KID-AM, Idaho Falls Morning Hosts Resign Over COVID-19 Coverage Conflict with Station Owner. The morning drive duo of Neal Larson and Julie Mason resigned from their positions with Rich Broadcasting’s news/talk KID-AM, Idaho Falls yesterday (4/20) after deciding a directive from station owner Richard Mecham about their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic went against their principles. The East Idaho News reports that at the heart of the disagreement was the duo’s disagreement with Idaho Governor Brad Little’s “stay at home” order. While Larson and Mason tell the paper they didn’t suggest anyone to break the law, Mason says she told listeners they should “follow your heart and figure what’s right for you and your family because COVID-19 is really situational.” Mecham tells the paper, “I was trying to understand why you would fly in the face of the governor’s order when so many other stations are doing things to support your clients and listeners. This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with them about what they do and don’t cover. I’ve always trusted Neal. I’ve always supported them. I’ve never critiqued the show, and I’ve always had their back.”
Entercom Adopts Limited Duration Shareholders Rights Plan. The board of directors of Entercom Communications has voted to adopt a shareholder rights plan – also known as the “poison pill” – to prevent a takeover of the company without consent of the board. The company explains the move in a press release, “The Board adopted the Plan at this time due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equity market valuations which has led to substantial volatility in the trading of the Company’s stock and a dislocation in Entercom’s share price. The Plan is similar to those adopted by other publicly held companies and is intended to promote the fair and equal treatment of all shareholders and ensure that the Board remains in the best position to uphold its fiduciary duties to the Company and its shareholders. The Plan is designed to allow shareholders to realize the long-term value of their investment by guarding against opportunistic efforts to capitalize on recent macroeconomic conditions, including open market accumulations and other strategies, aimed at gaining control of the Company without paying all shareholders a full control premium for their shares. The Plan provides for the issuance of one preferred stock purchase right for each share of Class A Common Stock and each share of Class B Common Stock held by shareholders of record on May 5, 2020, exercisable for Series A Preferred Stock and Series B Preferred Stock, respectively. Generally, the rights will become exercisable or exchangeable only if a person or group (with the exception of certain existing holders in certain circumstances) acquires 10% or more of the Company’s outstanding Class A Common Stock, or 15% in the case of certain passive investors (including shares synthetically owned pursuant to derivative positions or deemed owned due to specified actions in concert) or announces a tender offer and the consummation of that offer would result in ownership above such percentage-levels. If the rights become exercisable, the rights will entitle its holder to purchase one one-thousandth of a share of the newly-created Series A and Series B Preferred Stock, as applicable, which, in each case, at the Board’s election, may be converted into shares of Class A and Class B Common Stock, respectively, of the Company.” The Plan has a one-year duration, expiring April 20, 2021.
Cox Media Group: Local Media Outperforms During Pandemic. According to a study conducted by Cox Media Group, consumers are turning to local radio for information, entertainment, and companionship more than any other media source during the coronavirus pandemic. The multi-market, online in a wide variety of demographics – ranging from 18 to 54 – and yielded more than 11,000 responses. CMG says that the study found that one-third of participants are listening to radio more since the coronavirus outbreak. Since the outbreak, 94% of participants indicated that they have tuned into local radio more than any other streaming service for music, talk, and information, demonstrating that as radio continues to evolve, ‘local’ ranks as one of the most important differentiators. CMG Radio VP, audience and content Tim Clarke says, “Audience engagement is very strong by any metric you look at. Listeners depend on our radio brands more than ever for a mix of news, entertainment and a friendly and familiar voice to keep them going during this uncertain time. They are captive and immersed in our content on all platforms and our top personalities continue to deliver.”
Members of Congress Send President Trump Letter Requesting Aid for Local Media. The letter dated Monday (4/20) is written by Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Fred Upton (R-MI) and is signed by more than 240 Members of Congress. It expresses the notion that people rely on local newspapers, TV, and radio for information and that those entities can’t survive without advertising. The letter requests the following specific action: “We believe that Executive Branch agencies have a powerful opportunity to support local media and promote public awareness by directing that federal spending on advertising be prioritized for local media outlets. Specifically, we encourage federal agencies to put into action today already funded campaigns to achieve certain public objectives as well as potential promotions of the economic stimulus programs provided for by the CARES Act and other recent legislation. We urge you to: 1) Direct your Cabinet secretaries to review any resources intended to be used for advertising campaigns and have them expedite such activities with local media outlets; 2) Direct federal agency advertising dollars for existing and new federal programs where community outreach is needed for spending with local media, including those serving minority and rural communities; and 3) Incentivize a portion of stimulus funds provided to businesses for their recovery efforts for advertising on local media.”
Round Four of March PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 survey period covered February 27 through March 25. 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 shares during the March survey include: Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis “Indy’s Mobile News 93.1” adds eight-tenths to finish with an 8.8 share and the #2 rank in the market; in Milwaukee, iHeartMedia news/talk WISN tacks on six-tenths for a 5.8 share and the #5 rank while Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ also rises six-tenths for a 5.7 share and the #6 rank; Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, Nashville “Super Talk 99.7” is up six-tenths to a 5.3 share and the #6 rank; Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville rises 1.4 shares for an 11.8 finish and the #1 rank; and Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford shoots up a full share to wrap March with a 7.2 share and the #4 rank in the market. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from all 48 PPM markets here.
TALKERS News Notes. Milwaukee sports talk outlet WAUK-AM is airing content from SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio channel instead of the ESPN Radio content it usually airs now and for the foreseeable future. Good Karma Brands vice president and Milwaukee manager Steve Wexler states, “We can’t wait for live sports to resume and for the threat of the coronavirus to subside, but in the meantime, we believe the health and well-being of our community is the top priority, as well as delivering relevant information to our audience.”…..No medium does parody songs better than radio and one such example addressing the coronavirus pandemic comes from Bob Flaherty, morning drive personality at Saga Communications’ WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts. Taking on the topic of “herd immunity,” the Flaherty Singers twist a Johnny Cash classic into a parody for our times. Check it out here…..Cox Media Group’s Tampa Radio stations – including talk WPHT-FM “102.5 The Bone” and its four music brand sisters – raised close to $268,000 for the Metropolitan Ministries via its “Feed It Forward: A Virtual Food Drive” that took place last Thursday (4/16). The donations will assist families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…..Beasley Media Group Philadelphia stations, including sports talk WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” and its four music-formatted sisters have officially unveiled a line of ‘Philly Stands Together” merchandise to benefit the “PHL COVID-19 FUND.” The PHL COVID-19 FUND is a joint venture between Philadelphia Foundation and The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey designed to benefit organizations throughout Philadelphia and surrounding counties in PA and New Jersey to serve the region’s most vulnerable neighbors and to ensure critical resources remain accessible for those with the greatest need…..SiriusXM is presenting coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft that begins on Thursday (4/23). The SiriusXM NFL Radio channel will carry the live announcements of every selection by every team. The broadcast will feature Pro Football Hall of Fame member and legendary player personnel executive Gil Brandt; former NFL scout, coach and front-office executive Pat Kirwan; former veteran NFL quarterback Jim Miller; and lead host Jason Horowitz. Former college coach Rick Neuheisel will join the broadcast team for the Friday and Saturday draft rounds. All hosts will be broadcasting from their home studios.
COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, Trump vs Governors, ‘Stay at Home’ Protests, Relief Funds Controversy, Oil Prices Crash, GA TN and SC Plan Reopening, Kim Jong Un Status, and Tom Brady Cited in Tampa Park Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/20). The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and the death toll, plus the projections for future cases and fatalities; the battle between President Trump and the governors of several states over authority to issue directives and the states’ needs for medical assistance; the protests against “stay at home” directives; the controversy over reports that large corporations are receiving relief funds designated for small businesses; the price of oil continues to crater in the absence of demand; Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina’s plans for re-opening immediately; questions about the health status of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; and Tom Brady is cited for working out in a closed park in Tampa 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. After exiting iHeartMedia’s KWBL, Denver “106.7 The Bull” for a new opportunity, we learn that Brian “B Dub” Washington is taking on afternoon drive show host duties at Hubbard Radio’s KNUC, Seattle “98.9 The Bull.” He says, “I’m beyond excited to get my family back home to the Northwest and join the team at ’98.9 The Bull’ and Hubbard Seattle. Can’t wait to make some great radio with Fitz, Wingnut, and the rest of the crew at ‘The Bull,’ as well as work with Scott Mahalick again! Amazing things to come!”…..Changes take place at Saga Communications’ country WCVL-FM, Charlottesville, Virginia as morning drive host Adam Rondeau and program director and PM drive personality Bryan Shine exit. Operations manager Les Sinclair takes over station programming duties…..After being off the air since March 31 due to a case of COVID-19, iHeartMedia alternative KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz” evening jock Karah Leigh returns to the air.