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Audacy Begins Negotiations to Restructure $1.9 Billion Debt

Audacy officials are expected to provide an update on the negotiations during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

Maddy Troy

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The Audacy logo on an orange background

Audacy has entered negotiations with its lenders to restructure its debt as it faces a potential violation of a key loan covenant this summer and $632.4 million in debt coming due within a year. The company had previously announced its intention to initiate discussions with financial creditors, a process that has now commenced.

A spokesperson for Audacy told Inside Radio, “As we have previously stated we intended to do, we have initiated discussions with our lenders to refinance our debt and optimize our balance sheet to position Audacy for long-term growth as we continue to invest in our people, platform, technology, content and growth initiatives.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, two groups of creditors, including senior lenders and second-lien bondholders, have signed non-disclosure agreements to confidentially discuss the restructuring of Audacy’s $1.9 billion debt. The company has been working with restructuring advisor PJT Partners and law firm Latham & Watkins. On May 10, Audacy warned investors by adding “going concern” language to its annual financial report, indicating concerns about its ability to survive the next year.

The advertising slowdown has further impacted Audacy’s balance sheet. CFO Rich Schmaeling noted a softening of advertising demand since the first quarter, with revenues already down 5.7%.

“We are concerned that it could get worse before it gets better,” he said. While Audacy works to grow billings, cut costs, and sell more noncore assets, that might not be enough to “fully mitigate the impact of potential further advertising weakness,” Schmaeling cautioned.

Based on first-quarter financial results and second-quarter pacings, Audacy is expected to breach its first-lien loan covenant when its Q2 results are released. While this would put the company in technical default, it remains unclear whether its first-lien lenders would push for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the current economic environment. Amending the covenant and extending the maturity date on the debt owed to first-lien lenders could provide Audacy with more time to prove its digital transformation’s success.

In addition to $632.4 million in first-lien debt maturing in July 2024, Audacy owes $1 billion in bonds to second-lien lenders, with different maturity dates.

Noble Capital Director of Research Michael Kupinski sees a debt-for-equity swap as the likely path forward for Audacy. “I see no way out, outside of a financial restructuring,” he stated.

Audacy officials are expected to provide an update on the negotiations during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

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Media Business

Local News Becoming Less Prevalent on Radio, New RTDNA Study Shows

68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Barrett News Media

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Local news has been a focal point for radio stations for decades. But that may be fading away, a new RTDNA study shows.

65% of commercial stations still air local news in 2024, down slightly from 66.2% in 2023. Non-commercial stations have dropped 12% points in the past two years, down to just 60.7% airing local news.

However, the disconnect appears to come from locally owned stations versus non-locally owned. 68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Not only are there drops in the number of stations broadcasting local news, but the airtime those updates occupy has also shrunk, according to the RTDNA study.

“The biggest drop in average minutes came in large markets, suggesting that fewer all news or news/talk stations there filled out the Survey this year,” the study states. “Medium markets are down a bit; small markets dropped an average of over 20 minutes per weekday.”

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Media Business

YouTube Largest Podcast Discovery Platform By Wide Margin, Westwood One Study Shows

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

Barrett News Media

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In the span of three years, YouTube has gone from the third most popular podcast discovery platform to the top spot, a Westwood One study suggests.

In a study of more than 600 weekly podcast listeners, 31% say YouTube is the most utilized podcast listening platform. 21% say they use Spotify most frequently, while 12% claimed Apple Podcasts was their go-to destination.

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

YouTube’s podcast listening profile is slightly more male-dominated and also younger than the typical Apple Podcasts audience, according to the results from Westwood One Audio Active Group.

Naturally, the majority of Apple and Spotify users utilize smartphones to access their favorite podcasts, while 38% of YouTube’s audience uses computers and televisions for their favorite shows.

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Media Business

AM/FM Radio Still Largest Medium for Spoken Word Audio, Podcasting Closing Gap

 “Podcasting’s share of spoken word will almost surely surpass that of AM/FM within a few more years.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of a podcast user's cell phone

AM/FM Radio has long been well-served by the news/talk format. That remains true in 2024, but podcasting has narrowed the gap.

According to the latest Edison Research Share of Ear study, 43% of spoken word audio listening is done on terrestrial radio. 36% is now done with on-demand podcasts, up from 13% in 2017.

 “Podcasting’s share of spoken word will almost surely surpass that of AM/FM within a few more years,” the company forecasts.

In the study, it also revealed that the broadcast radio advantage still rests with listeners older than 65, but has already been surpassed by younger demographics.

From respondents 13-64, 41% listen to spoken word in podcast form compared to 39% for AM/FM radio. But for those 65+, it’s still a 66%-13% advantage for broadcasting.

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