|RAB says (sometimes) Less is Better
The RAB pulls back from releasing quarterly revenues.
It’s going to just two reports a year, “in keeping with revenue reporting schedules of other media and marketer organizations.” That’s from a note quietly posted on the RAB site this week. (Read it here.) It’s true – The newspaper publishers group long ago opted for less-frequent reporting as that industry tumbled through hard times. Same for TVB, the RAB’s broadcast-industry counterpart. It hasn’t issued quarterly estimates since about 2010. Radio once got monthly reports, and in the dot-com era of the late 1990s, they were blowing sometimes with year-over-year gains of 5% to 7%. That stair-step growth halted after the dot-com “bomb” of 2000 and eventually the RAB went to quarterly reporting. Normally the RAB would be releasing first quarter results tomorrow. Now we know we won’t be getting them, but instead we’ll see a “First-Half 2015” revenue report sometime in mid-Summer, then a “Year-end 2015” release. The RAB’s year-end 2014 report (released February 20) showed radio’s “grand total” of revenue to be flat from 2013. That was thanks to the 16% gain for “Off Air” and the 9% hike for “Digital.” Spot revenue was down 3% for the year. Expect that general curve to continue in the numbers collected by Miller Kaplan and reported – in another three months – by the RAB.
“Powered by Sprint” is the magic phrase for iHeart’s second “Fiesta Latina.”
Yes, they’re moving it cross-country from L.A. to Miami and televising it on Telemundo. But CEO Bob Pittman’s always looking for serious money from the biggest clients, and this second “Fiesta Latina” has title sponsorship from Sprint, just like last year’s inaugural event. Last year featured Ricky Martin, Pitbull, J. Balvin, Prince Royce and Roberto Tapia. Certainly Sprint is writing a big check, and there’s also live streaming exclusively on Yahoo Live, which may bring some revenue. There’s also the TV broadcast on Telemundo, with sponsorship possibilities – and that’s a first, because last year’s “Fiesta” wasn’t on TV. Of course there will be the live broadcast of the event on format-compatible iHeart stations on November 7, and national ads sold against that. Pittman and iHeart President of Entertainment Enterprises John Sykes continue to search for big events they can collect big sponsor dollars for – touting their big reach. As the Fiesta Latina” press release says, iHeart has “a greater reach in the U.S. than any other radio or television outlet.” (Of course that’s talking about the general population, not Hispanics.)
The debate over Voltair hasn’t gone away, even if it’s not public.
There’s at least one industry meeting scheduled next week where they’ll be thrashing out vitally important questions for Nielsen’s PPM markets. Like, is the Voltair audio processor really a game-changer? If it is, does that imply flaws in the Nielsen system? And are there issues of basic fairness, between the “haves” who can afford to pay $10,000 or more for each broadcast signal, and the have-nots who don’t have the budget? Proponents and believers in Voltair increasingly feel they’re right, that the gadget can help them get the listening credit they deserve. Not credit for listening that doesn’t occur, but a better shot at having PPM meters in the field pick up all those crucial inaudible tones. The early theory was that talk and sports formats needed Voltair the most, because of the unpredictable audio levels and silences. But quiet headshakes from music programmers suggest that they’re finding it unexpectedly helpful. Let’s say that we’re in the “figuring-it-out” phase with this new processing concept. And that figuring it out is complicated by the number of parties involved, like Nielsen, the Media Rating Council and station owners.
Somebody’s interested in Spanish Broadcasting System stock…
The stock doubled between the February 23 close of $3.21 a share and the May 4 close of $6.54. One day last month (April 9 NOW) it jumped 25%, from $4 to $5. It’s eased off since last week’s high and closed yesterday at $6.10, down 13 cents (about 2%). Still, somebody thinks something positive is happening, and it may be related to next year’s FCC auction of TV spectrum. Or at least the perception of what management might do. On the most company’s Q4 call, one analyst couldn’t hide his incredulity, that the company wouldn’t jump to participate in the auction. (Management was noncommittal.) That analyst figures the SBS TV licenses, turned in for auction, could be worth “anywhere between 25% and 50% of the company’s current enterprise value,” as much as $115 million. In his opinion, that would be from selling assets that “generate just a little bit of revenue and virtually no EBITDA,” or cash flow. CEO Raul Alarcon’s ambitions in television have always bothered some onlookers, but he’s kept going. Once again, SBS is the straggler in reporting quarterly results, among radio’s publicly-traded companies. It releases first quarter numbers on Friday, May 15 (at the end of the day), the last day the SEC will normally let companies report their Q1.
Former FCC Chair Kevin Martin is a new Vice President at Facebook.
Martin held the chairman’s gavel during Bush 43’s second term, from 2005 until 2009, and he’s been consulting Facebook for the last two years. (Former FCC Chairs are typically in high demand on the market, after they accept the usual invitation from an outfit like the Aspen Institute think tank as an interim step.) Now the Washington Post says Martin will join Facebook fulltime as Vice President for Mobile and Global Access Policy – part of what Cecelia Kang calls Facebook’s goal to “build its executive ranks for former government officials.” Mark Zuckerberg knows he needs new friends, as Facebook increasingly comes under scrutiny over issues like privacy and ad sales. (Just this week, it started hosting mobile-friendly “instant articles” from content publishers like NBC News, the New York Times and The Atlantic – which will lead to questions about revenue shares and keeping traffic inside the Facebook fence.) Facebook VP/Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan says Martin’s “deep experience in technology and communications policy…have already proven invaluable to our mission to connect the world.” Before his time at the FCC, Kevin Martin was a special assistant on economic policy, and he worked on the Florida re-count team for candidate George W. Bush – which helped earn him a nomination to FCC in 2001 and then a promotion to Chairman in 2005.
Unicorns, white whales – and new AM licenses.
They’re all pretty rare, and in the case of the De La Hunt family, it took 11 years to get the good news from the FCC that they’ve been granted the construction permit for a new 1210 AM in northern Minnesota. NorthPine says the De La Hunts (as Bemidji Radio) put on another AM a couple of years ago. That was WBKK Wilton, Minnesota (820), and this family clearly has patience and likes AMs. In that, they’re like the Skotdals of Washington State, who pushed through local resistance and even vandalism to build one new AM and move a second one, northeast of Seattle. Now the De La Hunts can proceed to build the 5,500 watt daytime/250 watt nighttime array in Pine River, Minnesota.
Dave Ramsey collaborates with Salem on a new Christian-focused money show for talk stations.
It stars Chris Brown, and the fact that it’s a half-hour program suggests it’s designed to fit on Salem’s “block”-programmed stations, where Christian ministries or other parties buy time in quarter-hour increments. Dave Ramsey has always insisted that he doesn’t buy time, and we don’t know the business arrangements between Ramsey Solutions and Salem on this one – so it must be a business partnership of some kind between Ramsey and Salem Media Group. They say the Chris Brown “True Stewardship” daily show will launch in June, in “twenty of Salem’s major-markets, including Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and Atlanta.” We don’t know which stations. “True Stewardship” is presumably going on a Dallas station like Christian teaching “”Word 100.7” KWRD, not on conservative talk “660 the Answer” KSKY. Nashville-based radio host/entrepreneur Dave Ramsey says “Chris has been speaking to crowds in excess of 10,000 attendees with an incredibly positive response. He’s the perfect person to host this new half-hour show.”
Day 3 Nielsen April-book PPMs –
Portland, Oregon – 11 straight #1’s for iHeart’s AC “K103,” proving that KKCW doesn’t need its all-Christmas playlist around the holidays to dominate. It moves from a February-book 9.4 (age 6+ AQH share) to a March 9.8 and now a 9.5 for April. Big jump and a station-best PPM for Entercom’s now-second place country “Wolf” KWJJ, 5.9-5.0-7.1. (Alpha’s country KUPL is also up and ranked #11, going 3.5-3.8-4.0.) Third place is held by Oregon Public Radio’s non-com news/talk KOPB-FM, 6.7-7.1-6.8, and then there’s a tie in fourth place. Identical 6.3-shares are scored by iHeart top 40 “Z100” KKRZ (6.4-7.1-6.3) and Entercom’s variety hits KYCH. That’s a “station-best 5.1-5.9-6.3 run for “Charlie.” But a tumble for iHeart’s classic hits KLTH (5.6-5.9-4.9), and it’s a down-book for Entercom’s classic rock KGON (5.6-5.5-4.8). You read here on April 23 about Alpha plugging the KQMV Seattle-based Brooke & Jubal morning show into its Portland top 40 “Live 95.5” KBFF, and here’s the last book without Brooke & Jubal – 3.8-3.8-4.1. AC K103 is also the Rose City’s leading cume station at a Nielsen-estimated weekly cume of 794,500. All shares here are age 6+ AQH, for the total broadcast week.
Charlotte – The combined country share of #1 WSOC (Beasley) and #2 “Kat” WKKT (iHeart) is now 16.7. That’s up from last month’s 15.3 share, because WSOC improves 6.3-7.9-8.5 (best since February 2011) and the Kat climbs 7.3-7.4-8.2 (best since June 2012). There’s a new third-place station, Beasley’s urban “Power 98” WPEG (7.1-7.1-7.0). Fourth is iHeart’s variety hits “Lake” WLKO (4.9-6.2-6.8) and fifth is sister classic rock “Fox” WRFX (5.7-7.2-6.1). On last Friday’s conference call, Beasley indicated that it wanted more performance from urban AC WBAV, and it’s up in this book, 4.0-3.6-4.3. Down-book for Greater Media’s talk WBT-AM/FM (3.5-3.2-2.8). Five stations cume more than 500,000, led by cume leader Kat at 534,800 – which no doubt wishes it could coax more time spent listening from its fans.
Pittsburgh – Killer book for “3WS,” iHeart’s classic hits WWSW (8.3-9.5-11.2). That’s its best non-Christmas music share ever. Last book’s #1 rock WDVE is steady (and wins mornings), going 8.5-9.6-9.4 for the total day. “Bob” (Steel City’s variety hits WRRK) retains possession of third place, 9.4-8.5-8.1, while iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” WKST is close behind (7.2-7.9-7.9). Fifth-place CBS news/talk KDKA loses some of the Winter-weather tune-in (7.8-7.1-5.9). All-sports sister “Fan” KDKA-FM is next, lifted in part by the baseball Pirates (3.8-4.1-5.5). iHeart’s alternative WXDX is at its highest level since May 2013 (4.1-4.5-4.9). The country rivals are CBS “Y108” WDSY (4.8-4.3-4.0) and iHeart’s new “Big Country” WPGB (3.2-3.1-3.3). Pittsburgh continues to be a Nielsen market where we don’t see a lot of stations, such as the ones owned by Renda (AC WSHH, hot AC “Q92.9” WLTJ), Keymarket (country “Froggy” WFGI) and Calvary’s news/talk KQV. Classic hits “3WS” leads in cume at 767,900.
San Antonio – Big bump for Cox country “Y100” KCYY (7.0-7.2-8.1). Sister classic hits KONO-FM remains in second place, 6.6-5.9-6.8. Then come a quartet of iHeart stations – CHR “Mix” KXXM (5.3-5.4-5.5), country KAJA (5.9-5.2-5.4), talk WOAI (4.5-4.6-5.1) and AC KQXT (3.8-4.7-4.9). Alpha’s tenth-ranked variety hits “Jack” finds a few new friends (3.2-3.6-4.0). But sister top 40 KTFM is off, 2.9-3.0-2.6. iHeart’s new urban “Hot 104.5” KZEP loses some fuel, 2.5-2.7-2.3. Alpha’s talk KTSA (550 AM plus a translator) drifts below a 1-share, 1.1-1.1-0.9. It’s now tied with iHeart’s Spanish variety hits “KQXT HD3”-fed translator (0.9-1.0-0.9) and EMF’s contemporary Christian non-com “K-Love” outlet KZAR (1.3-1.0-0.9). Country Y100 also leads in cume at 671,300.
Sacramento – Entercom’s classic rock “Eagle” KSEG continues to lead the pack, 9.9-9.1-9.6. Second is iHeart’s news/talk KFBK-AM/FM (8.0-7.7-7.7), and then third is Entercom’s CHR “End” KDND (5.7-5.9-6.3). Fourth is Entercom’s chipper-looking rock KRXQ (4.2-4.7-5.3). And iHeart’s new “Throwback hip-hop and R&B V101.1” KHYL is nestling in around a 5-share (5.2-4.7-5.0). Tracking the three country FMs, there’s CBS-owned KNCI (4.5-4.0-4.3), iHeart’s “B92.5” KBEB (2.5-3.1-3.7) and Entravision’s “Wolf” KNTY (2.0-2.1-2.1). The 3.7-share for KBEB is the frequency’s highest since June 2010, when it was still KGBY. CHR “End” is tops in market cume at 562,800.
Cincinnati – If iHeart’s talk “Big One” WLW were any bigger, they’d need a new building. It’s in double digits throughout the day and then draws extra listeners with Reds baseball. Total day, it’s up 12.0-13.2-14.1 (and does it from the second-place cume position). That’s easily a PPM-best for ’LW, and also its highest share since the diary days of Summer 1990 – though we shouldn’t compare diary and PPM. Second place in AQH share (and first in cume) is Cumulus classic hits WGRR (7.8-6.9-7.3). Third is Hubbard’s country “B105” WUBE (6.6-6.2-6.8), and fourth is Hubbard hot AC “Q102” WKRQ (6.7-6.9-6.4). Nice spike for iHeart rocker WEBN (3.5-3.9-4.7). Cincinnati Public Radio’s non-com news/talk WVXU cracks the 3-share level (2.8-2.9-3.1).
Cleveland – iHeart stays 1-2-3 in northern Ohio with double-digit country WGAR (8.8-9.3-10.1), then classic hits “Majic” WMJI (11.7-11.7-9.5) and variety hits “Lake’ WHLK (9.1-9.0-9.4). That’s the first time WGAR has led the market since the diary-rated Fall 2006 book. Then there’s a drop to the next pack of stations, with Radio One’s fourth-place urban AC WZAK (5.9-7.2-6.9), iHeart’s talk/Cleveland Indians baseball WTAM (6.2-6.2-6.3) and CBS classic rock WNCX (6.8-6.7-6.2). It’s a nearly three-year high for iHeart top 40 “Kiss” WAKS (4.3-4.6-5.3), but a letup for CBS all-sports “Fan” WKRK-FM (2.8-2.5-2.1). Note that we don’t see Craig Karmazin/Good Karma’s all-sports WKNR, because it’s not a subscriber. Classic hits “Majic” leads in cume, at 621,700 Clevelanders.
Salt Lake City – Yet another PPM-best for Capitol Broadcasting’s third-place hot AC “Now 97.9” KBZN (6.7-6.9-7.1). It’s behind the two big Bonneville stations – AC “FM 100.3” KSFI (7.2-7.2-7.4) and news/talk KSL-AM/FM (6.6-6.5-7.3). A drop for iHeart’s classic hits KODJ (6.0-6.0-4.9), but a nice rise for co-owned hot AC “My 99.5” KJMY (3.8-4.2-4.5). Ditto for sister “Rock 106.5” KAAZ (2.6-2.5-3.2). Brigham Young University’s classical non-com KBYU gains, 2.1-2.5-2.8. Just before this book (March 9 NOW Newsletter), Cumulus pulled back on the accelerator at “B98.7” KBEE, downshifting from hot AC to AC. So far, not much to see (1.7-1.7-1.6). Adult contemporary KSFI holds the cume lead at 609,700.
Las Vegas – iHeart’s AC “Sunny” shines everywhere you look, in every daypart. Total week, it’s #1, 8.6-9.7-10.0, for its largest non-holiday share ever in PPM. CBS has the two stations tied in second place - top 40 KLUC (5.9-6.5-5.9) and hot AC “Mix” KMXB (6.7-6.0-5.9). Fourth is Beasley’s classic hits KKLZ (5.4-4.4-5.0). Fifth is Lotus classic rocker “Point” KXPT (4.8-4.9-4.9). Looking at country, you’ve got iHeart’s KWNR (3.1-3.3-3.5) and Beasley’s “Coyote” KCYE (3.3-2.5-2.8). Sunny has the cume lead sewn up at 577,200 Nevadans.
Orlando – 1-2-3 all belong to iHeart, starting with Spanish tropical “Rumba” WRUM (6.4-8.0-8.0). Next in line is CHR “XL106.7” WXXL with its best share since February 2014 (6.5-6.4-6.7). Third is AC “Magic” WMGF (5.8-5.3-6.2). CBS gets into the act at the #4 spot with classic hits “Sunny” WOCL (5.0-4.7-5.9), very closely trailed by Cox AC/classic hits WMMO (5.8-6.2-5.8). The country fight is Cox “K92.3” WWKA (5.4-5.1-4.8) versus JVC’s “Wolf” WOTW (0.9-0.9-0.7). The lights are dimmer at Cox rhythmic “Power 95.3” WPYO (5.2-4.6-4.2). CHR “XL106.7” cumes the highest, at 556,200.
Kansas City – Baseball pays off for Entercom’s KCSP (“Where the Royals play”), even in non-game dayparts. It’s up 2.0-2.5-4.1. At the top of the local standings is Cumulus classic rocker “Fox” KCFX (6.7-6.7-7.1), and then Entercom’s hot AC “Point” KZPT (5.4-6.9-5.8). Third is Steel City’s top 40 “Mix” KMXV, 6.4-6.6-5.6. Then we arrive at the three-way country race, with #4 KFKF (owned by Steel City, 4.7-4.6-5.3) #7 WDAF (Entercom, 6.2-5.0-4.9) and #15 “Q104” KBEQ (Steel City, 3.4-2.9-3.1). Steel City’s AC “KC102.1” KCKC pulls its best topline since the holiday book of 2010, 3.2-3.5-4.6. In talk, there’s University of Missouri-KC non-com news/talk KCUR (3.7-3.5-3.1), then Entercom’s now-split-up talkers KMBZ-FM (4.2-3.5-2.9) and KMBZ (1.9-2.2-2.1). Cumulus talk KCMO Is flat, 1.7-1.6-1.6. Local Union Broadcasting-owned all-sports WHB holds its ground, 2.8-3.0-2.8. Hot AC “Point” has the cume lead (barely) at 472,100. CHR “Mix” is at 467,900.
Columbus – Largest share since November 2012 for iHeart talker WTVN (6.3-7.3-7.7). It’s looking up at two sister stations, both in double digits. Country WCOL is first (11.8-12.6-11.7) and CHR WNCI is second (10.4-10.1-10.6). Saga gets into the act with #4 AC “Sunny” WSNY (6.3-5.8-6.2). iHeart’s classic hits (no longer “Oldies”) WODC is fifth, 4.0-4.9-5.3. One Connection’s non-commercial contemporary Christian “River” WCVO rises to seventh, 4.5-4.0-5.0. Top 40 WNCI is the cume giant at 627,700.
WUNC Public Radio expands south of its core market of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill to Fayetteville, buying “NPR News & Jazz” WFSS (91.9) from Fayetteville State University. Jazz fans won’t love the deal – yesterday’s LMA began a simulcast with the news/talk non-com WUNC Chapel Hill (91.5), stopping the turntables and CDs. But the station, which has been running deficits, will be connected to more resources from the new “WUNC Public Radio LLC.” The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will be asking the Commission to okay transferring the license of WUNC to the new LLC. And that’s the entity that strikes this deal for the Fayetteville station, Class C1 WFSS. It’s located near significant military installations, which is part of the story here. The Chapel Hill station is participating in a new “national reporting initiative focused on military and veterans issues,” led by familiar public radio voice Adam Hochberg. Purchase price for WFSS is $1,350,000, to be funded by the station (not state revenues). Fayetteville State also gets ongoing underwriting announcements and internships for two students interested in radio or journalism, and the parties say that raises the total enterprise value to $1,750,000. Connie Walker is the President/GM of WUNC Public Radio LLC. The latest April PPMs for Raleigh will be out today, but last month, WUNC ranked #2 in age 6+ AQH share. Brokers on WFSS – Greg Guy and Jason James of Patrick Communications for seller Fayetteville State, and Colorado-based Public Media Company for the buyer.
In Montgomery, Terry Barber keeps assembling his local cluster. That’s following his initial purchase of gospel WMGY (800) from the family of George H. Buck (March 3 NOW). The new additions are a second AM (WRBZ/1250) plus a translator, acquired in two separate deals. TBE/Terry Barber Enterprises is paying Patrick Sullivan $100,000 for 250-watt translator W243CS at 96.5. As for the AM, WRBZ Wetumpka runs 5,000 watts daytime/8 watts at night. It’s being sold by Johnny Roland’s J&W LLC for $210,000 cash. Barber’s the former manager of the Bluewater Broadcasting stations in Montgomery and a former shareholder in Bluewater. He’s got a sense of humor - the stations are being operated under the name “Little Engine Broadcasting.”
Another chapter in the Elmira-Corning saga of the former Pembrook Pines stations. Two stations from the “Pembrook Pines Mass Media” portfolio put together by Robert Pfuntner are going to Gordon Ichikawa’s Tower Broadcasting. They are AC “V98.3” WVIN, a Class A, and “NBC Sports Radio 1380” WABH, with 10,000 watts daytime/450 watts at night. They’re both licensed to Bath, New York. Seller is receiver Richard. A. Foreman and the price is $375,000 cash. Ichikawa’s Tower Broadcasting is waiting to close on a separate batch of four stations belonging to “Pembrook Pines Elmira” (August 19, 2014 NOW Newsletter). As with that earlier sale to Ichikawa, this deal is brokered by Foreman.
“Rebooting Radio” contains some of Fred Jacobs’ provocative ideas. Following up on his “Uncool” post, Fred offers some big ideas – “Convert the [Fall NAB/RAB] Radio Show into a showcase of radio rather than an industry insider event. Move it to locations that matter to advertisers – New York and L.A. – and put radio on display…It would be mandatory to include personalities, because CEOs and program directors aren’t going to charm Madison Avenue.” Also – “Stop playing defense…Radio has allowed SiriusXM, Pandora and others to get control of the messaging.” And this – “work the circuit – TED Talks, TV talk shows and other outlets using radio’s top personalities.” More ideas for Rebooting Radio here.
“How to make your online audio go viral” is the latest topic of researcher/consultant Mark Ramsey, who says “I have never even heard the expression ‘viral audio.’” But why not? He identifies barriers like consumption (“online audio is hard to consume”) and discovery. Mark winds up going to an interesting place – “it’s more important that what’s in the audio be worth talking about from the get-go,” because it’s the word-of-mouth that’s really important. Read more here.
“Atlanta radio goes three times dope” is Creative Loafing’s entertaining visit to three classic hip-hop stations, including “one indie (Old School 99.3) against two corporate big dogs (OG 97.9 and Boom 102.9).” Writer Rodney Carmichael says the fight has also “turned two longtime radio allies into potential rivals, and spawned a ratings war for listeners that divides the advertising pie into interesting slices of race, age and taste.” “OG 97.9” is the Cumulus effort, “Boom 102.9” is the entry from Radio One, and “Old School 99.3” is from Steve Hegwood. Follow Carmichael and the Creative Loafing camera through the studios of three different stations that butt heads here.
Rockin' the nighttime - Jay Meyers, now CEO of Adelante Media Group and BMT LLC, says "Yesterday's story about the power change jogs a brain cell loose, about when I arrived in Syracuse to 1260-WNDR, and we changed the format from Top 40 to 'Solid Gold.' The plan was to flip it on Friday night of Labor Day weekend at 6pm, when I would be on the air. We flipped with a big announcement (you can hear it here) and I was off and running, getting calls from as far away as Allentown, Pennsylvania, which was astonishing for a 1260 AM. Around 8:30pm, Chief Engineer Roy Taylor (who was also a great jock and did middays in the new lineup) came bopping in, telling me how great I sounded and how the station was kicking ass. Then he said, 'Did you have any trouble with the power switch?' To which I replied, 'Power switch? What's that?' WNDR was the first time in my career I was on air when a station actually had to switch to nighttime power. Roy responded, 'I thought the signal sounded awful good west and south tonight. Say goodbye to your fans in Pennsylvania and Maryland,' and he showed me how to do the switch." Does that jog any of your brain cells? Email your favorite story to “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Final day for April Nielsen PPMs today, and you’ll see Nashville, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Hartford and eight more markets in your mailbox at 5pm Eastern time – if you’re signed up to get the NOW Newsletter’s PPM Ratings Email (no charge). Haven’t been seeing them? Check “Email options” at the bottom of today’s issue. Then you’ll be getting all 48 PPM markets as soon as they’re publicly available. See you first thing tomorrow morning with analysis of the Day 4 markets. Tom