Talk about a vote of approval.
A veteran Wall Street media analyst has significantly raised her target price for iHeartMedia, and took her rating on the company’s stock up not by one notch, but two.
Jessica Reif Ehrlich, today an analyst with Bank of America Securities, upgraded IHRT to “Buy” — from “Underperform.”
Even more astounding, Ehrlich raised her price target on iHeartMedia to $26 per share, from $10.
Why? Ehrlich is convinced the advertising market will come “roaring back” over the next several months. And, in the case of iHeart, adjusted EBITDA at the end of 2021 could return to where it was in 2021. In Ehrlich’s view, the adjusted EBITDA iHeart will see in 2021 is now forecast at $798 million, up from $744 million.
Investors responded by snapping up iHeart shares, pushing IHRT to $19.79, up 13.2% from Monday. Its peers didn’t benefit, with Beasley Media Group dipping 4.5% to $2.77 as Cumulus Media gained 2 cents to $9.10 and Audacy was at $4.93 — lower than the final day of trading for the company under its Entercom ticker symbol.
Why iHeart? Its sheer scale is one likely factor, with stations across a variety of market sizes and profitability in the nation’s biggest markets — something that proved difficult for Cumulus Media and remains a challenge for Audacy’s former CBS Radio stations.
There are also studies pointing to increases in drive-time listening.
But, iHeart is also being singled out for its podcasting arm.
As small and medium-sized businesses continue to reopen, Ehrlich believes iHeart properties are poised to benefit from increased ad dollars.
Furthermore, as live events ramp up again, iHeart will see added revenue.
Lastly, iHeart gets Ehrlich’s strong stamp approval for now having “manageable debt maturities with significant capacity to de-lever the business, facilitating a highly favorable capital structure shift in favor of equity.”
Cox Media Group has named Kim Dallow to head its Tulsa, Okla., radio cluster.
She was named director of radio operations, reporting to Regional VP Cathy Gunther. The cluster has five FM stations.
“Dallow brings to this role 26 years of experience in radio, including 14 years with CMG in the Tulsa market,” the company wrote in the announcement. Gunther said Dallow has been “serving unofficially as our operations manager for about a year now and our cluster has only improved with her at the helm.” She succeeds Nate Reed, who transferred to Florida last year.
She has been marketing and promotions director for the cluster for 11 years and the director of branding & programming for 103.3 The Eagle KJSR(FM) for five years. She will continue to program that station.
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Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100 W transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 TV from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md.
It is with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale in its broadcast app.
The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)
“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” Aitken said. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high-efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”
While DRM relies on Fraunhofer’s xHE-ACC codec and the specified audio codec for the U.S. deployment of ATSC 3.0 is Dolby AC-4, the unsupported audio codec can be integrated into the 3.0 ecosystem via Sinclair’s ATSC 3.0 broadcast app, says Aitken.
“Even television sets through the [ATSC] A/344 interactive environment will be able to grab that app, consume the [DRM] player and bring that [xHE-AAC-based] player into the operational environment of the TV set,” says Aitken.
However, Aiken emphasizes that Sinclair’s NextGen TV programming will use the Dolby AC-4 codec. Only its audio services, such as the STIRR Radio simulcasts in Seattle, will leverage xHE-AAC coding through the DRM player in its broadcast app.
The strategy behind bringing DRM to the ATSC 3.0 ecosystem is multifaceted, says Aitken.
Uniting DRM with ATSC 3.0 offers benefits internationally. For instance, in India some 200 languages and dialects are spoken and the most prevalent means of receiving content is the mobile phone. Bringing 3.0 and DRM into harmony could offer broadcasters a way to build out a single broadcast infrastructure to deliver both TV and radio stations while offering a bandwidth-efficient way to reach radio listeners regionally in their own tongue, says Aiken.
“Bringing the rich digital radio experience of DRM to the innovative ATSC TV platform is a perfect win-win situation for users and broadcasters alike,” says Alexander Zink, senior business development manager for broadcast applications at Fraunhofer.
Sinclair, too, plans to leverage the bandwidth efficiency of xHE-AAC in the U.S. to deliver stereo audio services at as little as 26 kbps per channel over the air via its 3.0 broadcast app. It also is looking at how other DRM-based services might serve the public, such as Fraunhofer’s Journaline interactive information service.
One of the primary goals of the 3.0 rollout in Maryland, operating under a special temporary authority (STA) license from the FCC, will focus on the use of these DRM services and other broadcast app features on small receivers, says Aitken.
Further, Aitken is hopeful that combining 3.0 and DRM in mobile devices, such as Sinclair’s Mark One smartphone, will advance the station group’s effort to get 3.0 receivers into vehicles as an affordable alternative to delivering data to cars and trucks via LTE wireless service, he says.
“Being able to demonstrate these services to the automotive world [with a Mark One-type mobile phone in a vehicle] allows them to begin to think about ATSC 3.0 for data delivery,” says Aitken. “By the end of the year, there will be upwards of 70% or more of the U.S. public served [with 3.0] by at least one broadcast facility, and the aspiration of companies like BitPath is to have multiple channels with bandwidth available over the next two to three years.”
The post Sinclair, Fraunhofer Will Integrate DRM in ATSC 3.0 appeared first on Radio World.
There’s been a bit of chatter across the radio industry this week about the latest blog post from Pierre Bouvard, the Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media and its Westwood One arm.
Bouvard delves into the perception, versus “reality,” of AM and FM radio. He shares some of his latest insights on the subject in this fresh InFOCUS Podcast, presented by dot.FM.
Benelux broadcaster Mediahuis is installing the OmniPlayer 3 radio automation software platform for its Flanders-located stations in Belgium. That includes its NRJ- and Nostalgie-branded stations along with individual stations of other formats.
Mediahuis Technical Manager Luc de Groote pointed to OmniPlayer’s ability to create separate brand-oriented versions of a program for each station. He explained, “The stations NRJ and Nostalgie, each with six regional editions, will use the edition function. With this, broadcasters can add advertisement blocks regionally and broadcast them simultaneously.”
De Groote also noted that the company was familiar with OmniPlayer and “it is a stable and robust system.”
In addition to standard automation features, OmniPlayer 3 is bringing along a news editing and playout system.
According to a release the rollout will start with the singular format stations and then move to the larger NRJ and Nostalgie groups.
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The Federal Communications Commission has canceled a $3,500 penalty against a low-power radio station in Ohio.
The FCC’s Media Bureau had issued the notice of apparent liability for forfeiture to Lighthouse Ministries of Northwest Ohio, licensee of WKJH(LP) in Bryan, Ohio for failing to file a license renewal application and “willfully and repeatedly” violating the Communications Act by staying on the air after the license had expired.
An application should have been filed by June 1, 2020, to avoid expiration on Oct. 1. The station did not file a renewal application, so the bureau issued a public notice announcing the station’s license had expired.
Not until late October did the station file its application and ask for reconsideration, and the FCC then set a $3,500 penalty. But the station replied that it did not have the resources to pay, and it submitted financial documentation to that effect.
“We accept licensee’s showing — based on its financial statements — that payment of the proposed forfeiture would create a financial hardship,” the FCC wrote. “Accordingly, we will cancel the proposed forfeiture.” But it admonished the station for its “willful violation.”
The National Association of Broadcasters announced the winners of the annual NAB Crystal Radio Awards.
KSL(FM) Salt Lake City
KRSP(FM) Salt Lake City
KSTP(FM) St. Paul
WFXE(FM) Columbus, Ga.
WJJY(FM), Brainerd, Minn.
The NAB Crystal Radio Awards recognize U.S. radio stations for their year-round commitment to community service.
Howard University’s WHUR(FM) in Washington received the Crystal Heritage Award. This recognizes stations that have won five Crystal Radio Awards for exceptional year-round community service efforts. Nine others have received the Heritage award.
Veritone said it has extended its analytics service agreement with Audacy, the former Entercom Communications.
The supplier said Entercom was one of the first adopters of its Veritone Discovery product, a content search and analysis program that uses artificial intelligence to organize and analyze its “unstructured media.”
Veritone said it is processing over 2 million hours of Audacy content annually.
“With Veritone Discovery, Audacy is also able to rapidly visualize and correlate advertising efficacy for over 230 stations in 47 markets nationwide,” the supplier stated in a press release.
Veritone said its Discovery system has recent updates including new Earned Media monitoring features, expanded audience data analytics and updated reporting customization features.
The announcement was made by Veritone SVP Drew Hilles and Audacy Chief Revenue Officer Bob Phillips.
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The NAB on Tuesday (4/13) announced the ten winners of the 34th annual NAB Crystal Radio Awards. The winners were selected from 50 finalists and honored today during NAB Show Premiere, its digitally delivered ancillary conference tied to the NAB Show, rescheduled for fall 2021 due to the pandemic.
The winners of the 2021 Crystal Radio Awards are:
- KSL-FM in Salt Lake City
- KRSP-FM in Salt Lake City
- KSTP-FM in Minneapolis-St. Paul
- WBAP-AM in Dallas
- WDRV-FM in Chicago
- WFXE-FM in Columbus, Ga.
- WJJY-FM in Brainerd, Minn.
- WMMR-FM in Philadelphia
- WSB-FM in Atlanta
- WWRM-FM in Tampa
Five-time NAB Crystal Radio Award winning station WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C. also recieved the esteemed Crystal Heritage Award during the special event. Only nine other stations have received this honor.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges representing the broadcast industry, community service organizations and public relations firms.
Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their year-round commitment to community service.
The sale was approved on March 26. Now, the transaction brokered by Kalil & Co. has closed.
Get ready for the highly anticipated arrival of KLOVE and Air1 on full-market signals serving the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
Members of the Media Ad Sales Council (MASC), an industry advocacy group founded by the media technology provider, will lead Matrix’s April Media Ad Sales Summit “Candid Conversation,” which is focused on automating the buy/sell manual transactions and processes.
For 14 years, she’s been associated with Cox Media Group’s Tulsa radio stations.
Now, this 26-year radio industry veteran is getting promoted to Director of Radio Operations.
Earning the new stripes at CMG is Kim Dallow. She’s been the Director of Branding & Programming for KJSR-FM “103.3 The Eagle,” Cox’s Classic Rock station in Tulsa, for the past five years. She will retain those duties, while shedding the Marketing and Promotions Director role for CMG/Tulsa first given to Dallow 11 years ago.
“Kim has been serving unofficially as our operations manager for about a year now and our cluster has only improved with her at the helm,” said Cathy Gunther, a CMG Regional VP who Dallow reports to. “I look forward to seeing what she can do in her new role as we continue to lead the radio market in Green Country with top-tier ratings, community events, and innovative promotional efforts.”
Dallow added, ‘It’s such a privilege to work with this team of outstanding broadcasters. I’m so proud of the local programming and community support that CMG Tulsa consistently provides, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to help ensure that it’s legacy of excellence continues.”
Much has been stated about the better picture, improved sound and data capabilities tied to ATSC 3.0, the new digital broadcast standard that is bringing NEXTGEN TV to markets across the U.S. on a voluntary rollout basis.
Did you know that there’s a potential boost in the riches of AM and FM broadcast stations tied to ATSC 3.0? A big TV station owner, with radio properties in Seattle, is largely to thank for this tech progression.
The Alabama Broadcasters Association will pay for 20 broadcasters to attend the NAB Show or associated events this October, and it plans a drawing to choose them.
The association has allotted up to $2,500 per person to cover airfare to Las Vegas, meeting registration and hotel; it will conduct the drawing on April 30.
Radio World asked ABA President Sharon Tinsley about the program.
Radio World: What prompted this effort?
Sharon Tinsley: It has been a tough year for broadcasters and budgets are tight. This is a way the ABA can help broadcasters attend the trade shows and have the continuing education opportunities they need at a time when they might not have the funds to do so on their own.
RW: What are the general guidelines?
Tinsley: We’re requiring that persons who submit their names be employees of member stations; they must have worked in the state in the business for at least three years; they have to include a narrative about how they hope to benefit from the experience; and a manager must also submit the employee’s name to be included in the drawing.
RW: Has ABA done this before?
Tinsley: We’ve done this on a much smaller scale in the past. We’ve offered to pay registration fees to the NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange and the fall Radio Show for several years, for up to five people to attend each. This year, we’re offering to cover the majority of the cost and for many more people.
RW: What is your general sense of the willingness of broadcasters to get back to physical trade shows and other in-person events?
Tinsley: I sense that people are eager to attend meetings in person again. We’re getting a great response to announcements like this one about the NAB meetings and our plans to host the ABA conference in person later this year.
Our vaccination rollout is going well in Alabama. In half our counties, over 30% of the population has had at least one dose. At this point, all persons over age 16 are eligible. We are ahead of the national average for vaccinations.
RW: What else should we know?
Tinsley: We’re hosting an in-person gathering of about 35 broadcasters at a Birmingham area hotel ballroom to view the National Association of Broadcasters’ State Leadership Conference together in May. We are taking measures to ensure everyone’s safety with only one or two people each at large dining table. We’re doing everything we can to bring people together, but keep them far enough apart!
Also, we are awarding $25,000 in Education Debt Retirement Grants this year, through which we will pay off $5,000 of student debt for five broadcasters. This is our second year to do this. And we are endowing a $50,000 scholarship fund at another Alabama college or university this spring. It will be our third year to do so.
Alabama broadcasters interested in the program should contact Sharon Tinsley. The deadline is April 30 at 4 p.m. Central time.
The NAB Show is scheduled for Oct. 9–13 in Las Vegas. The fall Radio Show is collocated with it on Oct. 13 and 14. Registrants to SMTE and the Radio Show can access to NAB Show exhibit floor at no additional cost.
He was formerly the U.S. Head of Industries for Google Cloud’s Deal Pursuit Organization.
Now, he’s the General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development for FOX News Media.
Taking the role and reporting to CEO Suzanne Scott is Bernard T. Gugar.
“His extensive expertise and highly accomplished background will add immeasurable value to our thriving multiplatform brand,” Scott said.
Gugar added, “I am excited to join one of the most influential news operations in the world and look forward to utilizing my experience spanning media, law and technology to help FOX News Media grow, evolve and develop a diversified digital footprint.”
At Google, Gugar led a team that drives Google Cloud’s most strategic and complex transactions across several industry sectors. Prior to that, Gugar provided his skills and background to the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Booth School of Business, where he guided tech entrepreneurs spanning digital media, fintech, healthcare, artificial intelligence and E-commerce industries in developing and monetizing their business ventures.
Before that, Gugar served as the SVP and General Counsel of Oprah Winfrey’s privately-held Harpo Inc., where he worked from 2007 to 2015. He began his career at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as an associate in the corporate group, after which he moved to Bear Stearns & Co., where he served as a Vice President within the Investment Banking Division.
FOX News Media operates the FOX News Channel (FNC); FOX Business Network (FBN); FOX News Digital; FOX News Audio; FOX News Books; the direct-to-consumer digital streaming services FOX Nation and FOX News International; and the recently announced AVOD platform FOX Weather.
The author is project director of RadioDNS. His commentaries appear regularly in Radio World.Fig. 1 — What happens when functionality implementation is misaligned.
Consider two organizations, both well established, commercially successful and global in reach. One makes products that the other distributes to consumers, each equally reliant on the other.
It would be pointless to make a product that couldn’t be distributed to consumers, or to create a distribution network for a product that doesn’t exist. And yet that happens when radio stations create services that car radios can’t use, and car radios implement functionality that radio stations don’t support. It’s a waste of time (and money) that we don’t have a lot of. When auto manufacturers work with companies like Spotify or Sirius XM, they get a clear brief, consistently implemented.
Part of the challenge is the diversity and scale of the radio industry. Radio isn’t one single organization, but a myriad of different owners, brands, products and technical capabilities. On the relatively egalitarian radio dial, a huge media organization with big production budgets can be side-by-side with a small community broadcaster that works hard to stay on-air. Both have a presence that needs to be available to consumers. When you’re an automotive manufacturer, you can hear from a cacophony of radio stations, and working out if they’re all asking for the same things but in different ways is impossibly time-consuming.
The radio industry is getting better at focusing its requirements and communicating them clearly, and the automotive industry is getting better at realizing that communication with broadcasters avoids costly misunderstandings. Organizations like the NAB, WorldDAB and RadioDNS create opportunities for both sides to talk through the detail of how to implement the best possible radio experience in the car.
WorldDAB and RadioDNS jointly organize Automotive Workshops three times a year, specifically to address things that aren’t working as well as could be expected. These roundtable meetings discuss a mixture of current implementation issues, and identify gaps in functionality that could be easily closed. This focus on here, now and addressable problems is very different from the longer term horizon of groups like the WorldDAB Technical Committee or the RadioDNS Technical Group.
At the latest workshop, held in February 2021, we discussed current issues where we can see that the alignment between broadcasters and manufacturers isn’t right, and is causing problems.Fig. 2 — Examples of DL+ rendering (Photo: Ford)
On the subject of providing real-time metadata, we looked at the big divergence between the relatively widespread support in cars for DL+ (and RT+), which allows specific identification of artist, title and other key pieces of metadata, and the fairly poor support of it by broadcasters. It was an opportunity for auto manufacturers to show how that function is displayed to drivers and why they value it, which was new information for many broadcasters. It’s a function that’s implemented and broadcasters haven’t been utilizing because they didn’t understand why they should.
We also discussed driver distraction, which is influencing so many decisions in the automotive industry about what drivers can see and can do. We talked about how broadcasters could reduce the risks of creating distractions by considering issues such as the repetition speed of text information and tailoring visual content to consider design elements like text size, text density, colors and brightness, particularly the potential for distracting glare from bright images during night time. It’s an effective way for manufacturers to educate broadcasters on how to create content and support functionality that manufacturers want and can include in vehicles.Fig. 3 — Examples of visuals in the eye line of the driver
RadioDNS and WorldDAB run a help desk facility for broadcasters and manufacturers, recognizing that often the problem with solving a problem is getting hold of the right person. By acting as an information exchange, they can route problems to the people who can solve them, and look out for trends and issues that should be addressed by the whole community.
At the workshop RadioDNS and WorldDAB also announced they will be carrying out an extensive and detailed survey of manufacturers’ and broadcasters’ capabilities, to identify and close as many implementation gaps as possible. The first results will be presented to the next workshop, and comprehensive results available later in the year. It’s an opportunity to create a step change in the experience of radio in cars on the road today for the least effort on behalf of both broadcasters and manufacturers.
The automotive workshops are unique in structure, encouraging interaction and discussion about implementation and problem solving. With over 70 people attending the last workshop, they’re also very well attended with people with knowledge and ability.
The post Automotive Audio Workshops Organized by RadioDNS and WorldDAB appeared first on Radio World.
Nexstar Media Group’s MVPD-distributed channel formerly known as WGN America has bolstered its Washington, D.C., news coverage by bringing on a correspondent with experience covering politics in the Lone Star State — in addition to social justice protests and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
On April 1, Hispanic consumer-focused Entravision Communications disclosed to the SEC that it would not be able to file its annual report in a timely manner. This triggered a warning from the New York Stock Exchange.
All is better now, as far as NYSE compliance is concerned. But, Entravision now has a potential headache on its hands regarding the entity that is to blame for the 10-K filing delay.
Major League Baseball and SiriusXM have expanded their agreement to include additional streaming rights starting with the 2021 MLB season.
As such, for the first time SiriusXM subscribers with a streaming-only subscription have access to live play-by-play broadcasts of every MLB game as they listen on the SiriusXM app and on connected devices and speakers in their home.
The SiriusXM app offers 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team, giving fans the choice between the home and visiting team announcers for every game, all season long.
The 30 MLB play-by-play channels are also available on vehicles equipped with next-generation SiriusXM with 360L radios.
SiriusXM satellite subscribers continue to get access to every MLB game on both their SiriusXM radios and on the SiriusXM app. Certain subscriptions are required.
The new agreement also includes a multi-year extension of SiriusXM’s rights to broadcast every MLB game.
In related news, starting this month SiriusXM and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will present an exclusive new podcast series, Black Diamonds. Hosted by museum president and historian Bob Kendrick, the podcast will showcase the history of the Negro Leagues, highlighting the players, people and events that shaped them, as well as spotlighting the leagues’ achievements and innovations during a time of segregation and inequality.
Black Diamonds, a SiriusXM original podcast, will debut on MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day (April 15). The 20-episode series can be heard on the SiriusXM app, Pandora, Stitcher and other podcast platforms.
Fraunhofer and Sinclair will work together to integrate Digital Radio Mondiale into the ATSC 3.0 digital TV platform.
Their agreement will help advance Sinclair’s goal of incorporating audio services into ATSC 3.0 and its MarkONE mobile phone. The organizations said their ultimate aim is “the adoption of both standards worldwide for the benefit of broadcasters and listeners alike.”
Fraunhofer IIS is familiar in radio circles as developer of audio codecs including xHE-AAC. Sinclair Broadcast Group is a media company and major proponent of ATSC 3.0. The organizations said they are “joining forces to bring the best possible digital radio experience based on DRM to users of the ATSC 3.0 digital TV platform.”
Using digital TV to disseminate radio in new ways is an idea that Sinclair is already exploring in Seattle, promoting it as a new way to combine internet and over-the-air audio.
This week’s announcement was made by Alexander Zink, senior business development manager for broadcast applications at Fraunhofer IIS, and Mark Aitken, SVP of Sinclair Broadcast Group and the president of ONE Media 3.0.
Zink pointed to the rollout of ATSC 3.0 in South Korea and the United States as evidence of its success, and said DRM “is adopted in a steadily growing number of countries all over the world.” DRM is used for medium-wave digital broadcasting in India and is competing to provide FM services there.
[Related: “Digital Radio Mondiale in Focus in India”]
Sinclair and Fraunhofer IIS plan a demonstration of transmission of DRM-based services over ATSC 3.0. “This joint project is expected to open the door to close collaboration between the respective standard bodies, the ultimate goal being the adoption of both standards worldwide for the benefit of broadcasters and listeners alike.”
Digital Radio Mondiale is a digital radio platform that uses the xHE-AAC codec and Journaline on-demand information service.
The collaboration of Sinclair and Fraunhofer IIS aims at establishing the seamless transport of DRM-based services with all their advanced digital radio features on the ATSC 3.0 TV platform,” Fraunhofer and Sinclair said in a press release.
“This allows established DRM broadcasters to create the DRM content once and then distribute it simultaneously via dedicated digital AM/FM transmissions and on the digital TV platform.” It said listeners get a “seamless and full-featured digital radio experience across all broadcast platforms” using any reception device such as radio and TV sets, mobile phones and car receivers.
[Related: “Why Should Radio Care About ATSC 3.0?”]