|Radio’s political prospects
Republican presidential candidates discover radio – because of Donald Trump.
But here’s the thing – a lot of the latest activity is coming not from candidates, but from friendly PACs and SuperPACS. And they may be having an effect. You could explain part of Ted Cruz’s ascendance to a SuperPAC buying radio ads in Midwestern and eastern markets. They’re new, and so is his rise. The Wall Street Journal says the Jeb Bush-friendly “Right to Rise USA is adding $266,000 in radio ads and several hundred mailers to a previously-announced $3.7 million television buy in early-voting states.” They’re tied to the Paris terrorist attacks, but what’s really behind them is the unstoppable Donald Trump. As one observer says, “Trump speaks, reporters run to the other major candidates to get their reactions, so they end up on TV and in media without having to spend money.” But Trump’s sucking up most of the oxygen in the race, and the clock’s ticking toward the Iowa caucuses and primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Trump doesn’t need to buy any media. But his rivals are running out of time to break through – and radio’s affordable. (Even better from radio’s standpoint – PAC ads aren’t subject to the FCC’s lowest-unit rate requirements.) It worked for candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Can radio get in front of the buyers for PACS and SuperPACs, here in the 2016 race?
Verizon joins T-Mobile and AT&T in testing “toll-free data.”
That somewhat undercuts the “data cost” argument for the FM chip in smartphones. (Though chip proponents are also pitching its use as an emergency communications tool.) T-Mobile is already committed (big-time) to its Binge On package, offering usage to Pandora, iHeart and other radio and video streaming services without counting it against your data plan. AT&T is looking at the notion, and now Re/Code says Verizon is “set to begin piloting” a similar feature, with “a wider rollout to consumers early next year.” Some call it “Zero-rating,” since it takes zero out of your data allowance – and some wonder if it falls afoul of the FCC’s still-untested policy on Net Neutrality, by supposedly favoring some services over others. (Though T-Mobile says it’s not charging Pandora, iHeart, etc., and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler recently praised Binge On as “highly innovative and highly competitive.”)
Yes, the second season of “Serial” goes to Afghanistan.
Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his post and endured five years as a prisoner of the Taliban. The first Serial podcast became a sensation, with its engrossing coverage of the multiple angles of a school-girl murder in Baltimore and her alleged killer’s life sentence. We’d heard rumors that Serial narrator Sarah Koenig was spotted at the San Antonio court-martial of Sergeant Bergdahl, and The New York Times now says Koenig has access to interviews with Bergdahl conducted by independent filmmaker Mark Boal. So the Bergdahl case is the focus of the second “Serial,” and episode one was released yesterday – here. Serial is also available – as part of a new partnership – from Pandora. Check this note yesterday from the online service – “Serial on Pandora will be presented exclusively by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures’ ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ and Esurance, insurance for the modern world.” They sold it, and presumably Serial gets a cut of that.
Geraldo Rivera follows through on his threat to sue Cumulus after alleged “lock-out.”
He vowed two weeks ago that the “slight will not go unanswered” – and Bloomberg reports a breach of contract suit filed in New York State Supreme Court. Geraldo had been hosting late-mornings on Cumulus-owned talk WABC New York (770) and claims that now-exited EVP John Dickey had extended his deal through 2016. Last month we thought this was all verbal-agreement stuff, but the suit quotes a September 30 email from Dickey – “Thanks, Geraldo. I admire your work and your loyalty. Glad you will be covering the election on 77 WABC next year.” Rivera says on Facebook that suit is “not about the money” – $600,000 a year – but about “their unforgivable disrespect.” His current contract goes through the end of December, but Geraldo wasn’t allowed back onto WABC last month, and that’s the so-called “lock-out.” Geraldo says “I will fight them, and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in my salary.” It’s not great press for Cumulus. No immediate response from the company. Though don’t be surprised if it shows that it tried to negotiate a new deal after Mary Berner succeeded Lew Dickey as CEO. And that it will perhaps claim Geraldo just didn’t like the terms and is now shouting “Lock-out.”
Rate-cutting – Radio’s “Race to the bottom?”
NOW Readers have plenty to say on the subject of Wednesday’s lead “Shark Tank” story, about the rate-cutting widely reported in large- and medium-size markets. The idea is to get past the finger-pointing and blame-game stuff, starting with a helpful diagnosis of the situation. Here’s more to read and digest -
• “The mandate dictated by large public companies is to ‘package for share’ of market dollars,” says former Buckley radio group head and onetime RAB Board Chair Joe Bilotta. He’s now the president/CEO of Connecticut-based JMB Solutions, and he says “The mandate to package for share has led to infighting and rate concessions, to ensure that the share of market dollars placed is the governing metric. With another generation both buying and selling radio, the pariah nature of the business is further ingrained in the culture of the transaction. Long-gone is the day when both buyer and seller were able to discuss and analyze station and market conditions.”
• “Our clock wasn’t big enough,” says a savvy syndicator. “We were discussing putting one of our shows on a major market station at night. But the station said they couldn’t use it, because our clock wasn’t big enough. What? The station guy explains that he needs 25 minutes of spot-time in the evenings, because that’s where all the bonus and valued-added spots run. Wow.”
• “How about bonuses for bringing new money to radio, from another medium?” This keep-me-anonymous executive says “Share bonuses have been one of the top three things holding radio revenue back. They keep sales managers fighting over the same $7 (it used to be $10) that radio gets out of every $100. If the bonuses, across the board, were based on growth/achieving budgets, managers could focus on more of the big picture. If constructed properly, a manager couldn’t grow or make budget without growing share anyway. Let’s take money back from other mediums, including Pandora, but other sources, too. The more we can get station/cluster leaders to focus on the total market’s ad pie, not just the radio ad pie, the better chance we have of growing this thing together. I would love to see more competition in the national market. Katz is holding rates down, across the board.”
• “iHeart and Katz are doing their sole job, of increasing revenue, however necessary.” This national-level observer believes “The not-so-slow, downward spiral of rates and demand in radio is real and worsening, especially in national sales, especially in major markets. Are iHeart and Katz to blame? They’re helping it along without any noble purpose, but they’re just doing their sole job. The issue is two-fold. One is that no one is to blame that there is more inventory every minute, lessening the value of any existing inventory. There are simply more streams, podcasts, websites, events, HD channels, newsletters – all sponsorable, ad-supported entertainment and media. So, that’s just natural change and growth, and the old-world broadcasters who aren’t producing as much new inventory/ideas as the market is will continue to shrink. Economics 101. The second issue, and one where there really is a problem, is that the larger agencies/media buying services are in on the process. Who gets hurt? The clients, when ‘radio’ campaigns don’t work as well as they could, because they bought it cheap. When big share deals are done with Katz for iHeart and the larger buying shops, the agencies are proud to show clients their low CPMs [cost per thousand] and CPPs [cost per point], as much as they are their creative. So pile on the inventory (events, SLUs, podcasts, etc.) and sell it at a lower CPM/CPP. Still need a lower CPP? Throw in other stations, markets and inventory. It hurts everybody in the long run.” More about rate-cutting – including some positive ideas – next week in this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter.
The (Voltair-free) PPM’s are out for Canada…
Six months ago, there were some odd sights in the Spring book, like Toronto AC CHFI losing its #1 crown with age 12+ share. That was the first and only time that had happened since Canada began using the U.S.-developed PPM in five of its largest markets. Shortly after that book, the Numeris consortium of broadcasters, advertisers and agencies told stations to pull any Voltair audio processors they might be using out of the audio chain. Not saying that Rogers-owned CHFI was or was not using Voltair, but things seem to have settled down in Toronto and perhaps some other markets. (In any case, NOW believes that usage of Voltair was much less widespread in Canada than in the U.S. PPM markets.) This Fall survey ran August 31-November 29, and included the October 19 election that brought Justin Trudeau to power as Prime Minister. Checking format trends in the five PPM markets -
• Toronto – Adult contemporary CHFI improves from a Summer-book 9.6 to a Fall-book 9.9 with age 12+ share. It’s #1 for the second straight quarterly book. Numeris provides average daily cume instead of Nielsen’s weekly cume, and Rogers-owned CHFI attracts nearly 846,000 Torontonians every day, out of a universe of 5,321,000. Back to share - ratings historian Chris Huff says “CBC Radio One news/talk flagship CBLA is up 8.7 to 9.7, for its largest share since Spring 2014.” In the U.S., the station-name “Boom” is claimed by Radio One and used for classic hip-hop. But in Toronto, Newcap’s “Boom 97.3” does classic hits (no Dr. Dre). Boom CHBM is up 8.7-9.0, to its largest topline share in five years, per Chris Huff. Bell Media’s hot AC CHUM-FM is off, 9.5-8.9. Rogers’ “News/talk 1010” CFRB holds steady, 6.8-7.0. Rogers’ all-sports “590 the Fan” CJCL achieves its best PPM yet, 4.0-4.9, and ZoomerMedia’s adult standards CFZM is up 4.3-4.6 for a station-record PPM. Zoomer Radio is in the midst of its 100-hour Frank Sinatra marathon, here. Toronto is Canada’s largest market at about 5.6 million population. #2 is Montreal -
• Montreal – it’s the 34th straight #1 finish in this market’s Anglo ratings for Bell Media’s news/talk CJAD, which basically clings to its 25-year high in either PPM or diary, 28.1-28.0. Cogeco’s second-place rhythmic “92.5 the Beat” CKBE is consistent, 17.7-17.5. Bell Media’s hot AC “Virgin Radio”-branded CJFM moves 17.0-16.2, while Bell Media’s rock CHOM runs 12.2-11.7. The local CBC1 station is CBME, 6.3-6.5. Switching languages to the Francophone ratings, this makes 17 #1’s in a row for Cogeco’s French-language news/talk CHMP (19.6-22.7). Rhythmic AC sister “Rythme” CFGL is second (18.7-17.1), and the only other station in double digits is Bell Media’s French AC “Rouge FM” CITE (14.0-11.8). But the CBC’s French-language news/talk CBF comes very close to double digits, 8.4-9.9. Cogeco’s French-language pop CKOI holds 8.7-8.5.
• Vancouver – “The 13.7 share for Bell Media’s AC CHQM is the largest share in the PPM-measurement era for Bell Media’s AC ‘QMFM,’” says Chris Huff. It’s easily the #1 station in this western Canada market, jumping 11.4-13.7. The only other signal above a 10-share is the CBC1 outlet, CBU (10.3-12.7). Third is Corus “News Talk 980” CKNW (9.8-9.3) and fourth is classic rock sister “Rock 101” CFMI (7.2-6.7). The “Virgin Radio”-branded station that Bell does here in Vancouver is top 40 (CFBT, 6.8-6.5). Fast-growing Vancouver has topped 2.4 million in market population and is the country’s #3 metro.
• Calgary loves its country music, and Canada’s fifth-largest market keeps Corus “Country 105” CKRY on top, and the only station in double digits. This Fall book is its twelfth straight #1, says Chris Huff, going 10.9-10.3. There’s a tie for second place between Newcap’s classic hits “XL103.1” CFXL 10.5-9.4) and Corus news/talk CHQR (8.5 to 9.4, its best since Spring 2013). CBC1’s news/talk CBR holds 7.9-8.3, while Corus classic rock “Q107” CFGQ improves 5.8-6.4.
• Edmonton keeps top 40 in first place for the seventh quarterly book. Jim Pattison Group-owned “102.3 Now” CKNO again breaks double-digits, 11.9-10.4. Second is Corus news/talk CHED (8.4-9.5) and third is news/talk non-com CBX, the CBC1 news/talk outlet in Edmonton (8.6-7.9). Right behind it is Newcap’s classic hits “96.3 Capital FM” CKRA (8.4-7.8). Pattison’s classic hits “Up 99.3” CIUP does indeed go up, 5.6-6.7. Edmonton is Canada’s #6 market by population. See all the Numeris PPM numbers from the Fall survey here.
Cumulus files specifics re: the planned new transmitter site for L.A.’s KABC/790, moving a step closer to the $125 million sale of the talk station’s longtime tower site. That can’t happen soon enough for Cumulus investors, who’ve been waiting for this closing. (Also on the $75 million East coast sale of the site housing DC’s talk WMAL/630.) Stu Graham of the Graham Brock consulting firm just filed his minor change application to diplex KABC with Lotus-owned Spanish sports KWKW/1330. As we expected in the October 14 NOW, the day signal will be close to the current coverage, while KABC will put somewhat less nighttime juice over Orange County. Current power is 5,000 watts day and night, and KABC’s proposing to do 6,600 watts daytime and 6,800 watts nighttime. It would continue being directional at night. See the application here.
Dick Enberg may be retiring from calling San Diego Padres baseball games after next year, but he’d better make room on his calendar to appear in Cooperstown, New York on July 25. He’s been voted as this year’s recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame, for excellence in broadcasting. The Hall’s Jeff Idelson says Enberg’s “unmistakable voice and remarkable enthusiasm for the National Pastime during the Living Room Era as the voice of the California Angels from 1968-1978 propelled his broadcast career into the national limelight.” From there, Idelson says “his baseball foundation became a launching pad for other sports and national assignments.” Enberg worked with both CBS Sports and NBC Sports, and there’s more about him from the Hall of Fame here.
Need prayer support? There’s an app for that, “Instapray,” and Salem just bought it. Salem CEO Ed Atsinger has steadily added to his digital assets through purchases of things like “GodTube.com” and “Christianity.com.” Here’s the description of the latest addition – “Instapray, available on both iOS and Android devices, allows users to add prayer requests, share them with a global network, and receive notifications as their prayers are prayed over.” The app launched in mid-2013 and Salem says it’s “facilitated over 50 million prayers around the world.”
Mike Rosen is about to turn 71 and having put in nearly 30 years at Denver’s news/talk KOA/850, he says “I’ve decided to give myself a little more well-earned leisure time.” So Mike’s pulling back to a less strenuous commitment. Mandy Connell will take over middays starting January 4, seguing from the morning slot on iHeart’s all-talk sister KHOW/630. Rosen will do a regular weekend shift for KOA and be available as a political commentator. He’ll also do guest-hosting on KOA and KHOW. His final weekday show on KOA is Christmas Eve, December 24. He’s got a recently-published book to promote (“Reality: A plain-talk guide to economics, politics, government and culture”), and he’s been a columnist for the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Tim Hager is iHeart’s market manager for Denver, and Greg Foster oversees KOA as part of being VP of News, Talk and Sports.
Tricia Gallenbeck moves from the Beasley world (Las Vegas and Fayetteville, NC) to the Americom sphere, and it transports her back to Nevada. She started out in Las Vegas as an AE for Beasley, eventually became general sales manager, then hopped to eastern North Carolina as director of sales. She’s now taking a market manager position with Americom’s Reno Media Group, which owns stations like AC “106.9 More FM” KRNO Incline Village and classic hits “103.7 the River” Carnelian Bay. Americom’s deeply into the event business, sponsoring “Divas Day Out,” “Denim and Divas, “Paws in the Park” and the “Reno Kite Festival.” Industry-wide, Gallenbeck’s served on the steering committee of the Fall NAB/RAB Radio Show and been a panelist and speaker at conventions.
John Madden just had open-heart surgery, which explains why he’s missed being on-mic at CBS Radio’s all-news KCBS/KFRC (740/106.9) since just before Thanksgiving. When the Hall of Fame pro football coach retired from his Sunday Night Football duties for NBC-TV, he continued his daily appearances on radio in the Bay Area, where he grew up and coached the Raiders to a Super Bowl championship. KCBS announced the medical news about Madden – who turns 80 in April.
Jon Candelaria takes an “Old School” job – ops manager for the entire Beasley cluster in Las Vegas. He’s programmed in Dallas (Radio One’s KBFB/KSOC), Detroit (WHTD) and been a regional brand manager for iHeart. He came to Beasley-Vegas in 2012 as PD for KOAS (now rhythmic oldies “Old School 105.7”) and KVGS (now hot AC “Star 107.9”). Market manager Tom Humm likes the work he’s been doing, and awards him the cluster OM post.
Tom Couch qualifies as a year-end budget cut in radio, says Chicagoland Radio & Media - gone as Creative Services Director at classic rock “97.1 the Drive” WDRV. Couch posts on Facebook that “It was a good, almost 15-year run...Budget issues necessitated staff cutbacks, and I was one who was cut.” He thanks programmer Greg Solk and others at the Drive for “a great ride.” Couch had been part of the Drive practically since then-owner Bonneville bought classical WNIB and took it to a distinctive classic hits/classic rock approach. Earlier in his life, Couch was a staff writer for the “SCTV” comedy show. He’s also contributed to the annual ceremonies of the National Radio Hall of Fame, located in Chicago.
Literally true – A regular NOW Reader says “A jock I once worked with was a little nuts. I don't know if he was on some funny stuff or just crazy. But one night, he said that the nth caller would win the keys to a new car. He got tons of calls, and he got a winner on the phone who was breathless (you can just imagine). He then sent her the keys to a new car. Not the car. Just the keys. Lawyers surfaced. The jock disappeared. His job was over, and I don't know if the station finally gave away a car.” Ready to share your own true story about radio? (And help others learn, as well as be entertained?) Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Interested in rate-cutting in radio sales? 2016 political advertising? The new “Serial” podcast? We covered a bunch of ground in today’s Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter, and thanks for making the journey. Like what you’re seeing here? Tell a friend or colleague, so they can sign up for their own copy, every day. And do you want to reach this highly-engaged readership with your company’s marketing message? Contact Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing Monday - Tom