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Friday, February 28, 2020

| February 28, 2020

iHeartMedia Posts Flat 2019 Q4 Revenue Figure; Full Year Revenue Up 2%. The financial data for iHeartMedia is a bit complex as the result of the company exiting bankruptcy protection in May of 2019.  But revenue of $1.03 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, while flat compared to Q4 2018, was up 4.3% excluding political ad dollars.  For the full year of 2019, revenue was $3.7 billion, up 2.0% year-over-year and up 4.2%, excluding political revenue.  The company reports that digital revenue in the fourth quarter was $112.5 million – up 33.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018.  For the full year, digital revenue was $376 million, an increase of 32.2% over the full year of 2018.  iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler states, “Our financial performance in 2019 was underpinned by the reach and resilience of our traditional business, profitable growth in our other platforms – including our digital businesses and proactive improvement of our capital structure.  Through our innovation and thought leadership in areas like podcasting and our SmartAudio suite of targeting, analysis and attribution services for advertisers, we are at the forefront of driving the audio revolution.  We will continue to work to build long-term shareholder value by maximizing our free cash flow and de-leveraging our balance sheet.”

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news.  Coming off the Holiday 2019 survey 88% of all-news stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go up.  Top performers here included Entercom’s KYW, Philadelphia (+1.4) and KCBS-AM, San Francisco (+0.7).  However, comparing January 2019 to January 2020, 70% of all-news stations were down, with Entercom’s WWJ, Detroit leading that group and absorbing a hit of -3.2 shares and dropping from the #1 rank in the market in January 2019 to #11 this year.  On the positive side, the company’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco was up 1.4 shares to post an 8.4 share and regain the #1 rank in the market.  iHeartMedia’s WBZ-AM, Boston was 0.7 shares better than the year before and rose to claim the #3 rank in January.  KCBS-AM, San Francisco was the only all-news station to rank #1 in January.  Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington ranked #2 in the January 2020 survey, despite falling three full shares from January 2019.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The new episode titled “Brother, Can You Spare a Face Mask?” looks back at this past week of February 24-28, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Tom Sullivan; talk show host, KFBK, Sacramento/Talk Media NetworkKen Matthews, talk show host, WHP, Harrisburg, PA; Lee Abrams, consultant, MediaVisionDeborah Norville, anchor, “Inside Edition;” Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/webmaster, Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET.  It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), 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. See the full story below.

‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ Now Available in Syndication via Talk Media Network.  TALKERS is pleased to announce it has entered a strategic partnership with independent broadcasting firm Talk Media Network for the syndication and distribution of its weekend program, “The Michael Harrison Wrap.”  The show, hosted by Michael Harrison, was launched in May 2019 on iHeartRadio’s WONK-FM in Washington, DC where it airs Fridays at 6:00 pm.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is a fast-paced roundup of the hottest news/talk media stories tracked by TALKERS and is described as “a weekly overview of the national conversation.”  Each installment features Harrison in conversation with several talk media hosts, pundits and experts from around the country representing a variety of popular ideologies. The show opens with a riveting countdown of the week’s most-discussed items with TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey.  Since its launch, several proactive radio stations around the country inquired about the show’s availability to which TALKERS complied – as best it could – on a market exclusive basis. According to Harrison, “We’re delighted that, in addition to our flagship WONK, excellent facilities such as WRKO, KSCO, WVOX, KFNX, KBDT, KQSP, KBKW, WIQO, WGMN, and the Virginia Talk Radio Network among others showed enough interest in the program during its developmental phase to request it for their rosters before it was even officially available for national distribution.”  Harrison continues, “However, we are not a syndication company, nor have any intention of becoming one, and it just became too unwieldy to service more stations efficiently, so we began looking for an appropriate network partner. Talk Media Network is a perfect fit.  TMN is moderately sized, independent, and run by one of the brightest young executives in the network business, Josh Leng.”  Leng states, “We’re honored TALKERS has entrusted the syndication and growth of ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ with Talk Media Network.  It is a pleasure to be working with a professional of Michael’s stature who has dedicated so much of his career to the betterment of the radio industry.”  Leng continues, “What program directors will notice immediately when they listen to ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap,’ is the amount of preparation that goes into each and every episode.  It is amazing how much compelling content is packed into one hour!  Combine that with the ‘best in the business’ talk radio hosts who contribute to Michael’s timely and topical news discussions, and you have an on-air product that features a great group of broadcasters who bring their ‘A’ game for the audience to enjoy.”  Stations interested in affiliating with “The Michael Harrison Wrap” should visit talkmedianetwork.com for more information, and can call Talk Media Network at (616) 884-8616.

TALKERS News Notes. On Super Tuesday (3/4), FOX News Radio is offering affiliates live national network coverage beginning at 7:00 pm ET anchored by national correspondent Jared Halpern, with key insights from FNR political analyst Josh Kraushaar and FNR reporters around the country.  FNR is also offering hourly “Democracy 2020” updates on Amazon’s smart speaker.  FOX News Podcasts is presenting special editions of the daily morning podcast “FOX News Rundown,” as well as new episodes of Bret Baier’s “The Campaign” and “I’ll Tell You What” with Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt.  Additionally, FOXNews.com will carry multiple livestreams from candidate headquarters across the country…..iHeartMedia’s NBC News Radio brings talk and news radio pro Michael Castner aboard to serve as national news anchor.  Castner was most recently morning drive personality at Entercom’s news/talk KXNT, Las Vegas…..iHeartMedia announces it is presenting a new companion podcast for the three-part Hulu series “Your Attention Please” that celebrates the achievements and creativity of Black visionaries.  The “Your Attention Please” podcast is using this medium to continue the conversation past Black History Month, diving deeper into the stories that were highlighted in the show.  The first guests in the series are Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, founders of MAI (Movement Art Is).

The Coronavirus, the Stock Market, and the Economy Top News/Talk Stories for the Week of February 24-28. The status of the coronavirus epidemic, its effect on the world’s financial markets and the global economy came together to make up the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the presidential race and this week’s Democratic debate in Charleston, SC.  Coming in at #3 was healthcare reform, climate change, and race relations, followed by the deadly Milwaukee brewery shooting and gun control at #4.  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 entire chart here.

Happy Retirement to Pete Spriggs. Current and former Cox Media Group Atlanta staffers gathered last night (2/27) for a retirement bash for WSB-AM/WSBB-FM program director Pete Spriggs who is leaving the company after 27 years with Cox and 19 years at WSB.  Above right is a group shot that includes such guests as Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie, WSB VP/market manager Rob Babin, WSB legend Neal Boortz, syndicated star Clark Howard, and Cox DC bureau reporter Jamie Dupree.  Above left is (from l-r) Spriggs, consultant and former WSB PD Greg Moceri, and incoming program director Drew Anderssen.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A surprise move in national syndication as Ty Bentli leaves his eponymous, Westwood One morning country radio show for an unnamed gig outside of the radio biz.  For now, co-hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins will handle hosting duties.  The Nashville-based show has undergone numerous changes over the past few years.  Blair Garner was the original host when it was called “America’s Morning Show.”  Then it was “Ty, Kelly, and Chuck” with Kelly Ford in the mix and, after her departure in late 2018 (she’s now hosting AMs on Entercom‘s WNSH, New York), was renamed the “Ty Bentli Show.”  TJ joined the program last spring…..A big shakeup at Entercom’s Los Angeles cluster as longtime alternative KROQ program director (and SVP of programming) Kevin Weatherly exits.  Taking over at KROQ is Mike Kaplan, who adds brand manager duties at the station in addition to his alternative format captain position and brand manager post at WNYL, New York “ALT 92.3.”  At the same time, Ralph Stewart is handed the brand manager keys for adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 JACK FM.”  He’s been operations manager for the station in addition to his brand manager role at urban contemporary KTWV “94.7 The Wave.”  Finally, KRTH “K-Earth 101” brand manager Chris Ebbott and CHR KAMP-FM music director and afternoon host Yesi Ortiz will serve as interim programming leaders for “97.1 AMP Radio” while a national search is conducted.  Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “Mike’s name is synonymous with alternative music and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Los Angeles.  Along with Ralph, Chris, and Yesi, this dynamic team will usher in the future of our brands in this important music market.  I’d like to thank Kevin for his years of dedicated contributions to our premier collection of brands and our company.  He has certainly made his mark here and we wish him the absolute best in his new role.”…..Buddy Shula’s Radio One Buffalo has entered into a strategic alliance with Burlington, Ontario-based Byrnes Communications “to serve radio listeners in Buffalo and Southern Ontario.”  Shula says, “I am very excited to add ‘MORE 101.1FM’ (adult hits CFLZ, Fort Erie) and ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ (hot AC CJED, Niagara Falls) to our radio station portfolio. ‘MORE 101.1FM’ has a very large 50,000-watt regional signal that barrels though Buffalo and Southern Ontario.  The music on the station are the ‘biggest hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s’ which target listeners in the 35-64-year-old age group.  ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ plays ‘Todays Best Hits.’ aiming to please women 25-54 years old… With this cluster of radio stations, it increases our potential to reach listeners of every age group and attract more advertisers who can pick and choose which station is appropriate for their advertising needs.”…..Pictured below is the new “Nikki and Laura” morning show at NRG Media’s hot AC KQKQ, Omaha “Sweet 98.5” on its first live remote at Le Peep restaurant.  From left to right are: Nikki Oswald, station program director Jay Michaels, and Laura Blenkush.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

| February 4, 2020

Joyce Kaufman Reduces Show to One Hour in New WFTL, West Palm Beach Schedule. Longtime South Florida talk show host Joyce Kaufman is moving to a new start time and will host a one-hour show as Hubbard Radio reveals “News/Talk 850” WFTL’s new program schedule.  Kaufman says, “I am definitely not being pushed out.  In fact, I wanted to retire, and the station management said you can’t leave completely.  So, I am very grateful that they have been so gracious and accommodating.”  The new lineup is as follows: “The South Florida Morning Show with Jennifer Ross and Bill Adams” from 5:30 to 10:00 am; FOX News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show” from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon; Joyce Kaufman from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm; Radio America’s “The Dana Show” from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm; Westwood One’s “The Ben Shapiro Show” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; and “The Dave Ramsey Show” from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.   Hubbard Radio SVP and market manager Elizabeth Hamma says, “Joyce Kaufman has been an important piece to 850 WFTL for nearly 30 years.  We are happy she remains part of our very exciting new lineup.”

Former KRLD-FM, Dallas Duo ‘Ben & Skin’ Land at Classic Rock ‘97.1 The Eagle.’ Sports talk duo “Ben & Skin” left Entercom’s KRLD-FM, Dallas “The Fan” in October saying they had a new gig lined up.  Now, we learn that the duo is the new afternoon show at iHeartMedia’s classic rock KEGL, Dallas “97.1 The Eagle,” effective Monday (2/10).  Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade will be on the air from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  Kevin “KT” Turner will handle news duties and Krystina Ray will serve as producer.  Rogers says, “We’re beyond excited to reconnect with listeners.  They’ve always been the fuel for our rocket ship, and we think they’re absolutely going to love this no-holds-barred version of our show.  We’ll have complete freedom to combine everything we’re passionate about into three hours of unfiltered comedy, pop culture and sports talk. We plan to explore it all in the funniest and most entertaining ways possible.”  Wade adds, “When we were offered the opportunity to be on a station that we grew up listening to, it got our creative juices flowing in a way that we hadn’t felt in a long time.  This is huge for us.”

FOX Nation’s Abby Hornacek Debuts ‘Getting Schooled’ Podcast. A new podcast from FOX News Radio launches, hosted by FOX Nation travel, lifestyle and sports personality Abby Hornacek, titled “Getting Schooled.”  FNR says, “With a new episode released every Monday, Hornacek will be joined by guests and experts in the field to uncover the origins behind popular buzz words and phrases.  Episode one features FOX News Channel’s politics editor Chris Stirewalt as he dives into the definition of ‘caucus’ and why Iowa is the first in the nation to cast their vote and more.”  Hornacek is the host of three series on FOX Nation: “PARK’D,” in which  Hornacek takes viewers behind-the-scenes of United States national parks; “Ride to Work,” in which she conducts light-hearted interviews with various FOX Nation hosts and FNC personalities as she drives them to work; and “American Arenas,” in which she embraces her passion for sports and travels to the country’s most beloved fields and sporting venues.

Julie Landry Named VP of Consumer Engagement for ‘New Jersey 101.5.’ Marketing and sales pro Julie Landry is named vice president for consumer engagement for Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.”  In this role, Landry will lead Townsquare Accelerate, that works with key local and regional clients to develop creative approaches that will address their business needs.  ‘NJ 101.5’ president and chief revenue officer Ron deCastro says, “Julie has a long track record of working across diverse client industries at several NYC advertising agencies and is a leading voice in the influencer marketing and branded content field.  She will be leading the process to develop breakthrough, cross-channel programs that deliver results for our key clients.”  Prior to joining Townsquare, she co-founded Wellness Amplified, an influencer marketing agency in New York, and was VP group account director at the Integer Group and VP account director at Wunderman in New York.  Landry will work with Kristin Roderick, recently named vice president of partnership sales, “in order to help local and regional clients unlock great results, using the full range of Townsquare’s multiplatform marketing offerings.”  She says, “I’m looking forward to partnering with Ron, Kristin, and the Townsquare ‘New Jersey 101.5’ sales team to bring Townsquare’s innovative broadcast and digital capabilities to life, to engage consumers and deliver superior business results for our local customers.”

TALKERS News Notes. Broadcast executive and podcast pioneer Gary Leland joins BizTalkRadio as executive vice president, a move the company says “recognizes the need to increase the digital footprint and marketing of the brand.  Company COO Scott Miller says, “BizTalkRadio has been a strong option for business and lifestyle content.  We continue to grow our radio footprint, but to support our affiliates we felt we needed a stronger digital and social media focus.  Gary is well known in the radio podcasting space and is a marketer by nature.”…..Former WOR, New York; WRKO, Boston; and WTKK-FM, Boston talk host Jay Severin comes out of retirement to host a weekly, Sunday evening show throughout the 2020 election cycle on Westport Communications’ WBOQ-FM, Gloucester, Massachusetts.  The 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm program will be available as a podcast after broadcast via North of Boston Podcast Services…..The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that University of Kentucky football and men’s basketball radio play-by-play announcer Tom Leach is brokering the three-hour Sunday morning block on iHeartMedia’s WLAP-AM, Lexington in order to continue the “Sunday Morning Sports Talk” show that was cancelled as part of iHeartMedia’s recent workforce reduction.  Leach brought back two of the three hosts – Larry Vaught and Anthony White – as Mark Buerger elected not to return.  Instead, show producer Curtis Burch is joining Vaught and White.  Leach already brokers his daily, one-hour “The Leach Report” show on WLAP-AM and WKJK, Louisville…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WSCR, Chicago morning drive personality Brian Hanley has joined Good Karma Brands-operated WMVP “ESPN 1000” to serve as a weekend and fill-in host.  He’ll also co-host the weekly “ESPN 1000 Hockey Show.”  Hanley co-hosted AMs on “The Score” before exiting 18 months ago…..MLB’s Minnesota Twins sign a multi-year partnership with Skyview Networks to use the company’s Skyview Networks’ AdView inventory management and live read capture software.  This allows the process of scheduling ads and reporting them for billing to be fully controlled by the franchise’s broadcast team and front office.  Twins senior broadcast manager Andrew Halverson says, “After thoroughly researching the market, it is clear that Skyview Networks’ industry-leading AdView software is best suited to enhance our day-to-day broadcast operations, while also driving greatly-improved efficiencies in our reporting processes.  We are eager to partner with Skyview’s team to maximize their resources for the betterment of our broadcasts and our advertisers alike.”

Sun Broadcast Group Acquires Envision Networks. Cleveland-based Envision Networks is being acquired by Sun Broadcast Group, a Gen Media Partners company.  SBG says that this acquisition increases its national footprint with an additional 1,300 affiliates in both general market and Hispanic.  It also adds to SBG’s portfolio of programming and services “Paul Shaffer’s Day in Rock,” BOB FM, MeTV FM, “The Rooster,” and more.  As part of the transaction, Envision co-founders Danno Wolkoff and Laura Orkin become stockholders in the expanded SBG.  They also join the executive team with Wolkoff serving as SBG’s chief development officer and Orkin accepting the position of vice president of business operations.

Iowa Caucus Problems/Presidential Race, Impeachment Trial, Coronavirus Concerns/Financial Markets Reactions, State of the Union Address, Rush Limbaugh Cancer Revelation, and Super Bowl LIV Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/3). The issues affecting the results of the Iowa Caucuses; the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump; concerns about a possible coronavirus pandemic and the financial markets’ reactions to it; tonight’s State of the Union address to Congress; the talk radio and political world’s reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s announcement of his lung cancer diagnosis; and reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

PPM Analysis: Adult Contemporary. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on adult contemporary.  Needless to say, the Holiday book is generally huge for AC stations that flip to Christmas music.  Which AC station made the biggest weekly 6+ AQH share jump from the December 2019 survey?  Check out the report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Cumulus Media’s WFYR, Peoria announces it has re-branded as “97.3 River Country” from its previous “97.3 NASH FM.”  The station’s new weekday lineup is: “The Ty Bentli Show” in mornings, Wes from 9:00 am to 10:00 am; Cathy Taylor from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm; Doc Watson from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm; Biscuit from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm; and Brian from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.