|FCC is ready to aid the AM band
Chairman Wheeler promises “several proposals” for AM stations.
But will he open a special filing window for AMs to apply for FM translators? That’s by far the most popular proposal, but FCC Chair Tom Wheeler doused speculation about it around the Spring NAB Show, citing a desire to balance the interests of AM with Low Power FM. And why did this take so darn long? Yesterday’s blog post by the Chairman comes two years after then-acting Chair Mignon Clyburn electrified the 2013 Radio Show in Orlando with her speech about AM. It’s at least three years after Commissioner Ajit Pai made himself a hero with similar talk at a Radio Show. Like several predecessors, Wheeler’s #1 priority isn’t broadcasting, but broadband. His real baby is Net Neutrality, and the AM band, with problems like interference and changing population patterns, is far down the list. Yesterday’s post was mostly about “upgrading media rules to better serve consumers in today’s video marketplace.” In the next to last paragraph, Wheeler says “I will also recommend the adoption of several proposals discussed in the 2013 AM Radio Revitalization NPRM (notice of proposed rulemaking), which we believe will further enhance the viability of the AM service.” Also he will “ask about further suggested updates.” Again – doesn’t sound urgent, does it? Wheeler speaks of “the continued vitality of the AM band,” but lots of operators are worried about that very thing. Read Wheeler’s post here.
“We will update the Contest Rule for the Internet Age” – finally.
This is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler again. Entercom petitioned the FCC for this in January 2012 – 3-1/2 years ago – and there hasn’t even been any opposition. The NAB filed its own comments trying to prod this along (February 19 NOW Newsletter), and finally Chairman Wheeler says he’s ready. He blogs that “We will update the Contest Rule for the Internet Age, allowing broadcasters to disclose the material terms of station-run contests online, instead of, or in addition to, over-the-air.” He credits Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly for his advocacy, and says “the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking received unanimous support.” Again – what took so long?
Latest on Voltair – Atlanta Radio Show will feature separate presentations by Voltair and Nielsen.
Yesterday’s NOW said there could be separate panels, and the NAB is confirming the two sessions for midday on Thursday, October 1 – only they won’t be panels, but 30-minute presentations. Expect them to be staged in a theater on the exhibit floor at the downtown Marriott Marquis. Voltair goes first. Then Nielsen presents the latest on its enhanced encoding, known as CBET. Voltair manufacturer Telos Alliance will come back for a third session about their streaming technology. It’s not clear whether these are paid presentations – but if you’re at the Radio Show, better get there very early for good seats. These will be Standing Room Only.
Colin Cowherd’s new gig at Fox Sports carries a daily radio show – and might bug Mike Francesa.
How’s that? Colin’s jump from the ESPN mother-ship to Fox Sports gives him not only a noon-3pm Eastern time radio show on Fox Sports Radio, but a TV cablecast on Fox Sports 1. That repositions WFAN New York’s Mike Francesa to the sister Fox Sports 2 channel for his own cablecast. And when FX1 has soccer, that has the cascading effect of pushing Colin over to FS2 – and pushing Francesa out. He won’t like that, and all the New York sportswriters know where to find him. In taking the offer from his former ESPN boss Jamie Horowitz at Fox Sports, Colin stays in the sports world. He tells The Hollywood Reporter that with his ESPN contract coming up, he interviewed with CNN and MSNBC, “but there was no traction.” He says “political radio is often angry. I’m not angry, I like to laugh...and I’m not a politico.” So his logical next move in a “re-boot” was to Fox Sports – and he’s already moved to L.A. He debuts on Premiere-run Fox Sports Radio right after Labor Day, on Tuesday, September 8. He’ll also be integrated into the “Fox NFL Kickoff” TV show, which is moving from FS1 to Sunday mornings on Fox, leading into Fox NFL Sunday.
Double the fun – Fox Sports Radio will feed both Rich Eisen and Cowherd’s new “Herd” show.
Premiere produces Fox Sports Radio and it added Rich Eisen last Fall in a deal with DirecTV (October 7 NOW). Eisen will continue to host his noon-3pm Eastern show for carriage on FSR – and starting September 8, stations will have the option of using Colin Cowherd. Premiere will continue handling the sales representation for the Rich Eisen show, produced from DirecTV studios in Los Angeles. Rich wound up his four-year-old podcast at NFL.com to work on the DirecTV/FSR daily show.
$264 million is the price Larry Wilson’s Alpha Media will pay for Digity.
A week ago we called it as “circa $270 million,” and now we’ve got the 81-page filing at the FCC with all the numbers. $264 million is a “base purchase” price, subject to adjustments for net working capital. If the deal is “validly terminated” by seller Digity, it’s entitled to draw on a $7.5 million letter of credit as liquidated damages. Alpha’s placing $1.5 million of the purchase price into an escrow fund to cover any damages that may surface after the closing. Some other details of the 116-station deal – Alpha will assume Digity’s two LMAs in South Florida (JCE Licenses’ “640 Sports” WMEN Royal Palm Beach and talk WFTL West Palm/850). Also its shared-services arrangement with a couple of suburban Chicago FMs that Digity wasn’t allowed to acquire from NextMedia. Those are AC “Star 105.5” WZSR Woodstock and classic rock “103.9 the Fox” WFXF Dundee, held by Matrix Broadcasting. If the FCC rules ever allow Alpha to own Star and Fox, it assumes Digity’s right-to-purchase. This deal will be dissected piece-by-piece ahead of next month’s NAB/RAB Radio Show in Atlanta – because it’s a trendsetter for multiples. Early speculation has the cash-flow multiple anywhere from 6.5-times (Larry Wilson’s usual top) to 6.9-times. Read the purchase agreement for yourself here. Brokers – RBC Capital Markets for seller Digity, and Media Services Group and Piper Jaffray for buyer Alpha Media.
Podcasts take their place in the upfront selling season.
The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) is supporting a September 10 “Upfront Showcase,” as the medium angles to get more ad dollars for podcast products. Many of them are from public radio, such as Freakonomics, Radiolab and the next chapter of the sensational “Serial.” There are also plenty of for-profit podcasters, like Marc Maron (who hosted President Obama on his “WTF”). The IAB’s Carl Kalapesi talks about the “individual and intimate listening experience” podcasting can provide – something he says advertisers should be “incorporating into their digital marketing strategies.” Participating in the IAB Podcast Upfront Showcase will be AdLarge Media, Midroll (just acquired by Scripps for $50 million), NPR, Panoply, Podtrac and WNYC Public Radio. The showcase for advertisers and media buyers is being staged at WNYC’s lower-Manhattan Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. More from the IAB here.
Onetime radio consolidator Bob Sillerman’s having trouble taking SFXE private.
He offered $5.25 a share – forced to raise his offer from the original $4.75 – and the New York Times says the stock’s been plunging lately. So has the company’s bottom line, with SFXE reporting larger losses at a time when EDM (electronic dance music) festivals are thriving. Live Nation, the former Clear Channel Entertainment, just reported $142 million in adjusted operating income on $1.8 billion in quarterly revenue. SFXE saw its own revenue grow by nearly 50%, to $121 million, but the losses increased to $48 million. Today is the deadline for Sillerman to produce his plan to finance the take-it-private offer – and some folks in the street think he’ll reduce his bid, instead. SFX Entertainment went public at $13 a share. Last week there was a particularly embarrassing moment - the Beatport subsidiary told independent labels that their royalties had been “trapped” due of the go-private maneuver and wouldn’t be paid on time. After some online shaming, Beatport soon came up with the money and Sillerman apologized.
National Radio Hall of Fame lets fans text their votes to “36500.”
That’s how to vote for favorite “Music Format On-Air Personality” and “Spoken Word Personality.” Under new Chair Kraig Kitchin, public voting returns to the process for the first time in five years, for those two categories. And the technology’s now feasible to do it by texting, instead of online or snail mail. You read the candidates here last week, but here’s a refresher – Music Format Personality nominees are Delilah (text the word “Delilah”), Elvis Duran (“Elvis”), Steve Harvey (“Steve”) and Ryan Seacrest (“Ryan”). Spoken Word Personalities are Sean Hannity (“Hannity”), Clark Howard (“Clark”), Jim Rome (“Rome”) and Dr. Laura Schlessinger (“Dr. Laura”). Use the same number to text for both categories – 36500. Deadline is Wednesday, August 26. A panel of 400 industry pros will vote on four other categories - Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more), Active Local or Regional (10 years or more), Networks/Syndication (10 years or more) and Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more). The National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee reserves the option of choosing up to three members of the Class of 2015. More about this year’s selection process here.
Ryan Seacrest has a serious love for the Olympics, and in 2012 NBC indulged him with some late-night screen time. This coming year for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, AdWeek says Ryan’s already got his assignment – hosting the live late-night programming. Bob Costas had the late-night assignment for the 2014 Winter Games from Sochi (with the pink-eye that you may recall), Mary Carillo had the job for 2008, 2010 and 2012, and before that the job fell to Jim Lampley. How will Seacrest juggle the TV gig with his wakeup show at iHeart’s top 40 KIIS Los Angeles/102.7 and his daily syndicated “On Air” radio show? Stay tuned.
A “New Country” station for Little Rock, where locally-owned Signal Media is challenging iHeart’s established country KSSN (95.7) and classic country “105.1 the Wolf” KMJX (with KSSN’s popular former morning host, Bob Robbins). Radio Insight reports the change by Signal Media’s R&B oldies “Heartbeat” KHLR to country, as “106.7 the Ride.” The facility is a Class C2 licensed to Benton, northwest of Little Rock, and it had actually been moving up (2.8-2.9-3.4) with age 12+ AQH share in the last three Nielsen diary ratings. Both KSSN and the Wolf have previously been #1, but they’re off those heights. The Wolf’s currently in third place (8.2-6.8-6.8) and KSSN’s in fifth place (6.5-7.7-6.3). Check their new competition, 106.7 the Ride, here.
Another six-year low for Cumulus stock, though the company got plenty of press notice yesterday for adding its radio stations to the Rdio service. Rdio CEO Anthony Bay popped up on CNBC to discuss the expansion and almost every major news outlet paid attention to stations like KLOS Los Angeles and KFOG San Francisco appearing on Rdio for the first time. (But will Cumulus eventually pull out of iHeartRadio? That question’s been hovering for a couple of years.) Despite a bad opening for the stock market due to fears about China’s renminbi (currency), the markets closed flat (the Dow) to slightly up (the NASDAQ). But “CMLS” slipped another 2.7% - four cents – to $1.44 a share.
C-SPAN, “Indie” and some Spanish-language channels are pulled from the satellite-delivered lineup of SiriusXM, as of today. You’ve been reading here about how fans of easy-listening “Escape” are dismayed, because it’s been banished to online and app-only. Rick Munarriz of Motley Fools has more drops and adds – “Some of the incoming channels include Velvet (contemporary pop), SiriusXM Fly (retro hip-hop and R&B), Limited Engagement (a new hub for the steady flow of limited-run stations) and a new channel devoted to comedy greats.” That’s literally the name of it, “Comedy Greats,” and it replaces soccer on Channel 94 (July 31 NOW Newsletter).
Disney originally paid $14 million for its Philly-market Radio Disney outpost, and sells it 16 years later to $3.5 million. That’s typical of the discount it’s been taking on the sales of its 23 remaining Radio Disney O&Os. (It’s keeping only L.A.-market KDIS/1110.) Buyer of WWJZ/640 is lay-Catholic Starboard Media Foundation, adding another Catholic station to the Delaware Valley. (Trenton’s longtime WBUD/1260 is now Catholic WFJS.) Philadelphia-market WWJZ will be the 16th station for Wisconsin-based Starboard, which has eight in Wisconsin, two in Illinois, and one each in Gary (Indiana), Minneapolis, Austin, Pawtucket (Rhode Island) and Newark. WWJZ Mount Holly, NJ is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, licensed for 50,000 watts daytime/950 watts at night. Broker – Bill Schutz for seller Disney.
Six western Illinois stations and a translator sell to Fletcher Ford of Virden Broadcasting for $725,000 – to be paid in 100% seller financing. The 4.5% note will be amortized over 120 months. But with monthly payments of $7,689, it should be fully paid off in less than 8-1/2 years. Seller is Nancy Foster of Prestige Communications, who says “I am very blessed to have our company go to such a person” as Fletcher Ford. Most of the cluster is licensed to Macomb, 85 miles south of Virden’s base in Bettendorf, Iowa. Ford owns four stations in Illinois, including “Hog Country 102.5” (that’s right, “Hog” Country) WJRE in Galva. Here is the sextet he’s acquiring from Prestige – “Hot Country 104.7” WLMD Bushnell, a class A. Classic rock “Classic 103” WJEQ Macomb, an A at 102.7. Top 40 “K100” WKAI Macomb, a B1 at 100.1. “Modern Rock 95.9” WNLF Macomb, an A. “Good Time Oldies” WMQZ Colchester, an A at 104.1. Plus talk daytimer WLRB Macomb at 1510, with 1,000 watts most of the day, and 250 watts in the critical hours after sunrise and before the sun sets over the banks of the Mississippi River. There’s also the CP for a 250-watt translator at 103.7, W279CR. It will rebroadcast WLRB. Fletcher Ford employs the umbrella marketing name of Regional Media, including a local news site, here. Broker on the sale – Roger Rafson of CMS Station Brokerage.
$3.8 million is the price the mother-daughter duo of Judith Confer and Kristin Confer Cantrell will pay for a quartet of Max Media FMs in Pennsylvania. (They’ll also have support from Kristin’s dad, Kerby Confer.) Yesterday’s “On the Block” story had the call letters (including the country simulcast of “B98.3” WWBE Mifflinburg and WYGL-FM Elizabethville at 100.5). But the FCC filing reveals the price and the terms, $3.8 million cash. The purchase was announced as being between Max and Seven Mountains, but there’s actually a split. As with last year’s deal involving seller Nick Galli (September 16 NOW), Judith’s Southern Belle LLC will hold the FCC licenses, while Kristin’s Seven Mountains has the other “tangible and intangible” assets. Look over the purchase agreement here.
“Five strategies to reach Millennials through radio,” is Zach Sang’s response to radio pros who ask the 22-year-old syndicated host how they can communicate to a generation that’s “tweeting, texting, Snapchatting…” On the Westwood blog, Zach says “I don’t watch as much live TV, but radio is still very much a part of my life.” One example from his show - after hearing about a trend toward “Granny panties,” two of the Zach’s Gang female members “created a video where they analyzed their underwear in a YouTube video, then discussed it on-air with listeners, while also tweeting about it and sharing the video on Facebook.” Read “Five strategies to reach Millennials” here.
In Denver, “KALC’s memes trounce the social competition.” Entercom’s hot AC “Alice 105.9” “annihilates the local competition in social media actions with more than 20.5 million in the last six months.” Michael Depp at Net NewsCheck has the latest numbers from audience insights researcher Shareablee, showing that Alice generated 57% of the Denver market’s total “social actions,” mostly on Facebook. KUSA-TV is second with about seven million social actions. Channel 9 has about 688,000 fans and followers, while KALC counts 865,000, from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get a look at who’s “social” in the Denver market from Net NewsCheck here.
“The dismantling of mass appeal is a development radio needs to get ahead of – quickly,” says researcher Dave Van Dyke of Bridge Ratings. He believes “the danger is thinking [about listeners] in big buckets” with similar life experiences. Van Dyke says “behind the curtain, the amount of time [radio’s 245 million listeners] spend with radio each week is declining” because of “customized, personalized programming that consumes a percentage of the time previously spent with radio, as well as television and newspapers.” More from Dave here.
Jared & Katie, the morning show at Dick Broadcasting’s top 40 WKZL Winston-Salem, are off the air following a “physical altercation.” That supposedly occurred between Jared Pike and staffer Jason Goodman and they're suspended, per the Greensboro News. General Manager Dick Harlow says “during a segment, tempers flared up and a physical altercation took place.” Harlow says there’s an investigation and that the show’s content was being suspended – though the reporter from Greensboro.com notices that “Jared & Katie’s page was still up on the station’s website.”
Laura Gonzo has impeccable credentials in affiliate relations, especially for music stations. She was the longtime Senior Director of Affiliate Marketing for the Bob & Tom Show based at WFBQ Indianapolis, and she’s worked with Premiere, DBC Radio Group – and now hires on at the Tom Kent Radio Network. She says “I’ve been fortunate to work with radio personalities who are talented, hard-working and all-around great people,” and says host and entrepreneur Tom Kent “is all those things.” Kent says “Laura is the real deal, incredibly talented and fierce.” Ed Douglas is the Senior VP of Affiliations for TKRN.
Andi McDaniel succeeds Mark McDonald as the head of content and news – PD, essentially – at American University’s highly-rated news/talk non-com WAMU Washington DC (88.5). McDonald had been in charge of programming since 2001, and he left last Fall. WAMU says “Andi quickly rose to the top of the search committee’s list because of her extensive experience in innovation,” at places like Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis. She’s been a public radio reporter in Alaska, done journalism from the field in Nicaragua and Mexico, and done TV news work for CBS. She’ll be WAMU’s Senior Director of Content and News.
Mary Beth Agase is the new EVP of Sales for Chicago-based webcaster AccuRadio, the suite of online music streams founded by Kurt Hanson. Mary Beth’s worked in Chicago radio at classic rock “Loop” WLUP/97.9, all-news WBBM/780 and hot AC “Mix 101.9” WTMX. More recently she’s sold for the In-Store Audio Network, Frontline Marketing and FreshSpace Media. Kurt salutes her “fantastic reputation and deep experience in both broadcast radio sales and digital sales.” No doubt Mary Beth will appear in Atlanta next month for the RAIN Internet Radio Summit that precedes the Radio Show. Jake Shapiro of PRX is keynoting, and speakers include iHeart President of Insights, Research and Data Analytics Radha Subramanyan, Cumulus Chief Marketing Officer Pierre Bouvard, Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics (talking about the car dashboard) and Carolyn Gilbert of NuVoodoo. Find out more about the Tuesday, September 29 RAIN Summit here.
Staff-driven format change – Charlie Ochs, now running Beasley’s “Money Talk 1010” WHFS in Tampa, says “In early 1964 I was 19, going to college, and working at a semi-automated, easy listening AM in Medford, Oregon. There were three of us on-air guys who desperately wanted to go live with the hot new format called ‘Chicken Rock,’ instrumental and choral-group covers of Top 40 songs. We were a daytimer, and one evening after we signed off I was alone in the station with an evil idea and a soldering iron. I did a magnificent job of crossing and re-soldering four or five lines in the relay ‘brain’ of the IGM Simplimation. The first day, nothing happened. But nearly 40 hours later, it lost its mind with our manager Phil Holman (a true character with a hot temper) standing in front of it. I was in the studio behind glass looking right at the whole thing. Tape flew everywhere from the three double banks of 14-inch reel-to-reel machines, and the cart carousels with commercials went absolutely crazy. Our contract engineer couldn’t figure out the problem and neither could the engineer that IGM sent down from their home office in Bellingham. That system never worked again. We became a Chicken Rock station, and we all had a wonderful time being real air personalities.” Remind you of your own slightly-subversive behavior or favorite story? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Take 2 from yesterday’s Spring Nielsen Audio report for Laredo. The ownership for Spanish contemporary “Digital 94.9” KQUR isn’t BMP Media, but Border Broadcasters, led by Willis Harpole.
News and ideas about radio, first thing every morning, in this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter. Like what you’re seeing here? Tell a friend, and help us keep growing. You can forward today’s issue, and they’re welcome to subscribe using the “Email Options” tab at the bottom. See you back first thing tomorrow morning and don’t worry about triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13), okay? Tom