RBR+TVBR Fall 2021 Special Report

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THE DOLLAR DROUGHT FOR MEDIA DEALS To some, TV station valuations are right where they should be. In contrast, some wonder if COVID-19 only fueled a downward spiral for radio industry deal prices. What’s the true outlook for broadcast media?


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Has COVID-19, and now the delta variant, crippled broadcast transaction values forever? It’s a tough question. For some, station valuations for radio were sliding before the coronavirus cratered the marketplace. For others, there’s green on the horizon for both radio and TV broadcasters.












It’s quickly become the most sought-after ranking in the broadcast television industry. Now, RBR+TVBR readers have chimed in once again to honor the individuals charged with leading broadcast TV stations across the U.S. Who’s at No. 1 in our latest Honor Roll?


An exclusive look at what’s on the agenda and what to expect at the 2021 TVB Forward conference, directly from TVB President/CEO Steve Lanzano.


With just 24 days to go until the event was set to begin, the NAB canceled the 2021 NAB Show and, concurrently, the Radio Show. For at least three big vendors, sharing the latest news about products of keen interest to broadcast media hasn’t stopped.


Media Staffing Network teamed with RBR+TVBR for the second consecutive year to examine how the compensation of account executives in the broadcast television industry looks today. There’s one big takeaway you need to read.

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CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kenneth Whitney kwhitney@streamlinepublishing.com

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS April McLynn amclynn@streamlinepublishing.com


937.522.5971 jjacques@streamlinepublishing.com

Gail Lawing

404.307.3194 glawing@streamlinepublishing.com

Carl Marcucci

703.670.2860 cmarcucci@streamlinepublishing.com

George Wymer

937.609.6778 gwymer@streamlinepublishing.com

331 SE Mizner Blvd. Boca Raton, FL, 33432 Phone: 561-655-8778 www.rbr.com Twitter: @rbrtvbr


Has COVID-19, and now the delta variant, crippled broadcast transaction values forever? It’s a tough question. For some, station valuations for radio were sliding before the coronavirus cratered the marketplace. For others, there’s green on the horizon for both radio and TV broadcasters.


y the time you read this, it will have been more than 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic first wreaked havoc on North America. Today, there is still uncertainty as to when the novel coronavirus’ delta variant, and perhaps new variants, will relent in their global assault on human life. Under this cloud of unknown variables and questions about what lies ahead, attendance at the first NAB Show and Radio Show since 2019 was very much an impossibility to predict as Labor Day weekend approached. At least one vendor pulled out; brokers and PR executives had a hotel room block but no airplane tickets booked. On Sept. 15, the uncertainty was erased: the NAB Show was scrubbed. The inability to know what’s to come, combined with the struggles of radio broadcasters since Q1 2020, has created an eerie stillness in the transactions marketplace for AMs and FMs — with one exception. Religious broadcasters are cashing in on the best deal-making market they’ve perhaps ever seen. Meanwhile, the TV marketplace remains red-hot — assuming there are any properties for sale, as inventory is tight, even for lowpower TV stations up for grabs.

As we chatted with some of the nation’s leading media brokers, RBR+TVBR also brought up a sensitive topic that’s perhaps the elephant in the room when an asset purchase agreement is struck: station valuations. Some have expressed disbelief at “how low” some of the recent deals have been priced. Others state that earlier valuations were inflated, and that there’s a rightsizing only exacerbated by the coronavirus.

A PASSION FOR DEALMAKING Lou McDermott, the Tucson-based Vice President at media brokerage Kalil & Co., is passionate and bright when calling himself a broker. It perhaps helps in a climate of such uncertainty.

Asked about the overall atmosphere for radio and television deals from his perch, McDermott says, “TV is very active, and a very sought-after space. If you are the owner of a Big Four affiliate and you want to sell your station, there’s not going to be any issues doing so.” Why? “There’s not enough stations available for the people that want to own more stations. Television remains highly sought after. Probably the only reason there are fewer deals being noted is because there are fewer stations available. But if a ‘Big Four’ comes on the market, it is going to be sold. Period.” As such, Kalil’s TV business is “very healthy,” with McDermott noting, “They’re finally getting credit for all of the benefits

“The vast majority of Americans still rely on radio on a daily basis. There’s something to be said about that, and the revenues returning point to radio remaining viable.” — Lou McDermott FA L L 2 0 2 1 · R B R . C O M · 3

“If your livelihood is about being a TV station broker, you’re on thin ice.” — Michael J. Bergner

they bring to the community — live and local news, and all of the things the consumer takes for granted. They are very valuable, and the marketplace is red hot.” That’s quite a contrast from how Boca Raton, Fla.-based media broker Michael J. Bergner of Bergner & Co. sees the TV transactions landscape. “The traditional TV deal is dead,” he laments. “It’s just all about fill-ins. Everything is consolidated. If your livelihood is about being a TV station broker, you’re on thin ice.” The divergent viewpoints on television industry ownership consolidation couldn’t be more striking. “We’ve heard that several times over the last few years,” McDermott says. “We continue to do TV deals. We’re working on a number of them right now. Obviously, I can’t identify those, but over the next several months you’ll see a number of transactions that we’ve handled. We’ve seen lots of ups and downs in this business over the 50+ years Kalil & Co. has been in business, and 20 years ago, when I started, radio was the space where multiples continued to climb, and people could not pay enough for radio. Consolidation was going on at a full clip. And the naysayers back then were saying TV was dead. Today, you look at the big groups that have gone on the block and the premium paid for them. There is still opportunity in television, and I can promise you we are very busy working on TV deals as we speak.” So … who are the sellers? “The sellers are the big companies that are forced to divest,” Bergner says. “That’s really where we are at this point.” But is that really an accurate assessment of the marketplace? In Southwest Florida, consolidation hasn’t been seen, with private ownership of the NBC, CBS, and ABC affiliates alongside The E.W. Scripps Co.’s FOX affiliate. Isn’t that a good example of dealmaking yet to occur in the coming years, if not months? No, says Bergner. “These are private owners that have been there a long time. They have very little debt. They have very deep pockets. They can do whatever they want. They’re not under any pressure.” That’s not to say the smaller operators won’t get “squeezed” as big local TV ownership groups create interlinked operations on a regional basis, such as what Scripps has done across the state of Florida. “There’s no question about that,” Bergner says. “But it 4 · R B R . C O M · FA L L 2 0 2 1

Michael J. Bergner

just adds to my argument that we are just cherry-picking at this point. You even have the buyers pre-inked-in … There really is no deal market. We’ve got to classify it as something else … the placement market? The deal market conjures up images of apartment building buyers, with 10 companies all looking for deals. The ownerships can change, but it’s all pre-printed. There’s no one starting up a new TV company today.”

THE RADIO SLIDE Here’s the good news for brokers in the radio business: deals are being consummated and filed every week. Here’s the not-so-good news: rarely are any of these deals valued at more than $2 million, or even $1.5 million. From McDermott’s point of view, the radio marketplace is wholly different than the buying and selling of TV stations. “I deal with a lot of operators,” he says of the AM and FM station owners. “I get input from all market sizes. We talk to those that own one station. We talk to the big groups. Across the board, I would say radio took the sharpest hit last year and probably was the sector that took the longest to come out of the pandemic hit. Political played a big part of that — it was a giant ‘shot in the arm’ for television at a time when it was sorely needed, no vaccine pun intended there.” With many sick and tired of the pandemic, McDermott tries not to blame everything on COVID-19. “We have to deal

Eddie Esserman

with it now,” he says. “And not everybody took that hit in radio. Some were insulated from it from various reasons. They had strong presence on the street, and no reliance on national dollars.” At Kalil, with radio’s industry-wide revenues returning to pre-pandemic levels, interest in buying stations is also on the rise. “We had a listing where we were talking to maybe one or two parties who were serious about pursuing the opportunity,” McDermott says. “Now that number has doubled or tripled. There are more coming out of their shell. They’ve got some breathing room and can now focus on the future. They’re now able to focus on growth.” With this interest accelerating, the radio industry can now do more in showing the ROI AMs and FMs still have against local digital, which has siphoned ad dollars unfairly from linear radio, McDermott says. “The vast majority of Americans still rely on radio on a daily basis. There’s something to be said about that, and the revenues returning point to radio remaining viable.” What’s Bergner’s take on the increase in activity McDermott sees? “You say there are still deals being filed? These are tiny, tiny deals. You’re talking $300,000 here, $250,000 there. We see a $1.8 million deal and we cheer. The deal size has just gotten minuscule. It’s about local people with small amounts of money. The price some of the stuff is trading at is almost comical

“I have lobbied as an owner [of WEAS/Savannah] for deregulation, and we are almost beyond an existential point where without any regulatory relief on owners, doomsday may be the scenario.” — Eddie Esserman

“I do see some upswing happening in radio right now, and there is a way to go yet to get back to where they came from. It may take a little while, but I think there is improvement.”

… you can’t buy a house in Boca Raton for $250,000, but you can buy a radio station.” With radio “very consolidated,” Bergner sees two big problems for the industry. One, there’s no new money coming in “because the track record of radio has not been great, as far as return on investment.” Second, even if entry were desired today, COVID-19 disrupted the “trailing 12” cash flow — a key formula component for station valuations. “What does 2022 hold?” Bergner wonders. “There’s still no visibility on where this is going. But the one thing you do — Bill Redpath know is that the long-term trend has been down. It makes it very difficult to get a hand on what the right multiple is now, If there’s one radio owner in a particueven if you wanted to do a deal … If we lar market and all of the stations could really need this business to come back, we get together and unite their sales force, really need deregulation. And as far as that “Google’s going to get a run for its money,” goes, this FCC is not going to do that.” Bergner says. The scenario flies in the face of ownerBATTLING THE ONLINE BEHEMOTHS ship diversity and multiple voices. Yet, it There are some radio industry executives may very well be the cure for a business who believe further consolidation is the model that peaked just as Bill Clinton was last thing radio needs. However, those exiting the White House and before the voices are largely squelched by the cacoph- “dot-bomb” crisis gripped Silicon Valley ony of leaders who argue that consolidain the months prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 tion is what can best aid radio in its fight attacks on New York and Washington. against local digital. “Who is better positioned, the guy who

Bill Redpath

owns all of the radio stations and has a digital sales force on the ground, or Google?” Bergner asks. “Of course, Google still has the advantage, but at least that’s a conversation to be had.” Given Townsquare Media’s business model and the goals of such companies as Cumulus Media, Saga Communications, and smaller regional players including Galaxy Media, Pamal Broadcasting, and Connoisseur Media, Bergner may have a strong argument.


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Who Are The Top Local TV Leaders? The readers of RBR+TVBR have spoken. For the second consecutive year, broadcast media executives have chimed in with their suggestions and feedback on who deserves praise for their leadership prowess in a year full of positives. Really.

While the pandemic has proved challenging for some in the radio industry, the television industry swiftly rebounded. And much of the rapid recovery is thanks to those in charge of a local free-to-air television station. From a commitment to strong, quality news to tackling the biggest issues in their respective communities, broadcast TV shines bright. So do these Top Local TV Leaders, ranked based on RBR+TVBR reader nominations and the evaluation of the editorial leadership of the Radio + Television Business Report. This is the second annual Top Local TV Leaders list. For 2021, thanks to the support of our readers, we are expanding our list to 20 honorees. Simply put, with new names on this year’s ranking, and a plethora of readers chiming in with their votes, it’s the proper thing to do to truly salute their strong local leadership and incredible accomplishments. RBR+TVBR is proud to honor these 20 local TV leaders, and salutes them for their dedication and commitment to excellence across 2021. 6 · R B R . C O M · FA L L 2 0 2 1

Tom Ehlmann



PRESIDENT/GM, KXAS-5 & KXTX-39, Dallas NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations 2020 Rank: No. 5

As we salute all of our 2021 nominees, we must make note of the many new names that appear in this year’s ranking. And we must share why last year’s No. 1 Local TV Leader is not present on our new list. The answer is simple: Debra OConnell, who was President/GM of WABC-7 in New York when our 2020 rankings were published, was promoted in March 2021 to the role of President/Networks for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. With the top slot open, RBR+TVBR readers responded with their nominations. And receiving the greatest amount of reader support in 2021 is Tom Ehlmann. Ehlmann has been at the helm of NBC O&O KXAS-5 since 2008, and added similar duties for Telemundo sibling KXTX-39 in more recent years. He arrived in Dallas after serving as VP/GM of then-Tribune Broadcasting flagship WGN-9 in Chicago from 2004-2008. RBR+TVBR asked Ehlmann to respond to the following question: From NEXTGEN TV’s voluntary rollout to forecasts for another strong year in 2022 for political advertising, what’s the one thing you’re looking forward to for your stations in the year ahead? Ehlmann’s reply was succinct. “Continued momentum, and progress on the initiatives to bring about more reliable audience measurement,” he said.

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VP/GM, WDIV-4, Detroit Graham Media Group 2020 Ranking: No. 11

In late June 2021, it became known that a key figure in Detroit’s broadcasting community — one with four decades of experience — would soon be retiring. While no date was announced, RBR+TVBR’s readers reacted strongly when it came time to cast their nominations for this year’s Top Local TV Leaders. Talk about a retirement present. Marla Drutz, the head of Chicago-based Graham Media Group’s “LOCAL 4” — NBC affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit — ranks second to Ehlmann in our new ranking. Drutz has led WDIV since July 2008. Under her leadership, LOCAL 4 has been a dominant on-air and online choice for viewers: The station has the top-rated and most-watched newscasts in the market, and is the No. 1 NBC affiliate in the top 20 media markets. Furthermore, WDIV-4 has been named Station of the Year five times by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Before joining WDIV, Drutz worked at WXYZ-7 in Detroit, The E.W. Scripps Co.’s ABC affiliate, as Director of Programming. Earlier in her career, she was the Marketing Director at WJBK-2 in Detroit. Drutz started out as a research analyst at WJW-8 in Cleveland. “Thank you so much for the recognition,” Drutz says. “It’s been a 35+ year local TV ride for me and I am so happy to be honored with your recognition.”

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Marla Drutz



VP/GM, WHIO-7, Dayton Cox Media Group 2020 Rank: No. 3

Travel around the Miami Valley, and no matter where you go, wherever there’s a TV, it seems to be tuned to one station. That station is CBS affiliate WHIO-7, a cornerstone of Cox Media Group and perhaps one of the nation’s most dominant stations. Competing against Nexstar Media Group’s NBC affiliate and two “Big Four” stations run by Sinclair Broadcast Group, WHIO continues to command the lion’s share of the Dayton, Ohio, Nielsen ratings. While the station’s news team plays a key role in keeping WHIO a big leader, five-year VP/GM Rob Rohr, who previously ran the Cox Media Group radio stations serving Dayton and Springfield, deserves praise. Under his leadership, the CMG/Dayton operation housed on South Main Street, opposite the University of Dayton, also includes top-rated WHKO “K99.1” and WHIO-AM & FM. “Thank you so much for this recognition,” says Rohr. “It is an honor to be listed among this group of talented and inspiring broadcasters. As we all know, broadcasting is a 365-days-a-year team sport, and I’m incredibly proud of the team here at CMG Ohio.” Rohr joined Cox Media Group in 2000. Rob Rohr



President/GM, KNBC-4/Los Angeles NBCUniversal

Of the Local TV Leaders overseeing broadcast television properties in the largest markets of the U.S., RBR+TVBR readers in 2021 turned their attention to Universal City, Calif. That’s the longtime home of KNBC-4, the West Coast flagship station of NBCUniversal Local. Here, Steve Carlston is preparing to celebrate his 10th anniversary at the helm of the station. He joined KNBC in November 2011, following a two-year stint as GM of KUTV-2 in Salt Lake City. That role came a decade after taking on the position of EVP/Affiliate Relations and Distribution for the former UPN network. In between, he was a managing partner of Vegas TV. Today, Carlston, known for his collaborative leadership style, has gotten the attention of his industry peers by growing KNBC’s newscasts to more than 43 hours. Diversity in the workplace remains a priority for Carlston. Through his role as an adviser to the nonprofit organization Concerned Black Men, the company’s employee groups, the Young Professional Network, and Black Employee Network, Carlston has mentored individuals of all backgrounds. He created a program at KNBC to champion first-generation college students as they navigate careers in broadcast news. The station has also been lauded for its diverse talent and storytelling by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the California Chicano News Media Association, among others. Carlston comments, “As the media landscape continues to evolve, the one constant factor is building a team that is agile and collaborative to truly understand the consumer it serves. I look forward to our teams leveraging the strength of the only English- and Spanish-language duopoly in the marketplace and providing a greater value to advertisers.”

Steve Carlston

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Congratulations to our friends and colleagues

Steve Carlston and Tom Ehlmann On being selected as two of the 2021 Radio+Television Business Report Top Local TV Leaders



SVP/GM, WOFL-35, Orlando FOX Television Stations 2020 Rank: No. 4

In July 2019, the FOX O&O serving Central Florida gained a new leader. Today, this fast-rising leader has again received national attention for his efforts in Orlando — an ever-expanding market with construction, and COVID-19 concerns, dominating the local news. Mike McClain arrived at WOFL-35 after spending nearly two years at the helm of WJZY-46 in Charlotte. Before that, he was VP/News for WAGA-TV in Atlanta. In his time at WOFL, McClain has solidified the news operations while also gaining oversight of the market’s MyNetwork TV affiliate, WRBW-65, and the FOX affiliate in nearby Gainesville, WOGX-51. Most recently, McClain played a key role in the voluntary rollout of NEXTGEN TV in Orlando.

Mike McClain


Michelle Donaldson

MICHELLE DONALDSON VP/GM, KOB-4, Albuquerque Hubbard Broadcasting

It’s always fun when a local leader finds out for the first time that they’ve been recognized by their peers for a national honor. “This sounds pretty amazing,” says Michelle Donaldson. “I’m not sure how I made your list, but it is an honor.” Donaldson’s appearance as a Local TV Leader is no doubt in recognition of her time at the helm of KOB-4, a position she earned in December 2017 after nearly 4 1/2 years as the station’s News Director. She joined KOB-4 in September 2013 in a return to Albuquerque, where she spent nearly nine years as News Director of KRQE-13 and KASA-2, the FOX affiliate at that time. In between, Donaldson was News Director of KPHO-5 in Phoenix, a Meredith Local Media property. Donaldson’s roots are in Detroit, and she served as a News Reporter for WJR-AM from March 1985-October 1992. Asked to share her thoughts on the year ahead at KOB4, Donaldson tells RBR+TVBR, “Broadcasters are always focused on the local economy, but I’m looking forward to taking an active role in helping our market recover and thrive again. It’s not enough to passively report on the situation. At this pivot point in our national recovery, KOB is bringing stakeholders together to spur new cooperation in one of the most impoverished markets in America. If we can grow our economy, we all win.” .

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President/GM, WLWT-5, Cincinnati Hearst Television

On January 1, 2007, Branden Frantz earned his first role as a top television station leader. That’s when he succeeded Richard Dyer as the head of NBC affiliate WLWT-5. For Frantz, it was a return to the Buckeye State from Orlando, where he’d been GSM of NBC sibling WESH-2. Before joining Hearst at WESH in 2013, he was GSM of WXIX-19, the FOX affiliate in Cincinnati. Frantz is also a former Director of Sales at WKEF-TV/ WRGT-TV in Dayton, and served as an LSM under George Wymer, today a member of the RBR+TVBR senior sales team. Today, Frantz is highly active in the community. In one example, WLWT-5 teamed with Gold Star Chili to support children in the Tri-State Area where Cincinnati brushes up against Kentucky and Indiana. And he’s one to take pride in his team, as Frantz did in March when saluting the market’s “most accurate weather team 10 years in a row.”

Branden Frantz


Kevin James

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SVP/GM, KTVK-3 & KPHO-5, Phoenix Meredith Local Media Group (sale to Gray Television pending)

Kevin James carries a dual role with Meredith’s Local Media Group, which is being sold to Gray Television. As of this writing, the transaction has not yet closed. James has led Meredith’s duopoly in the Valley of the Sun — Arizona’s Family, KTVK-3; and CBS affiliate KPHO-5 — as SVP/GM since October 2018. That said, in October 2020 James assumed the role of SVP/Revenue Operations, overseeing the sales and revenue operations for 17 television stations in 12 markets. James joined Meredith in May 2005 and has held various sales leadership roles for KPHO/KTVK and in Las Vegas for KVVU-5, the FOX affiliate. Before joining Meredith, James worked for Sinclair Broadcast Group as a National Sales Manager for WLFL & WRDC in Raleigh. Asked about his insight into 2022 and how that will influence KTVK-3 and KPHO-5, James tells RBR+TVBR, “This past year, we have seen an enhanced and welcomed focus on mental health across our industry. The pandemic, social unrest, and attacks on the industry’s integrity have spawned feelings of isolation, fear, and caused some to question their chosen career path. I look forward to taking what we have learned this past year and building a healthier work environment where we as an industry invest adequately, not only with our content, coverage, and revenue efforts, but equally in our people. They represent our most precious and valuable resource.”



VP/GM, WPTV-5, West Palm Beach The E.W. Scripps Co. 2020 Rank: No. 8

Lloyd Bucher’s career in television began in January 1995, when he took on the Local Sales Manager role at KYW-3 in Philadelphia. A decade later, he moved to Florida, taking on the role of General Sales Manager for longtime ABC affiliate WPLG-10 in Miami. In January 2007, Bucher moved north to West Palm Beach, where he’s been VP/GM since April 2015. It’s a role that has seen Bucher excel as a top local leader, winning praise in 2020 and again in 2021 from his peers across the U.S. Who knew that this year’s honor would be his final one tied to WPTV? On September 14, Bucher was named VP/GM Lloyd Bucher of WJZY-46, the FOX affiliate in Charlotte; and MyNetwork TV sibling WMYT-55. He began his new duties September 29. Sharing his thoughts on his time in Palm Beach County, Bucher tells RBR+TVBR, “West Palm Beach is one of the great markets in the country, and I’m proud to have led such a terrific station as WPTV. Now, with my new opportunity to grow Nexstar’s Charlotte properties, the upside is even bigger to bring that station to its rightful place as a local leader.” For the new head of WPTV, they will benefit from a brand-new news set developed by Devlin for the NBC affiliate and the addi-


Charlie Henrich

tion of a 7pm newscast. This brought in additional employees, a positive sign that growth is very much alive in broadcast TV. As head of WPTV, two things excited Bucher. “I’m looking forward to getting my employees in the building. We are very careful about getting everyone returning to work. I’ve been coming in every single day, and It’s been really quiet.” Then there is the growth of the new “Florida 24 Network,” a statewide hyperlocal news offering with resources tied to Scripps stations across the Sunshine State. “To be a part of that is super-exciting,” he says.


VP/GM, KCTV-5, Kansas City Meredith Local Media (sale to Gray Television pending)

What do Branden Frantz and Charlie Henrich have in common? Both have overseen the sales efforts of WKEF-22 and WRGT-45. For Henrich, his resume also includes stints as Director of Sales for KTNV-13 in Las Vegas and roles as VP/GM of such stations as WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, Fla. Today, he’s the VP/GM of KCTV-5 in Kansas City. It’s a role he began on April 1, 2020 — just as the COVID-19 pandemic set in across the U.S. Henrich didn’t blink, and RBR+TVBR readers noticed. “Charlie relocated during the lockdown of the pandemic, developed a strategic plan at the same time, and kept his employees safe during the pandemic,” one television industry executive commented when nominating Henrich. Henrich replaced the retiring Chuck Poduska at CBS affiliate KCTV-5 and MyNetwork affiliate sibling KSMO-62. He joined the stations after previously serving as VP/GM of “FOX Carolina,” WHNS-21 in Greenville, S.C. Before that, he was VP/Operations for Newport Television. “In Kansas City, we have plenty to look forward to in 2022,” Henrich tells RBR+TVBR. “This time of year, that means cheering for another Chiefs run to the Super Bowl along with the redemption that our entire community is pulling for. That said, for our team at KCTV5, 2022 will be the year when one door closes with Meredith and a new one opens as we become part of the Gray Television family. Everybody at KCTV5 appreciates the support that Meredith has given our stations over the years, and we are all equally excited to begin the next chapter by joining an industry-leading company.”

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BR ANDEN FR ANTZ WLWT-TV President and General Manager

and all of the

2021 Radio + Television Business Report Top Local TV Leaders



President/GM, KGW-8, Portland, Ore. TEGNA

In late 2018, DJ Wilson finalized his retirement plans as the head of TEGNA’s Portland, Ore., operations. With his departure, an individual associated with KUSA-9 for more than 25 years shifted to the land of Blue Star Donuts and Ecliptic Brewing by taking on the role of President/ GM for KGW — a dominant NBC affiliate in the Pacific Northwest’s second-largest market. Now, Steve Carter is being recognized for his leadership of a station that has a lot to cover on a local level, from wildfires to unrest in downtown Portland. Oh, and there’s the pandemic, too. Through it all, KGW has excelled, remaining a key source for news. Upon Carter’s arrival at KGW, TEGNA EVP/COO of Media Operations Lynn Beall said, “Steve’s outstanding creativity, passion for excellence, and exceptional leadership abilities will help Steve Carter KGW continue providing its award-winning news and community service to Portland.” Those words have proven true for Carter. Carter has also served as President/GM of WCSH-TV in Portland, Me., and took that role after serving as VP of Marketing and Promotion at KUSA and KTVD-TV in Denver. He joined KUSA from KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, SD, where he was promotion manager.



Co-President/GM, WSVN-7 in Miami and WHDH-7 & WLVI-56 in Boston Sunbeam Television

It’s been a notable year in many ways for Sunbeam Television. In July 2020, its 84-year-old founder, Ed Ansin, passed away. He was a pioneer, and proved that losing a network affiliation wasn’t the kiss of death for a bigmarket broadcast TV station. In 1989, with the help of Joel Cheatwood, Ansin’s WSVN-7 revolutionized local news with flashy “in-your-face” reporting that cemented the FOX affiliate’s role as “South Florida’s News Station.” In fact, that brand is so strong WSVN has never noted that it is the home for FOX programming in any of its promotional messaging. The success at WSVN was replicated at WHDH-7 in Boston, which like WSVN lost its NBC affiliation. And, like WSVN, WHDH has proven its might as a source for local news. Overseeing the day-to-day efforts at the two stations, along with WLVI-56 in Boston, is Paul Magnes. He added the Miami duties after rising at Sunbeam Television in Boston, which he joined as LSM in May 2006. Before that, Magnes was an Account Executive at WBZ-4 in Boston.

13 Gary Schneider

Paul Magnes


President/GM, KTVT-11, Dallas ViacomCBS

On June 4, 2021, Gary Schneider called it a day. That’s when the veteran Texas local TV leader formally headed into retirement, stepping down as President/GM of KTVT-11 and “TXA 21.” He’d been in the top role for the ViacomCBS stations serving Dallas-Fort Worth since 2009, rising from VP/GM. Schneider first joined KTVT and KTXA in 2004, following a two-year stint at KEYE-TV in Austin as its VP/GM. Previous TV industry experience includes a three-year stint as VP/GM of KSTW-TV in Seattle for Gaylord Broadcasting, a company for which he had previously served as VP/GM of KHTV-TV in Houston. Among those who are saluting Schneider for his leadership in Dallas, and in his previous roles, is Utah Scientific Director of Product Development and Technical Marketing John Schilberg. He tells RBR+TVBR, “Gary always stopped, listened, pondered, and then acted. And his actions were always fair, reasonable, and well grounded. A friend and leader regardless of your position within the station, he cared and was concerned for employees and viewers alike.” FA L L 2 0 2 1 · R B R . C O M · 15

TEGNA salutes our own

Steve Carter

President and General Manager at KGW-TV in Portland, Ore.

Congratulations on being selected as one of the Top Local TV Leaders in the media industry. Your leadership, vision and dedication are invaluable to all of us at TEGNA.



VP/GM, WUTV-29, BuffaloNiagara Falls Sinclair Broadcast Group

As far as Nick Magnini is concerned, “it’s essential our viewers are equipped with the most up-to-date information.” That’s one of the reasons WUTV-29 on July 1 debuted its own 10pm newscast. It was a bold move for the Sinclair Broadcast Group station, and only furthers the strong competitive battle between Nexstar’s WIVB-4, TEGNA’s WGRZ-2, and The E.W. Scripps Co.’s WKBW-7 in Western New York. The launch of the 10pm newscast is one reason the readers of RBR+TVBR are saluting Magnini, who oversees a FOX affiliate serving Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and the Canadian province of Ontario’s most populous areas. Magnini took over as WUTV and sibling WNYOTV’s VP/GM in March 2005, succeeding Don Moran. He began his TV career at WIVB in 1977, moving up the sales ladder. From 1989-1998, he was GSM at WCNC-TV in Charlotte before moving back to Western New York by accepting the GSM role for WUTV & WNYO.



VP/GM, WNCN-17, Raleigh Nexstar Media Group

In April 2020, the VP/GM of Nexstar Media Group‘s two television stations in Eastern North Carolina, a former President of his own sales and marketing consultancy, was selected to serve in a similar role at the company’s CBS affiliate serving DMA No. 17. As a result, John Lewis was named VP/GM of WNCN-17 in Raleigh-Durham. At the time of his appointment, right at the start of the pandemic, Nexstar SVP/ Regional Manager Doug Davis said, “John’s vast experience as a broadcast and sales executive, coupled with his results-driven attitude and deep understanding of North Carolina, makes him the ideal person to lead WNCN-TV and CBS17.com.” Lewis added, “I am extremely grateful to Nexstar for giving me this opportunity, and I am excited to be working alongside the talented and experienced staff at WNCN-TV and CBS17.com. Our broadcast and digital operations in Raleigh have a legacy of delivering outstanding journalism and superior service to the area’s viewers and advertisers while forging strong relationships in the community. Nexstar’s commitment to hyper-local content both on-air and online, coupled with the unique and customized advertising and marketing solutions we offer, creates a distinct advantage for our viewers and advertisers.” Prior to joining Nexstar, Lewis founded and served as President of dbs Com., which advised a wide variety of clients on the merger, acquisition, and sale of broadcast properties across the country. Before that, Lewis served as VP/GM of a cluster of television stations serving Eastern North Carolina from 2000 to 2002, including the former WXFI-TV and WYDO-TV, today “FOX Eastern Carolina.”

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VP/GM, WBZ-4, Boston ViacomCBS

He’d been President/GM of ViacomCBS’s Boston O&O, WBZ-4, for nine years. And, his leadership led RBR+TVBR readers to laud him for his leadership of a station that continues to shine in a competitive marketplace that includes Hearst’s flagship ABC affiliate, WCVB-5, and Sunbeam Television’s WHDH-7, also represented in this year’s Local TV Leaders list. As RBR+TVBR went to press, it became known that this honor will be Lund’s last as the leader of WBZ-TV, and of sibling WSBK-38 in Boston. In an email to staff distributed September 9, Lund said, “After much consideration I have made the decision that the time is right for me to step down.” Elaborating on his decision, Lund added, “These past 18 months have given all of us a new level of perspective, and I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and continuing to support various community organizations that focus on youth Mark Lund membership, equity, and development.” As Lund exits WBZ and WSBK, one can thank him, in part, for signing a multi-year deal with the New England Patriots NFL team that keeps pre-season and post-season programming on WBZ-4 through the 2022-2023 NFL season. Lund took on the top leadership spot for WBZ-4 in October 2002, succeeding the retiring Ed Piette, in his second tour of duty for the CBS O&O. Before that, Lund was previously EVP/Sales for the NBC Owned Television Stations. And, prior to joining NBC in July 2007, Lund spent a combined 11 years with WBZ and WSBK-38, a former “Superstation.” In fact, his connections to WBZ-TV and WSBK date back to the early 1980s, when he got his start as an intern at WBZ. Lund later worked in the station’s traffic and sales departments. “WBZ is a great station with a rich history and legacy,” Lund said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to represent WBZ in the community, and to work with such a talented team of broadcasters. I will always be grateful for the support and friendships I have made along the way.”



GM, WVUE-8, New Orleans Gray Television

Timing is everything. In January 2020, just before anyone knew that COVID19 would rampage across the U.S., hitting Louisiana particularly hard, Ronna Corrente was named GM at Gray Television‘s FOX affiliate in New Orleans. This put Corrente in charge of a property acquired by Raycom Media in April 2017, following several years of operation via a Shared Services Agreement and Joint Sales Agreement. She succeeded Tim Ingram, who became an SVP/Local Media at Gray. Corrente started her career in television at Fox affiliate WDKY-56 in Lexington, Ky. — a station Nexstar Media Group now owns. In February 2018, Corrente moved to Baton Rouge to become GM of WAFB-9 in Baton Rouge. Now, Corrente is being honored for her tenure at a station that in August 2019 saw the tragic loss of beloved news anchor Nancy Parker while working on a report in a stunt plane flown by pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus, a member of a Louisiana group that honored the Tuskegee Airmen. And the honor from RBR+TVBR readers comes right after Hurricane Ida — and just as Corrente settles in to her new role. On September 7, Corrente took over as GM of WAVE-3 in Louisville. Back in New Orleans, Corrente was succeeded by WVUE News Director Mikel Schaefer, who in turn was succeeded by the station’s current Assistant News Director, Kristen Palestina.

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Ronna Corrente


WENDY GRANATO President/GM, KTRK-13, Houston ABC Owned Stations

“I’m honored to be selected as one of the top local TV leaders,” says Wendy Granato, who oversees the ABC O&O serving Houston. “Despite a challenging past year and a half, I have never felt more passionate and hopeful about the work we do and the future of local television as I do at this moment.” It’s that spirit that could explain why the readers of RBR+TVBR consider Granato a top Local TV Leader. “I lead a dedicated and tenacious team at ABC13,” she adds. “Together, we will continue to lead by listening to our audience, who need us more than ever, and serving our communities in new and innovative Mark ways.” Danielson Under Granato’s leadership, she led her team to create ways to reach the community across the pandemic through dozens of informative town hall meetings and public service initiatives designed to educate, inform, and provide on-the-ground resources. Granato was previously VP of News, and conducted the successful merger of ABC13’s broadcast and digital departments. In that role, Granato directed nonstop coverage of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 — an eight-day effort. Before taking on that role at KTRK-13, Granato served as the Executive Producer of Special Projects and as the executive producer of the daily talk show Debra Duncan. Before joining KTRK, Granato was the news director for KNWS in Houston. Wendy Granato


Mark Danielson

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VP/GM, KCOY-12, KEYT-3 and KKFX-11, Santa Barbara, Calif. News-Press & Gazette Co.

When it comes to “advanced alerting” and the power of ATSC 3.0 to integrate official emergency information with local TV news coverage, an ABC affiliate serving the Central Coast of California proved to be a pioneer. Thank News-Press & Gazette Co. and its local leader, Mark Danielson, for the forward-thinking nature of KEYT-3, and of siblings KKFX-11 and KCOY-12, the FOX and CBS affiliates, respectively, in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo, Calif. KEYT-3 is one of the first stations in the nation to get on board with the next-gen broadcast TV standard known as “ATSC 3.0.” And it shows NPG is committed to the future of broadcast TV. NPG acquired KEYT in October 2012 for $14.25 million. With the acquisition from local owners, Danielson remained with the operation. He’d been GM since 2007 and before that was based in Eastern Idaho, at KIFI “Local 8.” Before that, Danielson was executive news director of KTVB-7 in Boise, Idaho. He began his career in 1990 as a News Technician and National Sales Assistant at KSL-5 in Salt Lake City.



SVP/Programming, WSBS-22 “Mega 22,” Miami Spanish Broadcasting System

Rounding out this year’s Top Local TV Leaders list is an individual who is credited not only with overseeing a Miami broadcast TV operation, but also a network. That’s because José Pérez is the SVP/Programming for Mega TV, and also in charge of its flagship WSBS-22. Pérez has been in the role at SBS since joining the company in May 2016. Before that, he served as COO and as an executive producer at Iconika Productions in Miami, “an imaginative creative and production hub with a passion for creative content.” However, from May 2010 through May 2012 he was VP of Programming and Acquisitions for Mega TV, making Pérez’s current tenure his second. Earlier in his career, Pérez served as SVP of Program Development for Univision and, following that role, as SVP of Daytime Programming for Telemundo.

José Pérez

ABOUT RBR+TVBR’s TOP LOCAL TV LEADERS: This Honor Roll is produced from RBR+TVBR reader nominations, which were gathered in August 2021. Rankings are based on nomination totals, in addition to research and analysis by the RBR+TVBR editorial department. © 2021 Streamline Publishing.

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Moving Forward As COVID-19 concerns continue to impact the broadcast media industry, this year’s Forward conference will once again be a virtual affair. “I wish we were together someplace speaking, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” says a cheery Steve Lanzano, President/CEO of TVB, the television industry’s advertising-focused advocacy organization. In 2020, nearly 4,000 attendees logged on and enjoyed an event that was among the more dynamic online offerings. What can 2021 participants expect when it comes to ease of use, digitized interactive opportunities, and the ability to network and gain new business leads? There’s a very good chance that it will even top last year’s impressive affair. And, with heightened concern over the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus making some skittish about live attendance at an industry event, Lanzano is more than

satisfied with TVB’s early call to go allvirtual for a second consecutive year. “We decided from March we were going to go virtual again, because we didn’t know,” Lanzano says of just how the pandemic would move forward. “With how fluid the situation is, we thought it was in our best interest. We had a very successful conference. Why mess that up? It appears we made the right choice.” In many ways, the TVB ALT Forward virtual conference in September 2020 was ahead of the curve compared to other events forced to go to an online platform. That has gone a long way in keeping registration just as good as last year. With excitement across TVB, what can this year’s participants expect with respect to the ease of use of the conference platform? “Our thought going in last year was that we wanted to create a conference that had all of the look and feel of a conference, that you felt you were watching a conference on your television screen, making it as visual as possible,” Lanzano says. “We had our chat

CONGRATULATIONS! Wendy Granato President & GM, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston

We appreciate your passion, dedication and outstanding leadership. We applaud your selection as a Top Local TV Leader!

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room, and there were a lot of people that got involved in that.” This year, TVB has taken it a step further. New networking opportunities will allow TVB conference participants to engage in a group setting very easily, a setting that Lanzano promises will “almost feel like you’re sitting at a table with somebody or a group of people.” This is the one thing that is missing from a virtual conference. TVB believes it has conquered the need to make it more social.

MEASURING UP THE BIG TOPICS Among the TVB Forward Conference session topics are measurement, business and political forecasts, automated TV, automotive, political, sports betting, and business development — and that’s just for starters. That said, measurement is the topic that’s likely at the top of everyone’s minds. With the TVB’s Hadassah Gerber moderating a panel focused on the future of measurement, what can Lanzano share as

to what Gerber will focus the discussion on? “Measurement is always either the top or top two sessions when we do our postconference survey,” Lanzano says. “People love them and want more, and that’s why it is really the first major content session.” With Nielsen seeking to work with the Media Rating Council on an accreditation hiatus, Lanzano hopes the audiencemeasurement company’s issues are somewhat more resolved by late September; as of late August, the MRC had yet to grant Nielsen’s hiatus request. The VAB, the industry’s key sales and advertising-focused advocacy group, has been going back and forth on accreditation with Nielsen. TVB also has its concerns. “We’ve been going back and forth with Nielsen regarding accreditation,” Lanzano says, noting that Nielsen put a hiatus on local accreditation earlier this year. They then delayed the inclusion of BroadbandOnly Homes (BBO) homes — something Nielsen has now done three times. “We want BBO homes in, but we want them put in at the right time, so we have good data,” Lanzano says. What’s the No. 1 desire of TVB with respect to Nielsen? “They need to fix the panel right now and make it healthy again before they move forward, and quite frankly I am nervous again with the growth of the delta variant and if they are going to have the same issues as last year in maintaining the health of the panel.”

UNIFIED MEASUREMENT PLANS What Lanzano really wants to tackle at TVB Forward is what the nation’s unified measurement will be moving forward. Crossplatform measurement, with one aggregated audience for content that is de-duped, “seems to be where the industry is going.” Impressions. That’s where the industry is going, and where agencies desire to be. “We really want to get into the future of measurement and how quickly we can

get there, because it’s a good thing for this industry,” Lanzano says. “It’s very important to get there as quickly as possible.” The future of television, meanwhile, is very much tied to Automated TV. With the pandemic slowing down its growth, “it’s now really working with the individual resources and suppliers — such as WideOrbit, MediaOcean, and Hudson MX — to provide the end-to-end solution. I think we are getting closer. People obviously have to get comfortable with it. And I think they will.” One of the challenges is the financial model of Automated TV. “Obviously the suppliers, who are building these systems in place, want to get paid. Of course, it has to work as an economic model on the buy side as well as on the sell side, on the side of the broadcasters. They are still working out those financial arrangements.” Once that happens, Lanzano believes automated buying will take off. “It’s important that it does, as it provides more data and more targeting and takes out the one barrier that we have, and that’s the efficiency of our transactions process.”

POLITICAL DOLLAR RESILIENCE Political dollars are integral to the bottom line for television industry revenue. What are the forecasts heading into 2022? Is California shaping up to be robust, given the gubernatorial recall race that saw Gavin Newsom retain his position as the head of the Golden State? Yes, Lanzano says. But the big race will make its mark on quarterly earnings reports for companies with properties in the Old Dominion — Virginia. As he sees it, the Virginia governor’s race is bigger than the quest to govern California. “We think there may be bigger money in Virginia than in California right now,” Lanzano believes. Several down-ballot races are also worthy of national attention. Special races in Texas and Louisiana are getting some spending, Lanzano notes. “This year has been OK, but

next year you have 36 gubernatorial races, you have 34 Senate races and 30 Attorney General races that are starting to get some real money. Our expectation is that 2022 is going to be another record midterm year. It’s going to be a big, big year. In some specific markets you might see numbers that’ll rival the 2020 spending.” With the shifting dynamic of where television viewership is going, given the rise of Connected TV and the continued flood of direct mail from candidates, local TV political advertising dollars remain strong. Why? Lanzano responds, “It’s the best case study we have for local broadcast TV. It’s a win-or-lose situation. You either win the election, or lose the election. You could have a 48% share of the market, but you’ve lost the election. All of the consultants do all of their polling research, and television by far is still the greatest driver of awareness of a candidate, to persuade them to vote for a candidate, and to get them to go out and vote.” TVB does its own polling with Washington, D.C.-based Dynata. The findings show that across the entire voter funnel, nothing comes close to TV. “That’s why we continue to get the dollars we get, because it is what, quite frankly, wins elections.”

A BET ON SPORTS WAGERING Like in radio, sports betting seems to be a growing area of advertising for television. That may be the understatement of the year for TVB. “It’s been a massive new category, and for some groups it has been a category that’s a Top 5 category already and rivaling a Top 2 category,” Lanzano says. “And the growth rate is still astronomical.” With 32 states where sports betting is legal, the possibilities for broadcast TV are

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The Tech That’s Being Talked About For the first time in 2 1/2 years, representatives from a host of broadcast media technology companies hoped to be safely gathering in an expo hall in early October. There was much anticipation regarding the opportunity to chat with station engineering chiefs and others across the radio and TV industry. That won’t be happening. The 2021 NAB Show was cancelled with 25 days to go on Sept. 15. But for vendors, sharing the latest news about products of keen interest to broadcast media hasn’t stopped. Three key companies among the nearly 235 exhibitors signed on for booths in the Central Lobby and North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center shared with 24 · R B R . C O M · FA L L 2 0 2 1

RBR+TVBR what was to be a preview of their onsite presentations. Now, we are pleased to serve as an important distribution point for these vendors, who are available via phone and e-mail to respond to your queries.

AIR-COOLED, ON TARGET GatesAir, the company known for its air-cooled transmitters, is readying the introduction of a new product in its radio portfolio. Ted Lantz, Vice President of Product Line Management at GatesAir, offers the details. “We plan to introduce the ‘GX Series,’” says Lantz, who is responsible for the oversight of television and radio product development and global market penetration for GatesAir’s Intraplex Product Group. That’s focused on media networking products for broadcast and public safety applications.

The GX product line offers two power levels, 10kw and 5kw. The big lure for broadcasters? It’s a “compact” transmitter, Lantz says of the air-cooled transmitters. “I don’t think anyone has done this to date in the broadcast industry.” Air-cooled transmitters received much attention in 2019 and 2020 from the television industry, as the post-spectrum auction “repack” necessitated the installation of new equipment for some broadcast companies. For radio, Lantz, who is based at the company’s manufacturing facility in Quincy, Ill., continued evolution of product needs has fueled the desire for more compact options. Higher efficiency and lower operating cost may be marketing buzzwords. But for AM and FM radio station owners still climbing out of a pandemic-fueled fiscal

funk, those needs are perhaps outsized among the broadcast companies talking with GatesAir. “We’ve expanded upon what we were already doing in our previous products,” Lantz says. Another big topic of conversation for the GatesAir team is the Maxiva PMTX-1, a selfcontained fully weatherproof transmitter series built for particularly challenging coverage areas and install points. It bowed in June 2021. “The pole mount and the intra-mast are two of the products that have a lot of highlights,” Lantz says. “They have some uniqueness to them in offering the broadcaster much more space-saving opportunities when boosters or translators are considered. It allows you to do fillins where you might not have your best coverage.” In short, the pole-mounted transmitter can resolve those “gaps” a station’s signal may presently be suffering with. While those two products will certainly attract those from the radio industry, what is GatesAir showcasing for broadcast television? The IMTX-70 intra-mast transmitter, Lantz says. “We’re doing a second generation of that. You can put this into an existing inter-mast structure and can allow a TV station to fill in those areas with reception issues, much like the product for radio we are offering.” On September 8, Nick Van Haaster, the regional sales manager for the northwestern U.S. and Western Canada, spoke to Wisconsin Broadcaster Association attendees about leveraging SRT protocol for radio and TV signal distribution. For those in the C-Suite, the knowledge level of this subject could be very low. What does this mean? “That falls into our transport products – our intraplex products,” Lantz notes. “If you are radio or TV and you need to distribute content, SRT allows us to give you a very reliable transport platform of data, via IP. As you know, that hasn’t always been a very reliable method, and what this allows us to do is get you to provide your digital content to the transmitter and to the end user without worry.”

Ted Lantz

Jay Martin

With IBC Amsterdam coming in weeks ahead of CES 2022 and NATPE Miami, and the 2022 NAB Show just six months away, Jay Martin, Dielectric’s VP of Sales, and his team have placed a focus on HFSS simulation of pattern studies. For those readers who have no idea what that is, a White Paper and discussion of Dielectric’s findings will help make the highly technical discussion of signal patterns more understandable to the layman, or perhaps the manager who signs off on any purchase orders. John Schadler, Dielectric’s VP of Engineering, is taking the lead on the matter, and the basis of his paper is going A PROOF OF PERFORMANCE PITCH through the approval process at the FCC, Despite the absence of the NAB Show in Martin notes. What will it accomplish? 2020 and now in 2021, Dielectric, the Sinclair Simply stated, it will speed up the Broadcast Group-owned broadcast radio directional pattern proof of performance and TV antenna and signal-transmission for radio stations. product manufacturer, hasn’t exactly been The 2021 NAB Show was to see Dielectric dormant since spring 2019. It had a presence soft-launch an FM pylon. Now, it has at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) confirmed a hard launch at the 2022 NAB conference, and was at the Texas Association Show in April. Promotion in full will begin of Broadcasters (TAB) show. in the spring.

Not familiar with a pylon? Martin breaks it down in the simplest terms. “If you look at a radio antenna, typically there are multiple elements stacked up in a wavelength spacing,” he says. “If you look at a TV antenna, it is typically a slotted cylinder. This will resemble the TV antenna. It’s one device with a full enclosed radome with X number of elements inside it.” Radomes form a protective cover between an antenna and the environment with little if any impact to the antenna inside, or its performance. “Looking at a tower, you see a fourbay antenna,” Martin says. “You see four discrete elements connected with a transmission line. Here, you’re simply going to see a smooth cylinder with the elements as part of that structure. There’s a much lower wind load, and it is a much simpler device, with more bandwidth.” Rounding out the products Dielectric is showcasing among those who planned to be at the NAB Show is the TFU-WB (LP & HP). The antenna is part of the Powerlite portfolio and designed as a broadband alternative to UHF panel antennas. Meanwhile, Martin notes that the “excitement” surrounding the voluntary rollout of ATSC 3.0 remains strong. He was in attendance in late August at the ATSC 3.0 meetings in Washington, D.C. “I’m seeing a lot of filings at the Commission for stations that are modifying their license, to allow them to broadcast NEXTGEN TV,” he says. Dielectric has a full portfolio of products for both the lighthouse and the SFN. “It’s just like the early days of digital, in that everyone is asking, ‘How do we monetize this new service?’” Martin concludes. “It’s out of their own pocket, unlike the repack, so they’ve got to have a justification for doing it. And that’s happening market by market.”

FOUR PRODUCTS FOR CONSIDERATION Bill Bennett, the Media Solutions Account Manager at ENCO, says the company that pioneered computer-based, digital audio and program automation for radio stations and TV studios has a quartet of products that it is sharing with those who planned on attending the NAB Show. For the television industry, there are two main products — one of those of use in both radio and TV stations. Specifically of interest to the TV industry is the ClipFire automated playout system, which brings automatic ingest, media asset management, graphics, and playout automation together. “It’s built on decades of experience building our DAD radio automation platform,” Bennett notes. However, it FA L L 2 0 2 1 · R B R . C O M · 25

CONTINUED FROM P.23 increasing by the day. “You have growth in terms of geography, and growth in terms of spending, where there’s basically less than $10 million in spending a year ago in first quarter and this year first-quarter spending was almost $200 million,” Lanzano notes. That just keeps growing and growing. Given where England and Italy are today, many more millions of dollars could be on the horizon, Lanzano adds. In-game wagering will ignite this domestic opportunity. For sponsorships and integrations, the activity is slow; for now, spot activity is dominating the gaming dollar infusion to broadcast TV. “Everyone is trying to feel their way through this in terms of what’s the best way to expose a sports bettor to the opportunity to bet online,” Lanzano says.


Bill Bennett

has been modified and designed for the video industry as a multichannel system. “Basically, it is a ‘TV channel in a box’ kind of product. It can transcode across different media codecs at the same time and play them out through different channels simultaneously.” New features include a built-in clip editor that allows people to take videos on the system and adjust the in-and-out points and merge clips — all within the ClipFire environment. A new dynamic L-bar feature can “squeeze back the playout video and surround it on any of the sides with custom dynamic graphics or messaging or dynamic data.” Let’s say you’re a TV broadcaster and you have a one-man linear stream with some streaming-only channels. This platform, Bennett explains, can take a library of content and add dynamic generated-on-the-fly graphical elements either around the video or on top of the video throughout the day. The other video product, something being adapted for the radio market, is EnCaption 5 — “a wholly new redesigned product with a brand-new fully web-centric controller interface,” Bennett says. It’s an artificial intelligence-based device that now boasts a new speech engine. 26 · R B R . C O M · FA L L 2 0 2 1

“This greatly improves the accuracy and improves its ability to properly insert punctuation and detect speaker change,” Bennett adds. For radio, captioning live programming that is being streamed over a website is a growing area of interest, in particular for reaching deaf or hard-of-hearing consumers. Is there a specific product for radio that ENCO is sharing with the industry? Yes, and for those familiar with the DAD playout system, “some neat advances” have been seen over the last year for ENCO’s webDAD — a browser-based native-control front end for DAD that can run on a web browser. It allows remote workers to access the main playout system, regardless of location, thanks to VPN access. In Bennett’s view, ENCO is a software company. This means it is easier and faster to turn around new products and features. As such, ENCO is already looking ahead to the 2022 NAB Show and beyond. The products ENCO will bring to the marketplace will also be based on one key philosophy. “If there’s spoken word material, regardless of the content, it can and should be captioned,” Bennett says. “What good is content if it can’t be enjoyed by as many people as possible?”

The TVB Forward 2021 event will include a business forecast from BIA Advisory Services founder and CEO Tom Buono. What is Lanzano’s view from his vantage point as, for some groups, ad dollars are up, but are now outnumbered by ever-increasing retransmission consent revenue? While that’s certainly a touchy subject, Lanzano believes it is one component of broadcast television’s non-traditional revenue opportunities, such as those associated with ATSC 3.0 and the data capabilities it affords. He also notes the political dollar growth as adding to the totality of broadcast TV’s revenue streams. Meanwhile, the acceleration of NEXTGEN TV signals in market after market, and the increased availability of new TVs equipped with ATSC 3.0-enabled antennas, are poised to bring more viewers — thus aiding TV in its quest for more ad dollars. For marketers questioning their use of broadcast TV in 2022, perhaps a CMO interview with Pearle Vision VP/ Chief Marketing Officer Doug Zarkin, conducted by ANA CEO Bob Liodice, will help sway them toward over-the-air television spots. The chat will be held one week before the hybrid ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, and it is poised to close a day full of learnings, in a techsavvy environment designed to move the broadcast TV business far forward in 2022 and beyond.

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CONTINUED FROM P.5 THE IMPOSSIBLE COMPARISON Dick Foreman, President of media brokerage and consultancy RAFAMEDIA, is a veteran of the radio and TV transactions world. In the 40 years he’s served as a broker, his shop has engineered and completed more than $2 billion in media transactions. Of late, he’s had a hand in the sale of Upstate New York FMs that reach western Montreal to Educational Media Foundation, and Lotus Communications’ entry into Seattle by grabbing the lone radio properties from Sinclair Broadcast Group. Those transactions came in mid-2021; 2020 was rather dormant for Foreman. Looking at the landscape, Foreman realizes the radio industry has really been in a funk when it comes to transactions.

of which is cheaper and more measurable to marketers, there’s no easy solution for radio to cure its revenue woes. Or is there? As 2021 enters the fourth quarter, eerie parallels to 1991 have taken hold. Today, radio was weakened by COVID-19 and is being hammered by digital. Then, it was badly shaken by the Persian Gulf War, a declining Top 40 format, and dollars siphoned by cable TV. Foreman remembers those days quite well. “Thirty years ago is a pretty good benchmark,” he says. “That’s pre-deregulation and pre-consolidation, and that’s a pretty good number to where we are today.” The radio industry was on very shaky ground. Emmis Communications famously shed WLOL/Minneapolis and WAVA/ Washington while Docket 80/90 arrivals in New York’s Hudson Valley struggled in the

“You’re dealing with a technology today that is over 100 years of age that has withstood the hands of time greatly, but it is wearing. And there are tremendous competitive products out there that really compete against it.” — Dick Foreman

“That’s created by a few buried issues,” he says. “You’re dealing with a technology today that is over 100 years of age that has withstood the hands of time greatly, but it is wearing. And there are tremendous competitive products out there that really compete against it.” Thanks to these new digitally delivered audio options, combined with the pandemic, radio has had what Foreman calls “tremendous sluggishness in revenue.” That said, Foreman makes it a point to note that radio revenues were starting to erode before the pandemic. He points to comparisons to 2016 to solidify his argument. “The radio business in terms of valuations today is probably very difficult to put a handle on,” Foreman says. With some in the industry painting a rosy picture by showing tremendous improvement from 2020, the problem lies in the fact that this improvement comes from “a very low comp,” Foreman adds. And, with a revenue stream that continues to be impeded by fancy new tech, much 28 · R B R . C O M · FA L L 2 0 2 1

early 1990s to survive. A trickle of radio transactions was seen. Much like today, calls for deregulation were vocalized. Are we repeating 1991, with respect to what will cure radio industry ills? “It’s really hard to create benchmarks for where we are,” Foreman says. “In terms of real-world trailing cash flow, I think we are probably in the five to 6 1/2 range.” That depends on the level of competition in the market, and the size of the market, too, Foreman adds. The track record for revenue at a particular station is also critical in determining valuations. For Foreman, as others have noted, the radio business is much better positioned for growth in small to medium-sized markets, especially those that lack strong competition.

ANOTHER CALL FOR DEREGULATION When Foreman looks at the television dealmaking landscape, he’s aligned with Kalil’s McDermott in expressing his confidence in the fact that there are buyers — including the mega groups and Allen Media Group. The key problem?

“There is no inventory,” he says. “That’s it. Period. And the prices being paid for television are eight to nine times trailing cash flow. But you can’t find anything.” Foreman doesn’t see that getting easier unless there is some regulatory easing in Washington. Alas, he says, “With the current administration, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.” Foreman makes it clear why he is also among those who insist further deregulation will assist and aid the television business — and ignite the radio business: it provides a hefty competitive stance against digital. “You saw where one group [Gray Television] was just fined $50,000 per station because they were deemed to have been involved in over-the-top transactions that were not under the guidance of the FCC lawfully conducted,” he says. “When you start to see that happening, you have to ask, ‘What if the rules were eliminated totally for television, or for radio?’ Those are probably wish points that are never going to happen in my lifetime, but what would happen if television and radio were totally deregulated?” Foreman’s answer: It would aid in the fight against digital. “Deregulation is critical to allowing electronic broadcast media to compete against digital. We’re doing it now with our hands tied behind our back in terms of being able to compete one-on-one against a level of competition that is totally deregulated. Whether it is Google or it is Facebook, there are no regulations.” Minus deregulation, which is about as likely as Ajit Pai returning as FCC Chairman in 2022, what does Foreman forecast for radio and TV deals? “There will be more transactions in radio, because the revenue stream for radio is improving. Yet the benchmark of 1991 is correct. There were just no transactions going on, because there was a lack of deregulation — that occurred in 1994 and 1995. There will be transactions in radio, but they will be primarily involving FM stations. And there will be sales with 5x to 6x multiples.” For TV, the buying opportunities are scarce, Foreman says. Unless it is an LPTV, there could be no deals at all in the television sector.

A PATH TO GREATER VALUE While it is unanimous among media brokers that radio and TV transactions will continue, although at a snail’s pace until perhaps 2025, valuations could now become the focal point of conversations regarding potential deals. When it comes to coming up with the right price, Summit Ridge Group Managing Director

Bill Redpath, a veteran appraiser, says it is gests that AM radio’s Great American Death “only reasonable” that 2020 revenue be looked March is accelerating. at as a blip. Even with improvements seen Bergner comments, “AM is permanently across 2021, “it is only natural to look at the challenged. The fact that it needs somemulligan” that was the COVID-19 impact on thing on the FM dial to complement it is all 2020 and use comparisons starting with 2019 you need to know. Even the FM translator and moving into the past. success stories are few and far between. Does that help a shaky radio industry, There is some worth as a tuck-in to an given the chatter about how the industry established cluster. But if some guy simply is in decline? Is the television broadcastowns an AM and an FM translator … that’s ing business immune to such discussions, not even a business. He’s better off buying a given the quick political-dollar-fueled laundromat.” recovery seen by over-the-air TV stations? As a broker, Bergner “without a doubt” Yes, Redpath notes, tossing any notion that has sold more AMs than perhaps any other radio station valuations will simply not media broker. He doesn’t even work on AM rebound and will only continue to decline in deals today, and hasn’t in years. He says, the coming years. “There are no buyers. There’s nothing. If we “We are witnessing a rebound in radio,” are still talking about AM, we’re really takhe says. “I do see some upswing happening ing a step back. There’s no there, there.” in radio right now, and there is a way to go In McDermott’s view, AMs have buyers. yet to get back to where they came from. It He’s brokering them right now and did sevmay take a little while, but I think there is eral deals with iHeartMedia as it rolled out improvement.” BIN: Black Information Network across the When Redpath crunches the numbers, he U.S. “That was a robust process and took finds median estimated enterprise values place in times that were challenging, to say divided by net revenue of 2.58 for the nine the least,” he says. “There are other buyers publicly traded broadcast media companies for AMs, and we continue to work on AMs. It he tracks. Historically, this is very reasonis dependent on the facility and the market, able, Redpath says. He adds that median but they are of interest for those who see business enterprise value divided by the value of reach.” Broadcast Cash Flow yields a number of 9.4. With such a muddied forecast for AM, That is a very reasonable number, too, given what does Bergner believe is best for FM? the challenges dating to the end of Q1 2020, For it to succeed, he says, it needs to be he concludes. hyperlocal, ‘with a very adaptable, flexible “What I see here right now is a reasonably sales staff that’s reacting to the local marpriced marketplace that will allow expanket digitally, promotionally, and otherwise.” sion at a reasonable price for acquirers for He also likes scenarios where an operathe foreseeable future,” says Redpath, who tor dominates a small market, with 80% joined Summit Ridge in 2020 and previously of the radio listening. “That’s a business,” spent 35 years at BIA Advisory Services. Bergner says. “Fighting in Philadelphia with Eddie Esserman, Managing Director of a standalone? That’s not a business. OK, Media Services Group, says the basics for there’s John Catsimatidis buying WABC [in station valuations remain the same — even New York], but that station’s not making any if they can’t cover the blemishes. “It’s money and he’s a billionaire, so what’s the based on ‘how many people do you cover,’ difference? When you don’t have to worry or ‘do you have any cash flow’ … ‘what is about ad sales, you can have some fun.” this property worth to someone that has a In Savannah, Ga., competing against strategically unique value,’” Esserman says. Cumulus Media and Dick Broadcasting is a “It is dented, and was dented long before business for Jerry Rogers and his unique COVID. It is coming back a little bit.” Adult Rock WRHQ “Q105.3.” What if he However, should another COVID round decided to retire and put his station on the put the nation’s biggest population centers market? Media Services Group’s Esserman in a fresh lockdown, a renewed loss of belief believes there’s no potential buyer that can in radio among some could once again raise easily emerge without Capitol Hill-fueled uncertainty about the industry’s future. deregulation. “Nobody can buy [WRHQ], and I think RELENTLESS RECESSION that’s unfair to the industry,” he says. “I The FCC’s “Auction 109,” held during the think it is unrealistic, and the fact that summer, yielded one interesting result: Not he has Google, Facebook, Instagram, and one bidder emerged for a collection of AM everybody else including Yelp competradio signals serving the St. Louis market. ing with him, nobody can buy it from Even with the potential that HD Radio and him. I have lobbied as an owner [of WEAS/ digital-only AM radio broadcasts present Savannah] for deregulation, and we are to a broadcaster, the lack of interest sugalmost beyond an existential point where

without any regulatory relief on owners, doomsday may be the scenario.” Isn’t there an entrepreneur out there that could entertain a purchase of WRHQ as part of a digital-centric audio offering, one that benefits from an FM in a growing, hip market while using its smartphone app to fully interact and engage audiences? Esserman’s July trip to Bellagio, Italy, on the shores of Lake Como, came to mind. There, locals have access to Radio Monte Carlo, a Milan-based radio network with coverage across Italy and Monaco. It may be audio, but it is radio at its heart. For companies that have stopped identifying themselves in the radio business and instead refer to their business as “audio,” the WRHQ future-owner scenario is intriguing. Yet the two very different business that have taken shape at radio may make such an idea nothing more than a fiscally impossible folly. “Some of these companies are in the national network business and some are in the advertising-selling business,” Esserman notes. Then there is Beasley Media Group, invested in eSports, and Audacy, which has gambled heavily on on-demand spoken word programming and partnerships with BetQL as gaming continues its unrelenting growth. That’s where reinforcing radio as radio could prove to be a winning formula. “Are we at the bottom? You can’t call it a bottom until you’ve lifted off of it,” Esserman says of station valuations. “I don’t care if you’re a broadcaster or a submariner. I would like to think we are at the bottom, but there is no evidence that is the case.” Kalil’s McDermott paints a positive picture for radio by looking beyond Manhattan and subway commuters who stream audio with nary an FM or AM in their lives. “They can stream music during their workday from their desktop, but the vast majority of Americans still rely on radio on a daily basis,” he says. “There’s something to be said about that.” That’s where radio’s often-told reach story enters the conversation. It remains a vitally important topic that could very well provide the industry the long-term growth it so desperately desires. “There’s something to be said about that,” McDermott believes. “A better story needs to be told about radio. The only story I can tell is what I’m seeing transactionally, and that is radio groups that are successful and recovering from the pandemic are continuing to annualize growth. They are looking at properties that make sense for them. Offers are being made. And we’re positive. We see signs of life. We have activity, and that activity is growing.”

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TV’s Sales Salary Story Media Staffing Network teamed with RBR+TVBR for the second consecutive year to examine how the compensation of account executives in the broadcast television industry looks today. The big takeaway: responses seen in summer 2021 aren’t that dissimilar to those seen one year ago. Media Staffing Network surveyed television industry sales professionals as

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part of a broader study of the broadcast media industry and the newspaper business. An even breakout of market sizes was seen among the respondents, and Laurie Kahn, President/CEO of Media Staffing Network, notes that it provides a strong representation of large versus small markets. “With the pandemic still active, there was curiosity on how it affected sales departments,” she says. “Happily, we didn’t see many changes to the previous year’s responses.”

Here is an overview of how things look in broadcast television sales, and how it compares to other media. • The number of sellers per market stayed very consistent across all media, with an average of 5-8 sellers being the most popular team size. • Earnings stayed similar to the previous year. Some 55% of respondents stated they pay 100% commission, while 40% of respondents offer a base plus commission.


A new question asked in 2021 is how many offices are using part-time sellers. Of the three platforms, television was the smallest percentage. Yet, all three were in the 26% to 30% range. “We see this number increasing over the next few years,” Kahn says. “Not only has COVID taught us about flexibility, we also now have a stronger focus on diversity, and with high competition to hire, offering part-time sales positions will allow us to hire a broader range of talent in all market sizes.”

AN AGING PROFESSION? One interesting finding from the 2021 Media Staffing Network/RBR+TVBR survey deals with the average age of

Laurie Kahn

television station sellers. It is increasing. While ages 41-50 is the largest group, some 15.6% of respondents are between 51 and 60 years of age. What does this mean? Kahn notes, “As this work group starts to retire, they will need to be replaced.” Thus, in her view, offering part-time or more flexibility is a great way to attract more workers. “Keep in mind that younger workers tend to move careers more often, so retaining a steady team will be of importance,” Kahn says. An area where Media Staffing Network and RBR+TVBR saw a jump this year was in the number of television stations that are not offering any guarantee period for new hires. This jumped from 4.5% of respondents in 2020 to 17.8% in 2021. This is a concern, Kahn notes, as most new hires are looking for a secure period when making a career change. And this figure lags behind the other industries. “Turnover is more often caused by new hires not totally understanding what they were getting into,” Kahn comments. “TV industry respondents were by far the highest at 51.1%, followed by ‘not being a fit for the culture.’” The third-biggest deterrent was the opportunity to earn more elsewhere.” Kahn says, “This points to a need to better present expectations and offer clarity on what the job involves prior to hire. We often suggest managers bring in prospective hires for a day to get a better picture of what a seller does on a dayby-day basis. Many younger sellers are afraid that they are being hired to come in, sit at a phone, and cold call all day. This scares them into not applying for those positions.” This, Kahn says, means that strong job profiles and testimonials on a television station’s career page can easily address those fears while also addressing an overview of the job.

With diversity and inclusion efforts increasing across all sectors of the U.S. economy, Media Staffing Network and RBR+TVBR asked our respondents a series of questions on the topic. Of the survey participants, some 71.6% say they have a strong diversity program in place. Advertising to reach a more diverse audience shows job postings on their websites as the top response. This is followed by referral programs, and advertising in minority-focused organizations, respectively. In selling other platforms, television sellers actively sell streaming and mobile apps over podcasts. This is consistent with the other media surveyed by Media Staffing Network. What are Kahn’s final conclusions from the research MSN conducted? “If we summarize findings among the surveys, one-on-one phone calls, and actively researching hiring trends, here is what we for the future of media sales,” she says, pointing to four key takeaways: • Younger generations are being projected to have more turnover than previous generations. This is linked to the fact that current sales staffs are aging, and both are creating a need to recruit regularly. Talent acquisition needs to be a strong focus that requires ongoing attention. • Transparency is crucial. Being up front about expectations, reports, goals, and other day-to-day details is important. Creating detailed job profiles will help better educate prospects, in addition to having fully developed career pages on websites to sell your opportunities. • In competing to hire for open positions, understand that relocation is often not an option in hiring sellers. As such, it is advisable to let your community know that you are a good career choice. Share how you interact with the community, how you help non-profits, and how you help local businesses grow. Participate in local contests that give recognition to good employers. • In attracting and retaining new hires, there is a need to offer a longer security period. Offering 100% commission does not attract the quality of applicants we need to hit revenue goals. All Media Staffing Network studies can be viewed at www.mediastaffingnetwork.com/ compensation-studies.

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to our Local Media Group Leaders Kevin James

Charlie Henrich

KTVK-3 & KPHO-5 Phoenix

KCTV-5 & KSMO Kansas City

for being named 2021 Radio + Television Business Report Top Local TV Leaders! Thank you for your hard work and dedication in leading our Phoenix and Kansas City teams.