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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 19, 2021

| February 19, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Forks and Bumps,” looks back at this past week of February 15-19, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioHowie Carr, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio NetworkDave Congalton, talk show host, KVEC, San Luis Obispo, CA; and Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, the Joe Pags Show. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Delmarva; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Wisconsin Radio Host Len Nelson Suspended for Limbaugh Post. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin morning personality Len Nelson has been suspended indefinitely by station owner Woodward Communications for a now-deleted message he posted to his personal Facebook page that was critical of Rush Limbaugh. Nelson’s missive blamed Limbaugh for causing “damage to public discourse in America” and charged that his radio program was “steeped in bigotry, misogyny, hypocrisy, lies and malice.” He closed the post saying, “I will not celebrate his death, but I will not feel sorry for it, either. The world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh in it.” Woodward Communications posted the following to the WAPL website: “Recently we were made aware of a social media post placed on a personal Facebook page by one of our employees, Len Nelson. His personal views are not reflective of the core values of WAPL nor of Woodward Radio Group. We are deeply committed to being good people. We appreciate our listeners, sponsors and advertisers and want to assure each one of you this matter is being addressed swiftly. Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns, we are listening.” Nelson posted an apology to his Facebook page in which he acknowledges he may ultimately be fired as a result of his actions. He also says he regrets not taking the time to consider how his actions may have affected others.

Rush Limbaugh’s Voice to Be Heard on Radio for the Long Term. According to Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, “Our plan is to provide the millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for the long term. No one can replace Rush Limbaugh. We will have a variety of hosts that will guide the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Mark Steyn, Todd Herman, and Ken Matthews. With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on all of these issues. Every single element of Rush Limbaugh-branded assets will continue, including his daily show and podcast, daily update, weekend ‘best of’ three-hour show and digital/printed offerings.”

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand is reporting that WFAN, New York afternoon drive co-host Craig Carton is talking with the MLB Network about hosting a daily, morning TV show. Marchand says MLB Network declined to comment about the story…..The NAB announces new appointments to its NAB Television Board of Directors and its NAB Radio Board of Directors. On the TV side, RaMona Alexander, vice president and general manager of WDBD-TV, Jackson, Mississippi and Cox Media Group president and CEO Dan York join. On the radio side, Cox Media Group SVP and head of radio Rob Babin becomes a board member…..iHeartMedia announces the launch of “Calm Down with Erin and Charissa,” a talk show-style podcast hosted by sportscasters and longtime friends Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson. The podcast features Andrews and Thompson discussing their lives and careers and “pulls back the curtain on the lives of two successful women at the top of their field.”…..Cadence13 unveils the first three audio movies under its new scripted studio, C13Features, that is “focused on creating and owning compelling fictionalized feature-length audio stories of all genres that appeal to a wide audience.” Cadence13, part of Entercom, says that while the podcast space has traditionally used the serialized multi-episode approach, C13Features aims to tighten the storytelling experience with compelling and dramatic creative arcs, and not force listeners to have to wait for more episodes to find out what happens next. C13Features aspires to give listeners gripping stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, all in one feature-length 90-minute episode, for listeners to experience however and whenever they’d like.” It has three audio movies lined up for release this year…..Podcast producer Ramble, a division of Cadence13, is launching Marc & Heidi: The Other D’Amelios, a new weekly podcast hosted by Marc and Heidi D’Amelio, entrepreneurs and parents of worldwide social media phenoms Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. Known as “the first family of TikTok,” Marc and Heidi D’Amelio have a combined social media following of nearly twenty-three million followers. They are the parents of Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the Gen-Z content creators who quickly evolved into a worldwide social media phenomenon with a combined social following of nearly 300 million followers.

#LovePup Working with Grocery Stores to Promote Animal Welfare. The animal welfare charity #LovePup founded by syndicated radio personality Johnjay Van Es (pictured here with his wife Blake) and his family is working with the Safeway and Albertsons grocery chains (operating in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah) to help save homeless animals in their communities. People visiting Safeway or Albertsons stores this month can donate at the PIN pad to benefit several animal welfare organizations in Arizona, Las Vegas and Las Cruces with the goal of raising $1 million. #LovePup says that homeless dogs and cats are a huge problem in the Southwest with more than 50,000 animals entering shelters every year. Those shelter organizations need funds to help with medical care, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Possession. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former KMOX, St. Louis personality Harry Hamm has pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child porn and one count of access with intent to view child porn. Hamm was a longtime entertainment editor for KMOX, most recently appearing on the station’s “Total Information AM Weekend Edition” reporting on theater openings and movies. He was fired from the station after his arrest. The 79-year old Hamm is also being charged with felony charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography, to which he’s pleaded not guilty. Sentencing on the guilty plea has been delayed for two months.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 15-19. The declining number of positive COVID cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the related power struggle in the Republican Party, the investigation into the Capitol insurrection, and the aftermath of the Donald Trump impeachment. Following at #3 was the death of talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh at age 70. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.