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The Business of Radio

by Tom Gordon & Jeff McKay



A report by Podcast analytics company Podtrac shows rankings for July’s top podcasting publishers in the U.S., and NPR came out on top with a unique monthly audience in the U.S. of 20,775,000 and global downloads or streams of 141,376,000 across 60 shows. iHeartRadio came in second, with 18,419,000 unique views and 127,873,000 downloads/streams across 244 shows.  August could be a difficult month for Townsquare Media (TSQ), as Wall Street expects Townsquare to announce a year-over-year decline in earnings based on lower revenues when it reports results next month.   It hasn't been just a difficult month for Salem Media, it's been a difficult 5 years for shareholders, who have seen shares of Salem stock (SALM) lose 76% of their value in the past 60 months.   Thirteen months ago Salem was trading at $5.65 per share, and thirteen months later Salem is barely above $2.00.  Following radio station sales, Cumulus Media announced they would pay down their debt with a $50 million voluntary debt payment, funded by their station sale in Los Angeles - however even though Cumulus has paid off $250 million in debt in the past year, they are still just over $1 billion in the red.  Even though iHeart media emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, there are still questions as to how it will pay off it's debt, which was lowered to $11 billion.  While Cumulus Media has been selling off some of their key radio station assets to help reduce debt, iHeart hasn't, but does own 848 radio stations nationwide.  Finally, copper theft has been an ongoing issue for radio station control towers, and in many cases knocking stations off the air for considerable time.  In Sandy Springs, Oklahoma, One person is dead and another is in critical condition following what officials suspect may have been a copper theft at a radio station’s transmitter site.  According to police and KRMG-AM, officials found two people who appeared to have been electrocuted.  One person died and the other was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  KRMG, owned by Cox Media Group, reports deputies found tools at the scene that “would indicate the two were trying to steal copper from the transmitter site.”          

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