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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

| October 20, 2021

Liberty Media Sells All Shares of iHeartMedia Stock. The company is exiting the broadcast radio business after selling 5.94 million shares of iHeartMedia’s Class A common stock – a trade that’s worth about $150 million. Variety has the story and reports that “between November 2017 and February 2018, Liberty Media purchased $600 million of iHeartMedia debt for a total of $490 million. After iHeartRadio reduced its debt load through a bankruptcy settlement, the bonds were converted into about 6.9 million shares.” iHeartMedia issued the following statement: “We appreciate Liberty’s support for iHeartMedia, originally as a holder of debt which then converted into a meaningful equity stake, and we are delighted that they received a good return on their investment.” The iHeartMedia stock was part of the company’s Liberty SiriusXM Group that owns 78.1% of SiriusXM stock, 32% of Live Nation stock, plus small percentages of Formula One Group and the Atlanta Braves.

Audacy Acquires WideOrbit. There are no financial details included in the Audacy press release as the company announces its acquisition of “an exclusive, perpetual license to WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming technology and the related assets and operations of WO Streaming. This acquisition gives Audacy control of its product roadmap to deliver enhanced consumer-facing streaming features for its 170 million monthly listeners.” At this time, it’s unclear if this deal is the “small digital acquisition for approximately $40 million” that Audacy referenced last week when it announced it was offering $45 million in senior secured second-lien notes to raise capital, but it appears likely. Audacy will operate WO Streaming under the name AmperWave. The entire WO Streaming team, led by John Morris, SVP streaming, joins Audacy. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field comments, “The WideOrbit digital audio tech business perfectly complements our organic investments to make Audacy’s digital platform the top choice for listeners, clients and partners.”

Boston Sports Talkers ‘Toucher & Rich’ Launch Syndication Effort. WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive duo “Toucher & Rich” Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right) – along with cast member Jon Wallach – begin a regional syndication effort on Monday (10/25). Beasley Media Group says the show recently celebrated 12 years on ‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ as the dominant program for Male and Adult audiences 25-54. Beasley Boston VP and market manager Mary Menna says, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Toucher & Rich’s unique brand of content and humor to sports fans throughout New England through this syndication initiative. The T&R team is already a favorite with their passionate audience. We look forward to expanding that loyal audience through this new affiliation!” Toucher says, “Being syndicated has always been a career goal and I am very excited to start this new challenge.” Rich adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to launch ‘Toucher & Rich’ into syndication. Our listeners have always been the most loyal in radio, and I’m thrilled to introduce our show to a whole new audience of potential T&R lifers.”

Bob Kessler to Anchor Midday News at WGN-AM, Chicago. Longtime WGN Radio news reporter Bob Kessler is now anchoring midday news Tuesdays through Fridays. Kessler joined WGN in 1994 as a producer and became a weekend newsroom anchor in 1997. Kessler’s work has been recognized with an award from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association in 2019. WGN news director Ryan Burrow says, “Bob’s been an integral part of the WGN family for decades. He’s a great newsman and capably leads the anchor desk. A true teammate, he brings a positive energy and personality to the newsroom. I’m glad we’re able to expand his role on the news team.”

WWO: WARC Study on the Value of Audio to Marketers. In this week’s blog from CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One’s Audio Active Group, a study from marketing advisory firm WARC and iHeartMedia is examined. Titled, “The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio,” it reveals “a major audio investment gap for marketers.” It notes that 1) Consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, yet audio is only allocated 8.8% of media budgets. Other media represent 91.2% of ad spend and 69% of consumer media use; 2)  Marketers overspend on digital and TV, and underspend on audio: WARC’s analysis reveals brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32%, and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X; 3) AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand: An incremental reach analysis of 15 P&G brands conducted via Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals the average P&G brand experiences a +36% increase in reach to their TV plan through the use of AM/FM radio; 4) The younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach: Across P&G’s 15 brands, the lift in reach generated by AM/FM radio keeps growing in younger demographics. Among persons 35-44, the average P&G brand realizes a +63% increase in reach due to AM/FM radio. Among persons 25-34, AM/FM radio doubles the TV reach. See the blog here.

Cumulus Podcast Network to Join Strata Platform. A new partnership between Comcast’s FreeWheel, Cumulus Media, and Triton Digital brings Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory into the Strata media stewardship platform. The FreeWheel’s Strata allows agencies to automate the podcast buying process within their existing platform workflow, including receiving electronic proposals and sending electronic orders. Through this partnership, Strata users will be able to find and buy impression-based premium podcast inventory from Cumulus Media that is validated by metrics including downloads, as measured by Triton Digital’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. FreeWheel says this will mark the first time a podcast publisher has surfaced titles and lineups, which are curated groups of podcasts designed to reach specific desired demographics and psychographics, with metrics measured by industry leader Triton Digital, in a media buying platform. Cumulus SVP, digital operations and business development Larry Linietsky says, “Cumulus Media is pleased to expand its partnerships with FreeWheel and Triton to provide current and future marketing partners efficient access to the Cumulus Podcast Network’s vast offering of premium podcasts spanning entertainment, news, sports, politics, business, money and technology as well as the voices from our 413 stations.” Triton president of marketing development John Rosso adds, “Triton is pleased to be partnering with FreeWheel and Cumulus Media to provide advertisers with streamlined access to trustworthy, aggregated podcast data within their media buying system for the first time. Our IAB-accredited Podcast Metrics lineups provide advertisers with consistent data across networks and publishers, making the process of discovering, planning, analyzing and ultimately buying podcasts at scale seamless and efficient.” Strata users will be able to access Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory in the Strata system beginning in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Stonecom Adds Sports Talker to Livingston, Tennessee Market. The Overton County News reports that Stonecom debuts a new sports talk radio station for the Livingston, Tennessee market. “Sports Radio 104.7 emanates from WKXD-HD3 and is heard on translator W282AG at 104.7 FM. Stonecom president and GM Larry Stone says, “We know sports fans in this area are passionate about our local teams. During all the years doing Titans Caravan stops in Cookeville and Crossville, I saw that first-hand. It’s Big Orange Country with a huge love of everything orange. We love our championship high school sports around the region, and support the hard work of Tech athletes. ‘Sports Radio 104.7’ will serve that passion.” Programming will include “Outkick 360” featuring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky, “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and more.

January 6 Investigation/Bannon Held in Contempt, COVID-19, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Biden Reconciliation Bill, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, Chinese Military Aggression, Southern Border Crisis, Kidnapped Missionaries, and Facebook Rebrand Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the committee’s vote to refer Stephen K. Bannon to the DOJ for criminal prosecution; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the effects of the supply chain breakdown on the availability of consumer goods and soaring retail prices; President Joe Biden considers reducing his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to $1.9 trillion; the State Department inspector general’s investigation into the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; China’s development of hypersonic weapons and its aggression against Taiwan; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border; the 17 missionaries being held for $17 million ransom in Haiti; and rumors that Facebook is planning a rebrand were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Fresh Edition of ‘The Fisher House Story’ Available for Veterans Day and the Holidays. There’s new programming from the Fisher House Foundation for this Veterans Day as well as for the holiday season. The Jeff Wyatt Group has produced a fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 available for download. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for all formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The program is available in three-hour, one-hour, 25- and 30-minute radio special versions and is hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt. It features stories of America’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families. Host Jeff Wyatt’s love and respect for our military will only amplify these radio specials, scheduled to deliver Oct. 28 for potential airing Veterans Day weekend, during the holiday season, and for Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends as well. You can hear a demo and see the clock at: radio.fisherhouse.org. For more information on this radio special, available cash and barter free, contact Jeff Wyatt at 301-518-3640 or jw@thejeffwyattgroup.com.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

| June 15, 2021

FAIR Announces 14th Annual ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Set for September 29-30 in Washington, DC. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces it has set the dates for this year’s 14th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row broadcast in Washington, DC. The event will take place on Wednesday, September 29 and Thursday, September 30 at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. As in the past, this event features talk hosts from across the nation broadcasting live both days debating immigration policy while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists, administration officials, and those who live and work along the southern border. FAIR says the F2F hosts 70 stations and has become the largest annual radio row and the centerpiece of the immigration debate each year for the media. FAIR executive director Bob Dane says, “Last year we had to cancel this long-running annual radio event. Not this year. No way, no how. Not with the Biden border crisis underway. This September we’re right back at it discussing, debating, sorting truth from fiction, hearing first-hand accounts, offering reasonable solutions and making collective noise on Capitol Hill and across the country. Barriers have to be built, asylum loopholes closed, more resources brought to bear, the rule of law enforced, and the lies of the mainstream media refuted. Most importantly, Americans – not special interests – need to be heard from.” Reservations are required and hosts/producers should call FAIR now to reserve their spot. There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering and expenses are taken care of by FAIR. Congressional guests, activists, high profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Talk hosts interested in attending should contact Matthew Tragesser, event manager at 202-328-7004 or mtragesser@fairus.org.

TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place this past Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.

FOX News Radio midday personality and stand-up comic Jimmy Failla presents his welcoming remarks to the the attendees at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

WPG, Atlantic City morning personality Harry Hurley (left) presents $5,000 from his charity to the Broadcasters Foundation of America, accepted by BFoA representative Renee Cassis (right) at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

Appearing on the “Strategizing a Talk Show Hosting Career” panel were (from l-r): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Grace Curley, talk host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Dom Giordano, talk host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Rob Carson, talk host, Newsmax TV; and Erick Erickson, talk host, WSB, Atlanta and in syndication at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. (Not pictured: Harry Hurley, WPG, Atlantic City; and moderator Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS magazine.)

Townsquare Media Names Mary Fork Market President and CRO for Southwest Michigan. Sales and management pro Mary Fork joins Townsquare Media as market president/chief revenue officer for Southwest Michigan. In this role she’ll lead the company’s “Digital First” strategy and drive strategic multi-platform sales and content initiatives across the region that includes Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Fork most recently served with Comcast. She will report to Townsquare SVP Todd Lawley, who says, “From the first time I spoke to Mary it was clear that the ability to coach, lead and execute a multi-platform strategy is in her DNA. She possesses a unique skill set that will allow her to bring our world class set of digital and local broadcast solutions to the market with the mission of making Townsquare Kalamazoo/Battle Creek the #1 local media company in Southwest Michigan.” Fork adds, “I am beyond excited to be returning home to Southwest Michigan and joining the Townsquare Media family. What compelled me to join Townsquare is not only the full-service digital marketing capabilities and incredible local media brands, but the way Townsquare goes to market and its Digital First strategy. I was completely impressed when I saw how Townsquare’s campaigns have full transparency, true optimization and industry leading attribution. With the unmatched product power and campaign management integrity of Townsquare, I knew I needed to join this winning team.”

Westwood One Blog: Network Radio is ‘Reach Accelerator.’ This week’s Westwood One blog features data that suggests “adding network radio into any media generates an outsized lift in incremental reach.” Addressing the fast-declining audience for linear TV and the rate of cord cutting, the blog “outlines how advertisers can use network radio to amplify their media plans and accelerate reach.” On the state of TV in 2021, MoffettNathanson says since 2011, non-live cable audiences are down 49%. Broadcast network non-live audiences are down 44%. MoffettNathanson adds that pay TV penetration has dropped from 89% of U.S. homes in 2009 to 60% today. Citing Nielsen Media Impact data, the blog says, “a 20% addition of CTV (connected TV) media weight to a linear TV buy results only in an 8% increase in reach.” Supporting the notion that “network radio is the media plan reach accelerator,” data from the Nielsen Commspoint media planning tool suggests a three-million-dollar investment in network radio generates a weekly national reach of 50%, 47% greater than the same investment in digital and TV (34%). Adding network radio into any media generates an outsized lift in incremental reach.

RAB Reveals Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Judging Panel. The Radio Mercury Awards 2021 Final Round Jury is being named. RAB says in a press release, “The incoming panel of top-level agency creative leaders represents radio’s top advertising categories, including automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), communications, community service, education, financial services, nonprofits, quick-serve restaurants, retail, spirits, technology, travel and utilities. The jury, curated with the help of 2021 Radio Mercury Awards chief judge Robin Fitzgerald, chief creative officer, BBDO Atlanta, comprises thought leaders from across the country and represents all size markets with diverse audiences and cutting-edge creative work for advertising’s biggest brands.” The 2021 Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Jury is: Adia Betts, associate creative director/copywriter, Dagger Atlanta; Nathalie Brown, executive creative director, VMLY&R NY; Bianca Guimaraes, partner and executive creative director, Mischief NY; Paul Johnson, freelance copywriter/creative director; Derrick Ogilvie, vice president/creative director, BBDO Atlanta; Andrés Ordóñez, executive vice president/chief creative officer, FCB Chicago; Alejandro Ortiz, executive creative director, Campbell Ewald Detroit/NY; Shannon Washington, senior vice president executive creative director, R/GALewis Williams, chief creative officer, Burrell Communications Group Chicago; and Sherman Winfield, executive creative director, VMLY&R Atlanta. Find out more about the judges here.

Biden European Trip/Putin Summit, Infrastructure Deal, COVID-19, McConnell SCOTUS Threat, Trump DOJ Investigation, and Israeli Politics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/14). President Joe Biden’s meeting with G7 leaders in Cornwall and his looming meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin; the U.S. Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal; the fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccinations, and the search for the origin of the coronavirus; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration he’ll refuse a Biden Supreme Court nominee if Republicans take back the Senate in 2022; the possible investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged use of the Department of Justice to settle political scores; and the ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

| April 30, 2020

Michael Harrison Programs Cleared on Podcast Radio, UK.  The recently launched Podcast Radio, UK that is taking Great Britain audio media fans by storm, has cleared the two Michael Harrison audio products – “The Michael Harrison Wrap” syndicated radio show (Talk Media Network) and “The Michael Harrison Interview” podcast (PodcastOne).  Podcast Radio, UK is a combination on-demand podcast website and on-air DAB streaming radio station that plays these podcasts (podcastradio.co.uk).  Harrison states, “It is really exciting to have our programs receive direct exposure in the UK where there is a tremendous interest in American news, views, and popular culture. I’m honored to be a part of Podcast Radio’s lineup of programming and to work with brilliant British broadcasters such as the platform’s founder Gerard Edwards and star show host Graham Mack.”  In welcoming him to the platform, Mack interviewed Harrison yesterday (4/29) in a deep dive conversation about radio, politics, and culture via Zoom For Podcast Radio, UK’s “The Pod 20” show and YouTube.  Watch it here.

Nielsen Holdings Reports Q1 Revenue Flat. The media ratings and consumer behavior/retail measurement giant reports first quarter 2020 revenue of $1.56 billion, roughly flat (-0.3%) compared to the same period in 2019.  Nielsen Holdings also reports that its Nielsen Global Media sector (ratings) was up 1.9% over the same period a year ago. The company is posting a net loss of $18 million for the first quarter compared to Q1 2019’s net income of $43 million.  On February 27, 2020, Nielsen announced its plan to complete the spinoff of Nielsen Global Connect (consumer behavior/retail measurement) by November 2020. The company continues to make operational progress towards separation but now expects the closing to take place in the first quarter of 2021, largely due to temporary shutdowns of government agencies that are necessary to move forward with the separation.

WRNW-FM, Milwaukee Names Former Packer John Kuhn Late Morning Host. Former Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn is joining iHeartMedia’s WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game” as host of the late morning “Nine 2 Noon with Kuhn” show, beginning May 4. Joining him as co-host of the program is former Wisconsin Badgers basketball star Brian Butch. Kuhn says, “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the iHeartMedia team and to continue learning and growing in this industry.  I look forward to bringing the same energy to the studio that I brought on the playing field during my days as a football player.”

WGAN, Portland Weekend Host John McDonald Exits. According to a report in the Portland Press Herald, Saga Communications’ news/talk WGAN-AM, Portland has let weekend morning personality John McDonald go.  McDonald has worked at the station for the past 25 years.  He’d been on hiatus from the station due in part to trepidation about coming into the station during the COVID-19 crisis and tells the paper that he was given no reason for his dismissal.

Entercom’s RADIO.COM Available on Comcast’s Xfinity Platforms. This deal between Entercom and Comcast will make its RADIO.COM platform available to subscribers to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex.  X1 and Flex customers can enjoy RADIO.COM stations on their televisions by saying “RADIO.COM” into the Xfinity Voice Remote to launch the app. Entercom VP, corporate business development David Rosenbloom says, “During this critical moment when listeners are dependent on reliable and familiar voices to inform and entertain them, we are especially pleased to expand the reach of RADIO.COM even further. Launching on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex allows us to bring RADIO.COM’s premier news, sports and music content to millions of listeners when they need it most.”

2020 ‘Rising Through the Ranks’ Course Canceled. The “Rising Through the Ranks” seminar that is a collaborative effort between the Radio Advertising Bureau, BMI, and the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group is canceled for this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations say that “due to the current travel restrictions and fluid situation of COVID-19, it made sense to look towards 2021 for the professional development course which is designed to foster and educate current and emerging female radio managers within broadcast radio.”  RAB president and CEO Erica Farber adds, “‘Rising Through the Ranks’ is by far one of my favorite initiatives produced by the RAB and I’m disappointed that we have to suspend it due to COVID-19. However, we’ve seen that knowledge sharing through intimate peer-to-peer discussions between both speakers and attendees is immeasurable, that we couldn’t replicate this experience in a virtual setting.”

Parshall Steps Down from NRB Board Chair Position. Broadcaster Janet Parshall is resigning from her position as chairman of the board of the National Religious Broadcasters.  At the same time, her husband Craig Parshall has resigned from his post as general counsel for the organization.  The NRB says, “Both Janet and Craig have a long association with NRB. Janet served the NRB for nearly 20 years as board member, executive committee member, and most recently as chairman. Craig served two terms as NRB’s general counsel, where he effectively championed NRB’s public policy interests in Washington, D.C.”  Parshall was a longtime talk host on the Salem Radio Network.  SRN VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup comments, “It is the passing of the torch at NRB, with veteran Christian broadcaster – and former Salem Radio Network talk host – Janet Parshall stepping down as board chairman. Janet’s talent – which always made SRN’s call-in lines ring so hard they were practically levitating – will be missed as the NRB moves into the future of Christian broadcasting.”

States Re-Opening Economies, Confirmed COVID-19 Cases/Projections, Remdesivir, Meat Processing Plants, Presidential Race/Biden Assault Accusation, Michael Flynn Case, U.S -China Relations, and Kim Jong Un Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/29). Almost half the country’s states begin opening up their economies; the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; reports that the drug Remdesivir is showing positive results helping people recover from COVID-19; President Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open; the presidential race and the sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden; released FBI documents indicate investigators were trying to get former national security adviser Michael Flynn to lie; the U.S. and China spar over accusations that the other is responsible for the coronavirus pandemic; and speculation about the status of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Glenn Beck Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Nationally syndicated Premiere Networks talk radio star, Glenn Beck is this week’s guest on the award winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” His remarkable career includes groundbreaking stints as a host on both FOX News Channel and CNN’s Headline News, in addition to being a 13-time New York Times best-selling author and media industry entrepreneur.  An independent-minded conservative, Beck’s brand-new book is titled, Arguing with Socialists (Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster, 2020).  Beck, a marvelous storyteller who brings a unique combination of intelligence, unpredictability and emotion to the microphone, is described by Harrison as “talk media’s leading performance artist.”  Harrison and Beck candidly discuss life during the coronavirus pandemic, the disturbing power wielded by Google and Facebook, and the burning issue of lives versus livelihood, plus more.  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. In Los Angeles, morning drive personality Angie Fitzsimmons is out at Mt. Wilson Broadcasters’ country KKGO “Go Country.”  She’d been co-host with Tim Hurley since he joined the station last June.  During her career, Fitzsimmons has served as a producer for Carson Daly when he hosted the morning show at KAMP-FM, Los Angeles…..The Memphis Flyer reports that Memphis radio pro Drake Hall is no longer with Cumulus Media’s rock WXMX “98.1 The Max” where he’s been serving as morning host.  Hall issued the following statement, “As many of you have noticed, I’m not on the radio at the moment.  I’m very excited about our future plans and we’ll be letting you know what’s next, very soon. You can follow us on the Drake Hall Memphis Facebook page and at drakehallmemphis.com. I owe a debt of gratitude to all the good people I’ve worked with for the past 16 years, especially Wes Yahola and Syd Nabors and my late, great partner of 23 years, Zeke Logan. My main goal for now is not getting up at 3:00 am. Wishing you good health and peace until we meet again.”

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

| January 8, 2020

Elliot Jacobson Joins Newsmax TV as EVP of Programming/Chief Content Officer. Television executive Elliot Jacobson joins Newsmax TV as executive vice president of programming and chief content officer.  He most recently held the same position with Comcast-backed Baby Boomer-targeted network RLTV.  Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy comments, “Elliot comes to Newsmax with a significant career in content strategy, programming operations, and production.  We’re excited because Elliot has a tremendous background in content and will help us implement our 2020 plans and beyond.”  Jacobson began his career as a news producer in Spain and has held positions at news and entertainment networks and production companies over the last 25 years.  He has consulted extensively on programming strategy and operations for emerging networks domestically and internationally.  He is a frequent speaker on the subjects of Boomer audiences and consumers.  He says, “I have followed Newsmax’s extraordinary growth over the last several years and I am enthusiastic to join the team.  Chris Ruddy has positioned Newsmax to become a critical source of news and information in the media landscape.”

It’s Official: Rush Limbaugh Renews with iHeartMedia. During his rally in Miami over the weekend, President Trump revealed that Rush Limbaugh had signed a new – the president said – four-year deal with iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks.  In an official release, iHeartMedia says the “specific terms” are not being announced but “long-term, multi-platform agreement reflects The Rush Limbaugh Show’s decades-long dominance in the talk radio format, including increased audience levels and revenue.”  In a statement, Limbaugh says, “Growing up, dreaming of and pondering success, I never actually envisioned it to the degree I have experienced it.  And it would not have happened without a huge audience of Americans, people who make the country work; hundreds of great radio stations who took a great risk 31 years ago; and the wonderful people at iHeartMedia, who know radio almost as well as I do.  Now, four more years!  There is nothing I would rather do!”

PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s December 2019 PPM survey, today reporting on the public radio news/talk format.  Public radio talk fared better than its commercial news/talk “cousins” in the build-up to the holiday season with half of the stations on our panel see positive weekly 6+ AQH share movement and only 32% of stations seeing a decline when comparing November to December data.  The year-over-year comparison – December 2018 to December 2019 – shows about half the stations were up (48%) and the other half went down (52%).  Two public radio news/talk stations ranked #1 in their respective markets: WAMU-FM, Washington and KUT-FM, Austin.  However, five public radio news/talk stations ranked #2 in their markets.  See all the data here.

TALKERS News Notes. At Salem Media Group’s KDXE-FM, Little Rock “101.1FM The Answer,” Rush Limbaugh now airs in the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm daypart.  The Premiere Networks superstar moves there from Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk KARN-FM.  FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade assumes the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot at KARN-FM…..Production pro Jody Avirgan leaves his senior editorial producer position with ESPN where he produced and voiced the “30 For 30 Podcasts.”…..Podcast producer cabana adds two new programs to its portfolio of shows.  “Voices for Justice” is a true crime program hosted by Sarah Turney, whose sister Alissa went missing in 2001.  “ONE Extraordinary Marriage” is co-hosted by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, marriage coaches and co-authors of 7 Days of Sex Challenge.  cabana SVP of business development Frank DeSantis says, “We’re excited about 2020 and kicking off the new year with these two great podcasts.  Our advertisers are eager for podcasts that tap into the interests and emotions of listeners.  We look forward to working with Sarah and the DiLorenzos and to bringing their audiences to national advertising brands.”

Iran Air Strikes/Middle East Tensions, Trump Impeachment, Presidential Race, Financial Markets Activity/The Economy, Hunter Biden Paternity Case, and Puerto Rico Earthquakes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/7). Iran’s strikes against U.S. bases in Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S.’ killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani; the impeachment articles against President Trump; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in November; the activity in the financial markets and the health of the U.S. economy; a judge rules Hunter Biden is the father of the child of a former DC stripper; and the earthquakes wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico 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. In Houston, Jessie Watt joins the cast of “The Morning Mix” on Entercom’s hot AC KHMX “Mix 96.5” alongside air personalities Sarah Pepper and Geoff Sheen.  Watt comes to Houston from her most recent position at the company’s WYCD, Detroit where she was the on-air producer for the “Chuck, Rachael and Grunwald in the Morning” program.  Watt says, “I am beyond thrilled to be joining Entercom Houston’s incredibly accomplished ‘Mix 96.5’ team.  I feel lucky to be able to spend my mornings working and laughing with the fiercely talented Sarah Pepper and Geoff Sheen and am extremely excited for the opportunity to work under [market manager] Sarah Frazier and [program director] Chase Murphy.”…..iHeartMedia and FOX Entertainment announce the nominees for the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Awards that will air live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 29 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  The event also will be broadcast on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and the iHeartRadio digital platform.  iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes says, “The iHeartRadio Music Awards is a true celebration of the music and artists that millions of fans listen to every day on their favorite radio stations across the country.  FOX’s young and engaged audience has proven to be the perfect home for our iHeart listeners.”  You can see the nominee list here…..The Premiere Networks-syndicated hip hop show “The Breakfast Club” is now airing on Cumulus Media’s hip hop WMNX, Wilmington, North Carolina “Coast 97.3.”  WMNX program director and afternoon drive host Brandon “Bigg B” Hickman says, “We are excited to bring a fresh morning to Wilmington with breaking hip hop and R&B with Angela Yee, Charlamange the GOD, and DJ Envy.  This addition pushes the urban culture forward with topics from trending news, finance, and politics wrapped up in a music intensive show on the way to work.  They and we are the culture!”

Radio’s Precarious Financial Position: Are We at the Tipping Point?

| August 15, 2014

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

JUPITER, FL — The recent Wall Street quarterly earnings calls for radio’s publicly traded companies were pretty alarming.  In three quarters radio has gone from slow growth to no growth to negative growth in an astoundingly short period of time.

Those in denial will try to explain it away by blaming it on the Olympics or the World Cup — or because radio is a “mature industry.”

The real worry here is that 15 years of post-consolidation chickens are finally coming home to roost.  Homogenized programming, time-spent listening declines and the decimation of sales departments are now taking their toll.

Corporate radio apologists have been heard to say, “Stop talking about the good old days, get used to the industry as it exists today.”  Well, the truth is, there’s a lot wrong with how radio operates today.

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