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Monday, January 14, 2013 Volume 2   |   Issue 8
 
Is flat the new “up”?
Radio YellowpagesWill radio revenue drop 5% this year – or find a lifeline in the Yellow Pages?
A year-end survey of small and medium-sized businesses by Borrell Associates carries a disturbing forecast. With more local businesses shuffling dollars out of traditional media to online, Borrell says radio’s total local-plus-national business could fall 4.9% this year. That would be huge. We probably won’t see the year-end RAB numbers for 2012 until mid-February, but Q4 will probably be flattish, counting digital and NTR. The RAB says radio grew 1% through the first nine months of 2012. So going from flat (one jokester sourly says “flat is the new up”) to down 4.9% is a real cliff, indeed. Looking down the pike to 2013, Borrell believes the growth in local online will be “phenomenal.” The researcher even thinks online media will top newspapers in all but a handful of local markets. Meanwhile, Bob Jordan at The Media Audit says “we are much more optimistic for radio than Borrell” and says “the reason is the Yellow Pages.” He says the Yellow Pages with their $6 billion in revenue are “vulnerable,” thanks to “a steep decline” in usage. In the meantime, how are radio’s private groups looking at 2013? This newsletter begins its series with group heads tomorrow – where they analyze last year and share their projections about 2013. Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan opened the forecasting door last week, when he fingered the uncertainty from Washington as a factor that can “hurt” radio – because it hurts the economy.
 
Presslaff Interactive Revenue
 

Pandora executive says it’s “doable” to hit profitability.
Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble uses that word talking at CES with AdAge. Trimble says “at points in time, we’ve hit that inflection point of being profitable, so it’s doable.” But for now, they’re more concerned about expanding usership. He says “Building our audience is paramount to building the business. As we catch up on the revenue side, we’ll hit that inflection point [profitability] again.” Wall Street’s watching. Pandora reveals that Boston-based Wellington Management has taken a 12% stake. And Pandora stock broached the $11 mark on Friday for the first time since last September, closing up 16 cents (about 1%) to $11.02. But as AdAge says, “If Pandora can’t monetize mobile, can anyone?” It says “massive mobile usage comes with big costs.”

Maybe Fisher will eventually sell itself, or maybe not…
Thursday’s “exploring strategic options” announcement caught the Street’s attention and pushed the stock up 16% ($4.72) in a single day. But Friday was a lot quieter – less volume than usual. With no additional chum in the water in the form of news from activist shareholder Mario Gabelli, “FSCI” gained a nickel to close at $33.26. That’s not even close to its 52-week high of $37.44. As this newsletter said Friday morning, Fisher’s board may be looking to buy some time, against Gabelli.

NielsenDoes Nielsen need to spin off Scarborough, to finish its $1.3 billion pickup of Arbitron?
That’s the speculation of Motley Fool’s Mike Thiessen, who says the government may look at one effective monopoly (TV ratings provider Nielsen) buying another (radio counterpart Nielsen) – and says “it is unlikely regulators would permit the newly-merged company to enjoy such dominance over the print media market, as well as the radio and television markets.” Thiessen’s working off the observation that Scarborough’s qualitative research “is the de facto pricing mechanism in many print-media markets.” That may be true (but the former Audit Bureau of Circulation, re-named the Alliance for Audited Media, is a bigger factor in print). Thiessen further theorizes that Nielsen part-owner KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) may like Scarborough enough to “attempt to keep it in the Nielsen-Arbitron ecosystem by purchasing the joint venture outright.” In 2006, a consortium of equity groups bought then-VNU for $9.7 billion and later re-named it Nielsen. KKR remains one of the part-owners of Nielsen – as is Thomas H. Lee Partners, one of the controlling partners of Clear Channel. As Motley Fool observes, Clear Channel “has expressed approval” of the Nielsen-Arbitron combo, saying it should produce better and faster metrics.

Bubba The Love Sponge goes to court today, as rival Todd Schnitt tries to prove defamation.
Bubba (Todd Clem) tells TampaBay.com “If I lose this, it’s going to be very disturbing for people who do what we do.” There’re a risk the scuzzy stuff – calling the other guy and his family names, not to mention the infamous killing of a boar downstairs from the studios of Tampa’s WXTB – will simply turn the jury off. Local TV and newspaper outlets will surely feast on the juicy stuff about how Tampa shock-jock/personal attack radio used to work. Todd Schnitt, a.k.a. “MJ” on Clear Channel’s WFLZ (93.3), is suing Bubba, and TampaBay.com says there are already 38 volumes of evidence, as prep for the three-week trial. Schnitt filed suit in 2008. Some of this goes back to the early-2001 slaughter of the wild boar during the BTLS show. Note that Bubba himself wasn’t involved in the killing, but it became a very big deal – partly because, Bubba claimed, Schnitt’s wife helped drive the case. She was an assistant state attorney at the time when that office brought charges of animal cruelty. The jury rushed back with a not guilty verdict before the lawyers could even get a drink of water, but Bubba took aim at Schnitt and his wife (he called her a “whore”). Remember that Bubba was off Tampa radio after Clear Channel cut him loose, back when the FCC was at Red Alert over indecency. Now he’s at Cox, delivering very strong morning ratings. It will be interesting to watch the Tampa PPMs – to see what happens during the trial.

 
Media Monitors
 

Artie LangeThe “Nick and Artie Show” becomes a one-man act…
With former Howard Stern cast member Artie Lange remaining, and Nick DiPaolo leaving to “pursue some great opportunities.” The Examiner says that’s from the show’s Facebook page, which had been “hinting that ‘some changes’ would be coming to the show when it returns” tonight. The idea of a comedy-leaning sports show (or maybe a sports-tinged comedy show) led DirecTV to put the evening show into syndication about 18 months ago. (Radio is through Premiere Networks.) The theory was that there was an opening on sports stations for a hybrid late-evening comedy show, and Lange – coming back from a 2010 suicide attempt and months of being institutionalized – was ready for it. He’s stayed in the host’s chair for the radio show, and now will run a solo act.

Yes, Spring Valley, Arizona is a “licensable community” – and two stations must change frequency so more folks can hear “beautiful music.”
That’s because the FCC has approved the bid of Southwest FM Broadcasting to change the city of license for its easy listening “Calm Radio/Beautiful Music” KAHM (102.1) from Prescott to Spring Valley. Southwest said it would still serve the Prescott Urbanized Area, while adding more possible listeners. (The new signal edges southward a bit, toward Phoenix.) Competitor Kemp Broadcasting objected, saying that Spring Valley isn’t enough of a community to be “licensable,” and that the move would create a “gray area,” where residents only have access to a single station. But the FCC finds that (lo and behold) Spring Valley is “A Census-designated place and contains businesses, churches and a school.” The verdict? Kemp’s first-adjacent channel KVGG, Salome at 101.9 is ordered to drop to 94.1. While Marvin Vosper’s KBUX, Quartzite must jump from 94.3 (which would be first-adjacent to the new Kemp frequency) up to 96.5. Both stations that are changing frequencies remain Class As. “Calm Radio” would remain a big-signal full Class C. Read the FCC decision here.

FCC finds a few less AMs, a few more commercial FMs - and a lot more FM non-coms.
The latest quarterly “broadcast station totals” finds seven fewer AMs – so we don’t see any mass turn-in of licenses, despite the speculation. At the end of last year’s third quarter, there were 4,745 AM stations, and at year-end, there were 4,738. (12 months before that, there were 4,766 licensed AMs.) Looking at commercial FMs, there were 6,542 at the end of 2011, and 6,598 a year later. The real growth among full-power stations is in non-commercial FMs – 3,644 at the end of 2011, 3,860 a year later. That 216 more, in just one year.

Fewer FM translators now, and 30 fewer Low Power FMs.
For all the popularity of FM translators among commercial operators who want an FM presence for their AM, there are somewhat fewer translators now than a year ago. As of December 31, 2011, there were 6,099. Now – 6,075. There’s a noticeable drop in the number of licensed LPFMs. At the end of 2011, 838 were licensed. That went down to 822 at the end of third quarter last year, and down again at year-end 2012 to 809. Read the FCC’s latest Broadcast Station Totals here.

Format-hopping –
MaC FM• The Quad Cities-area “MaC FM” simulcast breaks up, yielding an eclectic “Vintage” format on KMCS, Muscatine at 93.1. Based on the Quad Cities Times report, “Vintage” will center on classic rock, but include “less-mainstream rock of the past, classic blues acts and some new songs whose sound fits” – like Mumford & Sons, the Black Keys and Jack White. WPW Broadcasting sister station KMCN, Clinton (94.7) will continue the “We play everything” variety hits approach. NorthPine.com adds some local insight – “MaC” originally stood for “Muscatine and Clinton.”

• Reno’s KBZZ drops talk for sports, on the Americom-owned KBZZ (1270) and a translator at 96.1. They’re using the new CBS Sports Radio Network, as well as KHTK, Sacramento-based Don Geronimo for mornings. KBZZ will also affiliate with San Francisco Giants baseball and 49ers football, says KRNV television.

Cigar Dave

14 straight #1s for country KFDI, Wichita…
And Journal Broadcast Group must be tickled about this four-book trend last year – 13.1-10.9-9.8-10.4. That’s for the broad age 12+ AQH topline numbers, which also show growth for Connoisseur’s country “Wolf” KVWF – 2.8-3.0-3.9-4.1. Elsewhere in Friday’s Fall-book release from Arbitron – Cumulus appears to finish 1-2-3-4 in Stockton, California (remember, Arbitron releases only the shares of stations that subscribe). #1 is rhythmic KWIN, 10.0-10.8-10.5-9.6. Second is “Kat” country KATM (9.0-8.0). #3 is classic rock “Hawk” KHKK, with its best topline since Fall '08 (6.0-6.3). #4 is AC “Star 99” KJOY, 6.7-6.3. In Colorado Springs – Cumulus AC “Peak” KKPK (6.5-7.0) achieves its best share since Summer 2010. In Toledo, Cumulus country “K100” WKKO improves 10.7-12.1, for its best share since Summer ’10. In Mobile – Cumulus is #1 with urban WBLX (13.9-13.2), while Clear Channel’s country WKSJ (8.7-10.0) does its best stuff since Summer 2010. Finally, in Madison, CC's“classic rock that rocks” WIBA-FM goes 5.5-8.8, for its first win since Fall 2010. The 8.8 is its best number since way back in Spring 1994.

Erica FarberRAB chief Erica Farber will keynote the next RAIN Summit, around NAB-Las Vegas.
The Internet Radio-themed one-day conference will continue the format it first tried last year, running on the Sunday before most events at the Spring NAB open on Monday. The venue is the same – the LVH (former Las Vegas Hilton) that adjoins the Convention Center. RAB CEO Erica Farber will do the keynote at the April 7 event. (Last year that honor went to ESPN’s Traug Keller.) As RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson says, the Summit is geared to both broadcasters who are active on the web, like Clear Channel and CBS, and pure-plays like Pandora and Hanson’s own AccuRadio. What will Farber be talking about? Digital.

 
On The Block

Ten years later, a $500,000 deal comes apart and a receiver is appointed for two Iowa stations. The Bae family’s KM Communications bought KQMG-AM/FM, Independence, Iowa in 2003 for half a million, backed by a $450,000 loan from Security State Bank. Now the bank has caused the stations and some real estate to be transferred to receiver Renee Hanrahan – who will operate them while searching for a buyer. All-sports “ESPN 1220” KQMG runs 250 watts daytime and 134 watts at night. Classic hits KQMG-FM, a Class A technical facility, is classic hits “Brite 95.3.” A year ago, they had a different kind of problem – a $10,000 FCC fine for “failure to exhibit required obstruction lighting, operating over-power, and Emergency Alert System and public inspection file violations.”

An AM in New York State’s Catskill region is sold again. WCKL (560), which once belonged to the Black United Fund of New York, is going to a local church, says the Albany Times-Union. The deal hasn’t been filed at the Commission yet, but it has Catskill licensed WCKL (1,000 watts daytime/43 watts nighttime), being sold to Love Church of Greenport. Tammy Thayer’s Family Broadcasting and Media bought WCKL in Fall 2011 from the Black United Fund of NY for $25,000, after it had been off the air some time. The Times-Union says current morning host Mike Pizza remains, but GM Brian Dodge is leaving.

WTCJBud Walters finds an FM translator for Indiana oldies WTCJ – one with three lives. The translator Walters is buying from Bob Augsburg’s Christian non-com operator Way Media has a current license, a granted construction permit, and application – all for different frequencies and different cities of license. The translator’s currently W219DC at 91.5, licensed to Mercer, Kentucky. There’s a CP for 91.5 at Central City, Kentucky, which wouldn’t do commercial broadcaster Bud Walters much good. But there’s also an application to move the translator up to 103.7, re-licensed to Tell City, Indiana – the same city of license as WTCJ (1230). Walters’ AM, owned by subsidiary Hancock Communications, runs 850 watts fulltime and will soon add an FM signal, thanks to this $10,000 cash deal. The translator’s also gaining more muscle, upgrading from less than 40 watts to 250 watts.

Closing took eight months on these two Columbia, SC-market FMs, and that may’ve been related to the license renewal form that self-reported some missing public file entries. That led to a $10,000 fine, but now seller Double O Radio has successfully transferred the two stations to Tidewater-based Tom Davis at Davis Media. It operates around Williamsburg, Wilmington (NC) – and now the state capital of South Carolina. The stations are “Country Legends 94.3” WWNQ, Forest Acres and adult alternative “92.1 The Palm” WWNU, Irmo. 92.1 changed formats after the deal was announced, from soft AC “Carolina 92.1” to Triple-A. Broker – Kalil & Co.

Take 2 – at J.P. Engelbrecht at South Central Communications emailed Friday morning to say that “Your news story on our translator sale in Eastern Tennessee was backwards. Ted Lowe bought it from us.” This was a case of South Central selling (not buying) a Sevierville-area translator at 100.7 (W266AA, Kodak) to Ted Lowe’s Ra-Tel Broadcasting for $175,000. The deal was brokered by Doug Ferber of DEFcom Advisors.

 
Worth Reading

Slacker RadioSlacker Radio is “planning a major overhaul,” per Slashgear. It says “the service hasn’t been making waves like its competitors (Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, etc.).” Now Slashgear hears that pure-play Slacker “will be holding an event sometime in the near future to reveal a complete overhaul of the service.” Like its rivals, Slacker offers both an advertising-supported free version and an ad-free premium tier. In the latest Triton Digital rankers for November, Slacker held its #5 position, behind #2 Clear Channel, #3 Cumulus, #4 CBS – but far away from category killer Pandora. Pandora had 1.6 million average action sessions, versus 58,821 for Slacker.

Why did Cumulus grab the WRXP call letters, and what does it mean for New York’s 94.7? The New York Board at RadioDiscussions.com is endlessly occupied with the country-versus-rock/alt-rock question, and Cumulus reserving the WRXP call letters last associated with a local rock station have the conversation at an “11” on the loudness scale. But the country folks haven’t given up, despite the seeming positive signal about rock. (But is that just gamesmanship by the Dickeys?) Cumulus just closed on its $40 million deal, and now it’s teasing the market at WFME, Newark (94.7).

Gary BerkowitzAC consultant Gary Berkowitz says “AC is having a challenging time.” Gary’s January newsletter sets the stage – “this is the format that has been the darling for so many years. It was not expensive to operate, all it took was some research, marketing and an on-air staff, and the ratings were great. Best of all, sales loved to sell it.” But thanks to “consolidation, PPM, a few great years of CHR, and boom...the ‘easy child’ is having some issues.” Berkowitz says “It’s time to really get back to work with mainstream AC,” and do research and marketing and offer a personality. He preaches that “AC is not a personality format, but to be successful, it needs to have a personality.”

The AM band lives on in the UK at least until 2020, says the UK’s Radio Today. That’s based on an invitation by regulator Ofcom to apply for medium wave (AM) licenses that would probably be granted in 2014. Then “stations will have two years to start broadcasting on a five-year license.” The bigger implication – to the publication’s way of thinking, the window is “confirming that any switchoff date of full analog radio is a long way off.” The UK is committed to converting to DAB, but adoption has been somewhat slower than expected. The out-of-band DAB standard used in the United Kingdom is a completely different technology from the in-band solution brought to market in the U.S. by iBiquity.

 
Transitions

Steve GillSteve Gill signs off talk radio after 15 years, saying consolidation has meant fewer slots for local and regionally-syndicated talk hosts like him. The Nashville-based attorney, political commentator and consultant is currently on Clear Channel’s WLAC (1510) and before that was heard on then-Gaylord-owned WWTN (99.7). The Tennessean says “Gill and other talk radio hosts played a large role in organizing opposition to efforts to create a state income tax, more than a decade ago.” Gill ran for the Republican nomination to the House a couple of times in the 1990s, and now says he wants to spend more time on his other activities, like his GillReport website.

Bernie Mack and Kathy Jones exit mornings at CBS Radio’s classic hits KLUV, Dallas (98.7), which continues with name host Jody Dean. Bernie was producer and co-host for seven years, and Kathy’s been part of KLUV for nearly two decades – through six different morning shows.

“We expect Humble & Fred to bring nothing but heartache and lawsuits,” says their new employer. That’s “Humble” Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson, and Astral Media’s putting their evening show on three Ontario stations now, with more to come. Canada’s Broadcaster Magazine says the comedy duo used to do mornings on Toronto rocker “102.1 The Edge” CFNY, then worked apart for a while and began to do a daily podcast last year. Now they’ll use material from their podcast and other topical stuff to create an evening show for “News Talk 1010” CFRB Toronto, all-comedy “Funny 820” CHAM Hamilton and “Funny 1410” CKSL London. Astral says the Humble & Fred show “displays our investment in the format and support of Canada’s legendary role in the world of standup comedy.” It claims it was the first Canadian broadcaster to mount a full-time comedy station.

Jim Edwards aka Jake HartfordJim Edwards (“Jake Hartford”) died Sunday, after 23 years at Chicago’s talk WLS (890). He was one of those adaptable personalities who took weekend shifts and fill-ins, and was most recently part of the 9-11am weekday show with John Kass. Of course that show came to the timeslot following the recent unavailability of Don Wade and Roma, given the need to deal with Don’s brain tumor. As for Edwards/Hartford, WLS says “his wit, his always thought-provoking opinions and his passion for the listeners are irreplaceable.” Tom Tradup, now at Salem Radio Network, hired Jake when he was GM at WLS and tells this NOW Newsletter that “Jake was a unique melding of hard-news expertise and entertainment talent.” TimeOut Chicago’s Robert Feder says that at Edwards other life – WBBM television – he “was an award-winning investigative producer, a mentor to numerous journalists, and a confidante to governors, anchormen and columnists."

Frank Page spent 65 years in Shreveport radio – and some of the most famous ones were near the beginning, when he introduced Elvis Presley on the KWKH “Louisiana Hayride” in 1954. He recently told the Shreveport Times that Tupelo native Presley “was a shy, well-mannered young man and he just impressed the hell out of everybody.” The station had already been playing an Elvis record, and this was his first real shot as a live performer on a major broadcast stage. Frank Page went on to become “the dean of Shreveport broadcasters, with a 65-year career on the radio. He died last Wednesday at 87, prompting memorials on the Louisiana Board of RadioDiscussions.com. Among the legends with whom Page worked on the Hayride – Hank Williams Sr., Slim Whitman, Johnny Horton, plus fellow announcers-turned-musical stars Jim Reeves and Nat Stuckey.

 
You Can't Make This Up

WCAR"The Station Owner from a Different Planet"? - Broker Frank Boyle caught last Friday's story from Ed Gursky about working at Hy Levinson's WCAR, Detroit (1130), when it was housed in a former mortuary. Frank says "We, at Eastman, repped Hy for a brief time in the ’60s. Having worked at WJR, I knew Hy quite well. He took me on a tour, up and down the Lodge Expressway, to show me the six small pieces of raw land he'd bought from the city. They were adjacent to the shoulders of this major new Expressway from the Detroit center to the outer suburbs. Hy's plan was to build individual studios on each land parcel - to house the DJ featured in each major daypart. His idea was for motorists to see the 'jock in the window' of each studio. But Hy's inability to secure adequate utilities to connect with the studios killed the idea. However, I need to give Hy credit for his ingenuity in getting the 'WCAR' calls in the then-Car Capital of the world. None of the other big guys took advantage of the most obvious set of call letters for Detroit. Also, when Hy applied for 50,000 watts for his station licensed to Pontiac, the Chief Engineer at WJR scoffed and predicted Hy would never get it. Well, by gum, he did. You didn't make a lotta money with Hy. But he was never boring." Got your own can’t-make-this-up story about radio? Email Tom@RTK-Media.com.

“It’s like an old friend came back.” A couple of NOW readers offered that sentiment last week, and with this newsletter just 2-1/2 months old, that time period just about matches how long I was absent from the daily scene. You can help support us, by telling a friend or colleague about radio’s new daily management newsletter. And you can think of us for classified advertising when there’s an opening at your company or station. Also - you can join me in appreciating the fact that our sponsors keep this coming every day at no charge. Want to discuss advertising, or use the Now Classified section? Kristy Scott has solutions, at Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. Tom

 
Envision
 
Cluster Sales Manager – Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Privately held Oasis Radio Group in Ft. Wayne, Indiana is looking for an exceptional cluster sales manager to lead its three progressive radio stations of HOT 107.9, US 93.3 and ClickHop.com. The right candidate will have 3-5 years in media management, plus a college degree. You'll work with one of the nation's leading broadcasters and inspire our sales effort for growth in the New Year. We need one of the best sales managers in the business - Period! Applicants must be able to hold themselves and their staff accountable; communicate effectively and manage a team as individuals. They must possess unquestionable character, professionalism and integrity. The ideal candidate will view obstacles as opportunities and consistently strive to win. Serious inquiries only. Email your resume to myfuture@oasisradiogroup.com or fax to (260) 482-8655 Attention: Susan Mullen.

Oasis Radio Group

 

RTK Media

 

 
 
 
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