segment and reports that spot revenue (national and local) was $173.9 million, while its digital segment (including podcasting) rose 16% to $53 million from the $41.6 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. Audacy also breaks down net revenue by format type and reports music radio revenue was $140.4 million; sports radio revenue was $53 million; and all-news & news/talk revenue was $48.3 million. Audacy president and CEO David Field comments, “I am pleased to report that Audacy posted strong first quarter results, delivering 152% growth in Adjusted EBITDA led by double digit revenue growth in both digital and spot radio. With our scaled, leadership position across broadcasting, podcasting and digital audio and our differentiated premium content offerings, we are well positioned to drive rapid evolution and innovation across the organization to capitalize on the outstanding growth opportunities in the dynamic audio marketplace. In Q1, we launched the Audacy Digital Audience Network, an addressable aggregate of 60 million listeners across our app, streaming content, and podcast lineup, enabling precision targeting at scale coupled with real-time optimization and reporting. We are looking forward to a number of exciting additional product and content launches and enhancements over the course of 2022 that will accelerate our audience growth and bolster our advertiser appeal.”

 

Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q1 Net Revenue Increase of 15.6%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – states that net revenue was $55.7 million, an increase of 15.6% over the same period in 2021. The company is also reporting an operating loss of $2.7 million in Q1 compared to an operating loss of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. The increase in operating loss is primarily the result of an increase in operating expenses, which reflects additional cost of sales related to the revenue increase, other expenses related to sports and marketing, and additional expenses related to the company’s digital agency build out. Beasley’s net loss for the quarter fell to $3.7 million compared to the net loss of $10.7 million reported for the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “First quarter results highlight ongoing progress toward our goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels. Net revenue rose 15.6% inclusive of a 35.5% rise in digital segment revenue, which accounted for 14% of total net revenue in the quarter, marking further success of our digital transformation strategies. Comparing our revenue performance to the first quarter of 2019, revenue was down $2.0 million, or 3.4%, as the 2019 results benefited from events and other revenue that has not fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total outstanding debt as of March 31, 2022 was $300 million, as we did not have any scheduled debt payments during the quarter, and we had $50.7 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand at quarter end. We made an interest payment of approximately $12.9 million in February and repurchased $5 million of our 8.625% senior secured notes at a discount early in the second quarter. Our strong liquidity position enables us to make debt repayments while providing us with increased financial flexibility to pursue a potential acquisition or investment within the digital space, should an opportunity arise that could accelerate our digital growth, provide synergies or improve financial results. Looking ahead to the second quarter and second half of 2022, our focus remains on driving further revenue diversification and audience expansion, improving margins, benefiting from the return of the political cycle, maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, reducing net leverage and growing free cash flow. We expect progress on each of these fronts as we continue to close the gap on our pre-pandemic revenue and SOI levels and grow from there. I am extremely proud of our team members across the company for everything they have done and are doing to help us move past the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have clearly accomplished a lot and I believe we have many more opportunities ahead to build the company and enhance stockholder value.”

 

Ramsey Solutions Wins Webby Award for Borrowed Future Documentary. The documentary film Borrowed Future – produced by Ramsey Solutions – will be recognized as the Best Video Documentary in the Longform category of the 2022 Annual Webby Awards. Known as the “best of the Internet,” the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet. Borrowed Future was originally released as a podcast in 2019 and reveals the inner workings of the predatory student loan industry that keeps borrowers trapped in debt. Directed by David DiCicco, the story follows college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loans, a college graduate who paid cash for college, and a group of high schoolers who haven’t made their choice yet. Leading voices like Mike Rowe, Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey are also featured. For weeks, the film held top spots on multiple streaming platform charts: #1 documentary on Google Play, #2 documentary on Apple TV and #5 documentary (rent or buy category) on Amazon Prime Video. Dave Ramsey says, “There’s no doubt we stirred up a holy ruckus with this documentary, and I’m so proud of the team that put it together. The student loan industry is downright evil. We definitely can’t bank on student loan forgiveness, and it’s about time America said, ‘I’ve had it!’” Webby Awards executive director Claire Graves comments, “Borrowed Future has set the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.” The 26th Annual Webby Awards will take place in New York City on May 16. See more about the film here.

 

Brandon Tatum Joins Salem Radio Network for Syndicated Radio Program. Conservative media figure and former Tucson police officer Brandon Tatum is joining the Salem Radio Network to fill the slot Larry Elder held until his retirement from radio in early April. He will assume duties as host of the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET program on May 16. The third hour of the program will be repurposed into a podcast. Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “Salem conducted a nationwide search, and some very big names were interested in taking this important slot. Brandon brings a unique talent to Salem, and has a strong following among the nation’s youth, with his involvement with Turning Point USA. His compelling story is riveting.” Tatum has been serving as director of urban outreach for Turning Point USA and hosts the popular program “The Officer Tatum Show” on social media platforms including YouTube. Tatum says, “Words cannot describe what a blessing it is to be a part of the Salem family. I am incredibly humbled and honored to continue the legacy of the great Larry Elder. My mission in life is to serve God with the gifts he has given me. Being the voice of and for the people is one of those gifts.” Additionally, Tatum co-founded Blexit with Candace Owens, an organization “dedicated to changing the narrative in the black community through education, community outreach, and empowerment.” Carl Jackson, who has been subbing as guest host in Elder’s absence both last summer when he ran for governor, and more recently after Elder’s decision to retire from radio, will continue as a regular sub for Tatum.

 

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports media legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger announces he’s retiring from his weekend radio program on Audacy’s WIP, Philadelphia. The station reports that Didinger said on yesterday’s program that he co-hosts with Glen Macnow, “Sunday, May 29th will be my final show. I am ready to transition from Ray Didi to grandpop.” Audacy says Didinger covered the NFL for The Philadelphia Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News for over 25 years and in 1995 his name was added to writer’s honor roll in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Didinger also worked as a senior producer at NFL Films, as an Eagles TV analyst on NBC Sports Philadelphia…..SiriusXM announces that Jessica Casano-Antonellis joins the company as SVP and head of communications, reporting to chief marketing officer Denise Karkos. In this role, she will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s communications function, including strategic communications, brand reputation management and media relations. Karkos adds, “Jessica is a valued and respected leader who brings a wealth of strategic communications experience in the media, entertainment and technology industries to SiriusXM. She will be an incredible asset to the company and will play a key role as we continue to tell the story of SiriusXM as a leader in audio entertainment.”…..Former KQQZ, St. Louis station owner Bob Romanik – whose self-given nickname was “The Grim Reaper of Radio” – has died at age 72 while in hospice. According to his obit in the Belleville News-Democrat, Romanik served as an East St. Louis police officer and chief of police in both Washington Park and Valmeyer, Illinois during his career. He was a notorious raconteur who liberally used racial epithets on the air and referred to his programming as W.A.R. or White Awareness Radio. In 2020, after attempting to conceal his ownership of KQQZ and failing to show up for FCC hearings on the matter, the Commission permanently dismissed his application for renewal.

 

The Economy, Roe v Wade, COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, January 6 Investigation, and Musk & Twitter Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The sinking Dow and NASDAQ, the high price of food & gas, and the ongoing supply chain woes; the reactions to the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v Wade; the rising rate of COVID cases in some parts of the U.S., concerns about new variants, and the ongoing lockdowns in China; Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s propaganda; the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.