Talk Radio/Media Industry News

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

| January 21, 2020

Beasley Ups Justin Chase to Chief Content Officer. Programming pro Justin Chase is promoted from his EVP of programming position to chief content officer for Beasley Media Group.  The company says that in his new role, Chase “will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of on-air content and digital on behalf of the company.”  Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Justin has done an incredible job overseeing our company’s on-air brands.  I look forward to him enhancing and expanding our content on all of our on-air and digital platforms across the company.”  Chase comments, “I am so grateful to the Beasley family and the entire corporate staff for their support and confidence in me taking on this new role within the company.  The programming and digital teams at Beasley are first class and I feel lucky to be surrounded by the best of the best every day.”

Lori Burgess Rises to Chief Operating Officer for Beasley Esports. Another executive promotion at Beasley Media Group has Lori Burgess moving from her chief digital content officer post to chief operating officer at Beasley Esports.  Prior to joining Beasley in her previous position, she consulted for the company on integrated marketing strategy.  Speaking about her new role leading Beasley Esports, Burgess says, “The esports industry is on the verge of going mainstream.  Our timing and expansion into this space will firmly poise Beasley Media Group to own and influence the next generation of consumers.  The company’s ability to provide compelling esports content, leverage strategic partnerships, and compete at the most elite levels will ensure our foundation as this sector begins to dominate the media and sports-market/entertainment conversation and commands more sponsorship partnerships.”  Burgess served for more than two decades in the publishing industry with brands including: The Hollywood Reporter, Prevention Magazine, Conde Nast’s Mademoiselle and House & Garden; Elle Magazine; Seventeen Magazine, and Niche Media.

WOR, New York, Morning Co-Host Michael Riedel Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Longtime Broadway theater critic-turned-political-news/talker Michael Riedel is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”   Riedel, along with Ken Berman, is the co-host of the morning show on WOR, New York in which he presents the conservative perspective and Berman expresses the liberal point of view on today’s hottest issues.  Harrison and Riedel talk about the state of today’s highly polarized national conversation focusing on the nature of Donald Trump and the extraordinary role he is playing as an agent of change in these turbulent times.  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 on every page of Talkers.com.

 

Crossover Media Group to Partner with Just the News for Podcasts and Video.  In yesterday’s edition of TALKERS, we wrote about the coming launch of the news organization, Just the News – a multi-platform news operation founded by award-winning investigative journalist and commentator John Solomon.  Today, it’s being announced that Crossover Media Group – a cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales firm – is entering into a partnership with Just the News to produce, sell, and distribute its audio and video programming.  CMG will handle advertising sales and distribution of the video and audio content and assist in production of programming that will be found at JustTheNews.com.  Among the inaugural audio programs will be: “John Solomon Reports,” a twice-weekly podcast featuring the veteran investigative reporter and editor in chief of Just the News; “David Brody’s Pods Honest Truth,” hosted by longtime CBN correspondent and Just the News senior contributing editor David Brody; and “The Sharyl Attkisson Podcast,” featuring the Emmy-Award winning investigative television correspondent.  The first “John Solomon Reports” podcast drops today at 3:00 pm ET and offers listeners new information regarding the discussion around the Ukraine matter at the center of the presidential impeachment trial.  Crossover Media Group managing member Ron Hartenbaum says, “Over the course of more than three decades reporting from the nation’s capital, John’s award-winning work has propelled him to senior positions at The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and the Center for Public Integrity, among other prominent organizations.  His gutsy, contrarian, enterprise journalism has unearthed insights that have helped drive the national conversation, stirred controversy, and withstood scrutiny.”  Solomon adds, “Ron and I have worked on projects for many years and his command of the audio/video marketplace, his relationships and his visionary insights are priceless.  We are excited by the extraordinary capabilities of Crossover Media Group and can’t wait to get started.  There’s an incredible opportunity to cut through the noise in Washington with exclusive reporting and analysis.”

Beasley and Bonneville Officers Co-Chair Media Financial Management Summit. The 2020 CFO Summit takes place March 5-6 at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale presented by The Media Financial Management AssociationBeasley Media Group CFO Marie Tedesco and Bonneville International CFO Kent Nate – along with E.W. Scripps SVP, controller and treasurer Doug Lyons – will serve as co-chairs for the conference.  This 14th edition of the annual summit “provides an exclusive forum with real solutions to the challenges that CFOs face every day.”  Topics include an update from the Federal Reserve; an equity analyst’s look at cybersecurity concerns for media businesses; the future of media; local advertising; podcasting; political advertising issues and outlook; leadership; and a CFO roundtable.

Impeachment, Presidential Race, Putin Power Grab, Honduran Migrant Caravan, Chinese Coronavirus, Virginia Gun Rally, and NFL Championship Games Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/20). The process for handling the articles of impeachment against President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in November; Vladimir Putin’s push for constitutional changes in Russia that would extend his rule; a migrant caravan headed from Honduras to the U.S. is stopped at the Guatemala-Mexico border; fears of a global pandemic as China deals with the fast-spreading Coronavirus; the gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship Games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

SAVE THE DATE! Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station Is Set for June 5 in New York. The 23rd annual installment of the longest-running, most-important national talk media convention has been set for Friday, June 5, 2020 in New York City. Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station will take place at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference, marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of TALKERS, will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age and the fundamental changes in the platforms upon which it is carried and distributed. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, one-on-one conversations and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception — all in a single, power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions, Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited, and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments, costs $329 per person. However, those registering before 5:00 pm ET on Friday, February 7 pay only $279 – a significant early bird discount. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

FOX News Radio Positions Open. There are three news posts that FOX News is seeking to fill.  The first is Overnight Freelance Anchor for FOX News Radio in Washington, DC, Los Angeles or New York City.  FOX says, “As a radio news anchor you will work under tight deadlines and deliver top notch newscasts.  You have a passion for breaking news and the flexibility to work on a days’ notice.”  See more about that position and apply here.  The second position is staff producer and news editor for FOX News in New York City.  In this position you will supervise the staff for FOX’s network radio news operation, Fox News Headlines 24/7.  As the producer/news editor you are editorial leader, working with news anchors to craft the content and structure of a 24/7 news operation.  See more about that position here.  The third position is Freelance Radio Master Control Operator in New York.  For this position the company is seeking a technically strong and motivated operator to provide technical oversight over all FOX News Radio platforms, including FOX News Radio’s terrestrial operation, FOX News Talk and FOX News Headlines 24/7.  See more and apply for this position here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Hubbard Radio’s Chicago hot AC WTMX “The Mix,” afternoon drive co-host Jennifer Roberts, a.k.a. Jennifer Ashrafi, is leaving her role with the station to take a new corporate communications position.  Roberts, who co-hosted the show with Koz, a.k.a. Kevin Koske, announced the move in a social media post: “A lot of people get prematurely put ‘on the beach’ in this business and I’m thrilled that I’m making my exit completely on my terms.  There was no threat on the horizon, just a calling in my soul for something better.”…..In West Palm Beach, Hubbard Radio announces that programming pro Randi West joins the cluster as the new program director of hot AC WRMF and CHR WMBX-HD2/W242CI “Party 96.3.”  West was previously program director for iHeartMedia’s hot AC WMTX, Tampa.  Hubbard West Palm Beach operations manager Bruce Logan says, “WRMF is a one-of-a-kind radio station – huge heritage call letters, remarkably successful in ratings, and revenue with one of the best morning shows in the entire industry in ‘KVJ.’  We knew we needed a one-of-a-kind program director to match.  Randi’s passion and vision for the future as well as her energy made her the right fit.  I am thrilled to welcome Randi to the team and cannot wait to get out of her way and let her make WRMF even better.”

Monday, January 20, 2020

| January 20, 2020

When You Walk Through a Storm:  Cox Media Group Expresses Empathy and Interest in Talk Radio Pros Upended by iHM Layoffs.  The news/talk format coordinator of Cox Media Group, who also serves as the company’s senior operations & program manager for WSB and Cox Media Group Atlanta, has informed TALKERS that there could be employment opportunities available at Cox for displaced broadcasters down the road.  Drew Anderssen tells TALKERS, “With the depth of recent layoffs, a lot of incredibly talented people are finding themselves in a new position – out of work.  Please just know that we’re thinking about each of you and are always interested in speaking about future opportunities within CMG, especially in spoken-word formats.”  Anderssen invites people who lost their jobs to contact him at either Drew.Anderssen@cmg.com or 404-897-6233.

Monday Memo: He Saw This Coming on Stilts. In the aftermath of – and fearing aftershocks from – last lweek’s iHeart talent cull, consultant Holland Cooke warns “you will get CHILLS” when you read how specifically this was predicted…in 1995.  And Cooke explains why times remain opportune for stations and their ex-employees.  Read it here.

Trump Impeachment, Presidential Race, Iran Tensions, Virginia Gun Rights Rally, Putin Power Grab, and SAG Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The impeachment process and the selection of President Trump’s legal team; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in November; the protests that have rocked Iran in the aftermath of the down of a passenger jet and the Islamic state’s nuclear ambitions; the gun rights rally taking place today in Richmond, Virginia; Vladimir Putin’s move to change Russia’s constitution to extend his rule; and Sunday evening’s Screen Actors Guild Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Journalist John Solomon Launches New Digital News Outlet.  Award-winning journalist John Solomon announces he’s creating a new media outlet called Just the News, that he says will “address the growing need for fact-based, impartial news and compelling digital content.”  Solomon, who has served as a journalist and executive at such new organizations as The Hill, The Washington Times, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast, says, Just the News will “deliver exclusive news, podcasts, books, polling, and video content showcasing some of the most respected and trusted journalists and editors in news media today.”  Longtime Washington Times senior editor Daniel Wattenberg is the news outlet’s managing editor.  Senior contributing writers include David Brody, the long-time correspondent from the Christian Broadcast Network; former CNN political director Christine Dolan; and Lee Smith, author of the best-selling book The Plot Against The President.  Solomon says more hires and partnerships are expected to be announced in the next few weeks and the JusttheNews.com website is slated to launch within the next month.  He adds, “True journalism has been on the decline for years as major media companies have built business models that push agenda-driven news, click-bait content and opinion masquerading as fact, fueling mistrust and contempt from the American people.  As the fallout from the recent Russia collusion narrative exposed, journalists today too often rush to get their stories first and then are left to hope they are right.”  Just the News will be headquartered in Washington D.C. and consist of four divisions dedicated to web-based reporting, video journalism, podcasting, and long-form nonfiction book publishing.

Second Annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards Celebrated. On Friday night (1/17), iHeartMedia produced the second annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards live at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles.  The program was also streamed live via LiveXLive.  Winners this year included “The Dropout” from ABC News taking Podcast of the Year honors, The New York Times winning Best News Podcast for “The Daily,” and Crooked Media’s “Pod Save the People” taking home the Best Political Podcast honors.  Pictured above is Conan O’Brien celebrating his winning the Best Comedy Podcast for “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.”  See all the winners here.  Photo: Getty Images for iHeartRadio

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk radio pro Scott Ferrall exits his late-night show with CBS Sports Radio to join SportsGrid to host two new video streaming programs.  “Scott Ferrall: Coast to Coast” streams from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET, followed by “In-Game LIVE” streaming from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Both shows emanate from SportsGrid’s Meadowlands Studio and debut on January 29.  SportsGrid says, “‘Scott Ferrall: Coast to Coast’ and ‘In-Game LIVE’ will serve the obsessed frenetic sports fan with live pregame and in-game wagering odds, moneylines, statistics, strategies, and insights with expert gaming analysis from Scott and his many guests.”…..Today (1/20), “First Take, Your Take with Jason Fitz” debuts in the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET daypart on ESPN Radio and simulcast on ESPNEWS.  ESPN says, “The show will further the most-timely conversations from that morning’s edition of ESPN’s marquee debate show, “First Take,” with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, and host Molly Qerim Rose.  Smith will regularly join Fitz on the show to provide his unique brand of commentary. A powerful lineup of sport-specific experts, as well as callers, will also add their reactions to propel the discussion.”…..Entercom names the new radio broadcast team for Boston Red Sox baseball on flagship WEEI-FM, Boston.  Handling play-by-play will be 37-year Red Sox announcer Joe Castiglione along with Will Flemming, Sean McDonough, and Lou Merloni…..iHeartMedia Delaware air talent Scott Klatzkin is named 2019 Delaware Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.  Klatzkin is the voice of the University of Delaware Blue Hens.  This is the fourth time he has won the honor, having previously been selected in 2016, 2012, and 2009.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In St. Louis, Hubbard Radio does a talent shuffle on heritage rock outlet KSHE.  Twenty-nine-year station personality Guy “Favazz” Favazza moves from afternoons to morning drive with current morning personality John “U-Man” Ulett (who joins the show from 7:00 am to 10:00 am).  Lauren “Lern” Elwell heads from mornings to the afternoon drive daypart, and Mark Klose – who hosted mornings at KSHE from 1977 to 1983 – takes over the midday show.  Station brand and content director Marty Linck comments, “These moves pair The U-Man and Favazz (both KSHE’s longest-running talent) together in morning drive, and gives Lern a great platform to connect with our fans as a standalone on-air personality.  In addition, having Mark Klose re-join the staff during the work day and bring back ‘Klose’s Cut Above’ at noon will really help further cement our position as the rock music authority in St. Louis.”…..Pictured below is Coldplay performing at RADIO.COM’s brand new, state-of-the-art HD Radio Sound Space in Los Angeles Friday night.  The inaugural RADIO.COM Live event featured the band playing some of its classic hits, as well as some songs from the new album, Everyday Life.  The special performance was attended by a small audience of Entercom’s KROQ, Los Angeles listeners and was streamed nationwide on RADIO.COM.  Photo: Tim Norris/Getty Images for RADIO.COM

Friday, January 17, 2020

| January 17, 2020

KXNO, Des Moines Cutbacks Reversed; PD and Hosts Rehired. According to a report by WHO-TV, Des Moines, after some serious blowback from listeners about the firing of six programming staffers from sports talk KXNO as part of a company-wide downsizing, iHeartMedia Des Moines market manager Joel McCrea sought from corporate and was granted permission to bring them back to their positions. Program director Andrew Downs; “The Morning Rush” personalities Travis Justice, Heather Burnside, and Sean Roberts; and “Sports Fanatics” hosts Chris Williams and Ross Peterson will return to their jobs. The story says in addition to the re-hiring, KXNO will be simulcast on (currently alternative) KDXA-FM at 106.3 FM beginning next week.

Newsmax TV Reports Increasing Viewership. According to recently released Comscore data, Newsmax TV shot past Bloomberg Television in total household reach, household coverage area rating, and average audience for the week of December 9, 2019.  It also topped C-SPAN in household coverage area rating for the same week.  Comscore’s data indicates that for the week of December 9, 2019, Newsmax TV had a total reach of 2.64 million households compared to 1.63 million for Bloomberg Television.  Comscore reports Newsmax had 1.03 million weekly viewers as of August 26, 2019.  By the broadcast week of December 9, 2019 Newsmax TV’s household reach had increased to 2.65 million households, reflecting both an increase in distribution of 21% and a disproportionate increase in reach.  Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “This is a major milestone for us.  Our content is resonating with Americans across the nation who are hungry for a fresh alternative to FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and other news channels.”  Ruddy adds that the network will make major lineup changes, announcing new programs in the coming weeks and months.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “The Weight of History in an A.D.D. World!” looks back at this past week of January 13-17, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Michael Riedel, talk show host, WOR, New York; Graham Mack, program director, FIX Radio, London, UK; Trevor Smith, radio presenter, Aloha Media Productions, Byron Bay, Australia; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC on Friday evenings between 6:00-7:00 pm. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeart Radio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.

Kilcoyne Exits KFNS, St. Louis. Sports media pro Martin Kilcoyne has left his on-air role with Randy Markel’s sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis co-hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show with Frank Cusumano.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that Kilcoyne, who also works as sports director at KTVI-TV, says his television duties have expanded.  He adds that the time spent producing podcasts with St. Louis Cardinals television announcer Dan McLaughlin played a role in his decision.  Prior to rejoining KFNS, Kilcoyne did a five-year stint with CH Holdings’ crosstown news/talk KTRS, St. Louis as a general issues host.

Allegretto to Lead Cumulus in Fort Walton Beach. Sales and management pro Ashley Allegretto rises from her regional sales manager, digital position with Cumulus Media’s Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola markets to vice president and market manager for the Fort Walton Beach station group that includes news/talk WFTW-AM “NewsTalk 1260” and four music-formatted stations.  Cumulus regional VP Pete De Simone says, “We are thrilled to promote Ashley Allegretto to lead this cluster.  Her passion for this community and her understanding of how to use our brands and our digital assets to help clients grow their businesses make her an effective leader.”  Allegretto adds, “Over the past 13 years I have seen firsthand the positive impact that our radio stations can have for local businesses and organizations in our community. I am eager to build on our past accomplishments and lead this group into our next round of success.”

TALKERS News Notes. Ocala, Florida morning show hosts Larry “The Giant” Whitler and Robin MacBlane are leaving their posts at Generations Broadcasting Corporation’s news/talk WOCA-AM/W242CA after today’s program.  They have been doing mornings at WOCA since 2002.  They’d previously worked together hosting a children’s show on WTMC – a signal that went dark in 2004.  The Ocala Star Banner reports that the two will continue to work together collaborating on children’s books and music…..Entercom all-news KYW, Philadelphia is inviting listeners to its “Executive Briefing” event, presented by Independence Blue Cross, Thursday, January 23 at 7:45 am.  KYW says this invite-only event “offers listeners the opportunity to listen to and take part in an in-depth discussion about the biggest issues facing the Philadelphia area and the nation in 2020.”  KYW Newsradio afternoon drive host Ian Bush will moderate the discussion that includes station anchors and reporters: Pat Loeb, city hall bureau chief; Mike DeNardo, education reporter; Cherri Gregg, community affairs reporter; Jim Melwert, KYW suburban bureau chief; and Kristen Johanson, crime and justice reporter.  Guests will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions during the final 20 minutes of the event.  Breakfast will be served courtesy of Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar prior to the start of the event.  Listeners interested in attending the event can register online…..Beasley Media Group announces Chris Ornelas is named general counsel for the company, effective February 1.  Ornelas was most recently with the National Association of Broadcasters as chief operating and strategy officer in which he was responsible for overseeing the operations of and providing strategic guidance to NAB’s advocacy teams in addressing the legal and regulatory issues facing broadcasters today…..Lemonada Media announces a new podcast called “Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett,” hosted and executive produced Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett and his wife Pele.  Lemonada, whose programs are distributed and repped by Westwood One, says “the series explores personal and provocative topics ranging from love, sex, parenting, the NFL, and politics.”  The first episode drops on January 31…..Entercom is being honored at the Project Voice Awards with the “Samsung Bixby Capsule of the Year” for its RADIO.COM integration.  The awards honor global best-in-class achievement across the emerging voice and AI realm and took place at the organization’s annual conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on January 15.  Entercom VP of corporate business development David Rosenbloom says, “We’re honored to be recognized among industry leaders by Project Voice.  This award is a testament to our ongoing commitment to innovating in voice and to enhancing the consumer experience.  With Bixby, we were able to expand the reach of RADIO.COM to millions of listeners and engage with them whenever and wherever they are with an optimized presence.”

Cox Media Group Gets Deadline Extension to Sell Ohio Newspapers. Due to a ruling by a three-judge panel at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Cox Media Group must divest of its Ohio newspapers to avoid said newspapers having to reduce publication to three days per week.  Even though the company had been operating a radio station and newspaper in the southwestern Ohio region since 1935, the Court revived the rule prohibiting operating both.  The FCC appealed the three-judge ruling to the entire Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was denied.  Now, CMG has until March 16 to complete a sale to a party that can publish the Dayton Daily News seven days per week.  Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie says, “We applaud the decision by the FCC and are grateful for the extension.  News does not conveniently schedule itself three days a week and we felt a reduced print schedule would negatively and severely impact the newspapers, our employees and the communities we serve.  CMG and Apollo have been pushing for this outcome because we feel that maintaining a daily publication schedule is the absolute best way to continue to produce the solid and timely journalism that our readers deserve.”

Impeachment Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 13-17. Not surprisingly, the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were the most talked about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the presidential race and the Democratic debate from Des Moines.  Coming in at #3 was the Iran crisis and U.S. foreign policy, followed by the U.S.-China trade war and the economy at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio this 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.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Omaha hot AC KQKQ “Sweet 98.5,” NRG Media launches an all-female morning show with current morning host Nikki Oswald and afternoon drive time personality Laura Blenkush.  The company says it will be the only all-female duo morning show in Omaha.  KQKQ program director Jay Michaels says, “Taking two of our highly talented personalities, and pairing them together for an all-female morning show is the obvious move when targeting women.”  Oswald was most recently partnered with Matt Tompkins, who recently moved over to NRG’s classic hits KOOO “THE NEW 101.9 The KEG” to host the morning show…..Two nationally syndicated programs land on Cumulus Media stations in South Carolina.  First, the Premiere Networks-syndicated “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy is the new morning show at hip hop WDAI-FM, Myrtle Beach.  Programmer and air personality Mike “BigMMike” Bell says, “We are excited to bring ‘The Breakfast Club’ to The Grand Strand.  As Myrtle Beach’s source for hip hop and R&B, what better way to enter a new era than with the “World’s Most Dangerous Morning Show?”  Second, the Compass Media Networks-distributed “DeDe in the Morning” show with DeDe McGuire, Lady Jade, Rudy Rush, and comedian Michael Shawn assumes the morning drive daypart at Cumulus’ hip hop WYNN, Florence.  Bell, who also programs WYNN and handles afternoon drive, says, “We are excited to bring a fresh morning show to Florence.  As the market leader, it was important that we went with a brand that can be trusted to deliver great entertainment our listeners will love.  DeDe is a seasoned vet and I’ve been a fan of her work for years.”

Thursday, January 16, 2019

| January 16, 2020

WBZ-AM, Boston Cuts Four Air Staffers in ‘Employee Dislocation.’ News of which on-air personalitiesiHeartMedia has let go in its “employee dislocation” program continues to become known.  The Boston Globe reports that Boston’s heritage all-news WBZ-AM is losing four news staffers.  Gone are political commentator Jon Keller (who continues to serve with CBS TV at WBZ-TV), morning drive news anchor Deb Lawler, sports anchor Tom Cuddy, and talk show host Bradley Jay.  It’s not clear yet if the station will ask other staffers to share those duties or if they will be handled remotely.

More iHeartMedia Cuts. In addition to the downsizing noted in the story above, here are more of the broadcasters who lost their gigs with iHeartMedia stations whom TALKERS magazine has learned about: Joe Concha, “WOR Tonight” host, WOR, New York; Cliff Avril, sports talk host, KJR, Seattle; Chris Merrill, talk host, KOGO, San Diego; Marilyn Harris, host, WKRC, Cincinnati; Jarred Diglio, APD, WRKO, Boston; Dale Donovan, host, WKRC, Cincinnati; Lori Schmidt, sports reporter, WTVN, Columbus; Dario Melendez, sports talk host, WRNW, Milwaukee; Shea Raftus, producer, WRNW, Milwaukee; Dan Nawrocki, PD and host, WSPD, Toledo; Jerry Pickering, morning show staffer, WSPD, Toledo; Don Zellers, morning show staffer, WSPD, Toledo; Joe Gallagher, weekend host, WGY-AM/FM, Albany; Tank Spencer, host and news anchor, WWNC, Asheville; Tony Bristol, program director, WTAG, Worcester; Carl Falk, sports talk host, WHTK, Rochester; Cameron Hendricks, news director, WKIP/WJIP, Poughkeepsie; Dianne Zanin, reporter, WKIP/WJIP, Poughkeepsie; Alex Womer, host, asst. production director, WFNN, Erie; Bill Hickok, sports talk host, KBMR, Bismarck; and Steve Bortstein, program director, KCQL, Farmington, New Mexico.

iHeartMedia Ups Three Programmers to EVP. In conjunction with iHeartMedia’s new Markets Group structure, the company promotes three of its senior programming executives to division executive vice presidents of programming for the iHeartMedia National Programming Group, effective immediately.  Jeff Hurley, Tony Travatto, and Angela Watson Charles join current EVPs of programming Andrew Jeffries, Thea Mitchem, Maynard, and Gene Romano.  They report to National Programming Group COO Brad Hardin.  Each member of the EVP of programming team will partner with the company’s division presidents, “collaborating with each Division to provide national programming assets, services and resources.”  Here’s how it breaks down: Mitchem and Jeffries will work with Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck and the Region Division, comprised of the company’s largest markets (i.e. New York and Los Angeles); Romano and Maynard will work with division presidents Tom McConnell, Tony Coles, and Linda Byrd and the Metro Division.  Travatto, Hurley, and Watson Charles will work with division presidents Shosh Abromovich, Nick Gnau, and Dan Lankford and the Community Division.  iHeartMedia chief programming officer Tom Poleman says, “We’re excited to add Angela, Jeff and Tony to our already extremely talented executive vice president of programming team.  They each have deep experience building great local brands with a blend of math and magic, and they’ll provide excellent leadership to our programmers in our Community Division markets.”

Doug MacGunnigle Rises to PD for WPRO and WPRV in Providence. At Cumulus Media’s Providence station group, programmer Doug MacGunnigle is promoted from assistant program director to program director for news/talk stations WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM and WPRV-AM under new operations manager Mary Ellen Kachinske.  MacGunnigle has been APD since October of 2017.  Cumulus Providence VP and market manager Holly Paras says, “Doug MacGunnigle is a tremendous asset to our news/talk stations.  With 20 years’ experience in Providence radio, Doug knows the market and stations inside and out.  He was the natural choice to lead WPRO and WPRV moving forward.”  MacGunnigle comments, “I grew up listening to WPRO and it is truly a humbling honor to be given an opportunity to lead this legendary radio station.  I look forward to helping bring these stations into the future, while continuing to protect and grow WPRO’s legacy as one of the great news/talk stations in the country.”

Joe Pags Fills Afternoon Role at KXNT, Las Vegas. Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo is the new host of the afternoon drive show on Entercom’s KXNT, Las Vegas.  Pags’ program is based at iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio and is syndicated via Compass Media Networks.  Entercom Las Vegas SVP and market manager Dan Kearney says, “We are excited to bring the energy and passion of Joe Pags to our listeners throughout Las Vegas and the Valley.  With Americans facing another crucial election year in 2020, his common-sense approach to current events and natural ability to navigate breaking news will fit perfectly in our already superstar KXNT lineup.”   The Joe Pags Show also recently added iHeartMedia’s WKBN-AM, Youngstown, Ohio and Alpha Media’s KFOR-AM, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Phil Valentine’s New Podcast Takes Off. WWTN-FM, Nashville afternoon drive host Phil Valentine says his newest podcast, “I’m Calling Bovine Scatology,” is already charting on news and politics formats on Apple Podcasts.  He reports the show is ranked at #130 on the news chart and #35 on the politics chart.  Valentine jumped into podcasting a year ago with his son, Campbell, on their podcast, “The PodGOATs.”  It was a top 10 History podcast for all of 2019 on Podbean.  Valentine says, “Look, podcasting is to radio what FM was to AM in 1968.  I worked for the first FM talker in the country – the late WWDB in Philadelphia.  WTN, where I am in Nashville, was one of the first FM talkers.  I’m used to being on the cutting edge.  Trust me, podcasting is where everything is going.”  Valentine, who says his show finished 2019 as the #1 talk show in Nashville with a 12.9 share with Men 25-54, inked a new deal with Cumulus Media last year that includes a deal to sell advertising on his podcasts.

WSB, Atlanta Broadcasting in HD. Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM is now broadcasting in HD on the 95.5 frequency.  Cox Media Group moved WSB’s transmitter and antenna in August of 2019 from Flowery Branch to East Atlanta.  WSB director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs says, “Combined with the recent transmitter and antenna move, listeners will get an even more enhanced sound coming from their speakers on HD-enabled radios.  The addition of HD is another part of the ongoing strategic move WSB has made to offer our listeners the best possible listening experience and our advertisers the best possible exposure for their goods and services.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth is serving as guest host on the nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” today and tomorrow (1/16-17).  Hayworth served six terms in Congress and for years hosted his own daily talk radio program in Phoenix.  He’s also filled in for such national hosts as Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Mike Huckabee.  The “Todd Starnes Show” is heard on some 60 affiliate stations and is distributed by Hamilton Strategies…..WGCL-TV, Atlanta reports that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has named talk radio personality Martha Zoller – along with two other appointees – to a seven-year term on the Georgia state Board of Education.  The body makes policy for Georgia’s 1.8 million public school students.  Martha Zoller currently hosts the 9:00 am to 10:00 am show on Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia.  In addition to her radio career, Zoller was an aide to U.S. Senator David Perdue from 2014 to 2018.  She served on Governor Kemp’s campaign.  She left her radio career to run for Congress in 2012 but lost in the Republican primary to Doug Collins, who won the seat…..Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports on what he calls the “musical chairs” in the news department at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM.  He says the station wanted to move current afternoon drive news anchor Lauren Cohn to middays, along with news director John Dempsey’s move from mornings to afternoons and Nick Gale’s move from middays to mornings.  But Cohn apparently viewed the move as a demotion and fought it.  As it turns out, Dempsey will move to middays and Gale will anchor during Erich Mancow Muller’s morning show…..Nationally syndicated host and clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner celebrates her 22nd radio anniversary on February 1.  She’s also the author of The Selfish Path to Romance (2011, Winans Kuenstler Publishing, LLC) and she can be booked for interviews in advance of Valentine’s Day by reaching out to syndication@drkenner.com…..Affiliates of Envision Networks nationally syndicated financial talk show “The Jared Dillian Show” – hosted by self-made millionaire Jared Dillian – can receive the show’s podcasts to include as part of their program offerings on their websites.  Dillian says, “I’m pleased we’re able to make parts of the show available in one of my favorite formats.”  “The Jared Dillian Show” is part of the 24/7 Smart Talk Radio Network based in Chicago and distributed by Envision Networks.

Dan Brady Promoted at Dr. Laura’s Take On the Day LLC. Media pro Dan Brady is promoted to director of podcast operations & program audio for Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s Take On the Day, LLC.  In this role, Brady will be responsible for managing the Dr. Laura podcasts, including the “Call of the Day,” as well as the Dr. Laura Family Premium podcasts.  Take On the Day co-owner Geoff Rich says, “Dan has been critical to the success of Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ podcast, growing it to over 2.5 million listens per month in two years and making it a top 10 podcast in Apple Podcasts Kids and Family and Parenting categories.  It’s a thrill to tap into Dan’s knowledge, experience and creativity.”

British Broadcaster Graham Mack Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Veteran British talk personality and program director of FIX Radio in London, Graham Mack, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Mack take a deep dive into the major international news stories emanating from the United Kingdom – including the rise of Boris Johnson and the latest developments regarding Brexit as well as Megxit – the crisis facing the Monarchy in the wake of the Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex bombshell. Don’t miss this fun, fascinating, and informative conversation! 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 on every page of Talkers.com.

Impeachment Moves to Senate, Presidential Election, Putin Power Grab, U.S.-China Trade Deal, Record Dow/The Economy, and MLB Sign-Stealing Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/15). The articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate and Lev Parnas’ interview on CNN; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in November and the row between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders; the Russian government resigns as Vladimir Putin seeks constitutional changes to remain in power; Trump’s trade deal with China; the Dow closes over 29,000 and the roaring U.S. economy; and the MLB’s sign-stealing scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

New Studios for Griffin Communications’ Radio Stations in Tulsa. The five Tulsa, Oklahoma radio stations owned by Griffin Communications have moved to the company’s eight-year-old facility on North Boston Road.  The stations – including news/talk KFAQ and four music brands – join the company’s television properties.  The facility was constructed in 2011 for the television stations with room left over for the future expansion that it would ultimately use for the radio stations.  Griffin CEO David Griffin says, “We are very excited to bring these stations home.  Combining radio with our TV stations, billboards, websites, and digital products deepens our commitment to the Tulsa market and provides an unmatched footprint.  Additionally, it provides these radio stations with new, state-of-the-art studios and synergy opportunities so that they can continue to serve Green Country with exceptional content and broadcasting capabilities.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Tomorrow night (1/17), Coldplay will perform at the inaugural RADIO.COM Live event series in front of a small audience of KROQ, Los Angeles listeners to mark the grand opening of the new HD Radio Sound Space – a state-of-the-art entertainment hub – in the heart of Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard. Entercom’s RADIO.COM will stream the special performance live nationwide starting at 7:00 pm PT/10:00 pm.  RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo says, “We’re honored Coldplay will kick off the RADIO.COM Live event series at the grand unveil of the HD Radio Sound Space.  We are excited to offer fans exclusive access to this once-in-a lifetime performance, live via the RADIO.COM app and website nationwide as well as on select HD Radio stations. This is the first of many events that we will be hosting live from the heart of the city and we are looking forward to giving fans everywhere insider access.”…..Entercom names “Nick and Kristen” (pictured at left) the new morning show on country KWJJ, Portland “99.5 The Wolf,” effective January 22.  The duo was most recently the morning drive show at Bonneville International’s adult contemporary KOIT, San Francisco.  They say, “We are so thrilled to work alongside [SVP/MM] Kim Martinez and [OM/PD] Scott Roddy.  Both are dynamic and inspiring leaders in our industry who elevate their staff and their stations.  We’re equally as excited to share our lives and bring the best new country to Portland.”…..Air personality Kacie Kozman is officially named midday host at Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB Phoenix.  Kozman has been hosting the daypart since Ian Camfield exited last month to join Entercom’s alternative KVIL, Dallas.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

| January 15, 2020

iHeartMedia Begins Massive Layoff of Air Talent. The exact number of personalities let go is not known at this point, but as iHeartMedia issued a press release yesterday explaining its new Markets Group management structure designed to “take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace,” it was firing local air personalities it deems not necessary to the company’s future success.  iHeartMedia, like every other radio company, faces intense competition for listeners from digital music services and digital spoken-word platforms.  Dayparts that aren’t crucial to a station’s revenue – usually nights and overnights – are often seen as not needing live, local jocks, especially when the company produces quality national programs to fill those hours.  As for news/talk and sports talk hosts, the cost of maintaining a show with two or more personalities plus a producer is sometimes more than income from spot sales and other revenue streams can provide.  iHeartMedia’s statement on the “employee dislocation” is as follows: “We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in.  This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness, and our efficiency with all our major constituencies.  During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500.  That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”  Some of those in the spoken-word formats who’ve exited the company include: Kerry Belkin, producer, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Leland Conway, host, WHAS, Louisville and WLPA, Lexington; Big Jim Donovan, host, WSYR, Syracuse; Andrew Downs, program director, KXNO, Des Moines; Jim Fisher, host, WOC, Quad Cities; Seth Harp, programmer and host, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Carl Harris, creative services director, Tampa Bay cluster; Travis Justice and Heather Burnside, hosts, and Sean Roberts, producer, Pete Kaliner, host, WWNC, Asheville, NC; Dave Levora, morning host, WOC, Quad Cities; Mike Lucas, host, WTSO, Madison; Ross Peterson and Chris Williams, hosts, KXNO, Des Moines; Jake Query and Derek Schultz, hosts, WNDE, Indianapolis; Chip Ramsey, weekend producer, WERC, Birmingham; John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford, hosts, WKRD, Louisville.

Brian Sussman Exits KSFO, San Francisco. Eighteen-year KSFO, San Francisco talk show host Brian Sussman announces he’s leaving the Cumulus Media station where he’s been hosting the morning drive show.  Sussman says that in April of 2019 he resigned due to an impasse in contract negotiations, but soon thereafter reached a temporary agreement to host the show four days per week through December (his brother, Brad Sussman, hosted the fifth day).  But in October, Sussman was required to go on medical leave through the remainder of the year.  That affected his plans for continuing into 2020.  He tells TALKERS magazine, “Fortunately, I’m feeling great, but clearly all those years of scant sleep and starting show prep at 3:00 am finally caught up with me.  The KSFO listening family – both locally and nationally – are such a loyal band of patriots.  But what I’ll miss the most about our show is working with the best producer in talk radio, Sheri Yee, and my lovely and super-hilarious sidekick, Katie Green.  Thankfully, Brother Brad has been doing a great job filling in for me and I hope he’s the future!  Meantime, I appreciate KSFO’s management team for having been so considerate these past few months.”

Impeachment, Presidential Race/Democratic Debate, Iran Protests, U.S.-China Trade Negotiations, Royal Family Controversy, Philippine Volcano Eruption, and MLB Sign Stealing Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/14). The impeachment articles against President Trump set to move to the Senate; the Democrats hoping to challenge Donald Trump in November and last night’s debate in Des Moines; the protests in Iran over the Islamic Republic’s accidental shooting down of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752; the Trump Administration’s progress in trade negotiations with China; the controversy over Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s stepping back from royal life; the deadly eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines; and the MLB’s handling of the sign stealing scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Comrex Announces New Firmware in Conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack. News from Comrex Corporation reveals that the company has released firmware version 4.5p2, a new update for its line of IP audio codecs.  This new firmware version is being released in conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack – a new multi-instance codec that provides seamless integration of all functions with legacy single-instance ACCESS codecs.  This new firmware simplifies CrossLock connections between the new ACCESS MultiRack and legacy Comrex IP audio codecs.  It replaces an older Adobe Flash-based GUI with an HTML5 web-based GUI as the default user interface.  This new interface avoids the security risks posed by Adobe Flash, and is supported by all browsers.  Users can upgrade their Comrex IP audio codecs using the free Device Manager application which can be downloaded here.  If a user is updating a device from FW version 2.7.1 or earlier, they can contact Comrex Support for assistance.

TALKERS News Notes. Pictured here is Westwood One News correspondent Steve Kastenbaum covering last night’s Democratic presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder notes that the hosts of WSCR, Chicago’s weekly golf show, “The Scorecard on The Score,” – Ed Sherman and Steve Olken – are leaving the station.  The two have hosted the show at the Entercom sports talk station for the past 10 years.  WSCR is expected to name new hosts for the show before it returns to the air in March…..KTBB, Tyler, Texas is the newest affiliate of FOX News Radio, subscribing to the FOX 5 Minute News Service on January 6…..FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio star Brian Kilmeade visited affiliate station WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta in December and senior operations and program manager Drew Anderssen says, “Few syndicated hosts, if any, create the kind of impact with affiliates and their communities that Kilmeade does.  Brian participated in our 29th annual drive to provide Georgia foster children with gifts at Christmas.  His impact helped us fulfill wish lists for over 9,000 foster kids, in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Georgia and the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services!”  Pictured below (clockwise from top left) are: Anderssen, “Kilmeade & Friends” senior producer Alyson Mansfield, Kilmeade, WSB traffic anchor Ashley Frasca, and WSB-FM “B95.5” morning personality Tad Lemire.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Beasley Media Group’s urban contemporary WDMK, Detroit “105.9 KISS-FM,” the nationally syndicated “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” is now heard in the 6:00 am to 10:00 am slot.  Station program director John Candelaria says, “We are thrilled to have Rickey Smiley join ‘105.9 KISS FM.’  I have watched Rickey ascend to national superstar over the past 20 years and we are excited to have him leading the lineup for the ‘All New 105.9 KISS FM.’  Detroit is ready for a fresh new morning show!”

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