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Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7.   The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media NetworksSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkTodd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast 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.

iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”

Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.

‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.

Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.

COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. 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.

A Song and Video about Animal Welfare

| April 19, 2021

My Adventure Becoming a Member of a Historic Rock Band

 

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS
Publisher 

 

LONGMEADOW, Mass. — In 2020, I had the honor of being invited to actually become a full-fledged member of the legendary band Gunhill Road as a songwriter and vocalist.

My history with this colorful band goes back to 1971 when I played them just about every day on my WNEW-FM, New York morning show. They released two albums (Mercury Records and Kama Sutra Records) in that era that received critical praise and lots of airplay on FM album rock stations in NYC and beyond.  They also had a hit single on AM top 40 radio – “Back When My Hair Was Short” in the early 1970s.

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Monday, April 19, 2021

| April 19, 2021

Monday Memo: “And The Winner Is…” Like the Super Bowl, this Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast is one of the few remaining events so many of us still witness in real-time. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke bemoans poorly prepared acceptance speeches, and urges “radio talkers to take the hint.” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Rates, Rotation, Negotiation. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that sellers focusing only on the packages management creates are not serving their clients as well as they could. “Ask the right questions, listen carefully and your advertiser will tell you how to sell them…or not. Yet most sellers are focused on their own goals pushing for the package of the week. They fail to listen, ignoring the advertiser’s goals.” Read his column here.

Morning Host Bob Flaherty’s Exit from WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts Prompts Programming Changes. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Bob Flaherty exited Saga Communications’ news/talk WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts in late March after what he describes as “a couple of rants” about his thoughts on punishment for the gunmen responsible for mass shootings. He tells the paper, “I was fired. From what I can understand, this came directly from corporate, which is Saga Communications. It had to do with a couple of rants, I guess you would call them, over the last few weeks.” Flaherty, who hosted the morning drive show on the station for the past 11 years, says, “I have nothing but respect and love for my colleagues in Northampton. These are great, great people. I’ve enjoyed every minute.” The station is now airing Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal” in the morning drive daypart. It moved “The Thom Hartmann Program” to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and added the Howie Carr Radio Network’s “The Grace Curley Show” for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Regarding the changes in the morning programming, WHMP general manager Mike Ekblom says ultimately, his goal is to have local programming from 7:00 am to 9:00 am daily.

Dickey Broadcasting Flips WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta to News/Talk. Shucking the sports talk format, Dickey Broadcasting Company announces WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta debuts its new talk format and branding as “XTRA 106.3FM – Atlanta’s Most Conservative News & Talk Station.” The program schedule includes programming from FOX News Radio and Premiere Networks. The lineup is: “Morning XTRA” (Mondays only), “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Guy Benson Show,” “The Buck Sexton Show,” and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.” Dickey Broadcasting president David Dickey comments, “We are excited to announce the return of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and FOX News, among many other great names, to the Atlanta market. These voices have entertained and informed generations of Atlantans and will now continue to do so on ‘XTRA 106.3FM’ and streaming on the XTRA app. Atlantans deserve great options for their news and information.  We are proud that we can deliver this popular content to millions of listeners who feel they’ve been disenfranchised by recent programming shifts.”

Ethics Board Rules in Favor of Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson in Radio Show Complaint. The ethics complaint filed against Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson has been dismissed by the city’s three-member ethics board by a 2-1 vote. Back in February, four Valdosta, Georgia community organizations petitioned the city clerk to look into what they called ethics violations by Matheson, who is also principal of Small Town Broadcasting, owner of talk outlet WDDQ-FM on which Matheson co-hosts the morning show. The organizations – Concerned Clergies of Valdosta, NAACP Lowndes Chapter, The Mary Turner Project, and Valdosta/Lowndes Community Alliance – say Matheson’s comments on his radio program included unsubstantiated claims of illegal voter canvassing and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and that qualified as a violation of six tenets of the City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials. The board ultimately ruled that Matheson engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment.

TALKERS News Notes. A new true crime series from PodcastOne is premiering tomorrow (4/20) called “Final Days on Earth” that features longtime CBS News journalist and producer Claire St. Amant. The program is an investigative podcast franchise from Cold Case Productions that examines mysterious deaths that have elements of an accident, murder, or suicide – and sometimes all three. In season one – “The Life and Death of Dammion Heard” – St. Amant investigates the baffling disappearance and mysterious death of Texas state champion wrestler Dammion Heard…..iHeartMedia announces its exclusive podcast partnership to launch the NFL’s podcast network that includes the distribution of NFL Media’s existing podcasts, (“Around the NFL,” “Move the Sticks,” “NFL Fantasy Football,” “Huddle and Flow,” “NFL Total Access: The Locker Room,” “Good Morning Football” and “NFL Legends”) as well as the co-production and distribution of two dozen new original podcasts. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne comments, “Our partnership with the NFL is an incredible moment for iHeart – and the podcast industry, period. The NFL represents sports at its highest level – with the greatest athletes and the most heart-pounding games the world has seen. These are legendary stories, and we can’t wait to roll out a slate of incredible new podcasts to capture it all – for iHeart’s huge audience and the NFL’s massive fanbase alike.”…..Audacy reveals the launch of “Ultimate Mock Draft 2021,” a six-episode series leading up to the NFL Draft presented in partnership with the Locked On Podcast Network. The series will be released in 45-minute episodes, weekdays from today through next Monday (4/26). The series is hosted  by Brian Peacock and Matt Williamson and episodes include a dive-deep into each team’s needs, draft strategy, player short-list, and “Ultimate Mock Draft” pick for the first round of the NFL Draft. Audacy VP of sports Matthew Volk says, “No other sports platform has the unique combination of national voices combined with the localized and team-specific influencers and opinion leaders, and this series will help get football fans fully prepped for this year’s draft, no matter their favorite team. Each year, the NFL Draft helps turn the page to the upcoming season and we’re looking forward to previewing this year’s event alongside our partners at Locked On.”

Mass Shootings/Gun Control, COVID-19, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Daunte Wright Shooting/Derek Chauvin Trial, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Newsom Recall/Caitlyn Jenner Challenge Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spate of mass shootings in the U.S., including at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis, in Austin, and at a Kenosha bar, as well as the related issue of gun control legislation; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the lifting of restrictions in numerous states; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the police shootings that killed Daunte Wright in Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11; and the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and the report that Caitlyn Jenner is among potential challengers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.