Big Executive Changes at Townsquare Media. The biggest surprise about the news released by Townsquare Media late yesterday (10/16) is that company founder and CEO Steven Price is leaving the CEO role and will now be the executive chairman of the board, a move that takes him out of the day-to-day operation of the radio and live events company. It was seven years ago that Price – with backing from Oaktree Capital Management – founded the company. Oaktree managing director and Townsquare board member David Quick announces that Bill Wilson and Dhruv Prasad are being promoted to the positions of co-chief executive officers who will report to the board of directors. At the same time, the company announces that radio management pro Erik Hellum is promoted to chief operating officer, local media. Townsquare reports that it “owns 318 radio stations and more than 325 local websites in 67 U.S. markets, a digital marketing solutions company serving approximately 11,750 small-to-medium sized businesses, approximately 550 live events with nearly 18 million attendees each year in the U.S. and Canada, and one of the largest digital advertising networks focused on music and entertainment reaching more than 50 million unique visitors each month.” In 2015, Townsquare acquired mobile amusement company North American Midway Entertainment. It also operates music and entertainment websites including: hip hop-focused XXLmag.com, TasteofCountry.com, hard-rock-oriented Loudwire.com and New York music site BrooklynVegan.com.
Entertainment Journalist Craig Marks Joins Townsquare. Speaking of those genre-specific digital publications that Townsquare Media operates, the company says that it has hired “veteran editor and journalist” Craig Marks to serve as editorial director in which he’ll “oversee editorial content across web, social and video for eight of Townsquare’s music and entertainment brands including: TasteofCountry, Loudwire, PopCrush, ScreenCrush, UltimateClassicRock, TheBoot, Diffuser, and TheBoombox.” He will work alongside Vanessa Satten, longtime editor in chief of XXLmag.com. During his career, Marks has served as executive editor at Billboard, and as editor-in-chief at Blender magazine, Spin and Popdust. He comments, “I am thrilled to be joining such an innovative, multi-platform company as Townsquare. I look forward to participating in the continued growth of the company and its industry-leading music and pop-culture brands.”
Story Questions Trump’s Absence from Talk Radio. In a piece by Oliver Darcy published at CNN.com, the author wonders why President Trump has, except for one or two campaign-oriented appearances, not taken his message to conservative talk radio. Noting that conservative talk radio hosts are, by and large, supporters of the president, reports that the administration says the president has “a great relationship with talk radio” but choses to use Twitter “to speak directly with his base.” Some talk hosts offer their thoughts. Former WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes is quoted saying, “The only thing that I can think of is that Donald Trump doesn’t listen to the radio. He watches television. He reads The New York Times. So he reacts to what’s in his world.” WFTL, Fort Lauderdale personality Joyce Kaufman says she thinks he knows he’s vulnerable in the long-form interview with hosts who might pressure him on issues like immigration reform. Read the whole story here.
Tax Reform Radio Row Today at White House. The story above notwithstanding, talk radio has a presence in Washington today as the administration hosts a radio row at the Old Executive Office Building to promote its tax reform plans. Talk show hosts taking part in the radio row include Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt and Mike Gallagher, Cumulus Media hosts Chris Plante, Mary Walter, and Vince Coglianese, as well as WPHT, Philadelphia’s Chris Stigall and WIBC, Indianapolis’ Tony Katz. Guests available to speak to talk radio hosts will include President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway and others. Pictured above is Salem’s Mike Gallagher (right) shaking hands with President Trump (left). Pictured below is WPHT’s Chris Stigall (right) interviewing Vice President Mike Pence.
Salem Moves News/Talker in St. Louis to Make Room for Gospel Outlet. As of yesterday (10/16), Salem Media Group moved its St. Louis news/talk format “The Answer” from WDSZ-AM/K236CS to KXFN-AM/K287BY and will install “Praise 95.1” on WDSZ and its translator. In a statement about the move, Salem Media St. Louis general manager Greg Lhamon says that there’s an untapped market. “Based on conversations with many in the St. Louis area, the community has been waiting to enjoy gospel on the FM dial.”
CBS Sports to Simulcast Jim Rome Show. Variety is reporting that CBS Sports is going to start simulcasting the Jim Rome radio show on cable’s CBS Sports Network, effective January 2. The piece reports that the company is building a new studio to “reflect the new visual elements of his program.” EVP of programming at CBS Sports Dan Weinberg says, “Jim is an engaging and dynamic host with an incredibly loyal and passionate fan base. We are excited to provide one of sports talk radio’s most enduring programs a new national platform on television.” Rome has been with CBS Sports Radio since 2012 after a long career syndicated by Premiere Networks.
North Korea Nuclear Program, McCain ‘Liberty Medal’ Speech, Weinstein Scandal, Puerto Rico Recovery Troubles, Kaepernick Lawsuit, Las Vegas Shooting Investigation, ISIS Driven Out of Raqqa, U. Florida-Richard Spencer Event, MLB Playoffs, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/16). North Korea’s statement of no negotiations until it has ICBMs that can hit the U.S. East Coast; John McCain decries ‘half-baked’ nationalism during medal acceptance speech; the Harvey Weinstein sexual predation scandal and criticism of Hollywood’s history of ‘looking the other way’; the hampered recovery efforts in Puerto Rico; former NFLer Colin Kaepernick sues the league owners for collusion; the investigation into the motive behind the deadly Las Vegas shooting and the now-missing Mandalay security guard; U.S.-backed forces push ISIS out of Raqqa; Florida Governor Rick Scott’s concerns about public safety during white nationalist Richard Spencer’s pending University of Florida appearance; the Major League Baseball playoffs; and the weekend’s NFL action 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. On Thursday (10/19), Beasley Media Group will present “Vegas Strong: A Night of Healing” at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The concert will honor all victims, survivors and first responders from the October 1 tragedy and feature country superstars Big & Rich and Cam, plus a surprise performance from one of country’s most renowned acts. Beasley says 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Steve Sisolak Las Vegas Victims’ Fund that has, to date, raised nearly $11 million. Beasley Las Vegas VP and market manager Tom Humm states, “Due to the kindness and support of the Beasley family, Mega Country Recording Artists, the country community and The Orleans Arena/Boyd Gaming we have the opportunity to present ‘A Night of Healing’ for affected families and also give special thanks to our first responders. It is our privilege and honor to help in any small way we can as proud members of this community. Vegas Strong!”…..The new contract between urban morning radio star Tom Joyner and Reach Media is also signaling the end of Joyner’s radio show after December 31, 2019. The two announced the new deal last week and now report that as Joyner celebrates his 25th year in national syndication, he “plans to launch a two-year-long celebration campaign, sharing events and experiences with his listeners highlighting the past, present and future of the Tom Joyner brand. Joyner reportedly will reveal more as his show moves forward with events and activities as a lead-up to the conclusion of his iconic morning show.”…..A new talent search TV show is coming next year and iHeartMedia is collaborating with Fox Broadcasting Company, show creator Armoza Formats, and producer ITV Entertainment. The show is titled, “THE FOUR: BATTLE FOR STARDOM,” and iHeartMedia will use its radio station listenership to support auditions, assist in the search for talent, and boost the careers of artists throughout the run of the competition. As part of the grand prize, the winner of the show will also be part of iHeartMedia’s “On the Verge” artist development program, which will support the winning talent with airplay across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide. “THE FOUR: BATTLE FOR STARDOM” begins with four super-talented singers, chosen from auditions by the show, defending their coveted spots on the stage as they are challenged individually by new singers determined to replace them. If the existing four outperform their challengers, they survive to sing another week, until the end of the season, when the final four face off against each other. Only one will claim the ultimate prize for an aspiring artist: a team of elite star-makers – the series’ panel of judges – all committed to launching and guiding the winner’s music career…..iHeartMedia is launching a new festival, this one aimed at the alternative rock audience, called “iHeartRadio ALTer EGO” and taking place on January 19 at the Forum in Los Angeles. Artists scheduled to perform so far include: Mumford & Sons, Cage The Elephant, Beck, Spoon, WALK THE MOON, The National and Dashboard Confessional, with more to be announced later. Entertainment Enterprises for iHeartMedia president John Sykes says, “Alternative rock is experiencing an incredible renaissance. Young bands in their 20s are making music with the same energy and power of the bands like U2, Depeche Mode and REM, that helped to create the format.”…..Alpha Media San Jose inks nationally syndicated morning duo “Brooke & Jubal” to handle the morning drive daypart at its hot AC KEZR “Mix 106.”…..Michael Tedesco shifts from director of business development with Educational Media Foundation to sales manager at Christian contemporary WAWZ, Zarepath, New Jersey “Star 99.1.” He takes over for the retiring Lorraine Shaw.