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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

| March 10, 2020

More on Talk Radio Covering the Coronavirus Challenge. On Monday (3/9) TALKERS magazine reported on how radio stations and media companies are addressing the coronavirus epidemic.  As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison wrote, “Fears and near panic have infiltrated the beleaguered heath care systems of our communities, the stock market, and a number of inter-connected industries and public events.  Add to that discourse about the problem in our politically oriented media have included the ‘weaponization’ of issues per the troubling practice of each side tending to seek victory at the expense of truth.  Most talk media broadcasters tell TALKERS that this crisis provides radio both the mission and calling to provide a significant degree of comfort and helpful information to the public – thus showcasing its pertinence as a vital medium in the 21st century.”  On Thursday of this week (3/12), Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” will present a special Town Hall broadcast to confront the worldwide novel coronavirus crisis and how it affects New Jersey residents.  “New Jersey 101.5” special projects director and morning news anchor Eric Scott says, “As a corridor state and international arrival hub, the challenges of dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak are unique in New Jersey.  Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation being disseminated to the public. Our Town Hall broadcast will help New Jersey residents separate fact from fiction and allow them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”  The program’s on-air expert panel will feature Dr. Lincoln Miller, infectious disease specialist with RWJBarnabas Health; Ken Kamen, president of Princeton-based Mercadien Asset Management; and a representative from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.  Scott and guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour.  At the national level, ABC Audio today begins producing the daily program, “COVID-19: What You Need to Know,” as a podcast.  It’s being hosted by anchor and correspondent Aaron Katersky and features the latest headlines and updates on the coronavirus outbreak as well as chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton answering questions from social media.  Back at the local level, KSCO, Santa Cruz, California general manager Michael Olson says the epidemic is affecting listeners’ lives.  “The situation in our broadcast area (South San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas) is rapidly evolving.  Santa Clara County is now a community spread hotspot, Stanford University has closed its classrooms, and Santa Cruz County now has three confirmed cases.  One of the area’s big fears is the possible consequence of when and if the virus hits the homeless community, which is extensive and vulnerable.”  Olson says from a station operations standpoint, they have taken the following steps to protect the staff so KSCO can continue to serve the public.  “To protect ourselves, we have established a to-the-extent-possible ‘no touch’ policy throughout the station and set up cleaning stations at each broadcast station so hosts can clean their surfaces before use.  We are also reducing the number of people who actually come into the studios – 89 voices at last count – and are employing a remote studio adjacent to the main broadcast facility.  To continue broadcasting should the virus take hold and we are quarantined, we have agreed to establish an ad-hoc KSCO broadcast staff of those able to stay at the station and continue broadcasting.”

Lee Abrams Re-Launches Consultancy. Consultant and media executive Lee Abrams announces he’s relaunching his consulting business under the name MediaVisions.  Abrams has been consulting and working as an executive in the media industry for more than 40 years.  During that time, he’s worked with hundreds of radio stations, major networks, and leading corporate clients.  Abrams says the focus of the firm will be: a new radio format; complete reimagination of video content, news and information; creative driven 40+ music innovation for entertainment and media leaders; innovative podcasting; and working with companies looking for creative direction and new ways to prosper.  MediaVisions’ goal is to generate revenue for what’s on the horizon for media and entertainment entities.  Abrams says, “Not data driven, very creative driven.  I don’t do research, I interpret it…news and information is what is steering our 21st century world – the equivalent of what rock ‘n’ roll was 40 years ago.  MediaVisions will merge this passion for information, knowledge, and insight with the revolution in technology.  We are positioned to help companies navigate and prosper in traditional media, today’s digital landscape, and evolving disruptive technologies.”

Bill O’Reilly Visits Affiliate WCBM, Baltimore. Pictured above is Bill O’Reilly, host of the Key Networks-syndicated program “The O’Reilly Update” (left) along with some of the staff of affiliate station WCBM, Baltimore as they enjoy a private dinner at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City, Maryland.  Seated with O’Reilly are (from l-r):  WCBM morning co-host Bruce Elliott, his wife Vivian Elliott, WCBM midday host Derek Hunter, Robyn Casey, and her husband WCBM morning co-host (and station PD) Sean Casey.

Coronavirus Epidemic/Trump Chief of Staff Self-Quarantines, Financial Markets Sell-Off, Trump Payroll Tax Cut Proposal, Oil Price War, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The status of the coronavirus epidemic and incoming chief of staff Mark Meadows self-quarantines; Monday’s stock market sell-off brings Dow down 7%; President Trump’s proposal of a payroll tax cut to help U.S. businesses; Saudi Arabia launches an oil price war putting oil stocks at the top of the sell-off; and the Democratic primary battle between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. There are more primary elections taking place across the country today (3/10) and FOX News Radio is providing hourly updates in addition to a two hour “Democracy 2020” special tonight from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET anchored by FNR national correspondent Jared Halpern.  Joining him will be political analyst Josh Kraushaar and FNR correspondents around the country.  FOX News Podcasts is offering a special edition of the daily morning podcast, “The FOX News Rundown,” as well as new episodes of Brett Baier’s “The Campaign” and “I’ll Tell You What,” hosted by Dana Perino and FNC politics editor Chris Stirewalt…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that DuPage Radio’s WCKG-AM is dropping its FOX Sports Radio affiliation and will re-brand the station as “Sportsbook Radio,” although there’s no word yet on what programming will fill the airwaves.  WCKG station manager Matt Dubiel says, “We’re planning to develop long-form and short-form ‘Sportsbook Radio’ content on WCKG, with local casino and media partners to be announced.  That work is underway, but rather than have sports personalities cover gambling, we’d prefer to have gambling experts on air. Ultimately, we will see our studio inside a Chicago-area sportsbook to get as close to the action as possible.”  Also from Robert Feder, radio news pro John Dempsey is moving to afternoons on WLS-AM for the Big John Howell show.  As a result, anchor Lauren Cohn is moving to the midday slot…..The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers are sticking with iHeartMedia for their radio play-by-play this season but games will air on alternative KYSR “ALT 98.7” instead of news/talk KFI, where they aired last season.  Some games will be simulcast on the company’s sports talk KLAC “AM 570 LA Sports.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A new adult contemporary outlet debuts in the Shreveport, Louisiana market as Cumulus Media flips KRMD-AM and translator K264AS to “Lite Rock 100.7.”  Cumulus Shreveport VP and market manager Aaron Criswell says, “We’re excited to launch a fresh at-work listening station in the Shreveport metro.  Since he has arrived, operations manager Jay Michaels has done a great job increasing audience levels with our top 40 station KQHN-FM.  With this format flip from sports to the lite rock format, I am anticipating similar results.”…..Yesterday (3/9), TALKERS reported that Brian Zepp is returning to Cumulus Media’s rock KQRS, Minneapolis as a member of the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.  Now, we learn that Zepp is filling the role that co-host Michele Tafoya held for the past four years.  Tafoya is exiting the show and tells the Star-Tribune she’s in talks with NBC about more work for the network in addition to her NFL sideline reporting…..On-air pro Kimmie Caruba joins Pacific Media Group to co-host mornings with Keola Lui-Kwan on CHR KDDB, Honolulu “102.7 Da Bomb.”  Caruba was most recently evening personality at Entercom’s country WUSN, Chicago “US99.”…..Programming pro Casey Daniels is named operations manager for Adams Radio’s Tallahassee station group and program director for country WWOF “103.1 The Wolf.”  Daniels was most recently on-air at WSBT-TV, South Bend, Indiana.

Monday, October 28, 2019

| October 28, 2019

WCBM, Baltimore Announces Programming Changes. Charm City news/talk outlet WCBM “Talk Radio 680” announces a number of coming programming changes.  Starting in morning drive, longtime newsman and co-host Frank Luber exits the show but will stay with the station to help with special projects and to continue to serve as a spokesman for some of its major advertisers.  WCBM says that Luber and Nicholas Mangione were “instrumental in establishing WCBM as a major news/talk presence in Baltimore.”  Beginning November 4, late morning talk host Bruce Elliott joins Sean Casey (who continues to serve as the station’s PD) for “The Morning Drive with Casey & Elliott.”  Stepping into the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon talk host role is Derek Hunter, who returns to Baltimore after having served in recent years with the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, and as managing editor at The Daily Caller.  The station also adds “The FOX News Rundown” for the 5:00 am to 6:00 am hour and Key Networks’ “The O’Reilly Update” with Bill O’Reilly to air from 11:45 am to 12:00 noon.

Monday Memo: Pronouncers for Announcers. How-you-say what-you-say makes a difference, and (obvious) former high school English teacher Holland Cooke explains in this week’s column.  Read it here.

ISIS Leader Dead, Impeachment Inquiry/Ukraine Scandal, 2020 Presidential Race, Rep. Katie Hill Resigns, California Wildfires/Power Blackouts, and Brexit Extension Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is reported by President Trump; the impeachment inquiry against President Trump and the related allegations of illegal actions against Trump, and Joe and Hunter Biden with regard to the Ukraine; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020, U.S. Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) resigns her seat after being accused of improper relations with a campaign staffer; the wildfires in California and PG&E’s shutting off electricity to almost 1 million customers; and Boris Johnson gets an extension to January 31 for Britain’s exit from the EU were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Newsmax TV Presents Presidential Town Hall. In conjunction with the League of United Latin American CitizensNewsmax TV presented a two-hour Presidential Town Hall with top Democratic candidates last Thursday (10/24). Taking part in the Newsmax Town Hall at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines were candidates Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard, and Julian Castro.  The live Newsmax TV production reached 70 million cable homes.

FOX News Radio Makes ‘Rundown’ Available for Radio Stations. “The FOX News Rundown” launched in 2017 as a podcast hosted by Dave Anthony, Lisa Brady, and Jessica Rosenthal.  Now, FOX News Radio is making the program available as an early morning weekday news hour “perfect for setting the stage for your local morning show.”  FNR says, “‘The Rundown’ takes a deeper dive into the stories that are important to you and your listeners.  Hosted by the anchors of FOX News Radio, the ‘Rundown’ also features voices from FOX News Channel, FOX Business Channel and the world of politics and entertainment.”

Ben & Skin Exit ‘105.3 The Fan’ in Dallas. The midday duo Ben & Skin – Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade – have resigned their positions with Entercom’s sports talk KRLD-FM, Dallas for an opportunity elsewhere.  They are being replaced in the station lineup by evening duo Kevin Hageland and Cory Mageors.  It’s not known if this is a permanent move or not.  Regardless, morning drive co-host Shan Shariff tweeted that the duo was not fired and was moving on to another opportunity.

TALKERS News Notes. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will serve as the keynote speaker at the 2020 Todd Starnes Faith and Freedom Celebration to be held at Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia on April 18, 2020.  The annual event has raised more than $300,000 in scholarship money for students at the Christian school.  Starnes says, “I can’t say enough great things about Sarah.  Our media company is committed to super-serving the communities that broadcast my programs and bringing nationally known speakers to our event is a part of that effort.”…..WODS, Boston morning drive personality TJ Taormina has launched a podcast on Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform called, “Meet My Wife.”  Taormina tells TALKERS, “It was an opportunity for me to step up to a blank canvas and create something from scratch.  It starts in a music recording studio with a full band and travels from grocery store parking lots, to the middle of Boston Common, to my home living room.  I wanted to take a unique approach to the rapidly growing podcast arena and make it something that could complement my daily live radio show.”…..Entercom’s board of directors have approved a clawback policy for five of its highest-paid executives.  A clawback is a provision in an employment contract that states money paid to an employee may have to be returned.  It’s usually for highly compensated executives and is intended as a sign of goodwill toward investors.  In Entercom’s case, stock ownership guidelines were included with this move and require president and CEO David Field to hold Entercom shares equal to at least six times his base salary.  It requires CFO Rich Schmaeling, COO Weezie Kramer, chief revenue officer Robert Philips, and EVP/general counsel Andrew Sutor to hold shares of at least two times their base salaries…..Boston public radio news/talk WGBH-FM is adding the NPR-distributed program “1A” to its lineup, airing from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.  The program is hosted by Joshua Johnson and focuses on First Amendment issues “related to policy, politics, technology, pop culture, sports, and humor.”  The program’s goal is to “act as a national mirror — taking time to help America look at itself and to ask what it wants to be.”

WHAT IS REAL? Former WWE Champion Mick Foley Is Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the most theatrical professional wrestlers of the modern era who blurred the line between reality and fiction as much as anyone who ever played the game, Mick Foley, guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Foley created several of wrestling’s most memorable characters, including Cactus Jack and Mankind, participating in physically damaging stunts that took his body past the limits of safety and protection. Although he played brutish, psychotic characters, Foley went on to become a best-selling author, public speaker, and articulate supporter of a variety of charities and social causes. In a fascinating one-on-one conversation, Harrison and Foley discuss the nature of reality TV and the role it plays in today’s political circus citing Donald Trump’s participation in the WWE prior to his presidency as an early example of the Commander in Chief’s penchant for mixing over-the-top theatrics with the semblance of real life storylines. 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 of the TALKERS email newsletter or on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Steve Hoffman is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s hot AC KVGS-FM and assistant program director for sister urban contemporary KOAS, effective October 14.  Hoffman has been consulting for the past few years.  He was previously on air at KSWD, Los Angeles and programmed KCAL, Riverside for 15 years.  Beasley Las Vegas VP and market manager Peter Burton states, “We have been interested in bringing Steve into the fold for quite some time.  I had the pleasure of working with him in Los Angeles for five years.  Hiring Steve allows us to continue to surround ourselves with the best in the industry.”…..At Entercom’s CHR KAMP, Los Angeles, Chris Booker shifts from the afternoon drive show to AM drive where he’ll work with co-host Chelsea Briggs and Krystal Bee.  The new show replaces Edgar “Shoboy” Sotelo.  He’d been paired with Brian Moote and Briggs.  Briggs exited the station in August.  Taking over Booker’s afternoon drive show is midday personality Yesi Ortiz.  Moving to middays from weekends is Christen…..iHeartMedia names Adam Rivers program director for its four-station cluster in New Haven.  He’d been serving as APD and music director at CHRs WKCI “KC101” and WKSS “KISS 95-7.”  He’s now also programming news/talk WELI and sports talk WAVZ “ESPN 1300.”   iHeartMedia Hartford Region president Steve Honeycomb says, “Over the past several years, Adam has truly been the backbone here at ‘KC101’ and a staple in Connecticut radio.  Adam’s years of experience and the way he engages with his listeners go far beyond his afternoon drive show and we couldn’t be happier to see him evolve into this new role here in New Haven, Connecticut.”