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Tom Taylor Now
Monday, July 27, 2015 Volume 4   |   Issue 144
Colin Cowherd is sent to the showers
Colin CowherdESPN’s Cowherd pays the price for a racial slur.

His unfortunate comments about the brains of baseball players from the Dominican Republic (and the entire country) result in his employer announcing that “Colin will no longer appear on ESPN.” We knew that Cowherd would be leaving after 12 years and will likely be reunited with Fox Sports President Jamie Horowitz. But that process may’ve been accelerated by one of those unpredictable social media firestorms. On Thursday, Colin was riffing on his ESPN Radio midday show about a baseball GM becoming a day-to-day clubhouse manager. He says “You don’t think a general manager can manage? Like it’s impossible? The game is too complex? I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball’s just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.’’ On Friday, Colin tweeted his apologies, saying “I realize my choice of words was poor and not reflective of who I am. I am sorry.” By then plenty of prominent Dominicans had roasted him. Not to mention Major League Baseball and the players’ union. To make his week even worse, the L.A. Times says Colin’s taking a six-figure loss on selling his home in West Hartford, near ESPN HQ in Bristol. It consults Estately to discover that he bought his 6,100-square foot house in 2010 for $1,340,000. He listed it in May for $1.7 million – and just sold it for $1,150,000. That’s a nearly $200,000 haircut over his purchase price.

Media Services Group
One-quarter of the FMs in the current FCC auction aren’t drawing bids.

Bad news for the FCC, because 35 of the 131 construction permits on the auction block aren’t getting any interest, and some of them were already holdovers from a previous auction. Ranking the standings after two days and eight rounds - Three future FMs attract bidding over $100,000 in Auction 98. Those are the construction permit for a new Class C3 licensed to Heber Springs, Arkansas, where Larry Crain, Sr. is holding a “Provisionally Winning Bid” at $230,000. The high bid for a new C2 at Columbia, Missouri was made by Iris Media (led by Joseph Uzoaru) at $215,000. And the high bid for a new Class C at Toquerville, Utah is held by Craig Hanson’s Redrock Broadcasting at $180,000. After qualifying to bid on all 131 CPs, Entercom merely dabbled, and doesn’t have any Provisionally Winning Bids. “K-Love” parent Educational Media Foundation has four – in Louisiana (Rosepine), Mississippi (Cleveland), Oregon (Manzanita) and Wyoming (Baggs). Many of this auction’s CPs are in Texas, and Mekaddesh Group (Mary Guel) apparently has six of them. Veteran John Barger’s Victoria RadioWorks and Bill McCutchen’s Waco Radio Group both seem to be getting three. Check the bidding here.

New wrinkle in FCC grants – you’d better stay on the air a full year after you sign on a new station.

A NOW reader asks “What’s with these ‘granted with conditions’ notes I’m suddenly seeing? Those used to be rare, but now they’re on many of the grants for new stations.” Answer – the FCC is tightening up on licensees who may be tempted to jury-rig a temporary facility just so they can beat the expiration of a construction permit, and then sign off. There’ve been recent allegations about that, and the Commission is trying to be proactive. Though attorney John Garziglia notes that not every grant is getting that treatment. He had a July 13 grant for a client, “and it did not contain that condition.” But John does see the changes in the daily FCC Actions – and with Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc being so aggressive about fines and deterrence, this isn’t something that owners of new stations should mess around with.

TownsquareAt Townsquare, one new EVP is hired and three are promoted, as EVP Alex Berkett resigns.

Alex has been covering multiple bases for Connecticut-based Townsquare Media, including being the point-man for acquisitions. Now he’s leaving later this week for what the company calls “a large-cap diversified media company.” We’ll probably find about it next week, and given that Alex is southern Connecticut, it’s probably a very large New York-based company which made him an offer he couldn’t turn down. He was one of the founders of Townsquare, led by second-generation broadcaster Steven Price. Here’s the rest of the re-org – the company hires Christopher Kitchen as its first full-time general counsel. Price says he’s “worked with us since the inception of our company” from the outside. Now Kitchen is leaving Kirkland & Ellis to become Townsquare’s EVP/General Counsel. As for the three promotions, Claire Yenicay is promoted to EVP, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for the company that did its IPO almost exactly a year ago. Michael Josephs is the new EVP/Business Development and M&A. He’ll focus on the non-radio side of the business, while Claire, who’s been part of the M&A team with Alex Berkett, will focus on radio acquisitions. Finally, Scott Schatz advances to EVP for Finance, Operations and Technology. Read the complete Townsquare release here. The company is up to 310 radio stations, plus “over 325 search engine- and mobile-optimized local websites, and approximately 500 live events in 66 small and mid-sized U.S. markets.”

DMR
As part of a settlement, SESAC to write a check for $3.5 million to the Radio Music License Committee.

That’s a nice round number, which turns out to be the legal bill run up by the Committee since it filed the anti-trust lawsuit in October 2012. Friday’s lead story concerned the historic settlement of the suit against the for-profit SESAC music licensing company. Some NOW Readers wondered about the full extent of the settlement that requires binding arbitration for the next 22 years if no deals are reached through negotiations. The Committee run by Bill Velez has posted the entire press release here, From the outside, attorney David Oxenford blogs at BroadcastLawBlog that the final terms are “very similar to the deal reached between SESAC and the TV Music License Committee.” He says the settlement “tracks the structure of agreements with [not-for-profit performing rights organizations] ASCAP and BMI.”

Minnesota Public RadioNine layoffs at Minnesota Public Radio, and reassignment of the VP/News.

Vice President for News Chris Worthington had once been co-managing editor at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press paper, and now Brian Lambert at MinnPost says Worthington’s taking “an as-yet unexplained role with an investigative unit. A “nationwide search for his replacement” is underway. Minnesota Public Radio said earlier this month that there would be changes in the way it’s allocating resources, and warned about some cuts. Brian Lambert identifies the staffers – three photographers, three reporters, host Beth Kidd, and “Poligraphics writer Catharine Richert and education reporter Alex Friedrich.” The cuts occur as MPR Chief Operating Officer Dave Kansas says the statewide network of more than 20 stations is experiencing “growth” this year. We’ve already seen an eyebrow-raising move by the parent of MPR, the out-of-nowhere $21.7 million sale of three South Florida classical stations to “K-Love” owner/operator Educational Media Foundation. The Minnesota group appears to be taking a loss of as much as $8 million, based on its acquisition and format-change costs.

Doing Business

Janet Mefferd returns to daily syndication in Christian teaching radio for a one-hour show. This announcement reunites both members of the Mefferd family at the Ambassador Advertising Agency. Charley Mefferd previously worked with Salem’s SRN (as did Janet) and he’ll be backstopping his wife’s new program when it debuts via Ambassador on September 14.

Skip JoeckelPandora stock spikes 15% in one day, with Wall Street seizing on the second quarter report from management delivered late Thursday afternoon. Check the immediate action – Thursday’s close was $13.88 a share. But Friday, nobody was willing to sell until the offers for “P” stock hit $15.49. Trading volume was five times the usual number of shares, and Pandora closed up $2.08 a share at $15.96. If investors are worried about the new competition from Apple Music – they’re not betting that way. Pandora just observed its first $1 billion year for revenue, counting the last 12 months. Though this NOW Newsletter observed last week that active users and total listening hours may’ve plateaued, for now. Both measures were flat from the first quarter.

Syndication network
Nielsen Ratings

The latest Spring-book Nielsen diary markets –

Huntsville – Chalk it up as Consecutive Win #63 for iHeart’s country WDRM. (That’s a long time, over 15 years, but wait ‘til we get to the next market, Chattanooga.) WDRM in Huntsville improves from a Fall-book 13.4 share to a Winter-book 11.2 and now a Spring-survey 13.2. Second with age 12+ AQH share is Cumulus top 40 WZYP (8.1-6.2-8.2) and third is NCA-owned adult contemporary “Mix” WRSA (5.3-7.8-7.8). There’s a more than four-share drop to the two stations tied at the #4 position, so there may be some non-subscribing call letters that are invisible to us. iHeart classic hits “River” WQRV (4.4-4.4-3.6) ties with Southern Stone’s rockin’ “Rocket 95.1” WRTT (4.1-4.0-3.6).

WUSYChattanooga – Fittingly, this is the 101st straight #1 finish for “US 101,” iHeart-owned country WUSY. It holds 13.1-13.8-12.3. Second is Bahakel’s AC WDEF-FM (8.8-7.9-8.3). Next is Brewer’s urban “Power 94” WJTT (7.7-7.6-6.5). There’s a trio of stations tied in fourth place - Bahakel’s top 40 “Hit 96” WDOD (5.1-5.7-5.8), classic country sister WUUQ (6.7-7.7-5.8), and Cumulus classic rock “KZ106” WSKZ (5.9-7.9-5.8). Special note about Brewer’s HD Radio-fed “Cat Country” WPLZ HD2 – it’s now higher than the combo’s been in four years, 2.2-1.8-2.3.

Boise ushers us into today’s two-book markets that subscribe for only Spring and Fall books. Market #97 Boise sees a talk station at the top, and it’s Cumulus talk KBOI repeating, from a last-Spring 5.0-share to a 7.6 last Fall and now a 7.0 share. Then come a couple of Townsquare stations tied for second place – country “Wow FM” KAWO (5.6-4.3-4.8) and AC “Lite” KXLT (3.3-4.7-4.8). Just below that level is a quartet of stations tied at a 4.6 – Townsquare hot AC “Mix 106” KCIX (4.4-5.1-4.6), sister top 40 “Kiss” KSAS (6.0-3.7-4.6), Scripps-owned rock “100.3 the X” KQXR (3.9-4.7-4.6) and Impact’s variety hits “Bob FM” KSRV-FM (5.4-3.1-4.6). There are even more ties below that, but let’s single out Scripps classic rocker KJOT for its best share in nearly nine years, since Fall 2006. “Rock 105.1” rises 3.5-2.7-4.4.

Ft. Pierce-Stuart-Vero Beach shows iHeart’s country “Wave” WAVW taking over first place, 3.6-4.9-5.6. Next is sister “Oldies 103.7” WQOL (5.4-5.5-51.) and third is WHLG Inc.-owned AC “Coast 101.3” WHLG with its best topline in station history (3.6-2.5-4.6). Fourth (and a reminder about the market’s demos) is Vero Beach Broadcasters’ adult standards “Ocean” WOSN (6.7-5.3-3.9.

Pensacola – First is iHeart rocker “TK 101” WTKX, 7.0 to 6.7 and another 6.7. iHeart and Cumulus are the only subscribers in this Panhandle market, and the next five stations displayed all belong to Cumulus. #2 among the stations released to the public is urban AC “Magic 106.1” (5.6-6.4-5.9), and third with its best share in 11 years, since Spring 2014, is AC “Soft Rock” WMEZ (3.0-3.3-5.1).

Ft. Walton Beach-Destin has Apex-owned country “Highway 98.1” WHWY up 7.7-7.4-8.5. That’s its best share since the way back in Spring 1992, when it was WWSF. Second this time is Cumulus’ “99 Rock” WKSM (6.0-6.6-6.7) and third is top 40 sister “Z96” WZNS (6.0-6.1-6.3). Nice book for Apex-owned variety hits WWAV (5.2-4.4-5.8). They image it as “102.1 the Wave/We Play Everything.”

Topeka – Alpha has filed to buy the Morris stations, but Morris still has the keys to top-ranked “94 Country” WIBW-FM until the deal closes. It’s holding 8.0-10.2-8.1. Classic country cousin “Legends” KPTK is tied for second (8.4-8.8-7.2) with Cumulus classic hits “Eagle” KWIC (7.1-9.3-7.2). AC sister “Majic 107.7” KMAJ-FM sits in fourth place (5.8-6.3-5.8). Cumulus rock “V100” KDVV slips 6.6-5.9-4.9. Nielsen’s Spring book ran March 26-June 17.

RAIN
Formats & Branding

Paul's Boutique“How a Seattle station broke the Internet with an all-day Beastie Boys celebration” is the headline from Digiday.com. Alternative KEXP/90.3 has always been an adventurous station, and this time it observed the anniversary of the July 26, 1989 release of the Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique” album by “dedicating a full day of programming to the seminal masterpiece by playing every identified song that it samples.” That’s over a hundred songs, and Digiday says “by noon Pacific time, nearly 2,000 tweets mentioned the album. On a typical day, that number is less than 50.” And a Friends-group-owned KEXP hosted 10,000 live streams, twice the typical number. You can catch the archived version here.

Richmond’s due for the next iHeart “Big Country,” based on the Radio Insight detection of the domain registration for “Big985Country.com” – and the construction sound effects that ran over the weekend on the translator that’s accompanied talk WRVA/1140 for the last 14 months. Glen Allen, Virginia-licensed W253BI is apparently set to break away from 50,000-watt WRVA this morning. It’s probably been calculated to play a spoiler role, given the three country signals already covering Richmond (they do it better than the translator’s 250-watts ever will). Those are SummitMedia’s “K95” WKHK, Alpha’s “Wolf” WFLV/WARV-FM (98.9/100.3) and classic country “93.1 Hank FM” WWLB Ettrick.

In southwestern Kentucky, Commonwealth will sign off an AM/FM combo in Princeton, per KFVS television news. It says Commonwealth Broadcasting “will have a representative in town to talk with local advertisers” this week, and that might be its CEO, Steve Newberry. His stations in Princeton are classic hits “104.9 the Wave” WAVJ, a Class A, and all-sports WPKY at 1580, running 250 watts daytime/9 watts at night. The TV station says Commonwealth just replaced the sports programming with a simulcast of “The Wave.” The combo’s due to go dark at the end of the month (this week), though there’s no Special Temporary Authorization at the FCC yet.

Pittsburgh’s onetime WMNY/1360, now doing gospel under former TV newsman Bishop Loran Mann, is asking the FCC to let it stop operating at night. The request for Special Temporary Authority reported by Pat Cloonan at the Tribune-Review explains the problem – WGBN McKeesport operates from different day and nighttime sites, but says “Due to Internet problems, the station is unable to operate from its nighttime site.” For now, licensee Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation requests consent to operate at reduced hours. It’s licensed for 5,000 watts day/1,000 watts night.

Tom Kent
On The Block

Saga plans another “metro signal” – a translator station – in Charlottesville. Just when you thought CEO Ed Christian was running out of translators to buy around his current clusters, he spots this opportunity right in Charlottesville, to be fed by his adult alternative “106.1 the Corner” WCNR Keswick, Virginia. The translator is 99-watt W256BY Charlottesville, and the Baker family-run Positive Alternative Radio is dealing it to Saga for $150,000 cash.

K~Love“K-Love”/”Air1” parent EMF buys two FMs and four translators from the Christian broadcaster established by end-of-the-world predicter Harold Camping. Harold has gone on to his reward now, but the Oakland-based group he founded continues buying and selling properties. In the case of these FMs in Arkansas and Iowa, and translators in Iowa and California, it’s a seller, accepting $553,750 in cash. The FMs are Class C0 (C-zero) KEAF in Ft. Smith, Arkansas at 90.7, and Class C3 KIFR in Ft. Dodge, Iowa at 89.5. There may be some technical or property issues with KIFR, because it’s flagged as being sold “as-is, where-is.” Also, there’s a translator in Ames, Iowa (K208FV at 89.5). Then two translators in the general vicinity of Palm Springs, along I-10. There’s Palm Springs-licensed K268AH at 101.5. And Banner-licensed K217BJ at 91.3. Also a translator way up in northern Coastal California, K204CL Smith River at 88.7.

What’s the plan in Fort Wayne, where iHeart sells a translator (something it rarely does) and where the Dille family may be freeing up a full-power FM? The Dilles’ Pathfinder Communications current simulcasts talk WOWO/1190 with co-owned WOWO-FM/92.3. But Pathfinder indicates that the translator it’s buying from iHeart will rebroadcast WOWO-AM – which potentially frees up the Class A FM at 92.3 for something else. Price for the translator - $100,000 cash. iHeart doesn’t own any full-power stations in Fort Wayne.

In Athens, Georgia, there’s a translator for “1470 the Light,” in this latest translator sale by Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting. Buyer is Mecca Communications, the owner of urban WXAG, which runs 1,000 watts daytime and 176 watts nighttime at 1470 AM. The translator is relocating in both antenna site (to the WXAG tower) and frequency, from 99.5 to 92.7. It’s authorized for 250 watts. Seller Art Sutton GA-Carolina Radiocasting does the deal with Mecca for $107,000 - $50,000 plus a seller note for $57,000.

NAB
Worth Reading

“Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” Consultant Randy Kabrich says he can “give just two numbers from Nielsen data and make it clear” what the effect of the Voltair audio processor is across the Nielsen PPM markets. More accurately, Kabrich finds virtually no effect, year to year, after comparing the Total AQH Rating for all stations in the June 2014 and June 2015 PPMs. (And the one really surprising change is from an AM that doesn't use Voltair, he says.) Follow Kabrich's numbers and logic here.

“Cumulus goes hog-wild with country music” is the New York Post's lead-up to Cumulus Q2 numbers, later this week. Or rather, it might be the company's outreach, where CEO Lew Dickey talks up the new “Nash Next” label, the TV partnerships with Nash and its ownership of Country Weekly magazine. The Post says “Dickey is also close to reaching a merchandise deal for a new Americana-themed lifestyle brand.” From the business side, “Dickey said he expects the 2-1/2-year-old Nash - breakeven now - to post a profit next year.” Cumulus shares its numbers on Thursday, the same day as iHeart. Read the “hog-wild” story from the Post here.

Upside-Down Bumper Sticker“Whatever happened to bumper stickers?” Simple question from researcher Mark Ramsey, who blogs that “People brand themselves and their cars with symbols that give their lives meaning and tell their story to those who watch from afar...why would a radio station, let alone an entire industry, no longer want to be part of that?” Read more from Mark here. The sticker you see here was intentionally printed upside down by onetime L.A. rocker KMET.

It’s a war on talent,” says Western Kentucky U. assistant professor of broadcasting at Western Kentucky University Dick Taylor – and he says it’s “good for talent, but an Excedrin headache for small operators battling the big boys.” Speaking of “the Big Boys,” Dick’s prime example is iHeart luring away L.A.’s Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander away from Emmis. More from Dick here.

Sun & Fun
Transitions

Doug Steckler has partnered over the past four years with Tim Conway Jr. on Friday evenings, at iHeart’s talk KFI Los Angeles/640. Before that, Doug was part of Conway’s act at the former KLSX (now CHR “Amp 97.1”) from 1996 to 2005. Now the comedian, TV/movie writer and two-time Emmy winner says “We had more fun than should be legal…[but] all good things must come to their finish, and it’s always better (if still difficult) to get out while you can still hear the laughter.” Doug also thanks Tim’s executive producer Sheron Bellio. Steckler is repped by Jason Insalaco (Jason@KeltonAgency.com).

Suzanne NanceSuzanne Nance makes “a rare defection from Chicago’s Window to the World Communications”-owned classical WFMT/98.7, says Chicago media observer Robert Feder. Suzanne’s been handling 4-7pm on the commercial station owned by the not-for-profit Window to the World. Her new gig takes her to Portland, Oregon, where she’ll program All Classical Public Media-owned non-com KQAC/89.9. She’d served at WFMT for two years, coming from Maine Public Radio. Chicago was her musical home in earlier days, as a professor of voice at the Cappelli Institute of Music. In Oregon’s Rose City, she’ll also carry an airshift.

Angela Hill was a beloved TV news anchor who’d retired from the smile-for-the-camera bit at WWL-TV New Orleans, then joined Entercom-owned talk WWL-AM/FM (870/105.3). That was in 2013 and it shook up the on-air roster. Now The Advocate reports that Angela’s leaving radio (or at least the WWL combo). She says “It’s been an amazing experience, one I will always cherish, but it’s time to do other things.” Succeeding Angela in the 1-4pm slot will be “Scoot.” Later on in the broadcast day, Kristian Garic and T-Bob Hebert will follow the 4-8pm “Sports Talk,” hosting 8pm-midnight. Over at all-sports “3WL” WWWL, the Advocate says “1350 AM will become all-NBC Sports Radio plus [local] Tom Fitzmorris from 3-6pm.” By the way, this being New Orleans, “3WL” is more inclusive than most stations in its format – it’s imaged as “”Sports, Food & Fun.”

Extreme Genes
You Can't Make This Up

Skip JoeckelSkip Joeckel’s baptism in radio - The entrepreneur behind Colorado Springs-based Talk Shows USA says “After driving around Missouri and Illinois on weekends and visiting stations in hopes of getting my first job, I was offered a DJ position at KSGM in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, by the late Elmo Donze. I was to start in two weeks. During those two weeks, I and the girl I was dating (who turned out to be my wife) were in a car accident where we were both injured. It was in a Volkswagen, and the steering wheel went through my mouth, knocking out my teeth. I had to go back to Mr. Donze, and with a very pronounced lisp (that's 'lisp' with a capital L) tell him he didn't have to hire me, since I had lost my teeth. But true to his word, he said I still had the job. For the next 90 days while I waited for my new teeth to arrive, I did the newth, the hothpital reporths, the obithuaries, thports and weathhher. Yeth, you can't make thith up.” Remind you of your own favorite story about radio? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.

SiriusXM, Nielsen, iHeart and Cumulus all face Wall Street to present their latest quarters, this week. Follow them day by day in this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter, beginning with the satellite radio operator SiriusXM and Nielsen, reporting tomorrow. Need to fill a vacancy, fast? Use the “Classified” section of the newsletter. Contact Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom

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