Talk Radio/Media Industry News

Monday, March 19, 2018

| March 19, 2018

Mark Wainwright Returns to WSYR, Syracuse Morning Show.  Morning show personality Mark Wainwright is back on the air at iHeartMedia’s Syracuse news/talk WSYR after a 10-month absence while he battled throat cancer.  Wainwright says, “This thing hit me out of nowhere.  It was discovered last April, almost by accident, and it’s been an ongoing medical odyssey ever since.  It was eventually diagnosed as an aggressive form of throat cancer.  It was nasty and had already begun spreading to lymph nodes in my neck.  The recuperation period was long and frustrating.  Even when I started to feel a little better physically, my voice was still a train wreck.  It wasn’t until the end of 2017 that I started to sound better, and my doctors eventually cleared me to try hosting a daily show again.”  Wainwright says his voice is still not 100% and he’ll host from 6:00 to 9:00 to start and hopefully return to doing the full 5:00 to 9:00 show. Meanwhile, he says he’s thankful for his colleagues who filled in while he was out.  “Dave Allen, Ian Wheatley, Jim Donovan, and Nick Russo were put in a very tough spot for months, especially after the sudden passing of our friend and colleague Kevin Schenck.  They had to scramble, rearrange their lives, and pull double and even triple duty to keep the morning show running and cover all the vacant slots.  Thank you, gentlemen. Fine work, and very much appreciated.”

Bloomberg: iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Allows Lenders to Entertain New Offers.  According to the Bloomberg piece by Emma Orr, Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, and Steven Church, certain lenders can discuss any offers presented to them during iHeartMedia’s bankruptcy process.  The story says that creditors “fought hard for language in the restructuring support agreement that lets them continue to explore ‘consistent alternative proposals.’”  It also reports that this language was “heavily contested” in the discussions that led up to the Chapter 11 filing.  That means any prospective buyers, such as Liberty Media, could attempt to strike a deal with senior creditors.  Read the Bloomberg piece here.

Yes, Alexa Is Laughing…But Not at You.  Consultant Holland Cooke says radio should smile about smart speakers.  Writing after the news about NuVoodoo’s recent research that reports one-third of its 3,000-plus, 14-54 survey respondents own a smart speaker, Cooke says, “we’re still early-on in the adoption curve, so this will only become more opportune for broadcasters.”  The data also indicates that almost half of likely PPM panelists own one.  Read Cooke’s entire piece here.

McCabe Fired from FBI, Threats to Robert Mueller Investigation, Putin ‘Re-Elected’/U.K.-Russia Diplomatic Tensions, Miami Bridge Collapse, Rihanna vs Snapchat, Facebook Data Misuse Allegations, First Weekend of March Madness, NFL Free Agency, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and President Trump’s weekend Tweets; Trump attorney John Dowd calls for end to Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign-Russian agents matter; Russian president Vladimir Putin wins “re-election” for new six-year term and Putin’s crumbling diplomatic relations with the U.K. and the West; the deadly collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami; Rihanna’s criticism of a Snapchat ad for an app that makes light of domestic violence; investigations into allegations of Facebook’s misuse of user data; the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament; the beginning of the NFL free agency period; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Broadcast Engineer Eric Small Dead at 71.  An accident at a Publix store in Delray Beach, Florida took the life of Eric Small last Thursday (3/15).  Small was exiting the grocery store when an 80-year-old woman lost control of her car and hit Small before driving into the front of the store.  It’s believed the woman had a heart attack while driving.  Small’s accomplishments in radio engineering are numerous.  He’s famous for having co-invented the Orban Optimod FM processor that became ubiquitous in the industry.  He began his career in 1964 at WNCN, New York.  In 1969, he became a member of the technical department at A&R Recording under Phil Ramone.  He later served as chief engineer at WXLO-FM, New York.  In 1981 he founded Modulation Sciences that developed and manufactured innovative products for radio and TV.

TALKERS News Notes. Former WBAL and WCBM, Baltimore weekend talk show host Jimmy Mathis was dealt a blow by a judge who says Mathis cannot run for the Maryland State Senate representing the 42nd district because he is not a resident of the district.  According to the Maryland Daily Record, Mathis is saying he’ll appeal the ruling…..WTMJ, Milwaukee talk show host Jeff Wagner announces that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and a number of other Wisconsin leaders will be speakers at the upcoming live “Jeff Wagner Insight 2018” on March 28 at Country Springs Hotel in nearby Pewaukee.  The annual conservative political event and live radio show will also include Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and a number of conservative candidates for statewide office…..The regionally syndicated Illinois talk program “The Michael Koolidge Show” is being added to the program schedule at Cromwell Radio Group’s WCRA, Effingham, Illinois in afternoon drive.  Koolidge’s program is now heard on 14 signals in the state.  WCRA program director Sheila Myers says, “We’re very excited to be adding the Michael Koolidge show to our lineup.  We heard he was doing great things in the afternoon on our sister station, WZUS “Talk 101FM” in Decatur, so we think he’ll be a great addition first thing in the early morning for our Greater Effingham audience on our three separate signals.”…..KIRO-FM, Seattle’s “Your Last Meal with Rachel Belle” podcast has been announced as a nominee for the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards.  “Your Last Meal” is an original podcast hosted by Rachel Belle, host of KIRO Radio’s “Ring My Belle,” and is produced by Aaron Mason.   James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Awards winners will be announced on April 27, 2018…..Pictured below are Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (center) with directors Andy Erwin (left) and Jon Erwin (right).  The duo scored the third-most-viewed film this past weekend as the faith-based film I Can Only Imagine generated $17 million behind weekend leaders The Black Panther and Tomb Raider.  Tradup tells TALKERS magazine that this week SRN News is repeating a multi-part series it produced on the film that tells the back story behind MercyMe’s triple-platinum song, “I Can Only Imagine.”

More Than 50 Industry Leaders Scheduled to Speak TALKERS magazine Conference in NYC in June; Great Hotel Deal Arranged for Attendees. The organizers of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! TALKERS magazine’s 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention – announce the Friday, June 8 program 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. 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, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. See the list of speakers currently scheduled to appear here. The conference takes place at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in the colorful Chelsea District of Manhattan and organizers have arranged for a special hotel deal for conference attendees right across the street at the Hilton New York Fashion District located at 152 West 26th Street, New York. A special block of remarkably priced rooms has been reserved for convention attendees. They will only be available until May 8 or until they sell out – whichever comes first. The TALKERS editorial board strongly recommends that industry professionals planning on attending the convention make their registrations and hotel reservations as quickly as possible. An early sellout is imminent! For the latest details about TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! please read the story below. To make hotel reservations, please click here.

Cool Job Opportunities. Entercom Charlotte is seeking on-air personalities for its three stations. “If you live to connect with your audience on air, online and in person— you’ll love it here! We are looking for experienced on-air talent. Are you a passionate storyteller who’s authentic, entertaining and a team player? Do you have a strong hand in social media? The ideal candidate should possess strong work ethic, solid show prep and the ability to deliver creative and compelling content. Experience is preferred. Entercom Charlotte is an Equal Opportunity Employer. To be considered for these positions, please apply online at and click on ‘Careers.’ No phone calls.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. After parting ways with Scotty Lindy on Friday (3/16), Cumulus Media announces that it is bringing programmer Brian Thomas to Atlanta to serve as PD for WKHX “Kicks 101.5.”  Thomas has been program director for the company’s classic hits WLS-FM, Chicago as well as a member of the corporate programming team for the country format and is vice president, programming, classic hits.  Thomas says, “It was always my dream to program WLS-FM in Chicago, but I started in country and everyone knows I love it.  And although I am corporate program director for country at Cumulus, it’s not the same as having a country station down the hall.  I’m beyond thrilled that Sean Shannon, Mike McVay, and Charlie Cook have confidence in me to program ‘Kicks,’ one of America’s leading country stations.”…..Also from Cumulus Media, the company announces that Jim Kurdziel is being promoted to regional vice president, programming – rock, in which he is overseeing the rock and alternative formats for Cumulus’ stations in the Northeast.  Kurdziel continues to serve as program director and midday personality for alternative WEDG-FM, Buffalo “103.3 The Edge” and will now support stations in markets including: Buffalo; Syracuse; Harrisburg, PA; Wilkes Barre, PA; Saginaw, MI; New Orleans, LA; and Appleton, WI…..Pamal Broadcasting flips sports talk WINU, Albany “Win 104.9” to alternative as “ALT 104.9 Albany’s NEW Alternative.” Pamal’s Albany Broadcasting general manager A.J. Bodden states, “Broadcast radio remains the number one medium as it relates to new music discovery and Albany Broadcasting is thrilled to be in a position to now give that opportunity to alternative listeners in Albany.  My team and I, along with our local ownership, could not be more proud to be launching this new format and filling a void that has existed here for a long time.”…..iHeartMedia promotes Echo Robinson to director of marketing and promotions for its Chicago Region.  Robinson joined iHeartMedia Chicago in 1995 and rose from intern to senior promotions coordinator before her appointment to promotions director in 2001.  As director of marketing and promotions, Robinson is responsible for managing the planning and execution of marketing, promotion, sales partnerships and imaging campaigns for the region.  She reports to Tommy Austin, SVP of programming for iHeartMedia’s Chicago Region.

Friday, March 16, 2018

| March 16, 2018

Salem Media Group Q4 Broadcast Net Revenue Down 2.9%.  While Salem Media Group’s total revenue decreased from $70.7 million to $67.2 million – a decrease of 4.9% — the broadcast division’s revenue dipped from $52.2 million to $50.7 million – a decline of 2.9%.  For the entire year of 2017, Salem’s broadcast division net revenue was also down 2.9%, from $202 million to $196.2 million.  Salem Media Group breaks its operations into broadcast, digital and publishing.  In the fourth quarter of 2017, digital was down 12.8% and publishing was down 5.8%.  For the whole of 2017, digital decreased 7.9% and publishing dipped 4.3%.  Salem CEO Ed Atsinger says one of several factors impacting the fourth quarter decline in the broadcast segment was the lack of political advertising compared to the same period in 2016. Broadcast reported $500,000 less in that category from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017.

Neuhoff Media Debuts Sports Talker in Lafayette, Indiana.  The new FM translator is being branded “101.7 The Hammer” and is fed by Neuhoff Media’s WASK-AM, Lafayette.  The station airs programming from ESPN Radio but the Journal Courier reports that a local show called “The Hammer Down Show” will debut on Monday featuring former WLFI-TV Lafayette  sports anchor Clayton Duffy and Jared Jesulaitis.  Neuhoff VP of programming Mike Shamus is quoted saying the program will include local content plus talk about Indianapolis and Chicago sports teams.  “We are excited to enter the world of local sports.  We feel it is something our region has needed for a long time and we are happy to bring it to Greater Lafayette.”

iHeartMedia Moves to Sooth Inevitable Concerns During Chapter 11.  As with any company that’s entering Chapter 11 intending to exit a leaner, more agile company, iHeartMedia is working to ensure staff, vendors, agency partners, etc., that it is able to conduct business as usual within the framework of bankruptcy regulations.  In a FAQ sheet the company is distributing, it answers many of the questions usually asked during the bankruptcy process.  For venders who do business with iHeartMedia, it notes that “we intend to continue working closely with our vendors.  We can and will pay for goods delivered and services rendered after the Chapter 11 filing (called the “postpetition” period) in the normal course.  In Chapter 11, amounts owed for goods delivered and services rendered after the Chapter 11 filing are deemed “administrative priority claims.”  The company must pay these claims in full before it can pay any vendor/service provider expenses incurred before the Chapter 11 filing (called “prepetition” claims).”

TALKERS News Notes.  Longtime television news pro Shepard Smith is staying with FOX News.  He and the company are agreeing to a new multi-year deal.  FOX News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch comments, “Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled.  His powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms has elevated our entire news gathering process.”  Smith says, “I am incredibly proud to be part of a group of journalists who helped build the FOX News division from scratch 22 years ago and am extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue to lead our breaking news coverage for years to come.”…..WABC, New York personality Sid Rosenberg gets some ink from Newsday as he and co-host Bernard McGuirk prepare to assume the morning drive program at the station after the final “Imus in the Morning” show on March 30.  He tells the paper it is “surreal” to be replacing Imus, whom he listened to as a youngster on the way to school.  Read the piece here…..At Radio Vermont’s full service WDEV in Waterbury-Warren, Vermont, Dana Jewell returns to the station after 10 years working in the sales field.  New owner Steve Cormier calls Jewell “a staple of WDEV for a number of years — greeting listeners each day with his friendly style.  We have many listeners who remember Dana and will be happy to hear him on WDEV again.”…..Former iHeartMedia Fort Collins sales pro Jen Parker is named executive director of public radio outlet, taking over for James Lopez…..Jewish News in Arizona reports that Seth Leibsohn — one half of the “Seth and Chris Show” that airs in afternoon drive on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KKNT, Phoenix “960 The Patriot” – is running for the U.S. House in Arizona’s 9th Congressional District as a Republican.  Leibsohn co-hosts the show with Chris Buskirk.  Liebsohn is also an attorney and an author…..ESPN personality is launching a new podcast via ESPN Audio called “Marty Smith’s America…The Podcast.”  ESPN says Smith is known for his unique storytelling style and revealing, in-depth interviews with sports figures and newsmakers on SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms.”  It debuts Monday (3/19) with country music superstar Jason Aldean as the first guest…..Pictured below is ABC Radio’s Matt Friedlander (right) posing for a photo with ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons (left) after chatting about the band’s upcoming summer tour with John Fogerty.

Trump-Russia Investigation Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 12-16.  The investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russia agents was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the Trump Administration changes.  Coming in at #3 was the Inspector General’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton emails case and Andrew McCabe’s status, followed by the Stormy Daniels matter 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  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS magazine Presents the 2018 Edition of ‘The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America.’ This is the sixth annual edition of “The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America” from the editors of TALKERS magazine. The list, also known as the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk, ranks sports talk radio hosts – both national and local – from 1 to 100 based on a number of hard factors, such as ratings and revenue, as well as soft factors including impact, recognition, talent and others. To qualify for inclusion on the list, hosts must be working a regularly scheduled show at a terrestrial radio station or on satellite radio at the time of its publication. See the 2018 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk here.

Superstar Crooner Steve Tyrell Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the world’s leading purveyors of the Great American Songbook – and recent holder of the number one position on the Billboard Jazz Album Chart – Steve Tyrell is this week’s guest on the award winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Tyrell, who also hosts a daily three-hour program on KKJZ-FM (K-Jazz), Los Angeles discusses his colorful history that goes back to the early 1970s Brill Building era when he was a songwriter, producer and label A&R director, through his present-day career as a major star in the popular standards genre. This conversation, somewhat of a departure from the usual political fare, is a music-lover’s delight and not to be missed by aficionados of popular culture. Harrison says, “I loved speaking with this fascinating artist. It gave me a chance to revisit some of my old music radio chops and explore something that I have learned having been in this business for so many years – everything old is new again and nothing is inherently hip.” To listen to the entire podcast, please click here or click on “The Michael Harrison Interview” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Tallahassee radio pro Jeff Horn joins Adams Radio of Tallahassee as operations manager and program director for country WWOF “103.1 The Wolf,” taking over for Gregory “Big Moose” Juszczyk.  Adams Radio Tallahassee vice president and general manager Hank Kestenbaum says, “We are thrilled to have Jeff on our team.  Jeff has spent 30 years in Tallahassee radio and his prior experience in country radio and in similar positions made him the perfect candidate for us, not to mention we have a prior history together. I guess you could say we put the band back together!”…..Ashlee Sleek is appointed morning drive co-host at Bicoastal Media’s CHR KDUK, Eugene, Oregon.  She’ll also serve as promotions-social media director.  She takes over for Amanda McGraw, who recently exited to join KBEB, Sacramento…..In the Harrisburg market, Cumulus Media flips frequencies of two of its stations.  CHR WWKL-FM (formerly known as “HOT 93.5 FM”) moves to the more powerful 106.7 FM frequency and becomes “HOT 106.7.”  Accordingly, the company’s country WZCY moves to the 93.5 FM frequency and is now “93.5 NASH FM, Your Neighborhood Country.”  It will adopt a more gold-based country format with core artists including Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, and George Strait.  Afternoon personality and program director Charles “Chachi” Angelo is now co-hosting the morning show with Jenna Clay.  Midday personality Alex Harley moves to afternoons, followed by “NASH Nights Live” in evenings and “The Blair Garner Show” in overnights.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

| March 15, 2018

iHeartMedia and Debt Holders Reach Agreement in Principle. The company announces that it has reached an agreement in principle with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt and its financial sponsors that reflects widespread support across the capital structure for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that will reduce its debt by more than $10 billion.  To implement the balance sheet restructuring contemplated by the agreement in principle, iHeartMedia and certain of its subsidiaries, including iHeartCommunications, Inc., have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.  Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries did not commence Chapter 11 proceedings.  The Company has filed with the Bankruptcy Court a series of customary motions seeking to maintain business-as-usual operations and uphold its commitments to its valued employees and other stakeholders during the process.  These “first day” motions, which the Company expects to be granted in short order, will help facilitate a smooth transition into Chapter 11.  The company says it believes that its cash on hand, together with cash generated from ongoing operations, will be sufficient to fund and support the business during the Chapter 11 proceedings.  In the press release, iHM chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “iHeartMedia has created a highly successful operating business, generating year-over-year revenue growth in each of the last 18 consecutive quarters.  We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers.  The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure.  Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia’s position as America’s #1 audio company.”

Deke Bellavia Exits WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Longtime sports talk personality Deke Bellavia – known as to many as “Big Chief” – has exited Entercom’s New Orleans news/talk WWL-AM/FM in what appears to be a budget-related move. reports that Entercom has made no public comment about Bellavia’s departure.  For the past 10 years, Bellavia has worked alongside Bobby Hebert on the daily “SportsTalk” program.  He was also part of the “Point After” Saints post-game program.  Since he exited, Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic has been working with Hebert.  See the story here.

TALKERS News Notes. Now that CNBC and Westwood One personality Larry Kudlow has joined the Trump Administration as economic adviser, what will happen to his weekend, syndicated radio show?  Westwood One has not issued a public statement about the future of the program, so its status is unclear.  On one hand, Kudlow may be too busy to continue hosting the Saturday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm call-in show that deals with “where money meets politics,” but the administration may also enjoy having a presidential adviser speaking to the talk radio audience about economic issues.  Stay tuned!…..Speaking of Westwood One, the radio network partners with Amazon and XAPPmedia to give listeners the ability to hear live audio coverage and post-game recaps of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship via Alexa.  In addition, Alexa users will also be able to hear Westwood One’s coverage of Division II Men’s Basketball Championship, the NIT semifinals and final from Madison Square Garden, and the regional finals, Final Four and National Championship Game from the Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament…..CNN makes a talent move, shifting morning drive star Chris Cuomo to a new program airing at 9:00 pm ET called, “Cuomo Prime Time.”  The changes include current prime time personality Jon Berman moving to morning drive where he’ll work beside Alisyn Camerota on the “New Day” program.  CNN’s prime time ratings – both total viewing and 25-54 – have lagged behind MSNBC and FOX News Channel in recent ratings reports…..Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice will make on-air appearances on Entercom’s San Francisco sports talker KGMZ “95.7 The Game” this season as a contributor.  Rice will contribute to coverage throughout the 2018 NFL off-season, including breaking news, the NFL Draft, and free agency.  During the 2018 season, he’ll join “Mornings with Joe Fortenbaugh, Lorenzo Neal and Dan Dibley” Monday mornings at 8:00.

Pennsylvania Special Election, Stormy Daniels Case, U.K.-Russia Tensions, Trump-Russia Investigation, Stephen Hawking Dies, Toys-R-Us Liquidation, Katy Perry ‘Idol’ Controversy, NFL Free Agency, the NCAA Men’s Tournament, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/14).  The Pennsylvania special election won by Democrat Conor Lamb and speculation about the 2018 mid-term elections; the legal battle between porn star Stormy Daniels and President Trump; the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the U.K. and that country’s growing diplomatic tensions with Russia; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; renowned physicist Stephen Hawking dies; toy giant Toys-R-Us announces it will sell or close all of its American stores; the controversy over “America Idol” judge delivering an unwanted kiss to a contestant; the NFL’s free agency activity; the NCAA’s Men’s basketball tournament; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Great Hotel Deal Arranged for Attendees of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The organizers of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! are pleased to announce a special deal has been arranged to provide attendees of the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention with a conveniently located and affordable hotel at which to stay. The one-day, power-packed convention is set for Friday, June 8, 2018 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in the colorful Chelsea District of Manhattan. The official convention hotel is the Hilton New York Fashion District located at 152 West 26th Street, New York – right across the street from the convention venue. A special block of remarkably priced rooms has been reserved for convention attendees. They will only be available until May 8 or until they sell out – whichever comes first. The TALKERS editorial board strongly recommends that industry professionals planning on attending the convention make their registrations and hotel reservations as quickly as possible. An early sellout is imminent! For the latest details about TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! please read the story below. To make hotel reservations, please click here.

Speaker Roster Growing for TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The TALKERS editorial board has begun naming industry leaders who’ll be speaking at TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! – the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. The following individuals have already been set to speak at the one-day, power-packed event on Friday, June 8 in New York City (in alphabetical order): Jack Armstrong & Joe Getty, hosts, Armstrong & Getty Show; Asa Andrew, host, Dr. Asa Network; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY-FM, Springfield, MA “Rock 102”; Ethan Bearman, host KGO, San Francisco; Caroline Beasley, CEO, Beasley Broadcasting; Mike Bendixen, PD, CFRB, Toronto and national news/talk format head, Bell Media; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; David Bernstein, GM, TalkersRadio; Chris Berry, SVP/news-talk-sports programming, iHeartMedia; Jim Bohannon, host, Westwood One; Phil Boyce, SVP/director, spoken word format and operations VP, New York Region, Salem Media Group; Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS; Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Kathy Carr, VP/sales & marketing, Howie Carr Radio Network; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Czarnecki, PD, WRKO, Boston; Mike Francesa, sports media personality, New York; Dom Giordano, Host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steven Goldstein, CEO, Amplifi Media; Suzanne Grimes, president, Westwood One; Sean Hannity, host, Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Thom Hartmann, host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, VP of News/Talk, Cumulus Media and program director, WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC; Karen Hunter, host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Harry Hurley, host, WWPG, Atlantic City; Alex Jones, director of media operations, Infowars and host, Genesis Communications Network; Steve Jones, VP/GM, ABC News Radio; Brian Kilmeade, host, FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel; Mike Kinosian, managing editor, TALKERS; Scott Lakefield, APD, WOR, New York; Scott Masteller, PD, WBAL, Baltimore; Mike McVay, EVP content & programming, Cumulus Media; Greg Moceri, consultant, Moceri Media; John T. Mullen, OM, WRHU-FM, Hofstra University; Cary Pahigian, president/GM, WBAL, Baltimore; Norm Pattiz, executive chairman, PodcastOne; Chris Plante, Host, Westwood One; Wayne Allyn Root, host USA Radio Network; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York; Brad Shepard, GM/host, Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Todd Starnes, host, FOX News Radio; Doug Stephan, host/CEO, Stephan Multimedia; Walter M. Sterling, host, Westwood One; Tom Sullivan, host, Talk Media Network; Julie Talbott, president, Premiere Networks; Fred Toucher, morning co-host, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub”; Dan Yorke, host, WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence; and Michael Zwerling, owner, KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz. More speakers will be added in the days and weeks to follow. TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will take place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference 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. 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, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! 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 2018: Full Speed Ahead! 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. The convention is already well on its way to being an early sellout. Don’t be shut out! To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Hot AC WQAL, Cleveland “Q104” adds Jack Freeman to “The Jeremiah Show” hosted by Jeremiah Widmer.  Freeman becomes co-host of the morning show on Monday (3/19).  Entercom Cleveland SVP and market manager Tom Herschel says, “We’re excited to have Jack come on board at ‘Q104’ and use his energy and sense of humor to wake up Cleveland.  Our goal is to keep our listeners engaged with premiere live content tailored to the local community and we’re sure that Jeremiah and Jack will deliver on that.”  Freeman was most recently with iHeartMedia Detroit as part of the “Mojo in the Morning” program on WKQI…..Midwest Communications promotes Trent “Moose” Pender to the newly created position rock format captain.  “Moose” hosts the morning drive show on Midwest’s adult hits WCJK, Nashville “96.3 JACK FM.”  The company says that in this new role, he’ll work closely with company rock brands WHBZ, Sheboygan, Wisconsin; WJXQ, Lansing, Michigan; KRRO, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; WWVR, Terre Haute, Indiana; WABX, Evansville, Indiana; WIMZ, Knoxville; KQDS, Duluth; WZOX, Kalamazoo; and WOZZ, Wausau, Wisconsin.  Pender says, “It’s an honor to put additional focus on these rock brands and help them grow.  I can’t thank everyone at Midwest Communications enough for their unwavering support and this incredible opportunity.”…..iHeartMedia reports that, according to the recent Nielsen Social Content Ratings’ weekly top 10 list, the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards ranked first with 10.858 million social interactions – five times larger than “The Bachelor” season finale that finished second.  The Nielsen Social Content Ratings’ weekly top 10 list ranks series and specials by the total number of social TV interactions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

| March 14, 2018

‘Our American Stories’ Hits 100-Affiliate Mark.  The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” program announces it has hit the 100-affiliate station mark with the recent addition of such notable American news/talk station as Scripps’ WTMJ, Milwaukee; Entercom’s KMOX, St. Louis; Crawford Broadcasting’s KLZ, Denver and WYDE-AM/FM, Birmingham.  The daily, two-hour program is produced by American Private Radio and is hosted by Lee Habeeb.  He says the show is showing such phenomenal growth due to the desire for values-based, non-political programming.  “Amidst the divisiveness of today’s political landscape, the growth of our program proves stations want something that inspires people, not drives them apart, and ‘Our American Stories’ focuses on what makes America special in the first place.  We want to tell the story of America to Americans, from our great heritage in art and sports and innovation, to the great things ordinary people do every day in this great country.  So much of the good and the great gets lost in the noise of hardline politics…People love good story telling and there is such a rich catalogue of American stories out there – from sports, business, entertainment, even personal stories of community heroes, past and present.”  KMOX, St. Louis operations manager Steve Moore comments, “We were looking for something to complement our nighttime programming and ‘Our American Stories’ provides positive-impact stories that appeal to a broad base of listeners.  The show is not only driving great listener response, but a new way of thinking about driving revenue.”

WSCR, Chicago Announces New Lineup.  As Chicago media writer Robert Feder reported yesterday, Entercom’s sports talker WSCR “The Score” is making a number of changes to its lineup.  Jason Goff and Matt Spiegel exit their roles as show co-hosts and “The Score” brings both Dan McNeil and Connor McKnight back to full-time roles.  McNeil is being partnered with Danny Parkins on the 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm show and McKnight pairs up with Dan Bernstein to host the 9:00 am to 1:00 pm program.  In a press release, WSCR operations director Mitch Rosen says, “Jimmy [de Castro] and I are pleased to announce that we have signed two Chicago radio free agents — the return of ‘Score’ original Danny Mac, who will join Danny Parkins in afternoon drive, and former ‘Score’ on-air host Connor McKnight, who will join Dan Bernstein in middays.  Adding these two players makes our all-star team even better.”  McNeil has been hosting a Sunday morning program and McKnight had been a sports anchor with Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM.

WABC, New York Adds Chris Plante to Midday Schedule.  With the move of Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg to the morning drive daypart on April 2 (taking over for Don Imus), Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talker WABC, New York will add the WMAL-AM/FM, Washington-based Chris Plante program to the schedule airing from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.  In a memo to staff, WABC program director Craig Schwalb says, “Chris has been a pentagon correspondent for CNN and an Edward R. Murrow award-winner for his work during the terrorist attacks on September 11…Expect Chris to make the trip to NYC often as he wants to become part of the WABC family and grow NYC endorsement opportunities for WABC.”

WJOX-FM, Birmingham Announces New Midday Show.  After moving “The Roundtable” starring Jim Dunaway, Lance Taylor, and Ryan Brown to the morning daypart on March 5, Cumulus Media names the hosts of the new midday program on sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham.  Former Auburn Tigers star Cole Cubelic, Tuscaloosa News writer Aaron Suttles, and Landrum Roberts are the new personalities set to assume the midday show beginning March 26.

Entercom Announces Executive Changes; Susan Larkin to Manage New York Cluster. Radio management pro Susan Larkin is taking on the role of market manager for Entercom’s New York cluster.  She will continue her position with the company as regional president overseeing San Francisco and Sacramento.  Entercom COO Weezie Kramer comments, “We are thrilled to have Susan take on the market manager role for Entercom New York.  She has demonstrated incredible leadership skills and is a strong, strategic player who builds great teams and drives outstanding results.  With her energy and experience, there is no better person to take on the management responsibility in America’s #1 media market.”  Larkin says, “I am looking forward to joining Entercom New York.  As a native New Yorker, it is exciting to be home and at the center of the media universe, representing some of Entercom’s most iconic brands, including 1010 WINS and WFAN.”  Concurrent with this move, Entercom names Gregory Nemitz senior vice president/market manager of the San Francisco cluster.  Kieran Geffert is upped to vice president/director of sales in the same market, and Jeff Federman assumes regional oversight of the Southern California markets, including San Diego, Riverside and Palm Springs, while continuing in his post as SVP/market manager of Entercom Los Angeles.

TALKERS News Notes. It’s not certain what format Salem Media Group will flip KZTS-FM, Little Rock to when it begins operating it under a Local Marketing Agreement on April 1, but it’s a safe bet that hip hop will remain the format.  Salem is buying KZTS from Flinn Broadcasting for $1.1 million.  KZTS is licensed to Cammack Village, Arkansas – northwest of downtown Little Rock – but its primary signal covers much of the Little Rock market.  Salem is currently operating KHTE as conservative news/talk “96.5 The Answer” in the market so it seems unlikely that KZTS will flip to news/talk…..Cox Media Group names Michelle Miguelez VP of communications and public affairs, effective immediately.  The company says that in her new role, Miguelez will “create proactive communications strategies that align with business objectives and engage employees, further strengthening CMG’s role as an employer of choice.”  Miguelez joins from her most recent position as director of corporate communication for Georgia Power.

Trump Ousts Tillerson, Trump-Russia Investigation, Stormy Daniels Issue, PA Special Election, Feds vs California/Immigration Policy, Poisoned Russian Spy, National School Walkout, Austin Package Bombs, and NFL ‘Legal Tampering’ Period, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13).  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exits as President Trump names Mike Pompeo his replacement; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the battle by porn star Stormy Daniels to talk publicly about her affair with President Trump; Tuesday’s Pennsylvania special election between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone; the Feds’ suit against California over its sanctuary policies, the Mexican wall and immigration policy; Britain’s attacks on Russia and Vladimir Putin after the poisoning of a former double agent; today’s National School Walkout in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting and gun laws; the deaths in a series of package bombings in Austin, Texas; the NFL’s “legal tampering” period; and NBA 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. More news from the Little Rock market as iHeartMedia flips classic hits KHKN to CHR as the new “HOT 94.9, All The Hits.”  iHeartMedia Red River Region president Clyde Bass says, “The new ‘Hot 94.9’ is playing 10,000 songs in a row for Central Arkansas with ten chances at $1,000 dollars every weekday and soon there will be first-ever opportunities to win tickets to live events like Wango Tango and the national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour.  Central Arkansas has needed a hit music station that connects listeners with their favorite artists both on-air and backstage, so I’m excited that the new ‘Hot 94.9’ is finally here.”…..SiriusXM launches a new music channel curated by GRAMMY award-winning producer and DJ Diplo, titled, “Diplo’s Revolution.”  The channel will feature global rhythmic music hand-selected by Diplo, as well as regular original shows hosted by Diplo, Dillon Francis and Major Lazer members Jillionaire and Walshy Fire.  Diplo’s exclusive SiriusXM channel will launch with a special live performance from the Faena Theater in Miami Beach on Thursday, March 22 at 9:00 pm ET.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

| March 13, 2018

iHeartMedia and Consenting Lenders Extend Deadline by 24 Hours.  This is the second extension of the Forbearance Agreements between debtor iHeartMedia and the Consenting Lenders.  The first was signed on March 4 and the second on March 7.  This extension ends at midnight tonight (3/13).  The 8-K filing with the SEC notes that “As previously disclosed, iHeartCommunications has been engaged in ongoing discussions with its stakeholders with respect to the restructuring of its capital structure. In connection with such discussions, iHeartMedia and iHeartCommunications have been working on a proposed draft restructuring support agreement and related proposed draft restructuring term sheet with advisors to groups of iHeartCommunications’ noteholders, lenders and equity holders.”  One would have to assume that progress is being made toward a solution to the company’s debt problem that avoids putting it all in the hands of a bankruptcy judge.  The latest term sheet still calls for the spinning off of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, a senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility, new secured debt of $5.75 billion, and equity issued to holders of Term Loan Credit Facility Claims, PGN Claims, 2021 Notes Claims, Legacy Notes Claims, and various holders of Equity Interests in iHeart.  See the 8-K filing here.  Meanwhile, Gene Ely writes in Forbes about what possibilities exist for the future incarnation of iHeartMedia.  Read that here.

Townsquare Media Releases Q4 2017 Financial Data; Net Revenue Flat.  The company says its 2017 fourth quarter net revenue figure for the Local Marketing Solutions division (that includes radio) was good.  Townsquare Media co-CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to announce another strong result in our Local Marketing Solutions segment, which delivered net revenue growth of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and 1.9% for the full year, despite the loss of political revenue.  This was the 16th consecutive quarter of positive, organic net revenue growth for this segment of our Company.  Excluding political revenue, Local Marketing Solutions net revenue increased 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017, our strongest quarter of the year, and 3.9% for the full year.”  The Entertainment division (live events) did not perform well in either Q4 or the year as a whole.  Fourth quarter 2017 Entertainment net revenue was down 17.4% and, for the year, was down 8.6%.  Townsquare did repay $6.7 million of long-term debt.

WEEO, Chambersburg-Hagerstown Unveils ‘Live Eye in the Sky.’  Pictured above is Magnum Broadcasting general manager Patrick Ryan launching WEEO, Chambersburg-Hagerstown’s new drone, “The Live Eye in The Sky.”  Ryan says “NEWS TALK 1037 FM” is using the drone to fly over Tri-State events and provide play-by-play sound on air and video on Facebook Live.  “Forget cutting edge, we’re cutting through the skies and on air with news events, community activities, business celebrations and more.  As far as we know, it’s the first of its kind combination of live radio and live social media!”

Mark Levin Interviews Netanyahu on ‘Life, Liberty & Levin.’  Talk media star Mark Levin – nationally syndicated on radio via Westwood One – is pictured above (left) on Sunday’s FOX News Channel program, “Life, Liberty & Levin,” interviewing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) during Netanyahu’s visit to America.

Trump-Russia Investigation, Stormy Daniels Case, Kudlow Trump’s Economic Adviser Choice, PA House Race, Trump PA Rally, O.J. Simpson Interview, Black Panther/A Wrinkle in Time, March Madness, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The House Intelligence Committee issues statement denying Trump campaign-Russia collusion in 2016 election; Donald Trump’s lawyers’ battle to keep porn star Stormy Daniels’ “60 Minutes” interview from airing; CNBC host and former Wall Street economist Larry Kudlow named Trump’s choice for economic adviser; the close special election race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania; the 2006 O.J. Simpson interview that was aired by FOX TV over the weekend; the Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time films; the NCAA tournament bracket; and NBA action were some of the most-talked about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS magazine’s 2018 “100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America” to Be Published Tomorrow (3/14). This year’s edition of the “100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America” – also known as the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Radio – will be the sixth edition of this list. It is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine with input from industry leaders based on a number of hard factors, such as ratings and revenue, as well as soft factors including impact, recognition, and talent. This annual list makes no distinction between local personalities or nationally syndicated hosts – the requisite being that the host, duo, or team is working on a regularly scheduled show on a terrestrial radio station or on satellite radio at the time of the list’s publication. TALKERS magazine will publish the 2018 list tomorrow (March 14) at 12:00 noon EDT.

KHTE, Little Rock’s Dave Elswick Broadcasts from Branson.  Little Rock talk show host Dave Elswick – afternoon drive host on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KHTE, Little Rock “96.5 FM The Answer” – is pictured above broadcasting live from Sight and Sound in Branson Missouri for the grand opening of the musical production of Samson.

TALKERS News Notes.  Chicago media personality William J. Kelly, a.k.a. Citizen Kelly, is returning to Evanston Broadcasting’s WCGO, Chicago to host “The Citizen Kelly Show” from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, effective March 19.  Kelly says, “The Citizen Kelly radio empire is not only growing but thriving.  We do Chicago TV and radio successfully because we are from Chicago, we know Chicago people, we know Chicago attitudes, and we know Chicago humor, unlike these failed, bankrupt radio stations with their fake personalities and forced laughter.”  Kelly is a frequent contributor to the Daily Caller, Newsmax, and the Washington Times…..Curtis Media Group’s WPTF, Raleigh announces program schedule changes that include the addition of Radio America’s Dana Loesch program and FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade show.  Loesch’s show is taking over the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot and Kilmeade’s show airs live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.  The Raleigh News Observer quotes Curtis VP of news and information programming Rick Martinez saying there will be more news programming, including from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm with Scott Briggaman, as well as the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show hosted by Martinez and his wife, Donna…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that changes are coming to Entercom’s sports talk WSCR “The Score,” including the exit of Jason Goff from the afternoon show and a possible return to the station of Dan McNeil, partnered with Dan Bernstein.  McNeil left “The Score” back in 2014, subsequently co-hosted mornings on classic rock WDRV, and recently returned to WSCR to host a Sunday morning show…..Fishnet Syndication is named to handle marketing and advertising sales for USA Radio Network, effective immediately.  In October 2015, Anthem Broadcasting acquired the USA Radio Network.  Anthem Broadcasting LLC, is a subsidiary of the Phoenix-based media company Liftable Media Inc…..In the aftermath of Sunday’s airing of “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” on FOX TV, publisher Judith Regan spoke exclusively to several Cumulus Media radio stations, including WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; WLS-AM, Chicago; WYAY-AM, Atlanta; WABC-AM, New York; WPRO-AM, Providence; WJR-AM, Detroit; KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KGO-AM, San Francisco; KMJ-AM, Fresno; and WWTN-AM, Nashville.  Regan told WYAY’s Shannon Burke Simpson showed “not a speck” of remose, adding, “I think he’s a psychopath and he has no conscience.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Alt rock KROQ, Los Angeles announces Miles Anzaldo is joining the station to serve as music director.  Entercom SVP and market manager Jeff Federman says, “After an extensive search for the next music director, I am beyond thrilled to welcome Miles Anzaldo to KROQ.  Miles grew up in the music and radio business in Southern California and is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about our business.  His understanding of digital and social content will certainly help the station continue to expand beyond broadcast.”…..In Kansas City, Cumulus Media names air personality Dave Fogel midday jock at classic hits KCMO-FM.  Fogel, who most recently was in Chicago at WJMK and WLS-FM, started his radio career at KMXV, Kansas City.  He is the son of Kansas City television legend Jerry Fogel.  KCMO-FM program director Joe Russo comments, “Dave is a superstar and a Kansas City guy through and through.”…..Local Media San Diego brings “The Moug Show” to alternative XETRA, San Diego “91X.”  Program hosts John Moug and Jared Dey – most recently with CHR KLUC, Las Vegas – join XETRA’s Danielle for the new show…..Woodward Radio Group agrees to acquire CHR WBJZ, Berlin, Wisconsin “B104” from Caxambas Corporation.  Woodward general manager Kelly Radandt states, “This additional signal will fit nicely into our long-term strategic goals for our radio division.  It will also allow us to better serve our Northeast Wisconsin communities.”…..YEA Networks is launching the national syndication of “Tino Cochino Radio.”  The program is hosted by Tino Cochino, co-host Milli Rodriguez.