Tag: "coronavirus"

Has Pandemic-Related Listening Peaked?

| June 30, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Radio’s roughly mid-March through June COVID-19 coverage has at least one thing in common with the novel virus itself: More questions are raised about each than we have answers.

In a matter of just several months, the number of Americans who have perished owing to the widespread coronavirus is rapidly hurtling toward 130,000. It is absolutely numbing that some medical experts are now upwardly revising USA fatalities to a quarter of a million by the end of the year, as each new day sets a record for reported cases..

The nation’s unemployment rate has soared to double-digits – those filing for claims continues at a staggering rate. The economy has taken a substantial hit, and millions of Americans continue to institute self-imposed quarantine practices.

Heretofore seldom-used expressions in our country such as “stay-in-place” and “flattening the curve” are recited daily, as have “returning back to normal,” and  adjusting to life in the “new normal.”

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Monday, June 29, 2020

| June 29, 2020

Monday Memo: Curing the Radio Advertising Pandemic. “Local-Local-Local” has been the desperate plea of programmers, as corporate bloodletting whacked station staffs. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke debriefs an independent station owner – in the eye of the storm in Texas – who weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than absentee-owned competitors, with a grassroots sales strategy focused on the service retailers deemed “essential” during the shutdown. Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Russia-Taliban Bounties Allegation, Presidential Race/Trump ‘White Power’ Tweet, Black Lives Matter Movement, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues/Mississippi Flag Change, BET Awards, and Sports Leagues Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spike in COVID-19 cases in Sun Belt states, the total cases around the globe, and projections for future cases; the report that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters for killing American soldiers; the November presidential election and President Trump’s tweet including a supporter shouting, “White power!”; the protests organized by and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement; the controversy over the status of Confederate and Colonial-era statues and Mississippi’s state flag change; Sunday’s BET Awards show; and the state of professional and college sports leagues as they attempt to launch or re-start their seasons were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: The Great Ones Have This Trait. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that more important than product knowledge, planning & organizational skills, and a “Rolodex” of contacts, is one trait that the best salespeople share: Enthusiasm. So, how do you stay enthusiastic during these challenging times? Lapa offers three tips in his column you can read here.

FOX News Channel Welcomes Will Cain. As had been predicted, Will Cain’s exit from ESPN and his ESPN Radio show on Friday (6/26) is being followed by his joining FOX News Channel as co-host of “FOX & Friends Weekend” (Saturdays & Sundays 6:00 am to 10:00 am ET). Cain will make his official debut on Saturday, August 15 alongside co-hosts Jedediah Bila and Pete Hegseth. FNC VP of morning programming Gavin Hadden says, “Will has a unique ability to connect with an audience on a wide variety of topics and will make an excellent addition to the ‘FOX & Friends’ franchise.” Cain, who was a political analyst for CNN and co-hosted “In the Arena” with Eliot Spitzer prior to joining ESPN, says, “I am excited to join the team at ‘FOX & Friends Weekend’ and look forward to building upon my experience in sports, news, and politics on the number one morning show in the country.”

Eric Johnson Named Program Director at AC WJBR-FM, Wilmington. Programming pro Eric “EJ” Johnson is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s Wilmington, Delaware adult contemporary WJBR-FM. Johnson was most recently PD at the company’s sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic,” a position he left last November. Prior to that he spent almost 20 years programming news/talk WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.” In his new role, Johnson will be in charge of content for WJBR-FM’s on-air and digital platforms as well as hosting the afternoon drive show. He says, “Thank you to Joe Bell, Justin Chase, and Bruce Beasley for bringing me back to the family. I’m looking forward to working with the Beasley management team and the talented staff at ‘Mix 99.5’ WJBR in serving our listeners and the community! The station has such a rich heritage in Wilmington and the tri-state area and has a tremendous signal. We will make it shine!”

Newsmax TV Live on fuboTV. Cable television news channel Newsmax TV joins the channel lineup on fubo Standard – the basic package of live streaming TV platform fuboTV. The package offers subscribers more than 100 sports, news, and entertainment channels. Newsmax TV SVP of content distribution Andrew Biggers says, “fuboTV is offering TV viewers an exciting and growing platform for watching content across genres — news, sports, and entertainment. Newsmax is happy to bring a fresh voice to their subscribers, especially when demand for news is so strong.” fuboTV’s Mihir Shah comments, “Adding Newsmax to the fuboTV platform will give our users access to even more news programming, which is critical during these times as cord-cutters are looking for a variety of both national and local news to stay informed.”

Chris Jones Promoted to SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia Atlanta. Rising from his general sales manager post at iHeartMedia’s Atlanta cluster to senior vice president of sales is Chris Jones. He’ll oversee all sales operations for the Atlanta market and report to iHeartMedia Atlanta market president Justin Schaflander. Jones states, “Atlanta has been my home for 38 years, having grown up in Lithonia, attending UGA and residing in Marietta with my beautiful bride, Shell, and my two amazing daughters, Maggie and Kate Belle. I am blessed to have called Atlanta home. I love everything that is Atlanta — the energy, excitement, and diversity. I am excited to lead the charge for iHeartMedia Atlanta and the incredibly talented group of sellers, support, talent, and leadership I get to work alongside.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former University of South Carolina and NFL player Rick Sanford announces he’s leaving the South Carolina syndicated radio program “SportsTalk” due to worsening effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The State reports that Sanford addressed his listeners on Friday (6/26) saying he’s leaving the talk program he co-hosts with Phil Kornblut and Matt Smith because the neurocognitive disorder from which he suffers makes it difficult to perform his duties on the radio. “I struggle with keeping my train of thought, finding the right words, and remembering how to do things. My fuse has gotten shorter and my filter has lessened… This is a progressive condition and the time has now come for me to step away from the (microphone).”…..Red Apple Media’s TALKRADIO 77 WABC in New York is partnering with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to present the “All American Weekend” on Saturday, July 4, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (and replayed on 7/5 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm). WABC says, “The show harkens back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll when 77 WABC was a music station and its catchy jingle was known to every New Yorker.” The show is being hosted by DJ Vinnie Medugno and will feature former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani conducting special interviews with Tunnel to Towers heroes…..Entercom says that its Podcast Network is the “top commercial network for the second month in a row, according to Triton. From May 11 through June 7, the network had more than 22.6 million average weekly downloads… In addition, Triton’s latest four-week ranker featured 22 shows from Entercom’s Podcast Network in the Top 100, the most of any publisher for the third month in a row despite new networks joining the report.” Entercom notes that “Pod Save America” was its highest-ranking show at #9.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Over the weekend, Vuolo Video’s Art Vuolo alerted TALKERS magazine that legendary Boston disc jockey Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg passed away at the age of 93. Vuolo says Ginsburg was a broadcast engineer at both WBOS and WBCN but he is best known for his work as night jock on WRKO and WMEX. Ginsburg’s show was called “The Night Train” and the train whistle sound effect gave him his nickname, “Woo Woo.” Later in his career he was EVP of Pyramid Broadcasting, which owned WXKS-FM “Kiss 108 FM.” Vuolo archived the WRKO reunion that took place in 2017. You can see that video here…..iHeartMedia moves WZEE, Madison “Z104” afternoon host, MD and APD Sean Strife to the company’s Detroit cluster to serve as afternoon host and APD/MD at CHR WKQI “Channel 95.5.”

Thursday, June 25, 2020

| June 25, 2020

BIA: Local Radio Advertising to Fall by 10.7% in 2020. Revising its beginning-of-the-year projection that U.S. local radio advertising revenue (consisting of AM/FM, digital, and streaming) would be $14.3 billion, BIA Advisory Services reports that projection to now be $12.8 billion – a decrease of 10.7%. BIA breaks it down this way: $11.4 billion is expected to come from over-the-air sales and $1.4 billion should come from digital sales. BIA says, “By comparison, in 2019 local radio stations generated $12.8 billion in over-the-air revenue and just over $1 billion in digital. This was a 1.6 % decrease in total revenue from 2018.” BIA SVP and chief economist Mark Fratrik comments, “In 2018, we projected that radio’s digital platforms would reach $1 billion by 2019 and last year the industry hit this mark. For 2020, our ad forecast shows that digital sales, including streaming, will stay steady. Then by 2021, Radio online revenue will start to climb back up again. On the over-the-air side, we see a bigger COVID hit, with a steep drop in 2020 and some recovery back by 2021.” What sectors will make up the bulk of radio’s revenue? BIA says the finance/insurance industry will make up $2 billion, retail will account for $1.97 billion, automotive will contribute $1.5 billion, and technology accounts for $1.3 billion. BIA explains, “These industries may benefit from the continuing shift in radio listening from the car to the home as at-home audio environment features give consumers multiple opportunities to consume promotions. Streaming has become a major growth opportunity for broadcasters to maintain existing audiences and attract new, younger listeners. BIA’s revenue estimate drops to $12.5 billion when streaming ad revenue is not included.”

Suit Challenges USAGM Exec Michael Pack’s Firing of Agency Organization Heads. In a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Open Technology Fund and four individual members of its board of directors are asking the Court to declare null and void U.S. Agency for Global Media chief executive Michael Pack’s recent firing of Open Technology Fund and news outlet leaders. The complaint argues that “Although funded by Congress through grants administered by the Agency, the four organizations targeted by Mr. Pack are not part of the government. Their employees are not government employees. They are private, nonprofit organizations with their own leadership and independent boards of directors. That is by design. Their mission, collectively, is to promote the free flow of information worldwide, especially in countries where authorities restrict freedom of expression. They do this through global efforts to combat online censorship and news broadcasts in 61 different languages, reaching 400 million people each day. But they can only be effective in countering disinformation and censorship if they are rightly perceived as independent, professional, and fact-driven—not as official mouthpieces for some partisan agenda.” Open Technology Fund chief Libby Liu tendered her resignation to take effect at the end of July but was terminated immediately by Peck. Also fired were: Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia, Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

Cumulus Closes on $74.1 million Bethesda Land Sale. The deal to sell a 75-acre parcel of land in Bethesda, Maryland to developers Toll Brothers has been in the works for some time and yesterday (6/24) Cumulus Media was finally able to announce the $74.1 million deal has closed. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “Given the difficult operating environment, our ability to continue to strengthen our balance sheet with the proceeds of this deal is particularly meaningful, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of Toll Brothers in working with us to bring this five-year effort to completion.” Net proceeds from the sale are expected to be $71.3 million after transaction fees and expenses. Cumulus anticipates achieving minor expense savings from the elimination of real estate taxes after the closing and does not expect any tax liability as it relates to the transaction. Net proceeds from the sale are required to be used to pay down debt, unless otherwise reinvested in the company’s business over the next 12 months.

PPM Analysis: Coronavirus Cume Factor (Part 2). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today presenting part two of his look at cume changes for news/talk stations. In this report, Kinosian presents charts showing news/talk stations ranked from highest cume to lowest, cume increases from the April 2020 PPM survey to the May 2020 PPM survey, decreases from April to May, and a chart displaying the cume for all stations on our panel in the all-news, sports talk, and news/talk radio formats. See it all here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, BLM Movement/Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, Seattle CHOP Situation, Second Stimulus, Financial Markets Activity, Presidential Race, Flynn Charges Dismissed, Bubba Wallace Case, and MLB Season to Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/24). The explosion of new COVID-19 cases in some states and projections of future cases and deaths; the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the related move to take down statues of Confederate and Colonial-era statues; Seattle asks CHOP protesters to leave the area and local business consider suing the city; the debate over a possible second COVID-19 federal stimulus package; the world’s financial markets react to COVID-19 data; Democrat Joe Biden enjoys positive poll news in his race against Donald Trump; the DOJ officially dismisses the charges against Michael Flynn; the FBI concludes the Bubba Wallace “noose” incident was not a hate crime; and the MLB prepares to open on July 1 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Today (6/25) at 2:00 pm ET, Cumulus Media | Westwood One is presenting a live webinar to release “brand new insights and studies on the state of the American consumer.” Covered in today’s event will be: Just-released J.D. Power automotive sales data for the week ending June 21 indicating it was one of the strongest auto sales performance weeks for new sales; new “Share of Ear” data from Edison Research on the audience duplication between AM/FM radio and Pandora and Spotify; how advertising can help businesses recover and reopen using a powerful new visual from marketing pro Les Binet; and more…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Program” – syndicated nationally via Talk Shows USA – announces the addition of Free Fire Media’s KCNR-AM, Shasta/K243CT, Redding, California and WCJU Incorporated’s WCJU-AM, Columbia, Mississippi to its roster of affiliates…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-FM, Tulsa and KOKI-TV “FOX23” are partnering with the American Red Cross in a two-day “Red, White and You” Blood Drive today and tomorrow (6-25/26). KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “This is one of our favorite events every year because it unifies our listeners in Green Country to work as a group to help people who live and work in their communities. Every pint donated to the American Red Cross can help save three lives. That’s a pretty impressive return on 30 minutes of your day.”

International Rock Musician/Impresario Leslie Mandoki Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Munich, Germany-based, Hungarian rocker Leslie Mandoki is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Mandoki is a seasoned professional forged by experience, passion and life, who is keeping the spirit and quality of the progressive, jazz rock era alive and well for generations old and new. His ensemble, MANDOKI SOULMATES, is a long-running loosely knit association of some of the greatest big-name musicians on the planet. Their brand-new release, “Living in the Gap & Hungarian Pictures,is a double album that expresses their ideals of socially aware lyrics and complex musical arrangements – basic tenets of the progressive and jazz rock era. In his youth, Mandoki escaped from communist Hungary to West Germany where he built one of the finest studio complexes in Europe, produced and performed on records, became friends with a wide network of great musicians including the legendary Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and launched a progressive rock juggernaut. Countless gold and platinum records decorate his walls. He also wrote, produced, and performed the superb charity song dedicated to the heroes of the coronavirus titled #WeSayThankYou with Ian Anderson that has garnered positive attention on international radio and on YouTube. Harrison and Mandoki discuss the music, social issues and politics that make Leslie Mandoki a fascinating individual – largely unknown to Americans. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Entercom Partners with Analytics Firm Deep Root. In what Entercom calls part of its “commitment to data-driven capabilities,” the company announces a partnership with audience-powered analytics company Deep Root that will allow Entercom to offer advertisers expanded targeting options. Entercom says, “This partnership will enable agencies, advocacy groups, and political campaigns to identify and reach Deep Root’s custom voter audience segments when advertising throughout Entercom’s robust portfolio of broadcast and digital assets. This includes access to Deep Root’s issue advocacy and political audience segments such as swing voters, blue collar voters, and environmentalists.” Entercom VP, data and analytics Dan McKinney adds, “Expansive reach and national scale allow radio and digital audio to serve as a reliable platform for brands and political campaigns to reach engaged consumers. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to support these advertising partners with increased targeting to accomplish their specific goals. Partnering with Deep Root will allow us to better serve our trusted partners and enhance their capabilities when leveraging our audio assets to reach voters nationally and locally.”

New RAB ‘Open for Business’ Series Announced. The RAB announces that as part of its Business Unusual initiative, a new Open for Business live-video series titled, “Getting Your Billing Back On Track,” hosted by RAB SVP of professional development Jeff Schmidt takes place on July 14 at 11:00 am ET (a repeat viewing is available July 16 at 4:00 pm ET. RAB says, “As businesses across the country are reopening, it is time for sellers to rebuild their selling strategy. In this live-video presentation, Schmidt will share proven tools and resources account executives and managers can utilize to increase stations’ revenue and income at their stations and radio companies.” Registration is free to RAB members. To register, click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nationally syndicated urban contemporary “The Deja Vu Show” adds five new affiliates including: KBXT-FM, Bryan, Texas; KISX-FM, Tyler, Texas; KSSM-FM, Waco, Texas; KMJI-FM, Texarkana, Texas; and WRKA-FM, Louisville. The WBLS-FM, New York based afternoon drive show is syndicated via ABC Audio, whose executive director of business strategy Heidi Oringer says, “Throughout her career, Deja has drawn high ratings in every market where she’s heard. We’re thrilled that in syndication ‘The Deja Vu Show’ followed suit and is experiencing the same level of success and rapid growth. Deja’s insightful content and her standout personality draw large, diverse audiences. We’re excited that stations are adding ‘The Deja Vu Show’ to their lineups and equally excited that she is so favored by advertisers as well.”…..The Tom Kent Radio Network announces new affiliation deals with more great radio stations. Adding Tom Kent’s “Ultimate Party” is Midwest Communications classic hits WBOW, Terre Haute, Indiana; Draper Communications classic hits WTDK, Salisbury, Maryland adds “My 70s Show” and “Super 60s with Steve Kent”; and Delta Media’s urban AC KFXZ, Opelousas, Louisiana adds “Sweet Soul Weekend with Jeff Foxx.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

| June 24, 2020

Former WFAN Star Craig Carton Released from Prison. Former WFAN, New York morning drive personality Craig Carton was granted early release from a federal penitentiary yesterday morning (6/23) after serving a little more than a year of his three-and-a-half-year sentence on a fraud conviction. The New York Post reports that Carton will serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement or a halfway house. Of course, this gets the speculation going about a return to the WFAN airwaves for Carton and the Post’s Andrew Marchand writes about a possible scenario today. Marchand suggests in his column that while a return to mornings alongside Boomer Esiason is not likely, he can see Carton in afternoons facing ESPN’s crosstown WEPN-FM star Michael Kay. He writes, “Carton has what [current WFAN afternoon hosts] Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts lack — Carton is an entertainer, first and foremost.”

CMG Moves News/Talk WDBO to Translator; Spanish Music Format Airs on 96.5 FM. A series of programming moves by Cox Media Group takes news/talk WDBO off the class C FM signal at 96.5 and returns it to its original AM 580 signal – bumping the ESPN Radio sports format that’s been airing there – and simulcasts WDBO on translator W297BB at 107.3 FM that had been simulcasting urban contemporary WCFB-FM, Daytona Beach. CMG sees a bigger revenue upside to a Spanish-language music format than the news/talk format. CMG Orlando VP and general manager Jason Meder says, “With two dominant TV stations, six radio brands, and various digital platforms, Cox Media Group Orlando delivers the largest audience in Central Florida. This move strengthens our portfolio of radio brands and reflects our commitment to serving the diverse community of audiences and advertisers in the market.”

PPM Analysis: Coronavirus Cume Factor (Part 1). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today pivoting to the cume for all-news and sports talk stations. As Kinosian notes, when referring to a station’s ratings, AQH share is most often cited. But cume is just as important (if not more), so today he examines the performances of all-news and sports talk stations based on cume. He lays out charts showing cume increases and decreases from the April 2020 survey to the May 2020 survey for both formats. See it all here.

Starnes Media Group to Syndicate New Sunday Show Starring Jennifer Kerns. The new, Sunday talk radio program “All-American Radio with Jennifer Kerns” is launching on KWAM, Memphis this Sunday and will be offered in national syndication via Starnes Media Group. Kerns served as a press secretary for 15 years in blue states and swing states. She served as an appointee of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as spokeswoman and communications director for the California Republican Party, the Colorado Recalls (defending the Second Amendment), and the Prop. 8 initiative in California that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Starnes Media Group says the program will feature Kerns delivering conservative commentary and hard-hitting analysis of Sunday morning news shows, political news of the week, and a look ahead at what’s on tap on the campaign trail across America. Todd Starnes adds, “Jen is one of the top conservative writers in America today and her ability to connect the dots for her audience is going to lend itself well to talk radio. She is a champion for conservative causes who has won millions of votes across America. Her unafraid, outspoken, yet down-to-earth style is going to endear her to our listeners in Memphis.” The program airs live at 5:00 pm CT.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM evening talk host Ji Suk Yi is leaving the Nexstar Media Group radio station after her July 10 program to become the breaking morning news reporter for the company’s “News Nation” national news startup at WGN America. Though “News Nation” will be a three-hour, nightly newscast, Ji will appear on NewsNationNow.com and its app. WGN-AM general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle states, “‘News Nation’ is a marquee asset for Nexstar and we were thrilled that Ji got this opportunity.”…..The Buffalo NewsAlan Pergament reveals that Buffalo Sabres reporter Paul Hamilton is being let go by Entercom’s sports talk WGR, Buffalo. Hamilton was one of the company’s staffers furloughed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Entercom has made his departure from the station’s airwaves permanent. The story notes that a memo from Entercom Buffalo market manager Tim Holly says “these are difficult times that affect us in ways never considered. That being said, I am sorry to announce after a 25+ year career on WGR, Paul Hamilton will no longer be our resource for the Buffalo Sabres and no longer employed at Entercom Buffalo.” The company also lets promotions department staffer Rosemarie Paternostro go in the financially related move…..A new, daily radio feature is being launched by Marketplace and Westwood One. The “Marketplace Minute” is 60-second economic news report – delivered three times daily – produced in Los Angeles by American Public Media and distributed by Westwood One. Westwood One says this partnership “represents the first time a public media entity has partnered with a commercial audio network to distribute a news product in these formats.” Marketplace SVP and general manager Deborah Clark says, “Now more than ever, it’s clear every American needs to understand the economic realities we face. This partnership will help us realize our mission of raising the economic intelligence of the country by bringing new audiences to our storytelling. We’re in a critical time for smart, nonpartisan, solutions-based journalism, and we want to reach audiences where they are. To that end, commercial radio is a logical distribution extension.”…..SiriusXM announces a new, weekend radio program hosted by Stacy Washington that airs Sundays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon on the Patriot channel. Titled, “Stacy on the Right,” the program features the journalist and conservative commentator interviewing politicians and newsmakers. Washington also offers “her views on the week in politics plus the breaking headlines from the busy Sunday morning news cycle.” Washington is an Emmy-nominated TV personality, podcast host, and documentarian, who is already a familiar voice to the Patriot audience as a regular fill-in host on the channel, in addition to her appearances on FOX News, FOX Business, CNN, The Blaze, and PBS.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Bolton and Mary Trump Books, Presidential Race/Primary Elections, BLM Protests/Statue Removals, Second Round of Stimulus, Bubba Wallace Case, MLB to Open July 1 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/23). The rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases in some parts of the U.S. and projections about future cases as the country continues to re-open; the controversy over former national security adviser John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened book and the White House’s battle to prevent Trump’s niece Mary Trump from publishing her book; the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and this week’s primary elections; the Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the country and the removal of Confederate and Colonial-era figures; President Trump’s desire for a second round of stimulus checks; the “noose” case involving NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace; and Major League Baseball’s plans to open camps on July 1 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. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, the morning show at Entercom’s country WUSN-FM – Jason Pullman and Katie Bright – is out. The story indicates that after Bright decided to resign her position to focus “on her personal life,” the company also decided to cut ties with Pullman and will execute a search for a new WUSN morning show. For the time being, midday host Drew Walker will be on air from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm…..A four-part, limited series titled, “Motown Countdown with iHeartRadio’s Angela Yee,” will air on FOXSoul.tv each Tuesday in July at 10:00 pm ET, beginning July 7. iHeartMedia, FOX Soul, and Motown Records announce the partnership. FOX Soul head of programming James DuBose says, “As we continue to grow FOX Soul into the premier destination for black culture content, being able to partner with iHeartMedia and Motown to bring this series to the community is the definition of black excellence and I couldn’t be more excited.” Each 30 minute episode will contain one countdown of the “top 5 current torchbearers” in a specific category. The series premiere will focus on hip hop’s best. The second installment will highlight the most impactful songs to encourage change and revolution. The third will discuss Andre Harrell-inspired hits, and the final will consider Motown songs throughout the decades…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville is airing “Celebrate the USA,” an annual birthday party for America, over the Fourth of July weekend. CMA and ACM award winner Jon Pardi hosts the show with some of his all-star friends including: Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, among others. The four-hour special will be available for stations to air over the holiday weekend beginning Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5…..iHeartMedia CHR WRVW, Nashville “107.5 The River” announces the lineup for its virtual music festival “River Under Your Rooftop” on July 9 that will feature performances from: Lewis Capaldi, Finneas, Jojo, Tones And I, AJR, Olivia O’Brien, Alec Benjamin, and Jxdn, with more performers still to be announced. The event will broadcast live on the @1075theriver Instagram page, with each artist participating in a small virtual meet and greet directly after their performance.

May 2020 PPM Analysis: Sports Talk

| June 18, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — The second in our four-part series of May 2020 PPM overviews is an all-encompassing examination of the sports talk format.

The following scoreboards are comprised of sports talk facilities that rank in the top 20 (6+) in any of the 48 PPM-markets during the May 2020 ratings period, which covered April 23 – May 20.

Ratings information in this exclusive analysis is limited to sports talk properties that subscribe to Nielsen Audio’s audience estimates.

Coronavirus-related challenges affecting sports talk facilities include the fact that the NBA and NHL seasons were put on hold several months ago. After starting exhibition contests on schedule, MLB pulled the plug in mid-March and the official season has yet to get underway.

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April 2020 PPM Analysis: A Sweep Unlike Any Other

| June 3, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Reflective of the unique nature of what has become the “new normal” owing to coronavirus’ spread, the April 2020 ratings period had more than its share of significant twists and turns.

With COVID-19 dominating all media outlets and kitchen-table conversations across the country, this very well might have been the most anticipated sweep since electronic measurement became radio ratings currency.

It differed from the highly-precarious annual “Holiday” ratings period on a number of fairly clear-cut levels, not the least of which is the divergence between pleasant family memories contrasted against newfound angst regarding a deadly virus.

Past has definitely been prologue that stations playing all-Christmas music in a “Holiday” sweep will display sizeable upticks in that period and, in virtually 100% of the time, chalk up (by far) their best stat of the ratings calendar. It’s not uncommon for all-Christmas music stations to double or triple their 6+-stats as dozens of such outlets touch double-digits (6+), and we’ve even witnessed the shattering of the 20-share level (6+).

There is a fixed time for the programming strategy – usually a week or two before Thanksgiving and running through Christmas Day. The outcome can be accurately predicted as much as nine months in advance.

Absolutely gaudy figures we are accustomed to seeing from music-intensive stations entrenched in playing holiday hits did not surface – for the most part – from spoken-word stations in April 2020.

One barometer though of a significant station shift in the electronic-measurement age is a sweep-to-sweep fluctuation in excess of one full-share.

To put things in the most vivid perspective: There were nearly four times as many of these swings (April 2020, 6+) as were registered one year ago (April 2019).

Open for debate is when the coronavirus should have been taken seriously. It’s worth remembering that the sitting POTUS was impeached by Congress in December 2019 and acquitted by the Senate on February 5, 2020. A fatality reported by Washington State officials later that month (2/29) was initially thought to be the earliest U.S. coronavirus-related death (although it’s now believed that at least two others died from the illness several weeks earlier).

Given that the final date of the April 2020 sweep was April 22, the just-concluded ratings period would mirror roughly two months of COVID-19 coverage.

There’s no contemporary history of what radio ratings look like when – in a matter of weeks – the country suffers flu-related deaths by the tens of thousands. Prognosticating ratings results was, therefore, uncharted (morbid) territory.

Playing all-Christmas music works in every market – virtually every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue state or red state; a warm weather climate or a cold weather region. Appetite exists for that programming at that time of the year and it can’t be found on any broadcast or cable television network. Completely unknown was the level of desire for pandemic news on radio.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

| May 11, 2020

Monday Memo: Talkers, Listening. Cable television talk legend Larry King taught us that great talkers are good listeners. So, in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke asks a quartet of our talk media cohorts what they’re hearing as listeners cope. HC speaks with Westwood One nationally syndicated star Jim Bohannon, Providence radio and TV news and talk pro Gene Valicenti, and two hosts working in recreation meccas – Harry Hurley at WPG, Atlantic City and Heidi Harris at KMZQ in Las Vegas. Read it here.

Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening and Second Wave Threats, COVID-19 at the White House, U.S.-China Relations, Ahmaud Arbery Slaying, Michael Flynn Case, and Jerry Stiller Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the number of deaths, and projections for future infections; some U.S. states cautiously begin re-opening amid concerns about a second wave of infections; the reports of White House staffers testing positive; the war of words between the U.S. and China over the origin of the coronavirus; the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery; the DOJ drops the Michael Flynn case and allegations of the Obama administration’s role in implicating Flynn; and comedian Jerry Stiller dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Masks, Appointments, and Social Distancing. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it’s important to be smart about what and how you are selling. “As local business categories slowly come back to life, dealing with restrictive guidelines never before anticipated, marketing dollars may take a more cautious path to recovery. Some of your advertisers are dealing with the logistics of government-funded loans to bridge the gap and the new challenges that will arise. Will hours and operations ever be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic?” Read his column here.

Beasley Media Group Announces Re-Opening. The company says that today (5/11) it is beginning the approved gradual Phase One implementation of re-opening its radio properties in states that have reopened for business.  Beasley Media Group states that “both the timing and safety measures for these re-openings will be based upon approved CDC, individual state, and local government recommended guidelines. During Phase One, no more than 25% of each cluster’s individual workforce will be in the workplace at any given time.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We have taken a very conservative, thorough and thoughtful approach to our company’s gradual reopening plan to provide, first and foremost, a safe and healthy work environment for our employees. Our market managers have done an incredible job working closely with their individual state and local governments to ensure a safe transition process as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times.”

Evening Show Change at WLS-AM, Chicago. Windy City media personality Jenniffer Weigel leaves her early evening talk show on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM and a sports-themed show hosted by Rob Martier debuts in its place. Chicago media writer Robert Feder breaks the story here. Martier has been with WLS-AM since joining as evening news anchor in 2018. He also hosts a weekend auto show and Illini football broadcasts. Weigel came aboard last March as a part of the Mancow Muller morning show before transitioning to late night host and then early evening personality.

Bob Matthews Retires from WHAM, Rochester. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that longtime WHAM sports talk host Bob Matthews did his last show for the legendary iHeartMedia signal on Friday. Matthews tells the paper he was not fired nor furloughed but that at age 73 and after serving with the station for 35 years, he admits “the coronavirus got the best of me.” He adds, “It’s been very difficult the last two months. It’s been tough talking sports for two hours when there’s no sports. I’ll be OK.” Matthews, a longtime columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle who left the paper in 2012, says he’s recently been diagnosed with diabetes and knows he’s susceptible to the virus. The station will replace Matthews’ 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with Westwood One’s “The Savage Nation” with host Michael Savage.

iHeartMedia Adds New Voices to ‘Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020’ Podcast. A podcast addressing students graduating this year titled, “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” is being produced by iHeartMedia and will be published on Friday (5/15) ahead of National Graduation Day on the 17th. The company announces that Bill and Melinda Gates; singer, songwriter and actor Becky G; actor and gender equality ambassador Freida Pinto; stand-up comedian George Lopez; director and actor Henry Winkler; New York Times bestselling author John Green; Mary J. Blige; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert; actor, producer, singer and songwriter Rita Wilson; acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; T.I.; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Emmy award-winning news anchor Tom Brokaw have joined the podcast event featuring commencement addresses from some of the most inspiring and accomplished thought leaders impacting culture today. “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” will also feature speeches from iHeartRadio personalities Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee, Woody, and J Cruz. The speeches will be produced specifically for the podcast, through the iHeartPodcast Network, and are dedicated to all the graduating classes of 2020 who will miss their commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast will be available on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard.

Alpha Media Presents ‘Tools for Difficult Times’ for Staff and Clients. Last Thursday (5/7), Alpha Media held a virtual keynote titled, “Now What? Tools for Difficult Times,” featuring author and Ted Talk alum Greg Bell and special guest Meghan Trainor. Alpha CEO Bob Proffitt states, “The goal of the event was to offer our employees and clients positive and actionable planning strategies to maximize personal and professional opportunities as we begin the re-entry phase of this crisis.” Close to 1,000 guests virtually attended to hear motivational speaker Greg Bell provide key insights and incredible tools for moving forward in this new era. Grammy Award winner Meghan Trainor discussed with Skyview Network host Dana Cortez how she is using her platform positively to help feed those in need at this time. They also tackled how to handle the pressure and fatigue from the constant influx of social media during the pandemic. Alpha Media says that it believes that innovation, creativity and connection are important now more than ever. To meet that need, the company says its Virtual Keynote series will continue throughout the year with new speakers and guests to be announced.

Radio One Philadelphia and MyPhillyLawyer Salute Frontline Workers. In an effort to give back to the front-line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radio One Philadelphia joined MyPhillyLawyer for the “Salute on the Front Line” campaign that features video tributes and special lunch deliveries to men and women nominated by members of the community. Listeners to Radio One’s Philadelphia stations can submit video tributes to the radio stations highlighting the work and contribution of friends or family members who are essential workers in the Philadelphia area. The radio stations will feature the videos and each day will have lunch delivered to the workplace of the honorees to thank them and their co-workers for their service. Radio One Philadelphia general manager Ezio Torres says, “This partnership with MyPhillyLawyer recognizes not only the front-line workers who immediately come to mind, but also those who work in the grocery stores and drug stores, along with the delivery drivers, postal workers, SEPTA personnel, and many others. It’s just a great way to acknowledge those who continue to allow us to move forward. We want to send them a big thank you!”

Westwood One: Radio Listening Levels Ramping Up. The data presented in this week’s Westwood One Blog are culled from “a brand-new study of consumer COVID-19 sentiment and spending intentions” as well as “just-released audience data from the 45 Portable People Meter markets. The PPM data covered the period of March 27, 2020 through May 6, 2020.” The PPM data indicates that Americans are listening at a rate of 82% or pre-COVID-19 levels.  A study conducted by Nielsen found that 32% of adult Americans consider themselves in the “ready to go” category and they have a greater intent to resume their spending habits. Read the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated radio program “Our American Stories” begins airing on iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston, effective June 1. Lee Habeeb is the show’s host and CEO of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “The Astros, Johnson Space Center, NASA, and KTRH. We are thrilled to join this town of giants. After announcing our partnership with Entercom last week in Dallas on KRLD-AM, and now this partnership with the leading talk station in Houston, we are truly humbled. There are milestones and we have just crossed two really big ones.”…..NPR has struck an agreement with SAG-AFTRA that will allow it to temporarily reduce employee compensation due to an expected budget shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic. As reported at Current.org by Tyler Falk, employee salaries will be reduced on a sliding scale beginning next week, with a maximum cut of 9%. However, the move does not affect employees making less than $80,000. It will be in effect through the end of NPR’s fiscal year in September. The pact also prohibits NPR from laying off any workers for the rest of the fiscal year.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Detroit, Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 The Bounce” promotes J. Steele to assistant program director. He joined the station in April of 2019 and hosts the afternoon drive show. Beasley Detroit director of programming Jerry Tarrants comments, “J. Steele brings extensive programming background to the position and has proven to be a valuable member of the team since joining the station last year as our afternoon drive talent at ‘The Bounce.’ I know J. will bring the same energy and dedication to this role as he does with his very entertaining afternoon show for his listeners in the Motor City!”…..The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Big D and Bubba” show is named the new morning program at country WCLT-FM, Columbus “T-100.” To make room, program director Wild Walley gives up the AM show and becomes host of the afternoon drive program…..At Max Media’s hip hop KFCO “Flo 107.1,” the morning duo of Larry Ulibarri and Kathie J are out. The company has made no official announcement, but the morning show’s info is gone from the station’s website.

March 2020 PPM Analysis: Extra

| May 5, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Here’s something that will put things regarding COVID-19 in mind-numbing perspective: Just over two months ago (February 29), the US death toll attributed to the coronavirus was one (1) person in Washington State. Some 73,000 Americans have succumbed to it in less than a nine-week period.

As noted here this time last month, in light of the coronavirus crisis, our “Extra” coverage of each PPM sweep in the foreseeable future will uniquely detail month-to-month shifts among news/talk; all-news; public radio news/talk; and sports talk stations.

These “Extra” overviews will enhance and supplement our thorough analyses via individual format scoreboards, which are appearing as usual.

In the past week, for example, we posted comprehensive overviews for all-news; public radio news/talk; and (commercial, English-language) news/talk.

Noted below are news/talk stations that appear in any PPM-market with at least a .1 (March 2020, 6+). Meanwhile, a top 20 ranking (March 2020, 6+) is the inclusion threshold for all-news; public radio news/talk; and sports talk facilities.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations subscribing to its services. As a result, ratings stats in this analysis are limited to outlets paying that company for its information.

Read More

Monday, May 4, 2020

| May 4, 2020

Monday Memo: “3 Big Things” Feeling cooped up by coronavirus confinement?  You’re not alone!  But, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke notes some “silver linings” in this crisis (an opportune call-in topic).  Read it here.

Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening States, Pressure on China, Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations, Financial Markets Activity, and Korean DMZ Incident/Kim Jong Un Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and predictions about future deaths; the various states that began re-opening their economies; accusations the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, China’s response, and pressure on the country to open up to investigation into the origins of the virus; the presidential race and Tara Reade’s accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic; and shots fired between North and South Korea across the DMZ and Kim Jong Un’s resurfacing were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Don’t Fight Santa. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it doesn’t matter if radio reaches 92% of adults each week if there are no cars parked at retail stores in your market.  To help a client in this climate, you have to “see what your advertisers see.”  Read his column here.

Hubbard Radio Announces Cuts Across Its Radio Properties. On Friday, Hubbard Radio chairman and CEO Ginny Morris announced in a memo to the company’s staffers that the disruption in the advertising business due to the coronavirus pandemic was forcing the company to take the unfortunate step of reducing payroll via layoffs at its radio stations in Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, Washington, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that six staffers at sports talk KSTP-AM “SKOR North” were let go including Minneapolis Twins reporter Derek Wetmore and Minnesota Vikings reporter Matthew Coller.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that longtime WXOS-FM sports talk host Bernie Miklasz was one of 20 staffers in St. Louis to be let go.  Post-Dispatch reporter Dan Caesar adds that the lineup at WXOS changes with Miklasz’s exit.  Randy Karraker moves from afternoons to Miklasz’s former 7:00 am to 10:00 am show.  Midday host Anthony Stalter moves to the afternoon show with Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey.  Cardinals play-by-play voice Dan McLaughlin will host an hour-long show at 10:00 am while Jamie Rivers and Brandon Kiley will host the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm program.

Key Networks Celebrates a Year in Syndication for Bill O’Reilly. It’s been a year since Key Networks brought conservative media icon Bill O’Reilly back to radio in national syndication via his daily radio feature “The O’Reilly Update.”  That show, along with the morning drive feature “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” are currently airing on 208 radio stations from coast-to-coast. The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition launched in January. O’Reilly says, “It is simply imperative that Americans get the truth in this very dangerous time. Many news agencies spin it. ‘The O’Reilly Update’ never does that. We deliver honest news and commentary every day in a concise, lively format. It’s gratifying to see the great response.”  Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Over 200 stations carrying programming in a year’s time is an amazing feat! It speaks to the quality of the content. During these challenging times, listeners want to hear news and commentary from a trusted voice and Bill O’Reilly delivers with ‘The O’Reilly Update.’”

‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ Podcast Series Debuts. A new podcast series from the alliance of Crossover Media Group Sales, LifeBites, and “Behind the Icon” producers looks at the life of Marilyn Monroe via a dramatic narrative based on Gary Vitacco-Robles’ bestselling books, ICON: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volumes I and II (BearManor Media, 2015). The series is called “Marilyn: Behind the Icon” and “portrays Monroe up close and personal with a dramatic storyline featuring narration, actor dramatization, and commentary by a mental health expert. Marilyn Monroe is played by the talented Erin Gavin, who portrayed the legend on stage. Erin captures the essence of Marilyn that will captivate the podcast audience. In addition, the series features award-winning voice-over talent, Brad Hyland (Santa from Elf on the Shelf, Victoria’s Secret and many commercials) as the sultry, warm-voiced narrator.”  Producer Nina Boski says, “Fans around the world have an unending fascination with Marilyn Monroe. But underneath the glamour, there was a real person who struggled tremendously with mental health and addiction issues, which are truly an American epidemic. ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ will reveal a dramatic narrative that will help Marilyn become more real and even more relatable to millions of fans and for people who are suffering from some of the same issues as the icon.”  Crossover Media Group Sales managing partner Sue Freund adds, “‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ is such a dynamic story for millions of Marilyn fans. We wanted to take on a project that was different and could tell the icon’s story to the world in a unique and groundbreaking way.  The producers of ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ knock it out the park with their ability to share the Monroe story. They made it come to life – to entertain, but also to educate the audience at the same time about mental illness and addiction. The podcast gives a voice to Marilyn’s struggles in a way that can help others potentially seek the help she herself so desperately needed. We are excited to get behind such a compelling project!”

Radio Cares Radiothon Raises More than $500,000 for ‘Feeding America.’ The “Radio Cares Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” that began on Thursday (4/30) and ran through the weekend has raised more than $500,000 for hunger relief organization Feeding America. The radiothon closed with a $20,000 donation from Scott and Sandi Borchetta and Big Machine Label Group. The funds raised will provide 5 million meals for Americans living with hunger. The charitable initiative was developed and led by Ron Stone, president & CEO, Adams Radio Group, and Brian Philips, EVP, content & audience, Cumulus Media/Westwood One. Philips says, “Listeners answered the call from their favorite stations, large and small, unified by the cause of American hunger. Our listeners represent the most generous cross-section of America. There exists a bond among them that no crisis can break. Cumulus is always proud when what we do moves people.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new, weekly podcast from ABC News’ FiveThirtyEight titled, “PODCAST-19: FiveThirtyEight on the Coronavirus” debuted on May 1. The program features host Anna Rothschild, with the support of FiveThirtyEight team, investigating COVID-19 mysteries, debating when it’s safe to reopen the economy, and keeping track of the latest scientific developments on vaccines and treatments. ABC News says Rothschild has over a decade of experience reporting on science, health, and the environment. She has won multiple awards for her science communication, including from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics…..The John Fredericks Radio Network is broadcasting live this week – Monday through Wednesday – from Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.  Fredericks says the show is investigating how the systemic poverty in the Delta region is affecting how residents are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.  He adds, “We’ll be discussing what the next steps are for small business owners, residents, and students, many of whom do not have high-speed broadband. Some have no Internet whatsoever, which may lead them to fall further behind the learning curve.”…..iHeartMedia Orlando is presenting an online “Education Fair, Education Summit” on Thursday, May 14 and Friday, May 15 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at EducationSummitFL.com. Designed to serve colleges, universities, tech schools, trade schools and more, the custom web page will allow education recruiters to conduct video interviews and review transcripts in real time. Students can log on and click on the education institute profile they wish to chat with. iHeartMedia Orlando partnerships manager Chianna Ray says, “This virtual event is exactly what our community needs right now. Many students have not had the chance to visits schools, meet with recruiters and are feeling unsure of their future. Recruiters have missed valuable face time with future students since events are not taking place at this time. We look forward to making that connection through our event.”…..Beasley Media Group stations in Fayetteville, Augusta, and Charlotte are hosting a complimentary 30-minute webinar designed to help struggling restaurant owners and managers directly impacted by the pandemic. The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 7, at 2:30 pm. Beasley says the session will feature actionable insights, timely advice, and relevant information that local restaurants can use immediately to help increase business during these challenging economic times. Participants can learn from Steve DaPolito, co-owner of Charlotte-based Bisonte Pizza Co., who helped to increase sales for his business at the onset of COVID-19. They can also learn about resources available to local restaurant owners provided by representatives from both the North Carolina and the South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association…..Beasley Media Group and broadcast television firm TEGNA are partnering on a broadcast TV series focusing on the esports rivalry between the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel.  TEGNA, owner of stations in 12 Texas markets, is broadcasting a weekly docuseries of original episodes chronicling the competition. Beasley Esports COO Lori Burgess comments, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Dallas Fuel and TEGNA’s Texas stations to bring fresh sports competition and entertainment back to our fans and TV viewers. Video gaming is hotter than ever and professional esports is taking center stage this month in Texas with the inaugural Lone Star Showdown presented by Samsung. New fans can expect a battle worthy of champions.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  As a result of Hubbard Radio’s decision to trim payroll because of the COVID-19 business climate, here are some of the air personalities reported to have been affected: In Chicago, media writer Robert Feder reports classic rock WDRV “97.1 The Drive” night host Phil Manicki and overnight host Greg Easterling, along with AC WSHE-FM “SHE 100.3” morning producer Robb Rose and night jock Brian Middleton, WDRV-FM promotion manager Heather Torrey, and hot AC WTMX-FM “101.9 The Mix” morning producer Cynthia Denicolo and social media staffer Melissa “Mel D” Dever all exit. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that country WIL-FM “New Country 92.3” morning hosts Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway are gone. Today (5/4), Hubbard announces that WSHE program director Cat Thomas is leaving that station to move to Seattle to become brand and content director at CHR KQMV “MOViN 92.5” and adult contemporary KRWM “Warm 106.9.”  Vice president of brand and content at WTMX and WSHE Jimmy Steal is assuming WSHE PD duties…..After the company put the wraps on the nationally syndicated country radio morning program “The Ty Bentli Show” on Friday with the exit of hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins (Bentli exited the show earlier this year), Cumulus Media’s Westwood One launched the new “Morning Koffy” syndicated program hosted by Paul Koffy and co-host Jasmine Sadry. Cumulus EVP marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes says, “Well known in the radio industry and well-liked by country artists, Paul is the ideal host for this new show. Paul has spent his entire career in country music and, surprisingly, has never before hosted a program from Nashville – we can’t wait to see what he does from Music City. With Jasmine on the other mic, this show is one good morning brew.”…..Tampa Bay CHR WFLZ-FM “93.3 FLZ” replaces “The Kane Show” with new morning drive program, “THEjoeSHOW.”  Moving from the company’s Detroit CHR WKQI “Channel 955” where he was afternoon drive personality and APD, host Joe Carballo is joined by Ashley Nics and producer Jed Shilling. iHeartMedia Tampa Bay VP or programming Tommy Chuck says, “‘93.3 FLZ’ has a long history of incredible morning personalities. I’m excited to announce the next great show that is poised to take over Tampa Bay. Joe, Ashley, and Jed have done a great job preparing for this opportunity.” In Detroit Ashley Nics served as a producer for “The Mojo in the Morning Show” and hosted middays. Jed Schilling worked in the programming and digital department. Together, the three also hosted the “Heavily Anxious” podcast…..In Baltimore, morning drive personality Stash, a.k.a. Steve Ash, exits Shamrock Communications’ classic rock WZBA “100.7 The Bay.”  Stash announced the move via a Facebook post…..Alpha Media Bakersfield announces Erik Fox is promoted to program director for KLLY-FM “Energy 95.3.”  He’s been serving as music director and afternoon drive host for the station. Alpha Media Bakersfield general manager Jeremy Price says, “Erik Fox has shown himself to be one of the hardest working individuals in this industry that I have ever worked with. His love for the music marks a huge step up for the station. And in the year that he has been MD for ‘Energy,’ our ratings have risen to levels not seen on that station for over half a decade. Individuals committed to local radio like Erik are rare and we are blessed to have him on our team and, in this new capacity, are excited to see him continue to dominate in the ratings.”…..iHeartMedia moves Atlanta hip hop “The Beat” from WRDG-FM at 96.7 to WBZY-FM at 105.3.  The move bumps the Spanish hits format that had been airing on WBZY-FM.  Station program director Dan Hunt says, “We’re excited for the opportunity to rebuild ‘The Beat’ from the ground up and continue to represent the urban music culture with a sound unique to Atlanta.  Atlanta’s music lovers will get to listen to the most prolific voices in hip hop radio today, including “The Breakfast Club” and DJ Scream.”

Friday, May 1, 2020

| May 1, 2020

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.  The new episode titled “Living in a Ghost Town” looks back at this past week of April 27-May 1, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Scott Hennen, talk show host, WZFG, Fargo, ND / WTGO, Tioga, ND / KFYR, Bismarck, ND / KTLC, Dickenson, ND; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, UK; Michael Zwerling, talk show host / station owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; Glenn Beck, talk show host, Premiere Networks; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  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.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Smart Audio Report: Half of 18-34s Consuming More News and Information. Among the results of The Smart Audio Report Spring 2020 from Edison Research and NPR (based upon a national telephone survey of 1,002 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted December 31, 2019 through January 5, 2020, and a national online survey of 1,660 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted March 31, 2020 through April 1, 2020) is that “77% of those in the U.S. age 18+ are experiencing a change in their typical routine due to the outbreak of COVID-19 as of April 1, and voice-assistant usage has expanded during these disruptions.”  Smart Speaker ownership has reached 24% of the 18+ U.S. population. The study concluded: 1) 36% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners say they are using their device more to listen to music and entertainment since the outbreak, and 2) 52% of 18-34-year-olds say the same; 3) 35% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners are listening to more news and information since the COVID-19 outbreak, and 4) 50% of those ages 18-34 say the same. See more about the study here.

iHeartMedia Creates ‘Small Business Crisis Resource.’ This new initiative from iHeartMedia is designed to help local, small business owners across the country easily find available benefits and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Small Business Crisis Resource” serves as a centralized source for small business owners and includes a weekly iHeart Small Business newsletter and a website providing critical information on the Federal stimulus package, up-to-date small business news, state by state resources, links to top business-focused podcasts and more at iHeartRadio.com/SmallBusiness and SmallBusinessCrisisResource.com. Small business owners can also sign up for special webinars, kicking off this Monday, May 4 featuring iHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran joining senior officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss ways small businesses can find assistance and vital information. iHeartMedia Markets Group COO Hartley Adkins says, “At iHeart, our focus continues to be about serving our local communities, including the small businesses that support many residents. We also know that studies show business owners look to radio as their trusted news source more than any other medium, so we want to do everything we can to ensure that these businesses have the important information they need to survive and get through this pandemic as best they can.”

Stephan Multimedia Off to Rocking Start on Four-Day ‘Feeding America Emergency Radiothon.’ Beginning yesterday (4/30) and running through the weekend, Doug Stephan’s Stephan Multimedia national radio programs began a four-day “Feeding America Emergency Radiothon,” to help fight hunger resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Doug Stephan says, “With more than 37 million of our neighbors struggling with hunger right now, we answered the call to join forces with RadioCares.org on this project. Within the first several hours, more than $176,000 was raised.” The Radiothon continues on the daily “Doug, Jenn and Victoria Show,” and weekend shows “The Talk Radio Countdown,” “Good Day Health” and “The American Family Farmer.” The combined programs are heard on more than 400 radio stations.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 27-May 1. The latest tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the death toll across the U.S., and projections of future infections were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of health care system and its resources to fight the coronavirus. Coming in at #3 this week was the economy and the issue of lives vs livelihoods, followed by the presidential race, politics, and the #MeToo movement at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.

Cumulus to Sell Albany, Georgia Station Group. The five-station cluster in Albany, Gerogia includes news/talk WALG-AM, country WKAK-FM, rock WJAD-FM, adult contemporary WEGC-FM, and urban AC WQVE-FM and Cumulus Media is selling it to First Media Services for $450,000.  First Media Services, owned by Rick Lambert and Charles Spencer, also owns stations in Bluefield, West Virginia.

TALKERS News Notes. Copywriter Scott Dahl is the winner of the 13th Annual Dead Radio Contest in which a radio script that was rejected by the client or not green-lighted for some other reason is produced. The contest is sponsored by boutique radio agency Oink Ink Radio. Dahl works for Periscope and the winning script was “Homemade Easy: Call” written for Schwan’s Home Service. Normally, the winner receives an all-expense paid weekend trip to a recording session in NYC with Oink Ink to witness their beloved spot being revived.  But COVID-19 prevented that so Oink Ink moved forward and produced the spot remotely. To hear “Homemade Easy: Call” and for more information about Oink Ink’s Dead Radio contest, click here…..There’s more speculation about the future of air personality Will Cain with ESPN Radio – this time from the Washington Post.  Last week, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote about possible changes at ESPN. The Washington Post’s piece also reports that Cain will leave ESPN and return to FOX News where he’ll appear on FOX News Channel and the digital platform FOX Nation…..Entercom announces that it will report its 2020 first quarter financial results before the market opens on Thursday, May 14. It will host a conference call and simultaneous webcast at 10:00 am ET that morning to review the results and recent progress against its strategic initiatives…..Longtime Milwaukee and Houston radio personality and programmer Mike Elliott died on April 20 at age 82 after contracting pneumonia. Elliott worked in a number heritage stations – WGST-AM, Atlanta; WASH, Washington; and WIOD-AM, Miami – before landing at WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee in 1974.  He would work in the market at WISN-AM, WZTR, and WLUM during his career.  He also handled Houston Astros play-by-play on KENR-AM and anchored sports on Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV.  He retired from his last gig with WBWI, West Bend, Wisconsin in 2005.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In addition to his recent appointment as director of programming for Westwood One’s country programming, Paul Williams is also being charged with serving as program director for country WKDF-FM, Nashville. Williams was most recently vice president of marketing & artist development for Reviver Entertainment Group in Nashville. Williams says, “What a unique opportunity to lead a radio station in a community you have lived in for over 14 years in one of the craziest times in history.  We’re going to get through this with our Tennessee neighbors then rebound together with music, hope, fun, and the larger-than-life Volunteer State spirit.”…..Waterloo Media’s adult contemporary KGSR-FM, Austin “STAR 93.3” adds the nationally syndicated “Brooke & Jeffrey” show to the station’s weekday lineup for morning drive. Brooke Fox says, “We couldn’t be more excited to be part of Waterloo Media’s Austin team! [Program director] Krash Kelly’s energy, expertise and leadership at ‘STAR 93.3’ is a real dream for us. This partnership could not be better matched and we can’t wait to get on air to start killing it together.”…..Radio Power’s urban contemporary WAMO-AM/WW297BU “107.3 The Beat” announces that Premiere Networks’ “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” is taking over the morning drive daypart effective Monday (5/4).

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