A transaction that brings a small MVPD in Northwestern New Jersey into the Altice USA family prompted the owner of a regional news and information station born as WTZA-62 in Kingston, N.Y., to modify the station’s market to include all of the areas this cable TV services provider covered.
The FCC has just said yes to the unopposed petition.
On December 21, 2020, Entercom Communications stock sat at $2.13, ending a push to $3 that stalled out earlier in the month.
Some believed this would signal a return to sub-$2 trading, seen from mid-June through October 2020.
The exact opposite happened. Entercom shares are up 190% since just two months ago.
Up on Persimmon Knob in Alum Springs, Ky., sits the broadcast tower for a Class A FM recently reported as silent.
The radio station using this tower has just been handed to a new licensee, pending FCC approval. And, the buyer will take care of creditors’ bills — including the one for the tower lease.
The cord-cutting movement is no longer just about saving money on cable versus streaming.
Subscription fees for streaming services continue to rise. At the same time, choices are multiplying.
Are cord cutters still saving money?
The Region President for iHeartMedia‘s St. Louis; Des Moines; Cedar Rapids-Iowa City; Quad Cities; and Springfield, Mo. radio stations and associated digital assets is packing up and returning to Virginia’s Tidewater region.
Now overseeing WOWI-FM, WNOH-FM, WMOV-FM and WHBT-FM in Norfolk is Derrick Martin, taking the position of Market President.
In this role, Martin will work closely with the programming, business and sales teams and oversee all of the station’s on-air and digital programming as well as create new revenue opportunities.
Martin reports to iHeartMedia Virginia Area President Chuck Peterson.
And, it’s a return to a region that includes Newport News and Virginia Beach for Martin. Prior to serving as the Region President for St. Louis, from 2013 to 2017, he served as the Market President for the Norfolk market.
“I am extremely excited to return to Norfolk to lead a great staff of employees and work with advertisers to grow their business while utilizing our company assets,” said Martin, who began his career at iHeartMedia in Memphis. “iHeartMedia Norfolk has a cluster of stations that are a fabric in the community, and I can’t wait to reconnect again.”
Peterson noted that he’s “excited to bring such a strong performer back to iHeartMedia Norfolk. The market performed exceptionally during Derrick’s previous tenure from 2013-2017, and I see a very bright future again with his return. He earned the trust and respect of our team and the Norfolk community, and I know they will give him a warm welcome back.”
Nick Gnau, Division President for iHeartMedia, added, “Derrick is a proven leader, especially during his time in Norfolk with deeps ties with our clients, the Norfolk community and our staff. I am extremely excited for Derrick to reconnect with the market and expand our community efforts, our revenue and ratings footprint.”
John Bisset shares tricks with infrared cameras in Workbench. A low-power FM station takes its power from the sun.
Buyer’s Guide looks at sports reporting and remote gear.
Sinclair makes a radio play with NextGen TV, and in a companion commentary, Marty Sacks expands on why radio should care about ATSC 3.0.
Low-power FM station WWGH in Marion, Ohio, has its call sign back, at least for the time being.
According to the Marion Star, station manager and host Scott Spears said the Federal Communications Commission had rescinded the cancellation of the station license on which we reported earlier, putting its license renewal back in pending status.
The Audio Division had pulled the license because the FCC hadn’t heard back from WWGH to a request for additional information about the license renewal. The renewal is being challenged by a third party over allegations regarding the makeup of the station board.
Spears said the station didn’t get that request and he then filed a petition for reconsideration.
“We are a lifeline for many people in the community free of charge,” Spears told the Marion Star via email. It quoted him saying, “Whatever change the FCC would want us to make we would be happy to make.”
Every semester, I ask my students here at Lesley University how many of them listen to radio. And every semester, fewer and fewer hands go up.
Among those who do listen, most say it’s mainly when they are in the car with their parents. The majority tell me they prefer listening to Spotify or Pandora, where they can get only the songs they want, with no commercials.
Radio is not relevant to their lives, and some tell me it probably won’t be around much longer.
While I wish they felt differently, what they are saying is nothing new.
In fact, as far back as 1927, when “talking pictures” came along, and again in 1948 when a growing number of homes got television, some critics were predicting that soon, nobody would care about radio.
You can also fast forward to 2010, when broadcasters were feeling the rising effects of social media — that too was supposed to bring about the death of radio.
But while reports of radio’s demise have thus far been exaggerated, some very real challenges and problems exist.
As 2020 turned to 2021, I spoke with consultants, owners, programmers and journalists, asking them what they thought the future for broadcasting might hold. Their assessments varied, from being worried to cautiously optimistic to bullish.Lack of attention
Among the biggest worries is that radio is indeed losing its younger demographics. My students are part of a trend: Teens and young adults are no longer fans of radio as previous generations were.
Nielsen Audio ratings bear this out: For instance since about 2014, according to an analysis by Edison Research, there has been a steady decline in ratings for CHR stations, as well as a decline in time spent listening. Interestingly, the only formats that have maintained some young adult listeners are classic hits and classic rock.
Consultant Fred Jacobs says this should come as no surprise. “The radio industry hasn’t cared about young people, especially teens, for years,” he said. And because of that lack of attention, he fears that “radio is going the way of jazz: an artifact of an older generation.”
He attributes this to the industry’s longstanding focus on the 25–54 demographic, often to the exclusion of anyone younger.
Another veteran consultant, Holland Cooke, concurs, and said, “Today, the real money demo is baby boomers, who grew up with the AM/FM habit.”
Engineering consultant Scott Fybush, who also publishes the NorthEast Radio Watch newsletter, says FMs are doing much better than AMs. Many boomers have fond memories of AM top 40, but these days, while a few heritage AM stations thrive, a growing number are dependent on syndicated programs or going silent.
Fybush expects the trend to continue. “AM is not going to vanish in [the next] 5 or 10 years, but it will become even more of a niche medium, and the thinning of less viable signals has already begun.”
Another area of concern is the lasting impact of media consolidation.
Ed Levine is president/CEO of Galaxy Media, which owns 13 stations in central New York. Like many observers, he cites the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as an important inflection point.
“The challenge that our industry faces,” he says, “is that for the last 25 years, radio has become bent to the will of a very small group of people. They wanted it ‘bigger and bigger,’ ostensibly to do ‘better’ and increase radio’s share of the ad spend. In reality, it was simply to get richer … much richer.”
While a handful of media companies were buying up more stations and financing them with private equity money, a small number of corporate CEOs became very wealthy.
But local stations began encountering problems. “Driven largely by private equity investment, radio was given revenue and cash flow goals that, in retrospect, were impossible to meet. So, when the revenue goals were not met, the only other way to increase cash flow was to cut people locally,” he said.
That reduction in local talent, to save money, was especially troubling, because broadcasters began sacrificing localism, the one thing that made radio unique.
Jerry Del Colliano, publisher of Inside Music Media, has been vocal about what he sees as the misplaced focus of corporate owners who were more interested in what was good for Wall Street, rather than what was good for Main Street.
Ongoing layoffs may have helped the corporate bottom line, but many talented local broadcasters lost their jobs, he said. Del Colliano is also critical of the FCC for allowing so much deregulation that companies are no longer required to maintain a local presence in their city of license. Radio itself isn’t the problem, he says, “it’s what these giant owners did to it.”Vital information
But even though young people don’t listen as much as they used to, even though time spent listening is down across most demographics, even though there are lingering effects from media consolidation and even though the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic downturns in many cities, numerous industry people remain hopeful about broadcasting’s future. Among them are local owners and operators who have seen firsthand how radio can still make a major difference.
One is Tami Graham, executive director of KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, with studios in Ignacio, Colo. KSUT serves four states and includes among its listeners a large tribal population.
For her audience, KSUT has become a trusted resource.
“We serve five rural counties, and many [listeners] are in news deserts,” she says. With no local newspapers, KSUT has stepped in to fill the void for local news coverage.
“People know they can rely on us for vital information … whether it’s about COVID or about the wildfires. Good local content is more relevant than ever.”
She recalls that when the pandemic broke out, “We hired two part-time reporters and began covering it. Our plan was [to focus on it] for two weeks, but the response was so positive that we are still doing it.”
In fact, she notes, 2020 turned out to be a record-breaking year for fundraising, as donors came through to support KSUT’s programming.
“Our mission is “connecting people, creating communities,” she says, “and that is what we have been doing.”
Ed Levine too has found that being live and local works, no matter what kind of format the station has. He stresses the importance of developing local personalities and encouraging them to be heavily involved with their community.
“All of our air talents are native to their market. They know the area, and they love it. They don’t see [working for us] as a steppingstone to somewhere else. They don’t want to go elsewhere.”
Elroy Smith is a veteran urban contemporary programmer. He favors air staff with strong ties to the market. “That means they know the local landmarks, and they can pronounce the local street names.” And because they have their finger on the local pulse, they can react to whatever is important to the community at the time.
For example, during his tenure as operations manager and program director of Bonneville’s KBLX in San Francisco, air personalities volunteered at a food bank while the pandemic raged.
When George Floyd was killed and protests erupted nationwide, KBLX temporarily stopped playing music, instead airing news and information, and the morning show turned to talk. “The phones lines lit up. People wanted to have that connection with us.”
Smith believes building trust with the local community is essential. “People expect us to be involved.”
But what about attracting younger demographics? Is it still possible in a world where young people have so many choices, and radio has so much competition for their attention?
Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming for Edison Research and editor of the “Ross on Radio” newsletter, says, “I think if there’s any way forward, it involves making current music formats better for adults again, so that maybe they’ll again be modeling radio usage for kids when the carpool resumes.” He notes that there are some interesting and creative stations in smaller, non-rated markets.
Fred Jacobs wonders if the average owner understands younger listeners. “Do [they] know what teens want today?”
Jerry Del Colliano believes one reason young people can’t relate to radio is it sounds old to them. “Young people want [to listen to] someone who sounds like them … who talks about the things they care about. It’s not just the music; it’s the personalities. This generation craves authenticity.”
And Ed Levine adds, “You don’t want to just have older people working for you. Hiring younger people changes the culture of a company.”Online presence
Changing digital habits of course are an important part of the story.
With so many local events cancelled because of COVID, station managers have found that their website often serves as a gathering place, where listeners can find up-to-the-minute information about a news story, listen to a podcast, replay a feature they had missed or interact with the on-air personalities.
Tami Graham says that during the pandemic, KSUT “bumped up our web presence and expanded our digital content. In a way, we are remaking ourselves. There are no program directors now; we have content directors. We want our listeners to have the most interesting content, whether it’s on the air, or on the web.
“We have also collaborated with local partners, like the Colorado Media Project, to create and share content. There is no competition — just collaboration for the good of the community.”
Holland Cooke feels that many programmers are adapting to the fact that today’s listeners tend to be busier and have shorter attention spans. “And people today want everything on demand,” he says, noting they don’t want their time wasted.
Scott Fybush agrees that some broadcasters are adapting to these new realities, but “not fast enough or with enough innovation.” He said that with more people working from home, the old idea of programming mainly to people in the office needs to be revisited, as well as rethinking traditional dayparts: Are people who now work or study at home getting up early to listen to a morning show, for example? And what about other dayparts?
“Almost nobody is paying attention to weekends, even though there has been a spike in usage then.”“Embrace actionable”
Two comments I heard repeatedly: One, successful stations have relatable personalities who are plugged into the community. Two, successful stations are live and local as much as possible.
In a post-media consolidation era, as money-losing corporations divest from various properties, Del Colliano predicts there will be new opportunities for local ownership.
“Local operators may be the salvation of radio. After the [giant conglomerate owners] are gone, the small owners who remain will be able to reinvent the industry.”
Cooke too sees enhanced opportunities for radio, even during the pandemic. He advises programmers to not only “embrace local,” but to also “embrace actionable.” In other words, “Give listeners actionable information, like where they can get a vaccine, get an expert with tips for keeping their pets safe and healthy.”
And while all acknowledged the challenges of doing radio today, the people with whom I spoke agreed that the radio industry doesn’t do an effective job of selling its benefits.
“Radio suffers from a perception problem,” said Ed Levine. “We’ve got an inferiority complex. People may not listen for as long as they used to, but the listeners are still there.”
Perhaps there is no one format that will be radio’s salvation, and perhaps the programming will vary in each market, depending on the audience’s needs.
But radio still matters, says Elroy Smith.
“The story about the demise of radio is false,” he said; when it’s done well, “radio can still speak to today’s audience.” In fact, he says, “radio can be a breath of fresh air.”
The author is an associate professor of communication and media studies at Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass., a former broadcaster and radio consultant. She often writes about the history of broadcasting.
Comment on this or any article to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.
And the Acast team tells Podcast Business Journal it should be business as usual for podcasters that use RadioPublic to host their podcasts.
RadioPublic co-founders Chris Quamme Rhoden (CTO) and Matt MacDonald (Chief Product Officer) will join the Acast team.
Co-founder and CEO Jake Shapiro has joined Apple Podcasts as Head of Creator Partnerships.
RadioPublic was launched in Boston back in 2016 with backing from a range of institutional and strategic investors, including Project 11, The New York Times, TechNexus, Automattic, Bose, GBH, American Public Media, PRX, and the Knight Foundation.
Bauer Media Group has looked to Germany for an ad management platform for its UK operations.
According to a release from AllMediaDesk, Bauer initially examined ad systems from 16 companies before settling on AllMediaDesk.
The AllMediaDesk system is cloud-based. Bauer Media Group has radio operations in the UK, all of the Scandinavian countries, Poland and Slovakia.
Send news for Who’s Buying What to email@example.com.
When radio made its debut more than 110 years ago, little did we know the long-lasting impact that it would have on the ability to inform and communicate with the world.
That’s the essence of a new podcast by ITU Podcasts, which looks at the way that radio continues to innovate, connect and evolve.
To celebrate World Radio Day on February 13, ITU and the world peace organization UNESCO participated in the production of “The Resilience of Radio,” a podcast celebrating “the unique power of radio to touch lives and bring people together even amid crisis, disaster and emergencies,” said Mario Maniewicz, director of ITU’s radio communication bureau. Learn more at the website.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies. ITU Podcasts designs podcasts that help listeners navigate the changing world of information and communication technology.
Ironically enough, the pandemic has illustrated how valuable radio can be. Even though prognosticators have predicted the demise of radio for years, the medium continues to thrive, said Maximillian Jacobson-Gonzalez, the podcast presenter. Radio is a $40 billion dollar industry with more than 90% of North Americans listening every week.
“How can technology help us face the dramatic shifts in how we live our lives? Next to other technological advances, radio could seem to be an antiquated medium,” said Jacobson-Gonzalez. But what we’ve seen over the past years, he said — and especially during the pandemic — is that radio is proving to have one of the most resilient backbones of all.
“Radio used to be a transistor on our kitchen table,” Maniewicz said. “Nowadays it is a standard accessory in our cars and smartphones.” And because of that, even as the pandemic raged around the world, radio showed it had the ability to bring people together amid crisis, disaster and emergencies.
The “The Resilience of Radio” podcast recounts the results from a recent study conducted by the Media Psychology Lab at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. The study looked at the listening habits, consumption, credibility and physiological impact of radio in Spain during coronavirus pandemic.
“Listeners had a very positive impression in the role that radio is playing during the crisis,” said Emma Rodero, senior lecturer and director of the Media Psychology Lab. In addition to a jump in the number of hours a day that people listened to radio, the physiological impact of radio became one of the survey’s most important findings, she said.
“Many people are reporting feeling bad and feeling fear and anguish,” she said. And in these cases, radio ended up playing a significant role in addressing that fear and anxiety, she said.
“When you’re feeling these intense and negative emotions, radio was there,” Rodero said. “[Listeners] reported that it ‘relieved my loneliness and made me feel happy and reduced my anxiety.’ You feel you are not alone.” This may be why radio was noted as being the most intimate and most personal medium of all those technologies surveyed.
“You emotionally connect to these voices on the radio,” Rodero said. “This is the power of radio in keeping people connected and informed.”
The podcast also touches on the effectiveness of campaigns run through radio, the community that comes with ham radio and the efficacy of radio when disseminating key health news across an entire continent like Africa, where it’s estimated that between 80% and 90% of households have access to a radio.
“The Resilience of Radio” podcast is the eighth episode of the ITU’s Technology for Good podcast series, which is focusing on how technology is helping to shape the world around us. The podcast series can be found on Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts among others.
Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson has signed a multi-year deal with Fox Nation for a new video podcast and a series of in-depth specials.
Along with the new Tucker Carlson Originals, he will continue to host his FNC weeknight program.
“This is my twelfth year at Fox News and I’ve never been more grateful to be here,” said Carlson. As other media outlets fall silent or fall in line, Fox News Media’s management has redoubled its commitment to honesty and freedom of speech. I consider that heroic at a time like this.”
Carlson will release at least three new video podcast episodes a week beginning in April.
Global marketing firm WARC on Thursday released its latest Global Advertising Trends report, with the subject of “Next Generation TV.”
To be clear, it isn’t a review of ATSC 3.0 rollout worldwide. Rather, WARC offers an analysis of how viewing has evolved and how brands are reacting. Specifically, the study focuses on where ad dollars flowed in 2020.
To little surprise, streaming platforms are siphoning dollars, pounds, euros and more away from linear video opportunities.
The National Association of Broadcasters has set the dates for this fall’s Radio Show, which it had announced earlier will be held in conjunction with the rescheduled 2021 NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Interestingly, the Radio Show, co-run by NAB and the Radio Advertising Bureau, will be Wednesday Oct. 13 and Thursday Oct. 14, which means it opens on the last day of the NAB Show and extends one day beyond it.
Assuming all goes as currently planned, the NAB Show itself will be held Oct. 9–13, with its exhibits open Oct. 10–13. The big annual spring convention was cancelled in 2020 just a few weeks prior due to the pandemic.
Radio Show registrants will have access to the NAB Show floor and All Access programming starting Oct. 9.
Registration for the fall Radio Show won’t open until summer.
The association also announced that a spinoff event of the annual Sales and Management Television Exchange is set for Oct. 8–9.
The author is editor in chief of Radio World.
A free Radio World webcast will explore key automotive technology initiatives of Xperi. Registration is now open.
I’ll be interviewing executives with the technology company about its current initiatives in several areas. This March 10 webcast is co-sponsored by Xperi and Radio World, and is free to attend. It will also be available on demand after streaming.
First we’ll get a look behind the curtains at the Xperi/TiVo merger, which the company says has had a dramatic impact on its offerings thanks to TiVo’s content aggregation, discovery and recommendation engines. What does that mean for radio?
Also we’ll get an update on the rollout of all-digital HD Radio for the AM band in the United States. Now that the FCC has allowed the option, I’ll be asking what broadcasters should know about licensing, costs and the experiences of the first adopters, including Hubbard’s WWFD in Maryland, which tested the technology, and WMGG in Florida, which was an early adopter and broadcast this year’s Super Bowl in Spanish.
And we’ll learn about DTS AutoStage, the company’s global hybrid infotainment platform, which recently launched in the Daimler MBUX and is heard in new Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars. With everything going on right now around hybrid radio platforms and car infotainment systems, this is an important topic and I’m looking forward to learning more about it along with you.
You can sign up here. Hope to see you then.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The NAB has set the dates for two of its signature events, which will be held in conjunction with the 2021 NAB Show in Las Vegas.
The Radio Show, co-produced by NAB and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), will be held October 13–14, 2021.
A spin-off event of the annual Sales and Management Television Exchange (SMTE) will take place October 8–9, 2021.
NAB Show programming begins October 9.
“We are excited to bring these popular events under the NAB Show umbrella in 2021, offering a unique experience that is both familiar and new at the most comprehensive convention of its kind,” NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said.
Designed for television station-level managers and staff in small and medium markets, NAB’s SMTE explores innovative management and revenue-generating sales strategies to help stations increase their bottom line.
Registration for the Radio Show and SMTE will open in early summer.
The dynamic insertion of advertising based on audience tracking data is of ever-increasing importance to broadcast radio and perhaps even TV. With a $230 million price tag, iHeartMedia clearly sees the value in this by purchasing Triton Digital from The E.W. Scripps Co.
Veritonic is just one company that has marketing intelligence tools wrapped around digital audio marketing. In this podcast, presented by DOT.fm, Veritonic founder and CEO Scott Simonelli thoughts on the impact of this transaction.
The religious noncommercial “Kingdom Keys Network” station roster has, until now, included a Class A facility in the tiny West Texas town of Stratford.
Now, this Top O’ Texas down due north of Amarillo is being spun, and a change in language — but not format — is on the way.
KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY — Here’s something broadcast TV stations seeking a unified viewership metric of use to the sales squad and marketers may wish to learn more about.
There’s a tool that is offering TV ratings in real time. It’s just come out of beta test. And, it could bring a new dimension to over-the-air TV companies actively gaining eyeballs in OTT, AVOD and digitally delivered content packages — across Bavaria.
MIAMI — Publicly traded Hispanic-centric multimedia company Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has completed its recapitalization effort and has closed its previously announced offering of notes due 2026.
But, here’s the big news: That Delaware Chancery Court matter regarding its Series B Preferred Stock is over.