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Radio Royalty Bill Moves Forward, But Congress Hopes To Find Compromise In 2023.

Updated

Despite a recognition that the odds are slim that a bill to mandate a performance royalty on radio will make it through Congress during the final weeks of the lame duck session, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the proposed American Music Fairness Act on Wednesday. Supporters said they viewed the vote as a signal that they plan to continue looking for a resolution to the long-running stalemate when a new Congress is sworn-in next month, even changing the name of the bill to tack on the year – 2022 – as an indicator the legislation will make a fresh appearance with a new date added to it in the months to come.

“I don't think in the next 20 days that this bill is going to pass both the House and Senate and become law,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is likely to take control of the House Judiciary Committee in January. “While today's debate is an important start to this conversation, the American Music Fairness Act has not become law this Congress. But negotiations must resume next year,” Jordan said.

Bipartisan Negotiations

Current Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has long been an advocate for changing copyright law to require radio stations to pay royalties on music that is used on-air, similar to what is paid for digital streams. His efforts have been stymied by the support broadcasters have enlisted from a majority of House members who oppose forcing radio stations to pay.

During the hearing it was revealed that Nadler has been quietly spearheading bipartisan negotiations in recent months to try to sort out the differences between advocates and critics. Those efforts failed to produce a compromise, but Jordan said when Republicans take control he plans to keep the radio royalty issue alive.

“We believe there's a deal to be struck here that is fair to all sides and most importantly, fair to taxpayers and consumers,” said Jordan, saying they need to balance the needs of both radio and artists. “Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work on doing just that,” he said.

As currently written, the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) would require radio to pay for on-air music use. It also includes carve-outs for smaller operators.

‘Time To Find That Middle Ground’

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is expected to take the lead on the next incarnation of the bill when Republicans take control of the House, agreed Wednesday’s vote was not an attempt to push the bill toward the finish line in the waning days of the year. Instead, he said it was a “clear statement that it's time to find that middle ground.” With Nadler likely to become the ranking Democrat on the Committee next year, Issa said those efforts could continue. “I believe that we can get to yes, as long as we stand together,” he said.

The focus on the next Congress means broadcasters’ efforts to win support among new and returning members will begin fresh. The task is punctuated by the loss of some allies, such as Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) who lost his bid for re-election last month. Chabot told his fellow lawmakers that that the imposition of a new performance royalty would be “economically untenable” for local radio broadcasters who rely on “extremely thin” profit margins and raised the prospect of cutting jobs to help pay for a royalty.

“The truth is that communities across America rely on local radio stations and we should be taking steps to help them, not hurt them,” Chabot said. “Most radio stations have an enduring commitment to their community and their employees report for duty every day, determined to provide the latest local information in order to keep our listeners safe and connected.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) also acknowledged the role radio plays in the community and said she hopes the two sides find “a pathway to work together.”

The music industry sees the vote as a step in the right direction, while also acknowledging they have a ways to go. “To be clear, this fight is far from over,” musicFirst Chair Joe Crowley said. “We will keep fighting for music fairness in the weeks ahead, but this is a crucial step toward our goal, and that deserves to be recognized and celebrated.”

The Committee’s move advances the bill to the full House where the decision on whether to schedule a vote falls to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). When she faced a similar situation several years ago, Pelosi opted not to bother because a majority of members had gone on the record opposing a radio royalty. That is the case once again.

NAB: ‘Serious Discussions’ Needed

The National Association of Broadcasters points out more than 250 members of Congress, including a House majority, oppose the performance royalty bill. NAB President Curtis LeGeyt is also trying to convince the music industry to meet with them. “Broadcasters urge the recording industry to join us in serious discussions instead of using the few legislative days left in the calendar to pursue divisive legislation that faces broad congressional opposition,” he said.

INSIDE RADIO HEADLINES

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Cumulus Media’s Exit From New York Market Nearly Complete With Sale To VCY America.

Updated

It took four deals and three years, but Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner’s pullout from the New York market is now nearly complete. VCY America has struck a deal to buy “Talk FM 103.9” WFAS-FM from Cumulus in a move that will give the religious broadcaster its first East Coast station.

Despite a tower site in the Bronx, WFAS-FM only covers parts of the New York City metro. The Class A licensed to Bronxville, NY is mainly a suburban signal with programming that since January has also been simulcast on WFAS White Plains, NY (1230) in the Hudson Valley market. The AM is not part of the sale, but as a standalone it is likely to also be spun-off as soon as Cumulus can locate a buyer.

WFAS-FM flipped to talk in January, largely to give its syndicated talk programming an outlet in the New York market. Its prior incarnation as adult R&B WNBM failed to gain traction with listeners, only managing a 0.3 share in the 6+ demo, according to Nielsen.

Cumulus has been shedding its New York stations since it sold hot AC WPLJ (95.5) to Educational Media Foundation as part of a six-station $103.5 million deal in 2019. At the same time it announced it would swap country “94.7 Nash-FM” WNSH to Audacy as part of a trade that solidified the Cumulus cluster in Indianapolis. Just months later, Cumulus said it would sell talk WABC New York (770) to John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Media for $12.5 million. Berner said the cash sales were part of her “portfolio optimization strategy” with the proceeds used to pay down company debt.

Cumulus Media paid down $300 million in debt in 2020 and another $175 million in 2021. Much of that came from selling what the company has deemed as non-core assets, mainly real estate such as the June 2020 sale of 75 acres of prime real estate in Bethesda, MD that was home to the broadcast towers for WMAL Washington (630). It also had the $213 million sale of more than 250 tower sites across 32 states to tower operator Vertical Bridge.

Story

Annie Zidarevich Earns Senior VP Stripes At Premiere.

Updated

Annie Zidarevich, a 22-year Premiere Networks veteran, has been promoted to Senior VP of West Coast Operations. Based at Premiere’s Ventura Blvd. headquarters in Sherman Oaks, CA, Zidarevich will continue to oversee all programming operations for the West Coast, reporting to Premiere President Julie Talbott.

Her role includes allocating resources to best serve its roster of national radio shows and services. Zidarevich also manages Premiere’s team of broadcast engineers, both in her L.A. base and in other cities across the country. She also oversees all aspects of the company’s Network Operations Center and staff for the 24/7 operation. And she manages Premiere’s L.A.-based technical producers and associate producers.

“Annie is a valued member of our operations team, providing insightful leadership, solutions-oriented planning and logistical support for many of our live programs,” Talbott said in a release. “A veteran of our Los Angeles team, we couldn’t be happier to recognize her with this promotion.”

Zidarevich has served as Premiere’s VP of West Coast Operations since 2016. Before that she was VP of Network Operations for the Fox Sports Radio Network (FSR). She first joined Premiere in 2000 as a member of the team that launched FSR.

“I love our radio properties and being a part of their growth and development across multiple platforms continues to motivate me,” said Zidarevich. “It’s an honor to work with the best in the business every day and I continue to be inspired by the incredible team around me. I look forward to this next chapter together.”

Story

Museum Exhibit Proposed For CKLW Legend Rosalie Trombley.

Rosalie Trombley, the groundbreaking Canadian radio programmer credited with championing the early careers of Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, and The Guess Who, will be the focus of a new museum exhibit along the Windsor, Ontario waterfront if a plan is approved by the City Council.

The Council has already okayed $100,000 to fund the creation of a statute honoring Trombley, who served as MD at “The Big 8” CKLW Detroit-Windsor for decades and influenced radio and rock n’ roll on both sides of the border. Trombley passed away in November 2021 at the age of 82 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She was posthumously inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame this year in the Hall’s Legends of Radio.

Now there is a proposal to honor the groundbreaking broadcast professional with a temporary exhibit at the Chimzuk Museum. According to the Windsor Star, city staff is asking the Council to approve $50,000 in funding for the exhibit.

“The Rosalie Trombley sculpture has the same potential for growth and impact and presents an opportunity to enhance the City of Windsor’s public art collection in a meaningful and important way,” a report read. “Combining Rosalie’s birthday, sculpture unveiling, museum exhibit and community celebration is a wonderful and well-deserved way to recognize her legacy.”

The statue’s unveiling is scheduled for Sept. 18, 2023, which is Trombley’s birthday.

Story

NBA Player Turned Media Personality Stacey King Takes His Podcast To 2400Sports.

Updated

Former Chicago Bulls player Stacey King is bringing his indie Stacey King’s Gimme the Hot Sauce podcast to Audacy’s 2400Sports podcast studio. Launched in 2020, the series features King and cohost Mark Schabowski talking NBA and other sports. As part of the deal, Audacy says its Chicago sports radio station “670 The Score” WSCR will air on-air promotion featuring King.

“I’m pleased to announce a partnership with Audacy and 2400Sports to grow the show and bring many more listeners to our insightful and entertaining podcast,” said King in the announcement. “We have great guests and add a lot of humor to our analysis which is what makes it so much fun. Audacy will be a great partner in reaching many more fans, especially as Chicago builds the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks and Sox into champions!”

After winning three rings as the center with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, King became a coach and voice of the Bulls. In addition to his podcast, King works as a studio analyst for pre- and post-game shows for the Chicago Bulls games on CSN Chicago. He has also built a hot sauce business.

“We’re delighted to add Stacey King’s wildly entertaining podcast to 2400Sports’ growing network of NBA content,” said Lena Moss Glaser, VP/Executive Producer at Audacy’s 2400Sports. “This show is a must-listen for Bulls fans and Chicagoans everywhere, and we’re looking forward to delivering it to our listeners each week.”

Story

WPHM Port Huron Adds Fox Sports Programming, Drops Hewitt, Ramsey And Coleman.

Updated

Liggett Broadcast Group sports WPHM Port Huron, MI (1380) is revamping its on-air lineup in two phases over the next two months.

First, the syndicated “Markley, VanCamp, and Robbins” move from 10pm-1am (Sunday-Friday) to 7-10pm, replacing “Our American Stories,” effective Monday, Dec. 12. Moving into the 10pm-1am slot is Fox Sports Radio’s “Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon.” The station also picks up FSR programming for Monday through Saturday evenings.

“Our new relationship with Fox Sports will be a real complement to the play-by-play sports we currently air on WPHM,” PD Caleb Gordon said in a release. “I hope our listeners will notice an improvement in the quality of production and content by switching to Fox Sports.”

Phase two of WPHM’s programming changes will begin Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, as the station drops Salem Media Networks' “Hugh Hewitt Show” (10am-12pm), “The Ken Coleman Show” (12-1pm), and “The Dave Ramsey Show (1-3pm). The station says replacements for the 10am-3pm hours will be announced in January.

“We look forward to bringing some younger, fresher news-talk personalities to our mid-day lineup come the new year,” Gordon added. “It has been a privilege to be affiliated with Hugh Hewitt and Dave Ramsey and we thank them for their years of entertainment and information.”

Story

Café Mocha Expands To TV With A Travel Destination Series.

Updated

Café Mocha, the nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to women of color, launches the Café Mocha TV series exclusively on the Grio Television Network, part of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group.

The series is developed as an extension of the radio show brand and will have coverage in 85% of the U.S. market. In addition to airing on the Grio TV Network, the program will be available on-demand and will be accessible on Local NOW.

The 30-minute lifestyle destination series will air episodes from Dubai, Paris, Barbados, and South Africa to U.S. hot spots including New York, Washington, DC, Nashville, Memphis, and Detroit.

“Café Mocha TV is offering a fresh take on familiar and new places by showcasing and educating people on today’s Black lifestyle experience – an experience that’s culturally diverse, multi-faceted, and thriving,” Symeria Palmer, Account Director at Development Counsellors International said in a release. “Café Mocha TV is not only giving viewers a look at exciting new destinations to add to their travel lists but also valuable insights into how to experience today’s Black culture through food, music, history, art, community leaders and so much more.”

Anchored by host Laila Muhammad, Café Mocha TV builds on the radio show’s mission to provide content from a woman’s perspective led by radio personalities Loni Love, YoYo, and Angelique Perrin. Episodes feature influencers, change agents who inspire social movements, food, fashion experts and spotlights emerging and established celebrities, always closing with a curated musical performance.

“From radio, podcasts and events, we provide entertainment and drive conversations from an unapologetic Black woman’s perspective,” Creator and Executive Producer Sheila Eldridge added. “There is absolutely nothing like Café Mocha TV that’s expanding the conversation globally, and we’re honored to launch our latest television property on the Grio, the home of Black culture amplified.”

Story

News Bites: Army-Navy Game, RAB Radio Works, WGN, Rubydee Calvert/ Diane Susan Kaplan.

Updated

News Bites for December 8...

...Westwood One will provide exclusive national audio coverage of the Army-Navy Football Game. One of college football’s most legendary rivalries, the game will be broadcast live from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. The game will be called by John Sadak (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analyst), and sideline reporter Tina Cervasio. Jason Horowitz will host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.

...The next RAB Radio Works presentation titled “Radio Works for Telecom/Cellular/Internet” will be held Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 12pm (CT). The webinar will feature Brian Comiskey, Director of Thematic Research at the Consumer Technology Association. He will provide an overview of the technology marketplace including the consumer mindset throughout the pandemic and the current economic landscape. Registration information can be viewed HERE.

...“100 Years of WGN Radio: A Retrospective,” the documentary on the Nexstar Media Chicago talk outlet, will have an encore broadcast on co-owned WGN-TV on Dec. 31 at 4pm. The piece originally aired in May to mark the station's centennial anniversary. Viewers will see the faces of familiar voices, including Bob Sirott, John Williams, Lou Manfredini, Steve King and Johnnie Putman, Dave Eanet, Mary Van De Velde, Dave Plier, and others, reflecting on their experiences at the station and memorable moments in its history.

...Syndicator Radio Express partners with Make-A-Wish UK and will donate proceeds from the sales of its “Christmas Day with Santa” syndicated program to the organization. “Christmas Day with Santa,” which debuted in 2008, features three hours of classic Christmas favorites and “aims to encourage young listeners to discover the magic of radio by imagining Santa hosting his own radio show after a busy night of delivering presents,” according to press materials.

...The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation during an Executive Session approved ten Biden Administration nominations to serve on several boards. The appointments include Rubydee Calvert and Diane Susan Kaplan approved as members of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board of Directors.

Story

Saga Rejects Unsolicited Takeover Bid From Jeff Warshaw-Led Group.

Updated

After making two unsuccessful offers to acquire Cumulus Media, a consortium led by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw set its sights on Saga Communications. But Saga’s board rejected the bid, saying late Wednesday that the offeror didn’t provide “sufficient evidence” of its ability to raise the financial backing to pull off the deal.

As Inside Radio reported yesterday, Saga said it rejected an offer to buy the company from an unnamed smaller broadcaster. Inside Radio has since learned that the offeror was Warshaw.

In a press release issued Wednesday after the stock market closed, Saga aid it received “a confidential, unsolicited, and non-binding conditional indication of interest to acquire the Company under two potential transaction structures.”

The first was a cash buyout offer that would pay in the range $30 to $33 per share for all outstanding shares of Saga common stock on a fully diluted basis. That offer is valued at between $181,590,000 and $199,749,000, based on Saga’s outstanding 6.053 million shares. The offer represents a premium over Saga’s stock price which has been trading in the $23-$27 range during the past month. Shares of “SGA” closed at $27.01 on Wednesday before rising to $27.35 in after-market trading.

The second structure was a merger in which Saga shareholders would receive $12.47 per share in cash at closing and would own 83.1% of the new combined company, which would then assume the offeror’s existing debt.

In disclosing the indication of interest, Saga said its Board of Directors believed the offeror did not provide sufficient evidence of its ability to obtain the required financing under either structure. “In either case, based on the structure and highly conditional nature of the offer, the result would have been a takeover of the Company by a smaller broadcaster, to be soon followed by a significant leveraging of the Company’s (or its successor’s) cash and other assets to finance the transaction through borrowing and issuing preferred equity,” Saga said.

Earlier this year, Warshaw’s consortium made a pair of unsolicited offers to acquire Cumulus Media for between $15 and $17 per share. The second overture to Cumulus board chair Andy Hobson was made in early June, following an initial offer in May. Both were contingent on the Warshaw group performing a certain amount of due diligence and provided proof of access to sufficient capital to do the deal. Both were unanimously rejected by the Cumulus board. CEO Mary Berner informed shareholders on May 4 that it had rejected the original offer saying “the Board unanimously concluded that the indication of interest significantly undervalues the Company and is not in the best interests of its shareholders.”

Saga didn’t disclose who made the bids to buy the company. It said the unsolicited offer came while it was in the middle of having discussions with its legal and financial advisors about exploring new initiatives to create and enhance shareholder value. The company said it “remains committed to acquiring, developing, and operating its broad portfolio of broadcast properties.”

In other news from the company, Warren Lada has been elected Chairman of Saga’s Board of Directors. Lada has been a board member since May 2018, after serving as Saga’s Chief Operating Officer from March 2016 to June 2018. More recently, Lada was Interim President and CEO from Aug. 21 to Dec. 6, following the death of Saga founder, Chairman and CEO Ed Christian.

Lada will replace Gary Stevens, who has been serving as Interim Chairman of the Board since Aug. 24. Stevens will remain on the board. In addition, recently named President and CEO Chris Forgy, has been appointed as a director of the company to fill the Board vacancy created by Christian’s passing. Forgy is not expected to be named to any committees of the board.

“On behalf of Saga, I would like to thank Warren and Gary for their hard work and faithful service in their respective interim roles,” Forgy said in a statement. “Ed’s passing left a hole in our leadership ranks, and Warren and Gary admirably stepped up at a pivotal time when we needed them most. The entire Board and executive management team are truly grateful for all they have done to lead us over the past months.”

Saga also announced that it will pay a quarterly cash dividend of 25 cents per share and a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share on its Class A common stock. The dividend will be paid on Jan. 13, 2023, to shareholders of record on Dec. 21, 2022. The total payout from both dividends will be about $13.6 million. Including this dividend, Saga says it will have paid over $106.6 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend was paid in 2012.

In addition, the board adopted a new variable dividend policy which supports its goals of “maintaining a strong balance sheet, increasing cash returns to shareholders, and continuing to grow the Company through strategic acquisitions.” Along with any quarterly and special dividends paid, Saga will now declare an additional dividend in the second quarter of each year of 70% of the preceding year’s annual free cash flow, as reported in its fourth quarter earnings release, net of acquisitions, special and quarterly dividends, debt paydowns and debt issuance costs, and stock buybacks. The payment of any dividends or stock buybacks will still be up to the company’s board and will depend upon the company’s financial results and other relevant factors.

“Our sustained financial strength has put us in a position to meet operational goals and to support efforts to return value to our shareholders,” Forgy said. “The cash dividends announced today, along with the new variable dividend policy, express the confidence of our Board of Directors and executive management team in Saga’s future.”

Story

Sharpening Skills, Leveraging Relationships Seen As Key To Digital Success.

Updated

Is radio embracing digital quickly enough? That was the multi-billion-dollar question tackled by a pair of executives knee deep in radio’s digital transition during a webinar on Wednesday. “Everyone recognizes that digital is becoming a more important part of what we do as radio broadcasters. But we’re all over the place,” said Erica Farber, President & CEO of The Radio Advertising Bureau. “Some have been leading that charge and there are others that are just jumping in on it now.”

The discussion between Farber and George Leith, Chief Customer Officer of Vendasta, which provides services for sellers who market digital solutions to local businesses, covered a lot of ground for sales teams who are getting more comfortable selling digital but also struggle to keep up with the fast-changing marketplace. For starters, radio’s continually evolving digital assets have changed how companies and stations position themselves as sellers and marketers.

Leith, who earlier worked in radio programming and sales, believes the industry can do a better job of marketing “all the things that we do to help local businesses” beyond just providing access to a radio audience. He suggested local ad sellers position themselves as “the trusted local experts” that know the market and can solve a local business’s digital challenges.

Gone are the days when a station could rely on just its call letters or brand name to get in the door and pitch a prospect, Farber said. “The marketplace has changed dramatically,” with sellers from Google, Facebook and other digital behemoths also calling on local prospects, peddling precision-targeted offerings. The business has shifted from taking orders to building relationships with clients based on trust – and a full complement of marketing products and services.

The timing for local radio groups to position themselves as a trusted, consultative media partner couldn’t be better. Borrell data shows 53% of local ad buyers and 74% of local ad agencies are buying digital from local media companies. “What a fantastic opportunity for local radio companies and local radio stations because who better to promote that local message than that local radio station who is tied into the community,” said Farber.

Local radio sellers don’t fully appreciate how valuable the level of trust they engender is for local businesses, Leith said. “These pureplays that are hammering the phones, dialing for dollars, they just don't have that brand equity or that trust,” he said.

Building Relationships, Setting KPIs

One good thing that came out of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was that many radio sellers strengthened their relationships with clients, Farber said. For some businesses, the free promotion provided was the difference between keeping their doors open or being forced to shut down.

Those trusted relationships give sellers a distinct competitive advantage. “Because of that trust, you are able to garner information from them about their business that other competitors or consultants don’t have access to,” Farber said.

But sellers can’t expect to rely exclusively on relationships to thrive on today’s ultra-competitive landscape. “Without bringing in the learnings and the information that the businesses [need], it's not going to work out for us,” Leif said.

In addition to training sellers and offering more marketing services, Farber said radio sales teams also need to establish the key performance indicators used to evaluate the success of campaign. “It used to be you had a new advertiser on the air, and you were afraid to call them because you didn't want to hear that it didn't work,” she recalled. “Now, you really want to have that relationship to talk to them. How is it working? Do we need to fine tune that message?

“We have these toolkits now that are so full of information and services that we couldn't provide before,” she continued. “This is the greatest time ever for local sellers.”

Looking at it from the C-suite level, Leif said senior management at radio companies need to realize that experimentation is necessary to grow. “You have to be not afraid to fail fast,” he said. And while acquiring new customers for a new business division is important, the bigger payback will come down the road. “We expand the relationship with that customer later,” he explained. “But we should know what the lifetime value is, what our churn is of those customers, and how many we're acquiring on a month-to-month basis… You're not selling digital; you are building a profitable business unit that sits side-by-side with radio.”

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Story

Sharpening Skills, Leveraging Relationships Seen As Key To Digital Success.

Updated

Is radio embracing digital quickly enough? That was the multi-billion-dollar question tackled by a pair of executives knee deep in radio’s digital transition during a webinar on Wednesday. “Everyone recognizes that digital is becoming a more important part of what we do as radio broadcasters. But we’re all over the place,” said Erica Farber, President & CEO of The Radio Advertising Bureau. “Some have been leading that charge and there are others that are just jumping in on it now.”

The discussion between Farber and George Leith, Chief Customer Officer of Vendasta, which provides services for sellers who market digital solutions to local businesses, covered a lot of ground for sales teams who are getting more comfortable selling digital but also struggle to keep up with the fast-changing marketplace. For starters, radio’s continually evolving digital assets have changed how companies and stations position themselves as sellers and marketers.

Leith, who earlier worked in radio programming and sales, believes the industry can do a better job of marketing “all the things that we do to help local businesses” beyond just providing access to a radio audience. He suggested local ad sellers position themselves as “the trusted local experts” that know the market and can solve a local business’s digital challenges.

Gone are the days when a station could rely on just its call letters or brand name to get in the door and pitch a prospect, Farber said. “The marketplace has changed dramatically,” with sellers from Google, Facebook and other digital behemoths also calling on local prospects, peddling precision-targeted offerings. The business has shifted from taking orders to building relationships with clients based on trust – and a full complement of marketing products and services.

The timing for local radio groups to position themselves as a trusted, consultative media partner couldn’t be better. Borrell data shows 53% of local ad buyers and 74% of local ad agencies are buying digital from local media companies. “What a fantastic opportunity for local radio companies and local radio stations because who better to promote that local message than that local radio station who is tied into the community,” said Farber.

Local radio sellers don’t fully appreciate how valuable the level of trust they engender is for local businesses, Leith said. “These pureplays that are hammering the phones, dialing for dollars, they just don't have that brand equity or that trust,” he said.

Building Relationships, Setting KPIs

One good thing that came out of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was that many radio sellers strengthened their relationships with clients, Farber said. For some businesses, the free promotion provided was the difference between keeping their doors open or being forced to shut down.

Those trusted relationships give sellers a distinct competitive advantage. “Because of that trust, you are able to garner information from them about their business that other competitors or consultants don’t have access to,” Farber said.

But sellers can’t expect to rely exclusively on relationships to thrive on today’s ultra-competitive landscape. “Without bringing in the learnings and the information that the businesses [need], it's not going to work out for us,” Leif said.

In addition to training sellers and offering more marketing services, Farber said radio sales teams also need to establish the key performance indicators used to evaluate the success of campaign. “It used to be you had a new advertiser on the air, and you were afraid to call them because you didn't want to hear that it didn't work,” she recalled. “Now, you really want to have that relationship to talk to them. How is it working? Do we need to fine tune that message?

“We have these toolkits now that are so full of information and services that we couldn't provide before,” she continued. “This is the greatest time ever for local sellers.”

Looking at it from the C-suite level, Leif said senior management at radio companies need to realize that experimentation is necessary to grow. “You have to be not afraid to fail fast,” he said. And while acquiring new customers for a new business division is important, the bigger payback will come down the road. “We expand the relationship with that customer later,” he explained. “But we should know what the lifetime value is, what our churn is of those customers, and how many we're acquiring on a month-to-month basis… You're not selling digital; you are building a profitable business unit that sits side-by-side with radio.”

People Moves

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Kurt Rongey

North Texas Public Broadcasting “Classical 101” KERA Dallas names Kurt Rongey APD. Rongey previously worked at the station for 17 years, serving as OM for 10 of those years. He also hosted the “Going Home Show.”  Read more

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Sara Parker

Sara Parker has resigned from her role as MD for Beasley Media Group rock WMMR Philadelphia (93.3), effective Dec. 16. Parker also relinquishes her role as Digital PD of WMMR and classic rock sister WMGK (102.9). She remains with WMMR as a weekend and fill-in host. Read more

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Leeanne Whitehouse and TJ O’Halloran

Leeanne Whitehouse and TJ O’Halloran take over as morning hosts on Bell Media “Pure Country 93” CJBX-FM London, ON, beginning Monday, Dec. 12. “Pure Mornings With Leeanne and TJ” will air from 6-10am ET. Whitehouse previously spent seven years with Corus Entertainment, including serving as midday host for “Country 104” CKFK since February 2021. O’Halloran most recently co-hosted mornings for Bell CHR “99.9 Virgin Radio” CKFM Toronto. Read more

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Classifieds

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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

About Inside Radio

© 2015. This email is delivered to you by INSIDE RADIO, The Most Trusted News in Radio. On the web @ www.InsideRadio.com. No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced, forwarded, or retransmitted in any form without written permission. Subscribe to INSIDE RADIO Here. Publisher, Gene McKay. Managing Editor, Paul Heine. Inside Radio, PO Box 567925, Atlanta GA 31156. 800-248-4242. Newsroom: 800-275-2840. Contact Us | About | Advertise Read more