Monday Memo: Talkers, Listening. Cable television talk legend Larry King taught us that great talkers are good listeners. So, in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke asks a quartet of our talk media cohorts what they’re hearing as listeners cope. HC speaks with Westwood One nationally syndicated star Jim Bohannon, Providence radio and TV news and talk pro Gene Valicenti, and two hosts working in recreation meccas – Harry Hurley at WPG, Atlantic City and Heidi Harris at KMZQ in Las Vegas. Read it here.
Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening and Second Wave Threats, COVID-19 at the White House, U.S.-China Relations, Ahmaud Arbery Slaying, Michael Flynn Case, and Jerry Stiller Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the number of deaths, and projections for future infections; some U.S. states cautiously begin re-opening amid concerns about a second wave of infections; the reports of White House staffers testing positive; the war of words between the U.S. and China over the origin of the coronavirus; the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery; the DOJ drops the Michael Flynn case and allegations of the Obama administration’s role in implicating Flynn; and comedian Jerry Stiller dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Masks, Appointments, and Social Distancing. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it’s important to be smart about what and how you are selling. “As local business categories slowly come back to life, dealing with restrictive guidelines never before anticipated, marketing dollars may take a more cautious path to recovery. Some of your advertisers are dealing with the logistics of government-funded loans to bridge the gap and the new challenges that will arise. Will hours and operations ever be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic?” Read his column here.
Beasley Media Group Announces Re-Opening. The company says that today (5/11) it is beginning the approved gradual Phase One implementation of re-opening its radio properties in states that have reopened for business. Beasley Media Group states that “both the timing and safety measures for these re-openings will be based upon approved CDC, individual state, and local government recommended guidelines. During Phase One, no more than 25% of each cluster’s individual workforce will be in the workplace at any given time.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We have taken a very conservative, thorough and thoughtful approach to our company’s gradual reopening plan to provide, first and foremost, a safe and healthy work environment for our employees. Our market managers have done an incredible job working closely with their individual state and local governments to ensure a safe transition process as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times.”
Evening Show Change at WLS-AM, Chicago. Windy City media personality Jenniffer Weigel leaves her early evening talk show on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM and a sports-themed show hosted by Rob Martier debuts in its place. Chicago media writer Robert Feder breaks the story here. Martier has been with WLS-AM since joining as evening news anchor in 2018. He also hosts a weekend auto show and Illini football broadcasts. Weigel came aboard last March as a part of the Mancow Muller morning show before transitioning to late night host and then early evening personality.
Bob Matthews Retires from WHAM, Rochester. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that longtime WHAM sports talk host Bob Matthews did his last show for the legendary iHeartMedia signal on Friday. Matthews tells the paper he was not fired nor furloughed but that at age 73 and after serving with the station for 35 years, he admits “the coronavirus got the best of me.” He adds, “It’s been very difficult the last two months. It’s been tough talking sports for two hours when there’s no sports. I’ll be OK.” Matthews, a longtime columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle who left the paper in 2012, says he’s recently been diagnosed with diabetes and knows he’s susceptible to the virus. The station will replace Matthews’ 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with Westwood One’s “The Savage Nation” with host Michael Savage.
iHeartMedia Adds New Voices to ‘Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020’ Podcast. A podcast addressing students graduating this year titled, “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” is being produced by iHeartMedia and will be published on Friday (5/15) ahead of National Graduation Day on the 17th. The company announces that Bill and Melinda Gates; singer, songwriter and actor Becky G; actor and gender equality ambassador Freida Pinto; stand-up comedian George Lopez; director and actor Henry Winkler; New York Times bestselling author John Green; Mary J. Blige; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert; actor, producer, singer and songwriter Rita Wilson; acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; T.I.; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Emmy award-winning news anchor Tom Brokaw have joined the podcast event featuring commencement addresses from some of the most inspiring and accomplished thought leaders impacting culture today. “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” will also feature speeches from iHeartRadio personalities Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee, Woody, and J Cruz. The speeches will be produced specifically for the podcast, through the iHeartPodcast Network, and are dedicated to all the graduating classes of 2020 who will miss their commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast will be available on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard.
Alpha Media Presents ‘Tools for Difficult Times’ for Staff and Clients. Last Thursday (5/7), Alpha Media held a virtual keynote titled, “Now What? Tools for Difficult Times,” featuring author and Ted Talk alum Greg Bell and special guest Meghan Trainor. Alpha CEO Bob Proffitt states, “The goal of the event was to offer our employees and clients positive and actionable planning strategies to maximize personal and professional opportunities as we begin the re-entry phase of this crisis.” Close to 1,000 guests virtually attended to hear motivational speaker Greg Bell provide key insights and incredible tools for moving forward in this new era. Grammy Award winner Meghan Trainor discussed with Skyview Network host Dana Cortez how she is using her platform positively to help feed those in need at this time. They also tackled how to handle the pressure and fatigue from the constant influx of social media during the pandemic. Alpha Media says that it believes that innovation, creativity and connection are important now more than ever. To meet that need, the company says its Virtual Keynote series will continue throughout the year with new speakers and guests to be announced.
Radio One Philadelphia and MyPhillyLawyer Salute Frontline Workers. In an effort to give back to the front-line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radio One Philadelphia joined MyPhillyLawyer for the “Salute on the Front Line” campaign that features video tributes and special lunch deliveries to men and women nominated by members of the community. Listeners to Radio One’s Philadelphia stations can submit video tributes to the radio stations highlighting the work and contribution of friends or family members who are essential workers in the Philadelphia area. The radio stations will feature the videos and each day will have lunch delivered to the workplace of the honorees to thank them and their co-workers for their service. Radio One Philadelphia general manager Ezio Torres says, “This partnership with MyPhillyLawyer recognizes not only the front-line workers who immediately come to mind, but also those who work in the grocery stores and drug stores, along with the delivery drivers, postal workers, SEPTA personnel, and many others. It’s just a great way to acknowledge those who continue to allow us to move forward. We want to send them a big thank you!”
Westwood One: Radio Listening Levels Ramping Up. The data presented in this week’s Westwood One Blog are culled from “a brand-new study of consumer COVID-19 sentiment and spending intentions” as well as “just-released audience data from the 45 Portable People Meter markets. The PPM data covered the period of March 27, 2020 through May 6, 2020.” The PPM data indicates that Americans are listening at a rate of 82% or pre-COVID-19 levels. A study conducted by Nielsen found that 32% of adult Americans consider themselves in the “ready to go” category and they have a greater intent to resume their spending habits. Read the blog here.
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated radio program “Our American Stories” begins airing on iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston, effective June 1. Lee Habeeb is the show’s host and CEO of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “The Astros, Johnson Space Center, NASA, and KTRH. We are thrilled to join this town of giants. After announcing our partnership with Entercom last week in Dallas on KRLD-AM, and now this partnership with the leading talk station in Houston, we are truly humbled. There are milestones and we have just crossed two really big ones.”…..NPR has struck an agreement with SAG-AFTRA that will allow it to temporarily reduce employee compensation due to an expected budget shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic. As reported at Current.org by Tyler Falk, employee salaries will be reduced on a sliding scale beginning next week, with a maximum cut of 9%. However, the move does not affect employees making less than $80,000. It will be in effect through the end of NPR’s fiscal year in September. The pact also prohibits NPR from laying off any workers for the rest of the fiscal year.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Detroit, Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 The Bounce” promotes J. Steele to assistant program director. He joined the station in April of 2019 and hosts the afternoon drive show. Beasley Detroit director of programming Jerry Tarrants comments, “J. Steele brings extensive programming background to the position and has proven to be a valuable member of the team since joining the station last year as our afternoon drive talent at ‘The Bounce.’ I know J. will bring the same energy and dedication to this role as he does with his very entertaining afternoon show for his listeners in the Motor City!”…..The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Big D and Bubba” show is named the new morning program at country WCLT-FM, Columbus “T-100.” To make room, program director Wild Walley gives up the AM show and becomes host of the afternoon drive program…..At Max Media’s hip hop KFCO “Flo 107.1,” the morning duo of Larry Ulibarri and Kathie J are out. The company has made no official announcement, but the morning show’s info is gone from the station’s website.