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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+).  Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.

Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot.  Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.

Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.

TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and  Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways  Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.

Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

| March 2, 2021

Talent Moves at KMOX and KFTK-FM; FM Translator Added to KMOX Signal. Two of St. Louis’ afternoon talk radio pros are swapping stations as Entercom moves longtime KFTK-FM afternoon drive host Dave Glover across the hall to KMOX-AM for the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart. He fills the time that included the Mark Reardon show (2:00 pm to 4:00 pm) and the station’s newsy “Total Information PM” program (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm). As part of the change, Mark Reardon moves to KFTK-FM to host the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. KFTK-FM will air a “Best of Glover” hour from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. These changes take place on March 22. On that same date, FM translator K254CR at 98.7 will shift from airing KFTK’s signal to simulcasting KMOX’s signal. Entercom says the translator will allow KMOX to be heard on FM in the city’s business district, including downtown, Clayton, midtown, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and Kirkwood. KMOX brand manager Steve Moore says, “Our goal is to serve as the voice of the entire community. It’s important that KMOX is available on multiple platforms in order to keep the listeners in the business district informed with the latest news throughout the city.” Speaking about the changes, Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan says, “We are beyond excited to amplify the reach of the one and only KMOX and serve the St. Louis area in a more significant way. We are thrilled for ‘The Dave Glover Show’ to bring over 20 years of success to KMOX with this expansion to FM. Dave and his team have had an unprecedented track record of creating laughter, highlighting thought-provoking topics, and committing to relevant, local content day in and day out.”

WABC’s Curtis Sliwa Off Air During NYC Mayoral Race. In the aftermath of last week’s complaint filed with New York City’s Campaign Finance Board by attorney Nicholas Marricco suggesting that midday host Curtis Sliwa’s daily show was tantamount to an in-kind donation from WABC, the station has taken Sliwa off the air until he’s either elected mayor or exits the race. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis issued the following statement: “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis adds, “We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Names New Market Leaders for Boston and Miami. Taking over the market manager position at Entercom’s Boston cluster that includes sports talker WEEI-FM and WEEI-AM and three music brands is Tim Clarke. He comes to Entercom from his most recent role with Cox Media Group as VP of content and audience. At the same time, Claudia Menegus – currently regional president of Entercom Gainesville, Memphis, Miami and Orlando – is assuming the market manager role for Miami. Entercom Boston regional president Mark Hannon says, “We’re so excited to welcome Tim as Entercom Boston’s market manager. Tim is a proven broadcast executive who brings tremendous insights into content, audience, and data analytics. He’s perfectly suited to lead our six amazing brands and digital assets into the future.” About his new position, Clarke comments, “I am honored and thrilled to join Entercom and work with the incredibly talented team in Boston and across the entire organization. I truly admire Entercom and their forward-thinking strategy as they build the future of audio while also serving their communities and being world-class local broadcasters.”

Crossover Media Group Enhances Its Representation of CBS Audio’s News/Talk Podcast Portfolio. The cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales expands its relationship with CBS Audio. In 2020, CMGS began handling ad sales duties for “CBS News on the Hour,” on the SiriusXM POTUS Channel, and recently added the CBS Audio podcast “Facing Forward with Margaret Brennan,” that debuted on January 22. Now, CMGS adds 10 podcasts from the legendary news franchise to its roster of news and information programming, including “60 Minutes,” “Face the Nation,” “CBS World News Roundup,” “48 Hours,” and “My Life of Crime with Erin Moriarty.” Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “Throughout its history, the foundation of what has been called ‘the Tiffany Network’ has been CBS Audio. CBS Audio’s syndication lineup represents a fabulous opportunity not only for us but for advertisers who want to expand their reach and frequency efficiently even if they’re not currently utilizing audio in their marketing efforts.”

TALKERS News Notes. Voiceover pro Steve Kramer signs a new, three-year deal with CBS Audio Network to continue as voice of “CBS News On The Hour.” CBS News says, “Steve is one of the preeminent voices in the news and entertainment business today and is probably most recognized as the 20-year-plus signature voice of CBS Television Distribution’s ‘Inside Edition.'”…..With the change in presidential administrations, Trump Administration National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow returns to his media work, including hosting his “Larry Kudlow Show” from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York. Red Apple Media chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis and president Chad Lopez report that the program has “shattered streaming records, with listeners increasing over 250% during the show’s hours.” Catsimatidis adds, “Larry Kudlow is an icon and is one of the foremost voices on the economy in the United States. He is well-respected, and his program’s record-breaking success can be attributed to his ability to incorporate some of the brightest economic minds in his programming. We are proud to have Larry aboard and expect this is just the beginning of a long and successful career at 77 WABC Radio.”…..This month, in honor of Women’s History Month, ABC Audio is featuring a four-part video series highlighting pioneering women through the ages in entertainment, science, sports and politics. The series, “Women’s History in a Minute,” will be posted on ABC Power Portal, the on-demand original video service optimized for radio station websites, apps, and social media platforms. Each episode will focus on five women, with new episodes posting Mondays. Videos will be available for download by Power Portal affiliates as white label content, allowing stations to add their logos and sponsor ads to the videos before publication. Some of the women featured include: Viola Davis, the first Black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama; Madonna, the best-selling female recording artist of all time; Florence Griffith Joyner (“Flo-Jo”), the fastest woman in history; Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese player to win the Grand Slam singles title and the highest-earning female athlete of all time; Shirley Jackson, the first Black woman to receive a PhD from MIT; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Kamala Harris, the first female, first Black and first Asian American U.S. vice president; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court; and more.

Kim Komando Assists Charity with Communications System. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and digital expert Kim Komando is helping a listener in Newport News, Virginia with his communications challenge. After hearing the “Kim Komando Show” on local affiliate WNIS-AM, Norfolk, Brother Tim Lukan of the Five Loaves Food Bank (which distributes nearly $900,000 a year in food to the needy in the area) reached out to Kim to help him handle the patrons who were overloading him with calls at all hours. Komando put together the resources needed to set up an auto attendant for the food bank using Google Voice. The auto attendant offers options in both English and Spanish. She is graciously donating and paying the annual Google Voice fee on behalf of the food bank for as long as Brother Tim needs her to do so. Brother Tim says, “[WestStar IT administrator] John Davila and Kim Komando are the BOMB! Because of Kim, John, and all your hard work, we have learned, we have increased our knowledge base of possible solutions to challenges, AND we are going to be able to serve the hungry of the Virginia Peninsula more efficiently and respond to questions faster.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Trump at CPAC, Biden Stimulus Bill/Minimum Wage Debate, Capitol Insurrection Investigation, Cuomo Investigation, Wealth Tax, Israel-Iran Tensions, and Sarkozy Convicted of Corruption Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/1). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about easing up too quickly on restrictions, and the rollout of vaccines; Donald Trump’s Sunday speech at CPAC; the Joe Biden stimulus package heads to the Senate while the $15 minimum wage proposal is considered dead in the water; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony today; the growing number of women accusing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment; Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax; the tensions between Israel and Iran after the latter’s alleged attack on an Israeli ship; and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is convicted of corruption were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

| September 2, 2020

Round Two of August PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s August 2020 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 August 2020 survey period covered July 16 – August 12. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these 12 markets. In the Washington, DC market, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM dips a half share to finish with a 7.9 share and falls to #2 behind Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM which added eight-tenths for an 8.6 share and the #1 rank. Beasley Media Group sports talker WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” climbs eight-tenths to a 4.9 share good for the #7 rank in the market while iHeartMedia’s crosstown all-new WBZ-AM “News Radio 1030” loses one-tenth, finishing the August survey with a 6.6 share but rises to the #3 rank. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM remains unchanged at a 7.1 share and continues its now six-survey run at #1. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway from this report (and the first round!) here.

Cumulus Stations Sign Up with ABC Audio for News Service. With the shuttering of the Westwood One News service that took effect on August 30, Cumulus Media news/talk, sports talk and some music outlets were in need of a news affiliation. The company announces that 29 of its news/talk stations – including heritage signals such as WLS-AM, Chicago and KGO-AM, San Francisco — are now using ABC Audio’s news. At the same time, 12 of Cumulus’ sports and music stations are signing on to air ABC’s hourly newscasts. ABC Audio executive director of business strategies, programming and distribution Heidi Oringer says, “We’re excited to welcome these big stations back to the ABC Audio family after six years away. Through this partnership, our unmatched reporting including crisis coverage, breaking news, and special programming, will reach new listeners and help ABC Audio continue to be the best in the business.” ABC Audio VP and general manager Stacia Philips Deshishku adds, “We’re in one of the biggest news cycles in history, with no end in sight. Our teams have worked nonstop to not only keep up with but also exceed listeners’ demand for trusted information. We’re thrilled that more stations are noticing our robust offerings and signing on to be part of our affiliate family.”

Pat McAfee Show to Air on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports. After exiting the CBS Sports Radio platform last month, former Indianapolis Colts punter and sports media personality Pat McAfee will be heard on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET, beginning September 9. McAfee says, “I’m very thankful and honored for the chance to be on Mad Dog Sports Radio. SiriusXM is such an incredibly massive platform and the freedom it allows is perfect for our style of show. To say we’re grateful to Scott Greenstein, Steve Cohen, Andrew Moss and all of the other awesome folks at SiriusXM for this opportunity would be an understatement. Let’s do the damn thing. We hope you’ll join us daily.”

Trump Visits Kenosha/Protests/BLM Movement, Presidential Race, Pelosi Salon Flap, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, School Opening Debate/College Outbreaks, Melania Trump Book, and New Stimulus Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/1). President Trump’s visit to Kenosha in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake, the protests in Kenosha, Portland, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and the Black Lives Matter movement; the November presidential election; the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pictured maskless in a closed San Francisco salon; the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools and the flareups on some college campuses; former Melania Trump aid Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book about the First Lady; and a new stimulus deal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Report: Radio Listening Returning to March Levels. This week’s Westwood One blog includes data from Nielsen Audio from the August PPM survey and the May-June-July diary markets survey that indicates radio listening is returning to its March 2020 levels. The Nielsen data cited notes that “benchmarking against the March PPM survey, August average quarter-hour audiences increased again, now generating 90% of the prior audiences. In terms of weekly reach, AM/FM radio in the PPM markets has recaptured 96% of March cume listening. In diary markets, AM/FM radio has retained 97% of prior weekly cume.” Further, Nielsen says, “In medium and smaller diary markets, AM/FM radio is ‘pandemic proof’: AQH listening in the just-released May-June-July survey is virtually identical to the January-February-March period as AM/FM radio retains 100% of prior listening.” In a sign that more people are back in their cars in the morning, Nielsen notes “in the just-released August PPM data, most of the AQH growth occurred Monday-Friday 6AM-10AM and on weekends.”

iHeartMedia Reveals Results of ‘Trustworthiness’ Study. Based on information from data & analytics firm Engagement Labs, iHeartMedia says that one of the key findings is that “listeners’ trust in radio and its on-air personalities continues to grow as social media has become far less trustworthy over the past year.” The survey of radio listeners found radio to be 79% more or just as trustworthy versus a year ago while social media is 50% less trustworthy during the same time period. In particular, sentiment for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has plummeted in recent months, with Facebook down 56%, Instagram down 38%, and Twitter down 140%. The survey of radio listeners age 18-69 ranked media trustworthiness as follows: 75% trust radio, 66% trust television, 57% trust websites, 38% trust Twitter, and 37% trust Facebook. iHeartMedia chief marketing officer Gayle Troberman comments, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever for Americans to get information they trust and to find ways to connect with people – and these findings show that radio continues to deliver a much needed and sought out trusted companionship during this historic and uncertain time.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and iHeartMedia are partnering on a 20-episode podcast series in which the former South Bend, Indiana mayor will discuss “the issues and choices that will define America’s next chapter.” “The Deciding Decade with Pete Buttigieg” debuts on September 9. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Pete created a groundswell of excitement during his presidential campaign run, and he is one of the most admirable and energetic young leaders of our time. We’re excited to bring Pete’s sharp intellect and remarkable eloquence to The iHeartPodcast Network.”…..A new podcast partnership between iHeartMedia and The Recount results in three new weekly shows: “Hell and High Water with John Heilemann,” “Just Something About Her with Jennifer Palmieri,” and “Battleground with David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt.” The Recount executive editor John Heilemann says, “The 2020 election is, without question, the most important election of our lifetime and this exciting trio of podcasts from hosts who’ve operated at the highest level of politics will help listeners cut through the bullshit and understand the big picture of what’s happening ahead of Election Day and beyond. Our content is resonating on our platform and across social media and we are excited to bring it to podcasting with iHeartMedia.”…..Pictured below is GCN nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs giving blood during National Blood Donation Week. Dr. Wachs tells TALKERS magazine, “We’re off to a great start to National Blood Donation Week. Multiple governors declared Blood Donation Months, all falling on September 4 (National Blood Donation Day). Not only does this week help raise much needed blood for our blood banks and medical centers that has been drastically lowered during the COVID pandemic, but it unites both Democratic and Republican governors in a common cause. Blood isn’t a political issue, it’s a human life issue and National Blood Donation week proves Americans can come together for a common cause.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Angelique Alston is promoted to brand manager for Entercom’s hip hop WPGC-FM, Washington. Since 2013, Alston has served WPGC as assistant program director, morning show producer and events producer. Entercom Washington SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “Angelique has done a tremendous job elevating our team and I am excited to see her expand her career as brand manager. Her unique way of providing entertainment for our listeners, educating the community with viable content and her engagement with the sales management team tells me she will thrive in this new role. Her ability to multi-task, implore creative thinking, work hard and commit to excellence has led to great success and we are delighted to have her lead WPGC 95.5 FM.”…..Rochester country WBEE announces that air personality Chris Konya is joining “The All New Bee Morning Coffee Club” program alongside Terry Clifford and TJ Sharp. This is a return to Entercom Rochester for Konya. Entercom Rochester SVP and market manager Sue Munn says, “Chris was a fan favorite during his time producing ‘The Breakfast Buzz’ and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to our airwaves alongside Terry and TJ. His humor and wit make him a perfect fit as a co-host for our new weekday morning program and together the trio will create a dynamic show for our community.”…..Premiere Networks’ syndicated Delilah adds three new affiliate stations. Picking up Delilah for evenings are: iHeartMedia’s KBFP-FM, Bakersfield “Sunny 105.3,” Cumulus Media’s WBZE-FM, Tallahassee “Star 98.9,” and McKenzie River Broadcasting’s KMGE-FM, Eugene, Oregon “Mix 94.5.”…..An application has been filed with the FCC for transfer of country KZTL-FM, Paxton and rock KRNP-FM, Sutherland in Nebraska from Legacy Communications to Eagle Communications. Kalil & Co is serving as the exclusive broker.

Monday, August 10, 2020

| August 10, 2020

Monday Memo: Say It Shorter. In this week’s concise column, consultant Holland Cooke barely says ANYTHING, “and that’s the point.” Read it here.

The Presidential Race, Biden VP Choice Speculation, Vote-By-Mail Debate, and Stimulus Exec Orders Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend (8/8-9). The November presidential election, speculation over Joe Biden’s pending VP selection, the failure of Congress to arrive at a new stimulus package with President Trump responding by signing contestable executive orders to move the process along  as well as the controversy over his ongoing allegation that voting by mail encourages voter fraud were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this weekend according to TALKERS research of the most talked about topics on issues-oriented news/talk radio. Other heavily discussed topics over the weekend included the school closing debate and COVID-19 stats and projections.

Pending Business: Talk to the Winners. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about how radio sales professionals should have faith in the resilience of local, small business based on the premise that many WILL survive the COVID-19 era.  He suggests that radio sellers seek out those whose innovation clearly has them on a winning track and talk directly to them, customizing campaigns that are in sync with their efforts. Read it here.

Update: WAMU-FM Sexual Harassment. As we reported here last week (TALKERS, 8/5), American University-owned public news/talk outlet WAMU-FM, Washington, DC is in a state of chaos over sexual harassment allegations. WAMU-owned publication DCist ran a Rachel Kurzius-written story detailing allegations of harassment and improper behavior by former WAMU-FM reporter Martin Di Caro. Numerous employees were asking for station general manager J.J. Yore to resign, something he said he was not prepared to do. That situation changed, however, late last week as the station’s six-year general manager has indeed stepped down. Vice president of people and external affairs/chief of staff Seth Grossman states, “American University thanks JJ for his years of service to WAMU; we wish him well as he pursues his next endeavor. We are announcing a series of critical steps designed to address issues in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, human resources, and management, as well as how matters of misconduct are handled at WAMU. These actions are a combination of immediate and longer-term steps to accelerate WAMU’s work to enhance culture and workplace. The changes will provide important support to the WAMU staff, who we thank for continuing to focus on producing award-winning journalism that the Washington, DC region relies on amid this period of change. We believe these actions will offer support for the entire WAMU team and provide a foundation for the station’s next chapter.” An interim general manager will be named in “the next four to six weeks.” In addition, a human resources employee relations consultant with “proven experience in improving organizational culture and creating inclusive workplaces” will be put in-place. Interim chief content officer Monna Kashfi becomes the permanent chief content officer, overseeing WAMU and DCist. WAMU’s former chief content officer, Andi McDaniel, left the station last month to join Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago as president and chief executive officer; McDaniel begins those duties next month. As indicated in the The DCist piece, McDaniel was well aware of Di Caro’s behavior, having signed off on a “Level III Final Written Warning for Serious Misconduct” given to Di Caro after “almost two years” of complaints.

Coronavirus Affects Cumulus’ Q2 Numbers. Second quarter figures for Cumulus Media include a 47.8% year-to-year revenue decrease to $146 million. The company witnessed its net income transition from a gain of $42.9 million to a loss of $6.4 million and adjusted EBITDA dropping from $61.8 million to -$6.4 million. Despite the pandemic’s material impact on revenue, Cumulus Media president/chief executive officer Mary G. Berner explains, “The company generated over $90 million of cash in the quarter through quick and decisive expense actions, strong working capital management, and the completion of sale of land in Bethesda, Maryland. Ending the quarter with nearly $200 million of cash, we have entered into an agreement to monetize our tower portfolio for more than $210 million, proceeds which will further add to our liquidity and contribute to significant incremental debt paydown.” She adds, “Our demonstrated ability to rise to a challenge, strong liquidity position, and resilient balance sheet are critical assets as we operate through this uncertain environment. We believe we remain very well-positioned to drive long-term shareholder value through continued aggressive debt reduction and the execution of our growth initiatives.” Broadcast station revenue was down 51.6% to $114.2 million. Spot revenue was off 55.6% and network revenue declined by 42.7%. Meanwhile, digital revenue was up .7% to $20.3 million.

COVID-19 “Impacts” Townsquare Q2 Results. Commenting on selected results for the second quarter that ended June 30th, Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson remarks that, as expected, the company’s “second quarter financial results were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA declined 34.5% and 93.1%, respectively, as compared to the prior year. Advertising net revenue throughout the quarter, however, “experienced sequential improvement,” Wilson reports. “Together with our Live Events, net revenue has experienced the brunt of the negative business impact.” To Wilson’s point, one second quarter highlight is that, compared to the second quarter of 2019, Live Events net revenue decreased 99.5%. Wilson observes that by the end of the second quarter, “Advertising net revenue had materially improved, from -42.1% in April to -29.6% in June and continued to show improvement through July and early-August.” Townsquare Interactive added approximately 900 net subscribers, ending the quarter with approximately 20,750 subscribers, with Wilson commenting, “Townsquare Interactive’s growth continued in the second quarter, with net revenue increasing 10.5%, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions. During this pandemic, the Townsquare Interactive team became a tremendous resource for their local clients by strengthening online presence and capabilities and powering their online communication strategy. Our thesis has always been, that Townsquare Interactive is a recession-resistant subscription business and will continue to grow its revenue and subscriber base throughout the year.” Wilson explains that Townsquare Media “enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings during the second quarter, in addition to the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue, which led to total direct operating expenses declining 14.8%, compared to the prior year. In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, which declined 30% in the second quarter compared to the prior year. Our board of directors elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward. Even with all the challenges and unknowns during this pandemic, we have not had to alter our core strategy. Instead, the pandemic placed a spotlight on the need to double-down on executing our existing long term strategy. We believe our ‘Local First’ strategy, together with our talented team and diversified and differentiated product offering, ensures that Townsquare will emerge from this crisis well-positioned for the future. Although a very tough Q2, we believe our revenue, profit and cash flow results will be among the best in the radio – as well as in the local media – industry.” 

Why Are “You” Voting? That’s the simple question iHeartMedia is putting forth to listeners, cultural influencers, athletes, and musicians. It’s in advance of the November election, of course, when – in addition to the presidential contest – Americans will be voting for 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representative seats. Soundbites start today (Monday, 8/10) and run until Election Day (11/3). President of iHeartMedia entertainment enterprises John Sykes states, “With voter turnout expected to hit record numbers, ‘Why I’m Voting’ presents a rare opportunity for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to have their voices heard by millions of their fellow Americans before we cast our votes.” Listeners can record/submit their own 20 second or less audio or video message. Meanwhile, also debuting today (8/10) and running through Election Day is iHeartMedia’s longer-form “Why I’m Voting” podcast, which will feature conversations with a wide-range of celebrities on why/how this year’s election will shape our future. The podcast will showcase personal stories behind why voting means so much for our nation. The “Why Are You Voting” series of soundbites will air on iHeartMedia’s 850+ broadcast radio stations in 160 markets, podcasts, social media platforms, and the iHeartRadio app.

Podcast Ad Spending to Surpass $1 Billion Next Year. That forecast further predicts that more than one in five digital radio ad dollars will go toward podcasts. By the end of this year, podcast ad spending in the United States will reach $782 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21% share of the US digital radio ad market. Spending is expected to jump nearly 45% next year to $1.13 billion. Insider Intelligence eMarketer forecasting director  Shelleen Shum comments, “Growth in podcast advertising spend will be more resilient this year relative to digital radio advertising as a whole, which will see double-digit declines. The continued growth in podcast advertising is no surprise, as investments have made podcasts accessible to a wider audience. The news genre, a focus of many podcast advertisers, has performed well during the pandemic. While some ad campaigns were paused due to the uncertainty from COVID-19 lockdowns, we expect a rebound in Q3 and Q4. One key challenge in podcast advertising is the lack of uniformity in measurement. [The Interactive Advertising Bureau] has released a set of guidelines to establish a common set of ad metrics for podcasts, which should bring some standardization to the industry and give advertisers more confidence.” This year, 105.6 million people in the US will listen to podcasts, the first time podcast listening will surpass 100 million.

KYW Silences Familiar Sound. Owing to pandemic-related budget cuts, a number of well-known voices on spoken-word and music-intensive formats across the country have been eased off the air. A longtime fixture at Entercom Philadelphia’s KYW “News Radio 1060” is gone, but it had nothing to do with the bottom line or COVID-19 – and it isn’t a human. The station has eliminated the teletype sound effect that – for decades – has been played underneath its news broadcasts. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, KYW program director/brand manager Alex Silverman remarks to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “They stopped making the ribbons for the trusty teletype in 1986 and our supply finally ran out; so, old reliable is out of commission until further notice.” To that, co-owned WIP “Sports Radio 94” brand manager Spike Eskin mocks in a tweet, “Just excuses again from Alex Silverman. Are we to believe he couldn’t find a new one on Ebay, or simulate the sound somehow? Does he think we are fools?” On a more serious note, Silverman states, “As technology has evolved over the years, so has KYW. The sound of the station should reflect the modern, nimble, multi-platform news organization we’ve become.”  KYW has recently updated its jingle and logo. Entercom’s other top ten market news and news-talk hybrids include: WCBS-AM and WINS, New York City; KNX, Los Angeles; WBBM-AM & WCFS-FM, Chicago; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; and KRLD-AM, Dallas.

Leadership Training Program Accepting 2021 Applications. Designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions, the NAB’s Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program is accepting applications through August 19 for next year’s session. BLT program founder and dean/ ShootingStar Broadcasting founder, president, chief executive officer Diane Sutter states, “As we transition to a hybrid online and in-person model, we look forward to expanding the reach of the Broadcast Leadership Training program. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we cultivate the next class of diverse industry leaders and equip them with the knowledge and training to advance their careers.” As it moves into its 21st year, this executive MBA-style program teaches the fundamentals of purchasing, owning, and operating radio and television stations to senior-level broadcast professionals. All education sessions planned through the end of 2020 will be held online, with the starting gathering to be held next month (9/24 – 25). Broadcast professionals from all areas of the industry, including general managers, sales managers and department heads, as well as regional and corporate executives, are encouraged to apply. Fellowship opportunities are available for women and people of color. The complete schedule will be made available in early-October.

TALKERS News Notes. Starting one week from today (Monday, 8/17) and lasting through next Thursday (8/20), ABC News Radio is set to cover this year’s Democratic National Convention and plans to do the same  the following week (8/24 – 27) for the Republican National Convention. Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor; Alex Stone, Ryan Burrow, and Jim Ryan are slated to serve as reporters; and Steve Roberts joins for analysis. Multiple one-minute “Status Reports” will air each night, as will the network’s daily Brad Mielke-hosted podcast, “Start Here.” Meanwhile, each day during the conventions, the Karl & Klein-hosted podcast “Powerhouse Politics” will release special editions featuring interviews and analysis …  Former iHeartMedia Jacksonville senior vice president of programming Tommy BoDean joins Cumulus Media as operations manager of its four-station Melbourne (Florida) cluster, which includes sports talk WLZR “1560 The Fan.” Cumulus Media regional vice president Pete DeSimone comments, “I am really excited Tommy is joining the Cumulus Melbourne team. He’s going to make an immediate impact – and at a time [when] programming and operational leadership are critical.” BoDean adds, “The world we live in is changing every minute; radio has not just an opportunity, but an obligation, to get plugged in and help. Now is the perfect time to step into a role that both challenges and excites me every day.” In addition to his OM duties for WLZR and classic rock WROK “95.9 The Rocket,” BoDean will be the day-to-day program director for CHR WAOA “107.1 A1A” and country WHKR “102.7 Nash FM.” He previously was operations manager for iHeartMedia Cincinnati and programmed Nashville CHR WNFN “Hot 106.7.” …  Effective today (Monday, 8/10), Bustos Media Tucson’s KVOI “AM 1030 The Voice” adds “The Joe Walsh Show” to its weeknight (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm) lineup and shifts “Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb,” which had been in that slot, to 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm … Twenty-year Spokane television and radio journalist Teresa Lukens will return to Morgan Murphy Media Spokane’s KXLY-AM “920 News Now” next Monday (8/17) as morning drive co-host. After three years as a reporter on KXLY-TV’s “Good Morning Northwest,” Lukens transitioned to radio as morning host on co-owned KXLY-FM “Classy 99.9 FM” and then as news anchor on KXLY-AM. Lukens left KXLY-TV in 2010 and hosted “Health Matters” on Spokane public television outlet KSPS.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Every Friday this month, iHeartMedia San Antonio joins forces with San Antonio Metro Health for the “Friday Night Virtual Dance Party” (7:00 – 7:30 pm). Participating stations within the iHM cluster include adult contemporary KQXT “Q-101.9”; CHR KXXM “96.1 Now;” country KAJA “KJ-7″; and Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits.” According to iHeartMedia San Antonio senior vice president of programming Jason McCollim, “There is nothing like the power of music. [We] are excited to partner with our friends at San Antonio Metro Health for ‘Friday Night Virtual Dance Party’ [and] look forward to raising our community spirit during these challenging times – all while abiding by the state’s safety guidelines to fight the COVID-19 virus.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg notes, “We want to send an encouraging and positive message to San Antonio to keep doing the things that make our city great, but do them in a safe way so we can continue to stop the spread.” …  A country music special hosted by four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan is among several, three-hour ABC Audio Labor Day weekend specials. “Luke Bryan: Born Here Live Here Die Here” takes listeners through each song on Bryan’s new album, which has produced three #1 singles. “Labor Day Rock Salute: Frontline Edition – From Speakeasy” honors frontline workers who stepped up during COVID-19. Hosted by ABC Audio’s Matt Wolfe, the special features hits from artists including ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks. Top rock artists will also share what they’ve been up to during lockdown. Meanwhile, the Aaron Katersky-hosted  news special “How America Works Now” explores how people are coping through the pandemic. It questions what the future of American life and labor may look like, and puts a spotlight on those adapting to the new normal  … “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” takes over 12:00 midnight – 5:00 am duties in Santa Rosa, California on Amaturo Sonoma Media Group-owned KFGY “Froggy 92.9 Today’s Country.” Alan comments, “Our show is excited to be a part of the ‘Froggy 92.9’ lineup. We already feel like part of the ‘Froggy’ family. I can’t wait to get to Sonoma for a visit to wine country.” Amaturo Sonoma Media Group vice president of programming and operations Jim Murphy notes, “Cody creates unique, multiplatform content that really resonates with country fans; we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the ‘Froggy’ family. The station’s revised lineup includes: Amber & Tanner (5:00 am – 10:00 am); Jenn (10:00 am – 3:00 pm); Dano (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); Lia (7:00 pm – 12:00 midnight); and “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am) … Former four-year wakeup duo at Hubbard Broadcasting St. Louis’ WIL “New Country 92.3, Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway (“Bud & Broadway”), sign with Houston-based SuiteRadio for morning show syndication, gearing up for next month’s start (9/7). The show will be represented on a market exclusive basis by Colbert Media Group. Prior to exiting WIL this past May, “Bud & Broadway” worked in Tulsa and Dothan, Alabama.

Convention Coverage Unlike Any in History

| August 3, 2020

By Tom Tradup
Salem Radio Network
V.P. News/Talk Programming

 

DALLAS — R.I.P. American political conventions. You had a good run, but now you’re toast.

2020 has presented talk radio with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic — which has personally impacted many in our industry including the amazing infection-through-recovery story of John McConnell. We’ve also been asked to cover nationwide riots — oops, I mean “peaceful protests”— following the senseless killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the contraction of the radio industry including layoffs and pay cuts, and operating day to day with masks and social distancing.

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