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Thursday, April 4, 2019

| April 4, 2019

Bob Pittman Talks Audio with NBC News. Saying that “audio is hot for the first time in decades,” iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman talks up the audio entertainment industry with NBC News’ Claire Atkinson.  In the piece, Pittman says, “There are two parts to the audio sector.  There’s radio and a music collection, both have done well over the years.  The music collection side of the equation has been impacted by technology and it has transformed it. Spotify is really winning the music collection side of things.  Radio is also benefiting from the technology revolution.  It’s added more and more ways to listen to the radio on hundreds of new platforms and thousands of new devices, from smart speakers to smart TVs and game players. iHeart is leading the radio side of things.”  iHeartMedia is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization soon.  The company has reduced its debt from close to $20 billion to $5.75 billion.  It is also preparing to do an IPO for Class A common shares.

Aaron Mason Joins Gee Scott on ‘KIRO Nights.’ Air-personality and podcast producer Aaron Mason (right) joins Gee Scott (left) as co-host of “KIRO Nights” on Bonneville’s Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM.  Mason has been serving with the station as a fill-in host and podcast producer, working on KIRO’s “Your Last Meal with Rachel Belle.”  Mason fills the role left open by the departure of Zak Burns last fall.

Cohen Promoted at Salem Media Group. Rising from vice president of local digital to vice president of broadcast digital with Salem Media Group is Jamie Cohen.  He joined Salem Media Group in January of 2018 after serving with Gannett’s USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times owner Wrapports, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Cohen says, “I’m honored to be able to continue contributing to Salem’s expansion into greater levels of digital content strategy.  With the launch of Salem Surround, we have really taken tremendous strides in strengthening our digital strategies as a company and I’m excited to help expand even further.”  SMG president of broadcast media David Santrella says, “In the 15 months Jamie has worked for Salem building our digital sales model, he has proven to have a depth of understanding that goes far beyond sales.  I am confident that we will see our digital efforts in the broadcast division grow and thrive under Jamie’s leadership.”

TALKERS News Notes. Oklahoma sports talk radio pioneer Al Eschbach is being inducted into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame tomorrow at the OAB’s annual convention in Oklahoma City.  The OAB notes that Eschbach began his broadcasting career at KTOK, Oklahoma as sports director in 1976.   In 1985, he moved across town to WWLS-AM – the station that would become sports talk “The Sports Animal.”  Eschbach is still with Cumulus’ WWLS-FM “The Sports Animal” and appears on the air as part of the “Dominant Duo Show” with Jim Traber and also as part of the “Total Dominance Hour” at 5:00 pm daily with Jim Traber, Berry Tramel, and Dean Blevins.  Cumulus Oklahoma City VP and market manager Jay Davis says, “Al Eschbach is a true sports radio pioneer and has been the cornerstone of WWLS from the very beginning.  We are proud and honored to work alongside this Hall of Famer.”…..The host gig for the Sunday morning baseball show “Hit & Run” at Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “The Score” goes to current staffer Matt Spiegel.  He’ll work the show with a rotating cast of co-hosts.  The slot opened when the station and Daily Herald sports columnist Barry Rozner did not come to terms on a contract renewal. Spiegel hosted middays at “The Score” until last year.  He remains a columnist for 670TheScore.com and co-host of the Saturday morning “Inside the Clubhouse” show alongside Bruce Levine…..Podcast producer Cadence13 partners with veterans advocate Paul Rieckhoff – author of Chasing Ghosts– to create the new “Angry Americans” podcast hosted by Rieckhoff.  In the program, the Iraq War veteran “explores the most important issues facing our country with a wide range of influential and compelling guests from Capitol Hill to Hollywood to Silicon Valley.”

Townsquare Media Stations Hit with Ransomware Attack. Officials from Townsquare Media’s corporate office have not made an official public statement about the ransomware attacks, but numerous reports in consumer media outlets indicate that the company suffered from the attacks that began on Monday, leaving several clusters without control of their computer systems, at least for a period Townsquare clusters in Shreveport, Louisiana; Boise, Idaho; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire were impacted by the attack.  Ransomware is designed to lock users out of their computers until they pay a ransom to regain control.  News/talk KEEL-AM/K269GO, Shreveport posted on its website: “Townsquare’s engineers and ITs, both local and corporate, continue to work on restoring the operating system to working order, though no time for a return to normal operation is known.  In the meantime, listeners’ patience for things out-of-the-ordinary is greatly appreciated and, hopefully, the interruptions in regular programming will be too small to notice.”

Katz Media Group Raises More Than $45k for Broadcasters Foundation of America. Media sales organization Katz Media Group announces its recently completed 10th annual companywide membership drive raised more than $45,000 for the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  Over the decade Katz has been raising funds for the BFoA it has brought in more than $350,000.  Led by Mark Gray, chief executive officer of Katz Media Group; Christine Travaglini, president of Katz Radio Group; and Leo MacCourtney, president of Katz Television Group — all money raised during the annual two-week campaign goes toward the Stu Olds Memorial Fund that commemorates Katz’s former CEO and supports the foundation’s mission to provide financial support to radio and television professionals in acute need. Last year, the Broadcasters Foundation gave out a record amount of grants to broadcasters for necessities ranging from medical care to everyday essentials. This includes one-time emergency grants given to victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.  Mark Gray says, “It’s an honor to continue Stu’s legacy and give back to our incredible industry.  As a board member, I have seen firsthand all the good the foundation does.  I’m incredibly proud and appreciative of the continued generosity of the Katz team to support the Foundation, and give to colleagues in need.”

Trump Tax Returns Issue, Joe Biden Allegations, Mueller Report Aftermath, U.S.-Mexico Border Issues, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls, NCAA Final Four, and NBA and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The House Ways and Means chairman officially files request for President Trump’s tax returns; the inappropriate touching allegations against Joe Biden; the aftermath of the Mueller Report completion; the border wall and migrant  problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the NCAA Final Four; and NBA and MLB action 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. Programming pro Taylor Jukes is named program director for iHeartMedia’s CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100.”  Jukes was most recently senior manager of national content for iHeartRadio Canada.  iHeartMedia regional SVP of programming Rob Miller says, “Taylor is a passionate leader who has programmed multiple successful brands in Canada.  Her fresh perspective on collaborating with talent and innovative social media strategies, paired with strong relationships with artists and our label partners will reinforce the dominant position we have at ‘Y100.’  I am excited for Taylor and me to make history together in Miami!”…..Sun Broadcast Group adds of “The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger” to its 2019 offerings.  The four-hour weekly show is hosted by current iHeartMedia programmer (WKSS, Hartford and WKCI, New Haven) and former WKTU, New York night jock Jagger.  He says, “I’m excited to join the team at Sun Broadcast Group!  Jay Bailey has a great vision and the future is bright.  Plus, we are thrilled to have [VP programming and affiliate relations] Rich O’ Brien back on our team.  We look forward to taking ‘The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger’ to the next level!”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

| February 18, 2015

whfs-am logoBeasley Flips WHFS-AM, Tampa Bay to Money Talk.  One of the sports talk outlets Beasley acquired in its swap with CBS RADIO – WHFS-AM – is flipping from sports talk to money talk.  The company says “MoneyTalk 1010 AM” will be “the Tampa Bay area’s only exclusively financial talk-formatted radio station…with programming that features valuable and timely information on the financial markets and emerging trends in the economy. ochscharlie Additionally, ‘MoneyTalk 1010’ offers an assortment of health, lifestyle, and general information programs delivered by a wide variety of local and national broadcasters.”  Beasley is naming Tampa market radio pro Charlie Ochs general manager of the station.  Most recently, Ochs served as a financial professional for Prudential Financial in Tampa.  Prior to that, he was an SVP and market manager with CBS RADIO.  Beasley Media Group VP and market manager Kent Dunn comments, “The expertise and leadership that Charlie brings to ‘MoneyTalk 1010’ is extremely valuable.  This radio station is committed to delivering the most current and up-to-date financial news to the Tampa Bay area.”

If You Think Radio Has Problems with Millennials, TV Faces Immediate 18-34 Crisis – Brings Up Question About Evolution of Radio Ratings.  In the New York Post, media columnist Claire Atkinson writes about the dramatic rate at which Millennials are dropping their live television watching habits.  She reports that “traditional TV usage — which has been falling among viewers ages 18 to 34 at around 4% a year since 2012 — tumbled 10.6% between September and January.”  Read Atkinson’s entire piece here.  Radio practitioners are well aware this is not a “sucks to be you” moment; all media are trying to adapt to the changing habits of consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Xers.  And tied directly into that is rating all of this consumption so that it can be priced and sold effectively.  While radio bemoans the lack of rating non-broadcasting listening, rest assured that while Nielsen hears radio’s cries, it has much more to gain financially by figuring out how to rate non-broadcast video viewing accurately.  As Atkinson points out, there is $80 billion in annual TV ad money at stake.  In response to this situation, TALKERS/RadioInfo publisherharrisonmichael2015 Michael Harrison states, “It is going to be a long time until an accurate system of rating radio audience numbers stabilizes to the point of widespread industry acceptance – if ever.  This looming fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants period should inspire radio broadcasters to: 1) value the opportunities available in highly specialized local programming based more on direct relationships with advertisers and obvious customer results; and 2) understand the principle whereby the nature of the programming defines the nature of the audience.”  Harrison concludes, “The burden will fall upon sales departments to get out there and communicate directly with potential advertisers on a one-on-one, very human level about their businesses and how radio can directly help them connect with specifically-desired customers.”  Harrison’s Principle basically means the genre of the programming has to be so clearly distinct and appealing to an obvious segment of the population that it becomes a given whether or not it will attract significant qualitative or quantitative numbers.

nielsen logoNielsen Audio Releases First Round of January 2015 PPM Data.  The first of four rounds of January 2015 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey).  The January 2015 survey period covered January 1 – 28.  You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here.  Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.

zieglerbrandonEnvision Networks Debuts Weekend ‘John & Leah Show.’  The duo of John Ziegler and Leah Brandon first worked together at iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles.  Now, they are hosting a Sunday evening program – 10:00 pm ET – being syndicated by Envision Networks.  The company says the program will focus on “media, politics, sports, and pop culture.”  Envision president and CEO Danno Wolkoff comments, “John and Leah’s insights, quick wits, and rapport will be a great addition to the stations’ weekends.  With entertaining views from a male and female co-host, we are well on our way to offering new content for talk radio.”

Odds & Sods.  Joining PodcastOne as sales manager, Western region is digital media and sales pro Dana Senit.  The company says that in this new role Senit will “work with local and national advertisers in the Western region to collaborate on digital media initiatives across the network of all-star podcasts to maximize campaign effectiveness throughconnectpal personality-driven strategies.”…..ConnectPal founder and CEO Andy Dean announces his platform has struck a deal with Benztown Radio Networks to bring the latter’s talent to the ConnectPal platform where podcasts featuring such talents as David Tutera, Chris Heben, Dougall Fraser, and A.J. Barrera will be monetized.  Benztown has also made an investment – the terms of which have not been revealed – in ConnectPal…..SiriusXM is presenting comprehensive coverage of the 57th running of the Daytona 500, with the live race broadcast, multiple channels carrying in-car audio from some of the sport’s top drivers, and daily coverage from Daytona International Speedway on its NASCAR Radio channel.

marksdrjA Visit from the Doctor.  During a remote broadcast of NBC Sports Radio’s Anita Marks show live from the Harman store on Madison Avenue in New York City, NBA Hall of Fame legend Dr. J, a.k.a. Julius Erving, stopped by to chat with Marks.  Dr. J was a special guest during the in-store remote designed to celebrate the exclusive audio partnership between JBL and the NBA.  Pictured here are (from l-r): Marks, NBC Sports Radio’s Jon Stashower, Chris Mannix and Erving.

The Battle Against ISIS, The Stay on Amnesty Order, The Cost of ObamaCare for the States, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Rise in European Anti-Semitism, Ukraine Tensions, and Fifty Shades of Grey Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/17).  The violence perpetuated by ISIS and debate over how to combat the militant organization; a Texas court’s stay on President Obama’s amnesty order; the financial ramifications of the Affordable Care Act on the states; speculation about the potential candidates for president in 2016; the increase in anti-Semitism across Europe; the military tensions in Ukraine; and controversy over the film Fifty Shades of Grey were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.