NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “The Good, The Bad, The Fake and The False,” looks back at this past week of December 14-18, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Christopher Ruddy, CEO, Newsmax TV; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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 “Freedom 93.7”; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer 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.
Report: Wynter and Massey Show to Get 90-Day Tryout on WSB. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that the weekend (and fill-in) show “Word on the Street” co-hosted by Shelley Wynter (right) and MalaniKai Massey (left) is getting a 90-day tryout in the nightly 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot on Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta that’s opening due to Clark Howard’s ending of his regular radio programs at WSB this month. The “Word on the Street” program launched in mid-2019 as a weekly show that became a Saturday and Sunday program. Wynter and Massey have also been filling in for other WSB shows. WSB program director Drew Anderssen tells the AJC, “As a result of the breakneck pace of news in 2020 the program has been on quite a bit, tackling tough issues while keeping audiences engaged.” “Word on the Street” has a conservative-versus-liberal aspect to it as Wynter is a Trump-supporting conservative versus Massey’s progressive demeanor, but it’s not too in-your-face. Wynter comments that he “wants the show to be a bit like friends hanging out at a bar.”
Detroit Lions Jump to Entercom’s WXYT-FM Starting Next Season. The NFL’s Detroit Lions have signed a multiyear deal with Entercom to make sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket” the flagship station for the team’s radio broadcasts beginning with the 2021 season. Under the current deal, Lions games are based at Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM, Detroit. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “The Lions are synonymous with the city of Detroit and this is a great opportunity to leverage our position as the unrivaled leaders in sports radio and deliver dynamic Lions content, both on game days and throughout the year. This partnership now makes ‘97.1 The Ticket’ the flagship station for all four professional sports teams in the Motor City, giving fans a one-stop destination for all of their favorite local teams.” As part of the deal, Entercom will manage the Lions Radio Network – an extensive radio network with more than 30 stations across Michigan and in northern Ohio. All Lions Radio Network programming, including live game broadcasts, pre- and postgame shows, regular season weekly shows and additional offseason programming will air exclusively on “97.1 The Ticket.”
Steve Sommers Re-Launches Overnight Show as ‘The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive.’ After his “America’s Truckin’ Network” program was cancelled by iHeartMedia’s WLW-Cincinnati early last month, Steve Sommers will re-launch his overnight talk program as “The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive” in a partnership with motor vehicle products company Lubrication Specialties Inc and its subsidiary Hot Shot’s Secret. In January Sommers will debut a new, five-hour live stream talk show (12:00 midnight to 5:00 am ET) direct from the brand-new Hot Shot’s Secret studios in the Cincinnati area. A press release says, “The initial motivation is to get Steve back on air as soon as possible, with long-term plans of massive distribution. More details on when and where to find the new program are coming soon.” Hot Shot’s Secret founder and CEO Chris Gabrelcik says, “Hot Shot’s Secret would not be here today if it was not for the persistence of Steve to give me some airtime on his overnight show many years ago when I was first starting the company. The five hours I spent in his studio that very first visit resulted in an avalanche of orders for our product and we have never looked back ever since. Hot Shot’s Secret is now the fastest growing performance lubricant company in the U.S. and I will never forget those early days when Steve was there for us when we needed it the most.” Sommers says, alluding to this past summer’s corporate dictate not to talk politics on his show, “I am excited to get back on the air. What you heard before from my show will be the same – frank talk. Trucking is a tough business, and so is radio. I actually started working in radio when I was just 15 years old in Cincinnati. Many relocations and radio stations later I had the opportunity to return to Ohio in 1996 to produce the radio show that my father Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers started back in 1984. I then took over the show in 2004 and have enjoyed every moment with my overnight listeners. This is my life. And right now, I can see that one good turn deserves another as my friend Chris Gabrelcik is doing whatever it takes to make this show a reality.”
KDWN, Las Vegas’ Steve Sanchez Named a ‘Top 30 Influencer.’ KDWN, Las Vegas early evening host Steve Sanchez has been named one of the “Top 30 Influencers” in Las Vegas by Las Vegas Entrepreneurs Magazine. Sanchez, whose show airs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on KDWN, was #25 on the list. He tells TALKERS magazine that earlier this year, his program was able to donate 1,000 30-day use facemasks to the Las Vegas Children’s Hospital. Sanchez, who spent that last three weeks battling COVID-19 and pneumonia, adds, “This was very much needed by them since we did this in May, right in the middle of this horrible pandemic.” Currently, Sanchez’s program is syndicated nationally by GCN, but he says he’s ending the syndication of his program next month to “concentrate on growing my show with KDWN, focus more on my social media and digital platforms, and entertain the TV offers coming to me.”
COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines, Prevention Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 14-18. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases, the rollout of vaccines, and policies for prevention combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the economy, stimulus talks, and business & school closings. Coming in at #3 was Donald Trump’s denial of his election loss and the Joe Biden transition. 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.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Next month’s “iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One” is taking place virtually due to the pandemic. iHeartMedia announces that the fourth annual alternative rock show set for January 28 will be hosted by Woody, host of the syndicated “Woody Show” and will feature all-new performances and stories from Billie Eilish and the Foo Fighters. In addition, it will include previous ALTer EGO performances from Beck, The Black Keys, blink-182, Cage The Elephant, Coldplay, The Killers, Mumford & Sons, Muse, twenty one pilots, and Weezer. It will livestream exclusively for free on LiveXLive.com, the LiveXLive mobile and OTT apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV and broadcast live across more than 80 iHeartMedia alternative and rock stations at 9:00 pm ET…..Michael Baisden announces he’s leaving radio at the end of the year and will discontinue syndication of his daily show. He will be replaced by “The Jeff Foxx Show with Keke Brown and Nina” on the Sun Broadcast Group’s network lineup. Baisden says, “Sun Broadcast Group has been an incredible network partner and their team, along with Mike Love, have worked diligently to grow my show for the past two years. Unfortunately, due to the historic issues we faced with COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis, it’s been challenging to grow affiliation and revenue for the show. To that end, ‘The Michael Baisden Show’ will not be returning for 2021.”
iHeartMedia to Operate KFMB-AM, San Diego in Aftermath of Tegna-Local Media San Diego Deal. The sale of San Diego stations adult hits KFMB-FM and news/talk KFMB-FM from Tegna to Local Media San Diego for $5 million closed yesterday (3/17). Immediately, LMSD and iHeartMedia revealed a deal in which the latter will operate KFMB-AM under a local marketing agreement. The station began airing a simulcast of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO-AM, San Diego. iHeartMedia expects to file an asset purchase agreement with the FCC this week and new programming should launch on the signal this week as well. Tegna acquired the two radio stations as part of its acquisition of KFMB-TV and KFMB-D2 from Midwest Television in 2018. That deal was for $325 million. Tegna continues to operate sports talk WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus as its only radio properties.
TALKERS TIP: The Communist Chinese Connection to the Coronavirus Story Will Remain and Grow as a Major News/Talk Media Issue Going Forward. Although public and media attention is now focused on the immediate and practical challenges being presented by the coronavirus crisis – the breaking story about U.S. journalists from The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal being ousted from reporting on China from within its mainland borders underscores the consistent repression of news by the Communist government in Beijing. Those who follow U.S.-China relations know this has been the case for many years. Since entering into a relationship with The Epoch Times last spring co-producing a series of Talk Media Forums on U.S.-China Relations, TALKERS has found the unique news agency to be an excellent source of truthful information pertaining to issues having to do with China… in this case, the origins and historic context of Covid-19. The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Its founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information to overcome the propagandistic untruths flowing from Beijing including the imprisonment and torture of journalists reporting narratives counter to their official party line and the horrific persecution of those seeking religious freedom such as the hundreds of thousands of Chinese practicing the meditation-oriented spiritual movement, Falun Gong (portrayed by the CCP as a dangerous “cult”). Since its founding, The Epoch Times has received numerous awards for its reporting and design from the New York Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society for News Design, and more. The Epoch Times media network currently covers 21 languages and 33 countries. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is sadly ironic that most of the world’s information about China comes from the official narrative being put forth by the CCP and not a free and open press and includes hit pieces on publications and news agencies such as The Epoch Times that dare to stand up to their distortions. The Epoch Times has proven to be a critical resource for news/talk media hosts seeking to obtain truthful insights into all things China – which covers a wide range of material in today’s dialogue. Their investigative reporters are compelling and informative guests who are truly plugged into the front-line sources. The Epoch Times is proving to be a gift to talk show hosts seeking to stay ahead of the curve on U.S.-China relations and related domestic and international issues.” Right now, at TALKERS’ suggestion, The Epoch Times is granting full access to its website and firewalls to talk show hosts and news reporters. To sign up, please click here. To book timely guests from The Epoch Times to discuss the coronavirus and the Communist Chinese connection to politics and American interests, call Victoria Jones at the DC Radio Company at 202-227-7067.
WFNZ-AM, Charlotte PD Tony DiGiacomo Exits. Sports talk radio programmer Tony DiGiacomo exited his role as program director at Entercom’s WFNZ-AM, Charlotte last week after his contract was not renewed. DiGiacomo tells TALKERS magazine that the station had experienced recent ratings growth in both the Men 18-34 and Men 25-54 demos. The company is handing WFNZ PD duties to operations manager Darrin Ariens. DiGiacomo says, “It was an honor to be part of WFNZ, working with some of the best talent in the business, and help the station become an important part of the Charlotte sports community. I want to thank Matt Hanlon, Darrin Ariens, and Entercom for the privilege of programming the radio station the past three years. I wish them and my former teammates all the best moving forward and look forward to the next chapter in my sports media career.” DiGiacomo has spent the last 23 years in the sports radio industry, the last 10-plus with WFNZ. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Two Rounds of Nielsen Audio’s February PPM Ratings Released. The first two rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February PPM survey have been released for 24 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Long Island (Nassau-Suffolk), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey), Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The February 2020 survey period was January 30 through February 26. See all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from the first round of 12 markets. Some positive ratings moves of note: iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles adds a half share to finish the month with a 3.8 share and the #7 rank in the market; Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago adds four-tenths to wrap the survey period with a 5.8 share and the #1 rank; and Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta adds 1.4 shares to post an 11.4 share for its eighth straight #1 finish. See all of Mike Kinosian’s Takeaways here.
SRN’s Mike Gallagher Broadcasts from Home. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher broadcasting from the (extremely clean) kitchen of his Florida condo. Noting that NBC TV’s “TODAY Show” host Savannah Guthrie is broadcasting from her basement, Gallagher tells TALKERS, “Following guidelines and directives from President Trump, I’m happy to hunker down in my kitchen for the foreseeable future. Today’s radio technology makes it so easy it seems like a no-brainer for all of us in talk radio.”
Working from Home Made Easier. Nationally syndicated talk show host Walter Sterling (pictured above in his home “studio”) offers some tips for broadcasting from home. With so many who may never have done it before now in the position of doing their radio shows from home, you might take a few tips from someone who’s been doing it for the past seven years. The good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of cash to get a “studio sound” from some remote corner of your house. Walter himself prefers the laundry room. Read his advice here.
Bridgett Knupp to Lead iHeartMedia in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Sales pro Bridgett Knupp is promoted from senior vice president of sales for the iHeartMedia Harrisonburg operations to market president. The cluster includes news/talk WKCY-AM and five music brands. Area president for iHeartMedia Virginia community markets Chuck Peterson says, “I am excited to have Bridgett begin her new role as the leader of our Harrisonburg and Staunton group of station brands. She is already known and respected in the local business community through her previous roles with iHeartMedia Harrisonburg. She has a proven track record of sales leadership and is outstanding in the area of digital advertising.” Knupp began her career with iHeartMedia as an account executive in 2001.
The Coronavirus Pandemic, Trump Seeks Stimulus, Markets Activity/Recession Fears, Democratic Primaries/Presidential Race, China to Expel U.S. Journalists, Putin Power Grab Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The status of the COVID-19 pandemic; President Trump’s plan for a fiscal stimulus package including cash for all Americans; the activity in the world’s financial markets and economists fears of a global recession; Joe Biden’s Tuesday victories over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary; China’s move to expel U.S. journalists in retaliation for Trump’s limit on Chinese state journalists; and Vladimir Putin’s move to alter the Russian constitution to allow him to remain in power were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder wonders in today’s “Robservations” column, “What’s up with the new echo effect on WGN 720-AM?” Feder says the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station has added a reverb to its audio chain like you’d hear on a classic oldies station, as well as some retro station jingles. WGN general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle tells him, “As a stand-alone on the AM dial, we are committed to delivering the best audio quality. The use of reverb showcases our 24/7 local content in an enhanced, dynamic way to our listeners.”…..In an effort to provide some relief to basketball fans suffering from the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Westwood One is re-airing 15 classic games from tournament history. The three-week run of games begins tomorrow night (3/19) at 8:00 pm ET with the 1979 NCAA championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, which featured Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. At halftime, Westwood One will air an interview with Johnson and Bird discussing the game and their long rivalry. The special series will conclude with an encore presentation of last year’s NCAA championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech on Monday, April 6 at 8:00 pm ET…..Public news/talk WGBH, Boston is launching a new, nightly news program titled “In It Together,” hosted by executive editor and host Arun Rath and dedicated to the news of the day about the COVID-019 pandemic. WGBH general manager Phil Redo says, “In a time of great uncertainty, we want to offer listeners the information and analysis they need to navigate a rapidly changing world. We know that our programs provide regularity to the upended lives of our audiences. We’re hoping this new offering builds a sense of community as we face the challenges of this pandemic.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A major move takes place in Los Angeles as Entercom fires the “Kevin in the Morning” show on alternative KROQ and replaces it with afternoon duo Stryker (below, left) and Kevin Klein (below, right). Megan Holiday moves from evenings to afternoons and the station is searching for a new night personality. Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “We thank Kevin [Ryder] for his many years of dedication, comedy, and entertainment, alongside Bean, that helped build KROQ into the iconic station it is today. ‘Stryker and Klein’ have an engaged and loyal fanbase and we look forward to ushering in the future of mornings with them on the ‘World Famous KROQ.’” Also let go by the station are morning co-hosts Allie MacKay and Jensen Karp…..Max Media announces that programmer Eddie Haskell is joining its Norfolk-Virginia Beach stations as vice president of operations and programming. In this position, he’ll also serve as brand manager and afternoon drive personality at country WGH “97.3 The Eagle.” Haskell was most recently SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Fort Collins…..Townsquare Media announces that adult hits WSHK, Portsmouth, New Hampshire “The Shark” brand manager Sarah Sullivan is promoted to operations manager for the cluster. She’ll retain her WSHK duties. Also, sister country WOKQ midday personality and assistant brand manager Jess Tyler is upped to PD for the station. Senior vice president of programming Kurt Johnson says, “We love to recognize and elevate great local performers and these are two of the best. Sarah and Jess have delivered outstanding results in their positions and are more than qualified and deserving of these promotions.”…..Due to public health and safety concerns, and in accordance with The University of Pennsylvania guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia public triple A WXPN-FM has postponed its “NON-COMMvention 2020,” the annual gathering of triple A radio and music professionals that was scheduled to take place May 12-15, 2020 at WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. No decision has yet been made regarding a new schedule.