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Radio Money Talks

Salem Media Group, the Christian and conservative multi-media company known for its radio stations and on-air personalities, is moving into a new market: financial advice. In the last year, Camarillo-based Salem has acquired nearly half a dozen newsletters and websites for investors and has begun marketing them to its established audience. Most recent was last month’s acquisition of Retirement Watch, a website that offers advice to retirees. Salem did not disclose the sale price, but said it will market the new resource to current subscribers. Last November Salem acquired Yield Hunter, a market analysis site founded in 2006 and operated by commentator Tim McPartland, for $42,000. Back in July it acquired DividendInvestors.com for $1 million. The website provides dividend data for companies across the globe, news alerts and a dividend calendar. Another acquisition included Bryan Perry Investing Newsletters in the third quarter of 2015. “This was a tuck-in acquisition for us. We are able to tuck into an existing operation with very little increase in expenses as a result and a very interesting cross-marketing, cross-promotional opportunity,” David Evans, Salem’s president of publishing, said during a conference call with analysts to discuss 2015 third quarter earnings. “We are able to go to our existing subscriber base and our existing prospects and tell them about this new investment newsletter product.” Salem’s acquisition of Washington, D.C.-based Eagle Publishing – with which also came Eagle Financial Publications – in January 2014 for $8.5 million began its foray into financial publishing. Now called Salem Eagle, it publishes conservative political books but also has titles about wellness and money. The company also has assembled a portfolio of conservative political and Christian news websites, including Twitchy.com, founded by former Daily News columnist Michelle Malkin. “Salem has always been one of the leading content companies out there, meaning they have a great set of traditional radio stations and a large radio network,” Thom Callahan, president of Southern California Broadcasters Association in Los Angeles, told the Business Journal. “I think that today’s radio listenership must be reached on air as well as online. It’s a seamless experience when one listens to the radio, downloads the mobile app, goes to their station’s website and logs on to become a follower on Twitter or Facebook. The whole thing becomes a 180-degree experience.” Analyst Lisa Springer with equity research firm Singular Research in Calabasas, said financial information is a new area for Salem and that the company does not discuss these particular assets much. “I think the financial newsletters and websites may be attractive to Salem as products that can be cross-sold to their existing customer base,” she said in an email to the Business Journal. “The thought process about financial newsletters likely began with the assets that came with the Eagle acquisition. I think they recognized an opportunity to diversify revenues with these products and are taking baby steps to expand in this area.” Salem’s investment newsletter business on an annual basis comes to roughly $5 million to $6 million in revenue, according to Evans. This accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of the company’s total – “a pretty small component,” Evans said on the conference call. Though not a large portion of Salem’s business, the company does see potential growth. By increasing its portfolio, Salem aims to further establish itself as a go-to source for investment help by its audience. “The financial products are mainly subscription-based. My thoughts are that they create a nice steady income stream to help smooth the volatility of political ad revenues,” said Singular Research’s Springer. “I would also be very surprised to see any big acquisitions (more than $2 million to $3 million) by Salem in the financial area.”

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