Wednesday, February 24, 2021

| February 24, 2021

Entercom Q4 Revenue Down 25.7%; Full Year 2020 Declines 33.6%. The third major radio company to present 2020 fourth quarter and full year financial data is Entercom (Beasley and Cumulus have already posted their financial results and iHeartMedia is scheduled to do the same tomorrow). The company reveals 2020 Q4 net revenue was $319.5 million, down 25.7% from the same period in 2019, and 2020 full-year net revenue was $1.06 billion, a decline of 33.6% from 2019. Entercom notes that since the depths of the pandemic revenue dip in the second quarter of 2020, business is trending up. Its 2020 Q4 revenue was up 19% from Q3. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to drive strong sequential operating improvement with revenues up 19% and EBITDA more than doubling vs. the third quarter. Digital, podcasting, sports betting and network radio all posted strong double-digit growth over prior year and we are continuing to drive innovation across these businesses to enhance future growth potential. While the pandemic continues to hobble a large number of our advertisers, particularly locally, we are optimistic about a strong recovery in our local ad sales later this year driven by vaccinations, fiscal stimulus and pent-up consumer demand in heavily impacted categories.” Entercom breaks down its revenue by segments and some of the noteworthy data in this report includes that spot (local and national) revenue was down 27.7% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020; year-over-year spot revenue was down 42.9%. On the positive side, digital revenue (including podcasting) rose 20.5% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 and was up 26% year-over-year. Looking at radio revenue by format, while Entercom’s music formats took the biggest hit in 2020 – revenue was down 44% — sports talk revenue declined by 39.3% and news/talk was off by 21.7% during the year.

Rare Rush Limbaugh Interview from 1990 Posted on Harrison Podcast. A clean audio copy of an interview Michael Harrison conducted over the phone with Rush Limbaugh during the Summer of 1990 emerged in 2016 after spending more than a quarter century stuffed in a forgotten dust-covered box marked “misc.” in the storage bins of the TALKERS archives. It is the historic centerpiece of this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison had just launched TALKERS magazine – the talk media trade publication – in July of that year. Rush was the hottest up-and-coming talent in the business on the air with his national program that launched less than two years earlier. He was cleared at that time on about 240 stations which was a huge deal based on the standards of that era. According to Harrison, “Rush was still the new kid in town – provocative, exotic and controversial – not only politically but industrially as well. And the jury was still out – in terms of radio industry opinion – about whether or not a syndicated show could make it in prime daytime slots on the biggest stations in America. At that point, syndication was reserved largely for off-hour filler shows – mostly overnights and weekends.” Harrison adds, “I was talking with Rush for a print interview that ran in the third issue of TALKERS dated August 20, 1990 – almost 31 years ago! The recording was slapped together on Radio Shack equipment with one microphone, a cassette deck and one of those speaker boxes that were popular in that era. It was never intended for airplay – only as a transcription for reference to be used in print. And I didn’t conduct the conversation for the purposes of it actually being a show unto itself. It was just a utilitarian recording designed to be transcribed for print. I guess that’s why I eventually tossed it in a box of miscellaneous items… because, from my perspective in those days, it had served its purpose in helping produce the print product. But now, more than three decades later, it is radio history gold! Knowing what we know now, it is pretty amazing! It contains the seeds of the concepts, opinions, and seminal intelligence that set the stage for the modern era of talk radio.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Round One of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations both saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares increase – WINS added four-tenths to finish with a 4.0 share and the #8 rank and WCBS-AM added two-tenths for a 2.9 share and the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacked on three-tenths for a 5.0 share and remains ranked #3. In Chicago, Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM added half a share to re-claim the #1 rank with a 7.3 share. Across town, Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM added four-tenths for a 4.1 share and the #7 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here

Talk Programmer Bob Shomper to Retire in April. Longtime news/talk programmer Bob Shomper announces he’ll retire from the radio business on April 2. Shomper is currently program director at NRG Media’s KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska. During his career he’s served at some of America’s great news/talk stations, including: WCCO-AM, Minneapolis; KTAR-FM, Phoenix; WLS-AM, Chicago; WGN-AM, Chicago; WBAP-AM, Dallas; and more. Shomper tells TALKERS magazine that his decision to retire is entirely his own and he’s grateful to be doing so on his own terms.

Robbie Stevens Posts Powerful Commentary to TalkersRadio About Honoring Truth in Media Discussions About Politics.  Noted record producer Robbie Stevens, one of TalkersRadio’s roster of “out-of-the-box” talk talents has posted a powerful new commentary yesterday (2/23) titled, “My Mistake(s),” that takes a candid look at a problem radio talk show hosts wrestle with all the time – staying true to core principles, maintaining a healthy sense of skepticism, and being honest about mistakes when making them. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). Commenting on Stevens’ latest posting, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie is raw, fresh, and as real as the urban streets that gave rise to his gritty philosophy and we always get strong response to his work on our exciting platform. This new installment of his show is a grand slam home run because it strikes at the very core of our deepest personal conflicts in arriving at and sticking with our truths as talk radio hosts operating in a swirling ocean of changing information.” To listen to Robbie Stevens’ new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 to provide the industry with a “workout space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Cool Operations Manager Opportunity. Locally owned southern-based radio group seeking a full-time Operations Manager with strong technical and digital skills. The ideal candidate MUST have experience operating OP-X and managing satellite operations for syndicated programs. Applicant must have at least 5 years of experience. Proven experience in managing social media branding, digital marketing, and video production. Proficient in digital automation systems, digital audio editing and production is a must. EEO. Send resumes to dalton@starnesmediagroup.com

TALKERS News Notes. A new channel from Newsmax TV officially launches on VIZIO SmartCast, the award-winning Smart TV platform available to millions of viewers. Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “Launching on VIZIO SmartCast allows our viewers to simply plug in their new televisions and play Newsmax TV. Newsmax is experiencing exponential growth and provides a much-needed perspective on the issues that many VIZIO viewers care about.”…..A new partnership between iHeartMedia and independent UK podcast company Novel will result in the debut of 11 original podcast series over the next three years. The relationship begins with the release of two podcast series, “The Assault on America” and “Deliver Us From Ervil.” “The Assault on America” tells the inside story of the insurrection at the Capitol by working with open-source investigative journalists Bellingcat. “Deliver Us From Ervil” is an investigative true-crime series in which a groundbreaking team of journalists enters a lawless town on the border of Mexico run by a secretive religious sect living in exile and outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government since 1924…..Content creation company Mean Ole Lion Media adds three new lifestyle-based podcasts to its portfolio. The podcasts are: “Conversations with Dr. Ian Smith,” all about people and discovering their back-story; “Business First with Sonia Alleyne,” that shines a light on brilliant and successful business people in a variety of industries; and “The History of Being Black” with host Eunice Elliott.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Riot Public Testimony, Biden Cabinet Nominees, Biden Migrant Policy, Trump Tax Returns, Rochester Protests, Russian Sanctions, China’s Hong Kong Loyalty Oath, and Tiger Woods Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/23). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the testimony before the U.S. Senate about the January 6 Capitol insurrection; the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden, and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; the Biden administration’s continued use of Trump policy turning away migrants at the Mexican border; the SCOTUS’ ruling Donald Trump must turn his tax data over to New York AG Cyrus Vance Jr.; the protests in Rochester, New York over the decision not to prosecute police in the death of Daniel Prude; the Biden Administration’s sanctions on Russia for the SolarWinds hack and the Navalny poisoning; China’s instituting loyalty oaths for Hong Kong politicians; and Tiger Woods is hurt in one-car accident in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

| February 23, 2021

Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”

Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”

Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”

SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19.  Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, February 22, 2021

| February 22, 2021

Monday Memo: #Rush4ever. Consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “there’s dang little we can do to keep someone sitting in a parked car with the key on Accessories. But Rush did that, often. And these carefully chosen archival clips they’re playing are even more captivating.” In this week’s column, HC suggests longer-term options to succeed a talent “who can never be replaced.” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Rush Changed How We Sell. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says Rush Limbaugh changed not only what people talked about on AM radio, but how we sell the talk radio format. Limbaugh’s so-called controversial content often caused the “no-buy” tag to be applied to his program. “Big ratings were no longer an automatic revenue generator. Rush stood steadfast. His audience grew to become the biggest and arguably the most responsive of any network radio talent. A new chapter had to be written in the ad sales playbook. Sellers knew if Rush got behind an ad campaign, phones would ring, orders would come in, and sponsors could experience the powerful results that only talk radio can deliver.” Read Lapa’s column here.

Belling: Appleton Jock Should Not Be Fired. WISN-AM, Milwaukee afternoon drive personality Mark Belling pens a piece posted to his own website that addresses the suspension of rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin jock Len Nelson by Woodward Communications for comments critical of Rush Limbaugh after his death last week that culminated with the sentiment, “The world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh in it.” Belling, who was a frequent fill-in host for Limbaugh for more than 20 years, says, “Obnoxious as Nelson’s comments are, he should not have been suspended and he should certainly not be fired. If his audience sees him for the doofus he is, fine. But this pandemic of firing people for saying things others don’t like is un-American. And it’s childish. Nelson’s comments are not, to use a word the left loves, hurtful. Rush has been very important to my life and my career and I’m not hurt by Nelson’s comments one bit. I am able to consider the source and move on.” Read Belling’s entire commentary here.

TALKERS News Notes. New York City morning radio personality Jim Kerr signs a new deal with iHeartMedia’s classic rock WAXQ-FM “Q104.3” to continue in his role with the station through 2026. Kerr co-hosts the program with Shelli Sonstein. Station PD Eric Wellman says, “Getting to work every day with one of the true legends like Jim is a joy and a privilege. Knowing he will be with ‘Q104.3’ entertaining our audience every morning along with Shelli lets me sleep better at night. Here’s to another five years with Jim Kerr!” Active for decades in civic and charitable affairs, Kerr is a 35-year board member of HeartShare Human Services of New York and a member of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation board. He’s also a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists…..Former longtime WAAF-FM, Boston air personality Mike Hsu is named morning drive host at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WWFX-FM, Worcester, Massachusetts “The Pike 100 FM.” Hsu lost his ig with WAAF when the station was sold by Entercom to Educational Media Foundation a year ago. He joined “The Pike” last August as a part-timer. Cumulus regional VP and market manager Bob Goodell says, “‘Pike’ program director Chuck Perks and I are both very excited to have Mike hosting The Pike’s morning show. He’s a part of the rock fabric of Central Massachusetts and one of the most well-known personalities from his time served at WAAF.”…..Hubbard Radio‘s WTOP, Washington announces the launch of season two of its “American Nightmare Podcast Series: Murder in a Safe Place.” This season focuses on a cold case that has haunted the D.C. region for over 23 years – the brutal rape and murder of a 50-year-old nurse inside the Maryland hospital where she worked. Throughout the podcast, veteran D.C. crime reporter and podcast host Paul Wagner searches for answers and clues to Sherry Crandell’s death. He says, “When I started working on this podcast a year ago, I thought I already knew everything there was to know about this case. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I’ve learned as I’ve investigated this case has genuinely shocked me. I’m excited to share this new information with listeners as they come on this podcast journey with me.”…..SiriusXM announces two new talk programs. First, “Jamila’s Jams” is a new, one-hour show hosted by MTV and BET personality Jamila Mustafa, that airs on the Volume channel. On the program, Mustafa breaks down everything going on in pop culture right now – from the biggest moments in music to the biggest influencers of our time – “Jamila’s Jams” features lively conversations about hip hop and its relevance in today’s world. Second, the live, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET “Lurie Daniel Favors Show” focusing on the interconnectedness of race, class, gender, politics, and the law debuts on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., is an activist, attorney and author with a long-standing commitment to racial and social justice. She is a weekly contributor to “The Karen Hunter Show” and co-hosts “Sunday Civics” on Urban View.

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Philadelphia Radio Pro Cody Anderson Dies at 78. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the obit for William “Cody” Anderson, the Black radio personality and executive who was the first GM of urban talker WURD-AM/W240CH, Philadelphia. He died on Saturday (2/20) from complications from COVID-19. Prior to his death he was host of the Saturday morning “Electric Magazine” program on WURD. Prior to his work with WURD, he served as general manager for urban contemporary WDAS-FM and was a former owner of WHAT-AM, where he created a Black talk format. WURD president and CEO Sara Lomax-Reese tells the Inquirer, “Cody was instrumental in breathing life into WURD and shepherding it over our almost 20 years, first as general manager and most recently as a beloved host, mentor and friend. Like his biological family, the WURD family will miss him deeply. But we are grateful for his tireless and generous support of independent Black media, which he championed every day of his life, especially through his advocacy of WURD Radio.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, State of GOP-Trump at CPAC, Biden’s Stimulus Plan-PPP Changes, Cuomo Investigation, Newsom Recall, Texas Winter Weather Woes, Denver 777 Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The falling number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the state of the Republican Party in the aftermath of the Trump impeachment acquittal and Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance at CPAC next Sunday; President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan and the new PPP protocol designed to help small businesses; the investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of COVID in nursing homes; the move to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom; Texas’ energy providers criticized for grid breakdown during cold snap; and a Boeing 777 engine fails on takeoff from Denver were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 19, 2021

| February 19, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Forks and Bumps,” looks back at this past week of February 15-19, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioHowie Carr, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio NetworkDave Congalton, talk show host, KVEC, San Luis Obispo, CA; and Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, the Joe Pags Show. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Delmarva; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Wisconsin Radio Host Len Nelson Suspended for Limbaugh Post. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin morning personality Len Nelson has been suspended indefinitely by station owner Woodward Communications for a now-deleted message he posted to his personal Facebook page that was critical of Rush Limbaugh. Nelson’s missive blamed Limbaugh for causing “damage to public discourse in America” and charged that his radio program was “steeped in bigotry, misogyny, hypocrisy, lies and malice.” He closed the post saying, “I will not celebrate his death, but I will not feel sorry for it, either. The world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh in it.” Woodward Communications posted the following to the WAPL website: “Recently we were made aware of a social media post placed on a personal Facebook page by one of our employees, Len Nelson. His personal views are not reflective of the core values of WAPL nor of Woodward Radio Group. We are deeply committed to being good people. We appreciate our listeners, sponsors and advertisers and want to assure each one of you this matter is being addressed swiftly. Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns, we are listening.” Nelson posted an apology to his Facebook page in which he acknowledges he may ultimately be fired as a result of his actions. He also says he regrets not taking the time to consider how his actions may have affected others.

Rush Limbaugh’s Voice to Be Heard on Radio for the Long Term. According to Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, “Our plan is to provide the millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for the long term. No one can replace Rush Limbaugh. We will have a variety of hosts that will guide the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Mark Steyn, Todd Herman, and Ken Matthews. With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on all of these issues. Every single element of Rush Limbaugh-branded assets will continue, including his daily show and podcast, daily update, weekend ‘best of’ three-hour show and digital/printed offerings.”

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand is reporting that WFAN, New York afternoon drive co-host Craig Carton is talking with the MLB Network about hosting a daily, morning TV show. Marchand says MLB Network declined to comment about the story…..The NAB announces new appointments to its NAB Television Board of Directors and its NAB Radio Board of Directors. On the TV side, RaMona Alexander, vice president and general manager of WDBD-TV, Jackson, Mississippi and Cox Media Group president and CEO Dan York join. On the radio side, Cox Media Group SVP and head of radio Rob Babin becomes a board member…..iHeartMedia announces the launch of “Calm Down with Erin and Charissa,” a talk show-style podcast hosted by sportscasters and longtime friends Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson. The podcast features Andrews and Thompson discussing their lives and careers and “pulls back the curtain on the lives of two successful women at the top of their field.”…..Cadence13 unveils the first three audio movies under its new scripted studio, C13Features, that is “focused on creating and owning compelling fictionalized feature-length audio stories of all genres that appeal to a wide audience.” Cadence13, part of Entercom, says that while the podcast space has traditionally used the serialized multi-episode approach, C13Features aims to tighten the storytelling experience with compelling and dramatic creative arcs, and not force listeners to have to wait for more episodes to find out what happens next. C13Features aspires to give listeners gripping stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, all in one feature-length 90-minute episode, for listeners to experience however and whenever they’d like.” It has three audio movies lined up for release this year…..Podcast producer Ramble, a division of Cadence13, is launching Marc & Heidi: The Other D’Amelios, a new weekly podcast hosted by Marc and Heidi D’Amelio, entrepreneurs and parents of worldwide social media phenoms Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. Known as “the first family of TikTok,” Marc and Heidi D’Amelio have a combined social media following of nearly twenty-three million followers. They are the parents of Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the Gen-Z content creators who quickly evolved into a worldwide social media phenomenon with a combined social following of nearly 300 million followers.

#LovePup Working with Grocery Stores to Promote Animal Welfare. The animal welfare charity #LovePup founded by syndicated radio personality Johnjay Van Es (pictured here with his wife Blake) and his family is working with the Safeway and Albertsons grocery chains (operating in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah) to help save homeless animals in their communities. People visiting Safeway or Albertsons stores this month can donate at the PIN pad to benefit several animal welfare organizations in Arizona, Las Vegas and Las Cruces with the goal of raising $1 million. #LovePup says that homeless dogs and cats are a huge problem in the Southwest with more than 50,000 animals entering shelters every year. Those shelter organizations need funds to help with medical care, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Possession. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former KMOX, St. Louis personality Harry Hamm has pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child porn and one count of access with intent to view child porn. Hamm was a longtime entertainment editor for KMOX, most recently appearing on the station’s “Total Information AM Weekend Edition” reporting on theater openings and movies. He was fired from the station after his arrest. The 79-year old Hamm is also being charged with felony charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography, to which he’s pleaded not guilty. Sentencing on the guilty plea has been delayed for two months.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 15-19. The declining number of positive COVID cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the related power struggle in the Republican Party, the investigation into the Capitol insurrection, and the aftermath of the Donald Trump impeachment. Following at #3 was the death of talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh at age 70. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

| February 18, 2021

Kinosian: Rush Limbaugh Was Talk Radio’s ‘Premiere Songwriter.’ Writing after the news of Rush Limbaugh’s death yesterday (2/17) from lung cancer at age 70, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian says, “Greater than any other single talent, Limbaugh was widely credited for not only reinvigorating the politically geared talk show as we know it, but also for prolonging AM radio’s very existence. The aggregate amount of revenue he generated for operators of AM facilities carrying his daily talk show is nothing short of mindboggling.” Read Kinosian’s complete story here.

Rush Video Tribute. Above is a still from a video tribute to Rush Limbaugh from Radio’s Best Friend, Art Vuolo. His 20-minute video focuses on the early part of Limbaugh’s career and offers the viewer a perspective of Limbaugh’s program and of talk radio as it was in the early 1990s when the format was beginning its ascendance. See it here.

SRN’s Larry Elder Testifies on Slavery Reparations. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host Larry Elder testifying remotely yesterday (2/17) before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on as a “rebuttal witness” opposing proposed legislation to provide reparations for descendants of slaves. During his testimony, Elder told Judiciary subcommittee chair Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) that “reparations is the extraction of money from people who were never slave owners to be given to people who were never slaves.” You can see his complete five-minute testimony here.

New Slave Reparations Podcast Launches Today. The issue of slavery reparations is the subject of a new podcast series from Color Farm Media and Charlamagne Tha God’s and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network titled, “Reparations: The Big Payback.” The podcast is co-hosted by actress, writer, producer, activist and Color Farm co-founder Erika Alexander and filmmaker Whitney Dow. In it, Alexander, a Black woman, and Dow, a white man, bring dual perspectives and a shared creative control to their partnership. The pair use their unique storytelling skills and experiences to explore the argument for and against the controversial topic of reparations for Black Americans.

Edison: Twitter Usage Up Among Young and Progressive But Trust Level Remains Low. According to data from Edison Research’s The Social Habit, Twitter saw increases in usage immediately following the platform’s ban of President Trump on January 8, particularly among younger people and those who identify as more politically liberal. Edison says its study reveals that prior to the ban, 43% of U.S. social media users age 18+ said they use Twitter. After the ban, 52% said they use Twitter, an increase of 9%. Daily Twitter usage also increased, from 24% of social media users age 18+ pre-ban to 29% post-ban. Edison Research president Larry Rosin states, “Our new social media tracking survey allows us, for the first time, to see how a direct regulatory action by a social media platform affected usage by Americans. For Twitter, the ban on President Trump resulted in an increased number of users.” As far as the trust level is concerned, Edison says Twitter picked up a couple of points post-ban, albeit from a very low starting point. Pre-ban, 5% of social media users said Twitter was the “one social media service they trust the most.” Post-ban, 7% said they trusted Twitter the most. Trust issues abound when it comes to social media: 40% of social media users said “None of these” services were trusted the most among YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, Parler, or TikTok. The 40% of social media users reporting that “none of these” were trusted the most was unchanged post-ban. See more about The Social Habit here.

Women in Radio Host 5th Annual Event Virtually. The organization Women In Radio is hosting its “5th Annual Cocktails, Cupcakes, and Conversations” event on Saturday, March 6, sponsored by The National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation. The annual event’s mission is to encourage and support the advancement of women in the radio industry. Participants will have the opportunity to have a speed aircheck session with award-winning program director, Mary K. The NAB Leadership Foundation will also present three giveaways for their First Time Manager series – a five-part online session that helps first-time managers transition from an individual contributor to a team leader role – valued at $450. For this virtual conference, WIR ambassador Jessica Rose will serve as the host. Panelists include nationally syndicated radio host Dana Cortez, iHeartMedia market president Nicky Sparrow, marketing industry leader Bethany Kent, award-winning media executive Charese Fruge, Radio One VP of programming Kashon Powell, and Carla Marie, host of the “Carla Marie and Anthony Show.” You can find out more about the event here.

Rush Limbaugh Dies, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Winter Weather-Texas Power Woes, McConnell-Trump Spat, Future of GOP, Cuomo Investigation, and Social Media Censorship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/17). Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh dies after a year-long battle with lung cancer; the declining number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S, the concerns about variants, and the vaccines rollout; winter weather slams many parts of the U.S. and leaves millions without power in Texas; the sour relationship between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump; the state of the GOP in the aftermath of the 2020 election; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is being investigated for his handling of COVID nursing home deaths; and social media and censorship were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Howie Carr Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime WRKO, Boston talk show icon, newspaper columnist, author, and independent syndicator Howie Carr is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” For years Carr has been a mainstay at WRKO where he is heard daily between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm and has been a popular Boston Herald columnist covering City Hall – fighting organized crime and government corruption – even longer than that. Carr’s daily radio show has proven to be so popular in the Northeast that it has now expanded to some 25 stations across New England on his independent Howie Carr Radio Network. The network recently launched a spinoff – the Grace Curley Show – which is also heard on WRKO in middays. Carr, a Radio Hall of Fame inductee, is an award-winning writer and the New York Times best-selling author of several Boston organized-crime books, as well as a couple of novels. The conversation between Harrison and Carr was recorded yesterday (2/15) on Presidents Day and focuses largely on the participants’ view of the American presidency and particularly the current debate raging across the nation about the controversial political impact of Donald Trump. Don’t miss this fast-paced, friendly exercise in point-counterpoint debate! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

| February 17, 2021

Rush Limbaugh Dead at 70.  Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh passed away Wednesday (2/17) at his home in Florida at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. First diagnosed in February of 2020, Limbaugh told his national radio audience in October that his cancer was terminal.  Limbaugh’s impact on not only the issues-oriented talk radio business but on media in general was profound. At the height of its popularity, The Rush Limbaugh Show laid claim to 20 million weekly listeners according to longtime syndicator Premiere Networks. His influence on other forms of conservative media – especially cable news/talk television – can’t be underestimated.  Greater than any other single talent, Limbaugh was widely credited for not only reinvigorating the politically geared talk show, but also for prolonging AM radio’s very existence. The aggregate amount of revenue he generated for operators of AM facilities carrying his daily talk show is nothing short of astonishing. After a decade of bouncing around from market to market as a top 40 DJ, Limbaugh took a PR position with the Kansas City Royals. He returned to radio and at KFBK, Sacramento he honed his conservative talk radio personality. In 1988, a partnership between Limbaugh and former ABC Radio executive, the late Ed McLaughlin, The Rush Limbaugh Show was offered in syndication in middays via EFM Media. In 1997, Premiere Networks and EFM Media were acquired by Jacor Media and Limbaugh’s program became a Premiere product. While his radio success made him the most successful news/talk host of the modern era, he endured issues in his personal life. In the fall of 2001, Limbaugh had a cochlear implant to deal with the loss of hearing he was suffering. In 2003, Limbaugh underwent treatment for pain pill addiction. In 2012, his calling Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying for contraceptive services from the Catholic school, gave talk radio a black eye from the standpoint of ad agencies whose clients put the show on “do not buy” lists.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says,“ Limbaugh’s radio talent and dedication to the medium are unparalleled in the modern talk industry.  At a time when the very future of radio and its talent pool could very much be on the wane in terms of cultural relevance and prestige, he raised it to a level of importance on a par with the most influential media platforms and players of our time.”  TALKERS will continue coverage of this story and Rush Limbaugh’s relevance to radio and the nation in the coming days and weeks.

iHeartMedia to Acquire Triton Digital for $230 Million. In a move that iHeartMedia says makes it “the only company to provide a complete set of advertising technologies and measurement solutions for all forms of audio media,” it will acquire Triton Digital from E.W. Scripps for $230 million. iHeartMedia says it will now be able to provide audio content to producers and advertisers with an industry-leading full ad service package for streaming and podcasting no matter their size, reach, or distribution method. iHeartMedia says, “The addition of Triton Digital’s vast array of infrastructure and measurement solutions will complement iHeartMedia’s current advertising technology services, data platforms, and programmatic platforms while providing additional solutions for those in the digital radio industry, allowing iHeartMedia to be the first and only company in the audio market to provide four distribution methods for audio, including on-demand, broadcast and digital streaming radio and podcasting, and to service all audio assets programmatically.” Triton Digital is a global advertising technology SaaS (software as a service) platform for audio streaming, podcasting and metrics that enables publishers to monetize their audiences by providing digital audio measurement and advanced audio-focused infrastructure to maximize the yield of audio inventory. The company’s two lines of business focus on advertising infrastructure and measurement, including a content delivery system that distributes digital audio streams and podcasts to listeners while dynamically inserting ads and measurement business that tracks audience and creates ratings reports. This deal comes on the heels of recent audio technology acquisitions by iHeartMedia that include the October 2020 purchase of Voxnest, as well as its acquisition of buying platform Jelli Inc, cloud-based audio playout platform Radiojar, and social advertising data intelligence platform and solutions provider Unified. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “Adding Triton Digital and its industry leading services to the iHeartMedia audio ecosystem establishes iHeartMedia as the only company with a total audio advertising technology and data solution. iHeart, with our strong leadership position in podcasting, digital radio and broadcast, already provides cutting edge audio management, programmatic and data solutions for the broadcast radio, digital audio and podcasting industries, and this acquisition further strengthens our position as the #1 audio company in America and provides unique – and critical – solutions for the industry and for advertisers.”

UWG CEO Monique Nelson Named to Entercom Board of Directors. Joining the board of directors of Entercom Communications Corp is multicultural advertising and marketing agency UWG chair and CEO Monique Nelson. With this addition, Entercom’s board expands to 11 directors. In making the announcement, Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “During this transformative time for our company, we’re excited to welcome Monique to Entercom’s board of directors. Her extensive career in advertising and marketing leadership make her an outstanding addition to our board.” Nelson has served as the chair and CEO of UWG since 2012. In this role, she has expanded the agency’s client list and has led her team in the development of several award-winning campaigns. Prior to joining UWG, she was the global lead for entertainment marketing at Motorola. She currently sits on the Advertising Week global board, AdWeek diversity & inclusion council, the Brandeis board of trustees, The Eagle Academy board, as well as the New York advisory board for The Posse Foundation. Nelson says, “Entercom is in an exciting and pivotal moment and I’m delighted to be joining the board. It’s clear Entercom is truly committed to moving the needle significantly in the audio space.”

Kim Komando Assists Arizona Pharmacies with COVID Vaccine Website. Being a fan of talk radio and the Kim Komando radio program – heard locally on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix – turned out to be good news for the director of pharmacy for the Bashas’ grocery chain. He recently learned that his 40 pharmacies will soon be getting COVID vaccines but he had no infrastructure in place to handle the flood of inquiries from customers. As a longtime listener to the Kim Komando Show, he emailed her explaining his situation and asking for advice, and specifically if she could design a website. Komando responded that she would make a few calls and reached out to various contacts and officials around Arizona and ended up discussing the situation with Congressman David Schweikert. He connected Bashas’ with the Arizona Department of Health Services and now the two are striking a deal to white label the state’s web application for vaccine scheduling to the grocery chain. This was all a direct result of the content airing on KTAR-FM and Kim Komando.

The Alliance for Women in Media Announce 2021 Board of Directors. The Alliance for Women in Media and its Foundation – AWM/F – are pleased to announce their 2021 national board of directors. New to the AWM board are: Kenetta Bailey, senior vice president, marketing, Clear Channel OutdoorMarsha Cooke, senior vice president, global news and special projects, Vice Media, LLC.; and Melissa Wright, chief content officer, Twin Cities PBS. New to the AWM/F board are: Svetlana Gans, vice president & associate general counsel, NCTA – The Internet & Television AssociationMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingJosie Thomas, former chief diversity & inclusion officer, CBS; and Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group. Officers of the board have been announced as Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, serving as chair; Annie Howell, chief communications officer, Crown Media Family Networks, serving as incoming chair; Keisha Sutton-James, vice president & CEO, Sutton Button Productions LLC, serving as immediate past chair; Joyce Fitch, legal consultant, serving as treasurer; and Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions, serving as incoming treasurer. AWM/F president Becky Brooks says, “The role of the AWM and Foundation boards is to lead our organizations and industry as we recognize, connect and educate women in all facets of media. We have a true working board. As AWM celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, it has never been more important to have strong, insightful leadership. This year’s new directors have voiced their dedication to donating time and resources to guide these organizations to the next level.  We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.” The following individuals will continue to serve as directors at large of AWM: Katina Arnold, vice president, corporate communications, ESPNAbby Auerbach, executive vice president, chief communications officer, TVBAbby Greensfelder, founder & CEO, Everywoman StudiosBrenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz FoundationSandra Rice, senior vice president, outreach and strategic partnerships, Center for Talent InnovationEsther-Mireya Tejeda, chief marketing & communications officer, SoundExchange; and, Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBCDeborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk and RBR and TVBR will continue to serve as a director at large of AWM/F. AWM/F is also pleased to announce that AWM/F board members Heather CohenAnnie Howell and Mike McVay will continue to serve as chairs for the Gracie Awards.

TALKERS News Notes. The LadyGang Network on PodcastOne, announces it has acquired the exclusive sales and distribution rights to the “Black Girls Texting” podcast, hosted by Glynn Pogue, Sade Parham, and Chelsea “Pinky” Rojas. The first episode drops today (2/17) kicks off with Robin Thicke as the guest talking about life after loss, co-parenting with ex-wife Paula Patton and the benefits of therapy…..Cadence13, a podcast company that is part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, and Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, the creators and producers of the Emmy-nominated series, “Unsolved Mysteries,” announces the launch of the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast, a weekly show based on the long-running hit television and popular Netflix streaming series. Narrated by award-winning voice actor Steve French, the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast presents all new unsolved cases from the vast “Unsolved Mysteries” database — including unsolved crimes, missing persons, fugitives, mysterious creatures, and the paranormal — with each episode taking a deep dive into one specific mystery.….The GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs Show adds two new affiliate stations as Radio Pacific’s KONP-AM, Port Angeles, Washington and Midwest Communications’ WNMT-AM, Nashwauk, Minnesota add the program to their on-air schedules.

TuneIn Announces New Leadership Team. Streaming and on-demand audio service TuneIn announces new executive appointments to its leadership team that include: Paul Brody to chief technology officer, Rob Deichert to chief revenue officer, and Joe King to chief product officer. Yasmin Coffey is elevated to chief legal officer, and Kevin Straley continues to serve as chief content officer. This news comes on the heels of the recent appointment of Richard Stern to CEO, and a new investment in TuneIn led by Innovation Endeavors. Additionally, six new members will join TuneIn’s board and bring their deep expertise in the areas of business, technology, media and entertainment, including: Eric Botto, Steve Cakebread, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Greg Coleman, Rick Scanlon, and Harpinder Singh. Stern says, “TuneIn’s mission to reinvent radio for our connected world has been greatly accelerated during this unprecedented time when live audio has quickly become a trusted companion for millions of new listeners adjusting to the new normal. I’m proud to welcome a distinguished group of senior leaders and board members to TuneIn who will help us build on the incredible momentum of 2020 to drive innovation and growth at a global scale.”

Biden in Milwaukee, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Stimulus Negotiations, Trump Acquittal Aftermath/State of GOP, Capitol Riot Investigation, Freezing Winter Weather, and North Korea Pfizer Hack Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/16). Tuesday evening’s Joe Biden town hall in Milwaukee; the declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the negotiations in Congress over Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill; the political climate in Washington following the acquittal of Donald Trump and Trump’s angry letter against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; the freezing weather that’s left millions in Texas without power; and the allegation that North Korea attempted to hack Pfizer’s vaccine data were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

| February 16, 2021

WABC, New York Owner John Catsimatidis ‘Very Close’ to Deciding to Run for Mayor of NYC. On yesterday’s “Bernie and Sid in the Morning” program on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, company CEO John Catsimatidis said “we’re very close to deciding” on whether he’ll run for mayor of New York this year. Catsimatidis has been teasing his potential second run for mayor – he ran as a Republican in 2013 and lost in the primary. He told the New York Post he’s a Republican-Liberal candidate. “The progressive flank of the Democratic Party seems to be controlling common-sense Democrats through fear and intimidation. I stand by my belief that the so-called Progressive movement is actually REGRESSIVE, taking our city back 30 years. I love this city and I want to be able to help it, but I have to resolve things with my company, and I have to resolve things with my family.”  On the “Bernie and Sid” program, he said, “We want to go back to being the best city in the world, an international city that can create jobs.” 77 WABC notes that there are 41 candidates running in the city’s June 22 primary race. In addition to owning WABC, Catsimatidis hosts the 5:00 pm “Cats at Night” program as well as the Sunday morning show, “The Cats Roundtable.” It’s worth noting that WABC early afternoon talk host Curtis Sliwa is also considering a run for mayor as a Republican.

‘The Dana Show’ Adds New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America nationally syndicated talk program “The Dana Show” – hosted by Dana Loesch – adds a number of new stations to its affiliate roster. Adding the show to their program schedules are: Tiger Communications’ WQSI-FM, Auburn, Alabama; Entercom’s WSKY-FM, Gainesville, Florida; Cumberland Broadcasting Company’s WCBC-AM, Cumberland, Maryland; Vernon R. Baldwin’s WMOH-AM, Hamilton, Ohio; KSBN Radio’s KSBN-AM, Spokane; VP Broadcasting’s WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Grace Broadcasting Services’ WTJS-FM, Jackson, Tennessee.

Matthew Volk Joins Entercom as Vice President of Sports. Sports programming pro Matthew Volk is named vice president of sports for Entercom. He was most recently vice president of content strategy for NBC Sports Washington. In his new role with Entercom, Volk will collaborate with national and market-level leadership to create and manage the integration of existing and new sports and sports-betting content and partnerships across the company’s broadcast, podcast, and on-demand sports audio portfolio. He will also be charged with expanding on Entercom’s sports betting content through the expansion of the BetQL Audio Network and additional broadcast and digital concepts. Volk will report to Entercom EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano while also collaborating with the QL Gaming Group and the digital editorial team on multi-platform concepts to reach sports betting fans. He will also partner with sales leadership on the development of programs, features and sponsorship opportunities. About his new position, Volk says, “This is an incredible opportunity to build on the core assets of Entercom’s sports brands and its broadcast pipes to drive its premier content both locally and nationally across digital, editorial, audio, video and betting content on all platforms. Our multiplatform first approach will enable us to leverage our market-leading talent, programs and access to bring our fans all of the content they crave on the devices they choose.”

Jasmine M. Johnson Named VP of Sales for iHeartMedia Milwaukee. Sales pro Jasmine M. Johnson joins iHeartMedia Milwaukee to serve as vice president of sales for the cluster that includes news/talk WISN-AM, sports talk duo WRNW “97.3 The Game” and WOKY “The Big 920” and four music brands. In this role, Johnson will be responsible for leading multi-cultural initiatives for broadcast, digital and iHeartRadio customers across the region. She will report to Nathan Tonarelli, SVP of sales for iHeartMedia Milwaukee. Prior to joining iHeartMedia, she served with Walgreens, Pfizer Inc., and ManpowerGroup. Her first gig after college was as an intern with the company’s hip hop WKKV “V100.” She says, “This for me is a full circle moment. To return to the company that gave me my first start – from an intern to my first job post-undergrad – as vice president of sales leading such an iconic brand in our community and serving such a loyal listenership base is a gift.”

TALKERS News Notes. Radio programming pro Jon Goulet joins VSiN, “The Sports Betting Network,” in the newly created position of program director. Goulet comes to VSiN from FOX Sports where he was executive producer for “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” His role with VSiN includes overseeing the network’s growing slate of sports betting podcasts and continuing to build out its broadcast radio footprint. VSiN CEO Brian Musberger says, “Jon is one of the most respected names in radio and we’re thrilled to benefit from his industry experience and relationships as we continue to grow our audio capabilities. As the leader in the sports betting audio space, adding Jon will allow us to strengthen our podcast network and both improve and expand our offerings for broadcast radio.”…..News radio pro Jerry Barmash is producing and hosting the podcast, “Here Now the News.” Barmash has worked in news anchor roles at news/talk WABC and business news WBBR-AM in New York. He tells TALKERS magazine, “My podcast ‘Here Now the News’ was born out of my previous digital reporting work for WABC. When the pandemic hit, I started posting stories with additional video content for the website. The podcast focuses on current events with newsmakers from around the country. Since starting in October, guests have included Anthony Scaramucci, former New York Governor David Paterson and television personality Bob Eubanks…..Cox Media Group Tulsa radio stations, including news/talk KRMG-FM are partnering with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help “Spread the Love.” The company says the annual drive to collect peanut butter and jelly is more crucial than ever this year, as the COVID-19 outbreak has forced more people to rely on assistance in feeding their families. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “It is startling to hear that one in three children in our communities are unsure from where their next meal is coming. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is doing some heavy lifting to keep people fed during such uncertain times, and we are happy to pitch in and encourage our listeners to help.”

Trump Acquittal Aftermath/State of the GOP, Capitol Riot Commission, Stimulus Bill Negotiations, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, and Winter Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/15). The political climate in Washington, DC in the wake of Saturday’s acquittal of Donald Trump and the state of the Republican Party; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises an independent commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot; the negotiations in Congress over Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill; the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; and the freezing winter weather affecting much of the country and paralyzing parts of the South were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, February 15, 2021

| February 15, 2021

Monday Memo: UQ. “The most-common mistake I hear?” In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers talk radio wallflowers “proven dance steps.” Read it here.

Trump Acquitted/Capitol Insurrection Investigation, Trump Georgia and NY Legal Troubles, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Wuhan Investigation, Winter Weather, and Claudia Conway on ‘American Idol’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Saturday’s acquittal of Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial and the ongoing investigation into the Capitol insurrection investigation; the legal troubles facing Trump in Georgia relative to his call to the secretary of state seeking vote changes and New York’s probe into his business’ finances; the falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO’s coronavirus investigation in Wuhan, China creates more questions about the initial outbreak; the cold, snow and ice affecting much of the U.S., including the South; and Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia appears on “American Idol” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Reminder. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa writes in this week’s column that sometimes we forget what we get paid to do. When sellers face seemingly impossible buying parameters, they pass. But that, Lapa says, can be a knee-jerk reaction to challenging buying criteria. “The time, the details, the resource drain, all fly through your mind as you process the decision to pass. Yet your income is dependent on one (maybe two) critical step(s) in the process. Closing. No close, no deal, no compensation for you or your talent. And don’t forget collections. You get paid when the deal is closed and the check clears.” Read more here.

‘Florida Man Radio’ Expands to Fort Walton Beach. At JVC Media’s newly acquired Fort Walton Beach, Florida cluster, the company is bringing its “Florida Man Radio” format to classic rock WZLB-FM with a target date of March 1. The company says WZLB will be the third affiliate of “Florida Man Radio,” joining flagship WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WYGC-FM, Gainesville-Ocala. The “Florida Man Radio” lineup features Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive, Justin Clark from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, Ed Tyll from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, and Shannon Burke from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. JVC Media CEO John Caracciolo says, “The vision for ‘Florida Man Radio’ was of a talk station that isn’t afraid to confront the big issues of the day while not taking itself too seriously. We’ve invested in great personalities that truly bring the attitude of ‘Unfiltered and Unafraid’ – it’s fun to listen to and we know it will be incredibly popular along the Emerald Coast and throughout Northwest Florida!” JVC Florida director of programming Stevie DeMann adds, “Our shows all approach today’s volatile climate head-on with creativity, humor, and compelling content. We don’t hold back. You’ll hear clearly that our shows on ‘Florida Man Radio’ unapologetically love America and support the men and women of our military. That mindset fits like a glove throughout Northwest Florida, especially with Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field right in our backyard!”

Valdosta, Georgia Mayor and Talk Host Subject of Ethics Complaints. According to a report by WALB-TV, Albany, four Valdosta, Georgia community organizations have petitioned the city clerk to look into what they say are ethics violations by Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who is also principal of Small Town Broadcasting, owner of talk outlet WDDQ-FM where he co-hosts the morning show. The organizations – Concerned Clergies of Valdosta, NAACP Lowndes Chapter, The Mary Turner Project, and Valdosta/Lowndes Community Alliance – say Matheson’s comments on his radio program include unsubstantiated claims of illegal voter canvassing and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. The organizations claim Matheson has violated six tenets of the City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials. The complaints will be forwarded to the city’s ethics committee.

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports talk host John Kincade is working to encourage Philadelphia Eagles fans to donate to quarterback Carson Wentz’s charity, The Audience of One Foundation, as well as collecting Wentz jerseys and t-shirts to donate to those in the community in need. It’s widely believed that Carson Wentz will be traded during this offseason and WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” personality Kincade says, “Jamie Lynch suggested on ‘The John Kincade Show’ last week that he was envious of the way the Buffalo Bills fans always find a way to do good for others. It got me thinking. Carson Wentz, no matter what has gone down, will be part of the greatest Philadelphia sports story ever told in that Super Bowl championship. Let’s honor him for the 11 wins he contributed to that effort which, ironically, coincide with his uniform number.”…..BBC World Service, iHeartMedia, and American Public Media announce their collaborative efforts to produce the new podcast, “Deeply Human.” Hosted by writer and musician Dessa, the show strives to answer questions about the inner self: why we do the things we do and how the brain guides us and plays tricks on us. About the podcast that will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network beginning March 1, Dessa says, “It’s funny how much of your own mind is stowed away in a backroom. So many of our behaviors are driven by forces we can’t feel. On this show, I engage with brilliant people across all sorts of disciplines, traipsing around the dimly-lit subbasement of human nature –the parts not listed on the guided tour. People are endlessly fascinating – our accents, our ticks, the way we style our hair and spend our money – and the perspectives I’ve gained on this show help me understand them just a little bit better.”…..The syndicated Erick Erickson show is added to the program schedule at RadioJones LLC‘s news/talk WJAT-AM/W259AK, Swainsboro, Georgia to air in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart.

Friday, February 12, 2021

| February 12, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Shock President,” looks back at this past week of February 8-12, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Brittany Jennings, commentator, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Mark Kaye Transitions to News/Talk WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Full Time. Jacksonville radio personality Mark Kaye is leaving his on-air role at Cox Media Group’s CHR WAPE-FM on “The Big Ape Morning Mess” to focus on his talk program on sister news/talk WOKV-FM. He’ll do his final show on WAPE with co-host Meghan Lane on February 19. Lane will continue to host the WAPE morning show solo while the search for a new co-host is mounted. Kaye began hosting a talk show on WOKV in December of 2017 and it was expanded to its current 10:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart on January of 2019. CMG VP audience & content Tim Clarke says, “Mark is one of the most creative and ambitious people I know and his continuous evolution as a media personality is truly impressive. I truly believe that the ‘Mark Kaye Show’ represents the future of the spoken word format – entertaining and informative with an aesthetic that resonates and appeals to all generations. This represents CMG’s continued investment in creating new and innovative content to serve our audiences and communities.”

Beasley Names Blaine Jackson Digital PD. At the Augusta, Georgia operations of Bealsey Media Group, Blaine Jackson is named digital program director for the six-station cluster that includes news/talk WGAC-AM/FM and five music brands. Jackson comes to Beasley from her most recent position as program director and afternoon drive host at iHeartMedia’s crosstown country outlet WLUB-FM. Beasley Media Group vice president of brand strategies and Augusta/Fayetteville regional operations manager Tee Gentry comments, “We are thrilled to have Blaine join our Augusta team. Her passion for radio and our digital direction make her the perfect fit for our stations.”

Bloomberg Radio Prepared to Present Special Programming This Weekend. The Bloomberg Radio Network announces that is has “an army of reporters, producers, and anchors standing by over the weekend” to produce special programming in the event that former President Donald Trump is convicted in his impeachment trial. The trial could conclude earlier than expected, with a vote among Senate jurors to acquit or convict taking place as soon as Saturday. Bloomberg Radio Network anchors Nathan Hager and Amy Morris would anchor special coverage. Reporter Kevin Cirilli is prepared to report from Washington, DC. In the meantime, Bloomberg’s team of Washington, DC reporters is being made available to its affiliates for two-ways. If you are interested in learning about becoming a Bloomberg Radio Network, contact Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green at: dennis@keynetworks.com.

Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon Adds Chicago and Seattle Affiliates. Nationally syndicated late-night talk radio legend Jim Bohannon is now heard in Chicago on Nextstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM and in Seattle on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM. The Westwood One program is now be heard on more than 275 stations. Bohannon, a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame, just marked his 28th anniversary as host of the Jim Bohannon Show on Westwood One. He comments, “I’m very gratified to be adding two legendary sets of call letters – WGN, Chicago and KOMO, Seattle—to the Jim Bohannon Show family of stations. What a perfect way to cap my recent 28th anniversary hosting this nationwide evening chat. Thanks to our wonderful affiliates coast to coast and our fine listeners, without whom I’d merely have an expensive hobby.”

iHeartMedia St. Louis Names John Beck Market President. Radio management pro John Beck is named market president for iHeartMedia’s St. Louis radio cluster that includes “Black Information Network BIN 103.7” and nine music brands. Beck was most recently with Emmis Communications as SVP of its St. Louis stations. iHeartMedia Markets Group division president Tony Coles says, “John is one of the most respected leaders in St. Louis. His track record of success, reputation for building a winning culture, and his deep roots in both the media and advertising communities are only a few of the many reasons we are thrilled to have John leading our team.”

WSCR-AM, Chicago Renews with Chicago Cubs. Chicago sports talk station WSCR-AM “670 The Score” and the Chicago Cubs have reached an agreement to continue their relationship with “The Score” serving as the team’s flagship radio station. As part of the deal, Entercom will manage the Cubs Radio Network that includes 30 stations across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “I am beyond thrilled to be extending our partnership with the Cubs organization, establishing ‘670 The Score’ as home of Cubs baseball for years to come. We have never been more excited for baseball season and for Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer to bring the sights and sounds of Wrigley Field to life for Chicagoland listeners, who can hear all of the action on their radio and, for the first time, for free on the RADIO.com mobile app and via home smart speakers.”

Sports USA Inks NHL Deal. A new agreement between Sports USA and NBC Sports will allow the former to present live play-by-play coverage of the National Hockey League for the 2020-21 regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sports USA’s first game broadcasts will be the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada. Sports USA founder and CEO Larry Kahn says, “We are excited to present the NHL to fans nationwide through this partnership with NBC Sports and are pleased that Sports USA continues to expand its overall sports coverage.”

TALKERS News Notes. Journalist Steve Kastenbaum is hosting the new podcast “New York Gritty,” a Blue Desk Productions program that looks at life in New York City during the pandemic. The show “explores the resiliency and hope of New Yorkers in a time of crisis. Will they find a way to bring their city back from the brink of economic disaster, or has New York been irreversibly changed?” The 10-episode series begins February 16 and is executive produced by broadcast and digital media executive Andrew Kalb. Kastenbaum says, “As a third generation native Brooklynite, I’ve watched New York bounce back from many crises. ‘’ve always been inspired by the tenacity and perseverance of my fellow New Yorkers as they’ve soldiered on, regardless of the challenge. I love telling the stories of the individual New Yorkers who make this the best city in the world.”…..Westwood One’s “The Stacking Benjamins Show” recently dropped its 1,000thepisode and to celebrate this milestone, host Joe Saul-Sehy and co-host Josh Bannerman are featuring many friends from the financial community and are sharing a monster list of their favorite books and resources. Since 2012, the program’s goal has been to use “the science of play to make finance more approachable, interesting, and fun. While some podcasts hope to be the final expert in the chain of money lessons, ‘The Stacking Benjamins Show’ aims to introduce listeners to the broad spectrum of fantastic ideas, concepts, and technologies available that can help lock in a better financial future.”…..The KIRO-FM, Seattle-produced podcast “Your Last Meal” – a James Beard Award finalist for Best Podcast – is celebrating 100 delicious episodes! Rachel Belle (right) hosts the program in which she interviews a celebrity about what they would choose to eat for their last meal and then digs into the history, science and culture of that dish with experts from around the globe. For this 100th episode, Belle welcomes three, 100-year-old women to the show to share their extraordinary lives, their favorite foods, and the secret to a long, happy life: red wine and “keeping your own teeth.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One drops “The Kurt Angle Show” on Sunday (2/14) hosted by with Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and veteran podcast host Conrad Thompson. Angle says, “I’m so excited to be doing ‘The Kurt Angle Show’ podcast in partnership with Westwood One. I will be talking about my life, my career in Olympic and pro wrestling, and my struggles with addiction. Listeners will also hear fascinating stories firsthand from my guests. My hope is this podcast not only inspires but teaches others to not make the mistakes I’ve made and to go after their own goals and dreams. This is my opportunity to give back to my fans, the people who have stuck with me through good and bad times. Gonna be epic. It’s true.”

Nexstar Appoints Lori Tavoularis Chief Revenue Office for Digital Division. Sales pro Lori Tavoularis is promoted to chief revenue officer and EVP of revenue operations for the Digital Division of Nexstar Inc. In this newly created role, Tavoularis will oversee all revenue-related functions for Nexstar Inc.’s Digital Division, including national, local and programmatic sales and digital marketing services. She’s based in Chicago and reports to Digital Division president Karen Brophy. Concurrently, Nexstar’s Digital Division announces the appointment of Jennifer Scilabro as SVP, local digital sales, and the promotion of Wil Danielson to SVP, national digital sales, both reporting to Tavoularis.

Jim Jones and Focus 360 Partner. This deal between Focus360 and Jim JonesSound Solutions Media will allow the former to expand its affiliate relations team effective immediately. Jones and Sound Solutions Media will assist in the research and sale of all Focus360 radio solutions including Bridge Ratings and the Jelli platform which allows radio stations to monetize unsold inventory and eliminate network affidavits and scheduling. Jones says, “I am proud to join the Focus 360 team. Sound Solutions is uniquely qualified to collaborate with radio station executives and content producers to initiate mutually beneficial alliances. Focus 360 is positioned to provide the highest quality service to the radio industry. I look forward to creatively expanding its existing services and launching new business lines with like-minded radio partners.”

Senate Impeachment Trial Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 8-12. The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Capitol insurrection investigation, followed by the latest COVID-19 stats, deaths, and vaccine news at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is a result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

| February 11, 2021

NYTimes Piece Pins Capitol Attack on Talk Radio. The piece in The New York Times titled, “How Right-Wing Radio Stoked Anger Before the Capitol Siege,” comes on the heels of a story published by the Washington Post several days prior that attempts to assess the state of talk radio and where its future lies in the 21st century American media landscape. The two stories are at the forefront of an effort by the mainstream media to determine why U.S. citizens aligned with Donald Trump were willing to break into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In the Times story, the writers quote statements by leading talk hosts, some of which show sympathy for the “stolen election” allegation, others that directly claim it to be true, and still others that use language that advocates protest but falls short of encouraging law breaking. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is quoted saying, “We always had shock jocks. But then we had a shock president.” Harrison, one of the most vocal proponents of the First Amendment in radio over the past half century, elaborates by stating, “Democracy and free speech as reflected and discussed on political news/talk radio constitute the major hardball league in the marketplace of ideas. Neither democracy nor free speech are tidy processes and can get real mean, loud, and even dirty – but both are vital to the very foundation of liberty as we understand it as being the American way. It takes courage to stake out a controversial opinion in the media and willingness to face the negative blowback of critics and political opponents from other platforms – even to the point of economic boycotts – keeping in mind that negative reaction comes with the territory of a healthy First Amendment in action under which they are all fair game. From this perspective, media practitioners such as Rush LimbaughSean Hannity and Mark Levin are among the most important commentators in America today and they should be cut some slack from being demonized for performing their jobs. That being said, we should never confuse the difference between being a pre-meditated liar for personal gain and simply being wrong in our interpretation of the evidence and news at hand in a swirling, ever-changing political environment. We should also not forget that there is a HUGE difference between being a non-elected media pundit and being the President of the United States. The fact that these talk show hosts are being compared to the President of the United States as being responsible for his statements and their real-world consequences either shows how incredibly important this profession has become or just how low Donald Trump – the first ‘shock president’ – has sunk the presidency and is pulling his loyal media followers with him down the rabbit hole. These hosts will have to decide for themselves if they want to stay on the Trump train or get off at the station being offered by the Senate trial. History WILL eventually be the judge of the wisdom of their decisions going forward.”

Root: I Was ‘Disappeared’ by Twitter. Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk radio host Wayne Allyn Root writes an opinion piece for TALKERS magazine today in which he decries his Twitter account being shut down. Root is one of a number of conservative media personalities who’ve lost their Twitter accounts, many of which were suspended or shut down for supporting election fraud theories, and liberal media figure Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just lost his Instagram account for his anti-vaxxer posts. Of course, not everyone in conservative talk radio takes Root’s position that private social media platforms are obligated to carry materials or opinions with which they disagree or believe to be harmful. After all, if the Fairness Doctrine was repressive to talk radio, isn’t imposing a similar obligation on Twitter equally repressive to the First Amendment? The First Amendment protects private platform owners from being obligated to run content with which they disagree and only protects free speech from government censorship. You can read Root’s piece here.

NAB Comes Out Against Geo-Targeting Using FM Boosters. The National Association of Broadcasters is filing comments with the FCC on its inquiry into whether to amend its rules to allow FM booster stations to originate programming. As TALKERS reported earlier this week, GeoBroadcast Solutions received permission for its fourth test of its technology that enables FM radio broadcasters to use boosters to air geo-targeted content, independent of a broadcaster’s primary signal, within different portions of a station’s market – what the company calls ZoneCasting.  But the NAB says that after a careful and thorough review of the Notice, it is strongly opposing revising the booster rule that forbids them from airing unique content, a requirement for ZoneCasting. The NAB says, “A close review of the Notice suggests that rather than bolster the industry’s economic outlook, GBS’s proposal would instead undermine the industry’s fundamental business model. The vast majority of broadcasters – from a wide array of perspectives – agree that permitting program origination on boosters will almost certainly drive both advertising rates and revenues down even further as advertisers push to purchase geo-targeted ads. The outcome is unavoidable, given the obvious business incentives for advertisers to purchase spots that cherry-pick what they view to be their most desirable customers and at a lower cost. Further inspection also leads to the inevitable conclusion that broadcasters will not be able to recoup such losses through sales of any additional spot inventory that is created on boosters. Based on their considerable advertising expertise, most station owners predict that existing advertising customers will likely substitute, rather than supplement, market-wide ads with cheaper, geo-targeted ads. They also agree that potential sales of geo-targeted ads to new customers are purely speculative. Broadcasters do not by and large see pent-up demand by small businesses in their local markets that have not previously purchased advertising time, and even if such demand exists, it would not be economical to undertake the substantial investment to capture the additional business.”  The NAB goes on to say, “Amending the booster rule could very well produce a race to the bottom of ad rates and revenues and NAB is concerned that ZoneCasting will only increase the leverage of larger broadcasters and consolidated groups at the expense of smaller stations. Minority- and women-owned stations could be hardest hit if they cannot afford the expense of selling geo- targeted ads or absorb lower advertising rates and new competition for ad dollars from the boosters of larger stations.” It also questions the effect the technology could have on listeners. “Broadcasters are extremely concerned that the interference caused by geo-targeting where the boundary of a primary station meets a booster airing different programming will spur listeners to change to an alternative platform and reflect poorly on the reputation of FM radio service. Even if an individual station is willing to risk that loss, listeners may not limit their disdain to one station or group; rather, they may become so disenchanted with the reliability of terrestrial radio that they seek out a plethora of other options.” You can see the NAB’s complete comments submitted to the FCC here.

MIW Group’s Gender Analysis Report Card Shows Improvement and Room for Growth. The annual MIW Gender Analysis Study for the year 2020 is released by the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group. Each year it compiles and analyzes the number of women in radio broadcasting who are rising to the ranks of management – specifically tracking the progress of female professionals holding general manager, sales manager, and program director positions. MIW says the figures and percentages in the study’s conclusion are reflective of 11,158 AM and FM radio stations across America, as accounted for by PrecisionTrak as of December 31, 2020. Looking at the general manager position, the study finds that in 2020 19.9% of stations had women in that role, up from 19.5% in 2019. MIW says this number continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female GMs was only 14.9%. Moving to sales managers, MIW says the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management. 33% of stations had a woman sales manager in 2020, that figure was basically flat from 33.1% in 2019. MIW says that although there continues to be progress, the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the area of program director. Women currently program 12.2% of stations versus 11.6% last year. This is the second year in a row this number has increased, as it has remained stalled for fourteen years. MIW Group national spokeswoman Ruth Presslaff comments, “In a year as challenging as 2020, any growth should be celebrated. However, our mission is advocating for the advancement of women to senior radio positions in radio. If not flat, the 2020 numbers reflect only slight increases. This fuels our passion for mentoring and inspiring women in the industry and drives our dedication to seeing these numbers rise in 2021 and beyond.”

Two New Affiliates for Erick Erickson Show. The syndicated, midday “Erick Erickson Show” adds two new affiliates to its roster of stations. RadioJones LLC’s WVOP, Vidalia, Georgia (yes, the home of the Vidalia onion!), that covers a significant portion of the southeast part of Georgia, adds the program in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm time slot. Also, QBS Broadcasting’s WBQO, Brunswick, Georgia, covering the Georgia coastal area, picks up the show, airing it live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Doug Stephan’s DJV Show Adds Jai Kershner as Air Personality and Social Media Director. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – starring Doug Stephan, Jen Horn, and Victoria Keelan – announces the addition of Jai Kershner to the program as an air personality social media director. Kershner was most recently with Saga Communications’ country WVVR-FM, Clarksville, Tennessee “The Beaver 100.3” where she was air personality. Prior to that she was co-host of the nationally syndicated “Dawson McCallister Show.” Stephan says, “Jai brings a contemporary feel to the show and keeps the audience abreast of what’s trending. She fits in nicely with Jennifer, Victoria, and me.” Kershner comments, “It’s a great responsibility and challenge, which coupled with the great reach of the ‘DJV Show,’ presents an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Former ICE Acting Director Joins FAIR as Senior Fellow and Spokesperson. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces that former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan joins the organization as a senior fellow and an additional spokesperson. FAIR says that Morgan “brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to the immigration policy debate and, in his new capacity at FAIR, he will continue to be an important voice in the ongoing debate about immigration enforcement and border security.” FAIR executive director Bob Dane adds, “Mark’s experience and unwavering commitment to enforce our nation’s laws has made him one of America’s most respected experts on immigration. His expertise and ‘tell it like it really is’ approach are needed now more than ever as the Biden administration is whittling away interior and perimeter controls at breakneck speed. As Mark has done so many times during his decorated career, he once again answers the call to serve his nation as senior fellow at FAIR. Quite simply, Mark is the right guy, at the right time, in the right place.” Speaking about his new role, Morgan states, “I’m honored to serve as a senior fellow with FAIR, which is dedicated to engaging in meaningful dialogue to influence, formulate and promote responsible immigration policies for the 21st century and beyond. I am delighted to be part of the effort to seek out solutions to mitigate the tremendous burden and negative impact of uncontrolled immigration on our country’s national security and economic prosperity.”

Rachel Rollar Joins Newsmax TV’s Morning Show. The newest addition to the on-air staff at Newsmax TV is broadcast journalist Rachel Rollar, who is now part of the “Wake Up America” morning program hosted by Rob Finnerty. Newsmax says Rollar will deliver national and international news and social media updates. The program will include her feature, “Rachel’s Rapid Reactions,” in which she’ll “show what people are talking about in real time on social media in hope of bridging the gap between the audience and the newscast.” Speaking about her new position she says, “I’m excited to be joining the Newsmax TV team and its growing number of media professionals. This is a great opportunity to speak to viewers who are passionate about news.”

Hats Off to Radio Pioneers Edwin Armstrong and William Lear. The confluence of National Inventors Day (2/11) and World Radio Day (2/13) is a great time to remember the accomplishments of two of radio’s technology pioneers: Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio, and William Lear, inventor of the first practical car radio. Aaron Bennett of the National Inventors Hall of Fame writes a piece published today in TALKERS to help us remember these men – both inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame – whose inventions helped make radio the 20th century media powerhouse that it became. Read his piece here.

Trump Impeachment Case/Georgia Criminal Probe, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media & Censorship, Robinhood Lawsuit, Springsteen OUI-Jeep Spot, and Larry Flynt Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10). The impeachment case against Donald Trump and the state of Georgia’s probe into Trump’s call to its secretary of state seeking changes in the presidential vote totals; the number of positive COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; conservatives’ complaints about being censored by social media platforms and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is banned from Twitter; the family of college student Alex Kearns sues trading firm Robinhood over his suicide; Bruce Springsteen’s Jeep spot is pulled after his November OUI becomes public; and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

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