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Filling the void for an around-the-clock audio news source devoted to the Black community, iHeartMedia is today launching BIN: Black Information Network on a group of all-news radio stations and iHeartRadio stream. Some BIN content will also be distributed as daily podcasts across iHeartRadio’s podcast network, and a selection of iHeartRadio’s existing podcasts targeting the African-American community will also be part of BIN’s lineup. And a new daily 10- to 20-minute BIN podcast will launch shortly, consisting of news and culture analysis for the Black community.

BIN is billed as “the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” BIN will also provide a news service for the company’s 91 Hip-Hop, R&B and Gospel stations across the country.

In place of a traditional ratings-driven ad-supported business model, BIN will rely on sponsorship support from a group of founding partners who share its mission of providing comprehensive, accurate and trusted information and news. Launch partners, including Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon, “will be able to deliver messages to BIN’s audiences and serve as a platform for philanthropic and community outreach to build brand connection and support the Black community, as well as use it for advertising messages as needed,” the company said.

Multiplatform Distribution

The network will roll out on dedicated all-news local AM/FM stations, providing local news, weather, traffic and sports in addition to national news — all focused on the Black community and from the Black perspective. Launch markets include Atlanta; Augusta, GA; Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Columbus, GA; Detroit, Greenville, SC; Macon, GA; Minneapolis; Nashville, TN; New Orleans; Norfolk, VA; Riverside, CA; San Francisco; and Seattle. More local markets are expected to join during the next 60 days. Specific stations have not yet been announced.

In addition, BIN will provide the news service for iHeart’s 91 Hip-Hop, R&B and Gospel stations across the country, including “Power 105.1” WWPR New York; “Real 92.3” KRRL Los Angeles; WDAS-FM and “Power 99” WUSL Philadelphia; WGCI and WVAZ Chicago; WJLB Detroit; “The Beat” KQBT Houston; “The Beat” WMIB Miami; WQUE New Orleans; and KMEL San Francisco.

Carrying BIN news reports on music FMs will help build awareness and credibility for the new network, the company said. BIN will also be promoted through iHeartMedia’s 200 million-plus social footprint and via Clear Channel Outdoor Americas.

Tony Coles Named BIN President

The company has appointed Tony Coles as President of BIN. Coles, who also serves as Division President of the iHeartMedia Markets Group, has more than 35 years of radio experience, from on-air to programming and management. Coles started his career as a programmer and an on-air personality and has since served as National Hot AC Brand Manager, Senior VP of Programming for the company’s Chicago cluster, and most recently as Executive VP of Programming for the company’s West Region.

Tanita Myers has been named Director of News Operations for BIN. Most recently an executive producer with Westwood One, Myers brings 15 years’ experience at Reach Media, where she was Director of Operations for “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Executive Producer of “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” and a news, traffic and weather reporter at several major market stations.

BIN will also have an advisory board of community leaders from inside and outside the company. It is currently hiring for various positions.

Survey Shows Audience Support

iHeart says a study of Black listeners found that 86% believe a service like BIN is necessary and that they’re likely to use it as an important news source, and 83% think BIN provides a key service and important information they can’t get on radio or TV today. The study turned up support for the network within both the 18- to 34-year-old and 35- to 54-year-old segments of the Black community.

“BIN: Black Information Network will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community,” Coles said in the announcement. “We began developing our 24/7 Black news source last year, and events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network. Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be more proud of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”

Functioning as a standalone business unit within iHeartMedia and backed by its resources and financial support, the network will take advantage of the broadcaster’s news infrastructure, which has reporters located across the country and provides text, audio and breaking news to more than 1,000 stations in the U.S. and Canada.

“BIN: Black Information Network is one of the most important initiatives this company has ever undertaken, at a critical moment in history when it is needed more than ever,” said iHeart CEO Bob Pittman and CFO/COO Rich Bressler in a memo to staff. “We are so proud of our team who has developed BIN, and of the product itself, which fulfills its mission of providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective, focused on service to the Black community.”

The network has received full-throated endorsements from its founding partners. “Keeping informed about events in our rapidly changing world has never been more important, and BIN’s goal of delivering relevant, local news tailored to the needs of Black communities across the country directly aligns with Bank of America’s goals to strengthen and better serve local communities across the country,” Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer of Bank of America, said in a statement.

Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s President and CEO, called the network “a pivotal moment in journalism that will help to create lasting, meaningful change by providing trusted, authentic information and dialogue that combats racism and discrimination through understanding.” And noting that there “has never been a more critical time to uplift the Black community,” Karna Crawford, Head of Consumer Media Strategy & Activation at Verizon, said BIN “will provide a trusted news source that will help start conversations and further understanding.”