Station traders come out of the gate hot in 2013 By Dave Seyler
In this issue... Michael Savage’s Radio Renaissance
Relevant, unpredictable, witty & wise
Charting a new course for Joe’s Crab Shack: Ignite Restaurant Group CMO Robin Ahearn
Top trends for TV in 2013 What to expect this year amidst constant change
P.P.M. means Poor Pathetic Measurement
Only in radio would an industry invent PPM
In Case of Emergency
What your station needs to know now—before it’s too late
There can be no doubt about it - the wheelers and dealers in the broadcast sector are out and they’re spending a lot more than they were during the first two months of 2012. This despite the fact that volume of stations sold on the radio side is essentially unchanged. However, action on the television side is up significantly. During the first two months of 2012, 108 radio stations changed hands, along with 11 television outlets (five full-power, three Class A and three LPTV). Total spending for the whole kit and caboodle came in at $87.8M. The value of the deals in January 2013 alone was greater than that, and January’s total value was more than a third less than that traded in February. In all, about $417.4M in value has been booked during the first two months of 2013. Observant watchers of the station trading market may be thinking that the 2013 total is inflated by spin-offs from Cox Media Group, and they would be right - as Don Rickles might say, this group of observant watchers wins a cookie! However, Cox sold about $100M worth of radio stations to two buyers and another $100M in television stations to one buyer, leaving JanuaryFebruary 2013 total value still at about two and a half times that of 2012.
Driving the improvement
Media Venture Partners broker Elliott Evers explained three of the factors that have been injecting life into the station trading arena. “Radio: Trading in radio has picked up, as sellers (whether controlled by a lender, or an equity
sponsor) have come to accept that the current market for cash-flowing, cohesive radio clusters is settling in around six times trailing cash flow. The Triad deal was done below this figure, and portions of the Cox deal were done slightly above it, but deals in the radio industry work well at this multiple, so buyers are showing renewed interest in the sector. We see this continuing through 2013 and 2014. “TV: Trading in the television sector for cash-flowing assets has been robust: Barrington, Granite, Cox, and others have been selling, and Sinclair, Nexstar and others have been buying. Multiples for sellers are at, or sometimes, Elliott Evers above, eight times, but buyers are comfortable at this level, due to the fact that they can either take advantage of the duopoly rules and consolidate operations, or take advantage of existing retrains deals and thereby lower the post-closing multiple to five or six times. Activity in the TV sector has been further fueled by very accommodating capital markets. We see this continuing throughout 2013 and into 2014. “The TV trading environment has been boosted even more by deals done with a view towards tendering the stations in the FCC’s spectrum auctions, tentatively set for 2014 (although likely to be postponed). Over $300M in deals have been done with this investment thesis as the primary motivation. This phenomenon has also had a meaningful
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Station Traders continued from page 1... impact on Class A LPTV trading: since the February 22, 2012 passage of the Congressional legislation enabling the spectrum auctions, prices for Class A’s have moved up from $1 per covered person, to more than $2 per covered person in the more attractive markets. Fullpower stations are being priced in roughly the same range. There are several very well-funded players actively pursuing these deals, and we expect this activity to continue through this year and beyond.”
that over 90% of January trading value was on the TV side. The Cox deals improved radio’s value share in February. We decided to keep track of the amount of seller paper being used. Note that it’s out there but represents a relatively small percentage of total value being traded. Here are charts detailing the types of stations being sold and their general locations; and the value associated with different types of deals, for the first two months of 2013.
Breaking down the numbers
As far as sheer volume goes on the radio side, the bulk of the action remains outside of rated territory - 28 of the 40 stations traded in January were beyond the reach of Arbitron or Eastlan and only four were in the top 50 markets. The action shifted strongly into the 51-100 zone in February largely due to the big group spin-offs from Cox Media to Connoisseur and newly-formed SummitMedia. It’s a different story for television - for starters, few stations qualify as being beyond the reach of the Nielsen (usually an LPTV here or there). And there has been elevated trading action among Class As and LPTVs in big markets in advance of the incentive auctions. Note: for the purposes of this study, we use Arbitron ranks when situation stations on the charts regardless of type of station. Also note January Deals/Values Deal type Deals Radio 1 mkt 18 Radio multi-mkt 3 Radio no value 13 TV 1 mkt 11 TV multi mkt 2 Total 47
Stns 20 7 13 13 6 59
Value $10,384,000 $1,157,200 $0 $82,383,000 $4,175,000 $95,554,000
January Trading by Station Type/Market Size Station 1-50 51-100 101-smlr AM 2 1 2 AM CP 0 0 0 FM 2 3 2 FM CP 0 0 0 LPFM 0 0 0 TV 5 0 1 Class A 1 0 1 LPTV 5 2 3 Total 15 6 9
February Deals/Values Deal type Deals Radio 1 mkt 18 Radio multi-mkt 3 Radio no value 4 TV 1 mkt 12 TV multi mkt 1 Total 37
Stns 21 27 6 13 5 72
Value $10,486,775 $106,700,000 $0 $105,625,031 $99,000,000 $321,811,806
February Trading by Station Type/Market Size Station 1-50 51-100 101-smlr AM 0 4 0 AM CP 0 0 0 FM 2 19 8 FM CP 0 0 1 LPFM 0 0 0 TV 0 2 9 Class A 4 0 0 LPTV 0 1 1 Total 6 26 19
Pnote $22,500 $468,800 $0 $350,000 $0 $841,300
Out 8 1 13 4 2 0 0 1 29
Total 13 1 20 4 2 6 2 11 59
Pnote $1,115,000 $350,000 $0 $0 $0 $1,465,000
Out 9 0 9 1 1 0 0 1 21
Total 13 0 38 2 1 11 4 3 72
Station trading looks to be picking up -and we already know about a number of big as-yet-unfiled deals -- but it is still far from mimicking the California Gold Rush conditions of the late 1990s. But observers clearly see that the market has opened up to one degree or another. Said Kalil and Company’s Todd Hartman, “There are buyers looking for deals in all three sectors: TV, Radio, and Outdoor. In TV there are traditional buyers looking Todd Hartman for Big Four cash flowing opportunities, and the Spectrum buyers are active, as well. The radio buyers are looking for cash flowing clusters with good technical facilities, primarily in rated markets. The Outdoor buyers are looking for plants of size that either currently have, or have the ability to build-out digital boards. Communications attorney Erwin Krasnow of Garvey Schubert Barer notices the uptick but is not overwhelmed by it. He said, “Station trading appears to be opening up, but ever so slightly. I expect that buyers mainly will be established broadcasters and entrepreneurs looking for strategic opportunities to regroup assets (e.g., Connoisseur) or to buy cash flow at low multiples.” Looking at the financing aspect, he remains somewhat pessimistic. Krasnow said, “Unfortunately, the banks, finance companies and private equity funds that were once the lifeblood of the business are gone, and won’t likely be back, certainly any time soon. Large goldplated deals with a minimum of $10 million in Broadcast Cash Flow will still get done at low multiples. Otherwise, prospective buyers will be forced to look at seller financing (a/k/a seller paper), funds from ‘friends and family’ and local banks.” Erwin Krasnow Capital is also on the mind of NABOB exec Jim Winston, who hopes to see trading lead to more diversity of ownership. “The biggest challenge facing the members of NABOB is the lack of access to capital. When the banks stopped lending to broadcasters during the Great Recession, we lost some major NABOB members who went into bankruptcy, because they could not refinance their bank debt. The government should help establish capital funds, as it did with the Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company program, to provide an important source of equity capital for minority entrepreneurs. We also need the telecommunications industry to develop an investment fund, similar to the former Quetzal Fund, designed to provide equity capital for minority entrepreneurs in the telecommunications industry. I believe these kinds of access to capital programs, along with a properly reinstated minority tax certificate, could lead us toward parity.”
P.P.M. means Poor Pathetic Measurement By Rich Russo, Director of Broadcast Services for JL MEDIA
“Only in America would a guy invent crack. Only in America would there be a guy that cocaine wasn’t good enough for. You know? One guy walking around NYC in 1985 going you know, that cocaine’s pretty good, but I want something that makes my heart explode as soon as I smoke it. I want to take one suck off that crack pipe and go.. SPLAT…. I’m dead, the ultimate high” —Denis Leary To Paraphrase the great Mister Leary, we begin with this… Only in radio would an industry invent PPM. Only in radio would there be a group of people that ROI and success stories weren’t good enough for. Some guy in an office somewhere in the early 2000’s, going you know, “diaries are pretty good, but I want something that will be microscopic in sample size, something that will cut my ratings in almost half and cut my rates by almost the same, I want to pay Arbitron more money for this and go...SPLAT...PPM, the ultimate farce.” Well, I guess PPM isn’t as bad as HD Radio, or is it? Almost 7 years ago I wrote an article about HD Radio titled, “HD means huge debacle” and sadly that article holds true today. PPM, in my opinion, has been detrimental to radio, from both a business standpoint and a programming standpoint. I’ve never heard a client say, “We’re not buying radio because of the way it’s measured.” And more importantly I’ve never heard a client say, “We just got great results from station X, but the PPM’s just came out and they lost half their audience last month, don’t buy them again.” Do I believe that the Diary system was/is good? No, not at all. Do I believe, in theory, that PPM should
be better? Yes. Is it? Not really. As a Free Form DJ that airs on two completely different formatted commercial Rock stations, I’ve never heard a listener say, “You played Doris Day into the Sex Pistols, I’m never listening to your show again or the station again.” I’m blessed that both stations I air on, have open minded PDs, who program their stations to serve their communities and have an audience who trust the station and their playlists.
I really do believe that Nielsen can get this right, finally. The fact that this research (if you can call it that) has led to cuts in on-air staff and caused homogenized programming and voice tracking with DJ’s being on in multiple markets not as a syndication model but as a cost cutting measure is due to PPM. The fact that PPM has caused playlists on a majority of stations to be safe and repetitive with pretty much the same songs over and over again has made the digital audio
Rich Russo With the PPM sample sizes being as small as they are, it’s really a waste of time and a waste of money. And the excuse that Arbitron makes that it costs too much to add sample size and the groups won’t pay it; is a joke. They have charged stations and agencies for an inferior product and caused programming and sales to suffer from it. In essence they should give rebates for the havoc they’ve caused, but they did the classic Wall Street “pump and dump” and now Nielsen has taken over and we can only hope they get it right. I do believe they will.
category to be potentially more desirable for some listeners. This is all PPM’s fault. When you alienate your community to save money, you drive them to get what they want elsewhere. A few years ago, I had the supreme pleasure of being backstage at a Springsteen and E Street Band show in San Jose, and I was carrying a bag of records from a local store when someone called out, “Hey, what’s in the record bag?” I look over and it’s Steve Jobs leaning against a wall, I’m in fanboy shock, I walk over to him and pull out the records I’ve
bought including a Bob Dylan red vinyl promo single that he’s enamored with, he asks me what I do and I tell him that work in the radio industry at a media buying agency as well as being a free form DJ on the radio. He is impressed with my ability to be able to play what I want on the radio, he is also curious if as a record collector if I’m one those who hate iTunes. I tell him no, I believe he stopped the bleeding and made people want to buy music again. He then asks me about the media buying business, and I ask him why he hasn’t set up some sort of tracking system for the content that’s being watched and listened to on his devices to be converted into ratings, I explain to him how pathetic the PPM system is with their low sample sizes, whereas the iPhone has millions of people. He tells me that Apple isn’t in the data gathering business, if someone wanted to develop an app for that, he’d consider allowing it, if all of the privacy and usage concerns were met. I then joked about Google being able to read your emails and serve your ads based on the content of your emails—yet that’s legal—but if someone listened to your phone calls and sent you ads from those conversations people would go crazy. We laughed and he changed the subject back to Bob Dylan. And here we are years later and we still haven’t figured out a better ratings system. It seems so easy, maybe if radio stopped giving the HD Radio Alliance millions upon millions of dollars in free ads for a flawed, embarrassing and never-going-to-amountto-anything technology and instead gave that free advertising to AT&T, Sprint, T Mobile and Verizon as added value to their existing radio buys in exchange for giving customers who willingly want their listening and viewing habits to be used in the ratings a heavily discounted or perhaps free unlimited data plan. That way, we’d actually have a much better sample size, and the ability to have more people involved by having an app on your phone that is always on gathering not only what you hear on your phone, but what’s on your computer or your car radio or TV set. Then at that point we could go change the perception of PPM from Poor Pathetic Measurement to Powerful Personal Measurement. Rich Russo is the director of broadcast services for JL MEDIA, as well as the host of “Anything Anything,” a free form radio program that airs on WXPK and WDHA.
Moving Beyond Measurement with PPM By Brad Kelly, Vice President of Sales, Arbitron Hard to believe it’s been six years since PPM was introduced to major market radio. The obvious benefits of PPM have been thoroughly (and exhaustively) discussed and are well known to most folks in our industry: Quicker, more actionable data; more granular info; doesn’t rely on recall and is largely passive; electronic measurement in a digital age; etc., etc. Fast forward to 2013. The environment has evolved. Today we believe that those early benefits are taking a backseat to present day needs of providing advertisers with real, measurable ROI metrics. Having electronic measurement is simply the cost of admission if radio wants to compete in a digital age. It’s what you can do with that data that advertisers are really interested in and what will motivate them to make additional investments. Sure, they still want to know how many people saw or heard an ad, but that alone isn’t going to grow the medium. In 2007 we thought the granular data provided by PPM was great to look at the impact of good (and bad) content -- today we can see how feeding that granular data into Marketing Mix Models can predict the impact radio had on retail sales. Five
years ago, we thought the real advantage of having panel measurement was that it provided a chance to track changes in listening from week to week. Today we understand how the PPM panel is an unprecedented tool for advertisers to evaluate the effectiveness of their ad campaign and gain deeper insights into their brand messaging. In 2007 it was great to talk about the new cume that PPM exposed. Today, advertisers are much more interested in hearing how PPM can measure the linkage between ad exposure and product consumption. Looking ahead, right now Arbitron is aggressively exploring how best to integrate PPM technology into smartphones and tablets as a way for broadcasters to interact with consumers - promotions, couponing, social media, location-based services, and much more. The possibilities are nearly limitless and truly mind-bending. Virtually every conversation that Arbitron’s Advertiser Services Group is having now with major advertisers centers around the capabilities of PPM. PPM is a door opener for major advertisers -- not because they are interested in rating points or impressions, but because it offers them an opportunity to better understand the role radio plays in selling their product or service.
Top trends for television in 2013
What to expect this year amidst constant change By Carl Marcucci
There’s no question that technology is moving consumer viewing habits in more directions than a glitching Garmin. Every year, researchers, associations, networks and broadcasters do their best in putting a finger on what’s next, what’s new and what’s changing. The goal, of course, is monetization of these trends and to assure they’re not being left behind in the digital dust. One trend, for sure, will be more of what ABC, ABC Family and ESPN recently announced: combined viewing guarantees for TV and online. Here, we’ve asked for seven top trends from a cross-section of the biz to give us some answers—at least for 2013—on what’s trending now:
Steve Lanzano, TVB CEO:
1. Mobile digital television. “Screen shifting” will increase with expanded availability of free TV content on a wider range of devices. 2. Digital subchannels. Especially with a decision possible in a Federal lawsuit over cable unbundling, D2’s may be poised to become even more important to niche content seekers. In fact, in many markets D2’s already out-deliver cable programming. 3. Second screens. As more and more broadcasters and stations begin to create their own apps and digital content, connected viewing and the ability for advertisers to directly create ROI will Steve Lanzano become more commonplace. 4. Improved measurement: Cross-Platform, increases in local sample sizes, etc. 5. Expansion of news into earlier dayparts. More and more broadcasters are moving early morning news into the 4AM and 4PM dayparts, both to serve their communities and to replace departed syndication programming holes. Additional local news programming continually out-delivers cable news audiences even when compared to the cable news channel’s established dayparts. 6. Growing advertising revenue. Strong categories such as Auto, along with emerging categories - primarily Healthcare (due to the Affordable Healthcare Act) and Liquor will have more of a presence in TV advertising. 7. VOD. Binge viewing - latecomers trying to catch up, especially - will continue
to add audience to “impact” programming. Ratings continue to climb as people jump onto the bandwagon. Look for the same sort of effect upon serialized programs such as “Revolution and Revenge.”
Pat McDonough, SVP, Insights and Analysis, Nielsen:
1. Video media consumption continues to increase due to additional viewing options and devices. Consumers are watching more and more television content and they are adding hours of video consumption to their day because of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. We see consumers seeking ondemand content through traditional means and, increasingly, through Internet delivery devices hooked up to TV sets. Media companies will continue to explore new and proven platforms to provide access to their content. 2. Big events on TV are getting bigger. The reality is that people still watch video content more on a television set than on any other device. And consumers still engage more with commercials through the TV than on anything else. The data shows growth of big live events. Big events on TV are just getting bigger. We’ve seen historic viewership of the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards in recent years. And increased engagement leads to more viewers. 3. Simultaneous usage is ubiquitous. Two screens or three screens? Consumers are rarely without a mobile device and that includes when they are watching TV. They research shows, actors, trends, sports scores, look up #hashtags and interact with friends while they watch. This behavior will continue to grow. 4. Platform-agnostic planning gets easier. As video moves across screens and to multiple screens, television content is being adapted
for the TV, online, on tablets, and for smartphones. Media companies are becoming more platform-agnostic and an advertiser today can go to a media company and combine a TV campaign with an online and mobile campaign in a single buy. 5. Online ad guarantees leads to open online accountability. The television industry isn’t for the faint of heart and it has its own set of rules and conditions. We see the online advertising industry being asked to provide similar metrics in order to engage in the transactions that drive the media industry. Replicating TV metrics is only the beginning, though, as Pat McDonough precision marketing takes off, and online advertising guarantees will continue to be refined. 6. Getting a grip on big data. Big data is like a fancy car. You better know how to handle it. A catchy term, big data will continue to marvel. Media companies now have access to consumer viewing behaviors and related purchasing trends. By combining anonymized purchase data with television viewing, marketers can direct and measure the accuracy of their messages. 7. Social TV is happening now. The correlation between television ratings and tweets has been measured and confirmed. As we see an increase in simultaneous usage of devices with TV viewing, and as viewers continue to seek a social experience, the media industry will reap the rewards of entertained and engaged viewers.
Larry Wert, Tribune President/Local Broadcasting:
1. Non-live viewing will continue to grow and the agreement between clients and broadcasters on getting credit for these audiences will evolve. 2. Continued negotiating of the value of retransmission to distributors. 3. The industry will get closer to having better end-to-end solutions for our advertisers. The multiplatform universe is still too difficult and complicated to buy/sell. 4. More advertising will move online, but it will continue to be most effective when used in conjunction with traditional media platforms. 5. The television industry will roll out the next generation of high defiLarry Wert nition TV. Sports broadcasters have the most to gain, and are the first to invest in 4K. 6. Internet-enabled TV will continue to grow. So will the multi-screen experience. More homes will have two simultaneous television streams going into the same room. 7. Mobile will continue to proliferate, and the definition of what is mobile will expand. Is a laptop with a detachable screen mobile? Is a
phone with a large screen mobile or tablet? Is a tablet with a keyboard a tablet or laptop? All of these devices are mobile to me. Mobile advertising will get split into two categories representing two technologically similar but behaviorally distinct devices—tablets and smartphones.
Dan Viles, President/GM of Cable Ad Net NY, WYBNTV 14 Albany
1. Digital multicast nets will keep expanding and stations will push sales to sell all spots not just the ones on the main signal. The hard cost to add a diginet if you have a wide view satellite that sees all the birds in the sky, is peanuts. Either way for wires, tech, new brochures etc., you are looking at way under $5,000. I am adding QVC and the nut is about $2,220. Stations need to realize if they are sending out “DARK” bit streams, it is a stupid “Dinosaur” practice. If your engineer hassles you, go around him. Viewers absolutely rave about our 5 channels for free and the total of 40 they get. With added channels you can sell higher frequency and get better new client response. 2. Stations will keep moving over to Rentrak viewing measurement because of its better prices, continuous overnights, etc. Nielsen may be the gold standard, but Rentrak can show even in smaller markets, what the ratings were in days not quarters. 3. Syncbak will become the leading por-
table viewing source. Tablet and Droid viewing are so easy to do. Syncbak can take the IP stream of a station & pass it thru their proprietary BOX and have you on tablet viewing in one day’s set up. You’ll need clearance on legal issues for network and other paid shows, but all the shows you create at your station will be going right out. 4. Newspaper and TV combo ownership could and should finally happen. With small TV and papers on their last oxygen, does the FCC and FTC need a diagram on the important and immediate benefits of the combo? Please, this year! 5). Stations will migrate more and more TV data video to a Cloud function. Why risk data loss, why buy more PC power-just off load it? We do all our trafDan Viles fic and MPEG storage on Google Docs. 6) Bonded cellular will be a major money saver. You can get a unit for $4,500 from Markertek. The unit is killer and stream always stable on 3G and 4G. BAS UNITS (the big vans that station news departments send out) are bulky and expensive. A bonded unit fits in your kid’s backpack. Your 10 yr old techie kid can set it up, seriously.
Charting a new course for Joe’s Crab Shack:
Ignite Restaurant Group Chief Marketing Officer Robin Ahearn By Carl Marcucci Joe’s Crab Shack recently unveiled its new brand positioning via cable and online, focusing on promoting and sharing the food, culture and lifestyle of the Gulf Coast region. The new campaign, via McCann Erickson, New York (AOR since November) features the tagline “100% Shore.” Here, we asked Ignite Restaurants Chief Marketing Officer Robin Ahearn about that effort and how she uses media for both Joe’s and Ignite’s other full service restaurant, Brick House Tavern + Tap: Talk about the current campaign that’s running: “100% Shore.” The new approach celebrates our roots in the Gulf Shore while remaining true to Joe’s commitment to offer guests the best seafood available from the highest quality sources. Our ads embody this new direction by showcasing elements of the traditional Gulf Coast seafood culture on which the concept is based - seafood shacks, crabbers with their boats bringing in a fresh catch, slowed-down seaside state of mind, homemade signs and, of course, Joe’s authentic seafood offerings. Ads were filmed primarily in Galveston.
What media are you currently using for Brick House Tavern + Tap? Digital media. Who is handling media planning and buying for both chains? McCann Erickson New York’s sister agency UM (Universal McCann) does media planning and buying for Joe’s Crab Shack. We don’t need placement services for Brick House. Tell us about your roots leading up to CMO at Ignite. Prior to joining Ignite I was the National Calendar and Media Director for Applebee’s International. I’ve also held marketing positions with Pepsi Core brands, Tracy-Locke and Michaels Stores, Inc. What have you learned with social media efforts so far? Our fans are really engaged with the brand on social platforms. Joe’s has hosted Facebook advertising campaigns for some time and find that Facebook advertising amplifies our traditional advertising. The ads bring people to the page, build our user base and allow us to tell our fans about our new menu items and promotions. The bigger we got, the more engagement. We’ve also had great success with a trial on Pinterest—we hosted a Maine Event Pinterest contest, which generated 400 boards from Pinterest users with photos highlighting Joe’s Maine lobsters. (See #Joe’s Crab Shack Maine Event). Engagement grew very quickly on the platform.
Why do you only use cable for traditional media buys right now with Joe’s? This approach has worked for us in the past, so we are starting there first. Why the switch to McCann Erickson NY in November? We’re always looking for new ways to talk about the brand. We have been working on menu innovations for Joe’s Crab Shack since purchasing the brand in 2006, to feature high quality, center-of-the-plate crab and other seafood offerings. When we went through the review, McCann saw both our new directions and honored our roots as a traditional Gulf Shore seafood shack. This is who we’ve always been, we just didn’t know how to articulate it. Please tell us what you can about the review. What were you asking for from the contenders? We were looking for new directions for our brand, creative strategy and initial concepts.
Who are the core clientele of Joe’s? Joe’s core customers include families and guests from 25 and up, and we have our biggest following in the southern United States, though everyone loves fresh seafood and our restaurants throughout the country are growing. How do you quantify your efforts after the campaign runs? Our agency of record, McCann Erickson, New York, uses a wide range of measurement tools to gauge ROI. What goals are you looking to accomplish for Joe’s next? We’ll continue to emphasize our roots in the Gulf coast in both advertising and in our restaurants.
Why do you think you shot to #1 on WABC in male demos so quickly?
As Hemingway said, the truth has a certain ring to it. I think that people are hungering for someone who speaks the truth, at least what is true to them. There is nothing guarded or masked in what I say. I think that New York in particular is a cynical city. I think New Yorkers, no matter where they come from, have seen an awful lot. They don’t trust their fellow man, more so than in a small town. There is a certain authenticity to my voice given that I was born in Manhattan. Maybe they like the sound of Manhattan.
How do you like working with Cumulus?
For one, they are a major league company. It is akin to having been recruited by the Yankees.
What do you love most about radio?
Michael Savage’s Radio Renaissance
Relevant, unpredictable, witty & wise By Carl Marcucci Delivered via Cumulus Media Networks daily, Dr. Savage is independent-minded and fits no stereotype—especially when it comes to politics. For example, he attacks big government and liberal media bias, but champions the environment and animal rights. Go figure! “The Savage Nation,” which was ranked the third most listened to radio talk show in the nation by Talkers Magazine, airs live Monday-Friday from 9PMmidnight (ET) and 6PM-9PM (PT), delivering entertaining thoughts on politics, American culture and traditional values as only Savage can dish. Not to mention, he’s hilarious at doing it! Michael is also the author of 29 books, including six New York Times bestsellers and earned his Ph.D. from UC at Berkeley. Here, Michael tells us what makes him click so well with listeners and delivers a good bit of insight on our industry and talk radio: 10 RBR-TVBR
Let me start with why I love the medium more than any other. I was in L.A. a few months ago and I had lunch at a deli in Beverly Hills with Jon Voight. He asked me, “When did you realize that you would rather be on radio than in a live performance?” I told him I don’t like live performances. I said, “I realized that when I used to do live performances.” I think that radio is a natural place for me. I have been gifted with a wonderful voice. It’s a place where you can really express yourself without worrying how you look, how your face looks, how is my tie, how is my hair, can I touch my eye?
When you were growing up, how did radio influence your life?
I grew up pre-television. Lying in my father’s lap, he’s smoking Phillip Morris, we are listening to The Green Hornet on radio. When television came in seven years later or so, he would say, “You know, I like radio better.” I asked why. I can remember to this day, may God rest his soul, he said, “You have to imagine the characters. You have to imagine the settings.” I said “What do you mean?” He said, “Listen to the fog horn. The Green Hornet is down on the docks.” With the sound effects, I imagined the dock. So in a way, he taught me what it is to use my imagination with sound and sound effects. That deeply ingrained itself in me. Then I remember when my mom took me to the NBC building. Radio City Music Hall, they had a back scenes tour of radio. I was floored when the men showed how they made thunder on radio and they hit a big sheet of tin metal. I was stunned that it sounded like thunder. I couldn’t believe the magic of it. As a kid, I listened to baseball games on the radio. People think that I listened to talk radio. I didn’t. I heard years after my father died that he was a talk radio listener. I had no idea.
How many more years do you want to do radio and why?
Is there life after radio? That’s the best answer I can give. I have taken time off time and again, which I need from time to time. But, leaving the medium? This is it. This is the greatest high there is for me in my life. It was told to me in the beginning by people in the business who I got to know, that there is actually no greater natural high than radio. I feel that to be true. For those few hours that I am on the air, I transcend time, place and body. As long as I have an audience and I am syndicated, I’ll keep doing it.
You have numerous home studios. Why do prefer them to a real radio station?
Comfort level. Privacy. Even in a radio station, in a cluster, if you are sitting there in a glass studio, people are walking by. You are somewhat conscious of how you look. In the house, you don’t even have any idea
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what you look like, nor do you care. You have more control. I have libraries in each house. That’s really the most important part of it. In each of my little home studios, I have a vast collection of things. Books, papers, notes that I can grab. I can’t bring that to a studio. There’s also the nearby refrigerator....and my loyal friend Teddy. Not to mention a private bathroom (need I spell out the state of radio station heads?).
Your political views continue to fall into no predetermined stereotype. How does this help with your popularity with your listeners?
Sometimes the listeners have better answers than I do. I think they said, “It’s the fact that you are unexpected. You are not predictable. The other guys in talk radio, without mentioning them, just continuously do the same thing, which are Republican talking points-Obama bashing.” However valid those points may be, if they are predictable, they are not entertaining. I think that is the death knell of radio. I think people have forgotten that radio is an entertainment medium. It is not an organ of the government. God forbid it should ever become state-run media as the major media has become. We will lose our relevance. If it becomes just state-run media for the Republican Party, what difference is it? You have to have that entertainment gene, is what it comes down to.
“You can’t go out just saying anything that comes to your mind. At a certain point, it’s a fighter in a ring. After a certain number of years, the fighter knows how to control a punch or kind of hold a punch back.” Tell us about your entertainment gene.
Me talking about mortality and death, which comes up about every 4th line in my show--my fear of dying. Or complaining about Chinese food, my dog Teddy, my deceased mother and father and growing up. The storytelling seems to be the thing that people like more than anything, but you can’t make stories up. That’s the thing. You have to go out into real life and you’ll find that every day has its own stories. You don’t have to live in the past. Every day has its own stories. I am in San Francisco right now. I guarantee you, if I go for a walk for one hour and have lunch, I will have a story for tonight. To be honest with you, I need the interaction to have a show. I don’t know how many other hosts run shows the way I do. I am extremely listener-dependent. My callers are king, which is why I have a great call screener who has known me for many years. He literally knows what caller to put up from the pool of callers. If you have an amateur call screener, they don’t know anything about you, they don’t even understand that callers are like records that the host is playing. The caller is our song. We are the DJ, to put it in a very basic sense. “And now I would like to play Bob from the Bronx.” So Bob from the Bronx starts his tune, and if he doesn’t sound good, you say
“Ok, thanks Bob,” and you hang up on him, if it’s a bad tune. Or you may get a tune coming from someone you can’t believe. I get them all the time. They are amazing. People underestimate the average person. I don’t. I learned a long time ago in my father’s antique store--you can’t tell a person by how they look, necessarily. You don’t know whether they are going to buy anything or not. You have to treat everybody equally until they expose who they really are.
Bottom line, it’s hard to paint Michael Savage into a corner.
I am an American Independent. That’s how I would define it. I generally fall on the very conservative side on national politics, because I believe in borders, language, and culture. That defines my show. I haven’t varied from the day I started. In terms of social issues, I am a sexual libertarian, which is “do what you want, leave me out of it.” I’m not interested. Other than that, it depends upon the issue. I basically come back to people ought to work for a living. You can’t have 11 states where there are more people on welfare than there are working. It can’t work.
When Rush went down that road with Sandra Fluke, the radio medium paid dearly for it in lost advertising. What advice can you give to talk show hosts in this industry not to do a foot-in-mouth as they are speaking in real-time?
There are certain groups that don’t need to be insulted. They insult themselves everyday by their activities. The average person knows what they’re doing. I don’t have to go beyond that to make my point. What advice would I give? Well, there are limits to what you can do in the radio business. Let’s be clear. This is not a personally-owned station you’re on. You can’t go out just saying anything that comes to your mind. At a certain point, it’s a fighter in a ring. After a certain number of years, the fighter knows how to control a punch or kind of hold a punch back. Although he’s going to have a lot of fun throwing that punch, he’s either going to miss or hurt himself with it. That’s simple. In other words, you don’t throw every punch you can. You’ve got to hold them back. Just like a fighter.
Might the “Savage Nation” phenomenon ever lead you into politics?
Every time I analyze it, I decide I won’t do it because I have more freedom than a politician. I have more influence than a politician. As an example, look at the senator Al Franken. He was a comedian. Whoever hears of him anymore? Nobody. He has no influence whatsoever. When he first became a senator, and that’s a real powerful job, he started to be a wise guy the first few weeks, if you remember. He was then called in a back room by the Dems. They told him “Shut your mouth. Get in the back of the line. You are the last man on the totem pole. We will tell you what to say and when.” He’s never been heard from since. Can you imagine what it does to an ego like his to just sit there and rubber stamp papers and meet people and dispense favors? I can’t imagine doing that.
Tell us about your latest book, “A Time for War.” It seems more based on truth than fiction.
My book is a fictionalized account of Chinese cells in America using an EMP device to bring down military helicopters and set off a terrorist attack. I think the book is very pressing in light of the fact that we recently learned that Congress has been trying to get to the bottom of a NASA-Ames scandal, where two NASA individuals have been named who have been sharing advanced nuclear and space technology—rocket technology—with China.
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In Case of Emergency:
What your station needs to know—before it’s too late By Valerie Geller, President, Geller Media International
How will you best serve your audience if there’s another “Hurricane Sandy,” an earthquake, a record breaking blizzard, fast moving tornado, fire, flood, toxic spill, or crazed gunman becomes active at a nearby or local school? Are you prepared? What will you do? If and when disaster strikes, how will you be at your best, or at least not at your worst? It’s happened in several markets; stations have failed the public in their time of need. And, next time, without advance preparation, it could be your city, your station, and your listeners. The answer is to prepare NOW for anything that can happen and have a contingency plan in place so that all members of your staff know what to do when an emergency event occurs. Alan Eisenson, who has programmed stations and produced emergency coverage, now works with the Media Management Group New York, addresses the problem that too many stations live with-the reality of a news staff that’s a lot smaller than it used to be: “Even if you have a skeletal news staff, when events happen, and calls start pouring into the station, the receptionist or board op or webmaster is overwhelmed, and the GM yells ‘Do something!,’ you have to have a plan.”
to your entire air chain, including your music stations. Make sure there’s an easy and clearly identified switch on the board. Eisenson suggests that in times of dire crisis you consider partnering with other radio stations in your market. Necessity was the mother of invention, and now there is a precedent - Several years ago, during Hurricane Katrina, Clear Channel and Entercom came together and pooled their resources to serve their community during the disaster in New Orleans. During Hurricane Sandy in New York City, several AM stations went off air, due to transmitter damage, so they either simulcast or went onto FMs for the duration of the crisis coverage. It’s vital that you teach your staff, from the all night automation supervisor to the front desk receptionist, how to flip that switch to halt your automation or a show in progress so you can go live, or change over to a live feed from your TV partner. Just as you train for a fire drill, practice a news drill with everyone in your company, so you’ll have “all hands on deck” when
Emergency preparedness points Does your staff know:
• How to maintain credibility in order to collect, gather and verify that information is correct before it goes to air? • How to get in touch with local authorities on the scene who can give you credible information? • What’s the right time and place for listener calls? • Who will be assigned to update Twitter 24/7 along with other social media? What is your social media plan for disaster or breaking news/event coverage, and who will verify information coming through on social media before it goes to air? Credibility and correct information are vital. If you broadcast the wrong information, such as reporting on the death or injury of a person who is neither dead nor injured, you cause unnecessary pain and suffering to their families. And, there are legal issues.
Have a plan
Partnering with TV
Jerry Bell, “Managing Editor of KOA Radio News in Denver, a newsman for nearly three decades, Lee Harris, morning anchor of 1010 WINS in New York, also a former radio station owner, and Eisenson all agree it makes sense to form a partnership with your local TV news station. A plan to partner with TV is not something you should leave until the moment you need each other. One of the goals should be to set up your station so that your local TV news team can send its audio feed directly over your airwaves,
you need them. The basic things your staff should know, in case of emergency are listed below:
Keep it in a red binder marked ‘Emergency’ in your studio. You can also put it on a computer, but what happens when the power goes out? Also, you can tear pages out of a binder if you need to. Additionally, prepare and have on hand a laminated card with bullet points phone numbers of what’s inside your red binder for quick and easy reading, especially DURING the crisis. A lot of stations already have a printout and/or a computer file of emergency contact phone numbers including cell numbers of fire fighters and police, FBI and FEMA. But it’s useless unless everyone in the building knows how to get hold of it. Copies of the emergency plan should also be in the GMs’ and PDs’ offices.
Jerry Bell’s Emergency “Red Binder”
1. Emergency numbers and contacts (in a place where everyone can find it!). 2. A map of where staffers live and numbers where they can be reached 24/7. 3. Guidelines for crisis coverage interviews: Stay calm. Take notes and limit speculation. Check with emergency professionals on a continuous basis. If possible, have someone screen calls. If that’s not possible, put your B.S. detector on. Hoax calls are a possibility. 4. Basic information about what to do for earthquakes, tornadoes, or terrorist events. You can get great information from your State Office of Emergency services, weather service and Homeland Security. They have simple instructions about what to do in a variety of situations. 5. Instructions about when to dump commercials. 6. You need street maps of your area and state. Invest in a good quality street map. 7. Create a mission statement for what you want your station to do during a disaster.
Get a press pass now
Jerry Bell says music stations can plan in advance, especially stations without news departments. “If you have a van you use for remote broadcasts, promotions or sales events, consider getting closer to the scene and anchoring coverage from there... many cities require a press pass for vehicles to get to a disaster scene. Make sure you have such a permit.”
Develop a clock, prepare a script
Rita Rich, President of Rita Rich Media Services (now working with the Red Cross in emergency communications consulting), recommends, “Develop a broadcast clock, and stick to it during the time of emergency. In emergency situations, regular time checks are important. She adds, “even if an amateur needs to get the ball rolling until professional air staff can take over, provide the script so he or she can just fill in the blanks and get information out to the public. Script out what a person will say when a program is interrupted for an emergency. Script the questions a person should ask while screening a call for possible live broadcast.”
Making disaster coverage work with a small staff
Broadcaster Scott Hennen, no stranger to covering emergencies, has dealt with the flood disasters several times in his home of North Dakota. Over the years, the Red River has overflowed numerous times. His award-winning coverage of the disaster was done on a shoe-string budget. His first recommendation: “Get all the help you can for free.” Often that help comes in the form of interns and students. “Cultivate relationships with professors teaching communications or journalism at local colleges or universities. Recruit the best students to potentially become reporters for your station.” He adds, “Make a budget for emergency supplies and equipment, or create a trade account at a place where you can get them. Contact your best clients during the time of crisis and see what they can do to help. Don’t forget to ask what you can do to help them.”
Surviving at the station
Is your station ready? Do you know what supplies you need to have at the station if a disaster strikes? From bottled water to self-fueled heaters to backup batteries and breakfast bars-you need to pack a “Station Emergency Kit.” Howard B. Price, Director of Business Continuity and Crisis Management for ABC News, has practical and carefully prepared lists of what you need in order to survive at your station in case of emergency. You can find all of this information on his website: mediadisasterprep.wordpress.com. Price warns, in a “worst-case scenario” emergency, assume you will get no outside help for 72 hours. Staffers may be away from their families for some time, depending on the nature of the emergency. So help them develop their own personal emergency plans, including an emergency communications plan, to keep relatives safe and in touch while their loved ones are away. You may think you have no time for emergency training...until there’s an emergency. If your staff meetings can spare even ten minutes of time, that’s time you can devote to reinforcing some of these strategies. It’s time that will pay off well, on the day disaster strikes.
Beyond Powerful Radio - A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age By Valerie Geller © 2011 Focal Press. Reprinted with permission Valerie Geller helps stations in 34 countries grow audiences. Geller leads workshops & seminars and trains broadcasters for News/Talk Information and personality to become more powerful communicators in the digital world. Geller has been named by Radio Ink Magazine as one of the 40 Most Powerful Women in Radio. Her fourth book, “Beyond Powerful Radio - A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age for News, Talk, Information & Personality, Broadcast, Podcast, Satellite & Internet” Focal Press 2011 is now in a second printing. www.beyondpowerfulradio.com
Contact Info: Office 212-580-3385 Email Valerie@gellermedia.com Website www.gellermedia.com
If you’re at NAB in Las Vegas, come and meet Valerie Geller Valerie will be signing copies of her fourth book, “Beyond Powerful Radio - a Communicators Guide to the Internet Age” on Tuesday 4/9 at 3:00 PM at the NAB bookstore. Valerie is also participating in the following NAB/BEA panels: Monday, 4/8: Getting Your Gig So You Can Play With Social Media in Your Career; Tuesday, 4/9: Building a Digital Newsroom; Wednesday, 4/10: Making Radio Relevant to the iTunes Generation.
Published on Apr 4, 2013