FCC Grants Waiver of Ownership Regs for Sinclair Telecable in Austin. When Emmis Communications and Sinclair Telecable agreed to a $39.3 million deal for the latter to acquire full ownership of the Austin cluster that the two companies have been co-owners of since 2003, the result would have put Sinclair over the FCC’s ownership limit. The companies applied for a waiver from the FCC and on Friday (9/27), the Commission granted the waiver. Emmis owns 50.1% of the cluster and Sinclair owns 49.9%. Emmis sought the waiver, calling the Austin co-ownership “unique” and the sale of its stake to the other “more akin to a corporate restructuring.” FCC audio division chief Albert Shuldiner agreed, and in his ruling said that it’s obvious that Emmis and Sinclair are not trying to get around the ownership caps. “In fact, it appears that this transaction is part of Emmis’ ongoing efforts to divest its radio stations.” The Austin station group includes: news/talk KLBJ-AM, alternative KROX, adult contemporary KGSR, regional Mexican KLZT, and adult hits KBPA (as well as HD2 stations “Austin City Limits Radio” and “Latino 102.7”).
Monday Memo: Play the Hits. If you host an ask-the-expert show, you’re working “a sales funnel.” This week, in part two of a series, consultant Holland Cooke explains how weekend talk radio hosts can borrow a success technique from music radio. Read it here.
Impeachment Inquiry/Ukraine Aid Issue, Biden Campaign’s Giuliani Request, 2020 Presidential Race, MBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ Interview, Hong Kong Protests, Netanyahu’s Future, and Kanye’s ‘Jesus Is King’ Album Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Trump and the related issue of the president’s withholding of approved aid for Ukraine; the Joe Biden campaign’s request of news organizations to stop giving Trump attorney/adviser Rudy Giuliani air time; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman denies ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during “60 Minutes” interview; the continuing protests in Hong Kong as the 70th anniversary of the Communist Takeover approaches; the future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he tries to build a coalition with his main rival; and the controversy over Kanye West’s Jesus Is King album that failed to be released were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
iHeartMedia Announces Second Annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. In a press release, iHeartMedia says that in celebration of International Podcast Day, it is announcing the return of the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards to the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles on Friday, January 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm PT. It will be broadcast and streamed live across iHeartMedia stations nationwide. The awards will cover 30 categories and the live event will feature appearances by award nominees, celebrity presenters, and other special guests. iHeartPodcast president Conal Byrne says, “When we introduced the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards last year, we knew we wanted to celebrate the most talented podcast creators out there – the key reason that podcasting continues to grow exponentially. The response to last year’s awards was amazing. This is the one time of the year that all the most popular podcasters come together to celebrate the community of podcasting truly as colleagues, not competitors. The iHeartRadio Podcast Awards bring everyone into one room – the biggest hosts, producers and distributors – all committed to this amazing podcast medium and to seeing its incredible growth continue.”
TALKERS News Notes. From the Windy City, media writer Robert Feder reports two items of note. First, Nexstar Media Group is making a change to news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago’s imaging. Chicago media figure Bill Kurtis is no longer voicing the station’s imaging. That is duty is now being handled by New York-based voiceover pro Steve Kamer. Feder notes that new jingles for WGN-AM now use the familiar music from sister WGN-TV’s newscasts. Feder quotes a Nexstar spokesman saying, “We are embracing our Midwest roots. Going to bring back the warmness of WGN — a station for everyone.” Second, Jennifer Weigel moves from serving as co-host of the “Mancow in the Morning” program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM to hosting her own program airing from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight on the station, replacing the syndicated John Batchelor program. WLS-AM PD Stephanie Tichenor calls it “the only locally produced, female-hosted show in our market”…..SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel is presenting a special radio documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 “Miracle Mets” World Series victory — the memorable first world championship in the young franchise’s history following seven consecutive losing seasons. Titled, “Amazin’: A Celebration of the 1969 Mets,” it features new interviews with several members of the ’69 Mets including Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, Rod Gaspar, Wayne Garrett, J.C. Martin, Jim McAndrew, Bobby Pfeil, Art Shamsky and Al Weis, as well as manager Gil Hodges’ wife Joan and son Gil Jr., and Tommy Agee’s wife Maxcine. Listeners will also hear previously recorded memories from Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. SiriusXM’s Ed Randall hosts the special…..Digital audio advertising firm DAX brings Chris Blackburn aboard to serve as EVP for sales and business development. Blackburn was most recently with SoundCloud where he was responsible for overseeing and growing its worldwide ad-sales business…..Below, WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk show host John DePetro (right) poses for a photo with Southeast Massachusetts Sheriff Tom Hodgson (left) on the White House lawn during a ceremony in which America’s Sheriffs and Angel Families presented President Trump with a plaque of appreciation for his work combating illegal immigration.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programing pro Steven Lewis is named program director and afternoon drive host at Cumulus Media’s rock WNDX, Indianapolis “93.9X,” effective October 7. He moves to Indy from Cincinnati where he was assistant director of custom/national programming for iHeartMedia. WNDX operations manager Christopher “Boomer” Layfield says, “‘93.9X’ shot out of a cannon to incredible audience response when we launched back in May, thanks to Doug Hamand, Troy Hanson, Derek Madden, and Jim Kurdziel. We’re now adding just the right mad rock programming genius to make us dangerous… in a good way. Steven is ideally suited to lead this team. I share his vision and look forward to working with him to firmly establish the ‘93.9X’ brand in Indy.”…..iHeartMedia’s alternative KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz” names Tessa Barrera co-host of “The Rod Ryan Morning Show” alongside Rod Ryan, Alex Middleton, and executive producer, Jose “The Chile” Santos. Station PD Elliott Wood says, “Tessa brings an amazingly strong on-air presence along with an accomplished set of skills in radio, news, sports, and television.” She comes to Houston from the company’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles where she served as a news anchor and executive producer…..It’s getting close to Jingle Ball season for the 12 iHeartMedia CHR stations that are hosting a Jingle Ball concert. With Capital One again on board as the title sponsor, the company announces that some of the acts seen will include: Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, Halsey, 5SOS, Lizzo, Dan + Shay, Monsta X, Fletcher, Jonas Brothers, NF, Niall Horan, French Montana, Why Don’t We, Zara Larsson, and Lewis Capaldi.