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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

| October 5, 2021

Round One of September PPMs Released. The first of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s September 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s September 2021 sweep covered August 19 – September 15. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. iHeartMedia’s New York City news/talk WOR adds four-tenths to finish with a 2.4 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and rises to the #16 rank while Red Apple Media’s crosstown news/talk WABC climbs three-tenths for a 2.2 share finish and the #18 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles dips three-tenths to a 3.8 share but remains in the #7 rank. In Chicago, Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN tacks on two-tenths for a 3.6 share and stays ranked #9 while Audacy’s crosstown all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM adds nine-tenths for a 6.6 share finish and recaptures the #1 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets here.

iHeartMedia Names Dalena Pajares VP of Sales for St. Louis Cluster. Sales pro Dalena Pajares joins iHeartMedia’s St. Louis station group as vice president of sales. The cluster includes news/talk KTLK-FM “104.9 The Patriot” and KATZ-HD2/W279AQ “BIN: Black Information Network” as well as eight music brands. Pajares was most recently an account executive with The Center for Sales Strategy. Previously, she’d served with Hubbard Radio, Emmis Communications, CBS Radio, and Cox Radio. She comments, “I am so blessed to be given the opportunity to join this talented group of people. iHeartMedia St. Louis has powerful solutions to offer emerging brands, our local business community and nationwide advertisers. I’m committed to making a positive contribution and can’t wait to grow and help others as they grow.”

CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One Audio Active Group Develops Audio Planning Guide. This week’s blog from the CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One Audio Active Group shares data sourced from Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” Report, Nielsen’s Nationwide, and the Scarborough Podcast Buying Power study that makes up its Audio Planning Guide. Some of the key findings include: 1) Many media strategists and planners mistakenly believe Pandora and Spotify have the largest share of ad-supported audio listening. At a 76% share, Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” reveals AM/FM radio is the dominant ad-supported audio platform; 2) From the Q2 2021 “Share of Ear” study, Edison reports the 76 share of AM/FM radio is 13 times larger than Pandora and 19 times larger than Spotify; 3) According to the Nielsen Commspoint, the media planning platform, a reallocation of 20%-30% of the TV budget to AM/FM radio generates significant lift in incremental reach; and 4) One of biggest misperceptions of AM/FM radio is that it is a “drive time” medium. The reality is only 40% of U.S. AM/FM radio listening occurs during mornings and afternoon drive times. 60% of U.S. AM/FM radio listening occurs outside of drive times. See more here.

Audacy and Osiris Media Partner for ‘Breaking Waves’ Podcast Series. A new podcast series from Audacy, in partnership with Osiris Media, titled “Breaking Waves” launches on October 12. The series centers around stories and anecdotes revisited by bands, Audacy talent, stations and friends who watched, lived and defined a particular music scene or movement. The first episode is “Breaking Waves: Seattle” and focuses on the emergence and growth of grunge and alternative music in the city in the 80s and 90s. Audacy SVP of programming Dave Richards says, “We are so excited to introduce the ‘Breaking Waves’ podcast series to our audience. This music was such a defining genre in the history book of American culture and set the stage for so many bands that followed. We’re thrilled to bring the genuine storytelling from the people who created and lived the scene – from its start in the 80s into the groundbreaking 90s, to now. This is the first of many podcasts that will give our audience the story of a time and place, that went from local to worldwide.”

Biden Spending Bills/Debt Crisis, COVID-19, Facebook Whistleblower, Pandora Papers, China’s Taiwan Aggression, California Oil Spill, Fed Insider Trading Allegations, France Catholic Church Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/4). The status of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill and his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill and the fate of the country’s debt ceiling; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the controversy over booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the aftermath of Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen’s appearance on “60 Minutes”; the release of the “Pandora Papers” that reveal how the global elite hide their money in off-shore accounts to avoid taxes; China’s military jet flights over Taiwan; the oil spill off the coast of Southern California; the allegations of insider trading by some Federal Reserve officials; and France is rocked by the revelation of decades long sexual abuse of children by Catholic Church employees were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, August 16, 2021

| August 16, 2021

iHeartMedia Launches News/Talk Outlet in St. Louis. Urban contemporary KMJM “Majic 104.9” is gone (now available on KTLK-HD2) as iHeartMedia flips the signal to news/talk with new call letters KTLK-FM and the brand “104.9 The Patriot.” The station launches today and features market media pro Jamie Allman in morning drive and the much of the slate of conservative talk programming from Premiere Networks, including: Glenn Beck, Clay Travis & Buck Sexton, and Jesse Kelly, plus “The Ramsey Show” and Westwood One’s “Red Eye Radio.” iHeartMedia St. Louis market president John R. Beck, Jr. says, “St. Louis is excited to welcome a talk radio station featuring the latest news, opinions, and discussions from a conservative point of view that isn’t afraid to engage with the other side. ‘104.9 The Patriot’ will deliver all of that and more every weekday.” Allman hosted mornings at crosstown news/talk KFTK-FM until 2018 when he exited in the aftermath of his social media post about Parkland, Florida shooting survivor David Hogg in April of that year.  Until that time, Allman had also been hosting “The Allman Report” on KDNL-TV “ABC-30.” Allman joined Salem Media Group’s KXFN-AM, St. Louis in early 2019 but Salem subsequently sold the signal, along with a number of others, to Relevant Radio later that year.

Monday Memo: Disinformation, the New Disco. As school bells ring – or don’t – angst is amplified, and employers’ vaccine mandates and renewed mask mandates echo a 2020 we’d like to forget. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke cautions that “the pandemic protocol resistance narrative is approaching its ‘use-by’ date.” Read it here.

 

Pending Business: The Feedback & Agreement of Sales. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communcations Corp, writes in today’s column about the deadly effects of the “assumptive close.” He says, “What’s really going with these poorly timed assumptive closers? It’s all part of a fast track sell-by-email culture. When a seller bypasses key steps in any sales flow, the result is typically pushback. When an assumptive close is pushed too early in the sales flow, rapport and ease of access are stressed and difficult to reignite.” Read his piece here.

How Do the Dominion Lawsuits Affect Talk Hosts? TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes in a column today (8/13) about the recent rulings allowing the lawsuits by Dominion Election Systems against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell to go forward and the recently filed suits by Dominion against One America News Network, Newsmax, and FOX News. In denying the motions to dismiss by Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell, Federal Judge Carl Nichols wrote, “It is true that courts recognize the value in some level of ‘imaginative expression’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ in our public debate…But it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election.” Weisman notes that the landmark NY Times v. Sullivan recognizes the importance of the media being able to report on newsworthy topics without the threat of being sued for minor errors in reporting. However, he says, “There is a responsibility that comes with the microphone and camera and that responsibility is to not make statements that you know to be false or to make statements of fact when you have not properly investigated the basis for making those statements.” Read his column here.

Jeff Sottolano to Take Over for Pat Paxton as Audacy Chief Programming Officer. Late Friday (8/13), Audacy announced that 21-year corporate programmer Pat Paxton is exiting the company and he’ll be replaced by company programmer Jeff Sottolano, who rises to executive vice president, head of programming. Audacy CEO David Field says of Paxton, “Pat has been a key leader in the organization for the past 21 years, spearheading programming and playing a critical role in helping us build many of the industry’s greatest brands. Pat’s steady, decisive leadership and thoughtful insights have made him a valuable and trusted voice on Audacy’s leadership team. Pat has left an outstanding legacy at Audacy which will stand the test of time. We deeply appreciate his many important contributions to our success and everything he has meant to this company. Please join me in thanking Pat for all of his excellent work at Audacy and wishing him all the best for the future.” Addressing Sottolano’s rise within the company, Field states, “Like Pat, Jeff is a veteran team member, having spent his entire career at Audacy, Entercom, CBS Radio and Infinity. Since the merger, he has played an important leadership role overseeing a number of initiatives and many key elements of our programming.  Over the past year, Jeff led our news transformation efforts and the launch of the BetQL Network. In addition, he expanded our programming data and analytics capabilities, managed our network content partnerships and contributed to our Audacy Exclusive Station launch strategy. In his new role, Jeff will be responsible for the content strategy and performance of Audacy’s local brands in all formats across both broadcast and digital distribution platforms. He will oversee our outstanding programming leadership team, including SVP, programming Dave Richards; VP, news Bill Smee; VP, sports Matt Volk, and Audacy’s team of experienced format VPs.  He will also work closely with our Music Initiatives and Live Events team led by SVP, music initiatives Michael Martin and SVP, promotions and experiences Chad Fitzsimmons, as Audacy curates amazing experiences for its listeners in-person and online. Finally, he will collaborate with digital leadership to ideate new and exclusive features and content on the Audacy app and distribution platform as the company expands its capabilities and offerings.”

Gen Media Partners Unveils G Networks. This new radio network sales and affiliates sales division of Gen Media Partners debuts as G Networks. The company says, “Rising in tandem with the Gen Media Partners successful umbrella of other radio divisions, G Networks will stand alone as a full-service audio network company that is already engaged with over 250 million listeners each month through over 4,000 affiliated radio stations. G Networks has an existing and extensive portfolio of high-quality audio services, produced features, research services, entertainment, sports, news, and programming.” Gen Media Partners managing partner Warren Friedland adds, “Evolution isn’t possible without change. It is with this ethos that we have upped the commitment and engagement for our G Networks radio division and are focusing on what is now vitally important to advertisers and stations in the current media environment. With an eye to the future, we intend to both invest and transform the future of audio.”

Big Joe Staysniak Exits Sports Talk ‘The Fan’ in Indy. Longtime Emmis Communications air personality Big Joe Staysniak has exited “The Fan Morning Show.” The company says in a statement, “Big Joe Staysniak is no longer with Emmis and ‘The Fan.’ We would like to thank Big Joe for his many contributions to Emmis since he joined WIBC in 1998. He was always a fan favorite, and his knowledgeable insights and affable nature will be missed by his coworkers and listeners. We wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.” Staysniak had been co-hosting the morning show with Jeff Rickard but Rickard recently left “The Fan” to take the brand manager position at Audacy’s WEEI, Boston. Meanwhile, Kevin Bowen continues as morning host at “The Fan” and it’s unclear at this time if Emmis will hire a co-host to work with him. The company recently took “The Fan” off WFNI-AM and shut the signal down after selling its transmitter property for development. “The Fan” is currently heard on WIBC-HD2 and translators W228CX at 93.5 FM and W298BB at 107.5 FM.

TALKERS News Notes. In the wake of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti early Saturday morning (8/14) the Salem Radio Network announces that it is using its network-wide resources to generate food donations for victims. The quake Saturday was worse than the 2010 earthquake that left 220,000 dead across the island nation. SRN’s 24/7 news service SRN News and its news/talk counterpart TOWNHALL News have immediately launched a campaign to generate donations for Florida-based Christian non-profit relief organization FOOD FOR THE POOR. SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup says, “For over 35 years FOOD FOR THE POOR has had boots on the ground in Haiti, and their teams are uniquely qualified to distribute food to earthquake-devastated areas of Haiti through their network of local churches.” The Haiti earthquake relief effort will be joined by SRN’s nationally syndicated talk hosts Mike GallagherEric Metaxas, Sebastian Gorka, Hugh Hewitt and Carl Jackson (who is guest-hosting Larry Elder’s national talk show while Elder runs for Governor of California in the state’s September 14th Recall.)…..“Bar Fights: Taking on Issues that Matter,” a new podcast hosted by advocate, survivor and preeminent sexual abuse attorney Sarah Klein makes its debut today. Klein is also a former gymnast and the first known survivor of former Olympic women’s gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In 2018, she accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs for the bravery that she and her sister survivors exhibited to bring Nassar to justice. On “Bar Fights,” Klein goes after the issues that matter to protect children and vulnerable adults from perpetrators of sexual abuse, the institutions that enable them, and the laws that protect them. “Using my voice and platform to create awareness and positive change has been a huge part of my healing journey. It is an honor to bring on such an incredible line-up of guests who will inform, inspire, and challenge our listeners. To affect real change, we all have to do our part. That’s what we are doing here on ‘Bar Fights.’”…..Pictured below is Tom Griswold, host of the nationally syndicated “The BOB & TOM Show” in an Indianapolis hospital recovering from heart valve replacement surgery. It will be several weeks before he returns to his microphone at the studio, but a home studio is being assembled so he can get back on the air quicker. Those wishing to send well wishes to Tom may send them to: getwell@bobandtom.com.

WFOY, St. Augustine Owner Kris Phillips Dies. Lifelong broadcaster Kris Phillips, whose Phillips Broadcasting owns news/talk WFOY-AM, St. Augustine, has died at age 61 after a long illness. The station’s Facebook page features her obituary. Phillips, a native of Chicago, worked in the TV news and weather business for most of her career. She settled in St. Augustine in 2008 and formed the company that would buy WFOY and sister WAOC. Phillips had lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child and battled cancer twice.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines & Mandates, Taliban Takes Afghanistan, Haiti Earthquake, COVID Benefits Cyberfraud, Western Wildfires/Drought, Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases on some parts of the U.S. and the controversy over vaccines and mask mandates; criticism of the Biden administration’s response as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan; the aftermath of the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti; the report indicating that “tens of billions” of dollars of COVID relief benefits were stolen by cyberfraudsters abroad; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

 

 

Great News Opportunities at Saga Communications. The company is expanding its NEWS presence in several markets. Group program director Scott Chase says, “We are looking for news people who are more than just news people. If you’re a storyteller with a news mindset; if you’re charismatic and have a sense of humor; if you’re active in your community; if you’re interesting; if you’re an elite communicator, we’re looking for you. We want someone who understands how to reach the local listeners and make a story interesting. We want an individual who loves to connect with listeners and the leaders of their respective community. Are you still with us? If so, APPLY NOW. We are expanding our news footprint in South Dakota, Iowa, New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and the New England area, and we would love to talk to you about your ideas on news in a world that thinks the media delivers fake news. Saga Communications is a great company to work for and an equal opportunity employer. Apply Now!” Contact group program director, Scott Chase at schase@sagacom.com. Please send your resume, audio sample, and or writing sample.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “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 added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. 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 Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

| January 19, 2021

Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”

Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.

Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”

Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”

High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.

Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”

U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.

TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.

Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.