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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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

| November 24, 2020

Takeaways from Nielsen Audio’s November 2020 PPM Survey. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the first round of Nielsen Audio’s November 2020 PPM survey that included the markets 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). Some observations of note from this group of markets: iHeartMedia’s WOR, New York enters the top 10 in NYC (#9) on the strength of its weekly, 6+ AQH share of 3.6; Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas rockets up to #4 after posting a 1.6 share jump to a 4.9 share; and Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (11.5 share) maintains its hold on the #1 position for the 17th straight PPM survey. Check out Mike Kinosian’s complete ratings takeaways from this round of markets that look at the news/talk, all-news, sports talk, and public radio news/talk formats here.

WLS-AM, Chicago Officially Names Bruce St. James Morning Host. The story of talk radio pro Bruce St. James being named the new morning drive host at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago was broken last week by Chicago media writer Robert Feder. Now, the company officially announces that St. James will take over for Erich “Mancow” Muller on December 14. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “WLS 890 AM has served our Chicagoland audiences for 96 years. From John Landecker to Roe Conn to Mancow, every host has left his mark on the Big ’89 and none more so than Rush Limbaugh. In 2021, we will bring the focus back to those who matter most – our listeners. Bruce St. James is here to have a conversation with our listeners, not a lecture. He is not here to change formats. He is here to continue what 890 already does best – inform and entertain our listeners. We are thrilled to welcome Bruce to mornings on the New ’89. Bruce knows radio. And, now Chicago will know Bruce.” St. James comments, “‘Thrilled’ doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. It is an honor and privilege to host a show on the legendary WLS, and I accept the responsibility of living up to the standard set by those before me. Now, more than ever, people need to connect, as well as be informed in an entertaining way. That is our goal every morning and I look forward to getting to know the amazing city of Chicago. Now, about the weather…” St. James has worked almost exclusively in the Southwest, most recently as co-host of the late morning program on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix.

TALKERS News Notes. Today and tomorrow (11/24-25), sports media personality Jason Whitlock – who writes for Outkick.com – is filling in for Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck on his nationally syndicated late morning talk radio show…..Entercom Sacramento SVP and market manager Stacey Kauffman has been named to the 40 Under 40 list for 2020 by the Sacramento Business Journal. As part of the feature, the SBJ asked Kauffmann what in the industry she sees changing as a result of COVID-19. She says, “COVID-19 is accelerating rising trends of increased in-home listening via smart speakers and streaming that we were seeing pre-pandemic. I believe that will continue to increase, as more companies lean into a remote workforce and time-shifted scheduling.”…..AdLarge Media’s podcast network cabana adds three AccuWeather podcasts to its library. Joining cabana’s offerings are: “Everything Under The Sun,” “Weather Insider” with Bernie Rayno, and “This Date in Weather Industry” with AccuWeather senior meteorologist Evan Myers…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “Armstrong & Getty Show” – co-hosted by Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces it raised approximately $1.2 million for the Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station through the show’s annual “Warrior Foundation Freedom Station Give-A-Thon.” The Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station is a 501(c)3 volunteer-based organization that helps wounded vets recover both physically and mentally from service injuries. The funds raised will be used to purchase plane tickets for injured warriors so they can spend the holidays at home and with their families…..Streaming audio and on-demand service TuneIn announces that Richard Stern is named the new chief executive officer. He joins TuneIn from his most recent position as chief product officer for Audible. At the same time, the company announces that a new investment in the company led by Innovation Endeavors will serve to fund the acceleration of TuneIn’s technology innovation and market share as “one of the most widely used streaming audio platforms in the world with an unparalleled offering that brings together live sports, news, music, podcasts and radio.” Stern says, “Over 75 million listeners have come to depend on TuneIn to stay connected and informed in our fast-moving world. It’s my privilege to lead the TuneIn team on our mission to reinvent radio as a digital medium and continue to drive the live audio streaming revolution well into the future.”…..SportsGrid Radio and SiriusXM announce a deal to launch the SportsGrid Radio Channel on SiriusXM, effective January 7, 2021. SportsGrid Radio is replacing the VSiN channel, which will air on SiriusXM until December 31. SportsGrid Radio will feature the team of on-air personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith along with expert contributors and guest analysts.

RAB and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One to Host Presentation Focusing on Client Spot Loads. The RAB announces that as part of its Business Unusual initiative, its upcoming Open for Business live-video series episode is titled, “How Many Spots Should a Client Run in a Weekly Schedule?” The presentation features findings and takeaways from a joint spot load study conducted by the RAB and CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One. The presentation will unveil the survey results and provide sellers with a framework of guidelines to help them determine weekly spot schedules that are best suited to meet advertising clients’ campaign goals. It takes place on December 10 at 1:00 pm ET and features Cumulus Media | Westwood One chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard and Cumulus Media | Westwood One director, content marketing Lauren Vetrano. The presentation is free for RAB members.

Transition Process Approved/Trump Doesn’t Concede, Biden Administration Appointments, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Holiday Travel, Israel-Saudi Arabia Relations, China’s Moon Shot, and David Dinkins Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/23). The General Services Administration begins the transition process while Donald Trump announces he’s continuing to challenge the election results; Joe Biden announces members of his administration, including John Kerry to the National Security Council; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, predictions for future cases, and warnings about traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend; the reports that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman held a private meeting; China announces it is sending a rocket to the moon to collect samples; and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The annual Mayflower Marathon to benefit the Springfield Open Pantry is going virtual this year due to COVID-19. The charity event produced by Saga Communications’ WAQY, Springfield, Massachusetts “Rock 102” usually features market morning legends “Bax & O’Brien” – Mike Baxendale and John O’Brien – camped out in the parking lot of the Basketball Hall of Fame for three days straight collecting food stuffs and cash. Bax tells TALKERS magazine, “Because of COVID we had to be creative and avoid violating curfews and protocols. Rather than have listeners donate non-perishables at the Hall of Fame, we are doing a 52-hour long fundraiser.  We’re encouraging listeners to donate online and over the phone for Open Pantry instead, and so far, so good. In fact, we’re actually ahead of last year, which had been our best year to date.”…..In Philadelphia, Beasley Media Group’s rock WMMR-FM morning show hosts Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison held their annual “Preston & Steve Camp Out For Hunger” event that raised over 2.5 million pounds of food and $1.4 million dollars in cash to benefit Philabundance, which offers hunger relief to needy individuals and families in the greater Philadelphia area…..iHeartMedia Boston’s country WBWL “101.7 The Bull” and WBTS-TV, “NBC10 Boston” raised more than $38,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during last Saturday evening’s “One Night Only” broadcast special. The show was broadcast on NBC10 and hosted by “101.7 The Bull” personalities Colton Bradford, Amanda Jo, and Jess. It featured performances by country artists Kane Brown, Old Dominion, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina, and Jimmie Allen…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WCSX-FM, Detroit is presenting the “6th Annual People Helping People” campaign to assist families in Metro Detroit who are facing challenges during the holidays. Now through December 11, listeners are nominating families in need on the air and at WCSX.com. The “Big Jim’s House Morning Show” is sharing requests they receive on behalf of needy families and is connecting them with the appropriate business donors…..WUNC Music – the music discovery streaming radio station produced by WUNC-FM in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina adds two new hosts to its schedule. Alan Thompson, a.k.a. DJ Who4thecru, comes to the station from WNCU in Durham where he hosts the “Morning Jazz” show. Susan Castle joins the WUNC Music team to host the 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm show. She is the long-time morning host at KUTX, Austin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

| September 30, 2020

Round One of September PPMs Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio 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 2020 survey period covered August 13 – September 9. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR is the only spoken-word commercial station to notch a sizable increase over its August weekly AHQ share number, rising a half share to finish with a 2.3 share and the #17 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacks on one-tenth to wrap the September survey with a 4.0 share and the #5 rank. In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN falls a half share to post a 3.1 share and dipping to the #11 rank while Entercom’s crosstown all-news WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM sheds nine-tenths for a 6.4 share and slides to the #2 rank after holding on to #1 for the past seven PPM surveys. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report here.

FOX News Channel’s ‘Hannity’ Top Cable News/Talk Show. According to a report by The Hill, FOX News Channel’s “Hannity” finished the recent July-August-September quarter as the most-watched cable news/talk program averaging approximately 4.45 million viewers, based on data from Nielsen Media Research. FNC’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” came in second with 4.35 million viewers, followed by FOX’s “The Five” with 3.48 million, and “The Ingraham Angle” with 3.43 million viewers. The piece notes that the ratings period was marked by a heavy news cycle that included the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the national political conventions, the civil unrest, and the presidential race. As a result, FOX News Channel beat out legacy broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC in total viewers for the first time and became the most-watched network on television during the quarter.

NYPost: Carton and WFAN Very Close to a Deal. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand is reporting that Entercom’s WFAN, New York “The Fan” and former “Fan” morning personality (and convicted fraudster) Craig Carton have been in regular talks about his return and that a formal offer is expected to be made by the station “by the end of the week.” Marchand says the offer is to host the afternoon drive program but that it’s not a done deal yet. The Post has also reported that Carton has a legitimate offer on the table from Beasley Media Group’s WPEN-FM, “97.5 The Fanatic” to host morning drive there. Currently, WFAN afternoons are being hosted by former midday team Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno. At WPEN-FM, Marc Farzetta hosts the morning drive show.

Former Entercom/CBS Radio Exec Andy Bloom Gaining Traction as Political Writer/Commentator – Available for Interviews About Mail-in Voting Issue. After a long career as an accomplished radio programming, research and management executive, Andy Bloom has been finding traction lately as a political writer and talk media guest discussing the hot issues. Following a colorful career that most recently included serving as OM for Entercom’s three-station cluster in Minneapolis-St. Paul – WCCO-AM, KMNB-FM, and KZJK-FM – and prior to that, nine years as OM for CBS Radio in Philadelphia overseeing news/talk WPHT and sports/talk WIP, as well as EVP at Coleman Research and VP for radio programming at Greater Media, Bloom currently runs his own media research and consulting firm, Andy Bloom Communications, based out of Minneapolis. Since 2015, he has also developed a growing following as a writer of political and public policy articles for Newsmax Media. His latest research and analytical piece delves into the issues and complexities surrounding the mail-in ballot controversy. Read it here. The piece contains information of value about the issue to talk show hosts and Bloom has begun doing bookings on the subject and is available to do more. He can be contacted via email at andy@andybloom.com or by phone at 612-644-4737.

Gen Media Partners Forms IBA Radio Sales. The Independent Broadcasters Association and Gen Media Partners announce the formation of the new national sales and marketing team exclusively for IBA members called IBA Radio Sales. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “This is an incredible opportunity for Gen Media Partners and for IBA member stations. Gen Media Partners was built on the strength of independent broadcasters and creating IBA Radio Sales is a natural extension of that. Uniting as members of the Independent Broadcasters Association, owners and operators retain their independence while gaining the advantages of scale, allowing them to compete more effectively with large corporations. I encourage every independent broadcaster to contact [IBA president] Ron [Stone] about joining IBA to take advantage of the significant benefits that membership provides, including the IBA Radio Sales national platform. We look forward to growing as the IBA grows in membership and scope.” Stone comments, “IBA membership has been growing exponentially. To date, we have 900 members and more stations are joining every day. The number one request from prospective IBA members from our survey, conducted a few weeks ago while we were gauging interest for an IBA, was ‘we want our own rep firm.’ This opportunity with Gen Media Partners, known for successfully representing independent broadcasters in all size markets, is the ideal national sales partner to represent IBA member stations with this creation of a rep firm dedicated solely to IBA members. Our goal is for every independent operator to join IBA and reap the benefits of being represented by IBA Radio Sales. The board and I are very excited about working with Gen Media Partners to build our national sales platform and the opportunities IBA Radio Sales will bring to our members.”

TALKERS News Notes. The broadcast studio for Entercom’s sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit is being named “The Samuelsen Studio” in honor of the station’s late air personality Jamie Samuelsen, who died on August 1 after a year-and-a-half battle with colon cancer. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Jamie meant so much to our station and was a key part of our listeners lives. We want to honor him in a special way, not only as a great broadcaster, but an extraordinary person. We hope the renaming of the studio will serve as a way to keep his memory alive and add to his incredible legacy here in Detroit.”…..Radio America’s nationally syndicated  “Chad Benson Show” is added to the program schedule at Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland in the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot. KXL joins recently added affiliate stations KTAR-FM, Phoenix; KSTE-AM, Sacramento; WOKV-FM, Jacksonville; WIBC-FM, Indianapolis; and more…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One drops the first episode of its seven-part podcast series titled, “5-4,” that addresses the Supreme Court’s role in the November presidential election. The show is hosted by by legal commentators Peter (better known as Twitter’s @The_Law_Boy), Rhiannon (@AywaRhiannon), and Michael(@_FleerUltra). The first episode focuses on nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Other topics will include: the electoral college, gerrymandering, and campaign finance…..iHeartMedia unveils a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast called “The Ten News” targeted to kids ages 8 – 12 and hosted by comedian and storyteller Bethany Van Delft. The podcast is produced by Small But Mighty Media and Next Chapter Podcasts. Van Delft says, “I’m excited to be part of a show that’s not only cool and fun to listen to but speaks to kids as smart and curious people. ‘The Ten News’ helps amplify kids’ voices and empowers them to take action.”…..SiriusXM will air a new weekly show, “Forward Progress,” across several of its channels. The program focuses on race, society and sports and is co-hosted by SiriusXM’s Jason Jackson and Kirk Morrison. SiriusXM adds that the show will address “the continuing push for racial equality and justice – from the pioneering civil rights efforts of athletes like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell to the historic recent player protests and the groundswell of support for today’s Black Lives Matter movement across sports leagues. They will be joined by guests from around the sports world each week, including current and former players who are using their influence as public figures to create change, to discuss what more needs to be done.”…..Pictured below is KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller hosting his presidential debate watch party. More than 500 people attended the event at the Terrace Drive-In in Caldwell, Idaho.

Entercom and Clark Atlanta University Announce Partnership. This relationship between Clark Atlanta University and Entercom Atlanta will “provide students a unique and unprecedented opportunity to gain access to one of the nation’s leading media and entertainment companies. The partnership will expose students to top representatives in programming, sales, administration, and on-air talent, among others. Additionally, it will create a pipeline for future job opportunities.” The initiative launches tonight (9/30) with a private, virtual event for students. Entercom chairman, president and CEO David Field will also attend. CAU president Dr. George T. French says, “This is an exciting opportunity for our scholars. Partnerships with media conglomerates such as Entercom are a continuation of Clark Atlanta University’s Mass Media Arts Department’s legacy and dedication to ensuring our students are prepared and globally competitive in the communications industry.” Entercom Atlanta SVP and market manager Rick Caffey comments, “This partnership with Clark Atlanta University builds on our focus to create a more inclusive and diverse team and workplace. We’re excited to share our resources and insights in the form of real-world learning, beginning with this first virtual event on the future of audio.”

The Presidential Race/Tuesday’s Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, BLM Movement/Breonna Taylor Case, Stimulus Deal, Jobless Numbers-The Economy, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/29). The November presidential election and Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths and cases, the rising number in the Midwest, and projections for fall-winter outbreaks; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court; the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in various U.S. cities, as well as the grand jury process in the Breonna Taylor case; negotiations between Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin for a new stimulus deal; the U.S. jobless statistics and economic indicators; and the status of the deadly California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. WPOC-FM, Baltimore morning show personality Laurie DeYoung celebrated her 35th anniversary hosting the program on the iHeartMedia country station. The station says DeYoung “has been a staple of the Baltimore radio scene throughout her career since she began broadcasting on WPOC in 1985. Laurie has interviewed many country music icons over the years, including Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood and more. For more than three decades, she has also maintained an unmatchable relationship with her local listeners, country music industry tastemakers and artists.” DeYoung was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2010 and named CMA Large Market Personality of 1994 and CMA Major Market Personality in 2014…..Beasley Media Group announces that the new “MJ Morning Show” on 80s hits-formatted WRBQ, Tampa Bay will include MJ’s former co-hosts Froggy and Fester, plus new addition Roxanne Wilder. MJ, a.k.a. Todd Schnitt, says, “I’m ecstatic to bring the ‘MJ Morning Show’ back to Tampa Bay on the world famous ‘Q105.’ I love morning radio, and with Fester, Froggy, and Roxanne, we’ll provide must-listen content every day.”…..Entercom Riverside is inviting listeners to remember those who lost their lives in the mass shooting at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival. To honor the 58 lives lost and the survivors who still live with the trauma, country KFRG-FM “K-FROG” is hosting a virtual candlelight vigil via Facebook Live. The event will also include a reading of the victims’ names tomorrow night (10/1) at 8:00 pm PT…..Cumulus Media names Chad Heritage program director for country WGKX-FM, Memphis “KIX 106” and for adult contemporary WKIM-FM, Memphis “98.9 The Bridge.” Heritage joins Cumulus Memphis from iHeartMedia where he was national brand coordinator since 2009 and SVP of programming for iHeartMedia, Little Rock since 2006. Cumulus Memphis VP/market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “We knew Chad was a good match the first time we talked to him. He’s from the region, has had a very successful programming career and is the perfect fit to lead one of America’s best country brands with ‘KIX-106.’ He’s just the perfect fit for us and we’re excited about his joining the Cumulus team in Memphis.”…..Key Networks enters into an exclusive partnership agreement with Clear Media Network to manage all network advertising sales and network advertiser inventory operations for the new 24/7 music radio network. Dallas-based Clear Media Network was launched on September 1, 2020, and offers AC, country and adult R&B formats that are “uniquely positioned, formatted and dynamically programmed for the unique needs of the independent radio operator.”

Convention Coverage Unlike Any in History

| August 3, 2020

By Tom Tradup
Salem Radio Network
V.P. News/Talk Programming

 

DALLAS — R.I.P. American political conventions. You had a good run, but now you’re toast.

2020 has presented talk radio with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic — which has personally impacted many in our industry including the amazing infection-through-recovery story of John McConnell. We’ve also been asked to cover nationwide riots — oops, I mean “peaceful protests”— following the senseless killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the contraction of the radio industry including layoffs and pay cuts, and operating day to day with masks and social distancing.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

| June 18, 2020

KKOB-AM/FM, Albuquerque Names John Summers News Director. Radio news and programming pro John Summers is named news director for Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talk KKOB-AM/FM, Albuquerque. Cumulus says Summers is an award-winning journalist who was most recently brand manager and news director for Saga Communications’ WHCU-AM/FM, Ithaca, New York. Prior to that, he was regional program director and news director for the Northwest News Radio Network and the Washington Ag Network. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Jared Hart says, “We are thrilled to welcome John to the News Radio KKOB family. He’s a great fit to lead this iconic Albuquerque station into an exciting new chapter and to help capitalize on our recent expansion of the KKOB brand.” Summers says, “I’m thrilled to become part of the awesome Southwest legend, KKOB. I really appreciate Jeff Berry and Jared Hart’s confidence in my journalistic vision for the giant AM/FM signals involved – and I love New Mexico. This is going to be fun.”

Disruptor Radio LLC Acquires WNTW-AM, Richmond. Virginia media company Disruptor Radio, LLC announces it has closed on the purchase of WNTW-AM and translator W224EB – both licensed to Chester, Virginia in the Richmond market. Disruptor Radio is operated by John Fredericks, whose radio show airs in morning drive on the simulcast and is based at Disruptor’s WJFN-FM, Goochland, Virginia. It’s distributed by the John Fredericks Radio Network. Fredericks says the combination of the three signals “gives JFRN the largest footprint and most coverage in central Virginia.” John Fredericks says, “As of June 17, we have the most dynamic and engaging news/talk network lineup in America right here in central Virginia. Our combined three-stick radio reach now goes to Petersburg in the south, Fredericksburg to the north, west to Charlottesville, southwest to Longwood University in Farmville and east to Newport News and the Northern Neck. We now have a bigger footprint then-rival legacy station WRVA in Richmond and we look forward to the opportunity to offer central Virginia radio listeners an exciting alternative in the news/talk arena.” Fredericks adds he’s not shy about further expansion potential and he’s bullish on the future of talk radio.

Firings at U.S. Agency for Global Media Draw Rebuke from Democrats. The U.S. Senate confirmation of conservative filmmaker Michael Pack and his subsequent firing of four news organization chiefs has drawn the ire of congressional Democrats. According to Edward Wong’s story in The New York Times, those let go on Wednesday evening were: Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia, Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and Libby Liu of the Open Technology Fund. The story adds that Pack also “disbanded the bipartisan boards that govern and advise those five organizations. He replaced the members, which are the same across the organizations, largely with Trump administration political appointees, including himself as chairman.” On Monday of this week, Radio Free America director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandra Sugawara resigned their positions.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the sports talk format. Obviously, without any sports contests being played since March, the format has suffered, but the downward trend the format experienced in March and April is leveling off. Sixty-two percent of sports talk stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go up, led by Bonneville’s KKFN, Denver (+1.0, 3.1share). Comparing May 2019 to May 2020, just 32% of stations are up with 65% down. The year-over-year gainers are led by iHeartMedia’s KFXN, Minneapolis (+1.8, 5.9 share). No sports talker came close to ranking #1 in its market in May. Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia was the top ranker in the format, finishing at #4 with a 5.9 share. Read Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

John Bolton Book, BLM Protests/Rayshard Brooks Case, Trump Police Reform Order, COVID-19 Statistics/Beijing Outbreak, Aunt Jemima Retired, Presidential Race, China-India Clash, and Return of the NBA Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/17). The controversy and legal battle over former national security adviser John Bolton’s yet-to-be-released book; the Black Lives Matter protests and the officers being charged in the death of Rayshard Brooks; President Trump issues a police reform executive order; the COVID-19 statistics in the U.S., the states seeing increases, and the outbreak in Beijing; the Aunt Jemima brands are retired by PepsiCo; the November presidential election; the deadly clash between China and India over a disputed Himalayan border region; and the NBA prepares to return to action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Scott Herman Elected Chair of Broadcasters Foundation of America. The board of directors of the Broadcasters Foundation of America elects radio executive Scott Herman chair of the charitable organization. Herman served for years with CBS RADIO and Group W and he’s currently CEO of SHH Media Management. He takes over for Dan Mason, who remains on the board of directors. Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb is re-elected as vice chair. Additionally, Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones is elected to the board. Dan Mason says, “It has been an honor to serve the broadcasting industry as chair of the Broadcasters Foundation, and I look forward to continuing my involvement as a board member of this unique charity that helps our colleagues. I am pleased to turn over the chair seat to Scott, who I know to be both capable and caring. He loves this industry as much as I do and will work tirelessly to help those in our business who need it most.” Herman is a longtime member of the Foundation’s board and has served as vice chair since 2017.

DOUBLE HEADER: ‘Two Men, Two Games’ – Sean Spicer and Colin Cowherd Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. Former White House press secretary and current Newsmax TV host Sean Spicer and FOX Sports Radio/Television host Colin Cowherd are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” In a two-part program titled, “Two Men, Two Games,” Harrison discusses a wide array of current issues with two of the most colorful individuals in talk media focusing on the impact that today’s turbulence is having on media, business, sports, and society. Harrison and Spicer talk about the seismic changes that have taken place in the relationship between the presidency and the press during the Donald Trump administration in addition to ongoing debate over government regulation of social media. Spicer also offers his perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement and offers a few tips on how to approach this president in an interview or ask him questions at a press conference. Harrison and Cowherd (who is ranked number one on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Radio) discuss the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on professional sports, the delicate art of simulcasting a talk show on radio and television, the responsibility team owners have to the fans, as well as a fascinating breakdown on the political leanings of sports talk radio listeners. Don’t miss this power-packed installment of one of the world’s most-respected, media-oriented podcasts. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. After last week’s exit from SummitMedia by SVP of programming Beverlee Brannigan, the company announces that Randy Chase is joining the company in the same capacity. SummitMedia says Chase joins the leadership team and will oversee all country music stations. He’ll report to EVP of programming Bill Tanner. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer states, “Randy’s experience across all formats and his passion to serve our listeners make him an excellent addition to our team. His ability to innovate in our industry and drive consumer engagement are attributes we are particularly excited about.” Chase has served with the Educational Media Foundation as VP of radio for the past seven years. Prior to that he led national country branding and programming for Cox Media Group. Chase will be based in Knoxville and will also serve as program director for country WCYQ, Knoxville “100.3 The Wolf.”…..Hubbard Radio makes changes to the air staff at Chicago hot AC WTMX “101.9 THE MIX.” Eric Ferguson remains in mornings but everything else changes. Sixteen-year afternoon drive personality Kevin “Koz” Koske leaves that daypart and will be director of creative services for both WTMX and sister AC WSHE. He’ll also handle some weekend and fill-in shifts. Taking over afternoon drive is evening host Chris Petlak and midday jock Lisa Allen. Taking over Allen’s midday slot is music director Nikki Chuminatto. Weekend personality Jordan “Dash” Weiss is upped to evening personality…..In Charlottesville, Virginia, Saga Communications lets classic rock WWWV morning host and imaging director Max Hoecker go and replaces his show with the Westwood One syndicated “Bob & Tom” Show…..United Stations Radio Networks announces a new program hosted by Grammy and Emmy award-winning musician Kenny Loggins. Titled, “Kenny Loggins: The Real Thing,” the program will debut at a yet-to-be-finalized date this summer and will be delivered as completely flexible segments allowing stations to build their imaging and music around voice tracks supplied by Kenny Loggins.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

| May 6, 2020

Chris Oliviero Returns to Entercom as SVP/Market Manager for New York. It’s been almost two years since Chris Oliviero left his EVP of programming role with Entercom. On June 1, he returns to the company’s New York offices as senior vice president and market manager for the station group that includes all-news WINS-AM and WCBS-AM, sports talk WFAN-AM/FM, and alternative WNYL “ALT 92.3,” classic hits WCBS-FM, and country WNSH-FM. He assumes the role previously held by Susan Larkin, who was promoted to company chief operating officer. Larkin says, “Chris is an exceptional leader with proven success developing talent, growing many of our leading brands, and building a thriving culture. We’re thrilled to welcome him back to take the helm of his hometown where his energy, passion and drive will help further raise the bar of excellence in the top media market in the country.” Oliviero originally transitioned to Entercom as the company acquired the CBS RADIO properties.  He worked for CBS for 22 years and was a senior manager for CBS for years. He comments, “Radio in New York is an incredibly special place, so to have the chance to return to a collection of the most iconic and influential brands on the dial is humbling. Our stations are in many ways the soundtrack of the city. I am confident that along with all my Entercom New York colleagues we will add to this legacy. I can’t wait to reconnect with so many old friends and of course meet new ones as well.”

Sandhill Media to Launch New Talk Station in Idaho Falls; Neal Larson and Julie Mason Recruited for Mornings. There’s no exact launch date set for the new format but Sandhill Media Group says it will move its CHR format off KAOX-FM, Idaho Falls and install the new “Newstalk 107.9 FM” format with market morning duo Neal Larson and Julie Mason as hosts of the AM drive show. Larson and Mason left their positions with Rich Broadcasting’s crosstown news/talk KID last month.  The station plans to air Westwood One’s Mark Levin program as well as other national programs.  Neal Larson is also serving as program director for the station.  He says, “We’re thrilled at the opportunity to not just continue doing what we love to do, but also join the great and talented team at Sandhill and build something from the ground up. It is a unique opportunity at a truly unique time in our community, state, and country. We can’t wait to unveil to the whole region what we’re putting together.”  Mason adds, “While being part of a brand-new station is an incredible opportunity, what we really love is what happens after – building a community of informed and loyal listeners on one side, and also watching that audience create huge value for our advertisers on the other.”  Station OM Will Kezele, says, “We have a fantastic core of music stations here at Sandhill, but the one piece we’ve been missing is a news/talk station. This is our moment to fill that void and create something that will be a valuable part of east Idaho for many years to come.” Sandhill will move the CHR format to KAOX-HD2/K286BU at 105.1 FM.

Kim Guthrie to Leave Cox Media Group President and CEO Post. This change comes as a surprise to industry watchers and one has to wonder what caused Cox Media Group president and CEO Kim Guthrie to decide to “move on from the organization after a 22-plus year career with the company.” In a press release, CMG says executive chairman Steve Pruett will serve as interim CEO until a permanent CEO is named. He says, “On behalf of the board of directors, we would like to thank Kim for her decades of service to Cox Media Group and her leadership during the company’s transition to new ownership. She has been instrumental in positioning CMG for future success as an industry-leading media company.” Guthrie, who will work with Pruett on an orderly transition, comments, “We have built a strong foundation for future growth, including an exceptional senior management team, a successful carveout from Cox Enterprises, and deep, long-term relationships with our communities, customers and partners. I have full confidence in this great team at CMG and I look forward to watching CMG’s future achievements.”

Saga Communications Reports Q1 Financials; Net Revenue Dips 6.5%. The first broadcasting company to report its first quarter 2020 financial data is Saga Communications, Inc and its report comes with a huge caveat – this report doesn’t reflect the hit the company has taken from April 1 to now.  Saga states net income increased to $1.7 million from $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 20.3%.  However, net revenue was $26.1 million for the quarter, a decrease of 6.5% from Q1 2019 in which net revenue was $27.8 million. Free cash flow was $1.5 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 compared to $2.6 million for the same period last year.   Saga reports having $47 million in cash on hand as of May 4, 2020. It says in its report, “The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to spread, and state and local ‘shelter-in-place’ orders in the states where we operate have impacted and restricted various aspects of our business. Our operations are functioning, subject to regulated restrictions and safety constraints we have enacted in order to protect our employees and customers. As a result of the current challenging economic conditions, our reported results for the three months ended March 31, 2020 are not reflective of current market conditions. The company’s advertising revenue has declined significantly as a result of the pandemic and these unfavorable trends have continued into May and June. While we cannot reasonably estimate the length or severity of this pandemic, an extended economic slowdown in the U.S. could materially impact our consolidated financial position, consolidated results of operations, and consolidated cash flows in fiscal 2020 or beyond.”

PPM Analysis: Extra. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents the “Extra” edition of his monthly study of Nielsen Audio’s 6+ ratings data from the March 2020 PPM survey. He says this “Extra” coverage of each PPM sweep in the foreseeable future will uniquely detail month-to-month shifts among news/talk; all-news; public radio news/talk; and sports talk stations. Among this month’s data is: A ranking of the strongest spoken-word markets among the 48 PPM markets – #1 is Washington, DC, followed by Boston at #2 and San Francisco at #3; a ranking of the markets that most improved over the February 2020 PPM survey – Portland saw a 4.0 share gain from month to month, with Seattle close behind with a 3.8 share improvement; a ranking of the stations that achieved the highest increase from February to March – Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago is the winner here; as well as a look at the stations losing the most ground, month to month (hint: sports talk).  See the entire report here.

Entercom All-News Stations Honored with Awards. Two of Entercom’s all-news stations were recently honored for programming quality.  KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM, San Francisco garnered 10 2019 Associated Press Television and Radio Association Awards – eight first place awards and two second-place awards. KCBS won first place for Outstanding News Operation, Best Evening Newscast, and Best Spot News Coverage, among others. Meanwhile, the company’s WINS, New York took home three 2020 Excellence in Broadcasting Awards first-place honors from the New York State Broadcasters Association.  “1010 WINS” won for Outstanding Spot News, Outstanding Newscast, and Outstanding Use of Digital Platforms.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, Rush to Re-Open, Scrutiny of China’s COVID-19 Response, Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll plus the projections of future cases; the debate over ‘lives vs livelihood’ as states begin to re-open their economies; the accusations that China tried to hide the coronavirus outbreak; the presidential race and Tara Reade’s allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; and activity among the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Nobody covers the New York City sports radio scene more colorfully than the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, and in today’s column he speculates about the possible return of former WFAN-AM/FM morning personality Craig Carton now that radio executive Chris Oliviero is returning to Entercom as SVP and market manager of its New York stations. Of course, Carton is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted of fraud in a concert tickets Ponzi-scheme. Marchand notes that Oliviero and WFAN program director Mark Chernoff put together the team of Boomer Esiason and Carton back in 2007…..ABC News’ “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir interviewed President Trump in Phoenix on Tuesday as the president was in the city visiting a plant that makes face masks. Muir is featured on ABC Audio’s “Start Here” podcast with host Brad Mielke speaking about his interview with the president…..Entercom launches a daily “I’m Listening” capsule. The 60-second public service announcements, an extension of the company’s annual, yearlong “I’m Listening” mental health awareness initiative, features the voices and thoughts of artists, celebrities, media hosts, and mental health specialists. The daily capsules will feature singer and songwriter Halsey; former American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps; singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist Lizzo; singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Allessia Cara; rock band Blink-182; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and former Nirvana member Krist Novoselic, and more to help listeners navigate the complexities of this global health pandemic…..Three new iHeartRadio Original Podcasts launch today. “Fierce,” co-produced by Tribeca Studios, is hosted by Jo Piazza and explores the stories of extraordinary women who never made it into history books; “Flashback: History’s Unintended Consequences” in conjunction with OZY Media, is hosted by OZY’s Sean Braswell who explores disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas, crazy coincidences, unsung heroes, and forgotten villains in history; and “The Trend Reporter,” hosted by four-time Emmy award-winning TV personality and journalist Mara Schiavocampo, is a weekly show that will help listeners figure out which wellness, beauty, style, and fitness trends are actually worth trying…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Podcast Network welcomes two shows to its platform: “The Stacking Benjamins Show,” with host Joe Saul-Sehy and co-host Josh Bannerman teaching listeners about personal finance through headlines, guest experts, and plenty of humor. The hour-long, magazine-style show drops each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and the spin-off program “Money with Friends” with Joe Saul-Sehy and Bobbi Rebell who are joined each season with a rotating cast of thought leaders providing fresh perspectives and unique insights to the personal finance news and issues discussed on the podcast.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Jacksonville, iHeartMedia launches a regional Mexican format branded “El Patrón 97.3” on translator W247CF (fed by WKSL-HD2). The translator had been fed by sports talk WFXJ-AM. Jacksonville iHeartLatino GSM Jorge Lopez says, “I am grateful to be part of a company that sees Hispanic growth in Jacksonville, by adding another radio station and Hispanic brand to our market. With this launch, we confirm our commitment to the community and our solid growth in the communications industry in North Florida, covering 100% of the Hispanic market with our ‘Rumba’ brand and now with ‘El Patrón.’”…..SiriusXM launches the “Mandatory Metallica” channel through the month of May featuring the band’s biggest songs, rarities, and concert recordings from throughout its history. The channel is embarking on a 30-date “virtual Metallica tour,” which will air a daily concert from the band on tour around the globe, including the band’s exclusive SiriusXM concert from 2013 at the Apollo Theater in New York City and their 2016 concert at New York City’s Webster Hall.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

| April 7, 2020

FCC Shoots Down Request for Investigation into Broadcasters Airing Presidential Press Conferences. Last week, the activist organization Free Press filed an emergency petition with the FCC calling on it to “investigate the spread of false Covid-19 information via broadcast outlets across the United States.”  Free Press co-CEO Jessica J. González and senior policy counsel Gaurav Laroia state, “The FCC possesses both the authority and the responsibility to ensure the public airwaves are utilized in the public interest.  This duty is heightened in times of crisis.  Specifically, broadcasters are prohibited from knowingly airing false information about a catastrophe that causes ‘substantial public harm.’”  Yesterday (4/6), the Commission’s Office of General Counsel and Media Bureau wholly rejected the petition saying it “seeks remedies that would dangerously curtail the freedom of the press embodied in the First Amendment and misconstrues the Commission’s rules.  The decision also makes clear that the FCC will neither act as a roving arbiter of broadcasters’ editorial judgments nor discourage them from airing breaking news events involving government officials in the midst of the current global pandemic.”  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quoted saying, “Under my leadership, the FCC has always stood firmly in defense of Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, including freedom of the press.  And so long as I am chairman of this agency, we always will.  The federal government will not—and never should—investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments simply because a special interest group is angry at the views being expressed on the air as well as those expressing them.  In short, we will not censor the news.  Instead, consistent with the First Amendment, we leave it to broadcasters to determine for themselves how to cover this national emergency, including live events involving our nation’s leaders.”

SportsGrid Shows to Air Across SB Nation Radio Network. Two of SportsGrid’s national talk shows – “Ferrall Coast to Coast” with Scott Ferrall and “Game Time Decisions” with Gabe Morency – will air on the SB Nation Radio schedule beginning April 14.  “Ferrall Coast to Coast” will air weekdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and “Game Time Decisions” will air from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET.  Ferrall comments, “This new opportunity allows me to reconnect with my long-time loyal listeners all over the country across the SB Nation network of radio stations. I’m looking forward to changing sportscasting by including the sports betting perspective and commentary to the millions of engaged fans.”

Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Emergency Grants. The Broadcasters Foundation of America’s executive committee of the board of directors held an emergency meeting recently to respond to broadcasters in financial need due to the coronavirus pandemic. The criteria for emergency grant qualifications has been revised to provide aid to broadcasters who meet the requirements and have been infected.  BFoA chairman Dan Mason says, “Never in our history as broadcasters have we experienced an event that has caused this much hardship.  Thus, we have revised provisions to our emergency grant eligibility guidelines.”  For more information, broadcasters in need can email grants@thebfoa.org or visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org/coronavirus.

Austin American-Statesman Launches New Streaming Talk Station. Former KLBJ-AM, Austin personality Jeff Ward is one of the Austin market radio pros to join the newest streaming venture from the Austin American-Statesman.  The new station – called the Statesman News Network – joins the news organization’s streaming music station Austin360 Radio as the paper’s next audio venture.  Ward will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program.  He says, “There will be plenty of common-sense rants.  But the goal of the show is always the same: I want you to find it compelling, and I want you to feel forced to think.”  The paper says that other shows lined up for the stream include: “From the Newsroom” featuring interviews from the staff of the newspaper; “512 Tech and Business Report,” a daily update on local business and technology news from Amy Edwards; “Longhorn Confidential,” breaking news, interviews and updates on the Texas Longhorns; “Austin Found,” in which Statesman reporter and Austin history buff Michael Barnes and radio personality JB Hager share the stories behind the making of the Texas capital; plus more.

PPM Analysis: February 2020 Extra. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents and “extra” look at Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey.  In this report, he presents a rank of the PPM markets based on weekly, 6+ AQH share for all spoken-word stations; a rank of the highest market-wide gains in spoken-word listening; a rank of the markets that lost the most 6+ share; and more.  See it all here.

Radio Pros, ‘Sterling On Sunday’ Keeps You on the Air.  The national radio show “Sterling On Sunday” invites laid off radio performers to participate in their on-air comedy routines and dramas.  “We have had a stunning array of top talent in our sketches such as Charlie Van Dyke, JJ Wilson, but mostly people who wish to remain anonymous due to their alimony situation.  If you can cut an mp3, we can write a part for you.”  “Sterling On Sunday” is aired (10:00 pm to 1:00 am) on major stations live such as KMBZ-FM, Kansas City; KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh; WPHT, Philadelphia; KFBK, Sacramento; plus about 100 more.  “Broadcasting from home is nothing new to us.  It’s the right way.  We will give you credit, script approval, and generally talk you up. Hear past shows at www.waltermsterling.com so you know what you’re getting into. No broadcaster should be off the air, it’s unnatural.  C’mon let’s make a show.  We also have a plan to pay you for helping our team clear the show…cash!”  Contact waltermsterling@gmail.com.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases and Death Toll, the Hydroxychloroquine Debate, Trump Fires Whistleblower, Financial Markets Activity, Boris Johnson in ICU, Wisconsin Primary, 5G-Coronavirus Conspiracy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Controversy, Chinese Journalist at WH Presser, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll; the medical and political debate over the effectiveness of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus; the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson; the world’s financial markets react to coronavirus news; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moves to the ICU for Covid-19 treatment; the battle between Wisconsin’s governor and the state Supreme Court over the primary elections; the conspiracy theory that 5G is exacerbating coronavirus symptoms; the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is removed for pleading for help for his coronavirus-infected crew; a Chinese journalist is admitted to the White House press briefing; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City Morning Host Sues Entercom for Discrimination.  Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City “96.5 The Buzz” morning host Afentra Bandokoudis has filed suit against Entercom Kansas City for “discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Equal Pay Act.”  She’s seeking back pay, benefits, bonuses, and more.  Bandokoudis’ complaint alleges that she was paid less than her male counterparts despite outperforming their shows.  She was paid a base salary of $100,000 and her PD/afternoon host Scott Geiger, a.k.a. Lazlo, made $185,000.  (Bandokoudis and Geiger were married from 2005 through July of 2018, a month before Bandokoudis was fired from the station.)  She alleges Johnny Dare, morning host on sister rock station KQRC, made more than $185,000 despite her show outperforming his.  Bandokoudis goes on to claim that after she complained about the par disparity, she was subject to retaliatory actions before ultimately being let go in 2018.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At iHeartMedia’s Chicago hip hop WGCI, Zach Boog is named the new evening host, taking over for DJ MoonDawg, who exited during the company’s January restructuring.  He’d been filling in on the daypart along with other WGCI staffers.  Station PD Johnnie D. Glover says, “It is an honor to promote Zach to nights on 107.5 WGCI.  He is extremely entertaining, works hard to produce compelling content, and has a very organic way of connecting with Chicago listeners.  Zach has a bright future and I look forward to working with him to create many exciting memories with 107.5 WGCI’s audience.”…..Griffin Communications CHR KHTT, Tulsa “106.9 K-Hits” brings Kacy Termini aboard as co-host of the new “Chubbs & Kacy Show” to debut on Monday (4/13).  She comments, “I’ve been so impressed with what ‘K-Hits’ and the Griffin brands have been able to do in our community.  Every time something happens, they step up to help their neighbors and keep them safe and informed.  Especially at such a trying time for many.  I’m excited to work with Chubbs and do our part to make Green Country even more special.  We still need to laugh – in both the hard times and the good ones!”…..Condolences to the family and friends of programming pro John Roberts, who passed away recently after a esophageal cancer.  He’d been serving as regional operations manager for Townsquare Media in Tyler, Texas.  Townsquare SVP of programming Kurt Johnson says, “John was a true pro, one of the best our business has ever seen.  But more importantly he was a great friend to everyone, and he made a huge impact on his family, his staff, his community, and basically with everyone he met.”

Thursday, March 5, 2020

| March 5, 2020

Susan Larkin to Succeed Weezie Kramer as Entercom COO. When Entercom acquired the radio assets of CBS RADIO in 2017, chief operating officer Weezie Kramer put off her planned retirement to help lead the company’s operations “through the integration and critical transformation initiatives to elevate and enhance the company’s competitive position.”  Now, Kramer is leaving her COO position effective May 5 when current New York market manager and regional president Susan Larkin will assume the COO role.  Kramer will continue to serve the company as a senior executive adviser to Entercom president and CEO David Field.  Kramer joined the company in 2000.  The company is already in the process of seeking Larkin’s replacement in New York.  David Field says, “Weezie has been an extraordinary, inspiring leader and a fiercely determined, tireless competitor and strategist who has built an outstanding record of success over the many years in which she has led us forward as our chief operating officer.  She set an uncompromising standard of excellence for all, both professionally and personally, driving us to be our very best while maintaining the highest ethical standards.  She earned the sincere admiration, respect and affection of the entire Entercom team, and much of the industry, for her spirited leadership and decency and for being a full-throated, unapologetic champion for radio.  She has been an extraordinarily successful COO and we are all immensely grateful to her. While she will be deeply missed as COO, I am thrilled that she will be joining the Entercom board where we will continue to benefit from her wisdom and guidance for years to come.”  Speaking about her new role with Entercom, Larkin says, “This is an exciting time for Entercom, and for all audio media.  I am thrilled to be part of Entercom’s forward-thinking strategy as we continue to set ourselves apart as the best operator and creator of audio content in the U.S. and realize the value of our engaged impressions with advertisers.  Weezie has been an incredible mentor and the best leader I could ask for.  I am honored to work with such a strong team and excited about the next phase of Entercom’s continued growth, expansion and strategic vision.”

Emmis/Mediaco SVP Charlie Morgan to Leave for New Opportunity. Senior vice president Charlie Morgan is leaving his role with Emmis/Mediaco for a new opportunity.  Morgan, who served with the company for the past 10 years – six in Indianapolis and the past four years in New York, is credited by the company with “leading the turnaround of Emmis operations in Indianapolis and New York (now Mediaco).  His focus on product quality, operational excellence, innovation and, perhaps most important, on culture and talent development as the ultimate path to winning have been central to our success.  Charlie’s emphasis on building great teams through coaching and development has enhanced the careers of countless colleagues over the years at Mediaco, Emmis, Cumulus, IMS Productions and Susquehanna.  We sincerely thank him for all his efforts and wish him the absolute best in his next endeavor.”  The company says it is beginning a search for a permanent leader for Mediaco New York.  In the meantime, Emmis/Mediaco president Patrick Walsh will serve as interim New York market manager.

George Beasley Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at Broadcasters Foundation of America Golden Mike Ceremony. New York’s Plaza Hotel was the scene of last night’s Broadcasters Foundation of America 2020 Golden Mike Award Gala.  More than 350 broadcasters and celebrities were there as the BFoA raised more than $400,000 to support broadcasters in need.  At this year’s event, Tegna president and CEO Dave Lougee received the 2020 Golden Mike Award and Beasley Media Group founder and chairman George Beasley received the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Pictured above are (from l-r): BFoA chairman Dan Mason, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley (accepting for her father George), BFoA president Jim Thompson and event host and “Inside Edition” anchor Deborah Norville.

New York Festivals to Honor the National Press Club.  At the New York Festivals Storytellers Gala taking place on April 21 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, the National Press Club will be honored with the New York Festivals Lifetime Achievement Award.  NYF says its Lifetime Achievement Award “recognizes prominent industry leaders and driving forces in the broadcast industry whose accomplishment have advanced their field and made a lasting impression on the industry.”  NYF TV & Film Awards/Radio Awards vice president/executive director Rose Anderson says, “For over a century, the National Press Club has upheld responsible journalism, supported freedom of the press worldwide, and provided a forum for the exchange of substantive ideas in our Nation’s Capital.  Their members’ commitment to excellence encompasses all media.  In this year marking the centennial of radio and our inaugural Storyteller’s Gala, we are proud to honor this organization with the New York Festivals Lifetime Achievement Award.”  National Press Club president Michael Freedman will accept the award on behalf of the organization.

Cumulus Nashville Stations to Hold Radiothon for Tornado Relief. The Nashville cluster of Cumulus Media is holding the Cumulus Cares Tornado Relief Radiothon tomorrow (3/6) at Edley’s Bar-B-Que to raise money for the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund.  It started when Will Newman from Edley’s reached out to WGFX-FM “104-5 The Zone” personality Jonathan Hutton about ways to give back to the community in the wake of the devastating tornados.  The radiothon was born and tomorrow WGFX-FM, news/talk WWTN-FM, and Cumulus’ three music stations will broadcast live encouraging cash donations.  In addition, Cumulus is collecting necessities such as diapers, blankets, baby formula, wipes, gloves, toothpaste, Ziploc bags, tide pods, and feminine hygiene products at accessible areas nearby the broadcast site.

WPHT, Philadelphia to Hold Third Annual Liberty USO Radiothon. In Philadelphia tomorrow (3/6), Entercom news/talker WPHT is hosting the 3rd annual “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Liberty USO Radiothon” to benefit Active, Guard and Reserve military and their families through programs and services at the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO).  The station will broadcast live from Chickie’s & Pete’s Play 2 from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm ET.  The broadcast will be anchored by on-air personalities Rich Zeoli and Dom Giordano.  Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We care deeply about serving those who have served our country and I’m proud of the role WPHT plays in supporting Liberty USO.  This annual radiothon aims to raise awareness and funds on behalf of service members and their families right here in our community through the generosity of our listeners.”

Suburban Philly News/Talker to Go Dark. WNPV-AM/W253CA, Lansdale, Pennsylvania “The Talk of the Suburbs” announces it will cease programming on April 30 and go off the air.  WFMZ-TV reports general manager Phil Hunt saying in a press release, “Our mission has always been to serve the public interest by providing top-quality local news, and we have never been willing to compromise on that promise.  In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to compete for both audience and advertising dollars, and unfortunately it is no longer sustainable to continue to run the business in a way that delivers the service our community expects and deserves.  We are grateful for the support of our loyal listeners, the belief of our advertisers and the commitment from our talented team.  It has been an honor to serve this community.”  The signals are owned and operated by North Penn Valley Broadcasting and serve Bucks and Montgomery counties.

WHO, Des Moines Personality Bonnie Lucas Wraps Radio Career Tomorrow. Des Moines radio personality Bonnie Lucas is retiring from iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHO, Des Moines after tomorrow morning’s show.  She’s been co-hosting the station’s AM drive program with co-host (and station PD) Van Harden since 1994.  Lucas’ final show will take place on the road as she and Harden broadcast live from Meals from the Heartland in West Des Moines for the “2020 Van & Bonnie Hunger Fight,” a non-profit, food-packing event where volunteers package meals for delivery to malnourished people in Iowa, across the United States and around the world.  Beginning Monday (3/9), Van Harden will host the morning show with special feature guests including familiar WHO personalities such as Jeff Angelo, Simon Conway, Emery Songer, and Maxwell Schaeffer as well as prominent central Iowa public figures and entertainers.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM midday anchor – and host of the “Noon Business Hour” – Cisco Cotto is launching “WBBM In Depth,” a weekly podcast that further explores local business news stories.  The podcast will also include interviews plus reports from contributors.  focusing on trending news stories and their impact on the business world. It also features longer interviews with contributors and experts…..Entercom’s Philadelphia radio stations moved into the company’s new RADIO.COM World Headquarters at 2400 Market Street in Philly last month.  All-news KYW-AM, news/talk WPHT, sports talk WIP-FM, adult contemporary WBEB “B101.1,” CHR WDTY, and classic hits WOGL are all now located in the company’s headquarters.  At the KYW site, videographer Holli Stephens presents a two-minute video of the gleaming new studios and offices.  Check it out here…..The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that former Green Bay Packers fullback and fan favorite John Kuhn is being courted by local and national media organizations for a full-time sports talk role. Kuhn began working in the Packers front office last April as an analyst for digital, broadcast, and game presentations.  He was a sideline reporter for radio flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee’s broadcasts last season.  The MBJ cites sources saying iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRNW-FM “The Game” is talking with him about joining its lineup, though nothing is set in stone yet.

Coronavirus Pandemic, Presidential Race, Financial Markets Activity, SCOTUS Hears Abortion Case/Schumer Comments, Israel Election, Syria-Turkey Violence, and Tennessee Tornado Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/4). The status of the coronavirus pandemic and California’s declaring a state of emergency; Joe Biden’s leap to frontrunner in the Democratic primary race; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic; the Supreme Court hears arguments in the Louisiana abortion law case and Senator Chuck Schumer is criticized for threatening Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh; the results of Israel’s most recent election in which Benjamin Netanyahu failed to achieve a majority; the military clashes between Syrian and Turkish forces; and the aftermath of the Tennessee tornadoes were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

‘Inside Edition’ Anchor Deborah Norville Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. “Inside Edition” anchor Deborah Norville is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The two-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster is celebrating her 25th anniversary as host of the daily news magazine establishing her as the longest-running daily anchor in national television. She is also getting ready to emcee the annual Broadcasters Foundation of America Golden Mike Award Dinner tomorrow evening (3/4) at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The dinner is the BFoA’s signature fundraising event to help broadcasters who’ve fallen on hard times due to medical crises or natural disasters. Norville is an accomplished broadcaster with outstanding television and radio credentials. She joined “Inside Edition” in 1995 from CBS News where she was an anchor and correspondent. She is the former co-host of NBC’s “Today” and anchor of NBC “News at Sunrise.” During her career she has hosted a primetime show on MSNBC, a national radio show on the ABC Talk Radio Network and has served as an anchor and reporter for WMAQ-TV in Chicago. She began her reporting career at WAGA-TV in Atlanta, while still a student at the University of Georgia, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude, First Honor Graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is also a prolific best-selling author and active with a number of leading causes and charities. Harrison and Norville discuss the Broadcasters Foundation as well as her career in television, changes in audience attention spans, the state of the media industry, and the #MeToo movement. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.