|iHeart’s newest friend – NBC News
“NBC News” brand returns to syndicated radio, via iHeart.
First, this doesn’t affect iHeart’s deal with Fox News that’s featured on some iHeart talk stations – it relates to the Phoenix-based “24/7 News Network” led by Senior VP/GM Chris Berry. That effort is now re-christened as “NBC News Radio,” and will have access to NBC News content. This restores the “NBC News” brand to daily radio syndication, after NBC’s deal with Westwood expired at the end of 2014. Comcast-owned NBCUniversal says “through this collaboration, NBC News will now span all media platforms, including the most widely-consumed medium, radio.” Though it seems the actual product will continue to be produced by iHeart. (Fox Sports has a somewhat similar arrangement with iHeart/Premiere for Fox Sports Radio.) Chris Berry’s shop produces not only news, but also sports and weather, with various elements used by more than a thousand affiliates. (That operation traces back to the onetime Metro Source newsroom in Phoenix, which then-Clear Channel obtained along with Metro Networks.) The new deal’s up and running, with NBC News Radio already on the iHeartMedia app. Read the release from NBC and iHeart here.
Details about iHeart-NBC News on today’s affiliate call.
Chris Berry, who’s managed for Disney, ABC and CBS, is expected to lay out more about the addition of the NBC News brand to the iHeart 24/7 News platform. One news veteran tells NOW he’d have questions if he were on the NBC side – “It’s not their employee delivering the hourly newscast, or even necessarily NBC-curated content.” But then again, that’s pretty much the way NBC ran with its earlier Westwood deal. NBC may’ve been a pioneer in radio, back to the David Sarnoff days. But it hasn’t wanted much to do with the medium in the last three decades. Soon after GE acquired NBC parent RCA in 1986, it sold off the O&Os like New York’s WNBC/660 (which became the second home of the all-sports “Fan” WFAN). And in 1987 it dealt the NBC Radio Network to Westwood. (Its founder Norm Pattiz used to joke that his mom didn’t think much of his accomplishments until he bought NBC Radio Network.) Now NBC News is back in radio, after a fashion. In 2005, iHeart put a lot of resources into helping Fox News Radio get up and running, and many of its talk stations are wrapped around the Fox News brand. (Some non-iHeart-owned stations also image around Fox, like Canyon Media’s “Fox News 1450” KZNU St. George.) Meanwhile, rival ABC News Radio has signed up iHeart-owned talkers like WOR New York/710, KTRH Houston/740, L.A.’s KFI/640, KOA Denver/850 and WLW Cincinnati/700. There may be fewer players, but the news business (and the battle for station inventory) is still intense.
Former D.C. brokered-time biz-talker Dawn Bennett is ordered by the SEC to pay $4 million.
The self-styled “Financial Myth-Buster” chose to boycott the whole thing, protesting the way the regulator handled her case. Her position is that her case shouldn’t have been heard by an administrative law judge who wasn’t appointed by the SEC Commissioners. So she was a no-show for her own late-January hearing (February 1 NOW Newsletter). Bennett probably expected some bad news from the judge, and now she’s got it – disgorgement of profits of $556,102, a civil penalty of $2.9 million against the Bennett Group, and Bennett personally to pay a civil penalty of $600,000. What did the former host at WWRC Washington/1260 do? The SEC says she misrepresented the size of assets under management, so as to inflate her Barron’s ranking among financial advisors. She also allegedly employed a “model portfolio” to overstate the financial returns of her investments for clients. Read the SEC “initial decision of default” against Myth Buster Bennett and her firm here.
Radio’s Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Ryan Seacrest stay high on the Forbes “Celebrity 100.”
Nobody comes close to the intergalactic high of Taylor Swift, at a Forbes-estimated $170 million. But Howard Stern’s estimated $85 million isn’t chopped liver, and he’s #7 this year (at the beginning of his third contract with SiriusXM). Rush Limbaugh was close behind at $79 million, for a #10 ranking on the “World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities” list. Ryan Seacrest piled up earnings from KIIS Los Angeles and iHeart-syndication among other jobs to earn $55 million, for a ranking at #30. The main Forbes story about “the world’s top-earning celebrity” Taylor Swift is here. See the full Celebrity 100 lineup here. Here’s a preview – the top ten is Taylor Swift, One Direction, author James Patterson, Dr. Phil tied with Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, comedian Kevin Hart, Howard Stern, soccer star Lionel Messi, Adele and Limbaugh. If you’re wondering - still nothing about Premiere’s renewal talks with Rush, whose giant-sized eight-year contract is supposed to be up this month.
Cumulus announces its second “Nash Next” search for country talent.
Once again, there’s a Reba McEntire connection. Last year one of the judges was record producer James Stroud, who’s worked with Reba. This year the “Nash Next 2016” competition was actually announced by Reba. Prizes include a recording contract with Big Machine Label Group, plus “substantial exposure on Cumulus stations nationwide.” Last year’s Nash Next judges were announced as including Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, and then-Cumulus EVP John Dickey. John and his brother Lew left last Fall. “Nash” was a major personal project of John Dickey, and current President/CEO Mary Berner continues to support it. Her line is that “Cumulus is #1 for country.” Listeners can join the first round of judging. Then it’s up to the finals judges, including Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta, Westwood host Kix Brooks, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, and a Cumulus listener. The finals will be at a concert event in Nashville. Last year’s winning band was “Breaking Southwest,” which was promised “an exclusive management contract.” (Not a label deal, like this year.) The 2015 top ten finishers were to be invited on a national concert tour – so the prize package looks a bit different this time.
The number of licensed Low Power FMs nearly doubled in two years.
Second-quarter data just released by the FCC shows 1,565 LPFMs at the end of June – a huge jump from 814 as of June 30, 2014. And just since last year, the number’s up more than 400, from 1,149 a year ago to 1,565. That doesn’t mean all those signals are on the air yet, but they’re coming – and with more behind them. The translator boom is evident in the latest FCC Broadcast Station Totals. Two years ago, there were 6,141 translators, and there are 6,816 now. (That’s a gain of 675.) In the full-power radio bands, we’re still not seeing anything like a massive turn-in of AM licenses. (Whether those signals are fully-maintained and in-tolerance is another question.) Over the past two years, the number of licensed AMs has slipped from 4,721 to 4,698 last year and 4,676 today. That’s a two-year drop of 45. With commercial FMs, there’s been a two-year increase from 6,622 to 6,714. And the number of non-commercial FMs is almost exactly the same – 4,082 to 4,099. Read the FCC’s latest station totals here.
In Ft. Worth-Dallas, KCLE/1460 goes dark. It was one of the assets recently acquired by Vietnamese-specialist Tron Dinh Do’s Intelli LLC (November 26, 2014 NOW Newsletter), but continued doing all-sports under the new owner. The Cleburne Times-Review reports that longtime GM Ward Whites “was unable to negotiate a long-term lease agreement” with Tron Do Media, and apparently ended his year-long LMA. Mr. Whites is hoping somebody puts KCLE Burleson back on the air doing live and local programming, but he doesn’t know Intelli’s plans.
“The parties have reached an impasse” in Nielsen’s $1 million infringement suit against Tampa-based personality Bubba the Love Sponge. That’s literally the box they checked, when filing their “Mediation Report” with a federal judge. The two sides have been sparring over things like interrogatories and protective orders (so Nielsen won’t have to disclose sensitive financial material). Nielsen filed suit against Bubba the Love Sponge and his Bubba Radio Network last October 15, and the legal costs must be rising for both sides. Arbitron never sued an individual for infringement, and neither had Nielsen, since it acquired Arbitron in Fall 2013 - until now, with Bubba.
Two straight days of double-digit gains for Emmis stock, and at this rate – ironically – it wouldn’t have needed to engineer last Thursday’s reverse split, to maintain the price above $1 a share. Friday’s gain was 44 cents, to $3.36 a share, and yesterday “EMMS” stock pumped in even more helium – up 58 cents to $3.94. No obvious news to explain the new enthusiasm for Emmis stock, which traded 217,000 shares yesterday.
“In Knoxville, radio trounces TV on social,” says Net NewsCheck, in a review of the latest data from Sharablee. Midwest’s “Classic rock 103.5” WIMZ and Scripps-owned urban “Hot 104.5” WKHT are 1-2 in the chart of “Top Knoxville Media overall, by engagement.” WIMZ shows at #1 with over 7.4 million “total actions” by fans, including “post-level likes, shares, favorites, retweets and comments.” The station’s own posts generate an average of 3,518 “actions per post.” Hot 104.5 is second at more than three million total actions, well above Tegna’s #3-ranked WBIR-TV/Channel 10 at two million. In fact, seven of Shareablee’s top ten Knoxville media doing social media are radio-related, as you can see in the chart here.
Podtrac’s monthly ranking of podcasting publishers includes CBS at #6, and it’s the leading publisher with ties to commercial radio. NPR is #1 for both “U.S. unique monthly audience” and “global unique streams & downloads,” for its 33 “active shows.” NY-based WNYC Studios is second, followed by This American Life/Serial, How Stuff Works, Radiotopia, and CBS (with 362 “active shows” – by far the largest number). The RAIN Newsletter covers the June Podtrac rankings here.
NPR promotes one programming executive and hires two outsiders to continue “investing in our ability to develop, test and launch new shows and projects.” That’s per VP for Programming and Audience Development Anya Grundmann. The moves come as public radio stations are looking to earn the loyalty of a new generation, and have watched some of its own programming talent cross over to commercial podcasters. Current.org says NPR Director of Programming Israel “Izzy” Smith, a four-year veteran, takes the new position of “Senior Director of Promotion and Audience Development.” Steve Nelson joins from Minnesota-based American Public Media as director of programming. New hire N’Jeri Eaton hails from Independent Television Service, taking the role of “Senior Manager for Program Acquisition.” As Anya Grundmann says, N’Jeri will be “a must-know for anyone creating new audio content” – and no doubt will be taking a lot of meetings.
Zvi Lantsberg has worked at Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bloomberg, Amazon (on the Kindle) and AddThis – and TVNewsCheck’s Kelly Benish says his next post is with Pandora. Zvi (who did three years as an airborne medic with the Israeli Air Force) is the new Senior Manager of Business Development and Partnerships (Audience Monetization) at Pandora, based in New York City.
Auto parts and QSR categories both place high in last week’s list of national radio advertisers from Media Monitors. AutoZone, NAPA and O’Reilly Auto Parts have all been consistent users of national radio, and last week they ranked #6, #7 and #10. The QSR – Quick Serve Restaurant – category contributed Subway (#18 two weeks ago, #8 last week) and Buffalo Wild Wings (new to the top ten at #9). The #1 and #2 advertisers were the rock-solid Home Depot (54,024 spots) and GEICO (50,358).
“We now know who is operating El Dorado Broadcasters-owned” KURQ in the San Luis Obispo market, says Radio Insight - it’s the owner of regional Mexican “La M 103.7” KMLA El Rio in Ventura. That’s Gerardo Ceja’s Gold Coast Radio, which is apparently LMAing KURQ Grover Beach at 107.3. That enables it to simulcast “La M” on 107.3, the former alternative “New Rock 107.3.” That format went off the air at the end of June, as Jason Wolff’s El Dorado continues selling off stations around San Luis Obispo - but not 107.3.
Winnipeg’s low-rated rhythmic CIUR converts to “NOW Country 104.7,” at an unusual operation that may be the only country music station in North America partially funded by Bingo. Non-profit Native Communications Inc. has been involved in broadcasting in the province of Manitoba since 1971, often providing Aboriginal language programming. But Winnipeg’s CIUR began in 2009, with “a hip-hop format for aboriginal youth” known as “Streetz FM,” says Northpine. In 2014 the branding evolved to “Rhythm 104.7,” but the ratings from the Numeris consortium (formerly known as BBM) weren’t strong. NCI was already playing a large amount of country on its province-wide NCI-FM network – and now it commits to country on Winnipeg’s CIUR. The station says it receives some federal government funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, and generates money from bingo (both on-air and off) as well as “purchased air-time from community events,” like the Friday night live talent shows and weekend “gospel jam broadcasts.”
Two more Florida translators are sold by Calvary Church-connected Reach Communications of Ft. Lauderdale, and this time they’re in Port Charlotte (Gulf coast) and West Deerfield Beach (Atlantic coast). Two weeks ago, “Pastor Doug” Sauder of Reach filed to sell a Ft. Lauderdale translator for the serious price of $410,000 (June 30 NOW). This time Reach is selling a couple of translators to an outfit that’s typically a seller, not a buyer – Twin Falls-based Edgewater Broadcasting. Edgewater’s Clark Parrish is paying $40,000 for the Port Charlotte signal, W214BV at 90.7. And $100,000 for the one in West Deerfield Beach, W219DP at 91.7. Both translators will be fed the Christian teaching programming of Edgewater’s WLOG Markleysburg, PA/89.1 - via satellite. But you can expect an Act 2 for both these translators. Somebody else probably wants them, from Edgewater.
An Ohio AM pays $32,500 to move a translator 227 air miles from Robinson, Illinois to Bellefontaine, Ohio. Seller of the construction permit is the St. Louis-based not-for-profit Covenant Network, which originally planned for it to re-broadcast its lay-Catholic Covenant Network-programmed WGMR Effingham, Illinois (91.3). But they never got the CP on the air, and it expires next January 9. One solution is to sell it to V-Teck Communications. After the 227-mile move (allowed under the FCC’s AM revitalization window), translator W288DB Robinson will rebroadcast V-Teck’s talk “The Bell” WBLL Bellefontaine at 1390. Louis Vito is the President of V-Teck.
A Wilmington, NC not-for-profit got daytimer WLTT Carolina Beach/1180 two years ago as a donation from Sea-Comm, and now sells it for $53,000. (At least the price appears to be that much. It’s listed in the purchase agreement as “Fifty thousand dollars ($53,000”). The formatic range of the 10,000-watt daytimer is “Talk and Old school classics,” featuring mostly brokered talk (website here). The station uses a three-tower array aimed at Wilmington – but again, it has no night signal. Buyer is CLI Radio LLC, led by James Utley. Seller Carolina Christian Radio was begun by Jim Stephens, and the group owns other local signals like “Gospel Joy 1490” WWIL Wilmington.
Dave Magnum’s got something up his sleeve for Madison, Wisconsin, because he says the translator he’s buying and moving up from Beloit will re-broadcast contemporary Christian non-com "Life 102.5" WNWC-FM Madison, owned by the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Presumably the canny Magnum has further plans for the translator, W222AU. It’s currently at 92.3 in Beloit, right on the Illinois border. The translator’s worth $10,000 to Magnum, and the seller is Green Bay lay-Catholic operator Starboard Media Foundation.
Bobby Bones tells Rolling Stone “everyone just wants the safety of today” in radio and TV – and that’s why there aren’t enough people taking chances. Nashville-based Premiere talent Bones certainly takes chances, and adamantly refuses to play the usual Nashville let’s-be-buddies routine. (Though as a consequence, Rolling Stone reveals that Bobby now has a bodyguard.) He’s not sorry about those controversial anonymous billboards he now admits buying around Nashville, and he’s not even sorry about the $1 million FCC fine iHeart paid for playing the YouTube clip of an Emergency Alert System test. He says he’s learned from all those incidents – and he thinks he’s changing radio. Bobby’s biggest hero as an interviewer and personality is Howard Stern, as you can read in the Rolling Stone interview here.
“Avoiding Olympic hassles” is a timely quick column from attorney Kelly Donohue, about how to stay out of trouble with the Olympic Committee. And who knew that “in addition to the traditional protections afforded under the Lanham Act, as well as those under state and common law, some of the Olympics trademarks are protected by a special statute?” Donohue says “the protections include the word ‘Olympic,’ the Olympic rings, the word ‘Paralympic,’” and more. Read Kelly’s suggestions about keeping stations and advertisers out of legal trouble here.
Let’s go to the movies – Radio stations have been promoting at local theaters for years, but Westwood One host John Trout is particularly proud of something WZPL Indianapolis did in the 1990s for a movie-house chain. Then-afternoon host John Trout was sitting in the “out-of-control room,” and they used vintage movie clips to illustrate “safety and good manners” – bits about locating emergency exits, not talking during the movie, and ladies not wearing “tall or obstructive hats.” At the end of the Film House-produced spot shot in Nashville, the film burns up. John says “During filming, there was a man under the counter literally ‘blowing smoke,’ to make the projector look like it was self-destructing.” The deal was, “WZPL gave away movie tickets and played on-air promos for major movie premieres, and in exchange, AMC gave us the theater time.” He says the station “looked to capitalize on every promotional opportunity we could, from giving away a house to having the local police hand out Police concert tickets.” Watch the Facebook-posted movie trailer starring current “America in the Morning” host, news anchor and meteorologist John Trout, then at “99-1/2 WZPL,” here. What’s your own favorite station promotion? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
The first Spring-book Nielsen diary markets are due today, and you’ll be reading about markets like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Monmouth-Ocean and Puerto Rico in tomorrow’s Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter. If you want to reach our highly-engaged (and slightly-addicted) daily readership, contact Kristy Scott. She’s at Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom