Thursday, April 4, 2019

| April 4, 2019

Bob Pittman Talks Audio with NBC News. Saying that “audio is hot for the first time in decades,” iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman talks up the audio entertainment industry with NBC News’ Claire Atkinson.  In the piece, Pittman says, “There are two parts to the audio sector.  There’s radio and a music collection, both have done well over the years.  The music collection side of the equation has been impacted by technology and it has transformed it. Spotify is really winning the music collection side of things.  Radio is also benefiting from the technology revolution.  It’s added more and more ways to listen to the radio on hundreds of new platforms and thousands of new devices, from smart speakers to smart TVs and game players. iHeart is leading the radio side of things.”  iHeartMedia is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization soon.  The company has reduced its debt from close to $20 billion to $5.75 billion.  It is also preparing to do an IPO for Class A common shares.

Aaron Mason Joins Gee Scott on ‘KIRO Nights.’ Air-personality and podcast producer Aaron Mason (right) joins Gee Scott (left) as co-host of “KIRO Nights” on Bonneville’s Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM.  Mason has been serving with the station as a fill-in host and podcast producer, working on KIRO’s “Your Last Meal with Rachel Belle.”  Mason fills the role left open by the departure of Zak Burns last fall.

Cohen Promoted at Salem Media Group. Rising from vice president of local digital to vice president of broadcast digital with Salem Media Group is Jamie Cohen.  He joined Salem Media Group in January of 2018 after serving with Gannett’s USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times owner Wrapports, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Cohen says, “I’m honored to be able to continue contributing to Salem’s expansion into greater levels of digital content strategy.  With the launch of Salem Surround, we have really taken tremendous strides in strengthening our digital strategies as a company and I’m excited to help expand even further.”  SMG president of broadcast media David Santrella says, “In the 15 months Jamie has worked for Salem building our digital sales model, he has proven to have a depth of understanding that goes far beyond sales.  I am confident that we will see our digital efforts in the broadcast division grow and thrive under Jamie’s leadership.”

TALKERS News Notes. Oklahoma sports talk radio pioneer Al Eschbach is being inducted into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame tomorrow at the OAB’s annual convention in Oklahoma City.  The OAB notes that Eschbach began his broadcasting career at KTOK, Oklahoma as sports director in 1976.   In 1985, he moved across town to WWLS-AM – the station that would become sports talk “The Sports Animal.”  Eschbach is still with Cumulus’ WWLS-FM “The Sports Animal” and appears on the air as part of the “Dominant Duo Show” with Jim Traber and also as part of the “Total Dominance Hour” at 5:00 pm daily with Jim Traber, Berry Tramel, and Dean Blevins.  Cumulus Oklahoma City VP and market manager Jay Davis says, “Al Eschbach is a true sports radio pioneer and has been the cornerstone of WWLS from the very beginning.  We are proud and honored to work alongside this Hall of Famer.”…..The host gig for the Sunday morning baseball show “Hit & Run” at Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “The Score” goes to current staffer Matt Spiegel.  He’ll work the show with a rotating cast of co-hosts.  The slot opened when the station and Daily Herald sports columnist Barry Rozner did not come to terms on a contract renewal. Spiegel hosted middays at “The Score” until last year.  He remains a columnist for 670TheScore.com and co-host of the Saturday morning “Inside the Clubhouse” show alongside Bruce Levine…..Podcast producer Cadence13 partners with veterans advocate Paul Rieckhoff – author of Chasing Ghosts– to create the new “Angry Americans” podcast hosted by Rieckhoff.  In the program, the Iraq War veteran “explores the most important issues facing our country with a wide range of influential and compelling guests from Capitol Hill to Hollywood to Silicon Valley.”

Townsquare Media Stations Hit with Ransomware Attack. Officials from Townsquare Media’s corporate office have not made an official public statement about the ransomware attacks, but numerous reports in consumer media outlets indicate that the company suffered from the attacks that began on Monday, leaving several clusters without control of their computer systems, at least for a period Townsquare clusters in Shreveport, Louisiana; Boise, Idaho; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire were impacted by the attack.  Ransomware is designed to lock users out of their computers until they pay a ransom to regain control.  News/talk KEEL-AM/K269GO, Shreveport posted on its website: “Townsquare’s engineers and ITs, both local and corporate, continue to work on restoring the operating system to working order, though no time for a return to normal operation is known.  In the meantime, listeners’ patience for things out-of-the-ordinary is greatly appreciated and, hopefully, the interruptions in regular programming will be too small to notice.”

Katz Media Group Raises More Than $45k for Broadcasters Foundation of America. Media sales organization Katz Media Group announces its recently completed 10th annual companywide membership drive raised more than $45,000 for the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  Over the decade Katz has been raising funds for the BFoA it has brought in more than $350,000.  Led by Mark Gray, chief executive officer of Katz Media Group; Christine Travaglini, president of Katz Radio Group; and Leo MacCourtney, president of Katz Television Group — all money raised during the annual two-week campaign goes toward the Stu Olds Memorial Fund that commemorates Katz’s former CEO and supports the foundation’s mission to provide financial support to radio and television professionals in acute need. Last year, the Broadcasters Foundation gave out a record amount of grants to broadcasters for necessities ranging from medical care to everyday essentials. This includes one-time emergency grants given to victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.  Mark Gray says, “It’s an honor to continue Stu’s legacy and give back to our incredible industry.  As a board member, I have seen firsthand all the good the foundation does.  I’m incredibly proud and appreciative of the continued generosity of the Katz team to support the Foundation, and give to colleagues in need.”

Trump Tax Returns Issue, Joe Biden Allegations, Mueller Report Aftermath, U.S.-Mexico Border Issues, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls, NCAA Final Four, and NBA and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The House Ways and Means chairman officially files request for President Trump’s tax returns; the inappropriate touching allegations against Joe Biden; the aftermath of the Mueller Report completion; the border wall and migrant  problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the NCAA Final Four; and NBA and MLB 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. Programming pro Taylor Jukes is named program director for iHeartMedia’s CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100.”  Jukes was most recently senior manager of national content for iHeartRadio Canada.  iHeartMedia regional SVP of programming Rob Miller says, “Taylor is a passionate leader who has programmed multiple successful brands in Canada.  Her fresh perspective on collaborating with talent and innovative social media strategies, paired with strong relationships with artists and our label partners will reinforce the dominant position we have at ‘Y100.’  I am excited for Taylor and me to make history together in Miami!”…..Sun Broadcast Group adds of “The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger” to its 2019 offerings.  The four-hour weekly show is hosted by current iHeartMedia programmer (WKSS, Hartford and WKCI, New Haven) and former WKTU, New York night jock Jagger.  He says, “I’m excited to join the team at Sun Broadcast Group!  Jay Bailey has a great vision and the future is bright.  Plus, we are thrilled to have [VP programming and affiliate relations] Rich O’ Brien back on our team.  We look forward to taking ‘The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger’ to the next level!”

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