April 3rd, 2017 by Inside Radio

HD Radio side channels have long been the industry’s hidden treasure. Mind you, that’s not necessarily a good thing. However, a decade after additional frequencies across the FM dial were first embraced, remarkable HD innovations are helping promote a bounty of new voices, and in some cases, new profits.

Outlaw Country and Pride Radio. Mother Trucker Radio and ESPN Deportes. HD side channels—which first came courtesy of the likes of iHeartMedia, Cox, CBS Radio and Saga—have historically been curiously hit and miss among radio groups small and large, and in markets great and small.

But companies have now come to recognize the across-the-dial potential of the channels. Among the currently welcome options: testing niche formats, cross-promoting established brands with complementary genres, flanking competitors, foreign-language formats that reach an underserved demo, reaching out to the 55+ demo, bringing back beloved formats such as smooth jazz, and/or reviving stamped-out heritage brands. Impressive? Yes. And there are craftier applications to come.

They’ll join a growing field—2,400 U.S. radio stations have upgraded to HD Radio Technology, according to statistics provided to Inside Radio by Xperi (which now owns the HD technology developed by iBiquity). Out of those 2,400 stations broadcasting in HD, there are 1,700+ multicast HD channels, including 1,300 HD-2, 400 HD-3 and 60 HD-4 frequencies.

Juan Galdamez, Xperi’s product marketing director for Automotive and HD Radio Technology, offers a fundamental point: “If you add a unique format to a market, there are additional listeners and dollars that come into a marketplace from those not currently involved with radio, both on the listener and the advertiser side. You don’t rob Peter to pay Paul by adding a new way to serve underserved listeners.”

Adds Becky Brenner, a partner with consultancy Albright & O’Malley & Brenner, “The possibilities are limitless; it is just a matter of resources. There is so much going on, with classic versions of the mainstream signal, all live cuts, all local music, long-form talk that’s an extension of the primary signal, comedy, block programming for religious/cultural programming….” And this: Jacobs Media founder and CEO Fred Jacobs suggests that radio groups can add value from side channels as an on-air training tool to audition and groom future talent.

Another potential application is to keep younger listeners interested in the radio dial. Mike McVay, senior VP Content & Programming for Cumulus/Westwood One, says, “For our spoken word news/talk and sports formats on AM, we have an opportunity to simulcast on the FM/HD band. It is clear to us that if AM talk stations want to attract younger listeners they need to be on the FM band. Alexa, Google Home and the connected car do not discriminate, but most other receivers do. We are always exploring other formatic opportunities as well as a more youthful Millennial-targeted news/talk product.”

Among the majors, iHeartMedia, CBS Radio and ESPN continue to take the HD bull by the horns. For instance, ESPN Deportes airs on seven HD side channels via simulcasts with FM and AM primary stations.“We have been an ardent supporter of HD Radio since its inception,” says Jeff Sottolano, VP of Programming for CBS Radio, which has 130 side channels on the air currently. “As the technology has evolved and the distribution platform has increased, we have an opportunity to reach more listeners.”

As examples, CBS Radio extended the brand of its heritage Chicago triple-A WXRT with a side channel offering a complementary indie-based new music format. Likewise, modern rock KROQ-FM Los Angeles provides side channel “rock of the 80s throwback” that harkens back to the music the seminal station played in its formative years. And in Washington/Baltimore, the once iconic modern rock WHFS—whose 99.1 frequency now airs the antithesis as a Bloomberg Business affiliate—was brought back to life by CBS on WWMX-HD2 at 106.5 and via translator at 104.9.

Galaxy Communications, which owns eight stations in Syracuse, NY and six in Utica, NY, is taking advantage of the FCC’s ruling to allow FM translators to rebroadcast AM stations and HD Radio side channels “to deliver more programming content for listeners and advertisers,” says Steve Vasick, market manager and director of Sales in Syracuse. In Utica, it uses an HD side channel of “K-Rock” WKLL to feed “99.1 Tony FM” on Utica-licensed translator W256AJ.

The side channel is allowing the radio group to test new strategies. “Tony FM has limited commercial interruptions, with just one break per hour, which benefits listeners and advertisers,” Vasick says. “To maximize the impact for advertisers, we are selling the station to a limited number of local advertisers—similar to an underwriting sponsorship—and their spots rotate through the break. This affords the advertiser a level of exclusivity, and allows their message to break the ‘clutter’ of traditional commercial radio stations.”

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Crowd Funding

By Fred Jacobs, The Financial Manager magazine

Some radio broadcasters are GENERATING SERIOUS MONEY from events.  Despite some failures, the industry is learning how to make them pay off.

WITH RADIO’S TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING revenue stream under increasing pressures, there’s a growing curiosity about how to bump up the bottom line with non-traditional revenue opportunities.  Within that NTR category is one prospect that’s proved to be a vein of gold for some, and an abject lesson in failure for others: special events.

The events come in many different forms: food fairs, wedding fashion markets, music festivals, even amusement- park type extravaganzas.  Enough information has accumulated about why some succeed, and others fail, to draw some conclusions about when it makes sense to delve into this sexy, but sometimes risky, line of business.

In the past, the category has been somewhat elusive for many radio stations because it requires a high level of expertise, financial investment, as well as the need to take risks.  For decades, radio has been an integral partner in event promotion, but in most cases the events were owned by third party, like concert promoters or cities and municipalities.

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Galaxy Communications Inks Gen Media Partners As New National Ad Sales Rep

GALAXY COMMUNICATIONS, the central NEW YORK station group run by ED LEVINE, has inked a deal for GEN MEDIA PARTNERS to be its new national advertising sales representative.

GEN CEO KEVIN GARRITY said, “We are delighted to welcome ED and GALAXY COMMUNICATIONS to GEN MEDIA PARTNERS.  ED’s team is known for creatively utilizing all of their assets to connect advertisers with loyal listeners. Our independent position in national representation allows us to super-serve ED’s stations, working in partnership with his team to bring robust opportunities to national agencies and brands.”

“We are very pleased to move GALAXY’s national business to the leading independent rep firm in radio,” added LEVINE. “I will sleep better at night knowing that I’m not relying on my direct competitor to oversee my national business any longer. GEN MEDIA‘s independent standing aligns with GALAXY’s, and their experienced team knows how to increase national revenue for the independent broadcaster.

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New York State Broadcasters Association elects Galaxy’s Levine as board chairman

By Journal Staff, Business Journal News Network

The New York State Broadcasters Association, Inc. (NYSBA) announced it has elected Ed Levine, president and CEO of Galaxy Communications in Syracuse/Utica, as its board chairman for the coming year.

He replaces Bob Krummenacker, VP and general manager of Quincy Broadcasting’s WBNG-TV in Binghamton, who has served as the association’s board chairman for the last year.

“I look forward to working with our incoming Chairman, Ed Levine, CEO of Galaxy Communications, who is one of the most successful and respected radio executives in the country,” David Donovan, president and executive director of NYSBA, said in a news release.

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NYSBA Elects 2017 Board of Directors Ed Levine to serve as Chairman of the Board

New York, NY: The New York State Broadcasters Association, Inc.,(NYSBA) elected its officers and board of directors at its Annual Meeting in New York City.  David Donovan, President and Executive Director of NYSBA stated, “NYSBA is fortunate to have the most respected and dynamic executives in broadcasting serving on its Board of Directors. Through their leadership, NYSBA will help ensure that that radio and television stations in New York meet the challenges of today’s hyper competitive marketplace.”  He continued, “I want to thank Bob Krummenacker, V.P. and General Manager of Quincy Broadcasting’s WBNG-TV, Binghamton, for his tireless efforts and leadership as Chairman this past year.  I look forward to working with our incoming Chairman, Ed Levine, CEO of Galaxy Communications, who is one of the most successful and respected radio executives in the country.”

NYSBA officers for 2017 will be:

·        Chairman: Ed Levine, President & CEO Galaxy Communications, Syracuse/Utica
·        Vice Chairman TV: Chuck Samuels, Vice President/GM (TV) WHAM-TV/WUHF-TV, Rochester
·        Vice Chairman Radio: Ramon Pineda, Sr. Vice President/Regional Director Univision Television/Radio Group, New York City
·        Secretary:Dave Davis, President/GM WABC-TV, New York City
·        Treasurer: John Shea, Vice President/GM Cox Media Group, West Babylon

New members joining the Board of Directors for 2017:

·        Heather Binnie, East Coast Divisional Manager CBS Television Distribution Group, NYC
·        Karen Carey, Market President/Chief Revenue Officer WFRG/WIBX/WLZW/WODZ, Marcy
·        Amy Collins, General Manager WSTM-TV/WSTQ-TV/WTVH-TV, Syracuse
·        Charlie Morgan, Sr. Vice President/Mkt. Mgr. Emmis, NYC
·        Rob Williams, Sr. Vice President, Operations Townsquare Media, Greenwich, CT

Returning to the board for 2017:

·        Steve Baboulis, Vice President/GM, WNYT-TV/WNYA-TV, Albany
·        Alan Bishop, Owner/Pres., Fingerlakes Radio Group/Chadwick Bay Broadcasting Corp., Geneva
·        Timothy Busch, Exec. Vice President/COO Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Rochester
·        Chuck Carver, President/GM WATS/WAVR, Waverly
·        Jerry Crowley, Vice President/GM WMCA/WNYM, NYC
·        Kristen Delaney, Area President, iHeartMedia, Albany
·        Peter Dunn, President CBS Television Stations, NYC
·        David Feinblatt, President/GM, WLIG-TV, Long Island
·        Scott Hopeck, President/Mkt. Mgr. iHeartMedia, NYC
·        Bob Krummenacker, Vice President/GM, WBNG-TV, Binghamton
·        Maire Mason, V.P. General Manager WNSH NYC
·        Lew Leone, Vice President/GM WNYW-TV/WWOR-TV, NYC
·        Eric Lerner, President/GM, WNBC-TV, NYC
·        Chad Lopez, Vice President/Mkt. Mgr., Cumulus, NYC
·        Michael Nurse, President/GM, WKBW-TV, Buffalo
·        Chet Osadchey, Vice President/GM, Cayuga Radio Group, Ithaca
·        Norm Silverstein, President/CEO, WXXI-TV/AM/FM, Rochester
·        Robert Vonick, Vice President/Sr. Tax Counsel, ABC, NYC
·        Theresa Underwood, SVP/Reg Mgr, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Syracuse

For additional information contact David Donovan at ddonovan@nysbroadcasters.org