The future of Salem media

This was originally attached to the Audacy bankruptcy story, but it’s worthy of its own separate discussion

Salem Radio is much smaller than Audacy but also in trouble.   Salem is a hybrid for-profit / religious radio company that sold off some of their assets in June after falling in default on their loan agreement with Wells Fargo, and the threat of being delisted at NASDAQ.   NASDAQ requires a minimum stock price of $1 to remain listed and Salem is currently around $0.30.   The failure of Audacy will likely push Salem over the edge as well.

I have an unfavorable opinion of Salem Media.  They operate a string of right-wing pro-Zionist christian talk radio stations.  Bill Bennett, Larry Elder and Michael Medved have departed, and the average age of the legacy hosts (Hugh Hewitt (66),  Mike Gallagher (63), Dennis Prager(75)  are up in Social Security territory.  Their audience are baby boomers who are rapidly dying off.

The newer hosts have quite a challenge – Charlie Kirk(29), Sebastian Gorka (53) and Officer Tatum (53).  Weekends on the talk stations are absolutely dreadful with non-stop dubious infomercials and little if any local programming.

Salem’s main cash flow is from Christian teaching stations that sell programming time to nonprofits that beg for donations, and then pay Salem which can then legally make a profit for Wall Street.   Channeling the donations through a non-profit allows the donor to claim a tax deduction.

Some of the shows are from preachers who died a long time ago with  a foundation owning the intellectual property and they exist to keep raising money for no purpose other than to keep paying to air the old sermons and maybe selling books.

Salem also operates a few “Fish” branded contemporary Christian music stations, which again are for-profit and cannot directly solicit tax deductible donations.

Another profitable part of their business was selling books (Regnery) and magazines (Town Hall.com), both of which are not future growth prospects as the world goes digital. 

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