|The No-Bonus Club expands
Radio One’s Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins join the No-Bonus Club.
Last week you read here that Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey was in the No-Bonus Club, based on his 2014 compensation, and now this NOW Newsletter analyzes the latest SEC filing for Radio One. For company founder Cathy Hughes and son Alfred Liggins, their previous annual bonuses were replaced last year by stock awards and option awards - and even those amounts were less than in 2013. It’s true that their base salaries grew last year. But they both show less total compensation than in 2013 or 2012. Hughes’ salary had been $726,000 for both ’12 and’13, and it rose to $802,083 last year, thanks to a Fall up-tick from a still-unfinalized new agreement. But she banked no bonus last year, compared to $500,000 in 2013. Her stock awards worth about $179,000 and option awards of about $100,000 helped make up part of the difference. She got perks worth about $43,400 for total comp of $1,149,331. Cathy’s role these days is Chair of the board, since she turned over CEO duties to Alfred in 1997. Last year his salary rose from $980,000 to $1,036,250. Again, no bonus, but Alfred got twice what Cathy did in stock awards and option awards. His total comp was $1,632,984. That’s down considerably from $2.5 million the previous couple of years, when he accepted large bonuses of $1.5 million. Elsewhere in the management circle, CFO Peter Thompson got about $590,000 in salary and total comp of $1.49 million. Chief Administrative Officer Linda Vilardo had $580,560 in salary but was a member of the No-Bonus Club. And Radio Division President Chris Wegmann pulled down $518,154 in salary but not much else, for total comp of about $550,000.
But some larger salaries are ahead at Radio One (more “looking under the hood”) –
You saw that Chair/founder Cathy Hughes had $802,000 in salary for 2014. While they have yet to finalize the terms of her new employment agreement, her salary is rising to a cool $1 million a year. On top of that, there’s a potential bonus of $500,000, half of it payable on a discretionary basis, and the other half on the company hitting “certain performance metrics.” There are also new sets of restricted stock grants and stock options, vesting over time. President/CEO Alfred Liggins’ new base salary will be $1,250,000, up from $980,000. He’s eligible for an equal amount of bonus, again split between discretionary and performance-based. He also gets double the amount of restricted shares and stock options as his parent. Liggins is in line to benefit from an award based on events at the TV One division – which he’s been running for a while. Read Radio One’s latest SEC proxy filing (don’t worry, it’s in down-to-earth English) here.
Princess Kate Middleton’s expecting her second baby any time – but Australia’s 2Day FM won’t be talking about it.
They’re walking on eggshells. Southern Cross Austereo’s lead station in Sydney got way too involved in the story with the first child born to Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, during her first pregnancy. That’s when management at the station cleared then-air talents Michael Christian and Mel Greig to air a hoax call where they pretended to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II. The nurse who took that call later committed suicide, and the legalities of that are still being worked out. Michael and Mel were both off the air soon after the bit aired, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority is still weighing the potential penalty against 2Day FM. Now the UK’s Mirror says that “2Day FM has called for a total blackout” about the birth of the Queen’s next grandchild. Other stations in Sydney may be talking about the royal him or her – but presumably with great caution.
An FCC reprieve for Low Power TV signals that are masquerading as radio stations.
It’s now official that the agency’s suspending its original September 1 deadline for such stations to switch over from analog to digital. That would’ve ended their useful lives as FM stations at 87.7, something that’s occurring in plenty of major markets right now. (Obviously, the pushback also gives more time to stations that aren’t functioning as so-called “Franken FMs.”) The reprieve is a logical move given the early-2016 TV spectrum auction that’s going to turn the whole dial upside down after it’s been trimmed up and “re-packed.” The FCC says postponing the September 1 transition date is “appropriate in order to allow analog LPTV and TV translator stations to postpone construction of digital facilities that could be impacted in the incentive auction.” So there’s a sigh of relief for stations like Binghamton, New York’s urban “Passion Radio,” which operates on Johnson Broadcasting’s WXXW-LP. Same for Chicago-market’s WRME-LP, offering a “classic pop radio” format that complements Weigel’s Me-TV. You might tend to lump in Low Power TVs and translators with what are called Class A TV stations – but the Class A stations don’t get the digital reprieve, and must go silent after September 1 if they haven’t build out their DTV signal. Read the official word from the FCC here.
The Associated Press reports on its own business, and this time it’s good news.
For 2014, there’s a modest turnaround in topline revenue. It grew 1%, gaining for the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession, to $604 million. What the news cooperative calls “profit” grew from $3.3 million to nearly $141 million – its best since 2009. Though most of that was a one-time gain from the $128.3 million sale of the sports-oriented Stats LLC. The AP began as a news-gathering and sharing arrangement among newspapers, and last year about a quarter of its revenue still came from papers in the U.S. and outside its borders. Twice that much (47%) came from television, 9% from Internet companies – and 5% from radio stations. The AP says “An increasing number of media companies are choosing to have a single agency provide their content” – and often that’s the AP. Read the coverage from the AP itself here. The roots of the AP trace back to 1846 and the need to share the costs of covering the Mexican-American War. It assumed its later form in the 1890s.
“A steady drumbeat of digital growth in all directions,” says Jacobs Media TechSurvey 11.
The researcher cites “the growing influence of television and video on radio…a majority [of respondents in the online study] watch a YouTube video at least weekly, while just over one-third connect with Netflix” on a weekly basis. Seven in ten use Facebook at least weekly, three in ten open up Pandora weekly, close to two in ten use iHeart and one in ten uses Spotify. Fred Jacobs says “every year when we sit down to analyze the data, we’re in search of the ‘one big thing’ that impacts radio.” This year, he says “the story is different – there’s a steady drumbeat of digital growth in all directions, as radio listeners enjoy a widening array of options.” Fred finds good news for broadcast radio in the boiled-down results – “consumers continue to strongly listen to radio, as the media landscape continues to expand.” The graphic on page 6 of the slide deck has an intriguing finding – “Weekly users of brands like YouTube and Pandora are just as likely to recommend radio stations.” Jacobs Media is fond of the “pyramid” structure for demonstrating various levels of usage, and there’s now a “Brand Platform” in addition to the familiar “Media Usage Pyramid.” NuVoodoo provided analytical and platform support for the study, says Jacobs, which reminds us of the parameters of the research – 41,634 participants interviewed online between January 19 and February 9, mostly drawn from station email databases. The work includes input from 220 stations in the U.S. and Canada. Jacobs adds that there are “many changes” in this year’s TechSurvey 11, both in question form and format. It’s “an older-skewing sample” and there are new generation definitions. See the summary, with a click-through to the 40-page slide deck, here.
Former WABC New York and Sirius chief programmer Jay Clark to CÜR Media.
Jay will serve as the streaming music startup’s Chief Content Officer, much akin to the role he played at Sirius (EVP/Programming) in its early days. He’s been consulting CUR Media since last May, and founder Tom Brophy says “Jay’s vast experience in building content for disruptive technologies has helped shape the initial design work for CUR Music.” Brophy takes the same ambitious tone that new GM/Musical Technical Director was infused with last week (April 23 NOW). Brophy promises that new Chief Content Officer Jay Clark “will help us change the course of music streaming, in the same way Sirius changed the course of radio.” One of their big ideas is to integrate social mobile and streaming functions.
Radio’s first quarter – Private group heads check in with NOW –
Art Sutton, President/CEO of Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting -
“People in our six markets seem to have a new optimism this Spring that we’ve not seen in many years. That translates into more ads on the local radio stations. We continue running between 2% and 3% sales increases each quarter. The economy of two of our markets remains heavily manufacturing-based and took the biggest hits. One of those communities has witnessed strong housing value increases, which is as strong an indicator we’ve had in a long while that we are no longer battling a hangover from the Great Recession.
“While Facebook seems to be our strongest competitor in terms of distributing local news/information, the hallmark programming feature of our group’s stations, we are witnessing a loss of interest in it. All it takes is for a few false rumors to occur for our public to realize if you really want the facts, you get it from one of our radio stations and its website. It’s a good thing for Facebook users linking stories from our websites. Not only does it confirm to us that our stations are still important to the community, they understand the advertisers on the radio station think the same thing.
“Speaking of websites, I keep reading they are old-hat as far as static ad sales, but now almost all of our sites have more unique visitors each week than the total population of the market. When you operate in markets like ours where the local weekly paper is your main sales competition, having a website which has such huge circulation – well, we see those websites as a big sales opportunity. By keeping our eye on the ball, doing over-air ad sales during lean times, we are now financially in a position to focus some effort in that direction. Of course we’ll never be able to put as many ads on those websites as we can run on our radio signal. We learned that lesson from watching our newspaper competitors.” More coming from radio group heads this week, both private (like Art Sutton) and public. To mention just one, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey checks in with his first quarter numbers and management view on Thursday afternoon.
The latest Spring-book Nielsen diary markets –
Albuquerque – Cumulus talker KKOB begins a new winning streak, banishing memories of the two-book period when it fell out of the top spot. This time it delivers its biggest age 12+ full-week AQH share since Fall 2012, up from a Summer-book 5.1 to a Fall-book 6.9, and now a slightly better 7.0. Two-thirds of second place belongs to Univision – classic rock KIOT (3.3-3.0-4.1), tied with rhythmic sister “Kiss 97.3” KKSS (5.0-5.2-4.1). They’re knotted with iHeart’s hot AC “Peak” KPEK (3.5-3.9-4.1). We could almost call it a five-way tie, since right behind that trio is Cumulus top 40 KKOB-FM (3.8-3.0-4.0) and American General Media’s classic hits “Big 98.5” KABG (5.0-4.2-3.9). Further down, there’s an eighth-place tie in the country war between Cumulus-owned KRST (4.4-4.1-3.5) and iHeart’s “Big I 107.9” KBQI (2.9-2.7-3.5).
El Paso – Two iHeart players switch places at the top, but the most notable story here may be Townsquare's hot AC “Kiss 93” KSII. It achieves its largest share since the Summer book of 1998, nearly 17 years ago, advancing 6.7-4.9-7.6. That makes it third, just behind iHeart’s AC KTSM (7.7-9.1-7.7) and #1-ranked rhythmic “Power” KPRR (8.3-6.7-9.0). Fourth is Townsquare’s rock KLAQ (5.8-7.1-7.1) and fifth is Grupo Radio Mexico-run top 40 “104.3 Hit FM” XHTO (5.6-6.1-6.9). You have to look down to #12 among the subscribing stations to find one that’s talk-based – iHeart’s talk KTSM (1.0-2.0-1.9).
Harrisburg – Just two subscribing owners here, Cumulus and iHeart. Cumulus is #1 for the thirteenth time in a row with hot AC “Wink 104” WNNK (9.2-7.7-9.2). Then come three iHeart stations – classic hits “River” WRVV with its largest share since Spring 2008 (7.2-6.3-7.7). Then talk WHP with its third consecutive 6.8 share, and country “Bob” WRBT (6.6-5.4-6.7). Cumulus rocker WQXA is fifth, 5.0-5.5-4.5.
York – 46 #1’s in a row for Times & News-owned country WGTY, 10.9-12.3-10.9. Then comes a very long string of stations owned by Cumulus, starting with second-ranked classic hits WSOX (4.9-5.6-6.9) and continuing with rock “105.7 the X” WQXA (7.1-7.1-6.0).
Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol – Bristol Broadcasting PD Bill Hagy can retire with distinction. With this Winter book, his country WXBQ makes it 83 straight #1 finishes (20.6-20.0-21.9). Next is Bristol’s top 40 “Electric 94.9” WAEZ (8.5-6.2-8.1), and then Cumulus classic rocker WQUT (9.7-10.6-7.9). Local owner Holston Valley is fourth with AC WTFM (8.7-9.4-7.5). Co-owned rock WRZK (“Everything that rocks/The Hog”) pulls its best share since Summer 2012, 2.5-2.4-4.3. Bristol’s alternative “99.3 the X” WEXX moves 2.7-2.4-3.2, for its highest topline since Winter 2012, when it was WTZR.
How do you replace a disgraced and jailed ex-governor as your afternoon drive talk show? If you’re CBS Radio’s news/talk WTIC Hartford (1080), you start all over and introduce an all-sports show for the 3-7pm daypart. As Dom Amore says at the Hartford Courant, “The show, obviously, will feature plenty of Red Sox-Yankees banter, with Hartford along the line that unofficially divides the territories of the ancient baseball rivals.” WTIC will represent both sides of the partisan line with Andy Gresh (most recently of CBS sister “Sports Hub 98.5” WBZ-FM Boston) and Joe D’Ambrosio. Joe’s been part of WTIC for 23 years and has worked the basketball and football games of the UConn Huskies, among other chores. He gets to hold up the New York-centric part of the argument – as former WTIC afternoon host John Rowland prepares to serve his second stretch in prison, on corruption charges. A federal judge sentenced Rowland to 30 months behind bars and blasted the “shameless use of his radio talk show” on WTIC (March 19 NOW Newsletter).
Cumulus converts a country “Nash” into an older-skewing “Nash Icon,” in the three-city Nielsen metro of Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol. The Cumulus’ strategy may be to shift little Class A WKOS Kingsport (104.9) out of the firing range of local Bristol Broadcasting’s country WXBQ. It did a mighty 21.9 share with age 12+ AQH share in the Winter book. “Nash” WKOS was the lowest-ranking of the listed stations at a 0.6 share. It will be sharing Westwood-delivered programming from the Cumulus “Nash campus” in Nashville, using the same staff as Nash Icon flagship WSM-FM. That means WKOS is dropping the Blair Garner-hosted “America’s Morning Show.”
Around Lake Tahoe, talk “The Owl 1490” and hot AC “93.9 the Lake” are sold, for $650,000. Cherry Creek Radio CEO Joe Schwartz is letting buyer D&H Broadcasting ease into the deal – the terms are $250,000 cash, then $400,000 in a seller note held by Cherry Creek. It’s at 8% interest, with interest payable monthly and principal paid back over a five-year span. On the one-year anniversary of the closing, the buyer only needs to pay “an excess cash flow sweep.” The three principals of D&H are equal partners Jay Harness, Steve Harness and Stacy Driskill. The stations are “Tahoe’s Talk” KOWL (1,000 watts fulltime at 1490) and class A “93.9 the Lake” KRLT. They’re both licensed to South Lake Tahoe, California, at the south end of the lake. If the deal hasn’t closed by June 30, D&H will begin an LMA.
Cox will benefit from a third-party deal outside of Dayton, where an about-to-upgrade translator sells for $42,000. Seller is the giant non-commercial Christian broadcaster Educational Media Foundation, which has been running its contemporary Christian “K-Love” network feed on translator W277AO, licensed to Green Meadows, Ohio. It’s operating at just 19 watts for seller EMF, but has a construction permit to hike its power to 250 watts, covering the northeastern part of Dayton. That’s what buyer Bradlee Beer is after. He and California-based EMF did business a year and half ago, when EMF sold him Riverside, Ohio translator W254BA for $32,500. Beer turned that translator into a signal fed by Cox-owned country “K99” WHKO Dayton – and that’s what will happen with this new one at 103.3, up in Green Meadows. It’s very possible the Beer signal will re-broadcast an HD Radio multicast stream of K99’s.
More firepower – a second signal – for Duluth’s “ESPN 560” WEBC, which pays $55,000 to acquire an FM translator. Buyer is Townsquare Media, which cuts this deal with seller Refuge Media Group. The translator is W293CT at 106.5, licensed to Moose Lake, Minnesota. North Pine says Townsquare’s intention is to move it to the Duluth transmitter farm. The news site adds that “WEBC, the oldest station in the Northland [of Minnesota], is in a battle with three other all-sports stations.” Broker – Steve Moravec of Phoenix Media Group, for seller Refuge Media Group.
“How opponents finally brought down Comcast-Time Warner deal” is a nice tick-tock (day-by-day account) of the deal-crash from Comcast’s hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer. Writer Bob Fernandez says “The Stop Mega Comcast Coalition met weekly” at a Washington office and there “the 29-member coalition plotted against Comcast’s $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable.” That’s the deal that was originally announced on February 13, 2014 – a deal the opponents finally were able to wound enough so that the FCC staff decided to oppose it. Also (says the Wall Street Journal) the DOJ brass, who were ready to file suit to stop the alleged over-concentration of broadband access. Read more from the Inquirer here.
UFO tune-in? – A NOW reader still sounds a little superstitious about this – “I was the PD at a small-market news/talker that used to run a local Sunday night show about the paranormal, occult, and strange stuff in general. This was before Art Bell came along with ‘Coast to Coast,’ and this subject matter was less common on the radio. I don’t believe in little green men and flying saucers over Roswell, but I can testify that every time our local host did a show about extraterrestrials and UFOs – the phone lines went down. Just sayin’. And everybody noticed it, not just me. It got to be a running joke.” Got your own stranger-than-science fiction true story about radio? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
“I love the fact that when I get up at 4:30am, this is the only publication that’s waiting for me to read,” says Assistant Professor of Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University Dick Taylor. (No relation, by the way.) Dick says “My weekdays always start with coffee and NOW.” Follow Dick’s thoughts about the radio business on his blog, including his latest titled “The Cockroach of Media,” here. And see you back first thing tomorrow morning - Tom