Tag: "COVID-19"

Monday Memo: Own the Vaccine

| January 11, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — Hopefully, COVID-19 is the story of our lifetime. Meaning let’s hope nothing worse happens.

Coronavirus has already killed more Americans than World War II. The virus claims a life – or two — every minute.

  • Ill-advised Christmas travel is spiking infections as-predictably as ill-advised Thanksgiving travel did, and that super-contagious UK mutant strain is now making its way across the USA.
  • Remember when hysterical voices warned of “death panels?” LA County ambulance crews have been told not to transport Coronavirus sufferers with little chance for survival. There’s just no room at hospitals, where parking lots have become makeshift Intensive Care Units.
  • Healthcare workers’ exhaustion has bid-up the price of nurses willing to travel to $10K per week.

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Pending Business: This Year in Review

| January 4, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Remember getting on an airplane before TSA security measures? As we move to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are accustomed to the changes in our daily lives that horrific experience created. The same will hold true as we persevere through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology, a changed business landscape, and income reboots will dictate a smarter, more flexible seller, marketer, and manager.

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Friday, December 11, 2020

| December 11, 2020


NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”  The latest installment of 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. This new episode titled, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” looks back at this past week of December 7 – December 11, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Michael Berry, talk show host, KTRH, Houston /  Michael Berry Radio NetworkGrace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio Network;  Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, UK; and Robbie Stevens, record producer / commentator, TalkersRadioThis 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, 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.

NYPost: Craig Carton to Host ‘Responsible Gambling Show.’ According to a story in the New York Post, WFAN, New York afternoon drive co-host Craig Carton will host a Saturday show called “Hello, My Name Is Craig” that is being called a “responsible gambling show.” The show is a partnership between Entercom’s sports talk WFAN and problem gambling help network 1-800-GAMBLER. Carton said on WFAN, “They’re going to bring their expertise into it. I’ll tell the stories of gambling and the way my addiction manifested itself in the bad decisions I made, which became criminal.” It was the need to pay off gambling debts that caused Carton to create a phony concert tickets brokerage scheme that put him in prison for fraud after a November 2018 conviction.

WJR-AM, Detroit’s Mitch Albom Radiothon Raises $1.5 million for Local Charity. During Thursday’s daylong radiothon, WJR, Detroit afternoon drive host Mitch Albom helped raise more than $1.5 million for SAY Detroit – a local organization that helps the needy with health care, housing, food and education. The “9th Annual Mitch Albom SAY Detroit Radiothon” included appearances by special celebrity guests including Kate Hudson, Hugh Jackman, Katie Couric, Lily Tomlin, Hank Azaria, Tim Allen, and Anderson Cooper.

WGN-AM, Chicago’s Dean Richards to Return to Air After COVID Case. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Windy City media personality and WGN-AM weekend talk host Dean Richards is returning to the air after a couple weeks off due to a bout with COVID-19. The 66-year-old Richards will broadcast from his home for the next week or two before returning to the Nexstar Media Group station’s studios. Richards tells Feder his symptoms were relatively mild and adds that he’s not sure how he caught the coronavirus because he was being very careful. “The moral of my story is no matter how careful you think you’re being, be ten times more careful than that. Because I thought I was being super careful. I know I was being super careful.”

News/Talk KBOI, Boise Holds Successful Toy Drive for Marine Corps Reserve Campaign. Last Thursday through Sunday (12/3-6), Cumulus Media’s news/talk “NewsTalk 670” KBOI, Boise and Idaho Central Credit Union hosted Idaho’s biggest toy drive to benefit the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program for Treasure Valley children in need this holiday season. The event helped bring in more than 70,000 toys and $27,000 in cash donations. Pictured above (from l-r) are: US Marine Corps Reserve Charlie Company Marines Elmore and Perez, a smitten stuffed bear, Miss Idaho USA Katarina Schweitzer, and KBOI’s Mike Kasper and Nate Shelman.

WMAL-FM, Washington Fisher House Radiothon Raises More Than $360,000. During last weekend’s annual two-day WMAL Operation Fisher House Radiothon, the Cumulus Media news/talk station helped raise $368,000 for the Fisher House Foundation. WMAL listeners have donated more $7.5 million dollars over the last 15 years to support the efforts of the Fisher House Foundation to provide housing to families of injured military members who are undergoing treatment. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “We are humbled by the response of our listeners each and every year. Their response is incredibly heartwarming.”

COVID-19, Vaccines, Stats, and Protection Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 7-11. The fast-rising number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., the status of hospitals, hope for effective vaccines, and warnings about holiday get-togethers combined for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing efforts to overturn the election results. Coming in at #3 was Joe Biden’s transition appointments and nominations, followed by the Georgia senate runoff elections 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 complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Milwaukee urban contemporary “HOT 105.7” (WXSS-HD2) adds two air talents to the program schedule. Entercom announces that former crosstown WKKV-FM personality Promise is now hosting mornings while DJ Gee A moves from sister CHR WXSS-FM to afternoons on “HOT 105.7.” Entercom Milwaukee market manager Andrea Hansen says, “We’re excited to welcome Promise and DJ Gee A to our on-air lineup and introduce them to our listeners. Both have deep roots in this community with valued experience entertaining and connecting with the listeners of this city. We trust that combination will quickly resonate with our fans and round out our locally focused programming lineup.”…..The nationally syndicated “Ashley & Brad” show – hosted by Ashley Paige and Brad Abrell and produced by Skid Trax and distributed by Sun Broadcast Group – adds new affiliate stations as KFLX-FM, Chino Valley, Arizona; KPPT-FM , Depoe Bay, Oregon; KQBG-FM, Rock Island, Washington; and KHKM-FM, Hamilton, Montana add the program to their schedules.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

| December 10, 2020

Longtime KFGO, Fargo Personality Bob Harris in Coma Battling COVID-19. According to a story posted on KFGO, Fargo’s website, station personality Bob Harris is in a coma suffering from the effects of COVID-19 at a Fargo hospital where he’s been since Thanksgiving. The piece notes that Harris – who hosts the “Nighttime Live” show and the “Harris Happenings” podcast – went to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath. Harris’ sister Jeanie Smith says Harris has suffered two cardiac arrest events, but doctors say the pneumonia he’d been suffering has improved and there’s no indication that he’s suffered a stroke or brain damage. She says if he does not regain consciousness soon, he will undergo an MRI.

Christmas Special Available from ‘Our American Stories.’ For news/talk stations seeking quality holiday programming, Lee Habeeb’s American Private Radio is offering a multiple-hour “Our American Stories Christmas Holiday Radio Special,” featuring “behind-the-stories of our most cherished traditions, plus some extra special stories designed to warm the hearts and spirits of listeners everywhere.” APR says that in addition to the Friday, December 25 two-hour special edition of “Our American Stories,” several extra hours will also be made available to stations looking to expand their holiday programming (via FTP download). No contracts required. If you’d like more information, email Affiliates@Oanetwork.org
or call 855-276-8020.

Salem Names David Cruz VP of New Latino-Targeted Salem Si. Broadcasting pro David Cruz is joining Salem Media Group as vice president of Salem Si – a new digital streaming platform scheduled to launch in January that’s focused on the nation’s Latino market. Cruz began his career with Spanish International Network, the predecessor to Univision. He worked in various news capacities with ABCCBS, and NBC television network stations and became anchor of the nation’s first syndicated, bilingual news talk program for CNN Spanish Radio and Radio Centro in Latin America. Most recently, Cruz served with iHeartMedia in Los Angeles hosting a talk show on news/talk KFI and KEIB and as director of corporate and community partnerships in emerging markets. Salem broadcast media president David Santrella says, “We are very excited that David and Salem have entered into this collaboration that promises to reach and serve the youngest and fastest growing audience demographic in the United States. The challenges presented by COVID-19 have only accelerated the shift in listening patterns by Latinos who are seeking timely, relevant, and accurate information live and on-demand. David’s extensive background as one of the country’s established and well-known Latino broadcast network journalists makes him the ideal person to lead this new digital initiative with Salem Media Group.”

Heritage Foundation Honors Rush Limbaugh with Award; Names Studio After Him. Conservative Washington, DC think tank The Heritage Foundation presented Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Rush Limbaugh with its inaugural “Titan of Conservatism Award” during the organization’s annual President’s Club Meeting. In addition, the Heritage Foundation will honor Limbaugh by naming its new, state-of-the-art studios the Rush Limbaugh Radio Studios “to ensure his legacy continues to shape future generations.” Heritage Foundation president Kay C. James states, “If there was a ‘Conservative Hall of Fame,’ Rush would no doubt be a first-ballot entry. From behind the golden EIB microphone, he inspired millions of Americans to cherish our God-given rights and freedoms and the country and Constitution that serve to protect them. Rush helped bring the conservative movement together three hours a day for a family meeting, he helped everyday Americans realize they were conservative, and he brought millions of new people into the conservative movement. The extraordinary reach of his #1-rated radio talk show has allowed him to attract listeners with his common sense, everyday-language explanations of why conservatism works and how every American benefits because of it. The conservative movement simply wouldn’t be where it is today without the venerable Rush Limbaugh.

Armstrong & Getty Add Affiliates in Alaska and Nebraska. The KSTE-AM, Sacramento-based talk radio show “Armstrong & Getty” – co-hosted by Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – adds two new affiliate stations as Alpha Media’s news/talk KFOR, Lincoln, Nebraska and KFQD, Anchorage, Alaska agree to add the program to their lineups. KFQD content director Joe Campbell says, “Too much of the dial is dedicated to hardline opinion and ‘picking a side.’ We’re chopping the audience up into too many camps. It shouldn’t be about left or right, but rather entertaining the listener. Joe and Jack are a couple of guys you just want to hang out and have a drink with. They’re capable of serious political discussion, but it’s always entertaining and genuine. Armstrong & Getty just get it. I’m excited to have them on-board at KFQD.” Armstrong & Getty comment, “We’re really grateful that Alpha has invited us to join the team. We’re not beltway pundits. We’re Middle-American guys with families who are just trying to bring a little perspective, honesty, and humor to the day’s events. We’re patriots more than we’re partisans.”

Cherry Creek Media and CreativeReady Announce Deal. The audio creative firm CreativeReady and Cherry Creek Media announce a new partnership that will allow all 50 Cherry Creek radio stations to use CreativeReady’s on-demand creative assets. Cherry Creek CEO Jonathan Brewster says, “CCM is always working to provide our markets with the tools needed to help clients thrive. The CreativeReady platform will really help us deliver outstanding creative strategies for clients and improve efficiencies within our stations.” CreativeReady founder and CEO Jamie Alpin comments, “We believe the key to a successful seller/client relationship is in developing longterm creative ad strategies. It’s about giving the client our very best and the Cherry Creek culture aligns with that mindset perfectly. They have an outstanding reputation for going above and beyond for their clients and we couldn’t be happier with this partnership.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Holiday Travel/Family Get-Togethers, Trump’s Fraud Claims, Feds & States Sue Facebook, Biden Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Hunter Biden Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/9). The sharply rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S, the death toll, and the timetable for distributing vaccines; the warning from the CDC about traveling during the holidays and having large family get-togethers; Donald Trump’s continuing insistence on election fraud; the federal government and 48 states file anti-trust charges against Facebook; Joe Biden’s transition process; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax reporting from his overseas business endeavors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Grace Curley Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Rising millennial talk radio star, Grace Curley is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” At 28, this multi-media conservative commentator is already known to thousands of New England radio listeners, newspaper readers, and podcast fans for her solid presence and longtime media accomplishments in the six-state region. She has successfully served as executive producer and on-air co-host for the regionally syndicated “Howie Carr Show” since 2014. She is a weekly columnist for the Boston Herald writing about media, politics, and popular culture. She is also the producer for “Dirty Rats” – a highly successful true crime podcast hosted by Howie Carr. And now she’s ready to become a major news/talk radio host in her own right as the Howie Carr Radio Network will be launching her into regional and potentially national syndication beginning January 4, 2021 and they’ve already gained an important clearance on the legendary WRKO, Boston in the daily 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm timeslot which serves as lead-in to the mega-popular Howie Carr show. Having followed her growth as an evolving media figure over the years, Michael Harrison states, “This outstanding young woman dazzles with millennial energy and across-the-board charm!” Harrison and Curley discuss the strong and productive relationship that has developed between her and her mentor, Howie Carr. They also talk about what it’s like being a young, female conservative commentator in liberal Massachusetts as well as Curley’s observations about the nature of today’s rapidly maturing millennial demographic. Check it out and be prepared to meet a fresh, exciting new talk radio voice. 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.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. For classic rock stations seeking Christmas programming, Compass Media Networks is presenting the 25th annual “Uncle Joe’s Rockin’ Christmas Show.” The program is a four-hour show full of classic rock Christmas songs, exclusive artist interviews and stories. Contact Doug Ingold 310-242-8746 or at dingold@compassmedianetworks.com…..iHeartRadio Canada announces the first live international launch of “The Bobby Bones Show” on CIMX-FM, Windsor, Ontario “PURE COUNTRY 89” that also serves the Detroit market, effective December 14.

Monday Memo: Steal This Line

| November 30, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI –“COVID isn’t canceling the holidays, but how will it affect the season?” Big Four accounting and advisory firm Deloitte asked, in its 35th annual Holiday Retail Survey:

  • “COVID-19 is playing on shoppers’ psyches as they weigh its impact on their health and finances. But as we’ve seen with previous periods of recession, as well as those of growth, consumers are resilient and will adjust their habits to adapt.”
  • “Price, product, and convenience are still top considerations for consumers, and so is the desire to make the season special for friends, family, and pets, no matter the circumstances.”

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

| November 25, 2020

Walter Sterling Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  The weekend nationally syndicated host of the “Sterling on Sunday” show, Walter Sterling, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Sterling, who launched the show as a Sunday night feature on WPHT, Philadelphia some six years ago at the suggestion of then-CBS Radio EVP Chris Oliviero, went into the project after a decades-long career as one of radio’s most creative and influential programming management and consultation figures. Working for five decades under his legal name Walter Sabo, this colorful veteran’s resume, jobs, clients, and accomplishments as both a talk and music radio innovator are on a rarified level too numerous to list here. Now as on-air talent “Walter Sterling,” Sabo is breaking new ground in news/talk radio specialty programming addressing the social, cultural, and political issues of the day from the perspective of a devoted family man –  husband and father – taking a real life, down-to-earth approach to the issues of coping with life in the 21st century. The three-hour show (Sunday nights 10:00 pm ET) is a smash and has already reached the 100-affiliate mark via Sabo’s independent syndication firm, Sterling Sabo. In this fascinating, informal conversation between two old friends, Harrison and Sterling talk about today’s crisis in education, the state of youth in general, and the evolution of radio as it achieves its 100-year milestone. This podcast is a must-listen for students of radio – young and old. Don’t miss it!  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.

Takeaways from Round Two of Nielsen’s November PPM Survey. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from the second round of Nielsen Audio’s November 2020 PPM survey that includes markets Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Some movements of note include iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston, which rose to a 6.6 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) to finish ranked #4 in the market. Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit also rises to the #4 rank on the strength of 5.4 share (+0.7). In Phoenix, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFYI-AM shoots up 1.7 shares to finish with a 7.5 share and takes over the #1 spot. And Cox Media Group’s WHPT, Tampa jumps into the #3 spot after posting a 6.2 share (+1.1). You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets here.

Newsmax TV Says It’s Now the 4th Largest U.S. Cable News Channel. Citing election week and post-election data, Newsmax TV says that it has risen to become the fourth-largest cable news channel in the U.S., noting that for the week of November 11, its Adults 35-64 audience increased 132%. It says the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program averaged “nearly 1 million viewers” from November 9-19, beating FOX Business Network and CNBC. Newsmax TV adds that its OTT viewing has increased from 4.5 million to 18.8 million from July 2020 through October 2020.

Stacy Washington Upped to Nights on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel. Talk host and commentator Stacy Washington is promoted to host of the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel. Washington has been hosting her “Stacy on the Right” show on Sunday mornings since she joined SiriusXM this past summer. SiriusXM VP/GM of talk programming Dave Gorab says, “When Stacy joined the Patriot family this summer with her new Sunday morning program, it didn’t take long to take off with our audience. In addition to her weekly program, Stacy played a vital role in SiriusXM Patriot’s campaign coverage and was a regular contributor to programs across the channel. The expansion to a daily show comes as well-deserved recognition for Stacy’s contributions, and we know our audience will be excited to hear ‘Stacy on the Right’ five nights a week.” Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran who serves as an advisory board member of Vets for Trump and co-chair of Black Voices for Trump. She has appeared on FOX News, FOX Business, CNN, TheBlaze, and PBS, and has written for publications including FOX News Opinion and Townhall.com.

WHAM, Rochester Talk Host Bob Lonsberry Relates COVID-19 Battles. Talk radio host Bob Lonsberry – heard on iHeartMedia’s WHAM, Rochester and WSYR, Syracuse – recently spoke with WHEC-TV, Rochester about his family’s ordeal with COVID-19. Lonsberry says he, his wife and all five of his kids became infected with the disease but to varying degrees. He tells WHEC-TV, “That was one of the things that was so interesting about this that it affected everybody differently. I think a couple of our young sons were truly asymptomatic and we all sort of went our own way, about half the people had a fever, half didn’t, half had coughs and sore throats, half didn’t. It manifests itself very differently in each of us and lasted over a different course of time for each of us.”

Cumulus Media Cincinnati RVP and Market Manager Dave Crowl to Retire. Radio management pro Dave Crowl is retiring from Cumulus Media at the end of this year after a 44-year career in the radio business. Crowl has been serving as regional vice president and market manager for Cumulus’ Cincinnati station group. Crowl began his career as an account executive at WLVQ-FM, Columbus. Over the years he’s worked in the Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee markets before landing in Cincinnati to become president of Jacor Communications’ radio division. In 2000, he was appointed SVP of then-Clear Channel Communications and joined Cumulus Media in 2012. He says, “A 44-year career in radio would have been challenging to achieve without the support of my family, mentors, colleagues and friends who constantly inspired me. More importantly, I could not have arrived at this moment without the foundation of all the many dynamic general managers and their market teams who delivered compelling audio content to their listeners, communities, and advertisers every day 24/7.” Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner adds, “Dave Crowl has distinguished himself as one of the most respected leaders in radio, dedicating the last 44 years to making radio the best it could be for the many communities he has served so well. In the process, he has lifted up our industry and the people in it, always treating others with respect, dignity and understanding. He will be greatly missed, and we wish him all good things in his retirement.”

iHeartMedia Partners with Podimo to Present Translated Podcasts. This collaboration between iHeartMedia and European podcast platform Podimo creates a strategic partnership to translate and adapt popular podcasts across the globe in different languages. The partnership kicks off with the widely popular true crime podcast “Forgotten: Women of Juárez” (Olvidadas: Muertes de Juárez) about femicides in Mexico’s most dangerous city in three languages: Spanish, German, and Danish. The adapted podcast series will be released in early 2021 in 20 countries in Latin America, as well as in Spain and in the USA, followed by Podimo’s German and Danish markets at a later date. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “We’re excited to partner with a podcast innovator like Podimo and use iHeartMedia’s unparalleled ability to introduce podcast listening at scale to bring some of the most fascinating local podcasts to millions of listeners worldwide. Podcast listening continues to see tremendous growth as more and more listeners seek out layered storytelling, and we believe this venture with Podimo will help us to introduce great podcasts to new fans around the world.”

COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Holiday Traveling, Biden Transition/Trump Still Fighting, Record Dow/The Economy, OANN YouTube Ban, and Utah Monolith Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/24). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, and warnings about gathering in groups for the Thanksgiving holiday; the Joe Biden administration officially begins the transition process while Donald Trump continues to challenge the election results; the Dow hits a record 30,000 though some economists warn a correction is due this winter; conservative news outlet One America News Network is banned from posting on YouTube for a week for violating the platform’s COVID misinformation policy; and the discovery of a mysterious metal monolith found in a remote part of Utah 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. The alternative format known as WWCD and operated by Randy Malloy has found a new home in Columbus after losing its lease on the 102.1 FM frequency and going briefly to an online-only model. The station is leasing the WMYC-AM/W255CS duo from ICS Communications with the intent to buy the signals, according to a piece at WOSU.org. This is the third frequency shift for the alternative station. It originated on 101.1 FM, then moved to Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting System’s 102.5, and now to the current simulcast operation…..Programming pro Jason Taylor joins Adams Radio Tallahassee as operations manager and program director for country WWOF “103.1 The Wolf.” Taylor takes over for Casey Daniels who is returning to Indiana for personal reasons. Taylor spent the past 16 years at iHeartMedia’s crosstown station group. Adams Tallahassee VP/GM Jason Lamp says, “We are ecstatic about this announcement. Jason Taylor is a brand that Tallahassee country listeners have adored for many years. Having Jason join our live and local team in afternoon drive alongside ‘Cash & Woody in the Morning’ on ‘The Wolf’ is a dream come true for us. His management style is 100% of what we need in our building!”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is offering four holiday specials designed for adult contemporary and hot AC stations designed for air on Saturdays or Sundays from November 28 through December 20. The Christmas specials include: On November 28-29, Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls featuring the new Goo Goo Dolls Christmas album, It’s Christmas All Over; on December 5-6, Carrie Underwood featuring her new Christmas album, My Gift; on December 12-13, Meghan Trainor featuring her new Christmas album, A Very Trainor Christmas; and on December 19-20, Taylor Swift featuring her favorite Christmas playlist.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats 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. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”

Monday, November 9, 2020

| November 9, 2020

Pending Business: Sales Lessons from the Election Cycle. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column that presenting a concise, targeted message of your station’s benefits to prospects is crucial to making the sale and is ultimately more important than how many prospects you toss into the hopper. Read his column here.

Biden Declared 46th President/Trump Refuses to Concede, Georgia Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, the Economy/Stimulus Deal, Tropical Storm Eta, and Alex Trebek Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Democratic challenger Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election and President Trump’s refusal to concede the election; the January run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the rising number of COVID cases in the U.S. and Europe, projections for the fall and winter months, and Pfizer’s announcement that its COVID vaccine appears to be 90% effective; the state of the U.S. economy and anticipation of a new stimulus deal; the arrival of Tropical Storm Eta in Florida; and longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek dies among top news/talk stories over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday Memo: 20-20 News. With the holidays looming, and as we are prepping perennial year-end retrospectives, it’s easy to wonder what-the-heck-NEXT? In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers a wider-angle shot, and simple suggestion for radio. Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q3 Net Revenue Down 15.3%. Third quarter earnings from Townsquare Media indicate the company is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic better than some of radio’s larger firms. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $95.4 million, a decrease of 15.3% from the same period in 2019. While advertising revenue was down $16 million or 17.2%, Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.3 million, or 14.5%, to $18.2 million. For obvious reasons, live events net revenue decreased $3.5 million, or 98.2%, to $0.1 million. Townsquare was able to post net income of $1.3 million for the quarter (compared to the $7.3 million in net income in Q3 2019) whereas many broadcasting companies are posting losses for the quarter. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “I am proud to share with you today that Townsquare’s third quarter results exceeded our expectations, driven by sequential net revenue improvement throughout the quarter as our business continued to accelerate despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Third quarter net revenue improved to a decline of -15.3%, as compared to the third quarter of the prior year, which was up from a decline of -34.5% in the second quarter. This translated to a strong increase in Adjusted EBITDA from $2.1 million in the second quarter to $17.5 million in the third quarter. Our better than anticipated third quarter results were due to gains in both our Townsquare Interactive and Advertising segments. Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing subscription business, has delivered net subscription revenue and subscriber growth each and every month of 2020, demonstrating its recession-resistant characteristics and proving to be valuable and a tremendous resource to local businesses. In the third quarter, Townsquare Interactive’s net revenue increased 14.5% over the prior year period, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, and added approximately 1,150 net subscribers, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions and the most quarterly net subscriber adds in nearly six years. Improvement across our Advertising segment was broad based, as revenue declines improved from -37.5% in the second quarter to -17.2% in the third quarter, each as compared to the prior year. Broadcast advertising net revenue sequentially improved throughout the quarter, with and without political revenue, and digital advertising net revenue returned to growth in the third quarter, driven by positive net revenue growth from Townsquare Ignite (+10% year over year), our digital programmatic advertising solution, and AMPED (+9% year over year), advertising revenue associated with our owned and operated local websites. In total, our digital net revenue exceeded 44% of our total net revenue in Q3 2020, and we remain confident that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million of annual net revenue in two to three years… Although 2020 has been a challenging year, we are proud that we did not need to alter our core strategy.  Rather, we believe the pandemic has allowed us to separate from our local media peers by placing a spotlight on the success of our strategy.  Our focus on underserved small and mid-sized local markets, our investment and commitment to our ‘Local First strategy, and our investment in world class personnel, technology and infrastructure that allowed us to build a strong digital platform with best of breed products, services and solutions that contributes 44% of our total revenue, have all contributed to our ability to mitigate revenue declines and manage quite effectively through this downturn. We believe these actions will position Townsquare to quickly emerge from this crisis and return to our market leading performance quickly once this crisis abates.”

iHeartMedia Cuts Hit WLW, Cincinnati’s Steve Sommers. WVXU, Cincinnati’s John Kiesewetter reports that longtime “America’s Truckin’ Network” host Steve Sommers is a victim of the current downsizing taking place at iHeartMedia. The overnight program has aired on WLW, Cincinnati since it was launched by Sommers’ father, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, in 1984. As Kiesewetter notes, Steve Sommers joined his father on the program in 1996 and took over the program in 2004. Sommers posted to Facebook: “I have been DISMISSED from I-Heart Radio… I’m sorry my friends… 2020 is a bitch!!! I will not have a chance to say GOOD-BYE!!! Thanks for 25 years of friendship!!” It’s unclear what the status of the overnight program is as the “America’s Truckin’ Network” – along with Sommers’ photo – is still listed on the WLW website.

TALKERS News Notes. Washington, DC’s WTOP is partnering with longtime market crime reporter Paul Wagner for a new podcast titled, “Murder in a Safe Place.” Wagner has worked for WTTG-TV “FOX5 News” for the past 20 years covering cases including the murder of Congressional intern Chandra Levy to the Mansion Murders and the police-involved shooting of motorcyclist Terrence Sterling. He served as a reporter at WTOP from 1989 to 1999. In this series, Wagner examines a local cold case from 22 years ago: the murder of Sherry Crandell, a 50-year-old hospital worker who was brutally assaulted and later found dead in her office at Prince George’s Hospital Center. WTOP director of news and programming Julia Ziegler says, “Paul is a part of the WTOP family, and we are so excited to partner with him on this project. This 22-year-old cold case is a horrific and baffling one that will have listeners asking questions. Our hope is that through the reach of this podcast, we can bring closure to this case and the Crandell family.”…..iHeartMedia and the Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg-co-founded Pushkin Industries enter into a co-production and distribution agreement that will make iHeartMedia the exclusive sales partner for Pushkin’s catalog of podcasts that includes “Revisionist History,” “Broken Record,” “The Happiness Lab with Laurie Santos,” and many others. As part of this deal, iHeartMedia and Pushkin Industries will co-produce a slate of new, original podcasts over the next two years. Gladwell says, “We started Pushkin to share the joy Jacob and I have found in creating and producing podcasts. Working with the team at iHeart will allow us to spread this joy at an even bigger scale.”…..AdLarge Media and National Sports Network unveil their slate of NCAA basketball games for the 2020-2021 season for radio. Last month, AdLarge was announced as the exclusive ad sales partner for the NCAA basketball games on the National Sports Network. The networks will air the Creighton Bluejays vs the Kansas Jayhawks on December 8 and the Gonzaga Bulldogs taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 19.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Zannie Glover, a.k.a. Zannie K, is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 the BOUNCE” and urban contemporary WDMK “105.9 KISS-FM,” effective December 1. Zannie K was most recently program director at non-commercial KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis as well as was the associate program director and nationwide night talent for Westwood One’s classic hip hop format…..Urban One Columbus enters into a Local Marketing Agreement with Southern Ohio Broadcasting to operate WWCD-FM, Columbus and launches a regional Mexican/tropical format branded as “La Grande 102.5 FM.” Urban One RVP Eddie Harrell Jr. says, “We are pleased to expand our footprint again in Central Ohio by reaching the fastest growing segment of the population, inclusive of the Mexican community and growing Central and South American communities. Combined with our African American targeted radio/television assets, we are now the largest single source provider of content to African Americans and Spanish speaking residents in Central Ohio.”…..Entercom’s rock outlet KISW-FM, Seattle is presenting the sixth annual “Live Day” tomorrow (11/10). This year’s completely live, virtual event will feature broadcasts of the station’s morning show “BJ & Migs” and afternoon show “The Men’s Room” with no recorded commercials, sound effects or music. Fifteen bands from across the Northwest and multiple voices from across the country will perform throughout the 12-hour program. KISW brand manager Dave Richards says, “For the KISW audience, 2020 wouldn’t be complete without the annual entertainment spectacular, ‘Live Day.’ This year, every artist and performer will participate virtually and distanced. Thank you, technology.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida 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. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

| October 16, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of 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. This new episode titled, “Hugging and Slugging!” looks back at this past week of October 12 – October 16, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Alan Stock, talk show host/commentator, KXNT, Las Vegas; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/founder, Scamicide.com; Frank Morano, talk show host, WABC, New York; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7”; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA “Connect FM”; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, 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.

Jack Heath Exits WGIR-AM, Manchester, NH. A brief story in the New Hampshire Union Leader indicates that radio talk show host Jack Heath has exited iHeartMedia’s WGIR-AM, Manchester, New Hampshire and his daily “NH Today” morning program. Heath said goodbye to his listeners at the end of his show and posted the following message to his Facebook page: “I have been honored and humbled to host the show for nearly 7 plus years there. I am especially grateful to the listeners for being there and proud of the work I was able to do to help NH’s great nonprofits and advocate for our veterans — a mission I will continue. This is not a goodbye but a thank you for now. Until we talk again, thanks…Stay tuned. JH.”

KFGO, Fargo’s Joel Heitkamp Positive for COVID-19. A report from the Associated Press indicates that KFGO-AM, Fargo “The Mighty 790” talk show host Joel Heitkamp has tested positive for COVID-19. The story notes that Heitkamp says he began experiencing symptoms last weekend and says he’s “lost his sense of taste and smell and is experiencing body aches.” He’s self-quarantining and still doing his radio program remotely. He told listeners, “I am in a part of the process where it’s certainly after talking with people in the medical field, it certainly looks as though I’m going to be one of the lucky ones in terms of how this has infected me, in terms of how I’m going to feel throughout this process, not going to feel good, not going to feel great.”

SRN’s Sebastian Gorka Has Twitter Account Locked After Biden Post. According to a story published at Breitbart, Salem Radio Network talk show host Sebastian Gorka has been locked out of his Twitter account after posting a photo of Hunter Biden in the bathtub smoking a cigarette and the text, “Why did @FBI take the Biden laptop and do nothing?” Gorka received a message from Twitter saying he’d been locked out for violating the rules and said he must delete the tweets that violate the rules. It’s not clear what rules were broken in the tweet. While appearing on SiriusXM with Breitbart’s Alex Marlow, Gorka said to listeners, “This is America in 2020. The FBI did nothing when they had evidence of crimes, and when I want to talk about it as an American citizen to you and the Breitbart listeners, my account was locked. We are here. We have arrived. 1984 wasn’t fiction, and they want to steal an election again, and I just don’t mean social media, I mean authorities that can burst through your front door at 4:00 am with a warrant like they did to Roger Stone.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Promises to ‘Clarify Ambiguity’ in Section 230. Saying that he’s moving in response to concerns from members of all three branches of the federal government, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai says he’ll proceed with a rulemaking to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Act that explains the immunity from legal responsibility that digital platforms enjoy with regard to their content. Pai says, “The U.S. Department of Commerce has petitioned the Commission to ‘clarify ambiguities in section 230.’  And earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that courts have relied upon ‘policy and purpose arguments to grant sweeping protections to Internet platforms’ that appear to go far beyond the actual text of the provision. As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean? Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230.  The Commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning. Throughout my tenure at the Federal Communications Commission, I have favored regulatory parity, transparency, and free expression.  Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Hearings Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 12-16. The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a four-way tie between the presidential race, Thursday night’s dueling town halls, balloting issues, and scandals & accusations. Coming in at #3 was COVID-19 statistics and projections plus high-profile COVID patients, followed by health care, meds, and protective measures 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 complete chart here.

ASU Student Rae’Lee Klein Sues School on Free Speech Grounds. In September, Rae’Lee Klein was removed from her position as manager of Arizona State University’s student radio station Blaze Radio. This came in the aftermath of Klein’s tweet related to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the tweet, Klein said, “Always more to the story, folks. Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.” Her attorney, Jack Wilenchik, tells Downtown Devil, “We’re suing because she’s not the station manager. She’s been constructively terminated (and) they’re not letting her do her job. They are discriminating against her based on her exercise of free speech by taking that away.” Klein has been effectively removed from her position but she’s still being paid by the school. According to media and constitutional law specialist David J. Bodney, whom Downtown Devil communicated with for the story, “There was no First Amendment violation here, and Ms. Klein’s claims are meritless. ASU and the Cronkite School have deep and abiding commitments to free speech and excellence in journalism, and this lawsuit disregards an array of facts that show just how baseless these claims really are.” Bodney added that Klein’s conduct post-Tweet is evidence she’s is no longer able to lead Blaze Radio and that the university did not terminate her employment. Bodney also says that Klein was offered other opportunities, such as starting her own radio station with support from the university, all of which she rejected.

TALKERS News Notes. The most recent Westwood One Blog post reveals data from Nielsen Audio’s national consumer study of 1,000 respondents (conducted October 1-5) that tracks the pandemic’s impact on consumer movement, spending, attitudes, and media usage. Some of the conclusions drawn include: 1) There is a 56% increase in the number of Americans working outside the home. Nielsen reports 61% of U.S. workers are now commuting to their workplace, up from 39% in early May; 2) Half of American schoolchildren are driven to school with AM/FM radio playing in the car. 50% say their children are driven to school (3% carpool, 47% parent/family member). 44% of American schoolchildren are taking the bus. 62% indicate that AM/FM radio is always on, and 35% say AM/FM radio is sometimes on in the car; and 3) The economy will affect holiday shopping, but AM/FM radio listeners will spend more than the average. A greater proportion of heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they will spend more this holiday (14%) versus heavy TV viewers (10%) and the overall market (10%). Read the full post  here…..Podcast producer Lipstick & Vinyl announces the third season of “The Double Shift,” that explores the challenges working moms face every day. The new season focuses on the disruptive impact of the coronavirus on families, how that disproportionally disrupts moms’ careers, and how to navigate that. Creator and host Katherine Goldstein says, “We’re in an acute crisis at this moment. 865,000 women have left or been forced to leave the workforce between August and September. Many of those women are moms. The lack of structured family and childcare programs that we’ve talked about on ‘The Double Shift’ are more glaringly missing than ever before.”…..Syndicated Solutions, Inc announces that its national travel radio show “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” has successfully surpassed another affiliation milestone and is now heard on more than 440 radio stations across the USA and Canada.  The Careys say, “Since the pandemic has disrupted our nation and the world back in March, ‘RMWorldTravel’ has added about 30 new affiliates and additional new sponsors, underscoring the importance of all aspects of the travel world in our daily lives.”

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