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Outdoor Advertiser/Radio Owner NextMedia Exits Bankruptcy

nextmedia.jpegNextMedia, which owns 33 radio stations in eight states, exited bankruptcy today, the company reported today.

No layoffs were associated with the Chapter 11 filing, said Steve Dinetz, President and CEO, in a statement, and the bankruptcy took six months to resolve.

Meanwhile, Citadel Broadcasting, which filed for bankruptcy one day before NextMedia, “should be exiting Chapter 11 any day now as well,” says Radio Business Report.

Clear Channel’s Cleared

Clear Channel Communications may be saved from a possible bankruptcy, thanks to Moody’s Investment Services raising its credit rating on the radio broadcaster, MediaDailyNews reports.

Moody’s raised Clear Channel’s rating from Caa3 to Caa2 and called the company “stable,” at least in the near future.

In 2014, Clear Channel, which employs 18,000 people worldwide, will need to make a scheduled $3.7 billion repayment on its $23 billion of debt; if the company hopes to make that payment, it will probably have to restructure its debt before 2014, Moody’s said.

More: Clear Channel’s Trouble May Be Over
Clear Channel In Trouble?

Clear Channel’s Trouble May Be Over

radio.jpgClear Channel filed documents with the SEC today that indicate the company’s financial troubles may be lessening.

2009 revenues are expected to be down 17 percent from 2008; but the fourth quarter of 2009 should be down just 6 percent from Q4 2008.

Within the last few months, radio revenue decline slowed from 19 percent in October to a projected 1 percent decline in December.

At the same time, Clear Channel Outdoor is selling $750 million in bonds to pay down the debt it owes to its owner, Clear Channel Communications.

Clear Channel Communications is treading a thin line between solvency and bankruptcy; the company, which employs 18,000 people worldwide, looked like it might be in serious trouble a few months ago. (Clear Channel In Trouble? – Oct 8, 2009)

Clear Channel In Trouble?

The private equity firms that own Clear Channel Communications may be so desperate to restructure the company’s debt that they’ve gone begging to the same banks they sued two years ago, the New York Post reports.

Two unnamed sources quoted in the Post piece say that Bain Capital and THL Partners, which bought Clear Channel in 2007, have asked Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, RBS and Wachovia for more loans to keep Clear Channel afloat.

The PE firms deny the story, according to Radio Business Report. “The New York Post story about Clear Channel today is dead wrong, and we told them so,” a spokesperson told RBR.

The background: When Bain and THL wanted to buy Clear Channel in 2006, times were good. By the time the sale was to close, credit had dried up and the banks backing the buyout wanted the investors to walk away. The firms instead sued the banks—the same banks Clear Channel is now reportedly asking for help.

What does this all mean? RBR theorizes that the owners will “pull out all of the stops to avoid a default,” while the Post predicts the investors will allow the company to go bankrupt and then “repossess a piece of the business on the cheap [rather] than invest more in a company that is well underwater.”

Clear Channel employs approximately 18,000 people worldwide.

More on Radio One

We linked you here yesterday in the roundup but thought this info deserved a follow-up: Radio One, the “urban media specialist,” as its tagline says, has been running an “aggressive” recruitment campaign since mid-July.

About a month ago we showed you that the company was looking for marketing managers; well, they’re still looking for marketing managers, WANTED reports—possibly 27 of them!—as well as positions in sales (30) and advertising and promotions (10).

If you’re looking for a marketing job and know a little about radio, this may be the place for you.

NPR Names Three Kroc Fellows

NPR has selected the three budding journos who will participate in a year-long intensive training and reporting program at NPR and member stations.

Although, “budding” isn’t quite the word, as these reporters are already pretty intense.

Carolyn Beeler is from Delaware, Ohio. She majored in Journalism and History at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She was a recipient of Medill’s Eric Lund Global Reporting Grant, which paid for her to travel to Australia to report on reconciliation politics with Aboriginal peoples. Most recently, she worked as the Senior Editor of Abroad View — a national, student-run study abroad magazine. Carolyn has freelanced for US Weekly and APSAC Advisor — a journal dealing with the prevention of child abuse — and interned at Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler and The Big Issue in Cape Town, South Africa.

habibanosheen.jpgHabiba Nosheen was born in Pakistan and has lived in Toronto, Canada, for most of her life. Nosheen earned her Masters in Journalism at Columbia University in May. She also holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Women’s Studies from York University in Toronto. For her degree in Women’s Studies, she went to Pakistan to document the lives of women living under Islamic law – research that led to a documentary for the CBC program The Current. Her dissertation has been accepted for publication by SUNY Press. Previously, Habiba had done research for the CBC show Marketplace in addition to producing stories for As It Happens. She is currently producing a documentary for NOW on PBS.

Sam Sanders of Schertz, Texas, stayed in Texas to earn his B.A. from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, with a double major in Political Science and Music, before receiving his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. For his graduate thesis, Sam worked with NPR’s and WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, conducting research and making recommendations about how to increase the program’s outreach to young people and minorities. He has been a community organizer in post-Katrina New Orleans, interned with the State Department in Pretoria, South Africa, and was president of the student government association in college. In his spare time, Sam has a blog on pop culture, race and music.

Congratulations to these three! But man, you’re making the rest of us look bad.

Radio Revenues Will Fall 15% This Year

radio.jpgBecause good news is boring, have some more downers. Strategy/advisory group BIA has revised its estimate of how crappy radio is doing—saying now that radio revenues will fall 15% this year instead of the 10.6% the group had predicted.

BIA VP Mark Fratrik is hopeful that radio advertising has hit bottom, according to MediaBuyerPlanner, and it’d have to for this prediction to be correct since radio lost 24 percent in Q1. The next three quarters would have to average no more than a 12 percent drop for BIA’s analysis to bear out.

Hey, 15 percent over the year—that’s better than newspapers are doing, right?

Radio Guy Comes Up With, Er, Creative Way To Make Money

We got an e-mail yesterday that totally blew our mind: radio host (and author/speaker/entrepreneur) Mike Stuart in Des Moines, Iowa, is selling chunks of airtime to people who want to promote their businesses. Except they’re not ads.

Your Voice Networking is a new concept that gives a business from 2.5 minutes to up to 12 minutes to talk about your business, your products/services, give special tips, advice or industry information that people can use and appreciate, in a talk radio format. Imagine networking with an an active listening audience of thousands of people! It’s low cost high impact networking!

[It is] a quick and easy way to share your story on the radio by simply calling into a voice mail system. This recording is meant to sound like a “live” call in show… I will be adding comments over top and between calls to make it interesting and create the “live show” feel.

From YVN’s Recording Instructions page:

This is intended to sound like a live call in show, so make your comments sound like you are live.

Example script:

Hi Mike, I love your program. Thanks for having me on the show. My name is Sue Smith and I am a real estate agent with Real Estate Concepts here in Des Moines. I specialize in working with real estate investors looking for great income producing properties. This is a great time to buy foreclosures…….blah blah blah. You can reach me at 515-555-5555 or visit my web site to see these properties right now.

Not going to get up in arms about the ad/edit wall because infomercials have been around since the dawn of time, but this certainly is new and unusual. The creator of YVN tells us that “so far people love it” though we’re doubtful that this is any more effective than a traditional radio ad. And it ooks us out that the sample episode featured on the site doesn’t explain that the “calls” are paid.

But here’s the deal: more of this type of thing is likely to come in the future as media people decide they can’t live on a salary reduced from what was already very little. Can we fault Mike for being a little ahead of the curve?

NPR Re-Orgs, Opens Digital Managing Editor Position

NPRVia WebNewser: National Public Radio SVP of news Ellen Weiss has announced leadership changes at the company and a position opening in digital media as a result.

The good news: “These changes all come from redefining existing jobs—and coincide with the departures of Jonathan Kern and Richard L. Harris and Cheryl Hampton’s move to HR to head up NPR News’ recruitment efforts,” reads a memo sent by Weiss.

In short, editorial director Dick Meyer will now supervise newsgathering across all platforms and will report directly to Weiss. That means NPR is now looking for a Managing Editor for Digital News.

NPR Lays Off 13; Announces Five-Day Furloughs And Six Unpaid Holidays

Wait, wait, don’t tell me that in its second round of layoffs in under six months, NPR has laid off 13 employees in IT, legal, and communications, and announced a series of cutbacks for the remaining employees.

The cuts will help close an $8 million budget gap, the Washington Post reported.

All things considered, the nonprofit broadcaster’s cuts have been mild compared to the utter devastation at some media organizations, but try telling that to the employees who will have to go through five days of furloughs and won’t be paid for Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, as well as three holidays after NPR’s new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Clearly the marketplace is still in bad enough shape that these sorts of cuts are necessary; the Post reports that revenue from its four major sources has declined across the board.