Vaccine Mandates Causing Strife Among Staffers in Broadcasting Industry. The mandate by several radio companies that workers return to the office and get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they do is causing angst for some in the industry. Already, a handful of radio personalities have chosen to be terminated from their positions rather than get a vaccine. TALKERS reported on the dismissal of sports talk host Tim Hill from Cumulus Media’s WNKT-FM, Columbia, South Carolina and Jeff Crank’s exit from Cumulus Media’s KVOR-AM, Colorado Springs for refusing the vaccine. Also, country jock Roxanne Steele exited Cumulus’ WDRQ-FM, Detroit for the same reason. Cumulus is not the only radio company with a mandate. Beasley Media Group also has instituted a vaccine requirement. But the threat by talk host Dan Bongino to leave his program syndicated by Cumulus Media’s Westwood One if the company doesn’t retreat on the mandate has pushed the issue into mainstream news outlets. It has also put WWO in a difficult situation with Bongino as the company has replaced Bongino’s live show with best-of editions so far this week, ostensibly so the company can sort out this matter. Bongino – who is vaccinated but says he’s taking this stand for his fellow employees – has only been syndicated by WWO since May but the company has invested a lot of time and money in his show. His popular podcast was the #8-ranked podcast in terms of average weekly downloads in September, according to Triton Digital’s rankings so this makes Cumulus’ handling of Bongino’s threat very tricky. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison comments, “We haven’t seen this kind of dramatic brinksmanship since the Cuban Missile Crisis… well perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but Bongino has clearly drawn a red line in the sand and both parties have boldly stepped over it. Now it’s a matter of image and pride for each. Unless this is defused by a masterful display of diplomacy in which both sides can save face and move the issue forward to the benefit of all involved – including society at large – [Cumulus CEO] Mary Berner has no choice but to let Bongino go. He made his choice… and Dan must now make good on his threat and live with the consequences, whatever they might be. One thing’s for sure… we’ve come a long way from the old ‘morals clause’ that was a standard part of media talent contracts. We’ll now be seeing the ‘political clause’ become part of the deal in talk media management/talent legal agreements.”
Audacy Rebrands WQAM, Miami; Unveils Tweaked Lineups for South Florida Sports Talkers. A number of changes talk place at Audacy’s South Florida sports talk stations, including the rebranding of WQAM, Miami. The station is leaving the “560 The Joe” moniker behind and the station is now “AM 560 Sports WQAM.” While sister sports talker WAXY-AM remains branded “AM 790 The Ticket,” some programming changes also take place, including the move of personality Jonathan Zaslow to middays (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) on WQAM from his previous role in middays on WAXY. Meanwhile, “AM 790 The Ticket” adds “BetQL Daily” for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.
Hubbard Radio’s Talk KTMY-FM, Minneapolis Launches Marketing Campaign. Twin Cities talk outlet KTMY-FM “myTalk 107.1” is beginning a four-and-a-half month marketing campaign that sets out to differentiate itself from its pure news/talk cousins with the slogan: “Where Talk is Fun.” The first billboard (top) was a teaser that was followed by the next in the series (bottom) featuring morning duo Jason Matheson and Alexis Thompson that reveals the station’s brand. Hubbard Radio VP and region manager Dan Seeman says the next four months will see the campaign expand with bulletins, poster billboards, indoor advertising (women’s bathrooms), OTT, and digital display.
Talk Host John Hancock Honored with Induction into NC Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The North Carolina Broadcasters Association held its annual business meeting virtually this year and presented its annual broadcast awards. Longtime WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte personality John Hancock was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Hancock’s bio says: “John recently retired after 50 years of on-air service with the past 30 years in Charlotte. John arrived in Charlotte and at WBT in December of 1990 and has helped shape the conversation in the Queen City ever since by musing on the issues of the day with his unique perspective. For nearly three decades, John’s daily show provided a mix of information and opinion, peppered with humor and just the right dose of sarcasm, enabling him to become a cherished and trusted voice for the community, known universally as ‘Charlotte’s Most Beloved.’ As an integral part of the community, he showed how much he cared including his 27 year, unconditional commitment to the Kids First of the Carolina’s annual holiday drive, raising millions in dollars, toys, bikes (over 20,000) and services. Additionally, John’s annual ‘Father’s Day’ show on the anniversary of his own father’s death, March 16 and the annual ‘Peanut Butter N July’ benefitting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, became Charlotte traditions. John Hancock aired his final daily show on WBT 1110 AM on October 17, 2019. But, even in retirement, he remains active in radio and at WBT in the form of two commentaries a week and joining Bo Thompson on the WBT morning show for an hour every Friday.
Sean Spicer Celebrates Release of New Book. Pictured above at the launch party for former White House press secretary and current Newsmax personality Sean Spicer’s new book are (from l-r): U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Spicer and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy. Newsmax says, “The top movers and shakers in Washington came out for the launch of Sean Spicer’s new book, Radical Nation: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ Dangerous Plan for America (Humanix, 2021). The book launch party, hosted by Chris Ruddy, drew approximately 40 members of Congress, including many from the top leadership, former Trump administration cabinet members, media personalities, and major policy experts.”
TALKERS News Notes. Finance and investment expert and best-selling author Jared Dillian is launching a podcast titled, “Be Smart: How Not to Be an Idiot with Your Money.” This is an all-new take on an existing podcast. Dillian says, “I’m on a mission to help people live a richer stress-free life, not by renting or borrowing it. I help discover how to conquer money troubles, escape the scarcity mentality trap, and ignite earning power. Yes, people can do it while still enjoying material possessions. You don’t have to live in a van down by the river.” Dillian is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry. He worked at Lehman Brothers from 2001 to 2008 —first as an index arbitrage trader and then as head of the ETF trading desk. He left Lehman to start his own newsletter, “The Daily Dirtnap,” where he shares trade ideas and market commentary for finance professionals and sophisticated investors. He also edits of “Street Freak,” “ETF 20/20,” and the “10th Man.”…..There’s a nice piece in The Southern Illinoisan recognizing 45 years on the radio for River Radio’s WJPF-AM, Herrin, Illinois morning host Tom Miller. The self-described “rock ‘n’ roll guy” has been hosting “The Morning News Watch” for 20 years and he says that during his rock radio days it was all about his image as “off-the-hook crazy, a wild card, loose cannon.” Now, unlike the majority of his talk radio colleagues, Miller says it’s not about him. “I had to remake myself completely. I didn’t use my name; I focused solely on content. I didn’t want anybody to think about any of the other stuff I had done before, because in this format it is about what you say and how you say it. It became about credibility.”…..TeshMedia signs an extension with Compass Media Networks to continue in its role as the exclusive advertising sales representative for its portfolio of radio assets including the daily “John Tesh Radio Show,” a/k/a Intelligence for Your Life, “The Best of the John Tesh Radio Show,” “Intelligence for Your Health with Connie Sellecca,” “The Weekend Show with John Tesh and Gib Gerard” and “Intelligence for Your Life Minute,” as well as “Intelligence For Your Life: The Podcast.”…..Cumulus Media, Imperative Entertainment and Vespucci dropped “Bonaparte,” a true crime podcast series revealing the remarkable journey of one woman’s resolve to help piece together events surrounding the mysterious and unsolved death of her childhood friend 25 years prior. The new, 10-part podcast series, hosted by Jason Stavers, reports on attorney Anne Champion’s endeavor to solve the death of her childhood friend of Laura Van Wyhe. Champion says, “Laura’s death has always stayed with me. There are too many things that don’t add up. A few years ago, I decided to start pushing for answers. I’m working with Laura’s family to see if we can get people to come forward and share new details. Based on my review of the files, it’s clear that there are many inconsistencies and many open issues begging for further investigation. I believe this is a cold case that can be solved, and solving it is long overdue for Laura’s family and friends.”
January 6 Investigation/Executive Privilege, COVID-19, Biden Infrastructure-Social Spending Bills/Unrealized Gains Tax, Virginia Governor’s Race, Bolsonaro Charges, and Rust Movie Set Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/26). The investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and President Joe Biden’s rejection of former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege, the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approval for kids, and protests over Biden’s looming vaccine mandate; the Biden infrastructure and social spending bills and the pushback against his taxing of the wealthy on unrealized gains; the too-close-to-call race for Virginia Governor between incumbent Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; Brazil’s senate recommends criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for his response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the investigation into the death of assistant producer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter. Messages on your phone and computer find you based on what you’ve told the world via your posts. Advertisers are also buying Google keywords. They’re telling (or, if they’re smart, asking) you JUST enough to tempt you to click for more of the pitch.
CBS to Explore Options for Radio Division. The company has always enjoyed the cash flow that the CBS RADIO division brought to its bottom line but CEO Les Moonves has often indicated that radio is not a core business for CBS Corp. Yesterday’s announcement by Moonves at a CBS investor day that the company will explore “strategic options” for the radio division in order to “hone its asset portfolio” is being greeted by the radio industry with mixed emotions. Potential buyers are thrilled by the thought of acquiring CBS’ heritage, major market signals, but few operators have piles of cash on hand and it will require taking on debt to buy these stations in a climate where debt can be difficult to pay off. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison offers the following comments on the Moonves announcement, “Broadcast (FM/AM) radio can still be a very viable business if stations can be acquired at realistic prices. There is still a lot of life left in the medium if it can run within a business model that makes sense per the times. Also, broadcast radio has a large audience and provides a vital set of services for millions of Americans. It just needs to be relieved of stifling debt. Radio has to be able to afford to do radio. Fresh capital within a realistic debt structure and the influx of invigorated, passionate ownership will create a much better product for radio which will further add years of vitality to the industry.” However, Harrison points out, “CBS has been and still is one of the better-run major companies in radio, so its decision to get out – although advancing the cause of de-consolidation – is not an act of desperation as much as it is indicative of their long-term asset strategy.” Moonves told investors that it views CBS TV and Showtime as its premium brands. The company is focusing intently on its digital efforts CBS All Access and Showtime via the Internet to cater to consumers’ growing on-demand preferences. CBS owns 117 signals in 26 markets, many of those clusters are in major markets. Given what CBS hopes to get for the stations it is unlikely that one buyer will be able to swallow the whole group. Since radio is not considered a growth industry by investors, finding favorable financing for radio station acquisitions – especially in light of the enormous debt fellow operators iHeartMedia and Cumulus are dealing with – will be a challenge. Moonves said all options are on the table, meaning the company would consider a spinoff or a split as well as an outright sale. CBS RADIO’s net revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 was down 5% compared to the same period in 2014.
American Broadcasters Participate in Radiodays Europe. Several prominent US radio broadcasters participated as speakers in the just-concluded seventh annual installment of Radiodays Europe – the growingly popular international radio convention that took place March 13-15 in Paris. Among them were TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison who delivered a speech titled “Lessons Learned by American Radio During the Dawn of the Digital Era” and moderated a “Fast and Curious” roundtable discussion titled, “Making Radio Indispensable;” Jacobs Media CEO, Fred Jacobs who participated in a group presentation titled, “”Radio in Car: Dashboard Disaster;” Geller Media International president Valerie Geller who conducted a workshop titled “Create Powerful Radio,” spoke in a group session titled “30 Ideas in 45 Minutes” and debuted the brand new French language edition of her book Creating Powerful Radio; iHeart Media syndicated personality Elvis Duran and VP of talent development Dennis Clark who both appeared on the panel titled “Morning Radio Superstars – In Talent We Trust; NPR producer Bianca Giaeve, who presented a session titled “Storytelling in New Medias” and appeared in the group session titled “30 Ideas in 45 Minutes;” and Futuri Media CEO Daniel Anstandig who presented a session titled “Winning the First Tune-In Occasion of the Day.” It was announced that next year’s Radiodays Europe will take place in Amsterdam. Pictured at right is Valerie Geller with her Puissance Radio French publishing team (l-r) Philippe Chapot, Francois Quairel and Frederic Bruhaltour at the debut of the French version of her classic Creating Powerful Radio.
Cumulus Kansas City Names Lance Tidwell Cluster OM and KCMO PD. Programmer Lance Tidwell joins Cumulus Media’s Kansas City station group to serve as cluster operations manager and program director for news/talk KCMO-AM. He’ll also supervise the Chiefs Radio Network. Tidwell was previously SVP of programming for iHeartMedia’s San Antonio cluster. On KCMO-AM, Tidwell replaces Steve Sutton who recently exited the PD and talk host roles at the station.
Odds & Sods. The photo at right shows a billboard in the Tampa market for “102.5 The Bone” morning personality Mike Calta. Cox Media Group-owned talk outlet WHPT is also promoting the afternoon drive Drew Garabo show with a similar ad. “Bone” program director John Brennan comments on the Trump-inspired boards saying, “We’re kicking off 102.5 The Bone’s ‘CamPAINFUL’ coverage and have launched a series of parody billboards ‘Trumped’ in ridiculousness only by the 2016 Election itself.” Calta will appear at the Talkers 2016: Bridging the Generations conference at Hofstra University on May 20 on the “Millennials and the Media” panel…..It’s being reported that the Marilu Henner talk radio show will wrap after its last broadcast on March 31. The program is no longer listed on the Sun Broadcast Group site. It is distributed by Genesis Communications Network. “Free Talk Live” principal Ian Freeman reports the news to affiliate stations. His show is also distributed by GCN…..Speaking of “Free Talk Live,” the show announces it has added new affiliates in WWHP-FM, Bloomington, Illinois; KQQQ, Pullman, Washington; simulcast KEIR, KEII, and the four translators in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Pocatello, Idaho; and WSDT, Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee…..Greg Janoff returns to CBS RADIO New York as director of news sales for all-newsers WINS and WCBS-AM. Janoff was most recently with Townsquare Media as regional VP for New Jersey.
Round Two of February PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of February 2016 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was January 28 – February 24. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Super Tuesday II/Presidential Race, Syrian Conflict-Russian Involvement, Scalia Replacement, U.S Immigration Policy, and ‘Pawn Stars’ Cast Member Bust Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). Yesterday’s Super Tuesday II primary elections and the issues surrounding the presidential race; the Syrian conflict and Russia’s announcement it is removing its troops from the region; the controversy over the replacement of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; debate over the immigration policy in the U.S.; and the arrest of “Pawn Stars” cast member Chumlee were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.