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Friday, November 12, 2021

| November 12, 2021

Legendary Radio Figure Al Herskovitz Dies at 90.  One of the radio industry’s most-liked and enduring figures, Al Herskovitz, has passed way in Bradenton, FL on November 11 at the age of 90 after suffering an episode of cardiac arrest. Herskovitz was an alumnus of many top American radio stations and broadcast companies including: WPRO, Providence; WIP, Philadelphia; and WPOL-AM/FM, Los Angeles, as well as CapCities Communications among others where he served in program director and station manager capacities for a number of years. In early 1986, Herskovitz and Michael Harrison formed H&H Broadcasting, Inc. and acquired WSPR, Springfield, MA which they transitioned from an adult contemporary music format to a seminal spoken word approach they dubbed “Supertalk” – a precursor to the modern style of talk radio that boomed onto the scene during the 1990s. H&H owned and operated WSPR until late-1988. When TALKERS was launched in 1990, Herskovitz joined the company and served as its senior director of marketing until his recent retirement in 2019 at the age of 88. In the 2000 presidential election he served as the Steve Forbes campaign’s media advisor. Herskovitz was an active member, right until his passing, of the Sarasota, FL-based Media Round Table – a group of working, retired and semi-retired media professionals from around the country who currently live full- or part-time in Florida. Harrison states, “Al was like a brother to me and a rock in my life. He was a friend, a partner, and a mentor, not to mention one of the most dependable and decent human beings I could ever have been blessed to have as a close associate over the decades. Even into his late-80s, Al was sharp and energetic. He knew as much about the radio business and stayed abreast of the ever-changing technology of the digital era as if he were a bright millennial on the leading edge. He was, indeed, remarkable!” Herskovitz was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT – the son of hard working Jewish Hungarian immigrants, the late Leo and Elsie Herskovitz. He’s a veteran of the United States Army where he served and saw action in the Korean War. He is pre-deceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, Eileen Herskovitz who passed away in 2012. Herskovitz’s colorful career, spanning almost seven decades, brought him into contact with some of the world’s most colorful individuals in politics, show business, sports and business. These experiences are documented in a memoir titled, The Tall, Skinny Jewish Kid with Eyeglasses from Bridgeport: A Radio Guy’s Chance Encounters with the Colorful and Famous (Talkers Books, 2018). A graveside service will be held at Skyway Memorial Gardens, 5200 US Hwy 19 N, Palmetto, FL 34221 https://www.skywaymemorial.com/ at a date and time to be announced.  Check the Skyway website or Talkers.com for further details.

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, “Inflation Nation,” looks back at this past week of 11/8 – 11/12. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSClaire Carter, commentator, Good For You Radio/founder, Good For You NetworkRichard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/founder, Scamicide.com; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; and Brian Kilmeade, talk show host, FOX News Radio/FOX News Channel. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; 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.

WRKO, Boston Raises Almost $200K for Disabled American Veterans. Boston news/talk outlet WRKO-AM “The Voice of Boston” raised more than $192,000 during its sixth annual DAV Radiothon to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts. The iHeartMedia station held the 13-hour radiothon yesterday (11/11) and with WRKO personalities Jeff Kuhner, Barry Armstrong, and Howie Carr encouraging listeners to donate. Funds are designated for the DAV of Massachusetts’ homeless shelter and transportation programs. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, sports Rob Sanchez says, “It’s an honor for AM 680 WRKO to dedicate Veterans Day to help the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country. Our generous listeners always amaze me and have once again shown their support to raise $192,082 for the DAV of Massachusetts.” Since 2016, DAV Radiothon has raised over $800,000 to benefit veterans in the community.

NPR and Edison Research Spoken Word Audio Report Indicates Young, Multicultural Listeners Drive Consumption While Mobile Listening and Podcasts Add to Increases. The results of the NPR and Edison Research 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report – based on a national online survey of 1,000 adults 18 and over who listened to spoken word audio in the last month – reveals “the continued increased consumption of spoken word audio in the U.S. and the drivers behind the growth.” The report finds 75% of those in the U.S 13+ (212 million people) are monthly spoken word audio listeners, and 45% (127 million people) are daily spoken word audio listeners. Spoken word audio listening is up 40% in the past seven years, and up 8% year over year, with the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio reaching 28% of time spent with all audio. A look at a seven-year trend shows dramatic increases among young and multicultural listeners. The study shows 26% of 13-34-year-olds’ audio time is spent with spoken word audio, an increase of 116% over 2014. Similar increases are noted among multicultural listeners: Black listeners spend 22% of their audio time with spoken word (an 83% increase over 2014); Hispanic/Latino listeners spend 27% of their audio time with spoken word (an 80% increase over 2014); and White listeners now spend 29% of their audio time with spoken word, a 26% increase over 2014. Digital listening is also changing the spoken-word audio landscape. Mobile listening has increased 278% over the past seven years, with one-third (34%) of all time spent listening to spoken word audio being done on a mobile device. The increase in consumption on a mobile device holds for all ages, not just younger demos. Of all spoken word audio consumed by those 13+, 22% of it is to podcasts, a 176% increase over seven years ago (8%). You can find out more about the study here.

Season Two of ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast’ to Debut on November 22. The podcast docuseries “We Interrupt This Broadcast” is back for season two with episodes beginning streaming on November 22. Together, season one’s “JFK Assassination” episode and season two’s “The Killing of Lee Harvey Oswald” episode commemorate the November 22 and 24 anniversaries of these historic events, revealing never-before-heard audio and revelations from broadcasters and journalists who were covering these events in real time. Listeners are enlightened with impactful details that did not previously make the airwaves or subsequent historical accounts. The series is hosted by legendary broadcaster Bill Kurtis and narrated by Brian Williams and is “a celebration of the art of journalism and the heroism of journalists who broke the news and reported the captivating details from the front lines of these iconic moments.” Season Two episodes include interviews and thrilling new details by broadcasters, TV journalists and historians who were entrenched in these notable moments: Oswald Assassination; Watergate: Nixon Resigns; Challenger Explosion; Rescue of Baby Jessica; The OJ Simpson Slow Speed Chase; The Oklahoma City Bombing; Y2K; Hurricane Katrina Slams New Orleans; Election Night 2016; and War of the Worlds – The Original ‘Deep Fake’, which recently began streaming on its historic anniversary. Brian Williams says, “Podcasting allows us to get it right – we get to tell the story calmly and accurately. If we do it right, it will bring people as close as possible to the feeling of being as fortunate as we are to have this job. It’s been a tremendous privilege and honor to live through breaking stories as they are happening, right alongside our viewers. Listening to ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast,’ you’re going to feel that same tension, excitement, mystery, and urgency that we felt in the moment as we broadcasted.” The docuseries is produced by i4 Media Ventures, LLC and is repped for ad and sponsorship sales by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales.

TALKERS News Notes. A three-hour special Thanksgiving program from CBS Audio hosted by Gil Gross is available for air Wednesday November 24 – Sunday November 28. The show consists of three hours of bright and informative conversation about America’s most beloved holiday, including: culinary “horror” stories of Thanksgiving dinners gone wrong; the harrowing story of Squanto, the Native American credited with saving the Pilgrims and inaugurating the American Thanksgiving; how a train with 260 tons of frozen turkeys brought about the creation of the frozen TV dinner; bringing back vintage Thanksgiving recipes and creating innovations in the traditional Thanksgiving meal; and how Thanksgiving and football became married family traditions…..Boston public media outlet GBH names Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel the new co-hosts of “Morning Edition” at GBH News. Alston rejoins GBH from WBUR, where she is a host of the NPR podcast, “Consider This,” produced in conjunction with GBH. Siegel is currently the host and producer of the Washington, DC-based daily news podcast “POLITICO Dispatch.” GBH general manager of news Pam Johnston says, “Our audiences have told us that mornings matter most when it comes to news. They look to us to get the information they need and set the tone for the day ahead. With Paris and Jeremy as co-hosts of ‘Morning Edition’ at GBH News, our audiences will get local stories from different perspectives. They’ll engage with a pair of dynamic, smart and accomplished journalists who possess a real knack for understanding and dissecting the complex stories of our time.”

Inflation, Supply Chain and Economic Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of 11/8-12. Soaring consumer goods and fuel prices, the supply chain breakdown, labor woes, and economic politics combined as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, the Aaron Rodgers controversy, and school board battles, followed by the January 6 investigation tied with social media & journalism at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

| July 23, 2020

TALKERS Marks 30th Anniversary Today. It was 30 years ago today – July 23, 1990 – that TALKERS was launched as “The Information-Radio Newspaper.”  It first appeared as a tabloid-style, 12-page newsprint publication distributed to radio stations around the country by mail and eventually grew into a full-color, glossy magazine and, eventually, a multi-platform communications organization. Over the decades, TALKERS has produced 22 annual national talk media conventions in New York City plus several “bonus” conferences in Los Angeles. At those conferences, a number of the publication’s annual awards were presented, including the coveted TALKERS magazine Freedom of Speech Award. TALKERS magazine was a pioneer in producing radio row events that began in the mid-1990s. The organization also presented numerous talk media forums in Washington, DC and New York featuring talk personalities discussing important issues of the day. Many of those were aired on C-SPAN. As digital media became inextricably intertwined with radio and television, TALKERS itself evolved into a multimedia platform presenting video elements via Talkers TV and launching Talkers Radio. Annual features, including the “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America,” a.k.a. the Heavy Hundred (and later its sports talk radio sister list), have become highly anticipated presentations within the industry. Upon reaching this milestone, founder Michael Harrison stated, “TALKERS is a reflection of my lifelong fascination with and love of radio, as well as my core devotion to the tenets of the First Amendment. It has come very far during these three decades and most of the credit for its remarkable longevity and adherence to quality has been to the credit of its devoted core staff (in alphabetical order) – David BernsteinKevin CaseyMarcia DalyMatthew B. HarrisonAl HerskovitzMike KinosianBarbara Kurland, and Steve Weisman with a special salute to the late Sharon L. Harrison.  Add to that list our loyal advertisers and sponsors, our talented contributing writers, as well as our readers.  The radio and its related media industries have been extremely kind to us and, for that blessing, I am eternally grateful.”

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Host Fred Toucher Off the Air for Medical Help. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive co-host Fred Toucher is off the air for the time being as he deals with personal issues that were revealed during the July 21 program. Toucher posted to his Instagram account: “First of all thank you to the listeners that have my back. For some reason I want you guys to know I have never been drunk on the air [management has never accused me of such] I am going to a mental institution next week. I am sometimes too forthcoming on the air. I’m used to just being honest about my life but when you are a f*ckup that isn’t such a good idea.” Finn reports that Toucher confessed he’s going through a divorce on the Tuesday morning program discussion that he describes as “unsettling.” Co-host Rich Shertenlieb suggested he take some time off the air and offered to take a leave with him. However, on Wednesday’s program, Shertenlieb told listeners Toucher is taking some time off and they can’t wait for his return. Beasley Media Group issued the following statement to the paper: “As a responsible company committed to the Boston Community, we take this matter very seriously. Fred will be off the air while we continue to review the situation.”

WLW, Cincinnati-Based “America’s Truckin’ Network” to Avoid Political Discussion. In a move that’s clearly a sign of the times, the overnight program “America’s Truckin’ Network” has been ordered by management to steer clear of political discussions. The show is nationally syndicated and available via SiriusXM but is produced at iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati and hosted by Steve Sommers (son of program founder Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers). Sommers tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jim Calhoun that after complaints to corporate headquarters in San Antonio about a caller’s comments that aired, he was held responsible for the comments that shouldn’t have aired and was given a warning. He’s also been told to refrain from politics and stick to issues relevant to the trucking audience. iHeartMedia Cincinnati SVP of programming Scott Reinhart issued the following statement to the Enquirer: “The ATN has been on the air for over 30 years. We regularly review all our shows to ensure they provide the best and most compelling programming, and we have always relied on comments and feedback from our listeners to help us make these decisions.”

Cume & Coronavirus (Part 3). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of ratings data for spoken-word radio stations based on information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey. After looking at 6+ cume data for the all-news and sports talk formats in parts one and two, today Mike Kinosian turns to the news/talk format. When it comes to cume (versus AQH share), two news/talk stations stand above the rest based on June numbers – iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles (747,600) and Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (709,800). In this report, see comparisons of cume from the May 2020 survey to the June 2020 survey – which stations went up and which went down – as well as charts showing cume by market rank and more.  See it here.

Entercom Seeking Vice President of News Candidates. Posted on Entercom’s website in its career opportunities section is a notice seeking applicants for a new corporate position, VP, News. The post states, “The VP, News is responsible for overseeing all news content across Entercom’s best-in-class local news brands and via the RADIO.COM platform. The ideal candidate has experience managing both broadcast and digital news operations and is adept at leading through change and innovation.” Among the duties that are part of this position are managing “all broadcast and digital news content across 8 All News and 18 News/Talk stations in 23 markets working with brand managers and news directors across the country.” The post adds, “This role is for a hands-on leader and self-starter who is relentless in his/her quest for excellence in journalism. This role will require strong business acumen and the ability to drive results leading market-based teams across the country and in our corporate offices in Philadelphia and New York.” Read the post here.

iHeartMedia and Will Ferrell Partner for New Comedy Podcast Network. Comedian Will Ferrell and iHeartMedia are announcing their new deal that will bring the initial six co-produced podcasts to the Big Money Players Network of comedy podcasts that will be heard on the iHeartRadio platform later this year. The programs include “Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang”; “Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Podcast” in collaboration with The Lonely Island and Comedy Bang Bang; “My Momma Told Me with Langston Kerman”; “POOG with Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak”; “Bald Talk” hosted by Brian Huskey and Charlie Sanders; and “True Romance with Carolina Barlow and Devin Leary.” Will Ferrell comments, “The iHeartPodcast Network really knows how to make a podcast. In addition to the creative minds working behind the scenes, the network has an unprecedented ability to reach millions of new podcast listeners. These first few shows for Big Money Players Network will set the standard for the type of high-quality comedy podcasts we’re striving to produce with this collaboration.”

TALKERS News Notes. The “Kim Komando Daily Tech Update” is expanding to seven-days-per-week delivery. Komando says, “As our country was forced to work from home, unemployment soared and parents became teachers, ‘The Kim Komando Show’ and programs became more popular than ever. We pivoted to focus on providing COVID-19 much-needed digital life advice and assistance to our listeners, offering inspiration and confidence to all.” As a result of demand, the “Daily Tech Update” goes from five days per week to seven with the Saturday and Sunday editions being delivered just like the weekday editions…..Today (7/23) on SiriusXM’s Business Radio channel, a special program titled “The Business of Sports Reopening During a Pandemic” which will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.  Dan Loney, host of “Wharton Business Daily,” leads the discussion and speaks with high-ranking executives in the world of sports, including: Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes, San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, agent Drew Rosenhaus, and more…..Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes that Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM is eliminating the creative services manager position at the news/talk station and Chris Duffy exits after more than 10 years there. As Feder notes, Duffy was one of the staffers brought aboard when former Clear Channel Radio president Randy Michaels assumed the CEO role at Tribune, former owner of the station, in 2007. Duffy posted on Facebook, “After over 10 years, three Stanley Cups, one Cubs World Championship, working with some of the absolute best in the business, yesterday I closed the book on WGN Radio. It will always be the pinnacle of my radio career.”…..PodcastOne and Violet Benson come to terms on a deal to bring Benson’s podcast “Too Tired to Be Crazy” to the network. The podcast features Benson and a wide swath of friends, guests, and frequent co-hosts chatting about topics ranging from living and dating in Los Angeles, to millennial life, to pop culture news perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of today…..WAPT-TV, Jackson reports the death of civil rights activist and talk show host Charles Evers, who passed away on Wednesday (7/22) at the age of 97. Evers was the older brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers. In addition to his lifelong work on civil rights, Charles Evers owned and operated WMPR-FM, Jackson, Mississippi for many years. He hosted the “Let’s Talk” program on the station for decades.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fall School Plans, U.S.-China Tensions/Hacking Allegations, Portland Protests/Chicago Violence, Federal Agents Controversy, GOP COVID Stimulus Plan, and MLB Season Opens Today Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/22). The soaring number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases; debate over plans to return children to schools this fall; tensions between the U.S. and China as the latter’s consulate in Houston is ordered closed and feds seek a Chinese scientist believed to have lied on her visa application; the protests taking place in Portland and the violence on Chicago’s streets; the controversy over President Trump’s use of federal troops to combat protestors; the Republican plan for COVID-19 relief and stimulus; and Major League Baseball begins the 2020 season today were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Legendary Moody Blues Member John Lodge Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The venerable British bass guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the Moody Blues, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” John Lodge is the writer of Moody Blues hits that include “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band),” “Isn’t Life Strange?” and many more. This musical legend has been performing and recording with the Moody Blues for more than five decades, selling in excess of 70 million albums. He’s been voted one of the “10 most influential bass players on the planet,” and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious music industry awards. Although he primarily lives in London, Harrison caught up with Lodge via phone at his condo in Naples, Florida where he’s been isolating from COVID-19 for the past four months and during which time he wrote and recorded a new song titled “In These Crazy Times (Isolation Mix).” Harrison (an album rock radio pioneer) and Lodge talk about a wide range of topics including the recording of the groundbreaking album “Days of Future Passed,” their personal encounters with Dr. Timothy Leary (“Legend of a Mind”) and the psychedelic era, changes in popular music over the years, and the impact COVID-19 is having on live music and theater. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Former “American Idol” contestant and current WKLB, Boston “Country 102.5” morning drive co-host Ayla Brown will be featured singing the National Anthem at a future NBA game in Orlando. Beasley Media Group says Brown has performed the Anthem for every major sport in Boston and was the Celtics’ “Lucky Anthem Singer” when the team won the 2008 National Championship. She says, “Growing up in Massachusetts and being a former basketball player for Boston College, my dream was always to step on the court at the Garden. While I never got to lace up the sneakers for a game, singing the National Anthem over the years for the team has always been the highest honor. Thank you to the Boston Celtics for this wonderful opportunity!”…..On-air pro Christy is exiting Pamal Broadcasting’s CHR WFLY-FM, Albany “FLY 92” because of her husband’s relocation to the Boston area. She was part of “The Fly Morning Rush With Jake & Christy.” As a result, program director Ally Reid is seeking a new morning drive co-host. Interested candidates should email her at ally@fly92.com.

Wild Political Year Could Lead to Hot Sales

| September 11, 2018

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

 

BRADENTON, Fla — It’s that time again!  The political season, and if you’ve been following it at all, it  looks to be one of the most contentious in recent memory with national congressional seats up for grabs along with numerous state and local races.  Despite the apparent fact that there seems to be a kind of “nastiness” to the current campaigning, this could prove to be a sales bonanza for news/talk radio stations.

But, if you haven’t given it much thought for awhile, there are some strict FCC rules that must be followed when it comes to political ads. Whether it’s for state, local, or federal seats, legally qualified candidates are entitled to the lowest unit rate during the 45 days before a primary and 60 days before the general election.  This rule applies only to candidates and their authorized campaign committees.

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Commercial Cycles

| July 9, 2018

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

 

BRADENTON, Fla. — It is fascinating how certain trends in the styles of commercials have disappeared over the years.  Yet they seem to re-appear as the generations go by. Do you recall that the singing commercial  once was the rage over the airwaves? How about this example?:

Pepsi Cola hits the spot.

Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot.

Twice as much for a nickel too,

Pepsi Cola is the drink for you!

There were numerous others – Ajax (the foaming cleanser); Alka Seltzer (plop, plop, fizz, fizz); and on and on.  The products are still here, but the way they are being advertised over the air has changed dramatically.

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Sales in the New Talk Media Landscape

| June 15, 2018

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

 

BRADENTON, Fla. — There have been explosive changes in the talk media since I was last able to chat face-to-face with a number of my peers at a TALKERS conference a year ago.  But, at the recently completed one in New York City  — TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! — we, once again, were able to gather and exchange views.  You’ll notice that even my terminology has changed from talk “radio” to talk “media,”  and that was clearly evidenced from the stage at the Helen Mills Theater just a number of days ago.

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