Just days ahead of potentially defaulting on one of its loans, Cumulus Media has filed for voluntary reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to restructure the company’s nearly $2 billion of debt. While details are scarce, the company says it’s entered into an agreement with a group of its secured lenders on a financial restructuring that will reduce its debt load by more than $1 billion. Read more
The Christmas format brought a bigger ratings bang in 2019 to heritage ACs that own the lucrative position in their markets. It also delivered record-shattering ratings in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
In Day One of Nielsen’s Holiday 2019 survey results released Wednesday, five of the seven major-market ACs synonymous with the yuletide format delivered year-over-year gains. One station was flat and one declined, when compared with Holiday 2018 ratings.
Nielsen’s Holiday survey covers the period from Dec. 5, 2019-Jan. 1, 2020. Unless otherwise noted, all numbers quoted are Persons 6+, AQH share, Mon.-Fri., 6a-midnight.
With a whopping 18.6, Entercom AC “B101.1” WBEB Philadelphia gained two shares over its Holiday 2018 performance, eclipsing its previous high water mark of 17.9, set in the Holiday 2016 book. More significantly, the 18.6 is the highest share registered by any Philly station in the PPM era, according to ratings historian Chris Huff. To find a bigger share in the market, you have to go back more than half a century, to Jan./Feb. 1967, when AM ruled the dial and then-MOR WIP (610) dominated Philly with 19.5 share (12+).
In Los Angeles, iHeart AC KOST (103.5) has been on a four-year Holiday ratings tear, rising from 10.7 in the Holiday 2016 survey to 11.9 in 2017, 13.0 in 2018 and 13.7 in 2019. That 13.7 is the largest share registered by any L.A. station since meters replaced diaries as ratings currency in L.A. in September 2008, per Huff’s database.
In New York, iHeartMedia’s “Lite FM” WLTW nailed a 13.3, beating its 2018 share of 12.5 and tying its 2016 performance.
Like its New York counterpart, iHeartMedia AC “93.9 Lite FM” WLIT-FM Chicago tied its 2016 mark with a 13.7, up from 12.4 in 2017 and 13.3 in 2018.
In Dallas, iHeart AC “Star 102.1” KDGE added more than three shares, jumping to 10.3 from 7.1 in 2018. That marks its biggest number since flipping from alternative in November 2016.
In San Francisco, Entercom’s KOIT held steady at a 10.7 from 2018.
iHeart AC “Sunny 99.1” KODA Houston was the only top 10 market Christmas AC to decline year over year, so far. It slipped from 12.5 (2017) to 12.1 (2018) to 11.6 (2019).
Topping The Ranker
Christmas topped the 6+ ranker in every major market report released so far, except Atlanta where it was No. 2. The new numbers show often seismic gaps between the Christmas outlet and the No. 2 station. In New York, WLTW more than doubled second place SBS tropical WSKQ. That’s especially remarkable when you consider that WSKQ matched its largest PPM share, set in January 2016. KOST nearly tripled the ratings of second place Entercom classic hits KRTH in L.A. WLIT Chicago had more than twice the share of No. 2 iHeart urban AC WVAZ. In Houston, KODA nearly doubled the ratings of Radio One urban AC KMJQ. And in Philly, WBEB delivered nearly triple the share of Entercom sports WIP-FM.
In 2019, Atlanta was home to two Christmas stations: Salem Media Group contemporary Christian “The Fish” WFSH-FM, which mixed secular and religious Christmas music and ranked second (6.7); and Entercom hot AC “Star 94.1” WSTR, which waited until Dec. 11 to make the move and turned in a 4.3 (ranked ninth) for its largest share since November 2016, according to Huff.
One trend that marked the 2019 Christmas season was more stations flipping the switch earlier. WLIT, KODA and KOST were in all-Christmas mode by early November, while KDGE, WLTW and WBEB made the move in mid-November. That may have provided a stronger lead into the Holiday book. – Paul Heine
Direct response advertisers who’ve dominated podcasting have had a relatively easy way to know their ads were working just by looking at how many times a special discount code was used. But as podcasters and other digital audio publishers work to attract more blue-chip brand marketers, new attribution tools will be needed. And that’s led Entercom to strike a deal with Claritas to use its data to help show advertisers how their podcast and other digital audio ads translate into sales.
Entercom will incorporate Claritas’ identity graph into the information that it provides marketers. The Claritas tool encompasses a proprietary data set of over 120 million households and more than one billion devices. That allows the company to compare the buying behaviors of those households that listened to the podcast to those of similar non-listening audiences. Claritas says its analytics tool allows marketers to accurately isolate and measure the effectiveness of each channel, message or partner in their campaigns – not just podcasts. In doing so, marketers will be able to measure each specific portion of their campaigns and give an advertiser the return on investment feedback they’re seeking.
Ken Lagana, Executive VP of Digital Sales at Entercom, says the company will integrate Claritas’ measurement technology capabilities into its existing radio and digital audio attribution suite. By doing so, its clients will be able to calculate the total lift in business outcomes directly attributable to podcast and digital audio streaming. They will also be able to break out lift by the different components of a campaign, like target audiences, creative, geographic location visits and other variables. “This new tool helps us fill a critical gap in the industry and allows us the ability to offer clients the opportunity to accurately measure ROI for podcasts and other digital campaigns,” said Lagana.
When Entercom bought Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Media last year, the company said it wanted to come up with ways to devise new measurement capabilities for podcasts. That included giving the company’s Advanced Audio team a directive to expand the existing attribution capabilities they were offering to over-the-air and digital ad buyers to clients who were spending money on podcast ads. “Podcasting is a critical and exciting business segment with exponential growth opportunities,” said Lagana.
It is not the only data that Entercom is relying on to sell podcasts. Cadence13 was among the podcast companies that signed with Nielsen last year when it launched its Podcast Listener Buying Power Service. It uses data from Nielsen Scarborough to help podcasters understand what their listeners buy and where they shop, while allowing advertisers to target audiences with specific interests and buying habits.
Claritas sees a growing opportunity to expand its service into podcasting and called the Entercom alliance a “game changer” in that effort. “With podcasting taking off so aggressively, and continued growth across all digital channels, we see our partnership with Entercom as a major strategic win to help the industry effectively shift the paradigm in the podcasting, streaming and other digital channels,” said VP Matt Drengler in a statement.
Claritas is also working with a handful of other podcast companies such as PRX, which relied on the research company’s data when it released a snapshot of PRX listeners in October.
Vowing to bring “the public to public radio,” Keith Woods is named Chief Diversity Officer at NPR. In the newly created position, Woods “will guide NPR’s push to expand the diversity of its audience work across NPR and help build a more diverse and inclusive organization,” the public media organization said. Woods was most recently VP of Newsroom Training and Diversity.
“I want NPR to reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do. As an organization we should be leaders in providing news and cultural programming that speaks to our richly diverse country and connects with an audience that looks and sounds like America – all while creating a welcoming and supportive workplace for all,” CEO John Lansing said in a release. In promoting Woods, Lansing said “Keith will be a thought partner to me and the rest of the executive team, helping us set goals and craft a diversity plan that is responsive to – and accountable to – our staff and the public we serve.”
“I’m excited to work with John and my colleagues on these issues and truly focus NPR’s attention on bringing more of the public to public radio,” Woods added. “We know it will mean hearing more voices from across the country, building and strengthening the diversity of our staff, and reaching out more deliberately in all that we do to embrace audiences who don’t yet know who we are or don’t yet believe that their stories are our stories.”
NPR has been working to improve the diversity of NPR's on-air sources, with studies showing the organization had more work to do on this subject. In fiscal year 2018, the voices heard on NPR weekday newsmagazines were 83% white and 33% female.
A lawsuit filed by Somerville, MA mayor Joe Curtatone against former WEEI-FM Boston morning co-host Kirk Minihane and his new employer Barstool Sports has been dismissed.
As earlier reported by Inside Radio, Curtatone sued after an interview he thought he was doing with a Boston Globe reporter, who turned out to be Minihane, was posted to Barstool Sports.
“Minihane recorded himself breaking the law, impersonating a Boston Globe reporter to obtain an interview with me, then Barstool posted the interview on its website,” Curtatone said in the lawsuit, according to WFXT-TV. “It's a clear violation of Massachusetts General Law, which forbids audio recording a person without his/her consent, and you can't obtain that consent through fraudulent means.”
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Maureen Hogan disagreed. In dismissing the case, Hogan said the state’s wiretap law, in part, defines the term “interception” as “to secretly record the contents of any wire or oral communication through the use of any intercepting device by any person other than a person given prior authority by all parties to such communication,” Boston.com reports.
The defense argued that the recording itself was not secret and that the mayor knew he was being recorded, even though the identity of the interviewer was misrepresented. The judge agreed, saying that Curtatone did have “literal knowledge” that he was being recorded.
“The question of whether Mayor Curtatone could meaningfully consent to the audio recording when he was unaware of Minihane’s true identity is thus irrelevant,” Hogan wrote in her decision.
Katie Couric still has questions, and that means her podcast “Next Question” launches for a second season. The first season of the podcast amassed 1.5 million downloads as it dug into topics like the spread of online hate and the dangers of vaping. “The response to ‘Next Question’ has been phenomenal,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network. In the second season of the iHeart podcast, Couric will examine issues like America’s staggering maternal mortality rate, the environmental impact of eating meat, the most cutting-edge health and wellness regimens, and the 2020 presidential election.
“I’m endlessly curious and my goal is to answer the questions people have about complicated issues and trends,” Couric said in a statement. “We are inundated with information on an almost hourly basis. I’m hoping by connecting the dots and providing context and perspective, listeners will feel as if they have a deeper understanding of a whole host of topics after listening to ‘Next Question.’ I’m extremely proud of the conversations we’ve had so far and can’t wait to dig into more fascinating topics this season.”
The first episode of Next Question with Katie Couric’s second season was released Jan. 23 and examines the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the history of an effort that began in 1923. In a new ripple for the second season of the podcast, Couric will host several “bonus” episodes that were taped in front of a live audience. Billed as “Next Question Live,” in those episodes Couric will speak with CEOs, entrepreneurs and business trailblazers. Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown kicked off the “Next Question Live” series by discussing how his career in professional sports inspired him to make sustainable, fashionable shoes.
“We are so lucky to have a journalist with Katie’s experience and wisdom to help listeners navigate the increasingly complicated world we’re living in,” said Bryne.
San Diego woke up without two of its local morning shows as Entercom dismissed AJ Machado and Sara Perry, AM Drive hosts at classic hits “Sunny 98.1” KXSN; and Dana DiDonato and Jayson Prim, who did the same for modern rock sister “Alt 94.9” KBZT.
“I don't know who will be waking people up on Sunny 98.1 in the future but it won't be my morning team,” Machado posted to Facebook. “Changes were made today and this was one of them. I'm not sure what the future holds. I may end up back on San Diego's airwaves, I may end up in another city or I may just move onto something else and finally start getting some sleep. No matter what, my 19-year run in America's Finest City has been an incredible ride and if you've ever listened to my show, or spoken to me at an event or brought a toy out for one of my toy drives... thank you.”
Machado and Perry moved to “Sunny 98.1” in February 2018 from AC sister KYXY (96.5). At the time Dave Mason segued from mornings on “Sunny 98.1” to middays and PD Brooks O’Brian moved to nights.
Machado has been in the market since 1999, spending ten years in mornings at iHeartMedia CHR “Channel 93.3” KHTS, before moving to sister Hot AC “Star 94.1” KMYI in 2009. Machado then joined the former “Energy 103.7” (KEGY) and segued to KYXY in August 2017, with Perry joining him for mornings.
DiDonato and Prim came to KBZT in March 2017 from Cox Media Group CHR WBLI Nassau-Suffolk, NY (106.1). The duo replaced “Cantore & Woods,” who exited in January 2017. Entercom re-branded the station from “FM 94.9” to the “Alt” moniker it was placing on most of its modern rock properties in February 2018.
Replacements have not been named at either station.
Angelo Cataldi, longtime morning host at Entercom “SportsRadio 94” WIP-FM Philadelphia, was recognized with the “Bill Campbell Broadcast Award” presented by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association (PSWA).
The award, named after the legendary Philadelphia broadcaster, recognizes local sportscasters, talk show hosts, and radio and television reporters who display an excellence in broadcasting. Cataldi was honored at the 116th annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet Jan. 20, a date of special significance to the newspaper reporter turned radio host.
“This award has great meaning to me for several reasons,” Cataldi said in a release. “First, it falls on the exact date of my 30th anniversary at WIP. Second, it comes from the Philadelphia sports writers, a role which I’m very proud to have had. Last, but not least, this award bears the name of one of my inspirations in broadcasting, Bill Campbell. I will never live up to Bill’s legacy, but this award gives me more reason than ever to try.”
Campbell’s career, which touched parts of nine decades, included serving as a broadcaster for the Eagles, Phillies and 76ers (formerly Warriors), as well as a sports talk show host for WIP.
Before joining WIP, Cataldi was the Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he earned two Pulitzer Prize nominations. He is the fifth recipient of the award, following Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies broadcaster Jim Jackson, Philadelphia 76ers announcer Marc Zumoff, Phillies radio announcers Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson and Philadelphia Eagles announcer Merrill Reese, who won the inaugural award in 2016.
“Now in his 30th year, Angelo has been setting the daily agenda for Philadelphia sports fans,” Senior VP/Market Manager David Yadgaroff added. “His passion for our town, our teams and our fans is unmatched.”
Anne Litt is named Program Director of Music at Santa Monica College news/talk/variety KCRW Los Angeles (89.9). Litt fills the MD role left vacant with the departure of Jason Bentley, who completed his ten-year term in August 2019.
Litt is only the fifth MD at the influential public radio outlet, following Bentley, Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas, and Tom Schnabel. She arrived at KCRW in 1996 and worked various shifts at the station until 2000, when she was named weekend afternoon host. Litt will not be the permanent host for “Morning Becomes Eclectic” but will serve in the role on an interim basis as a search continues.
“Anne has been finding and cultivating talent inside and outside KCRW for years,” KCRW President, Jennifer Ferro said in a release. “She’s primed to move KCRW and our signature music programming into the next era.”
Litt added, “After 20 years on the air at KCRW, having the opportunity to map out our future in this leadership role, at the station I’ve known, respected and valued above all others, is the honor of a lifetime. This is a pivotal moment for KCRW to redefine the meaning of ‘radio’ in the 21st century.”
Additionally, KCRW has named Paul Bennun as Chief Content Officer and Drew Tewksbury as Director of Digital Content.
“Anne joins Paul and Drew to round out KCRW’s new content leadership team,” Ferro continued. “Along with our incredible staff, we are positioned to focus squarely on the station’s future and deliver excellence across all of our platforms – in music and talk programming – through a wide range of personalities that have made KCRW such a beloved institution.”
...Maurice Jovan, better known as “A Cat Named Moe” on the “Soul Brother Kevin Show” on Cox/Apollo talk “102.5 The Bone” WHPT Tampa, is directing a movie about zombies. “W.D.E.D. Dead in the Morning” is the story of a failing morning show that takes advantage of a zombie outbreak to boost ratings, Tampa Patch reports. The film features Kevin Caswell, namesake of the “Soul Brother Kevin Show” and Bone morning man Mike Calta. The project, which will debut at the Florida Film Festival in the spring, is being filmed in part at the Cox/Apollo Tampa studios. View the trailer to the film HERE.
...The Missouri Broadcasters Association has named the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes Lebanon, MO native Jim Bohannon, host of the Westwood One-syndicated “Jim Bohannon Show.” Bohannon will be inducted at a ceremony held on Saturday, June 6. He will be joined in the Class of 2020 by Don Hicks, President/CEO of the MBA from 1994-2012 and President Emeritus in 2013, and Betsey Bruce, the first female TV journalist reporting hard news in St. Louis, who worked at the former KMOX-TV, KTVI-TV and KPLR-TV.
...SiriusXM will provide coverage of Super Bowl LIV, offering multiple live broadcasts of the game and will also launch a week long pop-up channel “Super Bowl LIV Radio,” beginning Monday, Jan. 27. SiriusXM will provide nine broadcast options to listen to the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb 3, including the official radio broadcast from Westwood One and local broadcasts from the Chiefs and 49ers radio networks. The game will also be broadcast in six different languages, all of which will be carried by the satellite broadcaster. SiriusXM shows “Straight from the Hart,” “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Jenny McCarthy Show” and “Sway in the Morning” will broadcast live from Miami Friday, Jan. 31. SiriusXM's “Mad Dog Sports Radio” will broadcast live from Radio Row throughout the week.
...StreamGuys’ streaming and podcast technology is heading down under. The California-based company has inked a deal with Agile Broadcast to become the exclusive distributor of its products to broadcasters and podcasters in Australia and New Zealand. StreamGuys EVP Jason Osburn says Agile Broadcast has “very strong” relationships with radio operators in the two countries that it sees as a key target for growth. “Broadcasters in the region can now have in-depth discussions about streaming with the same people they talk to about encoders, consoles and playout systems, making it easy for them to unify their traditional and forward-looking operations,” Osburn said.
...Home Town Media hot AC WKTN Kenton, OH (95.3) partners with the United Way of Hardin County for “Radio Day For United Way,” Saturday March 28. “This partnership is a great way to highlight the benefits United Way has for Hardin County and to help raise funds for so many agencies that they support,” Station Manager Chad Spencer said in a release. “The staff of Home Town Media/WKTN is proud to assist the United Way in raising funds for the United Way of Hardin County.”
While the holiday book, and all-Christmas music programming, tend to benefit AC stations that make the annual move, the formats that typically take the biggest hit when a market competitor goes wall-to-wall holiday hits are country, CHR, hot AC, regional Mexican, classic hits and urban AC.
In Day One of Nielsen’s Holiday 2019 PPMs, there are the expected increases among AC outlets, such as iHeartMedia WLTW New York, which leads the market with a 13.3 (6+) share. The sounds of the season on “106.7 Lite FM” affected CHR sister WHTZ, which moves 5.0-4.8-4.4. (Nov.- Dec.-Holiday). Hot AC outlets in the nation’s No. 1 market also felt the Christmas impact: Entercom’s WNEW-FM is down 3.4-4.1-3.6 while iHeart’s WKTU held its ground (3.6-3.4-3.6). Emmis urban AC WBLS also felt the sting, moving 5.8-5.8-5.0, while Entercom classic hits WCBS-FM is down 5.9-4.9-4.3. While not a big factor in market ratings even outside of the holiday book, Entercom country WNSH declined 2.5-2.4-2.2.
On the west coast, Christmas music throttled iHeartMedia AC KOST 5.2-9.3-13.7. Feeling the wrath of Kringle were Entercom classic hits KRTH (5.9-5.8-5.2), iHeartMedia sister hot AC KBIG (4.6-4.3-4.2) and, to a lesser extent, CHR sister KIIS-FM (3.9-3.7-3.6). Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters country KKGO, which offers its own version of Christmas music programming, saw an increase (2.4-2.1-2.5).
Radio’s largest operator, iHeartMedia, owns the top spot in the nation’s top three markets as AC WLIT rose to a 13.7 in the Holiday 2019 book. Taking the hits in Chi-town are Cumulus Media classic hits WLS-FM (5.1-4.8-4.3) and, to a lesser extent, Hubbard classic rock WDRV (4.8-4.7-4.6). Univision regional Mexican WOJO is down 3.6-3.5-3.1 as are both of the market’s country stations – Entercom’s WUSN (2.2-1.9-1.6) and iHeartMedia’s WEBG (1.5-1.5-1.2).
In Dallas, iHeartMedia AC KDGE’s move to Christmas music put the station at the top of the 6+ Holiday ranker with a 10.3. The initial burst of holiday hits on KDGE affected CHR KHKS in the December survey, moving from 6.2 in November to 5.7 a month later and remaining flat for the Holiday period. Cumulus Media country KSCS also takes a seasonal hit, trending down 4.9-4.7-4.4, while country sister KPLX is also down month-over-month (3.9-4.4-3.9). Dallas’ classic hits outlet, Entercom’s KLUV lost more than half a share (4.4-4.6-4.0) while iHeartMedia hot AC KDMX also felt the heat of Christmas music, trending 4.5-4.6-3.7.
Radio One urban contemporary KMJQ Houston lost nearly a share since November (6.8-7.1-6.1), likely due to iHeartMedia AC KODA going all-Christmas, which placed the station first with an 11.6 in the Holiday book. Univision regional Mexican KLTN shed almost a full share since November (6.6-6.8-5.7). Also seeing decreases were Cox-Apollo classic rock KGLK (5.6-6.1-5.6) and Cumulus Media CHR KRBE (4.8-4.9-4.7). Entercom country KILT-FM bucked the trend and rose slightly in the Holiday ratings period (4.7-4.1-4.2), while format competitor, Cox-Apollo KKBQ was down (4.5-3.9-3.5). –Jay Gleason
Chuck Sullivan is named Senior VP/Market Manager for Entercom Denver, effective Feb 3. Sullivan, who succeeds the recently retired John Fullam, was most recently Senior VP/Market Manager for the company’s Milwaukee and Madison properties. Read more
Lynda Lopez returns to Entercom news WCBS New York (880) as Midday News Anchor and Special Projects Reporter. Lopez, who served as News Anchor and Correspondent for the station from 2009-2016, succeeds Pat Farnack who retired in December 2019. Read more
Lotus Communications AC “94.9 Mix FM” KMXZ-FM Tucson promotes weekender Syndi Long to afternoons. “Syndi will be a great addition to the 94.9 Mix FM family. She has proven herself over and over again with her high energy and talent,” OM/PD Larry Mac said in a release. Read more