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How Do the Dominion Lawsuits Affect Talk Hosts?

| August 13, 2021

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS magazine
Legal Editor

 

BOSTON — On August 11, Federal Judge Carl Nichols denied the motions to dismiss filed by Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell in regard to the defamation lawsuits filed against them by Dominion Voting Systems.  The defamation lawsuits stem from false claims Powell and Giuilani, both attorneys who had worked on the Trump presidential campaign and Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, Inc and a frequent media commentator each had made about fraud in the 2020 presidential election, specifically related to baseless claims that Dominion had altered votes in favor of President Biden.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

| April 7, 2021

Gordon Smith to Leave NAB Leadership Role at Year’s End. The National Association of Broadcasters announces that president and CEO Gordon H. Smith will leave his position and transition to an advisory and advocacy role effective December 31, 2021. NAB’s chief operating officer Curtis LeGeyt will become the next president and CEO of NAB effective January 1, 2022. In a video message to members, Smith said, “It has been my great honor to give the lion’s roar for broadcasters – those who run into the storm, those who stand firm in chaos to hear the voice of the people, those who hold to account the powerful – and to stand with those of the fourth estate who have the hearts of public servants.” Smith joined NAB as president and CEO in November 2009. Previously, he served as a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon and later as senior advisor in the Washington offices of Covington & Burling, LLP. NAB joint board of directors chairman Jordan Wertlieb (president of Hearst Television) thanked Smith for his service to the industry. “Gordon is the ultimate statesman, bringing people together from both sides of the aisle to discuss ideas, find common ground and lead NAB to success on countless fronts. On behalf of the leadership of NAB, we extend our sincere gratitude for more than a decade of service to the broadcast industry. We look forward to continuing to work with Gordon and benefiting from his guidance for years to come. I am also delighted to share that NAB is in the enviable position of having cultivated top talent within the organization to provide for a smooth and stable transition in leadership. Curtis LeGeyt has the utmost confidence of the NAB leadership and staff to lead our association into the future.” LeGeyt has been with NAB for nearly a decade, during which time he led several highly successful legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of broadcasters, including the permanent reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), inclusion of $1 billion in RAY BAUM’s Act to reimburse stations impacted by the spectrum auction repack, and successful passage of the Music Modernization Act. Prior to assuming his current role as chief operating officer, LeGeyt served for five years as NAB’s executive vice president, Government Relations. Before joining NAB, LeGeyt was senior counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT). He says, “I am honored and humbled to be named the next leader of this great organization. To represent the broadcast industry and the local stations that bind our communities together in a moment of such tremendous change across the media landscape is a privilege. Our stations’ role in communities across this country has never been more important, and I look forward to working every day to ensure their ability to grow and thrive.”

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Alex Jones Appeal. According to numerous media reports, including this one from NBC News, the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal requested by radio and internet personality Alex Jones of his sanction by a Connecticut court. Jones was sanctioned in 2019 for what he said on his radio show about an attorney for the relatives of the victims of the Newtown massacre and for violating numerous court orders to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers. Judge Barbara Bellis also barred Jones from filing a motion to dismiss the case and added she would order Jones to pay some of the families’ legal fees. Jones argued that his words were the exercising of his First Amendment rights. Jones is being sued by some of the families who lost loved ones in the shooting after Jones claimed that the shootings were a hoax and who consequently suffered harassment and threats from Jones’ fans. Jones earned the sanction after claiming on his radio show that an attorney for the families tried to plant child porn on his computer by sending it in encrypted email files. In Connecticut, that state’s Supreme Court ruled that sanctions were proper because Jones’ words were an “imminent and likely threat to the administration of justice.”

WHCU, Ithaca Adds SRN’s Dennis Prager to Early Afternoon Daypart. Ithaca, New York news/talk WHCU is adding Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager show to the lineup in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Joe Salzone is news director at the Saga Communications station, and he says, “We polled our listeners on a Rush Limbaugh replacement show over the past month and Prager was their top choice. While they know that Rush’s show was great, they also understand that radio is best as a live, topical medium and that running repeats of Rush segments was not what they ultimately wanted to listen to.” WHCU operations manager Chris Allinger adds, “Dennis will be a good fit for WHCU. He is intelligent, educated, and will bring those assets to the regional airwaves. Replacing a legend like Rush is not easy, but Dennis has been successfully doing his nationally syndicated weekday show in the exact same time period for over 20 years, so his track record is already proven.”

Todd Starnes Show Joins WMLB, Atlanta. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is joining the program lineup on WMLB, Atlanta “Freedom 1690” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The station is owned by Delmarva Educational Association but is being operated under an LMA by the Virginia-based John Fredericks Radio Network that owns conservative talk duo WJFN-AM/FM in the Richmond, Virginia market. John Fredericks says, “Now more than ever, as Leftist elites continue their unprecedented power grab and assault on Christians, Todd stands at the beachhead of defending people of faith everywhere.”

Nielsen: Consumer Sentiment About COVID-19 Recovery Improving. According to a new study by Nielsen that addresses American consumer sentiment about COVID-19 and media usage, people 18 and older are showing “increased confidence with respect to consumer behavior.” Nielsen says the survey looked at three segments reflecting attitudes about the pandemic. People who are “Ready to Go,” those who “Proceed with Caution,” and consumers who “Wait and See” when it comes to resuming normal behavior. The “Ready to Go” segment peaked at 61% in the March 2021 survey compared with 34% in April 2020. The more pessimistic group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March 2021 compared with 29% a year ago. Other key consumer sentiments include: 82% now say that stores that were closed have started to open again compared with only 40% in April of last year; 64% agree that it is safer than it was a month ago, compared to 38% in April 2020; and 72% agree that their town is starting to emerge from the crisis versus 44% a year ago. The study showed that heavy radio listeners are more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Heavy radio listeners are 18% more likely to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next year, and 64% are more likely to buy a house in the next twelve months, compared to total adults. Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly comments, “As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising. Consumers are becoming more optimistic and resuming more normal activities, especially heavy radio listeners. AM/FM listeners are more likely to be out and about and spending more time in their vehicles.” You can see more in a Nielsen webinar here.

‘The Biz Tape’ Launches on Nashville Podcast Network. The Bobby Bones-led Nashville Podcast Network is launching a new program called “The Biztape” hosted by Colin McKay and Joe Wasilewski. “The Biztape,” formerly known as “That’s Showbiz Baby,” is a weekly podcast covering all things music business and media. Hosts McKay and Wasilewski are music industry professionals who provide insight into the business and technical side of these closed-curtain industries. McKay and Wasilewski say, “We searched for a long time to find a podcast that discussed the music business from the business side. We wanted more advice and more depth than just ‘work hard.’ We decided to fill the void by creating ‘The Biztape’ so we could get as nerdy as we always wanted to with it. Thankfully, with the help of Bobby Bones and the Nashville Podcast Network, we have the opportunity to continue that dream and we can’t wait to start creating with such a passionate and unique brand.”

iHeartMedia Debuts New Podcast ‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton.’ A new iHeartRadio Original Podcast is being launched titled “In Fact with Chelsea Clinton” and hosted by the former First Daughter and public health expert. The podcast joins the iHeartPodcast Network that is already home to “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton” and “Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton.” iHeartMedia says, “‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton’ will pull back the curtain on some of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Each week on the podcast, Clinton — who holds a doctorate in international relations, a masters in public health, and teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health — will sit down with experts, activists, and an assortment of surprising guests who share her passion for science, evidence and, of course, facts.” In the podcast’s debut episode, Clinton sits down with Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, who has been a vocal advocate for people with HIV/AIDS since publicly sharing his own HIV-positive status in 2019; activist Peter Staley; and Dr. Oni Blackstock, an HIV physician and health equity advocate, to explore the trajectory of HIV/AIDS from the early days of activism through modern day.”

New Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher Show to Launch on PodcastOne. A new, eponymous podcast starring Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher is debuting on PodcastOne in which Osbourne and Beacher will create a live theater experience and feature their dynamic and outrageous personalities and uncensored conversations with a diverse list of celebrity guests and famous friends. They will discuss everything from the latest current events to fitness, weight-loss, fame, stories of inspiration and beyond. Osbourne and Beacher will be joined by regular co-host Donny Davis, original star of “Beacher’s Madhouse” and one of the most well-known activists for little people. The podcast will record and film from the penthouse of the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – former home to “Beacher’s Madhouse” theatre. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Kelly and Jeff together are a showstopping dynamic. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to PodcastOne and know that their show will be destination programming for podcast audiences.”

‘104.5 The Team’ in Albany Names Dan Bahl Brand Manager. Two months after previous brand manager and on-air host Tom Gozlowski was let go from the station, Townsquare Media’s WTMM-FM, Albany “104.5 The Team” announces that Dan Bahl joins as the new brand manager and afternoon drive co-host. Bahl partners with incumbent air personality Jeff Levack on the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. Bahl has been operating his own sports website and podcast network. He says, “I am extremely honored and excited to join ‘104.5 The Team’ and the Townsquare Media family. I am really looking forward to having great debates and conversations with Jeff Levack and the ‘104.5 The Team’ listeners, as well as strengthening the brand on-air, online, and across social media.” Townsquare Media director of content Matty Jeff comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Dan to the Townsquare Media local team here in Albany. Dan’s leadership, acumen across all platforms, and passion for sports will broaden the reach of the great local on-air and digital content we create daily on ‘104.5 The Team.’”

COVID-19, Voting Legislation/McConnell Threat, Matt Gaetz Investigation, Biden Infrastructure Plan, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and China Military Exercises Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/6). The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; Georgia’s vote restriction law, the Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill, and Mitch McConnell’s threats to businesses that protest Georgia’s law; allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had relationships with underage girls; the battle in Washington over President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and China’s military exercises near Taiwan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

| March 12, 2020

Broadcasting Conferences Postponed/Cancelled; TALKERS Conference on for June 5. Radio industry watchers are by now aware that the National Association of Broadcasters has cancelled April’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.  That convention may be rescheduled for later in the year.  Radio trade publication AllAccess has postponed its Worldwide Radio Summit originally scheduled for later this month in Los Angeles to an unspecified future date.  Obviously, these decisions come on the heels of recommendations by health officials to avoid large crowds in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  At this point in time, the TALKERS magazine conference scheduled for June 5 in New York City will go on as planned, however according to publisher Michael Harrison, “That situation will ultimately be determined within the next month based on the facts at that time.”  The date of the conference is a full 12 weeks from tomorrow, and it is our hope that the coronavirus pandemic will be under control by then, making such a gathering a safe one to attend.  Please continue to monitor TALKERS magazine for new information about the conference agenda.

Saga Communications Reports 2019 Q4 and Full Year Financial Data.  Releasing its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2019 and for the full year of 2019, Saga Communications reports net operating revenue of $31.8 million for Q4, down 3.5% from the same period in 2018.  For the full year of 2019, Saga reports net operating revenue of $123.1 million, a decrease of 1.4% over the full year of 2018.  The company adds that station operating expense decreased $711 thousand to $23.1 million and operating income decreased $575 thousand to $5.4 million.  Net income decreased $454 thousand to $3.8 million for the quarter.  Saga reports it had $44 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2019 and $47 million as of March 9, 2020.  The company’s total bank debt was $10 million as of the end of the year.

COVID-19 Declared Pandemic, Trump Suspends European Travel, NBA Suspends Season, Dow Plummets, Saudi Arabia Launches Oil War, and the Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/11). The World Health Organization’s declaration that COVID-19 is a now an official pandemic; President Trump’s address to the nation and his suspension of travel from Europe; the National Basketball Association suspends its season after a player tests positive for the coronavirus; the Dow sinks even further as the world’s financial markets continue to be hit by the effects of the coronavirus; Saudi Arabia’s oil war against Russia and its effect on global oil prices; and the race between Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the nomination were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” is cancelling two of its upcoming remote broadcasts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The first cancellation is a live appearance by the ensemble cast of the show – including host Tom Griswold, on March 26 – for the Opening Day of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season.  That appearance was to have featured a live broadcast with Cumulus Cincinnati affiliate WOFX-FM.  The show has also canceled an April 3 live broadcast at a Charleston, West Virginia casino as part of affiliate WKLC-FM’s celebration of its 40th year as a classic rock station…..Talk host and digital media producer Alex Jones was arrested for DWI in Travis County, Texas early Tuesday morning.  This came about four hours after police were summoned to a home for a disturbance being reported by Jones’ wife.  The Austin Statesman reports that Jones’ wife told authorities the two had had a physical confrontation earlier in the day but were at that time having a verbal fight.  After Jones left the house, she called authorities told them he was driving and “was possibly drinking.”  Jones was later released on $3,000 bond…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” is adding NBC Sports Chicago anchor/reporter Chuck Garfien to its staff as a White Sox expert.  Garfien will appear on the “Kap & Company,” “Carmen and Jurko,” and “Waddle and Silvy” shows.  Feder also writes today that all next week, Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder will sit in for Big John Howell on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM afternoon show.  The duo – formerly in middays at crosstown WGN-AM – began producing a podcast for WLS last month.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Through a deal with Canadian syndicator Orbyt Media, Premiere Networks is bringing its hip-hop morning show “The Breakfast Club” to radio in Canada.  The show – hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God – debuts on Stingray Group’s CFXJ-FM, Toronto on Monday (3/16)…..On-air pro Taylor Dickson joins Townsquare Media’s alternative WRRV, Middletown, New York (Hudson Valley market) as morning drive co-host and music director.  WRRV brand manager Bill Dunn says, “Taylor was a rock star in our internship program a few years ago and I remember her asking all the right questions.  She’s worked hard to get to this point and has a very bright future ahead of her.”…..Morning personality Stephen Clark announces he’s leaving his position with Entercom’s classic hits WOMC, Detroit to pursue his career in country music.  He tweeted, “Two years ago, shortly after I announced my retirement from Channel 7, WOMC came to me with an offer to do the morning show in hopes of moving into a competitive position.  I had plans to focus more on my music in Nashville….but, hey, I like a challenge.  With the awesome team of JoAnne, Jason, Julia and me, in just two years we are now consistently in the top tier of morning shows… but I still have a music career to focus on and getting up every morning at 4:30 doesn’t mesh well with the late-night nature of live music.”…..Entercom announces the band Local Natives will perform at the RADIO.COM Live event series at the HD Radio Sound Space in Los Angeles tonight (3/12) at 8:00 pm ET.  RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo says, “The RADIO.COM Live event series is excited to welcome Local Natives to the stage.  Our listeners from coast-to-coast will get a preview of the band’s performance before they go on tour in May.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

| February 14, 2019

Cumulus Sells Six – Including WPLJ, New York and WRQX, Washington – to EMF for $103.5 Million; Swaps Three stations with Entercom.  Seller Cumulus Media Inc. calls these deals “strategic portfolio optimization transactions.”  The sale of six stations to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation will bring Cumulus $103.5 million in cash for hot AC WPLJ, New York; news/talk WYAY, Atlanta; triple A KFFG, San Francisco; hot AC WRQX, Washington; hot AC WZAT, Savannah; and classic rock WXTL, Syracuse.  When EMF takes control, the stations will all flip to its K-Love Christian music format.  The second deal is with Entercom and involves the swap of Cumulus’ country WNSH, New York “NASH FM”; hot AC WMAS-FM, Springfield, Massachusetts and sports talk WHLL-AM, Springfield in exchange for Entercom’s Indianapolis cluster of adult contemporary WNTR “107.9 The Mix,” CHR WZPL, and sports talk WXNT-AM.  This means Entercom exits the Indy market and those three stations join Cumulus’ existing three stations there: classic hits WJJK, country WFMS, and CHR WYRG “Energy 93.9.” Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner says, “These transactions are consistent with our portfolio optimization strategy and both deals are accretive.  The Entercom swap significantly bolsters our competitive position in Indianapolis and the EMF transaction generates substantial cash for debt repayment and investment in other business opportunities.”  The company notes that EMF will acquire all transmission equipment and assume all tower leases associated with the stations which collectively contribute approximately $5 million to $7 million of EBITDA to Cumulus annually.  Regarding the Entercom swap, both companies will begin operating the other’s stations under LMAs on March 1.

Format Flip Likely as the Result of Cumulus-Entercom Deal.  The acquisition of Entercom’s CHR WZPL – the clear ratings leader in top 40 radio in the market – means a format change is imminent for Cumulus’ WYRG which has been bubbling under a 2 share (6+) while WZPL has been scoring more than a 5 share in recent PPM surveys from Nielsen Audio.  In New York, there’s no reason to think Entercom will flip WNSH from country.  While it’s been hovering around a 2.2 share (6+), it’s the only country signal in New York and it’s hard to imagine Entercom giving up on it.  Stay tuned.

What Will Cumulus Do with WABC and New York Stations?  Maybe nothing, but yesterday’s surprise sale of six of its signals to EMF and the swap with Entercom indicates Cumulus is willing to deal if it has strategic significance.  Now that the company’s New York cluster is destined to consist of news/talk WABC-AM, urban AC WNBM – a class A FM licensed to Bronxville – and suburban sports talk WFAS-AM, Westchester, some industry watchers are wondering if the three-station cluster brings in enough revenue to continue operating in the Big Apple.  WFAS-AM isn’t listed in the Nielsen New York PPMs and WNBM has been garnering 6+ ratings of less than a full share in recent PPM surveys.  WABC-AM is a venerable signal with obvious history in the market but appears to be underperforming with 6+ numbers in the 1.0-1.5 share range.  One wonders if Mary Berner and company are weighing finding buyers for the three signals.

Judge: Alex Jones Can Be Deposed in Sandy Hook Case. According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that talk show host and Infowars chief Alex Jones must take part in a sworn deposition in the defamation case filed against him by the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. The judge ruled that after Jones’ counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss, the families are entitled to conduct discovery “likely to lead to admissible evidence for opposing the motions.”  Three other Infowars staffers will have to sit for depositions that, combined with Jones’ deposition, will total 19 hours of testimony. Jones and Infowars are being sued separately by two different Newtown, Connecticut families in Texas.  The families’ lawsuits allege that Jones engaged in a lengthy campaign “abusive and outrageous false statements” that the Sandy Hook shootings were staged by paid actors.  The suit alleges Jones knew what he was perpetrating was false but he continued because it drew an audience and made money for his company.  Jones argues his First Amendment rights are enough to toss the suits.  He is also being ordered deposed in Texas, but those depositions have not taken place yet.

WPHT, Philadelphia to Produce Liberty USO Radiothon. Tomorrow’s daylong radiothon will take place at Chickie’s & Pete’s Play 2 in Philadelphia from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. It’s called the “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Liberty USO Radiothon” and it will benefit Active, Guard and Reserve military and their families through programs and services at the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO).  It will be anchored by WPHT personalities Chris Stigall, Dom Giordano and Rich Zeoli.  Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “I am proud of the role our station plays in supporting our military through the efforts of Liberty USO.  Last year’s radiothon raised over $120,000 and is a testament to the power local radio plays in bringing our community together for a great cause.  We are looking forward to partnering with Liberty USO once again.”

Actor Wendell Pierce Part of Group Seeking to Buy WBOK, New Orleans. According to a report by WGNO-TV, New Orleans, native son and actor Wendell Pierce is part of a group of investors bidding on the license for urban news/talk outlet WBOK, New Orleans.  The station is owned by Los Angeles-based Bakewell Media which has the station on the market. Pierce, known for his work on “The Wire” and Amazon Prime’s “Jack Ryan” series, says in a statement, “Through all the substantial change New Orleans has faced in recent history, WBOK has served as a steadfast and indispensable platform for our community.  The people trust them, they depend on them, and they believe in them.  WBOK Radio is the glue that brings and holds our city together.”  The story says the other investors are listed as: Cleveland Spears III, Troy Henry, and Jeff Thomas.

Salem Media Group Promotes Three. At Camarillo, California-based Salem Media Group, three executive promotions take place. First, 16-year Salem exec Chris Gould rises from his VP, national programming, to senior vice president, national programming.  Second, Mark Durkin is promoted from general manager of the company’s Sacramento cluster to a regional vice president position that adds oversight of Seattle, San Francisco and Oxnard, California to his Sacramento duties.  Finally, Franc Boza is named general manager for the Salem Miami cluster. He was most recently with Deadcenter Marketing as VP of sales and marketing.

Skyview Networks Announces Staff Promotions. Scottsdale, Arizona-based Skyview Networks announces a series of promotions among staffers.  In the production department, Joe Felz is upped to vice president of production.  Elsewhere, Denise Krause rises from client service director to senior director of client services and co-chair promotions, based in New York City.  Ethan Aragon takes on the new title of senior director of client services.  Jordan Thorlin is named creative director.  In the same department, Alexandria Landry is appointed multimedia designer.  In the sales department, Alex Warrick takes on the new role of director of agency services.  Finally, radio industry pro Mary Stoddard moves into the client service director and co-chair promotions position.

TALKERS News Notes. Minnesota sports talk station KFXN-FM, Minneapolis gets some love from City Pages as the alt-weekly does a big feature on the station in honor of “KFAN” capturing “the highest market share percentage of any top-50 sports talk station in the country, according to Nielsen” last fall…..Boston Red Sox aficionados have been waiting to find out who will be in the broadcast booth this year for games broadcast on Entercom’s Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston and now it’s confirmed that play-by-play legend Joe Castiglione has signed for his 37th season with the team.  As for the color analysts?  Those duties will be split among three principal broadcasters: Sean McDonough, Josh Lewin, and Mario Impemba, with several more also in the rotation.  They include: ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, WEEI personalities Lou Merloni and Dale ArnoldNESN studio host Tom Caron, and NESN Red Sox television broadcaster Dave O’Brien…..KCAA, Loma Linda, California owner Fred Lundgren tells TALKERS magazine that after many years of producing and distributing radio programs and podcasts for hundreds of broadcasters, his family has decided to produce its own podcast series, hosted by his wife, Linda Carol Lundgren, titled, “Don’t Be Afraid To Ask.” Lundgren says the show will address many of life’s difficult subjects such as money, sex, drugs, bullying, long term relationships, the changing culture, and the problems facing the next generation of young adults as they leave home and enter the workplace.  The first show visits the tragic origins of Valentine’s Day and how the importance of that day has evolved over the centuries. Check it out here…..WGCH, Greenwich, Connecticut afternoon talk show host Lisa Wexler was recently honored by cable channel News 12 Connecticut as one of its “Hometown Heroes.”  Wexler serves as a local probate judge and donates each $50 wedding fee she receives to the local Westport Animal Shelter Advocates organization. Check it out here…..Motor Racing Network is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first coverage of the Daytona 500 this Sunday (2/17).  In honor of that event, MRN will broadcast its 50th Daytona 500 and the 61st running of “The Great American Race” on over 400 radio stations nationwide.  Sunday’s race also marks the culmination of more than 30 hours of programming produced by MRN during Daytona Speedweeks, NASCAR’s annual kickoff at Daytona International Speedway.  The broadcast is the first event in a two-year celebration of the founding of the network by Bill France, Sr. and Ken Squier in 1970.

TalkersRadio Personality Meg McDonald Installed as President of the Studio City Beautification Association.  Legendary Southern California PR executive Meg McDonald, who hosts the short-form feature MEG! on TalkersRadio, was recently installed as the new president of the Studio City Beautification Association.  Studio City is a section of Los Angeles with a colorful show business history located between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.  Standing with Meg in front of the Mack Sennett Conference Room on the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City where the monthly SCBA board meetings are held are (l-r): Studio City Beautification Association officers secretary Connie Elliot (wearing hat), McDonald, vice president Beth Dymond and treasurer Charles Blakeslee.  Meg McDonald is the daughter of golden era Hollywood movie stars Elisabeth Fraser and Ray McDonald.  To listen to MEG!, please click here.

Trump-Russia Investigation/Manafort Ruling, Border Wall Deal, Parkland Shooting Anniversary/Gun Control, Green New Deal, California Bullet Train Controversy, Iran-Israel Tensions, Brexit Complications, Venezuela Unrest, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13). The investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the related ruling by a judge that Paul Manafort lied to investigators; the ongoing controversy over the tentative U.S.-Mexico border wall deal; the anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shootings and the status of gun control measures; the GOP’s criticism of the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez sponsored Green New Deal; President Trump’s demand for the return of $3.7 billion in federal money from California after Governor Gavin Newsome spiked the remainder of the bullet train project; the heightened rhetoric between Iran and Israel; the complications of Britain’s exit from the EU and possible economic consequences; the political unrest in Venezuela; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Explores the Impact of Changing Communications Technology on the Human Nervous System. One of the common themes of the present era is the challenge people face in keeping pace and coping with the exponential changes in communications technology. On this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview,” the TALKERS founder interviews theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, and licensed psychotherapist Dr. Bryan Robinson about the rapid changes taking place in our noisy world. Join them for a deep dive into the realm of neuro-plasticity, the sounds of silence, and escaping from the maddening, non-stop workplace. 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 of the TALKERS email newsletter and every page on Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Milwaukee CHR WNRG “Energy 106.9” adds the nationally syndicated “Tino Cochino Radio Show” for the afternoon drive daypart.  The program emanates from its home base at Riviera Broadcasting’s KKFR, Mayer, Arizona (Phoenix market)…..Meruelo Media promotes Aimee Bittourna to vice president of its experiential marketing company Actify. In this new position, Bittourna will oversee the development, strategies, and execution of all Actify campaigns.  Meruelo Media president and COO Otto Padron says, “Aimee is a difference maker and a unique brand experience creator. Her energy and creativity are marketing multipliers for our partners seeking original ways to connect their brands to consumers.  She’s a leader in a boundless space and our clients love her.”…..Pictured below is Premiere Networks nationally syndicated adult contemporary personality Delilah on the set of the “TODAY” show (third from left) with show co-hosts Kathie Lee (second from left), Hoda Kotb (left) and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb (right) discussing ways to overcome fears of being alone on Valentine’s Day.

Monday, December 17, 2018

| December 17, 2018

WLS-AM, Chicago Moves Big John Howell to PM Drive. Friday’s announcement by Cumulus Media solidifies the afternoon program schedule, but the question still remains who will end up hosting mornings on news/talk WLS-AM in the New Year.  Current morning drive personality Big John Howell is moving to the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot – he’s following Westwood One syndicated talk host Ben Shapiro who’s on from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  Howell’s co-host Ramblin’ Ray Stevens appears headed out the door.  Rumors in the Windy City are that Erich Mancow Muller is negotiating to be the station’s next morning show host. Cumulus Chicago vice president and market manager Marv Nyren says, “As part of the new lineup at WLS-AM 890, keeping an experienced Chicago talent like John Howell solidifies the lineup and will give our audience a reason to stay tuned throughout the entire day.  John has been entertaining Chicagoland for over 30 years and his program will be the perfect way to wrap up the day on your way home.”  Before joining WLS-AM four years ago, Howell served with Salem Media Group on news/talk WIND-AM.  Prior to that he spent 17 years as a jock on country WUSN-FM. He says, “I’m very excited about hosting the new afternoon show at WLS-AM 890.  I intend to present Chicago with a quick-paced, informative, honest, and intelligent summary of the day’s biggest stories – an afternoon wrap of the day’s biggest events featuring prominent newsmakers, reporters, experts, and stars.  Of course, our town’s most colorful characters will also be welcome.  In addition, I’m looking forward to (finally) golfing when the sun’s in the east.”

Media Action Center Targets Alex Jones Saying Radio Show Violates FCC’s Hoax Rules. The Media Action Center was founded by journalist and activist Sue Wilson.  She was instrumental in forcing Entercom to give up the license for KDND-FM, Sacramento in the wake of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.  Now, Wilson’s MAC is encouraging people who live in markets that carry the Alex Jones radio show to file a complaint with the local station and the FCC that accuses Jones of violating the FCC’s hoax rules by insisting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.  You can see the form letter here that outlines the FCC’s language: “Section 73.1217 of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.1217, prohibits broadcast licensees or permittees from broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if: (1) the licensee knows this information is false; (2) it is foreseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm; and (3) broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm.”  Wilson cites the parents of some of the victims whose pain has been worsened by harassment they’ve suffered from Jones’ listeners, thus the public harm.  MAC notes the FCC rules would permit Jones’ comments if the stations airing the program aired a disclaimer before the program clearly characterizing it as fiction. See the MAC site here.

WQAM, Miami Names New Midday Show. Replacing Orlando “The Big O” Alzugaray (who exited early last month) in the midday slot at Entercom’s WQAM, Miami is the duo of Alex Donno (left) and Josh Friedman (right).  The “Donno & Friedo” show airs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Friedman moves over to WQAM from sister sports talker WAXY-AM where he was evening host.  Alex Donno has been hosting the evening program on WQAM.  Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley states, “Alex and Josh both bring unique experiences that will lead to great content for this new show, which will touch on sports and beyond.  Their vast knowledge of Miami sports and high energy will undoubtedly resonate with South Florida listeners.”

Spector Upped to Program Director at Sports Talk KCSP, Kansas City. Rising from assistant program director and afternoon show producer to program director at Entercom’s KCSP-AM “610 Sports Radio” is Steven Spector.  Entercom Kansas City regional president and market manager Dave Alpert says, “I am very pleased to announce Steven Spector as the next program director of ‘610 Sports Radio.’  This is a well-deserved and well-earned promotion and I’m confident that Steven will continue to elevate ‘610 Sports Radio’ in the Kansas City market.”  Spector joined Entercom Kansas City in 2013 as a producer for 610 Sports Radio’s “Fescoe in the Morning.”  He began his radio career with WTEM, Washington in 2008.

Chuck Peterson Rises to Area President for iHeartMedia. Executive Chuck Peterson is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia’s Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia markets, effective immediately. The markets contain 16 news/talk, sports and music-formatted stations.  Peterson is promoted to area president after serving as market president for the Winchester and Harrisonburg markets.  He began his career at WFTR, Front Royal, Virginia and is a graduate of American University and William & Mary Law School.  He says, “iHeartMedia is the leader in the audio and mulit-platform space and I am thrilled to step into my new role in the Virginia/Carolina region. I am proud of our company’s commitment to growing our advertiser’s businesses and serving our communities.”

PPM Analysis: November’s Top-Ranked Stations. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian offers a tip of the hat to the stations that finished first and second (6+) in their respective markets in Nielsen Audio’s November 2018 survey.  In this report, you’ll find charts detailing the performances of the top two stations in each market, as well as a look at the top performers arranged by format.  Spoiler alert – adult contemporary stations comprised 22% of the #1 stations in the PPM markets while classic hits accounted for 22.9% of the #2-ranked stations. See the full report here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally-syndicated midday program “The Dana Show” with host Dana Loesch will air on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KLIF-AM, Dallas, beginning in the New Year.  KLIF-AM and WBAP program director Kevin Graham says, “We’re thrilled to bring Dana to 570 KLIF.  Dallas-Fort Worth listeners are really going to connect with her honest opinions and authenticity.  And the fact she lives here in the Metroplex will also allow our listeners to easily relate to her.”  “The Dana Show” is syndicated nationally via Radio America…..Premiere Networkssyndicated Buck Sexton show begins airing on WCBM, Baltimore in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart, effective January 1.  The show will be followed by the Westwood One-syndicated Mark Levin program in the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am slot.  The station currently airs Michael Savage in evenings and he departs the station after 16 years as his three-hour show is re-configured into a one-hour live show and a one-hour podcast. WCBM program director Sean Casey adds, “This is the next chapter in our endless pursuit to bring the most powerful names in talk to Baltimore.  We’re really pumped to add Buck, an up-and-coming star and to have Levin, a Hall of Famer anchor our evenings!  I’d like to thank Michael Savage for a great run and continued success in his new venture.”…..The unique town of Tangier Island, Virginia – population 460 and shrinking – is the subject of a five-part podcast series from Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP, Washington titled, “Going Under: The Story of Tangier Island.”  The series, hosted by WTOP’s Michelle Basch, takes an in-depth look at the “quirky, isolated place located smack dab in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay” that is gradually vanishing and could be uninhabitable in 25 years…..First Media Services closes on its purchase of two AMs and four FMs in the Bluefield, West Virginia market from Alpha Media for $1.8 million.  The stations are: news/talk WHIS-AM, hip hop WKEZ-AM, hot AC WHAJ-FM, country WHQX-FM, country WHKX-FM, and classic rock WKOY-FM.  First Media managing partner Bob Spencer says, “We feel extremely blessed and honored to have the torch passed to us from well-respected former owners, including Mike Shott and the Shott Family, and David Benjamin of Triad Broadcasting Company.  In my opinion, these stations have one of the best and most talented staffs in the region.  Many, of whom, have worked there for over two and even three decades.  It’s an amazing opportunity to continue great radio and first-class customer service throughout our corner of the Virginias.” Kalil & Co., Inc. was the exclusive broker for this transaction…..WNIC, Detroit morning personality Jay Towers and Capedwonder.com founder Jim Bowers are co-hosting a podcast series dedicated to all things Superman in “The Caped Wonder Superman Podcast.”  In the third podcast of the series, the hosts released never-before-heard audio of iconic Superman actor Christopher Reeve.

Trump-Russia Investigation, Border Wall-Government Shutdown, the Trumps vs the Media, ObamaCare Ruling, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Concerns, Aquaman Film, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; President Trump’s threat to allow the federal government to shut down if congress doesn’t fund the Mexico border wall; President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump’s complaints about the media’s treatment of them; a federal judge rules the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional; Friday’s Dow drops 400 points and talk about a recession in 2019; the new Aquaman film; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Jay Cruze joins the morning show at Bonneville’s adult contemporary KOSI, Denver alongside current morning host Jenny D.  Program director Jim Lawson says, “Jay’s experience, energy, and authentic personality is exactly what we were looking for to create compelling content in the morning.  Jay has been on our part-time staff and has been a tremendous asset.  He’s a natural fit.”…..An apparent abundance of programmers in the Entercom Philadelphia cluster has forced the company’s hand and longtime hot AC WBEB “B101” PD Chuck Knight exits the station.  Entercom acquired the station from Jerry Lee Radio back in September…..KDGS-FM, Wichita APD, music director, and afternoon host “Rolls” Royce Stevenson re-ups with Entercom to continue his work at the rhythmic CHR outlet.