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Thursday, March 12, 2020

| March 12, 2020

Broadcasting Conferences Postponed/Cancelled; TALKERS Conference on for June 5. Radio industry watchers are by now aware that the National Association of Broadcasters has cancelled April’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.  That convention may be rescheduled for later in the year.  Radio trade publication AllAccess has postponed its Worldwide Radio Summit originally scheduled for later this month in Los Angeles to an unspecified future date.  Obviously, these decisions come on the heels of recommendations by health officials to avoid large crowds in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  At this point in time, the TALKERS magazine conference scheduled for June 5 in New York City will go on as planned, however according to publisher Michael Harrison, “That situation will ultimately be determined within the next month based on the facts at that time.”  The date of the conference is a full 12 weeks from tomorrow, and it is our hope that the coronavirus pandemic will be under control by then, making such a gathering a safe one to attend.  Please continue to monitor TALKERS magazine for new information about the conference agenda.

Saga Communications Reports 2019 Q4 and Full Year Financial Data.  Releasing its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2019 and for the full year of 2019, Saga Communications reports net operating revenue of $31.8 million for Q4, down 3.5% from the same period in 2018.  For the full year of 2019, Saga reports net operating revenue of $123.1 million, a decrease of 1.4% over the full year of 2018.  The company adds that station operating expense decreased $711 thousand to $23.1 million and operating income decreased $575 thousand to $5.4 million.  Net income decreased $454 thousand to $3.8 million for the quarter.  Saga reports it had $44 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2019 and $47 million as of March 9, 2020.  The company’s total bank debt was $10 million as of the end of the year.

COVID-19 Declared Pandemic, Trump Suspends European Travel, NBA Suspends Season, Dow Plummets, Saudi Arabia Launches Oil War, and the Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/11). The World Health Organization’s declaration that COVID-19 is a now an official pandemic; President Trump’s address to the nation and his suspension of travel from Europe; the National Basketball Association suspends its season after a player tests positive for the coronavirus; the Dow sinks even further as the world’s financial markets continue to be hit by the effects of the coronavirus; Saudi Arabia’s oil war against Russia and its effect on global oil prices; and the race between Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the nomination were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” is cancelling two of its upcoming remote broadcasts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The first cancellation is a live appearance by the ensemble cast of the show – including host Tom Griswold, on March 26 – for the Opening Day of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season.  That appearance was to have featured a live broadcast with Cumulus Cincinnati affiliate WOFX-FM.  The show has also canceled an April 3 live broadcast at a Charleston, West Virginia casino as part of affiliate WKLC-FM’s celebration of its 40th year as a classic rock station…..Talk host and digital media producer Alex Jones was arrested for DWI in Travis County, Texas early Tuesday morning.  This came about four hours after police were summoned to a home for a disturbance being reported by Jones’ wife.  The Austin Statesman reports that Jones’ wife told authorities the two had had a physical confrontation earlier in the day but were at that time having a verbal fight.  After Jones left the house, she called authorities told them he was driving and “was possibly drinking.”  Jones was later released on $3,000 bond…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” is adding NBC Sports Chicago anchor/reporter Chuck Garfien to its staff as a White Sox expert.  Garfien will appear on the “Kap & Company,” “Carmen and Jurko,” and “Waddle and Silvy” shows.  Feder also writes today that all next week, Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder will sit in for Big John Howell on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM afternoon show.  The duo – formerly in middays at crosstown WGN-AM – began producing a podcast for WLS last month.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Through a deal with Canadian syndicator Orbyt Media, Premiere Networks is bringing its hip-hop morning show “The Breakfast Club” to radio in Canada.  The show – hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God – debuts on Stingray Group’s CFXJ-FM, Toronto on Monday (3/16)…..On-air pro Taylor Dickson joins Townsquare Media’s alternative WRRV, Middletown, New York (Hudson Valley market) as morning drive co-host and music director.  WRRV brand manager Bill Dunn says, “Taylor was a rock star in our internship program a few years ago and I remember her asking all the right questions.  She’s worked hard to get to this point and has a very bright future ahead of her.”…..Morning personality Stephen Clark announces he’s leaving his position with Entercom’s classic hits WOMC, Detroit to pursue his career in country music.  He tweeted, “Two years ago, shortly after I announced my retirement from Channel 7, WOMC came to me with an offer to do the morning show in hopes of moving into a competitive position.  I had plans to focus more on my music in Nashville….but, hey, I like a challenge.  With the awesome team of JoAnne, Jason, Julia and me, in just two years we are now consistently in the top tier of morning shows… but I still have a music career to focus on and getting up every morning at 4:30 doesn’t mesh well with the late-night nature of live music.”…..Entercom announces the band Local Natives will perform at the RADIO.COM Live event series at the HD Radio Sound Space in Los Angeles tonight (3/12) at 8:00 pm ET.  RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo says, “The RADIO.COM Live event series is excited to welcome Local Natives to the stage.  Our listeners from coast-to-coast will get a preview of the band’s performance before they go on tour in May.”

Monday, January 11, 2016

| January 11, 2016

leekristiKristi Lee’s Exit from Bob & Tom Show Official.  On December 16, TALKERS magazine reported that there were rumors Bob & Tom Show cast member Kristi Lee might not return to the program after the holiday break due to a negotiations breakdown.  Now, comes word via the Indianapolis Star that Lee has officially left the show, though her statement to the paper indicates she exited “to pursue new opportunities.”  Bob Kevoian retired from the show in December and the nationally syndicated program is continuing with Tom Griswold and Chick McGee.  The Star reports WTHR, Indianapolis news anchor Pat Carlini – a former Bob & Tom cast member – has been filling Lee’s role on the show, but there’s no indication whether or not the move is permanent.

wlwWLW, Cincinnati Hearing Criticism Over Roethlisberger Bit.  Dredging up six-year-old allegations of sexual misconduct by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, iHeartMedia news/talker (and Cincinnati Bengals flagship) WLW, Cincinnati aired a mock PSA that warned young females of Roethlisberger’s presence in the area.  Needless to say, much of the criticism of the bit was not out of concern over Roethlisberger’s reputation but because some believe the bit treated the issue of sexual assault lightly by using it as the basis for a joke.  Here’s the copy from the bit: “This is a severe Ben Roethlisberger update from 700 WLW.  The Tri-State is currently under a severe Big Ben warning from now through early Sunday morning.  The Steelers quarterback has been spotted in the downtown Cincinnati area.  All females ages 18-40 are to use extreme caution, especially if heavily consuming alcohol.  Males should also be on the lookout, just in case.  If you see Big Ben and he flashes Little Ben, you are asked to report it to authorities immediately.  He poses the greatest threat to 18-to-40-year-olds, especially those with boob jobs in the downtown Cincinnati area.  You are safe if you live in Butler or Clermont counties, pretty much anywhere in Kentucky and most of southeast Indiana.”

Obama Guns ‘Town Hall,’ Presidential Race, Hillary Clinton Emails Probe Heats Up, Philly Cop Attack, NYC Gang Rape Case, Record Powerball Jackpot, Sunday’s Golden Globes Awards, and NFL Wild Card Action Among Top Weekend News/Talk Stories.  The aftermath of the CNN/White House produced “town hall” on guns in America; the activities of the candidates for president; the increasingly damning content of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her personal server; the attack on a Philadelphia police officer by an allegedly radicalized Muslim man; the case of a New York woman gang raped at an NYC playground; the fervor over the record Powerball jackpot; the anticipation of and coverage of Sunday’s Golden Globes Awards; and the weekend’s NFL wild card games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

gruninjeremyJeremy Grunin Assumes AM Drive Role at WOBM, Lakewood Township, New Jersey.  Ocean County, New Jersey champion Jeremy Grunin takes over the morning drive program on Townsquare Media’s news/talk WOBM, Lakewood Township.  He replaces the husband and wife team of Bob and Marianne Levy.  Marianne Levy remains with the station co-hosting the Preferred Home Health Care-sponsored “Preferred Company” show that airs from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Grunin is an investor, developer and the executive director of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation with over 20 years’ experience in retail sales and management, business development, investment and leadership capacity building.  About his new gig, he comments, “I am thrilled to be partnering with the great team at Townsquare Media on WOBM-AM.  I am looking forward to the upcoming months of building on Bob and Marianne’s loyal listeners with new ways of connecting our great residents and visitors to the Jersey Shore.”

herskovitzpanel16Experts Discuss the Future of Media.  TALKERS magazine sales and marketing specialist Al Herskovitz joined a panel of broadcasters at a recent forum presented by the Brandeis University National Committee in Sarasota, Florida, to discuss the future of the media. A standing-room-only crowd greeted the panelists.  According to event chairperson Anne Sherwood it was “the largest crowd ever to attend one of our forums.”  Pictured here from (l-r) are: media broker Burt Sherwood, Herskovitz, former president of ABC Television James Duffy, Florida Media Roundtable chairman Irwin Starr and (standing) Anne Sherwood.

hewitthughABC011016Hugh Hewitt Sits on ‘ABC This Week’ Panel.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Hugh Hewitt is pictured here on the set of “ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos” yesterday (1/10).  The Salem Radio Network personality has been getting a lot of national facetime, including appearing on CNN’s GOP primary debate panels.

Odds & Sods.  Florida talk personality Marc Bernier is celebrating his 25th anniversary on WNDB, Daytona Beach with a special broadcast and reception on January 21.  The event is taking place at the News Journal Center in Daytona with a live broadcast of his afternoon drivegasquestephen program and a private reception to follow…..Westwood One announces it is making some changes to its “Real Estate Today” – the official radio program of the National Association of Realtors.  The program has a new host in Stephen Gasque and is being redesigned with some new features to appeal to a wider segment of home buyers and real estate investors.  The program currently airs on 180 stations nationwide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

| December 16, 2015

price howardPrice: Weighing Public Safety vs Risk of Assisting Threatmongers in Reporting to Your Listeners.  The recent terroristic threats against the New York City and Los Angeles public school districts – which turned out not to be true – present a bit of a potential problem for radio stations and news organizations.  ABC Television director, business continuity Howard B. Price writes today in TALKERS, “Critical to the discussion is the hard reality that those who make these threats are banking on a response from both authorities AND the media.  Thankfully, even in these troubled times, most threats are hoaxes made to seize on public fear.  The hoaxers find out about that response the same way the rest of us do – through the media.  SO what to do?  As with most professional challenges, the process begins with an internal conversation, specific to your station and market.  For example, do you have a policy document to guide your decision making in such dynamic breaking news situations?”  Read more here.

grimessuzanneCumulus Media Names Suzanne Grimes to President of the Westwood One Division and EVP of Corporate Marketing Roles.  According to Cumulus Media, this new role of president of the Westwood One Division “creates a unified structure that maximizes opportunities across the division’s national content and sales platform.”  Steve Shaw, president of Westwood One, will continue to lead ad sales, and Charles Steinhauer, COO of Westwood One, will continue to lead operations, both reporting directly to Grimes, who in turn reports to company CEO Mary Berner.  Grimes was most recently president and COO of Clear Channel Outdoor.  Berner states, “When it comes to anything in media, Suzanne’s the full package.  With 30 years of experience building content businesses into high-performing brands, she brings valuable perspectives from leadership roles in outdoor, mobile, social, digital, print and experiential sectors for both public and private companies, so she’s a natural choice for these important roles.  I look forward to her contribution as we build a stronger, more operationally focused organization.”

Newly Re-Organized Corporate Structure at Cumulus Includes Tommy Page and Mike McVay Taking on New Responsibilities.  As part of her memo to Cumulus Media staff of Suzanne Grimes’ new role, CEO Mary Berner also explained some of the other changes atop the corporate structure at the company.  Working forbouvardpierre Grimes will be the company’s chief marketing officer Pierre Bouvard and VP of social media Lori Lewis.  Berner announces Tommy Page’s new title will be SVP of brand partnerships & NASH in which he’ll continue his role as leader of platform events initiatives and brand partnerships, corporate mcvaymikemarketing function, and new duties including the development and execution of the NASH brand strategy.  Berner says the company is creating a new Office of Programming in which SVP of content & programming Mike McVay will operate to “lead our content strategy across the platform, including talent recruitment and development and label relations.”  Tom Schurr, SVP ofschurrtom operations, will work with McVay in a new role overseeing the business aspects of programming, including organization and prioritization, resource allocation, and budget responsibilities.  Berner concludes, “Our belief with regard to ratings is that more local insight and more effective corporate support will result in an improved outcome.  The new Office of Programming will be responsible for executing this strategy to drive ratings growth and will be rolling out more details in the coming weeks.”

bohannonjimJim Bohannon to Exit ‘America in the Morning’; Continues Late Night Show.  Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Bohannon is cutting back on his duties for Westwood One and is leaving the hosting role for “America in the Morning” after the December 18 broadcast.  He is continuing his work as host of the late night Jim Bohannon show.  He signed a multi-year contract extension with Westwood One in February of this year.  Bohannon has been the sole host of “America in the Morning” since its firsttroutjohn broadcast in 1984.  The morning magazine program airs on more than 250 stations nationwide.  Taking over for Bohannon is the show’s regular guest host John Trout.  He officially begins on Monday, January 18, 2016.  Bohannon comments, “It’s time for me to cut back the daily schedule a bit and focus my attention on the research, interviews, and calls for my weeknight Jim Bohannon show.  But I’ll still be contributing my daily feature, the ‘Offbeat,’ and my newsmaker interviews to ‘America in the Morning.’  Listeners will love John Trout as host.  He’s got a stellar track record and he’s been a terrific fill-in.  The show is in great hands and I wish him much success.”

leykistomTom Leykis’ New Normal Projecting Another Profitable Year.  New Year’s Eve will be the sixth anniversary of The New Normal – the audio content company founded by radio legend Tom Leykis after exiting his CBS RADIO talk show in 2009.  Leykis has long been a vocal proponent of the digital delivery system for taking audio content into the future.  Today, he reports that as 2015 winds down, The New Normal is financially continuing on an upward trend.  Leykis tells TALKERS that revenue is up for the third straight year.  Profits will increase from $23,000 in 2014 to almost $100,000 in 2015.  He adds, “This means that, for the second year in a row, we will be more profitable than the top two radio companies combined.”

Odds & Sods.  Are there wrinkles in the future of the Bob & Tom Show post-Bob KevoianTALKERS sources arebobandtom labeled hearing that negotiations between the syndicated program’s management and staff are hitting snags.  Kevoian announced his retirement at the recent Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony and although the show is moving forward with Tom Griswold continuing his role, rumors are that negotiations for contract renewals with longtime cast member Kristi Lee and contributor Ron Sexton are facing challenges…..Software platform provider Mediaocean announces it is integrating iHeartMedia within its Spectra platform.  As a result, within one central system, ad agencies are able to seamlessly manage, research, and buy local digital audio inventory across the iHeartMedia digital platform.  Mediaocean says users will be able to compare iHeartMedia’s audience data side-by-side with other digital audio platforms to better plan campaigns and engage the right audiences at the local level.

tradupTrump15Covering the GOP Debate.  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen here gesturing as he makes a point while speaking with Salem Radio Network personalities Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager and Michael Medved (who are out of the picture to the right) while SRN VP news & talk programming Tom Tradup holds the mic.  The exchange took place during SRN’s exclusive radio distribution of the Republican presidential debate.  SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt appeared on the CNN debate panel asking questions of the GOP hopefuls.

Run-Up to Last Night’s GOP Debate/2016 Presidential Race, Refugee and Immigration Policy, Los Angeles and New York Schools Terror Threats, Battle Against Islamic State, Freddie Gray Trial, Government Shutdown Threat, and New Star Wars Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/15). The build-up to last night’s GOP primary debate in Las Vegas and the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; debate over policy regarding refugees from Syria and over immigration in general; terror threats against the New York and Los Angeles public school districts and criticism over LA’s decision to cancel school; the battle against Islamic State; the wait for the verdict in the case against the first of six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray; the move in Congress to avert a government shutdown; and the hype over the new Star Wars film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.