Entercom Announces November 17 Likely Day for Merger Closing. After yesterday’s ruling from the Federal Communications Commission approving the merger of Entercom and CBS RADIO, Entercom issues a statement that it “continues to expect the merger to close as early as November 17.” Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “We are energized and excited by today’s announcement from the FCC. The Commission’s approval marks a significant milestone on our path toward completing the transformational combination of Entercom and CBS RADIO. This brings Entercom an important step closer to our goal of delivering greater value for our listeners, customers and shareholders as a leading media and entertainment company with national scale and the No. 1 creator of live, original and local audio content.” As previously announced, CBS Corporation launched an exchange offer for the separation of its radio business as part of the agreement to combine CBS RADIO and Entercom, which is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on November 16, 2017, unless the exchange offer is extended or terminated. On February 2, 2017, Entercom announced an agreement to combine with CBS RADIO in an all-stock transaction which is expected to be tax-free to CBS and its shareholders. The new Entercom will operate 235 radio stations.
iHeartMedia Recognizes WBZ-AM Union Representation; Will Employ Current Staffers. According to a report in the Boston Herald, iHeartMedia has altered its course with respect to the acquisition of all-news WBZ-AM, Boston in a swap with Entercom. Initially stating that the company would not take on the SAG-AFTRA-negotiated contracts of the station’s union staffers and that all employees would have to re-apply for their jobs, the company is changing its strategy. As part of an iHM and SAG-AFTRA interim agreement reached Wednesday night, the former “agrees to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for all full-time and regular part-time announcers, producers, editors, writers and production assistants employed by WBZ-AM.” iHeartMedia will also “offer employment to all current union represented employees of WBZ-AM…at their current salary or hourly rate of pay.” iHeartMedia could begin its LMA of WBZ-AM as early as next Friday (11/17).
FCC’s Pai Makes Case for Eliminating Cross Ownership Ban in NYTimes Op-Ed. Not that regular readers of TALKERS magazine need any convincing, but Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s op-ed in The New York Times makes an elegant case for eliminating the 42-year-old rule preventing cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast operations. Democrat FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has publicly stated that she fears for the diversity of news sources and a reduction in news content overall if the ban is lifted. But Pai points out that in the few markets where newspaper-broadcast operations exemptions have been grandfathered for years, there’s no evidence of that diversity being affected. He writes, “Multiple studies have found that, on average, a cross-owned TV station produces more local news than comparable non-cross-owned stations. And a cross-owned radio station is four to five times more likely to have a news format. This makes sense, because a company that owns both a newspaper and broadcast outlet is able to gather the news and distribute it more cost-effectively across its multiple platforms.” Read his piece here.
Cox Names Four Execs for Atlanta Operations. These changes at Cox Media Group’s Atlanta operations are designed to allow these “highly talented and proven leaders” to “work together to fully integrate CMG’s portfolio of traditional and digital media platforms in the Atlanta area beginning in 2018.” First, Moya Neville is named the new VP of sales. She moves over from sister company Cox Communications. Donna Hall is CMG Atlanta’s new VP of marketing. She’s been VP and market manager for CMG Atlanta and Athens radio stations since 2014. Mark Medici is the new VP of audience and newspaper operations. And the new VP of content and broadcast operations (TV and radio) is Paul Briggs.
TALKERS News Notes. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch is reporting on the recent rumors that job cuts are coming to ESPN. In the piece published yesterday, Deitsch reports that sources say some 100 staffers will be let go after Thanksgiving. The cuts will “hit positions across ESPN including front-facing talent on the television side, producers, executives, and digital and technology staffers. The ‘SportsCenter’ franchise is expected to be hit hard—including on-air people—given the frequency of the show has lessened considerably on main network ESPN.” It was in April of this year that ESPN eliminated the positions of about 100 air personalities and journalists…..Former NFL and college football coach Charlie Weis is joining SiriusXM’s roster of NFL analysts for its SiriusXM NFL Radio channel. Weis will be heard every Friday on “Airing it Out” with co-host Bruce Murray…..Radio traffic pro Jim Battagliese joins iHeartMedia’s Total Traffic & Weather Network to serve as regional director of operations for the New York market. He moves up the East Coast from Washington where he’s been director of traffic and weather operations at Hubbard’s all-news WTOP since 2010…..ABC Radio says the ‘No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis’ podcast – a show that focuses on the most-impressive women in the world letting down their guard and sharing honest stories about what it really takes to build an empire – is launching a new monthly bonus segment titled, “RJ Answers.” Host Rebecca Jarvis – who serves as chief business, technology & economics correspondent for ABC News – will answer questions directly from callers during the segment.
President Trump’s China Visit Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 6-10. The presidential trip to China and Donald Trump’s meeting with Xi Jinping was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the rhetoric between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over North Korea’s nuclear program. Coming in at #3 was former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile’s criticism of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign detailed in her new book, followed by the GOP tax reform plan at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Las Vegas CHR KLUC, the morning drive program re-brands from the previous “Chet Buchanan & the Morning Zoo” to “The Chet Buchanan Show,” effective immediately. The program features Chet Buchanan, Spence, and Kayla, with producer Davey the “Showkiller.” CBS RADIO Las Vegas operations manager JB King comments, “Chet’s work on air and in the Las Vegas community is second to none; coupled with Spence’s creativity and passion for radio, I am thrilled that they will continue to be an integral part of the KLUC lineup.”…..In Detroit, the Detroit News is reporting that classic rock WCSX afternoon personality Doug Podell has exited the Beasley Media Group cluster. He’d worked in the market for the past 23 years with WCSX and rock WRIF…..Hubbard Radio country outlet WIL, St. Louis “New Country 92.3” names “Stacey and Jonah” the new afternoon drive program, taking over for Bo Matthews. Stacey K. Boyer and Jonah Griss-Bush had been with Amaturo Media Group’s CHR KHTH “Hot 101.7” hosting the morning program for the past six years. Boyer also served as program director of the station. WIL program director Scott Roddy says, “Hubbard is the platinum standard for live and local talent. While most radio companies are reducing local talent, Hubbard is adding diversity and experience to our stable of show hosts. Stacey and Jonah’s charm, wit and humor make them the perfect companion while sitting in traffic on Hwy 40 during the drive home!”…..The “Greg & The Morning Buzz” show at iHeartMedia’s rock WGIR-FM, Manchester, New Hampshire “Rock 101” is holding a “Lend A Helping Can” radiothon on November 16 and 17 to benefit 11 New Hampshire charities working to combat local hunger and homelessness. “Greg & The Morning Buzz” is syndicated across the state on: WHEB-FM, Portsmouth; WLKZ-FM, Wolfeboro; WHDQ-FM, Claremont; and WRFK-FM, Barre, Vermont…..Beasley Media Group adult contemporary WPBB, Tampa-St. Petersburg “b98.7” announces that new morning personalities Chadd and Kristi Thomas will host their 17th Annual Toys for Tots Marathon Toy Drive on Friday, December 1 to benefit needy families. They’ll broadcast live and collect new, unwrapped toys at a Walmart Super Center…..During the month of October, Alpha Media markets across the U.S. raised funds for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” campaign. The company held an internal competition to see which market could donate the most to the cause. The total donated was $13,546 with Portland in the lead with $9,391. Mitch Elliot from 101.9 KINK FM joined the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. “I was so frustrated that so many loved ones had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted badly to do something, I just didn’t know what. When I heard about Real Men Wear Pink, I knew I could use my giant ‘megaphone’ at KINK to raise awareness and money. My initial goal was $2500, but our listeners came through in droves and we were able to raise over $9K! I am so thankful that folks responded in such a big way.”…..iHeartMedia’s alternative rock WRFF, Philadelphia “Radio 104.5” is presenting “Winter Jawn ‘18” at XFINITY Live on January 18 from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm. It’s a free, outdoor show featuring live performances by: Dashboard Confessional, The Struts, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, and AJR. The event includes a New Music Discovery Stage featuring: SYML, The Glorious Sons, and Welshly Arms.
PPM Analysis: Alternative Rock. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an analysis of the performances of alternative stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey. Looking at 6+ ratings from last month’s survey and October’s, “nearly as many stations on our alternative sample are up from September 2017 (41%) as are down (44%); the remaining 15% are flat.” A year-over-year comparison shows “slightly more than half the stations on this alternative panel are down year-to-year (52%), while 45% improve; the remaining 3% are unchanged.” Not being known as a high-cume format, it’s not surprising that no alt rocker ranks in the top 5 (6+) in its market. However, iHeartMedia’s KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz” and KTCL, Denver “Channel 93.3” ranked #6 in their respective markets in October. See the whole report here.