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Friday, August 6, 2021

| August 6, 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, “Masks, Mandates and Mayhem,” looks back at this past week of August 2-6. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Grace Curley; talk show host, WRKO, Boston / HCRNDavid Gornoski, talk show host, WHBO, Tampa; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, the Ralph Nader Radio Hour; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / physician; 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, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; 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.

iHeartMedia Second Quarter Revenue Up 76.7%. The company reports revenue for the second quarter was $862 million, up 76.7% from the same period in 2020 and down just 6% from the pre-pandemic second quarter of 2019. For Q2 of 2021, iHeartMedia reports operating income of $28.1 million compared to the operating loss of $159.1 million reported in the second quarter of 2020. For all of 2020, the company reported an operating loss of $1.88 billion. That loss has narrowed to $48.2 million for the first six months of 2021. iHeartMedia now reports its data in three segments – the Multiplatform Group that includes broadcast radio, networks, and sponsorship & events; the Digital Audio Group that includes digital content and podcasts; and the Audio and Media Services Group, including Katz Media Group and RCS.  Broadcast radio’s revenue was $451.1 million, an increase of 84.9% while networks revenue was $123.6 million, up 28.3%. As a whole, the Multiplatform Group’s revenue was $605.9 million, up 69.7%. Digital, excluding Podcast was up 100.7% on revenue of $144.5 million and Podcast revenue rose 151.5% on revenue of $53.4 million. iHeartMedia reports that its net debt is $5.4 billion.

Audacy Q2 2021 Revenue Rises 73%. Reporting financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Audacy, Inc. says net revenue was $304.5 million, up 73% compared to $175.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. Breaking down the revenue by type, Audacy reveals spot revenue was $202.8 million, up 98% compared to the second quarter of 2020. Digital revenue was $58.4 million, up 41% compared to the same period a year ago. Network revenue was $20.6 million, an increase of 21% over Q2 of 2020. Operating income for the quarter was $17.9 million compared to the operating loss of $45.5 million the company posted in the second quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field states. “I am pleased to report that Audacy accelerated its recovery from the pandemic as second quarter revenues grew 73% over the prior year, led by a 98% increase in spot radio advertising and 41% growth in digital revenues. In addition, our momentum is continuing into the third quarter as we expect that revenues will increase by about 10% sequentially from the second quarter and by about 25% compared to prior year. We continue to make great strides in enhancing our business and elevating our competitive position. During the second quarter, we executed a rebranding of the company as Audacy, a name that reflects our evolution into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and an important leadership position across the full spectrum of the dynamic and growing audio market – including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, events, music, news and sports. Our recent acquisitions in podcasting and sports betting, as well as numerous growth investments have significantly enhanced our ability to capitalize on broader advertising trends, augment our product line and better serve our listeners and customers. This has been an active period of development across the company as we recently launched over 350 exclusive new stations on our Audacy digital platform, unveiled our new 2400Sports podcast studio, commenced a three-year strategic partnership with American Public Media (the creators of Marketplace), expanded our BetQL network, and announced an important partnership with Major League Baseball, making us the league’s official podcast and digital audio partner. We are also pleased to note the significant acceleration in each of our digital businesses, including podcasting, digital audio, and digital marketing solutions. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Personnel Exiting ‘NoogaRadio’ As Station Plans Programming Changes. According to a report at The Chattanoogan, a number of staffers at news/talk outlet WPLZ-HD4/W224AZ, Chattanooga “NoogaRadio” at 92.7 FM are leaving as management plans changes to the programming. The station had been billed as “Local Radio Done Right” and was created by former owner Jim Brewer. After Brewer’s death from cancer, the station is now owned by Sabatino Cuppelli. Station general sales manager Mike Lisowski tells The Chattanoogan, “It is with deep sadness I regret to inform you that as of Friday the ‘Fred the Show’ morning crew, including Jeff Styles, a beloved 29-year veteran of local talk radio, Jen Lambert, also general manager who brought 20-plus years of experience in marketing, advertising, promotions and design, Jason Kirk, also our operations manager who brought a multitude of knowledge and technical expertise, not to mention his sales ability, will be parting ways with NoogaRadio.” Lisowski adds that sports broadcaster Keon Rose is moving to Arizona to advance his career.  The statement continues: “Unfortunately, after four years, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a whole lot of love, the station ownership has chosen to take ‘NoogaRadio’ in a direction that most of us feel we are unable to stand behind. We are so grateful and proud to have been able to entertain you for as long as we have and, as the general manager, I am able to move on with my head held high knowing that I gave it my all. We genuinely hope we can bring our relationship to an amicable end in the most professional manner leaving no burned bridges, hard feelings or severed business relationships.”

WSB Care-a-Thon Raises $1.67 for Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Pictured above are WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta personalities (from l-r) Eric Von Haessler, Scott Slade, and Clark Howard with the check indicating the grand total of $1,671,813 raised during the July 29 and 30 “95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon benefiting the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.” During the 37-hour broadcast, Slade, Howard, Erick Erickson, Von Haessler, Mark Arum, Brian Kilmeade and many other 95.5 WSB hosts turned the airwaves over to the patients and families of Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to raise funds to support research, the Fellowship Program, and the family support team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Over the past 21 years, the 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon has raised over $28 million for the cause. 95.5 WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “This event began as an idea from 95.5 WSB’s Scott Slade, and 21 years later we continue the partnership with the great people at Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This event reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our own lives, there are always others dealing with challenges much more difficult than our own. The passion and heart of our team is represented by the incredible generosity of the 95.5 WSB listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. Albuquerque sports talk KNML-AM/K240BL “95.9 FM and AM 610, The Sports Animal” announces it is partnering with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos to bring all Raiders games and non-conflicting Broncos games to Albuquerque sports fans for the 2021-2022 season. The Cumulus Media station is also airing its current powerful slate of Westwood One Primetime NFL programming. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Jared Hart comments, “Our partnership with The Raiders and Broncos is vital to Albuquerque as it helps bring NFL football coverage to the extensive Raider and Bronco fan base in our passionate sports state. We couldn’t be more excited to have the inaugural season of Las Vegas’ first NFL team, and the love of the Broncos in Albuquerque is palpable. We think this will energize the NFL programming on The Sports Animal better than almost any other NFL team could.”…..iHeartMedia and Salesforce.org are launching a special six-episode iHeartRadio Original podcast series hosted by Emmy-nominated and NYT Bestselling author, Baratunde Thurston, called “Force Multiplier,” that examines the exponential impact businesses and organizations can have on the world by working together. “Force Multiplier” was created to bring leaders from public, private and nonprofit sectors together to discuss how they’re tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, such as nutrition insecurity, health equity, workforce development, racial injustice, mental health & wellbeing and homelessness…..ABC News says its hit podcast “The Dropout” returns with new episodes as Elizabeth Holmes – once the youngest self-made female billionaire – goes on trial for alleged fraud, facing decades in prison, if convicted. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” is hosted by ABC News chief business, technology & economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who’s spent more than a decade covering business and five years investigating Holmes. The Stanford University dropout turned founder and CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos suffered an astounding fall from grace amid the accusations of alleged widespread fraud. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” debuts with two new episodes on Tuesday, August 31, to coincide with jury selection…..Boston NPR member station WBUR announces the next call for submissions for the WBUR Newsroom Fellowship. This Fellowship is a yearlong program for recent graduates or early-career journalists who are looking to build reporting and production skills and have a demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of underrepresented voices in public radio. For the first time, WBUR will select two Fellows for the program who will each receive a salary of $55,000 in addition to a complete Boston University benefits package. The Fellowship provides hands-on training in every aspect of public media journalism. Fellows will develop their skills under the guidance of WBUR’s editors and producers and will contribute to each part of the newsroom, rotating every three months, maximizing exposure to the many aspects of public media, including newscast, live broadcast, digital and reporting. See more about this Fellowship and apply here…..Audacy announces former NFL All-Pro T.J. Lang is joining sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit “97.1 The Ticket” and the Detroit Lions Radio Network, effective August 6. Lang will join Dan Miller and Lomas Brown as the sideline reporter. Lang will also be in studio on the station each week throughout the professional football season, joining “The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen” and “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico” on Monday and Fridays.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccine Hesitancy, Masks and Mandates Combine as Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 2-6. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy in numerous parts of the country, and the controversy of mask policies and mandates combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the New York Attorney General’s report on the allegations of sexual impropriety against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the push for him to resign. Following at #3 was the investigation into the Capitol attack by the January 6 Committee, the voting legislation taking place in various states, and race relations. 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, August 5, 2021

| August 5, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 96%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Beasley Broadcast Group (parent company of Beasley Media Group) indicates net revenue was $59.6 million, an increase of 96.1% over the same period in 2020. The company posts operating income of $5.8 million compared to the $17.6 million operating loss it reported in Q2 of 2020. Station operating income also rebounded to $11.1 million compared to the $11 million SOI loss it posted in the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong 2021 second quarter financial results reflect growing momentum across our media platform, as the continuing broad-based economic recovery accelerated demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and marketing and advertising services. With the significant rebound in the commercial advertising market, second quarter net revenue of $59.6 million increased 24% over first quarter 2021 levels and 96% over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant rebound in net income to $0.2 million and SOI to $11.1 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.0 million. Throughout the second quarter, the resumption of advertising in key categories combined with the success of our content monetization strategies resulted in year-over-year revenue growth across all fifteen of our markets, with healthy double-digit revenue increases in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content and consumer engagement drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters, according to Nielsen. Our cumulative on-air audience share approached pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, having grown consistently since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While second quarter non-traditional revenue (NTR) and events revenue was minimal, we made the strategic decision to fully re-open our events business in the third quarter, given the continued strengthening of commerce and consumer activities in our markets, and expect incremental revenue from this source in the second half of 2021. As we work to return all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels of operation, we are closely tracking potential impacts from the Delta variant and the uncertainty it may bring to businesses we serve and our future operating results. Our ongoing focus on digital innovation and the strategic investments we are making in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities are delivering positive results and continue to highlight the value of our long-term revenue and cash flow diversification strategies. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 96% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for approximately 13.4% of total second quarter revenue, compared to 13.4% in the prior year period and 12% in the 2021 first quarter. With growing audience share and engagement, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions in the second quarter, with total digital impressions growing 29% over the prior year period.”

Salem Media Group Q2 2021 Total Revenue Rises 20.6%. The total revenue for Salem Media Group’s second quarter of 2021 was $63.8 million, an increase of 20.6% over the same period in 2020. Salem posted operating income of $5.6 million for the quarter, compared to the operating loss of $900,000 it reported during the second quarter of 2020. The company’s net income for Q2 of this year was $2.3 million compared to the net loss of $2.5 million it reported for the second quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports data for its three business segments and the Broadcast segment’s net revenue for this quarter was $46.8 million, up 18.5% from the same period a year ago. Station operating income rose 66.6% to $10.6 million. The Digital Media segment saw revenue rise 9.5% to $10.3 million and the Publishing segment revenue was $6.7, an increase of 68.3%. As of June 30, 2021, the Salem Media Group had $216.3 million outstanding on the 6.75% senior secured notes due 2024, no balance outstanding on the Asset Based Revolving Credit Facility, and $11.2 million outstanding on Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans from the Small Business Administration.

Saga Communications Q2 Net Revenue Up 49.7%. Second quarter financial data from Saga Communications, Inc. reveals that the company’s net revenue was $28 million, an increase of 49.7% over the same period in 2020. The company posted operating income of $4.6 million compared to the operating loss of $8.6 million it reported in the second quarter of 2020.  Station operating expense increased $2.4 million to $21.0 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Station operating income was $8.4 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $181,000 for the second quarter of 2020. Free cash flow was $4.2 million for the quarter compared to a negative $1.8 million for the same period last year. Saga’s balance sheet reflects $59.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, 2021 and $59.6 million as of August 2, 2021.  The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the second quarter 2021.

Urban One Second Quarter Net Revenue Climbs 41.6%. Today’s second quarter 2021 financial report from Urban One, Inc., parent company of Radio One, indicates the company’s net revenue was approximately $107.6 million, an increase of 41.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $49.6 million, an increase of 64.3% from the same period in 2020. Urban One reports operating income of approximately $37.9 million for Q2 of 2021, compared to approximately $20.4 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was approximately $17.9 million compared to approximately $1.4 million for the second quarter of 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall we had an extremely strong second quarter; not only was Adjusted EBITDA up 82.4% year-over-year, but we also surpassed our Q2 2019 pre-pandemic Adjusted EBITDA. We are experiencing unprecedented advertiser interest in our audience across the entire Urban One platform. The radio advertising business saw a robust rebound from the worst impacts of the pandemic in Q2 2020, with segment revenues up by 73% and radio syndication revenues up 50.2%. We also benefitted from strong TV scatter markets, with TV advertising revenues up 21.3% in the quarter; furthermore, registered interest in our 2021-22 TV upfront sales presentations has also been extremely encouraging, which will help our fourth quarter revenue performance. Demand for our digital products remains high, with digital revenues up by 147.9% for the quarter and Adjusted EBITDA up by over $6 million; a significant help to our top and bottom-line growth. For Q3, our core radio business excluding political is currently pacing up by over 40%, and we are comfortable increasing our FY21 Adjusted EBITDA guidance to mid-$130 million, excluding casino chase costs. During the quarter we completed the second tranche of our Class A ATM share sale program, which yielded $21.2 million net of fees. This cash influx further strengthened our balance sheet, and we ended the quarter with $129.8 million of cash on hand, which is a healthy place to be ahead of the exciting new investment opportunity in the One Casino & Resort in Richmond, Virginia.”

Ralph Nader is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Legendary consumer advocate, political activist, prolific author, Pacifica radio talk show host and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Nader engage in a fascinating discussion about “left/right political thinking” in America as well as social and business changes influenced by advancements in technology, plus more. Nader says working class Democrats and Republicans alike have far more in common than they have differences and that unbridled corporatism is the true enemy of the poor and working class regardless of race or political ideology. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

NAB Announces 2021 Marconi Finalists. The finalists for the 2021 Marconi Awards have been announced. The news/talk Station of the Year finalists are: WSB-AM, Atlanta; WTOP-FM, Washington; KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri; WLW-AM, Cincinnati; and KNX-AM, Los Angeles. (NAB lumps all-news and news/talk stations into the same category.) WSB-AM, Atlanta is also up for Legendary Station of the Year. Talk radio hosts making the finals include, for Major Market Personality of the Year, George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith from sports talk KTCK-AM, Dallas “The Ticket.” In the Large Market Personality of the Year category, finalists include: WFLA-AM, Tampa’s Jack Harris; WBAL-AM, Baltimore’s C4 and Bryan Nehman; WHPT-FM, Tampa’s Mike Calta; and WWTN-FM, Nashville’s Dan Mandis. Medium Market Personality of the Year category finalists include: KRMG-FM, Tulsa’s Dan Potter; KIDO-AM, Boise’s Kevin Miller; KYKX-FM, Tyler, Texas’ Harlen the Sports Guy and Pigskin Bob; and WHO-AM, Des Moines’ Simon Conway. See all the finalists here.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (8/10), McVay Media’s Mike McVay is joining Loyd Ford from Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works, LLC for “The Radio State Of The Union Live Event” on The Encouragers on Clubhouse. It’s being billed as “a frank discussion about employment, job search, career management, corporate & local radio and the future” and takes place at 7:00 pm ET. Ford says, “We have been discussing the people we love in this business, the talent. This is a unique time in our history. If you are on the talent side of the business, it takes some skill to navigate your way through what is happening. I reached out to Mike because he really does have such deep experience and knows radio as a talent, a consultant and someone who ran programming for one of the largest broadcasters in the country. Plus, he’s willing (like I am) to be candid. This will be a conversation with red meat and a lot of helpful hacks to get ahead, stay balanced and help others.”…..Legendary WGN-AM and WGN-TV sports producer Jack “Rosey” Rosenberg will be recognized by the City of Chicago with an honorary street sign. The southeast corner of E. Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive will double as “Jack Rosenberg Way.” Rosenberg’s career at WGN began in 1954 where he was a producer, news writer, and sports editor and worked with celebrated sports voices including Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, and others. WGN says, “Rosey was a pioneer in modern sports production and broadcasting and is credited with its development. While Rosey himself was rarely heard on-air, the sound of his typewriter clacking in the background was unmistakable.” Rosenberg died December 26, 2020 at the age of 94…..Futuri announces the launch of AdMatic, “a revolutionary system that helps podcast platforms and creators make their content more discoverable and monetizable using advanced metadata sorting and deployment.” Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig adds, “Two million podcasts all have the same problem: poor metadata sorting that leads to mismatched recommendations for listeners and ineffective advertising for businesses. AdMatic solves this by using Futuri’s AI-driven technology to individually categorize podcast episodes and align with the businesses and products that best match on a case-by-case basis, rather than the hopelessly broad one-size-fits-all approach we currently see in the market.”

COVID-19 Delta Variant/Outbreaks & Mask Policies, Eviction Moratorium, Cuomo Allegations-Impeachment Possibility, Infrastructure Bill, January 6 Investigation, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in numerous U.S. states, governors under fire and mask policies; President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions; the allegations of sexual impropriety against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the possibility of his being impeached; the bi-partisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the Tokyo Olympics; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

| June 10, 2021

TALKERS Magazine’s 2021 Heavy Hundred Published . The 2021 edition of TALKERS magazine’s “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America” – a.k.a. The Heavy Hundred – has been published. This highly anticipated ranking of America’s talk radio hosts from the editors of TALKERS is published annually. TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey says, “This is one of the most challenging projects TALKERS undertakes each year. The large number of quality talk radio hosts working in America makes this job a very difficult one. While longtime talk pros tend to dominate the list, each year the Heavy Hundred reveals some new faces that prove there is fresh, new talent eager to undertake the hard work necessary to build a successful talk radio career.” TALKERS magazine congratulates the members of this year’s Heavy Hundred. See the list here.

Michael Cohen Exploring Wider Audience for ‘Mea Culpa’ Program. TALKERS learns that Krantz Media Group’s Gary Krantz is feeling out major groups and networks about a project featuring former Donald Trump attorney, New York Times best-selling author, and successful podcaster Michael Cohen, who is eyeing a wider, diverse, and immediate live audience for his “Mea Culpa” podcast. KMG is in the process of talking with the major groups/networks for a Monday – Friday show on terrestrial radio stations, networks, and platforms across the United States. The new show is an obvious extension and progression of Cohen’s podcast. “Mea Culpa Radio” is an insider’s discussion of the major news of the day in politics and government today and not biased to the right or the left. Recent guests have included Stormy Daniels, Donny Deutch, CNN’s Don Lemon, Rosie O’Donnell, Ben Stiller, and Adam Carolla. Krantz says, “We’ve been talking to Michael since before his book and podcast came out and the response is explosive. The time is right to take it to radio. He is the ultimate insider to the current narrative in our country and his perspective, knowledge, and ability to converse with the biggest newsmakers in the world make for extremely compelling radio.” “Mea Culpa Radio” will launch in the third quarter of 2021. Check out the podcast here.

Former RI Trump Chair Alleges WPRO’s Dan Yorke ‘Defamed’ Him. According to a piece in the Providence Journal, former Donald Trump Rhode Island campaign co-chair Gerald Zarrella is alleging that WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence afternoon drive talk host Dan Yorke defamed him. Though no suit has been filed, Zarrella’s attorney has filed a miscellaneous petition in Rhode Island Superior Court seeking to issue subpoenas and depose Yorke. This comes after a political fundraiser Zarrella was planning for Democratic Governor Dan McKee was canceled because McKee wanted nothing to do with anyone associated (or formerly associated) with Donald Trump and this was apparently discussed on Yorke’s WPRO program. The court petition says that Yorke “while on air, made defamatory and offensive statements about Gerald Zarrella which painted Gerald Zarrella in a false light and was stated with the intent to cause harm to his name, reputation and ethnic group from which he derives.” Zarrella tells the Journal, “I’m proud that I’m an Italian-American from Rhode Island. To portray us all as Mafia or crooked people, we’re not crooked people. We’re not crooked people. We’re sensitive people. We have families. We raise children. We pay our dues. I want to get the tapes.” Cumulus Media, WPRO, and Yorke have not commented on the matter.

Doug Stephan Show Adds Seven Affiliates. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – hosted by Doug Stephan – announces it has added seven new radio stations to its roster of affiliates. The program features Jen Horn and Victoria Keelan, along with Jai Kershner anchoring the daily “What’s Trending Report,” in addition to Stephan himself. It now airs in more than 325 markets nationwide. Stations adding the program to their lineups include: KTLR, Oklahoma City; WCAP, Lowell, Massachusetts; KUJ-AM, Walla Walla, Washington; WKCT-AM/FM, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and KLID-AM, Poplar Bluff, Kentucky. The program is syndicated by Radio America and is repped by Sun Broadcast Group and AdLarge Media. Doug Stephan comments, “It’s exciting to see the show continue to grow after all these years. We welcome these new stations to a new and different way to start their day.”

Bloomberg Beefs Up Washington, DC Coverage. There are a number of personnel moves to report from Bloomberg. Global head of television and radio Al Mayers announces that Jodi Schneider is taking over as Bloomberg TV and Radio’s political news director while Annmarie Hordern and Joe Mathieu are joining as Washington correspondents covering the White House and Capitol Hill. Bloomberg government senior congressional reporters Emily Wilkins and Jack Fitzpatrick will continue to contribute to daily coverage and round out Bloomberg’s air team with contributors Rick Davis and Jeanne Zaino. Mathieu joins Bloomberg from public media’s WGBH Radio in Boston where he was the host of “Morning Edition.” Prior to that, he was the morning anchor at WBZ-AM, Boston. Hordern returns to the U.S. from London where she was most recently anchor of “Bloomberg Daybreak Europe.”

Salem VP Phil Boyce is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime talk radio executive, Phil Boyce, senior VP/spoken word format, Salem Media Group and Salem Radio Network is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Boyce, who also serves as Salem’s operations VP, New York region, which includes WMCA and WNYM “AM970 the Answer,” is one of the most influential news/talk radio programmers of the past quarter century having been a significant influence in the careers of dozens of leading personalities including Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Before joining Salem, Boyce served as program director of such major stations as WJR, Detroit and WABC, New York in addition to an influential stint as VP of programming for ABC Radio. In a candid wide-ranging conversation, Harrison and Boyce discuss the basic tenets of talk radio as well as political aspects of social media bias, “cancel culture” censorship and principles of the First Amendment. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here. Phil Boyce will be one of 50 industry speakers at TALKERS 2021 tomorrow (6/11).

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WLS-AM and WGN-AM talk show host Roe Conn has joined the Office of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as a senior project manager in which he’s currently working on a crime analytics team specializing in vehicular hijacking and roadway shootings. Conn tells Feder, “It’s definitely an unexpected pivot, but Chicago is where I’m from and where I always want to be. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of Chicago’s radio landscape – especially on two of the continent’s most legendary stations. But our town is facing a tough battle ahead and I couldn’t be more proud to get the chance to work alongside these amazing men and women who try to make our streets safer and our city better.”…..At 12:00 noon ET today (6/10), Premiere Networks nationally syndicated personality, political commentator and podcaster Ben Ferguson makes an appearance on FOX News Channel’s “Outnumbered.” He’ll be the #OneLuckyGuy to discuss the latest news stories and headlines for a full hour with the hosts, Harris Faulkner, Emily Compagno, Kayleigh McEnany, and Kennedy…..The Digital Division of Nexstar Media announces the promotion of Susan Parker to chief strategy officer/EVP strategy & data for the division. In this newly created role, Parker will oversee all data and strategy functions for the division that extends Nexstar’s audience insights into the digital realm…..PodcastOne announces it is now producing and distributing the “Innovation on the Edge with Microsoft Edge” podcast hosted by  Jordan Harbinger and television host and lifestyle expert Chelsea Briggs, who will trade hosting duties through the limited run series. “Innovation on the Edge with Microsoft Edge” is a weekly podcast that explores the cutting edge of Internet innovation and pop culture trends. Each of the ten planned episodes will dig into how people are currently using the web to innovate, notable ways in which it’s evolving, what its future might look like, and how we can create that future together.

Joe Biden’s European Trip, Kamala Harris’ Latin America Trip, COVID-19, Critical Race Theory, Ransomware Attacks, Keystone XL Project Abandoned, Alzheimer’s Drug Controversy, and California Drought Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/10). President Joe Biden’s meeting with European allies and his coming meeting with Vladimir Putin; Vice President Kamala Harris’ Latin America trip and her glib response to why she hasn’t visited the U.S.-Mexico border yet; the fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy and criticism of Dr. Tony Fauci’s emails; the blowback against Critical Race Theory in U.S. schools; the recent ransomware attacks and concerns about the vulnerability of America’s digital infrastructure; the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline drops the project; the controversy over the FDA approval of an Alzheimer’s drug that some experts say is largely ineffective; and the worsening California drought were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

| June 8, 2021

Jesse Kelly Show Joins Premiere Networks. Talk radio host Jesse Kelly is moving from his current syndicator Key Networks to Premiere Networks, effective June 28. Kelly – a former U.S. Marine and a former Arizona congressional candidate – will air in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET slot currently occupied by Buck Sexton, who moves to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot partnering with Clay Travis. Kelly will continue to be seen weekdays at 9:00 pm ET as host of “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly” on TV network The First. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott says, “We couldn’t be happier to have Jesse at the helm of our weekday afternoon timeslot. His fresh voice will undoubtedly connect with and engage our audience with intelligent, witty conversation and bold opinions, while creating impactful opportunities for our partners.”

Jimmy Cefalo Returns to WIOD, Miami Air. According to a report in the Miami Herald, WIOD-AM morning personality Jimmy Cefalo has returned to the air after several weeks’ absence and told listeners he’s been diagnosed with a form of demyelinating disease that affects the protective covering of the nerve fibers around the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – is a demyelinating disease but Cefalo was not diagnosed with that. He said, “We don’t know what exactly it is, what caused it, what will fix it. I’ll keep going as long as I can. One day I’ll just go, ‘Boom!’ Which is the right way to go, by the way, I’m convinced, after the last couple of months.”

Trump and Bill O’Reilly to Hold ‘History Tour’ Live Events. According to a piece in the Washington Times, Key Networks nationally syndicated radio personality and author Bill O’Reilly will go on a “history tour” with former President Donald Trump in December. The four live events before paying customers in Florida and Texas will address “exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad,” according to a statement from Trump. His statement adds, “These will be wonderful but hard-hitting sessions where we’ll talk about the real problems happening in the U.S., those that the fake news media never mention.” O’Reilly says, “My job as a historian/journalist is to get important things on the record in a fact-based way. These conversations with the 45th president will not be boring.” Bill O’Reilly will be one of the 50 industry speakers participating in TALKERS 2021.  Check out the latest up to date agenda here.

SRN’s Tom Tradup Chats with ‘Seinfeld’ Star About New Film. Pictured above is former “Seinfeld” actor Wayne Knight (left) – who played the character “Newman” – speaking with Salem Radio Network V.P./News & Talk Tom Tradup (right) at Monday night’s Fort Worth, Texas red carpet premiere of “12 Mighty Orphans.” The SONY Classic Pictures film – starring Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, and Luke Wilson – tells the story of a Depression-era orphanage in Fort Worth that produced an inspiring state football championship team that even drew praise from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The film opens nationwide on June 18.

Radio Mercury Awards Call for Entry is Open. The call for entry for the 30th anniversary Radio Mercury Awards is officially open. The RAB announces that 15 trophies will be awarded in 12 categories, and the final round judges have the option to award a Best of Show winner. Starting this year, the Radio Mercury Awards is now accepting entries in any language for work that was broadcast, aired digitally, released or transmitted initially and primarily in the U.S. and its territories. For 2021, a new category, Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign, will award a radio spot or campaign for an advertiser or corporation that promotes their actions and effort towards the public good and demonstrates how they addressed social, environmental or public health/safety issues. There are also updated categories, including Creative Radio Spot: Insightful Voice and Radio Station or Group Promotional Spot or Campaign. The call for entry deadline is on August 9. Finalists for the show will be announced in late September and winners will be announced at the 2021 Radio Mercury Awards event on November 17, during a virtual event. The Radio Mercury Awards is introducing a “Thirty Years in Your Ears” campaign produced in collaboration with chief judge Robin Fitzgerald and the creative team at BBDO Atlanta. The campaign highlights several of the Best in Show winners from the last 30 years of the competition. It can be viewed here and will be featured in social media and digital marketing. For more information regarding entry categories, guidelines, entry fees and deadlines, click here.

TALKERS News Notes. A couple of Chicago market notes from media writer Robert Feder: First, Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens are teaming up for a weekly program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM. “The Wendy and Ray Show” will air from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Saturdays. The two have been co-hosting a podcast and Stevens tells Feder, “The weekend show on WLS-AM 890 will be hyper local and will cover everything from block parties to the Bears. This is a true Chicago show hosted by two lifelong Chicagoans.” And second, Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM announces the return of “The Hamp and OB Show” starring former Chicago Bears Dan Hampton and Ed O’Bradovich. The program will air weekly during the football season…..ESPN’s Chiney Ogwumike is launching her own weekly podcast, “Chiney,” today (6/8). She’ll discuss current events in the sports world, primarily through the lens of an active professional athlete. Ogwumike plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and was the 2014 league rookie of the year. She first worked for ESPN in 2017 and in August 2020 began hosting “Chiney and Golic Jr.” on ESPN Radio, becoming the first Black woman to host a national, daily sports talk radio show…..The nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new affiliate station KUJ-AM/K254DK, Walla Walla, Washington to its roster of stations.

COVID-19, January 6 Report, Harris Latin America Trip, Ransomware Attacks/Crypto Recovered, Voting Rights Issue, and Alzheimer’s Drug Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/8). The fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccinations, and the investigation into the Wuhan lab leak theory; the Senate report on the January 6 Capitol attack faults Capitol Police for inaction on threats; Vice President Kamala Harris tells Guatemalans not to come to the U.S. during Latin American trip; the increase in ransomware attacks and the FBI recoups millions in bitcoin paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers; Senator Joe Manchin’s decision not to back Joe Biden’s For The People voting rights bill; and the controversy surrounding the FDA’s approving Biogen’s Aduhelm Alzheimer’s drug were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.