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Tom Kent
Tom Taylor Now
Friday, August 7, 2015 Volume 4   |   Issue 153
Entercom’s not blaming iHeart
Patrick
David FieldDavid Field says “We need that from our industry leader,” iHeart.

Analyst Avi Steiner asks the Entercom CEO on yesterday’s Q2 call about “one of your competitors saying that iHeart is taking national share” – meaning Cumulus – and Field takes the long view. He says iHeart is “getting rewarded” for its attention to national business, and he thinks that “the space will increasingly get rewarded for it.” Field says iHeart’s been “very aggressive about investing in what this industry has needed for a long time.” To Field, the tide that iHeart’s creating will lift other boats, including his. Entercom’s quarterly revenue was basically flat at $100.6 million, with local up (and currently pacing up mid-single digits). But national was off (and pacing down mid-singles). Addressing the just-ended Q2, Field reports strength in automotive, retail, financial, health and medical categories – but not telecom. He says telecom (those beautiful buys that used to come from Verizon, etc.) “continues to be our poorest-performing category.” For the quarter, expenses rose 2% to $69.6 million, and adjusted net income dropped 9% to 21 cents per share. Entercom’s best markets were Boston, Kansas City and Greensboro. And now that we’re mentioning individual markets –

David Field – “I love the deals” Entercom eventually struck in Denver, L.A., and more.

CEO David Field says the “frustrating quicksand” of the previous seven months and the nearly $2 million in legal expenses are in the past. Certainly he didn’t want to give up as much as he did, to placate the Department of Justice re: the Denver market. But the Lincoln Financial Media deal finally closed on July 16, and bringing in third-party Bonneville to take the Denver stations he couldn’t keep puts Entercom into the L.A. market with classic rock “100.3 the Sound” KSWD. That gives Entercom a presence in all the major West Coast markets. Entercom moved swiftly after the Lincoln closing, replacing all the GMs it inherited, and stressing higher margins. Lincoln wasn’t known for running big margins, and Entercom’s determined to change that. Partly because of that, Field expects the Lincoln deal to be accretive to his bottom line in the first year. And with L.A.’s Sound, he says he’s got the market’s fastest-growing station, and that its “revenue share trails its ratings share by a significant margin” – so there’s lots of upside. Entercom’s open to other prudent acquisitions, but right now it’s worked its leverage down to 4.7-times cash flow – and Field says “We’re as proud of the deals we didn’t do as the deals we did do.”

The haul is small – the FCC sells just 102 of the 131 FM construction permits in Auction 98.

The haul of dollars in net bids totals just $4,121,400, thanks to the bidding credits of up to 35% to encourage new entrants. Also, 29 of the 131 CPs failed to sell and will probably lumped into the next FCC auction of FMs – whenever that is. The marquee property turned out to be in Erie, where Rick Rambaldo’s Erie Radio Company outbids Connoisseur and Westfield Broadcasting (Charles Anderson, Scott Knoblauch, Eddie Esserman). That will pair this new Class A licensed to Westfield, NY with Rambaldo’s current top 40 “Happi 92.7” WEHP Lawrence Park – which Rick won in an earlier auction. The bidding went to 28 rounds for the Erie CP. The second-highest provisionally winning bid was $421,000, for a new Class C2 in Columbia, Missouri. That’s won by Joseph Uzoaru’s Iris Media, and it will be his first station. Larry Wilson’s Alpha Media bids $40,800 for a new Class C3 at in Harper, Texas. Alpha also collects a new C2 in Longview for $83,000 and a new Class A in Pearsall, Texas for $8,300. “K-Love” parent Educational Media Foundation qualified to bid on all 131 permits in the auction but ended up with just two – a new Class A in Rosepine, Louisiana for $85,000 and a new A in Baggs, Wyoming for $1,900. And “Power of Urban Radio” promoter (and former Interep exec) Sherman Kizart wins out in the bidding for a station near where he grew up – a future Class C2 in Cleveland, Mississippi. It cost him $92,000, and you can see that result and all the rest on the Auction 98 homepage here.

MRN
Radio OneRadio One Q2 – With the hiring of Donnie Simpson in D.C., they work through its “Fix List.”

Three months ago Radio One cited problems at four of its most important markets, and now CEO Alfred Liggins says “Houston is stabilized” and the “pacings are promising.” One roadblock is a recent new competitor, iHeart’s urban “93.7 the Beat” KQBT. Now the next market to get attention is Radio One’s home town of Washington DC, where Donnie Simpson is lured out of a five-year retirement to host afternoons on a re-tooled urban AC “Majic 102.3” WMMJ. Liggins promises a big marketing campaign to support Donnie and the revised musical approach and personality lineup. He tells yesterday’s Q2 call that ”next up are Atlanta and Baltimore.” Both of those overall radio markets are turning positive, but Radio One is underperforming. Why is that?

“Quite frankly, we missed the curve” on Voltair, says Radio One.

“Pretty much all of our competitors… had these boxes installed on their signals…which may have contributed to this sort of across-the-board, odd radio ratings decline” for Radio One. So says CEO Alfred Liggins, trying to explain recent problems with the ratings in some of his largest markets, at stations where nothing material had changed in the programming. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer (and there’s still no research from Nielsen or the Media Rating Council), Radio One has converted to believership. Here’s what Liggins says in the Q&A on yesterday’s call – “Most people in the industry believe [Nielsen’s] PPM has been undercounting radio listenership. And somewhere along the line, a tech manufacturer created an audio processor that boosted the PPM watermark and made it more susceptible to get picked up by the PPM technology.” Alfred says “We have started to catch up on that and have gotten involved in the Voltair game.” He says the Telos Alliance/25-Seven-produced black box may increase the “the overall level of persons using measured media in the entire radio market…which will actually lift the revenue in the radio industry” – he hopes. He acknowledges that this whole issue with the Nielsen PPM and Voltair is “a big controversy in the industry.”

Point To Point
MGM National HarborRadio One keeps rolling the dice on a DC-area casino.

Analysts are pretty fascinated by this, seeing it either as a risky bet or a possible windfall. Radio One’s stake in the under-construction MGM casino in National Harbor, Maryland seems like the kind of gamble CEO Alfred Liggins and his mom (Chairman Cathy Hughes) would take, just as they did with the TV One cable channel, a decade ago. It’s outside the norm for a radio company, but Liggins figured back then that if radio was destined to be a slow-growth business, he’d explore other avenues. TV One’s looking like a winning bet. Radio One just bought back the large stake held by Comcast, in time for the ratings to be “on fire,” says Liggins. We’ll start seeing something from the MGM casino deal in the second half of 2016, when Radio One is supposed to get a 1% cut of the deal, plus ad revenue placed on Radio One stations. Rounding back to the stations – Second quarter radio revenues were down 4.5%, or (says CFO Peter Thompson) down 6.9% when adjusting for the major revenue event that floats every year between Q1 and Q2. (It’s probably the Tom Joyner cruise.) Local revs were down 10.4% and national dropped 4.1%. (Nobody asked Liggins about the role of iHeart or Katz in national business, and he didn’t bring it up.) Over at Reach Media, revenues grew nearly 10%, adjusted for the big event. Looking ahead, Radio One’s core radio business is pacing down 4.8% - but Liggins believes the radio markets “seem to be getting healthier.” Company-wide, net revenue grew 10.5% to $11.8 million. Net loss grew from 23 cents a share to 27 cents. One more set of numbers – If you owned Radio One stock, you’d have gained 11% on the day. Thinly-traded “ROIA” added 27 cents to $2.67 a share.

Virginia’s Langley Speedway buys itself a station in Norfolk.

It’s WXTG/1490, acquired last year along with its big sister WXTG-FM (102.1) by Davis Media. Tom Davis closed on his $1.2 million purchase of the combo in April 2014 and began simulcasting adult alternative on them as “The Tide.” The latest development is Davis’ sale of the AM to Langley Speedway’s Speedway Media Group, reported last night by Radio Insight. You’d expect a racetrack to change the AAA music format, and as of an August 1 LMA, WXTG began doing a mixture of classic country and (natch) racing. Langley will source programming from Motor Racing Network, Performance Racing Network, and will keep its affiliation with the NFL Washington Redskins – whose related Red Zebra Broadcasting once owned 970-watt fulltimer WXTG.

EntravisionEntravision radio grew 5% in Q2 – and that’s compared to last year’s World Cup riches.

Backing out the $1.7 million in revenue associated with the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, Entravision says its radio division would’ve done 12.5% better than last year. That compares to the average 1% gain in the 12 Miller Kaplan-surveyed markets where Entravision has radio stations. We get more color from CEO Walter Ulloa’s call – local radio revenue was up 3% and national was 9% better. He says they booked advertising contracts worth at least $10,000 from 37 new advertisers – and that Entravision is positioned “to continue out-performing the broader industry.” Across Entravision radio, the much larger TV division and the Entravision Solutions segments, Entravision reports revenue down from $61.8 million to $59.9 million, mainly due to the “comp” of last year’s World Cup. One focus for Entravision is the Pulpo Media digital business it bought last year – a critical way to reach Hispanics via mobile, and to monetize their interactions.

The absence of the World Cup was an issue for Univision, too.

Across Univision radio/TV/digital, revenues dropped 16% to just over $696 million. If you exclude the World Cup, revs would’ve been down just 3%. CEO Randy Falco’s not worried, and he’s got a new research piece titled “Why now?” – as in why use the Hispanic radio, TV and digital resources of Univision. The company’s projecting 19% growth in the number of America’s 18-34 Hispanics through 2024, “versus a non-Hispanic decline.” View the presentation here.

NAB
Nielsen PPMs

Day 4 Nielsen July-book PPMs –

Indianapolis – Radio One’s Alfred Liggins admitted on yesterday’s quarterly call that some of his company’s ratings issues are caused by competitors, and this market’s a prime example. Cumulus threw a new classic hip-hop/R&B station at him and its “93.9 the Beat” WRWM debuted at a sensational 7.7 share in the January book - #1. Now things are equalizing out, and the Beat has moved 5.1-4.3-4.3 since the May book. It’s in 11th place, while Radio One’s urban “Hot 96.3” WHHH has improved 3.8-4.8-4.7 and its rhythmic AC WTLC-FM moves 4.6-4.6-4.0, in 12th place. There’s a new #1 player, and it’s Emmis-owned AC “B105.7” WYXB (6.0 to 7.0 and now a bumper-crop 8.3). That moves Entercom CHR WZPL down to second (6.3-7.6-7.4). Third is Emmis’ country “Hank” WLHK (7.1-6.8-6.8), and then comes the Bob & Tom flagship, iHeart’s classic rock WFBQ (6.1 to 5.8 to 6.5, its best since November 2013). Q95 is tied with Cumulus classic hits WJJK (6.7-6.6-6.5). Hank’s main country competitor is Cumulus’ #7-ranked WFMS (5.6-5.4-5.6). Leading talk-based station is Emmis’ talk WIBC, 5.1-6.4-5.5. It’s too early to see any effect from the very recent exit of Rush Limbaugh. He’s been placed at iHeart’s now-mostly-sports WNDE plus a new translator companion (0.5-0.5-0.8). CHR WZPL has the cume lead at 481,200. All shares in this section are age 6+ AQH for the total broadcast week.

KBPAAustin – “Bob” continues his winning ways, taking all the monthly books so far in 2014. Bob is Emmis-run variety hits “Bob” KBPA, holding nicely from a May-book 7.8 share to a June 7.4 and now a July-survey 7.6. There’s a new #2, because iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” KHFI notched its highest share since August 2013 (5.9-6.4-6.6). Just behind Kiss is iHeart’s country KVET-FM (5.8-6.4-6.4). Sister country KASE is fourth (7.0-6.8-5.7) and fifth is yet another iHeart property, rhythmic “Beat” KPEZ (5.5-5.6-5.5). Leading talk station in the Texas station capital is University of Texas-owned non-com news/talk KUT, in sixth place (5.4-6.0-5.4). Nielsen figures that Austin is 30% Hispanic, and the highest-rated Spanish-language station is Emmis-run regional Mexican KLZT (2.9-3.1-3.4). Bad direction for Emmis-run talk KLBJ (3.4-3.1-2.7). Entercom's urban AC “96.3 RnB” - on the KKMJ HD3-fed translator – is on the downslope (4.2-3.6-2.8). It’s now where it was at the beginning of the year. Leading station for average weekly cume is CHR “Kiss” with 539,500 sometimes-Weird Austinites.

Milwaukee – Yet another non-Christmas music high for iHeart’s “Oldies 95.7” WRIT. It’s up slightly, 9.5-10.1-10.2. Moving up to second is Scripps news/talk/Brewers baseball WTMJ (8.4-8.0-7.1), and then we’re into a quick examination of the effect of Scripps converting its former variety hits “Lake” to country. That occurred May 29, so this July book (June 18-July 15) is its first full book in the new format. iHeart’s country WMIL has dropped to third, 9.5-8.4-6.8. That represents its smallest PPM topline share ever. The new Scripps country WKTI rolls 2.9-3.4-3.3. Its cume has actually dropped here in the early stages of the new format, but WMIL’s has fallen, too – from a recent high of about 480,000 in April to about 400,000 now. The exit of the “Lake” is probably good for Saga’s classic hits WKLH. It rises to fourth, 5.5-5.7-6.4. Classic rock sister “Hog” WHQG improves, 3.9-4.6-5.1. Milwaukee’s cume leader is oldies WRIT at 587,200

Raleigh-Durham – Curtis Media’s classic hits “Radio 96.1” WBBB rises to third on the strength of higher cume and its best PPM AQH share to date, 5.6-6.2-7.1. First place is easily held by country sister WQDR (8.7-8.6-8.9), with Capitol’s hot AC “Mix” WRAL second (7.3-7.7-7.8). Fourth is NC Public Radio’s news/talk non-com WUNC (6.5-7.2-7.0). A recent high for Radio One’s urban AC “Foxy” WFXC/WFXK (5.8-6.0-6.9). Best PPM yet for iHeart’s seventh-ranked classic rock WRDU (5.4-5.7-5.9). Its country sister “B93.9” WNCB is flattish, 4.0-3.5-3.6. Hot AC “Mix 101.5” WRAL draws the most cume at 529,000.

Syndication network

Norfolk – The top three repeat in order from last month - Entercom’s urban AC WVKL (12.6-11.7-11.8), iHeart’s urban WOWI (9.7-9.5-9.1) and Saga’s rock “FM 99” WNOR (5.3-6.0-6.4). For WVKL, that’s its 37th consecutive win and for WNOR that’s an all-time PPM high. There’s a new #4, which is Max Media’s “AC “Wave” WVBW (5.2-4.9-6.0). And a recent high for Entercom’s AC “2WD” WWDE (3.9-4.4-5.3). This is a 3-1/2-year high for Max Media’s top 40 “Hot 100.5” WVHT, playing “25 hits in a row” (3.0-3.6-5.0). Nielsen’s subscriber-only policy prevents us from seeing Commonwealth’s country “US106” WUSH, or Sinclair Telecable’s talk WNIS or EMF’s “K-Love contemporary Christian WZLV, plus a surprising number of non-commercial stations, like Hampton U.’s variety/jazz WHOV. Leading cume station isn’t #1-share station WVKL (#4 in cume), but AC “2WD” at 403,600.

Providence – You can wipe away any lingering concerns about the signal surgery at iHeart’s classic hits “B101,” whose signal was altered to help out its big-sister country station in Boston, WBLW. From a low point of its February-book 4.7, in the last three books WWBB has gained 7.5-7.2-8.0. It’s in second place, behind Hall’s “Cat Country” WCTK (9.2-9.9-8.6). Third is Cumulus top 40 WPRO-FM (8.3 to 7.7 and another 7.7), and then there’s a tie in fourth place between iHeart’s rock WHJY (8.3-9.3-7.3) and Cumulus AC “Lite Rock” WWLI (9.2-8.4-7.3). Top 40 WPRO-FM leads in weekly cume at 505,000.

WVBZGreensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point – “Man Up” is the slogan of iHeart’s just-converted WVBZ, now doing rock and attracting plenty of men to the radio. The former alternative “Buzz” jumps 1.7-3.8-4.9, in its first full book. That’s the best PPM share for WVBZ since June 2012, when it was on 100.3. Dick Broadcasting has announced it will be dropping its Nielsen subscription to go with Eastlan, but its Nielsen contract extends at least through this month. We still see “92 Rock” WKRR (ranked #7, 7.8-5.8-5.6) and CHR WKZL (5.6-5.7-4.9). On top as usual are three Entercom stations, but in scrambled order. Urban AC WQMG repeats at #1 (9.7-9.6-9.7) and urban WJMH is second (7.3-7.8-7.8). Variety hits “Simon” WSMW is off, 9.0-8.1-7.5, just barely ahead of iHeart’s country WTQR (7.0-8.0-7.4). WTQR seem to be establishing a pattern of beating Entercom’s country “Wolf” WPAW, now #6, (6.4-5.9-6.2). The #5 station is iHeart’s AC WMAG (7.2-7.3-6.8). It’s the Triad’s leading cumer at 455,000.

Nashville – Things tighten up in the country race. #7 is iHeart’s WSIX (5.2-5.6-5.4), #8 is Cumulus’ “Nash” WKDF (4.9-5.1-4.6) and #10 is Cumulus “Nash Icon” WSM-FM (4.1-4.8-4.1). While we’re at it, WSM-AM (Ryman Hospitality’s classic country-and-more) is steady, 1.7-1.3-1.3. #1 for the 40th straight book is Midwest’s AC “Mix” WJXA (11.0-9.6-9.4), and second with an all-time PPM-best is iHeart’s urban “Beat” WUBT (7.2-7.3-8.4). Top 40 sister “River” WRVW stays third (8.3-8.0-7.7) and Midwest’s variety hits “Jack” WCJK is fourth by a whisker (9.4-8.0-7.6). Nashville is one of the few markets where EMF subscribes for its contemporary Christian non-com “K-Love” format, and its WLVU ranks #11 (3.2-3.6-3.7). Leading talk station is Nashville Public Radio’s news/talk non-com WPLN-FM (3.5-3.4-3.2). Cumulus talker WWTN slips 2.5-2.3-2.2, just ahead of iHeart’s WLAC, 1.6-1.7-2.1. Cromwell’s all-sports WPRT-FM (0.9-0.8-0.9) ties with the gospel translator that’s fed by its HD2 signal (0.6-0.6-0.9). AC “Mix” leads the cume parade at 517,400.

Marketron

West Palm Beach – Alpha inherits a market-leading hot AC when it closes on Digity, sometime later this year. WRMF dominates, 10.6-9.9-10.1. Next in a market that likes its AC stations is iHeart’s AC “Kool” WOLL (6.8-6.8-7.1). Third is Digity country WIRK (5.7-6.9-6.4) and then there’s Digity’s AC WEAT-FM (5.5-4.8-5.7). Fifth is a station that surprised us last month – WAY Media’s Contemporary Christian non-com WAYF (4.1-4.8-4.9). Too soon to see the impact of EMF’s lease deal with Classical South Florida’s WPBI-FM. The former classical station is now airing EMF’s non-commercial “K-Love” format. Nielsen has the station going 1.6-1.7-1.6 in its last days doing Bach and Beethoven. Hot AC WRMF blows away the competition in cume at 449,100.

Jacksonville – This is 35 straight wins for Renda’s AC WEJZ. It leads in both 6+ AQH share (10.3-11.0-10.6) and cume (473,100). Second in the share ranking is iHeart’s country WQIK (8.4-7.8-8.6) and third is Cox classic hits “Eagle” WJGL (7.4-8.6-7.9). Fourth is Cox news/talk WOKV-AM/FM (6.7-6.5-6.7) and fifth is top 40 sister WAPE (6.9-7.1-5.9). “Jack” is certainly having a fine Summer in North Florida – iHeart’s variety hits “107.3 Jack FM” WWJK climbs to its best share since October 2013, 3.9-4.1-5.4. Renda’s “Gator Country” WGNE eases off, 6.7-6.5-5.0.

KJMSMemphis – iHeart and Cumulus urban and urban AC stations own the top five this time, starting with iHeart’s urban AC “V101” KJMS (10.7-10.3-10.4). Next is urban sister “K97” WHRK (8.6-8.4-8.4), then Cumulus gets in it at the #3 slot with urban AC “Soul classics and today’s R&B” WRBO (7.1-6.7-6.9). Continuing a lengthy climb to its best PPM yet is iHeart’s urban AC-and-more AM WDIA (5.2-6.1-6.8) and fifth is gospel sister “Hallelujah” WHAL-FM (6.4-7.1-6.4). In sixth place is Entercom’s AC “River” WRVR (7.2-6.4-5.7) and behind it is Cumulus country “Kix 106” WGKX (5.0-5.9-5.5). Cumulus is having less luck with a classic hip-hop approach on “Vibe” WKIM (1.6-2.0-1.8). Flinn’s doing something similar on “Bumpin’ 96” WIVG (1.0-0.8-0.6). The leading talk-based station is iHeart’s talk WREC (2.7-2.5-3.0). Urban AC “V101” is the cume leader, but not by much. V101’s at 338,500 and AC “River” pulls 336,200 Memphians in an average week.

Hartford – iHeart’s news/talk WTIC has now fallen to the #8 rank, and here’s a look at its monthly trends since January – 7.6-8.1-7.3-7.0-5.4-5.8 and now a 5.2. The CBS station replaced the afternoon talk show headed by former Governor (and now recidivist prison inmate) John Rowland with a sports-talk show. CBS sister AC WRCH leads the market, 8.9-8.1-9.6. iHeart’s variety hits “River” WHCN (7.3-7.0 to 7.8, a PPM best) is knotted up with country cousin WWYZ (8.4-9.0-7.8). Fourth is CBS Radio’s hot AC WTIC-FM (7.8-7.2-7.5) and fifth is iHeart CHR “Kiss 95.7” WKSS (7.5-8.0-7.4). Kiss is romantic enough to attract the highest cume - 407,800. Format change alert from Radio Insight, which catches a reference to “News Talk 1410” in a press release about iHeart’s WPOP. The release is about WPOP becoming the flagship of the minor league baseball team that’s moving to Hartford and adopting the “Yard Goats” name. WPOP is currently “Fox Sports 1410.”

RAIN
On The Block

WCHLChapter 11 bankruptcy auction today for WCHL Chapel Hill/1360 and its related translator at 97.9. The Triangle Business Journal says “for prominent businessman Jim Heavner, the auction of some of his more well-known properties marks the latest twist in the complex legal battle” that began with the aborted sale of one particular asset. That was University Directories. Heavner says Eli Global (Greg Lindberg) had a deal to buy the Directories, but things got complicated when Heavner’s lender was sold to another bank, and that bank sold the Directories loan to UDX – also controlled by Lindberg. UDX called the loan, sparking a chain of Chapter 11 filings to protect various Heavner assets like the Vilcom Interactive Media-licensed WCHL. Most of them have been converted to Chapter 7 (liquidation), but news/talk WCHL remains in Chapter 11 (bankruptcy protection). There’s an auction today for WCHL, which was appraised in May at $500,000. Heavner’s been associated with it since the 1960s. (Disclosure from me, Tom Taylor – I once programmed WCHL and later worked for Village at its WKQQ/WBLG Lexington.)

In north-central Idaho, country KORT-AM/FM and a couple of translators sell for $75,000. Seller is 4-K Radio Inc., which retains the Lewiston combo of “Talk Radio 950” KOZE and “Z-Rock 96.5” KOZE-FM. The buyer is Nelly Broadcasting (James C. Nelly, Jr. and Darcy Nelly). The KORT combo is in Grangeville, snowmobiling country in the Winter and dinosaur/mammoth bone-hunting country in warmer weather. KORT has 1,000 watts at 1230 and KORT-FM is a Class C3 at 92.7. The translators are K221BA Kamiah at 92.1 and K240AP Pierce at 95.9. The Nellys are paying $25,000 cash and signing a $50,000 seller note. It’s at 4.5% interest and runs for 84 monthly payments.

“Arklahoma’s Talk Station” is KYHN Ft. Smith, Arkansas (1650), and it’s picking up a companion FM translator from the K-Love folks. Seller is K-Love parent Educational Media Foundation, which no longer needs 250-watt translator K254AM, at 98.7 FM. (It’s now relying on KLFS Van Buren at 90.3, and also doesn’t desire the translator for its Air1 Christian CHR national service.) Sale price for the translator is $40,000 cash, and the buyer is KYHN owner G2Media Group, led by Darren Girdner. KYHN is up in the expanded band at 1650, running the usual X-band power of 10,000 watts daytime/1,000 watts at night.

Money Pit
Transitions

John Hunt is reportedly out as iHeart’s VP/Regional Market Manager based in West Palm Beach, according to several NOW readers. John Rohm is the Senior VP/Operations for iHeart’s South East Region.

Rod Phillips advances at iHeart to become its point person for country. He succeeds Clay Hunnicutt, now president of Nashville start-up Big Loud Records. Phillips has served as iHeart’s Senior VP of Programming for the Southeast and as PD at stations like CHR “Kiss 103.5” Chicago. One of Rod’s projects was working with Bobby Bones, re-directing Bobby from doing an internally-syndicated CHR show based in Austin to a larger stage in Nashville, doing country.

Ken Parks “was Spotify’s first employee in the United States,” says the New York Times - and now he’s leaving (as Chief Content Officer) to join a startup named Pluto TV. He’ll continue to be available to Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek, but his full-time allegiance shifts to the L.A.-based Pluto TV. The Times says it “aims to be a free Internet television service, bundling content from various online video platforms like YouTube and Hulu.” Its CEO is Tom Ryan, and he’s still at the very early stages of fundraising – just $13 million so far. For now, Spotify is asking Chief Strategy Officer Stefan Blom to take over the responsibilities of Chief Content Officer.

Mara Montes needs no introduction to many folks at her new employer, Dgital Media. She’s the former Director of Research at DialGlobal/Westwood One, and Dgital was recently formed (May 27 NOW) by Dial Global co-founders Spencer Brown and David Landau. At “audio engagement company” Dgital (that’s how they spell it), Mara will report to EVP of Sales & Strategy Grace Carrick and will carry the title of Director of Analytics. Dgital’s first announced project is with Re/code’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

Marlin TaylorMarlin Taylor was there for the birth of radio’s beautiful music format over 50 years ago, and he’s stayed active for the last decade and a half with XM and now SiriusXM. Yesterday they held a “retirement gathering” for him at the satcaster’s DC headquarters. Quick capsule of Marlin’s career – he started as an engineer at then-WTNJ Trenton, got more radio experience in the Army, came to the D.C. area to help a new FM get on the air. Two years later in March 1963, he was part of the effort of owners Dave Kurtz and Jerry Lee to put beautiful-music WDVR/101.1 together in Philadelphia. In 1967 Marlin journeyed to Boston as the first PD at beautiful music WJIB (later doing more work for WDVR and at San Francisco’s KFOG). By 1969, he was the GM of Bonneville’s WRFM New York, which led to the 1971 creation of Bonneville Broadcast Consultants. As the climate for beautiful music changed in the late 1980s, Marlin took time out, before starting on projects (and then programming a channel) for XM. He’s currently programming the “Escape” beautiful music channel – the one that’s being shunted off the satellite lineup to online and app. Marlin Taylor is turning 80, and he’ll be leaving SiriusXM at the end of the month. That should give him time to prepare for his November 20 Hall of Fame induction by the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Marlin’s at Marlin.Taylor@SiriusXM.com.

You Can't Make This Up

Domestic disputes – One keep-me-anonymous NOW reader recalls situations at two previous stations, involving extracurricular activity. “The first one was where jock A went after Jock B with a gun, right there in the station. Seems that Jock A suspected his co-worker was having an affair with his wife. I came down the hall and saw what was happening and it was like something out of an old Western. Fortunately, no shots were fired and nobody got hurt. Was Jock B really guilty of fooling around? Knowing her and him, I wouldn’t be too surprised. At another station, a jock’s wife finally got fed up with his fooling around on the side. One day she showed up at the station with his bags packed, and put them on the floor outside the control room, right in front of the glass. Can you picture that? He could, because she timed it so he was on the air live.” Remind you of anything you’ve seen in radio? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.

RCS

We’re not quite done with quarterly reports – Beasley and Scripps check in today, for instance. Thanks for spending part of your very busy Friday with this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter, and enjoy your Summer weekend. See you back first thing Monday morning - Tom

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