iHeartMedia to Operate KFMB-AM, San Diego in Aftermath of Tegna-Local Media San Diego Deal. The sale of San Diego stations adult hits KFMB-FM and news/talk KFMB-FM from Tegna to Local Media San Diego for $5 million closed yesterday (3/17). Immediately, LMSD and iHeartMedia revealed a deal in which the latter will operate KFMB-AM under a local marketing agreement. The station began airing a simulcast of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO-AM, San Diego. iHeartMedia expects to file an asset purchase agreement with the FCC this week and new programming should launch on the signal this week as well. Tegna acquired the two radio stations as part of its acquisition of KFMB-TV and KFMB-D2 from Midwest Television in 2018. That deal was for $325 million. Tegna continues to operate sports talk WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus as its only radio properties.
TALKERS TIP: The Communist Chinese Connection to the Coronavirus Story Will Remain and Grow as a Major News/Talk Media Issue Going Forward. Although public and media attention is now focused on the immediate and practical challenges being presented by the coronavirus crisis – the breaking story about U.S. journalists from The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal being ousted from reporting on China from within its mainland borders underscores the consistent repression of news by the Communist government in Beijing. Those who follow U.S.-China relations know this has been the case for many years. Since entering into a relationship with The Epoch Times last spring co-producing a series of Talk Media Forums on U.S.-China Relations, TALKERS has found the unique news agency to be an excellent source of truthful information pertaining to issues having to do with China… in this case, the origins and historic context of Covid-19. The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Its founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information to overcome the propagandistic untruths flowing from Beijing including the imprisonment and torture of journalists reporting narratives counter to their official party line and the horrific persecution of those seeking religious freedom such as the hundreds of thousands of Chinese practicing the meditation-oriented spiritual movement, Falun Gong (portrayed by the CCP as a dangerous “cult”). Since its founding, The Epoch Times has received numerous awards for its reporting and design from the New York Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society for News Design, and more. The Epoch Times media network currently covers 21 languages and 33 countries. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is sadly ironic that most of the world’s information about China comes from the official narrative being put forth by the CCP and not a free and open press and includes hit pieces on publications and news agencies such as The Epoch Times that dare to stand up to their distortions. The Epoch Times has proven to be a critical resource for news/talk media hosts seeking to obtain truthful insights into all things China – which covers a wide range of material in today’s dialogue. Their investigative reporters are compelling and informative guests who are truly plugged into the front-line sources. The Epoch Times is proving to be a gift to talk show hosts seeking to stay ahead of the curve on U.S.-China relations and related domestic and international issues.” Right now, at TALKERS’ suggestion, The Epoch Times is granting full access to its website and firewalls to talk show hosts and news reporters. To sign up, please click here. To book timely guests from The Epoch Times to discuss the coronavirus and the Communist Chinese connection to politics and American interests, call Victoria Jones at the DC Radio Company at 202-227-7067.
WFNZ-AM, Charlotte PD Tony DiGiacomo Exits. Sports talk radio programmer Tony DiGiacomo exited his role as program director at Entercom’s WFNZ-AM, Charlotte last week after his contract was not renewed. DiGiacomo tells TALKERS magazine that the station had experienced recent ratings growth in both the Men 18-34 and Men 25-54 demos. The company is handing WFNZ PD duties to operations manager Darrin Ariens. DiGiacomo says, “It was an honor to be part of WFNZ, working with some of the best talent in the business, and help the station become an important part of the Charlotte sports community. I want to thank Matt Hanlon, Darrin Ariens, and Entercom for the privilege of programming the radio station the past three years. I wish them and my former teammates all the best moving forward and look forward to the next chapter in my sports media career.” DiGiacomo has spent the last 23 years in the sports radio industry, the last 10-plus with WFNZ. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Two Rounds of Nielsen Audio’s February PPM Ratings Released. The first two rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February PPM survey have been released for 24 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Long Island (Nassau-Suffolk), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey), Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The February 2020 survey period was January 30 through February 26. See all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from the first round of 12 markets. Some positive ratings moves of note: iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles adds a half share to finish the month with a 3.8 share and the #7 rank in the market; Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago adds four-tenths to wrap the survey period with a 5.8 share and the #1 rank; and Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta adds 1.4 shares to post an 11.4 share for its eighth straight #1 finish. See all of Mike Kinosian’s Takeaways here.
SRN’s Mike Gallagher Broadcasts from Home. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher broadcasting from the (extremely clean) kitchen of his Florida condo. Noting that NBC TV’s “TODAY Show” host Savannah Guthrie is broadcasting from her basement, Gallagher tells TALKERS, “Following guidelines and directives from President Trump, I’m happy to hunker down in my kitchen for the foreseeable future. Today’s radio technology makes it so easy it seems like a no-brainer for all of us in talk radio.”
Working from Home Made Easier. Nationally syndicated talk show host Walter Sterling (pictured above in his home “studio”) offers some tips for broadcasting from home. With so many who may never have done it before now in the position of doing their radio shows from home, you might take a few tips from someone who’s been doing it for the past seven years. The good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of cash to get a “studio sound” from some remote corner of your house. Walter himself prefers the laundry room. Read his advice here.
Bridgett Knupp to Lead iHeartMedia in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Sales pro Bridgett Knupp is promoted from senior vice president of sales for the iHeartMedia Harrisonburg operations to market president. The cluster includes news/talk WKCY-AM and five music brands. Area president for iHeartMedia Virginia community markets Chuck Peterson says, “I am excited to have Bridgett begin her new role as the leader of our Harrisonburg and Staunton group of station brands. She is already known and respected in the local business community through her previous roles with iHeartMedia Harrisonburg. She has a proven track record of sales leadership and is outstanding in the area of digital advertising.” Knupp began her career with iHeartMedia as an account executive in 2001.
The Coronavirus Pandemic, Trump Seeks Stimulus, Markets Activity/Recession Fears, Democratic Primaries/Presidential Race, China to Expel U.S. Journalists, Putin Power Grab Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The status of the COVID-19 pandemic; President Trump’s plan for a fiscal stimulus package including cash for all Americans; the activity in the world’s financial markets and economists fears of a global recession; Joe Biden’s Tuesday victories over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary; China’s move to expel U.S. journalists in retaliation for Trump’s limit on Chinese state journalists; and Vladimir Putin’s move to alter the Russian constitution to allow him to remain in power were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder wonders in today’s “Robservations” column, “What’s up with the new echo effect on WGN 720-AM?” Feder says the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station has added a reverb to its audio chain like you’d hear on a classic oldies station, as well as some retro station jingles. WGN general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle tells him, “As a stand-alone on the AM dial, we are committed to delivering the best audio quality. The use of reverb showcases our 24/7 local content in an enhanced, dynamic way to our listeners.”…..In an effort to provide some relief to basketball fans suffering from the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Westwood One is re-airing 15 classic games from tournament history. The three-week run of games begins tomorrow night (3/19) at 8:00 pm ET with the 1979 NCAA championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, which featured Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. At halftime, Westwood One will air an interview with Johnson and Bird discussing the game and their long rivalry. The special series will conclude with an encore presentation of last year’s NCAA championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech on Monday, April 6 at 8:00 pm ET…..Public news/talk WGBH, Boston is launching a new, nightly news program titled “In It Together,” hosted by executive editor and host Arun Rath and dedicated to the news of the day about the COVID-019 pandemic. WGBH general manager Phil Redo says, “In a time of great uncertainty, we want to offer listeners the information and analysis they need to navigate a rapidly changing world. We know that our programs provide regularity to the upended lives of our audiences. We’re hoping this new offering builds a sense of community as we face the challenges of this pandemic.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A major move takes place in Los Angeles as Entercom fires the “Kevin in the Morning” show on alternative KROQ and replaces it with afternoon duo Stryker (below, left) and Kevin Klein (below, right). Megan Holiday moves from evenings to afternoons and the station is searching for a new night personality. Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “We thank Kevin [Ryder] for his many years of dedication, comedy, and entertainment, alongside Bean, that helped build KROQ into the iconic station it is today. ‘Stryker and Klein’ have an engaged and loyal fanbase and we look forward to ushering in the future of mornings with them on the ‘World Famous KROQ.’” Also let go by the station are morning co-hosts Allie MacKay and Jensen Karp…..Max Media announces that programmer Eddie Haskell is joining its Norfolk-Virginia Beach stations as vice president of operations and programming. In this position, he’ll also serve as brand manager and afternoon drive personality at country WGH “97.3 The Eagle.” Haskell was most recently SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Fort Collins…..Townsquare Media announces that adult hits WSHK, Portsmouth, New Hampshire “The Shark” brand manager Sarah Sullivan is promoted to operations manager for the cluster. She’ll retain her WSHK duties. Also, sister country WOKQ midday personality and assistant brand manager Jess Tyler is upped to PD for the station. Senior vice president of programming Kurt Johnson says, “We love to recognize and elevate great local performers and these are two of the best. Sarah and Jess have delivered outstanding results in their positions and are more than qualified and deserving of these promotions.”…..Due to public health and safety concerns, and in accordance with The University of Pennsylvania guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia public triple A WXPN-FM has postponed its “NON-COMMvention 2020,” the annual gathering of triple A radio and music professionals that was scheduled to take place May 12-15, 2020 at WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. No decision has yet been made regarding a new schedule.