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Thursday, March 4, 2021

| March 4, 2021

Meruelo Media Launches HD Talk Station in Los Angeles. This new talk station broadcasting on KLOS-FM, Los Angeles’ HD2 signal is being programmed by “Heidi and Frank” show co-host Frank Kramer and for now airs a 24-hour loop of the morning drive program.  Kramer says, “I’m excited to bring all-talk radio back to Southern California. The listeners have been hungry for it since KLSX ended in 2009, and now that over half of the cars on the road have HD radios, it’s perfect timing.” Kramer adds, “The 24-hour loop is just phase one. In the coming months, my team and I will be adding original programming, special features and even more surprises. KLOS2 will ultimately become a full-fledged talk radio station, courting new advertisers and personalities. I appreciate Meruelo Media for trusting my vision to double down on personality-driven radio, and I can’t wait to get started.” Meruelo Media president Otto Padron comments, “We’re excited to offer Frank a second audio platform to expand his creative brand and explore bold new ideas. While 95.5 KLOS-FM will continue to be the flagship station for the daily, live version of ‘The Heidi & Frank Show,’ we are certain that fans will love more listening options, which includes the KLOS2 mobile app.”

Edison Research: 30% of Audio Listening Done on Mobile. According to data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear report, “listening on a mobile device now accounts for 30% of all time spent listening to audio by those age 13+ in the U.S., an increase of 67% since 2014.” Edison goes on to say that the gap between listening on a traditional radio receiver and a mobile device among those age 13+ has narrowed remarkably quickly since 2014: 31 percentage points separated the two in 2014 and only five percentage points separate the two today. The traditional AM/FM radio receiver does account for the largest share of audio consumed but has decreased the most since the survey began, now accounting for 35% of all audio consumption compared to 49% in 2014. “Mobile devices have already surpassed traditional radio receivers in the younger age groups. Among those age 13-34, 46% of total daily audio consumption is done on a mobile device and 20% is done on a traditional AM/FM radio receiver. It is important to note that these statistics speak to device only, not the audio product that is delivered by the device.” Edison Research president Larry Rosin adds, “Mobile devices, particularly of course the phone, have been gaining on the traditional radio receiver as the primary listening device for as long as we have been measuring Share of Ear, but with the disruptions of the last year the gap has narrowed dramatically. As fewer people have a standard radio receiver in their homes these days, naturally more listening comes through digital devices.” See more here

Westwood One Sues Local Radio Networks for Patent Infringement. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Local Radio Network’s home base of Fort Wayne, Indiana, accuses LRN of willfully infringing upon two patents Westwood One holds for its syndicated automation program. The patents – titled “Methods and Computer Programs for Localizing Broadcast Content” and “Systems, Methods and Apparatus for Operating a Broadcast Network” – according to Westwood One “represent a leap forward in broadcast network technology, solving several problems exhibited by traditional methods and systems that rely on the broadcast affiliate to manually enter ‘breaks’ in programming during which time audio content can be switched over to local broadcast sources.” WWO alleges that LRN’s Radio Velocity Control program illegally uses those technologies. In the complaint, WWO says that former WWO staffers Chris Reeves, Jonathon Steele, Chris Hatton, Matt Caldaronello, and Patrick Crocker “have knowledge of the workings of Westwood’s patented program. Furthermore, these employees are presently attempting to use this knowledge to lure customers away from Westwood by informing customers in the market that the LRN program is comparable. Such acts constitute willful and deliberate infringement, entitling Westwood to enhanced damages and attorney’s fees.” LRN issued the following statement in response to the suit: “LRN believes the claims are legally and factually baseless and intends to vigorously defend against those claims. LRN was launched in 2015 by Steve Swick, a radio station owner/operator. LRN developed and uses its own technology and built its business station by station and format by format. LRN’s relentless focus on quality programming, affiliate service, and fair inventory pricing has propelled its growth to a leadership position in the radio industry with 14 formats and supports hundreds of affiliates nationally. Six years after LRN’s successful launch in 2015, Westwood One is apparently giving up on trying to fairly compete and instead is trying to now use the courts to do what its programmers, engineers and affiliate salespeople could not do. On behalf of the independent radio owners and operators in our industry, please understand that LRN will not be bullied by a corporate radio Wall Street giant attempting to disrupt its much smaller competitor LRN and its superior team, technology and products.”

Kristy Beebe to Lead iHeartMedia Indianapolis. Promoted from her regional SVP of sales post for iHeartMedia’s Kentucky-Indiana Metro, Kristy Beebe is named market president for the company’s Indianapolis cluster that includes sports talk WNDE-AMFOX Sports 1260,” “Business News 97.5” (WOLT-HD2/W248AW), and three music brands. Beebe has held various sales leadership positions throughout her career, including local sales manager and general sales manager for iHeartMedia Toledo and iHeartMedia Louisville. iHeartMedia president for the Kentucky-Indiana Metro Earl Jones comments, “I am so excited for Kristy’s well-deserved promotion to market president. She has earned the opportunity to lead our Indianapolis market. Kristy has been an incredible sales leader, coach, and major contributor to the success of iHeartMedia Kentucky-Indiana Metro.”

TALKERS News Notes. This evening (3/4) from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Adelphi University is hosting The New York Times business editor Ellen Pollock, for a live-streamed discussion about today’s pressing issues, titled, “Keeping Up With the Times,” and moderated by Adelphi alumnus and Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones. He comments, “Press freedom is an essential thread in the fabric of our democracy – now more than ever. Join us for a discussion about the role media and business play in society and the responsibility we citizens have to understand how these forces are shaping our lives and our children’s future.”…..When the NHL expansion club the Seattle Kraken take to the ice for the 2021-2022 season, games will be heard on iHeartMedia’s sports talk KJR-AM. The club and Climate Pledge Arena have inked a multi-year partnership that includes broadcasting of all home and away games on KJR-AM, which will serve as the flagship station for radio broadcasts…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds Relevant Radio‘s KAHI, Auburn, California to its roster of affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Texas and Mississippi Mandates, COVID Relief Bill Debate, Capitol Insurrection Investigation/March 4 Threats, SCOTUS Voting Rights Case/House Voting Rights Bill, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Ronny Jackson Report, and Deadly Myanmar Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/3). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants and the rollout of vaccines; the governors of Texas and Mississippi cancel mask and occupancy limit mandates; the debate in the Senate over the Biden COVID relief bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection and concerns about far-right March 4 warnings; the Supreme Court hears arguments in the Arizona voter rights case and the passage of a voting rights bill in the U.S. House; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the Department of Defense inspector general’s report detailing allegations of drinking and sexual harassment by former White House doctor and current Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson; and the deadly pro-democracy protests in Myanmar were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 8, 2020

| June 8, 2020

Monday Memo: New Normal HR? If you’ve been broadcasting remotely during the shutdown, and you’re daydreaming about getting back to what was left of radio station camaraderie, consultant Holland Cooke quotes Cher from “Moonstruck:” “SNAP OUT OF IT!” In this week’s column: Why telecommuting is GOOD news for you; and an HR expert explains how listeners’ lives are changed. Read it here.

George Floyd Protests, De-Funding Police, Re-Opening Across America, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, U.S.-China Relations, and Tropical Storm Cristobal Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The racism and police brutality protests that took place all over the world; the prospect of de-funding the police department in Minneapolis and in other cities; states across the nation continue to re-open their economies; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections about future cases; tense relations between China and the U.S. over the coronavirus pandemic; and tropical storm Cristobal hits the Gulf Coast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Sales: Clients (As Well as Listeners) Seek Connection. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that the on-air team at your news/talk station “is working hard to deliver the storylines driving the news cycle and talk the talk the listener expects every day… And THAT is the light in the darkness. That critical expectation of the listener attracted to the content of your news/talk programming is your start point. The reason your listener is engaged is your path to a cohesive sales flow that can resonate with potential sponsors.” Read his column here.

Emmis Suspends Sports Talker Joe Staysniak After Race Discussion. Former Indianapolis Colts player and current WFNI, Indianapolis “1070 The Fan” morning drive co-host Joe Staysniak is serving a one week, no-pay suspension from his show after management deemed his remarks about the police and racism in America were insensitive. The Indianapolis Star reports that during a discussion about the protests taking place in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, Staysniak said that Black people should say, “I’m going to stop being a victim,” and “Well, you know, get an education, you know, get a second job.” When co-host Jeff Rickards said that a Black driver is six times more likely to get pulled over than a white driver in some parts of Indiana, Staysniak responded, “OK and then you have to look at why. Is that racism or is that the time of day? Is that the car they’re driving? Are lights out? Are turn signals working?” He added, “It comes down to a cultural thing too. Are we putting ourselves in a situation where we don’t need to be? Again, when we have multiracial police officers…cell phones out…it just becomes harder and harder to believe you are being targeted like that.” Staysniak has apologized and Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said in a statement, “Emmis takes very seriously its commitment to the communities in which we proudly serve and reaffirms its dedication in rooting out injustices and oppression in any form.”

TALKERS News Notes. In Indianapolis, iHeartMedia debuts a new business talk outlet branded “Business News 97.5 FM” on translator W248AW, bumping the simulcast of alternative WOLT-FM. The station is airing almost exclusively content from Bloomberg Radio. iHeartMedia Indianapolis SVP of programming Mike Killabrew says, “This is a unique format for a unique time. As the Indianapolis market continues pushing forward in a responsible fashion, we want to provide sound financial and business content to consumers looking to rebuild their personal and professional portfolios.” The company has not indicated what the feeder station is for the FM translator…..The Nevada Talk Network – consisting of KELY-AM, Ely; KNNR-AM, Sparks; KNNT-FM, Battle Mountain; KAVB-FM, Hawthorne; and KPKK-FM Amargosa Valley – adds Starnes Media Group’s “The Todd Starnes Show” to its programming lineup for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart…..WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk show host John DePetro received a “thank you” from Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Gary Dantzler as Dantzler took part in a press conference with Governor Gina Raimondo in which the governor announced a state partnership with Black Lives Matter to improve race relations. DePetro tells TALKERS magazine that he often had Brother Gary (as he’s called) on his radio show as a guest and treated him fairly. “The moment he chose to acknowledge it is incredible and positive for talk radio, since he was always shunned by local TV.”…..The radio edition of the “Cigar Dave Show” will end on June 27 after 25 years as host Dave Zeplowitz transitions the content to “more timely, daily short to medium-form, unrestricted podcasts aligned with related new e-commerce initiatives.”…..Dr. David Samadi, M.D. is named lead medical contributor for Newsmax TV. Dr. Samadi currently serves as director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Dr. Samadi is not only a brilliant surgeon, but also a great communicator who is able to explain complex medical issues clearly and concisely. During the coronavirus we have found him to be an invaluable resource for our viewers.”

Roger Neel Retiring from WNBF, Binghamton. After 42 years with the station, Roger Neel is retiring from his full-time position with Townsquare Media’s WNBF, Binghamton. Neel serves as morning show personality and brand manager for the news/talk station and for sister sports talker WYOS “CBS Sports Radio.” His last day will be June 19.  Neel joined the station in 1978 when he was hired as the play-by-play announcer for Binghamton’s minor league hockey franchise the Broome Dusters.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Tomorrow (6/9), Cumulus Media’s urban-formatted radio stations, along with Westwood One urban brands, will air an 8 minute and 46 second audio tribute to George Floyd at 1:00 pm ET. The nationwide tribute, titled “8:46-Remembering George Floyd,” will align with Floyd’s burial Tuesday. Cumulus VP, urban formats Kenny Smoov says, “People are tired. They want Change now. They want Peace now. It is a beautiful thing to see people from outside of the African American community and from all over the world coming together to say ENOUGH! Let’s be the living generation that ends systemic racism!”…..Programming and on-air pro “Big Rick” Daniels is named program director for Gulf South Communications’ country WTVY, Dothan, Alabama “95.5 Your Country.” Daniels was most recently morning personality at country WGCC-FM, Bowling Green, Kentucky. At Gulf South, Daniels will also serve as digital brand manager for classic country WDJR-FM and CHR WKMX-FM…..Condolences to the family and friends of triple A WWCD-FM, Columbus “CD 102.5” program director and afternoon personality Mason “Mase” Brazelle who died on Saturday (6/6) after a sudden illness at the age of 53. The station’s website says, “Mase to all was known for his deep knowledge and passion for music, his ability to make anyone feel welcome, staff and listeners alike. Mase was a staunch supporter of shopping local from his vast collection of vinyl records from local stores and live music dating back to his time as a drummer in a rock band. Mase will be deeply missed.”