Emmis Communications Corporation (EMMS)

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Emmis Communications Corporation (EMMS)

F1Q09 Earnings Call

July 10, 2008 9:00 am ET


Kate Snedeker – Investor and Media Relations

Jeffrey H. Smulyan – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Patrick Walsh – Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Richard F. Cummings – President, Emmis Radio


Jim Boyle - C.L. King and Associates

Mark Wienkes - Goldman Sachs

Lee Westerfield - Harris Nesbitt

Marci Ryvicker - Wachovia



Welcome to the Emmis Communications Corporation earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I'd like to introduce your host for today, Ms. Kate at Emmis in Indianapolis. Ma'am, you may begin.

Kate Snedeker

Thank you for joining us for today's conference call regarding first quarter earnings. I want to extend a special welcome to all the Emmis employees who are joining us and listening in and those of you listening in from our website, www.Emmis.com.

We'll begin in just a moment with opening comments from the Chairman and CEO, Jeff Smulyan, and Pat Walsh, our CFO. After their opening comments, our conference call moderator will come back on the line to instruct you on how to submit questions. Joining us to help answer your questions this morning is Rick Cummings, President of Emmis Radio.

A playback of the call will be available for the next week at 203-3690399.

This conference call may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Please refer to Emmis' public filings with the SEC for more information on the various risks and uncertainties. Additional disclosure related to non-GAAP financial measures can found under the Investors tab at our website.

Jeffrey H. Smulyan

This has been an interesting quarter. It's actually been a very good quarter for us, very good station operating income growth. That's a result of better-than-expected revenues as well as significant cost controls.

As we said in our last call, we have now caught and by most metrics beat our markets. We're very encouraged about that because it's the result of some significant initiatives, especially in our three largest radio stations, KISS in New York, HOT 97 in New York and Power 106 had an exceptional quarter, all significantly beating their markets. And I think that's probably the most important thing. People focused on the performance of those three stations, and they have done a very significant job.

The ratings of the group also have been very good. We're finishing a series of books. Starting in New York, where KISS looks to be the number one radio station in the market in the last ever diary. So as the diary system finishes, it looks like we'll finish with the number on radio station in the largest population market.

In addition, good trends, you know, in New York with HOT, Power in Los Angeles, our Austin cluster, St. Louis, very encouraging turnaround signs in Indianapolis. Across the board, we're really very pleased with the ratings of the company.

In addition, I think the most important thing is that we're seeing the innovation of this company staring to pay off, both in programming - we see some encouraging signs with the new RXP in New York, some other PPM metrics have been encouraging - and that we have seen in a lot of places in the company, the innovation throughout Emmis.

Emmis Interactive, as you've seen, has made a lot of news and will continue to make some pretty interesting news in the near term. Really, it's become the hallmark of how our industry approaches the interactive experience, and it's been led by a remarkable team at Emmis Interactive by [Devon Ray]. I think if you talk to anybody in the American radio industry, the first thing they talk about when it comes to the digital experience is the things we've learned at Emmis.

In addition, the Broadcaster's Traffic Consortium we think probably the most significant new development in monetizing our digital spectrum, and it's been led - the first president, is Paul Brenner of Emmis, one of our Executive Vice Presidents. And it's only fitting that Paul was named president because he was the person, along with Scott Enright and Curtis Taylor and several of our other people, who really put this together. We could not be prouder of it.

So throughout the company I am encouraged by our sense of innovation. In addition to that, I'm encouraged by signs that we see in reinventing radio throughout the country. We have been a major supporter, an active participant, leader, of Radio 2020, both with Rick's position on the NAB board as well as my involvement with a working group that is working vigorously and will continue to meet to reinvent this industry, to bring it forward as we enter into the next decade.

In addition, I guess we've gotten some notoriety for working on our initiative to put radio tuners in cell phones, and I have been most encouraged by the progress that we've made in our discussions, not only with the wireless carriers but also with people at the FCC and members of Congress who believe our idea is a perfect solution to the Emergency Notification Act.

For all these reasons, I'm encouraged, but it's against a backdrop of an industry which is clearly very severely challenged. It's not secret all of media is challenged. Traditional media is challenged. You've read about the radio business. You can see the stories. You've seen the problems in television and certainly the problems in newspapers. And yet even new media, which is suffering fragmentation and which is struggling to find a business model. The only thing I can say is that I believe that radio, with its ability to reach now about 260 million Americans every week, has the ability to reinvent itself, and I believe that as that occurs, the people at Emmis will lead that way.

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