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By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
You’re certainly seeing the articles, interviews, research, and industry visibility showcasing the recent resurgence in the host read commercial. Longtime sellers, managers, owners, all know the host read never really went away. From the days of Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson to today’s talk radio talent, many of whom can be identified by just one name – Rush, Howard, Rome – they all kept talking and reading the bullet points.
Monday Memo: Attention Is Not for Sale. What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter and Google. And broadcasters and podcasters are buying. And as consultant Holland Cooke warns, “If you’re broadcasting and not also podcasting, you’re late.” In this week’s column HC offers 7 tips “before you spend a dime on social media ads.” Read it here.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies/Supreme Court Justice Battle, the Presidential Race, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Western Wildfires, the TikTok Deal, Tropical Storm Beta, and the Emmy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the battle over the nomination for her seat; the November presidential election; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the wildfires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington; the deal to allow Oracle to acquire the U.S. version of TikTok; Tropical Storm Beta bears down on the Gulf Coast; and Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: What’s That Computer Doing? Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about what radio sales people have to offer that programmatic sales cannot. Read more here.
Pandemic Forces Changes at Atlanta Sports Talk “680 The Fan.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Dickey Broadcasting Company-owned WCNN-AM “680 The Fan” has let a number of air staff go in a move forced by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on company revenue. Morning drive personality Stephen “Steak” Shapiro and early afternoon host John Kincade are both out, as is WFOM-AM/W292EV “Xtra 106.3” host Mark Zinno. The company has moved talent from “Xtra 106.3” to WCNN and will now simulcast all programs across all of the signals. Moving to mornings alongside Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran is John Michaels. “Hometeam” Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton move to “The Fan” in the 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot, and Hutson Mason and Tug Cowart join Buck Belue for the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. John Kincade had worked alongside Belue for the past 20 years.
WFLA, Tampa Morning Personality Jack Harris Celebrates 50 Years on Air. A piece in the Tampa Bay Times recognizes WFLA morning host Jack Harris’ celebration of 50 years in the radio biz, almost all of it spent in the Tampa Bay market. The 79-year-old Harris got his start in his native West Virginia while still in high school. He’s been hosting the “AM Tampa Bay” program on iHeartMedia’s WFLA-AM, Tampa Bay for the past 27 years.
Mary Sandberg Boyle Upped to Vice President and General Manager for WGN-AM, Chicago. Rising from her general manager role to vice president and general manager at Nexstar Media Group’s WGN Radio is Mary Sandberg Boyle. The company says, “She joined WGN Radio in 2015, where she was instrumental in the development and launch of ‘The Opening Bell,’ a weekday morning business show. She has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility at WGN Radio, including executive producer, director of news and operations, and acting general manager. Sandberg Boyle was named WGN Radio’s general manager in December 2019 and has led the station through the current COVID-19 pandemic, initiating a series of new policies and procedures designed to improve workflow and keep the staff safe. She has also overseen a number of programming and personnel changes that have increased WGN Radio’s ratings, which are up 31% among adults 25 to 54 according to the latest available ratings.” Nexstar EVP Sean Compton says, “Mary has done an outstanding job under less than ideal circumstances. She is innovative, thoughtful and determined, and she has forged a great working relationship with the staff. She is a respected leader in Chicago media and this promotion is well-deserved. I look forward to WGN Radio’s continued growth under Mary’s guidance.”
TALKERS News Notes. WBAL-AM, Baltimore talk host Clarence Mitchell IV, a.k.a. C4, is named Best Radio Host by the readers of Baltimore Magazine in its 2020 Best of Baltimore Readers Poll. Mitchell had been serving as the Hearst Television station’s midday personality until this summer when he moved to morning drive as co-host alongside Bryan Nehman…..Sports media giant ESPN says that the unusual confluence of all major professional sports in August “heated up ESPN Podcast listenership, as ESPN posted its best month ever and grew 29% over August 2019.” ESPN Audio vice president, digital marketing and strategy Tom Ricks adds, “It is clear that when current events are on the mind of listeners – be it sports or politics – fans turn to our network of podcasts for the best in analysis, storytelling and discussion. As baseball heads towards the playoffs, the NFL starts up and the election comes closer, we are focused on delivering our best for fans in a time like no other.” ESPN says that according to the Podtrac Podcast Category Audience Rankings, in August ESPN was home to 13 of the top 30 podcasts, including five of the top 10. “The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz – which in August added two hours of podcast-exclusive content each weekday – ranked second with a unique audience of 1.282 million.”…..Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Podcast” featured President Donald Trump speaking with host Dan Bongino in which the president shared his thoughts on polling accuracy, Twitter, Section 230, and other topics…..FOX Sports Radio’s new iHeartRadio original podcast, “Lights Out with Shawne Merriman,” launched on Friday (9/18) and featured Merriman speaking with two-time NFL Pro Bowler Quentin Jammer about athletes and depression, and how he nearly committed suicide.
Joe Madison to Host ‘The Vote Must Go On’ Broadcast Special. Talk host Joe Madison will host a special program on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel titled, “The Vote Must Go On: In Person or By Mail,” that will air tomorrow (9/22) at 7:00 am ET. The program addresses issues such as how voters can safely and fairly cast their ballots amid the pandemic, the potential for voter suppression, voter fraud, and more. Madison will lead the discussion that will include top elected officials from several states – representing both parties – along with members of Congress including: Ellen L. Weintraub, Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Election Commission; Debra Cleaver, founder and CEO of VoteAmerica; Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman and House Oversight Committee Chair; Scott T. Nago, Hawaii Chief Election Officer; Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, New Jersey Secretary of State; Kim Wyman, Secretary of State of Washington; and Bill Burgess, president of the Oregon Association of County Clerks.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Over the weekend, iHeartMedia presented the 10th edition of the iHeartRadio Music Festival with a virtual stream of performances on The CW App and CWTV.com, and a radio broadcast on iHeartMedia stations nationwide. The event featured performances from: Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, BTS, Coldplay, Kane Brown with special guests Khalid & Swae Lee, Keith Urban, Migos, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Rhett with surprise guest Jon Pardi, Usher and more, recorded live on stages in Nashville and Los Angeles. The CW Network will also broadcast the two-night televised on Sunday, September 27 (8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET) and Monday, September 28 (8:00pm to 10:00 pm ET)…..Broadcast Music Inc, Beasley Media Group, and Xperi’s HD Radio are launching a new radio program series titled “100 Years of Hit Makers.” Beasley says it’s part of a year-long campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast in the U.S., and to highlight the continuing importance of radio, especially in our current climate. The series will take acclaimed songwriters from the country, rock, and R&B/hip-hop genres and give music fans everywhere a behind the scenes glimpse into the writing of their hit songs. “100 Years of Hitmakers” will air on 33 Beasley Media Group radio stations, as well as on demand here.….Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB, Phoenix “ALT AZ 93-3” adds the Premiere Networks-syndicated morning program “The Woody Show” for the 5:00 am to 10:00 am daypart. As a result, “The Mo! Show” moves to the midday daypart.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter. Messages on your phone and computer find you based on what you’ve told the world via your posts. Advertisers are also buying Google keywords. They’re telling (or, if they’re smart, asking) you JUST enough to tempt you to click for more of the pitch.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — If you’ve been broadcasting remotely during the shutdown, and are daydreaming about getting back to what was left of radio station camaraderie, I’ll quote Cher from “Moonstruck:” “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
First the Good News: The reason you’re working remotely is because you’re still working.
They’ve fired everyone else, and more cutbacks are on the way; the bigger the company you work for, the more brutal it’ll be.
Talk Radio Faces Challenges After Weekend of Urban Strife Across America. The staffs at news and talk radio stations that are in touch with their communities were pulling extra duty over the weekend as protests over the death of George Floyd in cities across the country exploded into violent and destructive events. TALKERS magazine is in contact with programmers and air personalities whose stations have been covering the events, in some cases adding round-the-clock live programming to keep listeners informed. The violent protests come as the nation attempts to safely emerge from a months-long lockdown intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic, complicating an already difficult time in America and around the globe. Talk stations face the challenge of broadcasting to listeners who are living in a time that some observers have noted is like the Great Depression, the nationalist/fascist movements that preceded World War II, and the race riots of the 1960s all rolled into one. As this day progresses, TALKERS will present comments and thoughts about how they’re handling their broadcasting duties during this unique time in human history. We asked broadcasters to tell us how their station or talent are approaching this time of intense unrest. WABC, New York PD Dave LaBrozzi tells TALKERS that the outbreak of violence is the kind of situation that illustrates why it is so important for great news/talk stations to maintain live and local air talent with strong ties to the community and the trust of its citizens. He says, “When you have the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, on the streets every day and hosting a three hour midday talk show and you have the former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, on the air every day from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm you get insight and information that no other New York station can provide.” LaBrozzi adds that it is important to book guests of that same caliber stating, “Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and former police detective Bo Dietl share their wisdom and insight along with other high profile experts to keep listeners informed and safe all day long.” Salem Media Group and Salem Radio Network SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce offered the following to his talent: “As you know, the situation in many of our cities is volatile, thanks primarily due to outside agitators. We all looked at the video of the death of George Floyd and were disturbed. We all know that does not represent how most police officers respond. Here are a few pointers about how we can handle this difficult situation: 1) Be very careful what you say about this. Most of our listeners respect the rule of law and want to support law and order candidates. If you know of a candidate who is sympathizing with the anarchists, point that out. But be careful how we do it. 2) We can be a calming influence in each of our communities. Let the public know that we hear the pain and hurt they are expressing, but further violence is not the way to express it. Let them know that we all should support the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities, and also deal with this tragic situation. 3) Think through all of your comments and positions. This is not a time to ‘shoot from the lip.’ Be respectful of the other side, while at the same time being forceful in condemning acts of violence that threaten to tear apart our communities.” At Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM, Chicago, brand manager and news director Ron Gleason says, “Because WBBM is all-news around the clock on a daily basis, our staff is ready at any time for major breaking news. But the magnitude of what’s happening, especially on the coattails of the Covid-19 pandemic, means extraordinary times lead to extraordinary measures. We’ve not only staffed up on reporters, we’ve also increased the role of traffic which is used to watching the streets on a minute-by-minute basis. When something requires non-stop coverage, that’s what we do. And while we have reporters live from multiple locations, we stress the importance of safety first. We have had protesters verbally confront a reporter, and we’ve had police redirect reporters, but I’m happy to say everyone is safe. The toughest part of coverage was getting our anchors and behind-the-scenes producers and editors access to our facility, as the city has shut off the main arteries into the downtown area. Eventually we figured out the work-arounds, and nobody listening would know of any issue – except of course, we’re reporting all the closures.” WPHT, Philadelphia midday host Dom Giordano tells TALKERS, “The way I’m handling the crisis on the air is to be covering it in the field and bringing that sound back to my show, allowing more callers on than usual to be able to vent, and highlighting people who are volunteering to clean up attacked stores, or are banding together to peacefully protect stores from looting.”
TALKERS EXCLUSIVE: Michael Harrison Talks with SirusXM Satellite Radio ‘Urban View’ Channel Morning Host Joe Madison. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison engaged in a conversation recorded yesterday afternoon (5/31) with Joe Madison of SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the highest-ranking African American radio talk show host on the publication’s Heavy Hundred list, about the race relations crisis in America. Madison says he suspects President Trump is prepping the country to invoke martial law if the violence continues. He also thinks the violence is being perpetrated by destructive provocateurs and not the peaceful demonstrators. He believes the violence would be curtailed “if the other three officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were arrested tonight.” To listen to an excerpt of the conversation, please click here The complete interview will be posted tomorrow in the podcast, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”
TALKERS EXCLUSIVE: WPG, Atlantic City Morning Host Harry Hurley Pulls All-Nighter Dispatching Police, Interviewing Officials, and Taking Calls. Often referred to as the “Morning Mayor of Atlantic City,” talk show host Harry Hurley proved that he is indeed a community leader by demonstrating exactly to what heights radio can rise in the midst of a community crisis. Listen to him tell his story to Michael Harrison in a conversation recorded shortly after he completed his program and extended stint this morning (6/1) by clicking here.
Monday Memo: June? So Soon? Early March seems forever-ago, yet like yesterday. Life under quarantine has blurred the listener routines we need to be part of. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers plain talk about radio’s challenges pre-, during, and post-pandemic. And why you want to play a song from 1967 on Wednesday. Read it here.
Protests Across America, Trump vs Antifa, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The violent protests over the police killing of George Floyd that erupted over the weekend in numerous cities across the country; President Trump’s declaration that the Antifa movement will be classified as a terrorist organization; the tally of COVID-19 cases, death toll, and projections for future cases; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Yogi Got It. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that radio sellers used to promising retailers that their ad campaign would “pack the place,” need to come up with a new goal. What is that goal? “What’s new, different, and important today is your new page in the game plan. ‘New’ can be your best marketing friend as you re-focus on the marketing messaging.” Read his column here.
Joe Walsh Back in Talk Radio on GAB Network and WCGO, Chicago. According to a press release from GAB Radio Network, Joe Walsh – former Illinois congressman and former WIND-AM talk show host – is geting back in the talk radio biz after leaving to challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination. Walsh famously left his position with Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM and the Salem Radio Network last summer saying he’s “done with talk radio.” Now, Walsh will host a live 11:00 am to 1:00 pm ET show in national syndication via GAB Radio Network. His program will air delayed on WCGO, Chicago from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, local time. Walsh says, “I’m excited to be back on the radio. This country is too divided. We need to get folks out of their corners and listening to each other. That’s what I’ve always done with radio, and I think there’s a hunger for an honest voice out there.” WCGO and GAB Radio Network general manager Chuck Duncan says he feels “Joe’s passion and patriotism come at a critical time in our nation’s history, and it’s important for all perspectives on America’s direction be made available to every city in every state. We are honored to present this important forum to Joe at an essential time and look forward to having Joe’s voice heard throughout Chicago on WCGO as well as making ‘The Joe Walsh Show’ available to every concerned station’s lineup through our GAB Radio Network.”
TALKERS News Notes. WIND-AM, Chicago morning news anchor and co-host Amy Jacobson and employer Salem Media Group are suing Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for banning Jacobson from his then-daily coronavirus pandemic press briefings after Jacobson spoke at a rally protesting Pritzker’s lockdown order. The governor’s office says Jacobson represents a talk show with a “particular point of view” and as a result she forfeits her status as a “reporter.” Jacobson and Salem argue that the governor’s ban violates Jacobson’s First Amendment rights. Salem and Jacobson are asking the court to take action to immediately allow her back into the briefings…..Former KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City talk show host Jay Mcfarland is featured in a piece in the Daily Herald as he runs for a seat in Congress. Mcfarland exited KSL last July and is one of four Republicans in the race for the U.S. Rep. seat in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Mcfarland says he is positioning himself as someone who can bridge the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats in Congress…..In another politics-meets-talk-radio story, Minnesota Public Radio reports that former Minneapolis (and nationally syndicated) talk host Jason Lewis secured the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) in November. Lewis served as a U.S. Rep. for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before losing his re-election bid to Democrat Angie Craig in the fall of 2018.…..During times when major news events cause sports talk radio broadcasters to address those issues, they can face criticism from those who tell them to “stick to sports.” Obviously, this is one of those times. Mile High Sports president and CEO Nate Lundy penned an insightful piece that directly confronts that dictate. (Mile High Sports operates KDCO-AM/K248CI in Denver.) In the piece he writes, “I personally do not have any patience for the ‘stick to sports’ crowd. I will never, under any circumstances, tell our team of writers, hosts and staff to do so. Our opinions are not substandard simply because of our job description. And we believe the same about each of you. We may not agree with your opinion about the Rockies, but we support your right to think and share it.”…..Denver is not the only place where sports talk hosts are talking about social and political issues with no apologies. In Buffalo, Jeremy White of the “Howard & Jeremy” show on Entercom’s WGR “550 SportsRadio” told listeners, “I do totally understand someone that says like, ‘I come to you guys to get away from what’s going on.’ But then of course there are going to be times when that is not possible. And today what’s going on in Minneapolis, this is not possible to do, to stay away from all this stuff… There’s just so much that’s built into this. Like, ‘this is a sports station.’ That’s right. We’re also humans on this station. I care about people. I care about a lot of people. What else matters today in the world, right now? The idea that like, ‘Oh it’s just a difference of opinion.’ It’s not anymore. It’s about humanity. It’s not about opinions anymore.”…..A new podcast from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and spoken media specialty agency Oxford Road is being unveiled called “The Bongino Brief,” hosted by former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer and New York Times best-selling author Dan Bongino. WWO says “The Bongino Brief” launches today and is available through smart speakers. Westwood One says it and Oxford Road are partnering to lead the development of personality-driven flash briefing programs in the smart speaker marketplace by offering flash briefings from one of the top podcasters in the world. This marks the next form of short-format streaming media, as personalities and not just news come to the format…..The WRKO, Boston-based “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong, Chuck Zodda and Mike Armstrong” adds a new affiliate station as Townsquare Media’s WBEC-AM, Pittsfield, Massachusetts puts the show in its lineup for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The show is heard on 15 stations across New England.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In honor of Black Music Month, iHeartMedia announces it will celebrate with exclusive audio vignettes from some of today’s top urban artists. The company says the celebration will “honor the incredible achievements of Black musicians and their influential contribution to the world of music.” Beginning today (6/1), iHeartMedia will air special audio messages from artists including H.E.R, Flipp Dinero, and Russ and more as they celebrate the impact and achievements of Black musicians who have influenced their lives such as Beyonce, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Ludacris, Michael Jackson, Notorious B.I.G., Prince, Tupac, and many more. iHeartMedia EVP of urban/hip hop programming strategy Doc Wynter says, “With community and personal connection being more important now than ever before, we’re honored to be able to celebrate the significant impact that Black music has had on all of us. We’re thrilled to be able to bring our listeners’ favorite artists together to support one another with inspiring messages from artists like H.E.R. who will pay tribute to the legendary Lauryn Hill, and Russ who will celebrate the important contributions that his fellow Atlanta native, Ludacris has made on Black Music.”…..Radio One launches its “We Are One: Feeding the Community Campaign.” It says it is partnering with the music community to feed hundreds of families as many are feeling the significant financial strain as a result of these tough economic times. Radio One’s 53 stations will come together across its 15 markets to feed families in their localities by giving away meals provided by local minority-owned restaurants.