TALKERS EXCLUSIVE: Mike Bendixen of Canada’s Bell Media Checks in with Covid-19 Input for U.S. Radio Broadcasters. The program director of CFRB, Toronto “Newstalk 1010” and national news/talk format director of Canada’s Bell Media has checked in with TALKERS this morning (4/2) to discuss how his station and broadcasting company has been handling the coronavirus crisis. Mike Bendixen and Michael Harrison discuss remote broadcasting, upgrading technology, accurate messaging, and politics as well as the short and long term impact this crisis will have on radio listening in general. Bendixen offers sound advice based on his experience. Warning: the following dialogue contains some raw language. To listen to this morning’s conversation between Mike Bendixen and Michael Harrison, please click here.
Entercom Notifies Employees of Pay Reductions, Furloughs, and Eliminated Positions. In a memo to employees this morning (4/2), Entercom CEO David Field announced the company is taking the painful steps of eliminating or furloughing a “significant” number of positions. Here’s his memo to staffers: “Thank you for your resilience, dedication and fortitude as we manage through the extraordinarily challenging and disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all doing our best to ensure that our loved ones remain safe and healthy while working tirelessly to serve our listeners, customers, and communities. I am deeply appreciative of everything you are doing to keep us moving forward under these difficult conditions. We are fortunate to work in an industry that plays such an important role in our country at a time of crisis, providing a critically important and trusted local voice for news and information as well as entertainment, companionship and respite during these uncertain times. Unfortunately, the severity of the situation necessitates us making significant cost reductions in order to cope with the realities at hand. Our nation is facing unprecedented disruption that has shut down countless businesses and entire industries, including many of our customers. This is having a very large impact on advertising revenues. We must take hard but necessary actions to ensure that we endure the crisis and emerge as a strong, healthy and competitive company. I am deeply saddened that we need to make these painful moves at this time, but they are necessary under the circumstances. We are doing everything in our power to minimize the number of layoffs through shared sacrifice across the organization, but we will still need to eliminate or furlough a significant number of positions. In order to make the transition less painful for our colleagues, we will be providing up to an extra month of additional severance for those individuals for whom their normal severance and the recently announced enhanced federal unemployment benefits provide less support. In addition, we will be providing enhanced employee benefits for furloughed team members. We will also be taking other cost reduction actions at this time, including the temporary suspension of our dividend and our 401(k) Company match, the elimination of Q1 and Q2 bonuses, and temporary salary reductions of between 10% and 20% for anyone earning a salary in excess of $50,000 per year. I will be taking a 30% salary reduction. We hope to restore regular salaries, bonus eligibility and our 401(k) plan match at the start of the third quarter. I very much appreciate the sacrifice that people will be making in these difficult times. We will get through this crisis and put this all behind us. Better days lie ahead. With the tough but necessary actions we are now taking, we are doing what is required for us to preserve the health of the company and ensure that we are strong when we get to the other side. Our future is further protected by our strong financial position with substantial cash reserves and virtually no debt due before 2024. And when the crisis abates, we look forward to resuming our growth and building on our strong strategic position as a leader in the audio business, including the best lineup of local radio stations in the United States. I deeply appreciate your dedication and commitment and look forward to better times ahead. We will be following up with additional information shortly. Yours, David.”
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Joins Newsmax TV. Joining Newsmax TV as a contributor is former Virginian Governor Bob McDonnell. Newsmax says that McDonnell “brings a wealth of experience, having served 14 years in the Virginia General Assembly, as Virginia’s Attorney General, and as the commonwealth’s 71st governor from 2010-2014.” He’ll serve as a political and legal analyst for the 24/7 cable news network, covering the Trump administration, the 2020 presidential race, and the significant issues of the day. Newsmax TV chief content officer and EVP of programming Elliott Jacobson says, “Bob has had a long and distinguished career in public service and intimately knows the ins and outs of government and politics. He’s a very valuable addition to our growing roster of distinguished commentators on Newsmax TV.”
Entercom Files Motion to Dismiss Discrimination Suit by Former WIP-AM, Philadelphia Account Executive. Back in mid-January, former WIP-AM, Philadelphia account executive Maria McBride filed a sex-based discrimination and breach of contract suit against Entercom Communications. In the suit, she alleges she was touched inappropriately, and stared at by her superior; claims she was overworked tending to promotions because of failure on the promotions department to staff events; she developed health issues as a result of her working conditions and alleges the company did nothing to help. She also claims she was denied a bonus in violation of her contract and eventually fired. Yesterday (4/1), Entercom filed a 30-page Motion to Dismiss in New Jersey federal court, arguing McBride didn’t sufficiently demonstrate her claims of a hostile work environment, of retaliation, of breach of contract, nor the other claims. Entercom also argues that if the Court allows the case to go forward, it be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
TALKERS News Notes. Self-described financial expert William Neil “Doc” Gallagher (he didn’t have a state investment advisers license in Texas), who brokered time for his “The Money Doctor” show on Dallas market stations KAAM-AM, KSKY-AM, KLTY-FM, and KWRD-FM, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding some 60 investors of more than $20 million. The Dallas News reports that Gallagher targeted elderly Christians with his rhetoric on the radio and even published a book titled, Jesus Christ, Money Master. The 79-year-old Gallagher pleaded guilty and must pay more than $10 million in restitution…..Talk host Jon Patch celebrates 30 years on the radio hosting the syndicated “Talkin’ Pets” program. The three-hour, weekly show is syndicated by GAB Network. Patch says, “If you live life with a pet or just have a love for animals, then ‘Talkin’ Pets’ is the show for you. We have many listeners who don’t even have pets since the show is always riveting, passionate, fun, and overall pure entertainment like no other pet show in the country. This formula has worked for 30 years and we look forward to many more years to come. Thanks to all of our affiliate stations coast to coast for their dedication to ‘Talkin’ Pets.’”…..NPR announces that Michael Smith joins the organization as chief marketing officer. Smith was most recently SVP and general manager of digital channels for Scripps Network. NPR president and CEO John Lansing says, “Michael is a strategic thinker and an extremely creative media executive who has spent his career finding new ways people consume content across an increasingly diverse audience population. He is joining NPR at a time when we must extend the reach of our content beyond our traditional audiences to fully serve the American public and he is uniquely qualified to help us do so.”…..Pictured below is Genesis Communications Network-syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs giving blood in her home town of Las Vegas. She says, “As you are aware, blood banks are in dire need of blood and they are asking whomever can brave it to donate without getting exposed. Vitalant here ran a great ship today, keeping everyone at a distance as Nevada received today a ‘stay at home order.’”
U.S. Coronavirus Numbers and Death Toll, Financial Markets Activity, Recession Fears, Dr. Fauci Threatened, Churches Defying Anti-Gathering Policies, Russia Sends Supplies to U.S., and the Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/1). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus; economists express fears of a prolonged recession in the wake of the pandemic; director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci gets security because of threats; some churches in the South refusing to honor the non-gathering policy; Russia sends military plane with medical supplies to the U.S.; and Joe Biden calls for the postponement of the Democratic National Convention were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Salem Radio Network Talk Star Mike Gallagher and Former BS&T Lead Singer David Clayton-Thomas Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. In a rare “double feature,” two guests share the bill on this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The podcast features conversations with two colorful communicators – each isolating at home during the coronavirus crisis. Each with a different political view of today’s world. First is Salem Radio Network conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher from his condo in Tampa, Florida where he broadcasts his daily show from a remote set up in his kitchen. That’s followed by well-known singer/songwriter, David Clayton-Thomas, former lead vocalist for Blood, Sweat & Tears, from his condo in Toronto, Canada. Clayton-Thomas has just released a powerfully, opinionated solo album of “protest songs” addressing a variety of today’s hottest issues from a liberal perspective. According to Harrison, “Both of these fine men, whom I’ve known over the decades, have a lot to say about the world and having them both appear on this installment of the program while isolating during the crisis creates a marvelous kind of symmetry.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column of every page on Talkers.com.
Talkers Convention Postponed Until Friday, October 16. The 23rd annual presentation of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important annual gathering originally scheduled for Friday June 5 has been officially postponed until Friday, October 16 due to the coronavirus crisis. This year, the event – held in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of TALKERS – is titled, Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station, and will still take place at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. In announcing the change of date, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “We are hopeful and optimistic that the circumstances going forward will be conducive for an event of this nature to be feasible slightly more than a half year from now. We will do our best to hold together the agenda that we’ve already established, but are cognizant that, to a certain extent, we will be rebuilding it to conform to the specifics of the times and events that take place between now and then. If circumstances are such that this crisis continues through the second half of 2020, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. All paid registrations and sponsorships already accepted will be honored for the new date. However, we will cease all promotion and recruitment for new and additional speakers, sponsors and registrants until at least the first week of May out of respect for the urgency and priority this crisis presents to our industry’s dedicated, hard-pressed professionals.” For more information please call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In New York City, Alex Roman is promoted to the newly created chief technology officer position for Mediaco’s hip hop WQHT “Hot 97” and urban AC WBLS. He rises from the director of integrated technology post in which he’s been serving since 2011. Mediaco president and COO Patrick Walsh says, “Alex’s experience and insights are invaluable as we continue to build multichannel digital platforms for WBLS and ‘Hot 97.’ There simply is not anyone like him in our industry and I’m pleased that with this move to CTO we can count on Alex being an important part of our leadership team in the coming years.”…..Quibi announces that iHeartMedia becomes a partner of the new “Pop5” daily, music news show. The program, produced by Mission Control Media, is hosted by Tim Kash. It’s described as “a colorful collage of must-know information about pop music today.” Launching April 6, “Pop5 by iHeartRadio” will premiere a new episode every weekday, as part of Quibi’s Daily Essentials programming…..iHeartMedia is hosting its first ever virtual book club in partnership with social retail platform talkshoplive as it celebrates the release of Alicia Keys’ book, More Myself: A Journey (2020, Flatiron Books), on April 10 at 5:00 pm ET. The virtual book club will feature an intimate conversation between Alicia Keys and iHeartRadio on-air personality Angie Martinez.
WestwoodOne’s Paul Caine Touts Radio to Fishbowl. Contributor Diane Clehane (left) writes about her recent lunch with WestwoodOne CEO Paul Caine (right) in Fishbowl. In addition to covering how Caine arrived at WestwoodOne from Time Inc. and detailing what programming WestwoodOne offers, the two discuss audio’s place in the media landscape. Caine cites recent research that he says demonstrates why audio is so effective. Clehane writes Caine gave her the exclusive on “the preliminary findings of the biometric research conducted by the company in comparing consumer response to video, audio and text. The study found the video was the most passive medium for consumers and revealed that audio prompts the most brain activity among users. ‘Audio creates the greatest amount of theater in the consumers’ mind. It is a deeply connective medium.’ I get it — who doesn’t try to picture what their favorite deejay or commentator looks like when listening in the car? (I was heartened to learn that Delilah from ‘The Light at Night’ is as lovely as she sounds) Yes, said Paul. ‘When people meet who they listen to on the radio, they are usually blown away.’ As far as those celebrities like [Dennis] Miller, [Charles] Osgood and [Billy] Bush who spend hours on the radio, it only enhances their brand across other platforms. ‘Celebrities love radio, because it makes their presence stronger.’ And advertisers, says Paul, ‘like radio because it accelerates their print and television messages.’” Read the entire piece here. Photo: Fishbowl
Dan Patrick Partners with PodcastOne for Distribution and Ad Sales. Sports talk icon Dan Patrick – who hosts a daily sports talk program simulcast on DirecTV and Fox Sports Radio Network – is entering into a deal with Norm Pattiz’s PodcastOne, a division of Courtside Entertainment Group. Patrick’s podcast is now available on demand and is exclusively represented to national advertisers by PodcastOne Sales, the company’s in-house rep firm. Pattiz comments, “Nobody does sports talk better than Dan Patrick. Nobody does on demand audio better than we do. So it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that we’re teaming up for the benefit of listeners and advertisers. With the addition of Dan Patrick, the list of stars on the PodcastOne platform has just become significantly brighter.”
Michael Savage Addresses Affiliates on Conference Call. Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Savage spoke to affiliates on a conference call today at 12:00 noon ET addressing the program’s status as it prepares to move to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET slot in January and begin being heard on Cumulus Media news/talk stations. Chief operating officer John Dickey introduced Savage by saying the company chose to work with him because of his proven abilities as a storyteller and raconteur. Savage assured affiliates that the show would not change dramatically in its new time slot and reminded them his program aired in drive time in the Pacific Time zone for years. He stated that as a news/talk program, talking about the issues of the day are its bread and butter and said politics is part of that. But he also said he would continue to talk about topics he knows his listeners want to hear about outside of the realm of politics. Savage moves to his new daypart in the New Year.
Connecticut-Based Forte Family Broadcasting to Buy WGCH, Greenwich. Currently owned by BTR Greenwich, Inc., WGCH, Greenwich has been carrying parent corporation Business TalkRadio Network’s programming and is being run by Jeff Weber as consulting operations officer. With BTRN’s recent announcement it is being purchased by BizTV, WGCH goes on the block. Forte is operated by Rocco L. Forte of Sarasota, Florida and Lyme, Connecticut. He is the former CFO of the Abate Insurance Agency and AIA Risk Services in New Haven and has held a variety of executive marketing and advertising positions with the Orion Capital Corp., Fred S. James Co., and The Hartford Insurance Group. Forte states, “I am excited to be able to buy such a heritage station in Connecticut and I look forward to making the 50th anniversary year (2014) of WGCH a successful and even more profitable one. My love for radio began in college, when I worked both on-air and in sales. Now I’ll be able to draw on my business experience in marketing and advertising to expand WGCH’s client base and enhance its presence in the community.” According to a statement, current plans are to keep and expand the local news and sports coverage and syndicated talk format. Forte takes over under an LMA beginning November 4.
Pujols Rejects ‘Lie Detector’ Ploy. Not surprisingly, through his attorney, former St. Louis Cardinal (and current Anaheim Angel) Albert Pujols is rejecting the suggestion by former Major League Baseball slugger and sports talk host Jack Clark that the two take polygraph tests to determine who’s telling the truth about Pujols alleged steroid use. Clark made the steroid use charge on the sports talk show he and partner Kevin Slaten were brokering on WGNU, St. Louis. Pujols has since sued Clark and, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pujols’ attorney says, “Sworn testimony under penalty of perjury — not inadmissible polygraphs and absurd publicity ploys — is what counts.”
Don Geronimo Says Goodbye to KHTK, Sacramento Listeners. CBS Radio gave Don Geronimo the chance to say goodbye to his KHTK, Sacramento listeners on Wednesday, October 16. Geronimo – whose midday program was cancelled suddenly on October 4 – told listeners that with the company’s decision to go full-time sports talk on KHTK, his show was pulled and he’ll be leaving the Sacramento area. He expressed his gratitude to the market for supporting his program and said he and CBS would be working a project in the future and when the time is right he’ll announce it via Twitter. KHTK had been one of the best-performing affiliate stations for the old Don & Mike show (with former co-host Mike O’Meara) during that program’s heyday. After Geronimo took a two-year break from radio, he returned to KHTK in 2010. Geronimo’s producer Little Joe Pittman will remain with the station.
Sun Broadcast Group to Distribute and Rep AccuWeather Spanish Content. SBG and AccuWeather announce they’ve entered into an agreement to provide a branded weather reporting service to Spanish-language radio stations. Along with affiliating and distributing the hourly reports, Sun’s Spanish language division, Sun Latino, will handle ad sales and sponsorships. SBG CEO Jason Bailey states, “When we formed Sun Latino we aimed to become the #1 network for information. With AccuWeather en Español joining our lineup of Fox Deportes and CNN en Español, we’ve clearly accomplished that goal. Stations and advertisers alike now have just one network to call that provides the trusted brands that inform their audience.” AccuWeather en Español is being offered to affiliates as fully customized daily weather reports “with the power of the complete AccuWeather team by their side.”
Cool Job Opportunity. News/talk WTAM, Cleveland has a rare news director opening (the last two NDs totaled 18 years). Current ND Darren Toms is leaving to take a newly created position with the city of Cleveland. The station wants to find an aggressive, ‘news junkie’ with strong digital/social media skills who can manage a nine-person department. Great opportunity for the right person! Newsradio WTAM 1100 Cleveland is looking for the next news director to lead an award-winning news department while living and breathing news 24/7. Applicants should have a minimum of seven years’ experience, be a strong on-air anchor and great in the digital/web world. Knowledge of RCS News and Nex Gen are helpful. Qualified candidates can send packages to program director Ray Davis (email@example.com) and apply online at www.clearcareers.com by clicking “join our team.” Clear Channel Media & Entertainment is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Temporary Budget Deal, ObamaCare Implementation, Florida Teen Bullying/Suicide Case, and MLB Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/16). The temporary budget deal that ends the government shutdown and the GOP’s role; the ongoing scrutiny of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the high-profile case of the suicide and alleged bullying of a Florida girl; and the Major League Baseball playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.