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Thursday, December 9, 2021

| December 9, 2021

Talk Show Host Michael Berry is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. KTRH, Houston/independently syndicated radio talk show host Michael Berry is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Berry is heard live twice daily on Houston’s talk radio powerhouse KTRH. The first show airs between 8:00 am and 11:00 am and then he comes back between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. But, wait, that’s not all. An additional 25 formidable stations carry one or the other or both of these shows on an independent network that has grown out of his recognition as a break-out talent with a growing following of fans. This network stretches from upstate New York to Portland to Louisiana to Pensacola to Baton Rouge, Nashville, New Orleans, New Mexico and Alabama, with eight stations in Texas. Berry, the son of a maintenance worker for a chemical plant, is an attorney with two law degrees and an interesting history in politics. He began his often-controversial talk radio career in 2005 while still Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Houston. He’s married to the former Secretary of State of Texas, who is from India (and also a lawyer). They are parents of two adopted sons from Ethiopia – now teenagers. TALKERS research places him at number 15 on its most-listened-to radio talk show hosts list with a weekly audience of some 5 million people. He’s also ranked number 9 on the 2021 TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America. Harrison and Berry engage in a fascinating conversation about a number of topics including the impact of the COVID era on the psyche of American workers, the application of the phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows” to today’s news/talk discussion, the differences between live radio and podcasting, Berry’s evolution from “yeller” to storyteller, and the syndrome of conservative talk show hosts often being unjustly accused of being proponents of racism and hate. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Faces Unionization of Podcast Network. After a majority of iHeartPodcast Network staffers signed union cards to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the Guild is calling on iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize the union. According to a press release from the WGAE, “The approximately 125-member iHeartPodcast Network Bargaining Committee includes producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts based in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York CIty. The iHeartPodcast Network includes hit series like ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ ‘Fake Doctors, Real Friends,’ ‘The Ron Burgundy Podcast,’ ‘Disgraceland,’ ‘Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,’ ‘Noble Blood’ and ‘Committed,’ among many others.” In its “Why We’re Organizing” letter to iHM management, the organizing committee writes, in part: “We, the podcast producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts of iHeartMedia, are thrilled to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Months of discussion with our colleagues have clarified some things: First, we love the community we have created at iHeart. We work shoulder to shoulder with some of the most creative minds in the business, who have come to feel more like family. We are devoted and passionate storytellers who take pride in our ability to provide our listeners with entertaining, thought-provoking audio content and, most importantly, companionship. However, during difficult times, we are reminded that while the iHeart Digital Audio Group prides itself on its relative autonomy and ability to adapt to the shifting needs of the marketplace—much like a start-up—we work under the capacity constraints of a legacy broadcast conglomerate. Essentially, we have been encouraged to embrace the dynamism of start-up culture without any of the associated benefits. Throughout the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, we managed to seamlessly transition to remote work; our adaptability helped the company not just sustain but thrive during a period of economic uncertainty and social unrest. During team calls, town halls, and official email communications from leadership, we are frequently reminded of the financial gains that we helped make possible. Bob Pittman, CEO and chairman of iHeartMedia, reported during last month’s quarterly earnings call that Digital Audio revenue increased by 77 % compared to 2020. Our division’s significant growth was “driven primarily by continuing increases in demand for digital advertising and the continued growth of podcasting,” where revenue is up 184 % compared to 2020. Unfortunately, those gains have not reached the creators working round-the-clock to keep our audience of more than 30 million monthly listeners actively engaged. With hundreds of shows across all categories and genres, many of us are doing the work of multiple employees, and the huge volume of content we are responsible for is not met with equitable compensation. Furthermore, we lack transparency in workplace decision making, meaningful initiatives toward diversity and inclusion, fairness in managerial relationships, and clarity in divisions of labor. While we are proud to be an essential part of iHeartMedia’s success over the past few years, we are keenly aware of significant internal pay disparities between similarly positioned individuals within the company. And across the board, iHeartMedia’s overall compensation and benefits standards are wholly insufficient when compared to the greater podcast and scripted audio market. Due to these working conditions, the creators of iHeart’s podcasts have banded together in order to help determine the best path forward so that iHeart can remain competitive, retain existing talent, and attract new voices to the network, all while creating a more equitable, transparent, and democratic workplace.” Staffers are seeking: Appropriate compensation and benefits, accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts, manageable workloads and appropriate staffing for shows, clear paths for advancement and standardized job descriptions, and job security. There’s been no official word from iHeartMedia yet.

Audacy Unveils Sports Betting Intensive ‘95.7 The Fan’ in Rochester. Rochester sports talk outlet WROC-AM adds FM translator W239BF to its broadcast and Audacy adjusts the programming to go sports betting intensive as “95.7 The Fan.” The station is using programming from the BetQL Network, CBS Sports Radio and keeps the local Buffalo Bills program “One Bills Live” in early afternoons as well as “The Sports Bar with Danger and Battaglia” (hosted by Mike Danger and Gene Battaglia) in PM drive. The station also continues to air as simulcasts of sister station WCMF’s flagship play-by-play coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Audacy Rochester SVP and market manager Sue Munn says, “In line with our company’s expansive position as leaders in sports audio, we’re delighted to enhance our sports content offering through the launch of ‘The Fan Rochester.’ Powered by widely recognizable BetQL and CBS Sports Radio programming, this station will give our local listeners more premier content from some of our brightest talent.”

KFI, Los Angeles Announces Record-Breaking 11th Annual Pastathon. Some of the staff of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI are pictured above at a remote broadcast for this year’s 11th annual KFI Pastathon that raised a record-breaking $933,502 and 115,324 pounds of pasta and sauce to benefit Caterina’s Club, the local charity that provides more than 25,000 nutritious meals every week to children in need in Southern California. With the help of listeners, local businesses and the continued partnership with Barilla, this year’s event set a new fundraising record. Since 2010, KFI listeners have raised more than $4.5 million and over 700,000 pounds of pasta and sauce for children in need in the community. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci comments, “The KFI PastaThon is a full-station effort, and the biggest heroes are our listeners and partners. Every year, we reach new highs and that means more meals to feed more kids in Southern California. On behalf of the entire KFI team we thank the community for the remarkable generosity.”

Fargo’s ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ Radio Show Visits FOX Square in NYC. Pictured above are listeners to the “What’s on Your Mind?” show that airs on North Dakota stations KFYR, Bismarck; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga; and KLTC, Dickinson as they watch show host Scott Hennen (right) and FOX News Radio star Jimmy Failla (left) do a weather hit with FOX NewsJanice Dean (center). The group also was able to meet “FOX & Friends” co-star and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade and see the remnants of the now-famous burned Christmas tree.

Podcast Download Fall 2021: Big Three Expand Their Share. The just-released Fall 2021 edition of the Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Podcast Download report focuses on how consumers access podcasts, what they want from a listening app, and attitudes and usage of the “big three” podcast publishers: Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify. As part of the study, Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 300 media agencies and marketers and found: 71% say they have discussed the potential of advertising in podcasts; An all-time high of 53% are likely to consider advertising in the next six months, up from 46% last year and 18% in 2015; Another all-time high of 44% indicate they are likely to actually advertise in podcasts in the next six months, up from 37% last year and 10% in 2015; and 45% report they are currently advertising in podcasts, an increase of three times from 2015 and a nine-point growth over 2020. In another aspect of the report, MARU/Matchbox conducted an in-depth study of 600 weekly podcast listeners in October 2021. In the MARU study, weekly podcast listeners were provided a list of podcast listening platforms and asked how often they listened to each. Since 2019, frequent Spotify use jumped from 30% to 36%. With podcasts showcased right in their app, Spotify has helped lure more music streamers into podcasting. Versus two years ago, YouTube is stable (33% to 34%) while Apple Podcasts dropped (from 38% to 27%). Frequent use of Google’s apps (Google Play/Google Podcasts) dropped from 19% in 2019 to 16% in 2021. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Gallagher used the torching of the FOX News Christmas tree in Midtown Manhattan to spur his Salem Radio Network listeners to action for the network’s annual Angel Tree campaign that helps children of prisoners through the non-profit Prison Fellowship. Gallagher told his listeners, “Let’s show everyone that there’s more good than evil in America.” As a result, yesterday (12/8) more than 1,000 children of prisoners were sponsored and will be blessed with personalized Christmas gifts plus a note from their incarcerated mom or dad. Gallagher added, “We proved that a positive message can overcome any negative news when we all pull together.”…..The Carey Brothers are ending their media efforts after 35 years. Morris and James Carey announce they will wrap their radio program after the December 25 edition and the final “Tip of the Day” feature will air nationally on December 31. The Carey Brothers did their first radio show on January 2, 1987 at KCBS-AM, San Francisco. The program went national in 1992 and at its peak aired on more than 300 affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant/Rising Case Numbers/Mandate Repeal, Russia Threatens Ukraine, Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Evergrande Defaults, Violent Crime Spike, January 6 Investigation, Social Media/Instagram Testimony, and Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The Omicron coronavirus variant, the rising case numbers in numerous U.S. states, and the Senate’s passing a repeal of Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate; Russia’s continuing military build-up at the Ukraine border; Russia and China criticize Joe Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy taking place today and tomorrow; Chinese real estate giant Evergrande defaults causing concern of global investors; the violent crime spike in numerous American cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and Donald Trump loyalists’ refusal to cooperate; Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies at a Senate hearing on social media and teen safety; and the prosecution rests its case in the trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2021

| August 6, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Masks, Mandates and Mayhem,” looks back at this past week of August 2-6. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Grace Curley; talk show host, WRKO, Boston / HCRNDavid Gornoski, talk show host, WHBO, Tampa; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, the Ralph Nader Radio Hour; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / physician; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia Second Quarter Revenue Up 76.7%. The company reports revenue for the second quarter was $862 million, up 76.7% from the same period in 2020 and down just 6% from the pre-pandemic second quarter of 2019. For Q2 of 2021, iHeartMedia reports operating income of $28.1 million compared to the operating loss of $159.1 million reported in the second quarter of 2020. For all of 2020, the company reported an operating loss of $1.88 billion. That loss has narrowed to $48.2 million for the first six months of 2021. iHeartMedia now reports its data in three segments – the Multiplatform Group that includes broadcast radio, networks, and sponsorship & events; the Digital Audio Group that includes digital content and podcasts; and the Audio and Media Services Group, including Katz Media Group and RCS.  Broadcast radio’s revenue was $451.1 million, an increase of 84.9% while networks revenue was $123.6 million, up 28.3%. As a whole, the Multiplatform Group’s revenue was $605.9 million, up 69.7%. Digital, excluding Podcast was up 100.7% on revenue of $144.5 million and Podcast revenue rose 151.5% on revenue of $53.4 million. iHeartMedia reports that its net debt is $5.4 billion.

Audacy Q2 2021 Revenue Rises 73%. Reporting financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Audacy, Inc. says net revenue was $304.5 million, up 73% compared to $175.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. Breaking down the revenue by type, Audacy reveals spot revenue was $202.8 million, up 98% compared to the second quarter of 2020. Digital revenue was $58.4 million, up 41% compared to the same period a year ago. Network revenue was $20.6 million, an increase of 21% over Q2 of 2020. Operating income for the quarter was $17.9 million compared to the operating loss of $45.5 million the company posted in the second quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field states. “I am pleased to report that Audacy accelerated its recovery from the pandemic as second quarter revenues grew 73% over the prior year, led by a 98% increase in spot radio advertising and 41% growth in digital revenues. In addition, our momentum is continuing into the third quarter as we expect that revenues will increase by about 10% sequentially from the second quarter and by about 25% compared to prior year. We continue to make great strides in enhancing our business and elevating our competitive position. During the second quarter, we executed a rebranding of the company as Audacy, a name that reflects our evolution into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and an important leadership position across the full spectrum of the dynamic and growing audio market – including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, events, music, news and sports. Our recent acquisitions in podcasting and sports betting, as well as numerous growth investments have significantly enhanced our ability to capitalize on broader advertising trends, augment our product line and better serve our listeners and customers. This has been an active period of development across the company as we recently launched over 350 exclusive new stations on our Audacy digital platform, unveiled our new 2400Sports podcast studio, commenced a three-year strategic partnership with American Public Media (the creators of Marketplace), expanded our BetQL network, and announced an important partnership with Major League Baseball, making us the league’s official podcast and digital audio partner. We are also pleased to note the significant acceleration in each of our digital businesses, including podcasting, digital audio, and digital marketing solutions. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Personnel Exiting ‘NoogaRadio’ As Station Plans Programming Changes. According to a report at The Chattanoogan, a number of staffers at news/talk outlet WPLZ-HD4/W224AZ, Chattanooga “NoogaRadio” at 92.7 FM are leaving as management plans changes to the programming. The station had been billed as “Local Radio Done Right” and was created by former owner Jim Brewer. After Brewer’s death from cancer, the station is now owned by Sabatino Cuppelli. Station general sales manager Mike Lisowski tells The Chattanoogan, “It is with deep sadness I regret to inform you that as of Friday the ‘Fred the Show’ morning crew, including Jeff Styles, a beloved 29-year veteran of local talk radio, Jen Lambert, also general manager who brought 20-plus years of experience in marketing, advertising, promotions and design, Jason Kirk, also our operations manager who brought a multitude of knowledge and technical expertise, not to mention his sales ability, will be parting ways with NoogaRadio.” Lisowski adds that sports broadcaster Keon Rose is moving to Arizona to advance his career.  The statement continues: “Unfortunately, after four years, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a whole lot of love, the station ownership has chosen to take ‘NoogaRadio’ in a direction that most of us feel we are unable to stand behind. We are so grateful and proud to have been able to entertain you for as long as we have and, as the general manager, I am able to move on with my head held high knowing that I gave it my all. We genuinely hope we can bring our relationship to an amicable end in the most professional manner leaving no burned bridges, hard feelings or severed business relationships.”

WSB Care-a-Thon Raises $1.67 for Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Pictured above are WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta personalities (from l-r) Eric Von Haessler, Scott Slade, and Clark Howard with the check indicating the grand total of $1,671,813 raised during the July 29 and 30 “95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon benefiting the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.” During the 37-hour broadcast, Slade, Howard, Erick Erickson, Von Haessler, Mark Arum, Brian Kilmeade and many other 95.5 WSB hosts turned the airwaves over to the patients and families of Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to raise funds to support research, the Fellowship Program, and the family support team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Over the past 21 years, the 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon has raised over $28 million for the cause. 95.5 WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “This event began as an idea from 95.5 WSB’s Scott Slade, and 21 years later we continue the partnership with the great people at Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This event reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our own lives, there are always others dealing with challenges much more difficult than our own. The passion and heart of our team is represented by the incredible generosity of the 95.5 WSB listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. Albuquerque sports talk KNML-AM/K240BL “95.9 FM and AM 610, The Sports Animal” announces it is partnering with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos to bring all Raiders games and non-conflicting Broncos games to Albuquerque sports fans for the 2021-2022 season. The Cumulus Media station is also airing its current powerful slate of Westwood One Primetime NFL programming. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Jared Hart comments, “Our partnership with The Raiders and Broncos is vital to Albuquerque as it helps bring NFL football coverage to the extensive Raider and Bronco fan base in our passionate sports state. We couldn’t be more excited to have the inaugural season of Las Vegas’ first NFL team, and the love of the Broncos in Albuquerque is palpable. We think this will energize the NFL programming on The Sports Animal better than almost any other NFL team could.”…..iHeartMedia and Salesforce.org are launching a special six-episode iHeartRadio Original podcast series hosted by Emmy-nominated and NYT Bestselling author, Baratunde Thurston, called “Force Multiplier,” that examines the exponential impact businesses and organizations can have on the world by working together. “Force Multiplier” was created to bring leaders from public, private and nonprofit sectors together to discuss how they’re tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, such as nutrition insecurity, health equity, workforce development, racial injustice, mental health & wellbeing and homelessness…..ABC News says its hit podcast “The Dropout” returns with new episodes as Elizabeth Holmes – once the youngest self-made female billionaire – goes on trial for alleged fraud, facing decades in prison, if convicted. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” is hosted by ABC News chief business, technology & economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who’s spent more than a decade covering business and five years investigating Holmes. The Stanford University dropout turned founder and CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos suffered an astounding fall from grace amid the accusations of alleged widespread fraud. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” debuts with two new episodes on Tuesday, August 31, to coincide with jury selection…..Boston NPR member station WBUR announces the next call for submissions for the WBUR Newsroom Fellowship. This Fellowship is a yearlong program for recent graduates or early-career journalists who are looking to build reporting and production skills and have a demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of underrepresented voices in public radio. For the first time, WBUR will select two Fellows for the program who will each receive a salary of $55,000 in addition to a complete Boston University benefits package. The Fellowship provides hands-on training in every aspect of public media journalism. Fellows will develop their skills under the guidance of WBUR’s editors and producers and will contribute to each part of the newsroom, rotating every three months, maximizing exposure to the many aspects of public media, including newscast, live broadcast, digital and reporting. See more about this Fellowship and apply here…..Audacy announces former NFL All-Pro T.J. Lang is joining sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit “97.1 The Ticket” and the Detroit Lions Radio Network, effective August 6. Lang will join Dan Miller and Lomas Brown as the sideline reporter. Lang will also be in studio on the station each week throughout the professional football season, joining “The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen” and “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico” on Monday and Fridays.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccine Hesitancy, Masks and Mandates Combine as Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 2-6. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy in numerous parts of the country, and the controversy of mask policies and mandates combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the New York Attorney General’s report on the allegations of sexual impropriety against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the push for him to resign. Following at #3 was the investigation into the Capitol attack by the January 6 Committee, the voting legislation taking place in various states, and race relations. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.