Archive for May, 2021
Premiere Networks to Syndicate “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in Rush Limbaugh’s Old Daypart. A source at Premiere Networks confirms the story in today’s Wall Street Journal that reports Premiere will begin syndicating “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, beginning June 21. Sexton, a former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert currently hosts an eponymous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show for Premiere Networks and Clay Travis – founder of Outkick (which he just sold to FOX) – hosts the morning drive “Outkick the Coverage” show on FOX Sports Radio. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott is quoted saying, “We’re not going to replace Rush Limbaugh, we’re going to have an evolution of the show with fresh voices — those that grew up on Rush and admired him.” Clay Travis writes a piece at Outkick today explaining that this has been in the works for months and he gives his rationale for leaving the morning sports show behind to work with Sexton on the new talk radio show.
‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ to Debut on July 4. The launch of Cumulus Media’s new talk station is set for July 4 and the company announces that WKIM-FM, “News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis” will be the official flagship radio station for the University of Memphis Tigers. As such, the deal with Tiger Sports Properties means the station will air every football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game starting in August. The agreement also includes broadcasting of the weekly one-hour football and men’s basketball coaches’ shows with Ryan Silverfield and Penny Hardaway, respectively. Cumulus does not reveal the daily programming to be heard on the station outside of Westwood One’s newly launched “Dan Bongino Show.” Cumulus Memphis VP and market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “At Cumulus, we believe strongly that ‘what’s good for Memphis is good for us,’ and that commitment to our community drives all that we do. One of our most important priorities and responsibilities as a local broadcaster is to help make Memphis a better place. Becoming the flagship radio partner of Memphis Tiger Athletics, an entity that is so beloved by our city and its residents, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Cumulus Memphis has the largest live, local and homegrown team in the radio industry – all of whom are incredibly excited about becoming the radio home of the Memphis Tigers. We are thrilled to put the full power of four 100,000-watt stations behind the partnership. KIX-106, 98.1 The Max, 103.5 WRBO and the all-new ‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ will work in concert to raise the level of awareness and celebrate all that is Memphis Tiger Athletics. Rebranding ‘98.9 The Bridge’ and changing the format of the station is just one more step to showcase Tiger Athletics and all that it means to Memphis. We are excited and eager to begin a new and long-lasting partnership with the University of Memphis, Learfield IMG College and Tiger Sports Properties.”
Real Estate Powerhouse/Radio Talk Show Host Dottie Herman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Dottie Herman, is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” She is also the host of a long-running talk show, “Eye On Real Estate” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” that has evolved into a weekend radio institution in the Big Apple. Herman has received numerous high-level honors for both her executive and entrepreneurial leadership in the field of real estate and is on just about every prestigious magazine list of the most powerful women in American business. Michael Harrison says, “Dottie Herman is at the potentially explosive junction where real estate and talk radio meet. The topic is hot and getting hotter tying into all aspects of American life – politics, economics, business, education, and the entire menu of news/talk radio staples. Not to mention, it can attract advertisers from a wide array of industries from banks to home maintenance. Dottie Herman brings the ‘wise woman’ persona reminiscent of some of radio’s greatest talk performers and on-air advisors into a modern context. We discuss everything from her dramatic childhood to her dynamic self-made career as a real estate giant to her role in talk radio including the economy, her perspective on Donald Trump based on her relationship with him in the real estate business, and entrepreneurism in America.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
WVHU, Huntington, West Virginia’s Tom Roten Celebrates 20 Years. Talk radio personality Tom Roten, known to his listeners as “The Straight Shooter,” celebrates his 20th year hosting the morning show on iHeartMedia’s WVHU, Huntington “NewsRadio 800.” Roten began his career with WVHU in 1991 when he began his 15-year stint as the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. In June of 2001, when the station switched to news/talk, Roten became the morning drive host. Roten recalls how he transitioned to the morning show. “I was wrapping up a high school basketball broadcast when I saw a recently elected first-time member of Congress waiting with other parents for her son to come out of the locker room. I asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to join me for the postgame report. We talked about the game of course, but I also asked her about being sworn into the U.S. House just a month prior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but members of management were listening to the interview and had been looking for a local morning talk host to fill out the lineup of the station’s new talk format. We had Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the lineup was still up in the air.” He was offered the morning gig and agreed to try it for a year. About his 20-year morning talk career, he says, “It’s hard to believe really. I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful the listeners and advertisers have stuck with me in my quest to deliver truth, opinion, and, hopefully, some entertainment. Talking about what’s going on in our region and in the nation from a local perspective has helped me bond with my listeners.”
Cumulus Media Moves to Pay Down $175 Million in Debt. The company announces it is taking steps to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “As I noted on our recent earnings call, the continuing improvement in economic and public health conditions is fueling very encouraging momentum across all our businesses. Against that backdrop, we are accelerating debt repayments, which will de-lever the balance sheet more quickly, reduce interest expense, and further increase our free cash flow. Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018, we have reduced our net debt by almost $600 million, despite the impact of a global pandemic. Looking ahead, our better leverage profile and more than $200 million of available liquidity will provide us meaningful financial flexibility as we continue along our strong rebound trajectory. Cumulus Media’s strong competitive position, proven track record of solid execution, numerous revenue growth drivers, and ability to consistently generate significant free cash flow give us multiple pathways along which to grow shareholder value in the short- and long-term.” On May 17, Cumulus completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. Cumulus was required by the terms of its debt agreements to make mandatory debt prepayments from the proceeds of its previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020, after giving effect to a right of reinvestment. On May 25, the company paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to this mandatory prepayment obligation. Approximately $65 million of the prepayment related to the Land Sale, and approximately $23 million of the prepayment related to the Tower Sale. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, the company launched a tender offer for the Notes at par for approximately $26 million, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. Following the expiration of the tender offer, any amounts that remain untendered will be directed toward an additional prepayment of the Term Loan.
TALKERS News Notes. Former President Donald J. Trump has been making appearances on talk radio programs recently, including a guest spot on the USA Radio Network-syndicated “Wayne Allyn Root: Raw and Unfiltered.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of a new, weekly podcast titled, “That Thing I Do,” starring Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss on which the close friends will share their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests. “That Thing I Do” will be a “raucous deep-dive into the funny and strange quirks of those successful people, and an investigation of what it is about ‘that thing they do’ that makes them who they are.”…..On Tuesday, June 1 ABC News kicks off Pride Month with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ issue-focused podcast, “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” The ABC News contributor says, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”…..WGN-AM, Chicago host and contributor Dane Neal will broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday (5/30), 6:30 am to 10:00 am, leading up to WGN’s coverage of the 105th Indianapolis 500. IMS president J. Douglas Boles says, “We welcome Dane Neal and WGN back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 105th Running of the Indy 500 for a live pre-race show followed by the live race broadcast. Chicago’s Very Own has such a rich tradition with the ‘500’ and the Speedway, as it was a broadcast pioneer by starting its coverage of the race nearly 100 years ago.”…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show is added to the program schedule at Ultimate Caps Inc’s KBFS-AM, Belle Fourche, South Dakota and KYDT-FM, Pine Haven, Wyoming.
San Jose Mass Shooting, COVID-19 Origin Controversy, January 6 Commission, Trump Org Grand Jury, Election Audits, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The shooting deaths of 8 people at a rail yard in San Jose; the growing call for investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and China’s pushback over the lab leak theory; the GOP’s hesitation over creating a January 6 Commission to investigate the Capitol invasion; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. convenes a grand jury to consider indictments in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization; the 2020 election audits taking place in New Hampshire and Arizona; soaring consumer prices and fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and instances of violence against Jews in the U.S. and abroad; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KFI, Los Angeles Suspends Tim Conway, Jr and Sheron Bellio for Racist Bit. According to a report in Deadline, iHeartMedia and KFI, Los Angeles have suspended evening talk host Tim Conway Jr. and executive producer Sheron Bellio after the two performed a bit in which Conway pretended to interview Yuko Sakamoto – the wife of sports talk personality Vic “The Brick” Jacobs and Bellio spoke in a stereotypical Japanese accent. The pair have issued on-air apologies and will serve a week’s unpaid suspension. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci issued the following statement to Deadline: “We of course take matters of this nature very seriously. Their failed attempt to what they thought would be a humorous shtick was thoughtless and unacceptable, and we apologize to anyone who was offended. They both have since apologized on air and I can assure you the situation is being handled appropriately internally. That said, we wanted to make things right with a plan that was not only deeply apologetic, but also educational, and focused on the community – taking further action to help combat racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.” Part of the station’s plan includes running PSAs addressing anti-Asian and Pacific Islander hate. The KFI news team is also set to produce a two-hour special designed to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes in Southern California. That special will air on May 30 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Cumulus Media Launches New Talker in Buffalo. Sports talk WHLD-AM, Niagara Falls, New York flipped to news/talk on Monday (5/24). Cumulus Media is branding the station “Talk 1270/WHLD-AM.” Vice president and market manager Jim Riley says, “We’re very excited to launch ‘Talk 1270’ this week in Buffalo as Dan Bongino launches his national radio show. Western New Yorkers can now enjoy daily radio shows on ‘Talk 1270’ from two of the most listened-to podcasters in America, Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, as well as other marquee talk radio favorites.” In addition to Bongino and Shapiro, the station is airing the “First Light” and “America In The Moring” shows from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Chris Plante in late mornings, plus Michael Knowles from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Lars Larson in early evenings and Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon in late nights.
Greg Alexander Named Market President for iHeartMedia Minneapolis. Sales pro Greg Alexander is promoted from SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s Western Great Lakes Region to market president for Minneapolis. Alexander will report to Scott Hopeck, division president for iHeartMedia. Hopeck says, “Greg’s extensive experience qualified him for this role, but more importantly his team lifted him into it, which is a testament to his leadership. I’m confident that Greg and his team will lead our Minneapolis operation to new heights.” The Minneapolis market includes news/talk KTLK, sports talk KFXN “K-FAN,” and four music brands. Alexander says, “This is an incredible opportunity to work with some of the country’s best brands and the industry’s brightest minds. I look forward to collaborating with the programming, advertising, and operations teams while helping elevate the Minneapolis market.”
Peter Rothfuss to Lead Audacy’s Gainesville/Ocala Market. Sales and management pro Peter Rothfuss is promoted from his general sales manager role to SVP and market manager for Audacy’s Gainesville/Ocala, Florida operations that includes news/talk WSKY, sports talk WRUF-AM/W237EJ, and two music brands. Rothfuss takes over for Dick O’Neil who is retiring from the company on May 31. Audacy regional president Claudia Menegus says, “Peter’s experience in this market, coupled with his proven track record of success leading sales efforts, will allow him to seamlessly expand his role and continue the momentum we have achieved. I look forward to watching our market reach new heights under his leadership.” Rothfuss served as general sales manager for Audacy Gainesville/Ocala since 2016. Prior to that, he had two stints with Audacy Wilkes-Barre in which he served as an integrated marketing specialist from 2014 to 2016 and director of sales from 2010 to 2013.
TALKERS News Notes. GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, and music producer T-Pain signs a deal with PodcastOne for an exclusive podcast and vodcast production and distribution deal. T-Pain will host the upcoming podcast and vodcast “Nappy Boy Radio with T-Pain, set to launch June 3. Upcoming guests on the podcast include Peyton List, Xolo Maridueña, Jacob Bertrand, and Joe Seo from Cobra Kai, Mike Tyson, Lil Jon, Steve-O, Jazzy Pha and Slim Jxmmi. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “At PodcastOne, we seek hosts who are charismatic and engaging with something to say that audiences want to hear. T-Pain is all that and more. His innate curiosity and interest in the world around him and the people who live in it offers up endless possibilities for show content and we cannot wait to launch ‘Nappy Boy Radio with T-Pain.’”…..Audacy’s C13Originals reveals thatt the third season of “Gangster Capitalism” – the documentary podcast franchise that focuses on white collar corruption and the dark side of the American dream – will chart the rise and fall of Jerry Falwell Jr., and the damage left in his wake at Liberty University. The sex scandal that engulfed the largest evangelical Christian university in the world and Jerry and Becki Falwell is just the beginning. For the eight-episode new season, the Gangster Capitalism team spoke with more than eighty people — insiders, former and current Liberty students, faculty, staff, high-ranking administrators, and those with intimate knowledge of Falwell Jr., many going on the record to reveal their explosive stories for the first time, as well as authors, historians, journalists, and theologians.
COVID-19/China Lashes Out at Fauci, George Floyd Anniversary/Portland Riot, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, NYC Grand Jury Convened in Trump Org Investigation, Election Audits, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/25). The fast-falling rate of COVID cases in the U.S, vaccine hesitancy, and China’s state media criticizes Dr. Tony Fauci for admitting lab origin possibility; the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd and Portland breaks out in riots; skyrocketing consumer prices spark fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and the uptick in violent attacks on Jews; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jrconvenes a grand jury to hear indictment arguments in the Trump Organization case; the election audits taking place in New Hampshire, Arizona, and Georgia; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Boozy Bartenders. After interviewing local direct retail talk radio advertisers, consultant Holland Cooke cautions that programmers’ personal politics – “daily doom-N-gloom” – are at-odds-with listeners’ mindset, “upbeat as America re-opens.” Read his column here.
Pending Business: Next. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, says, “The days of passive audio engagement are rapidly ending. The days of appointment radio are waning as the listening consumer is in greater control of audio decisions.” For the news/talk seller this can be great news if sales management guides them properly. See his column here.
COVID-19 Vaccines & Stats, Wuhan Lab Outbreak Report, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire/Attacks on Jews, Critical Race Theory, Belarus Plane ‘High-Jacking,’ Anti-Abortion Laws, and Cryptocurrency Slump Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; a report indicating several staffers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became infected with COVID in fall of 2019; President Joe Biden scales back his infrastructure plan to $1.7 trillion to woo Republicans; the cease-fire between the IDF and Hamas and increasing incidents of attacks on Jews in the U.S.; increased reports of parents fighting their school districts over the teaching of “critical race theory”; Belarus comes under pressure after forcing a Ryanair flight to return so it could arrest a journalist critical of President Alexander Lukashenko; the anti-abortion laws being passed in several states; and last week’s cryptocurrency slump were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
‘Voelker and Bahl’ New Afternoon Show at Sports Talk WTMM, Albany. Air talent changes are taking place at Townsquare Media’s Albany sports talk outlet WTMM “104.5 The Team.” Effective June 1, former UAlbany associate athletic director of external affairs Charlie Voelker – who also hosts WTMM’s “Sunday Sports Buzz” – is joining Dan Bahl as co-host of the new “Voelker and Bahl” afternoon drive show. Voelker takes over for Jeff Levack who is leaving his full-time role with the station to become head of media relations for Tech East Fire and Water Restoration. He’ll remain with WTMM for special on-air and online projects. About joining the station full time, Voelker says, “I am extremely excited to entertain Capital Region sports fans on ‘The Team’ every afternoon. It is an amazing opportunity to join Dan talking sports and all that implies! I want to congratulate my friend Levack on his new opportunity and I’ll fill those shoes proudly.” WTMM brand manager Dan Bahl adds, “I have loved working with Jeff both on and off-air. I am very excited to have Charlie join me on the afternoon show and look forward to us providing local sports fans with entertaining content on-air and online.”
iHeartMedia Sells Tampa Studio Facility for $3.8 Million. According to a story in the Tampa Bay Times, iHeartMedia has agreed to sell its Gandy Boulevard facility in Tampa to LBA LVF VII XII Company LLC for $3.8 million. The studios house news/talk WFLA and numerous music-formatted stations. iHeartMedia has made no announcements about its plans for relocating the radio stations and it’s not clear when the deal closes.
WNXX-FM, Baton Rouge Host Charles Hanagriff Leaves Full-Time Role. The Advocate of Baton Rouge reports that Charles Hanagriff is leaving his full-time sports talk host gig with Guaranty Broadcasting’s sports talk WNXX-FM, Baton Rouge. Hanagriff is exiting the midday host role to take a position with Match Point. He will continue to serve with the station in a part-time sitting in with Jimmy Ott on his evening “Gametime” program and will anchor the LSU football post-game show during football season.
WFAS-AM, White Plains Goes All-Digital Today. Today (5/24) is the day that Cumulus Media’s talk outlet WFAS-AM, White Plains, New York transitions to broadcasting solely in a digital format. Cumulus received permission from the FCC to make the change last month. That came in the wake of the FCC’s October 2020 ruling that allows AM radio stations to operate using all-digital broadcast signals. As of today, only radios equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the station programming. Cumulus says, “The HD Radio signal offers improved sound quality and clear reception to an expanded listening area. The new digital signal now reaches beyond Westchester County, NY and into large portions of New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan), the north shore of Long Island, northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, CT. Listeners can access AM1230Digital’s signal through an HD Radio receiver, available in most newer car models, or by streaming either online, with a mobile app, or with a smart speaker.”
Binnie Media Radiothon Raises $200K for Veterans Charity. Pictured above (center) is “Good Morning NH” host Jack Heath on May 19, the day of Binnie Media’s 7th Annual “Make 12 Hours Count” Radiothon that benefitted Easter Seals NH Military & Veterans Services and Veterans Count. With Heath are (from l-r): Trooper Chris Elphick of the NH Major Crime Unit, Navy Seal Dave Rogers (retired), Heath, Trooper First Class Joshua Beauchemin, and Lieutenant Sean Haggerty. The radiothon raised more than $200,000 this year. It was simulcast across Binnie Media’s “Pulse of NH” stations WTPL-FM, WTSN-FM, and WEMJ-FM, and received support from the company’s music stations. Over the past seven years, the radiothon has raised more than $1.1 million.
Michael Harrison “Animal Tour” Enters Fourth Week. “I Know You’re Real” is a Hit on YouTube with over 31,000 Views. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison is entering the fourth week of his virtual “Animal Tour” – a series of talk media interviews on radio, TV, and in print in support of his new music album with the historic rock band Gunhill Road, What Year Is This! and the animal welfare anthem, “I Know You’re Real.” This past week, Harrison has appeared on Doug Stephan’s “DJV” morning show as well as his “American Family Farmer” and “Your Hidden Powers” programs. He also appeared on Kevin McCullough’s “Radio Night LIVE” syndicated show and John Batchelor’s “CBS Eye on the World” podcast. To listen to the conversation between Batchelor and Harrison, please click here. Harrison has already appeared on the Jim Bohannon Show (Westwood One), the Harry Hurley Show (WPG, Atlantic City), “Sterling on Sunday” with Walter Sterling and “The Big Picture” with Holland Cooke on RT America. To view the music video version of “I Know You’re Real (spoken version)” featuring Harrison reciting the lyrics he wrote, please click here. Harrison will continue the tour into the summer. To book him on a talk show, please call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.