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Friday, July 16, 2021

| July 16, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, “Hot Stuff,” looks back at this past week of July 12-16. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Michael Zwerling, talk show host/station owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  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, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; 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, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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.

Alpha Media Emerges from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The company announces that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 with a significantly improved capital structure. In addition to substantially reducing its debt, Alpha Media says it “raised incremental capital to pursue growth opportunities and further enhance its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster across 44 local markets in the United States.” Alpha Media chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt adds, “This is an important achievement for Alpha Media as we strengthen our company’s ability to grow. Today Alpha Media begins its next chapter, with an improved financial foundation, new capital and enhanced competitive positioning. We have greater financial resources and flexibility, and we will continue to invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities across our local markets. I am so proud of all that our teams at each of our radio stations have accomplished during this period. Our unique culture continues to be key to Alpha Media’s success, and I thank the entire Alpha Media family for their dedication and hard work. We are thrilled to continue our mission to deliver dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.” The company adds that it has received all necessary court and regulatory, including FCC, approvals, and all customary conditions have been satisfied.

Round Three of June PPMs Released. The third or four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio 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 June 2021 sweep covered May 27 – June 23. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland remains ranked #5 after dropping three-tenths for a 4.8 share (6+ weekly AQH share). Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte slips four-tenths to finish with a 3.5 share and falls to the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOAI, San Antonio sheds nine-tenths and posts a 3.7 share as the station falls from the #10 rank to #13. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK-AM/FM dips just one-tenth and posts an 8.5 share but the station still falls back to the #3 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati shoots up 1.4 shares for a 12.5 share finish and the #1 rank in the market. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first two groups) here.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Launches Podcast with Matt Doherty. Charlotte news/talk WBT-AM/FM announces the debut of “The Rebound Podcast with Coach Matt Doherty.”  Doherty, the renowned former University of North Carolina basketball player and coach follows his best-selling book, Rebound: From Pain To Passion, Leadership Lessons Learned with “The Rebound Podcast,” a 10-episode series in which he speaks with highly successful individuals in the fields of business, entertainment, politics, sports and more that have had to rebound from failure. The station says, “After being forced to resign from his dream coaching job at UNC in a very public manner in 2003, Matt embarked on a personal leadership journey and was able to rebound by turning his pain to passion. Now in a straight-forward and authentic manner, Matt invites you to a front row seat inside the journey of special guests that faced adversity and worked to rebound from failure. Through engaging and riveting stories of these failures Matt drills down on personal and eye-opening experiences from his guests that everyone will find fascinating and inspiring.” Radio One Charlotte regional VP and market manager Marsha Landess adds, “Matt’s journey is truly inspiring. His insights, and those of his guests, are relatable no matter what field you’re in. We are thrilled to partner with him to bring his leadership skills to the Charlotte market and beyond, first through his appearances on WBT with ‘The Brett Winterble Show,’ and now through ‘The Rebound Podcast!’”

Nielsen Reveals Findings from Consumer Study. This data found in the Westwood One blog, was revealed by Nielsen at a client webinar this week comes from the company’s sixth COVID consumer-tracking study since the pandemic. 1,000 Americans 18+ were surveyed last month and Nielsen says its findings are validated by just-released June data from Apple Maps, GeoPath, Google Trends, and Moody’s Analytics. The blog outlines the very encouraging findings from the study and lists the five things advertisers need to know: 1) It is time to advertise: The three-month period from March 2021 to June 2021 saw an extraordinary jump in consumer confidence pointing to things getting back to normal. The “ready-to-go” segment only grew six points from June 2020 to March 2021. From March 2021 to June 2021, the optimistic “ready-to-go” consumer segment grew an astounding 29 points; 2) Brands need to capitalize on this positive consumer outlook: On the economy, more consumers feel things will improve versus get worse (48% improve versus 23% get worse). The story is the same for consumers and their household finances: 35% improve versus 13% get worse; 3) Americans are back in their cars and listening to AM/FM radio: The majority of workers are commuting. Families are driving their kids to school. Time spent listening to AM/FM radio is up; 4) Commuters are still leery about public transportation, a positive for AM/FM radio: 32% of consumers say they will spend less time on public transport versus 17% who will spend more time; and 5) Retailers need to continue to invest in ecommerce and ensure their AM/FM radio ads drive to web as shopping will be omni-channel: While stores are open, the convenience of hybrid shopping approaches remain: buy online and in-store or curbside pickup.

iHeartMedia Names Tony Yip SVP of Sales for Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Radio sales pro Tony Yip is promoted to senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale cluster, effective immediately. He’s been serving the cluster as VP of sales. In this new role, Yip will be responsible for overseeing advertising sales revenue for the market. He will report to market president Shari Gonzalez. She says, “I am thrilled to be able to promote Tony to this position. Tony has played an important role in leading our team and our two brands WMIA and WHYI over the past eight years and now takes on the entire cluster for Miami Ft. Lauderdale. I am very confident that Tony will lead our team with continued and even higher levels of success for years to come.” Yip launched his radio career at the age of 16 as an intern at WIOD-AM.

Radio News Pro Bob Costantini Relaunches Ear on the White House Service. Former Westwood One News correspondent Bob Costantini is relaunching his Ear on The White House news service. Using the slogan, “Context You Need, Right From the Scene,” Costantini says he can “give your news/talk station an upfront seat in the going’s on at The White House, with three decades of experience covering six presidents. If you want to dig deeper into the news of the day, Ear on The White House is your chance, including daily debriefs that can be sponsored locally.” Find out more by visiting EaronTheWhiteHouse.com.

TALKERS News Notes. On Monday (7/19), the USA Radio Networks-syndicated sports talk program “The Dan Sileo Show” will be added to the program schedule at JVC Broadcasting’s “Florida Man Radio” format heard on WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach. “The Dan Sileo Show” will air from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight…..The cast of the Westwood One nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” kicked off the summer with a night of live comedy at the historic Irving Theater in Indianapolis, raising $10,000 in one night to send Indianapolis area children to summer camp. The benefit event featured performances by three stand-up comedians from the cast of “The BOB & TOM Show” and was co-hosted by the Hall of Fame morning show’s Tom Griswold and Chick McGee…..Superadio Networks and Reatro Ventures announce that the former is agreeing to use Reatro’s ARC Software as the primary affiliate research and automation tool for the network. ARC was developed by SBG founder and former CEO Jason Bailey. Reatro says the software is the media industry’s only SaaS that allows producers, affiliate sales, and network operations to connect digitally, streamlining the affiliation and reporting process…..Quu Inc. and Bonneville International announce a new deal in which all of Bonneville’s markets will use Quu’s patented software to publish synced programming and advertiser messages on vehicle dashboards. Dubbed “Visual Quus,” they are designed to boost station and advertiser branding, recall, and retention. Paired with on-air content, Visual Quus offer a better user experience and generate immediate incremental revenue by adding text, logos, and images to on-air advertisements. Bonneville president Darrell Brown comments, “We are pleased to be able to enhance the listening experience of our loyal audiences and to provide better branding for both Bonneville’s brands and those of its advertisers. This partnership with Quu across Bonneville’s markets positions us well to take advantage of new opportunities in the automobile and beyond.”

The COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccines, and Long COVID Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 12-16. The rise in the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S. in several states, the stalling rate of vaccinations, and the cases of long COVID combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the publication of books about the Trump administration, including I Alone Can Fix It by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Following at #3 was the House committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack, tied with last weekend’s CPAC and the controversy over Critical Race Theory. 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.

Monday, January 25, 2021

| January 25, 2021

INDUSTRY AND NATION MOURN: Talk Media Pioneer Larry King Dead at 87. According to a report on Facebook posted by the producers of his current syndicated television show, Ora Media, legendary star of talk radio and television, Larry King died this weekend at the age of 87. The statement says: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” The statement continues, “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.” The cause of death was not indicated, however King had been reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King was a major player in the talk media world who ushered in the modern era of syndication in radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System and the cable news/talk show format on television at CNN. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: “Larry King was not the greatest talk show host on radio or television in terms of skills, outrageous personality or direct and profound influence on public policy. He was, however, the most important pioneer who paved the way for today’s robust talk media presence on both radio and television. If there ever was a case of the right person at the right time, Larry King fit the bill and that’s all it took for him to be a mighty force. He was the modern era of talk radio’s first national celebrity born solely as a result of his work in the medium. And his contribution to today’s institutional cable news/talk TV format is undeniably fundamental to the medium’s current presence as America’s political and sociological meeting place. We have lost one of the greatest broadcasting presences of the first century of radio and television history as well as one of the quirkiest and most colorful individuals to ever sit behind a microphone.” Read TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s “Remembering Larry King” feature here.

Tributes to Larry King Pouring in from All Over the Industry.  TALKERS has received dozens of tributes, anecdotes, and comments from readers in all sectors of the broadcasting industry in reaction to the passing of Larry King on Saturday (1/23).  The following statements from people who knew him and worked with him reflect the basic sentiments expressed across the board. Westwood One legend Jim Bohannon rose to national prominence as Larry King’s fill-in host back in the early days of King’s career as the late-night “king of talk radio” on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Bohannon tells TALKERS, “Larry King was the first certified big shot for whom I’d ever worked, and I was all set for some screaming prima donna jerk. What I found was a funny, savvy, decent human being who was always very supportive of me. His best advice: Be yourself. My 11 years backing him up on the radio were always based on being a first-rate Jim rather than a second rate Larry.” This Friday (1/29) marks Bohannon’s 28th anniversary of hosting that very same show fulltime. Norm Pattiz, chairman of PodcastOne and founder of Westwood One, was instrumental in Larry King’s fabulous radio career. He tells TALKERS, “Larry King was a superstar on radio well before he became a talk show icon on television and his contribution in those media will never be duplicated. I first met Larry in 1985 when Westwood One Radio bought the Mutual Radio Network. Some said at the time that I bought the network just to get the ‘Larry King Show’ and I never corrected them. When CNN came calling, I was thrilled to share Larry with them and when his show became one of the most influential nightly talk shows in history it only confirmed what I had known all along. No one will ever match the style, compassion, and genuine love for a great interview that Larry had and the worlds of television, radio, and podcasting are worse today for his loss.” Tom Tradup, VP/news and talk programming, Salem Radio Network, tells TALKERS, “My favorite memory of Larry was when I was president/GM of WLS in Chicago and was meeting with Larry for lunch in the now-closed Cape Cod Room restaurant of Chicago’s Drake Hotel. Always upbeat and gregarious, Larry seemed just a little down. He revealed he was speaking to a business group that night and his hotel had lost his trademark suspenders. After lunch I ran over the Marshall Field’s on State Street and bought him a pair. Big smile from a broadcast legend whose talent endured for decades.” And media consultant, TALKERS columnist, and host of “The Big Picture” on RT America (which also carried Larry King’s syndicated TV show at the time of his death), Holland Cooke adds, “One year ago this week, Larry was my guest on the very first show produced at RT’s new Los Angeles studio. Larry’s gift was his curiosity; and his legacy to fellow talkers is the art of the short question. I remember him asking Bob Hope, ‘Who do YOU think is funny?’ And he asked David Duke, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of hating?’ Often, guests on book tours or who are otherwise timely are prepped with ‘safe’ answers, regardless of the questions asked. And they get away with it, because hosts ask verbose questions and don’t listen closely to responses. Larry’s short question would catch the guest off-guard – enough to yield an answer you wouldn’t hear elsewhere along the tour.

King and I: An Excerpt from Bernadette Duncan’s Landmark Book Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).  I landed a part-time job with the Larry King Radio Show in 1986 because I was in the right place at the right time. My late shift at NBC Radio Networks where I produced the Neil Myers Show ended at 1:00 am and no other talk producer was on the premises. All that was required? Meet Mr. King in the lobby, escort him to the elevator, guide him down the hall to the nearest empty studio, check mics and audio, and then be prepared to do the same with the on-coming, big-name parade of guests scheduled for the night. Basically, I was a “handler” for an extra 75 bucks a shift. At the time, this pre-suspenders-wearing Larry King was one of the most successful radio talk show hosts in the industry who at the height of his show’s prominence had nearly 500 affiliate stations around the country. Just the year before, in 1985, he began hosting a nightly TV program on the new cable network called CNN (for Cable News Network) and “Larry King Live” was getting some buzz. In addition to television at 9:00 pm… then radio after midnight… he was in contract to write a book. Larry King’s career was hot. And it was this book deal with a New York-based publisher that brought him to the Big Apple four or five days a month to meet with his editor face-to-face. I became his New York producer/handler, working in coordination with his crew in Washington, DC. Little did I realize when I signed up with “the King of Talk,” I would dive into a world as quirky as what you’d find down Alice’s rabbit hole. To read the entire excerpt please click here.

Alpha Media Announces Pre-Arranged Chapter 11 Reorganization. The company says in a statement on its website that it has entered into a “restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce its debt, as well as raise incremental capital” to allow it “to successfully navigate current market conditions and pursue growth opportunities. The company expects no disruption to its broadcast operations, customers or employees. Management will remain in place and continue to maintain the company’s day-to-day operations.” Alpha Media says it has filed “a pre-arranged plan of re-organization, disclosure statement and voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Certain of the company’s existing lenders have agreed to provide new capital in the form of committed debtor-in-possession and exit financing. These lenders, together with management, are expected to collectively own 100% of the equity of the re-organized company, subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Communications Commission. The restructuring of the company’s balance sheet will require receipt of bankruptcy court approval and certain regulatory, including FCC, approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions. The company expects to conclude the restructuring process in the first half of 2021.” Alpha chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt comments, “We have made significant progress in aggressively deleveraging our business in recent years. As we proceed with our financial restructuring to improve our capital structure and manage through the ongoing downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement we reached today will leave Alpha Media well positioned for a market recovery as a stronger and even more competitive company. Broadcast radio is the leading reach medium in the United States, with attractive ROIs for advertisers, and radio continues to be an indispensable communications platform nationwide. We believe the balance sheet restructuring will provide greater financial resources and flexibility to Alpha Media, enabling the Company to strengthen its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster in the United States, and invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities. Our core business continues to perform well despite current market challenges. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to foster the unique culture that has been key to Alpha Media’s success in delivering dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.”

Monday Memo: Time Management 2021. “Short version? Time will not be managed.” But in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke explains how “tasks can,” and that’s gotten trickier in pandemic shutdown mode. He outlines solutions for recurring distractions. Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Rollout Troubles, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Trump Third Party Launch, Tacoma Protest/Deadly Indianapolis Shooting, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the strategic troubles affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the arrests being made during the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the rumors that Donald Trump intends to launch a third political party; the Tacoma protest in which a police officer drove into a crowd and the shooting in Indianapolis in which five adults and an unborn child were killed; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says, “Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric – important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.” The past year has taught us that the value perception of your station’s product has changed. For more on this, read Lapa’s column here.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Program Director John Hanson Exits. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis has let program director John Hanson go. Hanson had been serving as the station’s PD since the fall of 2018. Hanson is a native of the Twin Cities who worked on air as co-host of KSTP-TV’s “Twin Cities Live” afternoon talk show that launched in 2008. He joined Entercom in 2013 to program sports talk KCSP-AM, Kansas City. The reason for Hanson’s departure is not clear but the staff was alerted in a memo from market SVP Shannon Knoepke, who wrote on January 21, “Reaching out this afternoon to notify the staff that John Hanson is no longer with the company, effective today. More to come as we move forward and work to fill this position.”

WJBC, Bloomington-Normal Adds Michael Koolidge Show. The independently syndicated Michael Koolidge show is added to the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s WJBC-AM, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Koolidge says, “We couldn’t be more excited to join WJBC. I’ve been trying to break into the Bloomington-Normal market for years and I’m thrilled that Cumulus’ WJBC decided to pick up the show!” WJBC operations manager Dan Westhoff says, “We are very excited to be adding ‘The Michael Koolidge Show’ to our lineup. Michael’s been very successful throughout Illinois and the Midwest and we can’t wait to have him on WJBC.”

Marc Bernier Show Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Benier broadcasting live from DB Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach, Florida celebrating his 30th year on air as a talk host. The celebration was also a benefit for Halifax Urban Ministries. January 21 was declared “Marc Bernier Show Day” with a flag flown over the state capitol and declarations declared honoring Bernier in the cities and county of Volusia. A number of local and state officials attended the broadcast.

WRHU Radio Hofstra University will Receive World Radio Day Award 2021.  In conjunction with World Radio Day coming up on February 13, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America has selected WRHU Radio of Hofstra University to receive the 2021 World Radio Day Award. The honor commemorates World Radio Day, established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and is celebrated annually on February 13. World Radio Day is intended to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. WRHU is the first student-run station to receive this honor.  WRHU Radio 88.7 FM is the campus radio station of Hofstra University, a private university located on Long Island in Hempstead, NY. The station has been the recipient of numerous regional, state, and national awards, including three prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters (2014, 2017, and 2019).  With studios housed in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, the station has been committed to training the next generation of radio professionals for more than 60 years in a wide variety of radio genres including news, sports, public affairs, community programming, and music. For the past decade, WRHU has exclusively produced and distributed radio broadcasts of New York Islanders hockey games, the first and only college radio station to have such an agreement with a professional major-league sports team.  “We are immensely honored to receive this award of recognition,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. “WRHU and its managers and staff deserve enormous credit for carrying on their work throughout the pandemic and providing vital information to the community.”  The annual World Radio Day Award honors a U.S. radio station that exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry. Recipients may be large or small stations, commercial or noncommercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The award jury looks for stations that demonstrate ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, and financial and ratings success.  For this year’s award, the jury has highlighted the work done during the coronavirus pandemic, in light of UNESCO’s theme for the World Radio Day 2021 celebration, which is “New World, New Radio” in the sense that radio is a medium for resilience of our society. The jury of Academy is composed by eight highly qualified professionals of the broadcast industry (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Harrison, founder/publisher, TALKERSPaul McLane, editor in chief, Radio WorldMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingFrancisco Montero, partner, Fletcher, Heald & HildrethChris Oliviero, SVP/MM, Entercom New York; Deborah Parenti, publisher, Radio Ink; and Paul Rotella, president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. WRHU was recognized for its efforts during the crisis, expanding its content as student and community staffers worked and broadcast from their homes during a New York state lockdown. Hofstra University has been cited on the Best College lists of U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton ReviewFiskeWashington Monthly, Forbes, LinkedIn and Payscale.com. It is the only university chosen to host U.S. presidential debates in three consecutive election cycles (2008, 2012 and 2016). The World Radio Day Award was initially created by the Spanish Radio Academy to spread awareness of World Radio Day. The annual February 13 commemoration was endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied by the creation of the International Radio Committee, which collaborates with UNESCO to promote World Radio Day each year. Last year, the award went to all-news station, WTOP, Washington DC.  The 2021 World Radio Day Award will be presented to WRHU at Hofstra University in early February. For more information, click here.

Townsquare Media to Repurchase 10 Million Shares. In a press release, Townsquare Media, Inc announces it has entered into an agreement to repurchase a minimum of 10 million of the 12.5 million shares of Class A common stock, shares of Class B common stock and warrants held by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., for $6.40 per security, which reflects a 19% discount from the closing price of the Class A common stock on Friday, January 22, 2021. The repurchase was approved by the board of directors following the recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors. The aggregate purchase price is expected to be at least $64 million, subject to the company’s ability to elect to purchase additional securities at closing of the repurchase. At closing, the repurchased securities will be retired and, subject to the company’s election to repurchase additional securities, the company’s outstanding securities will be reduced from approximately 28 million to approximately 18 million. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate this significant transaction with Oaktree and are excited about this repurchase, which secures the exit of a very long-term private equity majority shareholder that current and potential shareholders have described to me consistently as being an obstacle to investing more, or establishing a position, in Townsquare given the significant overhang Oaktree’s holding represented. This repurchase is immediately accretive to shareholders and we thank our board of directors for their vote of confidence in our medium and long-term business plan to grow revenue and profits.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago afternoon news anchor Kim Gordon has resigned from the Nexstar Media Group station after 15 years. It’s rumored that Gordon will be joining Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM to serve as the afternoon news anchor on the Big John Howell program. Back at WGN, Feder reports that Lauren Lapka will be the news anchor on the Steve Bertrand afternoon program…..iHeartMedia flips sports talk WFXJ-AM, Jacksonville “The Game” to Gospel as “Hallelujah AM930/93.3 HD2.”…..News and sports radio pro Mike Smith is leaving his gig with iHeartMedia’s WBEX-AM, Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue other career opportunities, The 43-year radio pro says, “Thanks to all the great listeners, which many, many of them became life-long friends, and I can say the same about my colleagues being life-long friends and that means more to me than any nice thing that anybody ever said about the job that I did.”

Thursday, June 11, 2020

| June 11, 2020

Beasley Media Group Extends Furloughs and Pay Reductions. In a memo to company employees, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley announced that the furlough and pay reduction program begun in April and set to expire at the end of June is being continued through the end of the calendar year. In early April Beasley eliminated 67 positions, furloughed some staffers, and cut hours for full-time employees. Beasley told her employees, “No one could have ever anticipated that several of our markets would not begin the first phase of the reopening process until June. As a result, we must continue to adapt to the new financial environment we are facing within each of our individual markets.” Beasley herself continues taking her 20% pay cut while the 10% salary reduction and pared-back hours for full-timers continues through December. Beasley did say if circumstances change, some furloughed employees could return to work sooner.

WPHT, Philadelphia’s Dom Giordano Tackles the COVID-19 Education Crisis in Two-Hour Special.  WPHT, Philadelphia “Talk Radio 1210” presented its midday host Dom Giordano’s timely education special titled, “The Looming Learning Crisis.”  The two-hour special talk program, written and hosted by Giordano – a former Pennsylvania public school teacher – aired on June 4 and 6 and featured U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Philadelphia superintendent of schools William Hite and other top officials debating whether students will return to schools in September and how parents can make up for the lost academic ground experienced this year. A variety of opposing views were presented but all agreed that this is a critical issue that is not being debated and discussed enough in the media. The program received rave reviews from listeners and sponsors alike for its even-handed and highly informational approach to the subject.

Alpha Media to Present Companywide Broadcast on Racial Tensions. Tomorrow (6/12) at 10:00 am, Alpha Media will present “United For Justice – A Day of Discussion” that will air on its 65-plus radio stations as well as on the website UnitedForJustice.com. The company says that “The Day of Discussion” will “address the pain that communities are going through due to racial tensions in America. It will feature prominent national and local voices and figures on the front lines in the fight for equality and justice.” Along with radio personalities in Alpha markets, hosts will include Skyview NetworksNick Cannon and Dana Cortez, Ebro Darden, Laura Stylez, Tino Cochino, Big Boy, Jubal Fresh, and Radio Hall of Fame host Tom Joyner. Joining anchor host Nick Cannon will be Snoop Dogg, T.I., Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), California Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Arizona State Senator Martin Quezada (D-29th Dist.), and Black Lives Matter co-founder Dr. Melina Abdullah. Apple Music host Ebro Darden will speak with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) about how the nation is being impacted and the steps we can take towards progress. Alpha Media president and CEO Bob Proffitt says, “The events of the last few weeks are reminding us that this is not a new problem but one that needs to be addressed right now. We have what many other companies do not have, a real medium for change. We should not and cannot allow it to go unused. We are united in that we love the communities we live in. We are united in our love for broadcasting. We are united in the comfort that we have each other’s support. And today, I’m asking that we are united for justice.”

Round Three of May PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 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 Audio’s May 2020 survey period covered April 23 – May 20. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets noting the slight erosion of weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers that so many all-news and news/talk stations built up over the March and April sweeps. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM lost a full share, finishing the month with a 6.0 share and the #3 rank in the market. Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte loses seven-tenths but remains in the #3 spot with a 6.3 share. In San Antonio, iHeartMedia’s WOAI-AM sheds eight-tenths to wrap the month with a 7.1 share and the #2 rank. iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento falls 2.2 shares to a 9.4 share but remains ranked #1. Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City drops 2.8 shares and falls from #1 to #4 on the strength of a 6.0 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Police Reform Protests/De-Funding Movement, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race/Elections, Recession/Financial Markets, and NASCAR Bans Confederate Flag Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/10). The ongoing police reform protests, the destruction of Confederate and colonial-era statues, Seattle’s “autonomous” zone, and the related de-fund the police movement; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the spike in case numbers in some states; the November presidential election and procedural problems at some primary and local elections; the U.S. officially enters a recession and activity in the world’s financial markets; and NASCAR bans Confederate flag images in all its sanctioned events were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Public media organization WNYC announces that San Francisco Chronicle editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper is named the newest editor-in-chief for WNYC. Corporation chief content officer Andrew Golis tells staffers that in this role, Cooper “will oversee our local news operations: the WNYC newsroom (radio and Gothamist) and our local talk shows, ‘The Brian Lehrer Show’ and ‘All of It.’ News director Sean Bowditch, Gothamist executive editor Jen Chung, and head of live radio Megan Ryan will report to her.” He adds that at the Chronicle, Cooper “guided a 200-person newsroom through dramatic growth in its ambition and audience, all while sharply increasing the diversity of its staff. As CJR wrote a few years ago, under Audrey’s leadership there’s been ‘a near consensus, inside and outside the Chronicle, that the paper is doing its best work in years, perhaps ever.’”…..Hartford, Connecticut outlet WFSB-TV and Connoisseur Media’s radio stations are joining forces to deliver a live broadcast about race and justice featuring community leaders in Connecticut this evening at 7:00 pm.  The program is being co-hosted by WFSB-TV’s Dennis House and urban AC WYBC OM and afternoon host Juan Castillo. Featured on the program will be Chaz from the “Chaz & AJ in the Morning” show that airs on rock WPLR and WFOX “95.9 The Fox.” The conversation will include Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Connecticut NAACP president Scot Esdaile, Milford police chief and Connecticut Police Chiefs Association president Keith L. Mello, and assistant United States Attorney Ndidi N. Moses. Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw says, “This is a vital topic for our communities, and profoundly important to Connoisseur Media. We continue to commit resources to helping our society move forward to a brighter future together.”…..ESPN announces it is using Megaphone publishing and ad insertion for its network of podcasts, beginning in July. The Megaphone suite will offer ESPN enterprise-level podcast hosting, publishing, dynamic ad insertion, campaign management, forecasting, and analytics tools in supporting podcasts such as: “Fantasy Focus Football” with Matthew Berry, Field Yates, and Stephania Bell; “The Lowe Post” with Zach Lowe; “The Woj Pod” with Adrian Wojnarowski, “The Hoop Collective” with Brian Windhorst, The “SVPod” with Scott Van Pelt, and “ESPN Daily” with Mina Kimes.

Salem Radio Network Star Larry Elder Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. African American conservative talk show host Larry Elder of Salem Radio Network is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Elder is an LA-based attorney, author, and documentary filmmaker who represents the conservative African American view that, in many ways, runs counter to the popular political narrative that there is systemic and institutional anti-black racism in America in 2020 as so vividly depicted in the disturbing George Floyd video. Elder believes that message is overblown and sensationalized by liberal politicians, the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and professional lifelong race baiters – and actually keeps African Americans down, casting them in the role of perennial victims. Harrison states, “Last week on the podcast we presented an in-depth conversation with SiriusXM Satellite Radio ‘Urban View’ channel personality Joe Madison who presented a passionate and compelling case for the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. But anyone who listens to news/talk radio knows that is not the only perspective on the topic and not all African Americans are of the same mind when it comes to the issue. Having Larry Elder on the podcast this week rounds out the conversation that exists among African Americans about the issue.” To listen to the podcast with Larry Elder in its entity as well as last week’s conversation with Joe Madison, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Singer-songwriter H.E.R. debuted a brand-new song titled, “I Can’t Breathe,” – written in response to racial injustice – on Wednesday evening’s iHeartRadio Living Room Concert Series Presented by State Farm. The performance streamed on iHeartRadio’s YouTube channel and across iHeartMedia urban and urban AC stations across the country and benefitted Meals on Wheels and Urban League…..Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Dede McGuire is hosting a Facebook Live Community Conversation about race in America this evening (6/11) at 8:00 pm ET. She’ll be talking with some of her “DeDe in the Morning” affiliate stations about what is happening in their cities. Representative cities are Dallas; Pittsburgh; Milwaukee; Tyler, Texas; and New Haven, Connecticut…..Next week (June 15-19) the ladies are once again taking over Westwood One Nashville’s “Nights with Elaina” show after a successful first round last month. Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, Karen Fairchild from Little Big Town, Maddie & Tae, Lauren Alaina, and Runaway June will each take the mic one evening and take the fans into their living rooms for a night of country music fun. Elaina Smith says, “I am so excited and thankful to be doing this again. The ladies of country continue to prove that they are not only insanely talented with their music, they are also hilarious, brilliant, genuine women that do such an amazing job of connecting on every level with our listeners.”

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, April 15, 2020

| April 15, 2020

Alpha Media Makes Cost Saving Moves. In a press release, Alpha Media announces that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the radio industry’s advertising revenue, it “has taken painful steps similar to those of other media companies and announced temporary furloughs, the elimination of some positions, and a reduction of hours for certain employees. Prior to these actions, the members of Alpha’s executive leadership team proactively reduced their own compensation.”  Alpha Media CEO Bob Proffitt states, “Alpha Media continues to work through many difficult decisions to cope with the current challenges we all face brought about by COVID-19. We are positioning the company to weather this challenge while trying to keep our valued team members safe and be poised to recover quickly once the crisis has passed.”

RAB’s ‘Business Unusual’ Online Presentation to Feature Dave Ramsey. In a special, live presentation on Tuesday, April 21, the Radio Advertising Bureau, as part of its “Business Unusual” initiative, is hosting a live, online presentation called “Leading for Success During and After COVID-19” featuring nationally syndicated financial talk media superstar Dave Ramsey.  RAB president and CEO Erica Farber will speak with Ramsey for this leadership-through-unprecedented times session focused on what broadcasters need to be thinking about to weather the storm while serving their communities of listeners and advertisers.  The session starts at 1:00 pm EST and registration is free to RAB members.

Special Interest Groups Appeal to DOJ to Prevent Liberty Media Acquisition of iHeartMedia. Six special interest groups – American Economic Liberties Project, Artist Rights Alliance, Center for Digital Democracy, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Open Markets Institute, and Public Citizen – have appealed to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim to reject a possible acquisition of iHeartMedia by Liberty Media.  Liberty has not made any offers to iHeartMedia but it’s been widely reported in recent months that Liberty – which has a controlling stake in SiriusXM and Pandora and a minority stake in Live Nation/Ticketmaster – is interested in adding iHeartMedia to its portfolio of media companies.  The artist rights and consumer groups say, “With just its current holdings, including Pandora and SiriusXM and a major stake in Ticketmaster/LiveNation, Liberty Media already has far too much control over the music ecosystem.  With artists, performers, and consumers already facing unprecedented uncertainty and risk, DOJ should put the brakes on this dangerous threat to creative livelihoods and consumer options.”

Brian Lang to Lead Townsquare Media’s ‘New Jersey 101.5.’ With the departure of Ron deCastro from the president and chief revenue officer position at Townsquare Media’s news/talk WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5,” the company promotes Brian Lang to the market president and chief revenue officer position.  Lang was most recently regional market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare’s Portland, Portsmouth, and Augusta, Maine operations.  Townsquare SVP of operations Rob Williams says, “Brian has distinguished himself as a leader since joining Townsquare in 2014.  By building a team of exceptional managers and talent, Brian’s markets have been among our top performers year after year.  When the opportunity arose, Brian was the natural choice to lead the exceptional team at ‘New Jersey 101.5,’ which represents the best in live and local media.” Local media chief operating officer Erik Hellum adds, “‘New Jersey 101.5’ is a very special and powerful news/talk station, keeping New Jersey informed and connected in a way that no other media outlet can.  A brand like ‘New Jersey 101.5,’ and the very talented team behind that brand, deserve a strong and experienced leader who can help protect, lead, and evolve it, and there is no one better prepared to do that than Brian.”  Meanwhile, back in Maine, the company promotes regional VP of sales Christine Sieks to regional market president of Northern New England.  She’ll continue her RVP of sales duties.

TALKERS News Notes. Former U.S. Congressman and former Chicago and syndicated talk show host Joe Walsh is promoting his new book, F*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic, Authoritarian Con Man He Is (2020, Broadside Books).  Walsh, who hosted a local show at Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM, Chicago and was syndicated via the Salem Radio Network before he left radio to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, recently was a guest on former WGN-AM morning host Steve Cochran’s podcast…..As part of Beasley Media Group’s ongoing Community of Caring public service campaign, the Boston station group that includes sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 FM The Sports Hub” and four music brands is working in conjunction with Safety Insurance, RCN, and Sam Adams to raise $100,000 in support of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Covid-19 response efforts for Healthcare workers through the newly launched Healthcare Heroes initiative.  Beasley Boston vice president and market manager Mary Menna comments, “We wanted to provide our listeners with the opportunity to recognize and thank our Healthcare Heroes for the extraordinary sacrifices they are making during this crisis through this fund.”…..Entercom’s Pittsburgh station group that includes news/talk KDKA-AM raised funds to provide more than 1.5 million meals for people in need through Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  Yesterday’s “Feed the Need Radiothon,” directly benefits displaced workers who are utilizing the emergency drive up distribution sites as well as food pantries in and around the Pittsburgh region…..Skyview Networks’ franchise partners are airing “best of” games to provide their affiliate networks with sports content for their listeners.  Skyview says it is important to them that they keep their loyal fans engaged and connected, and the company is proud to provide the distribution and inventory management for these games.  Franchises providing replays and “best of” content currently include: Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, and the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Minnesota Wild.

Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, Trump Orders Halt to WHO Funding, Scrutiny of China’s Handling of the Outbreak, Trump vs Governors, CDC/FEMA Reopening Plan, Financial Markets Activity, and the Presidential Race and Voting by Mail Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/14). The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., the death toll and projections about future cases; President Trump orders a suspension of funding to the World Health Organization, alleging it was slow to respond to the crisis; scrutiny of China’s handling of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus; President Trump’s claim that he had ultimate authority while governors of states form regional coalitions to coordinate actions; the CDC and FEMA reveal they are developing a plan to reopen the economy in the safest possible way; the world’s financial markets respond to the pandemic; and the issue of voting by mail for the November elections were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Sales and management pro Ron deCastro joins MediaCo to serve as the market president for New York, in charge of the company’s hip hop WQHT “HOT97” and urban contemporary WBLS.  He was most recently market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare Media’s news/talk WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.”  MediaCo president and chief operating officer Patrick Walsh comments, “Ron is the perfect choice to lead ‘HOT97’ and WBLS.  Our investment plans will enable these iconic brands to impact our audiences and clients in even more meaningful ways.  Ron’s deep experience in building winning digital and broadcast teams in and around New York will be invaluable as we deepen the relationship that our brands and personalities have with our audiences in the tristate area and around the world.”…..SupeRadio is syndicating the Atlanta-based morning show “The Streetz Morning Takeover” hosted by “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” reality show star and rapper Yung Joc, Shawty Shawty, and Sue Solo.  Program creator Steve Hegwood says, “This is America’s only authentic hip hop morning show and it is highly rated and battle-tested under one of the most difficult and competitive situations imaginable.  ‘The Streetz Morning Takeover’ is built to win in every possible scenario and in every market.  It has all the bells and whistles needed for great morning radio including tested and proven benchmarks backed by a great team who lives and appreciates the hip hop lifestyle.  I’m excited to be working with Eric Faison at SupeRadio, and Gary Bernstein of Oceanic Tradewinds in what we believe will be the birth of the next great urban syndicated product.”…..WAWZ, Zarephath, New Jersey “STAR 99.1” announces that current afternoon co-hosts Dave Moore and Kristen James are moving to morning drive on “STAR 99.1” beginning April 20.  Director of programming Matt Stockman says, “Great radio stations are built on the daily foundation created by an engaging, entertaining morning show and I believe that Dave and Kristen have the talent, experience, and desire to lay that foundation every day.”