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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

| August 17, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Film Borrowed Future Debuts on October 14. The first documentary film from Ramsey Solutions will premiere on digital platforms on October 14. Titled, “Borrowed Future: How Student Loan Debt Is Killing the American Dream,” and produced by Dave Ramsey, it “uncovers the dark side of the student loan industry, exposes how it’s built to work against the 45 million Americans currently in debt for their education, and shows that it’s possible to beat the student loan system.” The film is directed by David DiCicco and features experts such as Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Seth Frotman, Kristina Ellis, Dr. John Delony and Anthony ONeal, as well as CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe. The main subjects of the documentary are college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loan debt, a debt-free college graduate, and high schoolers who haven’t yet questioned the norm of student loans. DiCicco says, “This film is a warning for kids and teenagers who aren’t victims of the student loan industry yet. I want viewers to walk away from this film with eyes wide open to the true cost of student loans. Teens need to know that they can have the American Dream — they just shouldn’t listen to America on how to get it.” Dave Ramsey adds, “The student loan problem is out of control, and it’s messed up millions of lives. Smart young people got sucked into a false narrative about what success looks like, and it’s left them paralyzed. It’s time to call the student loan industry what it is: an epic failure.” See more about the film here.

Phil Valentine Update: Family Says He Remains in ‘Grave Condition.’ The status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive talk host Phil Valentine has not improved as his family provided an update last night (8/16) asking his fans to “pray for a miracle” as he remains in “grave condition.” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and initially Valentine told his listeners that while he was pretty sick, he believed he was “on the other side of it.” His family revealed on July 22 that he’d been hospitalized and was eventually put on a ventilator due to his suffering from COVID pneumonia. Although Valentine had expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccines and disagreed with mask mandates, his family says he was never an “anti-vaxxer,” but he does regret not being more “pro-vaccine.” His family is urging his fans to get vaccinated.

Salem Media Group Promotes Jamie Cohen to SVP of Broadcast Digital. Digital media pro Jamie Cohen is promoted to senior vice president, broadcast digital for Salem Media Group. The company says that in his new role he’ll oversee all aspects of the digital operations for Salem’s local and national/network digital efforts. Salem Broadcast Media president David Santrella comments, “Jamie has done a tremendous job building Salem’s digital enterprise for our local stations. Overseeing all aspects of our digital operations, both locally and nationally, will open more channels of opportunity and unify our efforts in reaching our audiences through digital avenues and monetizing our digital assets.” Cohen says, “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and am bullish on our future. With the emergence of platforms like Salem Now, the Salem Podcast Network and other innovations, our audience has never been bigger. We have an amazing opportunity ahead of us and I can’t think of a better place to be.”

Phil Cianciola to Host Mornings on WOSH-AM, Oshkosh. Radio pro Phil Cianciola is named morning drive host for Cumulus Media’s WOSH-AM, Oshkosh, Wisconsin “NewsTalk 1490,” effective August 23. The station says, “It is important for WOSH that we retain a local voice in mornings and provide a show that will be uniquely Oshkosh. We wanted to find someone who would get what Oshkosh and the Valley are all about and would be able to entertain our listeners while also providing the news and community information that matters most. That’s a lot to ask of someone, but we’re confident that Phil fits our needs perfectly.” During his career Cianciola has served at Milwaukee news/talk outlets WISN and WTMJ. He comments, “I believe in LOCAL radio. The magic of radio is the relationships we build with listeners over the air. It’s all I’ve ever done. I guess you could say radio is in my blood.”

Brian Hauswirth Named News Director at KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. News pro Brian Hauswirth joins Zimmer Communications to serve as news director for news/talk KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri “93.9 The Eagle.” In this role, he becomes the newest member of the “Wake Up Columbia” morning drive program. Zimmer Communications operations manager Jeremy Washington states, “We’re thrilled to have Brian Hauswirth be part of our Zimmer News Network. Brian shares our vision for excellence in broadcasting and will strongly enhance our award-winning local news coverage in Mid-Missouri.” Hauswirth most recently served with Missourinet where he was a senior capitol reporter, covering the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City. His radio station experience includes time spent working at KMZU, Carrollton; KTRS, St. Louis; and KRES-KWIX, Moberly. In addition to his new role, Hauswirth will continue his 23rd season as a college football scoreboard host at Learfield, where he handles the updates for five major colleges across the nation, including Mizzou, Alabama, Texas Tech, Purdue, and Wyoming.

Audacy and Urban One Enter into Digital Platform Relationship. A content distribution partnership between Audacy and Urban One will put audio from the latter’s 57 stations in 13 markets onto the Audacy digital platform. Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “This partnership underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying diverse voices and delivering premier audio content to the communities in which we serve. We’re delighted to unite with a power player in the audio space to expand and enhace our content offering and add dozens of dynamic brands to our library.”

iHeartMedia Launches Progressive Podcast Network Cool Zone Media. The launch of Cool Zone Media will highlight “vital voices often overlooked in today’s rapidly changing political landscape,” according to iHeartMedia. The progressive podcast network is being powered by investigative journalist and podcaster Robert Evans. The company says Cool Zone Media will provide an “in-depth look at topics including climate change, the Capitol insurrection, and uncovering QAnon – offering listeners a place unique from others in the political sphere by melding media and politics with storytelling.” The network debuts with the first episode of the new daily podcast, “It Could Happen Here,” that focuses on climate change and picks up where Evans’ 10-episode weekly podcast by the same name left off. Evans, who is serving as the head of content for Cool Zone Media, will be joined by the iHeartPodcast Network’s executive producer, Sophie Lichterman, who will become Cool Zone Media’s head of creative, to help curate and elevate other vital voices in today’s progressive political landscape for the network.

TALKERS News Notes. Canton radio stations WHBC-AM “News/Talk 1480” and WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1” wrapped their 14th Annual Aultcare Wish-a-thon to benefit Wishes Can Happen on Friday August 13 and the Alpha Media outlets helped raise a record $334,928. The charity grants wishes to children with severe and terminal illnesses in Northeast Ohio. The record number was an increase of almost $145,000 over last year’s event, thanks in large part to the many businesses, individuals and foundations who stepped up…..PodcastOne announces it has secured the exclusive sales and distribution rights for B-Real’s “Dr. Greenthumb” podcast and the sales rights to the show in its vodcast form. “Dr. Greenthumb” launched in January of 2020 as a program dedicated to all things entertainment, music, and cannabis and now has more than 300 recorded episodes to date that include guests such as Tommy Chong, George Lopez, Tony Hawk, Matt Barnes, John Sally and Ricky Williams. B-Real says, “PodcastOne has set the bar for what podcasts have become. With their amazing roster of shows, best-in-class distribution and advertising approach, there is no other platform for the ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ podcast. I am excited to partner with Norm Pattiz and the PodcastOne family.”…..Pictured below are staffers from the Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina operations celebrating their honors from the 2021 State Television and Radio (STAR) Awards presented by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. News/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” was honored with four STAR Awards including: Radio Station of the Year, Radio Personality of the Year (Tara Servatius), Best News Talk Show (Tara Servatius), and Production PSA.

Benztown West Coast Commercial Production Director Jeff Kelly Dies at 50. The company announces the untimely death of Jeff Kelly, who had joined Benztown in January as West Coast Commercial Production Director. Kelly passed away unexpectedly on August 13 at the age of 50. He and his fiancé had recently moved to L.A. to work with the Benztown team in its Glendale studios. Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “We are deeply saddened we were not able to spend more time with Jeff and we will miss him very much. Jeff was incredibly energized and excited about working for Benztown and his recent move to L.A. from Albuquerque, and his positive attitude and tremendous talents were inspiring. His production, writing and VO skills were among the very best in the business and I am incredibly grateful for his contributions to our company, the Commercial Production Department and YamanAir.”

Biden on Taliban in Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, New Trump Book, Western Drought/Wildfires, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/16). President Joe Biden defends his Afghanistan pullout amidst the Taliban’s resurgence and the social chaos; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccination, and mask mandates for schoolchildren; the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa titled, Peril, that chronicles the final days of the Donald Trump administration; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom heats up were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 21, 2021

| June 21, 2021

Monday Memo: Podcasters, Tell The World. “While broadcast content must be mass-appeal, your topic can engage followers – everywhere – if it is specialized and high-affinity.” That’s the word from consultant Holland Cooke who this week explains why “broadcasters need to think ‘narrow-cast’” to make it as podcasters. In addition, he includes three useful links; read more from Holland Cooke here.

Pending Business: The Water Bottle. In today’s column, Lapcom Communications Corp president Steve Lapa, writes “You feel like the second half of 2021 will be a walk in the park compared to the COVID numbers of 2020. Experienced sellers often reach a point where autopilot kicks in and personal improvement stops.” Lapa then asks, “How does a top biller improve when #1 is as good as it gets?” Since “nobody bats 1000,” he advises, “never stop learning.” Grab a fresh, unopened bottle of your favorite brand of bottled water and read more here.

Round Three of May PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 sweep covered April 29 – May 26. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets. Albeit -1.6 from April 2021 (12.7 – 11.1), iHeartMedia-owned WLW “700 Cincinnati’s News Radio” (Reds flagship) is the lone mainstream news/talk outlet from these 12 markets to reach #1 (May 2021, 6+). Off a combined two full-shares from April 2021 are Bonneville Salt Lake City’s KSL “News Radio” (8.3 – 6.8, -1.5, first to second, 6+) and cross-town iHeartMedia’s KNRS-AM & KNRS-FM “Talk Radio” (6.3 – 5.8, -.5, fourth to sixth, 6+). Only two news/talkers in these markets that finished in the top 20 post April 2021 – May 2021 improvements: WLW cluster-mate WKRC “55 KRC The Talk Station” (4.2 – 4.3, +.1, unchanged at #8, 6+) and Audacy Las Vegas’ KXNT “News Talk 840” (1.9 – 2.2, +.3, #21 to #20, 6+). The latter’s Cleveland sibling – WKRK “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan” – registers sports talk’s heftiest April 2021 – May 2021 increase (3.2 – 4.3, +1.1, #12 to #10, 6+). You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds of markets) here.

Audacy Adds Seven “BetQL Network” Affiliates. The following Audacy outlets will rebrand today (Monday, 6/21) as part of the “BetQL Network”: KIKK “650 AM The Bet,” Houston; WJFK-AM “1580 AM The Bet,” Washington, DC; WXYT-AM “1270 AM The Bet,” Detroit; WJZ-AM “1300 AM The Bet,” Baltimore; KXST “1140 AM The Bet,” Las Vegas; and KWOD “1660 AM The Bet,” Kansas City. WWWL-AM “1350 AM The Bet,” New Orleans will make the switch next Monday, 6/28. According to Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano, “When we launched the ‘BetQL Network’ in January, we committed to giving our national audience a home for compelling sports betting content as this new landscape was rapidly growing. This expansion is the next step in that goal and we’re pleased to bring new and dynamic ‘BetQL Network’ programming to additional markets and new digital platforms. We are proud to build on our local and national sports audio leadership position with this expanded commitment to production and distribution of entertaining sports betting content to audiences across the country.” The aforementioned rebrands are in addition to previously launched “The Bet 93.1 HD3,” Los Angeles; “The Bet 105.9 FM-HD2,” Chicago; and KEZW “1430 AM The Bet,” Denver. “BetQL Network” programming will also be heard in various times on WTEM “980 The Team,” Washington, DC; WQAM “560 The Joe,” Miami; and WRNL “The New Sports Radio 910 AM & 105.1 FM,” Richmond. The expanded “BetQL Network” weekday programming lineup includes: “The Daily Tip” with Chelsa Messinger and Michael Jenkins (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Joe Giglio (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); and “Bet MGM Tonight” with Quinton Mayo and Ryan Horvat (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm).

Cumulus Media Birmingham Taps Robinson As VP/MM. Former Univision Communications San Antonio vice president/director of sales, radio, television & digital James Robinson is appointed vice president/market manager of Cumulus Media Birmingham. Cumulus Media’s cluster in that Alabama metro consists of: sports talk WJOX-FM “JOX 94.5”; sports talk WJOX-AM “JOX 3 690 AM”; sports talk WJQX “ESPN 100.5 JOX 2”; news/talk WZRR “Talk 99.5”; news/talk WAPI; and urban AC WUHT “Hot 107.7.” Senior vice president, operations Mark Sullivan remarks, “I’m extremely pleased that James will be bringing his experience and talent to the Cumulus Media team. I’m looking forward to many shared successes with him.” Robinson states, “Now is the best time to work in radio [and] Cumulus Media is a dynamic and innovative company. I’m honored to join the talented team in Birmingham. The Cumulus Media stations in Birmingham are iconic brands that have a history of deep commitment to the community and partner success. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on this success with the talented team in Birmingham.” Prior to his San Antonio tenure, Robinson was director of sales for Radio One Houston; vice president of sales for iHeartMedia Washington, D.C.; and general sales manager for iHeartMedia in St. Louis and Memphis.

Video Coverage of TALKERS 2021 Begins Next Monday June 28.  Every keynote speech, fireside chat, special presentation and panel discussion that took place at the recent 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running, largest and most important national convention – TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University – was recorded under the direction of renowned industry videographer and chronicler Art Vuolo. These videos will be posted one per business day beginning next Monday June 28, right here on Talkers.com.  If you were unable to attend the event in person, you will not want to miss the opportunity to take in some of the most pertinent industry conversation about the state of radio, talk programming, and related media to take place since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Post-Summit Analysis, January 6 Investigation, Southern Border Crisis, Juneteenth, and the Western Heat Wave & Drought Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  COVID-19 – particularly the Delta variant and the rate/progress of vaccinations – continued to be a dominant topic on talk shows over the weekend along with microscopic analysis of the optics of the BidenPutin meeting in Geneva on news/talk stations across the nation.  Immigration Reform remains a front burner topic, fueled largely this weekend by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan for the Lone Star State to build a wall on its own.  The naming of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday came at a very timely juncture for the weekend and the Western States Heatwave & Drought could not be ignored, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

“Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Open Raises $45,000+. Held this past Friday (6/18) at the Linwood (New Jersey) Country Club, the 14th annual Harry Hurley in the Morning Charity Golf Open was not only a sold-out success, it raised roughly $45,000. Event founder/chairman/morning host of Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” Hurley states, “We had an amazing day with picture perfect weather. We have a wonderful community comprised of some of the most generous people in America.” Hurley’s morning show aired live on-site (6:00 am – 10:06 am) from the country club. With more to follow, the charity this year has awarded grants to: The Broadcasters Foundation of America; The Shore Medical Center Foundation; Stockton University; FACES 4 Autism; Atlantic County Toys For Kids; and The Joan Fineran Nursing Scholarship. In the photo at the right, Hurley (left) – who appears at #37 in the recently released TALKERS Magazine 2021 “Heavy Hundred” – is pictured with Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City president/chief executive officer Mark Giannantonio.

TALKERS News Notes: As reported here last Friday (TALKERS, 6/18), Premiere Networks debuts the “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” today (Monday, 6/21) in the timeslot formerly occupied by talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm). Victor Lisle is selected as image/brand voice of the new venture and states, “I’m genuinely humbled beyond belief for this amazing opportunity. Never in a million years did I expect something of this magnitude could happen.” … The entire “JOX Roundtable” morning show – consisting of Lance Taylor, Jim Dunaway, Ryan Brown, and Sean “Rockstar” Heninger” – departed Cumulus Media Birmingham sports talk WJOX “JOX 94.5” last Wednesday (6/16). The four call the exit “amicable” and will start a still undisclosed digital project … According to The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, former KSRO, Santa Rosa (California) morning talent Pat Kerrigan has returned to the Amaturo Sonoma Media Group news/talk station to host a series of hour-long monthly specials, as well as a podcast, “Pat Kerrigan Unleashed.” … University of Hawaii football announcer Robert Kekaula died Saturday morning (6/19) at the age of 56. Prior to becoming the television play-by-play voice of the Rainbow Warriors in 2011, Kekaula was radio analyst for Hawaii football (1992-2010) … Benztown and P1 Media Group will host a free 30-minute webinar this Thursday (6/24) at 1:00 pm EST/10:00 am PST. Hosted by Benztown CEO Andreas Sannemann and P1 Media Group partner Ken Benson, “Next: Creating Amazing Radio, Round 2” will feature Lee Abrams. The programmer/consultant will field attendees’ questions and cover topics that will include: how to create “entertainment magic” on a station; radio predictions for 2026; the future of streaming and podcasting (and how that will affect radio); if contesting is still relevant; and how radio should be using social media … On the opening day of the National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas, SRN NewsLori Tradup (seen in the photo at the left) interviews the head of Voddie Baucham Ministries, Voddie Baucham. Approximately 3,500 delegates from the U.S. and around the globe are attending the annual conference at the Gaylord Texan Hotel … Additions to “The Erick Erickson Show” include Pinehurst Broadcasting news/talk WEEB “Talk Radio 97.3 FM & 990 AM,” Southern Pines, North Carolina and WULK, Crawfordville, Georgia; the show broadcasts via Premiere XDS.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

| January 20, 2021

Nick Gale Named News Director at WLS-AM, Chicago. Award-winning journalist Nick Gale is promoted to the news director position at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago. Gale is elevated into the role on the heels of the retirement of news director John Dempsey. Gale also serves as morning drive news anchor, a position in which he’ll continue. During his career, Gale has served as news director at a five-station radio group in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, as a reporter and anchor at Cox Media Group’s WOKV-AM, Jacksonville, and a reporter with the Illinois Radio Network before joining WLS-AM full time in 2013. WLS program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “There’s a spot in Chicago, below Michigan Ave, where the sun rarely shines, and the conversation is always flowing. It’s the Billy Goat Tavern, a haven for the kings and queens of Chicago print and on-air journalism, and it’s where for the past eight years, Nick Gale has ordered a fried egg sandwich to go as he began the short walk to the NBC Tower to start his news shift at 890 WLS-AM. Nick, like the Billy Goat Tavern, is reliable, relatable, and fulfilling. That is why he’s the perfect person for the news director position at 890 WLS-AM. He is exactly what Chicago news needs right now and I look forward to working with him to enhance our news product for our listeners.” Gale comments, “I have big shoes to fill and look forward to working with our newsroom team in keeping the ‘Big 89’ a place where Chicago can turn to for all the news and information they need through the day. Thank you to Stephanie, Marv [Nyren] and the rest of the management team at Cumulus for the opportunity.”

Emmis Indianapolis Names Taja Graham to Take Over for Bob Richards as Radio Market Manager. Current vice president of sales for Emmis Communications’ Indianapolis radio stations Taja Graham is being promoted to market president effective on March 1. Until that date, Graham will be deputy market manager as she and current market president Bob Richards work together to make the transition. Emmis owns and operates news/talk WIBC-FM, sports talk WFNI-AM “The Fan,” adult contemporary WYXB, and country WLHK-FM. Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan says, “Bob approached us last year with this plan and strongly endorsed Taja to succeed him in the role. Taja has been a huge part of creating our winning culture at Emmis. Her commitment to building and developing great teams is directly correlated with our top-ranked position in the Indianapolis market. I’m thrilled to see our home-grown talent like Taja succeed and look forward to the impact she will have on our great brands in the years to come.” Richards has been with Emmis for 11 years, the past three-and-a-half years as market manager. Smulyan says of Richards, “I can’t thank Bob enough for his contributions over the past decade and in particular his leadership as market manager. His passion and desire to win have been hallmarks of his leadership and positioned our team for a great future. I wish Bob every success as he charts the course for his next career adventure and thank him for all he’s meant to Emmis.”

USA Radio and Todd Starnes Partner. Author and talk media personality Todd Starnes and USA Radio Networks enter into a partnership for the latter to syndicate Starnes’ eponymous talk radio program and his commentaries. USA Radio assumes this syndication role effective Monday, January 25.

Doug Schoen Joins Newsmax TV as Analyst. Democratic political strategist Doug Schoen is joining Newsmax TV as an analyst. In a press release, Newsmax says, “Schoen, a longtime Democrat who helped shape Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 campaign and who has worked on dozens of major senate and gubernatorial races, will be a regular on Newsmax TV giving vital analysis on the new Biden administration and the national political landscape.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy adds, “Doug is a Democrat who plays it fair and square and calls it as he sees it. Since our founding over two decades ago, Newsmax has striven to give our readers and viewers ‘both sides’ and we’re now lucky to have one of the very best joining our roster.” Schoen, who has served as a contributor to FOX News and has been a frequent columnist for Newsmax, comments, “In a short time, Newsmax TV has become one of America’s leading news networks, and I am glad to join such a strong group of news professionals.”

SAG-AFTRA Board Orders Disciplinary Hearing for Donald Trump. The union representing television and radio employees announces that its national board has voted to hold a disciplinary hearing for Donald J. Trump. SAG-AFTRA says that national board “voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of a violation of SAG-AFTRA’s constitution by member Donald J. Trump and ordered the matter to be heard by SAG-AFTRA’s disciplinary committee as required by the SAG-AFTRA constitution. If found guilty by the committee, possible penalties include reprimand, censure, fines, suspension from the rights and privileges of membership, or expulsion from membership in SAG-AFTRA.” In a press release, SAG-AFTRA says the board acted on charges initiated by national executive director David White at the request of president Gabrielle Carteris. “The charges specifically cite Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members. The charges request the imposition of the most severe penalty available to SAG-AFTRA: expulsion from membership.” Carteris comments, “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred – democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press. There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.”

Programming Changes at Sports Talk ‘Sports Talk 99.5’ in Mobile. Monday (1/25) will see a number of programming changes take place at iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRKH-HD2/W258AY, Mobile “Sports Talk 99.5.” AL.com reports the station’s current morning drive program, “The Randy Kennedy Show” – with co-host Creg Stephenson of AL.com – is moving to the afternoon drive daypart (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm) and debuting in morning drive will be “The Press Box,” hosted by broadcasters Mike Grace, Chris Stewart (the voice of Alabama Crimson Tide basketball and host of  the Nick Saban and Nate Oats TV shows), and J.D. Byars (the voice of the South Alabama Jaguars). Kennedy, who is also program director for the station, says, “We couldn’t be more excited about our new lineup and the opportunity to partner with three tremendously talented and entertaining broadcasters like Mike, Chris and J.D. Creg and I always thought our show was best suited for the afternoon. Now that we have a chance to introduce ‘The Press Box,’ we feel great about the chance to make the move without missing a beat during the morning drive time slot.”

John Skipper and Dan Le Batard Reveal New Firm is Meadowlark Media. According to a piece in The Hollywood Reporter, the new venture from former ESPN president John Skipper and longtime ESPN radio and television personality Dan Le Batard will be called Meadowlark Media. Financing for the new media brand comes from Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, the company behind the DAZN sports streaming service at which Skipper had served as chairman. Skipper tells THR that their first goal is to “to find Dan a new home for his wildly popular audio programs.” Le Batard is quoted in a statement saying, “We hear the term ‘free agency’ a lot, but our fans, as loyal and rabid as any in sports, just gave us the freedom to exert the agency. John Skipper is a visionary, an industry leader and also the most powerful person in sports across the decade when our show rocketed to national acclaim. I can’t wait to see what he builds, and what we build together.”

TALKERS News Notes. Production pro Jeff Kelly is named West Coast commercial production director for Benztown. Kelly was most recently production director for iHeartMedia’s Albuquerque station group where he was honored with nine New Mexico Broadcasters Association Awards over the course of four years…..ESPN Podcasts is launching a new weekly offering, “First Take, Her Take,” featuring three prominent female sports media figures – ESPN’s Charly Arnolt, Kimberley A. Martin, and Chiney Ogwumike. ESPN says the three will discuss “the biggest sports stories but also provide insight into their unique backgrounds and personalities as they delve into other topics about their lives and culture.” Additionally, Jalen Rose and David Jacoby are returning to their podcast roots with the relaunch of “Jalen & Jacoby” as a twice-weekly offering. This is in addition to the podcast version of their daily ESPN TV show…..The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation and iHeartMedia, are launching “Sharing Solutions: A Virtual Nationwide Tour” to drive business-led solutions to the opioid epidemic as more than 40 states report increases in opioid-related mortality amid COVID-19. As part of the campaign, the Foundation and its partners will convene 50 virtual events in 50 states to showcase innovative workforce solutions and support employers as they tackle growing substance misuse in their communities and in the post-COVID workplace. iHeartMedia vice president of strategic partnerships & government initiative Alexandra Cameron says, “As a co-founder of the National Opioid Action Coalition, iHeart has been committed to combating the opioid crisis affecting communities across America. By collaborating closely with the U.S. Chamber Foundation, we are bringing public and private sectors together in this mission, and including pop culture influencers who can bring attention to this important issue.”

Trump’s Final Day in Office/Pardons and Commutations, Trump Impeachment, Biden Inauguration Prep, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Attack Investigation, and Social Media & Free Speech Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). The final day in office for Donald Trump and his issuing of pardons and commutations; the impeachment of Donald Trump; the preparation and security process for today’s inauguration ceremonies for Joe Biden; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., the 400,000 death mark, and the rollout of vaccines; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and the suspensions and bans of some by social media platforms and the issue of free speech were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

| August 11, 2020

O’Reilly Set To Land at WABC? It certainly looks as though former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly could soon be in-place to join Red Apple Media New York City’s WABC “Talk Radio 77.” O’Reilly’s attorney, Fred Newman – through his assistant – tells CNBC, “We are in the final stages of a contract and a program should be on in the fall.” O’Reilly’s representative also confirmed the talks were being held with WABC, which New York businessman John Catsimatidis acquired from Cumulus Media in June 2019. Catsimatidis tells CNBC, “I will confirm that; I think he is one common-sense American.” The 70-year-old O’Reilly has been accused by multiple former Fox News employees of sexual harassment. The network ended his “O’Reilly Factor” show three years ago, after the revelation of several costly settlements for the alleged harassment. His follow-up “No Spin News” airs on his website; YouTube; and The First, a conservative streaming channel. O’Reilly has been maintaining a strong radio presence on Key Networks’ syndicated daily feature “The O’Reilly Update,” which has roughly 225 affiliates. WABC’s current weekday lineup consists of: “Red Eye Radio” (1:00 am – 5:00 am); “Fox News Run Down” (5:00 am – 6:00 am); “Bernie & Sid” (6:00 am – 10:00 am); Brian Kilmeade (10:00 am – 12:00 noon); “Curtis & Juliet” (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm); Rudy Giuliani (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm); Ben Shapiro (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm); Mark Levin (6:00 pm – 9:00 pm); and John Batchelor (9:00 pm – 1:00 am).

WBT, Charlotte Morning Host Pat McCrory is this Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Former North Carolina governor turned WBT, Charlotte talk show host Pat McCrory is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  McCrory is heard weekday mornings on the Entercom-owned heritage station with co-host, newsman Bo Thompson, 8:00 – 10:00 am on a highly-rated show that addresses local, regional and national topics along with a blend of pop culture items and a heavy dose of “fun.”  He has successfully held that position since 2017 after serving a four-year term as the Republican governor of North Carolina.  His gubernatorial service was a wild ride during which he garnered a tremendous amount of national attention, both positive and negative, due to the controversy surrounding his signing of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act – also referred to as”HB2″ – and became embroiled in the issue of transgender use of public rest rooms.  There was a political backlash against that move which resulted in North Carolina being the target of numerous economic boycotts that resulted in the loss of revenue and jobs for the state.  McCrory, who refers to himself as one of the first victims of the “cancel culture,” lost his bid for re-election following that episode by a razor thin margin.  Prior to that, he had a long track record of being one of North Carolina’s most popular political figures.  Before being elected Governor, he served seven consecutive terms as mayor of Charlotte and presided over the Queen City’s notable growth as a business and cultural center during that period.  Harrison and McCrory candidly discuss a variety of topics from the impact of hyper political correctness on public discourse to current political issues.  Don’t miss this!  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Wrap” located in the right-hand corner on every page of Talkers.com.

Bubba Launches New Podcast – Inks with Crossover Media Group Sales for Ad Representation.  One of the most colorful and, at times, controversial personalities in the talk radio industry, Tampa-based Bubba Clem, is on a positive roll with a revamped nationally syndicated show, “The Bubba Army,” and a brand new podcast titled “The Bubba Army Podcast.”  One of the industry’s fasted rising rep firms, NYC and LA-based Crossover Media Group Sales, has announced signing the podcast to its growing roster of programs. Dropping his longtime “Love Sponge” moniker, Clem now goes by the mononymous handle “Bubba” and has evolved into a more “polished” performer on both his syndicated show and new daily podcast focusing on top-tier guests and pertinent commentary.  The radio show and new podcast are produced and syndicated by his in-house Bubba Radio Network.  Bubba tells TALKERS, “We’re looking forward to delivering a guest-driven podcast that is fresh, current, relevant and that will become a daily destination for folks who want to have a little fun.” Commenting on his new podcast sales deal, Bubba adds, “The Crossover Media team has a great track record; they know the advertising marketplace and they’ve assembled a powerful portfolio of programs.  It’s great to be working with them.” Bubba’s daily morning show is carried on radio stations in Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Phoenix and more.  It has a significant social media presence and is carried as an audio and video program on Twitch which confirms it is that platform’s number one radio show.  “Over his decades on air, Bubba has regularly shaken up the audio landscape and, along the way, he has attracted a massive and loyal listenership and high-profile celebrity guests who understand the power of his platforms,” says Sue Freund, Crossover Media Group Sales managing member. “And now Bubba brings that loyal audience to an entirely new, highly polished and potentially game-changing podcast that promises to take him to new heights.  Whether they’re fans or not, people are talking about Bubba – and we expect they’ll be talking about him even more once they hear the new podcast.”

Hewitt Lands Presidential Interview. It happened this morning (Tuesday, 8/11) as Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt scored an exclusive on-air interview with president Donald Trump. Salem Radio Network vice president/news & talk programming Tom Tradup remarks, “We are thrilled that Hugh Hewitt got to share President Trump’s views on breaking news with our nationwide affiliates today. In the 2016 election cycle, Hugh interviewed Donald Trump 16 times. With today’s interview completed, he only has 15 more to execute between now and November to tie his record.” Among other things, the wide-ranging discussion between Hewitt and Trump covered presidential politics; a potential Supreme Court vacancy; and international relations.

Miraldi Boosted to iHM’s EVP/Digital Content Strategy. Relocating to Nashville where he will oversee iHeartMedia’s new digital content hub, senior vice president of digital content strategy Paul Miraldi is promoted to executive vice president of digital content strategy. “During Paul’s time overseeing the national editorial, social & photo team, our monthly digital audience has enjoyed record growth, hitting a new all-time high last month,” notes iHeartMedia Networks group president Darren Davis. “Under his direction, the iHeart daily newsletter program has grown from four to eight daily mailings, most recently with the launch of the ‘Coronavirus Update,’ which has become our most successful newsletter. Paul will continue to lead the national editorial/social/photo team. The digital content hub will improve the efficiency and quality of our digital and social content across all of our local markets, as well as increase digital audience and social engagement.” Miraldi previously was vice president of editorial operations in New York and Clear Channel’s senior VP/digital programming & marketing. Eight years ago, he and Don MacLeod teamed to create full-service marketing agency Miraldi & MacLeod. The former director of marketing for Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) New York CHR WHTZ “Z-100” and classic rock WAXQ “Q-04.3,” Miraldi was executive producer of several major station events. His resume also includes stops at New York City’s WPLJ and WCBS-FM; Minneapolis’ KDWB and KEEY; and KSAN, San Francisco.

Entercom Division Cadence13 Launches “Pod Is A Woman.” Three former officials in the Barack Obama administration have initiated “Pod Is A Woman.” The weekly Cadence13 political podcast featuring former White House deputy director of Hispanic Media, Alejandra Campoverdi; ex White House director of press advance, Darienne Page; and former White House director of veterans outreach, Johanna Maska, started yesterday (Monday, 8/10) with Dr. Jill Biden as the first guest. According to Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran, “Campoverdi, Page, and Maska’s powerful and diverse voices couldn’t be more important to bring to the larger political conversation as we enter the home stretch to the 2020 presidential election and look ahead to the next four years. With their singular White House and campaign experiences, they will inform and engage listeners with wit, wisdom, and candor; we are thrilled to partner with them for this one-of-a-kind show.” In a joint-quote press release, the hosts state, “Throughout our years working in the White House for President Obama, we saw just what was possible when people of all backgrounds come together under a common mission of equality and opportunity. We also experienced firsthand the leadership role women played in getting the job done. This moment will be no different. At this pivotal time for our country, we’re thrilled to partner with Cadence13 to create space for honest, unapologetic, and representative conversations that will cut through the political noise and bring the focus back to the issues that really matter.”

NAB Show’s “Collectively Speaking” Kicks Off Next Month. The NAB online forum will look at issues facing the media and entertainment industries in the pandemic. NAB executive vice president/conventions and business operations Chris Brown comments, “‘Collectively Speaking’ will provide our global community new opportunities to collaborate, explore, and learn about trends and innovations as they develop. We look forward to the conversations that emerge and are committed to making the series an immersive and educational experience for all participants.” The series will debut September 2 with “Collectively Speaking: Production During a Pandemic.” It will feature USC Entertainment Technology Center‘s Erik Weaver discussing the use of advanced technology to re-open television and film sets and implement virtual sets. The series will include pre-recorded and live material in each session with audience questions.

Edison Research Ranks Top 30 Q3 2019 – Q2 2020 Podcasts. As it has been since Edison Research’s “Podcast Consumer Tracker” (PCT) was established last summer, “The Joe Rogan Experience” continues to be America’s number one podcast. The podcasts are ranked by reach – not downloads – among weekly podcast consumers. “Reach” is the percentage of weekly podcast listeners who say they have listened to any one of these shows in the last week. Edison Research senior vice president Tom Webster states, “Even with the work and life disruptions caused by COVID-19, people did continue listening to their favorite podcasts. We ultimately saw little to no reduction in reach among weekly podcast listeners.” The PCT Top 30 ranker is based on 8,080 online interviews with weekly podcast consumers (18+) in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Sampling was conducted continuously from July 7, 2019 to June 24, 2020.The top five podcasts include: “The Joe Rogan Experience”; “The Daily”; “This American Life”; “My Favorite Murder”; and “Crime Junkie.” All respondents were instructed to enter the names of all podcasts they listened to the week before the interview into an online diary and were provided instructions to obtain that information from their podcast client/player of choice.

TALKERS News Notes. Last Thursday (8/6), Sinclair Broadcast Group Seattle’s KOMO “News Radio 1000 & FM 97.7,” news/talk KVI “Talk Radio 570,” hot AC KPLZ “Star 101.5,” and KOMO-TV held an all-day “Wishes in Flight” airline miles campaign for Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. In addition to $3,700 in cash, the effort brought in nearly ten million miles, which includes a 750,000 match from Alaska Airlines. One couple donated more than 200,000 miles that they were saving for a trip of their dreams, but decided the “wish kids” needed it more. After spending more than a year in isolation for treatment, “wish kid” Brianna visited Hawaii in 2018 with her family. She describes her wish as “a chance to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, instead of the darkness that surrounds [kids facing critical illnesses].” Over the years, this annual drive has helped to raise over 1,700 plane tickets donated by listeners and partners; however, hundreds of wishes are on hold due to COVID-19. “Make-A-Wish” will book flights as soon as it’s safe for wish kid travel to resume. The local organization continues to grant “safe” wishes, including virtual meetings with celebrities, online shopping sprees, and items that can be delivered to a child’s home … Effective one week from this Thursday (8/24), Premiere Networks/Fox Sports Radio’s weekday, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon (ET) Dan Patrick Show” will begin to be streamed on NBCUniversal’s Peacock. The show’s current YouTube streaming will end coinciding with the Peacock simulcast. Peacock executive vice president/chief revenue officer Rick Cordella comments, “We are excited to welcome Dan and his devoted following to Peacock. Dan adds a distinctive voice to Peacock as we continue to build our live topical sports offering.” Patrick added, “I’m thrilled to be coming back home to the NBC family to continue the show with the ‘Danettes’ and the rest of my talented team. A huge factor in partnering with Peacock is that our loyal fans can watch us for free. Who doesn’t love free? We can’t wait to get started.” His simulcast on AT&T’s Audience Network ended earlier this year … The National Hockey League’s expansion team Seattle Kraken names its first broadcaster – Cincinnati Cyclones (East Coast Hockey League) voice/director of media relations & broadcasting Everett Fitzhugh. While the team says his precise radio and television role “will be crafted as he works for the franchise,” Fitzhugh begins with the Kraken in three weeks (9/1). Prior to his five-year Cyclones tenure, Fitzhugh called games for the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms. According to The Kraken, he will be the first full-time black play-by-play announcer in NHL history … Former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl joins Bonneville Denver sports talk KKFN “104.3 The Fan” as a Nuggets analyst for the remainder of the regular- and post-season. KKFN program director Raj Sharan opines, “I’m not sure anyone in Denver was more excited about basketball restarting than Coach Karl. We’re thrilled to have him appearing on all of our shows to give his opinion on what he’s seeing from the Nuggets, delivering the honesty that he’s known for.” Karl previously worked as an analyst at ESPN and TNT … The revised lineup at Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone” includes Jason Martin-hosted “The Wake-Up Zone” (6:00 am -9:00 am); Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow, and Paul Kuharsky “Midday 180” (9:00 am -1:00 pm); Blaine Bishop & Mickey Ryan (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm); and Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm). The “Midday 180” returns from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm for the “180 at 6.” Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren remarks, “Since its inception, ‘104.5 The Zone’ has been a leader in live and local sports, and the appetite for sports programming keeps growing. With this lineup, ‘104.5 The Zone’ continues to offer the best and most comprehensive sports coverage and local play-by-play sports action to Middle Tennessee fans.” Program director Paul Mason notes, “I am excited that ‘104.5 The Zone’ now has four local shows for our listeners every Monday – Friday. The new lineup will give our on-air talent a larger spotlight to reach their full potential individually and as a team.” …  A central-Texas high school “Football Game of the Week” will air Friday nights on Entercom Austin news/talk KJCE “Talk Radio 1370.” Its partnership with high school sports media company Vype Media includes content sharing on websites and social media platforms and other year-round programming. Entercom Austin senior vice president/market manager Bob Mackay remarks, “High school sports have been a big part of our local programming for the past decade. We are proud to team up with Vype to expand our efforts and take our coverage to the next level. We look forward to bringing to life the stories behind the sports, shining a spotlight on exceptional student athletes across central-Texas and sharing high-quality high school sports coverage with our audience across all of our platforms.” Vype Austin editor Thomas Bingham adds, “[We are] heading into our third straight school year covering the Austin area and central-Texas. This opportunity allows our local web, digital and broadcasting coverage to reach new audiences and continue to promote local high schools, athletes, and coaches across the region.”

DuBois Debuts “Dead Life” Podcast. Medium Allison DuBois, whose aid to the Maricopa County (Arizona) district attorney’s office inspired the television series “Medium,” launches “The Dead Life,” a YEA Networks podcast. YEA Networks president Shawn Nunn notes, “We are so excited to welcome Allison DuBois to the YEA Networks family. Allison’s journey is quite unique and we are excited to bring her voice to a more intimate setting.” DuBois adds, “I wanted to start my podcast so I could reach more people and open people’s minds to life after death. My show will focus on teaching listeners everything I know about the dead, interviewing people who have insight into the afterlife, and our own soul’s journey.” The podcast began today (8/11) – with “Johnjay & Rich” co-host Rich Berra the first guest – and will post each Tuesday at 8:00 am (ET).

Coronavirus Radio Ideas Awards Nominees Announced. These awards will honor those in radio who used their brands and platforms in creative/innovative ways to better serve their listeners, partners, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sponsors Benztown, P1 Media Group, Radiodays Europe, Radiodays Asia, and RDE Podcast Day are asking radio and podcast individuals worldwide to vote for the best ideas presented by the nominees. Online voting began this morning (Tuesday, 8/11) at 9:30 am (ET) and continues through September 17. Benztown chief executive officer Andreas Sannemann comments, “To all the people who nominated their station, themselves or their ideas, we salute you and we are sorry we couldn’t have all of you as nominees, as the field was incredibly strong. As an industry, we can be proud of how we have supported people in this worldwide pandemic.” Roots of The Coronavirus Radio Ideas Awards can be traced to  Benztown and P1 Media Group’s Coronavirus Radio Ideas Facebook group, launched March 26. P1 Media Group partner Ken Benson remarks, “When we joined Benztown to open this page, we knew the world of radio and podcasting was full of innovative people with a special connection to their audiences and listeners. What has emerged from these awards is that radio is more than ever at the heart of communities and is a place in which listeners put their trust.” The Coronavirus Radio Ideas Awards will recognize the best ideas in ten categories: “Best Social Media Video Content”; “Best Virtual Event”; “Best Parody”; “Best Virtual Concert”; “Best On-Air Promo”; “Best Community Service”; “Best Social Media Visual”; “Best Community Spirit”; “Best Sales Promotion”; and “Best Mega Promotion.” Also part of the awards are “Best Podcast” and “Best Journalistic Content.” Nominees were selected from more than 300 ideas from industry professionals around the world. Awards will be presented in four months (12/14) at the Radiodays Europe conference in Lisbon. US nominees include: Cumulus Media Dallas country KPLX “99.5 The Wolf” (“Best Station Promo”); Entercom New York news WINS (“Best Station Promo”); Hubbard Broadcasting Seattle country KNUC “98.9 The Bull” (“Best Community Spirit”); Beasley Broadcast Group Fort Myers CHR WXKB “B-103.9” (“Best Community Spirit”); iHeartMedia Dallas (“Best Sales Promotion”); iHeartMedia New York City CHR WHTZ “Z-100” (“Best Mega Promotion”); and iHeartMedia Atlanta CHR WWPR “Power 96.1” (“Best Mega Promotion”).

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Labor Day Weekend Marks Cousin Brucie’s WABC Homecoming. The words “icon” and “legend” are often overused; however, they definitely apply to Bruce Morrow, affectionately referred to by millions of fans as “Cousin Brucie.” The 2019 recipient of TALKERS’ “Lifetime Achievement Award” returns to New York’s WABC beginning September 5 for the weekly, three-hour “Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Rock & Roll Party.” Although now a Red Apple Media-owned news/talk outlet, WABC is where “Cousin Brucie” introduced listeners of the then Top 40 powerhouse to the Beatles, Motown, and surf music. Morrow’s Saturday night extravaganza will be simulcast in Hampton Bays, New York on WLIR-FM, as well as streaming nationwide on the WABC app. In typical exuberant style, Morrow proclaims, “Cousins, this is literally one of the most exciting projects of my life. It completes a circle – a career circle. It all started at WABC, and here we are all these years later, and the magic is still here. What magic we’re going to make.” According to Red Apple Media owner John Catsimatidis, “Brucie is a national treasure and talent. Listeners everywhere can now hear their favorite music from the early days of rock and roll on our radio stations and streaming on our digital platforms. Red Apple Media is about bringing the best in information and entertainment to New York and all of America however they want to listen – on their phone, radio, smart speaker or computer.” Catsimatidis is busy in securing another major broadcasting talent to WABC, Bill O’Reilly (see separate story above). Regarding Morrow, Red Apple Media and WABC president Chad Lopez comments, “It’s an honor to be part of these two legendary brands coming together and to welcome Cousin Brucie home to WABC.” Senior vice president of programming for Red Apple Media and WABC Dave LaBrozzi notes, “We’re excited to bring ‘Music Radio’ back to WABC every Saturday night with Cousin Brucie. Everyone across America can stream him.” The debut show will be replayed on Labor Day (Monday, 9/7) from 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm (ET). Most recently, “Cousin Brucie” was heard on SiriusXM satellite radio, where he hosted Wednesday and Saturday night programs since 2005. In the 1980s and 1990s, Morrow was a mainstay in New York City on WCBS-FM … The fifth installment of Entercom Los Angeles smooth AC KTWV’s social change “Justice Now! – Communities 2 Unity” (subtitled “Politics to Policy”) airs tomorrow night (Wednesday, 8/12) at 6:00 pm. In addition to being broadcast on “94.7 The Wave,” it will stream nationally via Radio.com and on the station’s website. This particular show will feature candidates for Los Angeles district attorney – incumbent Jackie Lacey and challenger/former San Francisco district attorney George Cascon. It’s expected the two will discuss the American legal system in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer … Hundreds of listeners to KRWM “Warm 106.9” who drove through the Coal Creek YMCA this past Saturday (8/8) were welcomed with “Warm” virtual bearhugs as the Hubbard Broadcasting Seattle adult contemporary station gave away sealed teddy bears from its “Teddy Bear Patrol.” A second such event – emceed by morning talent “Seth” – is scheduled for this Saturday (8/15) … Nineteen-year Cumulus Media Buffalo WHTT “Classic Hits 104.1” program director Joe Siragusa adds similar duties at co-owned alternative WEDG. Also at “103.3 The Edge,” afternoon drive talent/music director Tiffany Bentley takes on assistant program director duties. Cumulus Media Buffalo vice president/market manager Jim Riley remarks, “I’m thrilled to be able to announce that Joe Siragusa will be taking the reins at WEDG. Joe has been part of Buffalo’s programming leadership for most of [the station’s] 25-year history. His understanding of its heritage and the Buffalo market make him the perfect choice for this opportunity. With Tiffany Bentley as APD, I think we have a formidable team.” Siragusa comments, “‘The Edge’ is a heritage brand with a tremendously talented and passionate staff. I am thrilled to expand my role at Cumulus Buffalo and be part of the future of such a remarkable radio station.” Bentley adds, “I feel honored to work with such a great team and to be able to continue to contribute to and grow such a strong brand in this expanded role.” Siragusa previously programmed WRCL, Richmond; KGOR, Omaha; and WRQN, Toledo. Prior to joining “The Edge,” Bentley did mornings on crosstown alternative WLKK and has held programming and on-air positions in Syracuse and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania …Former morning talent at Radio One Dallas rhythmic CHR KBFB “97.9 The Beat,” Veda Loca, returns to the Radio One Dallas cluster to host “Veda Loca’s House Party” on urban AC KZMJ “Magic 94.5.” The six-hour Friday and Saturday night show will air 6:00 pm – 12:00 midnight …When the contract of morning co-host Brooks Williams expires early next year, he will not be returning to Griffin Communications-owned KVOO “98.5 Tulsa’s Country,” opting instead to pursue a real estate career. Griffin Communications director of radio operations and programming Steve Hunter notes, “We’re sad that Brooks will be leaving us, but we’re excited for him as he starts this new chapter in his life.” Shortly after joining KVOO four months ago to do afternoons, Williams segued to morning drive where he is teamed with Amber Glaze … An Albany, New York format flip finds Pamal Broadcasting hot AC WKBE “107.1 The Point” transitioning to classic country as “Big Country 107.1 – Country’s Biggest Legends.” Pamal Broadcasting general manager Tom Jacobsen remarks, “We are proud to bring these great country memories to the Capital region and north country on a great signal; we expect listeners to really love our new station.” WKBE’s lineup includes: Kevin Richards (mornings); Jacobsen under the air name Jake Thomas (middays); and Sean McMaster (afternoons) …  Work songs, summertime anthems, and current hits are part of Tim McGraw-hosted “Workin’ Hard Country,” a four-hour Labor Day special from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville. Among those sharing stories about jobs they had before they became successful playing music for a living are: Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Florida Georgia Line, and Carrie Underwood. Also featured are songs from McGraw’s “Here on Earth” album, and his recent single, “I Called Mama.” … Following a 49-year radio career – including 26 years at the same station – Forever Media Johnstown, Pennsylvania adult contemporary WKYE “Key 96.5” morning host Jack Michaels retired yesterday (8/10), owing to health issues. Forever Media Johnstown music director Brian Wolfe succeeds Michaels … Fishnet Syndication’s weekly “The Red Dirt Flirt” names Rita Ballou host. Afternoon co-host with Eric Raines on Genuine Austin Radio’s KOKE “Austin’s Country Alternative,” Ballou appears on KOKE’s morning show and manages the station’s social media and digital.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

| February 19, 2020

Round One of January PPMs Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey was released for 12 markets, including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s January 2020 survey period covered January 2-29.  Coming off the previous Holiday survey during which Christmas music listening alters usual audience media habits, some spoken-word stations gain lost ground in weekly, 6+ AQH share.  In New York, Entercom’s sports talk WFAN-AM/FM adds five-tenths to finish January with a 3.1 share and the #12 rank, while ESPN’s WEPN-FM gets six-tenths back to post a 2.1 share and the #19 rank.  iHeartMedia news/talk KFI, Los Angeles gains seven-tenths for a 3.3 share and the #9 rank in the market.  Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM, Chicago adds eight-tenths to finish January with a 3.8 share and the #8 rank.  iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston finishes its sixth survey without setback by adding eight-tenths to finish January with a 5.4 share and the #5 rank in the market.  You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways here.

Conservative Talker Steve Malzberg to Host Weekly RT America Show. Talk host Steve Malzberg is joining cable’s RT America to host the weekly media commentary program, “Eat the Press,” set to debut Friday (2/21) at 6:30 ET (with repeat broadcasts Sundays at 10:30 AM).  Malzberg says, “I have been highlighting media bias to my audiences for years.  Some of it is blatant.  Some is less obvious, and some is actually revealed by what the media is not telling you at all.  With “Eat the Press,” I relish, pun intended, the opportunity I’ve been given by RT America to make this important issue my focus.  Stay hungry, because ‘Eat The Press’ will have a lot to offer each week.”  Malzberg has hosted radio talk shows at WABC and WOR in New York (and in national syndication).  He’s hosted his own show on Newsmax TV and served as a commentator on FOX News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, and RT America.

Entercom to Sell WAAF-FM, Boston to EMF for $10.75 Million. The latest major market FM signal to be acquired by religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation is Entercom’s rock WAAF-FM, Boston.  The price tag is $10.75 million in cash and EMP will begin operating the 107.3 FM frequency under a network affiliation agreement beginning Saturday (2/22).  The WAAF transmitter is in Westborough, Massachusetts and covers the central and eastern portions of the state, including the Worcester market.  Entercom states in a press release that it will continue to air the WAAF format on WWBX-HD2 104.1 FM and WEEI-HD2 93.7 FM and via RADIO.COM.  Entercom says it expects the deal to close in the second quarter of this year.

Jimmy Farrell Promoted to Director of Sales for CMG Jacksonville. Sales and management pro Jimmy Farrell is moving from his general sales manager post at Cox Media Group’s Orlando cluster to the company’s Jacksonville operations where he’ll be director of sales.  CMG’s Jacksonville cluster includes news/talk WKOV-FM “News 104.5.” sports talk WOKV-AM, plus five music brands.  CMG Jacksonville vice president and general manager Katie Reid says, “We are pleased and proud to promote Jimmy to this new position.  His entrepreneurial approach, high-impact leadership style, deep understanding of both the marketplace and Cox Media Group’s offerings has served him well, enabling him to exceed sales goals by complementing his customers’ brands and business objectives with CMG station content solutions that meet their objectives.”

Nolan Murphy Named NSM for Good Karma Brands.  Sales pro Nolan Murphy is promoted from his marketing consultant post at Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee operations to national sales manager for the company’s Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Cleveland, and West Palm Beach station groups.  Sports talk WMVP-AM, Chicago director of sales David Scharf says, “Nolan’s skillset and attitude makes him the perfect national sales manager.  His knowledge of Good Karma Brands’ assets sets us up to win partnerships quickly, while also planning and preparing us to win long term.  His solutions-based approach and solid work ethic will help us develop the national division of Good Karma Brands.”

Georgia Student Chosen for Mentorship Program. Sophomore Georgia College and State University student Jonathan O’Brien has been chosen as the first quarter mentee in the Benztown Mentorship Program.  The program is being sponsored by Benztown in conjunction with the National Radio Talent System and O’Brien is the third student from the NRTS to take part in the mentorship program.  O’Brien – who attended the GAB Radio Talent Institute at the University of Georgia last summer – handles news duties on his college radio station, WGUR-FM, Milledgeville, Georgia and is passionate about radio news.  He will be mentored by Jennifer Seelig – director of news and programming at Entercom’s all-news KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM, San Francisco – during O’Brien’s Benztown-sponsored trip to the Bay Area March 15-17.  She will also mentor O’Brien virtually throughout the spring academic semester.  Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “If Jonathan O’Brien is any indication of the future of our industry, we’re in great shape.  We are so pleased to be able to provide this opportunity with the assistance of our friends at the National Radio Talent System and the incredible Jennifer Seelig and KCBS.”

Oakland A’s to Be Heard Online Only in Oakland.  In a first for the MLB club, this season’s radio play-by-play of Oakland Athletics baseball will only be heard
streaming online in the Oakland market.  Affiliate radio stations will still broadcast games over the air but fans in the Bay Area will hear games via its TuneIn channel, “A’s Cast”.  The team’s games were heard on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KTRB-AM, San Francisco “860 AM The Answer” last season.  Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval says, “We really listened to our fans and saw the success with ‘A’s Cast.’  We’re doing an incredible job getting people excited about baseball and the content. Partnering with TuneIn and having a semi-exclusive platform; we think it made a lot of sense and sets the example.”

Presidential Race, Trump Grants Clemency, Stone Sentencing/Barr Criticism, Coronavirus Pandemic, Weinstein Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/18). The Democrats battling to challenge President Trump in November and tonight’s Las Vegas debate; President Trump issues a number of high-profile pardons and clemencies; the controversy over the Justice Department’s change in sentencing recommendation for Trump adviser Roger Stone and the related criticism of Attorney General William Barr; the status of the covid-19 coronavirus and its effects on the Chinese economy; and the trial of former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on sexual assault charges 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. Gone is the business talk format on Cumulus Media’s KTBL-AM Albuquerque and now the station – along with FM translator K233CG – becomes rock as “94.5 The Pit/KTBL, Albuquerque’s New Choice for Rock.”  The station flipped airing Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”  Cumulus Albuquerque vice president and market manager Jeff Berry says, “We are thrilled to provide ABQ and the surrounding areas with an exciting new rock station.  ‘The Pit’ will provide fans with current rock artists like Shinedown and Disturbed, laced with 90s and 2000s mega bands such as Metallica and Foo Fighters.  It will be a game changer for ABQ rock fanatics and our clients.”…..In Detroit, Cumulus Media’s country WDRQ rebranded from its “NASH FM 93.1” moniker to “New Country 93.1” and replaced the syndicated “Ty Bentli Show” with the local “Electric Barnyard with Broadway & Krissy.”  Bill “Broadway” Bert moves from afternoons to partner with Krissy T, who recently exited iHeartMedia’s crosstown CHR WKQI “Channel 95.5.”  Station PD Lance Tidwell takes over the afternoon drive show.