|It’s a Presidential year at iHeart
iHeart goes back to Clear Channel’s early plan of organizing stations by geography (with many presidents).
Randy Michaels is smiling (pretty sure of that), because that was his vision over a decade ago, when he was constructing the nationwide spider-web of stations. That way, an AE could create a unique custom geography of stations for any particular client. And you can manage stations (large and small) in natural trading zones. iHeart’s been functioning with a two-tier system of “Major” and “Regional” markets. Now they’ll be in the same tribe, based on the map. Bob Pittman promises this will “add nimbleness and new resources for our markets and stations.” Also “push decision-making and resources closer to our stations.” (That’s similar to the new thinking Mary Berner’s advocating for famously-top-down Cumulus.) Pittman says “we are taking advantage of our size and unparalleled assets” – and that’s true, because no other American group can match iHeart’s heft and breadth. And boy, will there be a lot of new presidents, at the Division, Region, Area and Market level. Here’s how they’ll handle the re-org –
Adkins, Ashlock, Martin and McConnell are now iHeart “Division Presidents.”
Again, that’s based on geography, with four map-defined “divisions” subdivided into 36 “regions.” Since March 2014, Hartley Adkins has been an EVP of Major Markets. In the new scheme, he’s President of the Northeast Division and also has Corporate Operations. He’ll carry additional duties overseeing “Multicultural and strategic initiatives and communications for the Regions, working closely with corporate teams.” Out west is L.A.-based Greg Ashlock, the new President of the West Division. He’s “the senior business leader representing iHeart in the Western U.S., across all divisions.” Then there’s Matt Martin, President of the Central Division. (Also still supervising the Sales Operation Center and internal training programs). The fourth new president is Tom McConnell, Southeast Division President. He’ll “continue to work with the regions on operational needs.” The Division Presidents will be aligned with Executive VPs of Programming. Below these four Division Presidents will be 36 “Region Presidents.” Overall, that replaces the previous structure of four Major Market EVPOs and four Regional SVPOs. Refining it further, there will be 18 “Area Presidents,” and many “Market Presidents.”
More about iHeart’s new Regions.
The “Bob and Rich” letter ahead of yesterday’s 2pm Eastern time Town Hall explains that “Every region will be responsible for at least $40 million in annual revenue, and the largest will be responsible for more than $200 million.” The top brass says they’ve “increased the resources for every single market, regardless of size.” (That would be a very good thing.) Nine of the largest markets will be regions by themselves, “as they represent massive trading zones.” And “trading zones” is exactly the kind of language Randy Michaels and his crew talked about, at predecessor Clear Channel. The single-market regions include L.A. (under Kevin LeGrett), San Francisco (under Katie Wilcox), Houston (Eddie Martiny), Dallas (Charlie Wilkinson), Chicago (Matt Scarano), Miami (Lonny Anger), Orlando (Linda Byrd), New York (Scott Hopeck) and Philly (Richard Lewis). The Bob & Rich memo starts out with a little chest-beating – “We’re one of only three companies in the U.S. with over 200 million monthly users – Facebook, Google and iHeartMedia. And among those, we are number one.” Here’s a new buzz-phrase for you, about the company “building data-infused programmatic buying systems.” Slide 1 of yesterday’s Town Hall mentioned the confidential nature of the meeting, but one participant does say it was “a good call” – and no bombshells.
Clock is ticking on MRC accreditation for Nielsen’s radio diary service.
The first NOW Newsletter of 2016 told you that “Ernst & Young recently delivered a review to the Media Rating Council about Nielsen’s work in the 2014 diary markets.” That review prompted questions from the committee that deals with such ratings. Now it appears the group may have actually voted to remove accreditation from the 2014 work, and perhaps more. The working group didn’t forward its recommendation to the full MRC board, but gave Nielsen 90 days to show improvements in areas that were identified in the audit. They’ll meet again, and the clock’s winding down for a familiar product from Nielsen. Some diary markets were still performing well, but the challenges of generating research from a seven-day log that requires active diary-keeping are growing. Among the issues might be nagging ones like response rates, in-tab rates and appropriate demographic distribution of the sample.
Corus radio revenues down 2%.
That’s better than three months ago, when Canada’s 39-station Corus Radio unit reported quarterly revenues down 6% and “segment profit” sliding 11%. This time, President/CEO Doug Murphy delivers less-bad news – radio revenues slipped 2% for the fiscal quarter of September-October-November. And he tells his conference call that revenues were flat in Toronto – where classic rock “Q107” CILQ and alternative “102.1 the Edge” CFNY had been “largely” responsible for the radio division’s previous-quarter 6% drop. Murphy says Vancouver and Ottawa are “bright spots.” Business in Alberta gets a thumbs-up. Behind the scenes, there’s clearly cost-cutting, with “excellent expense control” cited. On the national level, Corus radio’s working with its TV division counterparts on sales. Radio revenues for fiscal Q1 dropped from $45.6 million Canadian (about $31.8 million US) to $44.6 million ($31 million in the States). Profit was flat at $12.8 million ($8.9 million US).
Canada’s Shaw family unites its Shaw Media TV assets with Corus Entertainment.
As the Toronto Globe & Mail says in a “Five things” list – “Doesn’t Shaw already own Corus?” The explanation is that “both companies are already controlled by the Shaw family of Alberta, but trade as separate public companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” Corus/President Doug Murphy opens his quarterly call saying the deal “gives us the scale to compete.” Shaw Media itself got bigger in 2010, when it paid $2 billion (Canadian) for CanWest’s TV broadcast assets. Shaw Media’s got TV stations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and elsewhere, and its “specialty channels” include Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Lifetime, History Canada and MovieTime. Corus is paying a combination of cash and stock worth $2.65 billion Canadian (about $1.85 million US). The combined Corus-Shaw Media will include the 39 radio stations Corus already owns. As Corus President/CEO Doug Murphy says, “The time is right to unite these two strong media companies.” You might wonder if someday, somebody will say, “The time is right to reunite CBS and Viacom,” both controlled by Sumner Redstone. That seems unlikely, though analysts and investors keep theorizing about it (or maybe fantasizing). Financing for the Corus-Shaw Media deal’s being handled through RBC Capital Markets.
America loses a well-funded source of news, especially investigative journalism and international news, with the impending demise of Al Jazeera America. CEO Al Ansley said “our business model is simply not sustainable, in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.” They’ll shut down the U.S. cable channel, but reinvigorate their digital outreach. Al Jazeera America was repeatedly recognized with Peabody, Emmy and Gracie awards. Its stuff even won a “Shorty” award for best Twitter newsfeed.
A $9,000 fine for a Beaumont translator with the wrong photograph. E-String Wireless filed to transfer W298CB at 107.5 to Martin Broadcasting, and then Southeast Texas Telecom filed a strong objection. It alleged deception and false statements, and asked the FCC to revoke the license and sanction both buyer and seller (very strong stuff). Among other claims, the objection said E-String claimed it was using a tower that had actually been destroyed eight years earlier, in Hurricane Rita. And that a picture submitted in a 2013 app wasn’t the now-destroyed Sawyer Road Tower at all. The FCC finds unauthorized operation and false certification, though it says the statute of limitations prevents sanctions for “prior false certifications.” It does grant the transfer – though E-String, “as an experienced licensee,” will have to “submit a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability [for $9,000] with every facility application” it or its principals submit over the next five years. Read more about the case here.
A rare “W” to “K” call-letter change revealed in the new FCC list of call sign changes, and it’s in Fargo, North Dakota. In 2012, Duke Wright’s Midwest bought CHR “Y94” WDAY-FM, and its “W” calls were a holdover from its onetime AM sister, news/talk WDAY/970. (It’s owned by the local Forum newspaper.) New calls for the FM at 93.7 are KOYY, to fit with “Y94.” The FCC call letter rundown also shows Educational Media Foundation’s change in Redding, California at the 91.5 that’s running the syndicated Spanish Christian “La Nueva Vida” format. The former KSTN-FM is now “KARQ.” Peruse the latest FCC list here.
The MIW mentoring group is searching for four participants for this year’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program, named for the woman who co-founded the country’s first African-American-owned station in 1950. (That was K.C.’s KPRS, still a force.) There’s at least one spot reserved for a woman from programming and another for a digital candidate. The concept is to match “up-and-coming women in the radio industry with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects in radio.” More about this year’s mentoring class at the Radio MIW site here.
Tom Kent goes into the studio live every night for a new syndicated adult contemporary show titled “Tom Kent Live and Local.” They accomplish the “Local” part using the Tom Kent Radio Network’s TLC (Total Local Customization) technology. Kent continues to be active as host of various classic hits weekday and weekend shows, and you can hear a clip from his first AC broadcast (last week on Midwest’s AC KDAL-FM Duluth/95.7) here.
Prep service/program originator Nineball is now wholly-owned by United Stations, with New York-based USRN buying the 50% it didn’t own. They’ve been partners for a decade. Last year Nineball began working with Cox Media Group to syndicate the KISS Antonio/99.5-based Billy Madison morning show, as a new area of business. Nineball’s founder Stefan Jones becomes Senior VP/Content Sales & Affiliations for USRN, working on both Nineball and United Stations properties, especially with groups and in major markets.
Latest Fall-book Nielsen diary markets –
Chattanooga – The winning streak has grown to 103 consecutive #1 quarterly books for iHeart’s country “US101” WUSY. Ratings maven Chris Huff says “WUSY owns the second-longest streak among the top 100 markets.” In this four-book market, it’s recently moved from a 12.3 share in the Spring survey to an 11.1 in the Summer and now an 11.2 share in the Fall. (All shares here are age 12+ AQH for the total broadcast week.) #2 is a station we didn’t see in the Summer book, because owner Bahakel apparently wasn’t subscribing then. AC “Sunny 92.3” WDEF-FM stays in its range, 8.3-7.3-8.7. Third is local owner Brewer, who’s got the strongest book since Winter 2010 for urban “Power 94” WJTT (6.5-7.2-8.2). Fourth is Cumulus classic rock WSKZ (5.8-8.2-7.6) and fifth is Bahakel’s top 40 “Hits 96” WDOD (5.8-5.3-6.0). That’s its best topline since Summer 2009. Chattanooga’s choice for classic country is Bahakel’s WUUQ (5.8-7.4-5.5). The leading talk-based station is Cumulus talker WGOW-FM (4.0-3.9-4.7). But its “Nash Icon” country sister WOGT could use some friends (1.9-1.4-0.9). During most of this book, Brewer programmed “Cat Country” on translator-based WPLZ HD-2 (2.3-0.6-0.5). It stunted with all-Christmas after Halloween and emerged after Christmas as soft oldies “Big Easy 106.9.” Nielsen’s Fall diary-market survey ran from September 10-December 2.
Huntsville – 65 wins in a row – but the smallest share since Winter 2010 – for iHeart’s indomitable country WDRM (13.2-12.4-10.5). Improving to second is NCA-owned AC “Mix” WRSA (7.8-5.8-6.7) and third is Cumulus top 40 WZYP (8.2-6.4-6.1). Nice move for iHeart’s classic rock WTAK (3.5-3.6-4.6) and fifth is Cumulus urban AC “Adult Mix” WHRP (3.5-3.6-4.4). Sister talk WVNN-AM/FM is down in eighth place (3.5-3.2-3.1). Southern Stone’s rock-formatted “Rocket 95.1” rebounds from the Summer ebb (3.6-3.0-4.0).
Ft. Pierce-Stuart-Vero Beach keeps a couple of iHeart stations at the top, but this time they’re tied. Country “Wave” WAVW (4.9-5.6-5.9) is knotted with “Treasure Coast’s Oldies 103.7” WQOL (5.5-5.1-5.9). Third is Vero Beach Broadcasters’ easy oldies/adult standards/local talent “Ocean” WOSN (5.3-4.9-5.4). The ownership of Vero Beach is interesting – Mitchell Rubenstein and Laurie Silvers founded what’s now the SyFy Channel, which they sold to USA Network, and Mitchell co-founded MovieTickets.com. Fourth in this book is the Smith family’s AC “Coast” WHLG (2.5-4.6-3.7), followed by R&S Radio’s country WPHR (2.5-4.6-3.7).
Boise sees talk KBOI dethroned by Townsquare AC “Lite 107.9” KXLT, with its first #1 finish since it debuted in 1994. Note that we’re entering “two-book” territory, where subscribers are happy enough with a Spring and Fall book. “Lite” continues to build, from a Fall-2014 4.7 share to a Spring-2015 4.8, and now a market-leading 5.6. Cumulus talker KBOI drops to second (7.6-7.0-5.4), followed by Townsquare hot AC “Mix 106” KCIX (5.1-4.6-5.0). Fourth is Impact’s AC “My 102.7” KZMG (3.1-3.7-4.0) and fifth is rhythmic sister “Party station/Wild 101.1” KWYD (2.7-2.8-3.8). Boise’s not a welcoming market for all-sports. The bottom two subscribing stations are Cumulus “Ticket” KTIK-FM (1.6-1.7-1.8) and Impact’s KNFL (1.0-0.6-0.8). Sports sister KTIK missed the book again.
Pensacola has just two subscribers, Cumulus and iHeart. It’s iHeart on top with rocker WTKX (6.7-6.7-5.5). “TK101” is just ahead of Cumulus urban AC “Magic 106.1” WRRX (6.4-5.9-5.3), which is trailed by two more Cumulus stations. Those are country “Nash” WXBM (5.3-4.2-4.6) and classic hits “Jet 100.7” WJTQ (2.9-3.6-3.3). “Today’s soft rock” KMEZ (Cumulus) trails off 3.3-5.1-2.4.
Salina-Manhattan, Kansas gives country “99KG” KSKG, owned by Eagle Communications, its first-ever #1, says Chris Huff. It moves 5.4-6.6-8.2, and the 8.2-share is the largest topline recorded in Salina since Arbitron first measured it in Fall 2007. Top 40 sister “Power Hits” KJCK is next (7.2-7.5-7.3) followed by Manhattan Broadcasting’s “K-Rock” KMKF (3.6-4.0-5.5). There’s an unlikely-looking four-way tie at the 4.1-share level, and they’re all owned by Alpha. There’s AC “Sunny” KBLS (3.6-3.1-4.1), oldies KSAJ (5.4-5.3-4.1), classic hits KSAL-FM (5.4-4.9-4.1) and country “Y93.7” KYEZ (4.9-5.3-4.1). Leading talk-based station is KSAL (formerly Morris, now Alpha), 3.1-3.1-3.2.
Topeka has a new #1, and it’s Alpha’s classic country “Legends” KTPK (8.8-7.2-9.1). That vaults it ahead of country sister WIBW-FM (10.2-8.1-8.6). Third is Cumulus AC “Majic” KMAJ (6.3-5.8-5.6) and fourth is co-owned classic hits “Eagle” KWIC (9.3-7.2-5.6). Fifth is a tie between Cumulus rocker “V100” KDVV (5.9-4.9-5.1) and Alpha’s news/talk WIBW (3.9-4.5-5.1). A spike for “Nash Icon 102.9” KTOP (Cumulus), up 2.9-3.1-4.1.
Chicago-area WCGO/1590 begins an LMA-to-buy with Anthem Broadcasting/Liftable Media, and there are changes on-air. Robert Feder reports that “while Korean language programming continues in mornings, WCGO has added USA Radio News and syndicated host Rusty Humphries to afternoons.” Anthem/Liftable bought USA Radio Networks last Fall (October 13 NOW), and talk-talent Rusty joined as Senior VP/Programming.
Beasley signs the Kidd Kraddick show in Greenville, NC as part of multiple changes at two stations. Local wakeup talent Marc Miller moves off AC “V103.3” WMGV Newport and over to co-owned classic hits WNCT-FM/107.9, pairing with Donna Kelly. Replacing him on WMGV will be the syndicated Kidd Kraddick show. Current morning co-host Amy Kay will both produce the local version of the Kraddick show and take over middays at V103.3. Colleen Jackson gives up the midday shift but keeps her PD chores at “V” and becomes PD at WNCT-FM. Beasley’s market manager in Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville is Bruce Simel.
A Nashville AM daytimer with one operational translator and another on the way is sold to Chicago-based Moody Bible Institute. Market pioneer Bill Barry built a number of signals in the market, including daytimer WAMB (1200). It runs 10,000 watts most of the day and 3,800 watts in the “critical hours” after sunrise and before sunset. After Barry’s death, his properties came to his daughter Susie James, and she’s selling WAMB and the translator licenses for $414,000. WAMB’s doing classic country, simulcasting Susie’s own WANT-FM Lebanon (98.9). WAMB’s companion translator is W257AR Donelson at 99.3. The permit for a second translator is W254CK Nashville at 98.7. All told, there are four towers in the package, a relic (at the transmitter site) of the now-defunct WWGM/1560. Non-directional WAMB needs just one tower. Moody’s current Nashville-market interests include Spanish Christian WFCM Smyrna (710) and Christian teaching WFCM-FM Murfreesboro (91.7). Broker on WAMB and the translators – Todd Fowler.
A future Twin Cities translator sells for $100,000 cash, and we’ll see what buyer John Linder of Main Street Broadcasting plans for it – and where he might move it, under the FCC’s new 250-mile waiver. It’s a construction permit for K256CO St. Paul at 99.1, and the seller is not-for-profit Christian broadcaster Refuge Media Group of Duluth. For now the buyer indicates it will rebroadcast the seller’s contemporary Christian/rock WJRF Duluth (89.5), but that could change. Broker – Steve Moravec of Phoenix Media Group.
Time’s running out to get a new translator construction permit in Greenville, SC on the air, which becomes the job of buyer Scott Neisler of SN Radio LLC. The CP was granted to Tallahassee-based Community Public Radio in November 2013 and it needs to be operational by this Fall. The buyer indicates it will re-broadcast Radio Training Network’s contemporary Christian “His Radio” WLFJ-FM Greenville (89.3). As for the translator, it will run at 105.3 and ID itself as “W287CH.”
Wyoming-to-Delaware TV move-in to be sold – and no doubt it’s headed to the FCC’s incentive auction. Bob McAllan and his cohorts at Press Communications formed PMCM TV to exploit a loophole in the FCC regs and uproot two TV stations from other parts of the country to the mid-Atlantic. One of those is WJLP Middletown, NJ (Jersey-Shore channel 3 digital/channel 33 virtual). The other still bears its original Wyoming calls of KJWP, now Channel 2/Wilmington, Delaware. McAllan’s group just filed to sell that one, KJWP, to radio/TV owner Maranatha Broadcasting. Maranatha owns radio and TV stations in Colorado and once owned radio stations in Allentown, PA. It still has WFMZ-TV there (digital channel 46/virtual 69). No price listed for the Wilmington TV signal in the FCC filing – but there’s language about putting it into the FCC’s Auction 1001, the historic spectrum auction that begins March 26. Press Communications owns Jersey Shore radio stations like hot AC “Fun 107.1” WWZY Long Branch.
“What happens to the AM/FM buttons with Apple CarPlay?” Blogger/consultant Steve Goldstein says post-CES, “my email and phone have been buzzing with questions…some are easily answered and some are unknown.” Among the “knowns” – “iHeart and CBS are the only AM/FM radio apps I have seen included with CarPlay. But streaming apps including Pandora and Spotify move front and center, along with other new listening options.” Read “What happens” here.
The American non-com with the largest weekly cume isn’t in New York or L.A., but Houston. Minneapolis-based blogger Ken Mills compares the three-book Nielsen PPM averages from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015, and finds that non-commercial Houston’s contemporary Christian KSBJ is #1, at 774,000. It’s ahead of San Francisco’s news/talk KQED and L.A.’s news/talk KPCC. What’s unusual about Ken’s approach is that he includes all non-coms in his calculations, like Christian-formatted KSBJ and regional Mexican KNAI Phoenix. He’s also figured out the “five biggest weekly listener gains and losses” from year to year, with L.A.’s eccentric talk/music KCRW up 32% and L.A.’s “Jazz and blues” KKJZ growing 26%. Read Ken Mills’ “Spark” post here.
Joey Hudson “has called the Upstate [region of South Carolina] home all his life, and he has been a successful business owner in Greenville for many years.” Joey’s next venture is managing the Salem radio properties in Greenville-Spartanburg. Those are conservative talk WGTK/94.5 and classic hits “103.3 Earth FM” WRTH. Hudson’s already associated with Salem, working with its syndicated Mike Gallagher show, among other things.
Norm Winer rotates away from his 36-year role program director at CBS Radio’s adult alternative WXRT/93.1. In the latest change at the company, Norm becomes “Director of Music Initiatives and Special Programming.” CBS says he’ll “take his amazing strengths of industry relationships, gifts of discovering new bands and artists, and skill at producing events, and concentrate on those responsibilities full-time.” Who’s the new PD at ’XRT? There won’t be one, says Chicago media observer Robert Feder. “While Norm Winer’s position will not be filled, his duties will be handled by [WXRT and all-sports “670 the Score” WSCR operations director] Mitch Rosen, and music director Kelly Ransford.” That presumably saves CBS at least part of a salary. Can a big-time station like WXRT run without a full-time PD?
Jerry Johnson built his first career in radio, including 14 years at CBS Radio’s news/talk WCCO Minneapolis (830). Then he transitioned to a 30-year career in media brokerage. His colleagues at Media Services Group remember him as a real pro with a ready laugh. But they announce “with great sadness” Johnson’s death, following a lengthy illness.
The wedding night secret – A NOW reader says “I can’t use the call letters, but an East coast station recently mentioned in the newsletter has a bizarre history that almost nobody knows about. When I saw that set of call letters, my brain automatically clicked to the story. Years ago, a man married a widow, and on their wedding night, she told him ‘Now that we’re married, and I know I can trust you, I can tell you my secret. My first husband was in the mob, and he left me a lot of money when he died. What would you like to do with it?’ He said, ‘I’ve always wanted to own a radio station.’ She agreed, and they bought a local FM and ran it for a number of years. It has been bought and sold several times since then, but that’s the story of how some hidden and possibly illicit cash once bought a radio station.” Got your own secret story about radio? Write it up (without or without names) and email “You Can’t Make This Up” - Tom@RTK-Media.com.
“The NOW newsletter is always chock-full of interesting information for me,” says one reader. Like what you’re seeing here every morning? Tell a friend, and forward the NOW Newsletter on to them, so they can subscribe, too. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom