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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

| November 19, 2020

Westwood One to Offer Michael Knowles Show in January. The relationship between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and the Daily Wire expands as WWO announces it will offer the one-hour “Michael Knowles Show” to radio stations beginning on January 4, 2021. The program will be fed live at 5:00 pm ET. Westwood One says, “Michael Knowles will provide a fresh, new voice on radio, delving beyond the headlines and analyzing the top cultural and political issues of the day. Knowles reaches a young conservative demographic, with an extensive following already through his podcast and social media channels. Knowles had the #1 podcast in America throughout most of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with ‘Verdict,’ his podcast with Ted Cruz; and his podcast, ‘The Michael Knowles Show,’ is among the top 10 News Commentary podcasts on the American iTunes Charts. Knowles has 1.12 million Facebook followers, 393.9k Twitter followers, 352k YouTube followers, and 150k Instagram followers.” Knowles has previously served as a guest host for “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

It’s Official: Grace Curley to Take Over Early Afternoons on WRKO, Boston. As TALKERS magazine reported on Tuesday (11/17), iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston begins airing “The Grace Curley Show” in the early afternoon daypart beginning on January 4. Curley’s program is produced and distributed by the Howie Carr Radio Network and it replaces “The Vinnie Penn Project” in the WRKO lineup. It will air from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm. Curley is the executive producer of “The Howie Carr Show” – a role she will continue – and also is a Boston Herald columnist. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk and sports Rob Sanchez says, “Grace has a spark ready to be ignited. She is part of the next generation of talk radio hosts and is ready to set the Boston airwaves on fire with her strong and authentic voice. Grace represents core conservative values through a millennial lens and has learned from the absolute best, so she is the perfect lead in for the ‘Howie Carr Show.’”

Cumulus Media and VolunteerMatch Partner for PROJECT SHINE. The cross-platform charitable initiative PROJECT SHINE is a partnership between Cumulus Media and VolunteerMatch. Cumulus describes it as “an evergreen campaign that will inspire local acts of service and human connection in a world that has seen its share of challenges.” Cumulus EVP, content & audience Brian Philips says, “PROJECT SHINE serves as a conduit for human connection. We make it easy for good people to connect with great causes through VolunteerMatch. In every town, in every corner of America, some darkness subsides, and a new ray of light appears. Through service, we help ourselves and the whole world is better for it.” PROJECT SHINE will be promoted on Cumulus’ 422 radio stations and websites across 87 U.S. markets and through Westwood One. Creative promos will feature a new version of Collective Soul’s hit “Shine,” re-recorded exclusively for PROJECT SHINE.

TALKERS News Notes. Progressive talk radio host Stephanie Miller announces that her “Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour” continues this weekend with a show on Saturday (11/21) at 8:00 pm ET featuring John Fugelsang, Frangela, and Hal Sparks…..Cumulus Media San Francisco and the University of San Francisco athletics department announce their renegotiated multi-year agreement that will have KTCT-AM “KNBR 1050 The Sports Leader” serve as the flagship station for USF Dons men’s basketball. The station will carry all of the games, including pre- and post-game shows as well as the weekly “Hilltop Hoops Hour” hosted by the voice of the Dons, Pat Olson…..New York Public Radio names Armando Gutierrez chief financial officer, effective December 2. Gutierrez was most recently CFO for CBS Corporation. NYPR says, “Gutierrez brings more than 20 years of experience developing financial strategy, transforming traditional broadcast businesses, and driving digital growth across media organizations.”

Trump’s Denial of Election Results, Biden Transition, Georgia Recount/Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccines, Obama Memoir, Iran War Drums, Boeing 737 Max Greenlighted, and NFL Intensifies COVID Protocols Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/18). The refusal by Donald Trump to concede the election; the hampered transition process for Joe Biden; the presidential election recount in Georgia and the January runoff elections for that state’s two U.S. Senate seats; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, and the vaccine progress announced by Pfizer and Moderna; former President Barack Obama’s new memoir; the talk of war against Iran by Saudi Arabia and Israel; Boeing’s 737 Max gets approval to fly again; and the NFL institutes stringent coronavirus prevention policies for all teams among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Reporter Joe DeStio to Retire. Radio news pro Joe DeStio announces he is retiring from Entercom’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh after 40 years in the business. DeStio served with WTAE, Pittsburgh before joining KDKA-AM nine years ago. He also serves as the house announcer for University of Pittsburgh Panthers football and mens basketball. He told listeners, “You get to the point that you realize life is short and while you still have the energy to do things, I want to get into music a little bit. I play the saxophone and I want to get good on that… I want to get good on the golf course, that’s the tallest order, probably… my wife and I want to travel… but, who knows, I may do something part time and I may get back into teaching.”

Former Long Island Radio Manager Pleads Guilty to Fraud. The former vice president and general manager of Long Island Radio Broadcasting pleads guilty to felony access device fraud in which she purchased “hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal charges” on the company’s American Express card. Stephanie McNamara Bitis faces 12 to 18 months in prison after the guilty plea. Long Island Radio Broadcasting owns and operates three stations – triple A WEHM-FM, Manorville; CHR WBEA-FM, Southold “The Beach 101.7”; and adult contemporary WBAZ-FM, Bridgehampton – on Long Island. Company owner Lauren Stone says that Bitis, who managed the stations from 2015 through 2017, was fired after “lackluster financial results.” Stone says a suspicious wire transfer caused her to hire outside experts to investigate the stations’ finances and then discovered the personal charges made by Bitis. While Stone says Bitis charged “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in personal expenses, Bitis’ lawyer Thomas Kenniff says Bitis disputes that and says his client was responsible for “no more than $1,000 in any given year,” according to a report in Patch.

RIP Mike Scinto. The passing of talk radio host Mike Scinto on Monday (11/16) was brought to the attention of TALKERS magazine by Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup, who shares with us the above photo of Scinto (left) with good friend Mike Gallagher (right). Gallagher and Scinto both got their start in talk radio at WAVI-AM, Dayton and for years Scinto would serve as a guest host on Gallagher’s SRN syndicated program. Gallagher paid tribute to Mike Scinto on his national program this morning, extending sympathy and prayers to Scinto’s wife Kathy and their children Zak and Carly, stating, “We will miss him. He was one of a kind.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Country radio pro Michelle Rodriguez joins the “Hawkeye in the Morning” show on Cumulus Media’s KSCS-FM “New Country 96.3.” Rodriguez has been the midday personality on the station for the past seven years. She begins working with Mark “Hawkeye” Louis on November 30. Station program director Mike Preston says, “Michelle has been a shining star on the station for 10 years and pairing her with Hawkeye just made sense. I can’t wait to see the new heights that together they’ll take us to!”…..Entercom flips adult contemporary WDZH-FM, Detroit “98.7 The Breeze” to alternative rock as “ALT 98.7.” Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “This is a huge opportunity to add alternative to our portfolio, and we’re thrilled to further expand our content offering for Detroiters. ‘ALT 98.7’ will serve as a home for some of today’s top hits from premier artists in the industry, while capturing the distinctive style and flair of the Motor City.”…..Radio One Philadelphia begins transitioning the hip hop format on WPHI-FM at 103.9 to its new home at WRNB’s 100.3 FM frequency. The stations will simulcast the format all this week in advance of the switch on Monday (11/23). Radio One Philadelphia station manager, Ezio Torres states, “I’m excited about the updates to our Philadelphia Urban One cluster as this allows the audience and reach of each of our stations to expand.”…..For the 11th year in a row, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and Premiere Networks is giving away thousands of turkeys as part of the Steve Harvey Morning Show Annual Turkey Give. Nearly 9,000 turkeys will be provided to affiliates of the award-winning morning radio show to help those less fortunate celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Since the Turkey Give was launched in 2009, nearly 90,000 turkeys have been given to those in need. Harvey says, “We consider it an honor and a privilege to help those less fortunate during the holiday season. On behalf of the entire Steve Harvey Morning Show, Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

| November 17, 2020

Howie Carr Radio Network to Launch ‘The Grace Curley Show.’ A new midday talk show is launching starring Grace Curley, currently the executive producer of the Boston-based Howie Carr show and a Boston Herald columnist. Curley’s program is being produced by The Howie Carr Radio Network and airs live daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.  The Howie Carr Radio Network says it has signed a deal with iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston to air “The Grace Curley Show” beginning January 4.   HCRN president Kathy Carr says, “We have full coverage in New England and many of our clients benefit from our wide reach and personal attention to their radio campaigns. Because we have no layers, we are able to turn around promotions swiftly and creatively. I’m excited to bring Grace’s show to my affiliates and clients and plan to implement many of the features we do with Howie’s show on Grace’s program. However, she is her own talent and will have many new elements to her daily program, too. You can’t launch a network without a major market affiliate and with WRKO, we now have that. Our working relationship with the executives at iHeart continues to be one of great collaboration and respect.” Howie Carr adds, “Grace Curley is a great talent and just the sort of host talk radio needs to take the industry to the next level — a young, articulate, conservative woman who already has years of experience in drive-time programming, state-of-the-art podcast and daily print journalism.” Curley, who also is producer of the “Dirty Rats” true crime podcast, states, “I am ecstatic for this huge opportunity to host a talk radio show and offer my perspective on politics, pop culture, and more. Over the last six years, I’ve been mentored by one of the best in the business. I look forward to putting the skills I’ve learned from Howie Carr to the test and creating a show that is interesting, unique and entertaining.” For more information on “The Grace Curley Show” and the HCRN, email Kathy Carr at: Kathycarr@Howiecarrshow.com.

Feder: Mancow to Leave WLS-AM, Chicago After November 25 Show. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Erich “Mancow” Muller is leaving Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago after his November 25 show, saying he’s “tired of doing ‘radio without joy’ during a pandemic.” Mancow has been hosting mornings on WLS-AM for the past two years. He adds, “Much of the enjoyment I had left doing radio has been sucked out of it. Alone in an office building with no guests and endless rules is not my idea of a creative process… For me, no interaction has been the radio kiss of death. Talking during this political season and hearing endless tales of woe from my listeners has been radio without joy.” The station is going to feature guest hosts for the remainder of the year and Cumulus Chicago VP and market manager Marv Nyren says he and PD Stephanie Tichenor have narrowed the field of replacements to three.

Gordon Deal Celebrates 15 Years as Host of ‘This Morning – America’s First News.’ On-air pro Gordon Deal is celebrating his 15th anniversary as host of “This Morning –America’s First News with Gordon Deal.” He says, “With a short attention span like mine, it’s hard to imagine doing the same thing for 15 minutes, let alone 15 years. There’s a lot of pressure and responsibility, especially now with 300 affiliates, but having an exceptional team to work with every day and the support of Compass Media Networks means waking up at 2:30 am can actually be interesting and exhilarating.” Compass says that “This Morning – America’s First News” airs on news/talk stations in 92 of the top 100 markets and is re-broadcast via all major podcast listening platforms including iHeartRadio, RADIO.COM, and TuneIn. Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann adds, “In the history of our medium, very few shows have achieved over 300 affiliates. Kudos to everyone at Compass Media Networks for reaching this goal and special thanks to Gordon Deal for his leadership and voice.”

TALKERS News Notes. Voice-over artist Cayman Kelly celebrates his continuing collaboration with ESPN as the first African American voice of ESPN Radio. He says, “Voice-over is my passion and I am so proud to be a voice for the ESPN network. It is a very fulfilling career. I am fortunate to have evolved and expanded my voice versatility after beginning this journey as a young man. I am also energized to do my part helping to diversify the voices in sports and continue to be a trusted voice.” ESPN senior vice president, production David Roberts comments, “Cayman brings an unmatched sound and prime-time feel to everything he does. We are excited to work with Cayman and look forward to his voice differentiating the sound of ESPN Audio.”…..The “KRMG Morning News with Dan Potter” is producing the station’s 15th annual “Stories of Light” fundraiser to benefit Make-A-Wish Oklahoma that takes place today (11/17) through Thursday. During the three-day “Stories of Light” event, KRMG will share heartwarming and inspiring stories from local wish kids as they strive to collect $300,000. The event has raised more than $3 million since its inception, thanks to the support of Green Country businesses and KRMG listeners. Station director of branding and programming Levi May says, “This is an unusual year for us because, while the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed donations and wish grants, it hasn’t diminished the number of children and their families in need. We are always motivated by these local kids, we are compelled to provide light during their darkest days, and we have never felt more driven to grant every wish we possibly can.”

COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccines, Holiday Gatherings, Trump vs Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections/Recount, Trump’s Iran Threat, Dow-S&P Record Highs, and Hurricane Iota Hits Central America Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/16). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases and the related positive news about vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna; the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and concerns about family get-togethers as superspreading events; Donald Trump’s efforts to stymie the Joe Biden administration transition; the runoff elections in Georgia for its two U.S. Senate seats and the presidential ballot recount; Trump consults Pentagon about strike on Iran nuclear facilities; the Dow and the S&P 500 hit record highs on vaccine news; and Hurricane Iota lashes Central America were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Leo Baldwin is named brand manager for Entercom’s hot AC KYKY-FM “Y98” and adult contemporary KEZK in St. Louis. He says, “I’m so excited to join the amazing team in St. Louis and the incredible brands they have established in the market.” Baldwin most recently programmed Hubbard Radio’s AC WRMF and classic hits WEAT in West Palm Beach where he also served as operations manager for the seven-station cluster…..iHeartMedia Columbus drops the classic rock on WXZX-FM, Columbus and re-brands the station as “The New Columbus Alternative 105.7, Everything Alternative.” This comes in the wake of the former WWCD’s flip from alternative to Spanish music as signal owner Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting leases the 102.5 FM station (now WWLG-FM) to another operator. WWCD is continuing to air an alternative format online. Back to WXZX, the station names Rafferty afternoon drive personality and promises more jocks will join the station soon.

Friday, June 28, 2019

| June 28, 2019

Cumulus Chief Memos Employees in Wake of WABC Sale. In tandem with yesterday’s surprise news that John Catsimatidis-led Red Apple Media is acquiring legendary New York station WABC for $12.5 million, Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner issued a memo to employees that explains the company’s policy on sales. Specifically, Berner says the company has no plan to exit large markets.  After the sale of WPLJ and now WABC, Cumulus has one station – urban music outlet WNBM – in the New York market, and she says the company will sell that station, as well.  But staffers should not interpret the New York move as one destined for all large market holdings.  She says the company will sell when it’s advantageous and buy when it’s a fit.  “In New York’s case, we’ll be exiting a market that has been tough for us, and through these deals we will be able to realize significant value for the company – over and above what we could have generated from continued operations.  And for anyone who is still listening to rumors out there, I will say again that there is absolutely no grand plan to exit our big markets.”  She concludes, “Always remember that any actions we take to strengthen our company help to assure a brighter future for FORCE CUMULUS.  So, let’s keep building on our strong momentum and being relentlessly HABU in all of our efforts and with every one of our assets.  I am incredibly proud of our progress and look forward to continuing to deliver on our strategic goals.”

iHeartMedia Shares to Trade on NASDAQ Global Select Market. The Class A common stock in iHeartMedia has been approved for listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. It will trade under the ticker “IHRT.” The company says in a press release, “As previously announced, iHeart had been evaluating all paths to achieve a listing of its Class A common stock on a recognized U.S. stock exchange following emergence from its restructuring process.  iHeartMedia has determined that a listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market is the optimal strategy for iHeartMedia and all of the company’s stakeholders.  As a result, the Company has requested the withdrawal of its previously filed registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. iHeartMedia’s management team will be meeting with investors the week of July 15 in advance of a listing date of July 18, 2019.”  Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman adds, “This is an exciting time for our company and an important step in the evolution of iHeartMedia.  Our listing on the NASDAQ will provide greater liquidity for existing shareholders, allow us to diversify our investor base, and give us improved access to public capital markets in the future.”

New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” for Week of June 24-28 Now Posted.  The recently launched, one-hour weekend radio show, “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation,” analyzing the hot talk media topics of this past week (June 24-28) is now posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia‘s WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  It currently airs on WONK-FM in the key position of Friday at 6:00 pm as a dynamic programming punctuation mark of the week’s conversation.  Hosted by TALKERS magazine’s iconic publisher, this week’s installment (titled “Three Ring Circus!”) features a lineup of guests that includes TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey; radio talk show hosts Michael Savage of Westwood OneSean Hannity of Fox News Channel/Premiere Networks; and Charles Freedman of KSCO, Santa Cruz; political strategist and pundit Ethan Bearman; social/political observer Victoria Jones of the DC Radio Company and John Catsimatidis, CEO, Gristedes Foods/Red Apple Group. The non-partisan-but-hard-hitting program explores multiple opinions along the spectrum of contemporary American political and social thought.   According to TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein, the program is now available on a market exclusive basis to news/talk stations around the nation.  Bernstein says, “We began this show as an on-air extension of TALKERS magazine research to be played on TalkersRadio and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  The show is nothing short of fantastic and provides a great image-setter for any news/talk outlet.  iHeartMedia picked it up for its new WONK-FM in DC where it fits that station’s mission perfectly and a number of stations have inquired about its availability.  We are in the process of figuring out where we want to go with it… whether we will put it into syndication or just make it available to a handful of stations.”   For more information about the program, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.  To listen to it in its entirety, please click here.

Kantar Media: Radio to See 6.6% of $6 Billion Political Ad Spending. Media research and consulting firm Kantar Media has issued its projection for the ad spending during the 2019-2020 political cycle and believes $6 billion will be spread across cable TV, broadcast TV, digital, and radio.  Radio’s share of the pie is predicted to be $400,000,000 – 6.6% of the total.  Who gets the most?  Broadcast television is predicted to get $3.2 billion of that.  Cable TV and digital platforms are each to get $1.2 billion, according to Kantar’s estimates.  See more here.

Beebe Promoted to Regional SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia. Sales pro Kristy Beebe is named regional SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s Kentucky-Indiana region, effective August 1.  Beebe has been serving as general sales manager for the company’s Louisville cluster for the past two years.  She will remain based in Louisville.  She says, “I am so thankful to the iHeartMedia team for the confidence that they have shown in me.  My decades in radio have prepared me to contribute to the growth and success that has been building in these markets.  Our legendary radio brands combined with our ever expanding digital and event offerings create an unmatched marketing portfolio!  I can’t wait to dig in with our sales teams and use these amazing tools to drive success for our partners.”

Manetta Named Promotions Manager for Cumulus Des Moines. Moving from the company’s Topeka operations to its Des Moines cluster is Cassidy Manetta, who takes on the promotions manager position for the group that includes sports talk KBGG-AM “1700 The Champ” and four music-formatted stations.  Cumulus Des Moines vice president and market manager Jack Taddeo says, “Cassidy impressed me with her creativity, experience, and enthusiasm for all the things radio needs to be doing in an increasingly competitive world.  My thanks to Topeka VP/market manager Nic Merenda for graciously supporting this internal promotion to the benefit of Cumulus Des Moines.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Howie Carr Radio Network announces that Grace Curley is promoted from associate producer to executive producer of “The Howie Carr Show.”  Curley – who, like Carr, is also a columnist at the Boston Herald – has been with the network since its 2014 launch.  Howie Carr tells TALKERS, “Grace brings tremendous intelligence and communication skills to both our program and the Boston Herald and she does it with a fresh ‘millennial sensibility.’”  HCRN president Kathy Carr says, “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is discovering new talent and seeing them grow.  I’m very proud of Grace.”…..A new iHeartMedia Original Podcast launched yesterday (6/27) in partnership with Tenderfoot, titled “Monster Presents: Insomniac.”  It looks at the story of true-crime researcher Scott Benjamin, the show’s host and protagonist, and his retelling of serial killings and how it started to affect his everyday life – from tormenting him and consuming him to eventually turning him into an insomniac…..Podcaster Jessica Cordova Kramer and best-selling author Stephanie Wittels Wachs join forces to form a new podcast network, Lemonada Media, in partnership with Westwood One.  The network, launching in September, will “share an unfiltered version of the human experience, offering content that is raw and real, sorting through the ugliness, weirdness, awkwardness and darkness life can bring.”  Westwood One will distribute, sell, and market the shows to build audiences across the Lemonada network…..SiriusXM is presenting comprehensive live coverage of The Championships, Wimbledon 2019 from the opening day of play on Monday, July 1, through the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14.  The broadcasts will air courtesy of ESPN Audio, which is the exclusive live broadcaster of Wimbledon in the U.S., and The All England Lawn Tennis Club…..Pictured below is Westwood One News White House correspondent Bob Costantini in front of Air Force 1 in Osaka, Japan.  Costantini is there covering President Trump’s participation in the G20 Summit.

Michael Savage Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  One of the most famous, successful, and controversial talk radio stars of the modern era, Westwood One syndicated personality Michael Savage, is this week’s special guest on the award-winning PodcastOne presentation, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Harrison and Savage candidly discuss the recent story about him that ran in The New York Times by Jeremy Peters (6/18) – a piece that displeased Savage, including a specific quote attributed to Harrison with which he took particular issue.  Harrison and Savage also take an unabashedly critical dive into the inner-workings and politics of talk radio that professional practitioners of the medium and listeners alike will find fascinating.  Do not miss this 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 of the TALKERS email newsletter and on every page of Talkers.com.

Immigration Reform/Southern Border Crisis Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 24-28. The Trump Administration’s immigration reform efforts and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the 2020 presidential race and this week’s Democratic Party debates.  Coming in at #3 was the G20 Summit and the various trade wars, followed by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s July 17 testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee 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 entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. As had been rumored, Rickey Smiley is named the successor to legendary radio host Tom Joyner on the Reach Media nationally syndicated urban AC program.  Joyner himself made the announcement on his “Tom Joyner Morning Show.”  Joyner is retiring at the end of the year and Smiley will assume morning host duties in January of 2020 from the Dallas studios.  Joyner says that Smiley has established himself as a trusted leader on-air and in the community with his current show, captivating audiences with his authentic humor but also his unique perspective on topics important to his audience.  Smiley also announced that Eva Marcille and Gary Wit Da Tea would be among the on-air cast members joining Smiley next year…..Beasley Media Group makes changes at classic hits WROR, Boston as former WLTW, New York “106.7 Lite FM” morning host Bob Bronson takes over for Loren Owens, who has been hosting the “Loren & Wally” morning solo since the retirement of Wally Brine.  Bronson starts Monday (7/1).  Beasley Boston director of programming Cadillac Jack says, “I’ve known Bob for over a decade and am excited for the ROR audience to get to know him as well.  He’s a battle-tested, hard-working winner who is a relatable storyteller and all-around wonderful person to be leading our talented morning team!”…..Across town at iHeartMedia Boston, the company re-brands urban AC WKAF-FM as “The New 97.7 The Beat of Boston.”  The station says it will broadcast pop and rhythmic hits from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, including songs from artists like Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, MadonnaPrince, TLC, and The Notorious B.I.G.  It plans to add new personalities to the station.  Sister CHR WXKS-FM “Kiss 108” afternoon personality Romeo is also hosting middays on WKAF.  KJ will host the afternoon show…..iHeartMedia announces Ashley Wilson is named director of country programming for the Kentucky-Indiana region, effective July 22. She was most recently program director for the company’s WNOE-FM, New Orleans.  In this role, she’ll oversee the country programming for the region’s five country stations, including WAMZ-FM, Louisville and WBUL-FM, Lexington “98.1 The Bull.”  Regional SVP of programming Michael Jordan says, “Ashley is becoming a leader in her field and we are fortunate to bring her to our region.  She brings a lot to the table and will be a valuable asset to our team.”…..Meruelo Media announces that Cece Valencia is joining KDAY-FM/KDEY-FM, Los Angeles to co-host the “Cece and Romeo” morning show. She says, “KDAY is more than a home to me, it’s a dream come true.  I’m so lucky to be able to play the music that I love on such an iconic station.  Romeo is so talented and funny.  Waking L.A. up every morning with Romeo is gonna be fun.”…..Air personality Emily Wild and Entercom part ways as Wild exits the morning show at alternative WLKK, Buffalo after a three-plus year relationship…..Albany radio pro Kevin Rush is leaving his home of almost 18 years – iHeartMedia’s hot AC WRVE “99.5 The River” next month to re-locate to Florida with his family.  Rush’s co-host Tracy Villaume is expected to remain in mornings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

| September 4, 2018

Steve Gill Returns to the Nashville Airwaves on WLAC. Nashville-based media personality Steve Gill ended his syndicated radio program that was heard in mornings on WLAC and distributed via Radio America in January of 2013. Now, he’s returning to the WLAC “TalkRadio 1510” air with his “Tennessee Star Gill Report” that is airing from 7:30 am to 8:00 am daily.  Gill is the CEO of Gill Media and the political editor of The Tennessee Star.  He was also morning drive host on WWTN-FM, Nashville prior to joining WLAC in 2006.  iHeartMedia Nashville region president Dan Endom says, “There isn’t a more credible or recognizable conservative voice in Tennessee than Steve Gill.  With the top names in national conservative talk already on TalkRadio 1510 WLAC, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the addition of a Tennessee conservative voice like Gill rounds out the lineup with a strong local connection.” “Tennessee Star Gill Report” also airs on several radio stations across Tennessee, including WETR, Knoxville and WNWS, Jackson.  Gill says, “Our goal with the radio show is the same as with The Tennessee Star news site: to provide the critical news and insight that the liberal mainstream media overlooks, ignores or in too many cases covers up.  Based upon the numbers that The Tennessee Star has generated in the first 18 months of operation, with over 8 million visitors, there is clearly a demand for the facts, news and analysis that we provide on line and now, on air.”  In the past two weeks Nashville-based Star Digital Media has launched two new online news sites in addition to The Tennessee Star, The Ohio Star (www.theohiostar.com) and The Minnesota Sun (www.theminnesotasun.com).  The company plans to expand into additional states over the next few months.

Bonnie-Jill Laflin Joins KNBR, San Francisco Morning Show. Radio and social media personality Bonnie-Jill Laflin is appointed to the on-air team of the “Murph & Mac” morning show on Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco, hosted by Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey.  Laflin is a former cheerleader for the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco 49ers. Her radio experience includes hosting SiriusXM’s “The Rush Hour” and “Fantasy Football Show.”  The station says she’ll appear in station videos across knbr.com and its social media platforms, in addition to her role on-air.  KNBR program director Jeremiah Crowe comments, “We are thrilled to add the talented Bonnie-Jill Laflin to the KNBR lineup.  A San Francisco native, she has maintained her passion for Bay Area sports and has a deep-rooted connection to the KNBR brand.  Her experiences and relationships built in the front office, on the sidelines, behind the microphone, and on camera will provide our core audience a rare perspective on their favorite local teams.  Bonnie-Jill is an established personality that will connect with our listeners on a multitude of platforms and keep KNBR on the leading edge of content creation from day one.”

iHeartMedia’s Bob Pittman and NPR’s Jarl Mohn Keynote Closing Session at IAB Podcast Upfront. At this Thursday’s Interactive Advertising Bureau’s fourth annual podcast upfront in New York, iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and NPR CEO Jarl Mohn will host the closing fireside chat titled, “Leaders of the Audio Revolution Debate the Future of Sound.”  It will be moderated by IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg.  IAB says U.S. podcast advertising captured $314 million in revenue in 2017, a rise of 86% over $169 million in 2016, according to the latest IAB/PwC Podcast Advertising Revenue Study for full-year 2017 and is predicted to continue to surge to $659 million by 2020.  The press release goes on to say, “iHeartMedia is the largest commercial radio podcaster and NPR is the largest non-profit radio podcaster in the U.S. and these two media titans will share their views on the power of audio, the future of the audio/podcast ecosystem, the role of spoken word and the driving factors behind on demand and podcast listening.”

TALKERS News Notes. Pictured above is music mogul Clive Davis (center)after announcing on WOR, New York that he is organizing a memorial concert for Aretha Franklin at Madison Square Garden on November 14.  He told WOR’s Len Berman (left)and Michael Riedel (right)that it was scheduled before her passing as a tribute show but will now be a memorial concert…..In the U.K., the country’s most-listened-to morning host Chris Evans is leaving the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on December 21 after 13 years at the station to join Virgin RadioWireless CEO Scott Taunton says, “We are beyond thrilled that Chris has chosen to come back to Virgin Radio. He is the biggest name in radio and is synonymous with the brand.  He has the most exciting breakfast show in the industry and has an energy that captivates audiences.”  The station relaunched two years ago and is heard in the UK only on DAB and online…..After a 12-year stint with RadiOhio’s Columbus sports talk WBNS-FM “97.1 The Fan,” program director Jay Taylor announces he’s leaving the station as his current contract ends…..Today the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begin before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Salem Radio Network is presenting gavel-to-gavel coverage each day from Capitol Hill correspondent Wally Hindes.  Additionally, the network’s nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt show will have exclusive commentary and perspective from U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) each day.  Hewitt show executive producer Duane Patterson says, “It is quite a coup to land color commentary on these important hearings from Senator Sasse – a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – each day.”…..Midwest Communications is flipping sports talk WQTX, Lansing, Michigan “The Team 92.1-FM” to adult contemporary on Wednesday (9/5).  A report in the Lansing State Journal quotes Midwest Communications Lansing vice president and market manager Mark Jaycox saying the station wasn’t profitable as a sports talk outlet.  It carried three shows syndicated by the Spotlight Radio Network: “Michigan’s Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels,” “The Drive with Jack Ebling,” and “The Spartan Beat with Rico Beard.”  It also aired programming from FOX Sports Radio Network…..iHeartMedia Cincinnati and E.W. Scripps’ WCPO-TV are entering into a deal in which the TV station will provide the radio stations – including news/talk WLW and WKRC – with local weather forecasts and news features.  WCPO-TV reports that it will also provide “Don’t Waste Your Money” consumer reports from the station’s John Matarese to the iHM radio stations…..Westwood One begins its 32nd consecutive year as the exclusive network radio partner of the National Football League.  Thursday’s opening night game will be called by play-by-play man Kevin Harlan and color analyst Boomer Esiason will make his final appearance in the booth for his farewell broadcast.  NFL Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner is taking over the lead color analyst role on Monday.

Trump-Russia Investigation/Jeff Sessions Criticism, Kavanaugh Hearings, Labor Day Holiday/State of U.S. Economy, Nike’s Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ Campaign, First Man Controversy, NBC News-Ronan Farrow Battle, NFL Pre-season, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents, tied with the related criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by President Trump; the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; the Labor Day holiday weekend and the state of the U.S. economy; Nike’s use of national anthem protestor Colin Kaepernick in its new “Just Do It” campaign; the controversial omission of the U.S. flag planting on the moon in the new film First Man; the argument between NBC News and Ronan Farrow over the news organization’s handling of the Harvey Weinstein investigative report; the NFL pre-season; and the MLB playoff push were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the holiday weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Corinna Delgado moves from Cumulus Media’s CHR KRBR, Houston to the company’s hot AC WRQX, Washington Mix “107.3” to star as the midday host.  She started her career at KMVN in her hometown of Anchorage after serving in the U.S. Army Reserves as a combat medic.  WRQX program director Rob Roberts says, “There were so many great candidates, but Corinna blew me away with her passion for the job. She also possesses an incredible set of digital and social skills.  Plus, anyone trained as a combat medic obviously has a place in radio today.”…..Urban radio pro Lou Bennett is appointed program director for Cumulus Media’s urban adult contemporary WRBO, Memphis.  He was most recently with Elite Radio Group as director of operations and program director for its Natchitoches, Louisiana stations.  Cumulus Media Memphis operations manager Danni Bruns states, “We are exhilarated to have Lou as our newest team member at Cumulus Memphis. WRBO was built on soul just like our unique city and Lou has the exact soul we need to keep 103.5 WRBO a powerhouse on the air, as well as in the community.  I look forward to watching him grow WRBO’s ratings and plant his feet in The Bluff City.”…..In San Diego, Jeremy Pritchard is promoted from APD and music director to program director for Entercom’s alternative KBZT “ALT 94.9.”  He assumes the PD role from cluster operations manager Kevin Callahan…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Ramonski Luv exits his role at iHeartMedia’s urban AC WVAZ where he was hosting the Friday evening and Sunday afternoon shows…..The nationally syndicated “Bob & Sheri” show is the new morning drive show at Cumulus Media’s hot AC WTCB, Columbia, South Carolina “B-106,” effective today (9/4).