|Cumulus case has others buzzing around
The Cumulus Chapter 11 situation prompts one firm to offer fast cash to some unsecured creditors.
Drum Capital Management is offering to pay 60 cents on the dollar, in at least one case this NOW Newsletter’s aware of. Looks like Long Island-based Drum, backed by the “Vendor Recovery Fund IV,” is combing through the public list of “general unsecured claims” and making a bet. That bet is that they can pay 60% of face value, and eventually recover more than that. The question for the debtor is whether to take the money and run – cash paid “within one week of receipt of the enclosed transfer document.” Or to sit tight and hope to get more than that (eventually). The reorganization plan filed by Cumulus and its lenders contemplates emerging from the shield of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by late May. So unsecured debtors have the calendar to consider, and decide (as Clint Eastwood once said in a movie) whether they feel lucky. Meanwhile the re-structuring costs keep piling up for Cumulus. There are payments that a judge will have to approve for all sorts of outside experts and legal work, some billed at more than $1,000 an hour. While the third-party Moelis & Co. advisor would be paid $150,000 per month. But the payoff – shedding about $1 billion in debt – could be well worth it.
“We do not believe auto advertising is going to fall off a cliff,” says Noble Financial.
The firm predicts that with auto sales dropping, we’ll likely see “a step-up in promotional spending, especially from auto dealerships.” That’s the so-called Tier 3 level. (Tier 1 being the automaker and Tier 2 the dealership associations.) Noble Financial’s latest January Media Sector Review doesn’t see auto ad-spending driving over the cliff, partly due to “a positive economic backdrop.” Also because it’s “too early to connect the dots between auto sales and advertising.” If the level of new car sales slips below recent boom-time levels (17 million-plus), you’d expect more marketing to counteract it. (Incentives from carmakers are already at near-record levels, and they’ve got to keep communicating with customers.) Read more of what Noble Financial says in a report co-authored by veteran Chris Ensley here. The lead story in yesterday’s NOW Newsletter was about Noble’s prediction for radio in 2018 – the industry “seems to be stuck in the 0% to 1% revenue trough.” Noble says iHeart and Cumulus are “not driving rates, as both take revenues at any price because of the need to pay interest on massive debt.” If Cumulus and iHeart could shake off some debt and get healthy – that might help everybody.
R.I.P., Hugh Wilson – to whom radio owes a big debt, for “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
The “WKRP” TV sitcom gave radio a friendly, sometimes goofy image as an interesting industry (even at a less-than-thriving station). It certainly got more than a few young people thinking about radio as a career. “WKRP” was dreamed up by Hugh Wilson, an ad exec who used to hang out at Atlanta’s legendary WQXI, where GM Jerry Blum once told Wilson about Thanksgiving promotion he’d done with turkeys and yes, that’s what inspired the “turkey drop” plot of “WKRP.” (Though that’s not exactly what Blum had done, at a previous station.) It was the whole range of radio staffers, both on-air and off- who gave MTM Enterprises writer Hugh Wilson the idea to set a workplace TV comedy at a radio station. He pitched it to Grant Tinker, and says The Hollywood Reporter, they got an immediately positive reception at CBS television. Wilson said “most of those guys [at CBS TV]...had at one time or another been in the radio business. I hadn’t counted on having that kind of built-in affection for the idea.” “WKRP” ran from 1978 and 1982. It starred Gordon Jump as hapless GM Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson, Frank Bonner as plaid-coat-wearing salesman Herb Tarlek, Gary Sandy as PD Andy Travis, Howard Hesseman as “Johnny Fever,” and Tim Reid as fellow DJ Venus Flytrap. Like the original “Star Trek,” “WKRP” did okay in its first-run years. But it really shone in syndication. Hugh Wilson also wrote and/or directed the first “Police Academy” movie, “Guarding Tess” and “The First Wives Club.” But we in radio are grateful for “WKRP,” for which Wilson received three Emmy nominations. He died Sunday at 74.
After 15 years, the FCC is ready to resolve 43 competing translator applications.
President George W. Bush’s Iraq War was about to begin, when the Commission opened a filing window for new translators. Over 13,000 applications were filed and most have long since been dealt with – except for these 43 stubborn holdovers that are now designated for “Auction 83,” set to begin June 21. But before the online bidding paddles go up, there are procedural questions about which rules to use for this “closed auction,” since things have changed in 15 years. The Commission’s asking for comments (by February 6) on how to proceed. Read the Auction 83 announcement and “comment sought” note here.
Auction 83 could yield new translators in Raleigh, Charlotte, Austin, Monterey, Shreveport…
The largest single “minimum opening bid” is for a new translator around Shreveport - $10,000. Black Media Works filed for a translator at 105.5 licensed to Bossier City, LA and Cameron Cravey wanted the same frequency in Shreveport – but only one can be granted. The Raleigh area could gain two new translators out of the auction that opens June 21 – 92.9 (sought by iHeart and Carolina Radio Group) and 98.5, filed for by iHeart, Cameron Cravey and Conner Media Corporation. Around Charlotte/Rock Hill, SC, there’s a possible new 92.3, again involving iHeart, Cameron Cravey and also Bible Broadcasting Network. Austin/Greenshores, Texas, could see a new 107.9, going to either Juan Alberto Ayala or Katherine Pyeatt. Monterey/Pebble Beach may be seeing a new 94.3, courtesy of either Educational Media Foundation or Pacifica Foundation. Though Pacifica isn’t exactly flush with cash, at the moment – and the next stage of the process will reveal who’s still in, and who’s out. Lots of bidders have changed their situations since 2003, so there will be a “remedial filing window” to see who’s still in the game. Scan the list of 43 potential new translators (alphabetized by state) here.
Hubbard’s WTOP Washington DC gets a sexual harassment claim moved to federal court.
Former traffic reporter Joy Pivec originally filed in D.C. Superior Court, but factors like her claim for as much as $3 million in punitive damages enable Hubbard to transfer the case to federal court – where it must feel more comfortable. Pivec had experience doing traffic in Baltimore when she was hired by news WTOP (103.5 plus its two simulcast FMs). That was in January 2017 and she says there were no problems until she was assigned to ride along with Rob Woodfork. Pivec alleges that “on the very first day, Woodfork told her of his sexual preference for older, blonde white women (such as Pivec) and asked if she dated black men.” Pivec says Woodfork’s “history of and proclivity for sexual harassment of female reporters was well-known among WTOP employees.” By April of last year, Pivec had made “repeated reports” to H.R. without any action, and says she then resigned. The suit alleges that Hubbard’s responsible for sex discrimination, as well as “negligent training, retention and/or supervision.”
Even if a station website grabs a pic from Wikimedia – there may be trouble for not running the credit.
Dallas-market North Texas Public Broadcasting is sued by professional photographer Larry Philpot for using his copyrighted “once-in-a-lifetime photo” of Willie Nelson at the 2009 Farm Aid Concert. That’s even though Philpot posted it on Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license, where “anyone may use the work provided they adhere to the terms of the license.” In Larry’s case, that that would mean attribution to him and running the Uniform Resource Identifier. The Philpot suit alleges that the pubcaster snagged his Willie Nelson pic for both its KXT.org and KERA.org sites. (The broadcaster has not-for-profit alternative KKXT/91.7 and news/talk KERA/90.1.) Philpot also says NTPB didn’t link to his website and didn’t use his prescribed metadata. We’ve seen a torrent of photo-infringement suits filed against radio stations by a certain Long Island law firm – but this isn’t one of those. Philpot’s legal rep is Kenton Hutcherson of Dallas.
The Senate Commerce Committee votes today in executive session on the nomination of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to his own five-year term. He was elevated from General Counsel to Commissioner last year to fill the unexpired term of departed Democratic Chair Tom Wheeler, and Senate Democrats were reluctant to give him a two-fer – both that stub of Wheeler’s term plus his own five-year term. So this is Carr going for his own term, which begins July 1. If Commerce okays him, his nomination goes to the full Senate.
Ed McLaughlin spotted the potential national appeal of KGO San Francisco’s Dr. Dean Edell and then Rush Limbaugh, who moved from Sacramento’s KFBK to New York’s WABC – and the rest, as they say, is history. Onetime ABC Radio Networks leader McLaughlin got the entrepreneurial bug and started his own EFM Media Management to shepherd Dr. Edell and Rush. Later as an industry leader, he chaired the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Now that same foundation is honoring Ed with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the Monday, March 5 fund-raising event at New York’s Plaza Hotel. More information about the Golden Mike Award dinner that raises money to help broadcasters and their families in need here.
The 2018 Radio Mercury Awards competition has its “final round judging panel,” which will grade the field of entries with this year’s Chief Judge, Sean Bryan of McCann NY. The final-round panel is Chris Beresford-Hill of TBWA/Chiat/Day. Mitch Bennett of Fitzco, Atlanta, Brad Emmett of Doner, Detroit. Robin Fitzgerald of BBDO Atlanta. Mauricio Galvan of Anomaly Josh Gross of Energy BBDO Chicago. Ciro Sarmiento of Dieste, Dallas. And Leslie Sims of Y&R NY. Most of those folks are at the level of Chief Creative Officer/Director, and Sean Bryan calls it an “awesome” list of pros. With an entry deadline of March 5, there’s still time to enter (the cash prizes include a $50,000 “Best in Show”). Finalists for the next Mercury Awards, honoring excellence in radio advertising creative work, will be announced in early April. The actual awards are May 31 in New York at The Cutting Room. More about the Mercurys, now in their 27th year, here.
SiriusXM keeps getting hit with suits for unsolicited marketing, the latest coming from a 73-year-old woman in Flint who says the company called her cellphone “not less than 31” times, at a time in her life when she was anxious about her husband’s status in the hospital. Her suit in the Eastern District of Michigan federal court says she eventually spent $53 to buy and maintain a call-blocking app. Nyla Dalrymple’s suing for invasion of privacy, emotional distress and “increasing risk of personal injured from the disruption caused by the never-ending calls.” Her attorney cites the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and several state statutes. There seem to be fewer of these suits against SiriusXM than a couple of years ago – but they haven’t disappeared. In some cases, SiriusXM has used a third-party firm to handle telephone solicitations.
Australian-born Justin “Drex” Wilcomes earns a national late-night talk show for Canada, thanks to Corus Radio. It’s putting “The Shift with Drex” on in Vancouver (CKNW/980), Toronto (CFMJ/640), Calgary (CHED/630) and four other stations. In 2014, Drex started hosting the 6pm to 10pm shift on CKNW, joking to Straight.com that “I’m not a rich white guy with rich white guy problems, so I'm not going to talk to other white guys about those problems.” Corus says his new national show will be “stories, opinion, culture and irreverent.” Also very Canadian, displaying “the common humor, pride and honesty that pulls our country together.”
Alpha Media signs a group “SaaS” deal for all 228 stations with Futuri Media – and the vendor knows that “SaaS” means “Software as a Service.” The technology solutions cover a range of applications like podcasting, smart speaker friendliness and show prep. They’re all in the general area of “audience engagement” tools.
More Nielsen diary-market books for Fall 2017 –
You’ve got the routine down pat, right? You’re seeing age 12+ total-week AQH shares, from continuous measurement (four-book) markets. So the three numbers are Spring 2017, Summer and now Fall (covering September 14-December 6). Nielsen uses 7-day diaries, and we see only the shares of stations that subscribe.
Colorado Springs likes ties, and this time it chooses co-leaders – Cumulus top 40 “Magic” KKMG (6.7-6.8-6.4) and iHeart’s hot AC “My 99.9” KVUU (6.2-5.8-6.4). Third is iHeart’s urban “Beat” KIBT (3.6-4.5-5.1) – and ratings monitor Chris Huff says that’s the Beat’s largest share in 2-1/2 years, since Spring 2015. Close behind in fourth place is an iHeart sibling, AC “Sunny” KKLI (4.5-3.1-5.0). “The Springs” is home to many conservative Christian media outlets and it’s an important market for Salem. Its contemporary Christian KBIQ is now fifth (2.8-3.4-4.3). Here’s the “second five” – Classic rock KKFM (Cumulus, 6.7-5.0-3.7) tied with sister AC “Peak” KKPK (5.8-4.9-3.7). Then Cumulus country “Nash” KATC (5.4-5.2-3.2) and co-owned talk KVOR (2.6-5.0-2.8). Tenth is the contemporary Christian “Way FM” format that’s done on iHeart’s KVUU and a translator (1.3-0.9-1.4). Salem does Christian teaching on KGFT (0.7-1.1-0.7), and conservative talk on “Answer” KZNT (0.6-0.7-0.7). Salem, Cumulus and iHeart are again Nielsen’s only subscribers in Colorado Springs.
Mobile is happy with the Summer-book top three, giving Cumulus urban WDLT its fourth straight 12+ win (14.2-12.1-11.2). Urban sister WBLX also stays in double digits (10.4-11.2-10.9). And third again is iHeart’s country WKSJ (7.2-6.8-7.3). New face in fourth place is Cumulus top 40 WABD (5.0-5.7-6.4). The rest of Mobile’s top ten – iHeart’s classic rock WRKH, known as “the Rocket” (5.1-6.3-6.0). Then iHeart’s AC “Mix 99.9” WMXC (5.6-4.9-5.0), local owner Bigler’s “FM Talk 106.5” WAVH (2.0-2.2-2.6), and Cumulus gospel WGOK (2.3-2.8-2.3) tied with iHeart’s urban “Beat of the Gulf Coast” WMXC HD2 and its translator (2.7-1.7-2.3). While we’re at it, here’s the rest of the field - Dot Com Plus adult alternative WZEW (2.4-3.1-2.2), sister sports WNSP (1.1-1.1-1.7) and iHeart’s talk WNTM (2.3-1.3-1.6).
Madison again has just two subscribers, so no peeks at Mid-West Family stations like the Winter-book #1, AC “Magic” WMGN or country “Q106” WWQM. The highest-ranking station we can see is iHeart’s top 40 “Z104” WZEE (6.7-6.4-6.3), followed by Entercom’s classic hits WOLX (7.4-7.4-5.9). Here are the other seven subscribing stations - #3 talk WIBA (iHeart, 5.9-5.2-5.5), #4 classic rock WIBA-FM (iHeart, 5.9-5.6-5.2). Then adult alternative “Triple M” WMMM (Entercom, 3.6-3.6-3.1), “Star Country” WMAD (iHeart, 2.7-3.6-2.8), hot AC “Mix” WMHX (Entercom, 2.1-2.6-2.6), and sports WTSO (iHeart, 1.7-1.6-2.0) tied with classic hits sister WXXM (1.5-1.6-2.0).
Toledo ratings usually begin with Cumulus country WKKO (10.18.3-11.0). Here’s Chris Huff – “largest share for K100 since the Spring book of 2014, an the eighth consecutive #1.” New #2 is iHeart’s AC “River” WRVF (5.1-7.2-7.5), making sister CHR “Kiss” WVKS third (7.8-7.7-7.3). From there, the top ten stretches to Cumulus classic hits WRQN (7.3-6.5-6.8), iHeart rocker WIOT (6.6-6.2-6.5), Cumulus classic rock WXKR (4.7-4.0-4.3), iHeart’s talk WSPD (4.2-3.9-3.3), Cumulus hot AC WQQO (3.4-3.7-3.2), the urban “Beat” iHeart programs on WVKS HD2 and its translator (2.5-3.0-2.8) and Cumulus sports WTOD (0.7-1.2-1.3). Let’s add #11, Cumulus country “Nash Icon” WMIM (1.2-0.5-1.2). This makes the second quarterly book sat out by URBan Radio, whose urban AC “Mix” WIMX scored fifth in the Spring rankings.
Wichita looks more interesting (and competitive) than usual. Check the topline for Scripps’ country KFDI – 8.6-10.6-7.8. Meanwhile, Chris Huff says “this is the largest share in the history of Wichita’s 104.5 facility,” on Scripps classic rock “Fox” KFXJ (5.0-5.4-6.7). Scripps is also third among subscribing owners with rock KICT (5.3-4.7-6.5). “Largest share for KICT since Winter 2010,” per Mr. Huff. The rest of the top ten unfolds like this - #4 rhythmic “Power” KDGS (Entercom, 5.7-5.1-6.2). Then iHeart’s country KZSN (5.0-7.0-5.7), Entercom’s talk KNSS-AM/FM (3.8–3.8-5.5). iHeart has iHeart’s top 40 “Channel 96.3” KZCH (5.5-4.9-4.9). Tied for eighth are Entercom’s classic hits KEYN (5.3-5.1-4.4) and iHeart’s AC KRBB (4.7-3.4-4.4). Those same two others are also tied for tenth, with hot “105.3 the Buzz” KFBZ (Entercom, 3.6-3.2-3.9) and alternative KTHR (iHeart, 4.0-3.6-3.9). Back to earth is Rocking M’s variety hits “Bob” KIBB (3.4-5.6-3.7). During this Fall book, Rocking M programmed classic country on “Legends” KVWF (2.9-3.6-3.0). Just after Christmas, it unveiled an adult alternative format branded as “Flight 100.5.”
Hawaii Public Radio helped put a new FM on the air in 2013 for Crossroads Christian Fellowship, and since then it’s been operating KPLI Lihue/89.1 under a PSOA, or public service operating agreement. Back in the Summer of 2013, when Crossroads was trying to build its new Class C2 on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii Public Radio paid it $10,000 to reimburse it for expenses. Since then HPR’s been paying $1,200 a month as a “capital expenditure monthly payment,” plus covering “other reasonable operating and maintenance expenses.” That deal for KIPL included a future purchase option of $1 – and Hawaii Public Radio’s now exercising it. The deal also brings a booster at Kilauea. (The former sugar plantation town on Kaua’i, not the famous volcano hot-spot over on the “Big Island.”) Hawaii Public Radio’s not-for-profit news/talk programming continues to air on KIPL and the 80-watt booster. KIPL becomes HPR’s ninth full-power FM, with the flagship being Honolulu’s KHPR/88.1.
It took ten months, but Entravision just closed on its $3.55 million acquisition of a second TV stations in Las Vegas (March 20, 2017 NOW). KMCC Laughlin is digital channel 32/virtual channel 34, and the seller is Chicago-based Cranston Acquisition LLC. The deal gives Entravision a companion to Univision affiliate KINC-TV – and to radio stations KQRT/105.1 (regional Mexican “Radio Tricolor”) and KRRN/92.7 (the newly-expanded Spanish soft oldies “Suavecita” format). Broker for seller Cranston – Greg Guy of Patrick Communications.
Lauren Sivan “is acting as sidekick” for the “Dr. Drew Midday Live” talkshow based at Cumulus-owned L.A. talker KABC/790 – succeeding Mike Catherwood, says Don Barrett’s LARadio.com. That’s going to matter not only in Los Angeles, but also San Francisco, where sister talk KGO/810 just starting airing the 1pm-3pm portion of Dr. Drew Pinsky’s three-hour midday show. Barrett says Lauren Sivan “was a co-host on KABC a few years back with Leo Terrell, and most recently on Fox 11.”
Jennifer Seelig joins a distinguished lineage at San Francisco all-newser KCBS/KFRC (740/106.9) – she’s confirmed as the new Director of News & Programming. Seelig’s been Acting News Director since Jack Swanson left in May. Jack distinguished himself as the programmer at cross-town news/talk KGO/810 before coming out of retirement in 2015 to take on highly-rated KCBS/KFRC. And before Swanson, there was Ed Cavaganaro, who logged a marathon-like 37 years at KCBS. Seelig worked in television news in San Francisco (KRON, Bay TV, KGO-TV) and Sacramento (KOVR) before beginning her radio career in 2001 as a news producer at KCBS. Susan Larkin is Entercom’s San Francisco-based Regional President and also market manager.
Brad Polston and Brett Beshore do the market-manager baton handoff, at iHeart-Indy. Polston tells the Indianapolis Business Journal the decision to part ways after 14 months was “mutual…we were just headed in different directions.” Brad came to iHeart after 23 years in sales management positions with Comcast. He says iHeart’s got “a great cluster of stations…Those people in that building are simply a fantastic group of individuals.” The IBJ points out that “Fox Sports 97.5/1260” WNDE (which also carries Rush Limbaugh) recently canceled its local “Flagrant Foul” morning show – which might’ve been a corporate call. New market manager at stations like WNDE and classic rock/Bob & Tom Show flagship “Q95” WFBQ is Brett Beshore. He’s been in management in Philadelphia, Danbury, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, iHeart’s Hudson Valley market, and most recently at Adams+Fairway Outdoor Advertising, as Region President. Adams+Fairway bought the Indy-area assets of Clear Channel Outdoor, where Brett was Division President.
Who’s on the studio hotline? – Blake Lawrence of USC’s classical KUSC in L.A. and KDFC in San Francisco shares two stunts, “both carried out by radio professionals with long and storied resumes who are still on the air in top five markets. One night in Chicago, a demon prankster phoned the hotlines of WEFM and WLS and, using the conferencing capability of his phone, connected the stations’ 10pm-2am jocks at almost exactly the same time. John Calhoun of WEFM and Jeff Davis at WLS answered their respective bat-phones and were surprised to be talking to each other. They chatted in a friendly and professional manner, each one putting the phone down to do a break. When the small talk wound down, one asked the other the reason for the call. When they realized that neither had called the other, and that a wicked competitor was eavesdropping, they mutually terminated the now-10 to 12 minute-long call. Second story – Suburban-Houston KYST/920 had begun a weak challenge to more established top 40 stations in the market. A competitor, having been given KYST's studio number by a double-agent intern/request line answerer, phoned it and convinced the jock that the caller was the station's chief engineer, and he ordered the jock to turn the transmitter off for emergency maintenance. The jock complied. We're not sure how long KYST was silent that night.” Want to confess your own radio prank (or one you witnessed)? We can scrub incriminating names and/or call letters. Email your favorite tale to “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Here in 2018, our Kristy Scott can help grow your business, if you want to reach decision-makers in the radio industry using this NOW Newsletter. Reach her at Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. It’s the usual greeting here – enjoy your day, and see you back first thing tomorrow - Tom