Friday, January 15, 2021

| January 15, 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. “The Great American Reality Show,” looks back at this past week of January 11-15, 2021.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dan Yorke, talk show host, WPRO, Providence; Grace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston/Howie Carr Radio NetworkScott Sands, talk show host, WSPD, Toledo; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, UK; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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.

Tradup: Reporters Told to Avoid Obvious Display of Media Lanyard at Inauguration. Next Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, DC will be covered by Salem Radio Network News for its O&Os and affiliate stations. However, given the assault on the Capitol last week, authorities are preparing for protests and potential violence. Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup says that for the first time ever, news personnel are being cautioned about making their media status obvious. He says, “Already the Capitol resembles an armed camp, with 15,000 armed National Guard troops patrolling and another 5,000 slated to arrive over the weekend. DC officials have announced that the entire National Mall will be closed and all 13 Metrorail lines will be shut down. Bus service within the District will be rerouted, and even credentialed reporters like SRN’s U.S. Senate correspondent Bob Agnew have been advised to avoid displaying their media lanyards and to ‘be prepared for hazards such as pepper spray, tear gas, impact projectiles and water cannon that could be used by law enforcement responding to unruly crowds.’” Tradup says White House correspondent Greg Clugston will anchor their live coverage from SRN’s Washington Bureau and will be joined by Agnew and U.S. House correspondent Bernie Bennett.

WABC, New York Tweaks Morning and Afternoon Programming. New York news/talker WABC announces some changes to its daily lineup. Air personality Juliet Huddy leaves the early afternoon program where she co-hosted with Curtis Sliwa and moves to an early morning role with the station’s Frank Morano to co-host the “77 WABC Early News.” Red Apple Media says that show will feature local news updates with Deb Valentine, traffic on the 7s, sports with Sid Rosenberg, business reports, and travel, airline, and weather reports. Sliwa hosts the 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm talk show solo going forward. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Juliet Huddy and Frank Morano will combine their decades of radio experience for the all-new ‘77 WABC Early News’ bringing the Tri-State area all they need to know to start their mornings right. Huddy and Morano are two well-respected radio powerhouses. We could not be more excited to put them together for a jam-packed hour of news, traffic, sports, businesses, and much more.”

Beasley Promotes Two at Boston Station Group. Radio sales pros Kari Talieri and Jesse Carbone are promoted to general sales manager at Beasley Media Group’s Boston cluster that includes WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” WKLB-FM “Country 102.5,” classic hits WROR-FM, WBOS-FM “Rock 92.9,” and urban contemporary WBQT-FM “HOT 96.9.” Both report to director of sales Brian Schneekloth. For the past five years, Talieri has been local sales manager for “98.5 The Sports Hub” and WBOS-FM and has been instrumental in leading the sales efforts of the New England Patriots Radio Network, the Boston Bruins Radio Network and the Boston Celtics Radio Network. Carbone has spent the past 16 years working with WROR as an AE, LSM, and general sales manager. Schneekloth says, “Kari and Jesse have played a major part in our success over the past few years as we have worked to streamline our sales department to have a client-centric, cluster-first approach. Their leadership skills have helped to transform our sales team to become experts across all five of our stations as well as our four sports play-by-play networks.”

TALKERS News Notes. Boston public radio news/talk outlet WGBH-FM is partnering with the Huntington Theatre Company to present the audio version of the comedy Tiger Style! by Mike Lew and directed by Tony Award nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God on Broadway). The performance will be broadcast on Saturday, February 6 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm (it will also be streamed on wgbh.org and GBH News app). Huntington director of new work Charles Haugland says, “Mike Lew has brilliantly adapted his hit play Tiger Style! for audio, and this production helmed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel highlights all of the play’s wit, insight, and imagination. This smart comedy was an audience favorite on our stages in 2016, and now we can’t wait to share this play with new audiences both on GBH and as a podcast. Mike’s play explores a tension that feels universal to the children and grandchildren of immigrants — what would it mean to break free from racist preconceptions and projections? What does it mean to feel a sense of belonging in America? The way that Tiger Style! echoes these questions will have everyone laughing out loud.” WGBH general manager for news Pam Johnston says, “In the midst of the pandemic, it is exceedingly challenging to build community and connect with each other in the ways we want to most. Our hope is that the Tiger Style! radio play will allow listeners to enjoy an entertaining audio experience that invites our community to come together around a shared artistic experience. We are looking forward to this broadcast and to sharing it with our listeners.”…..Chicago sports media personality Connor McKnight is joining Good Karma Brands-operated WMVP-AM “ESPN Chicago” to host the pre- and post-game shows for Chicago White Sox baseball this season. McKnight previously co-hosted the midday show at Cumulus Media’s crosstown WSCR-AM “The Score” with Dan Bernstein but was laid off back in April as part of Entercom’s coronavirus-related staff reductions…..iHeartMedia announces the arrival of the “Joel Osteen Podcast” to the iHeartPodcast Network. Osteen is the best-selling author and leader of Houston’s Lakewood Church. The podcast features new inspirational messages every Sunday in conjunction with Osteen’s weekly televised sermons, with classic sermons from the past four years airing Monday through Friday on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard.

The Vote to Impeach Donald Trump Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 11-15. The move by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the aftermath of the Capitol attack and preparation for the Biden inauguration. Coming in at #3 was censorship in media and the First Amendment, followed by COVID-19 stats and vaccines at #4. 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, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. 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.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

| January 13, 2021

Detroit Talk Radio Legend Frank Beckmann to Retire. Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann will retire from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on March 26, wrapping a 48-year career with the heritage Motor City station. Beckmann has hosted the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program on WJR for the past 18 years. During his career, he’s broadcast play-by-play for all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams and is credited for creating the market’s first sports talk program, “Sportswrap,” in 1981. Beckmann joined WJR in 1972. In 1981, he succeeded Bob Ufer as the University of Michigan football play-by-play announcer, a position he held for 33 seasons. Beckmann says, “I will be forever grateful to WJR for helping all of my boyhood dreams to come true. As a youngster growing up on the east side of Detroit, I always imagined sitting behind a microphone, announcing Lions and Tigers games. It was surreal for me to actually have been able to do that, along with experiencing the other great opportunities this radio giant known as WJR provided me. I only hope I’ve met some of the expectations of me, and I thank every person I’ve worked for, or with, at WJR… My co-workers and our clients are not only my friends; they are my family. I’d like to thank them, along with our loyal audience. Without their support, I would not have had this run. Finally, I’d like to give thanks to my family: my wife, Karen, son Jon, and daughter Tori, for the selfless sacrifices they’ve made through the years. And now that my professional sunset beckons, and while I say so long to my job, I say thanks to all of you for making my career and life more complete. My best wishes to my WJR colleagues and listeners.”

CES2021: “Eat, Drink, Play, Pay – Will We Ever be the Same?” Like many other events, the Consumer Electronics Show has gone virtual. Confessing that he misses the perennial January in Las Vegas trek, consultant Holland Cooke writes, “This session alone would have been worth the trip!” In today’s column: Data from a recent Harris Poll/MasterCard joint study about the pandemic shutdown’s impact on commerce. Four trends that on-air content should address and our advertisers’ messages should exploit. Read it here.

SRN News and TOWNHALL News Providing Coverage of Impeachment Debate. When the U.S. House of Representatives begins debate today over the Democrats’ Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump, Salem Radio Network News and TOWNHALL News will provide unanchored, live coverage. SRN News begins coverage at 9:00 am ET and that will continue for an undetermined amount of time. Salem Radio Network says this live coverage is part of the Salem Radio Network’s ongoing commitment to provide O&Os and affiliates with complete coverage of breaking news 24/7.

KFI, Los Angeles Produces New Documentary on Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles news/talk KFI and correspondent Steve Gregory are launching a new iHeartRadio Original News Documentary and Podcast, “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant.” This two-hour documentary will air Sunday, January 24, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on KFI-AM 640 and will be syndicated across iHeartMedia’s 24/7 News radio affiliates. The limited, eight-episode companion podcast will also debut on January 24 and be distributed via the iHeartPodcast Network and can be heard on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are available. It includes interviews and audio excerpts from live news coverage surrounding the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and several others and will explore the void Bryant’s death left in the business world and the Black community. Exclusive program content also includes the NTSB’s investigation and controversies surrounding the incident, including illegal photos taken at the crash site by law enforcement. “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant” is produced and hosted by award-winning journalist Steve Gregory. The series is co-produced by the KFI-AM 640 news department, Jacob Gonzalez, and Eric Sklar.

Entercom Study: Audio Has Highest Consumer Engagement Level. A recent study by market research firm Alter Agents and neuroscience experts at Immersion, commissioned by Entercom, concludes that audio content connects and engages audiences at a much deeper level than other media types, forming emotional connections and capturing attention. Entercom is presenting the results of the study during a session at the virtual CES2021 show this week called “Amplified Audio Defining Engaged Impressions.” Entercom SVP, research and insights Idil Cakim says, “In an uncertain world, and a cluttered media environment, people are seeking new experiences and looking for mediums that provide trust and certainty. Our study found that audio not only captures attention and moves people on an emotional level, but also inspires action through a sense of community and belonging.” The study consisted of a survey of a nationally representative population of adults, coupled with a neuroscience study by Immersion of individuals from the major U.S markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Alter Agents compiled the data to result in an examination of consumer experiences with audio versus various other mediums such as TV, video, social, and pureplay platforms. The primary metric tracked in the study was immersion, a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention. Audio was found to have the highest level of immersion among all the platforms with a score of 57 out of 100. Entercom says additional key findings included that consumers are listening to or watching seven different media platforms in a given week; one-third of broadcast over-the-air listeners have taken action after hearing an advertisement or a host recommendation as part of a commercial or an audio show; and local audio content and host trust are the largest influencers of listenership.

AWMF Announces New Categories and Extended Deadline for 2021 Gracie Awards. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that the deadline to submit entries for the 46th Annual Gracie Awards at the regular rate has been extended until January 21. AWMF is also offering a further extended deadline of January 28 at an additional cost. The Gracie Awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, celebrate programming and individual achievement by, for and about women in television, radio and digital media. Submissions from all facets of media are encouraged. The AWMF says that because of the tireless work and bravery of journalists covering the unprecedented events in the first two weeks of 2021, it has added 10 new categories specifically dedicated to January 2021 Frontline Special Reports for on-air talent and programming in television, radio and digital media. See the categories here. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks comments, “We know the circumstances of the past year led to delivering content to audiences in ways we never expected, which is why we are more committed than ever to honoring the remarkable work that has been created by, for and about women. As our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Gracie Awards enable the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation to deliver on its promise of furthering the connection, education and recognition of women in media, even during turbulent times.” The Gracie Awards Gala, previously scheduled for May 2021, has been postponed to September 20, 2021, and the Gracie Awards Luncheon, previously scheduled for June 2021, has been postponed to July 21, 2021.

TALKERS News Notes. Fresno news/talker KMJ-AM/FM helped raise more than $30,000 to combat human trafficking on Monday (1/11) – Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. The Cumulus Media station partnered with local non-profit Breaking The Chains for the fundraising event. KMJ general manager Patty Hixson says, “Our loyal listeners always amaze me how they generously step up for great causes, especially one like human trafficking which has brought so much heartbreak and violence into our community. Well done! We will not stop fighting.”…..At next week’s NobleCon17 – Noble Capital Markets’ Seventeenth Annual Investor Conference taking place on Tuesday (1/19) – Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson will deliver a presentation at approximately 4:30 pm ET. The conference is virtual, with no cost, obligation or restrictions to attend…..CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the NCAA – unveils its 2020-2021 broadcast schedule for coverage of 20 regular season men’s basketball games that begins with tonight’s Texas Tech at Texas contest and ends with the Final Four and National Championship games on April 3 and 5, 2021…..Cadence13, a part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, announces a partnership with bestselling author Sarah Knight for a weekly podcast based on her No F*cks Given Guides self-help book series (The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, etc.). Her “No F*cks Given” podcast is a series of 30-minute episodes on topics ranging from getting organized and surviving the daily grind to making big life changes and improving your relationships with family and friends that debuts on January 26…..AdLarge Media makes its first foray into the international market in an agreement with The Podcast Exchange for exclusive Canadian ad sales representation of its cabana podcast portfolio. AdLarge co-CEO Cathy Czukas says, “Working closely with the team at TPX, we are opening the door to international revenue for cabana podcasts. We’re enthusiastic about the opportunities this brings to our podcast partners.”

Trump Impeachment/25th Amendment Push, Capitol Attack Investigation/Arrests, State Capitals Increase Security, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media and “Free Speech,” and U.S. Executes Lisa Montgomery Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/12). The U.S. House plans to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump in the absence of invoking the 25th Amendment by Mike Pence; the federal investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and the arrests of some of those involved; state capitals across the country prepare for possible future attacks; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; YouTube joins Twitter and Facebook in banning Donald Trump plus the battle between Parler and app stores as Americans debate the concept of “free speech”; and the U.S. executes Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be executed in 70 years were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

| January 12, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Ramsey+ Presents ‘RESET Live’ Tonight. This evening (1/12) at 8:00 pm ET, Ramsey Solutions’ Ramsey+ is presenting an “all-in-one financial guide called ‘RESET Live.'” Ramsey+ says, “Nearly half (46%) of Americans say their debt level creates stress. New Years’ resolutions are a first step to changing financial habits, but it takes a proven plan and small wins to get real peace of mind.” To take part in this free virtual event, viewers can RSVP to RESET Live by texting “RESET” to 33789 and tuning in at www.daveramsey.com/reset. Nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey, bestselling authors Chris Hogan and Rachel Cruze, and Life.Church pastor Craig Groeschel will host the program in which viewers will discover how to: Develop discipline, get small wins with money right away, get out of debt for good, and build better money habits that last. Dave Ramsey says, “We’re looking in the rearview mirror at 2020, a year when so many families were completely devastated financially. Looking ahead, we need a reset – a time for families to leave behind what was lost and dream about what the future will look like. People need a plan for working their way out of debt, saving for the future and building wealth. More than that, they need hope, and that’s what this event is going to provide.” Ramsey Solutions says that Ramsey+ “has guided millions with an easy-to-follow, personalized plan for their money. Members learn Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, which start with saving for an emergency fund. Within the first 90 days, the average Ramsey+ member saves $2,700 and pays off $5,300 in debt.” A Ramsey+ membership comes with access to online financial courses like Financial Peace University, the EveryDollar budgeting tool, the goal-tracking BabySteps app, virtual and in-person classes and communities, and more. People can start a free trial of Ramsey+ by visiting www.daveramsey.com/ramsey-plus.

‘Our American Stories’ Hits 300-Affiliate Milestone. The nationally syndicated program “Our American Stories” announces it has hit the milestone 300-affiliate mark as it welcomes iHeartMedia’s KEIB, Los Angeles “The Patriot”; Entercom’s WBEN-AM, Buffalo; KJCE, Austin; WILK-AM/FM, Wilks-Barre/Scranton; Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland; and Townsquare Media’s KLXX-AM, Bismarck, North Dakota, and more. The program is produced and syndicated by American Private Media and is hosted by CEO Lee Habeeb. He says, “At a time when talk radio is top heavy with what divides us as Americans, listeners are responding to our nightly program that celebrates what brings us together. America is a good and beautiful country – not a perfect country, but a good and beautiful one – and we celebrate the stories that made us who we are each and every day. ‘Our American Stories’ really is about who we are, revealing what President Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. The news mostly focuses on what isn’t working in life and the bad things that happen each day. Our show is an antidote to that, a place to be inspired and moved and to learn.”

‘The Dana Show’ to Air on KVI, Seattle.  The Radio America-syndicated talk radio program “The Dana Show” – hosted by Dana Loesch – is joining the program schedule at Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle, effective tonight (1/12). “The Dana Show” takes over the slot previously held by “The Savage Nation.” KVI program director Rick Van Cise says, “We are excited to welcome Dana to KVI, America’s first conservative talk station! Her unique perspective shines a bright light on the issues that matter most to conservatives and their families.” Dana Loesch appears regularly on FOX News Channel and has provided election analysis for ABC, CNN, and FOX. She’s appeared on HBO and has co-hosted “The View.”

CES2021: Finally, You Can Attend!  It’s massive, it’s mind-boggling. You’ve heard so much about the Consumer Electronics Show, but you just couldn’t get to Las Vegas for a week in January. Each year, consultant Holland Cooke has, and he’s reported here. “Lately,” he reckons, “everyone but rioters are avoiding crowds,” and CES has gone-virtual. HC explains how you can attend, and why broadcasters should. Read it here.

Ben Ferguson and iHeartMedia Enter into Deal for Podcast and Weekend Show. Talk radio host Ben Ferguson and iHeartMedia are entering into a relationship that will make Ferguson’s “Ben Ferguson Podcast” available on the iHeartPodcast platform and his three-hour weekend talk radio program joins Premiere Networks. Ferguson’s radio program – airing live Sundays from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm – currently is heard in markets including Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, Denver, and Baltimore. He says, “This is a significant milestone in my career. Partnering with iHeartRadio and Premiere Networks is like being called up to play in the majors. Working with the best in the business has always been my dream and now I get to do what I love in radio and podcasting with a brilliant team behind me!”

TALKERS News Notes. News/talk KFOR and sports talk KLMS, Lincoln, Nebraska sports director Jeff Motz is named 2020 Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Motz joined Alpha Media’s KFOR in 2006 as a news anchor/reporter and backup sportscaster and earned the title of sports director for KFOR and KLMS in 2013. Motz has also earned numerous gold level and first place awards in sports, news, and severe weather coverage from the Associated Press and Nebraska Broadcasters Association. He has also been the television play-by-play voice of Nebraska Wesleyan University football and basketball since 2006 and is a member of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s media advisory committee…..FOX Sports Radio reports that it has achieved record, year-end audience gains across multiple digital platforms. The FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network garnered more than 221 million podcast listens in 2020, more than doubling the total from 2019. On the streaming front, FSR experienced its best month of all time in the most recent survey, with total listening hours increasing +62% year-to-year…..Entercom announces the launch of “BetQL Countdown to Kickoff,” a six-episode series of special NFL playoff programming in partnership with recently acquired sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group. Led by Nick Kostos of RADIO.COM Sports and host of the platform’s “You Better You Bet” podcast, as well as sports broadcaster Sara Perlman, “BetQL Countdown to Kickoff” serves as previews of the weekend’s upcoming games featuring a mix of sports gambling insight…..Cadence13, a premium podcast company that is part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, and NBA veteran JJ Redick and Tommy Alter’s ThreeFourTwo Productions announces a new weekly podcast called “The Long Shot,” hosted by Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson and former teammate and longtime friend Davis Reid…..“Hard Factor” and Podcast Ad Reps announce an exclusive sales representation agreement for the daily news podcast. “Hard Factor” is hosted by Mark Borghi, Pat Cassidy, Will Smith, and Wes Shephard, and “focuses on giving the day’s news in a funny and engaging manner without political bias.” “Hard Factor” was launched as a part of the ‘Barstool News Network’ in December of 2018, but exited Barstool to proceed as an independent podcast for 2021…..Frankie Boyer, founder and host of the Frankie Boyer Radio Shows, announces expansion of her “Frankie Boyer Lifestyle Show” on WADK, Newport, Rhode Island. It replaces the Clark Howard Show and is heard weekdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..New York Public Radio names Rebecca Kaplan Haase senior vice president of sponsorship. She was most recently overseeing sales and content distribution at Hearst Communications’ King Features. Prior to that, she spent 11 years at The Washington Post, where “she helped build a robust, multi-platform advertising sales operation that successfully shepherded the organization through one of the most challenging periods in its history.”

Urban One Prices $825 Million in Senior Secured Notes. Media firm Urban One announces that it has priced an offering of $825 million in aggregate principal amount of its 7.375% senior secured notes due 2028. These notes will bear interest semi-annually at a rate equal to 7.375% per annum and were offered at par value. Urban One says that net proceeds from the offering, to be used together with cash on hand, will be used to repay or redeem the loans outstanding under that certain Credit Agreement, dated as of April 18, 2017, the Company’s 8.750% Senior Secured Notes due December 2022, the Company’s 7.375% Senior Secured Notes due 2022, and the loans outstanding under that certain Credit Agreement, dated as of December 4, 2018. The offer is expected to close on or about January 25, 2021.

Democrats Pursue Impeachment, Biden Inauguration Prep/State Capitols on Guard, Capitol Riot Investigation/Arrests, Social Media and the Capitol Attack, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines/WHO Herd Immunity Declaration, and Belichick Turns Down Medal of Freedom Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/11). Democrats in Congress announce intent to pursue impeachment of Donald Trump; the strategic preparation for Joe Biden’s inauguration and concerns at state capitols about attacks on them; the investigation into the Capitol riot and the ongoing arrests of participants; social media platforms boot Trump, others and Parler is removed from several app stores; the fast-rising number of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the WHO’s declaration that herd immunity won’t be achieved this year; and Patriots coach Bill Belichick turns down Presidential Media of Freedom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, January 8, 2021

| January 8, 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, “Responsibility, Integrity, and Credibility,” looks back at this past week of January 4-8, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Erick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta / talk show host, regional syndication; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioAnne Eller, talk show host / station owner, WCRS, Greenwood, SC; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  This acclaimed news/talk radio 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; 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.

KMJ, Fresno’s Ray Appleton Under Scrutiny for “Hanging” Comment. Fresno talk radio host Ray Appleton – heard daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KMJ-AM/FM – is being taken to task, at least by the Fresno Bee, for saying on his program that “certain news editors should be hanged… maybe.” Appleton’s comment came during a monologue in which he complained about the media’s coverage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol compared to coverage of protests and riots in Portland and other cities, implying that reporting on those events was more sympathetic. He posted a clarification to his Facebook page that was later removed. In it, he says the comment was “clearly tongue in cheek.” On his program Thursday, he said, “So if you were upset by that, I didn’t mean it. I humbly apologize. I’m not talking about taking every news editor and hanging them. I mean, come on. Get with it.” The Bee reports that a call to KMJ for comment on Appleton’s comment was not returned.

Del Colliano: Cumulus Corporate Flips on Election Talk Mandate. According to InsideMusicMedia publisher Jerry Del Colliano, who cites an internal memo from Cumulus Media EVP of content Brian Philips, the company did an about-face on Wednesday as the assault on the Capitol building was taking place in Washington, DC. Del Colliano says that contrary to what many of the company’s talk hosts were saying up to that point about the legitimacy of the election results, Philips’ memo ordered all Cumulus and Westwood One personalities not to continue presenting any illegitimacy claim. He wrote, “We need to help induce national calm NOW. Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’” He adds, “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.” Del Colliano writes, “Some employees felt the sudden change in direction was so onerous that it in effect dictated what air talent could not broach on the air even after many years of tolerating if not encouraging controversial political talk for the purpose of increasing ratings.”

WFAN, New York Debuts Craig Carton-Hosted Gambling Addiction Program. The program is titled, “Hello, My Name is Craig,” and will air on WFAN-AM/FM, New York on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The 30-minute program is being hosted by Craig Carton and is being presented by 1-800-GAMBLER. In the program, Carton will “drive candid conversations with listeners about different aspects of gambling and provide resources and outlets to those seeking help or looking for ways to help their loved ones.” Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will be a regular contributor and the program will feature various guests to share stories of indulgence, falls from grace, and the fight to overcome gambling addiction. Guests will include medical and therapy experts, members of the 1-800-GAMBLER team, founders of rehabilitation treatment centers, and more. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Legalized gambling is a growing part of the modern sports experience and the everyday fans’ conversations. Our obligation and commitment are to serve not only the audience that can responsibly enjoy these gaming elements, but also in a meaningful way help those, like Craig, who have an addiction. With Craig’s voice and unique perspective, along with outstanding partners and the influence of the WFAN platform, we will do just that.” Carton adds, “Each week, we will tackle different aspects of what for some is a fun recreation but for others is an addiction that forever alters and sometimes ends lives. The show will be a raw and revealing look into the fastest-growing vice in the country and I look forward to providing my first-hand perspective for both those dealing with the grip of their gambling compulsions as well as the loved ones in their lives.” Carton, who hosted mornings on WFAN with Boomer Esiason from 2007 to 2017, was convicted of fraud he perpetrated in order to pay off gambling debts. He served a year of a three-year sentence in prison. He returned to WFAN this fall to host the WFAN afternoon show with Evan Roberts.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Talk Host Dave Lee Announces Retirement. WCCO-AM, Minneapolis morning drive personality Dave Lee announces he’ll retire from the Entercom news/talk station at the end of April. Lee joined the station in September of 1989 from KFGO, Fargo where he was program director and afternoon drive personality. He first joined the station as a weekend and fill-in host and gradually became part of the Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson morning show. Lee took over sole hosting duties of the morning show in 1997. During his career he’s also done play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers and he filled in as a Minnesota Twins announcer from 1991 to 1996. He continues to do play-by-play for the television broadcasts of the Minnesota State High School Boys and Girls basketball tournaments, while serving as the radio voice of the University of St. Thomas football on WCCO. He’s been named Minnesota’s Sportscaster of the Year six times and has won three Emmys for his television work.

“Free Talk Live” to Migrate from GCN to Talk Media Network. “Free Talk Live” co-founder Ian Freeman announces that his New Hampshire-based, nationally syndicated program will move from current syndicator Genesis Communications Network to Talk Media Network, effective January 18. Freeman says that while GCN has been “a great radio syndication partner” since 2004, for a few reasons (some of them technical) he’s made the hard decision to sign up with TMN. He says, “Talk Media Network is, like GCN, an affiliate-focused network. They don’t have makegoods or cramdowns or other undesirable, unfriendly corporate syndication crap. TMN’s CEO Josh Leng came up through the industry and has himself been a successful talk radio programmer.  He knows what it’s like in the trenches and has built his company with the desires of radio stations and programmers in mind. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Josh and I appreciate his passion for radio.” Freeman continues, “TMN’s also an interesting new take on a syndicate – they don’t have a network studio. Their shows feed directly to Westwood One’s uplink facility. That means that TMN’s overhead is reduced and the potential for failures is lower. It also means we had to start producing our show 100% from the FTL studio, which was no problem, since I’ve had that capability here for years but never used it until now. Since we’re now fully in charge of our program content, phones sound better and our feed on XDS should be a little higher quality as the audio won’t be re-encoded and re-processed at the network studio, since there isn’t one… We will stay on GCN for some time in order to give our stations plenty of time to make the jump. I’m grateful to the crew at GCN for their professionalism and support over the years and especially now. I don’t ever want to burn a bridge and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for Ted, George, Adam, and the rest of the crew there and wish them only the best.”

SportsGrid Content to Air on SiriusXM. There’s a new sports betting-oriented channel on SiriusXM as the satellite broadcaster inks a deal with SportsGrid. The new SportsGrid Radio channel will feature personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith plus expert contributors and guest analysts. The channel streams live from its production facilities adjacent to New York’s Madison Square Garden and at the Meadowlands inside the FanDuel Sportsbook. SportsGrid says its real-time reporting includes the daily odds, lines, matchups, injury reports, news and more across pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey, college sports, golf, tennis, and soccer.

iHeartMedia Completes Warrant Exchange for Stocks. The company announces that it has completed an exchange of iHeartMedia Warrants (financial instruments that give the holder the right to buy underlying shares at a specific price on or before a specified date) into shares of iHeartMedia Class A Common Stock, the Company’s publicly traded equity, or Class B Common Stock. The company reports that as of December 31, 2020, there were approximately 65 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 7 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and  75 million Warrants outstanding. Following the exchange, there will be approximately 110 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 29 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and 7 million Warrants outstanding. The exchange was authorized by a previously issued Declaratory Ruling from the Federal Communications Commission approving an increase in iHeartMedia’s authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100%. Certain shares of Class B Common Stock and Warrants were not converted into Class A Common Stock due to current regulatory restrictions applicable to certain shareholders. iHeartMedia expects additional conversions of Class B Common Stock and Warrants into Class A Common Stock.

Attack on Capitol Building Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 4-8, 2021. Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol Building in Washington by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing denial of the election results combined with his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss there. Coming in at #3 was Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election that saw both Democrats beat their Republican opponents. 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, January 7, 2021

| January 7, 2021

Radio News Organizations Spring into Action to Cover Capitol Riot. Numerous news organizations were already on hand in Washington, DC on Wednesday to cover the certification of the 2020 election results and they quickly shifted gears as hundreds of Donald Trump supporters turned from protesting to rioting as they stormed the U.S. Capitol, overwhelming the unprepared Capitol police. Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup says that Salem Radio Network News and TOWNHALL News produced two extended, 15-minute special reports titled “Chaos At The Capitol” to provide their O&O stations and all affiliates the latest breaking news from Congress, even as the lockdown continued following security breaches earlier in the day. Tradup says White House correspondent Greg Clugston anchored the reports with updates from U.S. Senate correspondent Bob Agnew and U.S. House correspondent Bernie Bennett. Though both Agnew and Bennett were inside the Capitol when the breach happened, they were removed from their usual broadcast desks but were able to file their reports and update listeners using their cell phones. ABC News Radio offered breaking news coverage to affiliates as the invasion of the Capitol was taking place but also produced the special program “Chaos at the Capitol” that aired in the 7:00 pm ET hour anchored by Aaron Katersky with assistance from correspondents.

Townquare Media Completes $550 Million Senior Secured Note Offering. On Wednesday (1/6), Townsquare Media filed a report with the Securities Exchange Commission announcing that is has completed the sale of $550 million aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026 that it announced in December. Townsquare says that it used a portion of the net proceeds from the New Notes Offering to repay debt accrued under its term loan facility provided under the Existing Credit Agreement. The company also intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from the New Notes Offering, together with cash on hand, to redeem all of the Company’s outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023 on January 14, 2021, and to pay the premium, fees and related expenses. The New Notes bear interest at a rate of 6.875% and mature on February 1, 2026. Interest is payable on the New Notes semi-annually in cash in arrears on February 1 and August 1 of each year, commencing on August 1, 2021. Townsquare used a portion of the net proceeds from the New Notes Offering to repay borrowings under its term loan facility provided under the Company’s existing credit agreement, dated April 1, 2015. It also terminated its revolving credit facility under the Existing Credit Agreement and all other obligations thereunder were repaid effective January 6, 2021.

Save Time and Money in Public Affairs Programming. One of the requirements the FCC makes of radio stations is that they address “local issues and local problems” in order to serve the public. How stations do that is required to be part of their quarterly reports filed with the Commission. Shel Lustig, president of MediaTracks Communications, says that syndicated public affairs programming not only saves money but also saves time by including the quarterly reports the FCC requires. His company has been producing and syndicating award-winning public affairs radio programs for more than 30 years, with more than 1,200 affiliate radio stations across the country. He has more to say about the use of syndicated public affairs programs and you can read it here.

Radio’s Bob Lawrence Announces Retirement. Radio pro Bob Lawrence announces he is retiring from Revenue Development Resources after a 54-year career in the broadcasting industry. During that time, he’s been an air-talent, program director, and general manager. He served with the Radio Advertising Bureau for 14 years and spent the past six years with Revenue Development Resources. RDR president Mark Levy says, “I have had the great privilege of working with Bob Lawrence for 13 years, first at the RAB and then with RDR. During that time, he amazed me with his energy and the respect so many people in the industry had and continue to have for him. But even more than that, he never stopped learning, and he never was anything but nice to people. I know that last part is often brushed over, but it is truly something that made Bob stand out from so many others in this business. He’s been a cheerleader, a sounding board and a sage for so many people…the industry is certainly going to miss him!”

TALKERS News Notes. WGN-AM, Chicago is debuting “Blackhawks Live” on Monday (1/11). The hour-long program will air at 7:00 pm hosted by Chris Boden and Nick Gismondi. WGN sports director Dave Eanet says, “This is going to be a must-listen for Blackhawks fans. WGN listeners already know Chris and his knowledge of the Blackhawks, and we’re thrilled to welcome Nick and his Hawks expertise. Together they’ll deliver an insider perspective on everything from the players to the games.”…..Entercom announces that its campaign to raise funds for those without enough to eat raised more than $1.1 million – including a record-breaking one-day toll of $358,250 – as a part of the 35th annual Hungerthon campaign. Entercom’s New York stations – including sports talk WFAN and all-news WINS and WCBS-AM – partnered with WhyHunger for the campaign. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “This year has presented all of us with unprecedented adversity and forced us to reflect on what’s important. Like we’ve proven time and time again, our ability to support one another in times of struggle is one of our greatest attributes as New Yorkers, and we are proud of our colleagues and listeners for coming together for our neighbors in need. As we’ve done since its launch, we are once again honored to support WhyHunger’s annual Hungerthon and the selfless mission to end hunger.”…..SiriusXM announced today it has signed a new agreement to become the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament. For the 2021 Tournament, scheduled for April 5-11, SiriusXM will produce and present live play-by-play broadcasts all four days of Tournament play from Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia…..WNYC Studios’ podcast “Death, Sex & Money” announces the launch of “Getting Real About Getting Older,” a special episode and live radio program “to create space to talk about aging – because we don’t talk about it enough in our society, and when we do, we don’t often do it well.” WNYC Studios says, “The project was inspired by a listener’s feedback that DSM host Anna Sale (who is 40) didn’t seem to understand aging. It was a comment that came in last year, at a time during which the value of people of a certain age was being challenged and questioned at every turn – from callousness surrounding seniors dying from COVID, to questions about Joe Biden’s competency for the job of president based on his age.”…..Nashville Public Radio’s WPLN News hires Paige Pfleger as the newsroom’s first arts, culture & music reporter. WPLN news director Emily Siner says, “Having this beat in our newsroom will allow us to give Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s arts and music community the coverage it deserves. Paige has the reporting and storytelling chops to show how the arts are a lens to understand broader civic and cultural issues.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs picks up new affiliate stations KBFI, Bonners Ferry and KSPT, Sand Point – both in Idaho – plus iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC as they add her show to their program schedules.

Trump Supporters Storm Capitol, Congress Certifies Biden Victory, Democrats Win Georgia Runoffs/Dems to Control Senate, and COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/6). Supporters of Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s victory; Congress reconvenes in the evening to certify Biden’s election victory; Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeat their Republican opponents in Georgia’s runoff elections, giving Democrats slim control of the U.S. Senate; and the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

| January 6, 2021

Radio Programming Legend Tom Bigby Dies at 77. The programming mind that helped build some of the most successful radio stations in modern history has died at the age of 77 after several years of heart issues. Tom Bigby programmed a number of stations with heritage calls – WIFI, WNEW, KOST, and WXYT – but he’s best known for being the PD behind Philadelphia sports talker WIP. In noting his passing, a piece on the WIP website says, “Known for his at times contentious relationship with talent and his radio-ready voice, Bigby is the most well-known, well-respected, and most iconic PD in the history of WIP. His legacy will include many things, but from a WIP perspective, his belief that the Eagles were the biggest thing in town, and that the fans should be heard will be two of the most lasting for WIP. His ‘two-minute rule’ and ‘once during the week, and once on the weekends rule’ for callers will not be far behind.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison says, “Tom was a program director in the true sense of the title as it existed in radio’s most recent golden age. He understood just about every aspect of radio and applied that knowledge and experience to the well-balanced intersection of programming, sales, promotion, and technology that marked the great stations of that era and inspired them to value their air product above all else. He was also a quirky friend, formidable negotiator, and larger-than-life individual the likes of which make him a true industry legend.” At WIP, Bigby worked with Philadelphia talent that included Howard Eskin, Rhea Hughes, Angelo Cataldi, Glen Macnow, Tony Bruno, Jody MacDonald, and Mike Missanelli, to name a few. A number of these posted their thoughts about working for Tom Bigby at the WIP website. You can read them here. Bigby leaves behind his wife Phyllis, two children and four grandchildren.

Salem Media Group Unveils Podcast Platform. With the new year comes a new venture from Salem Media Group as it announces the formation of the Salem Podcast Network – what the company calls “a new entity focused on bringing conservative content to more listeners and viewers.” The network’s first podcast partner is author and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza, whose new podcast “Pardon Me!” will debut on January 11 across all podcast platforms, as well as SalemNow.com, YouTube, and Rumble. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “This is a natural extension of the Salem brand, which is already considered one of the strongest in conservative media. Salem will be producing more content with meaningful names on the conservative side, so look for more big announcements soon. The future for podcasting is unlimited, and our efforts will tightly focus on hosts who will contribute to our brand and to the message.” The company announces that WIND-AM, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” program director Marcus Brown is taking on the additional role of director of content strategy for the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Broadcast Division president David Santrella adds, “Salem’s brand of podcasting will remain consistent with what Salem is best known for — content that approaches the issues through a biblical worldview and a politically conservative lens. Podcast listeners will know that when they come to the Salem Podcast Network, they’ll find content that addresses the issues they care most about.”

WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence to Drop Andy Gresh Show. GoLocalProv.com tips us that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence and evening sports talk host Andy Gresh are unable to come to terms and Gresh will exit the station after his Friday evening program (1/8). Gresh tells the news site, “Basically, we have a business disagreement.” GoLocalProv.com reports that former Providence Journal sports reporter Kevin McNamara will host a one-hour program from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot will be filled a by a syndicated program.

WNYM, New York Adds Ben Shapiro for Afternoons. New York news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” announces it is adding the Westwood One syndicated “Ben Shapiro Show” to its daily lineup. Salem Media Group says the program will air at 5:00 pm (except on Wednesdays when it airs at 9:00 pm). Shapiro’s podcast will air evenings at 9:00 pm. To make room, the station moves the Kevin McCullough program to a 7:00 pm start. Additionally, WNYM is adding “Real Estate Today,” the official radio program of the National Association of Realtors hosted by Stephen Gasque, to its program schedule. It will follow “Eye on Real Estate” hosted by New York City real estate expert Dottie Herman. Salem Media Group vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “We’re always looking for ways to make our lineup stronger, and these changes will do just that. Shapiro is a rising young superstar on talk radio. The real estate show will give our listeners great information and content. Kevin McCullough will continue to do the great show we know and love.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former WJFK-FM, Washington afternoon drive host Chad Dukes teases a new sports talk program that’s set to debut on Monday (1/11). Dukes was fired by Entercom in October for what the company called “racist comments” on the “Big O and Dukes” podcast. The new program appears to be a digital streaming venture. His website says of the new program, “The Chad Dukes Show is going to be exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a looking for a radio show from Chad Dukes. Discussion of movies, video games, food, booze, music, football, fighting and copious amounts of ball busting. You want politics? You want COVID discussion? You want middle relief pitching analysis? Look somewhere else.”…..WOBT-AM/W267AF, Rhinelander, Wisconsin flips from country to sports talk. The NRG Media station is airing the complete weekday lineup from iHeartMedia’s sports WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “The Game” – Steve Czaban, John Kuhn & Brian Butch, The Crossover, Drew & K.B. – as well as FOX Sports Radio content in evenings and on weekends…..iHeartMedia Cleveland is launching two initiatives that it believes will improve the bottom lines of local businesses in 2021. All this month, local Cleveland area small businesses are encouraged to register online for the opportunity to be featured in a $25,000 iHeartMedia marketing plan. iHeartMedia Cleveland president Keith Hotchkiss says, “Last year was brutal for small businesses in our community. We believe the significant reach of our media assets, combined with this meaningful marketing campaign, will be the difference maker for a local company here in Cleveland. There are 36% fewer local businesses operating in the area than this time last year, according to Crain’s Cleveland.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of on-air pro Connie Kellie of the “Connie & Fish Morning Show” on Townsquare Media’s hot AC WLHT, Grand Rapids “Mix 95.7.” Kellie died on January 4 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Her radio partner Fish Calloway says, “Over 25 years ago, this incredible, smart and strong woman allowed me the opportunity to be a part of her radio career. Our journey will not only be with those who were touched by her immense talent but engraved in my heart. Thank you, Connie, for this adventure. I look forward to the day we meet again.”

MIW Group Announces Applications Now Being Accepted for ‘Mildred Carter Mentoring Program.’ The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces that the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is open. MIW says its heritage annual mentoring initiative “connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting.” The program is being sponsored by vCreative for the second consecutive year. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. The deadline to apply is January 29. See mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply here.

Georgia Runoff Elections, Electoral Vote Count/DC Protests, Trump GA Secretary of State Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Jacob Blake Case, and China Blocks WHO Scientists Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/5). Tuesday’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; today’s Electoral College vote count in the Senate and the protests taking place in Washington, DC; the aftermath of Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking a reversal of his loss in that state; the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; prosecutors in Wisconsin reveal no charges will be filed against officer in shooting of Jacob Blake; and China blocks two WHO scientists investigating the origin of the coronavirus from entering the country were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

| January 5, 2021

Mike Luery Named Assistant News Director for KFBK, Sacramento. Radio and television news pro Mike Luery joins iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento “News 93.1” as 24/7 News and KFBK assistant news director for iHeartMedia’s Pacific region. iHeartMedia Pacific region news director Jayson Campadonia says that in this role, Luery will “help oversee news in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. He’ll report on everything from breaking news to politics to state fairs. With his vast experience in the news business, he will additionally play a critical role in developing young news talent.” KFBK program director Bill White states, “We look forward to Mike being an integral partner in contributing to the news content on ‘The KFBK Morning News with Cristina Mendonsa and Sam Shane’ as well as ‘The KFBK Afternoon News with Kitty O’Neal.’ Mike, with his decades of news experience in Sacramento, will be an excellent addition to our team of Northern California news veterans.” Luery served with Hearst Television’s KCRA-TV, Sacramento for 24 years. He began his career as news director at KZOZ-FM in San Luis Obispo, California.

WGY-AM/FM, Albany Adds Doug Goudie to Morning Show. Longtime Boston media figure Doug Goudie becomes part of the morning show at iHeartMedia’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany on Thursday (1/7), partnering with current air personality Kelly Lynch. Goudie assumes the role left vacant after Chuck Custer retired from the station in December following a 36-year career with WGY. Goudie, a.k.a. V.B. – short for Virgin Boy – got his nickname from Boston talk radio legend Howie Carr during his time working on Carr’s show at WRKO, Boston where he began his media career back in the late 1990s. WGY program director Jeff Wolf says, “With Doug’s rich experience as a recent midday talk host on iHeartMedia Boston’s WRKO, TV commentator on WFXT-TV, and long-stint on The Howie Carr Radio Show, I’m confident that he will satisfy the expectations of WGY listeners for years to come. The heart of what brings so many Capital Region listeners to WGY in the morning will remain unchanged. Doug and Kelly will both entertain and inform with meaningful conversations on the important local and national stories of the day but having fun will continue to be part of the show as well.”

Steve Czaban Exits WTEM, Washington; No Change to WRNW-FM, Milwaukee Gig. Sports talk host Steve Czaban announced via Twitter that he’s exited Washington, DC sports talk outlet WTEM “The Team” as his contract was up and new owner Entercom took control of the station from Urban One. While he won’t be doing a daily show in Washington, he will remain with Entercom on a part-time basis and will host a Saturday morning program on sister sports talker WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Czaban says the change in DC has no effect on his Milwaukee radio show heard daily in morning drive on iHeartMedia’s WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game.” Czaban calls his exit from WTEM a mutual one, telling the MBJ, “As my contract was coming to an end, I had been contemplating a change of pace and direction for some time now. This is the right move for me at the right time. I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity, and any others that may present themselves in the future.”

Beasley Media Group Begins 60th Anniversary Celebration. The logo you see here is being unveiled by Beasley Media Group to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary. The company says, “On December 2, 1961, a young high school principal named George Beasley launched WPYB-AM in Benson, North Carolina with the vision of providing a voice for the voiceless in the local community! Today, Beasley Media Group is a multiplatform media company providing advertising and digital marketing solutions across the United States with 64 radio properties located in 15 large and medium markets across the country. Beasley also offers capabilities in audio technology, esports, podcasting, ecommerce, and events. Featured on the NASDAQ, BBGI is ranked among the publicly traded media companies in America.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We are so thrilled to be able to celebrate the incredible legacy that our father, George, began back in 1961 when he built his very first AM station in Benson, North Carolina. It’s such a privilege to be able to build upon his forward-thinking vision and continue to blaze new innovative trails in today’s ever-changing industry with our outstanding employees and management team. Here’s to the next 60 years!”

Noted Record Producer and “Urban Philosopher” Robbie Stevens Rejoins TalkersRadio.  The TALKERS editorial board announces the return of Robbie Stevens to the talent roster of TalkersRadio. 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). On the return of Stevens to TalkersRadio, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie brings a real East Coast urban perspective that is reflective of both the street and academia to the news/talk radio conversation. His ‘tell it like it is’ style is a provocative blend of gruff ‘everyman’ street talk and intelligent, eclectic inquiry into the mysteries of the universe, combining politics with pop culture, science and down-to-Earth sociology. You don’t hear his progressive position that often on today’s terrestrial news/talk radio and frankly, regardless of your politics, it is amazingly refreshing.” For example, Stevens has served as vice president of the board for a well-known youth basketball/education program that’s won national championships and helps kids from diverse backgrounds reach their academic goals. To listen to Robbie Steven’s new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 by TALKERS magazine to provide the industry with a “work out 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.

Radio Advertising Bureau Updates Board of Directors. With the new year comes an update to the board of directors for the Radio Advertising Bureau. Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is the vice chair and Townsquare Media COO Erik Hellum is the finance chair. The RAB also announces that Cumulus Media EVP corporate marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes joins the executive committee. Neuhoff Media COO Mike Hulvey continues to serve as chair and Univision president and regional radio general manager Sabina Widmann is serving as secretary.

New York Public Media Names Nsikan Akpan Health and Science Editor. Joining New York Public Media’s WNYC Newsroom is Nsikan Akpan, who begins his role as health & science editor on January 11. Akpan was most recently serving with National Geographic as science editor, overseeing COVID-19 coverage in addition to other types of science, health and technology news. Prior to that, he served for more than four years at “PBS NewsHour.” He and his team won a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.”

Georgia Runoff Elections/Trump GA Appearance, Trump’s Call to GA Sec. of State, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, UK Lockdown, China and Pandemic’s Origin, Iran Seizes South Korean Oil Tanker, and the NYSE’s Chinese Telecom Delisting About Face Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/4). The buildup to today’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats and Donald Trump’s appearance to stump for the Republicans; the controversy over Trump’s call to Georgia’s Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss in that state; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the UK orders a lockdown to stem the tide of COVID cases; questions about China’s stifling the investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Iran seizes a South Korean oil freighter in the Persian Gulf; and the New York Stock Exchange reverses course on plans to delist three Chinese telecom companies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, January 4, 2021

| January 4, 2021

Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush? Consultant Holland Cooke says the short answer is, of course, nobody. However, he points out that affiliate stations may soon have to find a solution for those 15 hours per week that they didn’t have to worry about before. He also asks, “Who will replace Clark Howard?” Find out what he has to say here.

Pending Business: This Year in Review. Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says that just many aspects of our daily lives changed after 9/11, so too has the pandemic changed much about our lives – including how we work and consume media. In today’s column, he offers some thoughts about how selling radio will be different this year. Read it here.

WTIC, Hartford’s Joe D’Ambrosio Exits Morning Show. After stating back in early November that he was disillusioned with management’s directives about political opinion on the air, WTIC-AM, Hartford, morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio said he would leave the station when his contract was up in June of 2021 after 28 years with the Entercom station. However, he and management reached an agreement on an early buyout and D’Ambrosio’s last shift was December 31. D’Ambrosio co-hosted the morning drive show with Ray Dunaway. The Hartford Courant reports D’Ambrosio saying he never adapted to waking up for the program’s 5:30 am start and he found it difficult to work within station’s conservative political framework.

Chris Ryan Takes Over ‘New Hampshire Today’ Morning Show. New Hampshire radio pro Chris Ryan is named the new host of the “New Hampshire Today” program heard on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGIR-AM, Manchester and WQSO-FM, Portsmouth. Ryan fills the role previously held by Jack Heath, who exited “NH Today” to join Binnie Media’s three-station simulcast in New Hampshire for the late morning daypart back in October. iHeartMedia says that Ryan is an award-winning talk show host and political commentator based in Concord who most recently served as general manager for New Hampshire Family Radio’s news/talk WKXL, Concord. iHeartMedia New Hampshire market president Joe Graham says, “It was of utmost importance that the new host of ‘NH Today’ would be a person of integrity and character, someone who would hold themselves to the highest professional standards. We are thrilled that Chris will be joining our iHeart NH team!” The “New Hampshire Today” program is also heard on WKXL.

Leila Rahimi Named Co-Host for WSCR, Chicago’s Late Morning Show. Radio and television sports personality Leila Rahimi is promoted to regular co-host of the late morning program alongside Dan Bernstein on Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score.” Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “We are thrilled to be amplifying Lelia’s role at ‘The Score.’ She’s a seasoned professional with experience engaging with sports fans across multiple platforms and cities and has built a great reputation with Chicago’s sports fans. Adding her voice and perspective consistently creates a more dynamic midday lineup for ‘Score’ listeners.” She assumes the role left vacant when Entercom let co-host Connor McKnight go back in April. Rahimi has appeared on “670 The Score” both as a contributor to various shows on the station, and as a co-host since 2017. She’s also hosted, reported and anchored for NBC Sports Chicago. She was a rink-side reporter for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Women’s Hockey Tournament at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. She’s also served with NBC Sports Philadelphia, CSN Houston, the San Diego Padres, FOX Sports Southwest, and KLIF-AM and KTCK-FM/AM in Dallas.

Ian Beckles & Jay Recher New Afternoon Hosts on Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa. Sports talk WDAE, Tampa announces that Ian Beckles and Jay Recher are the new afternoon drive program co-hosts, taking over the daypart from retiring Tampa Bay radio icon Ron Diaz. WDAE program director John Mamola says, “We are thrilled to announce our new afternoon drive program featuring Ian Beckles and Jay Recher. Teaming Ian’s long-standing history in the market both as a player, entrepreneur, and radio personality with the knowledge and passion for Tampa Bay sports from Jay Recher will provide a dynamic program for sports fans in Tampa Bay to embrace. This announcement further enhances and strengthens WDAE’s standing as the voice for Tampa Bay sports fans.” Beckles was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles during his eight-year NFL career and he joined WDAE in 2002. Recher began his career at WDAE in 2014 and has served as executive producer of multiple programs including the previous “Ron and Ian Show.”

David Rubini Launches Conspiracy Radio Network. Former Art Bell and John B. Wells producer David Rubini is launching the Conspiracy Radio Network. Rubini officially leaves Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight In The Desert” to begin “his own unique vision” and take his “pioneering spirit to the all-new 24/7 digital streaming platform and subscription archive service in the new radio landscape of 2021.” Rubini is now hosting his own program titled “David Rubini After Midnight AM” that will broadcast “two to three live shows each week on alternating days from 1:00 am to 5:00 am ET with “The Best of David Rubini After Midnight AM” on all Rubini off days. He says, “Unlike what we did with Art, we will get political at CRN, that’s for sure. The political climate has drastically changed since we left ‘Dark Matter.’ And with the 2020 election confusion and rise of ‘fake news’ awareness and questioning, uncensored alternative news, info, and talk are more in-demand right now than any time in modern history. Our staff of professionals are convinced CRN will absolutely fill this void in the digital content delivery space.” Terrestrial radio affiliate relations expert Ted Edwards says, “What programmers have to realize is that variety in political talk is hot right now and the political landscape has never been more fascinating to discuss and to share opinions about both like-minded and dissenting talk radio voices. CRN should have remarkable growth over the next four to eight years. I love David Rubini’s pioneering vision and I plan to help see it all the way through to fruition, responsibly performed by Rubini on-air in terrestrial syndication.” Joining this new venture are: Jordan Maxwell, Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Flat Earther Math Powerland, and controversial and polarizing YouTube sensation, Russianvids, as well as former Art Bell Network News anchor Leo Ashcraft, Ross Mitchell, Dr. John Illias, Michael Decon, Blake Walley, and Joshua Chaires

TALKERS News Notes. At Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis, Brodee Scott joins to serve as operations director. Scott previously served at iHeartMedia in Memphis. He is a longtime Memphis radio pro having also served at Flinn Broadcasting and Rebel Radio in Oxford, Mississippi. In this new role, Scott will also oversee KWAM’s growing podcast and digital platforms. KWAM general manager Dalton Glasscock says, “Brodee was born and raised in Memphis and he understands how important it is to have a locally owned, locally run news/talk radio station.”…..Indianapolis talk radio personality Tony Katz shifts his syndicated “Tony Katz Today” program from the late morning daypart to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Katz is host of the morning drive show at Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. He says, “The numbers in Indianapolis have been incredible. The show has been doing great in its current setup, it was just in a weird place, bridging two standard time slots being 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This move shows a lot of faith in the show from WIBC and opens up a lot of opportunity.”…..WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte afternoon drive talk host Brett Winterble achieved what he calls a career milestone on December 30 when he filled in for Rush Limbaugh. About sitting in for Limbaugh on his Premiere Networks syndicated show, Winterble says, “I am just overjoyed at the chance to connect with the greatest audience in all of talk radio. It is a homecoming. I have kept in close touch with everyone at the Rush Limbaugh show over these years and nothing could be more special than to sit in that legendary seat for a man I consider a friend and mentor.” Winterble started his career with Limbaugh’s original syndicator EIB/EFM Media in 1995 and was with the show until early 2006…..Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago is adds an hour to Big John Howell’s afternoon drive show. The program now airs from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Howell takes the 4:00 pm hour from Westwood One’s syndicated Ben Shapiro program that continues to air from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston announces the new program schedule that takes effect with the new year that includes the addition of Grace Curley and Jesse Kelly. Curley’s program airs from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm and Key Networks’ syndicated Jesse Kelly airs from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am (Kelly’s show will move to the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart effective February 15. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, and sports Rob Sanchez says, “We’re excited about the addition of Grace and Jesse to WRKO’s lineup. Their talents complement the established success of Jeff Kuhner in the morning and the legendary Howie Carr in afternoons.”…..Cumulus Media promotes Jon Laing to vice president and market manager for its Cincinnati cluster. Laing rises from his previous role as vice president of sales for the station group. He takes the market leadership reins from Dave Crowl, who retired in December…..Salem Radio Network and TOWNHALL news White House correspondent Greg Clugston is traveling aboard Air Force One with President Trump today (1/4) to cover a campaign rally for the Republican U.S. Senate candidates ahead of tomorrow’s runoff elections. In addition to filing special reports for SRN News and TOWNHALL News, Clugston will also serve as White House pool reporter for all other national radio networks…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, expands its partnership with iHeartMedia by moving its dedicated streaming radio station to digital platform iHeartRadio. VSiN had previously broadcast its content via SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Skyview Networks OM Andy Luberda Passes After COVID Battle. Condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Skyview Networks operations manager Andy Luberda, who died on December 29 of complications from COVID-19. Luberda joined Skyview Networks in the broadcast operations department as a board operator in 2012. In 2015, Luberda was promoted to operations manager in which he focused on managing one of the company’s largest clients, TuneIn. In 2016, Luberda’s son, Kade, joined Skyview’s operations team as a board operator. Aaron Mellis, Luberda’s longtime friend and manager shares, “We were fortunate to have Andy on the team, and as his role grew, it made a positive impact on our company and our clients. Andy’s warm heart and genuine care for his colleagues will continue to be a part of the Skyview Networks culture.” Skyview has set up a GoFundMe page for his family to help raise funds for medical and memorial costs and to provide financial support for Kade during this difficult time.

GOP Senators to Challenge Election Results/Trump Georgia Phone Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pelosi Keeps Speaker Post, and Texas Church Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The move by a group of GOP senators to challenge the election results and the recording of President Trumpasking the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes in his favor; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Georgia runoff election for its two U.S. Senate seats; Nancy Pelosi retains her House Speaker position; and the fatal shooting at a Texas church were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

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