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Your Pension May Not Save Your Golden Years

Robert Kiyosaki predicted the looming pension system collapse would be the “biggest bust in the history of America.”

Rick Schultz

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On last week’s “Rich Dad Radio Show,” host Robert Kiyosaki opened up with the financial calamity he sees coming for retirees counting on government-backed pensions to fund their golden years.

“The reason I’m so hot on this is that my old man, Poor Dad, lost his pension, and he didn’t know he was poor until he lost his pension,” Kiyosaki began. “He lost it because he ran for Lieutenant Governor as a Republican, which is an idiotic thing to do with the communist republic of Hawaii.”

Kiyosaki, the author of the decades-old smash hit “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” has occasionally criticized the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. During this episode, he provided some opening thoughts about the fund giant recently voting to use borrowed money and alternative assets to meet its investment return target.

“The dominos are falling. This is the retirement fund giant CALPERS; I think it’s the biggest pension fund in America. It’s going broke,” Kiyosaki said. “Now that means firefighters, school teachers, public servants. They’re all toast, just like my poor Dad. They’re going to find out that the government screwed them.”

Kiyosaki predicted the looming pension system collapse would be the “biggest bust in the history of America.”

Ted Siedle, former SEC attorney and Kiyosaki’s co-author of Who Stole My Pension, agreed with Kiyosaki that the threat is real for unknowing Americans.

“These pensions, these state, and local pensions are refusing to give the participants in the fund and the taxpayers prospectuses on what they’re investing,” Siedle said. “Every regulator in the world says read the prospectus before you invest. Well, these pensions refuse to give the prospectuses to state workers and taxpayers who are contributing, so nobody knows where the money is.”

John MacGregor, Financial Planner and author of the book The Top 10 Reasons the Rich Go Broke, said he’d seen many experienced employees who trusted their employers’ pension plans, only to be disappointed in the end.

“I’ve been in the industry for over, gosh going on 27 years now, working with I estimate over 5000 people, all walks of life, all demographics – rich, poor, women, men, etcetera, and I’ve never seen it this bad, “MacGregor said. “Public pensions, they’ve seen their liabilities grow over the last 20 years, but particularly since COVID. These plans are now facing increasing pressure to generate performance, and now they’re reaching, and they’re using risky investments to do so.”

MacGregor specifically brought up the individual states, saying they are the most at risk.

“Nearly every state in America is facing a pension shortfall,” he said. “States have a combined $4.2 Trillion in pension liabilities but less than $3 Trillion set aside for the pensions. And the typical state has about 70% of their fund is funded. And with this funding shortfall, we’ve got ten thousand people hitting 65, which is retirement, every single day. These states are headed for a pension crisis.”

Kiyosaki has sounded the alarm regarding public pensions for years. His newest book highlights the issue, and he will undoubtedly continue to discuss the issue on “The Rich Dad Radio Show.”

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Sales Productivity Protects You From Hedge Fund Uncertainty

“The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.”

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Almost 30 years ago, Radio station ownership limits were lifted, and Wall Street saw an opportunity. But the hedge funds didn’t understand the business and created mayhem in a still vital industry.

I worked in New York City for over 6 years. I had the opportunity to spend time around the brain trust of Wall Street. These Masters of the Universe saw the weakness of the radio industry and thought that they had all the answers. 

Well, they didn’t. 

I will give you some history from my perspective. My first 16 years were spent working for family run operations. Both of these companies were managed by third generation operators who put people and community first. These were highly successful operations with large staffs. 

I am not looking back with rose colored glasses. No organization is perfect or without unique challenges. But people were first in these broadcast companies. Both of my first employers had top consultants to give strong outside the organization feedback. Both companies had General Managers that catered to both the programming and sales departments. 

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the biggest overhaul of telecommunications law in 62 years. It was widely thought that this would bring radio into modern times. Consolidation has been a landmark of American Business, so, Wall Street’s Hedge Funds saw an opening.  Radio station owners sold for insane profits. Longtime owners were able to sell stations for multiples of up to 30 times meaning that if an owner had a station earning 1 million dollars, they could sell it for 30 million dollars. Quite a return (Most stations didn’t go that high but multiples of 18-25 were very common during this period).  

Wall Street looked at radio like the pickle industry. Except there was an issue. Radio did not have hundreds of workers in each location. You couldn’t move all operations to a central hub and save HUGE money, that would justify strong ROI. So, radio ended up with several large owners (by the way, I am not criticizing iHeart, Audacy, Cumulus and the other large owners). 

When larger companies developed, they went public selling stock to individual shareholders and institutional investors. The market states that companies show a certain amount of revenue growth per year. Let’s say that number is 10%. Radio is interesting, we are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. You cannot just build new radio stations. So, companies were forced to merge or expand to meet revenue goals. Wall Street encouraged and even demanded it. 

Here was the problem – radio companies acquired an unsupportable amount of debt that could never be paid back. The Hedge Funds just moved cash around and demanded companies cut staff and consolidate management. It was a blood bath. Any of us who entered this business in the 90’s saw this. Great broadcasters, salespeople, managers were forced out because of unsustainable debt and micromanaging Hedge Funds.  

On the local level, new clusters were forced to protect the biggest biller in the group. This was not set to grow revenue; it was to protect the revenue and keep the spreadsheets looking right. I know of stations that were more successful brands in ratings in a cluster than the cash cow but if you were the Program Director who was consistently beating the cash cow, your job was in jeopardy.  This was a reverse hunger games caused by debt, fear and shortsightedness. 

So, here we are.

The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. 

The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.

Even though a couple of the bigger companies have gone bankrupt, they’re not bankruptcy situations where assets were liquidated creating a market-based value of these properties. It was essentially a negotiation to lower the debt, and did not move these companies to become cash positive operations again. 

Why do the Hedge Funds not cut their losses and move on? Now that is a great question.  Hedge funds handle billions of dollars. They bundle bad deals with great deals and so their investors don’t seem to have a problem if they see enough of a profit at the end of the month, quarter or year. People remember the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. Hedge Funds were bundling bad mortgages with good ones. Soon the bad overcame the market. Thus, a crash.  The homes never went away. The value of real estate fell dramatically in many places.

Are people still listening to us? 80% of Americans do. Not the 93% of a decade or so ago (Pew Research). This is much better than local TV where only 63% of Americans watch local TV News.

But what is the future?

It is entirely up to Hedge Fund involvement. Will Hedge Funds cut their losses and move on?  If that occurs, will local broadcasters rise again? 

What can YOU do?

It is all about the billing. If you are billing a lot more than you cost, the company will need you, and indispensability is what corporate leaders will see. Make yourself available for Sales. If you are the morning talent, be dressed well enough for a sales call. Make yourself available a few times each week to meet clients. Let salespeople know about the products and services that you use. Radio personalities are influencers. They have huge audiences that listen every day.  Don’t forget your advantage. We cannot control the Hedge Funds, corporate debt or a fast-changing marketplace. 

This was not an exhaustive history, but it illustrates our challenges. Radio programming departments are filled with creative people who just want to entertain. Be aware of our weaknesses and strengths. The Market Manager and sales manager are under huge pressure.  Be that person who understands their concerns.

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Is The News Station Website Doing Its Job?

“There are plenty of markets and stations around the country who understand the value of their websites and the business and community benefits they can provide aside from being a corkboard for ad space.”

Bill Zito

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There was a mass shooting on Monday.

Certainly not the first time that sentence has been uttered in this country but in this case, I am referring to Memorial Day on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida. Nine people wounded, including a one-year-old and a couple of people in custody with more to follow, I expect.

Now Hollywood and I have history, overwhelmingly good history. I lived there, made friends there and met my late wife there. I also worked there as a Hollywood police officer, as did she for those curious enough. So, when this shooting happened, I was naturally wanting to know more and to see those who wear the same uniform I once did as they went about their work.

For that, I did what I rarely do these days when I want the latest news and developments, I went to the local station websites. This was about two hours after the shooting was first reported and I was able to find something on virtually all the TV web pages and some quick blurbs on the newspaper sites, so I and countless others were able to get a preliminary idea of what was going on. And that was about it for a while and to me, that made perfect sense.

I say I rarely go to the local news websites because I personally find them generally lacking in information, slow to add or update details or to stream enough ongoing coverage to remain relevant to anyone above the very casual seeker of news and information.

That is not a blanket statement by any means. There are plenty of markets and stations around the country who understand the value of their websites and the business and community benefits they can provide aside from being a corkboard for ad space.

Once again, ignorance, laziness and a lack of imagination lead to lost opportunities.

The time was when those very websites and their subscription alerts to your email or cell phone were often the fastest ways to find out when things were happening. If you are curious how I found out in New England what was happening in South Florida?

Instagram.

So, the station Instagram posts do their job and take you to the station site but only after you’ve gotten at least a breakdown of what’s happened and what is going on. Are people continuing on to the website and then to the broadcast like all was once intended?

When the conversation centers around content, usually in job interviews or sales meetings it seems, the discussions often follow a pattern of; the broadcast/print content drives people to the website content which drives people to the broadcast/print content, etc., which means the audience member sets up camp and never leaves.

Ever hear people tout this philosophy? Sadly, many of them are still around. They extol the wonderment of the chain philosophy and then are shocked when it doesn’t yield the results they promised, and their clients start buying bus bench ads.

The chain philosophy, in this case the aforementioned broadcast/print content to the website which drives people to the broadcast/print content, etc., has a fatal flaw in it. Only one link in the chain has to disappear for things to go south. Which means if the website is no good or of no use, that volley back and forth ends and people go somewhere else.

If there is a good news product out there, every aspect of its brand must be equally good. It must serve the purpose and the audience. Newspaper websites are easier I guess because most of them are now literally the product. They are the destination. That is why the people who do are willing to pay for them.

I suppose you cannot put every bit of broadcast content on a TV news or radio station site, but you certainly can do better than a lot of what is out there now. Radio websites could do so much more if they really tried.

It’s the same with news coverage as a whole. There are choices to make how stories are told. Granted, when things are unfolding in real time those choices become quick decisions. But that’s the benefit of live hits number 2 through whatever, followed by the story wraps and packages. The stuff is supposed to get progressively better as we move along.

The reporters and producers can add and subtract on air and on the websites and on to social media. Toss out the earlier crap for what is better and more meaningful. I saw particularly good examples with the Hollywood shooting coverage.

I am one person in particular who cannot stand it when the media insists on showcasing a mayor when a tragic or violent incident occurs in their city. Who cares what the mayor has to say? Let us hear from the witness, the people who were there and were impacted by what happened. What does the mayor know about it except what the first responders told them? The police or the EMT’s or fire can tell us what happened, how it happened and who they’re looking for. The mayor will cry outrage and try their best to steer the tourists back to the beach. “Shark, what shark?”

TV news station websites have choices and options, what they often do not have nowadays is enough people to keep them current, active, and alive, frankly. Digital only reporters and producers have been assigned other duties in many markets. Websites are updated by the assignment desk in some places or a show producer at the end of their shift in others. The longest lasting proof of a broadcast day is often the last thing management considers as they’re walking out the door at night.

You make your choices and you deal with the result.

Last week, I urged the AM radio community to improve their product and their service if they want to keep AM in cars. It’s rather disheartening to listen to the cries of, “It’s not fair” or the claims of “You’re killing our industry” when nobody is considering the fact that not trying or simply doing a bad job is what leads to things like falling website traffic, declining viewership/listenership or even things like a major company getting delisted from the New York Stock Exchange while extending their COO’s contract for three years.

If we make things better things have a fighting chance to get better.

It is to wonder.

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Trump Town Hall Delivered CNN’s Biggest Audience Since March 2022

“It was CNN’s most-watched telecast in total viewers since President Biden’s State of the Union address on Mar. 1, 2022.”

Doug Pucci

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Photo Credit: CNN

The controversial May 10th town hall event featuring 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was at the center of the news world during the week ending May 14.

The town hall, moderated by Kaitlan Collins and held at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire to an audience of Republican and independent voters who’ve previously voted for Trump, drew 3.308 million total viewers including 781,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. Those figures could not top Fox News Channel’s five most recent Trump town halls — two from Mar. 2020, one in May 2020, another in June 2020 and one post-election (on “Hannity”) in June 2021 — which ranged from 3.54 millions to 5.11 million. Nor did they best President Biden’s first post-inauguration CNN town hall from Feb. 16, 2021 (3.64 million total/902,000 adults 25-54).

Nonetheless, it was CNN‘s most-watched telecast in total viewers since President Biden’s State of the Union address on Mar. 1, 2022. It also delivered their best 25-54 performance since their New Year’s Eve celebration with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen from New York’s Times Square on Dec. 31, 2022.

A special edition of “Anderson Cooper 360” which followed the town hall on May 10 was cable news’ runner-up telecast of the week among adults 25-54 (as listed in the rankings at the end of this article.)

On the following night, for the May 11th edition of “AC360”, Cooper defended his network’s to carry the event, stating “the man you were so disturbed to see and hear from [on the night of May 10] — that man is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president,”

Cooper added. “You have every right to be outraged today, angry and never watch this network again, but do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away?”

The May 11th “Anderson Cooper 360” posted 616,000 viewers including 137,000 adults 25-54, placing behind MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” and FNC’s “Fox News Tonight” although the demo delivery was a mere 2,000 viewers (aged 25-54) behind “Hayes.”

These figures were also on-par with its usual levels: for Monday May 1 thru Thursday May 4, “AC360” averaged 604,000 viewers and 141,000 adults 25-54 within the 8-9 p.m. hour.

Cable news averages for May 8-14, 2023:

Total Day (May 8-14 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.140 million viewers; 137,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.755 million viewers; 85,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.462 million viewers; 95,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.185 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.108 million viewers; 26,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.107 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.101 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.082 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (May 8-13 @ 8-11 p.m.; May 14 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.434 million viewers; 140,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.161 million viewers; 117,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.701 million viewers; 161,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.317 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.141 million viewers; 37,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.108 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.107 million viewers; 17,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.091 million viewers; 15,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.060 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. CNN Town Hall “Donald Trump and NH GOP Voters” (CNN, Wed. 5/10/2023 8:00 PM, 70 min.) 3.308 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 5/8/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.838 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 5/9/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.708 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 5/10/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.692 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 5/11/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.665 million viewers

6. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 5/12/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.497 million viewers

7. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 5/8/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.289 million viewers

8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 5/8/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.210 million viewers

9. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 5/11/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.181 million viewers

10. Anderson Cooper 360 “Trump Town Hall Analysis” (CNN, Wed. 5/10/2023 9:10 PM, 50 min.) 2.152 million viewers

263. Eric Bolling The Balance (NMX, Mon. 5/8/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.543 million viewers

428. Varney & Company (FBN, Mon. 5/8/2023 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.290 million viewers

450. Forensic Files (HLN, late Tue. 5/9/2023 3:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.267 million viewers

464. Highway Thru Hell “(1117) Know When To Hold Em” (TWC, Sun. 5/14/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.259 million viewers

518. Squawk on the Street (CNBC, Mon. 5/8/2023 9:00 AM, 180 min.) 0.223 million viewers

731. Cuomo (NWSN, Thu. 5/11/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.136 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. CNN Town Hall “Donald Trump and NH GOP Voters” (CNN, Wed. 5/10/2023 8:00 PM, 70 min.) 0.781 million adults 25-54

2. Anderson Cooper 360 “Trump Town Hall Analysis” (CNN, Wed. 5/10/2023 9:10 PM, 50 min.) 0.438 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 5/11/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.338 million adults 25-54

4. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 5/8/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.306 million adults 25-54

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 5/9/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.298 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 5/10/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.277 million adults 25-54

7. Anderson Cooper 360 “Trump Town Hall Analysis” (CNN, Wed. 5/10/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.253 million adults 25-54

8. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Thu. 5/11/2023 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.252 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 5/12/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.251 million adults 25-54

10. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Wed. 5/10/2023 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.246 million adults 25-54

19. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 5/8/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.210 million adults 25-54

316. Forensic Files (HLN, late Tue. 5/9/2023 3:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.076 million adults 25-54

400. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 728” (CNBC, Thu. 5/11/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.059 million adults 25-54

402. Greg Kelly Reports (NMX, Thu. 5/11/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.059 million adults 25-54

510. Highway Thru Hell “(1116) Triple Play” (TWC, Sat. 5/13/2023 1:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.041 million adults 25-54

575. Mornings with Maria Bartiromo (FBN, Tue. 5/9/2023 8:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.035 million adults 25-54

612. Banfield (NWSN, Mon. 5/8/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.032 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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