Talk Radio/Media Industry News

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

| February 19, 2019

WISN, Milwaukee’s Mark Belling Sidelined by Stroke. Afternoon drive talk show host Mark Belling reportedly told his listeners that he’ll be taking “a few days” off from his work at iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN, Milwaukee after suffering a stroke during his program back on February 11.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Belling is not having problems talking – a common effect of a stroke – but that his peripheral vision is affected and Belling says it makes reading difficult.  He told his listeners that on the February 11 program he began experiencing a “weird sensation” that progressed. “It was not excruciating, it was not debilitating.  Your head’s crumbling inside.”  Belling added that reading copy live is a part of his program and that is very difficult.  “I’ve got to do this right or I’m not going to be able to come back and be any good at this thing — at all.”  He says he may do some one-hour segments of his show before coming back full time, but “nothing is set in stone.”

Cumulus Rising Talk Radio Star Larry O’Connor Is This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. WMAL, Washington, DC/KABC, Los Angeles radio talk show host Larry O’Connor is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  For the past several years, O’Connor, based in the nation’s capital, has been successfully hosting the 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm afternoon drive show on Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC powerhouse WMAL-AM/FM. Six weeks ago, he added a separate mid-morning 10:00 am -12:00 noon show on Cumulus’s KABC, Los Angeles, via remote, to his weekday schedule.  Harrison and O’Connor discuss his new two-station, bi-coastal schedule and the differences he perceives between talk audiences in these markets.  The discussion also explores Donald Trump’s impact on the media as well as society in general and delves back to the days of O’Connor’s pre-radio career in the legitimate theater where he spent a number of years as the general manager of the Schubert Theater in Los Angeles before joining the early incarnation of Breitbart News as an online writer and radio commentator.  O’Connor reflects on his relationship with the late Andrew Breitbart. 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 of the TALKERS daily email newsletter and every page on Talkers.com.

Phil Kornblut Building Network for South Carolina Sports Talk Show. Longtime South Carolina sports talk host Phil Kornblut’s statewide “SportsTalk” show was dealt a setback last month when Learfield Communications shut down the South Carolina Radio Network that distributed the program for more than 30 years.  Kornblut is continuing his 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily show show, based at Glory Communications’ WQXL-AM/W264DF, Columbia, and is building a roster of stations across the state to carry the program.  The Post and Courier reports Kornblut saying he has a network of 20 stations ready to carry the show beginning on February 25.  At the same time, Kornblut says University of South Carolina football standout Rick Sanford is joining the program.  Korblut is quoted saying, “He’s one of the great athletes to come out of this state and one of the great Gamecocks of all time, and he’s made himself into a very good sports talk show host.  His name and knowledge will bring a lot to the show.  He wants to cover press conferences, go to games.  He’s really throwing himself into it, and I think it’ll be fun.”

WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans Host Scoot Victim of Hit and Run. The picture here is of WWL-AM/FM early afternoon talk host Scoot in the hospital after being struck by a hit-and-run motorcyclist in New Orleans early in the morning of February 15.  The station’s website posted the photo along with the story.  Authorities are still seeking information in an attempt to find the driver.  Scoot was crossing Canal Street near the corner of Canal and Bourbon when he was hit.  WWL management says, “Scoot’s ok, but he’s recovering from some tough injuries to his body.”  Police have video from surveillance cameras, but the lack of light and the speed of the motorcycle make it impossible to identify the driver.  They are seeking help from nearby businesses to see if better surveillance footage is available.

Crossover Media Group Takes on Ad Sales for Nancy Grace Show. Cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales firm Crossover Media Group is now handling ad sales for SiriusXM’s daily, two-hour “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” program.  As part of the agreement with Red Seat Ventures, Crossover Media Group is also handling ad sales and sponsorship support for the program’s social media channels.  Crossover sales managing member Sue Freund says, “Nancy has that rare storyteller’s ability to connect with audiences.  The addition of ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ places CMG in an even stronger position to offer marketers access to hard-to-reach female demographics with proven national personalities.”

BFoA Names 2019 Leadership Award Recipients. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces this year’s recipients of the 2019 Leadership Awards.  The awards will be presented at the Broadcasters Foundation annual breakfast on Wednesday, April 10 in the Brahms Room of the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas during the NAB Show.  The 2019 Leadership Awards honorees are: Bobby Caldwell, owner & CEO, East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc.; Jean Dietze, president, affiliate relations, NBC Broadcasting; Richard A. Foreman, president, Richard A. Foreman Associates, Inc.; Mark Gray, CEO, Katz Media Group; Paul McTear, former president & CEO, Raycom Media; David Poltrack, chief research officer, CBS Corporation and president,CBS Vision.  The Leadership Awards are given annually by the BFoA in recognition of career contributions to the broadcast industry and the community at-large.

Border Wall Issue/Emergency Declaration Suit, Trump-vs ‘SNL,’ McCabe on ’60 Minutes,’ 2020 Democratic Hopefuls/Sanders Enters, Venezuela Unrest, Florida ‘Pledge’ Arrest, Jussie Smollett Case, NBA/NCAA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/18). The U.S.-Mexico border wall project, President Trump’s emergency declaration, and the 16 states suing over the emergency declaration; President Trump’s feud with “Saturday Night Live” and Alec Baldwin over its parody of him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s interview on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”; the growing list of Democrats entering the 2020 presidential race, including Bernie Sanders; President Trump ramps up criticism of Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela amidst the political unrest; the case of the Florida sixth grader arrested after refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance; the investigation into actor Jussie Smollett’s controversial attack by two individuals in Chicago; and NBA and NCAA hoops action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Phoenix, Entercom swaps morning shows at classic hits KOOL-FM and country KMLE.  Beginning February 25, Maria Knight and Chad Mitchell (pictured at right) will take over the morning daypart on KMLE “Country @ 107.9.”  Meanwhile, Niko Petrou (left) will move from KMLE to KOOL-FM for mornings.  Entercom Phoenix SVP and market manager Dave Pugh states, “This transition will allow us to maximize the content we deliver daily to this market.  Maria and Chad are market veterans who know and love the country format and we are excited for KMLE listeners to get to know them.  Niko has a great connection to Phoenix and we are confident that his passion and energy will enable him to connect with KOOL’s listeners.”…..On-air pro Alek Halverson joins Entercom’s Seattle country outlet KKWF “100.7 The Wolf” where he’ll serve as afternoon drive personality and music director, effective February 21.  He comes to Entercom from his most recent position as Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s CHR KLTA, Fargo where he was afternoon host, APD, and music director.   Entercom Seattle SVP and market manager Jack Hutchison comments, “Alek’s passion for radio and dedication to entertaining people on air and on social media makes him a great addition to our team. We are excited to welcome him to Seattle and to start a new chapter of afternoon drive in Seattle.”…..Midday personality Nikki Imbrascio exits Entercom’s CHR WBBM-FM, Chicago “B96” after 10 years in the position.  Her bio, etc. has been scrubbed from the station’s website and no successor has been named at this point…..The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the recent station swap between Cumulus Media and Entercom that’s turning ownership of Indy stations CHR WZPL, AC WNTR and sports talk WXNT-AM over to Cumulus will mean a move of those stations from their current studios, but no timetable has been set.  Cumulus already owns classic hits WJJK-FM, country WFMS, and CHR WYRG in the market.  The three new stations will join the current three at Cumulus’ Shadeland Avenue studios. The report says no format changes are planned but TALKERS magazine has speculated that the company will not continue to operate two CHR stations in the market and will eventually flip underperformer WYRG to another format…..As reported by the Terre Haute Tribune Star, WFNB-FM has flipped from adult contemporary to alternative as “92.7 The Rock.”  DLC Media president and GM Dave Crooks tells the paper, “That was a bold move.  We had done some research over the last several months.  It looked like my original idea of trying to have all gold-based formats (adult hits or classic hits) was creating some duplication and chasing the same listeners.  So, we decided to make this move to help us expand our reach.”  Core artists will include: Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains.

Monday, February 18, 2019

| February 18, 2019

Hannity and Limbaugh Cited as Talk Media’s Political Influence Gains Attention. Multi-media news/talk superstar Sean Hannity is often said by some Trump administration critics to be an unofficial member of the president’s cabinet.  However one feels about that sentiment, it is clear that the conservative news/talk media has some degree of influence in Trump administration policy.  That becomes more evident when President Trump says such things as, “Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do.”  And about Rush Limbaugh: “He can speak for three hours without a phone call.  Try doing that sometime.  For three hours he speaks.  He’s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world.  I mean, this guy is unbelievable.”  Those quotes come from a New York Times piece covering the president’s Rose Garden press event on Friday (2/15).  Although Trump also said, “They don’t decide policy,” there’s a general sentiment among political and media types that the president looks to conservative talk media to understand what his base is thinking.  At this morning’s meeting of the TALKERS editorial staff, publisher Michael Harrison stated, “One of the most significant yardsticks in determining a communication platform’s success is influence.  How much of a difference does it make in the scheme of things?  Does it move the needle?  Since the modern era of talk radio began with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the medium and its hosts have been judged heavily by the level of influence they wield in their communities and markets. Taking this into account, the influence Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others maintain in the Age of Trump is remarkable and certainly a boon to talk media of all political flavors.”

New Evening Lineup at KNBR, San Francisco. Bay Area sports talk outlet KNBR announces changes to its evening “KNBR Tonight” programming that airs from 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight.  The Cumulus Media station bring Bay Area native Mark Willard aboard to host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm portion of the show and moves current evening personality Drew Hoffar to the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight portion.  KNBR program director Jeremiah Crowe states, “I’m extremely excited to welcome Mark back to the Bay Area and into our KNBR family.  ‘KNBR Tonight’ is about connecting with fans as the games are being played and Mark will excel in that arena across all KNBR platforms.  Listeners now also get to hear Drew shine as a solo host in his own time slot.  ‘KNBR Tonight’ will continue to serve as THE nightly destination for local sports talk and I can’t wait to hear these two dynamic personalities back-to-back on ‘The Sports Leader!’”  Willard comes to KNBR from his most recent gig with iHeartMedia’s KLSD, San Diego “XTRA Sports” where he was midday host.  He’s also served with FOX Sports Radio Network; KSPN, Los Angeles “710 ESPN”; and ESPN’s SportsNation based in LA.

Woodward Makes Programming Moves at WHBY and WSCO in Green Bay/Appleton, Wisconsin. The news/talk and sports talk stations in the Green Bay-Appleton market operated by Woodward Radio Group have a new brand manager as Jonathan Krause assumes the role.  Krause comes to news/talk WHBY and sports talk WSCO “The Score” from his most recent position with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WOSH, Oshkosh.  Krause says, “I look forward to continuing the traditions of WHBY and WSCO providing high-quality information and entertainment for the Fox Valley.  And I hope to expand our community involvement throughout the region.”  At the same time, the company welcomes Appleton native Brian Butch to WSCO as a member of the “B.J. and The Bear” morning drive show with host B.J. DeGroot.  Butch will also serve as a part-time sales executive for WHBY and WSCO.

Monday Memo: YOUR Four?  Consultant Holland Cooke’s Monday Memo offers up a call-in topic for today’s President’s Day holiday.  There are four (generally) revered U.S. presidents depicted on Mt. Rushmore – Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln. What if your listeners could vote for their four favorite presidents to be immortalized in stone?  Read Cooke’s Monday Memo column here.

WPHT Radiothon Raises $151,000 for Liberty USO. Friday’s second annual WPHT Radiothon to benefit Liberty USO – an organization that provides active, Guard, and Reserve military and their families with programs and services at the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey – raised $151,535.  Air personalities from Entercom’s news/talk WPHT are pictured above taking part in the daylong broadcast.  They are (from l-r): afternoon drive host Rich Zeoli, late morning personality Dom Giordano, and morning talk host Chris Stigall.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM weekend radio personality Amy Guth is embarking on a daily podcast project for Crain’s Chicago Business.  The show is called “The Daily Gist” and will consist of “a mix of the day’s top stories and an in-depth segment in which Guth will interview a Crain’s reporter or columnist.”…..Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics are announcing they have radio broadcast deals for the 2019 season.  The team has a three-company deal that will see games air on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KTRB-AM, San Francisco “The Answer,” Bonneville’s sports talk KHTK, Sacramento, and digital platform Tune In.  In the broadcast booth will be play-by-play team Ken Korach and Vince CotroneoChris Townsend is serving as studio host with Ray Fosse making guest appearances…..In Baltimore, longtime Baltimore Orioles play-by-play voice Joe Angel is retiring after 19 years with the team (and 42 years in the business).  Games are broadcast on Entercom’s WJZ-FM “The Fan.”…..The MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates have a new broadcast team for games that air on Entercom’s KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan.”  The station says Dan Zangrilli will return to host the station’s pregame and postgame broadcasts, a role he held from 2012 to 2016.  Jack Zduriencik will return for his fourth season as an analyst.  Station veteran Kraig Riley, who has been with “93.7 The Fan” since 2010 as a producer, will join the broadcast team for the first time alongside Zangrilli and Zduriencik.

Border Wall Emergency Declaration, Trump-vs ‘SNL,’ McCabe on ’60 Minutes,’ 2020 Presidential Hopefuls, Fatal Chicago Workplace Shooting, Amazon/NYC Breakup, Jussie Smollett Case, Payless Shutters U.S. Stores, and NBA/NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The aftermath of President Trump’s emergency declaration to use Pentagon funds for the U.S.-Mexico wall project; President Trump’s attack on “Saturday Night Live” for its parody of his emergency declaration presser; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s interview on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”; the Democrats lining up to challenge President Trump in 2020 and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld considers challenging Trump in the Republican primary; the workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois that took the lives of five; Amazon’s decision to back out of its proposed Queens operations after political pressure from Democrats; the controversy surrounding actor Jussie Smollett’s assault accusations; retail icon Payless Shoes to close U.S. stores; and NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Dallas programming and on-air pro Jesse Salazar adds assistant program director duties to his afternoon on-air role and music director responsibilities at Radio One’s rhythmic CHR KBFB “97.9 The Beat.”  Radio One Dallas vice president of programming operations Mark McCray says, “Jesse has the experience, attitude, and work ethic that makes his graduation to APD an easy decision.”…..On-air pro Chris Payne joins Evans Broadcasting’s alternative KRAT, Reno, “ALT 92.9” to host the morning drive program.  Payne was most recently in an on-air role with Shamrock Communications’ crosstown KRZQ prior to it flipping from alternative to adult contemporary in July of 2017.

Friday, February 15, 2019

| February 15, 2019

Cox Sells Majority Stake of News/Talk WHIO, Dayton, Two Music FMs, and TV and Newspaper Properties. The “buyer” here is Apollo Global Management which – according to a piece in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution – is acquiring a controlling interest in Cox Enterprises’ 14 television stations, its newspapers, and its three Dayton, Ohio radio stations.  Cox made no secret of the fact it was shopping its television assets, but bunching Dayton radio outlets news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, country WHKO-FM, and rock WZLR-FM was not expected.  Cox will retain a minority stake in the new company.  Interestingly, Cox Media Group will continue ownership of the AJC, as well as its other radio stations and media outlets in other markets.  Why is Apollo interested in the Dayton radio stations?  The AJC writes, “The newspapers, radio stations, and WHIO-TV in Dayton share a unique business model that involve full integration of their operations.  Apollo plans to maintain the Cox Media management and operating structure within the new company, which has yet to be named.”

Newt Gingrich Podcast Launches on Westwood One. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Westwood One partner to create the “Newt’s World” weekly, original podcast.   The press release states that the program “will offer stories, conversations, and context on a different topic each week, from history to health, national security to science, and much more…’Newt’s World’ isn’t a podcast about politics; it’s a show that explores the past, present, and future to help listeners contextualize current events and important discoveries across all aspects of our society.  The inaugural episode of ‘Newt’s World’ features the father of our country, the man who led the first Americans to freedom, George Washington.”  Gingrich says, “I spend most of my time doing two things: learning and teaching.  I’m looking forward to bringing others on the journey with me to fully explore fascinating topics together.  Some weeks we’ll be talking about history, some weeks we’ll learn about the future, and others we’ll look at what is happening right now in culture, science, and events.  We live in an amazing world, and there’s an enormous amount to learn and share.”

Former Sports Talk Host Marty Tirrell Faces Fraud Charges. Former KXNO, Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell is being held in a Polk County, Iowa jail until space opens up at a residential release facility.  The 59-year-old is charged with six counts of fraud as federal prosecutors charge he swindled at least eight people out of $1.5 million. The allegations against Tirrell include that he sought investors for a business in which he would buy tickets to sporting events and sell them at a profit.  Prosecutors say initially Tirrell paid back his investors, but later began lying to them and used their money for personal expenses and to pay back other investors.  When they sought the promised return on their investment, Tirrell allegedly wrote checks he knew would bounce or provided them with false wire transfer information. See the Des Moines Register story here.

Gomez ‘American Grit’ Podcast Addresses Immigration Reform. Radio pro Joe Gomez is producing a podcast called ‘American Grit’ that he tells TALKERS magazine is dedicated to covering immigration reform and current events.  Gomez, who served as a radio reporter for iHeartRadio (KOA, Denver and KRTH, Houston), CBS, and NBC, hosts the program.  The podcast is available via iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.  Check it out here.

Border Wall Issue Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 11-15. The battle over President Trump’s plan for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Trump-Russia investigation and the related ruling by a judge that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lied to investigators.  Coming in at #3 was the Green New Deal, tied with the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, followed by the Andrew McCabe CBS interview 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 entire chart here.

Alliance for Women in Media Foundation Names New Board and Directors. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces its 2019 National Board of Directors. New to the AWM board are Abby Greensfelder, co-founder & co-owner, Half Yard Productions; Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; and Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBC.  AWM/F board chair and president Christine Travaglini says, “We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.”  Keisha Sutton James, vice president, Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, will serve as incoming chair, Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, will serve as treasurer. Josie Thomas, executive vice president, chief diversity and inclusion officer, CBS Corporation, will serve as treasurer-elect, while Sarah Foss, senior vice president, strategic initiatives, Freewheel Advertisers at FreeWheel will serve as immediate past chair.  The following individuals will serve as directors at large of AWM: Joyce Fitch, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc.; Jinny Laderer, president, vCreative; Meg LaVigne, president of television, Litton Entertainment; Kelly DeLace Perdomo, vice president, content, sports, entertainment, and partnership marketing, SiriusXM; and Diane Schwartz, SVP and group publisher, Access Intelligence.  The following individuals will serve as directors at large of AWMF: Anne Cowan, senior vice president, communications and marketing, CTAM; Annie Howell, co-founder and managing partner, The Punch Point Group; Deborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk, RBR and TVBR; Rob Stoddard, SVP program network policy, NCTA; and Kristen Welch, chief financial officer, Illustrative Mathematics.  At the same time the AWM/F announces that the 2019 call for entries for the annual Gracie Awards was the most successful in the program’s history. AWM/F executive director Becky Brooks adds, “The number and caliber of extraordinary programs and performances entered for the 2019 Gracie Awards is an unprecedented milestone for the AWM/F.  Gracies judges – women and more men than ever before – include executives and talent from across every form of media.  They have their work cut out for them in deciding the 2019 winners from this exceptional pool of nominees.”  The 44th Annual Gracie Awards Gala will take place May 21, at the Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills and the Gracie Awards Luncheon will be held June 26, in New York City at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Michael Harrison Explores the Impact of Changing Communications Technology on the Human Nervous System. One of the common themes of the present era is the challenge people face in keeping pace and coping with the exponential changes in communications technology. On this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview,” the TALKERS founder interviews theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, and licensed psychotherapist Dr. Bryan Robinson about the rapid changes taking place in our noisy world. Join them for a deep dive into the realm of neuro-plasticity, the sounds of silence, and escaping from the maddening, non-stop workplace. 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 of the TALKERS email newsletter and every page on Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Adult contemporary WDZH, Detroit “987 The Breeze” names husband-and-wife radio duo Chadd & Kristi (pictured) hosts of the station’s morning drive program, effective Monday (2/18).  Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “As a husband and wife team, Chadd and Kristi will bring a unique perspective to our airwaves and we are excited to welcome them to ‘The Breeze.’  They are both full of energy and our listeners can look forward to hearing all of their entertaining relationship and family life stories every workday.” Chadd & Kristi come to Detroit from their most recent position at Beasley Media Group’s WPBB, Tampa (recently flipped from AC to classic rock)…..iHeartMedia’s WRVE-HD2/W260CH “Wild Country 99.9” enters in to an agreement with NASCAR to broadcast each Monster Energy Cup Series race, including the Daytona 500, FireKeepers Casino 400, and Food City 500.  “Wild Country 99.9” program director Terry O’Donnell says, “It’s an honor to be the new home for NASCAR in the Capital Region.  NASCAR is the #1 spectator sport in America and since so many of us are on the move, we can’t always catch the race on TV.  Now, listeners can hear the races live on their phone, smart speaker or in their car via iHeartRadio.”…..There’s a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast starring Mario Lopez titled “Listen To Mario” that launches today (2/15).  In its inaugural episode, Lopez sits down for a candid conversation with Mark-Paul Gosselaar (a.k.a. Zack Morris from “Saved By the Bell!”) in which they discuss their childhood hairstyles, reminisce about “Saved By The Bell,” and much more.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

| February 14, 2019

Cumulus Sells Six – Including WPLJ, New York and WRQX, Washington – to EMF for $103.5 Million; Swaps Three stations with Entercom.  Seller Cumulus Media Inc. calls these deals “strategic portfolio optimization transactions.”  The sale of six stations to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation will bring Cumulus $103.5 million in cash for hot AC WPLJ, New York; news/talk WYAY, Atlanta; triple A KFFG, San Francisco; hot AC WRQX, Washington; hot AC WZAT, Savannah; and classic rock WXTL, Syracuse.  When EMF takes control, the stations will all flip to its K-Love Christian music format.  The second deal is with Entercom and involves the swap of Cumulus’ country WNSH, New York “NASH FM”; hot AC WMAS-FM, Springfield, Massachusetts and sports talk WHLL-AM, Springfield in exchange for Entercom’s Indianapolis cluster of adult contemporary WNTR “107.9 The Mix,” CHR WZPL, and sports talk WXNT-AM.  This means Entercom exits the Indy market and those three stations join Cumulus’ existing three stations there: classic hits WJJK, country WFMS, and CHR WYRG “Energy 93.9.” Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner says, “These transactions are consistent with our portfolio optimization strategy and both deals are accretive.  The Entercom swap significantly bolsters our competitive position in Indianapolis and the EMF transaction generates substantial cash for debt repayment and investment in other business opportunities.”  The company notes that EMF will acquire all transmission equipment and assume all tower leases associated with the stations which collectively contribute approximately $5 million to $7 million of EBITDA to Cumulus annually.  Regarding the Entercom swap, both companies will begin operating the other’s stations under LMAs on March 1.

Format Flip Likely as the Result of Cumulus-Entercom Deal.  The acquisition of Entercom’s CHR WZPL – the clear ratings leader in top 40 radio in the market – means a format change is imminent for Cumulus’ WYRG which has been bubbling under a 2 share (6+) while WZPL has been scoring more than a 5 share in recent PPM surveys from Nielsen Audio.  In New York, there’s no reason to think Entercom will flip WNSH from country.  While it’s been hovering around a 2.2 share (6+), it’s the only country signal in New York and it’s hard to imagine Entercom giving up on it.  Stay tuned.

What Will Cumulus Do with WABC and New York Stations?  Maybe nothing, but yesterday’s surprise sale of six of its signals to EMF and the swap with Entercom indicates Cumulus is willing to deal if it has strategic significance.  Now that the company’s New York cluster is destined to consist of news/talk WABC-AM, urban AC WNBM – a class A FM licensed to Bronxville – and suburban sports talk WFAS-AM, Westchester, some industry watchers are wondering if the three-station cluster brings in enough revenue to continue operating in the Big Apple.  WFAS-AM isn’t listed in the Nielsen New York PPMs and WNBM has been garnering 6+ ratings of less than a full share in recent PPM surveys.  WABC-AM is a venerable signal with obvious history in the market but appears to be underperforming with 6+ numbers in the 1.0-1.5 share range.  One wonders if Mary Berner and company are weighing finding buyers for the three signals.

Judge: Alex Jones Can Be Deposed in Sandy Hook Case. According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that talk show host and Infowars chief Alex Jones must take part in a sworn deposition in the defamation case filed against him by the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. The judge ruled that after Jones’ counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss, the families are entitled to conduct discovery “likely to lead to admissible evidence for opposing the motions.”  Three other Infowars staffers will have to sit for depositions that, combined with Jones’ deposition, will total 19 hours of testimony. Jones and Infowars are being sued separately by two different Newtown, Connecticut families in Texas.  The families’ lawsuits allege that Jones engaged in a lengthy campaign “abusive and outrageous false statements” that the Sandy Hook shootings were staged by paid actors.  The suit alleges Jones knew what he was perpetrating was false but he continued because it drew an audience and made money for his company.  Jones argues his First Amendment rights are enough to toss the suits.  He is also being ordered deposed in Texas, but those depositions have not taken place yet.

WPHT, Philadelphia to Produce Liberty USO Radiothon. Tomorrow’s daylong radiothon will take place at Chickie’s & Pete’s Play 2 in Philadelphia from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. It’s called the “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Liberty USO Radiothon” and it will benefit Active, Guard and Reserve military and their families through programs and services at the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO).  It will be anchored by WPHT personalities Chris Stigall, Dom Giordano and Rich Zeoli.  Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “I am proud of the role our station plays in supporting our military through the efforts of Liberty USO.  Last year’s radiothon raised over $120,000 and is a testament to the power local radio plays in bringing our community together for a great cause.  We are looking forward to partnering with Liberty USO once again.”

Actor Wendell Pierce Part of Group Seeking to Buy WBOK, New Orleans. According to a report by WGNO-TV, New Orleans, native son and actor Wendell Pierce is part of a group of investors bidding on the license for urban news/talk outlet WBOK, New Orleans.  The station is owned by Los Angeles-based Bakewell Media which has the station on the market. Pierce, known for his work on “The Wire” and Amazon Prime’s “Jack Ryan” series, says in a statement, “Through all the substantial change New Orleans has faced in recent history, WBOK has served as a steadfast and indispensable platform for our community.  The people trust them, they depend on them, and they believe in them.  WBOK Radio is the glue that brings and holds our city together.”  The story says the other investors are listed as: Cleveland Spears III, Troy Henry, and Jeff Thomas.

Salem Media Group Promotes Three. At Camarillo, California-based Salem Media Group, three executive promotions take place. First, 16-year Salem exec Chris Gould rises from his VP, national programming, to senior vice president, national programming.  Second, Mark Durkin is promoted from general manager of the company’s Sacramento cluster to a regional vice president position that adds oversight of Seattle, San Francisco and Oxnard, California to his Sacramento duties.  Finally, Franc Boza is named general manager for the Salem Miami cluster. He was most recently with Deadcenter Marketing as VP of sales and marketing.

Skyview Networks Announces Staff Promotions. Scottsdale, Arizona-based Skyview Networks announces a series of promotions among staffers.  In the production department, Joe Felz is upped to vice president of production.  Elsewhere, Denise Krause rises from client service director to senior director of client services and co-chair promotions, based in New York City.  Ethan Aragon takes on the new title of senior director of client services.  Jordan Thorlin is named creative director.  In the same department, Alexandria Landry is appointed multimedia designer.  In the sales department, Alex Warrick takes on the new role of director of agency services.  Finally, radio industry pro Mary Stoddard moves into the client service director and co-chair promotions position.

TALKERS News Notes. Minnesota sports talk station KFXN-FM, Minneapolis gets some love from City Pages as the alt-weekly does a big feature on the station in honor of “KFAN” capturing “the highest market share percentage of any top-50 sports talk station in the country, according to Nielsen” last fall…..Boston Red Sox aficionados have been waiting to find out who will be in the broadcast booth this year for games broadcast on Entercom’s Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston and now it’s confirmed that play-by-play legend Joe Castiglione has signed for his 37th season with the team.  As for the color analysts?  Those duties will be split among three principal broadcasters: Sean McDonough, Josh Lewin, and Mario Impemba, with several more also in the rotation.  They include: ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, WEEI personalities Lou Merloni and Dale ArnoldNESN studio host Tom Caron, and NESN Red Sox television broadcaster Dave O’Brien…..KCAA, Loma Linda, California owner Fred Lundgren tells TALKERS magazine that after many years of producing and distributing radio programs and podcasts for hundreds of broadcasters, his family has decided to produce its own podcast series, hosted by his wife, Linda Carol Lundgren, titled, “Don’t Be Afraid To Ask.” Lundgren says the show will address many of life’s difficult subjects such as money, sex, drugs, bullying, long term relationships, the changing culture, and the problems facing the next generation of young adults as they leave home and enter the workplace.  The first show visits the tragic origins of Valentine’s Day and how the importance of that day has evolved over the centuries. Check it out here…..WGCH, Greenwich, Connecticut afternoon talk show host Lisa Wexler was recently honored by cable channel News 12 Connecticut as one of its “Hometown Heroes.”  Wexler serves as a local probate judge and donates each $50 wedding fee she receives to the local Westport Animal Shelter Advocates organization. Check it out here…..Motor Racing Network is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first coverage of the Daytona 500 this Sunday (2/17).  In honor of that event, MRN will broadcast its 50th Daytona 500 and the 61st running of “The Great American Race” on over 400 radio stations nationwide.  Sunday’s race also marks the culmination of more than 30 hours of programming produced by MRN during Daytona Speedweeks, NASCAR’s annual kickoff at Daytona International Speedway.  The broadcast is the first event in a two-year celebration of the founding of the network by Bill France, Sr. and Ken Squier in 1970.

TalkersRadio Personality Meg McDonald Installed as President of the Studio City Beautification Association.  Legendary Southern California PR executive Meg McDonald, who hosts the short-form feature MEG! on TalkersRadio, was recently installed as the new president of the Studio City Beautification Association.  Studio City is a section of Los Angeles with a colorful show business history located between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.  Standing with Meg in front of the Mack Sennett Conference Room on the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City where the monthly SCBA board meetings are held are (l-r): Studio City Beautification Association officers secretary Connie Elliot (wearing hat), McDonald, vice president Beth Dymond and treasurer Charles Blakeslee.  Meg McDonald is the daughter of golden era Hollywood movie stars Elisabeth Fraser and Ray McDonald.  To listen to MEG!, please click here.

Trump-Russia Investigation/Manafort Ruling, Border Wall Deal, Parkland Shooting Anniversary/Gun Control, Green New Deal, California Bullet Train Controversy, Iran-Israel Tensions, Brexit Complications, Venezuela Unrest, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13). The investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the related ruling by a judge that Paul Manafort lied to investigators; the ongoing controversy over the tentative U.S.-Mexico border wall deal; the anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shootings and the status of gun control measures; the GOP’s criticism of the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez sponsored Green New Deal; President Trump’s demand for the return of $3.7 billion in federal money from California after Governor Gavin Newsome spiked the remainder of the bullet train project; the heightened rhetoric between Iran and Israel; the complications of Britain’s exit from the EU and possible economic consequences; the political unrest in Venezuela; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Explores the Impact of Changing Communications Technology on the Human Nervous System. One of the common themes of the present era is the challenge people face in keeping pace and coping with the exponential changes in communications technology. On this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview,” the TALKERS founder interviews theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, and licensed psychotherapist Dr. Bryan Robinson about the rapid changes taking place in our noisy world. Join them for a deep dive into the realm of neuro-plasticity, the sounds of silence, and escaping from the maddening, non-stop workplace. 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 of the TALKERS email newsletter and every page on Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Milwaukee CHR WNRG “Energy 106.9” adds the nationally syndicated “Tino Cochino Radio Show” for the afternoon drive daypart.  The program emanates from its home base at Riviera Broadcasting’s KKFR, Mayer, Arizona (Phoenix market)…..Meruelo Media promotes Aimee Bittourna to vice president of its experiential marketing company Actify. In this new position, Bittourna will oversee the development, strategies, and execution of all Actify campaigns.  Meruelo Media president and COO Otto Padron says, “Aimee is a difference maker and a unique brand experience creator. Her energy and creativity are marketing multipliers for our partners seeking original ways to connect their brands to consumers.  She’s a leader in a boundless space and our clients love her.”…..Pictured below is Premiere Networks nationally syndicated adult contemporary personality Delilah on the set of the “TODAY” show (third from left) with show co-hosts Kathie Lee (second from left), Hoda Kotb (left) and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb (right) discussing ways to overcome fears of being alone on Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

| February 13, 2019

Westwood One: Podcast Ads ‘As Effective” as Television Ads. The results of a study by Westwood One and Advertising Benchmark Index (ABX) indicate that the podcast ads tested were comparable to the television and online ads for the same brands.  Some of the results of the study are presented in the WWO blog post here.  The study compared the podcast, TV, and online ads of five brands and discovered that podcast ads are “as effective at driving conversation and purchase as television ads.”  It also found that “live reads are incredibly impactful, but they have to be done correctly and ‘make the brand the hero of the story.’”

NuVoodoo: Smart Speaker Penetration Hits 43% Among 14-54 Demo. That figure comes from NuVoodoo Media Services’ latest NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study of 3,084 respondents, ages 14-54, across all PPM markets.  The study found that “smart speaker penetration is even deeper among those likely to end up in a Nielsen sample.  Additionally, a prime placement for smart speakers is turning out to be the bedroom.  The bedroom used to be home turf for radio once upon a time because of the ubiquity of the clock radio, but clock radios are now about as common as rotary phones.  While listening to a favorite local FM station is a pretty common thing for smart speaker owners to try, the NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study shows that listening to digital pure-plays on smart speakers is gaining traction.”  For more of the results of the NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study, the company will hold a webinar on Tuesday, February 19 at 12:00 noon ET.  You can register at nuvoodoo.com/webinars.

KABZ, Little Rock Host Roger Scott Has Role in New Film. Sports talk radio morning personality Roger Scott – part of the “Show with No Name” on Signal Media’s KABZ “103.7 The Buzz” – has a role in a feature-length film shot in Arkansas titled, Antiquities.  A story in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette explains that Scott is a longtime friend of Benton, Arkansas native Daniel Campbell, who is director of the film.  Scott had a role in the short version of Antiquities that won an award in 2009 at the Little Rock Film Festival and Campbell fought for him to have the role in the feature-length version.  The movie stars Academy Award-winning actress Mary Steenburgen, “Twilight” actress Ashley Greene, former “The Walking Dead” cast member Andrew J. West, “Friday Night Lights” actor Troy Hogan, Michael Gladis of “Mad Men,” and former “Saturday Night Live” regular Michaela Watkins.

At the Premiere of Run the Race. Pictured above are Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup (right) and University of Florida football great Tim Tebow (left) at the premiere of the faith-based film, Run the Race, in Hollywood on Tuesday night (2/12).  Tebow served as executive producer for the football-themed film that opens nationwide on February 22.

TALKERS News Notes.  WOAI, San Antonio-based, syndicated talk show host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo adds new affiliate stations as KFNN, Phoenix and WWBA, Tampa add the program to their air schedules…..Entercom’s adult hits WLND, Chattanooga “98.1 The Lake” signs a multi-platform deal with the minor league baseball club the Chattanooga Lookouts to serve as the flagship station for the team’s play-by-play broadcasts. As part of the deal, the games will also be available on the RADIO.COM app…..On Friday, April 12, the 11th Annual Harry Hurley Charity Dinner and Silent Auction will be held at Resorts Casino – Hotel Atlantic City.  WPGG, Atlantic City morning talk host Harry Hurley (right) says he’s pleased to announce that FOX News Radio and FOX News personality Todd Starnes (left) will serve as guest of honor and keynote speaker. Hurley says, “Todd is so generous with his time and his star power will make our event highly successful and directly benefit many worthy charities.  We will also be holding a private book signing for our guests with Todd.  Each guest will receive one of Todd’s books for him to autograph during our event meet-and-greet.”  Last year, FOX’s Brian Kilmeade assisted Hurley’s charity in raising $30,000 for the “Harry Hurley in the Morning Charity.”…..Pictured below is ABC NewsBrad Mielke (right) interviewing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for this week’s episode of ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast.

Maine Station Owner Dick Gleason Passes. The owner of Gleason Media Services – Dick Gleason – died on February 9 at the age of 71.  Gleason owned a pair of country stations – WOXO-AM/W245CQ, Norway and WOXO-FM, Mexico “The Ox”; hot AC WEZR-AM/FM/W288CW, Lewiston “Maine’s Big Z” and sports talk WTME-AM, Rumford.  Gleason got into the business in 1975 when he bought WOXO-AM.  See his obit in the Portland Press Herald here.

Border Wall Deal/Trump El Paso Rally, Trump-Russia Investigation, 2020 Presidential Hopefuls, ‘El Chapo’ Convicted, ‘Green New Deal’ Criticism, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12). The border wall deal and President Trump’s related El Paso rally; the status of the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the Democrats declaring their candidacy for president in 2020; Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is found guilty; criticism of the controversial “Green New Deal” from Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

PPM Analysis: Holiday 2018’s Top-Rated Stations. 2018’s December 6 to January 2 PPM ratings period for Nielsen Audio subscribers upset the monthly ratings sweeps once again, giving a lot of adult contemporary stations (and other music formatted stations that play Christmas music) their usual Holiday ratings spike.  In today’s report, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian lays out charts illustrating which stations were the big winners, as well as which formats and stations were adversely affected by the annual programming changes.  See it all here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Longtime “Quiet Storm” host Freddie Cruz retires from his gig with WHQT, Miami “HOT 105” and the Cox Media Group station names Lenny Green the new host of the evening program…..Radio One Buffalo, LLC announces that Buffalo radio personality Dan Neaverth is moving from his Friday afternoon show at oldies WECK, Buffalo to Mondays where he’ll appear on the “Gail and Tom in the Morning” program from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, starting February 25.  The Friday show will be hosted by afternoon drive jock and programming VP Glenn Topolski.