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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

| June 4, 2019

Lars Larson Inks New Deal with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland. Talk radio star Lars Larson signs a new deal to continue hosting his daily program on Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” through 2024.  As part of the deal, Larson’s 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm PT show is also broadcast to 21 stations in the Pacific Northwest via Alpha Media’s Radio Northwest Network.  Larson’s national radio show airs live on some 125 affiliate stations from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT via syndicator Compass Media Networks (with whom Larson also holds a multi-year contract).  Alpha Media SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “With the biggest local talk radio audience in the region, ‘The Lars Larson Show’ reaches more than 3.5 million listeners.  All of us at Alpha Media Portland, our listeners, and our advertisers are excited to extend our relationship with Lars for the next five years.”  Larson comments, “I’m thrilled to renew my relationship with a station I’ve been with through half a dozen presidents, a dozen NW governors, a live volcano eruption, and more than 25 years as a reporter, anchor, and now talk host.”

Cumulus Makes WABC Programmer Change Official. Yesterday (6/3), TALKERS magazine reported that former hot AC WPLJ, New York program director Dave LaBrozzi has taken over the programming reigns of Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talk WABC, New York, replacing Craig Schwalb.  Now, the company makes it official with a press release. LaBrozzi joined WPLJ in May of 2018.  Prior to that he was VP of programming for what is now Entercom’s Baltimore cluster (when it was owned by CBS RADIO) that includes sports talk duo WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” and WJZ-AM “CBS Sports Radio 1300.”  He previously served as regional vice president of programming for iHeartMedia (back when it was Clear Channel) overseeing stations in Pittsburgh; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Cumulus New York VP and market manager Chad Lopez says, “Dave will be an incredible asset to 77 WABC and Radio 103.9/WNBM-FM, and brings experience in both the news/talk and urban AC formats to his new role with Cumulus New York.  We are looking forward to continuing to grow these stations and to giving their passionate listeners even more of the content and community connection that they rely on and enjoy every day.”

The Thompson Family’s Big Radio to Acquire Two More in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two historical Janesville, Wisconsin radio stations are changing hands as Skip BlissSouthern Wisconsin Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Bliss Communications) agrees to sell heritage news/talk WCLO-AM and country WJVL-FM to Ben Thompson-led Big Radio for an undisclosed sum.  Buyer Big Radio operates eight stations in the Southern Wisconsin markets of Beloit, Freeport, Monroe, and Janesville.  Skip Bliss’ father put WCLO on the air in 1930 and WJVL-FM launched in 1947.  Meanwhile, Big Radio was founded by Ben’s father Scott Thompson in 1996 with the purchase of two Monroe stations.  The sale announcement states that “[u]nder Ben’s leadership, Big Radio remains committed to its founding ideals, providing superior coverage of the community’s local news, sports, entertainment, and information.  Big Radio provides local news 365 days a year and its sports department broadcast over 350 regional high school sporting events last year.  Ben Thompson and Big Radio believe the future of radio is local, and aggressively pursue this strategy to the benefit of its listeners and advertisers.”  Kalil & Co., Inc. represents the buyer in this transaction.

New York’s WOR to Present Live Event Speaker Series. Big Apple news/talk WOR is launching an event series called “WOR Live” that will feature in-depth interviews and compelling speakers.  iHeartMedia announces that for the first event, station morning personality Len Berman will moderate a panel that will analyze the news business in 2019.  Joining Berman will be New York news personalities Rosanna Scotto – co-host of WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” – and Ernie Anastos, news anchor at WNYW “FOX News 5.”  The event also features networking opportunities and lunch and takes place at the Cutting Room on June 19 at 11:30 am.

Entercom’s New York All-News Stations Win Big at NYSAPA. WCBS-AM and WINS-AM – both all-news outlets operated by Entercom Communications – won a total of 16 2018 New York State Associated Press Association Awards. WCBS 880 received first place in seven categories, including top honor for “Outstanding News Operation for Radio.”  Sister station 1010 WINS was recognized with top honors in three categories, including for Best Newscast and Best Weathercast.  The stations collectively received second place finishes in six categories.  Winners were honored at NYSAPA’s annual awards dinner on June 1 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Trump’s UK Visit, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Virginia Beach Shootings, U.S.-China Tensions, Mexican Tariff Proposal/Immigration Issues, Big Tech Anti-Trust Investigation, and Holzhauer’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Run Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). The official state visit to the U.K. by President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the aftermath of the shootings in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead; the diplomatic and economic tensions between the U.S. and China over the tariffs the U.S. has slapped on Chinese exports; the Trump Administration’s plan to place tariffs on Mexican exports and the Southern border immigration issues; the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into possible Big Tech anti-trust activity; and James Holzhauer’s improbable “Jeopardy!” run 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. In Detroit, iHeartMedia names Bill Black director of urban programming for hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “MIX 92.3,” taking over for Nate Bell, who left that position earlier this year.  Black comes to Detroit from his most recent position with Radio One in Cleveland programming hip hop WENZ and urban contemporary WZAK.  He says, “I am really thrilled to join the iHeartMedia team and be able to do what I love. The talented programmers that I get to collaborate with, coupled with these legendary Detroit urban stations are unmatched and I’m excited to get to work.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Dustin “Fletcher” Matthews program director for alternative WEND, Charlotte “106.5 The End,” effective June 10.  Matthews moves from the company’s St. Louis region where he was director of alternative rock programming.  iHeartMedia Virginia-Carolina Region SVP Chadwick “A.J.” Hausknecht says, “Dustin is one of the best alternative format programmers in the country.  His unmeasurable creativity and distinctive out-of-the-box thinking will be a great addition to our super passionate and strategic programming family here at iHeartMedia Charlotte.”…..Alpha Media announces that programmer Brown is moving from his PD position in Louisville to Columbia, South Carolina where he’ll serve as operations manager.  He continues as format captain for the company’s urban, urban AC, and gospel brands.  Alpha Media regional president Mike Hartel says, “Brown is a natural leader and he has been a star in our company for a while now.  We can’t wait to bring his big ideas and his big heart to our organization and our community in Columbia!”…..This past weekend, Premiere Networks-syndicated personality Delilah (left) appeared on the Food Network program,  “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” hosted by country star Trisha Yearwood (right).  Yearwood also sat down for an interview with Delilah for her podcast “Love Someone with Delilah.”  The three-time Grammy Award-winner discussed her life and career, including her first full-length studio album in more than 10 years, Let’s Be Frank: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra…..Entercom expands its LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network CHANNEL Q to new markets, including: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Washington D.C.  The network now brings the latest in LGBTQ+ news and information, pop culture, and new music to listeners in a total of 19 local markets and via the RADIO.COM app nationwide…..WAQX, New York morning personality Shelli Sonstein – longtime co-host of Q104.3’s “Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show” – led her fundraising team in the 2019 NYC Tunnel to Towers Climb that benefits the families of first responders and military personnel killed in action.  Sonstein led her team (pictured below) in their age group with a record time climbing the 104 stories of the World Trade Center.  She says, “I would like to thank Elvis Duran and my co-host Jim Kerr for their very generous donations, and of course, ‘Q104.3’ and iHeartMedia for supporting my efforts.  My entire team finished this very difficult climb and vows to be back again next year to raise even more funds and awareness of this great organization.”