Radio and podcast giant iHeartmedia has accelerated the launch what it says it the first — and only — 24-hour service dedicated to news coverage from a Black perspective.
BIN: Black Information Network is “focused on service to the Black community and providing an information window for those outside the community to help foster communication, accountability and a deeper understanding,” the company announced Tuesday.
BIN will be distributed nationally through the iHeartRadio app and accessible via mobile, smart speakers, smart TVs and other connected platforms. Programming also will be on all-news local AM/FM broadcast radio stations providing local news, weather traffic and sports in addition to national news in markets including Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Augusta, Ga., Columbus, Ga., Macon, Ga., Detroit, Greenville, N.C., Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Va., Riverside, Calif., San Francisco and Seattle, with additional local markets being added over the next 60 days.
Furthermore, BIN will provide the news service for several additional iHeartMedia hip-hop, R&B and gospel stations across the U.S. Those include Power 105.1 in New York, Real 92.3 in Los Angeles, WDAS and Power 99 in Philadelphia, WGCI and WVAZ in Chicago, WJLB in Detroit, The Beat in Houston, The Beat in Miami, WQUE in New Orleans, and KMEL in San Francisco.
In addition, selections of BIN’s radio content will be distributed as podcasts across iHeartRadio’s podcast network, including a daily news and analysis show running 10-20 minutes. Also, excerpts from iHeartRadio’s Black culture podcasts will be included in BIN’s broadcast radio programming.
BIN is set up as a standalone business unit within iHeartMedia, led by president Tony Coles (above left) and director of news operations Tanita Myers (above right).
Coles, who also serves as division president of the iHeartMedia Markets Group, has more than 35 years of experience in the radio industry including stints as a programming exec, on-air personality, brand manager. Myers, a veteran radio producer, broadcaster and news anchor, joins iHeartMedia’s BIN after 15 years at Reach Media. She was formerly director of operations for “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and executive producer of “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” and she’s worked as a reporter in news, traffic and weather for several major-market stations.
According to iHeartMedia, its broadcast stations alone currently reach 93% of Black Americans, giving BIN immediate access to audiences. The company plans to promote BIN across its social-media footprint as well. In addition, Clear Channel Outdoor (which spun off from the company last year following iHeartMedia’s bankruptcy reorg) has signed on as a national marketing partner.
“We are pleased and proud to enable the support the launch of BIN: Black Information Network by contributing resources that will have the greatest impact — our reach, our multiple platforms, our technology infrastructure and our broad, in-depth relationships with consumers,” iHeartMedia chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said in announcing the venture.
For the launch of BIN, iHeartMedia has adopted a sponsorship model, inking deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Bank of America, CVS Health, Geico, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, 23andMe and Verizon. Those marketers “will be able to deliver important messages to BIN’s audiences and serve as a platform for philanthropic and community outreach to build brand connection and support the Black community, as well as use it for advertising messages as needed,” according to the company.
“We are proud to be a founding partner of BIN: Black Information Network,” said Paul Martin, chief diversity officer at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “There has never been a more important time for Black voices to be heard. We applaud iHeartMedia for their vision and initiative to create this platform for news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.”
According to an iHeartMedia study of Black listeners, 86% agreed that a service like BIN is necessary and are likely to rely on it as an important news source while 83% think such a service would provide important information they can’t get on radio or TV today. The company said the BIN concept proved “equally strong” among respondents in both 18-34 and 35-54 age brackets.
“BIN: Black Information Network will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community,” Coles said in a statement.
The company began developing what became BIN last year and recently moved up the launch timeline. The “events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network,” Coles said. “Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be more proud of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”
According to iHeartMedia, BIN is actively hiring for various positions; the company said job listings will be posted to iheartmediacareers.com.