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Pollstar & VenuesNow Release State of Industry Survey

Pollstar has announced the results of The Pollstar and VenuesNow 2020 State of the Industry Survey. The largest live industry study of its kind, more than 1,350 live industry professionals, including venue management, promoters/talent buyers, production and concert support services, ticketing, performers, artist managers, booking agents and agency staff, record labels, publicists, security staff, and more, were polled on three primary subjects. These areas included how the live industry is managing during the pandemic and economic crisis; what the industry's comeback will look like; and social issues, inclusivity, and diversity within our industry.

The survey yielded a treasure trove of data including critical insights into the current state of the industry, a road map for recovery, a mandate for greater diversity and far more. It can be viewed at the Pollstar 2020 State of the Industry Survey hub.

"We embarked on this survey project with the goal of taking the pulse of an industry that has not only been hammered by the pandemic like few others, but also to discover their views on the social unrest from their unique perspective as purveyors of the cultural touchstone that is live entertainment," said Ray Waddell, president of OVG Media & Conferences, which includes Pollstar and VenuesNow. "While clearly there is a lot of angst and concern regarding the realities of both our social issues and the future business of live, there is also much hope and optimism that this industry we love can not only return to greatness, but also return as a more diverse and equitable business than ever before. We thank all those who participated in this unprecedented survey."

Highlights of the survey include:

  • More than half of all venue respondents, 54.8%, believe the industry will return "to full capacity" in 2021.
  • 75.2% responded that they do not believe the government "has given proper consideration to the plight of the sports and live entertainment industry as compared to other impacted industries such as airlines, hotels, restaurants/retail."
  • Approximately 60% say they would personally embark on a tour or work a show now if health guidelines are followed (17.6% of those would work unconditionally).
  • More than 80% expect an increase in cashless/touchless technologies.
  • More than 72% of respondents expressed "concern about their company's ability to survive COVID-19."
  • Nearly half of those responding said they have received some sort of government assistance during the pandemic.
  • Indicative of their love for this industry, more than half said they have not considered leaving the live entertainment business and less than 3% have embarked on a new career outside of live.
  • More than half believe the industry can do better in terms of racial/cultural diversity, but less than 11% believe the industry has done a "terrible job" in this regard.
  • Interestingly, more than 60% of respondents believe their own company is at least "somewhat" diverse and inclusive.

For additional insights, visit the survey hub HERE.

Christmas Cheer Comes to the Mahoning Valley Extra Early

Christmas 104
Christmas 104

Cumulus Media launches "Christmas 104" on WWIZ-FM/Youngstown. The Valley's Christmas Station debuted Friday at 12:25pm on WWIZ, previously programmed as "Z104, The Valley's Goodtime Oldies" station. "We Need a Little Christmas" by Percy Faith and His Orchestra kicked off the festive and familiar lineup of holiday tunes, which will run through year-end on WWIZ-FM.

Cumulus Youngstown VP/Market Manager Bill Kelly said, "If ever we could use a little Christmas, right this very moment, it is this year. We simply want to lift people's spirits."

Operations Manager Charley Connolly added, "We're bringing much-loved Christmas music to our listeners about a month earlier than we did last year. By playing traditional and new Christmas classics on Christmas 104, The Valley's Christmas Station, we are doing our part to usher in the season of love, peace and joy even earlier."

KKFR (Power 98.3)/Phoenix's Crisco Kidd to Run for Mayor

Crisco Kidd
Crisco Kidd

KKFR-FM (Power 98.3)/Phoenix afternoon personality Joshua Carmona ("Crisco Kidd") resigns from the Riviera Broadcasting Rhythmic CHR outlet to make a run for mayor of Phoenix. Carmona, who hosts the "Crisco Kidd Block Party," also airs on SiriusXM's "Pitbull's Globalization" on weekends. The veteran radio personality's previous stops include Houston, Albuquerque, Dallas and So-Cal spanning 21 years.

Carmona said, "With the events that have affected our city since March, and our elected officials' lack of response and leadership, my mind and my heart, feel it it's time to represent and serve the people of Phoenix."

In his time in Phoenix, Crisco has hosted community events, fundraisers, school functions and invests his time, money and heart into local charities and neighborhoods.


Year-Long Cox/Tulsa-St. Jude Partnership Culminates with Walk

Cox Media Group Tulsa will wrap up its 2020 fundraising partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital this Saturday, September 26th at the virtual St. Jude 5K Walk/Run. On-air personalities from K95.5 (KWEN-FM) and FOX23 (KOKI-TV) are appearing in the virtual program as part of the walk experience. These stations, along with Mix 96.5 (KRAV-FM), have been promoting the walk for the last four weeks on-air and online.

CMG and St. Jude have a special relationship in Green Country. The St. Jude 5k Walk/Run is the culmination of a year-long partnership that has helped raise nearly $1.4 million through two fundraising events. The St. Jude Country Cares Radiothon with K95.5 and 103.3 The Eagle (KJSR-FM), and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway with FOX23, K95.5 and Mix 96.5 broke their own records this year. The K95.5 Country Cares Radiothon raised more than $195,000 during the two-day radiothon, and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway raised more than $1.2 million.

"It's incredible that the Tulsa community helped us exceed our fundraising goals in the middle of a pandemic," says Cathy Gunther, Market Vice President, Cox Media Group Tulsa. "The success is a testament to how our integrated local media properties believe in the mission of St. Jude and rallies our community to support the organization's life-saving work, no matter what is happening in the world around us."

Vertical Bridge Issues $360.5M of Secured Tower Revenue Notes

Vertical Bridge REIT, LLC, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastructure and locations in the United States, today announced that it has completed its second successful private asset-backed securitization (ABS) of 2020 with the issuance of $360.5 million of Secured Tower Revenue Notes ("the Notes"). In June, Vertical Bridge issued $534 million of Secured Tower Revenue Notes in the first securitization of a non-traditional or esoteric asset following the ABS market's shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2016, the Company has completed six securitizations and issued more than $1.7 billion of Secured Tower Revenue Notes.

Proceeds from the transaction will be used to refinance Vertical Bridge's October 2016 securitization, fund its recently announced acquisition of Cumulus Media's broadcast tower portfolio and fuel company growth. The Notes are collateralized by 636 broadcast tower sites, spanning 47 states, including 381 sites acquired from iHeartMedia in connection with a sale-leaseback transaction in 2015. The portfolio also includes more than 200 sites which Vertical Bridge agreed to acquire from and lease back to Cumulus Media in August of this year. iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media are the two largest radio broadcasters in the U.S.

"Our broadcast portfolio has grown steadily and performed well since acquiring the iHeartMedia towers and adding the Cumulus Media sites to our portfolio further broadens and diversifies this segment of our business," said Alex Gellman, Co-Founder and CEO of Vertical Bridge. "Broadcast towers are mission critical for our radio operating partners, as iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media both demonstrated through their respective restructurings - affirming leases and rents. With over 60% of each company's stations on Vertical Bridge-owned towers, we view both iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media as strategic partners and are thrilled by the strong and rapid recovery of each from the impacts of COVID-19, as well as their strong outlook going forward."

"Broadcast continues to be an attractive medium to connect audiences and advertisers - 80 percent of listeners are tuning into radio as much as or more than they were prior to the pandemic. In order to optimize their reach, operators need towers with height and location," said Michael Romaniw, Chief Financial Officer of Vertical Bridge. "The sites in this portfolio are some of the tallest in the country and span rural, suburban and urban areas, making them ideal for reaching radio and TV targets and for additional lease-up opportunities."

The Notes rank pari passu by tranche with Vertical Bridge's securitization from November 2018, which was valued at $71.6 million. The Notes were issued in three classes and rated by Morningstar: a $289.5 million tranche, rated A (high); a $39 million tranche, rated A (low); and a $32 million tranche, rated BBB. The Notes have a have a 5-year anticipated repayment date with a 30-year final maturity.

Barclays and Guggenheim Securities served as Joint Bookrunning Managers and Joint Structuring Advisors for the offering.

Benztown Presents ''Blizzard of Ozz 40th Anniversary''

Blizzard of Ozz 40th Anniversary Special
Blizzard of Ozz 40th Anniversary Special

Benztown will present "Blizzard of Ozz 40th Anniversary Special," a celebration of Ozzy Osbourne's debut album produced especially for Rock and Classic Rock stations to air on Halloween weekend. The special features Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and is hosted by syndicated Rock personality Matt Pinfield, who wrote the show with KLOS-FM/Los Angeles Program Director Keith Cunningham, who is also Executive Producer for the special -- produced in collaboration with Epic Records.

There are two versions available for stations: a one-hour version, which features music from Blizzard of Ozz, and a two-hour version, which adds post-Blizzard era highlights. The special includes four minutes of network inventory per hour through Westwood One, plus local spot inventory. Each station that airs the program will get 10 digital downloads of the record to give away to listeners.

"Blizzard of Ozz" was released on September 20, 1980, in the UK and on March 27, 1981, in the U.S. The album was ranked 9th on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time" and was a commercial success, achieving a four-time Platinum certification status in the U.S. and selling over 6,000,000 copies to date worldwide, making it Osbourne's best-selling solo album

Benztown President Dave "Chachi" Denes said, "Rock listeners will love this Halloween weekend special. Now, more than ever, people are turning to the music that they remember from the best of times and this show will bring them home. It's the perfect soundtrack to a Halloween weekend that doesn't suck."

Consultant to the production, McVay Media President Mike McVay added, "There is no one to spend Halloween with that's more appropriate than the Prince of Darkness. This is the type of programming that changes people's habits."

Cunningham added, "Blizzard of Ozz 40th Anniversary Special," said: "When I was in Jr. High School, I plagiarized some lyrics from "Suicide Solution" for a poetry assignment. My teacher had no idea. My fandom of Ozzy goes way back and I am honored to be a part of this project and I thank Ozzy and Sharon for being generous with their time and agreeing to do this special."

ABC News Announces Special Coverage of Presidential Debate

ABC News Radio
ABC News Radio

ABC News today announced special coverage of the first 2020 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Its flagship daily podcast "Start Here," hosted by Brad Mielke, will preview what's to come on debate morning and post a special edition on September 30. "Start Here" will cover all angles of the debate and feature expert reporting analysis from ABC News' political team. "Powerhouse Politics" podcast, hosted by Karl and Political Director Rick Klein, will release a special edition on September 30, providing an overview and analysis of the night.

ABC News Radio will offer 3 hours of live, anchored coverage the night of the debate, including a one-hour pre-show, followed by the debate and live post-debate analysis. Correspondent Aaron Katersky will anchor coverage with reporting and analysis by Correspondent Karen Travers, Political Analyst Steve Roberts, Klein, Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks, FiveThirtyEight's Galen Druke, and others from ABC News' and FiveThirtyEight's powerhouse political teams. ABC News Radio will also offer multiple one-minute Status Reports throughout the night.

Entercom Wins Three 2020 Kansas AoB Radio Awards


Entercom has been named the winner of three 2020 Kansas Association of Broadcasters Television & Radio Awards. News/Talk KNSS-AM/Wichita was recognized with top honors in three categories, including Complete Newscast, Complete Sportscast and Station Website Categories. Here are a full list of Entercom winners for Large Market Radio:

Complete Newscast
KNSS-AM/Wichita, KS
KNSS Newscast: 2020 Pandemic
Steve McIntosh, Ted Woodward, Jad Chambers, Ronelle Williams

Complete Sportscast
KNSS-AM/Wichita, KS
KNSS Sportscast 2020
Ted Woodward

Station Website
KNSS-AM/Wichita, KS
Tony Duesing

A full list of 2020 Kansas Association of Broadcasters Television & Radio Award winners can be found here.


Infinite Dial Profiles Listeners of U.S. Radio Formats

Edison Research
Edison Research

Radio listeners in the U.S. can't be characterized as a monolith as each format has listeners with different audio behaviors. New, format-specific findings on radio listeners were released today in the webinar "Radio Format Profiles: An Infinite Dial Study" presented by Edison Research Director of Research Laura Ivey. Data from The Infinite Dial, an annual study on digital consumer behaviors from Edison Research and Triton Digital were used to explore eleven of the top radio formats in the U.S.

The report focused on weekly AM/FM radio listeners who reported listening most often to a radio station that mostly plays one of the following formats: Alternative Rock, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, Country, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop/Rap, News/Talk, R&B, Sports, and Top 40. Although radio formats are often classified just by the age and sex of listeners, not all audio and audio device behaviors can be tracked along these lines.

The following are some key findings about those who listen most to these radio formats, also known as P1 Listeners:

Radio continues to have a hardware challenge, particularly with younger-leaning formats. Eleven formats were indexed against the market average for owning a traditional radio receiver in their home. Formats whose P1 listeners are more likely to own an in-home radio include Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Country, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, News/Talk, and Sports. Formats less likely to own an in-home radio include Alternative Rock, Contemporary Christian, and the two formats that index the lowest for in-home radio ownership: Hip Hop/Rap and Top 40. R&B is exactly the market average for owning a radio in the household.

Smart speakers provide a partial solution for radio. Fortunately for radio, technology has provided more devices for listening. Smart speaker ownership is consistently growing, and radio formats with younger P1 listeners, such as Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Hip Hop/Rap, R&B, Sports, and Top 40, are more likely to own one. Formats whose P1 listeners are less likely to own a smart speaker: Country, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, and News/Talk.

"Migrating loyal radio listeners from traditional radio hardware to smart speakers and mobile devices is essential to the future of radio," said Ivey. "Consumers of audio should be thinking of radio when they make their listening choices."

Online listening remains elusive for AM/FM radio stations. Over 75% of radio P1 listeners to Sports, Top 40, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal and Hip Hop/Rap reported listening to any online audio services in the last week. When looking specifically at listening to AM/FM radio online in the last week, however, the percentages drop significantly: Sports (45%), R&B (28%), News/Talk (26%), Alternative Rock (26%), Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (26%).

Music discovery is moving to YouTube and other places? YouTube as a source for music discovery defies age and radio format boundaries and is one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats profiled in this study. AM/FM radio was one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats with the exception of Hip Hop/Rap.

WITL/Lansing Brand Manager Tyler to Exit After 23 Years

Chris Tyler
Chris Tyler

Chris Tyler will exit WITL-FM/Lansing, MI as Brand Manager, Director of Content and afternoon talent at the end of the week. He has been with the Townsquare Media Country outlet for 23 years.

In a post to the station's web site, as well as its Facebook page, Tyler wrote, "It's been a good, long ride. But even all good, long rides have to end. For me that will be this Friday at 7pm. It is then I will be leaving WITL. As we all know, every job has its ups and downs, but I've got to tell you that I have been fortunate to be able to wake up and look forward to coming to work here since October, 1997."

Tyler added, "Along with radio I have had many other interests over the years and I will be exiting WITL... in pursuit of those and other ventures that I'm extremely excited about."

Vox AM/FM in Burlington-Plattsburgh Ups Goodette, Mullett

Dave Goddette and John Mullett
Dave Goddette and John Mullett

Sports WCPV (101.3 The Game), Sports WEAV-AM & W290AT (960 The Zone) and Classic Hits WVTK-FM/Burlington-Plattsburgh Sales Manager Dave Goddette is elevated to VP/Sales and Director of Sales for Vox AM/FM's cluster there, which also includes Oldies WXZO (96.7 MeTV FM), Hot AC WEZF (Star 92.9), News/Talk WVMT-AM & W242BK and CHR WXXX-FM (95 Triple X). Concurrently, Operations Manager John Mullett is named VP/Operations and Station Manager.

Market Manager Ken Barlow said, "We're pleased that two such longtime and talented broadcasters can be promoted from within. They will make a terrific team to bring VOX AM/FM to a whole new level. Everyone in our building is excited about these changes."

Report: Tim Eby Exits St. Louis Public Radio as GM

Tim Eby
Tim Eby

KWMU-FM (St. Louis Public Radio) General Manager Tim Eby exits the University of Missouri-St. Louis News/Talk outlet, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Holleman. According to UMSL Vice Chancellor Paul Herring, consultant Tom Livingston is appointed interim GM. Eby's exit follows an investigation by the university into alleged unfair treatment of staffers of color at the station.

Eby joined KWMU from Ohio State University and WOSU Public Media in 2009, after serving as Station Manager at Elkhart Community Schools News/Talk/Jazz WVPE-FM in Elkhart-South Bend, IN.


Lenny Bruce's Unreleased Album to Premiere on SiriusXM

Lenny Bruce
Lenny Bruce

SiriusXM announced today that is will exclusively premiere a long-lost comedy album from the legendary Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce Is Out Again will air in its entirety on September 25 at 8:00pm ET on SiriusXM Comedy Greats channel 94.

The unreleased album was fully authorized by Bruce's daughter, Kitty Bruce, who will speak with SiriusXM host Ron Bennington for a special hour-long interview that will air at 5:00pm ET, shortly before the album's premiere. Also joining the panel will be actor Luke Kirby, who won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Bruce on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and comedian W. Kamaul Bell.

Bruce was known for his brash style, paving the way for other outspoken comedians to address topics often seen as taboo. Unafraid to tackle the subjects of politics, sex, race, and religion, Bruce was frequently the target of law enforcement, leading to a much-publicized freedom of speech trial. He is now widely considered one of the greatest and most influential stand-up performers in history.

KMKT Raises $52,000 for Texoma Back the Badge Foundation

Back The Badge
Back The Badge

Alpha Media announces that KMKT-FM (93.1 Katy Country)/Sherman TX, the Texoma Back the Badge Foundation and Classic of Texoma has raised $52,000 from the 4th Annual Wheeler & Castellanos Back the Badge Memorial Golf Tournament, which took place on September 11th at Stone Creek Golf Club in Sherman, TX. Money raised will go to the Texoma Back the Badge Foundation, which was established to help raise awareness and assist in minimizing the financial burden often placed on Law Enforcement agency employees who experience catastrophic circumstances including illness, serious injury or death.

Additional money was raised through a helicopter ball drop where golf balls were dropped from a helicopter onto the green and the first ball landing in the hole won $1000. $52,000 breaks the donation record amount of $50,000, which was achieved in 2018. Over the past 4 years, $177,000 has been raised to support local law enforcement in Southern Oklahoma and North Texas. The tournament was renamed after two local law enforcement officers, Rickey Wheeler and Vinny Castellanos lost their battle to cancer, shortly after playing in the inaugural tournament in 2017.

Content Director and morning host Zac Grantham stated, "A record breaking year! Our sponsors, listeners, volunteers, and community leaders are simply amazing! We hope this event creates an overwhelming sense of appreciation for what our first responders do on a daily basis."

TuneIn Offers Live Stream of First Presidential Debate


TuneIn will offer a live audio stream of the first presidential debate of 2020 between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump via "The 2020 Election" channel experience on Tuesday, September 29 from 9-10:30pm ET. The debate will be moderated by FOX News' Chris Wallace and take place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.

Upcoming, TuneIn will offer listeners a live audio stream of the Vice Presidential Debate on Wednesday, October 7 between California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, which will be moderated by Susan Page of USA Today, and will take place at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

RTDNA: Local Radio News Salaries Rose By 4.5% Over 2019


The latest newsroom survey found that local radio news salaries rose by 4.5% from last year reports RTDNA. That's triple last year's increase of 1.7%. Factor in modest inflation of 2.3%, and radio salaries gained 2.2% in real wage growth. That compares with a small loss against inflation of 0.2% a year ago. News producer, news anchor, sports reporter and web producer/editor salaries all went up in both average and median salaries. News reporter and sports anchor were mixed. News director dropped in both average and median salary.

Over the last five years, every radio newsroom position salary has been running ahead of inflation. This marks the third year in a row, radio salaries have beat inflation in a five-year comparison. Radio salaries - except for sports reporter - are also beating inflation over the last ten years. Download the complete salary guide to see how your salary is trending over time.

News director salaries fell in both major and large markets and came in unchanged in both medium and small markets. News reporters earned more in major and small markets but less in large and medium markets. No market size was consistently up or down.

Mostly, salaries go up as market size goes up. They also tend to go up as staff size increases, but much of that is a function of market size as well. Overall, salaries in the Northeast were higher than other areas, followed by the West. Download the full salary guide to see salary breakdowns by market size.

What makes a huge difference in pay is commercial radio versus non-commercial says RTDNA. Overall, non-commercial salaries are 39.5% higher than commercial ones. But that's not a fair comparison. The vast majority of non-commercial stations surveyed are in large and major markets. So I compared commercial and non-commercial salaries only in the two largest market groups.

In major and large markets, average non-commercial salaries are higher for three comparable positions, and commercial stations come out on top in two. Median salaries, which tend to be more representative, are higher in all five comparable job categories at non-commercial stations - by 27.5%. That's four points higher than the margin last year. Find more commercial vs public radio salary comparisons in the complete salary guide.

In radio, average starting pay rose $500 and median pay rose $900, continuing a growth trend. News reporter remains the top hire with a more than 3 to 1 margin over news producer, which jumped over news anchor this year. Download the complete salary guide for average starting salary breakdowns by job title.

The average starting pay in non-commercial radio is nearly $10,000 a year higher than commercial radio; the median starting salary is almost $8,000 per year higher. In fairness, more of those non-commercial stations are in large and metro markets which tend to have higher salaries overall.

Report: Orion Samuelson to Retire After 60 Years at WGN-AM

Orion Samuelson
Orion Samuelson

Orion Samuelson, 86, will retire from WGN-AM/Chicago after 60 years with the Nexstar Media Group's News/Talk outlet, reports Chicago media columist Robert Feder. The hall of fame broadcaster and Chicago media icon says he'll end his run at the end of the year. "The Big O," as he's known, will continue to deliver five or six daily business reports for WGN until his exit.

"December 31st will be my last time on the air at WGN," Samuelson told Feder on Tuesday. "I don't know how many broadcasters have been around for 60 or more years, so I don't know if it's that much of a milestone."

"We'll go back and forth to Arizona and not have to worry about setting the alarm clock and making sure I'm ready for the next report," he added. "So I think I'll find things to do."

Feder writes that in addition to hosting his signature farm reports on radio and TV, and anchoring "The Noon Show" from 1960 to 2003, Samuelson emceed "The National Barn Dance" and read the first bulletin on the air of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. As host of "The U.S. Farm Report" (now "This Week in AgriBusiness" with longtime partner Max Armstrong), he became the best-known voice of agriculture in America.


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