Predicting iHeart’s (Bleak) Future
Inside Music Media’s Jerry Del Colliano (insidemusicmedia.com) is predicting that iHeart Radio, owner of numerous local stations including KIIS-FM (102.7) and KFI (640 AM) is going to be bankrupt soon … perhaps by the time you read this. Thursday March 1st was the day he predicted. And he’s often right.
What would that mean for the world’s largest radio group owner? A huge mess, says Del Colliano. And he’s right, due in part to the company having kicked the can of debt payments down the road for too long. Basically, iHeart owns too many stations, owes too much money (over $20 billion) and has helped devalue radio to the point where ad revenue continues to decrease. We’ll see next week if the prediction is correct.
Emmis Sells St. Louis
While iHeart continues to avoid the obvious — selling stations to pay down its huge debt — Emmis Communications, former owner of Power 106, is doing just that. In fact, Power itself was sold to pay down its relatively minor debt, and they just sold its four stations in St. Louis to reduce it even more. Emmis owes about $80 million and the St. Louis sale will generate about $60 million for the company.
Losing a Gem?
Construction has begun at Ports O Call Village in San Pedro, the one-time thriving retail village that was allowed to decay by the landlord, the Port of Los Angeles, which is run by the Harbor Commission.
While the owner of the namesake Ports O Call Restaurant — one of San Pedro’s treasures — tries to negotiate with the Port and developers of the new San Pedro Public Market, lost in the details is a little radio studio just outside the restaurant that is a podcasting voice for Southern California.
Basically, if an agreement for the restaurant is not made, the Los Angeles Radio Studio, funded as a public service by restaurant owner Jayme Wilson and run by Michael Stark, the eight-year old studio may have to shut down.
That would leave numerous local voices in limbo. The studio serves as the recording room and distribution center for numerous programs heard locally and around the world:
• Phil Hulett and Friends, heard on KFWB (980 AM) until the station was sold and changed formats. Hulett’s popular program is heard in over 60 countries and covers just about everything except politics.
• Talk Time Internet Radio, hosted by Zeke Vidaurri, spotlights issues important to San Pedro and includes discussions and interviews with local leaders and politicians.
• Thrashpie Radio, hosted by former KNAC now KBUE, 105.5 FM) personality Ted “Thrasher” Pritchard, featuring music you haven’t heard on local radio since KNAC left the air.
• Radio Waves, hosted by Stark and Yours Truly, covering local radio while promoting this column and the newspapers that carry it, along with career-spanning interviews with the people who make radio great like Shotgun Tom Kelly and Dr. Demento.
Numerous other shows are recorded at the studio weekly; they can be heard via iTunes and more, accessed at LARadioStudio.Com. “In addition,” according to Stark, “the studio does a lot of work with the CSULB radio program, with internships and hosting shows that are featured on the student station that broadcasts on line and over the air via K-JAZZ’s digital HD stream (88.1 HD3)”
Wilson says that he is in talks with the new developer for the studio (and restaurant) to be part of the new San Pedro Public Market. “A small glassed studio in the Market would connect the development with the world,” he explained. “We could broadcast live musical performances and other events” that are expected to be part of the development.
Hopefully an agreement can be made, as the loss of the only studio of its kind in the area would be huge for the community, just as podcasts are gaining in popularity.