Tag: "Frank Wycheck"

Friday, August 11, 2017

| August 11, 2017

WGFX Lineup Modifications Debut Next Monday. Among the changes going into effect (8/14) at Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone” is former Tennessee Titans safety and “Zone” host Blaine Bishop moving to 6:00 am – 10:00 am, co-hosting with Mark Howard and Kevin Ingram; Bishop had hosted the station’s “3HL” show since its debut in January 2010. Bishop emphasizes that next Monday is “not just another day – it’s a new opportunity and a new beginning. I’ve worked closely with Mark over the last 10 years with my involvement with the Titans and am looking forward to working with him and the ‘Wake Up Zone’ team. I can’t wait to break down the games with our fans every morning.” Former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck moves from “Wake Up Zone” co-host to analysis throughout the day. Wycheck joined the “Wake Up Zone” shortly after his retirement from the NFL in 2004 and he notes, “I am thrilled to continue playing a role on the ‘Wake Up Zone’ and look forward to providing analysis throughout the day.” Becoming Nashville radio’s first full-time female sports anchor, Dawn Davenport, who has covered sports in Nashville since 2008, will co-host the 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm “3HL” show with Brent Dougherty and Mickey Ryan. Davenport comments, “I am fortunate to jump back into sports in Nashville with such an amazing station full of talented and kind people. I’ve come to know and like Brent and Mickey over the last few years and cannot wait to join a team that works so hard every day to create an entertaining show for our great city.” Program director Brad Willis reasons, “Much like the sports teams we cover, we are always looking to put the best lineup on the field. These moves reflect our continued dedication to our position as Nashville’s top sports station, providing our listeners with the most in-depth coverage of their favorite teams. Blaine and Frank are cornerstone pieces of the Titans franchise during their time in Nashville. Their intimate knowledge of the Titans and the Nashville sports landscape is unparalleled. Dawn Davenport has immersed herself in the Nashville sports community. As someone who has covered every team in this town, and as a former SEC athlete, we are excited to have her join Brent and Mickey.”

Westwood One “Summer of Love” Retrospective Revisits Counterculture Revolution. Airing next weekend (8/18 – 8/20), Westwood One News’ half-hour “Summer of Love” special looks back at the counterculture revolution that defined the summer of 1967 from a 50-year perspective. Hosted by Westwood One News correspondents Jim Roope (Los Angeles) and Steve Kastenbaum (New York), the program features iconic pop and rock music from that summer, along with use of Westwood One News archives, including interviews with pop culture figures of the time such as Abbie Hoffman, professor Timothy Leary, rock manager Bill Graham, and singer Scott McKenzie. Regarding the latter, Westwood One producer George Achaves, who produced the 1987 “Summer of Love” 20th anniversary special, recalls that he had read a Washington Post interview with McKenzie’s mother. “She happened to live in an apartment building a block away from our office at the time. I looked her up in the phone book, called her out of the blue, and she put me in touch with her son, who was living in Lake Tahoe. Before she hung up, she said to me, ‘If you speak with him, please tell him to call his mother once in a while.’ McKenzie gave me great stories about the Monterey Pop Festival and his hit song ‘San Francisco: Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair.’”

CBS Sports Radio Tweaks Weekend Programming. The one-word reason for the adjustments is “football” and as CBS Sports Radio director of programming Eric Spitz confirms, “Our listeners love football season so we’re excited to bring them another dedicated weekend schedule around one of their all-time favorite sports. This year’s lineup includes both CBS Sports Radio and CBSSports.com hosts and analysts, experts on the game and true fans themselves.” In three weeks (Saturday, 9/2), CBS Sports Radio anchor Rich Ackerman begins hosting “Eye on College Football,” which extends from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm. On a rotating basis, CBSSports.com senior fantasy football writers Adam Aizer, Jamey Eisenberg, and Dave Richard oversee “Eye on Fantasy Football” (10:00 pm -12:00 midnight). Co-hosted by Nick Kostos, Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg, Pete Prisco and Dave Richard, a simulcast of CBSSports.com‘s “Fantasy Football Today” will air Sundays 11:00 am -12:00 noon. The following Sunday (9/10), CBS Sports Radio’s Damon “DA” Amendolara hosts “Sunday Morning Football” (9:00 am -11:00am), and for the first time, this program will be simulcast on watchDA.com. Rich Ackerman returns for “Eye on Football” from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm.

PPM Data – Part Four. July 2017 ratings information has been released for Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen Audio’s July 2017 survey period covered June 22 – July 19. View all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.

Nielsen Audio To Revise Austin and Fargo Data. Audience estimates for Entercom Austin urban AC KKMJ-HD3 were inadvertently omitted from that market’s July 2017 PPM report which Nielsen Audio released yesterday (Thursday, 8/10); see above. A revised Austin report will be made available next Wednesday (8/16) in which audience estimates will be reported for KKMJ-FM HD3. Audience estimates for other Austin stations will not be affected. Some select Nielsen services will report KKMJ-FM HD3 as KKMJ-F3. KKMJ-FM HD3’s status as a subscribing HD-Multicast station eligible for reporting apparently had not been entered into one of the ratings company’s internal systems. Likewise, a revision to the company’s just issued spring 2017 Fargo-Moorhead book will be released next Wednesday (8/16) as well. In this case, Brooke Ingstad (Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge) classic hits-oldies KEGK “106.9 The Eagle” was incorrectly reported as a “non-metro” station. The updated report for that market will indicate KEGK as home to the metro. While audience estimates for all stations listed will remain the same, KEGK will be included with “metro” stations, as well as the “in the book” and “all stations” sections.

“Score” Seeking Chicago’s Next Fantasy Football Expert. The search begins next Thursday (8/17) through a series of live auditions where listeners of CBS Radio Chicago sports talk WSCR “670 The Score” will have the opportunity to showcase their writing and broadcasting talents on-site at various local venues. Program and operations director Mitch Rosen comments, “This is an amazing opportunity for a diehard fan to participate in the action on-air and online. With fantasy football continuing to grab our listeners’ attention, I look forward to finding the right candidate who can provide an exceptional perspective in a highly visible role with the station.” The “expert” will contribute to the station’s on-air and online fantasy football content by offering tips and strategies for anyone managing their own fantasy football team throughout the 2017 NFL regular season. The winner will appear every Sunday between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm on the Joe Ostrowski show and write a weekly column for CBSChicago.com.

WBUR Opens Dorchester Bureau. A partnership that began this week in The Hub’s largest and mostpopulous neighborhood finds Boston University-owned WBUR “Boston’s NPR News Station” opening a bureau inside the newsroom of The Dorchester Reporter. WBUR’s bureau includes a fully-functioning radio studio, allowing WBUR reporters and Dorchester Reporter journalists to broadcast live. On its own, Boston suburb Dorchester would qualify as Massachusetts’ fifth-largest city.

U.S.-North Korea Tensions Story Tops the Talkers TenTM This Week.  Intensifying rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of August 7 – August 11, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 was the ongoing investigation in the president’s relationship with Russia.  Coming in at #3 are the continuing feuds between West Wing advisors – focusing on the current tensions between Stephen K. Bannon and H.R. McMaster.  #4 were stories mounting up about claims of sexism and sexual harassment aimed at women by the prevailing culture in Silicon Valley focusing on the recent Google memo. 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. View this week’s entire chart here.

Gaines Grabs Afternoons at Atlanta’s “Kicks 101.5.” It will be easy for Scott Gaines to remember the “Kicks” handle in his new job: The Southeastern Oklahoma State University grad is transferring from afternoon drive duty at Cumulus Media Memphis country outlet WGKX “Kix 106” to co-owned/similarly-formatted WKHX “Kicks 101.5,” Atlanta. In addition to doing afternoons (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) at WKHX, Gaines will be the station’s assistant program director. Cumulus Media Atlanta vice president/market manager Sean Shannon states, “It is exciting to see a person of Scott’s caliber join ‘Kicks 101.5.’ Our listeners, clients, partners, and staff all win with this move.” Program Director Scott Lindy remarks, “The high level of Scott’s talent, experience, and dedication to the craft of creating great radio is a perfect fit for ‘Kicks 101.5.’ Our listeners are in for a treat – we’re gaining a very strong internal player.” Gaines notes, “I have only met Sean Shannon once and can already see why his leadership has created a winning team. I’ve been a huge fan of Scott Lindy’s and am honored to join his team.” Gaines – who begins his new assignment in just over three weeks (9/5) – previously was assistant program director/music director/afternoon drive talent at iHeartMedia Detroit’s WDTW (when it was “106.7 The Fox”), and afternoon personality for Cumulus Media Nashville country outlet WSM-FM “95.5 Nash Icon.”

Radio Show to Feature Lovato Performance. The headliner in the annual “Music and Mimosas” event for next month’s NAB and RAB Radio Show is Demi Lovato. RAB president and chief executive officer Erica Farber comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Demi Lovato and the extraordinary talent represented by some of the industry’s most influential record labels to ‘Music & Mimosas.’ This must-attend session provides attendees with exclusive ‘listens’ to music from a variety of genres and serves as the perfect bookend to the radio industry’s hottest event.” The Radio Show will be held September 5 – 8 in Austin at the JW Marriott, with Lovato’s performance scheduled for (Friday) September 8. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) produce “Music & Mimosas.”

Cumulus Media Flint Designates Dymond VP/MM. Most recently market manager for Community Broadcasters’ five-station Watertown, New York cluster, Nancy Dymond is appointed vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media Flint, Michigan, which consists of five stations as well. Regional vice president/market manager of Cumulus Media Saginaw-Flint-Ann Arbor Chris Monk remarks, “It is great to have Nancy back in Flint. This is a market she knows and it is an area she loves. Nancy is the perfect person to lead our Flint team.” Dymond comments, “I couldn’t be more excited to be home and work with such a great community and stations.” Dymond was Cumulus Media Flint’s market manager from 2000 – 2004. Prior to that, she was general manager for Max Media of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley stations and general manager of Connoisseur Media-owned stations in Erie, Pennsylvania. The five Cumulus Media Flint properties are urban AC WDZZ “Z-92.7”; country WFBE “95.1 Nash FM”; sports talk WTRX “Xtra 1330”; news/talk WWCK-AM “SuperTalk 1570”; and CHR WWCK-FM “CK 105.5.”

WMYX Teams Kay and Hess in Morning Drive. The 5:00 am – 9:00 am on-air partnership of Elizabeth Kay and Tony “Radar” Hess (“Elizabeth & Radar”) starts next Monday (8/14) on Entercom Milwaukee hot AC WMYX “99.1 The Mix.” Entercom Milwaukee vice president of operations Brian Kelly comments, “I am excited for the new morning show and I am confident that ‘Elizabeth & Radar’ will bring the energy our listeners crave in the morning. ‘Radar’ has been part of waking up Milwaukee for the past 17 years and is extremely embedded in the community. I can’t think of a better match to join Elizabeth Kay.” Regarding Hess, Kay notes, “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to work with him again. Our paths crossed early on in my career, and I have always had great respect for him as a radio host, and who he is as a person. ‘Mix’ listeners will have a show they’ll be able to relate to and enjoy for many years to come.” Hess adds, “I am so very grateful for the opportunity at ‘The Mix.’ I stay in radio, and stay local – this only happens in dreams.” From January 2000 to March 2017, Hess was at cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WMIL “106.1 Milwaukee’s Best Country,” where he was morning drive co-host; Kay has been part of “Mix” AM drive shows since 2009.

Seacrest Signs Overall Pact with ABC Studios. A multi-year overall deal is in-place between iHeartMedia CHR KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM” morning talent Ryan Seacrest’s Ryan Seacrest Productionsand ABC Studios. RSP’s scripted division will develop scripted projects exclusively for ABC Studios at all television networks and platforms, including broadcast, basic and premium cable, and on-demand services. Nina Wass is president of RSP’s scripted programming and Seacrest remarks that, “Under Nina’s leadership, our scripted team has achieved great success. Her creativity, hard work, and key talent relationships have helped us achieve an impressive slate in a short period of time. We have worked with ABC Studios in the past, and we hope our partnership will serve to further our collective success. It is an honor for us to now call ABC Studios home for our scripted division.” The arrangement comes following Seacrest joining Kelly Ripa as co-host and fellow executive producer on Disney/ABC’s “Live with Kelly & Ryan.” ABC/Fremantle recently announced that Seacrest will rejoin “American Idol” for its first season on the network. Seacrest hosts and executive produces ABC’s annual “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Ryan Seacrest Productions’ scripted division previously had an overall deal at CBS TV Studios. Ryan Seacrest photo by Sara Jaye Weiss/REX/Shutterstock (8827927a) – KIIS-FM Wango Tango Concert, May 22, 2017.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nighttime talent Ashley Z leaves Cumulus Media Atlanta CHR WWWQ “Q-100” ….. To a morning show lineup which already includes Tracy Dixon and Guy David, Bonneville Denver country outlet KYGO adds Aaron “Goose” Seller, who for the past ten years, has done morning drive on Cumulus Media Colorado Springs adult contemporary KKPK “92.9 Peak FM.” KYGO program director John E. Kage states that with the addition of Seller, “We now have all the pieces of what will be a great morning show for the Denver audience for years to come.” ….. Adult contemporary WXLY “Y-102.5,” Charleston, South Carolina program director and morning drive talent Brian Cleary tacks on PD responsibilities at iHeartMedia country cluster-mate WEZL “103.5 Charleston’s #1 for New Country.” He succeeds Tyler Reese, who exited earlier this month. Cleary has spent nine of his 15 years with iHeartMedia in Charleston; he programmed WEZL for three years (2012 – 2015) prior to Reese’s arrival ….. After approximately 17 months as midday host of WGNA “107.7 Today’s Country,” Marissa Lanchak leaves the Townsquare Media Albany, New York station. Lanchak previously worked at cross-town Pamal CHR WFLY “Fly 92.3” ….. One week from Monday (8/21), Hannah Damas inherits the 11:00 am – 3:00 pm shift at Midwest Communications Green Bay-Appleton-Oshkosh (Wisconsin) country outlet WNCY “Y-100.” Damas succeeds Randy “Shotgun” Shannon, who now co-hosts morning drive with Charli McKenzie (“Shotgun & Charli”) ….. A flurry of activity within New South Radio Jackson, Mississippi finds the midday host of country WUSJ “US-96” – Nikki Brown – elevated to program director, succeeding Nate West, who remains in-place as morning drive co-host. Scott Steele, West’s on-air wakeup teammate at “US-96,” adds programming duties at classic country sibling WHJT “93.5 The Legend.” Over at CHR WYOY “Y-101,” music director/midday personality Charlie Buchwald replaces the exiting Carson Case as program director. Meanwhile, adult contemporary WJKK “Mix 98.7” morning co-host Brian Staufffer takes on added “director of digital” responsibilities for the entire cluster.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

| August 10, 2017

Bennett Helps WCBS-AM Note Its All-News Golden Anniversary. A special interview and performance this past Tuesday (8/8) by iconic singer Tony Bennett at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square highlighted a celebration of 50 years of news as CBS Radio New York’s WCBS-AM observed its 50th birthday as an all-news outlet. Wayne Cabot (29 years at WCBS-AM, the station’s longest-tenured anchor) and fellow news anchor Alex Silverman (who joined WCBS-AM in April 2011) hosted the event, which included a plethora of stories from WCBS-AM personalities and guests. Senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio New York Marc Rayfield states that WCBS-AM “is a trusted New York City news outlet with a rich history and legacy of delivering up-to-the-minute news. We will continue to tell the stories of the people, places, and happenings from all around this great city. This special night gathered listeners, station personalities, and prominent figures to celebrate what the station has meant for the past 50 years and will continue to mean into the future.” In addition to Cabot and Silverman, other WCBS-AM personalities there Tuesday night included Craig Allen, Joe Connolly, Pat Farnack, Brad Heller, Tom Kaminski, Paul Murnane, Steve Scott, and Michael Wallace. Among those sharing their New York stories were Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes,” “Late Show with David Letterman” bandleader (“The World’s Most Dangerous Band” and “CBS Orchestra”) Paul Shaffer, and former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine. CBS News’ Anthony Mason conducted the Tony Bennett interview. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales (which ranged from $55 to $150 per person) was donated to Exploring the Arts Foundation, Bennett’s charity organization dedicated to transforming lives of young people through arts education. Following back-to-back 2.4 showings (6+) in Nielsen Audio’s April and May PPM reports, WCBS-AM has registered a 2.7 (6+) in June and July, moving up from #13 in June to #12. Entercom will continue to use the CBS Radio News brand for at least one year after it closes on all of CBS Radio’s AM and FM properties.

KIRO-FM Teams with Seattle Police to Provide “Beds for Kids.” The goal of a joint effort between Bonneville Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM and the Seattle Police Department is to provide 600 needy local children with mattresses, bedframes, sheet sets, comforters, pillows and a Teddy bear. KIRO-FM afternoon drive (3:00 – 7:00 pm) hosts “Ron (Upshaw) & Don (O’Neill)” have been dedicated advocates for the “Beds for Kids” project since its inception, with O’Neill emphasizing, “Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that every child that needs a bed – gets a bed. When a child gets a good night sleep and something to eat, it is proven they stay in school and they do better in school. Help us help police help kids – it’s another way to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.” The “Beds for Kids” cofounder Jeremy Wade notes, “Over the last three years, we have been amazed to see how many kids in our community sleep on the floor. Through the ‘Beds for Kids’ program, we have provided over 500 local kids with a brand-new bed. This year’s goal of 600 beds is our most ambitious yet, but with the support of our partners and the public, we know it can be done.” The project was created in 2014 by Wade and fellow officer Ryan Gallagher, who responded to a 9-1-1 call and discovered two young girls had been sleeping on the floor. Wade and Gallagher returned to that home with new beds purchased with their own money. Since then, hundreds of people have stepped up to assist the two officers in providing beds for children in need. Elsewhere inside that Bonneville cluster, Seattle Seahawks coverage on sports talk KIRO-AM “710 ESPN” will include John Clayton (formerly with ESPN-TV), who will serve as a sideline reporter. In addition, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who called Seahawks pre-season games and was part of Westwood One’s NFL coverage the last two seasons, returns as radio analyst, a role he held for 13 seasons prior to 2015. Back as well for his 36th year on play-by-play is Steve Raible; Jen Mueller is in her ninth season doing sideline reporting.

Stigall Featured on “The Fox News Specialists.” Pictured above at the far right as he made his point yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 8/9) on “The Fox News Specialists” is CBS Radio-owned WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Philadelphia 5:30 am – 9:00 am talent Chris Stigall. Intently looking on (left to right) are another guest specialist Mike Baker, co-host Eboni Williams, guest-host Mark Steyn, and co-host Katherine Timpf.

PPM Data – Part Three. July 2017 ratings information has been released for Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Orlando, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen Audio’s July 2017 survey period covered June 22 – July 19. View all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.

Gottlieb Kicks Off Training Camp Tour. Gearing up for the start of football season, Fox Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb hits the road for on-location coverage from several NFL training sites. The journey began this past Monday (8/7) with a broadcast from the Los Angeles Rams facility at UC Irvine. Still in Southern California (Oxnard-Ventura), Gottlieb is with the Dallas Cowboys today (Thursday, 8/10), and he will visit the Los Angeles Chargers’ camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa next Wednesday (8/16). Pictured left to right are Fox Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay.

LG To Activate FM Chips in its Smartphones. The announcement that LG phones in North America and Latin America will have FM chips activated moving forward comes from NextRadio parent TagStation, whose president Paul Brenner states, “We are proud and excited to partner with one of the world’s leading Smartphone providers to continue our mission of connecting and exposing users to a fully immersive radio experience. This alliance will give millions of consumers the opportunity to receive real over-the-air FM radio through their phone.” NextRadio will be pre-loaded on some models.

WQBA Named Dolphins’ Spanish-Language Radio Flagship. As part of the multi-year agreement, Univision Radio Miami Spanish news/talk WQBA will air all Miami Dolphins pre-season, regular season, and playoff games. Raul Striker Jr. will handle play-by-play duties, while Eduardo Martell will provide color analysis. WQBA will produce pregame and postgame shows, as well as a weekly show covering Dolphins-related news/events. Sports programming falls under the recently-launched Univision Deportes Radio sports network. WQBA senior vice president and general manager Claudia Puig comments, “We are excited to once again partner with the Miami Dolphins, offering them a terrific opportunity to reach their Spanish-speaking fans through Univision Deportes Radio. Our listeners will now be able to cheer their favorite football team ‘en español.’ The Dolphins broadcasts will be a perfect complement to Univision Deportes Radio’s outstanding sports programming lineup.” Miami Dolphins senior vice president and chief commercial officer Todd Kline adds, “We are proud to partner with Univision Deportes Radio WQBA 1140 AM and are confident they will deliver the most complete and up-to-date coverage of the Miami Dolphins to fans. The Dolphins have a 36-year commitment to broadcast games in Spanish in the South Florida market – this partnership delivers on our strong tradition.” Spanish-language broadcasts of Dolphins games were previously heard on crosstown Deportes Media Spanish Sports WNMA “ESPN Deportes Miami.” The team’s English-language flagships are CBS Radio Miami’s WQAM “Sports Radio 560” and co-owned WKIS “Kiss 99.9 New Country.”

TALKERS News Notes. Citing other media sources, The Tennessean reports that former Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck will leave his “Wake-Up Zone” morning show co-hosting duties on Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone” in the next few weeks. Earlier, Wycheck announced he is stepping away from his role as analyst for Titans’ radio broadcasts for a year, owing to cognitive issues related to concussions from his playing days. It is reported, however, that Wycheck will remain with “The Zone” for swing duty ….. In other football-related news, iHeartMedia Tucson’s KTZR “Fox Sports 1450” joins the Arizona Cardinals radio network. Senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Tucson David Adams comments, “As the new home for Fox Sports in Tucson; the future home of Dan Patrick; and the official broadcast partner of the Tucson Roadrunners, we couldn’t be more excited to solidify our position as ‘Tucson’s Sports Station’ by adding the Cardinals.” The team’s previous Tucson affiliate was Cumulus Media’s KCUB “Sports Radio 1290.”

Checkpoint Radio Adds Houston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis Affiliates. The latest to join Checkpoint Radio – the first nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to the world of e-sports and gaming – are GOW Media’s KFNC “ESPN 97.5 FM,” Houston; Beasley Media Group’s WPEN “97.5 FM The Fanatic, Philadelphia”; and Hubbard’s WXOS “101 ESPN, St Louis.” Westwood One president/Cumulus Media executive vice president of corporate marketing Suzanne Grimes comments, “Checkpoint Radio is the only national show that connects radio stations and listeners to the explosive energy around e-sports. According to Newzoo, e-sports will grow to $696 million in revenue this year, a year-over-year increase of 41%. Brand investment is predicted to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020. This is a space you want to be in. Westwood One is the undeniable leader in sports programming – we know e-sports is an important sector for affiliates and advertisers.” Checkpoint Radio managing partner Rick Scott notes, “We are excited at the rapid growth of Checkpoint Radio in so many quality and big markets. It is a testament to the quality and appeal of the show and the passionate crew working to put it together.” Hosted by Nate Bender, Robbie Landis, Norris Howard, and Joe Sloan, two-hour weekly Checkpoint Radio features insights, news, interviews, and updates designed specifically for the video game and e-sports fan. In addition to the weekly show, Checkpoint also produces a podcast featuring content not heard on the radio program.

WKLB Elevates Santolucito to Director/Music and Marketing. Over and above continuing her oversight of the marketing/promotions department of WKLB “Country 102.5,” Dawn Santolucito is promoted to music and marketing director at the Beasley Media Group Boston property. Program director David Corey states, “Dawn’s passion, dedication, and organizational skills – plus a great ear for music – made her the ideal candidate for the position. We are proud to have Dawn in our ‘Country 102.5’ family.” Santolucito comments, “It truly has been a privilege being a part of the ‘Country 102.5’ family for the past seven years in my role within the marketing/promotions department. I am thrilled to begin this new chapter.” Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s just-released July 2017 PPM report, WKLB is flat at 4.5, but climbs from seventh in June 2017 to sixth, while cross-town format competitor – iHeartMedia-owned WBWL “101.7 The Bull – Boston’s New Hit Country” is up (modestly) for the third straight time (2.1 – 2.2 – 2.4 – 2.5, 6+) and inches up from #17 to #16. With a 7.7 (6+), WKLB classic hits-oldies sibling WROR “Boston’s Classic Hits” remains at #1 for the seventh successive sweep.

iHR, Understood.org Align to Help Kids Facing Learning/Attention Issues. One of every five children have a learning and attention challenge such as ADHD or dyslexia. A partnership between iHeartMedia and Understood.org explores and raises awareness of learning and attention issues, and breaks stereotypes about these often-misunderstood children. The partnership includes public service announcements voiced by iHeartMedia personalities Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran, Mario Lopez, and Bobby Bones, as well as a long-form public affairs show. Commenting about Understood.org, its executive leader/corporate partnerships & alliances Nancy Smith states, “This whole team is deeply committed to helping the millions of children with learning and attention issues get the support they need – support that can help them reverse any downward spiral in school.” From prior experience, Smith felt that iHeartRadio “has a strong belief in win-win partnerships and in helping the world be a better place. I knew collaboration with the iHeart team could take us to new levels of support for kids with learning and attention issues.” Aided by 15 nonprofit organizations, Understood.org launched nearly three years ago. “Today, it supports and empowers millions of parents through personalized resources, daily access to experts, a community of other parents and experts, and interactive tools,” Smith explains. “Many accomplished musicians including Justin Timberlake [ADHD], Lindsey Stirling [dyslexia], and Jewel [dyslexia] have learning and attention issues. Understood is happy to call iHeartRadio a partner in our mission to raise awareness of learning and attention issues. Having the support of a community of musical artists and fans who embrace differences can help build widespread acceptance for kids who are so often misunderstood. Together with iHeartRadio, we want to help even more children with learning and attention issues.”

Sun Broadcast Group Enters the “Country Fried Mix.” A sales and affiliation partnership with Sun Broadcast Group will bring “Country Fried Mix” with national touring artist and producer DJ Sinister to the network in three weeks (9/1). Sun chief executive officer Jason Bailey remarks, “One of the things we have always tried to do at Sun is find exciting and unique programs for our listeners and clients. When I heard ‘Country Fried Mix’ for the first time, I knew we had to have it in our lineup. There is simply nothing [else] like it on the radio – that’s why it is perfect for us. We are honored to represent this incredible product to the industry and the clients who support it.” According to DJ Sinister, “This new opportunity really takes us to the next level with partners that are willing to take risks,” while the program’s producer Charlie Pennachio adds, “Focus created this expansion; this opportunity gives us the ability to become a laser beam with a team.” The weekend show of mashed up/remixed country hits has aired since 2014 and has affiliates in (among other markets) Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit, Phoenix, and Nashville.

Opening “The Vault” Again in Montgomery. Jettisoning its top 40 format in order to return to rock as “107.1 The Vault” is Bluewater Broadcasting Montgomery, Alabama’s WQKS-HD3 W296AI. It abandoned “The Vault” four years ago in favor of classic jams “Yo! 107.1,” but as program director Rick Peters writes on his Facebook page, “The market has spoken and –  contrary to popular belief – we do listen. ‘The Vault’ will try to recreate album and progressive rock stations from the 1970s, such as [Los Angeles’] KMET and KLOS; [Chicago’s] WLUP [‘The Loop’]; [Philadelphia’s] WMMR; [Miami’s] WSHE; and [St. Louis’] KSHE. The format is freeform – the [on-air talent] can program what they like. Every day will be different – it’s a throwback. At the same time, it’s evolutionary for the day [but] it’s not designed to be mass-appeal. For those that ‘lived’ the music the first time, we will try to be worthy. For the rest of you, listen up [because] you might find something you love.” Among persons 12+ in Montgomery’s most recent Nielsen Audio book (spring 2017), WQKS-HD3 checks in at #16 with a .8, while iHeartMedia urban contemporary WZHT “Hot 105.7” is on top with an 11.2 (12+).

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Earlier this week, midday host Danny Dwyer of Alpha Media Portland country outlet KUPL “98.7 The Bull” raised $10,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in his inaugural golf invitational at Salem Oregon’s Creekside Country Club ….. A variety of tomato-themed activities will be included next Saturday (8/19) when Beasley Media Group Philadelphia classic rock WMGK morning personality John DeBella holds his three-hour (11:00 am – 2:00 pm) “Tomato Fest” in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Among the highlights are a biggest-tomato contest; a dunk tank manned by the show’s “Super Steve”; and bobbing for tomatoes. In addition, WMGK’s house band Kategory Five will perform, and there will be a classic car display. Donations of canned goods and fresh produce will be collected to benefit the South Jersey Food Bank. DeBella is said to have thought up the “Tomato Fest” concept while seeing a vast number of farm stands and pondering why the tomato wasn’t being celebrated ….. Three (four-hour) Westwood One Labor Day weekend music specials are in the pipeline. Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds will host rock’s “Summer Wrap Up”; Louis Tomlinson does the same for the pop format’s “Last Big Summer Weekend”; and ACM-award winner Kelsea Ballerini has the honors for “Workin’ Hard Country.”

Ell Talks Up Her Latest “Project.” During her visit to Westwood One’s syndicated “Ty, Kelly, & Chuck” morning show, Lindsay Ell discussed touring with Brad Paisley and creating her new album “The Project” with producer Kristian Bush. Shown left to right are Ty Bentli, Kelly Ford, Lindsay Ell, and Chuck Wicks.