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Insideradio.com - Inside Radio Newsletter
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

TOP STORY

News/Talk Poised For Gains As Pandemic Leads Into Election Season.

Updated

The year 2020 began with news/talk stations mapping out a broadcast calendar around political rallies, primaries, party conventions, and eventually, an election. Now with the country in the midst of a pandemic, the news cycle has shifted. A swing that is likely to fuel what already had the makings of another strong year for the format.

“Listeners on both sides of the aisle were very tuned into the Presidential race until a bigger story came along,” Chris Berry, Executive VP of News, Talk and Sports Programming for iHeartMedia tells Inside Radio. “Listening has always increased during an election cycle, but the addition of the coronavirus as Topic A is definitely driving ratings.”

Four years ago, the so-called Trump Bump provided a major lift for news/talk, rising to a 9.6 share from an 8.9 in 2015 (6+, Mon-Sun, 6am-Mid). Strong performances also came in the 25-54 money demo, up to a 7.0 share, while interest among younger Americans drove the 18-34 share to 4.1. Since Donald Trump was elected the nation’s 45th president, interest in political news has only increased. One year into his presidency, news/talk shares rose to 9.9 (6+) and hit a 10.0 share in the midterm election year of 2018. Leading into this presidential election year, the format was at a 9.5, providing a solid launching pad ahead of the 2020 races.

“We all know what happened four years ago and the interest has remained,” says Jon Miller, VP, of Audience Insights at Nielsen. “As we go through this year, we can expect the same sort of interest. News/talk is positioned very well.”

Miller also believes the COVID-19 crisis will lead to increased listenership, which will only help the news/talk format heading into the November election. “It’s a developing situation and we don’t know how long the disruption is going to last and what is it going to do, not just with media use, but voting,” he explains. “Taking all of that into context, I think everyone is expecting 2020 to be a big year for news/talk.”

Ahead of the crisis at hand, the Democratic Primary race was sparking interest and tune-in, “especially during the debates,” Berry says. “But interest peaked about the time of Super Tuesday when only Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden were left standing, and the story took a back seat to the coronavirus.”

Preparing For The Election

Even as news and news/talk outlets deal with the current crisis at hand, plans for election coverage should still be made.

While the headlines this election cycle will continue to include Trump, Biden and Sanders, Steve Butler, former PD of Entercom news KYW Philadelphia and Adjunct Instructor at Temple University's Klein College of Media and Communication, says stations should focus on important state and local races, which play particularly well into one of radio’s strengths: being local. “With a number of congressional resignations, control of the U.S. House and the Senate is evolving into a bigger story that we might have expected,” he says. Additionally, Butler believes the coronavirus crisis presents a huge local election story. “How will November votes be cast and counted? In many places, voting mechanisms and procedures vary literally from county to county,” he continues. “Keeping the pressure up on local election officials regarding their plans should yield a rich bounty of stories to cover, and interviews to air.”

“People are not going to be any less interested than they were before,” Miller adds. “Everything we have ever seen over the past four years has been telling us that there is more focus, more coverage and more interest.”

The full economic impact of the coronavirus and its effect on political advertising is unknown. Prior to the highly contagious disease landing on American shores, the unprecedented ad spending of billionaire Michael Bloomberg dried up, although the former New York City mayor is keeping his money in the race in support of Biden. Remaining candidates have been relatively quiet as timing doesn’t seem right as a nation tries to work together to fight an invisible common enemy. Their absence may actually benefit news/talk listening. “This might sound a little crazy, but my own experience is that if you’re not airing a lot of political commercials, you have a fighting chance,” Butler explains. “They are toxic and a real listener turn-off. My November ratings often suffered.”

This is already something that plays particularly well on the left side of the dial. “I think with the fractured electorate, a lot of frustrated voters might lean toward public radio’s presentation and lack of political advertising,” Butler adds.

While not differentiating between commercial and non-commercial news/talk stations, data provided by Nielsen clearly shows without the overall format has historically risen in an election year. “I think the audiences are very different,” Berry says of commercial vs. non-comm radio. “While there isn’t much sharing, both public and commercial stations always see a bump during elections.” – Jay Gleason

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Avoiding Layoffs, iHeart Implements Furloughs, Reduces Executive Compensation.

Updated

iHeartMedia late Monday announced steps it’s taking to reduce costs in light of the economic downturn triggered by the COVOD-19 pandemic – without resorting to permanent layoffs. In a memo to employees from Chairman & CEO Bob Pittman and COO and President Rich Bressler, the company said Pittman will voluntarily take no salary for the remainder of the year and has relinquished his annual incentive bonus. In addition, Bressler and the company’s senior management team will take reductions ranging from 30% to over 70% of their total compensation for the remainder of the year.

The company has also implemented a 90-day furlough, or temporary unpaid leave of absence, for jobs that have been deemed non-essential due to its pullback from live events and shift to a work-from-home model.

“This is not a layoff or a reduction in force (RIF),” the executives say in the memo.  Under what amounts to an unpaid leave of absence, “the affected employees stay in our employ, allowing us to continue offering these employees full health benefits, and we want to make sure we take care of them as best we can during this time. And with state unemployment benefits, supplemented by the added special benefits that are part of the new federal stimulus legislation, hopefully these employees will not feel any significant financial impact during this limited period of time,” the memo continues.

In addition, the company announced:  

  • Reduction of all expenses that can be postponed without impacting our service and commitment to our communities;
  • Temporary suspension of the 401(k) match;
  • No overtime without pre-approval;
  • Temporary suspension of new raises; and
  • Strict limitations on – or complete elimination of – Travel and Entertainment (T&E) expenses.

Following is the full text of the memo: 

Team,

Our number one concern in this unprecedented time is the safety and well-being of our employees.  In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our company continues to be a primarily work-from-home operation and we have also added some coronavirus-related resources and healthcare benefits if you should need to take advantage of them.   

Last week we wrote to you about the economic downturn our country is facing as the result of the pandemic and the need to respond to it to preserve the health of our company.  During this unsettled time, we also know the biggest economic concern among our employees is understandably about preserving jobs – and we want you to know that it’s our main concern as well. 

Although we have had to make hard decisions to address the economic impact of the downturn, our management team has found ways to reduce our company’s expenses without resorting to permanent layoffs. 

As the CEO of the company, Bob will voluntarily take no salary for the remainder of the year and has given up his annual incentive bonus, and Rich and our senior management team will take reductions ranging from 30% to over 70% of their total compensation for the remainder of the year.

In addition, we have implemented:

  • Reduction of all expenses that can be postponed without impacting our service and commitment to our communities;
  • Temporary suspension of the 401(k) match;
  • No overtime without pre-approval;
  • Temporary suspension of new raises; and
  • Strict limitations on – or complete elimination of – Travel and Entertainment (T&E) expenses.

We believe all of these reductions give us more room to protect jobs.

Given our pullback from live events and our shift to a work-from-home model, there are a few jobs that are not essential until our business operations revert back to usual.  This week we are taking the difficult step of implementing a 90-day furlough, or temporary unpaid leave of absence, for jobs affected by these changes.  To be clear, while this will involve a small total number of employees, they are valued colleagues and we did not take this step lightly.  We look forward to welcoming them back as soon as we can. 

This is not a layoff or a reduction in force (RIF). With a furlough, while it is an unpaid leave of absence, the affected employees stay in our employ, allowing us to continue offering these employees full health benefits, and we want to make sure we take care of them as best we can during this time.  And with state unemployment benefits, supplemented by the added special benefits that are part of the new federal stimulus legislation, hopefully these employees will not feel any significant financial impact during this limited period of time.

We’ve never lived through anything like this and, as managers, we’ve never had to make more difficult decisions. However, please know we are listening, studying and considering all options before we make the important decisions that affect you and the company.  We may miss on some of these decisions – and we will pivot when we find better ones – but throughout it all, we truly appreciate your support for us, for your colleagues and for the company. 

Please be safe and take care of your health and your families.

Bob and Rich

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Coronavirus-Related Cuts At Saga, Alpha Media, Forever Media.

Updated

Radio is not immune to the reduction in workforce taking place at companies nationwide amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff cuts have been reported at Saga Communications, Alpha Media and Forever Media.

Saga Portland, ME Operations Manager Jeff Pierce, “NewsRadio 560” WGAN morning co-host Ken Altshuler and a number of salespeople have exited the cluster. Pierce, who has been with the group for five years, also handled afternoons at classic hits “Rewind 100.9” WYNZ, while Altshuler was an 18-year veteran of WGAN.

Wayne Coy, longtime morning host at Alpha Media AC KKIQ (101.7) in the San Francisco market, exits after 12 years at the station. Tricia Ferguson, afternoon personality at AC sister KKDV (92.1), is also out. Nancy Newcomer will no longer host mornings at the company’s classic hits “106.9 The Eagle” KDGL Victor Valley. She will, however, continue tracking nights at the company’s classic hits “94.5 Bay-FM” KBAY San Jose.

In Amarillo, midday talent Brad Elliot exits Alpha classic hits “100.9 The Eagle” KXGL and Patricia Clark departs country sister KGNC-FM (97.9), where she served as MD and afternoon host.

In other Alpha cuts, afternoon talent Jason Cornell exits hot AC WXLC (102.3) in the Chicago market, while Carol McGowan is out at country sister WCCQ, where she was morning co-host.

Forever Media cut more than ten members of its staff in Delaware and Maryland, including Allan Loudell, who hosted “Del-Aware” from 9am-12pm on news/talk/sports WDEL-AM/FM (1150/101.7) Wilmington; Blair Thomas, morning co-host at country WXCY Havre de Grace; traffic reporter Robin Bryson; Mark Vizza, who served as Marketing Director for the cluster; Assistant Promotions Director Chris Viviani; and Creative Services Director Jason Collado.

“I was blindsided,” Bryson told The News Journal. “I had no idea this was going to happen to me or any of the other 10 people.” Bryson said he was told the reason for the cuts was that “the company has lost a lot of revenue because of all the businesses shutting down.”

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Study: Radio Listening Up Across All Dayparts During Pandemic.

Updated

As tens of millions of Americans enter week two, or three, of working from home, radio continues as a companion even outside the traditional workplace setting.

Nearly 40% of those who took part in a recent study conducted by NuVoodoo Media Services say they are listening to radio more during the health crisis. Breaking it down by daypart, 37% say they are tuning to radio more on weekday mornings; 36% are spending more time dialed-in during middays; 38% say they listen more during weekday afternoons and 26% are listening more at night. Additionally, 39% are spending more time with radio on weekends.

While there are concerns about less listening due to fewer commuters on the road, only 19% of respondents say they are listening to radio less on weekday mornings and 16% less in afternoons.

As expected, news stations are gaining more listeners, according to the study. Of the 5,000 16-54-year-olds who participated, 58% say they are listening to stations that provide news and information more, while 33% say they are consuming talk radio more since the outbreak. As for using radio for a musical distraction from reality, 35% are listening to their usual music-formatted station, while 29% are stepping out of their comfort zone and listening to a new or different station than what they had been prior to the current health crisis.

Only 10% of those polled say they are listening to news and information on radio less, while 18% have cooled off on their regular talk radio listening. Meanwhile, 13% say they are listening to their favorite music station less and 17% say they are listening to different or new music stations less.

The majority (36%) of those polled in the NuVoodoo study say they are working from home, with 24% saying they are at home, but no longer working their regular job. Meanwhile, 19% say they are still reporting to work as usual outside of the home. Those who took part in the poll who were already part of the work-from-home workforce amounted to 15%.

Of those who now find themselves working from home, 38% are listening to radio more. A similar amount (39%) of those who are still working outside the house are listening to radio more and 31% of those home, but no longer working their regular job have increased their radio listening. The majority are still utilizing radio as they did prior to the health crisis with 53% of those who are still working outside their home reporting that they are listening the same amount of time. And 47% of those working from home are listening to radio the same amount, while 48% of those home, but not working their regular job, continue their same listening habits.

“Radio is at its best when there’s trouble, supplying vital information and entertainment,” NuVoodoo Executive VP of Research Insights Leigh Jacobs said in a release. “These numbers underscore the deep connection radio enjoys with its listeners and its communities.”

Carolyn Gilbert, President and CEO, added, “Radio remains a vital source of news and information to Americans from coast-to-coast, with listening increases this week across all major dayparts. This is a significant opportunity for radio stations and their sponsors to be there in meaningful ways for their listeners and communities that depend on them for news, information, talk and entertainment.”

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Three AM Signals Silenced Due To Pandemic-Related Financial Difficulties.

Updated

Negative economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have forced two Bustos Media Washington state AMs to sign off while Adams Radio Group has ceased operations of a Fox Sport Radio affiliate in Fort Wayne.

Bustos filed notifications of Suspension of Operations and Request for Silent STA for KMIA Seattle (1210) and KXET Portland (1130). In each filing with the FCC the company cites “health considerations and economic conditions in light of the coronavirus emergency” for why it must temporarily cease broadcasting, adding that “it is our hope that the coronavirus emergency will end and that we can resume broadcasting within 180 days.”

KMIA was airing Bustos Media’s regional Mexican “La Pantera” network, while KXET was carrying the brokered “Slavic Family Radio.” Both stations went silent Monday, March 23.

In its filing with the FCC, Adams Media Group says it “has been unable to generate sufficient financial resources to sustain operations” of “The Ticket AM 1250” WGL Fort Wayne, “a situation that has been made even more difficult as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to WANE-TV, a posting on the station website last week read: “We regret to inform you that we will be discontinuing Fox Sports on WGL AM 1250 effective Monday, March 22. With the current situation, we must devote all of our efforts to our larger signal stations. Thank you very much for listening.”

In its STA request, the company said, “WGL must suspend operations to allow management time to reviews options for a resumption of service.”

In Fort Wayne, Adams also operates classic rock WXKE (96.3), adult hits “103.9 Wayne FM” WWFW, CHR “Hot 107.9” WJFX and country “US 93.3” WBTU.

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Magellan AI: How Is Coronavirus Impacting Podcast Advertising?

Updated

“How is the podcast advertising market changing in response to Coronavirus?” Magellan AI analyzed ad detections on podcasts for the broadcast week March 16-22 to suss out potential emerging trends.

In a story posted in Medium, Magellan AI—which helps leading podcast networks like WNYC, Gimlet Media and Wondery grow revenue—noted that outside of the podcast ecosystem, “advertisers are reacting to the uncertainty brought on by Coronavirus. Some advertisers, like Nike, have seized the opportunity to launch campaigns featuring messaging that supports social distancing. Other advertisers are pulling back on marketing budgets, causing Facebook and Twitter to revise advertising revenue guidance.”

Keeping in mind that week-to-week ad detections can vary for “good and regular reasons” in podcasting… for instance, some advertisers routinely operate on a “three weeks on, one week off” model… the firm calculated the average number of ad detections for the top 3,000 podcasts over the first 11 broadcast weeks of 2020 (excluding ads detected on catalog episodes). It found first that the VPN category was up a dramatic 144%. “While last week’s jump was significant, we’ve been seeing increased activity from advertisers in the VPN category over the last few months. Last week, both ExpressVPN and HMA VPN ramped up advertising volume,” Magellan AI noted.

In addition, household products advertising rose 45%. This includes cleaning products, as advertisers like Cleancult and CLR each added new podcasts to their rosters last week. Alcohol was up 13%, with brands like Bud Light Seltzer continuing an advertising campaign that started with 40 podcasts in February. Companies like Firstleaf and Storypoint Wines touted online ordering and discounted shipping in ads last week.

Meanwhile, among advertisers pulling back, three industries had significant contractions, according to the research: Travel dipped 73%, live entertainment was down 44% and gambling fell 29%. “The pullback by advertisers in travel and live entertainment doesn’t seem surprising, given that at least 175 million residents are being urged to stay at home,” Magellan AI reports in Medium. “Gambling includes sports betting companies, and many sporting events have been canceled.”

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News Bites: WXKB, RAB, Mike Francesa, WCKG, AURN Inspirational Network.

Updated

News Bites for March 30...

...The “Big Mama and the Wild Bunch Morning Show” on Beasley Media Group CHR “B 103.9” WXKB Fort Meyers, delivered the first batch of medical supplies to Lee Memorial Health System on Thursday, Match 27. For its medical supply drive, the morning show is asking local businesses to donate gloves, protective eyewear and masks, which will be given to local hospitals. “Big Mama and the Wild bunch continue to have a pulse on the local community’s needs” VP/Market Manager Brad Beasley said in a release. “He and his team always step up to and provide for those in need, especially during difficult times. Big Mama and the Wild bunch are true leaders of our community. I could not be more proud of them.”

...The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) will now implement a “RAB Business Unusual” takeover in each Monday’s edition of its “Radio Sales Today” for the foreseeable future. “We will be publishing an RAB Business Unusual takeover in RST to ensure that you’re up to date with the resources available in our Business Unusual section on RAB.com,” the bureau said in an announcement. “We thought this was the best way to communicate with you, especially since none of us need one more email in our inbox.”

...Mike Francesa says we are in store for a “sports Shangri-La” when professional sports returns later this summer. “Baseball is going to come back; football is hopefully going to start untouched. Basketball and hockey are going to figure out how to finish their seasons… it’s going to happen,” Francesa said Sunday (March 29) on Entercom sports WFAN-AM/FM New York (660/101.9), according to the New York Post. “The Majors are going to get played in tennis and golf. You’re going to have the Masters, you’re going to have the U.S. Open, you’re going to have the PGA and the British Open.”

...DuPage Radio sports WCKG Elmhurst, IL (1530) will not rebrand to “Sports Book Radio” as planned. With professional sports on hiatus, WCKG will continue as “Fox Sports Radio” and has added Westwood One national news updates, according to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder. “When this crisis is over, we will be going all in on ‘Sports Book Radio’ once again,” Station Manager Matt Dubiel said.

...AURN (American Urban Radio Networks) Inspirational Network is offering an Easter special for radio, hosted by Grammy award winning Gospel artist Bobby Jones. “With churches closed, our communities are lacking the physical connection with a ‘rock’ during this time of crisis. We are pleased to partner with AURN to bring words of comfort and support during the Coronavirus Crisis,” Mediaco/Emmis WBLS/WLIB VP of Programming Skip Dillard said in a release. The program is available through the AURN International Network or via FTP download.

...Estrella Media teams up with top regional Mexican recording artists for the “Cuidate” (Take Care of Yourself) music video, as part of its #SiSePuede (Yes We Can) community empowerment campaign for COVID-19 prevention. “The project came together in a very organic manner. Before the song took shape, we knew it had to have a positive message of hope for our community,” KBUE Los Angeles (105.5) Director of Programming Pepe Garza said in a release. “Our Estrella Media radio and TV production teams worked very closely with the artists who participated, and we are all very proud of the end result and the opportunity to share this with the community we serve.”

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NAB Applauds COVID-19 Relief Legislation.

The National Association of Broadcasters is expressing gratitude for the passage of a $2.2 trillion emergency economic relief package that President Trump signed into law on Friday.

Many broadcasters will likely benefit from an array of provisions included in the legislation, including loans from the Small Business Administration. It’s making available loans that are up to 250% of an average monthly payroll of up to $10 million.

Those eligible include small businesses, nonprofits and veteran organizations with 500 or fewer employees. Also eligible are self-employed and “gig economy” individuals.

“NAB is grateful to Congress and the White House for passage of the coronavirus relief package,” Gordon Smith, the NAB’s President and CEO, said in a news release. “Allowing businesses with fewer than 500 employees to gain access to forgivable Small Business Administration loans will go a long way towards keeping many broadcasters and local businesses afloat during these difficult times.”

Other components of the legislation of relevance to broadcasters include corporate tax changes that will allow employers to defer payroll taxes through the end of this year; an array of accounting measures designed to help shore up corporate balance sheets; and a $454 billion pool that’s designed to target businesses that are unable to secure loans.

“The devastation to Main Street businesses — and to local broadcasters who support those businesses to drive commerce in hometowns across America — is unprecedented,” Smith says. “Going forward, NAB will be advocating for further relief for broadcasters who keep communities safe with life-saving emergency information and fact-based journalism.”

More info from the NAB about broadcast provisions in the bill are available HERE.

Public stations will benefit as well. As Inside Radio reported, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is getting $75 million. The much-needed money will help public media stations keep the lights on amid falling revenues.

“The CARES Act takes a significant step in protecting the health of all Americans and providing peace of mind during this time of economic uncertainty, but there is a lot more work to do," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said in a statement. "In future legislation, we must ensure affordable treatment for all, expand distance learning programs and access to the internet for low-income Americans.”

The legislation also is getting a big thumbs-up from the music industry. “We are extremely pleased that the federal stimulus package will offer relief to America’s songwriters and composers, who are, in many cases, our nation’s ultimate small businesses," said Mike O’Neill, President of performance rights organization BMI. "Thanks to the CARES Act, music creators who are independent contractors, sole proprietors or self-employed, will be eligible for small business loans, emergency grants, unemployment insurance, payroll tax deferrals and more, which will all help protect their livelihoods during this challenging time."

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Magna: Linear Ad Sales To Fall 12% In 2020, With Recovery Expected In Second Half.

Magna is revising its advertising revenue forecast for this year and next as the COVID-19 pandemic causes chaos and uncertainty in the U.S. economy.

The IPG Mediabrands unit now says revenues from linear advertising sales will fall 12% in 2020, with most of the pain — a 20% drop — coming in the first half of the year.

“The current situation is totally unprecedented,” says Vincent Letang, Magna’s Executive VP For Global Market Research, “but the closest historical equivalent would be a combination of the Great Recession and 9/11; a brutal economic downturn and a ‘Black Swan’ national disaster. Its effects on supply, demand, and media consumption are more complex and widespread than in any ‘normal’ economic recession in the past, and some of them will outlast the current crisis.

“Nevertheless, there will be an ‘after.’ At this stage, Magna anticipates ad market stabilization and rebound in the second half of 2020, and moderate growth in 2021.”

Digital sales are projected to climb 4% in 2020. That calculation factors in a 2% decline in the first half of 2020, followed by a 10% increase in the second half. Out-of-home is expected to fall 12%, Magna says, as substantial numbers of Americans are stuck inside their homes — and therefore much less likely to be exposed to such advertising.

TV advertising sales are projected to decline 13%. That’s no surprise given the massive impact of the absence of live sports, including the suspension of the current NBA and NHL seasons, the indefinitely delayed start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, and the cancellation of one of television’s marquee sporting events, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, better known as March Madness. Another big-ticket sports event, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, is also now on hold.

Overall, Magna predicts an advertising sales drop of 2.8% this year across all media, with slashed spending from most industry verticals mitigated by political spend ($4.9 billion, up 26% over 2016) and a V-shaped second-half rebound, which refers to a sharp rebound after bottoming out for a short period.

Magna attaches a caveat to its latest numbers: There remains a high degree of economic uncertainty going forward, and there remains a significant downside risk for 2020.

“The impact on business and marketing activity will vary across industries, depending on how much demand and investment will be delayed as opposed to destroyed during this crisis,” Magna says in a news release that summarizes its key findings. “Magna expects the impact to be severe for the travel, restaurant, and the theatrical movie industry, significant for retail, finance and automotive, moderate for packaged food, drinks, personal care, insurance and pharma, and potentially positive for e-commerce and home entertainment.”

Magna says it will re-assess its 2020-2021 outlook in early June.

Story

iHeart’s ‘Living Room Concert’ Brought Out The Stars For Coronavirus Relief.

Updated

From living rooms, kitchens, home studios and pool decks, a who’s who of recording artists performed Sunday night to raise funds for a pair of charities aiding victims of the coronavirus and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. “From our homes to yours,” MC Elton John said at the top of the broadcast, “we hope this can feed and fuel your soul” as the “Fox Presents The iHeart Living Room Concert For America” aired on Fox, iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio streaming app.

Alicia Keys kicked it off, performing “Underdog” solo on piano from her Los Angeles home.  “This song is like a prayer. I hope we can remember how resilient we are and how we defy the odds,” she said, dedicating the song to first responders and medical professionals “risking their lives to keep us safe.”

Backstreet Boys played their worldwide 1999 smash “"I Want It That Way" via split screen from five different homes.

Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl belted out “Hero” on acoustic guitar from his home studio, dedicating the track to first responders on the front lines. 

Next it was singer/songwriter Billie Eilish from her living room, accompanied by her brother and collaborator Finneas on acoustic guitar, for last year’s mega-smash “Bad Guy.” 

From her home in Miami, Camila Cabello sang “My Oh My,” reading the lyrics from an iPhone while her boyfriend Shawn Mendes played acoustic guitar. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong delivered an impassioned “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from his home studio, with occasional cameos from his dog.

Perched on a diving board at his outdoor pool, Tim McGraw performed “Something Like That.” McGraw wore earbuds so he could hear his band members, who were seen on split screen, shot at remote locations. 

From his home in London, Sam Smith delivered a stirring cappella rendition of “How Do You Sleep.”

Mariah Carey was accompanied by off-site backup singers and a piano player for “Always Be My Baby” from her New York recording studio.

Other performers included H.E.R. (“Keep Holding On”) and Demi Lovato (“Skyscraper”).

Host Elton John, who earlier said he was hunkered down in the only home he’d ever stayed in without a piano, eventually did find a keyboard for a few lines of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Occupying the broadcast timeslot for the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which were postponed due to the health crisis, the hour-long commercial-free concert included guest appearances from Ciara and her NFL quarterback husband Russell Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone

It encouraged viewers to support two of the many charities helping victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

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Story

iHeart’s ‘Living Room Concert’ Brought Out The Stars For Coronavirus Relief.

Updated

From living rooms, kitchens, home studios and pool decks, a who’s who of recording artists performed Sunday night to raise funds for a pair of charities aiding victims of the coronavirus and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. “From our homes to yours,” MC Elton John said at the top of the broadcast, “we hope this can feed and fuel your soul” as the “Fox Presents The iHeart Living Room Concert For America” aired on Fox, iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio streaming app.

Alicia Keys kicked it off, performing “Underdog” solo on piano from her Los Angeles home.  “This song is like a prayer. I hope we can remember how resilient we are and how we defy the odds,” she said, dedicating the song to first responders and medical professionals “risking their lives to keep us safe.”

Backstreet Boys played their worldwide 1999 smash “"I Want It That Way" via split screen from five different homes.

Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl belted out “Hero” on acoustic guitar from his home studio, dedicating the track to first responders on the front lines. 

Next it was singer/songwriter Billie Eilish from her living room, accompanied by her brother and collaborator Finneas on acoustic guitar, for last year’s mega-smash “Bad Guy.” 

From her home in Miami, Camila Cabello sang “My Oh My,” reading the lyrics from an iPhone while her boyfriend Shawn Mendes played acoustic guitar. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong delivered an impassioned “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from his home studio, with occasional cameos from his dog.

Perched on a diving board at his outdoor pool, Tim McGraw performed “Something Like That.” McGraw wore earbuds so he could hear his band members, who were seen on split screen, shot at remote locations. 

From his home in London, Sam Smith delivered a stirring cappella rendition of “How Do You Sleep.”

Mariah Carey was accompanied by off-site backup singers and a piano player for “Always Be My Baby” from her New York recording studio.

Other performers included H.E.R. (“Keep Holding On”) and Demi Lovato (“Skyscraper”).

Host Elton John, who earlier said he was hunkered down in the only home he’d ever stayed in without a piano, eventually did find a keyboard for a few lines of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Occupying the broadcast timeslot for the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which were postponed due to the health crisis, the hour-long commercial-free concert included guest appearances from Ciara and her NFL quarterback husband Russell Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone

It encouraged viewers to support two of the many charities helping victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

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Deal Digest

Deal Digest - March 26, 2020

SALES – STATIONS

San Diego – iHeartMedia files a $1.2 million deal to buy news-talk KFMB (760) from Local Media San Diego. iHeartMedia will operate KFMB under a local marketing agreement until closing and it is currently simulcasting news/talk “News Radio 600” KOGO. As part of the sale, iHeart pledges to file for new call letters before the sale closes. iHeartMedia already owns seven stations in the San Diego market including classic rock KGB-FM (101.5), CHR “Channel 93.3” KHTS-FM, hot AC “Star 94.1” KMYI, urban “Jam’n 95.7” KSSX, “Rock 105.3” KIOZ, “Xtra 1360 Fox Sports” KLSD and “News Radio 600” KOGO. Local Media San Diego just acquired KFMB and adult hits KFMB-FM (100.7) in a $5 million deal with Tegna this month. It retains KFMB-FM and it also programs alternative rock “91X” XETRA-FM. Broker: Kalil

Rapid City, SC – Carolyn and Doyle Becker’s Riverfront Broadcasting files an $80,000 deal to buy oldies KDSJ, Deadwood, SD (980) from Loren and Pace Maier’s 4 Paws Broadcasting. It is a quick turnaround for 4 Paws Broadcasting which closed a deal to buy KDSJ for $405,000 in December. Riverfront Broadcasting already owns five stations in the Rapid City market including AC “Star 106.3” KZLK, “X-Rock 101.1” KDDX. Country “95.9 Eagle Country” KZZI, classic hits “Q-92.3” KQRQ and “News Radio 1380” KOTA.

Kansas – Divine Mercy Radio files a $52,000 deal to buy the currently-silent KRMR, Hays, KS (105.7) from Randy Michaels’ Radioactive. Divine Mercy plans to convert the station to noncommercial status. It already owns three other Kansas stations including religious “Divine Mercy Radio 88.1” KVDM in Hays.

SALES – TRANSLATORS

Nashville – Bud Walters’ Cromwell Group files a $30,000 deal to buy the Franklin, TN-licensed translator W292ED at 106.3 FM from Educational Media Foundation. The filing says Cromwell Group plans to simulcast rock “102.9 The Buzz” WBUZ on the signal. Once the sale closes, EMF will still own contemporary Christian “K-Love” affiliate WLVU (97.1) in the Nashville market.

CLOSINGS

Long Island, NY – New York Public Television WNET-TV/WLIW-TV has closed a $944,834 deal to buy adult alternative/news WPPB (88.3) from Peconic Public Broadcasting. The station is licensed to Southampton, NY and covers Long Island’s East End. New York Public Television doesn’t own any other radio stations. The deal includes a three-year non-compete agreement preventing Peconic Public Broadcasting from starting a new station that would compete with WPPB. Broker: Public Media Company

Georgia – C.T. Barinowski’s Good News Network closes a $575,000 deal to buy the currently-silent WVGC, Westminster, SC (96.7) from Art Sutton’s Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting. Religious operator Good News Network already owns 13 stations in Georgia. Broker: Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage

Wyoming & Idaho – Scott Anderson’s Jackson Hole Radio closes a $550,000 deal to buy four full-power stations and four FM translators in Jackson, WY from Rich Broadcasting. The signals include “Country 93.5” KJAX; adult alternative “Mountain Radio” KMTN (96.9); classic rock “KZ-95” KZJH; and regional Mexican “La Nueva” KSGT (1340). The translators including the Jackson, WY-licensed K242BU at 96.3 FM which simulcasts KZJH; the Teton Village, WY-licensed K265DA at 100.9 FM which simulcast KZJH; the Driggs, ID-licensed K239AU at 95.7 FM which simulcasts KZJH; and the Driggs, ID-licensed K281BH at 104.1 FM which simulcasts KJAX. A promissory note for the full purchase point is included. The sale of the stations is tied to the bankruptcy of Rich Broadcasting. Four other stations were sold to Magic Valley Media in a pending $475,000 deal. Rich Broadcasting has been in bankruptcy since late 2016 and has been overseen by trustee Mark Hasimoto since March 2017.

Michigan – Billy Sours’ Madsun Investments closes a $230,000 deal to buy classic rock “Buzz 102.5” WBZV, Hudson, MI from Friends Communications. Broker: Patrick Communications

Portland, OR – Irina Baranova’s PIN Investments closes a $200,000 deal to buy ethnic Chinese KXPD (1040) from James Su. PIN Investments will operate the station under a time brokerage agreement until closing. KXPD will change its programming to serve the Russian community in the Portland market. Broker: Kozacko Media Services

Oregon – Tom Hodgins and Chris Jacky’s Xana Oregon closes a $155,000 deal to buy classic hits “The Boss 100.7” KPPT-FM, Depoe Bay, OR and “News Talk 1230” KCUP, Toledo, OR from Agpal Broadcasting. Xana Oregon already owns there stations in the Tillamook area: “Country 95.9” KTIL-FM, hot AC “Coast 105.5” KDEP, and “Good Time Oldies 1590” KTIL.

People Moves

Maurice DeVoe

Maurice DeVoe is named OM of Summitmedia rhythmic-CHR “Hot 98.1” WHZT and urban AC “107.3 Jamz” WJMZ-FM Greenville-Spartanburg. DeVoe, who was most recently PD at iHeartMedia urban contemporary “100.3 The Beat” KATZ-FM St. Louis. Read more

Tony Bruno

Sports talker Tony Bruno relaunches “The Tony Bruno Show” on SiriusXM. Bruno and co-host Harry Hayes will be heard weekdays from 3-6pm on SiriusXM’s “The Dan Patrick Channel,” effective April 6. Read more

AJ Dukette

AJ Dukette joins Saga Communications classic hits “Rewind 100.9” WYNZ Portland, ME as morning host. Dukette, who exited Townsquare Media crosstown AC WHOM (94.9) last week, succeeds Chuck Igo, who retires. Read more

Job Listings

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VP/GM - SCRIPPS TULSA

Scripps has a rare opening for a VP/GM for our 5-station Tulsa radio cluster.  Read more

Job Listings

Director of Engineering

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Director of News and Programming, WTOP

The Director of News and Programming leads WTOP, an effective organization of over a 100 people consisting of news directors, writers, anchors, reporters, editors and staff to provide the best available local, national and international news, traffic, weather, sports and money news across all media… View details

Director of Sales - VT

Stable, successful, forward-thinking and privately-owned broadcast group seeks Director of Sales for Burlington, VT. View details

Upstate New York Market Manager

COMMUNITY BROADCASTERS, LLC  has a great opportunity to manage one of its market leading clusters in upstate New York.  View details

Manager - Eastern US

Eastern US major coastal market seeks sales oriented manager.  View details

General Manager - Asheville, NC: Search Re-opened

Attention General Sales Managers:  Are there times when you wonder if you have hit the ceiling?  If it bothers you, and you know you are ready for the jump up, and you have the drive, energy and smarts to do it…read on.  View details

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