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Monday, June 29, 2020

| June 29, 2020

Monday Memo: Curing the Radio Advertising Pandemic. “Local-Local-Local” has been the desperate plea of programmers, as corporate bloodletting whacked station staffs. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke debriefs an independent station owner – in the eye of the storm in Texas – who weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than absentee-owned competitors, with a grassroots sales strategy focused on the service retailers deemed “essential” during the shutdown. Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Russia-Taliban Bounties Allegation, Presidential Race/Trump ‘White Power’ Tweet, Black Lives Matter Movement, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues/Mississippi Flag Change, BET Awards, and Sports Leagues Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spike in COVID-19 cases in Sun Belt states, the total cases around the globe, and projections for future cases; the report that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters for killing American soldiers; the November presidential election and President Trump’s tweet including a supporter shouting, “White power!”; the protests organized by and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement; the controversy over the status of Confederate and Colonial-era statues and Mississippi’s state flag change; Sunday’s BET Awards show; and the state of professional and college sports leagues as they attempt to launch or re-start their seasons were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: The Great Ones Have This Trait. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that more important than product knowledge, planning & organizational skills, and a “Rolodex” of contacts, is one trait that the best salespeople share: Enthusiasm. So, how do you stay enthusiastic during these challenging times? Lapa offers three tips in his column you can read here.

FOX News Channel Welcomes Will Cain. As had been predicted, Will Cain’s exit from ESPN and his ESPN Radio show on Friday (6/26) is being followed by his joining FOX News Channel as co-host of “FOX & Friends Weekend” (Saturdays & Sundays 6:00 am to 10:00 am ET). Cain will make his official debut on Saturday, August 15 alongside co-hosts Jedediah Bila and Pete Hegseth. FNC VP of morning programming Gavin Hadden says, “Will has a unique ability to connect with an audience on a wide variety of topics and will make an excellent addition to the ‘FOX & Friends’ franchise.” Cain, who was a political analyst for CNN and co-hosted “In the Arena” with Eliot Spitzer prior to joining ESPN, says, “I am excited to join the team at ‘FOX & Friends Weekend’ and look forward to building upon my experience in sports, news, and politics on the number one morning show in the country.”

Eric Johnson Named Program Director at AC WJBR-FM, Wilmington. Programming pro Eric “EJ” Johnson is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s Wilmington, Delaware adult contemporary WJBR-FM. Johnson was most recently PD at the company’s sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic,” a position he left last November. Prior to that he spent almost 20 years programming news/talk WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.” In his new role, Johnson will be in charge of content for WJBR-FM’s on-air and digital platforms as well as hosting the afternoon drive show. He says, “Thank you to Joe Bell, Justin Chase, and Bruce Beasley for bringing me back to the family. I’m looking forward to working with the Beasley management team and the talented staff at ‘Mix 99.5’ WJBR in serving our listeners and the community! The station has such a rich heritage in Wilmington and the tri-state area and has a tremendous signal. We will make it shine!”

Newsmax TV Live on fuboTV. Cable television news channel Newsmax TV joins the channel lineup on fubo Standard – the basic package of live streaming TV platform fuboTV. The package offers subscribers more than 100 sports, news, and entertainment channels. Newsmax TV SVP of content distribution Andrew Biggers says, “fuboTV is offering TV viewers an exciting and growing platform for watching content across genres — news, sports, and entertainment. Newsmax is happy to bring a fresh voice to their subscribers, especially when demand for news is so strong.” fuboTV’s Mihir Shah comments, “Adding Newsmax to the fuboTV platform will give our users access to even more news programming, which is critical during these times as cord-cutters are looking for a variety of both national and local news to stay informed.”

Chris Jones Promoted to SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia Atlanta. Rising from his general sales manager post at iHeartMedia’s Atlanta cluster to senior vice president of sales is Chris Jones. He’ll oversee all sales operations for the Atlanta market and report to iHeartMedia Atlanta market president Justin Schaflander. Jones states, “Atlanta has been my home for 38 years, having grown up in Lithonia, attending UGA and residing in Marietta with my beautiful bride, Shell, and my two amazing daughters, Maggie and Kate Belle. I am blessed to have called Atlanta home. I love everything that is Atlanta — the energy, excitement, and diversity. I am excited to lead the charge for iHeartMedia Atlanta and the incredibly talented group of sellers, support, talent, and leadership I get to work alongside.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former University of South Carolina and NFL player Rick Sanford announces he’s leaving the South Carolina syndicated radio program “SportsTalk” due to worsening effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The State reports that Sanford addressed his listeners on Friday (6/26) saying he’s leaving the talk program he co-hosts with Phil Kornblut and Matt Smith because the neurocognitive disorder from which he suffers makes it difficult to perform his duties on the radio. “I struggle with keeping my train of thought, finding the right words, and remembering how to do things. My fuse has gotten shorter and my filter has lessened… This is a progressive condition and the time has now come for me to step away from the (microphone).”…..Red Apple Media’s TALKRADIO 77 WABC in New York is partnering with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to present the “All American Weekend” on Saturday, July 4, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (and replayed on 7/5 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm). WABC says, “The show harkens back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll when 77 WABC was a music station and its catchy jingle was known to every New Yorker.” The show is being hosted by DJ Vinnie Medugno and will feature former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani conducting special interviews with Tunnel to Towers heroes…..Entercom says that its Podcast Network is the “top commercial network for the second month in a row, according to Triton. From May 11 through June 7, the network had more than 22.6 million average weekly downloads… In addition, Triton’s latest four-week ranker featured 22 shows from Entercom’s Podcast Network in the Top 100, the most of any publisher for the third month in a row despite new networks joining the report.” Entercom notes that “Pod Save America” was its highest-ranking show at #9.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Over the weekend, Vuolo Video’s Art Vuolo alerted TALKERS magazine that legendary Boston disc jockey Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg passed away at the age of 93. Vuolo says Ginsburg was a broadcast engineer at both WBOS and WBCN but he is best known for his work as night jock on WRKO and WMEX. Ginsburg’s show was called “The Night Train” and the train whistle sound effect gave him his nickname, “Woo Woo.” Later in his career he was EVP of Pyramid Broadcasting, which owned WXKS-FM “Kiss 108 FM.” Vuolo archived the WRKO reunion that took place in 2017. You can see that video here…..iHeartMedia moves WZEE, Madison “Z104” afternoon host, MD and APD Sean Strife to the company’s Detroit cluster to serve as afternoon host and APD/MD at CHR WKQI “Channel 95.5.”

Thursday, May 7, 2020

| May 7, 2020

Talk Radio Legend Barry Farber Dead at 90. One of the founding fathers of the talk radio format, Barry Farber, died Wednesday evening (5/6). His daughter Celia Ingrid Farber announced via Twitter, “My father Barry Farber, beloved, died this evening, at 6:25 pm. He was home, in bed, and we were all with him. He turned 90 just yesterday. He told me recently that his concept of death was ‘going somewhere I’ve never been before, like Finland or Estonia.’ May God rest his soul.” Barry Farber began his talk radio career in 1960 on WINS, New York with his “Barry Farber’s WINS Open Mike” show, the only talk show on a rock ‘n’ roll station. He left for WOR, New York in 1962 to do the evening show, which eventually led to his becoming the all-night host in 1967. He left WOR in 1977 to delve into politics as the conservative party candidate for New York City mayor and when that didn’t pan out, he joined WMCA, New York and did afternoon drive for the next decade. Farber, with the help of Michael Castello and the late Alan Colmes, formed an independent network called Daynet. That proved to be one of the forerunners of today’s independent talk syndication scene. Since 2009, Farber had been hosting a nightly talk show on CRN Digital Talk – something he did until his last live program last week. In 2012, Farber was honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from TALKERS magazine. Radio Pro Michelle Jerson interviewed Farber at the TALKERS conference in New York City that year.  You can see it hereNewsmax founder Christopher Ruddy tells TALKERS he met Farber when he was 16 years old and they’ve been friends for 40 years. “I grew up listening to Barry Farber, a favorite of my mother who made his WMCA, WOR and WABC shows a staple of our kitchen radio. He was a thinking conservative, not a bomb thrower, who loved America, his Jewish faith, and Israel, as well as the 26 languages he spoke, many in dialect.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison comments, “Barry Farber was one of the founding fathers of talk radio whose influential career spanned both the modern and pre-modern eras of the format. He described his longevity in the business as ‘being big in the old days and old in the big days.’ He was among the finest public speakers of his time and a true wordsmith who served as an inspiration for generations of broadcasters who strived to be artists as well as communicators.”

iHeartMedia Adopts Shareholder Rights Plan. Also known in the financial business as the “poison pill,” the shareholder rights plan is designed to prevent a hostile takeover bid. iHeartMedia states that its board of directors is approving “the adoption of a short-term stockholder rights plan in order to protect the best interests of all iHeartMedia stockholders during the current period of high equity-market volatility and price disruption. The board adopted the rights plan at this time due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equity market valuations; the complex nature of the company’s capital structure; to enable all of iHeartMedia’s stockholders to realize the full potential of their investment in the company in light of the inherent resilience of the company’s cash flow model and patient capital structure; and to protect the interests of iHeartMedia and its stockholders by deterring any entity, person or group from attempting opportunistically to gain undue influence over or control of iHeartMedia through open market accumulation or other tactics without paying an appropriate control premium.” Specifically, under this plan “the board has declared a dividend distribution of one right on each outstanding share of iHeartMedia’s Class A common stock, share of Class B common stock and warrant issued in connection with the Company’s plan of reorganization. The record date for such dividend distribution is May 18, 2020.”

Crossover Media Group Sales to Rep Quick Hits Media. The recently launched Quick Hits Media and Crossover Media Group Sales have struck a deal for the latter to provide ad sales for Quick Hits. Quick Hits was recently launched by veteran television journalist David Shuster and partners to “bring compelling conversations and expertise to news consumers via succinct, informative, 10-minute exchanges, covering the day’s top stories, that are polished, highly watchable and digestible on all screens.” Quick Hits says its team “boasts global journalism experience developed at news organizations including, among others, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, i24 News, NowThis News, Associated Press, and Investigative Journal, and informed by assignments and postings throughout the U.S., U.K., Germany, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Africa among other locales.” Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund states, “It’s a new world in which news consumption has skyrocketed and consumers more than ever are seeking information and insights that are presented clearly, comprehensibly and succinctly by globally experienced, big-picture journalists. David and his colleagues bring decades of experience and complementary backgrounds to the task of keeping viewers informed of the critical issues of the day from a worldwide perspective.”

iHeartMedia Unveils SmartAudio COVID Recovery Program. The “SmartAudio COVID Recovery Program” is a suite of three new SmartAudio products that iHeartMedia says enable businesses to utilize its “unparalleled data and scale to re-engage with their loyal customers, and find new ones, as the nation’s economy begins to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The company says businesses will also be able to use the new products to deliver tailored advertising messages based on local market data to ensure businesses are reaching their customers with messaging that fits their circumstances. The three new products in the suite are: SmartAudio COVID Community Recovery Index, SmartAudio Brand Loyalists, and SmartAudio Unlimited.  iHeartMedia president of revenue and data operations Brian Kaminsky says, “The massive disruption created by the pandemic has caused brand loyalties to shift as consumers adapted to limited supplies and financial constraints – making them rethink what is essential. The SmartAudio data platform uses iHeartMedia’s best-in-class audience data and real-time inputs to give brands the power to reconnect with their loyal customers and find switchers as they enter the market in a post COVID-19 world.”

TALKERS News Notes. Today (5/7), Entercom’s Kansas City sports talker KCSP “610 Sports Radio” is hosting “The Tyrann Mathieu Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Radiothon” to support children and families who are experiencing hardships from the global health pandemic. As part of the daylong event, KCSP will welcome celebrity guests at the top of each hour to help raise funds and awareness, including Chiefs safety and foundation founder Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, former Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, and more…..iHeartMedia Denver’s KOA “NewsRadio 850 AM & 94.1 FM” is extending its broadcast agreement with the University of Colorado Athletics Department and its exclusive multimedia rightsholder, Buffalo Sports Properties, for a 77th season. The deal means listeners will continue to hear all Buffs sports, including football as well as men’s and women’s game broadcasts. Mark Johnson will return this fall as the “Voice of the Buffs” for his 17th season of play-by-play reporting for Buffs football and men’s basketball…..AdLarge Media announces that with the return of NASCAR on Sunday, May 17, at Darlington Raceway, Motor Racing Network and Performance Racing Network are delivering the races to radio stations across America. AdLarge Media chief revenue officer Don Wachsmith says, “NASCAR is back! It couldn’t be at a better time as the country is starved for sports. Long time NASCAR fans are going to be glued to the radio broadcasts of these races and new NASCAR fans are going to find out what the excitement is all about. One of the special aspects of NASCAR is the relationship between the fans and the sponsors who support the sport. I can’t wait for the radio broadcasts to get going and for our advertisers to make that connection with fans, new and old.”…..Cadence13 partners with Headspace to create a slate of new and original podcasts dedicated to mindful living. The first, Radio Headspace, will launch later this month and will feature a daily, short-form meditation podcast hosted by Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe in an effort “to help listeners cope with the heightened stress of our changing world.” Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran states, “As our daily routines are changing and the world we live in has brought on an unprecedented uncertainty, Headspace continues to offer a more mindful experience. There’s never been a better time to bring the Headspace experience into podcasting, and we’re thrilled to be their partner in this important venture, and at this important time.”

Newsmax TV Inks Carriage Deal with Mediacom Communications. Cable operator Mediacom Communications operates primarily in the Midwest and Southeast, reaching approximately 1.4 million households and businesses.  This deal will put Newsmax TV in the company’s expanded basic package it calls Variety TV.  Newsmax SVP of content distribution Andrew Biggers says, “Mediacom is one of the most respected operators in the industry and we’re pleased to partner with them in delivering Newsmax TV across their heartland footprint.”  This pact means Newsmax now has distribution agreements with each of the top 10 pay TV operators in the U.S and Comscore reports Newsmax total household cume viewership is up over 200% from mid-2019, and viewership in the first quarter of 2020 outpaced the prior quarter by 74%.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, Unemployment Figures/The Economy, States Re-Opening, Black Jogger Slaying, and Presidential Race/Biden Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections about future infections; the expected release of the latest unemployment figures and the state of the U.S. economy; the numerous states planning to re-open their economies; the viral video revealing the shooting death of jogger Ahmaud Arbery by two white men in Georgia; and the presidential race and the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Financial Advisor Ric Edelman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  One of the preeminent financial advisors on radio in America today, Ric Edelman – founder of Edelman Financial Services and Edelman Financial Engines – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Edelman has been a major talk radio professional for nearly 30 years, currently airing on 80 stations coast-to-coast, as well as a longtime member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred. He’s also produced several award-winning specials for public television and is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 10 books on personal finance, including a best-selling children’s book on money. Harrison engages Edelman in a remarkably candid discussion about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the intricacies of the “lives versus livelihood” debate dominating the national conversation.  In the process, they take a deep dive into the psychology of America’s consumer culture and the nature of personal debt as it applies to the nation’s emotional profile. Don’t miss this extraordinarily timely and informative conversation!  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. Radio pro Dave Levora is back on the air in the Quad Cities after exiting iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOC-AM during the “employee dislocation” that took place back in January.  He’s co-hosting mornings on Regional Media’s KQCJ-FM as the station flips from adult hits to alternative as “Planet 93.9.” He tells Regional’s Illinois News Now that he was finished with radio until the company’s Fletcher Ford offered him the chance to build a radio station on his terms…..The Toledo Blade reports that country WKKO “K-100” weekend personality Craig Snyder is recovering from COVID-19 at Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center. He tells the Blade that the doctors say he is getting better.  He’s been in the ICU for two weeks and was in a different facility for a week and a half prior…..Entercom Boston helped raise funds to provide 156,684 meals for people in need through the Greater Boston Food Bank. The “Feed New England Radiothon” took place on Tuesday (5/5) and was presented by local grocery chains Shaw’s and Star Market. Helping in the cause were celebs including pop star Joe Jonas, singer and songwriter Charlie Puth, singer and songwriter Noah Cyrus, legendary Boston comedian and actor Lenny Clarke, and New England Patriots safety and three-time Super Bowl champion Devin McCourty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

| March 25, 2020

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Hold 2nd Coronavirus Town Hall. The Townsquare Media news/talk station announces it will present its second Town Hall broadcast addressing the COVID-019 pandemic, focusing on health and medical issues Thursday (3/26) at 7:00 pm.  WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” says special projects director and morning news anchor Eric Scott “leads the news and digital departments in linking a statewide audience with New Jersey’s top doctors fighting the pandemic, in a listener-driven, call-in format.”  Scott – who will anchor live from the New Jersey 101.5 studios with guests joining by phone – will speak with: Dr. Margaret Fisher, infectious disease specialist at RWJBarnabas Health (also the medical director at Unterberg Children’s Hospital and chair, Department of Pediatrics, Monmouth Medical Center); Dr. Manisha Parulekar, program director and chief of the Division of Geriatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center; and Dr. Kevin Slavin, director of quality for Hackensack Meridian Health Children’s Services, specializing in pediatric infectious diseases.  The station is streaming the program on Facebook Live and via NJ1015.com.

Triton Digital: News/Talk Gets COVID-19 Streaming Bump. According to data from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics service, listening to streams of news/talk-formatted radio stations increased 4% from the week of March 2-6 to the week of March 13-19.  The format’s streaming share grew from 29% to 33%, as news of the COVID-19 disruption hitting the U.S. took over the news cycle.  Triton says from the week of March 2-6 to the week of March 13-19, the share of streaming contributed by sports talk radio held constant at 8%, while music radio’s share of streaming declined from 64% to 59%.  The report adds that consumption patterns by device remain very stable, with streaming on mobile devices increasing from 49% to 51% of the total. The share of streaming on desktops/laptops decreased slightly from 27% to 25%, while smart speaker’s share of consumption held stable at 21%.  Triton Digital president of marketing development John Rosso says, “Radio in every form – broadcast, streaming audio, and podcasts – remains a trusted and relied upon medium for news and entertainment in the United States.  Despite the dislocation of many workers, this data shows the remarkable stability of the medium, as well as the importance of radio in delivering information in a time of crisis.”

Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw’s Open Letter to the Industry: “We are in the midst of a crisis. It’s incredibly painful to our business, as it is to countless other industries. Our communities are reeling.  This crisis is going to end.  But radio’s troubles didn’t start a few weeks ago, when the coronavirus began its attack on our country. Competition for our audiences has never been fiercer. National revenue had hit a rough patch. Public radio companies were trading at their lows. Deal-making had ground to a standstill. It was harder than ever to grow our radio revenues. Certainly, there are bright spots and pockets of opportunity, and our industry is doing a terrific job tirelessly serving our communities during this unprecedented time. That having been said, I don’t think many of us were looking fondly at the halcyon days of Q4 2019.  As difficult as this crisis is, we have an opportunity to turn this disease into a cure.  Our logs are wide open. What we allow to happen to our product once things return to ‘normal’ is entirely up to us. Although our company has tried to maintain reasonable commercial loads, we can do much better. Let’s take this opportunity to clean up our clocks, maintain lower spot loads, stop incessant bonus commercials, reduce endless promos. Demonstrate integrity for the value of our products and give our listeners more of what they crave.  The universe is doing for us what we would not and could not do for ourselves. We have the opportunity to emerge from this dark time with a brighter flame than we have seen for years. What we do from here may make all the difference.”

TALKERS News Notes. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM is producing a daily podcast addressing the COVID-19 pandemic titled, “COVID-19: Seattle Podcast.”  Longtime station personality Dave Ross and ‘KIRO Radio’ reporter Aaron Granillo will “condense the most important updates of the day into a short podcast format for the benefit of our community.  Together they will follow government officials, healthcare workers, business leaders, and local residents who are making crucial, early decisions … decisions that will soon guide, or warn, the rest of the country.”  It will be released each afternoon.  Station program director Bryan Buckalew says, “I think Dave Ross, with his decades of news experience, and Aaron Granillo, with his reporter’s sensibility, are uniquely capable of examining the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it expands in Washington state and across the nation.”…..FOX News Radio launches a new weekday evening edition of the daily podcast “The FOX News Rundown” dedicated to the latest developments of the coronavirus pandemic.  The newly re-titled program “The FOX News Rundown Podcast: Global Pandemic” is being hosted by FNC foreign correspondent Trey Yingst and debuts on March 30.  On the program, Jerusalem-based Yingst will be joined by medical experts and fellow reporters to discuss the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 around the world…..The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Entercom sports talker WFAN, New York is giving weekend show hosting responsibilities to its daily stars in lieu of the usual weekend hosts, presumably to save some payroll expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He says that “Boomer & Gio,” “Moose & Maggie,” and “Joe & Evan” are hosting Saturday and Sunday programs and Mike Francesa – currently only hosting the 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm show on WFAN – is doing a 9:00 am to 1:00 pm show on Sundays.  However, longtime WFAN weekend host Richard Neer will be heard hosting the Sunday night 10:00 pm to 2:00 am show via CBS Sports Radio Network on “The Fan.”…..Cadence13 – a division of RADIO.COM – is unveiling the second season of the podcast “Gangster Capitalism” that it says “offers an unflinching look at white collar corruption and the dark side of the American dream”  This season explores the NRA.  Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran says, “As we further develop and expand our C13Originals slate, we’re prioritizing impactful and ambitious documentaries geared around culture, business, moments in time, music and more.  Our objective is about finding the right stories, and how we tell and express them, so that the audience can immerse itself in what we believe will create conversation and engagement.”…..AdLarge Media signs a deal with Remote News Service (RNS) to serve as its exclusive ad sales representative.  Remote News Service is owned and led by senior anchor Lesley Lotto…..Pictured below is Westwood One News White House correspondent Bob Costantini in the radio pool seat in the newly re-designed social distancing briefing room awaiting yesterday’s coronavirus task force news conference.  The pink sticker on his lapel is confirmation that the White House took his temperature and it is normal.

Coronavirus Status in U.S., Stimulus Package Debate, Global Stocks Surge, U.S.-China Relations, India Locks Down Entire Country, and Olympics Postponed Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The latest numbers on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S.; the negotiations in the U.S. Senate to craft a coronavirus stimulus package; global stocks surge on news that the Senate is close to a stimulus package; relations between the U.S. and China as the COVID-19 blame game ramps up; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi orders lock down of 1.3 billion citizens; and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are postponed among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED CONTENT TO FILL SPORTS GAPS?  ‘Our American Stories’ Reaches Out to Sports Talk Stations with Programming to Temporarily Fill Holes in Their Schedules.  The producers of the highly popular syndicated spoken-word program “Our American Stories” tell TALKERS, “We are pleased to announce we are making ‘Our American Stories’ available to sports stations on a temporary basis with no contract to fill holes in their schedule resulting from the shut downs in the sports industry due to Covid-19.  No strings attached.”  The statement continues, “We have had several sports stations reach out to us and ask if they could use our content temporarily to fill holes in their lineup as so many sporting events have been cancelled.”  A number of the episodes in the archives of the program directly address sports-oriented themes including: “The Heart of Kobe Bryant’s Memorial Service,” “He Made A Wood Bat For His Son… Now He Outsells Louisville Slugger,” “The Bird and Magic Story: Love, Friendship, and Basketball” and “I Shall Not Fail Those With Whom I Serve.”  “Our American Stories” host and founder Lee Habeeb adds, “At this time in our country, Americans need to be encouraged and reminded that our nation is one that has persevered through tumultuous times and have hope that we will again prevail. We can help with that encouragement through the power of storytelling.”  Interested stations should click here or contact Bryan Dawson at 720-737-2950 or bdawson@oanetwork.org.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk.  February is not traditionally a good month for the sports talk format, but the February 2020 PPM survey was especially bad as only two stations in our panel showed any weekly, 6+ AQH share gain from January 2020.  And even there Entercom’s WMC-AM, Memphis (0.1 to 0.3) and iHeartMedia’s WYGM-AM, Orlando (1.1 to 1.2) showed increases that were essentially meaningless.  Year-over-year, about as many stations shows ratings increases (45%) as saw decreases (42%), with big gainers including iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis “The Fan” (+2.4), Capitol Broadcasting’s WCMC-FM, Raleigh (+1.3), and Entercom’s KGMZ-FM, San Jose (+1.1) leading the pack.  The highest-ranking sports talk station during the February survey was Entercom’s WFAN in the Long Island market, finishing the month at #3.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Hotwire Communications Adds Newsmax TV to Video Service. Southeastern U.S. telecom firm Hotwire Communications and Newsmax Media announce a new distribution deal to deliver Newsmax TV to basic tier video service in seven major Florida markets – Miami/Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach/Fort Pierce, Fort Myers/Naples, Jacksonville/Brunswick, Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota, Orlando/Daytona/Melbourne and Tallahassee/Thomasville – as well as the Atlanta and Savannah markets in Georgia, the Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville and Charlotte markets in North Carolina, and the Greenville/Spartanburg/Ashville/Anderson markets in South Carolina.  Newsmax TV SVP of content distribution Andrew Biggers says, “Newsmax is excited to have Hotwire on board as our newest affiliate, and we look forward to working together to deliver what its customers have been asking for — an alternative voice within news media.  And with Hotwire’s reach throughout these markets, Newsmax will be exposed to a broad audience seeking news they can trust.”  Hotwire Communications is an all-fiber service provider that has been providing triple-play telecommunication services since 2000.  Hotwire offers a full suite of services to residential, commercial, hospitality, government, smart city, and educational customers in 14 states, primarily concentrated in the Southeast.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Taking place in Sunday’s 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET timeslot on FOX Television originally for the iHeartRadio Music Awards, iHeartMedia and FOX announce “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” to provide entertainment relief and support for Americans to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and to celebrate the resilience and strength of the nation during this pandemic.  Hosted by Elton John, the event will feature performances by Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, and more, from their own homes, filmed with their personal cell phones, cameras, and audio equipment, to ensure the health and safety of all involved.  In addition to airing on FOX, the program will air across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide, as well as via the iHeartRadio app. The benefit special will be broadcast commercial-free and, in addition to the music, will pay tribute to the front-line health professionals, first responders, and local heroes who are putting their lives in harm’s way to help their neighbors and fight the spread of the virus.  It also will encourage viewers to support two of the many charitable organizations helping victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation…..On-air pro Jeff Lewis Neal joins the WHZT, Greenville, South Carolina-based “Dex & Barbie T Morning Show.”  SummitMedia also airs the program on rhythmic CHR WKHT “Hot 104.5” in Knoxville and rhythmic CHR KPHW, Honolulu “Power 104.3.”  SummitMedia Greenville operations manager Mike Klein says, “I’m excited to welcome Jeff Lewis Neal to ‘Dex & Barbie T Morning Show.’  He’s the missing piece of the puzzle to take us to the next level on air and online.”…..Music director Kendall Stewart is promoted to program director for Saga Communications triple A WCNR, Charlottesville, Virginia.  She makes the jump after Jeff Sweatman resigned from the position.  Stewart says, “The last four-and-a-half years at ‘106.1 The Corner’ have been the most formative in my career so far and I can’t express how grateful I am to Jeff Sweatman for everything that he has taught me.  I love this station and the amazing music town that I get to live in – Charlottesville – has been through a lot in recent years, but the tragedy that we faced in 2017 has only made us stronger as a community.  I am honored to be a part of it and to have the opportunity to further serve the people of this city and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.”