|Harold Camping’s final prediction?
“The end of the world for Family Radio?”
Does 91-year old Harold Camping want his Christian broadcasting empire to die with him? His former assistant Matt Tuter tells the Contra Costa Times that the big-market station sales in New York (what’s now “Nash 94.7”), Philadelphia and Washington DC-Baltimore are a sign that “they’re killing it off.” He says that in 1996, just before Camping underwent heart surgery, he told Tuter that “God raised up Family Radio just as a platform for me.” Tuter says “he was very specific that he did not want it to continue” after his death. Investigative reporter Matthias Gafni finds some observers who think that selling off those three big East coast signals was “a disaster for the network,” revenue-wise. Family Radio’s finances have suffered since Camping’s “Judgment Day” prediction of May 21, 2011. Gafni says “former and current insiders” say “donations have dropped almost 70% since the rapture prediction proved incorrect, leading to numerous layoffs.” Though board member Tom Evans, now running the broadcast ministry’s day-to-day business, says “sufficient funds are in the bank and thankfully, we didn’t spend everything” back in 2011. Gafni opens his story with one outlay that wasn’t made – “Two days before his boss had predicted the apocalypse, Matt Tuter canceled the skywriters.” Coming up in today’s NOW newsletter – the latest selloff (in a small market) of Family Radio.
Clear Channel pays dearly to push back $1.5 billion in debt.
A “Caa1” rating from Moody’s Investors Service carries language like “speculative” and “subject to very high credit risk,” and that translates into a higher interest rate. Following the story in last Thursday’s NOW Newsletter – “Clear Channel asks lenders to extend $1.5 billion worth of loans” – Moody’s enlightens us about the terms. Clear Channel wants to exchange a billion and a half of its $8.2 billion term loan B and C loans, pushing the maturity out from January 2016 to July 2018. So it’s actually an extension of 2-1/2 years, and it’s going to cost. The current rate for the 2016 notes is Libor (the London interbank offered rate) plus 365 basis points, or 3.65%. The new offer? Libor plus 600 basis points, or 6%. Here’s some of what Moody’s has to say, generally – “While the company has made progress extending its debt maturity profile, more progress will be needed and the anticipated increase in interest rates could be material.” Moody does say that “despite the highly-leveraged balance sheet, Clear Channel possesses significant share, geographic diversity and leading market positions in most of the 150 markets in which it operates.” It adds that despite what you think about the group's looming debt, paying back its Term Loan A this year “leaves only $461 million of debt due in 2014 and $250 million due in 2015” – so it can focus on 2016. At a guess, by 2016, Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners would like to be ex-owners of Clear Channel. Read the note from Moody’s here.
Huckabee sounds more positive about renewing his daily show.
Former (and future?) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee started whispers about his future with last week’s comments to “Arkansas Business.” His daily three-hour show with Cumulus Media Networks is a year old, and he said “within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue or not.” But Friday’s interview with Newsmax TV suggest he’s leaning one way in particular - "I'm hoping that we're going to continue right on. That's my plan and my hope, and so there's nothing to report other than I'll be on the air today and next week and, as far as I know, for the long term to come…I've enjoyed it. It's been a terrific outlet for me." Huckabee’s show airs live noon-3pm Eastern time – directly opposite Rush Limbaugh on Premiere.
“Why are Limbaugh and Dickey continuing this pissing match in public?”
A veteran radio executive says “I can’t see how this benefits either side, but the hits just keep on coming.” He refers to what Rush Limbaugh said – in a clip cheerfully circulated by Media Matters – where he called media buyers “young women, fresh out of college, liberal feminists who hate conservatism.” Limbaugh’s particular frame of reference for the “fresh out of college” characterization was advertising bought on Fox News Channel, but a radio listener would think Rush was talking about his own show and the range of conservative talk radio. He says “we have to fight that battle anyway” – and he presumably means the Media Matters activist group when he talks about “these little sniveling jerks out there, trying to scare advertisers.” The radio exec says “That’s not doing anybody any good…why don’t they just zip it?” Check the clip of Limbaugh here.
Has NYC’s country “Nash” broken the 1 million cume mark in PPM? We’ll find out today.
Arbitron delivers the Day 1 PPMs for April, and the 12 markets include closely-watched New York. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey’s been talking about the fast takeoff of “Nash 94.7” WNSH, including how the cume is approaching the million-listener mark. Share-wise, Nash has moved 0.6 (January book) to 1.6 (February) to 1.8 (March) with age 6+ AQH share. The cume story started with about 320,000 in January, then jumped to about 730,000 and then 857,700 – in shouting distance of a million, but you hope Cumulus is prepared to keep marketing and promoting Nash. Also due today – Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and most of the rest of the top 10. If you’re subscribed to get the free 5pm Eastern time Ratings Emails from this NOW Newsletter, you’ll see the numbers as soon as they’re available. If you weren’t getting the ratings emails last month, scroll to the bottom of this issue to “Email options.” Click on “Update Subscriptions” and check the box for “Would you like to receive ratings updates?” Analysis of the Day 1 Arbitron PPMs in tomorrow’s NOW Newsletter.
NRG Media’s Q1 – “Our year started much like I’m hearing many of our brethren did.”
In other words, explains COO Chuck DuCoty – “January was softer than we would have liked.” Here’s the rest of his report, as this NOW Newsletter offers radio’s private operators the same platform that publicly-traded companies get – “February picked up a bit and March finished about 3 points ahead of last year, pushing us about a point over 2012, for the first quarter. Fortunately, that momentum seems to be continuing, as April was +5 from a year ago and we’re pacing over 3 points ahead for the second quarter. I’m cautiously optimistic. We have what seems to be a rarity these days - some strong comps from a year ago and we’re pacing ahead of numbers that included political from the spring primaries. That is hopefully a good omen. The year seems to be picking up some nice momentum.” Cedar Rapids-based NRG operates stations in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Public Radio Capital stayed busy in 2012.
Managing directors Ken Ikeda and Marc Hand say the Colorado-based not-for-profit consultancy and support group “helped clients in nine acquisition and financing transactions, including loans from the Public Radio Fund, valued at $31,965,000.” Also – “PRC consulted with 22 other clients, providing a range of services including license valuations, operational assessments and expansion opportunity modeling.” That gives you a pretty good idea of what PRC sees as its mission. It says that since it was founded in 2001, it’s helped more than 275 public media organizations and “the result is that more than 66 million people have access to public radio and TV stations that are more robust, sustainable and attuned to community interests.” In practice, it’s helped rescue some public broadcasting services, and helped others expand. It says that a $150,000 grant from the Open Society Institute helped it assist two minority ownership organizations in “business planning and service strategy.” A separate grant from FJC: A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds helped initiate a $100,000 fund “to spur growth and innovation in public broadcasting.” That’s something public broadcasters will be needing more than ever, as Congress and state legislators look at their budgets. PRC’s annual report, including a “transaction map,” is here.
The lull in complaints to the FCC about indecency continues.
The complaint machine at the Parents Television Council and other decency watchdogs was in low gear for the last part of 2012. Across both radio and TV, the FCC reports just 130 complaints in October, 109 in November and 59 in December. The total is 298, down from 446 in the third quarter. But expect it to rise considerably when we get the report on this year’s first quarter. Generally, the PTC is railing against the FCC’s consideration of its policy about “fleeting expletives.” It says (at “#NoIndecencyFCCCampaign”) that you should “join over 90,000 [people] and let the FCC know you are against its proposal to allow more nudity and profanity on public TV.” Of course it’s targeting radio, too, and by “public” TV it means over-the-air broadcast TV, not “Sesame Street” on PBS. There should also be some specific complaints this quarter generated by the Council’s protest against the alleged “explicit sex-kink episode of Fox’s ‘American Dad.’” (That's the "50 Shades of Grey"-inspired cartoon you see here - taken from the Parents Television Council website.) But back to the FCC – read the “summary of informal complaint subjects” here.
Latest FCC call sign changes reflect format moves from Atlanta to Spokane.
We see Clear Channel’s latest change at its often-adjusted Atlanta FM rim-shots, where the former rhythmic “Wild” combo of WWLG Peachtree City (96.7) and WWVA-FM Canton (105.7) became WRDG and WRDA - for alt-rock “Radio 105.7.” Out in Spokane, Washington, CC’s return of sports to 1280 is recognized by KPTQ assuming new calls of KZFS. The latest FCC call sign sheet also reveals new calls for New York Public Radio’s acquisition in the Hudson Valley. WDFH, Ossining, NY (90.3) is to become WQXW, to complement future big sister classical WQXR, Newark (105.9).
Columbus “Base jumper” defies campus police with a parachute jump off the tower of WOSU (89.7).
The account from WSYX-TV suggests even more bravado (and foolishness) than usual with base jumpers (explanation of that coming right up). This guy was confronted by police after he’d climbed the tower of news/talk WOSU, and then jumped off and opened his parachute. Often, base jumpers do their thing at night or when they’re not likely to be detected, and sometimes their ‘chutes get caught on the way down. Channel 6 says this one was detected by the authorities – and then carried out his plan. He’s charged with criminal trespass, and he told the Ohio State campus police they were less “accommodating” than the ones in Toledo. “Base” jumpers get their kicks by climbing up something that has height – buildings, antennas, spans [bridge] and earth [a hill] – and parachuting off. You can imagine the danger to themselves from such a stunt, and of course around a broadcast tower there are additional difficulties with RF hazard, and the potential to get tangled up in the structure. Police tend to take a dim view of the activity, which creates hazards for rescuers. This jumper actually had a friend recording his leap for a channel on Youtube.
The ratings are in from…Sweden.
Kantar Media-owned TNS produces four listening reports a year, surveying ages 9 through 79. (So we don’t know what Swedish octogenarians like.) There’s a bit of a split system, with local reports generated via diaries, but nationwide listening measured by the Arbitron-developed PPM device. And who’s winning, in the “Rapport II” survey covering October through March? In the national capital of Stockholm, it’s government broadcaster Radio Stockholm, with a 19.0 share. Sveriges Radio's P1 outlet held onto second place with a 16.3. Among the commercial radio outlets, adult contemporary “Mix Megapol” came out on top with a 6.4 share, holding off CHR “Rix 105.5 FM” at a 5.9. TNS offers some interesting demo breakouts. You get 9-19, 20-34, 35-49, 50-64 and 65-79. Check the latest from Stockholm radio here.
Tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife sells his 70% interest in the parent of Pittsburgh all-newser KQV (1410). The buyers - the two heirs of his longtime associate, Robert Dickey Sr. (This Dickey is unrelated to Lew Dickey, Senior of Toledo or his sons now at Cumulus.) The partnership agreement between Scaife and Dickey, Senior dates back to the early 1980s, with Scaife holding 700 shares in Calvary Inc., Dickey 20% and Clyde Slease 10%. Now Scaife, a scion of the Mellon banking fortune, sells his 70% interest in Calvary to “22 Min LLC.” That name’s presumably a reference to the “clock” and the promotional promise at all-news KQV. It’s 62.5% owned by Cheryl Scott and 37.5% owned by Robert Dickey Jr. They’re paying Scaife $200,000 for his interest, and it’s a favorable deal. The sale document indicates that over the years, Scaife “has advanced funds to the company in the principal amount of $271,876.” He did an interesting thing, years ago – he had a Pittsburgh radio station, then essentially moved a newspaper (the Tribune-Review) toward the big city. Newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership situations usually happen the other way.
Family Stations sells an FM translator in Stockton, California, enabling classic country KSTN (1420) to hop onto the FM band. The $30,000 price won’t exactly keep the Family Stations operation going for years and years, but it does help the California-based not-for-profit. Buyer is KSTN owner KNOX Inc. – named in tribute to longtime owner Knox LaRue, whose family still controls the company. Its KSTN runs 5,000 watts daytime/1,000 watts nighttime at 1420, and there are a few radio ghosts in its past. Knox LaRue worked with KYNO, Fresno owner Gene Chenault in various businesses, and in the early 1960s they hired the young Bill Drake to program both KYNO in KSTN. So KSTN was one of the very first “Boss Radio” top 40 stations, even before “93 KHJ” Los Angeles. Now it’s about to debut on FM at 105.9. Translator K290AG has been running at 100 watts for Family Stations, but there’s an application to upgrade that to the translator-maximum of 250 watts.
WINB is a brokered-time Christian station based in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, but it’s also a part of American history – the Supreme Court’s famous 1964 “Red Lion” decision about the Fairness Doctrine. (No longer enforced, of course.) WINB wasn’t directly affected by the court ruling, because it’s a short-wave station. But it was co-owned at the time by John Harden Norris and his father, dedicated religious broadcasters who had an AM (now WGLD at 1440), an FM (now WSOX at 96.1), and a TV station, plus the short-wave WINB they launched in 1962. The AM and FM are now owned by Cumulus. John Harden Norris died in 2008 and his wife took over as executrix. Now Anna Plourde-Norris asks the FCC to transfer the license from his estate to her, for no consideration. WINB broadcasts to the world at 13570 kHz and 9265 kHz. Check out the schedule of “America’s oldest private international shortwave station” here.
Ben & Skin work their way back to CBS Radio’s 105.3 in Dallas, this time when it’s doing all-sports as KRLD-FM “The Fan.” They start today in the 2-6pm slot for PD Gavin Spittle. Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade grew up together, talked their way onto halftime appearances on the Mavericks broadcasts of Channel 49/KSTR, then did weekends at the Cumulus “Ticket” KTCK (1310). They went on to then-talk “Live 105.3,” and for the last three years handled late mornings on Disney’s all-sports KESN (103.3). Plenty of chatter and several threads about Dallas sports radio on the Dallas Board of RadioDiscussions.com – including one about the candid blog posting by former Fan personality Greggo.
Barry Thomas departs as VP of Engineering at Lincoln Financial Media, after 6-1/2 years. A visible industry leader, he served two terms as president of SBE, the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Before Lincoln Financial Media (the former Jefferson-Pilot), Barry was VP/Engineering at Westwood One and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at StratosAudio. He’s also worked with AM/FM Inc. and Chancellor Media, OmniAmerica and his own Thomas Media Systems & Design contract engineering firm. He’s the co-author of five technology patents, and the current chair of the NAB Radio Technology Committee. (He’s an entertaining storyteller at conventions, too). Barry’s at email@example.com and phone 323-841-0682.
Jean-Francois Gadoury has proved himself to Triton Digital as “a tremendously gifted technologist, leader and innovator, says Triton COO Mike Agovino. Mike reports that they call him “Jeff,” and the rest of the industry can now call him Chief Technology Officer of the entire company, after serving in that role for its streaming products.
Mike Stern circles back to the Jacobs Media consultancy, after picking up further experience programming stations (in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dayton) and working on the journalistic side for Billboard and R&R. (He was R&R’s News/Talk/Sports Editor). These days, Mike consults Arbitron’s Programming Services team and coaches individual personalities. He was a road warrior for Jacobs Media in the early 1990s when its alternative “Edge” format was taking off, and now the Chicago-based Stern is back as a consultant. He’s reachable at Mike@JacobsMedia.com.
Mary Grace Herrington was terminated from her job as CEO of Iowa Public Radio, and IPR is $1 million short of its revenue goal – but she’s due a settlement check of $197,000. That’s because, says the Des Moines Register, “the board publicly discussed a personnel matter after it voted” to remove her. That action exposed IPR to a lawsuit. The settlement compensates Herrington for emotional distress, attorneys fees and other damages.
The dog ate my homework - Jon Yinger, owner of the CBSL group, says "Back when we were operating in the Chicagoland suburb of Naperville, we had live board ops. One female op didn't show up for her shift and when she finally contacted the station, she gave us the story that her mother had run over her grandmother. Huh? Frankly, I've never had an excuse like that one and didn't believe her. A couple of weeks went by and I had the occasion to talk to the board op's mom. I mentioned that I hoped all was well for gramma, and the lady says 'I know, can you believe that? Gramma was bringing up the garbage can, I was backing down the driveway, and I didn't see her.' Holy cow - It was true. Granny was banged up a bit but was fine. Since then, every time I hear 'Grandma got run over by a reindeer,' I think, 'Grandma got run over by Mrs. -.'" Remind you of a true radio story of your own? Email Tom@RTK-Media.com.
News about PPMs, station sales, format changes, Congress, the FCC…it’s all part of the menu at the Tom Taylor NOW daily newsletter. Hope you enjoy it and find some nutritional value (even a dessert or two). And thanks for sharing it with a friend, who’s welcome to sign up at no charge. Thanks, too, for keeping us in mind when you’ve got a job opening to fill, or when you want to reach this audience with advertising. That department belongs to our Kristy Scott. She’s at Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow with the April PPMs from the largest markets - Tom