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Monday, August 23, 2021

| August 23, 2021

Remembering Phil Valentine. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend, Phil Valentine, has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” That’s how Cumulus Media Nashville news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” shared the news of Valentine’s death. Having spent the past several weeks in a Nashville-area hospital battling COVID-19, the 61-year-old conservative talk show host – and coronavirus vaccine skeptic – died Saturday afternoon (8/21). Last month, his brother, Mark Valentine, told The Tennessean, “I know if [Phil] were able to tell you this, he would [say], ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories. He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the dadgum data.” In a July 26 (2021) interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Mark said Phil was “still very deep in the woods” and breathing with assistance. “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated. This is a real threat – it is a real public health crisis. His cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.” Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only 50.1% of adults fully-vaccinated. Modifying the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Taxman,” Valentine wrote/performed “Vaxman,” which included such lyrics as, “Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘cause I’m the Vaxman. If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.” In a December 2020 blog, the “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” afternoon drive personality wrote that his chance of dying from COVID-19 was “probably way less than 1%.” He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of getting COVID and dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He said  he’d been taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that comes in different forms for animals and humans. Acknowledging on July 11 (2021) that he had COVID-19, Valentine claimed it would not be a problem, saying that as a “precaution,” he might take a day off from his radio show. In fact, his Facebook post that day read: “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it. Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow.” Valentine’s health, however, quickly deteriorated and his family issued a statement saying that “the experience” had changed the radio host’s mind on vaccination. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.’ [He] looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is a tragic loss for Phil’s family as well as the people of Nashville; WWTN; the talk radio industry; and the national conversation. His track record as a nationally known, super-successful, longtime radio personality is among the best. It is painfully ironic that his position on COVID-19 became the headline component of his sad passing. May his courage to reverse his stance during his final days serve as an effective influence to save lives.” On “The TALKERS magazine 2021 Heavy Hundred,” Valentine appears at #47. Tennessee Republican senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that, “Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans. My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.” The junior senator from Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty, noted that, “Tennessee has lost a strong conservative voice that will be sorely missed.” That state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, tweeted, “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead.” Meanwhile, lieutenant governor Randy McNally also took to social media, writing, “Deeply saddened that we have lost Phil Valentine to COVID-19. He was an inspirational and persuasive conservative voice. He will be greatly missed. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider vaccination. It is the only way to defeat this scourge.” Even though Valentine was a conservative talk show host, he was the son of former six-term North Carolina Democratic representative Tim Valentine. A radio personality since he was 20, Valentine – who attended East Carolina University and the Charlotte branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – protested against a state income tax proposed by Tennessee’s governor at the time, Republican Don Sundquist. Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that would have kept him on “99.7 WTN” through next year. He  authored three books: “The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z”; “Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America”; and “Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government.” Valentine and his son, Campbell, joked about their relationship via the podcast “PodGOATs.”  Reiterating a vaccination plea, Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “Phil Valentine was a charismatic broadcaster who entertained millions and enriched countless lives throughout his career. A beloved friend and mentor to many, his contributions to our city and his passion for his listeners cannot be overstated. We know he will be missed. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Phil’s family and wish them peace during this difficult time. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, we fervently hope that you will honor Phil’s memory by taking to heart the urgent plea he made in the last weeks of his life – please go get vaccinated.” Funeral arrangements for Valentine are pending.

Monday Memo: Empathy? Sympathy? While the parents of school-age children – “the mega-shoppers that our advertisers want to meet” – are confronting “the school year we hoped we would never repeat,” consultant Holland Cooke cautions against what he regards as “a media/consumer disconnect.” And in this week’s column, he recommends an urgent message that can literally be a matter of life and death. Read it here.

 

Pending Business: Is Radio Still the Frequency Medium? Do you remember your sales training that suggested a formula for getting results included your message hitting the target audience X number of times? What was that number? Maybe the number isn’t so important. Sales pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, “Do you remember the thousands of daily ads you hear and see? Somehow your brain filters out what you don’t want to process. But when you’re hungry, thirsty, not feeling well, need a new computer, car, couch, or more cash, the appropriate ad jumps out of the jungle, demanding your attention. And that’s what great talk radio hosts are all about: owning the listener’s attention.” Read more here.

Cumulus Chicago Promotes Mallory Vor Broker to Reporter Covering City Hall and Politics. At news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago, Cumulus Media announces it has promoted Mallory Vor Broker to reporter for 890 WLS-AM. In this role, she’ll cover Chicago City Hall and the political beat for the station, filling the role vacated by Bill Cameron, who retired on August 20 after a 51-year career. Vor Broker was been serving with the station as executive producer for the “The John Howell Show.” In the past, she’s served as a producer for Steve Dahl, Roe Conn and Lauren Cohn during her nearly 10 years as a producer for Cumulus Chicago. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor comments, “As our new City Hall reporter, Mallory will tell the latest local news stories that matter to Chicago. She brings a fresh perspective and deep experience as a storyteller to this integral role. We look forward to continuing WLS’ superb coverage of City Hall and welcome Mallory to the 890 News Team.” Vor Broker says, “I am thrilled to begin my new role as City Hall reporter for WLS-AM 890. It’s a great opportunity to cover the dynamic political landscape in Chicago and Illinois after years of producing high-profile shows. I look forward to continuing to bring high-quality, thoughtful reporting to WLS-AM 890.”

Nate Weaver Named Promotions Director for iHeartMedia Wilmington-Salisbury. Joining iHeartMedia to serve as promotions director for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets is Nate Weaver. He comes to the company from his most recent position with Audacy’s WBEB, Philadelphia. iHeartMedia VP of programming Josh Wolff says, “We are so excited to have Nate join our team. From the first time we spoke, we knew he was the perfect fit. Nate’s impressive background will only serve to improve our portfolio of already strong brands.” Weaver says, “I am super excited to join iHeartMedia Salisbury and Wilmington’s amazing and hard-working teams. Not only am I looking forward to growing brand engagement amongst our portfolio of market-leading stations, but now that I’m in Delaware, I get to really indulge in tax-free shopping – this is great!” The markets include news/talk WILM-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WDOV, Dover; sports talk WWTX-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WJDY-AM, Salisbury; and sports talk WTGM-AM, Salisbury.

iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network to Expand News Efforts; Three Promotions Announced. The BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia’s “24/7 comprehensive national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news with a Black voice and perspective,” announces plans to expand local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets beginning January 2022. The network is also promoting three staffers: Tanita Myers, previously director of news operations, is now vice president of news operations; Chris Thompson, previously director of network operations, is now vice president of network operations; and Lauren Crawford, previously associate editor, is now senior director of digital and social strategy, effective immediately. The company says the expanding local news coverage will create new employment opportunities including multiple news anchor and reporter positions, a managing editor, and a podcast managing editor. BIN president Tony Coles states, “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success of BIN during our first year. We are thrilled to continue our leadership in providing the most trusted news source for the Black community, offering even more local news coverage to the communities we serve. BIN’s success has been, in no small part, due to our dedicated and talented team. I look forward to seeing how Tanita, Chris and Lauren continue to grow within BIN, and I am excited to add even more experienced talent to our team.”

Nexstar Media to Acquire The Hill. The politics and Washington, DC publication The Hill is being acquired by Nexstar Media for $130 million. Nexstar is primarily a television company but also owns news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago. A press release from Nexstar says, “The acquisition marks a continuation of Nexstar’s content-first strategy, focused primarily on news, designed to further leverage and monetize its expansive digital reach… With more than 100 journalists who cover political news and events and provide a wide variety of engaging content to its users, The Hill’s business model is primarily advertising supported by direct, programmatic, and licensing revenue. Nexstar’s omni-channel approach to content distribution will allow it to expand The Hill’s reach and revenue channels while creating synergistic opportunities with Nexstar’s growing national cable news network, NewsNation, and its leading local news gathering platform, which counts 5,500 journalists producing over 275,000 hours of local and national news annually.”

Red Table Talk and iHeartMedia Strike Content Deal. The EMMY Award-winning talk show “Red Table Talk” enters into a deal with iHeartMedia to launch the Red Table Talk Audio Network. The venture will include a slate of co-produced podcasts, including its two current audio series: “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and “Positively Gam,” a podcast hosted by Banfield-Norris. The newly formed network will launch five new series over the next two years with iHeartMedia that will allow listeners to go deeper into topics covered at the table, with all-new original podcasts from Red Table Talk hosts and regular show contributors. The first show to launch on the slate will be the podcast version of the EMMY and GLAAD Media Awards-nominated RTT spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, and Lili Estefan.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, Extreme Weather/Wildfires, Arizona Vote Audit, Staffing & Shipping Woes, Trump in Alabama, and Portland Protest Skirmish Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s handling of the move; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the flooding in Tennessee, Hurricane Henri hits the Northeast, and the California wildfires; the anticipated release of the controversial audit of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election votes; the ongoing troubles employers are having finding workers and filling orders and the chaos affecting the world’s shipping industry; former President Donald Trump is booed in Alabama for suggesting people get COVID vaccines; and the violence in Portland between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

| August 12, 2021

Cumulus Media Informs Employees of Fall Vaccine Mandate. Although the company is saying it is not commenting on yesterday’s message from CEO Mary G. Berner to its employees, Cumulus Media employees are confirming the story first reported by radio trade RadioInsight on 8/11 that all employees returning to their offices by the previously announced October 11 date must be fully vaccinated. The message states that all returning staffers must complete their vaccination by September 27 to be able to return by October 11. At this time, some Cumulus employees have been designated permanent remote and the mandate does not apply to them. The rationale for the policy is explained as follows: “Exceptions to the return to office plan will not be considered except as legally required. The decision to return to our offices was made with utmost consideration and reflects how we believe we can optimize our business efforts. Put simply, we believe that FORCE CUMULUS is at our best when we’re working together in offices. To do that as safely as we reasonably can, we’re requiring that everyone be vaccinated except those legally excepted. It would neither be fair, nor do we have the bandwidth to make exceptions based on individual preferences.”

Round Three of July PPM Ratings Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 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’s July 2021 sweep covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM rises by seven-tenths for a 5.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) finish good for the #4 rank in the market. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on three-tenths for a 3.8 share and rises from #12 to #9 in the market. iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio adds eight-tenths for a 4.5 share finish to rise to the #10 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia news/talk KFBK-AM/FM climbs by two-tenths to an 8.7 share – good enough to rise from #3 to #1. In the Salt Lake City news/talk battle, Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM adds eight-tenths for a 6.9 share and rises to the #3 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown KNRS-AM/FM falls one-tenth to a 5.0 share but remains at the #7 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets (as well as the two previous rounds) here.

Dr. Daliah Wachs is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of talk radio’s leading medical practitioners, Dr. Daliah Wachs of the Genesis Communications Network is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Wachs take a deep-dive into the latest medical, social, and political implications of COVID-19. According to Harrison, “Dr. Wachs is a dependable go-to resource for all things having to do the pandemic without any partisan spin whatsoever. She’s also an extremely skilled radio personality and a talk media treasure.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Grace Baker Named Executive Producer of Todd Starnes Show. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and Starnes Media Group chief Todd Starnes announces that Grace Baker is being promoted to executive producer of the “Todd Starnes Show.” Baker has been serving as news anchor for Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis and as a call screener for “The Todd Starnes Show.” Baker is a graduate of the University of Memphis and previously covered the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies for SB Nation as a game day editor. Starnes says, “Grace is beloved by our listeners. She’s got solid news judgment, a quick wit, and we are blessed to have her running the show.”

Jean Taylor to Lead America Public Media Group. After a rigorous national search, American Public Media Group’s Board of Trustees announces Jean Taylor is being named the next president and chief executive officer of the company. Taylor, who will be the first woman to lead the media organization, was most recently chair of the board of Star Tribune Media, where APMG says “she helped guide the organization through significant digital transformation. During her tenure as chair, Star Tribune has been lauded and seen as a leader in the industry for its commitment to high-quality public service journalism, its digital subscription growth, and its strong financial results.” Taylor says, “It is an exciting and critical time for public media, with tremendous opportunities to deliver quality journalism in new ways, connect with new audiences and more intentionally serve diverse communities. I am honored to lead this organization alongside the talented team at APMG.”

TALKERS News Notes. The finalists for this year’s 63rd annual Southern California Journalism Awards have been announced and Mo’Kelly and “The Mo’Kelly Show” are finalists in five different categories, including ‘Radio Journalist of the Year.’ Included in the acknowledgments are two of his nationally syndicated ‘2-Minute Warning’ commentaries for iHeartMedia’s BIN: The Black Information Network. Winners will be announced October 16 at the Biltmore in Los Angeles…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios launches “The 11th” – a monthly audio series designed to create a home for “intriguing stories that do not currently have a natural place in the podcast landscape, with content spanning original reporting, memoir, musicals, advice columns, fiction, and more from a continually evolving roster of contributors.” Pineapple Street co-founder Max Linsky says, “‘The 11th’ is a place for stories that might not otherwise be told, whether that’s because of format or length or perspective. There is not a singular personality as the voice of ‘The 11th’ and that’s a deliberate choice — the goal is to create something that will feature a range of voices, both from within Pineapple and beyond. The incredible team of producers and editors working on The 11th has described it as a mystery box, where you never know what you’ll get each month — I can’t wait to hear how this team and this show will surprise audiences.”…..Pictured below is Galaxy Media director of engineering Tim Backer (left) with Galaxy Media president and CEO Ed Levine (right) as Backer celebrates his 20-year anniversary (8/11) with the company. Levine says, “Many (if not most) broadcast stations don’t have engineers on site anymore. Galaxy not only has an engineer on site, but we have also had the SAME engineer for 20 years. Tim has and continues to be a huge part of the Galaxy Media team. We appreciate all his hard work and dedication to our local company. In recognition of his 20 years of service, Tim will receive a brand-new engineering vehicle of his choice for his 2:00 am drives to remote engineering sites during the Central New York winters!”

COVID-19 Infection Rate & Mask Mandates, Democrats’ Budget Resolution, Economy/Inflation, Dominion Lawsuits, Cryptocurrency Heist, Wildfires/Extreme Heat, Taliban Gains in Afghanistan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11). The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battles over mask mandates in numerous states; the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; the state of the U.S. economy and the highest rate of inflation in 20 years; a judge rules Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and Mike Lindell can proceed; the theft of $600 million worth of cryptocurrency; the western wildfires and the extreme heat in parts of the U.S. and Europe; and the Taliban’s gaining control over major Afghanistan cities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

| August 10, 2021

WNDB, Daytona Beach Host Marc Bernier Hospitalized with COVID-19. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that WNDB, Daytona Beach talk show host Marc Bernier is in the hospital being treated for COVID-19. Like some other conservative talk radio hosts, Bernier has been a vocal critic of the vaccines, although station officials tell the paper they do not know Bernier’s vaccination status for certain. The report indicates that Bernier missed last week’s programs while home sick. He was diagnosed on Friday and was hospitalized on Saturday (8/7). WNDB operations manager Mark McKinney tells the paper, “I don’t have an update on him at this point, other than he has been hospitalized.” McKinney later added, “We will be airing announcements several times an hour (during Bernier’s program) that he is recovering from COVID-induced pneumonia and that we hope to have him back on the air soon.”

WSPD, Todelo’s Scott Sands Dealing with Breakthrough COVID-19 Case. Toledo talk host Scott Sands tells his story of contracting a breakthrough case of COVID-19 to WTOL-TV. Sands – who hosts the afternoon drive daypart on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WSPD-AM – says that he was vaccinated in April and is well enough to broadcast from home for the next two weeks. Sands tells WTOL-TV that he believes if he had not been vaccinated his symptoms would have been worse and he is encouraging his listeners to get vaccinated. “Even if it doesn’t protect you from getting COVID-19 at some point, I truly believe at some point it will mitigate the symptoms and help you recover much faster and if nothing else help slow the spread.”

Round One of July PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been 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 July 2021 sweep covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. In New York, Audacy’s all-news WINS picks up one-tenth for a 2.7 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) good for the #12 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles sheds four-tenths to finish the survey with a 4.0 share and falls to the #6 rank. In Chicago, Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM takes back the #1 rank from urban AC WVAZ after adding seven-tenths for a 6.7 share finish. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta remains ranked #1 in the market after adding two-tenths and wrapping the survey with an 8.3 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets here.

1010 WINS Launches Spanish Audio Companion. The New York all-news outlet announces the launch of 1010 WINS Noticias.com, “a multiplatform, Spanish digital audio offering for 1010 WINS (WINS-AM), the most listened-to news station in the country.” Audacy says Audacy.com/1010WINSNoticias “will deliver the same energy, resources, and trusted content for news as 1010 WINS, providing original content, audio and video podcasts and a daily newscast for download – all in Spanish. Podcasts at launch include a rare sit-down conversation with Venezuela’s acting president Juan Guaido.”  WINS brand manager Ben Mevorach adds, “We could not be more excited about this new venture. No news brand is more respected or more New York than 1010 WINS. To be able to now share what we do with the Spanish-speaking news consumer represents an extraordinary opportunity for them, for us, and for advertisers.” Audacy says that 1010 WINS Noticias will also aim to create a unique value proposition for advertisers through multiple opportunities to reach consumers, included co-branded targeted social media posts, mobile app display ads and custom email newsletters, as well as homepage takeovers.

Gow Media’s ‘ESPN Houston’ Announces New Program Lineup. Houston sports talk outlet KFNC-FM/K223CW “ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM” unveils its new lineup. Gow Media says the new program schedule will take effect on August 16 and will “showcase a new direction, featuring new voices, and new shows with an emphasis on covering the teams and storylines that Houston sports fans care about. The all-local weekday lineup will continue to boast veteran hosts John Granato, Lance Zierlein, Charlie Pallilo and Joel Blank. New additions to the roster include Jeremy Branham, Jake Asman, Cody Stoots and Brad Kellner.” The lineup is as follows: 7:00 am to 10:00 am – “The Bench with John Granato & Lance Zierlein”; 10:00 am to 12:00 noon – “The Charlie Pallilo Show”; 12:noon to 3:00 pm – “The Killer B’s with Joel Blank & Jeremy Branham”; and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm – “The Wheelhouse with Jake Asman, Cody Stoots & Brad Kellner.” Additionally, longtime station host Fred Faour will continue to be part of the on-air team, joining shows throughout the week in a new role as the station’s sports betting analyst. CEO David Gow says, “Fred has a deep connection with our listeners, and will continue to be an important part of our on-air team. He will also lead the development of a new online offering that we’ll be launching soon.”

Libby Nolan Named SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia St. Louis. Radio sales pro Libby Nolan is named SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s St. Louis market. The company’s St. Louis outlets include BIN: Black Information Network’s BIN103.7 plus four music brands. Nolan joins iHeartMedia St. Louis from Zimmer Radio in Springfield, Missouri, where she served as vice president and director of sales. Prior to that, Nolan acted as market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare Media’s Quincy-Hannibal radio cluster. She spent almost 10 years of her career at Emmis St. Louis serving in several leadership positions. She also held leadership positions at Audacy-owned news/talk KFTK-FM. iHeartMedia St. Louis president John R. Beck, Jr. says, “I am very excited to have Libby on our team. Her diverse background and leadership skills are a perfect match for the amazing things we have to look forward to at iHeart St. Louis.”

Brenda Franco Named GM for JVC Media’s Fort Walton Beach Cluster. Radio sales and management pro Brenda Franco is named general manager for JVC Media of Florida’s Fort Walton Beach station group that includes WZLB-FM “Florida Man Radio 103.1” and three music brands. Franco was most recently key account manager and senior marketing consultant for Cumulus Media in the Fort Walton Beach/Destin market. JVC executive Shane Reeve comments, “JVC’s commitment to the Emerald Coast and all of our markets is to grow our culture of great LOCAL radio for our listeners and clients. The addition of Brenda as our general manager for JVC Fort Walton Beach is a win for everyone in the market. Brenda’s success in sales management up and down the Emerald Coast is due to her incredible knowledge and passion for her clients, listeners, and the industry. I was always so impressed with Brenda during my earlier tenure in Fort Walton Beach and I am thrilled to have someone of her caliber on board with the JVC family.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by The Count, KFI, Los Angeles morning host Bill Handel is to undergo heart surgery. The Count says Handel called into the station last Thursday while hospitalized, saying he is to undergo heart valve replacement surgery, telling his fill-in, “Now they have to crack my chest. The valve is definitely infected.” Handel underwent surgery to replace the same aortic valve in 2011…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and the NCAA agree to a multi-year renewal, maintaining Westwood One’s place as the official network audio broadcast partner of the NCAA for many years to come. Westwood One has broadcast the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since 1982 and every game of NCAA March Madness on multiple platforms since 2005. Under the terms of the deal, Westwood One retains exclusive broadcast radio, digital audio, distribution, and licensing rights for all 90 NCAA Championships, including the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and the Final Fours…..WGN, Chicago reports that the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks released a medical update on Blackhawks radio color analyst Troy Murray, who says, “I want to let everyone know of the challenge that I’m currently facing. I have been diagnosed with cancer. With the love and support of my family, friends, the Wirtz family, the Chicago Blackhawks organization and WGN Radio I’m confident that together, we will beat this.” WGN vice president and general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle says, “Troy is beloved by all our listeners and is a significant member of the WGN Radio family. It goes without saying that Troy and his family have our love and support as he begins his treatments. We are cheering for him and wish him well. Along with the Blackhawks, we ask that you respect his privacy during this time.”…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, announces that former NFLquarterback Shaun King is joining the network as co-host of “The Night Cap” in which he’ll co-host with Tim Murray to cover sports betting markets around the country each weeknight from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET. VSiN CEO Brian Musberger comments, “Shaun is an incredible talent, and we’re thrilled to add his unique perspective as a player to our sports betting content as we continue to expand VSiN’s programming and reach. His experience as an NFL quarterback coupled with the skills he honed as a former ESPN and NBC Sports analyst will be an incredibly valuable addition to our evening lineup.”…..Pictured below is Westwood One late night talk radio star Jim Bohannon (right) being inducted into the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual gathering in Branson, Missouri.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Debate, Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Infrastructure Bill, Climate Change/Wildfires, Prince Andrew Sexual Abuse Suit, Capitol Riot Investigation, and Obama Party Backlash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/9). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the controversy over mask mandates for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo digs in as sexual harassment allegations put pressure on him to resign; the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill; the UN’s IPCC-authored climate report and the wildfires devastating California and Greece; American Virginia Giuffre sues Prince Andrew for sexual abuse; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; and criticism of former President Barack Obama’s birthday bash for flouting COVID-19 guidelines were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, 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, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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 (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; 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, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; 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 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s 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. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

| September 10, 2020

Backbone Serving Broadcasters in Work-from-Home Era. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of broadcasters to work from home beginning in the spring and many still are. Radio engineering departments scrambled to get equipment into the homes of hosts who required it. But Backbone has been busy providing high-quality audio connection to a number of broadcasters and educational institutions with its equipment-free service. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian talks with Backbone founder, president and CEO Richard Cerny in a piece that illustrates how the Backbone technology is being used. He tells TALKERS, “This is sort of the only way you can really revamp a station without having to buy all new equipment. Other than the tower and tower building, there is no brick and mortar here. Your bedroom is ‘the studio.’ You can have local hosts on the LUCIE (the pre-codex) that goes into New York. A producer working out of his house takes all the inputs; adds commercials; puts it back into the cloud; and [the final product] goes out to the tower. At the same time, it streams and makes podcasts – all of this stuff is automated. Unless you want to make edits, you just push a button to launch and publish a podcast wherever you want to send it.” Read the entire story here.

PPM Analysis: All-News. According to data from Nielsen Audio’s monthly PPM surveys, listening to news radio shot up in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit American shores and although the 6+ AQH shares for news stations has bounced around a bit since March, 75% of all-news stations had higher AQH shares during the August 2020 survey than they did during the August 2019 survey. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian analyzes the format in today’s report. Comparing July 2020 and August 2020 data, exactly half of the news stations in PPM markets were down (6+ weekly AQH) and half were up. Looking at 6+ cume, although half of the news outlets were up during the August 2020 survey compared to the July 2020 survey, the average spike in cume was 67,244 while the average dip in cume was just 14,500. Check out Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

iHeartMedia to Acquire WWRL, New York; Black Information Network to Air on Station. As it continues to expand the reach of its newly created BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia announces that the 24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective will be heard on New York City’s WWRL-AM, effective November 2. That is when iHM begins operating the station under an LMA. The company has also entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with current owner NJ Broadcasting LLC.  BIN: Black Information Network president Tony Coles says, “We are excited to welcome WWRL AM as the newest member of the Black Information Network family. This station has a long history of service in New York City, and in the ‘60s was an important voice for change for the Black community. At BIN, we are proud to continue that legacy, and to once again make AM 1600 a trusted source for the news and information that impacts Black New Yorkers.” The station is currently airing “Radio Mirchi,” a Hindi format operated by Entertainment Network Limited.

Radio America to Syndicate ‘The Best of Ricochet.’ A new, one-hour weekly program is being syndicated by Radio America beginning Saturday, September 19. Radio America says “The Best of Ricochet” is a “fast-paced digest of the Ricochet Audio Network’s bright and informative podcast streams. No orthodoxy, no party-line rants – we have a multitude of smart, engaging, iconoclastic thinkers who span the center-right spectrum. You’ll find college law professors, moms, libertarians, pop-culture addicts, vets, and the occasional note from the road from a truck driver.” The program is hosted by James Lileks, the longtime co-host of the “Ricochet Podcast” (alongside Peter Robinson and Rob Long), the author of several books (including the now legendary Gallery of Regrettable Food) and has been the sole contributor to lileks.com since 1997. He’s a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

45th Gracies Awards Streams Tonight. The Alliance for Women in Media are reminding the industry that this year’s 45th Anniversary Gracies Awards is being streamed live on the AWMF Facebook page at 7:00 pm ET. This year’s program is being hosted by “This Is Us” star Susan Kelechi Watson and supports the AWMF’s many educational programs, charitable activities, public service, and scholarship campaigns that benefit women in media. The evening will include Malin Akerman, Sanjay Gupta, Angélica Vale, Cassie DiLaura, and more as presenters, and will honor such luminaries as Katy Perry, Danai Gurira, Michelle Williams, Gayle King, among many others.

TALKERS News Notes. The National Association of Broadcasters announces it is moving the NAB Show scheduled for April 11-14, 2021 to October 9-13, 2021 in Las Vegas. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says in making the announcement, “With a new date set for the 2021 NAB Show we are looking at the entirety of the calendar next year with fresh eyes. We plan to continue bringing the industry together in a number of ways. In the short-term, we are excited about the online events planned for next month – the Radio Show (October 5–9) and NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange (October 14–15). These signature events, combined with our virtual NAB Show New York (October 19–29), offer dynamic content and engagement opportunities all month long to bring the industry together to restart, reengage and refocus.”…..The American Uncensored News Network announces it is actively seeking conservative radio and television shows for its AUN-TV network, “The Uncensored News Network.” AUN-TV says its mission is to create “uncensored” news, talk, and documentary programming from independent media and grassroots production. Content is distributed via its AUN-TV Network and its sister website www.aun-tv.com. At the same time, AUN-TV founder Dana Allen announces that Rick Trader – producer and host of the “Conservative Commandos Radio Show” – is named president and CEO of AUN Network…..NPR and a group of 12 public radio stations across the country announce they are launching the first localized daily news podcast, one that blends national stories and local reporting. The podcast is titled, “Consider This,” and NPR senior director for on-demand programming Neal Carruth comments, “This project is truly the best reflection of the public radio mission. ‘Consider This’ is now a collaborative podcast that will know where users are and deliver them the news of the day from their community and beyond. It demonstrates what only the public radio network has the ability to do.” Participating stations include: WGBH and WBUR in Boston; WNYC, New York; WHYY, Philadelphia; WAMU, Washington, DC; WBEZ, Chicago; WMPR, Minneapolis; KERA, Dallas; KPCC and KCRW, Los Angeles; KQED, San Francisco; and KOPB, Portland…..Cadence13 – part of Entercom’s Podcast Network – and actor/comedian Will Arnett are partnering to produce “The Journey is Now,” a new weekly podcast in which Arnett explores “human perspective, growth, and awareness.” Arnett will be joined on each episode by a well-known guest for a deep-dive into their story, struggles, regrets, and the obstacles they’ve overcome…..Pictured below is Salem Radio Network News White House correspondent Greg Clugston (right) conducting and exclusive one-on-one interview with Vice President Mike Pence (left). Clugston flew from D.C. to Pennsylvania with the vice president on Air Force 2 yesterday (9/9), then joined his bus tour across the region that included stops at a pro-life gathering, as well as an address to energy industry employees at PennEnergy Resources, LLC in Freedom, Pennsylvania.

ViacomCBS and iHeartMedia Enter into Podcast Deal. This three-year deal between ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth Group and iHeartMedia calls for iHM to “create dozens of original podcasts, both new and those that leverage iconic intellectual property and extend powerhouse franchises from the biggest and most beloved brands.” Those brands include: MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “These are some of the most iconic brands in the world. First and foremost – as fans of these brands – we wanted to see them have a really strong presence in podcasting. So our plan is simple: We will swing all of our resources behind these incredible brands – with support from our production teams, our huge distribution and marketing muscle, and the biggest and best audio sales team in the country – to make sure they get the audience they deserve in this incredible new medium.”

IBA Partners with AdLarge for Network Ad Sales. The Independent Broadcasters Association enters into a network radio ad sales partnership with AdLarge Media to create two new independent radio station networks. The IBA says its board approved the membership offering on August 17 and says, “The membership fee is designed so that every radio station can afford to participate and benefit from all the deliverables underway. The cost of membership is $100 per station annually plus one :60 unit of advertising per week, Monday – Friday 6a-7p.”  AdLarge co-founder and co-CEO Gary Schonfeld comments, “We are thrilled to work with Ron and the independent radio stations across the country that are joining the IBA. This partnership comes at a most opportune time, giving independent radio groups and stations more power and prominence in network radio advertising. Ron’s [Stone] industry leadership in creating the IBA will help thousands of radio stations nationwide generate additional revenue and we are honored to be a part of it.”

Bob Woodward’s Rage Book, the Presidential Election/Vote-By-Mail, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, California Wildfires, Kansas City Chiefs’ Fan Rules Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/9). The audio of tape of Bob Woodward’s interview with President Trump for his book Rage that reveals the president purposely downplayed the COVID-19 threat; the November presidential election and the controversy over voting by mail and the challenges facing the USPS; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and projections for future cases; the state of the California wildfires; and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs ban Native American garb at games 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. Rock radio pro Steve Dent joins Cumulus Media as morning drive personality for alternative WNDX, Indianapolis “93.9X.” Dent was most recently with iHeartMedia’s Dayton cluster as program director for alternative WZDA and classic rock WTUE. WNDX program director Steven Lewis says, “‘93.9X’ has continued to grow and establish its brand since it launched last May. Steve Dent brings years of experience in the format, a passion for the music, strong on-air skills, and the tools to take mornings to the next level. I couldn’t be happier to have him on the station and part of our Cumulus Rock family.”…..Beasley Media Group promotes Dawn Santolucito to assistant program director and marketing director for WKLB-FM, Boston “Country 102.5.” She has been serving as music director and marketing director at the station since August 2017. She says, “‘Country 102.5’ is a special station, near and dear to my heart. I am excited to take on this new role and I am looking forward to all the things our incredible team will accomplish together.” At the same time, Jim Clerkin rises to music director and producer for the “Jonathan Weir and Ayla Brown Morning Show.”…..In Chicago, iHeartMedia gets FCC approval to change the call letters of country-turned-rock WEBG-FM to WCHI-FM.