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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

| May 18, 2021

Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington Names Larry O’Connor Morning Drive Host: Vince Coglianese Moves to PM Drive. Washington, DC news/talk WMAL-FM is revamping its lineup in the wake of the departure of morning drive personality Mary Walter and the February death of Rush Limbaugh. Effective Monday (5/24), WMAL-FM personality Larry O’Connor moves from afternoons to mornings to host the new “O’Connor & Company” program. Current morning drive host Vince Coglianese will move to afternoon drive and, as previously announced, Westwood One syndicated talk host Dan Bongino assumes the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “Having Larry and Vince in these new roles, along with the launch of ‘The Dan Bongino Show’ and the continued strength of Chris Plante, sets WMAL up perfectly for the next stage in the station’s success.” O’Connor comments, “I’m thrilled to return to mornings on WMAL in Washington, where my career began nine years ago. Four years after creating the first live and local afternoon drive program on the station since 2001, it truly feels like coming home and I can’t wait to be a part of the morning commute for families across the Mid-Atlantic and in the Nation’s Capital. I appreciate the confidence that Bill Hess and [Cumulus EVP of operations] Dave Milner have in me and I am thrilled to work together to continue Cumulus’ great success at this historic station.”

Round One of April PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. iHeartMedia’s New York news/talk WOR-AM drops three-tenths to finish the survey with 2.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and the #19 rank while Audacy’s crosstown sports talk WFAN adds seven-tenths for a 3.1 share finish and the #12 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI is steady with a 5.7 share and remains ranked #2. Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM, Chicago is basically flat, falling one-tenth to a 3.4 share and stays in the #9 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Salem Media Group Partners Grant Stinchfield with Jenn Horn on SoCal Signals.  Media personality Grant Stinchfield is joining Salem Media Group’s Southern California news/talk stations as co-host of the “The Morning Answer” alongside Jennifer Horn. The company says that after an “extensive and exhilarating months-long search,” Stinchfield – who also hosts a daily program on Newsmax TV – will work with Horn on KRLA-AM, Los Angeles and KTIE, Riverside-San Bernardino beginning today (5/18). KRLA and KTIE director of programming Chuck Tyler says, “Good things come to those that wait. We put Jennifer Horn through the ringer, as we tried out numerous co-hosts for this plumb assignment, having a number of world-class talk radio candidates. It took us five months. The good news is Jennifer survived, and we found an amazing new partner for her!” Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce adds, “Grant is a true gem. He is smart, funny, and knows his stuff. His chemistry with Jennifer makes the morning show sizzle. We are delighted to add him to the team.” Stinchfield says about his new gig, “It is an honor to be chosen to be an important voice for millions of Californians who cherish liberty and freedom in a state that is quickly being controlled by big bureaucracy and government. I can’t think of a more important area of the country that needs common sense straight talk than Southern California. My goal is to simply strengthen the tireless fight AM 870 and AM 590 are already waging against the enemies of freedom, capitalism, and democracy.”

NYPost: Boomer & Gio Ink New Deals with WFAN. According to a report in the New York Post, morning show hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti have both signed new contracts with Audacy’s sports talk WFAN, New York. The story indicates that the deals run through 2023. The story also says – citing Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey data – that Boomer & Gio “maintained their No. 1 overall spot in the market while ESPN [WEPN-FM] was tied for 9th (3.5).”

Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Sets November 19 for Annual Dinner Event. The 6th Annual Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Event & Dinner is taking place on November 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom. Bold Gold Media founder and CEO Vince Benedetto tells his staff, “I’m thrilled to report that this year we will be having our 6th Annual Event on the evening of Friday, November 19 at our usual location in the Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom! I am also extremely excited to report that I was able to secure an incredible speaker! Andrew Roberts, international best-selling author and Winston Churchill Scholar will be our keynote speaker. Andrew is author of the 2018 best seller, Winston Churchill:  Walking With Destiny.”

New Mask Guidance Controversy, COVID Vaccines, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, AZ Vote Audit, SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Case, and Matt Gaetz Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/17). The confusion over the CDC’s about-face on mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans; the falling COVID cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the battle between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza; the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona and the Republicans continuing to promote the “stolen election” theory; the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments over the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks; and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former friend Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six felonies and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, January 8, 2021

| January 8, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Responsibility, Integrity, and Credibility,” looks back at this past week of January 4-8, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Erick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta / talk show host, regional syndication; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioAnne Eller, talk show host / station owner, WCRS, Greenwood, SC; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  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; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

KMJ, Fresno’s Ray Appleton Under Scrutiny for “Hanging” Comment. Fresno talk radio host Ray Appleton – heard daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KMJ-AM/FM – is being taken to task, at least by the Fresno Bee, for saying on his program that “certain news editors should be hanged… maybe.” Appleton’s comment came during a monologue in which he complained about the media’s coverage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol compared to coverage of protests and riots in Portland and other cities, implying that reporting on those events was more sympathetic. He posted a clarification to his Facebook page that was later removed. In it, he says the comment was “clearly tongue in cheek.” On his program Thursday, he said, “So if you were upset by that, I didn’t mean it. I humbly apologize. I’m not talking about taking every news editor and hanging them. I mean, come on. Get with it.” The Bee reports that a call to KMJ for comment on Appleton’s comment was not returned.

Del Colliano: Cumulus Corporate Flips on Election Talk Mandate. According to InsideMusicMedia publisher Jerry Del Colliano, who cites an internal memo from Cumulus Media EVP of content Brian Philips, the company did an about-face on Wednesday as the assault on the Capitol building was taking place in Washington, DC. Del Colliano says that contrary to what many of the company’s talk hosts were saying up to that point about the legitimacy of the election results, Philips’ memo ordered all Cumulus and Westwood One personalities not to continue presenting any illegitimacy claim. He wrote, “We need to help induce national calm NOW. Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’” He adds, “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.” Del Colliano writes, “Some employees felt the sudden change in direction was so onerous that it in effect dictated what air talent could not broach on the air even after many years of tolerating if not encouraging controversial political talk for the purpose of increasing ratings.”

WFAN, New York Debuts Craig Carton-Hosted Gambling Addiction Program. The program is titled, “Hello, My Name is Craig,” and will air on WFAN-AM/FM, New York on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The 30-minute program is being hosted by Craig Carton and is being presented by 1-800-GAMBLER. In the program, Carton will “drive candid conversations with listeners about different aspects of gambling and provide resources and outlets to those seeking help or looking for ways to help their loved ones.” Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will be a regular contributor and the program will feature various guests to share stories of indulgence, falls from grace, and the fight to overcome gambling addiction. Guests will include medical and therapy experts, members of the 1-800-GAMBLER team, founders of rehabilitation treatment centers, and more. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Legalized gambling is a growing part of the modern sports experience and the everyday fans’ conversations. Our obligation and commitment are to serve not only the audience that can responsibly enjoy these gaming elements, but also in a meaningful way help those, like Craig, who have an addiction. With Craig’s voice and unique perspective, along with outstanding partners and the influence of the WFAN platform, we will do just that.” Carton adds, “Each week, we will tackle different aspects of what for some is a fun recreation but for others is an addiction that forever alters and sometimes ends lives. The show will be a raw and revealing look into the fastest-growing vice in the country and I look forward to providing my first-hand perspective for both those dealing with the grip of their gambling compulsions as well as the loved ones in their lives.” Carton, who hosted mornings on WFAN with Boomer Esiason from 2007 to 2017, was convicted of fraud he perpetrated in order to pay off gambling debts. He served a year of a three-year sentence in prison. He returned to WFAN this fall to host the WFAN afternoon show with Evan Roberts.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Talk Host Dave Lee Announces Retirement. WCCO-AM, Minneapolis morning drive personality Dave Lee announces he’ll retire from the Entercom news/talk station at the end of April. Lee joined the station in September of 1989 from KFGO, Fargo where he was program director and afternoon drive personality. He first joined the station as a weekend and fill-in host and gradually became part of the Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson morning show. Lee took over sole hosting duties of the morning show in 1997. During his career he’s also done play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers and he filled in as a Minnesota Twins announcer from 1991 to 1996. He continues to do play-by-play for the television broadcasts of the Minnesota State High School Boys and Girls basketball tournaments, while serving as the radio voice of the University of St. Thomas football on WCCO. He’s been named Minnesota’s Sportscaster of the Year six times and has won three Emmys for his television work.

“Free Talk Live” to Migrate from GCN to Talk Media Network. “Free Talk Live” co-founder Ian Freeman announces that his New Hampshire-based, nationally syndicated program will move from current syndicator Genesis Communications Network to Talk Media Network, effective January 18. Freeman says that while GCN has been “a great radio syndication partner” since 2004, for a few reasons (some of them technical) he’s made the hard decision to sign up with TMN. He says, “Talk Media Network is, like GCN, an affiliate-focused network. They don’t have makegoods or cramdowns or other undesirable, unfriendly corporate syndication crap. TMN’s CEO Josh Leng came up through the industry and has himself been a successful talk radio programmer.  He knows what it’s like in the trenches and has built his company with the desires of radio stations and programmers in mind. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Josh and I appreciate his passion for radio.” Freeman continues, “TMN’s also an interesting new take on a syndicate – they don’t have a network studio. Their shows feed directly to Westwood One’s uplink facility. That means that TMN’s overhead is reduced and the potential for failures is lower. It also means we had to start producing our show 100% from the FTL studio, which was no problem, since I’ve had that capability here for years but never used it until now. Since we’re now fully in charge of our program content, phones sound better and our feed on XDS should be a little higher quality as the audio won’t be re-encoded and re-processed at the network studio, since there isn’t one… We will stay on GCN for some time in order to give our stations plenty of time to make the jump. I’m grateful to the crew at GCN for their professionalism and support over the years and especially now. I don’t ever want to burn a bridge and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for Ted, George, Adam, and the rest of the crew there and wish them only the best.”

SportsGrid Content to Air on SiriusXM. There’s a new sports betting-oriented channel on SiriusXM as the satellite broadcaster inks a deal with SportsGrid. The new SportsGrid Radio channel will feature personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith plus expert contributors and guest analysts. The channel streams live from its production facilities adjacent to New York’s Madison Square Garden and at the Meadowlands inside the FanDuel Sportsbook. SportsGrid says its real-time reporting includes the daily odds, lines, matchups, injury reports, news and more across pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey, college sports, golf, tennis, and soccer.

iHeartMedia Completes Warrant Exchange for Stocks. The company announces that it has completed an exchange of iHeartMedia Warrants (financial instruments that give the holder the right to buy underlying shares at a specific price on or before a specified date) into shares of iHeartMedia Class A Common Stock, the Company’s publicly traded equity, or Class B Common Stock. The company reports that as of December 31, 2020, there were approximately 65 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 7 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and  75 million Warrants outstanding. Following the exchange, there will be approximately 110 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 29 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and 7 million Warrants outstanding. The exchange was authorized by a previously issued Declaratory Ruling from the Federal Communications Commission approving an increase in iHeartMedia’s authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100%. Certain shares of Class B Common Stock and Warrants were not converted into Class A Common Stock due to current regulatory restrictions applicable to certain shareholders. iHeartMedia expects additional conversions of Class B Common Stock and Warrants into Class A Common Stock.

Attack on Capitol Building Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 4-8, 2021. Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol Building in Washington by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters was 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 denial of the election results combined with his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss there. Coming in at #3 was Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election that saw both Democrats beat their Republican opponents. 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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

| October 20, 2020

Rush Limbaugh Updates Listeners on Cancer Battle; ‘Under a Death Sentence.’ Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh gave listeners an update on his battle with cancer at the outset of his Premiere Networks nationally syndicated program on Monday (10/19) and said that after a long period of keeping the cancer from spreading via treatment, recent tests show “some progression of cancer.” He told listeners, “I hate the way I feel every day. It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over. Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we’re going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it.” But he went on to say that he still looks forward to going on the air every day. “I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible – and it’s still true.” You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up.” Limbaugh first announced he’d been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on February 3.

Industry Shocked by Savage’s Criticism of Limbaugh Cancer Update. Numerous talk radio industry pros – from executives to staffers working “in the trenches” – have told TALKERS magazine today that they are “disgusted” by Michael Savage’s Twitter post in the aftermath of Rush Limbaugh’s on-air update about the progression of his Stage 4 lung cancer and how he’s handling his terminal diagnosis. The tweet came yesterday immediately after Limbaugh’s first segment and read: “Limbaugh’s crying about his cancer on air! Worst 15 minutes in radio history! Spilled a large coffee all over counter and floor. I PROMISE MY AUDIENCE THIS – I WILL NOT DRAG YOU DOWN WITH ME! Best wishes RUSH, but stop and leave the stage with dignity.”  TALKERS founder Michael Harrison even threw his two cents into the discussion stating, “Savage got it all wrong.  Rush tapped the deepest level of the ties that bind talk show hosts to their listeners – the sharing of personal life experiences and feelings – yes, feelings. What Rush bravely did in sharing his first-hand perspective on his circumstances was a gift to his listeners and to the rest of us in radio.  It’s what makes our business a true community and elevates our place as a public forum to an enormously special level in a world awash in superficiality and hype.  Rush shared his heart with us.”

New Deal with CBS Sports for ‘Boomer & Gio.’ A new, multiyear extension is inked between Entercom and CBS Sports to continue simulcasting WFAN-AM/FM, New York’s “Boomer & Gio” morning drive show on the CBS Sports Network. The show co-hosted by Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti airs live from 6:00 am to 10:00 am ET. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Boomer and Gio have become a must-listen for New York sports fans to start their day with their unique perspectives, humor and a bit of the unexpected sprinkled in. WFAN is happy to extend our long partnership with CBS Sports Network to let fans nationwide take a peek into their world and join in on the fun each morning.” CBS Sports Network available through all major cable, satellite and telco distributors as well as via OTT streaming service providers YouTube TV, fuboTV, DirecTV and Hulu. Additionally, a live CBS Sports Network stream is available through CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App by authenticating with select providers.

The Presidential Race/Voting Begins, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Economy/Stimulus Talks, Hunter Biden Laptop Case, Social Media ‘Censorship,’ Limbaugh Cancer Update, Russian Cyberattack Charges, and Jeffrey Toobin Zoom Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The November presidential election, the final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as well as the early and mail-in voting procedures; the rise in COVID-19 cases across most of the U.S. and Europe and projections for a fall/winter second wave; the state of the U.S. economy and negotiations in congress over a new stimulus package; chatter about the legitimacy of the Hunter Biden laptop matter; complaints by conservative media figures about “censorship” of posts that have locked their accounts; Rush Limbaugh delivers somber update on his battle with cancer; six Russian military officers are charged with cyberattacks by the U.S.’ and New Yorker writer and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is suspended after exposing himself during a Zoom meeting were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story by Neil Best at Newsday, Entercom’s WFAN, New York “The Fan” will – “barring a contractual glitch” – hire former morning drive star Craig Carton within the next few weeks and put him in the afternoon drive slot by January, if not sooner. The New York and Philadelphia media have been watching the sports talk radio scene intensely since Carton was let out of prison early after his fraud conviction in 2018. Most reports have cited sources indicating Carton will be with WFAN before long, but Beasley Media Group’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” in Philadelphia has reportedly been courting Carton…..Salem Radio Network is presenting coverage of this Thursday’s final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, moderated by Kristen Welker of MSNBC. SRN’s coverage begins at 8:06 pm ET with a special “SRN Debate Preview” hosted by nationally syndicated SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt with special guests including HotAir.com’s Ed Morrissey and an update from SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston, who is credentialed and will report from the debate venue at the Belmont University campus in Nashville. Hewitt will also host a 60-minute “Debate Wrap-Up” show immediately following the 90-minute debate…..The Radio Advertising Bureau approved a new slate of officers at its recent Fall Board of Directors meeting. Neuhoff Media chief operating officer Mike Hulvey is the new board chair; Bill Hendrich, EVP, Cox Media Group is vice chair; Jeff Warshaw, CEO, Connoisseur Media, LLC joins as finance chair; Sabina Widmann, VP, general manager/director of sales, Univision Radio is secretary; and Susan Larkin, COO, Entercom Communications is immediate past chair. Hulvey says, “It’s an honor to serve the RAB and radio industry in this capacity. Radio is building a great success story not only of recovery, but revival. Thanks in part to the hard work of the RAB team, radio will accelerate from a new normal to a new better.”

Independent Broadcasters Association Commissions Financial Report. The newly formed Independent Broadcasters Association announces it is partnering with media specialty accounting firm dk east associates to conduct a financial analysis of independent broadcaster operations. Stations can be participants in the financial report at no charge, but they must be members of the IBA by October 31. The IBA says the financial report is the first independent-only analysis of its type. IBA founder and executive director Ron Stone says, “Finally, there will be intelligence that independent broadcasters can use to properly measure performance. We see a lot of information about the industry, but typically it only speaks to larger public companies and it is difficult to use it in a meaningful way for local operations. The IBA was formed to bring shared resources like this to independent broadcasters, along with revenue-generation and cost-saving opportunities.” The completed report will allow participating IBA members to compare and contrast their operations to others of similar size. It also will provide data against 2019 by quarter to allow members to gauge their own performance against similar operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Headcount figures will reflect changes from 2019 to reveal how independent operators are weathering the storm from a human resource perspective. In addition, intelligence on Q4 and 2021 will be gathered to determine how independents are feeling about the immediate future.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Laura G is promoted to program director at Cumulus Media’s country WSJR-FM “NASH 93.7.” She’s been serving as midday personality and will continue in that role. Cumulus Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vice president and market manager Chris Kenney says, “Laura has shown strong leadership and work ethic throughout her career with Cumulus and we are elated to promote her to PD of ‘NASH FM 93.7.’”…..Hubbard Radio names Kelsey Danca promotions director for hot AC WRMF, West Palm Beach. She joins the station from her most recent position as integrated marketing manager for AEG Presents in West Palm Beach.  WRMF program director Randi West comments, “Kelsey’s background in radio, events and digital made her the perfect fit for WRMF and ‘Party 96.3!’ Excited to have her on board to grow these heritage brands to all new levels.”.….Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville is offering a special broadcast to honor American veterans hosted by “American Country Countdown” host Kix Brooks. The annual two-hour holiday music special, “A Salute to Our Military Veterans with Kix Brooks,” includes friends and fellow artists Florida Georgia Line, Chris Janson, Kane Brown, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, and Brantley Gilbert talking about their appreciation for the nation’s military. It’s available for stations to air beginning Saturday, November 7 through Wednesday, November 11 between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

| September 17, 2020

‘Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth’ Hits HBO on October 7. The film that documents the rise and fall of former WFAN, New York radio star Craig Carton premiers on HBO on October 7 at 9:00 pm ET. HBO released a trailer on YouTube today (9/17) for the film “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth” that you can see here. The film documents Carton’s rise to the morning drive show on New York City’s WFAN, his 10-year reign of success, and subsequent downfall brought about by a fraud scheme perpetrated to pay off enormous gambling debts. It contains candid interviews with Carton himself, former partner Boomer Esiason, and more. Carton was released early from his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for fraud in June of this year and is finishing his sentence in home confinement. HBO Sports VP Peter Nelson says, “Craig Carton’s radio persona gained him a public following, while his private struggles lost him everything one casino run at a time. Many knew Carton, but never knew his secrets, as we learn from Carton himself in this documentary about success, self-destruction, lies and blackjack.”

White House Nominates Nathan Simington for FCC Post. The Trump Administration is nominating Nathan A. Simington to become a member of the Federal Communications Commission, replacing Michael O’Rielly, who is not being renominated. Simington is a Republican and is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration specializing in network and telecommunications policy. The White House says that among his many responsibilities across the telecommunications industry, he works on 5G security and secure supply chains, the American Broadband Initiative, and is NTIA’s representative to the Government Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Prior to his appointment at NTIA, Simington was senior counsel to Brightstar Corporation, a leading international company in the wireless industry. In this role, he negotiated deals with companies across the spectrum of the telecommunications and internet industry, including most of the world’s leading wireless carriers. As the head lawyer on the advanced mobility products team, he spearheaded numerous international transactions in the devices, towers and services fields and forged strong relationships with leading telecom equipment manufacturers.

Graduate Student Scholarship Applications Due October 15. The Library of American Broadcasting Foundation, in collaboration with the Broadcast Education Association, announces the details for the 2021-2022 Library of American Broadcasting Foundation Scholarship award for graduate students. The Library of American Broadcasting Foundation Scholarship will award one graduate student $3,000 in the Fall to support the student’s continuing studies and dissertation in broadcast history. BEA’s Scholarship Committee, consisting of academics and industry professionals, will conduct the selection process of the award. Upon completion of the dissertation, the award recipient will donate copies to the Library of American Broadcasting to retain as part of its collection. Deadline for submissions is October 15, 2020. Ginny Morris, co-chair of the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation and CEO of Hubbard Radio, says, “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to partner with BEA to underwrite this exciting opportunity that support’s the LABF’s mission of preserving the past, reflecting the present and informing the future of the American broadcasting industry. We look forward to supporting this outstanding initiative for years to come.” Learn more here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Hollywood Reporter says FOX News Media will lay off less than 3% of its staff in a restructuring move. The company issued the following statement: “As FOX News Media has evolved into a streamlined multi-platform organization, we are realigning several functions and restructuring various divisions in order to position all of our businesses for ongoing success.” The change is not expected to affect any on-air personnel…..Podcast ad sales network Lipstick & Vinyl – dedicated to underrepresented voices with a concentration on female voices – adds two new shows to its roster. “Amended,” hosted by Dr. Laura Free, “shines a spotlight on many of the lesser known but courageous women who led the struggle to win equal voting rights for women in America.” “Gatekeepers” is hosted by the publishers of DAME magazine and “reveals the ugly truth about who controls access to public spaces across America, and how white privilege has often wielded its power to keep out blacks and people of color. Gatekeepers digs deep to uncover the motivations behind these events, past and present, and features interviews with scholars, citizens, and experts, together with archival audio, immersing listeners in a truly illuminating audio experience.”…..WRNI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk show host John DePetro is pictured below with his award for Best Radio Talk Show Host from Rhode Island Monthly’s annual Best of Rhode Island 2020 reader’s poll.

The Presidential Race/Biden CNN Town Hall, COVID-19 Stats-Vaccine Controversy, Michael Caputo Leave, Barr-Durkan Report, Hurricane Sally Drenches South, Western Wildfires Burn, and Big 10 Reverses No Football Decision Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/16). The November presidential election and Thursday evening’s CNN Town Hall with Joe Biden; the rise in positive COVID-19 cases around the world and in the U.S. and the controversy over the potentially speedy development of a vaccine; HHS spokesman Michael Caputo takes a leave after conspiracy-laden Facebook rant; the New York Times report that U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested prosecutors charge Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for her handling of protests; Hurricane Sally dumps floodwaters on Alabama and Florida; the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington continue to burn; and the Big 10 reverses its decision not to play football this year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TWO FIRES:  Iconoclastic KSCO, Santa Cruz Owner Michael Zwerling Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  The longtime owner of fiercely independent news/talk outlet KSCO, Santa Cruz (1080 AM/104.1 FM), Michael Zwerling, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  The conversation focuses on what Harrison describes as “two fires – one literal and one figurative… both out of control.” The former refers to KSCO’s physical location directly in the midst of California’s devastating blazes and the latter represents the station’s powerful new locally produced weekly two-hour radio program, “China Uber Alles.” The show takes a highly critical look at a growing “wildfire” of a different sort – the hegemonic global threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to the US.  It is hosted by Nan Su, a senior reporter at The Epoch Times; Amy Hao, a former Chinese prison camp internee; and local KSCO personality Bill Graff.  Zwerling presents a compelling ground-level view of the impact the wildfires are having on the Santa Cruz, Salinas, Monterey, Silicon Valley, and San Jose markets covered by his station as well as neighboring San Francisco to the north. In addition, he and Harrison discuss the evolution of his experiences having traveled to China that led him to a new awareness about the CCP that ultimately inspired the show. Don’t miss this fascinating podcast!  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, 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. A new iHeartRadio Original Podcast titled “Too Much To Say with Kalie Shorr” is being launched via Bobby Bones’ Nashville Podcast Network. The program features the country singer and songwriter Shorr “as she shares, and mostly overshares, her thoughts on everything from music to martinis, social media to social anxiety, regrets to risky texts, and much more. Shorr will also reveal diary entries and feature interviews with her crazy group of friends.” Shorr says, “When Bobby had the idea to start this podcast, I was so excited. Hosting my own show has been a goal of mine for a long time and I can’t think of a better team to be working on it with. It’s great to be given this platform and I really look forward to sharing my story candidly in a new format.”…..The Johnjay & Rich #LoveUp Foundation is hosting a Food Truck Tour to provide nearly 5,000 free lunches to COVID-19 frontline workers across the Phoenix market. The 7-Day Food Truck Tour will visit seven different Banner Health hospitals through September 22. Johnjay Van Es says, “We created the #LoveUp Food Truck Tour to show appreciation for the dedicated frontline hospital workers who have been tirelessly helping patients fight COVID-19 over the last six months and to support our local food truck community that has been financially hurt by this pandemic. Thank you to the Johnjay & Rich listeners and #LoveUp supporters who responsibly purchased #LoveUp masks in effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 – we now get to use that money to help pay it forward.”