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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

| November 10, 2021

Vince Vitrano Named New Morning Host at WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s WTMJ “Newsradio 620” announces that Vince Vitrano is named the new host of the Good Karma Brands station’s “Wisconsin’s Morning News” program, replacing Gene Mueller, who recently announced his retirement after 44 years in Milwaukee radio. Mueller will retire in February 2022. Vitrano says, “For a kid born and raised in Wisconsin, this job is like playing for the Brewers and the Bucks! Salute to Gene Mueller, who is a friend, a colleague, and someone I’ve looked up to in our business. To succeed him in this role is truly an honor.” Gene Mueller comments, “Vince Vitrano is a perfect choice to fill ‘the big chair.’ He’s a true Wisconsinite — a solid news veteran who shares the interests, sensibilities, and concerns of our listeners. I will sleep better and longer knowing Vince is there, continuing a legacy broadcast with passion, care, and integrity.” Vitrano is an Emmy award winning reporter and anchor, joining E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ-TV in the spring of 2000 as a general assignment reporter. He has earned numerous honors from the Associated Press, the Milwaukee Press Club, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. He is active in the community, on the board of directors for Special Olympics Wisconsin and The First Tee Southeast Wisconsin.

Gen Media Partners and Jim Higgins form G Accelerate Networks. Media executives Warren Friedland – managing partner of Gen Media Partners – and Jim Higgins have announced the launch of G Accelerate Networks, a joint venture in which both parties hold a stake and which Higgins will lead as president and CEO. They say G Accelerate Networks will be “laser-focused on bringing in new business from both existing and new radio content and service providers, producers, and programs that are looking to accelerate their revenue potential, as well as increase their affiliated stations and national footprint.” Higgins, who was most recently president and CEO of Key Networks, says, “Too many radio content producers are getting lost and not getting the attention and dedicated sales and affiliate services required to keep them top-of-mind with stations and thriving financially. Warren and I are committed to changing that result for those clients that join us at G Accelerate. We welcome the opportunity to provide them with the effort, resources, and passion required to deliver growth and success.” G Accelerate Networks will also tap into and work with all of Gen Media Partners’ companies – including G Networks, Hispanic Radio Networks, Gen Media Partners Radio Reps, and others – to assist in growing their revenues and affiliations. Friedland adds, “G Accelerate will also be looking for select equity investments and acquisitions in content and service provider companies whose vision and mission lines up with or complements Gen Media Partners. We’ve known Jim for many years, and he was always the shining star of the companies lucky enough to have worked with him. His vast executive experience and client relationships with both creatives, producers, agencies, and advertisers is unmatched in the network business. We are thrilled to be a part of his new venture.”

Howard Greiner to Lead iHeartMedia Albany. With the retirement of Albany area president Kristen Delaney set to take effect on December 31, iHeartMedia announces that Howard Greiner is been named the new area president for the Albany area, which includes Poughkeepsie and Sussex, New Jersey. Greiner has been operating his own consulting firm for the past three years and spent the 18 years before that with Buntin Out-Of-Home Media. iHeartMedia Community Markets division president Dan Lankford says, “I’m excited to welcome Howard to the iHeart family. Howard’s extensive marketing knowledge and years of experience building winning teams will be a great asset to our Albany area operations.” Greiner says, “I am excited to join America’s leading audio company bringing over 30 years of national, regional and local marketing and media experience to an exceptional team of professionals in the Albany, Poughkeepsie and Sussex, New Jersey markets. Our team will continue to deliver best-in-class marketing initiatives to the region’s business community in an ever-evolving media landscape.”

Scott Basilotta Named VP of Distribution for Today’s Homeowner Media. Nine-year staffer Scott Basilotta is promoted to vice president of distribution for Today’s Homeowner Media. Basilotta most recently served the company as director of television and radio syndication, leading distribution efforts for the brand’s nationally syndicated television and radio shows, “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford.” During his tenure, Basilotta expanded the “Today’s Homeowner” TV footprint by 38%. The show currently airs in 208 of 210 markets and is available in 92% of the U.S. “Today’s Homeowner” Radio has seen even more growth over the past nine years with a 458% increase in stations airing the weekly show. The two-hour broadcast currently airs on 319 stations. Additionally, the brand’s “Tips for Today’s Homeowner” vignettes have seen a 362% increase during Basilotta’s term. The 90-second features air on 377 stations.

Broadcasters Foundation Launches End of Year Giving Campaign. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is launching its annual year-end giving campaign today, with an appeal for tax-deductible donations that will allow the Foundation to continue providing financial assistance to those in broadcasting who need it most. A 501(c)3 charity, the Broadcasters Foundation is the only organization dedicated exclusively to delivering financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by tragic illness, accident, or catastrophe. Personal donations to the Guardian Fund and corporate contributions to the Angel Initiative can be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org/donate. This year’s plea for donations follows a year-and-a-half of several cancelled fundraising events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even as more broadcasters than ever are reaching out for monthly or emergency relief. The Broadcasters Foundation will award more than $1.8 million in monthly and one-time emergency grants in 2021. Monthly grants have increased 75% and more than 500 emergency grants have been awarded since 2017. Over the past 20 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed more than $15 million to broadcasters in need. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “Our grant recipients are hard-working broadcasters from across the country and from all size markets, who have been hit by challenging, often life-altering circumstances. With the support and generosity of the people in our industry, we can help your colleagues and their families get through their toughest times.”

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow night (11/11) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting a Town Hall broadcast addressing vaccine mandates. New Jersey 101.5’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments as the station addresses the legal ramifications of vaccine mandates on both employers and employees. Scott underscores this program is not intended to debate whether vaccine mandates are good or bad. “These mandates are a reality. Our goal is to detail the legal obligations, rights and options for both employer and employee.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Peter Frattarelli, Esq., a workplace law attorney with Archer Attorneys at Law and chair of Archer’s Labor & Employment Practice Group; and Dana Wefer, Esq., a workers’ rights attorney. The panel will also address issues surrounding medical and religious exemptions, as well as workplace accommodations from both the employee and employer standpoint…..The final regular show for WFAN, New York’s Steve Somers will happen this Friday (11/12). Somers is the Audacy station’s longest-serving sports talk host who announced recently that he would be retiring “sooner rather than later.” On Monday (11/15) from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, WFAN will air a special show featuring guest callers…..Salem Media Group announces it will present at the virtual Q4 Investor Summit conference at 1:00 pm CT on November 17. The Investor Summit (formerly MicroCap Conference) is an exclusive, independent conference dedicated to connecting smallcap and microcap companies with qualified investors…..The Newsmax nationally syndicated “Rob Carson Show” – heard daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm – announces the addition of three new affiliate stations as Delmarva Education Association’s WMLB-AM, Atlanta; Maga Radio Networks’ WJFN-AM/FM, Richmond; and Pan Am Broadcasting’s KDAZ-AM/K245CD add the program to their lineups…..Pictured at left is GCN nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs with the Christmas Tree at Opportunity Village – an organization that helps people with people with intellectual disabilities and their families through enrichment, empowerment, and employment programs and services. Dr. Wachs says the organization holds its Magical Forest event from Thanksgiving through the New Year each year. The event is one of its largest fundraisers to fund their programs and employment placement.

Biden Infrastructure Bill, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Inflation/Energy Prices, China’s Military Aggression, and Astroworld Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). The passage of President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure bill in the House and criticism of the Republicans who voted for it; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., mask & vaccine mandates, and NFL fines Packers, Rodgers and Lazard for flouting protocols; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and former President Trump’s attempt to claim executive privilege over documents the House committee is seeking; soaring retail, food, and energy prices; China’s war games using U.S. ship mock-ups; and the investigation into the deadly Astroworld concert in Houston were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, October 15, 2021

| October 15, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Boosters and Rockets,” looks back at this past week of 10/11 – 10/15. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio CompanyRichard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; and Dr. Renee Kohanski, medical field podcaster/forensic psychiatrist.  The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Kristine Bellino Joins WIBX-AM, Utica Morning Show. Television and radio pro Kristine Bellino returns to Townsquare Media’s WIBX-AM, Utica, New York to serve as morning news anchor and co-host of the “First News with Keeler in the Morning” program, effective Monday (10/18). Townsquare says that Bellino has worked in television, radio, and cable TV, most recently as director of programming and audience development and morning show host at public radio outlet WCPE-FM, Raleigh. She has also produced and hosted a podcast on sustainability and dreams of owning an off-the-grid farm one day. Bellino says, “I am thrilled to be working with Bill Keeler and Andrew Derminio in the morning again, I am beyond excited! Returning to our adopted hometown of Utica is an inspiring homecoming for my family. Returning to TSM and [market president] Karen Carey’s team means doing it right.”

FOX News Inks Book Deal with HarperCollins. A new deal between FOX News Books, the publishing imprint of FOX News Media, and HarperCollins calls for the publication of six new titles. FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott says, “We are thrilled to once again partner with HarperCollins, furthering the multiplatform brand extension of FOX News Media. Over the past 25 years, we have developed a unique connection with our audience and look forward to delivering more of the content they desire from their favorite FOX News personalities through our expanded publishing platform.” Next month, All American Christmas will be the third title from the imprint. Authored by “FOX & Friends Weekend” co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy, along with her husband, FOX News contributor Sean Duffy, the book features an inside look at how the family of 11 celebrates the holidays, showcasing their favorite memories and traditions with stories and photos from over the years. The Duffy’s will also spotlight several FOX News personalities sharing their favorite holiday memories, including stories from Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, Bill Hemmer, Dana Perino, Martha MacCallum, Geraldo Rivera, Lawrence Jones, Jesse Watters, John Rich, Charles Payne, and many more.

Cumulus Adds FM Translator to WFTW-AM, Fort Walton Beach. Fort Walton Beach, Florida news/talk WFTW-AM now has an FM translator broadcasting its audio at 107.5 FM. Cumulus Media launched the new signal at 7:00 am this morning (10/15). Cumulus Fort Walton Beach-Destin VP and market manager Ashley Allegretto says, “This is an exciting day for local radio and for the Fort Walton Beach market. We are elated to bring this sought-after content and renowned programming lineup to the FM dial.” Cluster OM and program director Chris Kellogg adds, “The proud tradition of 1260 WFTW continues across multiple streaming platforms and now the addition of 107.5 FM. This deepens our commitment to our conservative community of listeners and businesses and provides multiple access points for news and opinion.”

WGN, Chicago to Present ‘Halloween Radio Theatre.’ Chicago’s WGN Radio will broadcast “Halloween Radio Theatre with Carl Amari” live on Sunday, October 31 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The show will consist of six half-hour spooky classic radio shows including: “Mystery in the Air” starring Peter Lorre, “Lights Out!,” “The Whistler,” and “Mystery House,” starring Bela Lugosi and John Carradine. Listeners can also expect shorter scary clips and other fun surprises. Amari says, “I’m super excited to be on the air live this Halloween evening to bring WGN listeners some of the spookiest shows from the golden age of radio. It’s going to be a ‘hair-raising’ four hours, so don’t miss it!” Amari has spent decades licensing and preserving original radio broadcasts, is the curator of the Classic Radio Club and board member of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

TALKERS News Notes. A contest from Beasley Media Group and Philadelphia restaurateur John Tripodi is asking WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” listeners to provide the new name for a restaurant and sports bar. Midday show personality Anthony Gargano unveiled the details for the Name This Restaurant and Sports Bar Contest. The restaurant – located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania – has re-opened but needs a name. The person who comes up with the winning name receives a $100 monthly tab for a year at the location. It’s also the location of the official home of “97.5 The Fanatic’s Football Friday Tailgate with Anthony Gargano” live broadcast (Fridays from 10am to 2pm) and 97.5 The Fanatic’s “Birds Away Game Pre-Game Show with Devon Givens and Derrick Gunn.” WPEN-FM program director Chuck Damico says, “Partnering with John Tripodi and his amazing place for our ‘Name This Restaurant and Sports Bar’ promotion was an opportunity we had to jump at. If you’re not actually at the game, you’re out with friends and enjoying delicious food (maybe a drink or two) and having a great time! This is the next great spot to be doing it and to have the chance to have one of our listeners decide what it’s called. How cool is that?”…..SiriusXM announces its coverage of the 2021-22 NBA season in which it offers live play-by-play of every game from Opening Night through The Finals, plus daily in-depth talk and analysis on SiriusXM NBA Radio. The NBA begins its season on Tuesday (10/19) as the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets in a rematch of last season’s seven-game conference semifinals series. SiriusXM hosts Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine will host a special show live from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee starting at 6:00 pm ET and leading into the game broadcast.

The Economy, Inflation, Supply Chain Woes, and Labor Shortage Combine at Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 11-15. The state of the U.S. economy, the inflation affecting consumer prices, the broken supply chain, and the shortage of workers in the U.S. and abroad combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., booster shots and mask & vaccine mandates, followed by the pandemic’s effect on the politics of education at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

| September 9, 2021

WOR-AM, New York Announces 9/11 Anniversary Broadcast. New York City news/talk WOR-AM will present a two-part, special broadcast to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 that “will aim to honor the victims of 9/11 and the courageous first responders that risked their lives following the attacks, as well as the resilience of New Yorkers.” Tomorrow (9/10), from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, a special edition of “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” will reflect on the events of that day with special guests including David Lim, a retired Port Authority police officer who was one of 16 officers to survive the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center; Jed Bernstein, head of the Broadway League and an instrumental force in getting Broadway back up and running after the attacks; and John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation and 9/11 first responders advocate. On Saturday (9/11), from 8:30 am to 10:00 am, WOR-AM news director Joe Bartlett will anchor live coverage of the memorial ceremonies at the World Trade Center. The show will also feature the entire 710 WOR-AM morning team that was on the air on September 11, 2001, including host Ed Walsh, iconic 710 WOR-AM traffic reporter George Meade, news reporter Mara Rubin, and morning show executive producer Natalie Vacca. Tom Cuddy is program director for the iHeartMedia station, and he says, “These two special programs are being quarterbacked by Joe Bartlett and Natalie Vacca, two long term members of the WOR programming team who were both working on our morning show on 9/11/01. Preparing for these broadcasts has been emotional and heartbreaking for our entire staff.”

Joe Pags Releases 9/11 Memorial Song, ‘Tuesday Morning.’ Nationally syndicated, San Antonio-based talk radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo has released a song he wrote, sang, and played saxophone on that commemorates September 11, 2001. Titled, “Tuesday Morning,” the song describes the daily routines most Americans were beginning on that morning before the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked and before a group of brave Americans helped down a jet in Shanksville, Pennsylvania before it could hit its target. You can listen to the song and watch the video here.

Art Vuolo Presents Updated Edition of New York City Radio’s Coverage of 9/11. Radio’s Best Friend Art Vuolo has posted a new, updated version of the video he originally produced in February of 2002. That edition of the video was just under 13 minutes. This re-edit is just shy of 20 minutes in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. As Art notes, this is how the events of that morning were covered from a radio perspective. See the complete video here.

Newsmax to Present, “9/11: The Day That Shook the World.” This Friday evening (9/10), Newsmax will air its new documentary “9/11: The Day That Shook the World” at 9:00 pm ET. Newsmax commissioned the film with Fox Tail Productions. Award-winning filmmaker Jack Thomas Smith serves as one of the executive producers and the film was directed by Mandy Del Rio. It includes exclusive interviews with many of the key officials and players at Ground Zero that fateful day, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, former FDNY Commissioner Tom Von Essen, former New York Congressman Peter King, founder of the Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa, Chairman of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation Frank Siller, and other guests who share their personal stories of loss, grief, and heroism.

Round One of August PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s August 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s August 2021 sweep covered July 22 – August 18. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Audacy New York’s all-news station WCBS-AM rises two-tenths to a 2.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and is now the #13 ranked station in the market while sister WINS-AM dips one-tenth to a 2.6 share and falls to the #14 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI is up one-tenth to a 4.1 share but falls to the #7 rank while Salem Media Group’s crosstown news/talk KRLA is up four-tenths for a 2.4 share finish and the #16 rank. Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago rises three-tenths for a 3.4 share and is ranked #9 in the market while Audacy’s crosstown all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM loses a full share for a 5.7 finish and falls to the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Pittsburgh-Based Talk Host Wendy Bell Launches Show in Self-Syndication. Former KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh talk radio host Wendy Bell, who also served in the past as a television news anchor for KDKA-TV, has begun broadcasting a daily, three-hour talk radio program that’s available via streaming and on the radio. She’s developed an app to listen to her program online and her program has been added to the lineup at Lightner Communications’ WRTA-AM/W253CJ, Altoona, Pennsylvania “Talk Radio 98.5” in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart.

Tim McCarthy to Exit WEPN-FM, New York as ESPN New York Operations Evolve. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, Tim McCarthy will exit his general manager role at ESPN’s WEPN-FM, New York “98.7 ESPN New York” at the end of this month. McCarthy has been with ABC/Disney more than 30 years and previously served as manager for news/talk WABC when the company still owned it. This comes as Good Karma Brands is expected to assume operations of WEPN-FM and KSPN-AM, Los Angeles as ESPN looks to completely get out of the radio station operation business. Good Karma recently entered into an LMA to control sports talk WMVP-AM, Chicago. Emmis Communications owns the WEPN-FM signal and leases it to ESPN. McCarthy tells the Post that Disney has been very good to him over the years. “While it is bittersweet to say goodbye, I am excited and ready to begin a new chapter. The adventure continues! I am certain that our paths will cross again.”

Doug Stephan is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Long-time syndicated news/talk radio morning host, content producer and independent farmer Doug Stephan is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Stephan discuss the evolution of talk radio as well as the present-day factors that influence the way food is produced and distributed in America including climate change and the Chinese takeover of U.S. industrial assets. They also discuss the introduction of legal cannabis as an American agricultural product. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

G Networks Names Brian Pollina Director of Network Sales. National radio network G Networks announces Brian Pollina joins the company’s Ad Sales Team under Rich Baum, as a director of network sales. Pollina began his career with Audacy’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago and served with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM before joining United Stations Radio Networks in 2008 as VP of digital assets and Midwest sales.  Baum says, “We are thrilled to bring someone of Brian’s talent on board to the G Networks team as we find new ways to dynamically reach audiences through our full-service portfolio of networks and syndicated shows. We are aware of the importance of creating engaging and compelling stories for our clients across various platforms, and Brian will be an integral part of that expansion as we strengthen and grow.”

Media Bridge Advertising Names Shannon Knoepke SVP of Marketing. Radio sales pro Shannon Knoepke joins Media Bridge Advertising as senior vice president of marketing. During her career, Knoepke has served as senior vice president and market manager for Audacy, as well as senior managerial experience at Townsquare Media, Cumulus Media and iHeartMedia. In this new role, Knoepke will serve on Media Bridge’s leadership team and her executive responsibilities will include helping Media Bridge’s clients plan the right strategies, achieve the most value and achieve the best results, as well as mentoring and developing talent within the agency. Media Bridge founder and CEO Tracy Call states, “I’ve always been blown away by Shannon’s intelligence, professionalism and integrity. She’s the perfect fit for Media Bridge on many levels. She’s also the latest proof that some of our best talent comes from other side of the media table. She knows what clients want. She knows what media companies can do. And she’s the best in the business as putting those two things together efficiently.”

Melissa Colon Named VP of Client Investments for Focus 360. Marketing pro Melissa Colon is joining Focus 360 as vice president of client investments. In her new role, she’ll represent Focus 360’s suite of products and national networks to agencies and clients across the country. She most recently served with Havas Media and has also worked for Westwood One. Focus 360 founder and CEO Phil Brown comments, “This is such an exciting moment for me and the entire Focus 360 team. We’ve worked with Melissa very closely for many years and have always been grateful for her unwavering support. To have her now join our team and help spread the word on Focus 360, speaks volumes to what we’ve been able to build for all companies who turn to radio for results.”

TALKERS News Notes. The NFL’s 2021 season begins tonight and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One begins its 35th consecutive year as the exclusive network radio partner of the league. Westwood One Sports will provide play-by-play coverage of the NFL’s 2021 national regular season primetime games including Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, and Sunday Night Football plus Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, the entire postseason, including the Wild Card and Divisional Playoffs, the AFC and NFC Conference Championship Games, the Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Kevin Harlan and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner return as the lead broadcast crew…..iHeartMedia New York and media mogul Charlamagne Tha God partners with Mental Wealth Alliance to recognize World Mental Health Day by hosting the Mental Wealth Expo, a free and open to the public event taking place on October 10, 2021, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York City. Attendees will hear from experts on everything mental health, with curated panels on racial trauma and mental health, Black men’s mental health, Black women’s mental health and the role religion and spiritualty play in our mental wellness…..CNN Audio presents the first episode of season one of “Total Recall: California’s Political Circus with Dana Bash.” The first episode is titled, “Welcome to the Circus.” CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash takes listeners back to the origins of the 2003 California recall and talks with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the man he beat, Gray Davis, to learn why this election became such a circus.

COVID-19/Biden Speech, Afghanistan, Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Plan, Texas Abortion Law, Justice for J6 Rally, Newsom Recall, and Jamie Spears Files to End Conservatorship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/8). The high rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the battle over mask & vaccine mandates, and President Joe Biden’s planned speech to address the situation; the announced release of Americans in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to iron-fisted rule; the debate over the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan that expands the social safety net; the blowback from the passage of Texas’ restrictive abortion law; public safety concerns about the planned September 18 “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, DC; the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; and Britney Spears’ father Jamie files to end his conservatorship were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, August 30, 2021

| August 30, 2021

Anti-Vaxxer Bernier Loses Three-Week COVID Fight. This time last week, we reported news/talk WWTN-FM, Nashville afternoon drive personality Phil Valentine’s COVID-19-related death. Now, another conservative radio host who publicly spoke out against COVID-19 vaccines has died from the coronavirus: Marc Bernier, 65, passed away Saturday (8/28) after a nearly month-long battle against the virus. A Daytona Beach market fixture for more than three decades, the Rhode Island native who characterized himself as “Mr. Anti-Vax” did a morning commentary; a three-hour afternoon program; weekend shows; and specials for Southern Stone Communications news/talk WNDB “AM 1150 & FM 93.5.” The station released news of Bernier’s death on its Twitter account by stating, “It is with great sadness that [we] announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years.” After being off-the-air for a week, Bernier entered the hospital on August 7.  In an article published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Mark Harper points out that Bernier, “interviewed countless governors, senators, mayors, sheriffs, journalists, historians and authors. He also was an outspoken opponent of vaccinations.” Sports Network International vice president Justin Gates co-hosted “Weekend Around the House” with Bernier and was the best man at Bernier’s wedding. Gates was quoted as saying that Bernier gave “all sides” and wouldn’t “bully, throw punches, do potshots, or anything for ratings – that’s why he [was] so popular.” A guest on Bernier’s WNDB radio show the past 15 years, Volusia County sheriff Mike Chitwood comments, “I’m numb – this is a death in the family to me. You don’t have to agree with everything a person says for them to be your friend – I don’t think a lot of people get that. [Our] off-the-air banter was priceless. A great stress reliever for me was the things we would talk about, laugh about, and the jokes we would exchange. More than anything, I will miss how funny he could be, and how we’d try to one-up each other with funny anecdotal stories.” Florida-based CBS News Radio correspondent Peter King’s first radio news job was at WNDB and included anchoring on Bernier’s afternoon show. On his Facebook page, King writes, “I enjoyed working with him and we remained in touch for a while after that. Marc was the proverbial big fish in a small pond, becoming an integral and influential force in the community and really turning himself into a cottage industry that allowed him a wonderful quality of life in Daytona Beach. Whether you agreed with his points or not, he was always interesting; engaging; well-informed; involved; and a fine broadcaster. There was always room for more than just his opinion. I’m pretty sure that he helped make a lot of money for his radio station during his 30 years there. I was saddened to read reports that he was very publicly anti-vaccine on-air and was hospitalized with COVID; I’m even more saddened by his death.” After Bernier was hospitalized, WNDB operations director Mark McKinney was uncertain if the talk host was vaccinated. According to progressive news website/online tabloid Raw Story, McKinney remarked, “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air.” In his final tweet published on July 30, Bernier wrote that the United States government was “acting like Nazis because officials were urging people to get vaccinated.” WNDB emphasizes on Twitter, “We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”

Monday Memo: Which of These 7 Mistakes Are You Making On-Air? Validating the consultant caricature, Holland Cooke ticks-off what ticks-off listeners. Most of these are not intentional on the part of the talk host but they can signal a host who is not completely prepared, doesn’t hear things through the ears of the listener, or has acquired a bunch of bad habits, probably due to a lack of coaching. Read his column here.

 

Pending Business: Checking In. You’ve noticed how so many retailers “check-in” with you after your purchase – usually via email or text – to make sure you’re happy. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column about sales managers checking in with sales leads to make sure they are being served by the sales rep. He says this is not about micro-managing and most managers trust most of their reps, but there are several reasons the “Check-In” plays an important role in the sales process. Read his column here.

Dawn Stensland to Host Late Mornings at WPHT, Philadelphia. WPHT morning drive co-host Dawn Stensland is getting her own two-hour radio talk show from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon beginning September 7. She is currently co-anchor of the Audacy station’s morning drive “Rich Zeoli Show” and will continue in that role. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re excited to grow Dawn’s role with the station with the launch of her new midday show, where she will speak with top local newsmakers for in-depth analysis of stories that affect the Philadelphia region. Dawn’s show, along with an extra hour of Rich Zeoli, and Dom Giordano’s new program time extends our local content to nine hours, which allows us to best serve our local listeners, while continuing to deliver some of the biggest names on the national stage.” Stensland says, “I’m grateful to Rich Zeoli and his ‘army’ of loyal listeners for believing in me since I joined the show six years ago. I am so proud to work with Audacy and I’m also so thankful for their commitment to showcase a diverse collection of local voices as we engage with people across our region about the issues of the day and the news that impacts us here at home.”

KMVP-FM, Phoenix Makes AM Drive Change; Replaces ‘Doug and Wolf’ with ‘Bickley and Marotta.’ A series of programming changes at Bonneville’s Phoenix sports talk outlet KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” has the midday team of Dan Bickley (left) and Vince Marotta (right) moving to morning drive, taking over for the current morning show hosted by Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, effective September 7. Wolfley moves to middays with a new show (in addition to his current role as Arizona Cardinals radio broadcast analyst) joined by Luke Lapinski for “The Wolf and Luke Show.” Doug Franz remains with the station as he transitions to digital contributor on ArizonaSports.com. Bonneville Phoenix SVP and market manager Scott Sutherland says, “I cannot say thank you enough to both Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, who along with being great broadcasters, are both first-class people that have made tremendous contributions to the Arizona Sports brand and our community.  Vice president of programming Ryan Hatch adds, “Doug and Wolf had the longest, most successful run in Valley sports radio history, and we are so appreciative of all of their great efforts over the years. But now is the time to bring a new energy to mornings with an ensemble cast that will jumpstart each day with strong opinions and plenty of laughs.” Bickley and Marotta state, “We are so pumped up to start the Valley sports conversation every morning on one of the biggest sports brands in the country. This is going to be a blast.”

WEEI/NESN Radio-Telethon Raises More than $3.8 million to Fight Cancer. The 19th annual “WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon” raised more than $3.8 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Audacy sports talk outlet has been partnering with New England Sports Network to present the event since 2003 and since WEEI launched the fundraiser in 2002 has raised more than $62 million for the cause. The 36-hour live broadcast took place on August 24 and 25. Audacy Boston SVP and market manager Tim Clarke states, “We’re completely inspired to see the New England community from so many different walks of life come together to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s selfless mission. The annual ‘Jimmy Fund’ event is synonymous with this region and, in a year where we’ve faced adversity unlike any other, being able to unite with our audience to help strike out cancer is a true testament to our resiliency.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” adds new affiliate station WRVA, Richmond, Virginia in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. With this addition, the Starnes Media Group program is now heard on more than 110 affiliate stations…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WSCR-AM, Chicago “The Score” and WSSP-AM, Milwaukee “The Fan” brand manager Mitch Rosen is also adding the title director of operations for BetQL Network, which is providing sports betting programming to Audacy’s sports talk stations. Audacy VP of sports Matt Volk says, “Mitch Rosen has been at the forefront of all the planning, operations and execution of this seamless expansion. He has been a trusted leader and point of contact for so many important BetQL Network initiatives. We are thrilled with Mitch’s daily dedication to all of his stations, its people and Audacy.”…..Radio programmer and consultant Mike McVay is being inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame on October 16. The ceremony will take place at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington, West Virginia. McVay began his radio career at WEIF, Moundsville in 1974. He also served with WNEU, Wheeling and WCHS, Charleston…..PodcastOne announces the launch of Doug Ellin’s “Hollywood Wayz” weekly podcast and vodcast with co-host, rapper and actress BRE-Z. “Hollywood Wayz” debuts September 9. The vodcast is available on LiveXLive and YouTube. The production includes a partnership with actor and director Kevin Connolly’s Action Park Media, where the show will be recorded weekly.

Afghanistan Pullout, COVID-19, Hurricane Ida Hits Louisiana, Global Supply Chain Troubles, North Korea Re-Starts Nuclear Program, Gavin Newsom Recall, Talk Host Marc Bernier Dies from COVID-19, and Ed Asner Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S.’s deadly exit from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden’s meeting the return of the slain military personnel at Dover, and the Taliban’s terrorist strategies; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battles over mask and vaccine mandates; Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana leaving New Orleans without power; the effect COVID-19 is having on global supply chains; U.S. intelligence indicates North Korea is again producing plutonium; California Governor Gavin Newsom is on the ropes as the recall election looms; Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier dies after a battle with COVID-19, and actor Ed Asner dies at 91 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

| August 26, 2021

Archived Conversation with Phil Valentine is Featured on This Week’s Installment of Harrison Podcast. A conversation featuring the late Phil Valentine has been retrieved from the archives for this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The classic dialogue was recorded in May 2017 – less than five months into the administration of then-President Donald Trump. Harrison and the WWTN-FM, Nashville talk star engage in a deep-dive conversation about a number of still-timely issues including the challenges faced by conservative talk show hosts during this politically charged new era in finding a balance between playing to the Republican Party’s base while maintaining independent critical thinking. The two also discuss Valentine’s experience at that time as an independent filmmaker of the documentary, An Inconsistent Truth, which provided a rebuttal to former Vice President Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, about the environment and climate change issue. Valentine discusses his career in radio and his childhood growing up as the son of long-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives; his love of family; and his close personal and business relationship with his brother. Harrison states, “There was so much more to Phil Valentine as a media practitioner and human being than the headlines surrounding his tragic death indicate. I am gratified that this interview conducted four years ago really presents a full-dimensional portrait of the man and I’m pleased to be able to showcase it for people who might not be familiar with the scope of his contribution to the talk media scene.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Larry Elder’s Ex-Girlfriend Files Police Report as Newsom Recall Race Heats Up. Politico is reporting that the former girlfriend of Salem Radio Network talk host and current candidate for governor of California Larry Elder has filed a formal police report alleging “several incidents of domestic abuse” during their relationship that ended in 2015. Alexandra Datig spoke publicly about the allegations last week but says she delivered her statement to Los Angeles police yesterday (8/25). According to numerous media outlets, Elder is the leading candidate to replace Governor Gavin Newsom should California voters choose to recall him on September 14. Democratic leaders are also reportedly concerned that lack of voter interest could keep enough Democratic voters home on election day and hand the governorship to a GOP challenger such as Elder. Now Alexandra Datig enters the fray with this complaint against Elder. She says she was interviewed by LAPD detectives for two hours on Wednesday, about a week after going public with her story that she broke off her 18-month engagement to Elder after he “pulled a loaded gun from a nightstand” during an argument in 2015. Politico’s Carla Marinucci writes, “She said that out of fear and intimidation, she didn’t file a police report at the time, but that she decided to make a formal report after hearing some of Elder’s public statements denying the gun incident and suggesting she fabricated the account. His denials, she told police, have resulted in her receiving hostile threats on social media.”

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Afternoon Host Jordana Green on Medical Leave. According to a story in BringMetheNews, afternoon drive co-host Jordana Green is taking a “short leave of absence” to focus on her recovery from a rare form of Leukemia. Green told her listeners about her diagnosis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia last October. She says her problem now is her inability to create platelets. She recently posted an update on her condition saying, “I can’t seem to get my platelet or red blood cell count up (no there’s nothing I can do for this). Transfusions are my only option. I’m also neutropenic. Which means my white blood cells have been wiped out and I’m at risk for infections.” Green adds, “I’m ready to be done being sick but it looks like I have two more years of treatment. I hope future posts will be more uplifting.” Green co-hosts the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show on Audacy’s WCCO-AM with Paul Douglas.

CNN Audio Unveils New Fall Podcast Lineup. This fall there are new limited-series podcasts launching from CNN Audio. They include, “Tug of War,” hosted by CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward. In this series, Ward travels across the world to meet the courageous people on the front lines of a battle for democracy. She says, “During my career I’ve always been struck by extraordinary acts of courage from ordinary people. Currently authoritarian regimes are on the ascent across the world, but so are the grassroot movements resisting them. In ‘Tug of War,’ we take you to Syria, Myanmar, Russia and more to meet some of the people behind these movements and see what it takes to risk everything to fight oppression.” Also debuting this fall is, “In Total Recall: California’s Political Circus,” with Dana Bash and “Margins of Error,” hosted by senior data reporter Harry Enten. Longtime podcaster Aminatou Sow joins CNN Audio to host “When Diana Met…,” a new podcast that will revisit Princess Diana’s most notable encounters with politicians, dignitaries and celebrities. Additionally, HLN is launching a new audio companion to their popular true crime series, “Very Scary People.” This season, the show returns to Amityville, New York to revisit the 1974 murders that would spark a cultural conversation.

TALKERS News Notes. WBEN-AM, Buffalo afternoon drive talk host Tom Bauerle just celebrated his 30th anniversary with the Buffalo stations now owned by Audacy and recently inked a new, long-term contract with the company. Bauerle also shares that a major motion picture based on the life of Saint Cabrini is being filmed in Buffalo and WBEN played a big role in helping put together more than 2,000 extras after local casting director Frank Rossi appeared on his radio program. Bauerle says he is also an extra – actually a featured extra – in the film. We’ll have to wait for the final cut to see if Bauerle makes his big screen debut in the film. Stay tuned!…..Nashville native Clay Travis is the subject of a piece in the Williamson Herald in which he tells writer Carole Robinson how he segued from sports talk to news/talk. Travis – now half of Premiere Networks’ “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton” show – spoke with Robinson while at a political event for Tennessee State Senator Jack Johnson. He says when the sports world shut down in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19, he began talking about current events. “The sports audience exploded. I used that as a strong sign. People wanted my opinion.”…..Public radio news/talk KQED-FM, San Francisco – along with its sister television outlet – are presenting a new live event series hosted in its newly redesigned San Francisco headquarters. “KQED Live” events will take place in the 238-seat multipurpose theater called The Commons. The inaugural schedule of guests includes: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Grammy-winning Oakland recording artist Fantastic Negrito, The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan, former California governor Jerry Brown, NPR’s Sam Sanders and others. KQED CEO and president Michael Isip says, “Our mission is to inform, inspire and involve. ‘KQED Live’ will provide an inclusive space for personal, participatory experiences that enhance civic and cultural vitality as well as cultivate a sense of community. ‘KQED Live’ will also elevate diverse Bay Area community voices and stories, adding fresh context to our reporting and programs in an informative and entertaining way.”

Afghanistan Withdrawal, COVID-19, Trump Lawyers Sanctioned, January 6 Investigation, Newsom Recall, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/25). The criticism of the Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan and the new threat to the Kabul airport from ISIS; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., China promotes U.S. military base as COVID origin, and mask and vaccine mandates; Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other Donald Trump attorneys are sanctioned in Michigan for “abuse of the judicial process” in contesting the election results; former President Donald Trump claims executive privilege as January 6 House committee seeks documents from his administration; Democrats fear lack of voter interest in Gavin Newsom recall could hand governorship to GOP; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.