Tag: "pandemic"

Pending Business: Minimizing Risk

| November 30, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Beyond the pandemic, what do you think is the single biggest obstacle to overcome in the mind of any local business owner?

I first came across the research when I was educating my teams on how competitive media sells. Back then the research was clear that 52% of local business owners considered advertising high risk. Imagine how the local business owner feels today.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

| November 23, 2020

Monday Memo: Blue Christmas, Bleak January, Big Opportunity. As every metric tells us this pandemic will worsen, consultant Holland Cooke describes how “smart stations will survive, even thrive.” Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccines, Trump’s Election Results Challenges, Biden Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections, Thanksgiving Travel Warnings, and Israel-Saudi Arabia Relations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, the projections for winter cases, and the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna; Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election and the legal challenges to the results in several states; Joe Biden’s transition process; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Thanksgiving holiday and warnings about traveling; and reports of the first-ever diplomatic meeting between Israel and Saudi Arabia were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: This Time Next Year. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, offers a five-step plan for radio sellers to evaluate their performance in order to help them get closer to their income goals. Read it here.

John B. Wells’ ‘Caravan to Midnight’ Enters Nightly Syndication Via Talk Media Network. The “Caravan to Midnight” program hosted by John B. Wells debuts as a live two-hour weeknight show beginning on December 1. Wells says, “The nightly show launch is like coming home in a way. Over-the-air radio is where I started. It’s my first love. It’s immediate, demanding, and therefore really exciting. Every show is a canvas waiting for the oil. Great radio is art, and I treat every episode as such.” Wells has been hosting his live Saturday night program “Ark Midnight” since April 2016. He adds, “One night a week on radio with ‘Ark Midnight’ was just the beginning of something much bigger. Our fans can’t get enough, our affiliates want more, and quite frankly, talk radio needs this program to thrive at night in the New Year and beyond.” Talk Media Network CEO Josh Leng remarks, “In just over seven months, 50 radio stations have signed on as ‘Ark Midnight’ affiliates. The demand for John B. Wells-hosted programming by radio stations is undeniable. ‘Caravan to Midnight’ with John B. Wells will be a destination program in weeknights.” The show will air live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Find more information at Talk Media Network here.

Three Let Go as Entercom Begins Operating WTEM, Washington Today. Ahead of today’s start of the LMA operation of sports talk WTEM-AM, Washington “Team 980” by Entercom, hosts Rick “Doc” Walker and Scott Linn, as well as program director Chris Johnson have exited the station. The Washington Post reports that the three were cut from the station on Friday (11/20). Entercom’s operation of and eventual acquisition of WTEM is part of a swap with Urban One which bought the station from Washington Football Team owner Dan Synder in 2018. Walker co-hosted the “Doc & Galdi” show with Al Galdi, who will continue as solo host of the late morning show. Linn was part of both afternoon programs, working alongside with Brian Mitchell in the early afternoon and with Steve Czaban in afternoon drive. The report indicated that Johnson will continue to produce Washington Football Team game broadcasts. He’s been doing so as an independent contractor for the last three seasons.

‘The Small Business Advocate’ Host Jim Blasingame Celebrates 23rd Anniversary. Last week, nationally syndicated talk host Jim Blasingame celebrated 23 years on the air. On November 17, 1997, Blasingame launched “The Small Business Advocate Show.” He says, “When we began, we wanted to provide Main Street entrepreneurs with the information, resources, and inspiration they need to start, run, and grow a small business. Thanks to the support of our audience, Brain Trust members, and corporate partners, we’ve accomplished that goal and continue to deliver multi-media content and resources for small businesses, including a mobile site and a video series.” Blasingame says he conducts more than 1,000 live interviews annually with his Brain Trust. From these live interviews, more than 2,600 podcasts are produced annually, resulting in a library of more than 50,000 podcasts available on-demand, without cost, to small businesses. Chuck Duncan, general manager of WCGO Radio, SmartTalk Radio Network, and the GAB Radio Network (which has produced Blasingame’s show since 2001) says, “Jim Blasingame is a true professional and one of the most dedicated talk show hosts I’ve seen in my more than 30 years in radio. Congratulations to Jim and his team on another awesome milestone.”

TALKERS News Notes. Seattle sports talker KIRO-AM “710 ESPN” announces that Pro Football Hall of Fame writer and longtime NFL analyst and radio host John Clayton will continue to have a presence on the station several weeks after he and hosts Jim Moore and Tom Wassell were let go as part of budget-related moves at the Bonneville station. Clayton’s weekday show is not returning by he is resuming his regular, daily appearances on the morning and afternoon drive shows. He’ll host his own show that will air Saturdays from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. Clayton also is maintaining his role as a sideline reporter on broadcasts by the Seahawks Radio Network, of which “710 ESPN Seattle” is the flagship station…..SiriusXM announces “Howard Stern’s Comics on Comics,” a new video special that will be available over Thanksgiving week. The video series showcases legendary comedian guests sharing stories about their fellow comedians. Some of the comedians featured include Jim Carrey on Rodney Dangerfield, Tommy Chong on Redd Foxx and George Carlin, and Marc Maron on Sam Kinison.

Entercom and Ad Council Partner for COPING-19 Mental Health Campaign. An audio public service campaign aimed at raising awareness of mental health challenges is being produced by Entercom in partnership with the Ad Council, as well as the CDC, the CDC Foundation, The HHS, and the White House. The campaign is called COPING-19 and as part of it, Entercom will develop and provide bilingual audio PSAs that help Americans address mental health, as well as donate time and space to support the campaign across its broadcast, digital, and social media assets. The campaign will also see the launch of the Coping-19.org website that will serve as a central hub where visitors will be able to access over 100 vetted resources in English and Spanish to help with their mental health needs. Coping-19.org will also feature a set of self-care best practices and principles in accordance with CDC and leading scientists, as well as links to more in-depth information by category. Entercom VP, social impact Sarah Harris says, “Entercom is dedicated to supporting the health and success of the communities that are the heart of our business. With so many Americans struggling with mental health, we are delighted to use the reach of our platform to share helpful self-care and coping tips with our 170 million listeners and so many more in partnership with the Ad Council. We know talk is a powerful tool in the struggle for mental health and are committed to using our voice to break the stigma and help people find the resources they need to thrive.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Vanessa Hale joins Entercom’s hot AC KLLC-FM, San Francisco “Alice @ 97.3” as host of the midday show. Entercom San Francisco SVP and market manager Greg Nemitz says, “I’m happy to welcome Vanessa Hale back to the airwaves to join Alice’s impressive slate of on-air talent. Her passion for her craft and willingness to engage with her audience will translate to a dynamic midday program for our listeners as they move through their days.” Hale was most recently afternoon drive host for the company’s former WODS-FM, Boston…..A deal between Alpha Media and Skyview Networks will put “Nick Cannon Radio” and “The Dana Cortez Show” on Alpha’s WE format stations in San Antonio; Amarillo, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. The shows will air in middays and afternoons. Alpha Media EVP of content Phil Becker says, “Our relationship with both ‘The Dana Cortez Show’ and ‘Nick Cannon Radio’ has always been a good one. I’m excited to lengthen our partnership as well as welcome them to some new stations. The work intensity, customization and team mentality of both ‘The Dana Cortez Show’ and ‘Nick Cannon Radio’ continue to impress me. Their expansion onto our WE stations is well deserved and I’m confident both shows will have a banner 2021.”

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.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

| September 22, 2020

Interesting News from 77WABC on Both the Political and Musical Fronts.  New York City-based businessman and radio broadcaster John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Media acquired news/talk station WABC late last year, tells TALKERS that he is thinking about running for mayor of the Big Apple next year and that the heritage outlet is considering adding more musical programming to its weekend lineup to accompany the recent hiring of legendary disc jockey “Cousin” Bruce Morrow as host of a three-hour Saturday night program.  In an exclusive interview with both men conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison this morning (9/22), Catsimatidis and Morrow were in agreement that weekends are a good time to take a break from the stress and negativity of politics in favor of enjoying the fun and escape of music and non-combative entertainment. Catsimatidis, who also hosts his own weekend political talk show, stated, “Saturday nights, Sunday nights and Friday nights are for relaxing – not for headaches. Politics has gotten too serious and everyone is at each other’s throats. That’s wrong! We’re going to be bringing in more people, subject to Cousin Brucie’s approval, to do more music on WABC – especially on weekends.” Catsimatidis, who ran for mayor of New York in 2013 as a moderate Republican, was the runner-up in that year’s GOP primary. He tells Harrison, “On my radio show I have liberals and I have conservative guests. I have Republicans and I have Democrats. Some of my best friends are Democrats and consider me a Democrat. If I decide to run for mayor next year, I will try to do it on the ‘fusion’ ticket and not necessarily on any party line.” The entire conversation between Harrison, Morrow, and Catsimatidis will be posted on next week’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” podcast and portions of it will appear on this coming weekend’s edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” radio show.

Talker Chris Stigall Returns KCMO-AM, Kansas City to Host Late Morning Show. After being away from the Kansas City talk radio audience for 10 years, talk radio host Chris Stigall is returning to the air in the market on Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, beginning today (9/22). Stigall hosted the morning show on KCMO from 2006 through 2010, prior to joining WPHT, Philadelphia. Stigall has been the morning drive personality on Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” since last fall and he’ll continue in the role. Cumulus Kansas City regional vice president and market manager Donna Baker says, “[Program director and morning host] Pete Mundo has established ‘KCMO Mornings’ as the trusted local talk radio destination for daily issues that affect our Kansas City community. His idea to welcome Chris Stigall back to continue the local dialogue with KCMO listeners from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is a brilliant addition to this iconic station.” Stigall comments, “You can move away from Kansas City, but anyone who’s born and raised here knows Kansas City is always in your heart. Most of my family and closest friends still call it home. It’s been a while, but like any good friend, the audience of KCMO Talk Radio and I go way back, and we’ll pick up right where we left off.”

Crossover Media Group Adds ‘Just Ask the Question’ to Podcast Portfolio. The podcast featuring White House reporter Brian Karem, “Just Ask the Question,” joins the growing podcast portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. As you may recall, Karem – who writes for Playboy and has frequently appeared on CNN – rose to greater prominence recently when the Trump Administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to pull his White House press pass. Crossover Media Group will drive advertising sales and promote and increase distribution for the podcast, that features interviews with guests in the news and offers special insights to the news, with guests such as author Mary Trump; biotech executive and vaccine expert Dr. Stephen Hoffman; retired former Montgomery County, Maryland, police chief Tom Manger; intelligence analyst Naveed Jamali; various senators and representatives; and even comedians Kathy Griffin and Carl Reiner. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “The idea of the podcast is to engage people about real issues on a substantive level. At the same time, we want to engage listeners and blow your mind. Brian is famously fearless in pushing for answers and facts and holding elected officials accountable. Adding ‘Just Ask the Question’ rounds out our growing roster of content in the news and political and issues talk arena which now includes ‘CBS News on the Hour,’ John Solomon’s ‘Just the News,’ David Shuster’s ‘Quick Hits’ and shows hosted by popular talk personalities Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.

Hillary Clinton Podcast Series Announced by iHeartMedia. The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator is hosting a 24-episode podcast series on the iHeartPodcast Network titled, “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton,” that debuts on September 29. The program will feature candid interviews with guests from a wide range of backgrounds including: Sarah Cooper, Gloria Steinem, Stacey Abrams, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, Samin Nosrat, Patton Oswald, Tan France, and more. Clinton says, “I’m excited to bring these eye-opening, powerful, sometimes hilarious conversations to the forefront and open up new avenues of discussion with some of the people I find most fascinating. This podcast is a chance to talk about subjects that are too often overlooked and share the inspiration and education I’ve gotten from my guests.”

WFNZ, Charlotte Producer and APD Mark Seidel Passes at 37. News of the death of WFNZ, Charlotte producer and assistant program director Mark Seidel at age 37 from an apparent heart attack was shared by WFNZ staffer Travis Hancock who tweeted, “With much sadness I say RIP to our WFNZ brother Mark Seidel. I’m heartbroken. We were HS classmates. We crossed paths again when he got into radio in 07. He was a gentle soul who I have never heard a person say a bad word about. He deserved a long and happy life. We are crushed.”

SCOTUS Nominee Battle, the Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/CDC Flip Flop, Back to School Woes, Western Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Beta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). Republicans’ vow to move ahead with a Supreme Court nominee in the aftermath of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the November presidential election and the debate over the veracity of mail-in voting; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and the controversy over the CDC’s flip-flopping on posting that transmission via aerosol is likely; the struggles families are facing returning to school and the related college outbreaks; the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; and Tropical Storm Beta flood threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Dallas sports talk outlet KTCK-AM/FM “Sportsradio 96.7 and 1310 The Ticket” announces it helped raise more than $122,000 for Dallas-area children during its 2nd annual “Donnie’s DFW Domino Classic” held over the Labor Day weekend. The Cumulus Media station says all proceeds go to Dallas charitable organization, AT LAST! Boarding, which helps underprivileged children get a quality education. This year’s event was hosted by Donovan Lewis, co-host of The Ticket’s “The Norm and D Invasion” and included an online car raffle and virtual dominoes tournament…..Cadence13 and Entercom are partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author Tim Weiner, Jigsaw Productions and Prologue Projects for “Whirlwind” – a 10-part original documentary podcast franchise that tells the story of the 75-year battle between the US and Russia. The series builds off Weiner’s book, The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare: 1945-2020 (Henry Holt, 2020) and offers a deep-dive into a world of secrets, brought to life through focused, intimate interviews with people who have operated inside of it…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Imperative Entertainment today premiere the first English and Spanish language podcasts, “The Red Note” and “La Nota Roja,” that is also to become a documentary feature film. The 10-episode podcast series are hosted by investigative journalist Lydia Cacho and examine the Juarez femicides that have taken the lives of thousands of women over the past 25 years…..KQED announces a new, five-part limited podcast series on the California housing crisis that will be hosted by KQED’s housing affordability reporters Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari. “SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America” reimagines what housing can be by examining California, the epicenter of the nation’s housing affordability crisis. KQED says, “Solomon and Baldassari introduce us to people experiencing homelessness and the activists pushing city leaders to de-commodify housing. They talk with builders hacking traditional construction methods to build more homes faster and policy experts who believe housing can be a form of reparations that gives Black Americans the same opportunity that white Americans have always had in this country.”…..SiriusXM extends its collaboration with superstar Kevin Hart and Laugh Out Loud. Under the new deal, Hart will host new regular and live programs on his SiriusXM channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, while expanding SiriusXM’s relationship with LOL to include a slate of additional comedic programming spanning radio shows, podcasts, and on-demand video that will be distributed across the SiriusXM ecosystem…..Pictured below is new Salem Radio Network talk host Charlie Kirk (right) in the KRLA, Los Angeles studios with SRN videographer Ethan Tradup (left) as he records a series of marketing videos for his new SRN talk program “The Charlie Kirk Show.” Kirk is the founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA. His program premieres on October 5. See a video here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Tulsa, programming pro Abby Jessen is named the new director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group’s hot AC KRAV-FM “Mix 96.5.” She comes to Tulsa from CMG’s Athens, Georgia operations where she held a similar position. CMG Tulsa market vice president Cathy Gunther says, “At CMG, we’ve always said that we win with our people and it’s led to the creation and longevity of our market-leading products. Bringing Abby onto our team will continue to give us an advantage over our competitors and help us further elevate our award-winning content.”…..iHeartMedia announces that the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One, originally scheduled for May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, will now be a virtual streaming and on-air radio special on October 23. The seventh annual event will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Morgan Evans and Gabby Barrett and a guest appearance by Bobby Bones. The program is being  recorded live on one stage in Nashville and will stream exclusively on LiveXLive and be broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country music radio stations in local markets and at iHeartRadio.com on October 23 at 7:00 pm CT…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WCSX, Detroit is producing a special, 12-week program titled, “Seger Saturdays” that will air Saturdays at 9:00 am beginning October 3. WCSX says the new program – hosted by morning show personality Big Jim O’Brien – will highlight the incredible legacy of Detroit’s iconic rocker, Bob Seger and will feature a full hour of music, interviews, special guests, and storytelling relating to Bob’s Hall of Fame career. Beasley Media Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “Bob Seger is revered in Detroit, so we’re taking our listeners beyond the music, sharing stories about the people and events that shaped his legendary career. Listeners can expect to hear all the great Seger classics along with a behind-the-scenes view of Bob’s inner circle.”…..After six years of live concerts at Tysons Corner Center, the “WGTS 91.9 Summer Concert Series” from Atlantic Gateway Communications’ Christian contemporary WGTS moved to a virtual format.  The band Unspoken was to have performed from the mall but instead, WGTS morning show hosts Jerry Woods and Blanca Vega tossed it to Unspoken at the Sound Kitchen studios in Franklin, Tennessee for the show. Afternoon show hosts Johnny and Stacey Stone picked things up from the WGTS video studios interviewing Unspoken and taking live questions from listeners. Jerry Woods says, “This definitely was the next best thing to having them in person. Using the Streamyard video platform we were able to put live listener comments up on the screen and the band immediately reacted to listeners. This added a whole new dimension to the live broadcast.” More than 10,000 listeners from coast to coast and countries around the world viewed the webcast.

August 2020 PPM Analysis:
Major League Baseball Flagships

| September 11, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — To say this has been the wackiest baseball season on record – and perhaps the strangest, most challenging year, in general, in our lifetime – would be the height of understatement.

Yes, we’ve previously witnessed MLB strikes that cancelled games (1972 and 1982).

One in 1994 actually wiped out the post-season, including that year’s World Series.

Lockouts have occurred in 1973, 1976, and 1990.

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, however, 2020’s entire 162-game season was whittled down to just 60 games.

Fingers remain crossed, but there’s no guarantee that reduced slate will be fulfilled.

Moreover, games are being played with no fans in the stands.

Preceded by two games on (Thursday) July 23, MLB teams gave it a go on (Friday) July 24 and their respective radio flagships returned to action as well, although some broadcast teams are doing play-by-play from remote studios.

With that as a backdrop, we present our exceptionally tardy first-of-the-year overview of MLB flagships.

As usual, this analysis comes with some unique ground rules and fine-print.

Leading off, the following scoreboards are for an MLB team’s English-language, Nielsen Audio subscribing key station during the August 2020 sweep (July 16 – August 12).

Some MLB teams have an AM and FM flagship and/or an emergency alternative (backup); however, our lineup card only shows one “designated hitter” per team.

In cases where the multiple flagships include music FMs, we have selected the spoken-word station. If both flagships are from the spoken-word arena, the sports talk outlet gets the nod.

Mirroring the one-station-per-team model, MLB flagships listed here have ratings data from one Nielsen Audio metro.

For example, information is limited for the flagships of the Mets (news WCBS-AM) and Yankees (sports talk WFAN) to their home market of New York City, even though they may appear in Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) and/or Middlesex-Somerset-Union.

Likewise, key stations for the Giants (sports talk KNBR) and A’s (business news KNEW-AM in its first-year) appear in San Francisco and San Jose, but only the San Francisco data is used here.

The primary flagship for the Los Angeles Angels, (sports talk) KLAA, is unlisted (August 2020) in both the Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario reports. Therefore, we are using the team’s secondary outlet, (sports talk) KSPN, throughout this entire overview.

No ratings information is available/shown for the main outlet of the American League East’s Toronto Blue Jays (sports talk CJCL).

Data cited here is not limited to any specific day-part. All stats are full-week, Monday – Sunday, 6:00 am – 12:00 midnight (6+).

Since the season was delayed from late-March until July 23 – 24, we are foregoing our usual year-to-year comparisons; however, we are adding cume as a new component.

Spoiler Alert: So, how did fans react after being in lockdown mode in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis with no baseball as a diversion?

Did they miss MLB on radio, or have they moved on and lost interest in our “National Pastime?”

In results reminiscent of how adult contemporary outlets obliterate the competition when they play all-Christmas music, not one of our MLB flagships showed July 2020 – August 2020 erosion (90% improved/10% were unchanged).

If not even more so, cume results are equally as impressive – as every MLB key station registers a month-to-month cume uptick.

Read More

Pending Business: Talk to the Winners

| August 10, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Pandemic sales pressure?  Chances are your manager has you focused on generating new business.  If you are in the daily development mode, here is a little motivation as we look at what’s working.

Pump up the volume

Sales is always about understanding the science of numbers and performance. No matter where you are in the pandemic sales curve, new business development today requires more calls, different calls.

Prospecting is challenging to begin with and the impact of the pandemic on business, reasons to advertise must go beyond the same-old-same-old. Listen better, make notes, look for opportunities and learn from every call.

Read More

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

| July 14, 2020

Roland Martin Joins iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network. Journalist Roland Martin is becoming part of iHeartMedia’s BIN – Black Information Network – programming initiative as a commentator. His podcast “#RolandMartinUnfiltered” is also being made available on the iHeartPodcast Network. BIN: Black Information Network is iHeartMedia’s recently launched “24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” In his role with BIN, Martin will exclusively curate custom commentary segments for BIN to be broadcast daily throughout the network’s 24-hour news feed. His commentary will be available on more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices, as well as on local AM/FM broadcast radio stations in numerous U.S. cities. Director of news operations Tanita Myers says, “When we launched BIN: Black Information Network, we knew how extremely important it was to provide a forum for trusted voices within the Black community and there’s perhaps no one more trusted and reliable in Black media today than Roland Martin. He has built a legacy that has paved the way for other Black journalists and continues to use his platform to bring a much needed perspective on topics that matter to both Black Americans and the nation in general.” Martin comments, “I am excited to provide daily commentaries to BIN. We are living in a time where we need more coverage about the issues facing African Americans. In addition, I am really thrilled to partner with the iHeartPodcast Network to distribute and market the ‘#RolandMartinUnfiltered’ audio podcast. We have seen tremendous growth with the daily video show, and we can’t wait to do the same with the audio podcast.”

TALKERS Magazine to Publish 2020 Heavy Hundred on Thursday (7/16). This Thursday (7/16), the editors of TALKERS magazine will publish the 2020 edition of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America – what has become known over the years as the Heavy Hundred. This year’s Heavy Hundred is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine using such factors as: ratings, revenue, courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, recognition, service, talent, and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. The editors would like to acknowledge that the publication of this year’s list was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the radio industry. However, it’s also important to note that it is times like these that talk radio personalities have the opportunity to become an even more important part of their listeners’ lives by delivering the information they need and providing the opportunity to hear debate about and take part in discussions concerning the events affecting their lives. Those who do that well are usually rewarded with success. We look forward to Thursday’s publication of the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in ways that put them among the “most important.”

Edison: COVID-19 Affects Morning Show Listening. According to data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study, U.S. radio listeners 13 and older began their morning listening 75 minutes later that before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. Edison says that “pre-COVID-19, the point in the day when 50% of those in the U.S. age 13+ recorded their first entry of their audio day was around 7:15 am. During Q2 fielding of Share of Ear, it was not until 8:30 am that half of respondents had recorded any audio usage.” Edison Research director Laura Ivey says, “This finding challenges our thinking about how those in the U.S. listen to audio during traditional drive times. With many people staying at home or working from home during Q2, they did not engage with audio as early as they did pre-COVID. This data shows that if Americans continue current work patterns, audio strategies may need to be adjusted.”

Westwood One: Direct-To-Consumer Retail Sales Continues to Surge. The data comes from the second annual Direct-To-Consumer Media Attribution and Awareness study in which Westwood One with LeadsRx and MARU Matchbox is seeking to understand the marketing effectiveness of direct-to-consumer firms and the state of their brand equity. Noting that even before the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce was surging (e-commerce represented 11.8% of total U.S. retail sales up from 6.9% in the first quarter of 2015) the study sought to examine direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands who sell online and the marketing practices that lead to success. Cumulus Media|Westwood One chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard says, “Direct-to-consumer brands are entering their second act now, seeking to grow through market penetration and attract the masses via TV and AM/FM radio. This study validates the brand-building sales effect of broadcast media as TV and radio drive seven times the search and site traffic lift of Google and Facebook.” Another finding from the study is that AM/FM radio is a catalyst for increased effectiveness of Google and Facebook ads during the pandemic. During 2019, Facebook and Google ads saw a 15% increase in performance due to AM/FM radio advertising. During the pandemic in Q2 2020 radio’s impact on Google/Facebook performance surged to 20%. See more here.

IAB: COVID-19 Cuts Projected U.S. Podcast Revenue in Half. The U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study from IAB includes results from 2019, projections for 2020 and beyond, and a detailed industry analysis. The key revenue takeaway is that IAB had projected podcast revenue to rise 29.6% in 2020, but after the coronavirus pandemic struck, that figure has been revised to an increase of 14.7%. The positive news is that projections indicate the third and fourth quarters of 2020 should improve. That said, U.S. podcast revenue is nearing the $1 billion mark. Looking back, the study finds the total market year-over-year revenue estimate increased 48% to $708.1 million in 2019, from FY 2018’s total market estimate of $479.1 million. Another finding relevant to news and news/talk radio pros is that the calculation of 2019 podcast advertising revenues based on genre indicates that news podcasts grabbed 22% of the podcast revenue, leading the pack (comedy was in second place with 17% of the podcast revenue). See more here.

TALKERS News Notes. In Boston, Beasley Media Group is teaming up with RCN Business to award a total of $200,000 in marketing support to assist the Small Business Association Grant Program. The companies say they have created a customized program designed to help local businesses get back up and running, without having to worry about marketing budgets. The program is offering designated small businesses the opportunity to be considered for a $10,000 media schedule to use on one of five Beasley Media Boston radio stations – including sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub.”. A total of 20 small businesses will be selected to receive a grant to help advertise…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that conservative talk host Joe Walsh’s new program on suburban WCGO-AM, Evanston and the affiliated GAB Radio Network is moving from a delay broadcast slot to the live 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm time slot. Walsh, a former U.S. Representative from Chicago and a former WIND-AM talk host, has been back on the radio for about seven weeks. WCGO general manager Chuck Duncan says, “I think this will probably come as welcome news for his Chicago listeners as they can now interact with him live versus having to listen via stream in order to participate. His call volume has been off the charts, with major activity from New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Miami, and his streaming audio numbers are the highest we’ve ever seen from any show on the station — averaging about 2,700 unique instances a day.”…..FOX Sports Radio is touting its success on digital platforms in the absence of live sports. Premiere Networks says June 2020 was FSR’s second-best month ever in terms of podcast listens. “Year over year, the network’s total podcast audience grew 88%, bringing the monthly total to more than 16.5 million for the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network. On the streaming front, FSR’s audience grew 70% from April 2020 to May 2020. The following month, May 2020 to June 2020, FSR’s streaming audience grew an additional 13%.  Year over year, FSR’s streaming was up 55%, marking the network’s second-best streaming month of all time.”

Radio Pros Paul Vandenburgh and Mimi Griswold Among 2020 Inductees in NY Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The board of directors of the New York State Broadcasters Association announces the Hall of Fame Class of 2020.  This year’s class includes WGDJ-AM, Albany owner, general manager, and talk host Paul Vandenburgh; Galaxy Media Partners VP of programming Mimi Griswold; WNBC-TV, New York anchor David Ushery; and WVVH-TV, Hamptons owners Greg and Ernie Schimizzi.  NYSBA president David Donovan says, “The Class of 2020 represents the best in the broadcasting profession. While the inductees represent a cross section of broadcasters from across the state, they share one key characteristic. They have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serve their local communities. We are honored to have them join the ranks of the legendary broadcasters from New York.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Trump vs Fauci, Schools Opening Debate/Foreign Students Lawsuit, Presidential Race, Portland Unrest, U.S.-China Tensions, Washington Redskins Name Change Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/13). The soaring number of new COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states and projections for future cases; President Trump’s divergence from Dr. Tony Fauci on the seriousness of the pandemic; the debate over opening U.S. schools in the fall and 18 attorneys general sue the White House over the foreign students ban; the November presidential election; the protests and clashes with police in Portland, Oregon; the U.S. challenges China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; and the NFL’s Washington Redskins agree to change the name of the team 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. In Providence, Hall Communications announces that it is elevating afternoon drive host and production director Kevin Palana to program director for country WCTK-FM “Cat Country 98.1.” Palana is taking over for company VP of programming Bob Walker who is moving south to lead programming at the company’s Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida operations. In this role, Palana will also program classic hits WNBH, New Bedford, Massachusetts “BIG 101.3.” Palana says, “I want to thank Tom, Bob, and everyone at Hall for this opportunity. I grew up in this market and there is no place I’d rather live. I look forward to working directly with Courtney Kelley and Brian Mulhern of ‘Cat Country’ mornings and the entire staff in Providence and New Bedford.”…..Townsquare Media’s hot AC KCIX, Boise “MIX 106” brings Angie Morales into the morning drive show alongside John Moug for the “Moug & Angie Mornings” program. Moug says, “Townsquare Media has given us this incredible opportunity to connect with the Treasure Valley in a real way. We’re here to have a ton of fun, laugh until we’re light-headed, but also not hide from the real-world issues that we’re all facing on a daily basis. Plus, the fact that I get to do this show with one of the funniest people I’ve ever met takes the cake!”…..iHeartMedia Boston’s WXKS-FM “Kiss 108” and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents are launching “Kiss 108’s Chromebooks For Kids” – a fundraising campaign to purchase Chromebooks for local students to use at home and in the classroom. Now through Labor Day weekend, “Kiss 108” is encouraging listeners to make a donation and support students in the community.

Monday, July 6, 2020

| July 6, 2020

Monday Memo: 1,000 True Fans. “Broadcasters know things podcasters don’t,” but consultant Holland Cooke explains that “podcasters have an opportunity to grow audience that broadcasters don’t.” And in this week’s column, HC points to a podcasting business strategy he’s recommended for years. Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fourth of July Holiday, Trump Mt. Rushmore Rally/Presidential Race, BLM Movement/Confederate and Colonial-Era Monuments, U.S.-China Tensions, Ghislaine Maxwell Case, and Sports Leagues Plan Re-Openings Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spiking of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future infections; the Fourth of July holiday and concerns about large gatherings; President Trump’s rally at Mt. Rushmore and the November presidential election; the Black Lives Matter protests and the movement to remove Confederate and colonial-era monuments; the U.S. and Chinese military tensions in the South China Sea; Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged former madam Ghislaine Maxwell is indicted; and the plans to re-open pro sports leagues in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Updating Your Unique Value. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column about the changing “unique” value that your news/talk radio station has. He says that since radio is no longer the preeminent free utility that it once was, salespeople should take time to re-evaluate what makes their station “unique.” Read it here.

iHeartMedia Gets KGB-AM Calls for San Diego News/Talker. The acquisition of San Diego news/talk outlet KFMB-AM by iHeartMedia from Local Media San Diego is complete and the station has received permission from the FCC to change the call letters to KGB-AM. As part of the deal in which Tegna sold KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM to Local Media San Diego for $5 million, Tegna required the stations give up the KFMB calls. LMSD in turn sold KFMB-AM to iHeartMedia for $1.2 million. iHeartMedia San Diego market president Melissa Forrest says, “The KGB call letters are legendary in San Diego and we’re excited to make them a part of AM 760’s next chapter as San Diego’s talk station.” iHeartMedia has kept the program lineup largely intact with local hosts Mark Larson (10:00 am to 12:00 noon) and Mike Slater (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) in the mix among syndicated programs. Former station talk host Brett Winterble exited the station earlier this year and is now afternoon drive host at Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.

‘New Jersey 101.5’ Presents Next Event in Town Hall Series. On Wednesday (7/8) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the next in its series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey residents and businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The station says that according to a survey by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, nearly 40% of New Jersey business owners are depleting their personal savings to survive pandemic closures. New Jersey 101.5 VP and head of news and digital content Eric Scott adds, “Businesses are still hurting, and we will connect them with the help they need. But we also want to celebrate their unique innovations that are allowing them to operate in these challenging times.” Experts on this week’s panel include: Michele Siekerka, president & CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Marilou Halvorsen, president & CEO, New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association; Kristin Fitzgerald, communications manager, Six Flags Great Adventure; and Dr. Ronald Nahass, epidemiologist, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour.

Herman Cain Being Treated for COVID-19. Former WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta talk host Herman Cain announces via Twitter that he’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that symptoms were severe enough that he’s been hospitalized. The message notes that Cain has not been put on a respirator. It also says there is no way of knowing how or where Cain contracted the illness. It’s being noted in numerous reports that Cain was hospitalized on July 1, the same day he sent a tweet saying masks will not be required at Donald Trump’s Mt. Rushmore rally and that “people are fed up.” Cain was present at Trump’s Tulsa rally and had traveled before and after that event, including to current hot spot Arizona. Cain hosts a talk show on his website and hosts a weekend talk program on Newsmax TV.

WPHT, Philadelphia Presented Major Homegrown Two-Hour Independence Day Weekend Special.  Located in the birthplace of America, it was only apt for news/talk giant WPHT, Philadelphia to present a homegrown two-hour holiday special celebrating the 244th birthday of the nation that aired twice over the weekend.  The program titled “Independence Day 2020: Hope and Inspiration for America at the Halfway Point of a Very Tough Year” focused on American heroes – local as well as national officials and military figures – telling their stories and talking about the comeback of our great nation.  The special was written and hosted by WPHT mid-morning personality Dom Giordano who tells TALKERS, “We got a great response from our listeners and sponsors who enjoyed the information and ‘feel good’ aspect of the program that although recognizing the difficulty of these tough times, approached the issues in a much-needed uplifting and inspirational manner.”

AJ Punjabi Named Market President for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, SC Cluster. Media sales pro AJ Punjabi is named market president for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, South Carolina station group that includes news/talk WSC “News Radio 94.3” and five music brands. He was most recently general sales manager for Cox Media Group in Miami. iHeartMedia Carolina’s area president Ron Hill says, “We’re excited to have AJ join iHeartMedia as our market president in Charleston. He’s a dynamic leader with a proven track record of building strong relationships and success for his company and their clients. AJ’s experience and leadership skills make him one of the best executives in our business, and he’ll be an excellent addition to our team serving the Low Country.”

‘myTalk 107.1’ Twin Cities Raises Almost $150,000 for Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Hubbard Radio talk station says that “in an effort to lift up and rebuild minority-owned businesses on Lake Street and on the Northside of Minneapolis, as well as in St. Paul’s Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods, ‘myTalk 107.1’ [KTMY] on-air personalities poured out their hearts, sharing stories of the business owners whose lives were negatively impacted with their thousands of listeners.” In partnership with the Neighborhood Development Center, the two-week awareness and fundraising campaign “myTalk Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund” raised $149,515. The station says that its four programs – Jason & Alexis, Donna & Steve, Colleen & Bradley, and Lori & Julia – encouraged their listeners to contribute to the Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Jason & Alexis morning show featured “10 stories in 10 days” – allowing an entrepreneur whose business was destroyed or negatively impacted during the unrest to share their story with ‘myTalk’ listeners. KTMY program director Amy Daniels says, “This is what community looks like in the Twin Cities. ‘myTalk 107.1’ listeners and 20 of our advertising partners joined together to rebuild our neighborhoods, uplift businesses, and bring hope. The Neighborhood Development Center was the perfect partner to tell small business stories and distribute the money to all who need it.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sales pro Jessica Schwartz is named director of sales for Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” and WPST-FM, Princeton. She was most recently VP of sales & marketing at iPlay America. She begins her new role on August 10. She says, “I am beyond excited to join the team at Townsquare Media. With a strong and diverse portfolio of broadcast and digital solutions, positive work environment, and the best team in the market, I know we will continue to grow these two fantastic stations.”…..BIA Advisory Services is presenting a webinar on July 14 at 11:00 am ET called “U.S. Local Radio: State of the Industry Now and in 2021.” BIA estimates U.S. local radio advertising will be $12.8 billion in 2020, comprised of $11.4 billion for over-the-air revenue and $1.4 billion for digital revenue. Although this estimate is lower than its earlier expectations, BIA says there are bright spots for the industry and opportunities for a strong rebound from the effects of this pandemic. Register for the webinar here…..NuVoodoo Media Services is offering a free webinar on Wednesday (7/8) at 1:00 pm ET called “Marketing in the New Abnormal.” The company will share the latest findings of its Ratings Prospects Study XVI and “important insights for marketing radio brands during uncertain times.” You can register here…..The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame board of directors announces it is postponing its 9th Annual Induction Ceremony scheduled for Saturday, August 8. For now, the organization is hoping to reschedule this year and says tickets for the August 8 date will be honored for the new date…..Former longtime producer of the Neil Rogers show, Jorge Rodriguez has died at the age of 55. A post on the Neil Rogers Tribute Facebook page by former cast member Boca Britany (formerly Boca Brian) lauds Rodriguez but offers no cause of death. Rodriguez produced the Neil Rogers show during its time airing on WIOD and WQAM in Miami. He leaves behind two daughters, Sabrina and Arabella.

Blanquita Cullum Named to The Texas Radio Hall of Fame and Awarded Prestigious Sammy Award.  Legendary talk radio personality and broadcast industry figure Blanquita Cullum has been named to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and is the recipient of this year’s Sammy Award.  The Sammy Award is presented each year to a “trailblazing” female broadcaster. In a statement made at the presentation, Josh Holstead, operations manager of the Texas Hall of Fame said, “Each year, the Texas Radio Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding contributions and achievements of a trailblazing female broadcaster. Named for legendary female personality Mary “Sam” Stoddard, this year our Board of Directors bestow this honor on San Antonio’s Blanquita Cullum.  From humble beginnings as a copywriter at K-BUC, Blanquita became one of the most recognized and respected women in Alamo City radio, and eventually a nationally recognized figure after taking her talents to Washington, DC.  It gives me great pride to see a person so deserving receive this accolade.” Cullum achieved success with her program “The BQ View” in national syndication on the Radio America network in the 1990s and as a pioneer of the modern era of talk radio while serving as the executive director of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. She also received a presidential appointment by George W. Bush to United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (now the US Agency for Global Media) where she served from 2002 to 2010.  She was also the founder of the Young American Broadcasters Program which helped identify upcoming radio talent and provided them with scholarships. She is a veteran of San Antonio radio stations KITE, KTSA, and KSJL, as well as KENS-TV.   She served as White House liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and executive assistant to the deputy director of FEMA during President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Commenting on Cullum receiving the Sammy Award, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison stated, “Ms. Cullum’s contributions to the growth of talk radio’s modern era both on air and behind the scenes are indeed worthy of this great honor.”  At present, Cullum hosts a daily program “The Hard Question” on WCGO, Chicago which is syndicated on the SmartTalk Radio Network.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Dave Hill joins Cumulus Media’s classic rock KCFX, Kansas City “101 The Fox” as program director. Hill was most recently with iHeartMedia Indianapolis where he was SVP of programming. Cumulus EVP of content & audience Brian Philips says, “Dave Hill impressed us with his pure programming creativity and vivid imagination. ‘The Fox’ rules classic rock in KC, but we don’t take our legacy for granted. Dave’s fresh perspective and rich experience will help keep us on top.”…..iHeartMedia flips WAKZ, Youngstown, Ohio from CHR to hip hop as “Real 95.9.” It will feature Premiere Networks’ “The Breakfast Club” in morning drive. iHeartMedia market president and VP of programming Keith Kennedy says, “Top 40 has evolved and ‘Real 95.9’ is the only station you’ll hear everywhere in The Mahoning Valley, playing today’s biggest hip hop and R&B hit songs.”

Has Pandemic-Related Listening Peaked?

| June 30, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

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

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

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

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

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