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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

| April 28, 2020

Hannity Attorneys Demand Retraction from New York Times. Attorneys for FOX News Channel and Premiere Networks star Sean Hannity have sent a request to The New York Times that it issue an apology to Hannity and retract its coverage of Hannity’s work at FOX covering the coronavirus pandemic.  Hannity’s lawyers are saying if the paper does not act within 24 hours, Hannity will have no choice but to file suit.  According to a FOX News story, at issue are “three separate pieces by columnist Ginia Bellafante, contributing writer Kara Swisher and media columnist Ben Smith which they said all showed ‘an outrageous disregard for the truth.’” The paper responded that its reporting is accurate and there is no need for an apology.  Hannity attorney Charles Harder says the issue is the Times’ “blatant and outrageous disregard for the truth in mischaracterizing Mr. Hannity’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and blaming him for the tragic death of Joe Joyce,” referring to a 74-year-old who contracted the coronavirus on a cruise. Joyce’s children warned him and his wife not to take the cruise but, according to Bellafante’s column, Joyce watched FOX News Channel and believed the virus was under control.

Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes Launch Sports Talk Show on SB Nation Radio on May 11. Sports talk personalities Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes are returning to terrestrial radio on May 11 as SB Nation Radio and JAKIB Media Partners announce the program “Into the Night” will be made available to radio stations via the SB Nation Radio network.  The program feeds to affiliates from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET.  Bruno says, “I continue in amazement that at a time when there are no sports to talk about, my partner Harry and I keep getting hired to talk sports.”  Bruno and Mayes reunited — they worked together at WPEN-FM, Philadelphia — for a daily sports talk show on April 6 when they joined the Dan Patrick Radio channel on SiriusXM for the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET daypart.  The “Into the Night” program SB Nation is presenting is mostly a re-broadcast of the SiriusXM show, however Bruno will customize some segments for the late-night show and there’s also the possibility that Bruno and Mayes will broadcast live for special events and remotes, according to SB Nation’s Brian Schaible.

PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on public radio news/talk.  The thirst for news during the coronavirus pandemic has lifted public radio news/talk stations as 79% of those on our panel saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares rise from the February 2020 survey.  KOPB-FM, Portland and KQED-FM, San Francisco led the group of gainers with increases of 1.7 shares and 1.5 shares, respectively.  Year-over-year comparisons were not quite as impressive with 59% of stations improving.  KNOW-FM, Minneapolis stands out as it added 3.4 shares from the March 2019 survey to the March 2020 survey and climbed from the #9 rank in the market to #1. In addition to KNOW-FM, four other public radio news/talk outlets ranked #1 in their markets in March: WAMU-FM, Washington; KCFR-FM, Denver; KOPB-FM, Portland; and KUT-FM, Austin.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

‘Bogey’ Exits WXYT-FM, Detroit. Evening sports talk personality Kyle Bogenschutz – a.k.a. Bogey, has exited Entercom’s Detroit sports talk outlet WXYT-FM where he co-hosted the evening show with Bob Wojnowski.  According to the Detroit Newsreport, Bogey’s exit was the result of stalled contract talks, not cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Bogey had been with the station since 2014 and had been co-hosting the evening show with Wojo since June of 2017.  His agent tells the News that he’s in conversations with “a couple of people” and believes Bogey will land somewhere soon.

States Begin ‘Re-Opening’ Economy, U.S. Coronavirus Statistics & Projections, Health Care System/Testing Capabilities, China’s Role in Pandemic, Presidential Race/Biden Accusation, and Kim Jong Un Health Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). A handful of states court controversy as they begin to ease social distancing restrictions; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll and projections for future cases; the state of the U.S. health care system and the capabilities for testing for COVID-19; the U.S. begins investigating China’s role in the pandemic; the November presidential election and the sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden; and questions about the health status of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

SiriusXM First Quarter Revenue Up 5% Pro Forma. Today (4/28), SiriusXM reported its first quarter 2020 operating and financial results.  It says revenue rose 5% (pro forma) to $2 billion.  Net income for the quarter was $293 million, up from $162 million in the first quarter of 2019.  SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “In the face of the economy hitting the brakes hard in March, SiriusXM’s first quarter results were very strong.  Auto sales, advertising, and customer responses to marketing campaigns all fell swiftly in the second half of March, yet we delivered increasing subscribers, solid revenue growth and 13% adjusted EBITDA growth to a first quarter record of $639 million.  Just as it was a little over a decade ago during the global financial crisis, SiriusXM’s subscriber-based business model is resilient.  We do not know what the shape of a recovery from this current crisis will look like, however, we are confident that our business will continue to generate substantial positive free cash flow.  Once we have a better view of how and when the economy will restart, we plan to resume providing guidance.”

TALKERS News Notes. Phoenix talk show host Larry Gaydos announced to his listeners on Bonneville’s news/talk KTAR-FM, Phoenix yesterday that his mother – already suffering from cancer – succumbed to COVID-19 over the weekend.  Gaydos said she tested positive several weeks ago and suffered no effects until last week when she began to decline quickly…..The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand speculates about possible changes to take place at ESPN Radio in the near future in a column. In it, Marchand wonders about the futures of Dan LeBatard on the radio (his cable TV show is popular), Trey Wingo’s role on the Golic & Wingo morning show, and says Will Cain is all but destined to leave for a gig with FOX News very soon…..Yankees Radio Network play-by-play voice John Sterling is honored with the 2020 Governors’ Award, presented by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  The Governors’ Award recognizes Sterling’s 60th anniversary as a broadcaster and his 31 years as the radio voice of the New York Yankees.  Sterling says, “Whenever you get an award, it’s wonderful. But when you get an award from your peers, it is even better. I’m very humbled and appreciative to be the recipient of the 2020 Governors’ Award.  I’m thankful to the board for their recognition of my longtime work with the New York Yankees, which is nothing short of a labor of love for me.”…..Cumulus Media announces that it will hold its investors conference call to discuss first quarter 2020 operating results on May 11 at 4:30 pm ET.  Cumulus is the second publicly traded audio company to announce its Q1 call that is expected to address how the coronavirus pandemic – that had fully affected the country by mid-March – impacted its operations.  iHeartMedia will hold a Q1 conference call on May 7.

Music Radio News and Career Moves.   A new three-hour program starring Roula Christie is being launched by Cumulus Media’s Westwood One on May 2.  Titled, “Weekends with Roula,” it is designed for hot AC and CHR stations and targets women 25-54.  Westwood One says the show is “upbeat and motivational as she helps listeners find fun in the madness of juggling work and family.  Roula mixes pop culture and entertainment news with hilarious conversations between her kids and her mom.”  She comments, “I am over the moon at the opportunity to be nationally syndicated with Westwood One for ‘Weekends with Roula!’ I hope to connect with the rest of America the way I have been able to connect with my Greater Houston-area audience. I’m so grateful to my husband, Tasos, and children for providing me with material! I’m so excited!”…..Programming pro Scott Gaines is named operations manager for Alpha Media’s Amarillo, Texas cluster that includes country KGNC-FM, rhythmic CHR KVWE, classic hits KXGL “Eagle 100.5,” and news/talk KGNC-AM.  Gaines will also program KGNC-FM and serve as afternoon drive host.  He was most recently with Cumulus Media in Atlanta as APD and afternoon host at WKHX “New Country 101.5.”