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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

| July 20, 2021

iHeartMedia Voluntarily Prepays $250 Million Loan. The company announces that its indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary, iHeartCommunications, Inc., has successfully completed the previously announced voluntary prepayment of a portion of both its $2,070 million Term Loan and its $446 million Incremental Term Loan, utilizing cash on hand, while concurrently repricing the Incremental Term Loan at a new rate of LIBOR + 3.25%. The prepayment was applied to the Term Loan and the Incremental Term Loan on a pro-rata basis, resulting in $206 million being used to prepay the Term Loan and $44 million to prepay the Incremental Term Loan. The interest rate on the remaining $402 million balance of the Incremental Term Loan was lowered by 100 basis points, including the impact of a 25-basis points LIBOR floor reduction. The prepayment and the new rate are expected to save iHeartMedia approximately $13 million in interest expense on an annualized basis.

Emmis to Cease Broadcasting on WFNI-AM After Agreeing to Transmitter Site Deal. According to a report by Alex Brown at Inside Indiana Business, Emmis Communications will shut down the 1070 AM signal of sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis “The Fan” after August 1 because it has sold a part of the transmitter site. The company will continue to broadcast “The Fan” on WIBC-HD2 and FM translators W228CX at 93.5 and W298BB at 107.5. Emmis founder and chairman Jeff Smulyan says, “As long-time owners of 1070, we are working diligently on finding the next great use for the signal. We were offered a wonderful opportunity to monetize the property and felt it was our obligation to explore that. Ultimately, it made the most sense.” Emmis tells IIB that “it had the tower site rezoned for mixed-use commercial, office, and residential developments more than a year ago. The entire site covers 70 acres on Perry Worth Road near I-65 in Whitestown and additional parcels are currently listed for sale.”

Music Radio Royalty Update: Are Labels Hastening ‘The Day The (free) Music Died?’ — Battle lines are drawn over performance payments FMs fear. And dueling congressional actions demonstrate Washington-speak 101: “Fairness” vs. “Freedom.” On his TV show “The Big Picture,” consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke (above, center) discusses with Talkers Radio GM David Bernstein (left) and Texas station owner Paul Gleiser (right). And for Talk stations, how’s Life-after-Limbaugh? Panelists react to a clip from Michael Harrison’s Fireside Chat with Bill O’Reilly at the June 11 TALKERS 2021 Conference at Hofstra University. Watch it here.

SRN’s Eric Metaxas Interviews Mike Pompeo at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network host Eric Metaxas (left) with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their live broadcast interview from Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa yesterday (7/19). This year’s event attracted more than 3,000 high school and college activists and included speakers such as Pompeo, Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Salem Radio Network host Dr. Sebastian Gorka, and Turning Point USA founder and SRN talk host Charlie Kirk.

TALKERS News Notes. Denver talk radio host Steffan Tubbs was interviewed recently by KCNC-TV, Denver about his bout with COVID-19. Tubbs is afternoon drive personality on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KNUS, Denver and he told KCNC-TV that he was not vaccinated, spent a week in the hospital and missed 51 days of work. While he says he’ll not tell others to get vaccinated, he did say, “To those who think COVID is a hoax, you’re crazy”…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Aisha Jefferson is promoted from her part-time digital content producer role at Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM to full-time producer. She joined the station in 2019. WBBM brand manager Ron Gleason writes in a memo to staffers, “Aisha has been with us for a couple years and has patiently awaited this well-deserved opportunity.”…..SiriusXM announces a week-long tribute to legendary comedienne Joan Rivers. The SiriusXM Comedy Greats channel will play exclusive, never-before-released recordings from the final 20 years of Rivers’ career. SiriusXM says that now, for the first time ever, each day throughout the week fans will get to hear some of Rivers’ best stand-up moments. The special will include material from Rivers’ performances in London, Boston, West Palm Beach and more…..The “Motley Fool Money” show starring host Chris Hill adds Midwest Communications‘ WHTC-AM/W259CO, Holland, Michigan as its newest affiliate station.

PodcastOne to Launch New Show ‘Cheating: When Love Lies.’ The new podcast from PodcastOne is called “Cheating: When Love Lies” and his hosted by Jillian Hamilton. PodcastOne says it’s a “deep dive into the complex emotions surrounding these secret unions.” Creator and host Hamilton delves into the taboo topic of cheating and asks the hard questions about affairs: how common are they, who’s having them, and why? These questions illicit unexpected answers that reveal both men and women as people actively seeking something – validation, escape, understanding, vengeance, thrill, love, sex, and romance – outside of committed partnerships. “Cheating: When Love Lies” resists the condemnation of affairs as uniquely wrong or bad and instead considers their usefulness in learning as much about relationships as we learn about ourselves.

Audacy Debuts New Podcast Starring Carmelo Anthony. Top-10 all-time NBA scorer, 10-time NBA All-Star, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Carmelo Anthony today announced that he and his multi-platform content company Creative 7 are partnering with Audacy’s Cadence13 to launch his viral, wine-focused YouTube series, “What’s In Your Glass?” On the podcast, Anthony invites listeners to sit in on intimate chats with leading guests from the worlds of sports, wine, business, entertainment, music, politics, and more over a glass (or two) of wine. Notable guests include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, songstress Andra Day, Oscar-winning filmmaker Shaka King, rapper T-Pain, NBA star JJ Redick, and more.

COVID-19, Twitter Suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene, U.S. Blames China for Microsoft Hack, Voting Legislation/Texas Dems Case, Biden Infrastructure Bill, Urban Crime Wave, January 6 Investigation, Western Heat and Wildfires, Bezos Space Trip Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/19). The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in all 50 states and the stalled rate of vaccinations; Twitter temporarily suspends Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading COVID misinformation; the Joe Biden administration publicly blames China for the recent hack of Microsoft’s exchange email server; the numerous state laws toughening voting requirements and the Texas Democrats who fled the station to avoid voting on that state’s bill; this week’s debate on the $1 trillion Biden infrastructure bill; the soaring rate of violent crime in many of America’s big cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the sentencing of the first to be prosecuted; the heatwave and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and billionaire Jeff Bezos’ trip into space were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Salem Media Group Seeks Talk Host for Christian Talk KKLA-FM, Los Angeles. Salem Media Los Angeles is looking for the next host for its live daily talk show on Christian formatted 99.5 KKLA. The company says: “This is talk radio with a difference. It’s a Christian perspective on news of the day. The average length of time hosts have held this position is eight-plus years, and our current host is moving on to other ministry work. Affinity for and understanding of the target audience of Christians, or spiritual ‘seekers’ is necessary. Impacting the culture and lives can be deeply satisfying, so much more so than many typical ‘shows.’ If you are still reading this posting, tired of less meaningful hosting, if you are ready for a change, if you are intrigued by this opportunity, pray about it and don’t hesitate to get in touch for more details. This show can tend to be off the radar of ‘general market’ talk radio, so in case you are wondering, this is a legit afternoon drive talk show, topics, guests, listener calls. Salem is a public company, we are not a church, we are a commercial radio station. Most of us here have a background in competitive ‘general market’ radio. And we have been attracted to working for Salem because of the difference it makes in our own lives, and the lives of our audience base and communities. The show is heard in both Los Angeles and San Diego during afternoon drive each weekday. It’s a huge opportunity for the right person. We would enjoy speaking with you if you have any questions.” Contact KKLA program director Rodney Miller at: Rodney.miller@salemla.com.

KNBR, San Francisco Seeking Full-Time Writer/Web Producer. San Francisco sports talker KNBR is seeking a full-time writer and web producer. The station says: “As a member of the San Francisco Cumulus digital team, the writer and web producer will be responsible for covering Bay Area sports as a writer, reporter and content creator, while also supporting the KNBR digital team’s efforts in creating digital content related to the KNBR radio station. The job will include but is not limited to writing, on-site reporting, interviewing, editing, headline writing, social media skills, going on-air or on-camera, collaborating on digital content both within the department and with other departments such as programing, sales and promotions.” See more information about the position and apply here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

| July 7, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – Brian Kilmeade Keynote Address. The sixth video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11, is posted. This installment features the conference’s Keynote Address delivered by FOX News Radio/FOX News Channel talk media star Brian Kilmeade. The introduction is provided by talk show host Frank MacKay of “Long Island News Radio” WRCN-FM, Riverhead, NY. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

Audacy to Hire 50-Plus Journalists as Part of Multiplatform Transformation. In a move it calls “a multiplatform transformation for its news brands,” Audacy says the transformation will allow it to “offer more original digital news content as well as in-depth reporting to complement breaking news broadcast coverage.” The company says it will launch a new centralized digital team dedicated to news and add over 50 journalists in eight of its newsrooms across the country. “This coordinated, multi-platform focus will allow the company to produce an array of fresh audio and local reporting that will be distributed across the Audacy network. The new resources will enable the creation of original podcasts and other specialty digital content that will add to the body of trusted local reporting that Audacy news and news/talk brands deliver to millions of listeners daily.” Audacy EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano comments, “The past year has underscored the crucial role of journalism and the demand for trusted quality content has never been higher. Audacy’s local news brands have been delivering on-demand news and information for decades and are now poised to build on that foundation. While other news organizations are downsizing, this further investment will allow us to leverage the credibility of our news brands to expand our reach and engagement while continuing to deliver the premier coverage our audience is accustomed to and relies on.” The company adds that the multiplatform transformation will also see the launch of original longform podcasts from local news brands; an original national weekly podcast that highlights the most pressing story of the week and draws on reporting and interview content from across the Audacy network of news brands; daily in-depth podcasts and on-demand audio that explore local stories and issues that most affect listeners’ lives; as well as custom newsletters and in-app experiences that offer audiences a chance to explore areas of interest and interact directly with Audacy brands.

Dom Giordano Moves to Rush’s Old Slot on WPHT, Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Business Journal (7/6) reports Audacy has made a major move to turn WPHT’s 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot, held for years by Rush Limbaugh, into a local program showcasing the talents of market mainstay Dom Giordano. Thirty-year veteran of the Philly airwaves, Giordano, is rightly considered by many to be “the dean of Philadelphia talk radio.” A former high-profile schoolteacher, he is one of American news/talk radio’s leading advocates for education reform, not to mention a household name in the City of Brotherly Love where he is plugged-in to the full spectrum of local issues. (He’s also quite astute about national issues as evidenced by his being the longtime go-to guy to sit in for Jim Bohannon on that legend’s Westwood One show.) Giordano moves to his new noon start from WPHT’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. Morning host Rich Zeoli has taken over an extra hour until 10:00 am and WPHT has been utilizing the services of several locally known talents in the still open 10:00 am to 12:00 noon position.

WABC, New York Brings Constantine Maroulis Aboard for Dual Role. Tony-nominated Broadway singer and actor Constantine Maroulis is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to launch a new variety entertainment program called “The Constantine Maroulis Show – Cuz Saturday Night Rocks!” and airs Saturdays from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm beginning this Saturday (7/10). Additionally, Maroulis will serve as 77 WABC Radio’s entertainment reporter. Maroulis was a finalist on the fourth season of “American Idol.” He’s worked on Broadway and was twice nominated for Tony Awards – one for his leading role in Rock of Ages. His new program will feature music from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s plus interviews with some of the most noteworthy musicians, artists, and influencers. He says, “I will be bringing the high energy and music that fans enjoyed from my ‘American Idol’ performances and starring roles on Broadway. What will be new for fans are my interviews. I look forward to having artists on my show and sharing behind the scenes stories with the audience while I spin amazing songs.” On Mondays and Fridays, Maroulis’ entertainment reports will be heard on “Bernie & Sid In The Morning,” and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, he will deliver a weekend-focused segment titled, “Pop Rocks 60.” Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Constantine is an immense talent both as a performer and storyteller. 77 WABC has worked with him on several specials and charity events, so we are sure ‘The Constantine Maroulis Show — Cuz Saturday Night Rocks!’ will be a homerun with audiences in New York and around the world. We look forward to sharing this new show and his other contributions to our schedule all week long.”

News/Talk WINC-AM, Winchester, Virginia Changing Hands and Calls. According to a report in Northern Virginia Daily, heritage Winchester, Virginia radio station WINC-AM is in the process of being sold to by Centennial Broadcasting II to Colonial Radio Group for $25,000. The station is operating under new call letters WZFC. It will continue to operate as a news/talk outlet. Centennial previously sold WINC-FM, Berryville and WZFC-FM to Metro Radio and Centennial president and CEO Allen Shaw tells the paper it offered WINC-AM to Metro Radio for free as part of the deal, but that Metro didn’t want it. Shaw says Colonial managing member Todd Bartley has what it takes to make the standalone AM work. “He’s very dynamic and very smart. He believes in local programming and community involvement.” The report goes on to say that “the sale of Centennial’s Winchester-area stations doesn’t include the building on North Pleasant Valley Road that houses their operations. Centennial is allowing Colonial and Metro Radio to occupy the building temporarily. Both companies are seeking new locations for the stations, and Centennial is discussing with real estate brokers possibilities for the approximately 7,000-square-foot building,” according to Shaw. “Those possibilities include demolition, he said, if the building can’t be sold and redeveloped eventually. WINC-AM’s tower on the property will be taken down at some point.”

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow (7/8), the Key Networks nationally syndicated program “The O’Reilly Update” – starring Bill O’Reilly – will feature an interview with former President Donald Trump. O’Reilly says Trump will appear in the “Message of the Day” segment. “The 45th President of the United States will have the opportunity to comment on rising gas prices, rising violent crime, and a disintegrating southern border.”…..In the wake of recent attacks on journalists, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith issues the following statement: “NAB is gravely concerned by recent incidents of violence directed against broadcast journalists who are covering local news. A cornerstone of American democracy is the right of the free press to document the stories and events shaping our communities and our nation. Journalists should be afforded the respect to safely provide this valuable service to the community without fear of violence, intimidation or harassment.”…..PodcastOne signs a multi-year partnership with Empire Media Group chairman and CEO Dylan Howard to produce a slate of original scripted and non-scripted podcast and vodcast series. Some of the shows that have been green-lighted include: “The Firm: Blood, Lies & Royal Succession,” a multi-part historical non-scripted drama looking at the British royal family; “My Favorite Scandal,” a weekly series where nothing is NSFW when you work at one of the nation’s leading tabloid magazines; and “You’re Fired,” a weekly series, in which you find out what really happens when the axe falls in the media, Hollywood, politics, television, or off-stage? PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “PodcastOne is thrilled to build our relationship with the Empire Media Group team on their upcoming podcasts. Dylan Howard and Melissa Cronin have a proven track record of success in the space, and we are proud to join forces on their exciting new slate of shows.”…..iHeartMedia announces four new shows launching this month from My Cultura, its new podcast network dedicated to elevating Latinx voices and creators, while also sharing the Latinx experience with millions of listeners. The network’s initial lineup will include: “Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama,” “Exactly Amara,” “Transportista” (published in both English and Spanish) and “Life As a Gringo.” iHeartMedia says, “With a driven commitment to the creation of a platform that helps amplify the Latinx community, Coca-Cola, State Farm and Walgreens will be My Cultura’s inaugural sponsors, building connectivity amongst this growing audience.”…..The Nebraska Broadcasters Association announces this year’s inductees into its NBA Hall of Fame, and this year’s class includes longtime morning personalities Todd Brandt and Mike Tyler, a.k.a. Todd-N-Tyler. The nationally syndicated duo are based at SummitMedia’s rock KEZO, Omaha.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Soaring Big City Crime and Gun Violence, House January 6 Investigation, Infrastructure Bill, Critical Race Theory, U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Tropical Storm Elsa Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/6). Concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant spreading through the U.S. and the low rate of vaccination in some parts of the country; the skyrocketing rate of violence and gun crimes in America’s big cities; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to appoint Republicans to sit on House January 6 investigation panel; the status of President Joe Biden’s $970 billion infrastructure package; the war of words over the issue of teaching “critical race theory”; the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan; and Tropical Storm Elsa to hit Florida among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

| June 30, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – “Welcome to the ‘20s” and “A Fireside Chat with Bill O’Reilly.” The third video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted. This installment contains two consecutive sessions conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. The first segment features a greeting from Harrison in which he reflects upon his 54-year career in radio and his view of the state of the industry. The second segment features a one-on-one conversation (“fireside chat”) he conducted with Key Networks commentator and talk media icon, Bill O’Reilly. Both segments are chock full of interesting and productive takeaways. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

Townsquare Media Consolidates Digital and Programming Teams; Jared Willig Named Chief Content Officer. Leading the newly consolidated radio and digital platforms is Jared Willig, who has been serving Townsquare Media as digital leader. In his new role as chief content officer, Willig will oversee all content for the company across all its radio and digital platforms and consumer touchpoints, including all platforms for 322 local radio stations, over 350 local websites and mobile apps, and national music and entertainment brands XXL Magazine, Taste Of Country, Loudwire, Ultimate Classic Rock, ScreenCrush, and PopCrush. He will also continue to oversee AMPED, the monetization of the digital platforms of the company’s owned and operated local and national brands. Willig will oversee the newly created Townsquare content team, consisting of team members with varied expertise across platforms, formats and disciplines, in order to drive the company’s 360-degree strategy in radio, digital, on demand, mobile apps, social, and video. Additionally, longtime Townsquare radio programming head Kurt Johnson expands his role across all media to become SVP, content and programming, while continuing to lead the company’s music industry relations. Jackie Corley, who had been overseeing Townsquare’s digital content team, also widens her purview to become the VP of local content and programming. Willig says, “For over 10 years now, I’ve had the great privilege of running Townsquare’s digital content strategy and operations, and while our company is Digital First, radio has always been at our core. So, by merging all platforms into one content team, we are simply making official what we’ve already been doing for over a decade. There is no better programmer in the industry than Kurt Johnson, and no better local digital content expert than Jackie Corley, so with their expanded roles, I couldn’t be more excited and confident for our continued success in audience and brand growth across all forms of media.”

Lee Habeeb’s ‘Our American Stories’ Joins Premiere Networks. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” franchise is joining the Premiere Networks radio lineup, effective August 2. The program, created and hosted by radio pro Lee Habeeb, will continue to be available to stations Monday through Friday for two hours to air between 7:00 pm and 12:00 midnight. Additionally, the show will feature separate two-hour Saturday and Sunday options for weekend clearance. “Our American Stories” will also be available as a podcast on the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. The program is currently heard on some 200 affiliate stations across the country. Habeeb says, “We have spent the last five years telling stories about all that is good and decent in America, and why millions of people from around the world still wish to call our country home. The show has grown because Americans want more than conflict and bad news: they crave positive, redemptive stories from our past and present – many from our listeners – that lift their spirits and inspire them, and that’s what we do each and every day on our show.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We’re excited to offer this entertaining and compelling program to even more stations nationwide. Lee and his team are masterful storytellers and they’ve created a unique and inspiring program that resonates widely with audiences.”

WEEI, Boston’s Glenn Ordway Retires from Afternoon Show. Boston sports radio personality Glenn Ordway – one of the architects of the station when it flipped to sports in 1991 – announces he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after 34 years. Ordway will leave the show he currently hosts with Christian Fauria and Lou Merloni but will remain with the Audacy station as host of “The Real Post Game Show” following every Patriots’ game in the fall, in addition to making other station appearances and developing a podcast. He says, “To be able to do something I’ve loved doing daily for nearly five decades has been a blessing, but to do it in the best sports city during the best championship run in the history of sports…what more can you ask for. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to do it with some of the best talent in the business on a legendary radio station. Though I’m walking away from the daily hosting role, I’m excited about new opportunities and my continued presence at WEEI and maybe a little free time every once in a while.” Audacy regional president Mark Hannon says, “Glenn has been an ever-present force at WEEI, both on air and off air, for over three decades. He was the station’s first program director and oversaw some of the most dominant years in Boston radio. He has been an enduring on-air presence and has been side-by-side talking to Boston sports fans through the best and worst times. Glenn will go down as one of the most influential players in sports radio format history, and thankfully his presence will continue on the station into the future.”

Bill O’Reilly Announces New Book, Killing the Killers. The next book in Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series is slated for release in November and it titled, KILLING THE KILLERS: The
Secret War Against Terrorists
(St. Martin’s Press, 2021). Co-authored with Martin Dugard, this 11th book in the series “reports on America’s intense global war and manhunt against the terrorist extremists that not only carried out the attacks on 9/11 but also executed hundreds of others both on American soil and globally. The authors trace America’s efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and ISIS worldwide. In addition, O’Reilly and Dugard have gained access to top secret national security documents as well as interviewed the highest national security officials in the United States.” St. Martin’s says the current book in the “Killing” series, Killing the Mob, topped the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list for six weeks and sales of the series are approaching 19 million copies worldwide. O’Reilly’s radio program – “The O’Reilly Update” – is syndicated nationally via Key Networks.

Kim Komando’s Cryptocurrency 101 eBook Tops Amazon Best-Sellers List. The
new ebook Cryptocurrency 101 by digital technology radio host and entrepreneur Kim Komando hit the #1 position on Amazon’s Money & Monetary Policy best-seller list. According to Amazon, the book “breaks down the basics of the cryptocurrency boom. If you want to invest in cryptocurrency, it can be very complicated to know where to even begin. Kim goes through your options when it comes to buying and storing digital currency and gives you pro tips to keep you safe from hackers and scammers. In this quick, thorough guide, you’ll learn what you need to know to get started, the safe way.”

Salem’s David Santrella Elected NAB Joint Board Chair. Broadcasting executive David Santrella – president of broadcast media for Salem Media Group – has been elected chairman of the NAB Joint Board of Directors. He assumes the role previously held by Hearst Television, Inc. president Jordan Wertlieb. At the same time, Bill Wilson, chief executive officer of Townsquare Media Group, has been elected Radio Board chair by the NAB Radio Board. John Zimmer, president and owner of Zimmer Radio of Mid-Missouri, Inc., was elected Radio Board first vice chair, while Kevin Perry, vice president and chief operating officer of Perry Publishing and Broadcasting Company, was elected Radio Board second vice chair. Collin Jones, senior vice president of corporate development & strategy for Cumulus Media, was elected to the Radio Board’s major group representative seat on the NAB Board’s Executive Committee.

Newsmax Adds Eric Bolling to Talent Roster. Television host and best-selling author Eric Bolling joins the talent roster at Newsmax. Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “Eric Bolling is a consummate media professional who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, get provocative answers and challenge establishment thinking. His background in business and politics separates him from the competition.” Bolling has begun his work with Newsmax as a guest host for shows and is slated to host a new program in July with details to be announced soon. Most recently, Bolling hosted “America This Week With Eric Bolling” airing on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 200 television stations. He’s also served with FOX News Channel, having filled in for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Bolling says, “Like myself, Newsmax is concerned with the direction that Big Tech and Big Corporate Media have taken journalism and our nation. I’m excited to join an organization that delivers programming you can trust.”

COVID-19, Condo Collapse, Northwest Heatwave, NYC Mayoral Voting Snafu, Big City Gun Violence Spike, House January 6 Investigation, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/29). The spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the rate of vaccinations in the U.S., and mask controversy; the search for victims of the Florida condo collapse and the building’s safety history; the deadly heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest; the New York City mayoral race is hit by a voting counting problem; the spiking gun violence in America’s large cities; the U.S. House moves to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; and the bipartisan infrastructure deal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

| June 23, 2021

The Power of Talk Radio Has Never Been Stronger. Sales pro and Howie Carr Radio Network president Kathy Carr writes in a column today that in order to make the title this piece a reality, talk radio sellers must use all the weapons in their arsenal. “We are radio, but we are most effective when we take advantage of all the new technology that is now available to us. As an industry, we need to keep up with all the advanced marketing vehicles and provide them to our clients to increase their business and stay current with the times. We need to supplement the live reads with text messages, social media, and eblasts. The live reads should be synchronized with the blasts and texts. Adding your clients’ ads to your podcasts gives them an added bang for their buck.” Read more here.

Rose Tennent Show Gone from WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh. According to a story at Patch.com, the Rose Tennent program has exited St. Barnabas Broadcasting’s WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh after three months on the air. Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Show” is now airing in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot formerly occupied by Tennent. Both Tennent – a longtime Pittsburgh radio personality who worked alongside Jim Quinn on “The War Room” morning show on former talk outlet WPGB-FM – and Wendy Bell joined the station in March. Bell, a former KDKA-TV newscaster and former KDKA-AM talk host, exited the station in April and was replaced in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot by Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck. St. Barnabas Broadcasting has not issued a public statement about the change and it’s unclear what the reason was for the change.

iHeartMedia Pre-Pays $250 Million of Term Loan Facilities. The company announces that its indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary, iHeartCommunications, Inc., is voluntarily prepaying a portion of both its $2.075 million Term Loan and its $447 million Incremental Term Loan, utilizing cash on hand, while concurrently repricing the Incremental Term Loan. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased to announce that we will voluntarily pay down $250 million of our Term Loan facilities, demonstrating the encouraging momentum we are seeing across all of our businesses. At iHeart, we are committed to deleveraging and strengthening our balance sheet, reducing interest expense and further increasing our free cash flow while still maintaining ample liquidity. We continue to evaluate all possible opportunities to reduce our cost of capital, and we have taken advantage of the current favorable market conditions to reprice our Incremental Term Loan as well.” The prepayment, which will be applied to the two Term Loan facilities on a pro-rata basis, and the repricing, are each expected to close in mid-July, subject to customary closing conditions.

Bill O’Reilly Programs Hit 250-Station Threshold. The Key Networks nationally syndicated programs featuring Bill O’Reilly hit the 250-station mark in just over two years with the addition of news affiliates including: WRNN-FM, Myrtle Beach; WDAY-AM, Fargo; KLJY-HD3, St. Louis; KDXE-FM, Little Rock; and WBOB-AM, Jacksonville. O’Reilly comments, “We are very pleased with our expanding radio lineup. In this time of political and societal chaos, ‘The O’Reilly Update’ brings clarity and honest reporting. We also have fun with the ‘something you might not know’ segment. Sometimes the good guys actually win and that’s what’s happening with the ‘Update.’” Key Networks offers three O’Reilly programs – “The O’Reilly Update” in middays, “The O’Reilly Update Morning Edition” and “The O’Reilly Update Weekend Edition.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “Two Hundred fifty stations in two years shows that Bill O’Reilly’s popularity remains strong. ‘The O’Reilly Update’ provides commentary unlike anyone in media today. The information is timely, topical and most importantly, sellable as local stations are generating revenue from content that is second to none. For those stations that have not signed up for The O’Reilly Update, the time is now!”

Voting Rights Bill Killed, COVID-19/Delta Variant, Spike in Violent Crime, Critical Race Theory, Employer Woes, Iran Politics/Nuclear Deal, Russian War Games, and NYC Mayoral Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/22). Republicans use the filibuster to block Joe Biden’s For the People Act voting bill; the slowing rate of vaccinations and concerns about a fall/winter rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant; the spike in violent crime and gun violence in America’s urban areas; the pushback against the teaching of “critical race theory” by parents; hospitality industry employers’ desperate need for workers; the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president and his refusal to meet with Biden over Iran’s ballistic missile program; Russia’s largest military exercises program since the Cold War; and the New York City mayoral primary race were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+).  Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.

Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot.  Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.

Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.

TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and  Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways  Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.

Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.