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Thursday, September 23, 2021

| September 23, 2021

Jimmy Failla is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the funniest and freshest talents in news/talk radio, FOX News Radio’s 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET midday host Jimmy Failla, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Prior to filling the position as the host of “FOX Across America” in the spring of 2020, Failla – a native Long Islander – worked his way up through the ranks of New York’s stand-up comedy scene and served more than a decade as a cab driver in the Big Apple where he sharpened his insights into the human condition. Harrison and Failla engage in a fascinating discussion about the historic role of comedy and satire in political and social commentary with a focus on the impact today’s repressive political correctness is having upon the communication arts in general. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Kevin Dietz Officially Named Late Morning Host at WJR-AM, Detroit. WJR-AM, Detroit radio personality Kevin Dietz is officially named the host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. He’s been hosting the show at the Cumulus Media station since June 1, three months after longtime host Frank Beckmann retired back in March. Dietz made the announcement via his Facebook page. Dietz was a longtime investigative reporter at WDIV-TV, Detroit who was fired from the station in 2019 after he made a racial comment about another reporter at an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference. Dietz issued the following statement after the incident: “The intent of my comment was to openly acknowledge, amongst team members, the challenge it’s been for our company, and many companies, to achieve diversity goals. This is a serious subject that I approached through humor. Nevertheless, the station has a zero-tolerance policy on racially insensitive comments and they determined, despite the intent and context of my statement, that it violated the policy. I understand and support the need for such policies.”

‘Big Horn Radio Network’ Host Darian Dudrick Dies at 52 from COVID. The Cody Enterprise reports that KODI-AM/FM, Cody, Wyoming and “Big Horn Radio Network” morning drive talk host Darian Dudrick died on Tuesday (9/21) at the age of 52 after a battle with COVID-19. His “Daybreak with Darian Dudrick” program aired across the network and was popular for its “Speak Your Piece” call-in segment. Legend Communications co-owner Susan Patrick is quoted saying, “He was loved by the community and whole radio station. He was a great journalist and recognized across the state of Wyoming.” The station issued the following statement after his passing: “It is with saddened hearts that we have to say goodbye to one of our own. Our hearts go out to the Dudrick family with the passing of Darian, a man of God, loving father and husband. He was the voice of Cody and will be missed by all.” He is survived by his wife April and children Kaitlyn and Christian.

RAB: Marketers Looking to Capitalize on ‘Screen-Free Media.’ In its latest “Matter of Fact” column, the RAB addresses the “new wave of radio advertising” that marketers are exploring by presenting a piece by Tammy Greenberg originally published in the Association of National Advertisers Knowledge Center. The piece says, “The diversification of audio platforms and the attention audio commands among consumers has opened up tremendous opportunity for brands to expand their audio strategies and grow their audiences.” American Association of Advertising Agencies president and CEO Marla Kaplowitz says because consumers “are inundated with ads, audio and radio offer a very different and effective alternative to capturing consumer attention while adding complementary scale.” She says the biggest challenge for brands is creative. “It is a given that adding radio to a media mix is going to extend the reach and provide the opportunity to engage consumers differently. To be successful, brands must be thoughtful about the right execution because audio is not stimulating the other senses in the same way as visual media can. Brands must really focus on allowing the consumer to create their own visual sense connected to the audio advertising that invites them in.” Read the entire column here.

Audacy to Broadcast 5th Annual ‘I’m Listening’ Special Tonight. This evening from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Audacy broadcasts its fifth annual “I’m Listening” special – a live national broadcast bringing together artists, athletes, medical specialists and others with intimate conversations about mental health through authentic, open dialogue led by some of the nation’s top influencers. The two-hour special is taking place in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and airs across more than 230 Audacy stations and will be livestreamed via its digital app. The program is being co-hosted by Carson Daly (left) and Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble (right) and features appearances by celebrities including: Machine Gun Kelly, Darius Rucker, Nelly, Glennon Doyle, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Shakira, Justin Bieber, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and BleachersJack Antonoff.

PodcastOne Announces Panel of Judges for ‘Self-Made Podcasts Edition’ Contest. The award-winning panel of judges who will select the winner in PodcastOne’s “Self-Made Podcast Edition” contest have been named. They are: Kailtyn Bristowe, creator and host of “Off the Vine,” Adam Carolla, Emmy Award-winner and “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin, broadcast journalist and “Cheating: When Love Lies” podcast host Jillian Hamilton, documentarian Barbara Schroeder, Oxford Road head of client services James Ingrassia, Ad Results VP of media DeSha Runnels, Podsights co-founder Sarah Cotenoff, Magellan AI chief revenue officer John Goforth, PodcastOne president and co-founder Kit Gray, and PodcastOne and Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz. “Self-Made Podcast Edition” is driven by fans as well as the panel of judges, all listening to see who will take the top prize: a podcasting contract with PodcastOne, and a total package worth over $100,000 including promotion across the network. The winner will then be crowned on September 30, 2021, International Podcast Day.

Brandi Love Visits ‘Shannon Burke Show.’ Pictured above is adult film actress Brandi Love (right) with talk radio host Shannon Burke (left). Love recently appeared on “The Shannon Burke Show” – heard afternoons on JVC Broadcasting’s “Florida Man Radio” (WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach) – and talked about getting booted from Turning Point USA’s Tampa conference in July because of her profession. Love is a columnist for The Federalist and a Donald Trump supporter and had a lot to say about hypocrisy.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago reporter Steve Miller is semi-retiring from the Audacy station after a 38-year career there. Feder reports that Miller will continue to do some fill-in work and special projects for the station. WBBM news director Ron Gleason says, “We’ve been blessed with many great reporters over the years, but when it comes to digging for tough-to-find information, I can’t think of anyone better than Steve Miller.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts: A Friday Night Lights Rewatch,” a weekly podcast hosted by actors Derek Phillips (Billy Riggins) and Stacey Oristano (Mindy Collette-Riggins), in which they return to the fictional town of Dillon, Texas to revisit the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series. The pair invite listeners to take a trip back to Dillon, home of the Panthers and the Lions, as they break down iconic show moments, share behind-the-scenes stories, and answer fan questions, which listeners are invited to send in…..Cumulus Media and Rolling Stone introduce the podcast “Don’t Let This Flop” – a weekly podcast that highlights the week on TikTok, revealing the top trends and memes in all areas including dance, recipes, makeup challenges, viral videos, celebrity videos, grassroots campaigns intended to raise awareness of social issues, and anything else capturing TikTok users’ attention each week. Hosts Brittany Spanos and EJ Dickson are joined by a special guest each week to discuss the significance and relevance of the week’s most popular posts outside the world of TikTok…..The K-Star Talk Radio Network announces the addition of radio host Ron Edwards’ syndicated talk radio program, “The Ron Edwards American Experience,” to its schedule. The program is a one-hour, live, highlight reel of substantive information, history, and current events with a Christian, conservative perspective. K-Star program director Angeline Marie says, “He is a radio veteran that is well respected with over 20 years as a radio host and news anchor in several Midwest markets including Cleveland and Detroit.”

COVID-19, Debt Ceiling Debate, Border Crisis/Migrant Policy, Policing Reform Stalemate, Michael Sussman Indictment, U.S.-EU-Australian Indo-Pacific Tensions, and Gabby Petito Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/22). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the debate in Congress over raising the U.S.’s debt ceiling to avoid default; the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the return of migrants to Haiti; Democrats and Republicans in Congress at a stalemate over federal policing reform; the indictment of attorney Michael Sussman in connection with the DOJs Trump-Russia investigation; the cooperation between the U.S., Europe, and Australia in monitoring China’s rapidly expanding military presence in the Indo-Pacific; and the investigation into the death of Gabby Petito were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

| September 22, 2021

Larry Elder to Return to Salem Radio Network Show Next Month. It’s been more than a week since the California recall election that Governor Gavin Newsom won by a two-to-one margin. Top Republican vote-getter Larry Elder has not yet returned to his nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network talk show that airs from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. As TALKERS readers are aware, Elder took leave of his show to run in the recall election and Carl Jackson is hosting the program in his absence. SRN SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce says in a statement, “Larry is taking an additional 30 days to de-compress after a grueling run for governor of California. He plans to be back on the radio for Salem on or about October 18.  He wishes to thank all of his affiliates who supported him during this trying time, and he assures them when he comes back, he will be on fire and ready to save America once again.” At this morning’s editorial meeting, several TALKERS staffers raised the question as to why Elder wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get back on the air as quickly as possible to capitalize on the current buzz generated by his good showing among the GOP field. After all, in an era of short-term attention span, one must strike while the iron is hot. If he had been elected, he hopefully wouldn’t have taken a month off to recuperate. Salem has been extremely supportive of Elder and his campaign. Is there something else at play here?

Dennis Glasgow to Program iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC. Radio programming pro Dennis Glasgow is the new program director for iHeartMedia’s Washington, DC talk station “104.7 WONK-FM” (WWDC-HD2/W284CQ). Glasgow was most recently with Capitol Broadcasting where he was vice president of operations and program director for three sports stations including WCMC-FM, Raleigh. iHeartMedia regional SVP of programming for Washington and Baltimore Jeff Kapugi comments, “As a veteran in sports and news radio, Dennis brings an unparalleled set of skills and experience to WONK-FM. We are thrilled to have him as part of the Washington, D.C. team!” Glasgow says, “It’s an exciting time to be at WONK in Washington, DC. I am looking forward to creating meaningful and informative content for D.C.’s insiders and thought leaders every day.”

iHeartMedia Re-Brands WINZ as ‘FOX Sports Miami’; Local Morning Show Cancelled. Miami sports talk outlet WINZ-AM re-brands as “FOX Sports 940 Miami,” effective today (9/22). iHeartMedia drops the morning drive Jeff “DeFo” DeForrest show and replaces it with its new nationally syndicated show, “2 Pros and a Cup of Joe with Arrington, Quinn & Knox.” It now airs the complete FOX Sports Radio national lineup. It will continue to serve as the official flagship radio station for Miami Marlins baseball as well as University of Florida Gators men’s football and basketball. iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale market president Shari Gonzalez says, “We are excited to align 940 AM WINZ with a first-class organization like FOX Sports Radio. This partnership ensures passionate South Florida sports fans, and our 940 advertisers will have access to the nation’s top talk hosts and their insights on the most relevant topics facing teams, athletes, and fans.”

Audacy Names Steve Perrault Senior Producer for MLB Content. Sports radio pro Steve Perrault joins Audacy as senior producer for Major League Baseball content for its newly launched 2400Sports podcast studio. In this role, Perrault will oversee the creation and production of all MLB team podcasts and be a contributor to national podcasts co-produced in conjunction with MLB, following Audacy’s content partnership with the league. Perrault will co-host a new Boston Red Sox podcast under 2400Sports, which will debut in 2022 and will also serve as an on-air contributor for WEEI-FM, the flagship radio station of the Red Sox. This is in addition to his current role as co-host of the “Live BP Baseball Show” on the station. Perrault was most recently with Barstool Sports as co-host and producer of the company’s Red Sox-focused “Section 10” podcast. Audacy chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “As we continue expanding our new 2400Sports podcast studio and embark on our new expansive podcast partnership with Major League Baseball, we’re thrilled about adding Steve to our team to launch a new show centered around the Boston Red Sox. This podcast, which will be intensely focused on fan engagement and fan-created content, will lend a unique perspective to everything Red Sox, and we believe Steve truly encompasses the dynamic of the show.”

Burlington, Vermont Sports Talker ‘101.3 The Game’ Drops ‘The Huddle.’ The afternoon drive show “The Huddle” with hosts Arnie Spanier and Rich Haskell has been dropped from the station’s program schedule on Vox AM/FM’s sports talk WCPV-FM, Burlington, Vermont “101.3 The Game.” The Burlington Free Press reports that the station has cited substandard ratings as the reason for the program’s demise. Haskell continues to work for Vox AM/FM, including calling Middlebury High School football on the company’s WVTK-FM. Spanier exits the company but continues his work with FOX Sports Radio on Sunday evenings. Haskell tells the paper, “It’s been a great run and it’s hard to see it end in the blink of an eye. But it’s also the nature of the business, that’s the real difficult nature of format and show changes in radio.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media personality and reporter William J. Kelly returns to the airwaves at WCGO-AM with his “The Citizen Kelly Show” on Monday (9/27). He says, “‘The Citizen Kelly Show’ is back! I’m very proud to be back on AM 1590 WCGO and 95.9 FM. We are a turning point in our nation’s history and, more than ever before, people want the truth. That’s what the Citizen Kelly Show is all about.”…..CNN Audio launches the first episode of “Margins of Error,” a new limited-series, weekly podcast hosted by CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. The company says, “In this series, Harry is on a mission to discover the statistical stories that live just a little under the radar. From making an unusual case for Daylight Saving Time, to the re-examination of a century old-dating rule, this podcast is a love letter to every listener who may need a pause from the news-of-the-day headlines, but still want the rigor of CNN reporting”…..John Davis joins the support team at Wheatstone. Davis – who has 18 years of on-air experience with Cox Media Group and continues to host weekend shows for the company – was most recently with Logitek Electronics Systems as a support manager. Davis has a background in AoIP support of almost 20 years and has previous experience in broadcast automation as the marketing manager for OMT Technologies.

COVID-19, Debt Ceiling, Biden UN Speech, Infrastructure Bill, Southern Border Crisis, Trump Sues Niece and NYTimes, and Gabby Petito Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the debate over booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the battle in congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to avoid default on the nation’s debts; President Joe Biden’s speech before the UN general assembly; debate in congress over the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill; the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the status of Haitian migrants; former President Donald Trump sues his niece Mary Trump and The New York Times over the disclosure of his tax information; and the homicide case of Gabby Petito and her missing fiancé Brian Laundrie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

| September 2, 2021

Scott James Matheson – Mayor and Radio Broadcaster – is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. It is not uncommon for longtime AM drive local radio personalities to be dubbed the “morning mayor” of the cities in which they broadcast. Scott James Matheson, the morning host at Talk 92.1 WDDQ, Valdosta, GA, actually is the mayor of the South Georgia city in which he is heard daily! In addition, he is the owner of WDDQ and its parent company, Smalltown Broadcasting, LLC.  He is also this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Wrap.” Matheson was inaugurated mayor of the Deep South city of 60,000-plus residents in early 2020 and has a very interesting story to tell juggling both demanding jobs. Harrison and Matheson discuss small town America politics and the view of today’s national conversation from Valdosta’s key geographic perspective located right near the Florida-Georgia line. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

KFAQ-AM, Tulsa’s Flip to Sports Talk Happens Tuesday. Tulsa news/talk outlet KFAQ-AM will flip to sports talk on Tuesday (9/7), according to owner Griffin Communications. The company says it “is excited to announce ‘The Blitz 1170 AM’ – Tulsa’s new sports talk station covering Oklahoma and national sports by the folks who know sports best, the experts from Oklahoma’s Own.” Griffin VP of content Todd Spessard says, “We are so excited to bring the best local sports radio to Tulsa. From high school to college to professional – Tulsa has so many great sports stories to tell, and we can’t wait to bring them to Green Country. We’re putting together a local lineup of some of the best and well-known Tulsa voices and are ready to start talking sports!” The station will be live and local from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Its lineup is as follows: University of Tulsa hoops play-by-play announcer Rick Couri from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; Dan Hawk from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Big Al & Friends from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm; Jeremie “Pop” Poplin from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm; Colby Daniels from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; and Barstool Sports from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Griffin says the station will also feature content from the KOTV-DT “News On 6 Sports” team led by veteran sports director John Holcomb and appearances by KWTV-TV “News 9” sportscaster Dean Blevins covering all things OU, OKC Thunder reporter Steve McGehee, and college football analyst Dusty Dvoracek. KFAQ director of programming Jeremie Poplin adds, “I am incredibly excited for this opportunity with The Blitz. A lot of hard work has gone into all the stages of planning for a station that will reach a variety of different fan bases. We will strive to present a product everyone can be proud of and help fill the local sports void in Tulsa.”

WOKY-AM, Milwaukee Pulls Bill Michaels Show After Audacy Cries Foul. According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Madison, Wisconsin-based sports talk host Bill Michaels’ program has been removed from the program schedule at iHeartMedia’s WOKY-AM after two days because Michaels’ former employer Audacy is claiming his being on WOKY violates his non-compete. Michaels’ show aired on Audacy’s crosstown WSSP-AM until January of this year when he was let go. His program is currently based at Mid-West Family Communications’ WOZN-AM/W244DR, Madison and it launched on WOKY on Monday (8/30) in the 11:00 am to 3:00 pm daypart. Michaels tells the paper, “Audacy sent a cease-and-desist to iHeart. What they’re claiming is that no station in Milwaukee can carry me.” He says the question is whether his contractual obligation to Audacy allows him to appear on a Milwaukee station as a syndicated talent versus as an employee. It’s not clear when the non-compete period expires.

El Dorado Broadcasters Unveils Hyperlocal News Platform in Yuma. The owner of news/talk KBLU-AM, Yuma, Arizona and two music outlets – El Dorado Broadcasters – announces the debut of a hyperlocal news website for Greater Yuma called Yumadailynews.com. The company is calling it a “new newsroom focused on the local happenings in southwest Arizona.” It will distribute its content via Yumadailynews.com, its radio stations, social media platforms and daily e-news headlines. El Dorado executive president Chris Fleming says, “We serve our local market with our broadcast stations, but this is a logical expansion of services for the market. It seems like an opportunity for our company to step into this space and make an immediate impact for the community we serve.” The newsroom is being managed by news director Andrew Caravella.

WLS-AM, Chicago Debuts Weekend Travel Show. A new travel show is launching on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago. “Round Trip With Colleen Kelly” will air on Sunday (9/5) from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Kelly is a digital contributor to National Geographic and Travel + Leisure and is host, creator and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated PBS series, “Family Travel With Colleen Kelly.” She says, “I am thrilled to be working with the legendary WLS team and Cumulus Media, bringing audiences the latest in travel news, tips, and destinations on ‘Round Trip with Colleen Kelly.’ It is always an honor and a pleasure to work with and create work at the WLS-AM radio station. What a fantastic opportunity to connect with not only dedicated Chicago listeners but also listeners from across the U.S.”

New Lexington, Kentucky Sports Talker Launches. Flipping from country to sports talk, Clarity Communications’ WZNN-FM, Stamping Ground, Kentucky re-launches as “Sports 96.1 The Zone” using content from FOX Sports Radio. The station’s press release says, “The station will feature the only live and local afternoon drive show hosted by program director Terry Ford, Big Blue reports daily, extensive live pre- and post-game UK coverage before and after every Wildcat game, play-by-play of high school football and basketball, play-by-play of regional and national college football and basketball and play-by-play of the biggest NFL games every week. Clarity CEO Charlie Cohn says, “Clarity Communications is pleased to bring local sports talk to FM in Lexington. We will not only have the only local afternoon sports talk show in the market, but we plan to expand all our local coverage of the sports teams and topics that matter in Central Kentucky. Plus, we are pleased to bring Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd back to Lexington. And our partnership with FOX Sports Radio means Lexington and the surrounding areas can expect the best sports coverage 24/7.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new program from ESPN Podcasts hosted by former NFL coach Rex Ryan and former NFL linebacker Bart Scott will debut on September 12. Titled, “Organized Chaos,” new episodes will drop each Monday and will “provide listeners with expert insight and analysis on everything happening around the league featuring trending stories from on and off the field.”…..SiriusXM is presenting a new 13-episode podcast series called, “9/11 & Sports: 20 Years Later.” It looks back at the impact of that day’s events on the world of sports and the reaction by leagues, players and fans in the hours, days, weeks and years that followed. SixiursXM SVP of sports programming & podcasts Steve Cohen says, “We’ve produced this series to tell the story of how the events of 9/11, one of the most tragic days in our history, reverberated through the world of sports through the days and months that followed the attacks, and in ways even now 20 years later. We remember lives heartbreakingly lost that day, the way our country responded, and the impact on citizens and public figures alike.”

KTBB-AM/FM, Tyler, Texas’ Paul Berry Dead at 52. Longtime KTBB-AM/FM, Tyler, Texas news and operations director Paul Berry died on Tuesday afternoon of an apparent heart attack at the age of 52. The station says, “Berry joined KTBB more than 20 years ago after having previously been the program director and morning air personality on KTBB’s then sister station, KDOK. In addition to overseeing the editorial operation of the KTBB newsroom, he also managed the day-to-day technical operations of KTBB 97.5 FM, 600 AM and 92.1 FM, The TEAM Sports Radio.” Station owner Paul Gleiser adds, “Paul and I really loved the radio business. We spent a lot of time talking about the work of the great broadcasters that we both admired, and we also spent a lot of time looking for just one more way to make this station better. Somewhere in all of that an employment relationship morphed into friendship. I’m going to miss him.”

Gen Media Partners Launches Multicultural Initiative. In an effort to “champion the power and influence of certified minority-owned and -targeted radio stations to advertisers and agencies,” Gen Media Partners announces the formation of a strategic task force that will “advocate on behalf of the largely overlooked multicultural-owned and -targeted radio stations across all market sizes, including non-metro, and demonstrate multicultural radio’s remarkable power to connect with audiences.” The company says that Ann-Marie Figueira, whose promotion to SVP of Hispanic platforms and multicultural initiatives was announced recently, will lead the initiative. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity adds, “Our goal – our job – is to make sure advertisers and their agencies look beyond the large-scale companies and include independent, certified minority-owned and -targeted radio groups in their plans. We’re already seeing a receptiveness to learning more about these stations and their effectiveness at reaching multicultural audiences with content that is relevant to their specific lifestyles, tastes, and cultures.” The company says it represents 1,176 radio stations in 168 markets, either minority-owned or -targeted to Hispanic, African American, Asian, or Indigenous audiences and has one of the strongest multicultural platforms in radio, reaching  95% of the multicultural segment of the US population.

Afghanistan Withdrawal, COVID-19, Ida Devastation/Caldor Wildfire, Texas Abortion Law, Social Security Insolvency, January 6 Investigation, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/1). Criticism of President Joe Biden and Pentagon leaders over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the stress on ICUs in several states, and the controversy over mask & vaccine mandates; the devastation in Louisiana from Hurricane Ida and the flooding in the Northeast & the battle to keep the Caldor wildfire from Lake Tahoe; the Supreme Court votes 5-4 not to block the restrictive Texas abortion law; the report that the U.S. social security system will be insolvent by 2034; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens telecom companies that might comply with the January 6 committee’s investigation for phone records; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

| April 8, 2021

Cumulus Fires PD and Morning Hosts in Aftermath of Racist Bit at WGRF, Buffalo. As reported by WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, Cumulus Media has taken further action after the March 24 morning program radio bit by “The Morning Bull” personalities in which the three cast members discussed the color of Black female celebrities’ skin, comparing them to burnt toast. On that day, WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” morning host Rob Lederman was fired and co-hosts Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein were suspended. Now, the station has fired Gaenzler and Klein as well as program director John Hager. Cumulus issued the succinct statement: “Upon further consideration following the racist incident that occurred on ‘The Morning Bull Show,’ we decided to terminate the whole morning show in addition to the program director.” Rich Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and as stadium announcer for University of Buffalo football.

Richard Baum Named Chief Revenue Officer for Sun Broadcast Group. Sales pro Richard Baum joins Sun Broadcast Group as chief revenue officer. SBG says that in this newly created position, Baum will lead partner strategy, revenue growth, and oversee the growing ad-sales team. SBG adds that Baum’s “proven success in sales planning, team management, revenue strategy, and business development blend seamlessly into his new role, as he will focus on leveraging both sales and ROI to drive growth for Sun Broadcast Group.” Sun Broadcast Group president Warren Friedland comments, “When looking for our new CRO we wanted to find an industry professional with vast knowledge of network radio, emerging tactics, an impeccable reputation as well as an eye for growth, and Baum fits all those characteristics. His knowledge will allow us to provide more comprehensive and competitive solutions for both clients and agencies, while maximizing revenue growth across all platforms.” Baum says, “In searching for my next opportunity, I was looking to join a team with a strong infrastructure, a solid foundation, and the available resources to grow aggressively. Warren and his team at Sun fit that criteria perfectly. I am excited to work with the crew at Sun and Gen Media Partners to continue to help build a best-in-class network audio company.”

Hillsdale Weekend Program Available Via Salem Radio Network. The “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour” program produced by Hillsdale College is being made available for radio stations via Salem Radio Network. The one-hour, weekend radio program is divided into four segments with each episode featuring multiple guests including Hillsdale faculty members, speakers who visit one of the College’s campuses, alumni, and others. WRHF, Hillsdale “Radio Free Hillsdale” general manager Scot Bertram is host of the program and he says, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the program through Salem and give radio stations another option for airing the show. Talk radio listeners already know Hillsdale by reputation, but this is an opportunity to hear more directly from the college’s faculty, staff, alumni, and others. Our goal always has been to reach as many listeners as possible across the country. The ideas and arguments discussed here at Hillsdale are relevant to all citizens, and this radio program is one way to share them.” Stations that recently added the program to their lineups include: WIBX-AM, Utica, New York; WZUS-FM, Decatur, Illinois; and KTOE-AM, Mankato, Minnesota.

Westwood One Offers Barstool Sports’ ‘Picks Central’ to Radio Stations. In a deal between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Barstool Sports, the Barstool program “Picks Central” will be made available to radio stations live from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET or for delay broadcast.  The daily gambling and sports show is hosted by Brandon Walker with a rotation of Barstool personalities including Dave Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz, in which they “provide the scoop on the best gambling lines of the day. The crew discusses relevant sports topics, bad beats, moneylines, and over/unders. They also offer their thoughts on where to place winning bets for every sport under the moon.”

Hallerin Hilton Hill Named to Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. Knoxville talk radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill – heard in afternoon drive on Cumulus Media’s WOKI-FM, “NewsTalk 98.7” – is being inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. Cumulus Knoxville market manager Ken Slayer says, “Our entire team is very proud of Hallerin and his career accomplishments. No one deserves this honor and statewide recognition more than he does. His commitment to broadcast excellence and service to our community are unsurpassed.” Hill also works as singer/songwriter, author, motivational speaker, and trainer. He wrote “Who Would Imagine a King” with Mervyn Warren which was recorded by Whitney Houston for the film, The Preacher’s Wife, and was included on the film’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack.

Gimlet Media and The Ringer Podcast Producers Unionize. The writers and producers at Gimlet Media and The Ringer – both owned by Spotify – ratified first collective bargaining agreements as members of the Writers Guild of America, East. The contracts affect 48 members at Gimlet Media and 65 members at The Ringer. Some of the key components of the union contracts provide for: Significant increases to salary minimums with The Ringer establishing $57,000 plus overtime as an entry-level floor and Gimlet Media beginning at $73,000 for associate producers; limitations on the use of contractors within bargaining unit positions; minimum of 2% guaranteed annual increases; minimum severance of 11 weeks for all employees, regardless of tenure; and more. Writers Guild of America, East executive director Lowell Peterson comments, “The collective bargaining agreements at Gimlet Media and The Ringer demonstrate that the people who make podcasts, from writers to producers to editors, bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content. Collective bargaining ensures creative professionals have a seat at the table to address issues like inclusion and equity, intellectual property concerns, and sustainability of careers.”

Adnan Virk to Contribute to Meadowlark Media. According to a story in The Wrap, Adnan Virk is joining the talent stable at Meadowlark Media – the company launched by former ESPN chief John Skipper and sports talk personality Dan Le Batard. In addition to his work as a contributor, Virk’s “Cinephile” podcast will become part of the “Le Batard & Friends” network. Virk says, “I’ve had the amazing fortune to have John Skipper as my boss at ESPN, DAZN, and now Meadowlark. Clearly the third time is the charm and I’ve long enjoyed John’s ambition, erudition, and sense of humor. Skipper adds, “Adnan is a unique talent – the kind of broadcaster who can thrive in any sport and in any environment. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to welcome a friend who offers a diverse voice and shares our desire to create high-quality content that pushes beyond the boundaries of sports.”

WPHT USO Radiothon Raises More Than $95,000. The March 19 “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT USO Radiothon” raised more than $95,000 to benefit the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO). The 12-hour radiothon was hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia talk show hosts Rich Zeoli and Dom Giordano and included interviews and stories from USO staff and families, dignitaries and special guests such as actor Justin Melnick, WWE announcer Lillian Garcia, and Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re proud of another successful year raising funds and awareness for Liberty USO. These individuals have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and it’s our honor to band together with our listeners to support them and their families.”

COVID-19, Biden Gun Control Moves, Infrastructure/Tax Plan, Voting Legislation, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and Matt Gaetz Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., status of variants, post-COVID effects, and vaccine rollout; President Joe Biden moves to ban ‘ghost guns’ and stabilizers; the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan and the proposed tax changes to pay for it; Georgia’s restrictive voting laws and Democrats’ plans for a national voting rights bill; the large number of unaccompanied minors amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

| January 29, 2020

Talk Hosts Cover Trump’s Wildwood Rally. Talk radio hosts from the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York areas were in attendance at last night’s Trump rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center at the Jersey Shore.  Above at left is WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley with a front row view as President Trump speaks.  At top right is WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive host Rich Zeoli (right) talking with the first person in line to get a ticket for admission, Duke (left).  At bottom right is WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” afternoon personality Kevin McCullough (right) with Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany (left).  Rally organizers say some 175,000 tickets were requested for the event although the venue holds 7,000.  McCullough tells TALKERS magazine campaign officials are considering another rally at a future date in Northern New Jersey at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Staffs of News/Talk KFMB-AM and Adult Hits KFMB-FM in San Diego Given Notice.  Some 45 staffers at Tegna’s two radio stations in San Diego have been given their two-week notice in advance of the stations’ transfer of ownership to Local Media San Diego after February 7.  The San Diego Reader reports that the staffers were told that new owner LMSD is keeping four salespeople and one commercial production person.  Tegna says that it’s now up to LMSD to decide if it wants to hire any of the dismissed employees back.  From news/talk KFMB-AM, local talk personalities Brent Winterble, Mike Slater, and Mark Larson are among the casualties.  It’s unclear at this time what LMSD’s format plans are for the two stations.  The hosts are still working through February 7 at which time all employees will receive their severance packages.  Tegna acquired the radio stations in 2018 along with two television stations from Midwest Television for $325 million.

PodcastOne Partners with Spotify for Podcast Distribution. Podcasts by such stars as basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal, WWE legend Steve Austin, bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, and comedian Adam Carolla will soon be available worldwide via Spotify.  Spotify’s Lauren Jarvis says, “We are thrilled to bring PodcastOne’s 400-plus hours of fresh, weekly content to Spotify’s global listeners.  From longtime-running favorites like ‘The Adam Carolla Show,’ ‘Ladygang,’ and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s ‘Off the Vine,’ to shows from superstars like Shaquille O’Neal and T.I., we know that we are adding podcasts for diverse listener tastes to Spotify’s catalogue.”  Spotify listeners worldwide will be able to enjoy each of PodcastOne’s 300-plus programs, including original content produced by PodcastOne Global.  Eventually, Australian fans will be able to stream PodcastOne’s content as well, with the addition of PodcastOne Australia content in partnership with Southern Cross Austereo.  PodcastOne CEO Peter Morris comments, “PodcastOne is thrilled to make our extensive catalogue available to the Spotify audience.  Combining the power, talent, and reach of the leading ad-supported podcast network, PodcastOne, with Spotify’s best-in-class technology, and listening and user experience is a can’t miss.  This partnership creates new cross-promotional opportunities for us both and increases the accessibility of PodcastOne’s hundreds of programs for our listeners.  It’s been great to work with Lauren Jarvis and the Spotify team, as we launch our new partnership.”

Erika Beasley Promoted to VP of Digital Content for Beasley Media Group. At Beasley Media Group, Erika Beasley rises from her corporate digital content director position to vice president of digital content.  In this new role, she’ll be responsible for overseeing content creation on the company’s many digital platforms.  Beasley Media Group chief content officer Justin Chase says, “Erika’s outstanding work throughout the years, in a variety of different roles, speaks for itself.  Her many contributions to the company’s digital transformation has moved us forward in profound ways.  I look forward to Erika partnering with our vice president of digital market, Jennifer Williams, and the company’s highly talented digital content team to further expand our digital footprint.”

Impeachment, Trump Wildwood Rally, Presidential Race, Coronavirus, and Trump’s Middle East Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/28). The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump; the large crowd gathered at last night’s Trump rally in Wildwood, New Jersey; the Democrats battling to challenge President Trump in November; concerns about a global epidemic of the Wuhan coronavirus; and the Trump Administration’s unveiling of its Middle East peace plan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Cable news/talk outlet FOX News Channel is celebrating its ratings success.  In an internal memo, FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president and executive editor Jay Wallace say, “We passed CNN at the end of January 2002 in viewership in the key 25-54 demo in both Today Day and Primetime and never looked back.  There is no other network in cable that can lay claim to this level of consistent dominance with one of the most loyal and passionate audiences in the country.”…..WSCR, Chicago morning drive personality David Haugh has exited his gig with the Chicago Tribune where he was a sports columnist.  Haugh, who co-hosts the “Mully & Haugh” show with Mike Mulligan, spent 17 years with the Tribune – the last 10 as a sports columnist – according to Chicago media writer Robert Feder…..Trenton, New Jersey-based Penn National Gaming is acquiring a 36% interest in the sports media firm Barstool Sports for $163 million – $135 million in cash and $28 million in non-voting convertible preferred stock.  Kennedy Rose has the story in the Philadelphia Business Journal.  In addition to its digital content that enjoys 66 million unique visitors per month, Barstool broadcasts radio shows via its own channel on SiriusXM…..Pictured below is KQTM-FM, Albuquerque “101.7 The Team” afternoon drive personality Jim Villanucci (right) with KQTM personality Sam Hauser (left) and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Zach Gentry (center).  Gentry — a star high school football player in Albuquerque and a big fan of the station — stopped by the studios to say hello.  “101.7 The Team” airs a regular slate of high school football games during the season.

Legendary Jock Harry Harrison Dies at 89.  Top 40-era New York radio legend Harry Harrison died yesterday (1/28) after complications from numerous health issues.  Harrison worked on air at WMCA – one of the WMCA Good Guys – and at WABC, as well as later at WCBS-FM.  He retired from the latter in 2003.  He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame last fall.  Photo: Art Vuolo Jr.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Stephens Media Group violated labor laws when it let a number of air personalities go from its Watertown and Massena, New York stations in 2018.  Judge Charles J. Muhl ruled that not only must Stephens hire the fired staffers back but must compensate the affected workers for financial losses and tax consequences.  Stephens tells NNY360 that it plans to appeal certain aspects of the ruling…..The entire staff – both on-air and off – of adult hits KFMB-FM, San Diego was given its two-week notice as owner Tegna prepares to close on the sale of the station (and sister news/talk KFMB-AM) to Local Media San Diego.  Out of work are Chris Cantore, Meryl Klemow, Cha Cha Harlow, Robin Roth, and Rick Lawrence.  They are working through February 7, at which point they will receive their severance packages.  It’s not clear what LMSD’s plans are for the station, which as part of the sale contract, must give up the KFMB-FM call letters…..In Duluth, Minnesota, Patti Banner joins J.D. Justice as co-host of the morning show on Midwest Communications’ country KTCO-FM “Kat Country 98.9.”  She was most recently with Cherry Creek Radio’s adult contemporary KONA, Tri-Cities, Washington as morning drive co-host.  She takes over for Brookie the Rookie, who leaves for a gig outside the radio business…..This year’s iHeartCountry Festival taking place on May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin will feature the following acts: Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi and Chase Rice, plus Hot Country Knights, Bobby Bones and more.