Monday Memo: Happy NEWS Year? “Not likely,” consultant Holland Cooke predicts; adding “that spells opportunity…for now. THEN what?” In this week’s column, HC suggests how recent Chris Wallace and Brian Williams sign offs point to what might be “talk radio’s next format.” Read it here.
Pending Business: What You See Is What You Get. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says that despite the significantly increased traffic on our roads as more people return to working away from home – which means more people listening to radio in their cars – radio sales pros may still have plenty of inventory to sell. He says it’s time to review four basic concepts that help any talk radio seller fill those avails. Read it here.
Audacy Renews Employment Agreements with CEO David Field and COO Susan Larkin. The company has entered into new employment agreements with president and CEO David J. Field and EVP and chief operating officer Susan Larkin. In a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, Audacy reports that Field will continue to serve as the company’s president and CEO and becomes effective January 1, 2022. The Field agreement has an initial term of three years with automatic one year extensions following the initial term unless either party provides prior notice of non-extension. Field’s annual base salary will be $1,350,000 and a target annual performance bonus of up to 200% of Field’s base salary. Field is eligible to receive a one time “EBITDA Bonus” of $3,000,000 only if, prior to December 31, 2024, the company’s EBITDA for the immediately preceding consecutive 12-month period exceeds $400,000,000. Field is also entitled to an equity grant of 1,000,000 restricted stock units (“RSUs”), subject to the company’s shareholders’ approval of a new Company equity incentive plan at the 2022 annual shareholders meeting. Seventy five percent (75%) of these RSUs have performance-based vesting conditions while the remaining twenty five percent (25%) have time-based vesting conditions. Fields’ performance-based RSUs come after achieving company stock price increases. He receives 250,000 RSUs for hitting the stock price of $6.00; 250,000 for hitting $9.00 per share and 250,000 for reaching the $12.00 per share threshold. Audacy also retroactively amended EVP and COO Susan R. Larkin that increases her annual salary to $750,000 and applies retroactively from June 1, 2021 through May 4, 2023. Her agreement further amends the provision related to future equity grants so that Larkin will be entitled to an increased amount of future grants of restricted stock and/or stock options with an aggregate annual target amount of $500,000.
KBOI-AM, Boise to Add FM Signal. Effective January 3, 2022, Cumulus Media’s Boise news/talk KBOI-AM will have an FM simulcast as current sports talk KTIK-FM becomes KBOI-FM. The sports talker keeps its FM signal (a simulcast of KTIK-AM) on FM translator K237HA at 95.3 FM. In a statement, KBOI program director Nate Shelman says, “Being a part of any positive station launch or new venture is exciting. Our audience has asked for this over the years and it’s exciting to see KBOI return to the FM dial after KBOI-FM switched call signs to KQFC in 1985. The growth in the Treasure Valley and changes in technology have warranted the need for an FM outlet. Interference from powerlines being the most prevalent.”
KABQ-AM, Albuquerque to Flip to Sports Talk. Albuquerque talk station KABQ-AM is flipping to sports talk as “FOX Sports 1350 AM”, effective Monday, January 3. The iHeartMedia station will broadcast FOX Sports Radio programming around the clock on weekdays and weekends. “FOX Sports 1350 AM” will feature “Two Pros and a Cup of Joe with LaVar Arrington, Brady Quinn & Jonas Knox,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Doug Gottlieb Show” “Straight Outta Vegas with R.J. Bell,” “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon” and “The Ben Maller Show.” iHeartMedia market president Hope Romero says, “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the sports talk leader back to Albuquerque. FOX Sports Radio leads the industry with the biggest names and best shows.”
Audacy Names Sarah Foss Chief Technology Officer. The company promotes Sarah Foss to chief technology officer, a role in which she’ll spearhead Audacy’s efforts to innovate and differentiate its products and services via new technological capabilities. The company says that Foss will manage Audacy’s key technology initiatives including: software development, ad tech, business intelligence and analytics, data solutions, and Audacy’s recently acquired live and on-demand audio streaming business, AmperWave. Foss had been serving as Audacy’s chief information officer since joining the company in 2020. Audacy CFO and EVP of strategic initiatives Rich Schmaeling comments, “Audacy continues to invest in technology to create innovative offerings for its listeners, advertisers and clients. We are excited to have Sarah leading these critical areas to drive our transformation faster and further.” Foss states, “Audacy is in the enviable position that we have unique content, great platforms, and an appetite for transformative growth. I am excited that technology is seen as an accelerant and differentiator for us at Audacy.”
Biden’s Build Back Better Plan/Economy, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Civil War Fears, Russian Ukraine Aggression, Kim Potter Trial, Ghislaine Maxwell Trial, and Spider Man Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Negotiations over Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan between the White House and Senator Joe Manchin break down and the cooling predictions for the U.S. economy; the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, vaccines and mandates; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol; retired U.S. generals warn of possible U.S. civil war; Russia’s military aggression toward the Ukraine; the trial of former police officer Kim Potter; the defense rests in the trail of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell; and the new Spider Man movie’s blockbuster opening were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cumulus to Flip R&B WNBM-FM, New York to Talk as ‘Talk FM 103.9.’ Beginning on January 3, 2022, Cumulus Media’s R&B WNBM-FM, New York will flip to news/talk as WFAS-FM “Talk FM 103.9.” The station is being billed by Cumulus as “the only all-talk FM station in the New York metropolitan area.” The station will simulcast the programming on WFAS-AM “AM1230Digital” the first all-digital AM station to broadcast in the New York metropolitan area. Programming will be Westwood One’s lineup, including: “The Dan Bongino Show,” “The Ben Shapiro Show,” “The Chris Plante Show,” “The Michael Knowles Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Jim Bohannon Show.” Also heard on the station will be “America in the Morning,” “First Light,” “Red Eye Radio,” “America this Week/Week in Review,” and “Real Estate Today.” Cumulus Media president of operations Dave Milner says, “Extending our marquee talk programming into New York City is a win-win for Cumulus. The addition of the WFAS-FM signal will allow us to reach even more listeners with the well-known talk shows they expect from us and also provide our advertising partners with premium opportunities in the number-one metro area.” Cumulus says that with the addition of WFAS-FM’s footprint, the signal will reach well beyond Westchester County, and into large portions of New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan), the north shore of Long Island, and northern New Jersey.
WGN-AM, Chicago and Bob Sirott Sign Extension. WGN-AM, Chicago morning drive personality Bob Sirott and the Nexstar Media news/talk station have agreed to a two-year contract extension to keep Sirott in the morning drive daypart. WGN Radio VP and general manager Mary Boyle says, “We are delighted to announce that Chicago’s Very Own Bob Sirott and his uniquely entertaining morning show will continue to be heard on Chicago’s Very Own WGN Radio 720. Bob has been an iconic voice in Chicago since 1973 and we’re fortunate to have his voice and talent as we head into our 100th year and beyond.” Sirott says, “The station calls it work. I call it fun. It’s a forgotten commodity at most radio and TV stations today. But [Nexstar president, networks] Sean Compton, a true fan of radio, gets it. And who knows, someday I may turn into a morning person.” The one change is that the show will start an hour later, airing from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
WaPo: ‘Sports Junkies’ Celebrate 25 Years. A piece by Scott Allen in the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Blog column profiles “The Sports Junkies” radio show as it celebrates 25 years on the air. The WJFK-FM, Washington morning show starring J.P. Flaim, John “Cakes” Auville, Eric “E.B.” Bickel and Jason “Lurch” Bishop began life as a cable access show on Bowie Community Television in August 1995. A year later, after a positive review from the Washington Times’ Dick Heller, “The Sports Junkies” got picked up for a weekend show on WJFK-FM. From there they transitioned to AM drive after Howard Stern’s move to satellite radio. Flaim recently authored a chronicle of the program titled, Still Barking. Flaim tells the Post, “The book is about the radio show and friendship and brotherhood, but none of it would’ve happened but for having an amazing audience. We have been very lucky to have people that have followed us and supported us for 25 years. Without them, we’re nothing.”
FOX News Channel Tops Competitors for 2021 in Nielsen’s Primetime and Total Day. According to data from Nielsen Media Research, FOX News Channel was the highest rated cable news channel for 2021 (12/28/20-12/09/21) in both primetime and total day. In primetime, FOX News Channel averaged 2,365,000 viewers and 374,000 with A25-54 along with 233,000 in A18-49. Meanwhile, in total day, the network delivered 1,328,000 viewers and 223,000 in the younger 25-54 demo and 135,000 in A18-49. Also, according to data from Nielsen/MRI Fusion, this year, “more independents and democrats tuned into FNC than CNN while delivering the largest independent audience in cable news, making FNC’s audience the most politically diverse in cable news.” FNC holds 44% of the cable news audience in total day viewership and 41% of the audience with A25-54. In primetime, the network holds a 47% audience share in total viewers and 43% in the younger A25-54 demo. As a result, FNC increased its share of the cable news audience with A25-54 from 2020 to 2021. FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott says, “As we embark on our 20th year as the leader in cable news, the last six of which as number one in all of cable, I am incredibly proud of the unrivaled success we’ve had at FOX News Channel. Not only were we the only network to grow our audience share, but we did so while changing our lineup and transforming the entire late-night television landscape in the process, ensuring our continued momentum for many years to come.”
Newsmax Names Rich Grenell VP, Analyst. The former Acting Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is joining Newsmax Media as a national security contributor and executive for international partnerships. Newsmax says that Grenell, a former FOX News contributor, “will play a key role in offering security and international analysis for the network.” He’ll also serve as vice president for international development, helping the company’s foreign branding and content expansion. Newsmax currently licenses its brand and content in eight European nations. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Ric Grenell is a master of politics, media and government and we believe our viewers will gain great insight from his broad experience and public service.”
The ‘Coast to Coast AM Paranormal Podcast Network’ Launches. “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory and Premiere Networks are partnering for the launch of the Coast to Coast AM Paranormal Podcast Network. This new project will focus on producing a slate of podcasts focused on the paranormal, supernatural, and unexplained. Co-produced by Noory and his long-time “Coast to Coast AM” senior producer Tom Danheiser, the network debuts with three new podcasts: “Shades of the Afterlife with Sandra Champlain,” “Strange Things with Joshua P. Warren,” and “Dark Becomes Light with Heidi Hollis.” Noory comments, “With these new programs, and more to come, we’re focused on producing the best content for paranormal fans. There’s so many facets of this entertaining and intriguing format, and we’re excited to kick off the network with three fan favorite guests from ‘Coast to Coast AM’ who are experts in their fields – Sandra Champlain, Joshua P. Warren and Heidi Hollis.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We’re excited to partner with George to expand the ‘Coast to Coast AM’ brand with this new podcast network, creating a platform for new programing focused on the fascinating world of the paranormal. This new network will provide us with the opportunity to further engage and entertain George’s broad-reaching, worldwide audience.”
KBOI, Boise and USMC Collect Toys and Cash in 10-Day Drive. Pictured above is an unidentified staff member of Cumulus Media’s news/talk KBOI, Boise at the fifth “Idaho’s Largest Toy Drive” done in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps. Held November 26 through December 6, this was the longest toy drive of the past five years, collecting 38,822 toys and $36,213. KBOI program director Nate Shelman says, “With supply chain concerns and inflation being possible negative factors, we decided to extend this year’s efforts. The Treasure Valley residents came through in fine fashion to support the USMC and kids in the area.”
COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Economy/Supply Chain, Software Flaw, Build Back Better Negotiations, S.F. Mayor Actions/Urban Crime, and Extreme Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/15). The spread of the Omicron variant, vaccines, and mandates; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack, the release of media personalities’ texts, and the contempt of Congress charge against former Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; the high rate of inflation, the Fed’s plan to raise interest rates, and the supply chain breakdown; a pervasive software flaw that’s giving foreign hackers an entrance into crucial systems; the negotiations between the Biden administration and Senator Joe Manchin over the Build Back Better plan; San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s promise of strong actions to combat crime issues and urban crime spikes in other cities; and the aftermath of the Kentucky and Illinois tornadoes and the threat of more violent weather were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” looks back at this past week of December 7 – December 11, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Michael Berry, talk show host, KTRH, Houston / Michael Berry Radio Network; Grace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio Network; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, UK; and Robbie Stevens, record producer / commentator, TalkersRadio. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio 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.
NYPost: Craig Carton to Host ‘Responsible Gambling Show.’ According to a story in the New York Post, WFAN, New York afternoon drive co-host Craig Carton will host a Saturday show called “Hello, My Name Is Craig” that is being called a “responsible gambling show.” The show is a partnership between Entercom’s sports talk WFAN and problem gambling help network 1-800-GAMBLER. Carton said on WFAN, “They’re going to bring their expertise into it. I’ll tell the stories of gambling and the way my addiction manifested itself in the bad decisions I made, which became criminal.” It was the need to pay off gambling debts that caused Carton to create a phony concert tickets brokerage scheme that put him in prison for fraud after a November 2018 conviction.
WJR-AM, Detroit’s Mitch Albom Radiothon Raises $1.5 million for Local Charity. During Thursday’s daylong radiothon, WJR, Detroit afternoon drive host Mitch Albom helped raise more than $1.5 million for SAY Detroit – a local organization that helps the needy with health care, housing, food and education. The “9th Annual Mitch Albom SAY Detroit Radiothon” included appearances by special celebrity guests including Kate Hudson, Hugh Jackman, Katie Couric, Lily Tomlin, Hank Azaria, Tim Allen, and Anderson Cooper.
WGN-AM, Chicago’s Dean Richards to Return to Air After COVID Case. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Windy City media personality and WGN-AM weekend talk host Dean Richards is returning to the air after a couple weeks off due to a bout with COVID-19. The 66-year-old Richards will broadcast from his home for the next week or two before returning to the Nexstar Media Group station’s studios. Richards tells Feder his symptoms were relatively mild and adds that he’s not sure how he caught the coronavirus because he was being very careful. “The moral of my story is no matter how careful you think you’re being, be ten times more careful than that. Because I thought I was being super careful. I know I was being super careful.”
News/Talk KBOI, Boise Holds Successful Toy Drive for Marine Corps Reserve Campaign. Last Thursday through Sunday (12/3-6), Cumulus Media’s news/talk “NewsTalk 670” KBOI, Boise and Idaho Central Credit Union hosted Idaho’s biggest toy drive to benefit the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program for Treasure Valley children in need this holiday season. The event helped bring in more than 70,000 toys and $27,000 in cash donations. Pictured above (from l-r) are: US Marine Corps Reserve Charlie Company Marines Elmore and Perez, a smitten stuffed bear, Miss Idaho USA Katarina Schweitzer, and KBOI’s Mike Kasper and Nate Shelman.
WMAL-FM, Washington Fisher House Radiothon Raises More Than $360,000. During last weekend’s annual two-day WMAL Operation Fisher House Radiothon, the Cumulus Media news/talk station helped raise $368,000 for the Fisher House Foundation. WMAL listeners have donated more $7.5 million dollars over the last 15 years to support the efforts of the Fisher House Foundation to provide housing to families of injured military members who are undergoing treatment. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “We are humbled by the response of our listeners each and every year. Their response is incredibly heartwarming.”
COVID-19, Vaccines, Stats, and Protection Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 7-11. The fast-rising number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., the status of hospitals, hope for effective vaccines, and warnings about holiday get-togethers combined for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing efforts to overturn the election results. Coming in at #3 was Joe Biden’s transition appointments and nominations, followed by the Georgia senate runoff elections at #4. 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.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Milwaukee urban contemporary “HOT 105.7” (WXSS-HD2) adds two air talents to the program schedule. Entercom announces that former crosstown WKKV-FM personality Promise is now hosting mornings while DJ Gee A moves from sister CHR WXSS-FM to afternoons on “HOT 105.7.” Entercom Milwaukee market manager Andrea Hansen says, “We’re excited to welcome Promise and DJ Gee A to our on-air lineup and introduce them to our listeners. Both have deep roots in this community with valued experience entertaining and connecting with the listeners of this city. We trust that combination will quickly resonate with our fans and round out our locally focused programming lineup.”…..The nationally syndicated “Ashley & Brad” show – hosted by Ashley Paige and Brad Abrell and produced by Skid Trax and distributed by Sun Broadcast Group – adds new affiliate stations as KFLX-FM, Chino Valley, Arizona; KPPT-FM , Depoe Bay, Oregon; KQBG-FM, Rock Island, Washington; and KHKM-FM, Hamilton, Montana add the program to their schedules.