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Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”

The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.

Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.

AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.

COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

| March 11, 2021

Andrew McLuhan, President of The McLuhan Institute and Grandson of Marshall McLuhan, Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. “Media freaks” will love this – Andrew McLuhan, the grandson of the late Marshall McLuhan, the legendary communications theorist and philosopher, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Andrew McLuhan is the president of the Toronto, Canada-based educational/historical organization, The McLuhan Institute, which he founded in 2018 to gather, preserve and archive the works and legacy of his famous grandfather, whose books and lectures about the impact of media and technology on human culture encompassing his groundbreaking “the medium is the message” meme profoundly influenced a generation of communication students and media practitioners. Harrison and McLuhan discuss a wide array of topics including details about the life of the iconic guru and implications of his complex and often controversial theories. Don’t miss this! 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.

Grace Curley Show Adds Three Affiliate Stations. The Howie Carr Radio Network announces that it has signed three new affiliates for the “Grace Curley Show.” The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk show joins Saga Communications to air on news/talk WGAN-AM, Portland, Maine and WKBK-AM Keene, New Hampshire leading into the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm “Howie Carr Show.” The “Grace Curley Show” will joins Saga’s WFEA-AM, Manchester, New Hampshire in early April.  Portland Radio Group president Phil Zachary says, “Grace Curley is no wannabe. Her approach to talk radio is fresh, female, and fearless. And because Grace learned at the right hand of Howie Carr, we know she’s more than ready to command her own daypart.”  Howie Carr adds, “Grace’s show is exceeding expectations which is why she has picked up so many new affiliates quickly.” For affiliate information, contact Kathy Carr at Kathycarr@Howiecarrshow.com.

Danielle Murr to Leave WEEI, Boston’s Greg Hill Morning Show. Morning drive personality Danielle Murr tells listeners to WEEI, Boston’s “The Greg Hill Show” that she will leave the program after tomorrow’s edition. The Boston Globe reports that Murr told listeners, “It was a very, very, very difficult decision for me. One that I have been wrestling with for months. But I’m at a time in my life where I need to take a chance on myself.” Murr has been with the program since 2005 when it aired on rock WAAF. The show moved to sports talk WEEI in July of 2019 after Entercom sold WAAF to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation. Entercom regional president Mark Hannon comments, “I think it’s been a special connection having Danielle as a full-time female voice on the radio station. So that’s certainly not going unnoticed for us. And that will be a critical piece of how we think about going forward with the show. It was even alluded to today on the air. So, as we begin to open the search, you should expect that we’ll be talking to as many potential candidates as possible, men and women. But I think we’re very cognizant of that [situation].” Murr says she wants to pursue other business opportunities, including podcasting.

WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin to Shift Hayley Tenpas to Middays. With the May 28 retirement of longtime midday personality Kathy Keene looming, news/talk WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin announces it is moving Hayley Tenpas to the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm time slot, effective June 1. Tenpas has hosted the 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm “Focus Fox Valley” show since June of 2018. Tenpas says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to begin this next chapter of my broadcast career. A five-year-old Hayley once called into the ‘Good Neighbor Show.’  I grew up listening to WHBY and now am so proud to be part of this team. I am honored to fill this part of the day with conversations highlighting the best of the Fox Valley. I can’t thank Kathy enough for her time and dedication to radio. It’s hard to imagine WHBY without Kathy’s voice, but I hope that ‘Focus Fox Valley’ can provide opportunities for all of us to be good neighbors to one another.” Tenpas came to WHBY from an on-air career in television news. In 2019 she was awarded the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Best Online Personality honor.

WTIC Local Weekend Computer Show Reaches Quarter Century Anniversary. When executed properly, discussion about computers, digital technology and consumer electronics does very well within the context of news/talk radio. An example of this is on display at heritage news/talk station, WTIC-AM, Hartford where “Computer Talk with TAB” has been on the air live each week since the mid-1990s providing an in-depth practical view of computers and their place in listeners’ everyday lives. Airing Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 11:00 am, it is described as “a computer radio program for everyone!” Erik Semmel, VP of local firm, TAB Computer Systems hosts the show and provides real time answers to callers’ questions. To keep the topics fresh and informative, guests are brought in as a result of listener’s questions and suggestions. The extremely highly rated show (with a successful podcast spinoff) is geared towards the everyday computer user with questions about how their computer works and how to fix it when there is a problem. Semmel tells TALKERS, “We have been advising Connecticut’s computer users since Windows 95 through the big scare of Y2K to the scourge of today’s ransomware attacks. From PCs to laptops to smartphone to cutting the chord, ‘Computer Talk with TAB’ has been there to answer everyday peoples’ computer issues in an understandable way.”

Entercom to Offer $500 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a move announced today (3/11), Entercom Communications Corp announces its wholly owned subsidiary Entercom Media Corp plans to offer, subject to market conditions and other factors, $500 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured second-lien notes due 2029. The Issuer expects to use the net proceeds from the offering to redeem all of its 7.250% senior notes due 2024 and to partially repay existing indebtedness under their senior credit facilities. The Notes will be fully and unconditionally guaranteed on a senior secured second-lien basis by each direct and indirect subsidiary of the Issuer that guarantees the Issuer’s senior secured credit facility. The Notes and the related guarantees will be secured on a second-priority basis by liens on substantially all of the assets of the Issuer and the guarantors. They will be offered and sold only to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers.

Kirby Joins Broadcasters Foundation of America as General Counsel. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that Kathleen A. Kirby has been voted secretary and general counsel to the organization. Kirby, who is a Partner with Wiley Rein LLP Washington, DC and co-chair of the firm’s Telecom, Media & Technology group, takes over secretary and general counsel duties from Richard Bodorff, who will remain on the board of directors. Kirby’s practice involves advising some of the country’s largest media groups on regulatory and policy matters, representing radio and television stations in connection with the full realm of FCC compliance, and counseling clients on the sale and acquisition of broadcast properties. She says, “It’s an honor to follow Dick in the roles of secretary and general counsel for the Broadcasters Foundation. I’ve been a supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation, and I look forward to giving back even more by donating my time and energy to continuing the crucial mission of providing aid to those in our industry who need it most.” Kirby has long served as counsel to the Radio Television Digital News Association, advising electronic journalists on a variety of legal and legislative matters, including freedom of information, privacy, libel, content regulation, copyright, and other First Amendment issues. She is an inductee of the National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame and recipient of RTDNA’s prestigious First Amendment Leadership Award. Kirby is regularly rated by Chambers USA as one of Washington, DC’s “Leading Lawyers” in her field and has been recognized by Law 360 as a Legal MVP. Before attending law school, Kirby worked for almost a decade as a radio broadcaster in her native New York and in Connecticut, where she gained extensive experience first as a reporter and news anchor, then in management positions in operations, sales, and marketing.

TALKERS News Notes. The Virtual News Center announces that its services are now being used by Legend Communications of Wyoming, LLC’s “The Basin Radio Network” that consists of the five Gillette, Wyoming signals KIML-AM, KAML-FM, KLED-FM, KDDV-FM and KGWY-FM. Virtual News Center will provide newscasts for the network anchored daily by Roxanne Stuart…..vCreative co-founder and CEO Jinny Laderer is transitioning to the president emerita role on April 1 and Susie Hedrick will rise from president/COO to the CEO position. John Laderer, co-founder and chief technical officer will continue to serve the company in a consulting role. Hedrick has more than 25 years of experience in media technology and prior to joining vCreative, held executive roles at Marketron and WideOrbit…..WABC, New York says the weekend program “Ladies, It’s Not Our Fault, It’s Our Hormones and High Heels!” – starring fashionista Julie Sagoskin, nutritionist Jacqui Justice, and fitness guru Lisa Avellino – changes its name to “Ladies, What the F?” The program airs Sundays from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..ESPN Podcasts debuts the “Daily Wager Podcast” on Monday, March 15, and the first of four “Daily Wager Tournament Preview” radio specials will air on ESPN Radio on Saturday, March 20. The four “Daily Wager Tournament Preview” radio specials are planned for the time of the NCAA Tournament and will air on ESPN Radio at 9:00 am ET. In addition to the debut special on March 20, editions will air on March 21, March 27 and April 3…..Entercom Pittsburgh hosts the second “Giant Eagle Feed the Need Radiothon” to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Last year’s radiothon provided more than 1.5 million meals to the region and this year’s event will be broadcast live on news/talk KDKA-AM, sports talk KDKA-FM, as well as its two sister music stations.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Biden TV Address/Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, Iran Nuclear Talks, and Chinese Military Buildup Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/10). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s planned Thursday national TV address and his $1.9 trillion stimulus package; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the rapid military buildup in China were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats 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. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

| April 7, 2020

FCC Shoots Down Request for Investigation into Broadcasters Airing Presidential Press Conferences. Last week, the activist organization Free Press filed an emergency petition with the FCC calling on it to “investigate the spread of false Covid-19 information via broadcast outlets across the United States.”  Free Press co-CEO Jessica J. González and senior policy counsel Gaurav Laroia state, “The FCC possesses both the authority and the responsibility to ensure the public airwaves are utilized in the public interest.  This duty is heightened in times of crisis.  Specifically, broadcasters are prohibited from knowingly airing false information about a catastrophe that causes ‘substantial public harm.’”  Yesterday (4/6), the Commission’s Office of General Counsel and Media Bureau wholly rejected the petition saying it “seeks remedies that would dangerously curtail the freedom of the press embodied in the First Amendment and misconstrues the Commission’s rules.  The decision also makes clear that the FCC will neither act as a roving arbiter of broadcasters’ editorial judgments nor discourage them from airing breaking news events involving government officials in the midst of the current global pandemic.”  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quoted saying, “Under my leadership, the FCC has always stood firmly in defense of Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, including freedom of the press.  And so long as I am chairman of this agency, we always will.  The federal government will not—and never should—investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments simply because a special interest group is angry at the views being expressed on the air as well as those expressing them.  In short, we will not censor the news.  Instead, consistent with the First Amendment, we leave it to broadcasters to determine for themselves how to cover this national emergency, including live events involving our nation’s leaders.”

SportsGrid Shows to Air Across SB Nation Radio Network. Two of SportsGrid’s national talk shows – “Ferrall Coast to Coast” with Scott Ferrall and “Game Time Decisions” with Gabe Morency – will air on the SB Nation Radio schedule beginning April 14.  “Ferrall Coast to Coast” will air weekdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and “Game Time Decisions” will air from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET.  Ferrall comments, “This new opportunity allows me to reconnect with my long-time loyal listeners all over the country across the SB Nation network of radio stations. I’m looking forward to changing sportscasting by including the sports betting perspective and commentary to the millions of engaged fans.”

Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Emergency Grants. The Broadcasters Foundation of America’s executive committee of the board of directors held an emergency meeting recently to respond to broadcasters in financial need due to the coronavirus pandemic. The criteria for emergency grant qualifications has been revised to provide aid to broadcasters who meet the requirements and have been infected.  BFoA chairman Dan Mason says, “Never in our history as broadcasters have we experienced an event that has caused this much hardship.  Thus, we have revised provisions to our emergency grant eligibility guidelines.”  For more information, broadcasters in need can email grants@thebfoa.org or visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org/coronavirus.

Austin American-Statesman Launches New Streaming Talk Station. Former KLBJ-AM, Austin personality Jeff Ward is one of the Austin market radio pros to join the newest streaming venture from the Austin American-Statesman.  The new station – called the Statesman News Network – joins the news organization’s streaming music station Austin360 Radio as the paper’s next audio venture.  Ward will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program.  He says, “There will be plenty of common-sense rants.  But the goal of the show is always the same: I want you to find it compelling, and I want you to feel forced to think.”  The paper says that other shows lined up for the stream include: “From the Newsroom” featuring interviews from the staff of the newspaper; “512 Tech and Business Report,” a daily update on local business and technology news from Amy Edwards; “Longhorn Confidential,” breaking news, interviews and updates on the Texas Longhorns; “Austin Found,” in which Statesman reporter and Austin history buff Michael Barnes and radio personality JB Hager share the stories behind the making of the Texas capital; plus more.

PPM Analysis: February 2020 Extra. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents and “extra” look at Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey.  In this report, he presents a rank of the PPM markets based on weekly, 6+ AQH share for all spoken-word stations; a rank of the highest market-wide gains in spoken-word listening; a rank of the markets that lost the most 6+ share; and more.  See it all here.

Radio Pros, ‘Sterling On Sunday’ Keeps You on the Air.  The national radio show “Sterling On Sunday” invites laid off radio performers to participate in their on-air comedy routines and dramas.  “We have had a stunning array of top talent in our sketches such as Charlie Van Dyke, JJ Wilson, but mostly people who wish to remain anonymous due to their alimony situation.  If you can cut an mp3, we can write a part for you.”  “Sterling On Sunday” is aired (10:00 pm to 1:00 am) on major stations live such as KMBZ-FM, Kansas City; KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh; WPHT, Philadelphia; KFBK, Sacramento; plus about 100 more.  “Broadcasting from home is nothing new to us.  It’s the right way.  We will give you credit, script approval, and generally talk you up. Hear past shows at www.waltermsterling.com so you know what you’re getting into. No broadcaster should be off the air, it’s unnatural.  C’mon let’s make a show.  We also have a plan to pay you for helping our team clear the show…cash!”  Contact waltermsterling@gmail.com.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases and Death Toll, the Hydroxychloroquine Debate, Trump Fires Whistleblower, Financial Markets Activity, Boris Johnson in ICU, Wisconsin Primary, 5G-Coronavirus Conspiracy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Controversy, Chinese Journalist at WH Presser, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll; the medical and political debate over the effectiveness of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus; the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson; the world’s financial markets react to coronavirus news; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moves to the ICU for Covid-19 treatment; the battle between Wisconsin’s governor and the state Supreme Court over the primary elections; the conspiracy theory that 5G is exacerbating coronavirus symptoms; the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is removed for pleading for help for his coronavirus-infected crew; a Chinese journalist is admitted to the White House press briefing; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City Morning Host Sues Entercom for Discrimination.  Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City “96.5 The Buzz” morning host Afentra Bandokoudis has filed suit against Entercom Kansas City for “discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Equal Pay Act.”  She’s seeking back pay, benefits, bonuses, and more.  Bandokoudis’ complaint alleges that she was paid less than her male counterparts despite outperforming their shows.  She was paid a base salary of $100,000 and her PD/afternoon host Scott Geiger, a.k.a. Lazlo, made $185,000.  (Bandokoudis and Geiger were married from 2005 through July of 2018, a month before Bandokoudis was fired from the station.)  She alleges Johnny Dare, morning host on sister rock station KQRC, made more than $185,000 despite her show outperforming his.  Bandokoudis goes on to claim that after she complained about the par disparity, she was subject to retaliatory actions before ultimately being let go in 2018.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At iHeartMedia’s Chicago hip hop WGCI, Zach Boog is named the new evening host, taking over for DJ MoonDawg, who exited during the company’s January restructuring.  He’d been filling in on the daypart along with other WGCI staffers.  Station PD Johnnie D. Glover says, “It is an honor to promote Zach to nights on 107.5 WGCI.  He is extremely entertaining, works hard to produce compelling content, and has a very organic way of connecting with Chicago listeners.  Zach has a bright future and I look forward to working with him to create many exciting memories with 107.5 WGCI’s audience.”…..Griffin Communications CHR KHTT, Tulsa “106.9 K-Hits” brings Kacy Termini aboard as co-host of the new “Chubbs & Kacy Show” to debut on Monday (4/13).  She comments, “I’ve been so impressed with what ‘K-Hits’ and the Griffin brands have been able to do in our community.  Every time something happens, they step up to help their neighbors and keep them safe and informed.  Especially at such a trying time for many.  I’m excited to work with Chubbs and do our part to make Green Country even more special.  We still need to laugh – in both the hard times and the good ones!”…..Condolences to the family and friends of programming pro John Roberts, who passed away recently after a esophageal cancer.  He’d been serving as regional operations manager for Townsquare Media in Tyler, Texas.  Townsquare SVP of programming Kurt Johnson says, “John was a true pro, one of the best our business has ever seen.  But more importantly he was a great friend to everyone, and he made a huge impact on his family, his staff, his community, and basically with everyone he met.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

| March 3, 2020

Todd Herman Returns to KTTH, Seattle for Mornings. In Seattle, Bonneville moves talk show host Todd Herman across the hall to conservative news/talker KTTH to host the morning show, replacing Saul Spady.  Herman had been the afternoon drive host at KTTH before becoming one-third of the “Candy, Mike and Todd” show that replaced “Ron and Don” in afternoons on sister KIRO-FM in January of 2019.  That show lasted just a year.  Station program director Mike Salk says, “There is no one with more passion for his beliefs than Todd.  He connects with his audience and creates a lasting bond.  We’re thrilled to return his energy to our Northwest listeners.”

Cumulus and Nielsen Extend; Add Continuous Diary Measurement in 14 Markets. This deal between Cumulus Media and Nielsen Audio runs through 2022 and extends Nielsen Audio Measurement services for the company while adding Continuous Diary Measurement for 120 stations in 14 markets and the Local Nielsen Media Impact service for its Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago markets.  Nielsen says Local NMI provides “unparalleled local media planning and cross-platform optimization including TV, radio and digital outlets in each of the 44 Local NMI markets.”  Cumulus EVP operations Bob Walker comments, “We are eager to work with Nielsen to evolve how we measure the changing consumer landscape with audio.  This extension helps us understand how Continuous Diary Measurement and Local Nielsen Media Impact may help drive advertising results while we work together to measure audio engagement for local station content and national network content moving forward.”

Seton Hall Disinvites WABC’s Sid Rosenberg from 2020 Election Panel. In story by Thomas Schwartz posted to Seton Hall’s The Setonian, WABC, New York talk host Sid Rosenberg is being disinvited to the Seton Hall campus for the WABC Town Hall event scheduled for March 10 after students protested.  The “Election Central Decision 2020” discussion was to have included Rosenberg along with WABC midday co-host Juliet Huddy and moderator Seton Hall professor Matthew Hale, Ph.D., but student Stefan Ferreira posted some of the controversial comments Rosenberg made on the air over the years – including the one referencing singer Kylie Minogue’s cancer diagnosis that got him fired from the “Imus in the Morning” program in 2005 – and the backlash caused the school to rescind Rosenberg’s invitation to the campus.  Neither the station nor Rosenberg have commented publicly.

John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Media, Inc. Closes on WABC, New York. It’s now official. The deal to transfer ownership of news/talk icon WABC, New York from Cumulus Media to Red Apple Media has been completed. WABC announced Monday (3/2) that the iconic New York City news/talk radio station has been acquired by Red Apple Media Inc., a subsidiary of Red Apple Group, Inc. which owns and operates assets in the energy, real estate, finance, insurance, and supermarket industries. John Catsimatidis, founder, chairman, president and CEO, Red Apple Group, confirmed that the transaction to acquire the storied talk radio station was completed, effective today. “We look forward to working with this legendary New York staple radio station with all of its employees and talent,” says Catsimatidis. “It is exciting for our company to be stepping into the broadcasting industry with WABC as the anchor for our growing media assets.” Chad Lopez, VP/market manager, WABC, notes, “This is truly a great day for 77 WABC, its listeners and advertising partners. We’re thrilled that John Catsimatidis, a true New Yorker, has acquired WABC and are excited to move forward together into the bright future of talk radio in New York City. John’s passion for radio, along with his appreciation of the rich history of the station, makes this partnership ideal as we work together to give New York City what it deserves: the best news/talk station in the city.” Dave LaBrozzi, program director, WABC, adds, “John Catsimatidis shares the same vision and passion for building WABC, and having him join us is going to be such a great asset to this station. We know that this new step for WABC will help the station to achieve its highest potential.” WABC will reportedly continue its current programming lineup, which includes a mix of locally produced and nationally syndicated shows. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following comment on the acquisition: “This is quite possibly the most important radio ownership transaction of the past several years. A local business person with significant assets who has demonstrated a lifetime love for radio acquires a major market heritage station with the promise of strengthening its service. This could be just the model that sets the stage for radio’s next renaissance! The industry’s eyes and ears will be on this one.”

Nathan James Assumes Digital Content Manager Role at SummitMedia Omaha. Marketing and digital content pro Nathan James joins SummitMedia’s Omaha station group to serve as digital content manager.  James was most recently director of marketing partnerships and promotions for Adams Radio Group in Salisbury, Maryland.  The company says that James will “oversee the creation and implementation of a new ‘360’ digital content generation strategy plan, as well as other digital marketing and promotion efforts for each of the Omaha brands.”  He’ll work with new promotions director Rome Voltmer “to create organic digital and promotional content, develop unique tentpole events, and custom campaigns for current and future clients.”

Radio Companies Presenting at Investors Conferences. Both radio and digital giant iHeartMedia and smaller market operator Townsquare Media will be at Deutsche Bank’s 28th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference March 10 in Palm Beach.  iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman and COO/CFO Rich Bressler will participate in a question-and-answer session on that day.  A live webcast of the session will be available to the public through a link on the investors homepage of iHeartMedia’s website.  Townsquare Media executives will appear at both the Deutsche Bank conference and at the Guggenheim Broadcasting Symposium at Guggenheim Partners’ offices on March 5.  At the Guggenheim Broadcasting Symposium, CEO Bill Wilson and CFO Stuart Rosenstein will be available for one-on-one meetings with investors.  At the Deutsche Bank conference, Wilson will participate and be available for one-on-one meetings with investors.

TALKERS News Notes. Georgia talk show host Erick Erickson reports that his daily, statewide syndicated midday show (separate from his PM drive show on WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta) responded to news that Georgia now has two cases of the coronavirus by leveraging his statewide radio presence to help government officials reach listeners across Georgia.  Erickson reports that both Senator David Perdue and Governor Brian Kemp joined him on his show to discuss the situation in Georgia.  This Friday, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to also join the program to talk about the spread of the virus inside the United States.  Erickson’s show is distributed by the Georgia News Network…..Genuine Austin Radio’s sports talker KTXX-FM/KTAE-AM/K270CO, Austin makes a talent shuffle. Midday personalities Brad Kellner and Rod Babers move to PM drive alongside Kevin DunnChad Hastings leaves PM drive to co-host middays with Trey Elling.  Jeff Howe and Craig Way are the new late-morning show.  Bucky Godbolt and Erin Hogan remain the morning drive hosts…..Cumulus Media gives up the licenses for two AM stations.  Gone from the company’s portfolio are WRWM-AM, Macon, Georgia and KSLZ-AM, Amarillo, Texas.  WRWM had been airing a sports talk format as “1500 The Fan.”  KSLZ had been dark for the better part of the last year…..Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis and the MLB’s Minnesota Twins announce a multiyear broadcast extension through the 2023 season. WCCO continues to serve as the team’s flagship station and, for the first time, all spring training, regular season, and postseason games will also air on sister country outlet KMNB-FM “102.9 The Wolf.”…..Talk host Michael Patrick Shiels, whose morning show is syndicated across Michigan, is again producing his show on March 17 live from Benner’s Hotel in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland in celebration St. Patrick’s Day.  Shiels says, “We will provide live coverage of the Dingle Parade as it passes down Main Street in front of Benner’s Hotel.  We will also interview many of Dingle’s colorful community leaders, characters, musicians, and more.  Benner’s general manager John Foley will discuss Ireland’s world-renowned hospitality and cuisine.  Shiels’ program has, in the past, featured the likes of “Riverdance’s” Michael Flatley, Irish President Mary Robinson, and Irish golf star Darren Clarke.

Beth Nifong Joins CMG Atlanta as GSM. Sales pro Beth Nifong joins Cox Media Group as general sales manager for the Atlanta cluster that includes news/talk juggernaut WSB-AM/WSBB-FM and three music brands.  She was most recently GSM for Beasley Media Group’s Charlotte station group.  CMG Atlanta director of sales Jaleigh Long says, “Beth Nifong is a strategic leader with a proven track record for driving client results and developing top talent.  I’m confident that Beth will propel the CMG integrated media sales organization into the future as we continue to drive a thriving ROI for our clients and partners.”

Coronavirus, Presidential Race/Buttigieg and Klobuchar Exit, Financial Markets Activity, Chris Matthews Retires, Israeli Election, Jack Welch Dies, and Kobe Bryant Crash Scene Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/2). The status of the coronavirus pandemic; Democratic candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar drop out of the race the day before Super Tuesday; the U.S. financial markets rebound after the previous week’s record losses; MSNBC talk host Chris Matthews retires unexpectedly in the aftermath of allegations of sexist behavior; the Israeli election and Benjamin Netanyahu’s future as Israel’s leader; former General Electric chief Jack Welch dies; and the LA deputies accused of taking and sharing photos of the Kobe Bryant crash scene were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

PPM Analysis: Rhythmic CHRTALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the rhythmic CHR format.  While more than 50% of rhythmic CHR stations in PPM markets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go up compared to the Holiday 2019 survey, 67% of those stations saw those ratings decrease from January 2019 to January 2020.  See the entire report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Dallas country outlet KPLX “99.5 The Wolf” announces that “The All-New Wake Up With the Wolf Show” now features Brian Moote and Tara as co-hosts.  Moote joins the Cumulus Media station from his most recent gig as a cast member of “The Bert Show” and Tara was most recently host of the morning show on iHeartMedia’s crosstown hot AC KDMX “NOW 102.9.”…..Programming pro Brad Steiner is appointed program director for three of Cumulus Media’s New Orleans radio stations: alternative WZRH “ALT 92.3,” country WRKN “NASH Icon 106.1,” and classic hits KKND “106.7 The Krewe.”  He comes to New Orleans from Chattanooga where he was APD and afternoon drive host  at CHR WDOD-FM “Hits 96.”…..WBAB, Babylon, New York (Long Island) morning personality John “JP” Parise is being honored by the Town of Babylon for his 20 years on the air at the station with a road named after him.  Town supervisor Rich Schaffer, deputy supervisor Tony Martinez and the rest of the town board are renaming a portion of West 15th Street in Deer Park “John ‘JP’ Parise Way.”  Parise grew up on the block and lived there until his mid-20s.  He host the rock WBAB morning show with partner Roger Luce…..SummitMedia brings Tamo Sein aboard to host the midday show at hot AC WURV, Richmond “Play 103.7” and KQCH, Omaha “Channel 94.1.”  Sein – who was most recently on air hosting middays at iHeartMedia’s alternative KYSR, Los Angeles “ALT 98.7” until exiting last August – will voice track the show for KQCH.