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Monday, May 11, 2020

| May 11, 2020

Monday Memo: Talkers, Listening. Cable television talk legend Larry King taught us that great talkers are good listeners. So, in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke asks a quartet of our talk media cohorts what they’re hearing as listeners cope. HC speaks with Westwood One nationally syndicated star Jim Bohannon, Providence radio and TV news and talk pro Gene Valicenti, and two hosts working in recreation meccas – Harry Hurley at WPG, Atlantic City and Heidi Harris at KMZQ in Las Vegas. Read it here.

Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening and Second Wave Threats, COVID-19 at the White House, U.S.-China Relations, Ahmaud Arbery Slaying, Michael Flynn Case, and Jerry Stiller Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the number of deaths, and projections for future infections; some U.S. states cautiously begin re-opening amid concerns about a second wave of infections; the reports of White House staffers testing positive; the war of words between the U.S. and China over the origin of the coronavirus; the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery; the DOJ drops the Michael Flynn case and allegations of the Obama administration’s role in implicating Flynn; and comedian Jerry Stiller dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Masks, Appointments, and Social Distancing. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it’s important to be smart about what and how you are selling. “As local business categories slowly come back to life, dealing with restrictive guidelines never before anticipated, marketing dollars may take a more cautious path to recovery. Some of your advertisers are dealing with the logistics of government-funded loans to bridge the gap and the new challenges that will arise. Will hours and operations ever be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic?” Read his column here.

Beasley Media Group Announces Re-Opening. The company says that today (5/11) it is beginning the approved gradual Phase One implementation of re-opening its radio properties in states that have reopened for business.  Beasley Media Group states that “both the timing and safety measures for these re-openings will be based upon approved CDC, individual state, and local government recommended guidelines. During Phase One, no more than 25% of each cluster’s individual workforce will be in the workplace at any given time.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We have taken a very conservative, thorough and thoughtful approach to our company’s gradual reopening plan to provide, first and foremost, a safe and healthy work environment for our employees. Our market managers have done an incredible job working closely with their individual state and local governments to ensure a safe transition process as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times.”

Evening Show Change at WLS-AM, Chicago. Windy City media personality Jenniffer Weigel leaves her early evening talk show on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM and a sports-themed show hosted by Rob Martier debuts in its place. Chicago media writer Robert Feder breaks the story here. Martier has been with WLS-AM since joining as evening news anchor in 2018. He also hosts a weekend auto show and Illini football broadcasts. Weigel came aboard last March as a part of the Mancow Muller morning show before transitioning to late night host and then early evening personality.

Bob Matthews Retires from WHAM, Rochester. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that longtime WHAM sports talk host Bob Matthews did his last show for the legendary iHeartMedia signal on Friday. Matthews tells the paper he was not fired nor furloughed but that at age 73 and after serving with the station for 35 years, he admits “the coronavirus got the best of me.” He adds, “It’s been very difficult the last two months. It’s been tough talking sports for two hours when there’s no sports. I’ll be OK.” Matthews, a longtime columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle who left the paper in 2012, says he’s recently been diagnosed with diabetes and knows he’s susceptible to the virus. The station will replace Matthews’ 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with Westwood One’s “The Savage Nation” with host Michael Savage.

iHeartMedia Adds New Voices to ‘Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020’ Podcast. A podcast addressing students graduating this year titled, “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” is being produced by iHeartMedia and will be published on Friday (5/15) ahead of National Graduation Day on the 17th. The company announces that Bill and Melinda Gates; singer, songwriter and actor Becky G; actor and gender equality ambassador Freida Pinto; stand-up comedian George Lopez; director and actor Henry Winkler; New York Times bestselling author John Green; Mary J. Blige; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert; actor, producer, singer and songwriter Rita Wilson; acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; T.I.; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Emmy award-winning news anchor Tom Brokaw have joined the podcast event featuring commencement addresses from some of the most inspiring and accomplished thought leaders impacting culture today. “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” will also feature speeches from iHeartRadio personalities Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee, Woody, and J Cruz. The speeches will be produced specifically for the podcast, through the iHeartPodcast Network, and are dedicated to all the graduating classes of 2020 who will miss their commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast will be available on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard.

Alpha Media Presents ‘Tools for Difficult Times’ for Staff and Clients. Last Thursday (5/7), Alpha Media held a virtual keynote titled, “Now What? Tools for Difficult Times,” featuring author and Ted Talk alum Greg Bell and special guest Meghan Trainor. Alpha CEO Bob Proffitt states, “The goal of the event was to offer our employees and clients positive and actionable planning strategies to maximize personal and professional opportunities as we begin the re-entry phase of this crisis.” Close to 1,000 guests virtually attended to hear motivational speaker Greg Bell provide key insights and incredible tools for moving forward in this new era. Grammy Award winner Meghan Trainor discussed with Skyview Network host Dana Cortez how she is using her platform positively to help feed those in need at this time. They also tackled how to handle the pressure and fatigue from the constant influx of social media during the pandemic. Alpha Media says that it believes that innovation, creativity and connection are important now more than ever. To meet that need, the company says its Virtual Keynote series will continue throughout the year with new speakers and guests to be announced.

Radio One Philadelphia and MyPhillyLawyer Salute Frontline Workers. In an effort to give back to the front-line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radio One Philadelphia joined MyPhillyLawyer for the “Salute on the Front Line” campaign that features video tributes and special lunch deliveries to men and women nominated by members of the community. Listeners to Radio One’s Philadelphia stations can submit video tributes to the radio stations highlighting the work and contribution of friends or family members who are essential workers in the Philadelphia area. The radio stations will feature the videos and each day will have lunch delivered to the workplace of the honorees to thank them and their co-workers for their service. Radio One Philadelphia general manager Ezio Torres says, “This partnership with MyPhillyLawyer recognizes not only the front-line workers who immediately come to mind, but also those who work in the grocery stores and drug stores, along with the delivery drivers, postal workers, SEPTA personnel, and many others. It’s just a great way to acknowledge those who continue to allow us to move forward. We want to send them a big thank you!”

Westwood One: Radio Listening Levels Ramping Up. The data presented in this week’s Westwood One Blog are culled from “a brand-new study of consumer COVID-19 sentiment and spending intentions” as well as “just-released audience data from the 45 Portable People Meter markets. The PPM data covered the period of March 27, 2020 through May 6, 2020.” The PPM data indicates that Americans are listening at a rate of 82% or pre-COVID-19 levels.  A study conducted by Nielsen found that 32% of adult Americans consider themselves in the “ready to go” category and they have a greater intent to resume their spending habits. Read the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated radio program “Our American Stories” begins airing on iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston, effective June 1. Lee Habeeb is the show’s host and CEO of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “The Astros, Johnson Space Center, NASA, and KTRH. We are thrilled to join this town of giants. After announcing our partnership with Entercom last week in Dallas on KRLD-AM, and now this partnership with the leading talk station in Houston, we are truly humbled. There are milestones and we have just crossed two really big ones.”…..NPR has struck an agreement with SAG-AFTRA that will allow it to temporarily reduce employee compensation due to an expected budget shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic. As reported at Current.org by Tyler Falk, employee salaries will be reduced on a sliding scale beginning next week, with a maximum cut of 9%. However, the move does not affect employees making less than $80,000. It will be in effect through the end of NPR’s fiscal year in September. The pact also prohibits NPR from laying off any workers for the rest of the fiscal year.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Detroit, Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 The Bounce” promotes J. Steele to assistant program director. He joined the station in April of 2019 and hosts the afternoon drive show. Beasley Detroit director of programming Jerry Tarrants comments, “J. Steele brings extensive programming background to the position and has proven to be a valuable member of the team since joining the station last year as our afternoon drive talent at ‘The Bounce.’ I know J. will bring the same energy and dedication to this role as he does with his very entertaining afternoon show for his listeners in the Motor City!”…..The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Big D and Bubba” show is named the new morning program at country WCLT-FM, Columbus “T-100.” To make room, program director Wild Walley gives up the AM show and becomes host of the afternoon drive program…..At Max Media’s hip hop KFCO “Flo 107.1,” the morning duo of Larry Ulibarri and Kathie J are out. The company has made no official announcement, but the morning show’s info is gone from the station’s website.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

| March 6, 2019

Great Lakes Media Names Leadership Team. The new media firm Great Lakes Media Corp. – founded by radio executive Tom Langmyer last year – announces the first of several appointments to its board of advisors and senior leadership team.  At the same time, the company says it is shifting its focus toward larger market acquisition opportunities.  CEO Langmyer adds the following media professionals to his team: John Gehron, chairman of AccuRadio, joins as board advisor;Gabe Hobbs joins as SVP, broadcast in which he’ll contribute from his experience in the areas of audience acquisition, content creation, talent development; and leadership; Chris Petersen joins as SVP, business & corporate development; and Bill Zaccheo joins as SVP, digital.  Langmyer says, “In building our company, we’ve been fortunate to partner with some of the most successful, respected, and admired leaders in media.  John Gehron, Chris Petersen, Bill Zaccheo, and Gabe Hobbs represent the first announced in a stellar group of people that will build tomorrow’s LOCAL media platform model…The current media model we’ve seen has been ‘top-down’ and focused on national distribution of national and white-labelled content.  The Great Lakes difference is a media model built from the ‘bottom-up’ and focused on local people creating local content and driving local revenue, while benefitting from the efficiencies that technology provides us all.  Radio and digital complement each other, as it’s not an either/or proposition. There’s great open space in creating more personal local experiences by leveraging these platforms and expanding the emotional connection between local consumers and brands.”

Urban One Reports 2018 Q4 Net Revenue Up 4.1%. The parent company of Radio OneUrban One, Inc. – reports financial data for the fourth quarter of 2018 and for the full year of 2018.  In Q4, Urban One’s net revenue was $113.5 million, up 4.1% from $109 million during the same period in 2017.  The company reports, “Net revenues from our radio broadcasting segment increased 16.5% compared to the same period in 2017. We experienced net revenue growth most significantly in our Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Raleigh, St. Louis, and Washington DC markets, with our Richmond market experiencing a decline for the quarter.” Urban One president and CEO Alfred C. Liggins III says, “I was pleased that we came in slightly ahead of our Adjusted EBITDA guidance, led by extremely strong radio performance.  Our radio segment revenue was up by 16.5% including political advertising, and by 8.8% excluding political.  For the quarter, we outperformed the radio markets in which we operate by 850 bps.  Our Cable TV operation posted strong growth in advertising revenues, up 9.3%, driven by increased direct response rates, and additional ad units, which was offset by a modest decline in affiliate revenues (-2.0%).  Our digital revenues underperformed expectations, and we have taken significant steps to remediate.  I expect improved performance from the division in 2019.  In December, we substantially completed the refinancing of our 2020 Notes, which significantly extends the Company’s debt maturity profile.  On January 19, 2019 we successfully launched our new Women’s lifestyle channel, Cleo TV, which will further enhance our ability to entertain and inform our core consumers.”

Ben Shapiro Showing ‘Significant Growth’ for Westwood One. Conservative media star Ben Shapiro is “experiencing significant growth with a growing lineup of new station affiliates, major markets reporting ratings lifts, and an accumulation of engaged younger listeners – all coming out of the gate in his first PPM ratings report,” according to syndicator Westwood One.  The company says Shapiro’s shows are now heard on 200 stations, including in nine of the top 10 markets.   Cumulus Media EVP of marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes says, “We knew that Ben was a hot commodity among millennials and younger demos, and now we have the numbers to prove it.  In less than 60 days Ben has amassed an impressive portfolio of more than 200 stations. We are excited to fuel this exponential growth as he continues to resonate with radio listeners and advertisers.” Shapiro is editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.  His two-hour live radio show is preceded by a one-hour podcast broadcast, that airs at 3:00 pm ET.  Stations have the option to take the one-hour podcast broadcast, the two-hour live show, or the three-hour combination.

Bob Matthews Returns to Air After a Month Away from WHAM, Rochester. Sports talk host Bob Matthews was back on the air on iHeartMedia’s WHAM, Rochester hosting his show after more than a month away from the mic.  Matthews slipped on ice leaving the radio station on February 1 and broke his ankle in three places.  He tells the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that he’s still unable to put weight on it but is thankful to be able to return to hosting his show.  The story notes that in Matthews’ absence, the station has been using sister WHTK personality Carl Falk, former Democrat & Chronicle sports writers Kevin Oklobzija and Jeff DiVeronica, Democrat & Chronicle content editor Steve Bradley, Rochester Red Wings public relations director Nate Rowan, and Salvatore “Soccer Sam” Fantauzzo as fill-in hosts.

PPM Analysis: January’s Major Movers. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian looks at the stations that experienced “major moves” as a result of coming off the Holiday 2018 PPM survey from Nielsen Audio and returning to “normal” listening patterns reflected in the January 2019 survey.  As is usual, stations that went all-Christmas come down to earth in January.  But their loss is someone else’s gain to some degree or another.  In this report you can see which stations gained the most — and lost the most — from Holiday to January by format, by market and more.  See it all here.

Sun & Fun to Launch Key Networks Syndication Company. The press release from Sun & Fun Media gives no indication of the type of programming it intends to syndicated under the new Key Networks banner – whether it’s music, talk, or sports – but Sun & Fun co-founder Rob Koblasz says, “We have launched Key Networks with a limited exclusive roster that we look forward to begin rolling out shortly.  Key Networks will provide dedicated marketing and promotional opportunities for every show we partner with through Sun & Fun Media, enabling Key Networks’ affiliates to sell these promotions in their local markets.  This turnkey solution connects great programming to custom promotions – a first for radio, and one we are proud to introduce.”   Sun & Fun chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Key Networks is the answer to the radio industry’s increasing need for creative, engaging, and diverse programming to markets of all sizes.  I am excited to build Key Networks’ product offerings and grow the company’s affiliate base through Key Networks.  To all our current and future Key Networks partners and affiliates: Get ready for greatness!”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime FOX News Channel star Bill O’Reilly was victorious in federal court recently after a judge tossed a defamation suit filed against him by former FOX News Channel producer Rachel Witlieb Bernstein.  O’Reilly, who exited FNC in 2017 after a series of sexual harassment allegations by former FNC staffers, was accused along with the network of disparaging her by saying no employees had taken advantage of a FOX human resources hotline for reporting improper behavior when that hotline didn’t exist at the time of her complaint and settlement back in 2002.  According to Variety’s report on the matter, the judge ruled Bernstein failed to prove she suffered any harm as a result of the comments by O’Reilly and the network…..SiriusXM is presenting play-by-play coverage of 27 NCAA Division I college basketball conference tournaments this postseason, totaling more than 140 men’s and women’s games.   Listeners will get every men’s tournament game from the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, American Athletic, Ivy League, Missouri Valley and Mountain West conferences, and every game of the women’s ACC and SEC Tournaments…..iHeartMedia is launching a tornado relief effort for victims of the recent Alabama storms through its stations in Birmingham, Auburn, Gadsden, and Tuscaloosa.  It’s partnering with the Alabama Broadcasting Association for the iHeartRadio Lee County Tornado Relief fundraiser to benefit Community Foundation of East Alabama’s Long-Term Recovery Fund.  ABA president Sharon M. Tinsley says, “As residents of Alabama and members of the broadcast community, we are devastated by the loss of life and the many homes, businesses and churches destroyed by tornadoes this Sunday.  It’s always difficult to look at the images after a disaster but, when it’s your neighbors and so many of them are gone, it’s especially hard to accept.  Broadcasters are always there for the communities they serve and at times like these, we bring everyone together in a way like no other.”

House Trump Investigation/Cohen Testimony, Trump-Russia Probe, AOC Campaign Finance Allegations, Increased Illegal Border Activity, House Anti-Semitism Resolution, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls, North Korea Rocket Program, and NBA and NCAA Basketball Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/5).  The expansive U.S. House investigation into President Trump’s businesses, his campaign, and more and the related new testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen; the status of the probe into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the allegations of campaign finance violations against Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez; the intense increase in illegal activity at the U.S.-Mexico border; the U.S. House’s anti-Semitism resolution being taken up on the heels of comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar; the list of Democratic candidates vying to take on President Trump in 2020; new evidence indicating North Korean is reigniting its rocket program; and NBA and NCAA basketball action 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. Programming pro Michael Killbrew moves from iHeartMedia’s Indianapolis cluster where he was SVP of programming to the company’s Washington, DC operations to take on the director of rock programming position for alternative WWDC “DC101” and classic rock WBIG “BIG 100.”  iHeartMedia region SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Washington and Baltimore Jeff Kapugi says, “I am excited to have Mike Killabrew join iHeartMedia Washington D.C. to lead our iconic rock brands, ‘BIG 100’ and ‘DC101.’  Along with his impressive tenure of experience with iHeartMedia, Mike has an unparalleled passion and energy for the rock formats that will elevate and impact our brands from day one.”…..Detroit radio personality Sandy Kovach is the new evening host on Entercom’s adult contemporary WDZH “98.7 The Breeze.”  Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “‘The Breeze’ was launched to offer Detroit relaxing favorites to help the day breeze by.  We are pleased to introduce an equally relaxing evening show.  Sandy Kovach is already well-known to the Motor City community and we are excited to welcome her to the station.  Her show will be a unique blend of soft favorites and positive lifestyle content that our listeners will be able to unwind to.”  Kovach has served in on-air roles for Smooth Jazz Network, The eScapes Network, as well as Motor City stations WDVD WMGC.…..On-air pro Jon Kleeman, a.k.a. Jax, joins Radio FM Media’s CHR KLTA, Fargo “Big 98.7” as afternoon drive personality and music director, effective March 19.  He comes to Fargo from his most recent gig with Cumulus Media’s CHR KKCT, Bismarck, North Dakota…..Entravision Communications strikes a steaming audio distribution agreement with iHeartMedia to make its radio stations available via the iHeartRadio platform.  Under the agreement, Entravision’s 49 owned-and-operated stations will be available on iHeartRadio, effective immediately.

Cool Sales Position. WAWZ, Zarephath, New Jersey “Star 99.1” is seeing a full-time advertising sales person. This full-time position includes work in the office and travel throughout the NY metropolitan area to meet with customers and prospects.  Over-achievers strongly encouraged to apply!  A proven track record in radio or media sales is a pre-requisite, and high standards of business integrity are expected.  We offer a positive working environment, and the satisfaction of doing a job that “counts.”  Qualified candidates should send letter and resume to jobs@star991.com or mail to: Jobs, Star 99.1, P.O. Box 9058, Zarephath, NJ 08890. No calls please.  Star 99.1 is an Equal Opportunity Employer.