|Nielsen + Audio Streaming
Nielsen’s close to (finally) announcing a streaming measurement service.
The issue isn’t Nielsen’s own readiness, but as it’s said several times in public, getting the various parties on the same page. CEO Mitch Barns told his Q1 call that “the digital players and the industry players, as well as the media agencies that sit in between, need to come together and agree on how those metrics will be recorded.” Now Radio Insight tweets this from yesterday’s New Jersey Broadcasters Association confab in Atlantic City – “Nielsen VP Rich Tunkel: ‘Nielsen will utilize same technology it uses to measure streaming video to measure streaming audio.’” Nielsen has been saying for over a year that it's taking a three-point approach to deliver listening data, including point of consumption (mobile app or player), listener attributes (demographics and location), and de-duplication (taking apart over-the-air listening from online, to determine true reach, regardless of platform). RadioInsight later tweeted from NJBA that “Any PPM market station that opts-in can have their streaming data measured by Nielsen, starting this Summer.” Mitch Barns has been saying that streaming measurement is “not across the finish line yet” – but maybe it’s finally about to break the tape.
Townsquare sues Groupon over “Seize the Deal.”
Looks like giant daily-deals site Groupon tried to buy the Texas-based “Townsquare Commerce” division of radio station owner Townsquare Media – but things got squirrelly. A suit filed in federal court in Dallas says that in April 2014, Groupon Senior VP Jason Harinstein “approached plaintiff about entry into a potential partnership” and soon afterwards “obtained confidential information” from Townsquare Commerce…and considered acquiring plaintiff.” But “no deal acceptable to [Townsquare] was proposed by Groupon, and any possible transaction was shelved.” Townsquare says Chicago-based Groupon didn’t stop there – “having been unable to get what it wanted through negotiations to partner with, or acquire, plaintiff, Groupon now seeks to maliciously destroy plaintiff’s business and take its customers.” Townsquare says Groupon’s been using a “Seize the Deal” promotional campaign that is “nearly an exact copy.” So Townsquare Commerce, based in Richardson, Texas alleges “unfair competition, unjust enrichment and trademark infringement.”
“Seize the Deal” was dropped once by Groupon, says Townsquare – then revived.
Turns out that Townsquare Commerce sent a cease-and-desist letter to Groupon just before Christmas, and Groupon pulled the campaign, saying it “considered the matter resolved.” The Townsquare suit says Groupon didn’t challenge its rights or assertions. But on May 27, Townsquare alleges that Groupon was back in the “Seize the Deal” business, “willfully infringing on the mark” that Townsquare’s held since 2009. Townsquare started counting the number of times “Seize the Deal” was used in Groupon’s software code at Groupon.com/occasion/seize-the-deal, and found 49 instances. To Townsquare, “such a repetitive use of the mark is meant to ensure that Groupon’s Seize the Deal promotional campaign will rank high in any search engine results.” The suit says the most recent use even “intentionally copies fonts” from the Townsquare site, SeizeTheDeal.com. Townsquare’s asking for a jury trial, damages, costs, etc. – plus a permanent injunction. Groupon has been served with the suit, but hasn’t filed a response in court.
Auction fever? 22 parties could go for broke in the July FM auction.
That is, at least 22 bidders – about 25% of the field – are positioned to bid for potentially all 131 FM construction permits up on the FCC auction block starting July 23. That’s a high number based on recent auctions, where interest has been waning and dozens of CPs went unsold. Some of that’s because of the perceived quality of the stations (away from population centers) and some is because of issues like access to capital and the lower value of many licenses, period. But of the 87 parties who submitted what the Commission calls “complete applications” for Auction 98, 22 of them select all the CPs up for auction, though we’ll see which ones actually make their required upfront payments by the deadline of June 29. Also, another 24 parties could still join the proceedings if they can fix their “incomplete” applications. Those include Larry Wilson’s Alpha Media.
Entercom and K-Love parent EMF are among the highly-interested auction bidders.
Philly-based Entercom may not have DOJ permission to close its $105 million acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media by the time the July 23 FCC online auction begins. But CEO David Field could expand his holdings in another way, by participating in the auction for new FM construction permits. Seeing Entercom on the list of bidders for all 131 permits is a surprise, but the presence of an even larger group, the non-commercial Christian broadcaster Educational Media Foundation, is no surprise at all. EMF keeps finding cash – from regular monthly supporters – to buy more stations.
Who else is in the “131 Club” for the auction?
Indy-based AF Group, applying as a minority-owned/woman-owned business and led by Adriana Fernandez. Then there’s John P. Burke of Stockton, using the 35% new entrant bidding credit. Oregon-based Edgar Eaton, using the 35% credit. Memphis-based George Flinn – a very familiar face in these auctions. John Fiori’s FMI Media, based in Vacaville, California. D.C.-based Hispanic Target Media, another longtime auction player led by Francisco San Millan. Virginia-based Jackman Holding LLC. Vic Michaels of Kona Coast Radio. Bakersfield-based Brett Miller. Virginia-based Miriam Media (Darryl Delawder, Evan Carb). Florida-based Campo E. Munera, seeking a 35% credit. San Antonio-based Radiorama, led by Luis Gonzalez and also claiming the 35% credit. Steven Rubin of San Jose, claiming a 25% credit. Oklahoma-based Screen Door Broadcasting (John Bennett), taking a 25% credit. Suburban Philly-based “John Smith,” seeking a 35% credit. SSR Communications (which just sold a Mississippi translator to Larry Wilson for $200,000). Summit Broadcasting II (Colorado-based Mary Medicus, 35% credit). Texas-based Torres Media Group (Socorro Torres, 25% credit). North Carolina-based Todd Robinson’s United States CP, a frequent bidder in past auctions. And finally, Bill McCutchen’s Waco Entertainment Group. See the list of 87 qualifying bidders (so far) and what they selected as possible targets here.
Some auction players are just cherry-picking…
Robert Ingstad’s only interested in one of the 131 FM construction permits available for auction – a new Class C1 in Altamont, Oregon at 94.9. Rep-firm veteran and “Power of Urban Radio” presenter Sherman Kizart is only interested in a future Class C2 at 93.1 in Cleveland, Mississippi. While there’s an interesting situation for a new Class A at 100.9 licensed to Westfield, New York, just up the Lake Erie shoreline from Erie, PA. Jeff Warshaw’s Connoisseur, which has bid in the past using fanciful names from Austin Powers movies, files here under its own name for that one. So does the new “Westfield Broadcasting LLC,” led by brokers Scott Knoblauch and Eddie Esserman, and Charles Anderson. Some bidders want something in between a single FM and all 131. Those include past bidder Katherine Pyeatt – potentially interested in 77 CPs – and San Antonio-based “Protelse LLC,” led by Abraham Karam, claiming a 35% credit and eyeing as many as 73 CPs. Read the Public Notice about the upcoming FCC Auction 98 here.
Kraig Kitchin moves up to run Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.
Former Premiere Networks exec Kraig Kitchin has recently been Chief Revenue Officer at Dallas-based TheBlaze, and Peter Kafka at Re/code says he’s become interim CEO. That follows the announced departure of CEO Betsy Morgan. She joined Beck’s operation in 2011 after overseeing the Huffington Post. Re/code cites a memo from Morgan, who wrote that in the last six months, “we found ourselves on a rough sea, but stayed true to our course.” Beck’s subscription video channel and other non-radio operations are all private, so we don’t have any visibility into their revenues or profitability. Of course Kraig Kitchin worked with Beck when Kraig was running Premiere. This is the second time this week Kitchin’s been in the news here – he’s also chairman of the Chicago-based National Radio Hall of Fame, which this week revealed plans to allow public balloting for two of this year’s inductees. Kitchin co-founded Premiere and led it from 1998-2007 and since then he’s kept uber-busy as co-president of the Sound Mind talent management firm and co-president of Big Shoes Productions, owned by another Premiere talent, Delilah.
“Every day that goes by without a definite answer to questions about Voltair is crushing our industry."
Dave Paulus is Max Media's VP/GM in Norfolk (a PPM market) and he tells this NOW newsletter that "Every single day Nielsen remains quiet or Numeris wants a '60-day study,' etc., people are taking money out of our medium and putting it in an industry with more accountability. This product either works or it doesn’t. It shouldn’t take weeks and months to determine that and there can’t be ‘haves and have-nots’ in this measurement process." Dave submits a real-world excerpt from an email conversation with a client - "Dave, I know you had mentioned our spots might not 'encode' well, because of us not having a music background (I think you said it was called a bed). Respectfully though, my question is: Why should I have to change my marketing plans because your industry’s measurement system has a perceived flaw in its encoding/receiving process?" Paulus says that's just one of the questions he's getting, as he tries to explain - all over again, now that Voltair is on the scene - the Nielsen PPM process.
Voltair’s role in the production room (and how to count past “5”) –
Picking up on what Dave Paulus’ Norfolk-market client said about a spot lacking a music bed, here’s more about the possible interaction of Nielsen’s PPM and Voltair. One Voltair agnostic who’s familiar with PPM technology says “I can see using this tool in the production room, to pre-test spots and voices.” A more robust continuous audio stream is more likely to carry the tones embedded by the PPM encoder every five seconds. But here’s a big question – how much does that matter, in the end? If you get a chance to stand in the rack-room (and NOW has, several times), you can get mesmerized by the real-time repair job the processor carries out on the signal going to the transmitter. One PD says “It’s a little like crack.” But let’s dive into PPM a bit. One research pro tells this NOW Newsletter that “there are tones every five seconds, and the meter worn by the panel member stores them and looks for the best-quality code, from 1 to 8. There are four characters in each code, and 8 is a perfect code in terms of quality. If it’s a 6 or 7, the software will use algorithms to try to identify the station.” The expert says “In a perfect world, there would be 180 codes (12 per minute x 15 minutes) in a quarter hour of actual listening. But here’s the thing – you only need 5 in the right places to get one quarter-hour’s worth of credit.” So – just talking here – if Voltair gives you many more than 5, does that increase the station’s ultimate AQH share? No. More to come about this still-evolving topic.
Ginny Morris in 2013, Bud Walters in 2014 – now George Beasley in 2015.
George earns the NAB’s National Radio Award, to be presented at the Fall Radio Show in Atlanta, as it was last year to Bud Walters of the Cromwell Group in Indianapolis, and two years ago to Ginny Morris of Hubbard Radio in Orlando. George had his first station in 1961 while his full-time job was an assistant principal and in 1969 he devoted full-time to his growing broadcasting company, now based in Florida. Beasley Media Group has 53 stations and its founder is already in the Nevada Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame. In 2012 was honored as a “Giant of Broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting. He’s been a generous donor to his alma mater of Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, the site of the “George G. Beasley Media Complex.” The Chairman/CEO of Beasley Broadcast Group will be honored at the 2015 Radio Show in Atlanta, September 30-October 2.
Milwaukee’s “Lake” may shape-shift into “The Shore.”
That would sidestep any storms brewing along Lake Michigan between Scripps – which dropped “94.5 the Lake” on its WLWK when it recently flipped to country – and Wisconsin-based Magnum Broadcasting. There’s been radio silence in public since Magnum blew up its suburban country “Q92” WMKQ Racine to grab the variety format hits abandoned by Scripps. Magnum also appropriated the “Lake” name, and the attorneys from Scripps got involved in some fashion. Now Radio Insight detects a Wisconsin state trademark application for “The Shore.” Also a domain registration for “921TheShore.com,” and a Twitter account. That might be a way for Dave Magnum to avoid a boating accident on the lake.
The “KJDY” call letters stand for “John Day, Oregon,” John Day having been a member of the 1811 Astor Expedition funded by John Jacob Astor, looking to set up a network of fur traders. That path became part of the Oregon Trail that opened up the Pacific Northwest, and now it’s opening up expansion opportunities for Elkhorn Media Group. Elkhorn’s Randy and Debra McKone are adding country KJDY-AM/FM plus a translator to their holdings, in a $405,000 transaction with seller Phil Gray of Blue Mountain Broadcasting. The AM is thousand-watt KJDY at 1400, and the translator is K229AX at 93.7. The FM is licensed to nearby Canyon City, and it’s a booming Class C0 (C-zero) named KJDY-FM at 94.5. The McKones are paying $50,000 in cash and the balance of $355,000 in a 60-month seller note at 6% interest. Just to be extra cautious, the sale contract requires the McKones to take out a term life insurance policy on Randy’s life in the amount of the note, $355,000. It’s payable to Phil and Peggy Gray, and the McKones are responsible for paying the premiums. The McKones’ other interests in Oregon are country KCMB Baker (104.7), AC “99.9 the River” KWRL La Grande and news/talk KVBL Union (103.1). Take a look at Elkhorn’s combined “My Eastern Oregon” site here.
Chattanooga’s public radio WUTC (88.1) and a local public TV outlet are both running deficits, and there’s talk – from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – about partnering up. The school owns non-commercial news/talk/variety music WUTC and has been subsidizing it the last few years, to help cover its budget of about $1.4 million. Current.org says “talks of a merger [with independent TV WTCI] are premature” – but there seems to be motivation on both sides. WTCI is a PBS affiliate on digital channel 29/virtual channel (marketed as) channel 45. UT-Chattanooga has named a task force to consider the possibilities between its radio station and the TV station owned by Greater Chattanooga Public Television Corporation.
“Podcasting blossoms, but in slow motion.” New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo visits Gimlet Media, co-founded by public radio talent Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber, and comes away with these observations – that Gimlet “is betting that high production values will win the future of broadcasting.” That podcasting has “begun to attract large entertainment marketers” as advertisers, though one hassle is that “the more ads that appear, the less each advertiser will pay.” And that there are significant issues with truth-telling about download numbers. Manjoo feels “podcasting is destined to be huge,” but not tomorrow. More here.
“Why radio talent should root for the raptors in Jurassic World” is talent coach Steve Reynolds’ way of finding the lesson in a blockbuster Steven Spielberg-produced movie. He says “there’s a scene where Chris Pratt comes upon a dying brontosaurus, and despite the fact that this animal is all-CGI, you’ll still push back tears.” That’s because the movie’s made you believe in characters that “you connect with and ultimately root for.” There are takeaways for radio morning shows, which Reynolds says “must have a disparate group of people (even two), who are likable yet different.” How do you create those bonds with listeners? More from Reynolds here.
Barry McCarthy takes over as Chief Financial Officer at Spotify, though his predecessor Peter Sterky stays with the streaming company. New CFO McCarthy “spent the entire aughts [decade starting 2000] as Netflix’s CFO, holding the role from 1999 through late 2010,” says Billboard. McCarthy shepherded Netflix through its IPO – and it’s widely expected that at some point, Spotify will take the same route. Pandora pulled it off in June 2012 – and in fact one of the boards McCarthy has served on was Pandora.
Dave Shakes departs after three years as PD of CBS Radio’s classic hits KOOL Phoenix, the gig he took when Rick Gillette headed to New York. Shakes has programmed in major markets like San Francisco (KIOI, KMEL) and Chicago (“B96” WBBM-FM), and he did KOOL sister KZON from 2012-2014. Last month CBS promoted Tim Richards to Phoenix VP/Programming, and it appears that CBS is eliminating the separate PD position at KOOL. (That station ranked #2 overall with age 6+ AQH share in the latest Nielsen PPM results.) Shakes has also been a consultant with Alan Burns and Chief Programming Officer of California’s Results Radio group. He’s at 530-521-3149, email DaveShakes2015@gmail.com.
Jim Lawson comes back to the big city of Denver, after serving as iHeart’s Senior VP of Programming for the company’s regional markets in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Ft. Collins. Jim’s also carried the title of Hispanic Brand Manager for iHeart’s National Programming Platforms. Lawson knows Denver from earlier stints at CHR “Kiss 95.7” KFMD (now iHeart’s “95.7 the Party” KPTT) and a builder of America’s very first “Alice,” KALC/105.9. The iHeart Denver octet includes ratings-topping adult alternative KBCO/97.3. Pat Connor is the Denver market president.
John Risher has just about done it all in his nearly 50 years in radio – worked at Cleveland’s WIXY and WDOK starting in 1966, then managed Detroit’s WCAR for Gene Autry’s Golden West Broadcasters, until a sale in 1986. He stayed in Michigan, becoming GM of Faircom’s WCRZ/WKMF in Flint, and later adding WWBN. Risher became a senior VP with regional responsibilities and then retired when Faircom was acquired by Bill Stakelin-led Regent. Risher couldn’t stay home, though, and in 2005 he joined the Cumulus cluster in Flint (WDZZ, WWCK-AM/FM, etc.) as an account exec. Now market manager Ed Leick says Risher is ending “an incredible 49-year career” with a second retirement.
Group owner Nelson Doubleday enjoyed another kind of radio, too - Gary Stevens ran the major-market radio group assembled by Nelson Doubleday, who died Tuesday at 81, and he remembers his former boss - “He was a wonderful generous guy, completely unassuming. One story I have, I think, defines the man. During the early 80's, in the CB radio craze, he had a CB radio installed in his Mercedes, which he drove into Manhattan each day. Over time, he joined a group of fellow CB users, who would stop in Queens for coffee every morning. It turned out one of them was the sales manager at urban WWRL. Somehow, in conversation, he mentioned he wanted to change jobs, and Nelson said he might be able to help. He called me, and asked that I meet with the fellow, and see if we had anything at our NYC AM/FM combo. [WAPP/103.5 and WHN/1050]. I called the man, and he came to see me. At the end of the chat, as he was leaving, the fellow turned to me, and asked, 'By the way, who is that guy?' Nelson was such a regular guy (and apparently these CB people only used their 'handles' when they met), the group never suspected who he was. [Along with his radio group, Nelson Doubleday was co-owner of the Mets and head of the Doubleday publishing empire.] Nelson was a wonderful man. It was an honor and a privilege to run a company with his name, and, more importantly, to have known him.”
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