Monday Memo: Podcasters, Tell The World. “While broadcast content must be mass-appeal, your topic can engage followers – everywhere – if it is specialized and high-affinity.” That’s the word from consultant Holland Cooke who this week explains why “broadcasters need to think ‘narrow-cast’” to make it as podcasters. In addition, he includes three useful links; read more from Holland Cooke here.
Pending Business: The Water Bottle. In today’s column, Lapcom Communications Corp president Steve Lapa, writes “You feel like the second half of 2021 will be a walk in the park compared to the COVID numbers of 2020. Experienced sellers often reach a point where autopilot kicks in and personal improvement stops.” Lapa then asks, “How does a top biller improve when #1 is as good as it gets?” Since “nobody bats 1000,” he advises, “never stop learning.” Grab a fresh, unopened bottle of your favorite brand of bottled water and read more here.
Round Three of May PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 sweep covered April 29 – May 26. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets. Albeit -1.6 from April 2021 (12.7 – 11.1), iHeartMedia-owned WLW “700 Cincinnati’s News Radio” (Reds flagship) is the lone mainstream news/talk outlet from these 12 markets to reach #1 (May 2021, 6+). Off a combined two full-shares from April 2021 are Bonneville Salt Lake City’s KSL “News Radio” (8.3 – 6.8, -1.5, first to second, 6+) and cross-town iHeartMedia’s KNRS-AM & KNRS-FM “Talk Radio” (6.3 – 5.8, -.5, fourth to sixth, 6+). Only two news/talkers in these markets that finished in the top 20 post April 2021 – May 2021 improvements: WLW cluster-mate WKRC “55 KRC The Talk Station” (4.2 – 4.3, +.1, unchanged at #8, 6+) and Audacy Las Vegas’ KXNT “News Talk 840” (1.9 – 2.2, +.3, #21 to #20, 6+). The latter’s Cleveland sibling – WKRK “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan” – registers sports talk’s heftiest April 2021 – May 2021 increase (3.2 – 4.3, +1.1, #12 to #10, 6+). You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds of markets) here.
Audacy Adds Seven “BetQL Network” Affiliates. The following Audacy outlets will rebrand today (Monday, 6/21) as part of the “BetQL Network”: KIKK “650 AM The Bet,” Houston; WJFK-AM “1580 AM The Bet,” Washington, DC; WXYT-AM “1270 AM The Bet,” Detroit; WJZ-AM “1300 AM The Bet,” Baltimore; KXST “1140 AM The Bet,” Las Vegas; and KWOD “1660 AM The Bet,” Kansas City. WWWL-AM “1350 AM The Bet,” New Orleans will make the switch next Monday, 6/28. According to Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano, “When we launched the ‘BetQL Network’ in January, we committed to giving our national audience a home for compelling sports betting content as this new landscape was rapidly growing. This expansion is the next step in that goal and we’re pleased to bring new and dynamic ‘BetQL Network’ programming to additional markets and new digital platforms. We are proud to build on our local and national sports audio leadership position with this expanded commitment to production and distribution of entertaining sports betting content to audiences across the country.” The aforementioned rebrands are in addition to previously launched “The Bet 93.1 HD3,” Los Angeles; “The Bet 105.9 FM-HD2,” Chicago; and KEZW “1430 AM The Bet,” Denver. “BetQL Network” programming will also be heard in various times on WTEM “980 The Team,” Washington, DC; WQAM “560 The Joe,” Miami; and WRNL “The New Sports Radio 910 AM & 105.1 FM,” Richmond. The expanded “BetQL Network” weekday programming lineup includes: “The Daily Tip” with Chelsa Messinger and Michael Jenkins (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Joe Giglio (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); and “Bet MGM Tonight” with Quinton Mayo and Ryan Horvat (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm).
Cumulus Media Birmingham Taps Robinson As VP/MM. Former Univision Communications San Antonio vice president/director of sales, radio, television & digital James Robinson is appointed vice president/market manager of Cumulus Media Birmingham. Cumulus Media’s cluster in that Alabama metro consists of: sports talk WJOX-FM “JOX 94.5”; sports talk WJOX-AM “JOX 3 690 AM”; sports talk WJQX “ESPN 100.5 JOX 2”; news/talk WZRR “Talk 99.5”; news/talk WAPI; and urban AC WUHT “Hot 107.7.” Senior vice president, operations Mark Sullivan remarks, “I’m extremely pleased that James will be bringing his experience and talent to the Cumulus Media team. I’m looking forward to many shared successes with him.” Robinson states, “Now is the best time to work in radio [and] Cumulus Media is a dynamic and innovative company. I’m honored to join the talented team in Birmingham. The Cumulus Media stations in Birmingham are iconic brands that have a history of deep commitment to the community and partner success. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on this success with the talented team in Birmingham.” Prior to his San Antonio tenure, Robinson was director of sales for Radio One Houston; vice president of sales for iHeartMedia Washington, D.C.; and general sales manager for iHeartMedia in St. Louis and Memphis.
Video Coverage of TALKERS 2021 Begins Next Monday June 28. Every keynote speech, fireside chat, special presentation and panel discussion that took place at the recent 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running, largest and most important national convention – TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University – was recorded under the direction of renowned industry videographer and chronicler Art Vuolo. These videos will be posted one per business day beginning next Monday June 28, right here on Talkers.com. If you were unable to attend the event in person, you will not want to miss the opportunity to take in some of the most pertinent industry conversation about the state of radio, talk programming, and related media to take place since the start of the pandemic.
COVID-19 Delta Variant, Post-Summit Analysis, January 6 Investigation, Southern Border Crisis, Juneteenth, and the Western Heat Wave & Drought Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. COVID-19 – particularly the Delta variant and the rate/progress of vaccinations – continued to be a dominant topic on talk shows over the weekend along with microscopic analysis of the optics of the Biden–Putin meeting in Geneva on news/talk stations across the nation. Immigration Reform remains a front burner topic, fueled largely this weekend by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan for the Lone Star State to build a wall on its own. The naming of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday came at a very timely juncture for the weekend and the Western States Heatwave & Drought could not be ignored, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
“Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Open Raises $45,000+. Held this past Friday (6/18) at the Linwood (New Jersey) Country Club, the 14th annual Harry Hurley in the Morning Charity Golf Open was not only a sold-out success, it raised roughly $45,000. Event founder/chairman/morning host of Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” Hurley states, “We had an amazing day with picture perfect weather. We have a wonderful community comprised of some of the most generous people in America.” Hurley’s morning show aired live on-site (6:00 am – 10:06 am) from the country club. With more to follow, the charity this year has awarded grants to: The Broadcasters Foundation of America; The Shore Medical Center Foundation; Stockton University; FACES 4 Autism; Atlantic County Toys For Kids; and The Joan Fineran Nursing Scholarship. In the photo at the right, Hurley (left) – who appears at #37 in the recently released TALKERS Magazine 2021 “Heavy Hundred” – is pictured with Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City president/chief executive officer Mark Giannantonio.
TALKERS News Notes: As reported here last Friday (TALKERS, 6/18), Premiere Networks debuts the “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” today (Monday, 6/21) in the timeslot formerly occupied by talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm). Victor Lisle is selected as image/brand voice of the new venture and states, “I’m genuinely humbled beyond belief for this amazing opportunity. Never in a million years did I expect something of this magnitude could happen.” … The entire “JOX Roundtable” morning show – consisting of Lance Taylor, Jim Dunaway, Ryan Brown, and Sean “Rockstar” Heninger” – departed Cumulus Media Birmingham sports talk WJOX “JOX 94.5” last Wednesday (6/16). The four call the exit “amicable” and will start a still undisclosed digital project … According to The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, former KSRO, Santa Rosa (California) morning talent Pat Kerrigan has returned to the Amaturo Sonoma Media Group news/talk station to host a series of hour-long monthly specials, as well as a podcast, “Pat Kerrigan Unleashed.” … University of Hawaii football announcer Robert Kekaula died Saturday morning (6/19) at the age of 56. Prior to becoming the television play-by-play voice of the Rainbow Warriors in 2011, Kekaula was radio analyst for Hawaii football (1992-2010) … Benztown and P1 Media Group will host a free 30-minute webinar this Thursday (6/24) at 1:00 pm EST/10:00 am PST. Hosted by Benztown CEO Andreas Sannemann and P1 Media Group partner Ken Benson, “Next: Creating Amazing Radio, Round 2” will feature Lee Abrams. The programmer/consultant will field attendees’ questions and cover topics that will include: how to create “entertainment magic” on a station; radio predictions for 2026; the future of streaming and podcasting (and how that will affect radio); if contesting is still relevant; and how radio should be using social media … On the opening day of the National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas, SRN News’ Lori Tradup (seen in the photo at the left) interviews the head of Voddie Baucham Ministries, Voddie Baucham. Approximately 3,500 delegates from the U.S. and around the globe are attending the annual conference at the Gaylord Texan Hotel … Additions to “The Erick Erickson Show” include Pinehurst Broadcasting news/talk WEEB “Talk Radio 97.3 FM & 990 AM,” Southern Pines, North Carolina and WULK, Crawfordville, Georgia; the show broadcasts via Premiere XDS.
Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans 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. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”