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Friday, November 12, 2021

| November 12, 2021

Legendary Radio Figure Al Herskovitz Dies at 90.  One of the radio industry’s most-liked and enduring figures, Al Herskovitz, has passed way in Bradenton, FL on November 11 at the age of 90 after suffering an episode of cardiac arrest. Herskovitz was an alumnus of many top American radio stations and broadcast companies including: WPRO, Providence; WIP, Philadelphia; and WPOL-AM/FM, Los Angeles, as well as CapCities Communications among others where he served in program director and station manager capacities for a number of years. In early 1986, Herskovitz and Michael Harrison formed H&H Broadcasting, Inc. and acquired WSPR, Springfield, MA which they transitioned from an adult contemporary music format to a seminal spoken word approach they dubbed “Supertalk” – a precursor to the modern style of talk radio that boomed onto the scene during the 1990s. H&H owned and operated WSPR until late-1988. When TALKERS was launched in 1990, Herskovitz joined the company and served as its senior director of marketing until his recent retirement in 2019 at the age of 88. In the 2000 presidential election he served as the Steve Forbes campaign’s media advisor. Herskovitz was an active member, right until his passing, of the Sarasota, FL-based Media Round Table – a group of working, retired and semi-retired media professionals from around the country who currently live full- or part-time in Florida. Harrison states, “Al was like a brother to me and a rock in my life. He was a friend, a partner, and a mentor, not to mention one of the most dependable and decent human beings I could ever have been blessed to have as a close associate over the decades. Even into his late-80s, Al was sharp and energetic. He knew as much about the radio business and stayed abreast of the ever-changing technology of the digital era as if he were a bright millennial on the leading edge. He was, indeed, remarkable!” Herskovitz was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT – the son of hard working Jewish Hungarian immigrants, the late Leo and Elsie Herskovitz. He’s a veteran of the United States Army where he served and saw action in the Korean War. He is pre-deceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, Eileen Herskovitz who passed away in 2012. Herskovitz’s colorful career, spanning almost seven decades, brought him into contact with some of the world’s most colorful individuals in politics, show business, sports and business. These experiences are documented in a memoir titled, The Tall, Skinny Jewish Kid with Eyeglasses from Bridgeport: A Radio Guy’s Chance Encounters with the Colorful and Famous (Talkers Books, 2018). A graveside service will be held at Skyway Memorial Gardens, 5200 US Hwy 19 N, Palmetto, FL 34221 https://www.skywaymemorial.com/ at a date and time to be announced.  Check the Skyway website or Talkers.com for further details.

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Inflation Nation,” looks back at this past week of 11/8 – 11/12. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSClaire Carter, commentator, Good For You Radio/founder, Good For You NetworkRichard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/founder, Scamicide.com; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; and Brian Kilmeade, talk show host, FOX News Radio/FOX News Channel. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WRKO, Boston Raises Almost $200K for Disabled American Veterans. Boston news/talk outlet WRKO-AM “The Voice of Boston” raised more than $192,000 during its sixth annual DAV Radiothon to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts. The iHeartMedia station held the 13-hour radiothon yesterday (11/11) and with WRKO personalities Jeff Kuhner, Barry Armstrong, and Howie Carr encouraging listeners to donate. Funds are designated for the DAV of Massachusetts’ homeless shelter and transportation programs. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, sports Rob Sanchez says, “It’s an honor for AM 680 WRKO to dedicate Veterans Day to help the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country. Our generous listeners always amaze me and have once again shown their support to raise $192,082 for the DAV of Massachusetts.” Since 2016, DAV Radiothon has raised over $800,000 to benefit veterans in the community.

NPR and Edison Research Spoken Word Audio Report Indicates Young, Multicultural Listeners Drive Consumption While Mobile Listening and Podcasts Add to Increases. The results of the NPR and Edison Research 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report – based on a national online survey of 1,000 adults 18 and over who listened to spoken word audio in the last month – reveals “the continued increased consumption of spoken word audio in the U.S. and the drivers behind the growth.” The report finds 75% of those in the U.S 13+ (212 million people) are monthly spoken word audio listeners, and 45% (127 million people) are daily spoken word audio listeners. Spoken word audio listening is up 40% in the past seven years, and up 8% year over year, with the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio reaching 28% of time spent with all audio. A look at a seven-year trend shows dramatic increases among young and multicultural listeners. The study shows 26% of 13-34-year-olds’ audio time is spent with spoken word audio, an increase of 116% over 2014. Similar increases are noted among multicultural listeners: Black listeners spend 22% of their audio time with spoken word (an 83% increase over 2014); Hispanic/Latino listeners spend 27% of their audio time with spoken word (an 80% increase over 2014); and White listeners now spend 29% of their audio time with spoken word, a 26% increase over 2014. Digital listening is also changing the spoken-word audio landscape. Mobile listening has increased 278% over the past seven years, with one-third (34%) of all time spent listening to spoken word audio being done on a mobile device. The increase in consumption on a mobile device holds for all ages, not just younger demos. Of all spoken word audio consumed by those 13+, 22% of it is to podcasts, a 176% increase over seven years ago (8%). You can find out more about the study here.

Season Two of ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast’ to Debut on November 22. The podcast docuseries “We Interrupt This Broadcast” is back for season two with episodes beginning streaming on November 22. Together, season one’s “JFK Assassination” episode and season two’s “The Killing of Lee Harvey Oswald” episode commemorate the November 22 and 24 anniversaries of these historic events, revealing never-before-heard audio and revelations from broadcasters and journalists who were covering these events in real time. Listeners are enlightened with impactful details that did not previously make the airwaves or subsequent historical accounts. The series is hosted by legendary broadcaster Bill Kurtis and narrated by Brian Williams and is “a celebration of the art of journalism and the heroism of journalists who broke the news and reported the captivating details from the front lines of these iconic moments.” Season Two episodes include interviews and thrilling new details by broadcasters, TV journalists and historians who were entrenched in these notable moments: Oswald Assassination; Watergate: Nixon Resigns; Challenger Explosion; Rescue of Baby Jessica; The OJ Simpson Slow Speed Chase; The Oklahoma City Bombing; Y2K; Hurricane Katrina Slams New Orleans; Election Night 2016; and War of the Worlds – The Original ‘Deep Fake’, which recently began streaming on its historic anniversary. Brian Williams says, “Podcasting allows us to get it right – we get to tell the story calmly and accurately. If we do it right, it will bring people as close as possible to the feeling of being as fortunate as we are to have this job. It’s been a tremendous privilege and honor to live through breaking stories as they are happening, right alongside our viewers. Listening to ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast,’ you’re going to feel that same tension, excitement, mystery, and urgency that we felt in the moment as we broadcasted.” The docuseries is produced by i4 Media Ventures, LLC and is repped for ad and sponsorship sales by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales.

TALKERS News Notes. A three-hour special Thanksgiving program from CBS Audio hosted by Gil Gross is available for air Wednesday November 24 – Sunday November 28. The show consists of three hours of bright and informative conversation about America’s most beloved holiday, including: culinary “horror” stories of Thanksgiving dinners gone wrong; the harrowing story of Squanto, the Native American credited with saving the Pilgrims and inaugurating the American Thanksgiving; how a train with 260 tons of frozen turkeys brought about the creation of the frozen TV dinner; bringing back vintage Thanksgiving recipes and creating innovations in the traditional Thanksgiving meal; and how Thanksgiving and football became married family traditions…..Boston public media outlet GBH names Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel the new co-hosts of “Morning Edition” at GBH News. Alston rejoins GBH from WBUR, where she is a host of the NPR podcast, “Consider This,” produced in conjunction with GBH. Siegel is currently the host and producer of the Washington, DC-based daily news podcast “POLITICO Dispatch.” GBH general manager of news Pam Johnston says, “Our audiences have told us that mornings matter most when it comes to news. They look to us to get the information they need and set the tone for the day ahead. With Paris and Jeremy as co-hosts of ‘Morning Edition’ at GBH News, our audiences will get local stories from different perspectives. They’ll engage with a pair of dynamic, smart and accomplished journalists who possess a real knack for understanding and dissecting the complex stories of our time.”

Inflation, Supply Chain and Economic Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of 11/8-12. Soaring consumer goods and fuel prices, the supply chain breakdown, labor woes, and economic politics combined as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, the Aaron Rodgers controversy, and school board battles, followed by the January 6 investigation tied with social media & journalism at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

| October 28, 2021

iHeartMedia Adds ‘Jim Polito Show’ to WXKS-AM, Boston. Boston news/talk outlet WXKS-AM “Talk 1200” is adding “The Jim Polito Show” to the morning drive daypart, replacing the FOX Sports Radio programming currently airing there. Jim Polito’s morning show launched on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAG-AM, Worcester and was eventually rolled out to news/talk WHYN-AM, Springfield and news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence, replacing the local morning shows on those stations. iHeartMedia president of the New England area community markets Sean Davey says, “I am proud of Jim and his growth. More than anyone I know, Jim loves politics and the ‘give and take’ that goes with it. For him to be heard in Boston is so exciting and the natural next step in Jim’s growth.” Polito comments, “Boston is the next stop for making serious talk fun. I do battle with the political establishment and succeed where others fail by changing minds and waking people up on the ‘right’ side of the bed.”

John Batchelor Returns to New York Airwaves on WOR. Nationally syndicated nighttime radio personality John Batchelor returns to the New York City air on November 1 as iHeartMedia’s news/talk 710 WOR, The Voice of New York adds his program, “Eye on the World with John Batchelor,” to the schedule in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daypart. WOR program director Tom Cuddy says, “I have been a fan of John’s for almost two decades and the dedication he consistently displays in tracking down the details behind the important stories anywhere in the world and then sorting them out for listeners.” Batchelor says, “I am astounded to be invited to join the legendary WOR at this promising time, when the listeners of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut begin the hard work to recover from these last rough years. This is a privilege.” Batchelor’s program broadcasts nightly from New York and is syndicated by CBS Audio.

iHeartMedia Spends $64 Million to Repurchase All Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. The company announces that it has – via its subsidiary iHeart Operations, Inc., repurchased and cancelled all of its 60,000 outstanding shares of Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock, paying for it with cash on hand. The cash repurchase price for each Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock is $1,000, plus a premium equal to the remaining dividends required to be paid through the optional redemption date of May 1, 2022 discounted at a negotiated rate. This results in an aggregate redemption amount of $64.35 million to be paid to the holders of the $60 million Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “We are pleased to have voluntarily repurchased the full balance of our $60 million preferred stock, demonstrating our commitment to strengthening our balance sheet and increasing free cash flow, while still maintaining ample liquidity. Repurchasing early allows us to realize interest savings, exit the most restrictive instrument on our balance sheet, and continue to reinforce iHeart’s commitment to improving our capital structure. This action continues to demonstrate our confidence in our business moving forward.”

Armstrong & Getty Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. The long-running, highly successful, West Coast-based news/talk radio duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” They started out as DJs in music radio in the early 90s but transitioned to all-talk and landed a big-time slot in 1998 as the morning team on news/talk station KSTE in Sacramento, California where they developed a reputation throughout the radio industry for their freshness and youthful dynamics. They’ve remained a huge attraction on that station to this very day but their reputation and reach has spread and continues to grow far beyond the Golden State’s capital. They are now a morning powerhouse in California’s major cities including KABC, Los Angeles; KSFO, San Francisco; and KGB-AM, San Diego and are heard throughout the West as well as on an increasing number of stations spreading East via their own independent syndication. “When I first heard them years ago, they sounded to me more like the kind of talk show hosts one would expect to hear on a rock station than on a serious news outlet. They were funny and irreverent and surrounded with a cast of characters that gave their show more of the feeling of a morning zoo than a round table of stuffy panelists,” says TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. “But even though they were zany and played the goofball roll to a certain degree, their antics were offset by obvious intelligence, keen insight, excellent interviewing skills and a ton of information about what was happening in the news.” Today, this compelling act – though still first and foremost entertaining and full of engaging pop culture – has matured and is a perfect fit for news/talk stations looking to cover the news and maintain a conservative orientation, but without the pedantic posture that can sacrifice a more eclectic audience. Even more important,” says Harrison, “Jack and Joe remain irreverent and are not rigidly beholden to any singular ideology or political personality. They present their opinions issue by issue. As we approach 2022, the show is uniquely positioned to be a major element in the unfolding news/talk radio universe.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Swipes Green Bay Packers Football from Good Karma Brands. The business relationships between radio stations and sports franchises are not immune to change but iHeartMedia’s new deal with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers that moves play-by-play broadcast rights in the state’s largest market from Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee to its own crosstown sports talk WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game” beginning in 2022 is huge because WTMJ has enjoyed broadcasting Packers games since 1929. The team announced the news yesterday (10/27) and clarifies that this change only affects the Milwaukee affiliate as the team brought the Packers Radio Network in house in 2018. Packers VP of sales and business development Craig Benzel says, “iHeartMedia enthusiastically pursued the opportunity that being part of the network creates, and we are looking forward to how their innovative approach will appeal to Packers fans in southeastern Wisconsin. The Packers have greatly appreciated the partnership with WTMJ over the years and will always respect the history they have with the franchise.” The press release says, “‘97.3 The Game’ WRNW and iHeartMedia Milwaukee will offer an attractive demographic opportunity to reach new listeners with a growing sports talk radio segment and other programming formats in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, the partnership offers a variety of new platforms that will support key Packers initiatives, including iHeartMedia’s new audio partnership with the NFL which features podcast distribution.” The most recent Nielsen PPM numbers (6+, weekly AQH share) from the September 2021 survey show WTMJ ranked #1 in the market with a 9.1 share and WRNW-FM ranked #15 with a 1.3 share.

Charlie Sislen to Retire from Research Director; Karen Morriss Joins as Director of Client Services. Radio pro Charlie Sislen is retiring from his role at Research Director, Inc after 24 years with the company as a partner. His last day will be December 31, 2021. Sislen says, “It has been a pleasure being part of Research Director, Inc. for the past 24 years. I woke up every day excited not only about what would come next, but also more importantly the people I would interact with. I enjoyed every conversation with Research Director, Inc.’s amazing team, our tremendous clients, and everyone who makes our industry great. I want to especially thank my partner, Marc Greenspan, who had the vision to bring me into this company and partnered with me to build a truly remarkable organization. I am leaving a phenomenal team, whose hard work made my role as the face of the company easy. They made the difference for every one of our clients. Now is the time of my life where I must shift my focus from my career, which I love, to my family and my community. Research Director, Inc. and the radio industry will always be in my heart. My thanks to all who were such an integral part of this life‐changing journey.” As a part of the transition, Karen Morriss joins the team as the director of client services. She says, “I’m excited to be joining the Research Director, Inc. team. I’ve known Marc and Charlie for over 30 years and have great respect for both of them. I look forward to working with their wonderful clients.”

Triton Digital and Signal Hill Insights Collaborate to Create Demos+ Podcast Metrics Service. This collaborative effort between Triton Digital and audio research firm Signal Hill Insights results in the enhancement to Triton’s Podcast Metrics that provides audience demographic and socio-demographic data on podcast listeners and downloads in the United States. Triton Digital says the new Demos+ solution is “the first-ever integration of census and survey-based research podcast measurement methodologies. Through this collaboration, podcast publishers, advertisers, and agencies will be able to leverage podcast download metrics by person-level demographic, socio-demographic, media behavior and purchase intent propensities.” The two firms say they’ve “launched a large, year-round survey that is representative of the population of podcast listeners in the United States. Demos+ utilizes the Podcast Metrics measurement census-level data to identify listener overlap to scale the podcast survey-based insights. This unique approach enables Triton to project the audience composition for virtually all size podcasts – a capability previously hindered by podcast survey sample-size limitations. With this insight, podcasters will see a clear view of their audience, and marketers can more easily identify the podcasts which best reach their target audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Promotions and marketing pro Sandy Corcoran joins Summit Media as promotions director for the company’s Omaha station group that includes sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN” and four music brands. Corcoran served for 10 years with Audacy where she was the assistant director of marketing and promotions for the Phoenix cluster, including KOOL-FM, KALV-FM, and KMLE-FM. She says, “I’m excited for the opportunity to join SummitMedia and their heritage brands in Omaha. Radio and music are my biggest passions. I couldn’t be happier to oversee promotions and events for this cluster.”.…..Podcast firm PodcastOne extends its podcast production partnership with REELZ to launch “Sex, Lies & Murder,” the latest true crime podcast in a series of shows co-produced by the two media companies. “Sex, Lies & Murder” episodes feature the real stories of sex-driven crimes that have rocked communities. These are the stories of a suburban housewife who becomes a killer. A church pastor who has extramarital sex then his wife joins the dearly departed. It’s a soccer mom who is found dead and police uncover her double life as a midnight escort. PodcastOne president Kit Gray states, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue our long standing relationship with REELZ through our latest podcast “Sex, Lies & Murder.” Listeners and advertisers alike know that our REELZ-branded programming is edge-of-your-seat content that the podcast world is hungry for and we are excited to deliver.”…..ABC News is covering the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow with correspondent Karen Travers reporting from Glasgow. She’ll file regular reports for newscasts, “Perspective” and other audio platforms. ABC Audio will also release a five-part climate report series examining the consequences of climate change and issues the conference is planning to address. Additionally, ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will dedicate multiple segments to the effects of climate change and how Americans are addressing the problem.

Biden’s Infrastructure and Social Spending Bills, COVID-19, Virginia Governor’s Race, Petroleum Industry Testimony/Climate Change, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Migrant Caravan/Immigration Policy, China’s Taiwan Aggression, and Rust Set Shooting Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/27). The state of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending bills as Democratic factions battle over where to spend; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approved for kids, and mask & vaccine mandates; the tight race between Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; today’s testimony before Congress from petroleum industry CEOs about climate change; the ongoing supply chain breakdown and soaring retail prices; a migrant caravan in Mexico approaches the U.S. border and the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies; China’s continuing military aggression toward Taiwan; and the investigation into the deadly shooting on the Santa Fe set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+).  Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.

Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot.  Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.

Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.

TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and  Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways  Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.

Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

| May 20, 2021

Round Three of April PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM dips four-tenths for a 5.3 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) but hangs on to the #4 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KEX-AM adds eight-tenths to finish with a 3.5 share and rises to the #12 rank. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds six-tenths for a 4.4 share and drops to the #8 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK tacks on five-tenths for an 8.7 share finish good enough to climb to the #1 rank. Similarly, in Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s KSL-FM jumps by 1.5 shares for an 8.3 share finish and leaps from #3 to #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds of markets) here.

Nielsen: Radio Listening Continues to Rebound. Fourteen months after the coronavirus pandemic began and dramatically affected the amount of time people were spending in their vehicles commuting to work, the country is steadily reopening and Nielsen Audio reports that radio listening is growing again. Nielsen says, “The April 2021 PPM survey revealed new gains in radio listening across the aggregate of markets for the second month in a row. As America continues to reopen, consumers are returning to radio in numbers not seen in over half a year. Radio’s weekly reach is now at its highest levels (121 million weekly consumers) since March 2020 when COVID-19’s impact began to take hold. Since the beginning of 2021, radio has added more than 5 million new weekly listeners. Radio’s Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience in April 2021 hit its highest levels since the fourth quarter of 2020, prior to this winter’s virus surges and associated restrictions. What’s more, AQH audience levels have jumped 10% in the past two months as vaccinations and a gradual return to pre-pandemic routines have proliferated.”

Rudy Giuliani Visits News/Talk WEEO-FM. Pictured above is former New York City Mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York personality Rudy Giuliani (center) at Magnum Broadcasting’s WEEO-FM, Chambersburg, PA/Hagerstown, MD “News Talk 1037FM.” Giuliani was the guest of PA State Senator Colonel Doug Mastriano and spent about 45 minutes on the radio sharing stories and answering questions about topics from the FBI to NYC. He’s pictured with station GM Patrick Ryan (left) and political analyst Michele Jansen (right).

Report: Audacy in Negotiations to Fill Rush Daypart with Dana Loesch Across Company News/Talkers. According to Bobby Burack’s report at Outkick, Audacy is in negotiations with Radio America to have “The Dana Show” starring Dana Loesch fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart formerly occupied by Rush Limbaugh on many of its news/talk stations. Burack says his sources say it’s in the “advanced stages” but not a done deal just yet. The story also says that video platform The First – which simulcasts video of Loesch’s radio program as well as that of other talk hosts such as Buck Sexton, Bill O’Reilly, and Jesse Kelly – is launching a daily TV-only, one-hour show hosted by Dana Loesch that will air at 6:00 pm ET.

Bonneville’s KTTH-AM, Seattle Adds Dan Bongino Show. Seattle news/talk KTTH-AM is adding Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Show” to its program lineup, airing in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The Bonneville station is programmed by Jason Antebi who says, “We’re excited to welcome Dan to the KTTH family. I can’t think of many people better suited to carry the torch in this daypart. This isn’t a ‘Rush replacement show’ because no one can replace Rush. He will always be the greatest broadcaster in history. KTTH, in part, has become what it is because of him. We’re now looking to grow on that with the help of Dan and we’re confident he can help us do that.” Bongino comments, “I’m honored KTTH decided to go with the show. All I can do is bring a high-quality product, put a ton of work into it and I promise, I will never waste the audience’s time. I don’t just tell you stories to tell you stories. People don’t want their time wasted. They want to know why the news matters.”

CBS Audio Offers Memorial Day Special. This year’s Memorial Day Holiday special from CBS Audio is being made available to non-affiliate stations on a market availability basis. The three-hour program is hosted by Gil Gross and guests and topics include author Malcom Gladwell about the longest night of World War II, Pulitzer nominee Max Boot looks at the forgotten wars of American History, the announced end of America’s longest war—Afghanistan, and the forgotten heroes of the war in Vietnam. It’s available via FTP on May 25 for airing Friday, May 28 through Memorial Day (May 31). Reach out to Melek Demir at: Demirm@cbsnews.com for availability in your market.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (5/25), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the first GOP gubernatorial primary debate between candidates Jack Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh at 7:00 pm. The two will face off in the June 8 primary to determine which candidate will take on incumbent Governor Phil Murphy in November. “New Jersey 101.5” senior political director Eric Scott will moderate the one-hour live program and will take questions from on-air and online listeners. Scott says, “This format allows ordinary citizens a chance to talk directly to the candidates about what is important to them and you never know what they are going to ask.”…..Radio ad pros Jim and Dan Price – founders of Oink Ink – are launching a digital audio creative agency called Price Brothers. Dan Price says, “Digital audio technology exploded so quickly that it outpaced creative. That’s where we saw an opportunity. While the tech guys are developing new platforms and vehicles to support ads, we wanted to get out in front and put energy into making great creative to make the most of that technology.” He adds that “with digital, the consumption is different than with ‘traditional’ radio; the patterns are different, the usage is different… so the creative should be different.”

January 6 Commission, COVID-19, AZ 2020 Vote Audit, Israel-Hamas Violence, Texas Abortion Law, Trump Org Investigation, and U.S.-Russia Relations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/19). The U.S. House moves to create January 6 Commission to investigate Capitol invasion and Mitch McConnell’s opposition to it; the declining rate of COVID cases in much of the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the 2020 election vote audit taking place in Arizona and Republicans’ desire to audit Georgia’s election results; the ongoing rocket attacks between Israel and Hamas; Texas passes a new law banning abortions after six weeks; the New York attorney general’s expansion of the Trump Organization into a criminal probe; and U.S. and Russian officials meet in Iceland were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

| March 2, 2021

Talent Moves at KMOX and KFTK-FM; FM Translator Added to KMOX Signal. Two of St. Louis’ afternoon talk radio pros are swapping stations as Entercom moves longtime KFTK-FM afternoon drive host Dave Glover across the hall to KMOX-AM for the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart. He fills the time that included the Mark Reardon show (2:00 pm to 4:00 pm) and the station’s newsy “Total Information PM” program (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm). As part of the change, Mark Reardon moves to KFTK-FM to host the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. KFTK-FM will air a “Best of Glover” hour from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. These changes take place on March 22. On that same date, FM translator K254CR at 98.7 will shift from airing KFTK’s signal to simulcasting KMOX’s signal. Entercom says the translator will allow KMOX to be heard on FM in the city’s business district, including downtown, Clayton, midtown, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and Kirkwood. KMOX brand manager Steve Moore says, “Our goal is to serve as the voice of the entire community. It’s important that KMOX is available on multiple platforms in order to keep the listeners in the business district informed with the latest news throughout the city.” Speaking about the changes, Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan says, “We are beyond excited to amplify the reach of the one and only KMOX and serve the St. Louis area in a more significant way. We are thrilled for ‘The Dave Glover Show’ to bring over 20 years of success to KMOX with this expansion to FM. Dave and his team have had an unprecedented track record of creating laughter, highlighting thought-provoking topics, and committing to relevant, local content day in and day out.”

WABC’s Curtis Sliwa Off Air During NYC Mayoral Race. In the aftermath of last week’s complaint filed with New York City’s Campaign Finance Board by attorney Nicholas Marricco suggesting that midday host Curtis Sliwa’s daily show was tantamount to an in-kind donation from WABC, the station has taken Sliwa off the air until he’s either elected mayor or exits the race. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis issued the following statement: “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis adds, “We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Names New Market Leaders for Boston and Miami. Taking over the market manager position at Entercom’s Boston cluster that includes sports talker WEEI-FM and WEEI-AM and three music brands is Tim Clarke. He comes to Entercom from his most recent role with Cox Media Group as VP of content and audience. At the same time, Claudia Menegus – currently regional president of Entercom Gainesville, Memphis, Miami and Orlando – is assuming the market manager role for Miami. Entercom Boston regional president Mark Hannon says, “We’re so excited to welcome Tim as Entercom Boston’s market manager. Tim is a proven broadcast executive who brings tremendous insights into content, audience, and data analytics. He’s perfectly suited to lead our six amazing brands and digital assets into the future.” About his new position, Clarke comments, “I am honored and thrilled to join Entercom and work with the incredibly talented team in Boston and across the entire organization. I truly admire Entercom and their forward-thinking strategy as they build the future of audio while also serving their communities and being world-class local broadcasters.”

Crossover Media Group Enhances Its Representation of CBS Audio’s News/Talk Podcast Portfolio. The cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales expands its relationship with CBS Audio. In 2020, CMGS began handling ad sales duties for “CBS News on the Hour,” on the SiriusXM POTUS Channel, and recently added the CBS Audio podcast “Facing Forward with Margaret Brennan,” that debuted on January 22. Now, CMGS adds 10 podcasts from the legendary news franchise to its roster of news and information programming, including “60 Minutes,” “Face the Nation,” “CBS World News Roundup,” “48 Hours,” and “My Life of Crime with Erin Moriarty.” Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “Throughout its history, the foundation of what has been called ‘the Tiffany Network’ has been CBS Audio. CBS Audio’s syndication lineup represents a fabulous opportunity not only for us but for advertisers who want to expand their reach and frequency efficiently even if they’re not currently utilizing audio in their marketing efforts.”

TALKERS News Notes. Voiceover pro Steve Kramer signs a new, three-year deal with CBS Audio Network to continue as voice of “CBS News On The Hour.” CBS News says, “Steve is one of the preeminent voices in the news and entertainment business today and is probably most recognized as the 20-year-plus signature voice of CBS Television Distribution’s ‘Inside Edition.'”…..With the change in presidential administrations, Trump Administration National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow returns to his media work, including hosting his “Larry Kudlow Show” from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York. Red Apple Media chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis and president Chad Lopez report that the program has “shattered streaming records, with listeners increasing over 250% during the show’s hours.” Catsimatidis adds, “Larry Kudlow is an icon and is one of the foremost voices on the economy in the United States. He is well-respected, and his program’s record-breaking success can be attributed to his ability to incorporate some of the brightest economic minds in his programming. We are proud to have Larry aboard and expect this is just the beginning of a long and successful career at 77 WABC Radio.”…..This month, in honor of Women’s History Month, ABC Audio is featuring a four-part video series highlighting pioneering women through the ages in entertainment, science, sports and politics. The series, “Women’s History in a Minute,” will be posted on ABC Power Portal, the on-demand original video service optimized for radio station websites, apps, and social media platforms. Each episode will focus on five women, with new episodes posting Mondays. Videos will be available for download by Power Portal affiliates as white label content, allowing stations to add their logos and sponsor ads to the videos before publication. Some of the women featured include: Viola Davis, the first Black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama; Madonna, the best-selling female recording artist of all time; Florence Griffith Joyner (“Flo-Jo”), the fastest woman in history; Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese player to win the Grand Slam singles title and the highest-earning female athlete of all time; Shirley Jackson, the first Black woman to receive a PhD from MIT; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Kamala Harris, the first female, first Black and first Asian American U.S. vice president; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court; and more.

Kim Komando Assists Charity with Communications System. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and digital expert Kim Komando is helping a listener in Newport News, Virginia with his communications challenge. After hearing the “Kim Komando Show” on local affiliate WNIS-AM, Norfolk, Brother Tim Lukan of the Five Loaves Food Bank (which distributes nearly $900,000 a year in food to the needy in the area) reached out to Kim to help him handle the patrons who were overloading him with calls at all hours. Komando put together the resources needed to set up an auto attendant for the food bank using Google Voice. The auto attendant offers options in both English and Spanish. She is graciously donating and paying the annual Google Voice fee on behalf of the food bank for as long as Brother Tim needs her to do so. Brother Tim says, “[WestStar IT administrator] John Davila and Kim Komando are the BOMB! Because of Kim, John, and all your hard work, we have learned, we have increased our knowledge base of possible solutions to challenges, AND we are going to be able to serve the hungry of the Virginia Peninsula more efficiently and respond to questions faster.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Trump at CPAC, Biden Stimulus Bill/Minimum Wage Debate, Capitol Insurrection Investigation, Cuomo Investigation, Wealth Tax, Israel-Iran Tensions, and Sarkozy Convicted of Corruption Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/1). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about easing up too quickly on restrictions, and the rollout of vaccines; Donald Trump’s Sunday speech at CPAC; the Joe Biden stimulus package heads to the Senate while the $15 minimum wage proposal is considered dead in the water; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony today; the growing number of women accusing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment; Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax; the tensions between Israel and Iran after the latter’s alleged attack on an Israeli ship; and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is convicted of corruption were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.