|iHeart contest time
iHeart’s $260,000 January national cash contest is (very carefully) underway.
The odds of winning are certainly better than the $1.3 billion Powerball lottery contest, and it’s guaranteed that there will be 260 winners of $1,000. But the odds of winning iHeart’s contest at any one time are lengthened by the fact that you’re competing with listeners to other stations – hundreds of them. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s disclosed, and iHeart has pages of detailed rules. iHeart’s $1,000-cash contest is spread among large market CHRs and talk stations (NYC’s “Z100” WHTZ and WOR/710) as well as small-market rhythmic oldies stations (Stockton’s “Mega 100” KQOD) and sports stations (Macon’s “Fox Sports 1400”). National contesting lets the company award more significant and more frequent prizes than a local station could, and the idea’s been around a long time – but companies don’t usually talk about it. They hope it gives them a competitive edge, but the rules have to be drawn very carefully to keep the FCC satisfied. Also to fend off unhappy losers between the contest period of January 4 and January 29. You don’t want problems at the Commission, especially not with this Commission’s head of Enforcement, Travis LeBlanc. Read the rules for iHeart’s $1,000 text-to-win contest here. And see the 11 full pages of participating stations, alphabetized by market, here.
Cincinnati’s WLW (700) got what it wanted from its “Big Ben warning” about sexual assault.
Yes, the iHeart “Big One” talker pulled the promo, ahead of Saturday night’s game between its hometown Cincinnati Bengals and QB Ben Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers. But it gained international publicity for literally no money. WLW was riffing on allegations from 2008 and 2010 that Ben was involved in sexual assaults of young women. He was never charged, though he lost endorsement deals and he was suspended under league policy. What did the “Big Ben warning” say? That “All females age 18-40 are to use extreme caution, especially if heavily consuming alcohol,” if they’re in the vicinity of Roethlisberger. Rape-victim advocates and others were quick to criticize the intended humor, and WLW eventually canceled the promo – which led to more stories about the stunt. The bit wasn’t enough to help the playoff-jinxed Bengals – they lost the game at the end, 18-16.
Nielsen’s prepping Total Audience Measurement, and Emmis says “bring it on.”
Actually, CEO Jeff Smulyan’s quote on Thursday’s quarterly call was “we’re pleased” and that it’s something “that has taken a long time” – an understatement. Some of his peers in radio, as well as on the agency/advertiser side, have probably been responsible for the delay, which frustrates Nielsen. But as we learned at the Nielsen Client Conference in D.C., Nielsen says it’s close to going ahead, despite a lack of complete buy-in (which would be impossible). Aside from the Nielsen service that would measure broadcast radio alongside streaming and other audio consumption, Emmis continues to tout the NextRadio and TagStation technologies that it’s developed on behalf of the industry. (And from which it hopes to make some money.) NextRadio was in Las Vegas for the CES, doing an event with pre-paid wireless carrier Blu – a new believer in FM-equipped smartphones. They were also part of the Ford demonstration. How about expanding the circle of carriers? Smulyan reports (as always) “discussions with lots of manufacturers, carriers” and even international interests. As for the laggards, Verizon and Apple – Smulyan continues to be “very optimistic.” He’s an optimistic guy, by nature.
Online public files for radio? FCC Chair Tom Wheeler claims they “lower long-term costs for industry.”
Last week he put a Report & Order “on circulation” to his four colleagues at the Commission to include radio among the industries which would need to adopt a TV-style online filing system. We knew that it’s on the agenda for the January 28 Open Meeting - and perhaps it will even be adopted before then. Chairman Wheeler says “This proposal does not include new disclosure requirements and would lower long-term costs for the industry.” He says “This modernization of the public inspection file is plain common sense,” perhaps given how few people actually walk into a station lobby and request to see it. But Wheeler’s on the side of openness here. He says “The evolution of the Internet and the expansion of broadband infrastructure have transformed the way society accesses information today.” Then there’s this – “Most important, the public will gain greater transparency and easier access to the information contained in the public files.” The licensee’s performance in keeping the public file current will become much more “public” – particularly with political ad rates, in this election year. Read Wheeler’s blog here.
Apple Music grew from 6.5 million paying subscribers in October to 10 million now.
What does that mean? re/code compares the ten million figure (worldwide) with the 20 million claimed by older online rival Spotify at mid-year. The Financial Times reported the news yesterday about Apple Music crossing into eight-digit territory – and as usual, Apple doesn’t have anything to say. While Spotify tells Business Insider that “the second half of 2015 was our fastest subscriber growth ever.”
Canada’s Cogeco to focus on expanding radio, sells its out-of-home ad division.
Cogeco President/CEO Louis Adet says “We are very satisfied with the results of our radio segment, and intend to pursue our efforts to strengthen our position in this industry.” So he’s a buyer of radio stations, and he’ll be shopping with money raised by the sale of Cogeco Metromedia, which sells traditional and digital outdoor ads in Montreal train stations, buses, parking lots and other transit-related locations. The buyer? The giant Bell Media, which adds Metromedia to its previously-acquired Astral Out Of Home. (Radio, specialty TV and outdoor owner Astral Media sold itself in 2013 to Bell, which agreed to spin off ten radio stations for competitive balance.) What is Cogeco looking at buying? Nothing solid, but it’s based in Quebec and its strength is French-language stations like Montreal’s market-leading news/talk CHMP (98.5), French top 40 CKOI/96.9 and the Francophone regional chain of “Rythme” rhythmic AC stations. Its biggest competitor in Montreal? Bell.
Entercom settles “moon pendant” lawsuit.
Call it a hazard of the daily-deals business – sometimes the merchandise attracts legal action. L.A. Gem & Jewelry sued Cumulus and Entercom for selling an alleged knockoff pendant of its copyrighted keepsake that says “I love you…to the moon and back.” That was three months ago (October 12 NOW), and a month later, Cumulus settled. We don’t know the terms of that legal settlement, and we also don’t know the terms of last Friday’s federal court filing involving Entercom. Soon Entercom will have a formal dismissal – and Entercom can quit paying legal expenses related to the suit.
Latest Fall-book Nielsen diary markets –
Omaha – iHeart’s “Kat country 103.7” KXKT re-takes the lead it’s held for nine of the last 12 surveys. But ratings chronicler Chris Huff says “this is the smallest share for KXKT since the Winter book of 2012,” nearly four years ago. Here’s the three-book trend – a 9.9 share last Spring with age 12+ AQH share, for the total broadcast week. Then a Summer-book 8.0, and now a Fall-book 7.5. Second is news/talk sister KFAB (8.3-8.3-7.2), which surrenders its Summer-book crown. Scripps has the #3 and #4 stations, with rock KEZO (5.0-5.6-6.9) just ahead of top 40 “Channel 94.1” KQCH (6.1-6.4-6.8). KEZO’s 6.9 its highest topline since Spring 2007. Fifth among subscribing stations is iHeart’s classic hits KGOR (7.6-6.6-5.5). Nielsen’s only other Omaha subscriber is NRG Media, with stations like rhythmic “Power” KOPW (4.1-5.2-3.7) and hot AC KQKQ (3.5-4.0-3.5). Nice bounce for NRG’s all-sports “AM 590 ESPN Omaha” KXSP (1.5-1.1-2.5). The Nielsen Fall survey ran September 10-December 2.
El Paso – Entravision’s classic hits “Fox” KOFX holds first place, 6.6-9.5-8.2, ahead of iHeart’s AC KTSM (6.3-7.3-7.6). Third is iHeart’s rhythmic “Power 102.1” KPRR (7.1-7.6-7.1), followed by country sister KHEY-FM (4.5-5.6-6.8). That’s “the largest share for KHEY since Fall 1995,” says Chris Huff – a 25-year span. Townsquare’s first station in this market is rock KLAQ (7.8-6.9-6.0). Sixth is Mexican-licensed top 40 “104.3 Hit FM” XHTO, run by Grupo Radio Mexico (5.6-5.3-5.4). In a market that Nielsen calls 79% Hispanic, the leading Spanish-language station is Entravision’s “Jose,” Spanish variety hits KINT (5.0-4.6-4.9).
Akron is another market where a leading country station looks softer by recent historical standards. Rubber City Radio’s WQMX does hold onto first place (7.5-8.5-6.9). Next is classic rock sister WONE-FM (7.1-6.2-5.3), and third is iHeart’s top 40 WKDD (3.0-4.1-3.8). Rubber City’s talk WAKR goes 1.6-1.0-1.5 – and that reminds us of a missing local subscriber, Media-Com. Its talk WNIR pulled a 5.9 share in the Summer book, but doesn’t have any share listed by Nielsen in this week. Remember that none of the spill-in stations from Cleveland like iHeart’s classic hits “Majic” WMJI show up in the Akron ratings.
Charleston, SC – Urban AC “Star” WXST (Apex) holds onto last book’s first-place position, 8.0-9.9-9.5. Second is Cumulus urban “Z93” WWZZ (8.8-7.2-8.3), and then a new face in third. Chris Huff says “this is the largest share for iHeart’s AC WXLY in seven years, since the Fall book of 2008.” Y102.5 improves 4.5-5.8-7.2, perhaps boosted by all-Christmas. Fourth is Cumulus urban AC “Magic” WMGL (5.8-5.8-5.1) and fifth is iHeart’s talk WSCC, 3.7-3.5-4.9 – so yes, perhaps there was some effect from the June 17 racially-motivated murders of nine people in a Charleston church. It’s an off-book for iHeart’s country WEZL (5.2-6.9-4.4). Overall, the country listening seems to have scattered among WEZL, Cumulus “Nash” WIWF (3.1-2.9-3.7) and Apex-owned “Kickin’ 92.5” WCKN (3.1-3.1-3.0). Not the brightest book for Cumulus top 40 WSSX (5.4-4.6-4.2).
Bakersfield – “First time a foreign-language station has ever topped this market,” according to Chris Huff. The station that achieved that is “Radio Lobo,” Lotus-owned regional Mexican KIWI (4.8-6.6-9.5). It’s KIWI’s first time on top, and a record-high 12+ share. Second is American General Media’s rhythmic “Hot 94.1” KISV, 8.0-7.9-8.9. Third is country KUZZ-AM/FM (Owens), 9.6-7.2-7.8, and fourth is talk KNZR-AM/FM (Alpha), 4.8-3.6-5.5. Fifth is another Alpha-owned station, rhythmic oldies “Old School Groove 99.3” KKBB (5.1-4.0-4.6). Note that KIWI’s historic jump to first place comes as American General Media’s regional Mexican “La Caliente” KEBT fell back to its usual level, 4.0-6.9-3.7.
Harrisburg continues to have just two subscribers, Cumulus and iHeart. Cumulus’ hot AC “Wink 104” WNNK leads off as usual, 7.4-7.8-9.5. (That compares to the Winter-2015-book 9.2 share.) New in second place is iHeart’s variety hits “River” WRVV (6.6-5.9-7.4), third is sister talk WHP (7.1-5.6-6.5) and fourth is iHeart’s country “Bob” WRBT (6.3-6.0-5.3). Cumulus catches the #5 spot with rock WQXA (4.3-4.3-5.2. Cumulus country “Nash” WNCY stays down, 3.6-1.9-1.9.
York is where country WGTY (11.8-10.1-9.7) just closed to new owner Forever. Second is Radio Hanover’s classic hits WYCR (7.0-7.2-5.8), and it’s also being sold to Forever. Cumulus enters the standings with two stations tied for third - “Warm 103” WARM-FM (4.3-4.2-5.3) and rock WQXA (4.5-5.8-5.3). Close behind is another Cumulus station, classic hits WSOX (8.1-5.2-5.1). Sixth among subscribing stations, and the leading talk-based station, is Cumulus talker WSBA (2.5-2.7-3.7).
Williamsport is the Home of the Little League World Series every Summer, and a couple of local stations keep hitting their own home runs. Backyard PA’s country WILQ scores its 21st straight victory, from a 22.1 in the Fall 2014 book to a 20.9-share in the Spring 2015 survey and now a 19.0 for Fall 2015. (Yes, we’re in the realm of two-book-a-year markets.) Next is iHeart’s hot AC “Kiss” WKSB, 14.7-14.7-13.2, and then come two more Backyard stations – rock WZXR (9.6-7.8-9.1) and “Oldiez 93” WBZD (6.6-7.0-6.6). Leading talk-based station is iHeart’s talk WRAK (3.7-3.1-5.0).
Merced, California is one diary market where the apparent influence of all-Christmas was strong enough for one station to shoot up, even in a three-month-long survey. That’s Mapleton’s AC “K97.5” KABX, 4.6-4.7-6.8. It’s now second, behind Alpha’s rhythmic “Hot 104.7” KHTN, 8.5-9.8-9.2. Third is Mapleton’s regional Mexican “Radio Lobo” KLOQ, 5.4-6.3-5.6. A tumble for Alpha’s fourth place country KUBB, 6.9-7.1-4.4.
Another place in Atlanta to hear Radio One’s classic hip-hop “Boom,” and it’s a full-power signal. The company’s pulling southwest-of-Atlanta WUMJ Fayetteville, Georgia (97.5) out of its simulcast with urban AC “Majic 107.5” WAMJ Roswell, and pairing it with classic hip-hop “Boom 102.9.” That station was born on Decatur translator W27BK in the same frantic week just after Thanksgiving 2014, when Cumulus launched “OG 97.9” on a translator and Steve Hegwood “Old School 99.3/1010.” So Radio One’s upping the ante in the classic hop format, hoping the addition of Class C3 WUM gives it an edge. Radio One’s Atlanta manager says “we found that almost all of our listeners to Majic 107.5/97.5 were only listening on 107.5, since we upgraded our [107.5] signal three years ago.” Radio Insight passes on the Radio One press release, about Atlanta-based Ed Lover and Monie Love beginning their syndicated classic hip-hop morning show as of today. It’s also airing in Philly, Houston and other markets.
More “Spirit” for Tulsa, where Cox puts its for-profit contemporary Christian Spirit format on a translator it’s leasing from Jason Bennett’s Screen Door Broadcasting. Last year. Bennett paid $120,000 for translator K289CC at 105.7 (July 23 NOW), and Radio Insight says it’s about to begin rebroadcasting the contemporary Christian “Spirit” format of Cox-owned KWEN HD2 (95.5). Between 2005 and 2009, Cox featured “Spirit” on then-KKCM Sand Springs at 102.3, and since then has kept it available on the HD2 signal plus its co-owned Cox Cable service. Oklahoma-based Stephens Media already does a commercial contemporary Christian (CCM) format on KXOJ Sapulpa at 100.9. As if that’s not enough competition, non-commercial “K-Love” owner/network EMF tries to cover Oklahoma City from the east, via KYLK Okemah at 103.7.
Trenton’s “920 the Voice” WNJE is now mostly sports, filling out its daytime schedule with more of the Fox Sports Radio programming it had been employing for late-nights. Gone are the syndicated Glenn Beck (formerly 9am-noon) and some local daytime shows. Connoisseur’s keeping the early-evening and weekend mornings of brokered talk. But otherwise, the station is now all-sports “920 The Jersey.”920 is the market’s original WTTM (home of genre-changing comedian/actor Ernie Kovacs) and later all-sports WPHY.
Memphis-based radio/TV owner Pollack Broadcasting enters the Little Rock TV market. The full-power KMYA-DT Camden/Channel 49 and low power KMYA-LP Sheridan/Channel 47 were sold back in mid-2014 for $1.9 million to “I Squared Media,” which re-sells them now to Pollack for $2.75 million. Pollack’s doing the deal as LR Telecasting (for “Little Rock,” perhaps?). The “Me TV” KMYA combo joins Pollack television assets in Alexandria, Louisiana (ABC affiliate KLAX-TV/channel 31 and Me TV affiliate KWCE-LP/channel 27) and Eureka, California (NBC affiliate KIEM/Channel 3). Pollack’s radio holdings including more than a half-dozen stations in Missouri like country KTMO New Madrid at 106.5 and just over-the-border AC KBOA-FM Piggott, Arkansas. Broker on the sale of the KMYA stations – Bill Cate of Media Services Group.
Spanish Broadcasting System tees up its TV spectrum gamble, with the closing of its radio-TV swap in Puerto Rico. SBS has traded away three radio stations on the island (including Spanish contemporary WIOC Ponce at 105.1) and obtained three TV stations (like WTCV-DT/Channel 32). That deal was with International Broadcasting, which didn’t want to participate in the FCC’s spectrum auction itself (or else it likes the radio stations it got). SBS takes the gamble of exchanging its radio stations plus $1.9 million cash so it can play in the late-March FCC auction. But as we said a week ago – investors might like it better if SBS contributed its TV licenses in the much more desirable markets (broadband-wise) of Miami and Houston. Note that SBS won’t know the results of its gamble until later this year, since there will first be a “reverse” auction, then a second “forward” auction. To make things clearer, the FCC just updated its homepage for the reverse incentive auction, titled “Maintaining America’s Global Leadership in Wireless,” and that’s here.
Steve Goldstein boils down “6 important takeaways for audio from CES,” and the first two fit together - #1, “The autonomous car is coming, but not yet,” and #2, “Connected car is here.” One of Steve’s most fundamental convictions, leaving Las Vegas, is that “On-demand options are growing rapidly for video and audio. That was a dominant theme at CES and an irrefutable trend.” Read more of Goldstein’s thinking about the 2016 on his Amplifi Media blog here.
Cumulus Media’s hometown Atlanta Journal Constitution surveys its situation at the start of the 2016 and headlines the story “Radio giant tumbles after flying high.” It quotes Noble Financial analyst Michael Kupinski saying “the company didn’t focus on its local markets, and was sidetracked by an expensive acquisition of Westwood One” that cost $260 million. There was also the difficult integration of Citadel. New Cumulus CEO Mary Berner didn’t talk with the paper, but the company says “despite what the stock price might indicate, Cumulus has and will continue to generate a significant amount of cash from operations.” It also says it “has no plans to file for bankruptcy, and the next maturity for debt is not for three more years, until May of 2019.” The paper also uses Berner’s quote about falling ratings and staff turnover, and the fact that “the company has lost more than a dollar of revenue for every dollar of expense reduction, over the past four years.” Read more here.
Blogger/educator Dick Taylor is not in a mood to morn what’s happened to commercial radio, a business he says was set on its course in 1922. That’s when “big business and the American government implemented new regulations” prohibiting amateur radio operators – the pioneers – “from broadcasting music, talk, weather, news or sports.” Taylor’s educating his students at Western Kentucky University about the history of the medium, and watching them “using all the digital tools available to create” the business “they will soon take over operating.” He sees enthusiasm, which you can read about in “Have we been here before?” - here.
Bill Carroll delivers a surprise “last show” for iHeart’s talk KFI Los Angeles/640, saying “It’s time to get closer to home” – meaning Canada. He joined KFI almost six years ago to take the noon-2pm slot that morning man Bill Handel had been carrying, but says he and his French-Canadian wife want to be closer their family. Carroll says “I don’t know exactly where I will land,” though he’s recently been remotely hosting afternoons for Corus news/talk CFMJ Toronto/640. When he lived in Toronto, he’d been heard on news/talk CFRB/1010 and rock “Q107” CILQ. Carroll follows up that on-air announcement with this plea to listeners – “I came to live among you because I admire your graciousness and your openness and your religious freedom. Don’t elect Donald Trump – I’m begging.” He says “You’re better than that.” Listen to Carroll’s farewell here. No word yet from KFI programmer Robin Bertolucci about a permanent replacement.
Bob Walker will keep the Hall Communications local-market job he’s had since 2009, guiding the programming at Providence-market “Cat Country 98.1” WCTK. And he’ll add group responsibilities for all of Hall’s 21 owned stations. Before Providence, Walker programmed in Milwaukee (then-AC WKTI), Salt Lake City, Reno and Tallahassee. He becomes Vice Programming/Programming at Pennsylvania-based Hall Communications.
Roy Williams exits as VP/GM of the four-station Scripps radio cluster in Boise, which includes AC “94.9 the River” KRVB. Scripps thanks Roy for “his contributions to our team, and for stepping up to lead our team during a time of transition.” For now, Milwaukee-based Tom Langmyer will serve the interim GM, as Scripps conducts its search for a new leader in Boise. (And locally, they prefer to pronounce it “BOY-see,” not “-zee”).
From the other side of the street – As a counterpoint to Friday’s “You Can’t Make This Up,” here’s David MacMullen, now sales manager at KTEN-TV in Denison, Texas – “The morning when we put country KATY/KMKT on the air in Sherman, Texas, we had planned a ribbon-cutting. The owner, Bill Harrison, received a phone call from a local florist who told him the sales manager at [rival country] KIKM had come in the previous week to order a dozen dead roses, and wanted them delivered to our ribbon-cutting. The florist didn’t feel right delivering them, and wanted us to know. Bill offered the florist shop owner 50 free radio commercials as a thank-you. The staff knew about the planned delivery, but very few of our advertisers did.” MacMullen goes on to relate a different kind of promotion – “In 1996, KATY/KMKT and sister station KLAK started a Thanksgiving food drive to benefit the Salvation Army, and from the very beginning the local community supported it. In 2016 the event will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and according to the Sherman Captain of the Salvation Army, it is the largest food drive benefiting the Salvation Army in North Texas.” Got a story to share? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” - Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Take 2 on FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly’s blog entry about “regulation by citation.” Some readers couldn’t get last Friday’s link to work, and it’s here.
“Keep up the good work in 2016,” says WTKM-AM/FM Hartford, Wisconsin GM David Stout. He emails to say “Everybody in my circle reads Tom Taylor every morning now. It’s just long enough to keep us updated, but not too long that you dread seeing the name in the inbox.” See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom