iHeart A Step Closer To Bankruptcy

You had to see this coming.

Bob Pittman is getting ready to stick the knife in CFO Rich Bressler’s back.

After delivering a God-awful revenue performance in the fourth quarter Pittman is “promoting” Bressler to also take on the position of Chief Operator Officer.

Here’s Pittman’s knife:

“In the last year we have made incredible strides, and Rich has played an important role in operations and finance, as well as strategy, for all of iHeartMedia.”

And here are the “strides”:

iHeart’s consolidated net loss totaled $762 million for 2014 compared to a consolidated net loss of $584 million in 2013.

$178 million higher.

That was due mostly to higher interest rates the company needs to refinance debt and avoid bankruptcy.

Fifty shades of red ink.

In other words, Pittman (co-owner Bain’s man at iHeart) is throwing Bressler (co-owner Lee’s man) under the bus while he gets set to distance himself from an abysmal performance once again.

It’s actually worse than you know.

Why they won’t reveal what they made from selling their interest in the Australian Radio Network.

Why their half billion tower sale is in trouble and iHeart is willing to pay much more to lease back the towers than it would have cost them to keep them.

What market managers have been told to do against their will.

How anyone being paid severance or doing business with iHeart is in jeopardy.

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Attracting 2 Million To Your Website the WTOP Wayhas just been added to one of the 13 topics to be covered at my Media Solutions Conference in Philadelphia March 18th. (Plus, 32 million pages views all in the month of January).

Here is the full conference curriculum

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Attracting 2 Million To Your Website the WTOP Way

That’s 2 million a month – not a year! (January).

Hubbard’s dominant all-news WTOP, Washington isn’t just number one in the radio market.

It’s a whopping number one online.

And that’s saying a lot for most radio stations where usually online efforts are an insignificant add-on to audience and means near nothing in additional revenue.

That’s why I have invited Laurie Cantillo, the person responsible as program director of WTOP and WTOP.com to tell my upcoming Philly media seminar how they do it.

Laurie headshot 2014

I’m going to interview Laurie – and you can help in one of those two-way learning sessions our conference is known for.

Let’s do this thing together and drill down to what you really want to know.

2 million online viewers a month.

That’s more than the total population of Indianapolis.

And if you’re serving page views, how does 31.8 million for the same 30 days sound to you?

This is the kind of thing that can make a real difference to your station’s online efforts – direct help from the leader in the game.

WTOP does so many things differently that you can see why they leave most other radio stations behind.

As you’ll learn, part of their audience also listens to the on-air product.

But another part, just consumes WTOP online.

Together they monetize it.

WTOP has a large screen in the newsroom for all to see to display metrics in real time.

Theirs is no add-on.

Want ideas like these?

Invest one day at the 2015 Media Solutions Conference in Philadelphia walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from the airport.

Here is the full curriculum in color, with helpful links and info.

Here is how to reserve a seat.

Want group discounts, talk to Jerry here.

For hotel info or other questions, ask Cheryl here.

Glenn Beck’s Media Empire Collapsing

Don’t tell The New York Times.

They ran an article in Wednesday’s paper about celebrity web channels patterned after Glenn Beck’s TheBlazeTV Network.

The only problem is, Beck’s media empire is falling apart.

The Times says a Santa Monica startup called Whalerock is following “the cut-out-the-middleman model pioneered by Glenn Beck”. Their quote.

Whalerock is reportedly going to do similar deals for the likes of Howard Stern, the rap star Tyler, the Creator and the Kardashian sisters. After all, what’s a self-respecting celebrity channel without the Kardashians, right?

These channels are reportedly coming in the next few months on the web and mobile app with a mixture of paid and free programming.

Just two problems.

Whalerock IS the middleman – so much for that.

And according to sources close to the situation speaking on the condition of anonymity, Beck’s original media empire is in shambles.

But you have an IMM subscription, so here’s the rest of the shocking story that nobody knows.

For the past 8 months or so Beck’s TV empire is reportedly collapsing from its own weight.

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Listen Longer Strategies” is one of the 12 topics to be covered at my Media Solutions Conference in Philadelphia March 18th.

JUST RELEASED … the full conference curriculum. Would you please take a moment to look at this colorful program? There’s helpful info and links even if you cannot attend.

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Listen Longer Strategies

Radio’s little known secret is that time spent listening to radio (TSL) has been declining steadily and without interruption since Arbitron (now Nielsen) first started keeping figures in the early 90’s.

I think you’ll agree every trick in the book has been tried without success – at least according to the metrics.

The danger is that we start blaming digital for something that started over two decades ago before digital arrived.

I don’t believe – and maybe you agree – that time spent listening to radio has to continue to decline.

But what to do?

  1. Put elements into your format that force money demo listeners to stay tuned. Old radio contests won’t do it. Try this: offer to pay someone’s college loan (or a significant portion of it) and see how long a Millennial will stay addicted to your analog radio station.  I’ve got more of these ideas.
  2. Cash is good, but Millennials can always hit up dad and mom for cash – not as easy for Baby Boomers to do when radio dangled cash in front of them. Ironically, cash is not the lure it once was – assuming stations want to spend any money at all on promotions – which they should.
  3. Invent contests. This is the gaming generation, but most radio people do not have the DNA to brainstorm these contests. I’d like to show you how I did brainstorming with Millennials at USC for radio and record clients that paid them for their help.
  4. Music discovery – the one thing music stations will not do because they think it means not playing the hits – is catnip to young audiences. Start playing mashups of new songs – not the entire song – because no one under 30 listens to a song all the way through. Don’t take it from me. Ask them.
  5. Dismantle long music sweeps – you like them, young audiences just keep tuning them out (see #4 above).
  6. Use more live-read commercials and make them authentic meaning not full of hype. My research shows Millennials actually like live-read commercials done in this fashion and it’s another way to keep tune-ins longer.
  7. Rotate commercial stop sets. You can count on losing audience every time you run long stop sets which sound even longer because the spots are so short – and so many. Run them in different places every hour and spit in the face of traditional PPM wisdom that, after all, isn’t helping stations increase their TSL.  This approach will.

Want more ideas like these?

Invest one day at the 2015 Media Solutions Conference in Philadelphia.

The curriculum:

  • Commercials – Another Way
  • How Much Radio, How Much Digital
  • Listen Longer Strategies
  • Eliminating 2015’s 3 Biggest Listener Objections
  • Ways To Compete With On-Demand Content
  • What Millennials Want From Radio
  • Selling Against Competitors Who Drop Rates
  • Start Your Own Short-Form Video Business
  • Beyond Clicks – Listener Engagement
  • Telling Stories – the New Spoken Word Radio
  • Why You Should Pass On Podcasting
  • 8 Millennial Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
  • Tons of Questions (Q & A)

Here is the full curriculum in color, with helpful links and info.

Here is how to reserve a seat.

Want group discounts, talk to Jerry here.

For hotel info or other questions, ask Cheryl here.

Bob Pittman To Double Down On iHeart Layoffs Next Week

  • iHeart stations continue to miss their revenue targets in Q1, debt mounting over the $20.5 billion range.
  • Next week’s “Summit” takes place in Las Vegas Monday with the atmosphere of a mortician’s convention.
  • Pittman has expanded the group of attendees to include regional market execs.
  • He may risk sounding like “Happy the Clown” because of his pie in the sky public attitude, but the attendees are going to see the darker Darth Vader side of Pittman.
  • More cuts even though they are a pimple on Bob’s behind and salaries are definitely not the problem – why do it, then?
  • How these cuts will be decided – why those who took the company’s recent “employee survey” are worried.
  • Pittman’s plan to run 800 plus stations on the minimum number of people.
  • Programmatic media buying being sped up to replace relationship selling.
  • Rate cutting will continue with repercussions for iHeart’s competitors and the entire radio industry.
  • And the growing influence of Marc Chase – the Randy Michaels dirty tricks artist who Pittman is elevating above his own excellent programmers to run iHeart like Jacor – what’s that all about?
  • Bankruptcy cannot be avoided with debt spinning out of control and Pittman’s plan has bankruptcy front and center.

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