|What’s in a name?
SiriusXM and Rural Media Group are sued over the “RFD Radio” name.
There’s a new agricultural/rural-interest channel on SiriusXM starting July 1, and Rural Media Group’s Patrick Gottsch wanted to call it “RFD Radio.” (He’s behind the “RFD TV” cable channel that once employed radio’s Don Imus.) There were even a couple of embargoed press releases using the RFD Radio name – a couple of months after Gottsch supposedly tried to gain use of the name and/or to buy the existing RFD Radio Network. But the 45-year-old network, operated by the Illinois Farm Bureau under the name “Illinois Agricultural Association,” isn’t for sale. The long-time not-for-profit sues Rural Media Group and SiriusXM in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, in a case filed May 13. They’re alleging trademark infringement over the phrase “RFD Radio.” They cite “the fact that a previous application [by Gottsch] to register the mark ‘Radio RFD’ in the U.S. Patent Office for ‘radio broadcasting services’ was refused registration on the ground of likelihood of confusion.” The Illinois group also alleges violations under the Lanham Act and two different state acts. The farm group isn’t kidding – they’re seeking treble damages. There’s now a counter-claim by Rural Media Group. The farm group seeks a preliminary injunction, and responses to that are due on Friday.
Slides from the SiriusXM stockholder meeting…
Here’s some of what CEO Jim Meyer presented at yesterday’s annual meeting – he says SiriusXM’s “superior revenue model” generates $142.34 per subscriber, versus $12.91 per listener for Clear Channel, and $6.51 per active user for Pandora. He forecasts continued growth, aided by strong car sales (both new and used). Comparing its EBITDA margins to other media companies, SiriusXM says it’s at 27% - the same as Cablevision, and more than DirecTV (25%), Dish (25%) and way more than Netflix (3%). Comcast is higher, at 33%, and it’s interesting that SiriusXM doesn’t include any broadcast radio companies. It predicts 30% margins for itself this year, and 40% or better in future years. See the slideshow for yourself, here.
Clear Channel pushes back more debt maturities into the future.
Last week Clear Channel offered to extend $1.5 billion of its Term Loan B and C debt due in January 2016 to July 2018 – and it’s willing to shoulder that additional cost in the form of a higher interest rate. Yesterday it took action on another front – a private offer to qualified institutional investors under the SEC’s Rule 144A to exchange a couple of issues of debt due in 2016 for notes due in 2021. Those are the 10.75% Senior Cash Pay note and the 11%/11.75% Senior Toggle Notes. The exchange offer is valid through June 18 – and check the rate on the new notes. It will be 12% per year in cash, plus an additional 2% a year through the issuance of PIK (Payment in Kind) notes. That’s expensive money.
Birmingham sports talker Paul Finebaum goes national with a five-year ESPN deal.
Finebaum struggled to get free of Cumulus-owned WJOX-FM (94.5), finally did, waited out his non-compete – and instead of strolling over to SummitMedia’s “97.3 The Zone” WZNN, he’s leaving town. The Wall Street Journal says Finebaum’s packing up and moving to Charlotte, for an August 1 debut somewhere in the ESPN empire. His deal includes a radio program on ESPN, “100 televised appearances annually on ESPN and a TV simulcast of his radio show on the ESPN-owned SEC Network” that debuts in August 2014. Finebaum says “it would be the understatement of my life to say I wasn’t thrilled.” Finebaum was already launched nationally with his $650,000 contract to write a book for News Corp-owned HarperCollins. It’s also due in August 2014, timed to coincide with the opening of the SEC football season. Finebaum’s an acknowledged authority (and lightning rod) for the conference. The Journal says his radio show “at first will air primarily in the Southeast.” On WJOX-FM, it aired in afternoon drive, but there’s no indication yet from ESPN about a timeslot.
Layoffs at ESPN, but it’s not clear how radio’s affected.
Nobody in Bristol was authorized to talk about the layoffs of perhaps several hundred people (we asked). ESPN not only operates the ESPN Radio syndication effort, it runs the five Disney-owned O&O radio stations. Of course the big numbers at ESPN are in the TV division, and that’s where a combination of slower ad sales and higher costs for sports rights are crimping profits. ESPN’s worldwide workforce could be as high as 7,000. A reminder about the parentage of ESPN – Disney may operate it and own 80% of it. But the Hearst Corporation owns the other 20% and has shaken off attempts by Disney to buy it out.
“News/talk fans are especially likely to start their day with radio, but from there…”
Well, they’re just hungry media consumers, using tablets, satellite radio, podcasting and everything else they can get their ears near, says Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media. That makes the news/talk format a unique challenge in terms of hanging onto its fans through the day. Jacobs says that “more than any of the other 11 fan groups in the Jacobs Media TechSurvey9, news/talk partisans are most likely to begin their day with broadcast radio.” 54% wake up with a radio near their sleepy heads. But four in ten own tablets, and they’re constantly searching for information from multiple sources. And “information” really is the key word there. Jacobs says “while fans of music formats often cite emotional reasons for listening to the radio (escape, companionship, etc.), news/talk devotees have a singular focus on information when they listen.” They seek news, traffic and weather, but they’re also motivated by individual shows and talk hosts. The next Jacobs Media seminar drawn from the online TechSurvey9 is Wednesday, May 29 – and it’s about sports radio.
“Infinite Dial” zeros in on AC listeners.
Squeezing new format-specific results from the latest data in a 15-year collaboration between Arbitron and Edison Research, there are some key findings about the P1s (most ardent fans) of adult contemporary. Such as, they are “much more likely to wake up in the morning to a cellphone,” which has implications for AC’s very important morning shows. They like music, but are less likely than the average survey participant to say that it’s important to learn about and keep up to date with new music. In terms of new media, about 30% use online radio on a weekly basis. Slightly more than that, about 1 in 3, uses YouTube every week. And 8% have signed up to get email from their P1 station, which would seem to represent a real opportunity for stations. If you haven’t downloaded the 2013 Infinite Dial study and webinar replay, it’s here, with free registration.
Yesterday we heard about “MX” – mutually exclusive apps in an FCC auction. Today – the settlement period opens to resolve them.
Participants in the long-delayed Auction 83 for new FM translators have until July 22 to reach a settlement agreement with a competing applicant (or applicants). Frankly – the FCC would love all of the “MX” problems to be resolved without having to go to the next stage. So it’s giving the parties two full months to reach an agreement and present it to the Commission. There are stringent rules about “prohibited communications” for these auctions, though for this settlement period, they’re relaxed somewhat. These translators are all in the commercial band, from 92.1 to 107.9. The FCC wants this part of the process done and all of the ten-year-old Auction 83 applications in the books, so it can move on to opening a window for Low Power FMs – perhaps in October. Read the rules about MX settlements here.
Non-commercial stations get special permission to raise money for Oklahoma tornado relief.
The FCC received and granted one such request yesterday, and says that as it has in the past, following the 9/11 attacks, the Southeast Asia Tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Sandy, it’s allowing non-commercial stations to do fund-raising for a third party. Stations should provide the FCC with details about the fundraiser (including length), and the organization that will benefit (Red Cross, etc.). More information from the FCC here.
Ginny Hubbard Morris to accept this year’s NAB National Radio Award.
There haven’t exactly been a lot of women on that list, and the only other recent female winner is Erica Farber, now CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau. Ginny – and most folks around the radio group call her “Ginny” – is the chair of her family-owned company, and she grew up in the business. Her father Stanley Hubbard received the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award at last month’s Broadcasters Foundation of America breakfast in Las Vegas. Ginny’s been part of the family operation since 1982, becoming President/GM of KSTP/1500 and KSTP-FM/94.5 by 1995. She’s been active on the national scene, serving on the RAB’s executive committee, chair of the Library of American Broadcasting and a member of the board of BMI. She’s a former chair of the NAB Radio Board. Recent winners of the NAB National Radio Award include Dan Mason of CBS, Steve Newberry of Commonwealth, Charles Warfield (then of Inner City), Ed Christian of Saga, Jerry Lee of Philadelphia’s WBEB – and Bruce Reese. At the time he got the award, Bruce ran the Bonneville radio group. He later helped engineer the sale of four of its markets to Hubbard, which he now serves as president/CEO.
Australia’s “royal prank” station is all the way back – #1 in the Sydney ratings among FMs.
Southern Cross Austereo’s Top 40 2Day FM lost just one Nielsen survey, in the wake of last Fall’s hoax call to Kate Middleton’s hospital in London. Now for the book that covers February 1 through May 11, it’s #1 with persons age 10+, while WSFM slipped from 8.5 to 7.0, into second place. (Classic hits WSFM/2UUS is owned by Australian Radio Network, in which Clear Channel has an interest.) The share for 2Day FM was actually steady, 8.4-8.5. ARN’s hot AC “Mix 106.5” 2WFM hopped ahead 4.4-5.7, for its best topline share since late 2011. Overall, Macquarie’s news/talk 2GB was far ahead of the pack, up 13.2-14.7. Check the latest ratings for Sydney, the country’s largest market, plus Melbourne (a five-year high for rock 3MMM), Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, on the Nielsen site here.
$3.7 million worth of clarity in the deal for news/adult alternative WYSO, Yellow Springs, Ohio (91.3). Last December 12, this NOW Newsletter told you that WYSO was part of an unusual $8 million transaction between seller Antioch University and the revived Antioch College in Yellow Springs. The $8 million price included the Charles Kettering building and the elimination of “reverter clauses” in the master deal between the two institutions. With this week’s FCC filing, we see how Class B non-com WYSO is valued – at $3.7 million of that overall $8 million. In 2008, Antioch University turned out the undergraduate classroom lights at the College, and the FCC license was transferred to the University, which has multiple campuses. Then some college alumni revived “Antioch College,” and they’re getting back their radio station.
Another day, another translator sold to an AM station owner. This one’s around Marquette, Michigan, where all-sports “ESPN 970” WZAM, Ishpeming owner Taconite Broadcasting pays $40,000 cash for a 250-watt translator at 93.3. Seller is David M. Stout and the translator is W227CJ, Marquette.
Nashville daytimer WENO (760) sells to its LMA partner for $300,100. Buyer Terrell Broady has already paid the purchase price in his quarterly payments of $37,500 – so seller Trevecca Nazarene University (as WENO Inc.) throws in an extra $100 for the purchase price, and Broady will own the station he’s been LMAing since Fall 2011. That LMA started after the implosion of an earlier deal to sell WENO to Anchor Broadcasting. The school wanted out of the radio business and dealt its two FMs (then-WNAZ Nashville/89.1 and then-WNRZ Dickson/91.5) to Christian group owner Bott Radio. In Fall 2010, it also filed to sell 1,000-watt daytimer WENO to Anchor for $335,000. But that failed to close and a year later WENO was being LMA’d to Broady. Fortunately for him, the LMA was written so that his payments were applied against the sale price. The next one due is June 15 – and then he’ll be the owner of the black gospel station, once the FCC approves.
Seven stations – not three – must be spun as the UK’s Global Radio swallows up rival GMG. The Competition Commission delivers some bad news to Global, which had hoped to divest only three stations. The Guardian says “It must sell some of GMG Radio’s Real and Smooth stations, or its own services such as Heart and Global, in seven areas.” Those include Greater Manchester and the East Midlands. The good news is that no spins are required in London, the largest market, or the West Midlands. Another break for Global – the Commission is willing to let it license brands like Heart or Capital to the eventual station buyer. Global’s hoping to win final approval for its $106 million (70 million pound) group deal for GMG. The deal with the Guardian Media Group (also owner of the paper) actually closed last Summer, but regulators required the stations to be run separately for now. Part of the Competition Commission’s reasoning – in the areas of significant overlap, the ownership concentration could spell “higher costs for both airtime and sponsorship/promotion activity.”
“Does your app do what your station can’t, or simply what your station already does?” Researcher Mark Ramsey says “consider HBO…you can’t watch HBO ‘live’ on the HBO GO app. Instead it offers you something you can’t see on TV – it offers you choice.” As in, access to anything that’s ever run, from any season. Ramsey says radio’s got the chance to offer its listeners interactivity, ranging from seeing the talent in the studio and choosing songs to signing up for contests and “choosing audio content different from what’s on the air.” He says if the app simply does what the station already does, “I don’t need an app for that.” Read Ramsey here.
Back when jocks had shticks, it was easier to be a “king of the radio.” CNN releases its own subjective list of “kings,” and it’s led by the guy who popularizing the phrase “rock & roll” (like “jazz” and some other words, a code-word for sex). That was Alan Freed, who busted genres and played “race records” for white kids, at integrated dances in Cleveland and then New York City. He was a careless businessman and eventually tumbled, but Alan Freed is #1 on the CNN list of “all time great DJs.” After Freed, it’s Philly’s Hy Lit, New York’s “Cousin Brucie” Bruce Morrow, Jocko Henderson of both New York and Philly, Wolfman Jack, LA’s Robert W. Morgan, San Francisco’s progressive FM innovator Tom Donahue, Casey Kasem, Cleveland’s Kid Leo, Scott Shannon (Mobile, Atlanta and New York City) and Howard Stern (“even though he doesn’t play much music”). Check the CNN list here and perhaps start your own list.
Dennis Constantine and Bill Pugh pass in the night, as Constantine exits the San Francisco radio gig he took in February 2011. The adult alternative rock authority journeyed west to handle KFOG/KFFG (104.5/97.7) for Cumulus. Now he exits, and Bill Pugh (of the farflung Pugh clan) is the new ops manager for both KFOG/KFFG and classic rock KSAN (107.7). Pugh will also directly program “K-Fog.” Until 2010, he’d been Clear Channel’s ops director in San Diego. The Pugh crew includes Dave Pugh (once an executive for Clear Channel in Washington DC and San Francisco, now Chief Revenue Officer at Magic Ruby) and Dan – who does his daily radio/TV sports stuff under the name “Dan Patrick” (you may’ve heard of him). Quite a family.
Vasileios Touronis used to be a radio station owner in Greece and now represents Vadio as its Senior VP, International Relations. Vadio’s patent-pending technology marries available music videos to songs being played by stations on their stream – creating a very watchable online experience for radio stations. Touronis says Vadio’s in the process of launching in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, his own country of Greece, and more.
Attending a Paul Drew programming seminar - Jack Taddeo, now a station owner and also cluster manager for the Mile High Trust’s suburban-Chicago WZSR and WFXF, notes last week's passing of consultant/PD Paul Drew and says "Here's my experience with Paul. In the early ’80s I went to one of his regional programming seminars in Philadelphia. It was a room full of mostly younger jocks and PDs just trying to get in the same air space as the programming legend, Paul Drew. He asked us if we knew who our best friend in the station was. Not one of us guessed right. It's the business manager, by the way. Because 'They get you paid right and tell the GM if you're good or bad.' He also asked for a show of hands - 'How many of you have parents that own their own business?' A few hands shot up. Paul said ‘If I end this seminar right now, these few people know something that the rest of you don't. Who knows what that is?' I put my hand up and said 'In business, don't trust anyone.' Bingo. I learned a lot in those few hours in a hotel meeting room. But mostly it felt great just to be talking to a guy like Paul Drew." Ready to share your own favorite story about radio? Email Tom@RTK-Media.com.
The news about radio in one place, every morning – the new Tom Taylor NOW management newsletter. Thanks for telling a friend about us, so we can keep growing. And keep us in mind when you’ve got a vacancy to fill in your organization. To use our Classified section, contact Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back tomorrow - Tom