Tag: "Sales"

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.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

| August 3, 2020

Monday Memo: 2 Magic Words. Your Mom and Dad were right. “Please” and “Thank you” will distinguish you, particularly in these coarse, troubled times. And in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke makes the case for “two more ‘Magic words’” broadcasters and podcasters should use as often as possible. Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Stimulus Bill, Presidential Race/Vote by Mail, Portland Protests, Tropical Storm Isaias/SoCal Apple Fire, Microsoft-TikTok Deal, and Pro Sports Challenges Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the stalled stimulus talks in Congress as the previous package expires; the November presidential election and President Trump’s remark that it should be delayed due to concerns about vote-by-mail fraud; the violent protests continuing in Portland; Tropical Storm Isaias hits the Southeast Coast and thousands are evacuated in Southern California due to the Apple Fire; Microsoft’s deal to acquire TikTok from its Chinese developer; and COVID-19 takes its toll on U.S. pro sports leagues were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Gone Too Soon. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about two radio professionals who passed away last week: Herman Cain and Bob McCurdy. Lapa says he knew both men and learned a lot about leadership, sales, and radio from them. Read it here.

Convention Coverage Unlike Any in History. News and management pro Tom Tradup (pictured below at the 2016 RNC) writes in an exclusive opinion piece for TALKERS magazine about the challenges facing radio news and radio talk show hosts covering the 2020 national political conventions. The Salem Radio Network V.P. of News/Talk Programming says, “Pity the responsibility of my network as well as our colleagues at ABC Audio, CBS Radio, and the soon-to-be-defunct Westwood One radio news as we have dodged and weaved as COVID-19 impacted the venerable institutions known as National Conventions for both the Republican and Democratic parties. (Full disclosure: most of us have long understood that the actual ‘news value’ of political conventions was zero, but we nevertheless turned out every four years to provide coverage of delegates from Wisconsin wearing dopey yellow foam triangles shaped like cheese on their heads as we dodged screams and urine from various protest groups.)” Read his entire piece here.

WXYT-FM, Detroit Personality Jamie Samuelsen Dies at 48. It was just last week that WXYT-FM, Detroit sports talk host Jamie Samuelsen announced to listeners that he’s been battling colon cancer since January of 2019 – something he kept to himself until the very end. On Saturday (8/1) Samuelsen passed away at age 48. The Detroit Free Press shares comments from Samuelsen’s friends and co-workers – a number of whom got the chance to visit with him last week after he made his diagnosis public. The Free PressAnthony Fenech writes that Samuelsen – who had been working from home since the COVID-19 outbreak – was not in pain toward the end but his energy was very low. He leaves behind his wife Christy and three children: Caroline, 16, Josh, 14, and Catherine, 11. Samuelsen had been co-hosting the morning drive show with Mike Stone on the Entercom sports talk station since August of 2016.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Adds Jesse Kelly Show. The nationally syndicated “Jesse Kelly Show” is now airing on Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte on Sundays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The Key Networks-syndicated show debuted in April and airs live weekdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. WBT-AM/FM brand manager Mike Schaefer says, “Jesse Kelly represents the evolving sonic landscape of news/talk. Jesse’s informed, funny, and brings unique experience and wisdom to the listeners that has been earned as both a Marine Corps combat veteran and a congressional candidate. We’re excited to bring Jesse’s show to the listeners of WBT!”

Jim Bryant Leaving Hubbard Radio’s 2060 Digital. After heading up Hubbard Radio’s digital marketing agency 2060 Digital for the past eight years, Jim Bryant announces he leaving the company and his role as president of the division. He says, “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and feel like we’ve now built the business to a day-to-day operating level. My goal was to build the business, and I think we did that…and, quite honestly, 44 years in this business is about as much fun as one guy can handle. I appreciate the huge vote of confidence Ginny Morris and Hubbard Radio afforded me, allowing me to stretch out, take smart chances, and surround myself with the terrific talent required to keep moving this business forward.” Hubbard EVP and CFO Dave Bestler says, “There is no way our digital platform would be where it is today without Jim. His vision and leadership have made 2060 Digital one of the leading digital agencies in each of our radio markets. During the past two years, Jim has focused on expanding 2060 Digital services beyond our radio footprint to new markets, including Indianapolis, Nashville, Detroit and Columbus. His vision has come to life and we look forward to continuing to grow the 2060 business on top of the strong foundation that Jim built.” 2060 Digital general manager and Hubbard SVP of digital strategies Steve Goldstein is assuming Bryant’s duties.

Air Talent Shuffle at Entercom’s WFNZ-AM, Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell reports that Entercom’s Charlotte sports talk station WFNZ-AM is swapping midday and afternoon drive shows. Effective today, “The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey” moves to the midday daypart (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) and Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell move to the 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. According to the piece, Bailey is pleased with the move to middays saying it “aligns with a lot of things in my life right now.” Bailey also hosts the Charlotte Hornets pre-game show on the station.

Farkas Exits ‘101.3 The Game’ in Burlington. At VOX AM/FM’s Burlington, Vermont sports talk outlet WCPV-FM “101.3 The Game,” program director and air personality Brady Farkas exits after four years. Station GM Ken Barlow tells the Burlington Free Press, “These things are never easy. (Farkas) is a very good guy, a very knowledgeable sports guy, and in many aspects of the job he did just fine. But we felt the station was mired in the position it’s in and we need revenue to be able to have it grow an audience and the program director is one of the primary people responsible for that.” Farkas tells the paper he’s proud of his time at the station, “We went through an affiliation switch from ESPN to FOX Sports Radio in fall of 2018 and delivered a number-one-rated station in fall of 2019. I am proud of the work our staff accomplished in order to achieve that.”

TALKERS News Notes. Los Angeles sports talker KSPN “ESPN 710” unveils its new programming lineup that takes effect on August 17. The changes were necessitated in part by owner ESPN’s decision to promote Keyshawn Johnson to host of the network’s national morning show called “Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin” and co-starring Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. KSPN will air that program via delay (it’s to air live in morning drive Eastern Time) and Travis Rodgers – formerly part of the KSPN “Keyshawm, LZ and Travis” show – will serve as the local host. “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg airs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, followed by Max Kellerman from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Steve Mason and John Ireland move from afternoons to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart and the new afternoon drive show is LZ Granderson and Jorge Sedano. San Diego-based Scott Kaplan hosts evenings when there is no play-by-play…..From August 10-14, legendary Chicago disc jockey John Records Landecker will fill in for Bob Sirott hosting the morning drive show on Nexstar’s WGN-AM, Chicago. Sirott says, “Listeners are going to discover that John’s middle name truly is ‘talk!’”…..Roanoke.com reports that the “Big Dawg Sports Talk” show with Rick Watson returns to the New River Valley for morning drive on Monticello Media’s WRAD-AM/FM. The program aired in the market from 2001 to 2010 when the previous station owner canceled the show. Watson serves as director of broadcasting for Radford University and that includes his work as the voice of RU athletics…..iHeartMedia Orlando announces the launch of “Financial Fix” – an online financial resource hub where financial advisors, realtors, tax professionals, bankruptcy lawyers, and more can be featured for the local community to connect with. iHeartMedia Orlando’s Chianna Ray says, “‘Financial Fix’ will be an important resource for our community. Many people do not know where to start when it comes to unexpected financial situations such as refinancing, retirement funds withdrawal, grants qualifications, and more. This hub will be a great place for the community to find solutions in one centralized place.” iHeartMedia Orlando is promoting “Financial Fix” on-air on all of its stations, as well as on social media and the stations’ websites.

iHeartRadio Announces ‘The Next Great Podcast’ Search. In conjunction with the content creation platform Tongal, iHeartRadio unveils its search for “The Next Great Podcast.” Now through August 27, creators around the world can pitch for the chance to produce a new podcast series of any genre and to work with The iHeartPodcast Network to launch the new series. Creators will be asked to submit a short synopsis and treatment that describes their podcast idea, along with links to past work and an optional audio trailer and pitch video. Pitches will be narrowed down by a panel of podcasters, led by head judge and broadcaster Dan Patrick, and 10 semifinalists will be awarded $1,000 to further develop their idea into a 10-minute pilot. These pilots will be shared on “The Next Great Podcast” feed in the fall for fans everywhere to listen and vote. One winner will be crowned “The Next Great Podcast,” featured on iHeartRadio stations across the country and work closely with Patrick and iHeartRadio’s team of expert podcast producers to develop their podcast into an original series for distribution by The iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Audio is thriving and is the breeding ground for some of the best IP out there right now. Podcasting has always been an ideal place for cultivating new talent and we are excited to join forces with Tongal to reach their impressive community of creatives as we search for the next great podcast.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Milwaukee, the iHeartMedia cluster that includes urban contemporary WKKV “V100.7,” country WMIL, classic hits WRIT “95.7 BIG FM,” sports talker WRNW “97.3 The Game,” and WOKY-AM “The BIG 920” are launching “Brilliantly Black” – a community resource initiative to support local Black-owned businesses, restaurants, and non-profits. iHeartMedia Milwaukee president Colleen Valkoun says, “I want to congratulate our team on this grassroots opportunity to support Black-owned businesses. Please join us in supporting the Black business community. I am thrilled we can use our stations to impact and inform the public about this much-needed community resource.”…..iHeartMedia’s alternative WHKF, Harrisburg “ALT Rock 99.3” adds Premiere Networks’ “The Woody Show” to the morning drive daypart…..Condolences to the family and friends of Riverbend Communications CHR KFTZ, Idaho Falls morning drive personality Tara Longmore Moss, who died over the weekend after a brief, unexpected illness. Moss’ co-host Brad Barlow tells KPVI-TV, Pocatello, “Tara is that host that I never heard anyone say anything bad about. All I ever heard was how much people loved her and how much people thought of her as a friend.”

Pending Business: Location, Location, Location

| July 27, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla — Six feet away, my sales rep workout buddy was pacing back and forth.

Despite his facemask, I could tell he was upset about something out of his control. Personal issue? There has been and continues to be economic pressure on all of us, as we deal with the impact of Covid-19. Family problems?  Business? This one had to be about business. So I went for it, “What is up with the pacing and the pulsating facemask?” The reflexive answer, “I’m going to miss my bonus.” Most sales reps are grateful to be working and earning, let alone earning a bonus. What’s up here?

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Monday, June 29, 2020

| June 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

| June 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 15, 2020

| June 15, 2020

Monday Memo: Profiting from the Pandemic. “Turning lemons into lemonade,” as consultant Holland Cooke puts it. In this week’s column he lists six retail opportunities his client stations are selling to right now. Read it here.

De-Fund Police Movement/Rayshard Brooks Killing, Seattle ‘Autonomous’ Zone, Trump Health, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, U.S.-China Relations/Outbreak in Beijing, Presidential Race/Trump Tulsa Rally, Financial Markets/Jobless Claims, and MLB Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concept of de-funding police departments as demanded by some protestors and the cop shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta; the controversy over the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle; the health of President Trump after his apparent unsteady gait at the West Point graduation on Saturday; the regions of the U.S. that are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases; the movement to remove public statues commemorating Confederate or Colonial-era figures; the tense U.S.-China relations and a new COVID-19 outbreak appears in Beijing; the November presidential race, concerns about voting practices, and Trump’s planned rally scheduled for Tulsa on Saturday; the activity in the world’s financial markets and the recent jobless claims figure for the U.S.; and negotiations between the players and the league as the MLB tries to salvage its season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Time to Practice. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that “every performance-driven activity you can think of requires some form of practice. Athletics, the performing arts, public speaking, teaching, bar mitzvahs, all require practice. Even your doctor, dentist, and lawyer required practice before they could open their… practice. So, what about the professional sales rep? Sellers, especially in today’s warp-speed changing environment must practice.” Read his column here.

Beasley Reports Flat Q1 2020 Net Revenue; Net Loss of $8.8 Million. Reporting on its first quarter 2020 financial numbers, Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. – parent of Beasley Media Group – announces its net revenue was flat at $57.7 million compared to the same period in 2019. However, after posting operating income of $6.8 million in Q1 of 2019, the company posted and operating loss of $7.1 million in Q1 of this year. Beasley reported a net income of $1.4 million in Q1 of 2019 and this year is reporting a loss of $8.8 million. Beasley’s flat net revenue figure “reflects strong political advertising revenue, an increase in digital advertising, and esports revenue and contributions from the August 2019 acquisition of WDMK-FM, partially offset by a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue and other revenue related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Despite these challenges, first quarter net revenue was $57.7 million, primarily reflecting strong performance across our station clusters in seven markets during the months of January and February driven by robust political ad spending and contributions from WDMK-FM, as well as significant growth in digital and esports revenue. However, our top-line growth was not able to fully offset the acute challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic during the three-month period, resulting in a year-over-year decline in first quarter SOI and Free Cash Flow. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 49% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 9% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 6% of total revenue in the prior year period. In addition, Beasley launched the first major esports event featuring the Houston Outlaws, which the company acquired in November 2019, securing several new sponsorships as the team began competing in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League matches in February. With our focus on quality content production and consumer engagement, we are growing audience share across our digital and esports platforms while delivering multi-platform turnkey marketing solutions to advertisers and brands. Overall, we are pleased with the momentum and trajectory of these digital and esports initiatives, which have been less impacted by COVID-19, and look forward to this growth trend continuing throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.”

Townsquare Media Q1 Down 1.4%; Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 0.5%. The company says it will file its first quarter 2020 report on or before June 25 but issues some preliminary figures and held an investor conference call this morning (6/15). Townsquare Media, Inc CEO Bill Wilson says, “While our first quarter started strong with high single-digit net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth in January and February, beginning in March we experienced a significant negative business impact to our Advertising and Live Events segments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, offsetting the momentum we established in 2019 and early 2020. First quarter net revenue increased 0.5% on a pro forma basis resulting in our 9th consecutive quarter of pro forma net revenue growth. In addition, Q1 2020 marked the first time our digital revenue exceeded 40% of our total net revenue, up from 35% in 2019, powered by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a significant decline in our Advertising revenue in March, but we were still able to generate positive first quarter year-over-year Advertising net revenue growth. Our Advertising net revenue declined further in April but has shown sequential improvement in both May and June to date. We also cancelled or postponed our live events scheduled in March, April, May and June, which negatively impacted our net revenue. Thankfully, our Live Events segment is a much smaller component of our company today after we had the foresight to sell our large, out-of-market live event assets, including North American Midway Entertainment and several multi-day music festivals over the past two years. We have taken a number of steps to reduce our cost base in an effort to help mitigate the decline in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In total, we have enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings and anticipate the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue.  In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, and our board of directors has elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward.  All of these actions have strongly bolstered our liquidity position.”

Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay Airing Content from WRNW-FM, Milwaukee. In a content deal with iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game,” Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay is replacing its daytime programming with the daytime lineup of “The Game.” The new WNFL lineup is: Steve Czaban in morning drive, John Kuhn (from WNFL’s studios) with Brian Butch in late mornings, Ted Davis and Dario Melendez in early afternoons, and “Drew & K.B.” in afternoon drive. Gone from the WNFL airwaves is the statewide syndicated Bill Michaels show. FOX Sports Radio rounds out the evenings, overnights, and weekends. Midwest operations manager Jason Hillery says, “We’ve signed a deal with Milwaukee’s ‘The Game’ and have picked up 12 hours of their amazing Wisconsin-focused programming each weekday. We’re excited about this lineup, and we’re excited about the future of this radio station.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Zimmer Radio has inked a letter of intent to buy the five-station cluster currently owner by Meyer Communications that includes news/talk KWTO-AM, sports talk KWTO-FM “JOCK 98.7,” and two music brands. Zimmer Radio co-owner Don Zimmer tells the paper they are in the early stages of due diligence. “There’s nothing set. We’ll see how things go with regards to the due diligence, and with five stations, it’ll probably take a while.”…..In recognition of the 48th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, ESPN is launching “espnW Presents: When We Play,” a three-day, women’s sport-centric, multi-platform initiative that will be anchored by more than 125 total hours of female-focused programming across ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Additional content will be available on ESPN.com, ESPN Audio and the espnW social handles. “espnW Presents: When We Play” will run from Sunday, June 21 through Tuesday, June 23…..HRN Media Network, a Gen Media Partners company, is expanding its platform and the result is one of the largest Hispanic audio networks in the U.S. All of Gen Media Partners’ Hispanic assets – including Sun Latino and GLR – will now operate exclusively under the HRN umbrella, creating an easy one-source solution for advertisers, agencies, and radio stations for all things Hispanic…..Public media organization WGBH names Pam Johnston general manager for news. Johnston is currently senior director of strategy and audience for “FRONTLINE,” the investigative documentary series produced by WGBH. She will succeed Phil Redo who is retiring at the end of this month. WGBH president and CEO Jon Abbott says, “Pam has deep roots in Boston news, and with her public media and multiplatform experience she is ideally suited to lead the WGBH news team into the digital future. Her expertise across all forms of media will build on the quality and award-winning local journalism WGBH has become known for under the leadership of Phil Redo. We’re grateful for the strong foundation he established and we’re excited about the innovation Pam will bring to how we serve our community.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Norfolk, Virginia hot AC WMVN “MOViN’ 107.7” launches the new “Valentine in the Morning Show” starring Valentine and co-hosts Jillian Escoto and Kevin Manno. Station PD DJ Fountz says, “We’re thrilled to introduce ‘Valentine in the Morning’ to the people of Hampton Roads. The show is polished, the crew has great chemistry, and we know that they’ll be the perfect way to get our listeners movin’ in the mornings.”…..iHeartMedia names DJ Loui Vee program director for hip hop WBZY, Atlanta “105.3 The Beat.” iHeartMedia Atlanta SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “Very excited to have DJ Loui Vee in Atlanta. He is an exceptional talent who will continue to build the brand of ‘105.3 The Beat Atlanta.’ His creativity and passion along with his incredible leadership skills make him the perfect talent to program ‘105.3 The Beat.’”…..Morning personality Guy David exits Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver. Co-host Tracy Dixon continues to host mornings along with producer Patrick Knight for now…..On-air pro Scott Fisher announces his retirement from iHeartMedia’s classic hits KODJ, Salt Lake City where he hosted middays. Fisher thanked his listeners in a message on the station’s website. He also notes that his weekend talk show, “Extreme Genes – America’s Family History Show,” will continue to air on the company’s sister news/talk station KNRS-FM.

Pending Business: Clients (As Well as Listeners) Seek Connection

| June 8, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — How do you sell into the turbulence of today’s news/talk radio cycle?

If you are fortunate enough to be based at one of the few dominant, highly sold news/talk radio stations with no real competition, virtual high five to you! The biggest challenge you face is working with your management to balance pricing, demand, and relationships. It is tempting to hang the sold out sign in every conversation and email. Careful, as markets tend to correct themselves and comfort zones can be rocked.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

| May 26, 2020

Memo: Copy Copy Like This. While listeners – whom your advertisers want to meet – have been disrupted, NOTHING resonates like empathy, succinctly conveyed. For this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke has collected examples instructive to commercial copy we craft for local retailers, and station imaging. Read it here.

Re-Opening Across America, Memorial Day Holiday, Michigan Protests, COVID-19 Tests/Vaccine Research, Presidential Race, Brazil Travel Ban, and ‘The Match’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. States across the country begin cautiously re-opening their economies; the Memorial Day holiday takes place without the usual parades and observances; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s battle against lockdown protesters; the number of COVID-19 tests being done in the U.S. and the global work being done to create a vaccine; the November presidential election; President Trump puts a ban on flights from Brazil as the coronavirus sweeps through the South American nation; and “The Match” featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady playing golf were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: What’s All the Fuss About? Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that great sellers have always been built to work remotely. He draws a sports analogy. “High-performing athletes are regularly well-coached and prepared. Then, on their own, away from the head coach – remotely – often with private coaches, they practice. When they return for the next session they are better… the takeaway here is the individual commitment to practicing ‘remotely.’” Read his column here.

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 April PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk formatted stations. It appears that radio listeners shifted from wanting straight news about the pandemic in March – when all-news outlets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares shoot up – to wanting to hear analysis and discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic in April. Seventy-eight percent of news/talk stations saw their AQH shares go up during the April survey, led by big gainers such as iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+3.5, 9.3 share), Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City (+2.8, 8.8 share), and Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence (+2.3, 6.1 share). It’s important to note that radio cume was down across the board in April and that dramatic increases in time spent listening are driving these AQH spikes. With that said, some impressive year-over year AQH increases happened in April. Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was up 7.3 shares over April 2019 (13.9 share, #1), iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento shot up 5.6 shares (11.6 share, #1), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis was up 5.1 shares (10.3 share, #1). Also, in April there were 11 news/talk outlets that ranked #1 in their respective markets. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Erick Erickson Interviews Mike Pence in Sanitized Space at Waffle House HQ. Pictured above is Georgia talk radio host Erick Erickson (left) conducting an in-person interview with Vice President Mike Pence (right) on Friday (5/22) at Waffle House corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. The interview aired on Erickson’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta afternoon drive show on Friday and on his statewide syndicated late morning show today (5/26). Erickson says of preparing for the interview, “I didn’t have to wear a mask. The Secret Service took my temperature, made me set up all my equipment, then made me leave the room so they could sanitize everything themselves. I was not allowed back to my equipment until the interview. It was a new twist on these sorts of interviews.” The two discussed the progress being made in re-opening Georgia, the what-ifs of a potential flare-up of coronavirus cases, and what might be expected for college football this year.

KOIL, Omaha Launches New ‘Local 1290’ Program. Omaha news/talk KOIL “News Talk 1290” says it is debuting a new, daily two-hour program “focusing on the local community as our friends, neighbors and businesses begin to face the new normal.” The live program is being hosted by Neil Nelkin and will focus on everything “local” in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa as businesses start to re-open and figure out how to go forward. Other NRG Media on-air talent will join the program as co-hosts, including Nikki and Laura from KQKQ-FM “Sweet 98.5,” Mike’l Severe and Damon Benning from KOZN-AM “1620 The Zone,” and Matt Tompkins from KOOO-FM “101.9 The Keg.” Neil Nelkin comments, “Finally a positive show about our listeners, our community and businesses within the Omaha and Council Bluffs area.  We want to highlight the local business and hear their stories about how they are doing and re-opening. It’s a community feel good, as we are all in this together.”

TALKERS News Notes. The global pandemic can’t keep Stephanie Miller’s “Sexy Liberal Tour” down. Miller’s SM Radio Productions says, “Until it’s safe to travel and gather in large groups again, the hysterically funny ‘Sexy Liberal Tour’ is now set to come into fans’ homes with ‘Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour.’” It will debut virtually on Saturday, June 6 at 9:00 pm ET / 6:00 pm PT and will feature Stephanie Miller, John Fugelsang, Hal Sparks, Frances Callier, and Angela V. Shelton…..Nationally syndicated talk host Buck Sexton interviewed President Trump in the Oval Office for a conversation that aired on his Premiere Networks-syndicated show. Among the topics discussed were the president’s thoughts on the intelligence community, the judiciary, the “deep state,” “Russiagate,” Michael Flynn, and more. The president also told Sexton the country will “never do this again” and will deal with the coronavirus issue by employing the country’s “best resources” to put out any fires as they emerge…..The Times-Union of San Diego reports that Mexican signal XEPRS-AM, Tijuana could be back on the air as “The Mightier 1090” around July 4, to coincide with the return of Major League Baseball. As has been reported, Flagstaff, Arizona-based marketing executive Bill Hagen is leasing the former sports talk outlet and plans to build a lifestyle and sports talk station around afternoon personality – and former longtime “Mighty 1090” personality – Scott Kaplan. The sports talk format on XEPRS ended 13 months ago when Broadcasting Company of the Americas lost its lease on the signal…..GCN-syndicated host Kate Delaney is honored with a 2020 Communicator Award for Excellence from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. Her DelaneyMediaGroup won in the Commercial Campaign category for “Her Story.” Delaney tells TALKERS magazine the feature airs on 70 stations and Amazon’s Echo…..Last Friday (5/22), WTKS-FM, Orlando’s “The News Junkie” radio show – hosted by Shawn Wasson, Sabrina Ambra, and Chris “C-lane” Lane – held “the World’s First Live Radio Broadcast With Social Distancing.” Pictured below is the trio at their broadcast booth. They say that fans arrived at staggered times to prevent a large crowd outside and those feeling sick were urged not to attend. Each table was limited to only a few guests and hand sanitizer and optional masks were available for all guests. Wasson says, “The show featured plenty of drinks, plenty of fun and games. What we didn’t do is have people shaking hands and hanging all over each other. We showed that with enough planning and preparation you can juggle being safe and having a blast.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last week’s WKQX, Chicago radiothon supporting the Chicago Independent Venue League netted $34,000 for the association and its live music venues. The morning show trio of Brian, Ali, and Justin were on air for 34 hours and interviewed artists including Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day, Grouplove, Silversun Pickups, Cage The Elephant, Local H, KFlay, All Time Low, Powfu, Chip Z’Nuff, and Jerry from JBTV. The event was sponsored by Goose Island Beer Company, supporting Chicago music venues since 1988…..iHeartMedia flips classic hits WJDX, Jackson, Mississippi to hip hop as “The New Real 105.1.” The station’s lineup includes “The Breakfast Club,” with DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God in morning drive. iHeartMedia Jackson market president Mike Comfort says, “We are excited to launch ‘The New Real 105.1’ in Jackson and bring another choice for hip hop and R&B to the market. Based on our research, we know not only is this going to connect with our market’s audience, but this format is also going to produce a strong listener base for our advertisers – things just got real!”…..iHeartMedia Philadelphia re-brands alternative WRFF as “ALT 104.5.” Station PD and midday personality Amber Miller says, “Who doesn’t love the big reveal at the end of a makeover show. Well, ta-da! Philly’s Alternative Rock station is now sounding bigger and better than ever, combining the music and personalities our listeners love with this fresh, energetic new aesthetic. The station offers listeners the same music and entertainment they crave, just with a fresh new coat of paint.”

Pending Business: Masks, Appointments, and Social Distancing

| May 11, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — As restrictions are slowly lifted in your area, businesses will cautiously reopen.

Given the current unpredictable business environment, your challenge is to be at your best. Stay smart about what and how you’re selling.

As local business categories slowly come back to life, dealing with restrictive guidelines never before anticipated, marketing dollars may take a more cautious path to recovery.  Some of your advertisers are dealing with the logistics of government-funded loans to bridge the gap, and the new challenges that will arise. Will hours and operations ever be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic? Some businesses will be overwhelmed powering through phone messages for appointment — think hair salon, personal grooming. And other businesses may never re-open.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

| April 20, 2020

Monday Memo: The Trump Show. There’s lots of buzz about that New York Times report that the president told the coronavirus task force “he wanted to start a White House talk radio show.”  To which Rush Limbaugh invited him to guest host.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke asks “What if…?”  Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, the Re-Open the Country Debate/Stay Home Protests, Trump vs Governors, U.S.-China Relations, Deadly Nova Scotia Shooting, Financial Markets Activity/Oil Prices Crash, and Celebrities with Coronavirus Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the death toll as well as the projections for future cases and deaths; the debate over “re-opening” the country and the organized protests against “stay home” directives; President Trump’s war of words with some of the country’s governors over the breadth of his powers; the pressure on the Chinese Communist Party as calls for an investigation into the coronavirus’ origins mount; a lone shooter posing as a police officer kills 16 people in Nova Scotia; the world’s financial markets’ reactions to the coronavirus pandemic and the glut of oil; and global celebrities with COVID-19 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Time Is of the Essence. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column about adjusting to the new dynamic of deadlines and timeliness.  “Adjusting to working from home, with limited access to the people and resources you rely on is a daily climb.  More than likely you are now participating in (multiple) online meetings that eat the clock.  Still, you are paid on performance and need to keep the dynamics of the sales process moving forward in a timely fashion.  Like it or not, for today, you need to own this new dynamic.”  Read his column here.

SmartTalk Radio Network Distributing ‘The Hard Question.’ The daily talk radio program “The Hard Question” with host Blanquita Cullum is now being made available to stations across the country via the SmartTalk Radio Network.  Cullum says, “‘The Hard Question’ is all about trying to help the audience to be empowered, to be able to hear a deeper level of a conversation on an issue that may impact them and change their life.”  The network says, “With decades of experience in broadcasting and government service, Cullum knows the decision makers and her guest list routinely includes the names you hear in the headlines: governors, senators, ambassadors, foreign heads of state, as well as regular citizens.”  SmartTalk Radio Network general manager Chuck Duncan says, “Occasionally in network radio, a diamond emerges from the clutter of ho-hum.  Blanquita Cullum is a woman of worldly experiences and a deep participant of the inside rail, allowing her to ask and offer sensible solutions to the hard questions.  With unique clarity and above-the-fold guests, BQ covers the critical issues with a compassion, intellect, and understanding that evidences her emergence onto the national scene. She’s got a voice that must be heard.”

KXL, Portland’s Steve Leader Retires. Longtime morning news anchor Steve Leader retired from his role with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland on Friday (4/17).  Leader had been a news anchor on KXL for 34 years.  His KXL news colleague Pat Boyle posted photos and a tribute to Leader on Facebook, writing: “Legendary news guy Steve Leader’s last day! Thanks Steve for keeping Portlanders informed for more than 30 years.  You are a huge talent and will be greatly missed.  Enjoy your retirement; you deserve it.”

Round Three of March PPMs Released.  The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus.  The survey period covered February 27 – March 25.  You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  The intense coronavirus news consumption since the pandemic was declared in mid-March has driven listening to all-news and news/talk radio stations.  Some of those seeing increased weekly 6+ , AQH share increases include: Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland which added 1.8 shares in March to finish with a 6.7 share and a leap to the #3 rank in the market; iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento rises 1.9 shares from February to March for a 10.3 share and its third straight month at #1; Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh climbs 1.3 shares to finish with a 5.6 share and the #5 rank in the Steel City; Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City rises to the #3 rank by adding 1.1 shares to end the survey with a 6.0 share; and iHeartMedia’s WLW-AM, Cincinnati tacks 1.8 shares onto its February 8.3 share to finish March with a 10.1 share and the #1 rank in the market.  You can see all of TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.

‘New Jersey 101.5’ Presents Next Coronavirus Town Hall. This Thursday (4/23), Townsquare Media’s news/talk WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the next in its series of coronavirus Town Hall broadcasts.  The station’s senior political director Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in highlighting the sacrifices being made by the front-line workers dealing with this health crisis.  He says, “Nurses, EMTs, and police officers are among the many frontline workers who are putting their own health at risk during this crisis.  We will both highlight their stories and offer them the resources they need to deal with the overwhelming stresses of their jobs.”  This edition’s on-air expert panel will feature: Debbie White, president, Health Professionals and Allied Employees; Pat Colligan, president, New Jersey Police Benevolent Association; Barbara Platt, president, New Jersey EMS Council; and first-responder crisis councilor Michael Bizzarro, PhD, LCSW, BCD.

Legislators Seek Paycheck Protection for Local Journalists and Broadcasters. A bi-partisan effort to assist local journalists and broadcasters suffering with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being spearheaded by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Boozman (R-AR).  They sent a letter to senate leadership urging them to ensure any future legislation make thousands of local newspapers, TV, and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  In the letter, the senators called for waiving the Small Business Administration’s affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed.  The senators say in their statement, “Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness but is essential to public health.  Local newspapers, radio, and television stations provide important local content that keeps their communities informed.  People rely on local newspapers and broadcasters to cover school and business closures, to widely communicate public health guidance, and to combat life-threatening misinformation.”  National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith comments on the move, “NAB is grateful to Senators Cantwell, Kennedy, Klobuchar and Boozman for their leadership in supporting expanded access to Small Business Administration loans for local radio and television stations under the Payroll Protection Program.  America’s broadcasters are providing trusted and credible lifesaving coverage to keep citizens safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet local stations are suffering advertising losses of historic proportion that will undermine this critically important service.  We urge congressional leaders to support this proposal to provide immediate SBA loan eligibility to more local radio and TV stations.”

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway signs a new deal with the iHeartMedia news/talk station that runs through 2022, with an additional one year option.  Conway’s program is also heard on the company’s WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport, Iowa.  Conway says, “WHO Radio was and remains the gold standard for local talk radio in America.  I’m delighted to have signed this contract and look forward to many more years broadcasting on these heritage stations.”…..Indianapolis-based news/talk personality Tony Katz, who hosts “The Morning News” on Emmis’ WIBC-FM as well as his own syndicated late morning show, is putting his flagship station together with local businesses and sponsors to feed first responders across Central Indiana.  He says, “‘Hoosiers Helping Heroes’ does weekly deliveries of meals, snacks, and drinks to local hospitals.  It’s our way of saying, ‘thank you.’  And businesses across the area have been great to work with.  They want to help.  People want to help.  We’re getting calls from restaurants all over the area.  All types of businesses and individuals are asking if they can be a part of it.”…..NPR president and CEO John Lansing tells company staffers in a memo that the organization is preparing to cut costs due to a budget shortfall of between $35 million and $40 million due to the coronavirus pandemic.  He says, “We do not have any position eliminations on the table now, and it is our goal to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible.  However, I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t guarantee anything other than that is my intent.”…..JVC Media is airing the “Florida Man Radio”-based Shannon Burke afternoon drive program on its Long Island news/talk outlet WRCN “103.9 LI News Radio”  JVC Media’s EVP for Florida Shane Reeve says, “Now more than ever, our community needs to come together and stay at home to keep their families and loved ones safe.  With that being said, as humans we have the need to socialize and feel like we are still part of the society that we love.  The ‘Florida Man Friday Happy Hour with Shannon Burke’ is that bit of relief and laughter you need to keep some sense of normalcy in your life.”…..The nationally syndicated “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney adds two new affiliate stations as Seehafer Broadcasting’s WFHR-AM, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin and Rck 1 Group’s WVLY, Wheeling, West Virginia add the show to their program lineups.

Wheeler Morris Named Hubbard Seattle VP/Market Manager. In Seattle, Hubbard Radio names Wheeler Morris vice president and market manager for the five-station cluster.  Scott Mahalick, who’s been serving as interim market manager, is named operations manager for the Seattle station group.  Morris has been serving the company as manager of corporate podcasting strategy.  Wheeler says, “I’m excited to join the great team at Hubbard Radio Seattle and to help continue the success that the strong brands have built over the years.  I’m especially excited to have an experienced and accomplished partner like Scott Mahalick to lead content and brands. He’s the right person to lead operations.”  Mahalick comments, “It brings joy to my heart that we will have the good fortune of Wheeler at the helm of Hubbard Radio Seattle.  Our team deserves a dedicated full-time manager focused on our success. I’ve had the advantage of getting to know and work with Wheeler this past year in his capacity as the head of our podcasting efforts. I can tell you he is a people person with great charm, empathy, wicked smart, driven and innovative as they come.  Bring it Wheeler!”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Country radio personality Shawn Parr is launching a new, daily syndicated program via Key Networks titled, “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” on June 1.  Key Networks says the four-hour, localized country music entertainment program features Parr’s trademark warmth, wit and love for country music, and is available for stations Monday-Friday via FTP delivery.  The show is customized to air anywhere in a station’s lineup between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.  Key Networks adds, “Known as ‘The Ambassador of Country Music,’ Shawn Parr is one of country radio’s brightest and most familiar voices.  With nearly 30 years in country radio, including 10 years as a nationally syndicated on-air host, Parr takes country fans front row-center to country’s biggest stars and hottest music.”  Parr says, “My entire career has always been about the country listeners and they will lead the way with this show as well!  Teaming up with Key Networks is like a dream come true.  Together we have worked so hard to get this show on the air and trust me when I say I am fired up and can’t wait for you to feel the energy ‘Across The Country!’”…..Air personality Corey Dillon exits Hubbard Radio’s country KNUC, Seattle “98.9 The Bull” after a two-year stint.  Dillon says via Facebook, “There are no hard feelings on my end.  It’s business, and I understand that.  I have learned so much over the past two years here at ‘The Bull’ and feel more confident in my craft than ever.”…..Cumulus Media names Paul Williams director of programming for Westwood One Nashville.  In this role, Williams will oversee the marketing, content, and operations for Westwood One’s nationally syndicated country programming.  Williams was most recently vice president of marketing & artist development for Reviver Entertainment Group in Nashville…..iHeartMedia Atlanta announces the Spanish hits format is moving from WBZY at 105.3 FM to WRDA at 105.7 FM.  iHeartMedia SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “This is a tremendous opportunity to move the signal where more of the Hispanic audience can enjoy the music, information and the top-rated ‘Tu Mañana Con Enrique Santos’ show.”

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