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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

| August 11, 2021

Phil Valentine Update: Doctors Focusing on Lungs. The latest update on the status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive host Phil Valentine published by Newsweek indicates that doctors “are focusing on treating the lungs of conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, in what his family has described as a ‘critical issue.’” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and as the viral infection got worse, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. Dan Mandis is the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm host on the station and has been communicating with Valentine’s listeners on behalf of his family. He wrote on Monday, “They are working on his lungs, that’s the critical issue right now. Other problems will come along but right now the focus is on his lungs. I’m hoping to have another update soon. #PrayForPhil.” The day before, Mandis posted, “Phil remains in critical condition this morning. There isn’t much new to report, but your continued prayers and support are appreciated. #PrayforPhil,” and later added that Valentine’s atrial fibrillation had improved, as well as his blood pressure. “The hope now is that his dependence on the vent will decrease and his lungs will improve.” The Newsweek piece also quotes Valentine’s longtime producer Johnny B saying, “I know I’d be emotional about this, but not to the point that I have. It’s been a very dark period, actually. I’ve really had to talk to myself, and my wife has helped me tremendously, my family’s helped me, and it’s not been easy. And my co-workers too have been very wonderful,” adding that Valentine is “just the nicest guy and loves to help people out.”

Round Two of July 2021 PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2021 survey period covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM remains ranked #11 after tacking on one-tenth for a 3.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish. Meanwhile, Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to #1 on the strength of a 1.1 share uptick and an 8.8 share finish. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston stays in the #9 position after dropping two-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 3.5 share. Sister all-news WBZ-AM is also steady at #5 after adding two-tenths for a 5.9 share finish. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM takes over the #1 rank after climbing 1.9 shares to a 7.8 share while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM drops from #1 to #4 after falling two-tenths to a 6.3 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the first round) here.

Nielsen’s Audio Today 2021 Study Says AM/FM Listening Hits Highest Level in Over a Year. The just released Audio Today 2021 study from Nielsen Audio – from June 2021 online survey data based on a weighted sample of 1,000 among persons 18-plus – indicates “nine in 10 now feel life is becoming more normal, and they’re resuming pre-pandemic activities, spending and listening.” The study also finds that, “among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets.” Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly adds, “Listening may have migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, but now we’re tracking the audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing. All the while, radio’s value proposition for marketers hasn’t budged: it specializes in reaching consumers who are ready to spend right now, while they’re in the marketplace, and does so in a controlled environment which protects the advertiser’s reputation… Elsewhere in the audio universe, podcast usage — which flat-lined last year — is also growing again as millions of new listeners are engaging with the hottest new audio marketing opportunity. We’re approaching one million available podcasts, with something literally for everyone including radio broadcasters who are nimbly using on-demand audio as an extension of their on-air brands. The question now is how can advertisers reach the right audience in the right podcast?”

Gow Media’s SportsMap Radio Network Adds Three New Shows. The SportsMap Radio Network announces the launch of three new programs to its weekday lineup. They are: “Just Sayin It with Cole Thompson” (5:00 am to 7:00 am ET), “In My Opinion with Denton Day” (9:00 am to 11:00 am ET), and “High Frequency with Kevin Dziepak” (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET). Thompson, who covers the NFL and college football for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation, says, “This is the start of something special. I just can’t thank the staff here at SportsMap enough for giving me the chance. Not everyone is lucky enough for this opportunity, but I will certainly make the most of it.” Day states, “I’m extremely thankful for the chance to host a weekday show. I started at the company nearly three years ago doing one live hour on Sunday mornings. Craig Larson and David Gow allowed me the creative freedom to grow and it’s very rewarding to have all that hard work lead to this exciting opportunity.” Dziepak, who spent the last eight years with WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score,” comments, “My goal is really simple: just have fun and try to provide an entertaining and enjoyable product for those listening. I want to widen the scope of the show beyond sports as well, integrating pop culture, TV, music and whatever else can spark conversation; sort of a cosmic gumbo.” Gow Media CEO David Gow states, “We have a number of partners who produce fabulous content for our network. I’m very excited about each of these new shows. The opportunity to produce original, informative and entertaining programs will always be an indispensable part of our core business model.”

Paul Mason to Lead Titans Radio for Cumulus Nashville. Programming pro Paul Mason is appointed to lead programming operations for Titans Radio for Cumulus Media Nashville. The company says that Mason will continue to serve as program director for sports talk WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” and Middle Tennessee sports audio. The appointment comes after Cumulus and the NFL club extended their multi-year partnership for WGFX to serve as the official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. Longtime executive producer Rhett Bryan remains in his role with Titans Radio. Cumulus Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “From the beginning, we were seeking a creative visionary with a passion for sports entertainment to lead ‘104.5 The Zone,’ the dominant sports destination in Middle Tennessee. Clearly, Paul has stepped into that role and done exceptional work. Adding programming operations oversight to Titans Radio is a natural next step for Paul and we are confident he’ll continue to deliver the best live and local sports content to fans on both WGFX and Titans Radio.” Mason states, “I am excited to work with this amazing group of broadcasters. Mike Keith, coach Dave McGinnis, executive producer Rhett Bryan, and the entire Titans Radio team are among the best in sports, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I also want to thank Allison Warren and [VP of programming operations] Charlie Cook for their confidence in me.”

TALKERS News Notes. Electronic voting firm Dominion Voting Systems is suing conservative video platforms OAN and Newsmax for defamation, alleging that they “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” about the company, relative to the presidential election of 2020. The complaint says they did so despite knowing the claims were false. Newsmax has issued the following statement regarding the suit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”…..Focus360 announces that Forever Media is now a client as 29 Forever Media brands will be included in Focus360’s exclusive Jelli Plus networks including Jelli Male Plus, Jelli Female Plus and Jelli Music Plus. Focus360 CEO Phil Brown comments, “I’m elated to welcome such a storied media company to our Jelli Plus lineups. Forever Media covers some of the largest markets on the East Coast with incredible brands that super-serve their local audience. I’m honored that they have given us the opportunity to share that relationship with our advertising partners.”…..Edison Research unveils the results of its U.S. Top 50 Podcast chart for Q2 of 2021. The list ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report (which Edison says is the only measurement based on actual listening, not downloads). The top three shows based on measurement from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 are: “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily,” and “Crime Junkie.” You can see the rest of this Top 50 report here…..Public radio outlet WVXU, Cincinnati – operated by Cincinnati Public Radio – is dropping its music programming and will go all news/talk as of August 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The organization says its goal is to “bring a wider diversity of voices to Cincinnati airwaves.” It will use NPR, American Public Media, and other programming to fill its schedule.

Longtime Public Radio Broadcaster Neal Conan Dies at 71. The NPR website has Neal Conan’s obituary here. Conan passed away in Hawaii after a battle with glioblastoma. He was host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” for 11 years, until NPR cancelled the show in 2013. During his lifelong public radio career, he served with WBAI, New York and with NPR in numerous capacities, including as executive producer of “All Things Considered” and as news director.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Controversy, Cuomo Resigns, Infrastructure Bill/Dems’ Budget Resolution, Senate GOP Blocks Voting Bill, Social Media Suspensions, Dominion Lawsuit, and Prince Andrew Sued Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/10). The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and the hotly debated mask policies for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns yet maintains innocence; the U.S. Senate passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; Republicans in the Senate block Democrats’ attempts to revive the For the People voting act; Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTube suspends Rand Paul for “pandemic misinformation”; electronic voting firm Dominion sues OAN and Newsmax over “stolen election” broadcasts; and Britain’s Prince Andrew is sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual abuse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

| April 15, 2021

Audacy Extends Contract with CFO Richard Schmaeling. The company and chief financial officer Richard Schmaeling sign a new contract set to begin on May 1 that keeps Schmaeling in his CFO role and adds the position of executive vice president, strategic initiatives to his duties. The new contract runs through April 30 of 2025 and pays Schmaeling an annual base salary of $800,000 that will be increased by not less than three percent annually beginning in May of 2022. Other aspects of the contract include: a target annual cash performance bonus at 90% of his annual base salary, to be earned based on Audacy’s performance; a grant of 60,000 restricted stock units as soon as practicable following May 1, 2021 which will vest 50% on May 1, 2023; 25% on May 1, 2024; and 25% on May 1, 2025; and restricted stock unit grants of 50,000 in 2021; 40,000 in 2022; 30,000 in 2023; and 20,000 in 2024, with vesting 50% on the second anniversary of the grant date and 25% on each of the third and fourth anniversaries of the grant date.

Galaxy Media Promotes Maine to Chief Revenue Officer; Greenlar to Chief Content Officer. Two Galaxy Media managers are rising to new positions within the company. Nick Maine is promoted to chief revenue officer from his current director of sports marketing position. In this new role, Maine will oversee the sales operations for both the Syracuse and Utica markets. Galaxy Media president and CEO Ed Levine says, “Nick Maine is a force of nature. It’s rare to have somebody that has been so engaged, so excited, and so competent all in one package. I can’t wait to see where he takes our sales effort over the next many years.” At the same time, Marissa Greenlar – brand manager for rock WKRL “KROCK” – is promoted to chief content officer for the company. She’ll continue in her role as brand manager for “KROCK” and will oversee all of the Galaxy brands and digital content. Levine comments, “Marissa’s contribution to Galaxy has been extraordinary. From starting as a sales assistant to working with the events team, to overseeing much of our social media and then assuming day-to-day programming responsibilities for ‘KROCK,’ she has impacted every aspect of Galaxy over the past 12 years. This newly created position is a reflection of the respect she has from her peers and an acknowledgement of her massive contributions to Galaxy.”

Cumulus Launches ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ in Nashville. The new “104.6 The Zone TV” will be more than just cameras in the WGFX-FM, Nashville studios for its daily radio programs. The Cumulus Media sports talk station says original sports programming on “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network,” original shows, and instant reaction specials every evening – including “The Ultimate Tennessee Podcast” – will be available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch. The station also says that after a big game or a huge event in Nashville, hosts will be live on “104.5 The Zone TV” to instantly react with fans from their home studios. WGFX-FM program director Paul Mason says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ is going to offer our fans a whole new experience when consuming ‘104.5 The Zone.’ Our listeners will now have the option to watch and interact with their favorite ‘104.5 The Zone’ personalities as they video stream their shows live on a variety of different social media platforms. With our recent partnership with A to Z Sports, the launch of ‘104.5 The Zone TV,’ and with more to come, ‘104.5 The Zone’ is continuing our reputation as the gold standard for sports content.” Will Boling is digital content producer for the station, and he says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ gives the listener a behind-the-scenes and in-depth look at the faces and voices behind the microphone from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. It also provides sports fans with a chance to skip the call-in line and instantly react to the biggest headlines with our hosts in the chat. Whether it’s watching the shows on our daily lineup during the week, reacting to digital exclusives in the evenings, or pregame/postgame shows centered around the biggest events in Nashville sports, ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ will expand Zone coverage – and that’s a huge win for sports fans. There is more excitement to come, so stay tuned!”

Audacy: Audio Is Driving Force Behind Vaccination Willingness. Citing results from a recent study it commissioned, Audacy says the S. Radoff Associates research that tested audio’s trust and influence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic indicates audio is the leading media source in the fight against COVID-19 and a driving force behind Americans’ willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The study concludes that for the vaccine hesitant population, audio is the most trusted source of information about COVID vaccination (46%), ahead of TV news shows (42%), friends and family (40%), articles in a local (37%) or national (36%) newspaper, and social media (27%). The study also found that the vast majority of vaccine hesitant U.S adults (81%) say they will take some form of action if they hear a local radio or podcast host provide information about the benefits of COVID vaccines and recommend that listeners receive a COVID vaccine. Audacy SVP of research and insights Idil Cakim says, “Since the onset of the pandemic, audio has served as a trusted companion for listeners seeking vital information, local news and sports and entertainment. As America slowly but surely returns to normal life, the vaccine is a major step towards doing what we all love again – going to sports events, dining at our favorite restaurants, or creating memories with loved ones – and our study shows how big of a role audio is playing in inspiring Americans to make a plan to get their shot.”

Noel Paul Stookey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. A true, elder statesmen of American folk music, as well as an iconic popularizer of the civil rights movement going back to the protest songs of the early 60s, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Stookey discuss the evolution of the civil rights movement from the freedom marches of the early 60s to the current reckoning of the early 20s among a number of other fascinating topics. Stookey also discusses his latest charitable project. Don’t miss this extraordinary conversation between two extremely articulate individuals that spans the decades and connects the dots. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

The Todd Starnes Show Adds Affiliate in Salem, Oregon. The Memphis-based programs featuring conservative talk media personality and best-selling author Todd Starnes are being added to the program schedule at Willamette Broadcasting’s KYKN-AM, Salem, Oregon. The station is putting “The Todd Starnes Show” in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot long held by Rush Limbaugh. It is also airing the “Todd Starnes Weekend Edition” as well as the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” feature.

COVID-19, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Minneapolis Protests/Chauvin Trial, Democrats’ Court-Packing Bill, Russia Sanctions/China Threats, Reparations Bill, Matt Gaetz Case, and Bernie Madoff Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/14). The “pause” on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the high COVID numbers in Michigan, and the variant running wild in Brazil; President Joe Biden’s move to end U.S. operations in Afghanistan; the protests in Minneapolis over the police shooting death of Daunte Wright, the manslaughter charges against former cop Kim Potter, and the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial; Democrats’ plans to introduce a “court-packing” bill to expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices; the expected sanctions against Russia for hacking and election interference and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before Congress about China’s threats to the U.S.; U.S. House Democrats file a bill to study slavery reparations; the allegations of paying for sex with minors against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; and Ponzi scheme orchestrator Bernie Madoff dies in prison were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, March 12, 2021

| March 12, 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 “The New Abnormal” looks back at this past week of March 8-12, 2021.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Michael Berry, talk show host, KTRH, Houston / Michael Berry Network;  Grace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio NetworkDom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia / “Readin’ Writin’ and Reason” podcast; Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV / “What in the World?”; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  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 (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; 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 (“Connect FM”), 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; 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.

Saga Communications Reports Q4 2020 Net Revenue Down 10%; Decline of 24.9% for Full Year. In reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2020 and the full year, Saga Communications, Inc says fourth quarter and year-end 2020 revenue and the related net income continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Net revenue was $28.8 million for Q4 2020, a 19.1% increase over net revenue for the third quarter, but a decline of 10% compared to Q4 2019. For the full year of 2020, net revenue was $95.8 million, a decrease of 24.9% from the $123.1 million in net revenue it posted in 2019. Back to the fourth quarter of 2020, station operating expense decreased $1.9 million to $21.1 million compared to the same period last year.  Station operating income was $9.1 million for the quarter compared to $10.5 million for the fourth quarter last year and operating income was $5 million for the quarter compared to $5.4 million for the same period last year.  Saga posted a net loss of $1.9 million for the full year 2020 that included a non-cash impairment charge of $5.2 million. Without the impairment charge the company would have reported net income of $1.7 million for the period. Saga Communications’ balance sheet reflects $51.4 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2020 and $56 million as of March 8, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of year-end 2020.

WEEI, Boston’s Dale Arnold to Leave Sports Talk Station. Boston sports media personality Dale Arnold – a staple at Entercom’s WEEI-FM since its inception as a sports talk outlet 30 years ago – will leave the station and his role as co-host of the “Dale and Keefe” midday program after today’s show. The Boston Globe has the story here. Although the soon-to-be-65-year-old Arnold on Thursday told listeners, “I’m going to retire from the radio business. I am not going to be coming back after tomorrow’s show,” he’ll continue his role as studio host for Boston Bruins hockey broadcasts on cable TV’s NESN. The Globe’s Chad Finn says it’s expected that Andy Gresh – who exited Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence in January of this year – will be partnered with Rich Keefe for middays going forward. Arnold told listeners his decision to leave WEEI – and not accept the offer to do part-time work there – was personal. “Some of you know this and some of you don’t. My wife had to retire from her employment in September, she’s had some medical issues. And you start thinking about things. You start thinking about, you know, ‘I’d like to spend some more time with her. I’d like to have one full-time job instead of two. I’d like to have summer months to go back to my home state of Maine and enjoy myself more.’”

Salem New York Debuts Evening ‘Bring Back NYC’ Show. Hosted by regular evening personality Kevin McCullough, Salem Media Group’s New York news/talker WNYM-AM “AM 970 The Answer” is launching a new nightly broadcast that “will be a deep dive into areas of life relevant to relaunching arguably the most important city on planet earth.” Salem New York says the program will feature specific expertise designed for this unique moment in the nation’s recovery. Monday nights will feature the expertise of “Millionaire Maker” Hilary Kramer in the markets and money. Tuesday nights the journey will be guided by veteran travel expert Valerie D’Elia. Wednesday nights focus on the medical expertise of Nicole Saphier MD, FOX News senior medical contributor and physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center. The law is the focus of Thursday nights with Arthur Aidala Esq. Friday nights will play host to PR pro Cristyne Nicholas, who serves as chair of the 109-year-old Broadway Association. McCullough says, “Given the mighty struggle our city and people have faced in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, political mismanagement, criminal riots, and the longest extended closures of business in the city, we asked ourselves the question of how we could best answer the needs of the city, and I’m here to let them know, ‘help is on the way!’ What greater good can we do with the airwaves than help turn on the lights, smiles, and lives again in the city that never sleeps?”

Edison Research ‘Infinite Dial 2021.’ It’s “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America – tracking mobile behaviors, internet audio, podcasting, social media, smart speakers, and more.” Noting that, “‘more’ now includes radio,” consultant Holland Cooke summarizes the latest findings, and includes a download link to the report. Read it here.

Jonathan Hutton Ousted from Tennessee Titans Radio Team. Former WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” radio personality Jonathan Hutton will not be part of the radio broadcast team for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for the 2021 season. Hutton recently left “The Zone” to become part of Clay TravisOutkick digital platform on which he’ll co-host the “Outkick 360” program with fellow former “Zone” hosts Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky. On his website, Kuharsky quotes Cumulus Nashville VP and market manager Allison Warren, who says, “Jonathan Hutton has certainly been a big part of 104.5 The Zone’s Titans Radio broadcast over the years. However, regrettably Jonathan declined our offer to continue with 104.5 The Zone deciding to pursue other opportunities which has impacted his role on the Titans Radio broadcast.”

TALKERS News Notes. The anniversary of the official beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is the impetus behind the CBS News Radio series that reflects on the past year. The series will be featured on CBS News top-of-the-hour and “World News Roundup” broadcasts airing Monday through Friday of next week (3/15-19)…..Entercom announces the launch of “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off,” a six-episode series of special NCAA men’s college basketball tournament programming that launches tomorrow (3/13). Led by Nick Kostos, host of BetQL Audio Network podcast “You Better You Bet,” “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off” will serve as breakdowns of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, featuring a mix of sports betting insight. The show will also welcome talent from across Entercom’s portfolio of sports stations, including Travis Thomas, WTEM, Washington; Mike Valenti, WXYT, Detroit; Danny Parkins, WSCR, Chicago; and Marc Malusis, WFAN, New York…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, announces the debut of “The Rock Podcast with Denny Somach.” Rock historian and radio producer Somach goes deep undercover on “The Rock Podcast” to shine new light on the soundtrack of the most exciting decades in music, bringing on guests to talk about their career experiences and using Somach’s own personal library of thousands of interviews to bring the lives of the most legendary rock stars who matter to the forefront. Upcoming guests include Nancy Wilson from Heart, Steve Lukather from Toto, Jon Anderson of Yes, and John Densmore of The Doors. PodcastOne chairman Norm Pattiz says, “Denny is a fantastic producer with a track record that goes back decades. His knowledge of music history and love of rock ‘n’ roll is second to none. I love his work and now millions will be able to access that work on PodcastOne,”…..New York City was hit early and hard by the pandemic, and during those first bewildering days and weeks, WNYC’s call-in news program “The Brian Lehrer Show” was a life raft for New Yorkers seeking information, answers, and companionship. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shutdown that forever altered New York City, the program plans two special events: a broadcast on Tuesday (3/16) at 10:00 am called “Reading Their Names” in which, for 90 minutes, 484 listeners who will read the names of 1,780 people in the New York listening region who have died from the virus. The second is “WNYC’S 2020 Time Capsule” – broadcast on Thursday (3/18) that culminates the programs assemblage of its 2020 time capsule that is a repository of listener calls, news reports, and personal submissions by New Yorkers sharing what they have been through that’s saved on a hard drive to be safely stored alongside the transmitter atop the Empire State Building. The capsule will be opened in 2031.

iHeartMedia Names Nicky Sparrow SVP of Multi-Cultural Sales. Moving from her current position as market president for iHeartMedia Jacksonville to the new corporate position SVP of multicultural sales is Nicky Sparrow. In this role, Sparrow will be responsible for leading multicultural ad sales revenue for the Markets Group division. Sparrow will apply her deep knowledge of multicultural audiences and strong relationships with multicultural ad agencies and brands to build, drive, influence, and execute strategic multicultural initiatives across the iHeartMedia sales organization. She says, “I’m thrilled for this next step in my career. I’ve been with iHeartMedia for more than 20 years, and I can’t wait to take my experience and strong relationships with partners and advertisers to further deliver and create innovative and effective multicultural opportunities for our consumers that will not only grow our portfolio of assets, but represent and truly connect with our diverse audiences.”

Stimulus Package and the Economy Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and the state of the U.S. economy combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of March 8-12, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and Joe Biden’s immigration policy. Coming in at #3 was the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants and the rollout of vaccines. 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.

 

 

Producer Wanted for Syndicated Morning Show. A nationally syndicated morning show is searching for an experienced producer to help generate content and show prep. The successful candidate will have 3-5 years’ experience producing a lifestyle-based show. The individual we’re looking for will have the ability to check their ego at the door and dig deep to provide show prep and occasionally deliver on-air content. Although we’re a national show with a significant nationwide and worldwide footprint, we’re a small operation and very much a family. The successful candidate will understand the high-pressure nature of the business but also understand how to operate with minimal direction with strong personalities. This is a full-time, remote position; relocation is not required. Salary is commensurate with experience. Finalists will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Learn more about this position here and send materials to: Dtc_exec@yahoo.com.

Morning Drive News Anchor-Host at Top 25 Market East Coast Station. Looking for a news air talent who can write and read news for a local, current events issue-driven morning show. Prefer an air talent who is comfortable expressing an opinion on the hot topics of the day. Interested? Submit a demo mp3 and resume ASAP. Apply confidentially to talkradiogig@gmail.com. The radio station is an EOE and females are encouraged to apply.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

| March 3, 2021

January PPM Data – Most Significant Shifts. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian wraps his Ratings Takeaways from Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM survey, noting, “January sweeps are notorious for producing massive fluctuations, as radio listening habits quickly shakeout following the cessation of wall-to-wall Christmas music by any market station (or stations). Muddying the waters in Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 ratings period (January 7 – February 3) was the continuation of a global pandemic; a uniquely-contested presidential election; and the aftermath of the January 6 domestic terrorism attack on the U.S. Capitol. In radio – and life – very few things lately have been transpiring ‘as usual.’” See his tally of the stations making the most significant ratings shifts here.

WDAY-AM, Fargo to Launch New Local Late Morning Show. The program, “The Coffee Club,” will be hosted by Paul Bougie (right) and Janae White (left) and will air from 8:30 am to 11:00 am on news/talk WDAY-AM/K226CL, effective March 22. WDAY is owned by Forum Communications but is being operated by Flag Family Media – owner of WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” and KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” The new show will fill the slot that’s been occupied by a simulcast of the WZFG-based “What’s On Your Mind?” show hosted by Flag Family Media principal Scott Hennen and Todd Mitchell.

‘104.5 The Zone’ Nashville Names Buck Reising Midday Host. Sports journalist Buck Reising joins Cumulus Media’s sports talk WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” as host of the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show, effective today (3/3). Reising – a frequent guest on “The Zone” – is a journalist with A to Z Sports and also hosts the podcasts “615 Sessions” and “A to Z Sports Primetime.” In addition to the new weekday show, Reising will be adding original podcasts, and will continue hosting the aforementioned podcasts, with more collaboration between WGFX and A to Z Sports likely. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “Buck Reising is everything you want in a talent in 2021. He has demonstrated with A to Z Sports an unmatched ability to connect with a diverse audience in the digital space. I look forward to that continuing, along with Buck’s new role on The Zone’s on-air lineup, making him the ultimate dual threat in Nashville sports!” Reising says, “I’m incredibly excited to start this new opportunity with ‘104.5 The Zone.’ I don’t love anything the way I love this city and the people in it. The content will be different, diverse, and occupy every possible media space.”

ASU and Former Student Radio Station Manager Settle ‘Free Speech’ Case. According to a report at AZCentral, Arizona State University and student Rae’Lee Klein have reached a settlement in her First Amendment suit against the Arizona Board of Regents, ASU, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and school interim dean Kristin Gilger. Klein was suspended from her position as manager of the student-run radio station Blaze Radio after a fellow student complained about a tweet Klein sent in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August that read: “Always more to the story, folks. Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.” The radio board voted to remove her from her manager position but offered her other job alternatives. Klein sued for $500,000 was eventually settled for $7,040. Klein, who is still a student at the school, tells AZCentral she’s happy the parties have come to agreement. Attorney David Bodney, who represented the school, says the case was not about Klein’s First Amendment rights. “We never attempted to restrict her speech. Indeed, she spoke freely throughout this controversy. Rather, it was her conduct after the tweet, which demonstrated her inability to lead the station, that ultimately led to her removal.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Total Traffic & Weather Network extends its partnership with road-facing camera network Vizzion to give TTWN broadcast partners access to Vizzion’s nationwide aggregated traffic camera network, including imagery and live-feeds, for use in traffic and weather reports. Under this extended partnership, Vizzion’s camera feeds will also continue to be available as part of TTWN’s traffic presentation systems providing broadcasters with visual confirmation of traffic information and adding color to on-air traffic reports…..Veteran film producer Jonathan Glickman’s Glickmania Media and iHeartMedia, announce a joint venture that will include a two-year podcast co-production deal, focusing on a slate of original music-driven podcasts across many genres. As part of the deal, Glickmania and iHeartMedia will aim to release a minimum of two new podcasts per year together. The collaboration will kick off with this summer’s “Unsung” series, which will be created in partnership with Story Pirates, creators of the number one podcast for kids. Additional co-produced titles will include the horror-musical “Diane’s Inferno” starring Maya Hawke and Yungblud, written and directed by Lisa Duva with original music overseen by executive producer Zach Dawes; “Lost You On The Dance Floor,” a murder mystery set against the rise and fall of the disco phenomenon, penned by renowned music journalist Matt Diehl; and from Jonathan Ezra and Robbie Roth comes the musical drama/journalism series, “Ballad Of An Outlaw,” which considers would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr.’s integration back into society…..SiriusXM announces that “The Bonfire,” co-hosted by comedians Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder returns to the Faction Talk channel weeknights from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. SiriusXM will also produce “The Bonfire” podcast.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Texas and Mississippi End Mandates, Stimulus Bill Debate, Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, SCOTUS Voting Rights Case, Tanden Nomination Pulled, Dr. Seuss Books Retired, and Biden Sanctions Russia Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/2). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the governors of Texas and Mississippi end mask mandates and occupancy restrictions; the debate in the Senate over the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments over Arizona’s voting rights case; the White House withdraws the nomination of Neera Tanden for budget director; Dr. Seuss Enterprises agrees to cease publishing six books that contain racist imagery; and the Biden administration puts sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.