|Betting on the future
Clear Channel’s latest direct deal with a label involves Bob Becker’s Fearless Records.
Exactly one year after Bob Pittman’s stunning deal with Big Machine Records, Taylor Swift’s label, Pittman keeps the momentum going. But his innovative strategy of sharing both broadcast and digital revenues still hasn’t attracted a label big enough to make record industry leaders slam down their cappuccinos and exclaim “What?” Clear Channel followed up the Big Machine announcement in early June 2012 by signing partnerships with Daniel Glass at Glassnote, Cory Robbins at Robbins Entertainment, RPM Entertainment, DashGo and classical label Naxos. This one, with Bob Becker’s Fearless Records, brings acts like The Plain White T’s, Breathe Carolina, Eve 6, Mayday Parade, and At the Drive-In. Becker says “we look forward to breaking more rock artists with the help of Clear Channel, on both broadcast radio and digitally.” Where are the big labels? Well, it could just be that they’re still preoccupied with bigger fish, like fixing the terms for Apple’s rumored new iRadio service, which it might announce at next Monday’s Apple Developers Conference. That speculation, as you’ll read later in today’s NOW Newsletter, was a read drag on Pandora stock yesterday.
On Jimmy de Castro’s first day running Chicago’s talk WGN (720) – he fires the PD.
Bill White came to Tribune Tower in January 2011 after ten years at Charlotte’s talk WBT (1110/99.3), and he’d previously been at well-known talk outposts like KDKA Pittsburgh and WTIC Hartford. But incoming WGN President/GM Jimmy de Castro apparently wanted to make a statement on his first day and (in baseball terms) he fired the coach. Media observer Robert Feder says “the leading candidate to replace White at WGN is Mitch Rosen, program director at the Score.” That’s CBS-owned all-sports WSCR (670). Feder checks the Arbitron PPMs to find WGN down in 20th place with adults 25-54. With the broad “family reunion” demo of age 6+, WGN ranked #4 with a 4.8 share, behind urban AC “V103” WVAZ, hot AC “Mix 101.9” WTMX and CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM (780 and its FM simulcast at 105.9).
Is Larry Wilson the buyer of two former Inner City clusters down south?
A trail of bread crumbs leads to Wilson’s door, after last Friday’s NOW story about YMF Media settling on a buyer for the Columbia, SC and Jackson, Mississippi markets. The two sides are reportedly at the letter of intent stage, in fact. Wilson’s new L&L (for Live & Local) vehicle is proceeding very, very cautiously, price-wise. It got the Triad stations in five markets for $21 million, then reduced its effective multiple even further by immediately spinning off Fargo to Jim Ingstad for $9.5 million. Now there’s even chatter that Wilson has a buyer for a second ex-Triad market, which would make his original $21 million price look like a K-Mart blue-light special. Back to the onetime Inner City broadcasting markets - the Columbia group includes #1-ranked urban AC “Big DM 101” WWDM and urban “Hot 103.9” WHXT. The Jackson cluster has market-leading urban “99 Jams” WJMI and urban AC “Kixie 107” WKXI. Is the deal multiple something like 6-times cash flow? That seems to be a kind of benchmark.
To build online traffic, Townsquare buys three sites from AOL Music, plus AOLs’s “ComicsAlliance.”
The deal supplies oxygen to assets that had been on life support since AOL Music was basically shut down in late April. CNET says they’ve been “skeleton operations for weeks.” Townsquare’s 242 stations will now be sisters to these three assets formerly part of AOL Music – country-focused TheBoot, urban/R&B/Hip-hop TheBoomBox and the hard-rockin’ NoiseCreep.com. The non-music site is ComicsAlliance, described as “one of the most important and established online voices in the comic book industry,” per Townsquare. Next, we’ll see how Townsquare integrates them into its existing online activities such as Taste of Country, PopCrush and Okayplayer. Chairman/CEO Steven Price says “adding these premium brands propels our scale beyond today’s 52 million U.S. monthly unique visitors.” Remember that Oaktree Capital-backed Townsquare aims at fusing on-air and digital interests through constant cross-promotion. It appears the AOL staffers from the sites will continue working on them, under Townsquare’s new ownership. No price announced on the deal.
Home Depot has staying power, while Lowe’s plummets in the weekly rankings of radio advertisers.
Remember last week’s story about retailers making such a big pre-Memorial Day weekend splash in the Media Monitors research? Home Depot and Lowe’s were 1-2, but what a difference a week makes. Home Depot is still #1, and breaks the 2013 record for the most spots run by an advertiser in a single week, at 81,270. That’s twice the count of #2 Geico (40,438). Home Depot's strategy sometimes involves being both the first and last spots in a commercial pod, which helps drive up the count of total spots. How about Home Depot’s national chain rival Lowe’s? It fell from #2 to #133 – you read that right, #133 – with just 2,803 spots detected. The rest of last week’s top five – AT&T Wireless, McDonald’s and (going 21-5) AutoZone.
Watching Wall Street –
• Pandora stock had its first bad day in quite a while (down 11%), and you can blame Apple. Weekend news reports about Apple supposedly edging closer to introducing its long-rumored “iRadio” music service started Pandora stock down 40 cents at the market open, and it kept falling from there. Pandora (“P”) stock finished down $1.80 to $15.22 – and the after-hours didn’t show much vigor, either. Volume during the regular trading session was nearly 14 million, more than twice the usual daily volume.
• Radio One’s board approves another potential $2 million stock buyback. That’s on top of the $2 million re-purchase announced in February and the $1.5 million authorization in May. For various reasons, companies don’t always carry out all (or any) of their announced buybacks. But in this case, Radio One says it’s recently bought back $2.3 million of its Class A and/or Class D stock, as of May 31. That would be about 2.8% of the total stock “float.” Radio One stock (“ROIA”) closed unchanged yesterday at $2.32.
Phony phone calls get two British stations in trouble.
This isn’t the first time there’ve been such accusations in UK radio – of planted phone calls and friends of the staff posing as authentic listeners. The latest cases involve Real Radio Northwest and Wish FM. Real Radio allegedly “failed to attract any genuine callers on one particular day, so a member of the on-air team asked someone from the production office to ring the studio number and act as if thy were a genuine entrant.” That’s from the UK’s Radio Today - which says the Ofcom regulator found Real Radio to be in breach of the rules. Nothing particularly punishing happened, with the station apologizing and sitting down with the producer in question. Ofcom says there could be more serious action if it happens again. (In the U.S., the FCC would be extracting a monetary fine for violating its contest rule.) Wish FM’s use of phony callers was more systematic. Radio Today. says the “Loser Line” bit not only aired material phoned in by family and friends of the show, it recycled those calls from host Neal Atkinson’s show from six years ago, when he was in another market. Ofcom acted on a complaint and isn’t happy about this one, either. Perhaps the most damaging part of this is the public’s perception that radio isn’t dealing squarely with them – and perhaps can’t be trusted.
EMF’s K-Love pulls off its first national“Fan Awards” weekend.
The “Duck Dynasty” crew graced Saturday night’s ceremony as celebrity guests at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and the Tennessean says Kay, Phil, Jase and Missy Robertson “charmed the crowd and poked fun at their own varying degrees of music fandom.” The March 4 NOW newsletter told you about this inaugural event from the not-for-profit Christian broadcaster based in Sacramento, and they sound very happy about the results. Nashville-area Christian singer TobyMac was voted “Artist of the year” and NFL coach Mike Fisher won the “Sports Impact award.” Educational Media Foundation was aiming beyond music, toward movies, sports and books. EMF's currently mounting a good-size billboard campaign around Nashville for its recently-acquired K-Love O&O, WLVU (97.1).
Tomorrow afternoon, the Conclave offers a free webinar about the Jacobs Media TechSurvey9.
Jacobs will be participating in this year’s Conclave Summer Learning Conference in Minneapolis on Wednesday, July 17, with another “Summer School.” Ahead of that afternoon event, Fred Jacobs offers a 90-minute guided tour through the results of this year’s online TechSurvey9, as a free webinar tomorrow, at 2pm Central time. Fred will run through the findings as applied to 12 different radio formats and some general observations relevant to radio programmers and talent. Pre-registration is here.
In Minneapolis, “Progressive voice of Minnesota” KTNF (950) sells for $1.5 million to current sales manager Chad Larson. He’s purchasing 100% of sole owner Janet Robert’s stock in JR Broadcasting LLC, and they’re apparently leaving the terms open – very open. The contract states that the entire purchase price is payable in cash at closing, “unless buyer and seller shall have agreed to defer the payment of up to $1,500,000” – the entire amount. In that scenario, Chad Larson would sign a promissory note held by Janet Robert. The last time the 950 AM licensed to St. Louis Park, Minnesota sold, it was in 2004 and JR Broadcasting paid $3 million. At that time, the call letters were KSNB. It’s running 1,000 watts day and night, with an application at the Commission to hike that to 5,000 watts, fulltime. Its programming includes the local “Morning Grind,” Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Nancy Nelson, Norman Goldman and Democracy Now.
Saul Levine builds his platform in Monterey-Salinas with the purchase of KNRY (1240) from Immaculate Heart Radio. Last week, Saul’s L.A.-based Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters paid $1,150,000 for an FM there (all-sports “ESPN 97.9” KYZZ, Salinas). Now he adds an AM – and don’t bet against him buying more stations on the peninsula, adding to his existing classical “K-Mozart” KMZT-FM, Big Sur (95.9). Saul has a special affection for the market, and he knows there are underserved audiences for classical and jazz there. Lay-Catholic Immaculate Heart Radio is seldom a seller, but it’s now able to service even more of the market on KYAA, Soquel, California at 1200. KYAA was recently donated to Immaculate Heart by People’s Radio – from whom Immaculate Heart bought KNRY, Monterey Bay back in Fall 2011. KYAA is a superior signal, with 25,000 watts daytime and 10,000 watts at night. (KYAA is also heard on a translator at 94.7.) KNRY is a thousand-watt fulltimer with a transmitter at the end of the famous Cannery Row (pictured). The stations have been simulcasting since January, and Immaculate Heart’s in the position of making some money by selling 1240.
Heavy translator traffic in Oregon and Washington state, where Tom Hodgins sells the construction permit for a future translator in Newport, Oregon, and where he receives two more CPs from a third party in a separate transaction. Let’s break it down, shall we? In the first instance, Hodgins of Walla Walla sells the CP for the 145-watt Newport translator at 95.7 (K239BO) to Radio Beam (Ernest Hopseker) for $16,830. The filing indicates that it’s meant to simulcast country KSHL, Gleneden Beach, Oregon at 97.5. That deal’s brokered by MCH Enterprises. The second deal is where Hodgins is the recipient, for which he’ll pay just the FCC filing fees, legal fees, engineering expenses, etc. He’ll collect the CPs for K233CJ, College Place, Washington and K283BU, Walla Walla from Lyle Dodge. College Place will run 250 watts at 94.5, fed by the HD3 signal of Alexandra Communications CHR “New Zoo 102” KZIU, Weston, Washington at 101.9. The Weston CP will also run 250 watts, but at 104.5. It’s slated to simulcast the Zoo’s HD4 signal.
Daniel Berns-led Yellowstone Holdings is a new entrant in the TV business, paying $20.5 million for TV stations in Laredo (DMA number 184) and Cheyenne-Scottsbluff (DMA number 195). Seller is SagamoreHill Broadcasting, led by Louis Wall and backed by Duff Ackerman & Goodrich. After this deal, it will still own stations in Montgomery, Columbus (GA), Corpus Christi, Rochester (MN), Mason City (Iowa) and Myrtle Beach. In 2004, SagamoreHill paid $14.4 million for Laredo’s NBC affiliate KGNS-TV, digital channel 8. It’s using its digital subchannels for CW and Telemundo programming. In 2003, SagamoreHill paid $6.5 million for various assets around Cheyenne, Wyoming and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, including CBS affiliate KWGN-TV. Its 8.2 subchannel is the local CW affiliate, while KSTF-DT, channel 3, is a CBS affiliate, and digital translator K19FX-D, Laramie runs CBS programming. Broker on the deal – Kalil & Company.
Mike Elder wraps up eight years at Fox News Radio as VP of Programming, with Mike explaining that “my contract was up, cuts were being made to the staff, and we both agreed to move on.” Mike says "Kevin Magee and Bob Finnerty were very supportive of our efforts...they allowed me to put together a great staff and I appreciate their support over the past eight years." He jokes that it was “the longest tenure of a more than 40-year career” that’s taken him to Oklahoma City (KTOK), Kansas City (KMBZ/KCMO), Minneapolis (WCCO), Chicago (WLS) and Boston (WRKO). Mike was in music radio before that, and network program director at the Armed Forces Korean Network. Reach him at MikeElder@me.com and 646-256-5653.
Marty Bender has worked in some high-profile major-market situations (programming WFBQ Indianapolis, working with WRIF Detroit, etc.). But he says “to me, Chicago is still the greatest radio market in the country,” and he’ll be a part of it, as the incoming PD at Hubbard Radio’s AC “Rewind 100.3” WILV. The challenge is to delicately position it in a crowded market, and not impinge on Hubbard’s bread-winning hot AC “Mix 101.9” WTMX. Hubbard Senior VP of programming Greg Solk says “with Marty, we have found a programmer with the perfect balance of programming savvy, branding vision and mad scientist.” At WFBQ, Bender was also working with the Premiere-syndicated Bob & Tom morning show, and he was VP/operations at Premiere Networks. Marty now succeeds 20-year staffer Barry James, who’s headed to Florida and a non-radio job at VMP Superchargers - which involves very fast cars.
Frosty Stillwell declares talk radio to be “my true passion,” and he’ll get back to doing three hours of it every day on Clear Channel’s “talk 910” KKSF, San Francisco. Frosty’s done both talk and music radio, and was part of “Heidi, Frosty and Frank” on music stations in Denver and Los Angeles. (Heidi and Frank are the new post-Mark & Brian morning show on Cumulus-owned classic rock KLOS, Los Angeles at 95.5.) Since last Summer, Frosty’s been part of the morning “Sandy & Frosty” show on Clear Channel’s hot AC “Star 101.3” KIOI in San Francisco. CC says he’ll keep doing that temporarily, until there’s a new co-host alongside Sandy Stec. But Frosty’s permanent new gig is noon-3pm on talk KKSF, between Rush Limbaugh (9am-noon) and Gil Gross (3-7pm).
Alex McTighe sold airtime for Spanish Broadcasting System in New York, and that’s what inspires current employer Curtis Media Group to re-task him from the company’s national sales manager to GM at its regional Mexican “La Ley 101.1” WYMY, serving much of the Raleigh and Greensboro markets. This will be Alex’s first shot at being a GM.
Shane Finch takes the opportunity of the Asterisk Communications cluster around Gainesville, Florida being sold to change jobs and careers. The 18-year ops manager at stations such as country WTRS Dunellon (102.3) crosses to the vendor side of the business. He’ll join CEO Joe Knapp at A-Ware Software, working with the MusicMaster scheduling product line.
Donnie Simpson signals that he’s ready to survey the market for high-profile talent and scope out his opportunities. He’s been keeping a low profile since a spectacular sign-off broadcast from CBS Radio’s urban WPGC, Washington (95.5) in early 2010. (Imagine getting we’ll-miss-you calls from Stevie Wonder, LL Cool J, Wyclef Jean, John Legend and Smokey Robinson.) Before joining WPGC in 1993, he'd programmed and done wakeups for WKYS. Now Donnie’s exploring the landscape with the assistance of Ed Pearson of Esome Media Group and Doug Banks Media. Simpson’s other roles include 14 years at BET and ongoing work with the Donnie & Pam Simpson Scholarship Fund to help promising minority kids attend college.
Craig Carton isn’t really a “Loudmouth” – but it makes a catchy book title for a sports talk personality, doesn’t it? The “Boomer & Carton” co-host on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York (660/101.9) is out with “a memoir on sports, manhood, and what it means to be a fan.” Carton worked in Philadelphia (WIP), Buffalo (WGR), Cleveland (“3WE” WWWE), Denver (KBPI, KKFN) and at “New Jersey 101.5” WKXW Trenton before being paired six years ago with former NFL QB Boomer Esiason. They displayed immediate chemistry. Carton’s doing some interviews for the book (contact Meg.Cassidy@simonandschuster.com).
“Dr. George Beasley,” if you please – Beasley Broadcast Group founder George Beasley was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. George earned both a B.A. and a master’s degree from what was then Appalachian State Teachers College, and he became a teacher, coach and principal as he was building his radio group. He’s served Appalachian in many roles, including as Chairman of the ASU Foundation Board of Directors.
Local characters - One anonymous NOW reader says "We used to integrate a lot of local callers into the show, including our in-studio cleaning woman, whom I'll call 'Sally.' She was a riot. It started one day when she was in the control room cleaning, and she started laughing. She had a great laugh, and soon she became a regular. The station had a local out-and-about feature, where the jocks would read who was coming to the local bars and venues. One day, I got the bright idea of giving Sally the written copy and letting her read it. I played the open, pointed to her - and that's when I found out that the poor woman couldn't read. Literally, she was illiterate. She'd been on mic with me for three or four years, but I never knew until that day that she couldn't actually read. The great thing is, she just started laughing and carrying on - we were buddies, and it really didn't bother her. I still have the audio clip of it. She's since passed on, and some of her family members used to call me to play them one of her old bits, to remind them of her good humor and that great laugh." Remind you of something that happened when you were around the mic? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” at Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Got a sudden job vacancy? Advertise it in the newsletter you’re reading right now, in the Classified section here at the Tom Taylor Now newsletter. Contact our Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back tomorrow with more news and context about what’s happening in radio. Tom