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Monday, May 17, 2021

| May 17, 2021

Monday Memo: Listeners Kidnapped! “They’re being abducted! Snatched-up in our own house,” consultant Holland Cooke warns. In this week’s column: How transmitters are diverting media consumers elsewhere and how smart stations are “riding the horse in the direction he’s facing.” Read it here.

Pending Business: Elvis Has Left the Building. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, has some advice for sellers who are caught short when a host committed to doing endorsement spots up and leaves his (or her) talk host gig with no notice. Obviously, that scenario puts sellers in a tough situation but a little planning ahead of time can ease the burden on the sales department a little bit. Read his column here.

CDC’s Mask Update/COVID-19, Israeli-Palestinian Violence, Rising Consumer Prices/Inflation Worries, Arizona Vote Audit, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The CDC issues new mask guidance for Americans who are fully vaccinated, vaccine hesitancy, and death rate in India; the violence in Gaza as Israel and Hamas continue rocket fire and concerns about an all-out war; the soaring prices for consumer goods in the U.S. and worries about inflation; the 2020 presidential election vote audit taking place in Maricopa Country, Arizona; and the controversy surrounding the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Bloomberg Radio Surpasses 400-Affiliate Station Mark. Syndication firm Key Networks announces that radio business news provider Bloomberg Radio hits a “major benchmark in affiliate growth, with over 400 stations now carrying its business and consumer news programming, a whopping 25% growth rate in the first six months.” In late October 2020, Key Networks entered into an exclusive agreement with Bloomberg Radio to manage all network advertising sales, affiliate sales and marketing. Global head of Bloomberg television and radio Al Mayers says, “The results speak for themselves. In six months, Key Networks has grown Bloomberg’s existing affiliates – including virtually all major radio groups – and added new groups and stations to our portfolio. When you combine the magic of Key Networks’ smart marketing strategies and fresh new approach to affiliations with the high-quality programming that Bloomberg offers, you can take a fully mature network and supercharge its growth.” Bloomberg’s news content includes live, customized reports for stations, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features that appeal to a diversity of audiences and interests, including the “Black Business Report,” “Green Business Report,” “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” and “The Luxury Report,” among others.

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Present ‘Summer of ‘21’ Town Hall Broadcast. This Thursday (5/20), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey 101.5’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in helping New Jersey families stay safe and have fun in the Summer of ’21. Scott says, “Everyone is understandably anxious for a summer of fun. This program will help guide families into making smart decisions so they can enjoy the summer safely.” The program’s on-air expert panel will feature Dr. Margaret Fisher, world-renowned pediatric infectious disease specialist and Jeff Vasser, executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. The program will also feature check-ins with the mayors of New Jersey shore towns and representatives from the state’s biggest venues and attractions. Scott and his guests will also answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour.

KKOB-FM, Albuquerque Joins Multi-Media Effort to Address Literacy. Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-FM is working with The Albuquerque Journal and KOAT-TV to address New Mexico’s low literacy rate through The Literacy Project. The Cumulus Media station and its partners have been meeting for several months on the project after a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that New Mexico ranks 49th in literacy nationwide. Even more alarming, literacy rates in New Mexico appear to not have made any significant improvements in the last 20 years. As a result, the three newsrooms have pledged 12 months or more of layered, in-depth coverage to identify the gaps, resources and opportunities to create positive, workable solutions. The special coverage kicks off this weekend. Cumulus VP and market manager Jeff Berry says, “I believe we can do this together. As news leaders, we know how to be catalysts for change. We know how to get the attention of government and industry. We know how to rally public opinion and support. We want to use our joint strength and training to serve the state in a way that can truly enhance and assist public and private educational efforts.” Each organization has assigned some it its top reporters to this complex issue. “96.3 News Radio KKOB” operations manager Jared Hart is assigning Haylee Gonzales and is enlisting the talk show hosts in planning featured experts.

‘ESPN Cleveland’ to Honor Super Fan Stan the Man. Today (5/17), Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WKNR-AM “ESPN Cleveland” is producing a special tribute to local super fan Stan the Man, a.k.a. Leonard Stanislaus Lisewsky, who passed away last Wednesday at the age of 77. The station says it was saddened to learn of the longtime fan and caller’s passing. “Stan was a lifelong Browns fan who also loved golf. His regular calls to ‘The Really Big Show’ became a highlight of that day’s program. He even had his own produced open that was played to introduce each of his calls into the show.” Today’s tribute will air live from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm “850 ESPN Cleveland.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new collaboration between Bloomberg Media and iHeartMedia is an exclusive multiyear agreement for the two companies to produce and distribute more than a dozen new original podcasts, and will also include the distribution of Bloomberg Media’s existing slate of over 20 podcasts through the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne says, “Bloomberg Media continues to be one of the first, most-trusted destinations for high-quality content – from market news to business trends, to deeper financial backstories on what’s moving the economy overall. We are excited to partner with Bloomberg, not only to grow the audience of their existing slate of great shows, but to develop a whole new list of titles across the next several years, combining their editorial expertise with our mass reach and monetization.”…..ABC Audio, ESPN Audio and National Geographic presented on the final day of the last week’s IAB Podcast Upfront and announced upcoming podcast projects, including ABC’s launch of LZ Granderson’s LGBTQ+ focused “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” National Geographic’s Tara Roberts previewed a new six-part series as she sets off on the journey of a lifetime, traveling with divers to investigate the lost stories of the slave trade — both to expand the historical record and to honor the estimated 1.8 million unsung souls who perished during the Middle Passage…..KQED-FM, San Francisco announces that journalist Alexis Madrigal is named co-host of KQED’s long-running public affairs radio program, “Forum.” Madrigal arrives at KQED from The Atlantic, where he was a staff writer. Madrigal will take over the 9:00 am hour of “Forum” while Mina Kim continues to host the 10:00 am hour, which is shared with stations statewide and explores current affairs through the lens of race, justice and equality. Madrigal was selected after a national search to fill the 9:00 am slot of “Forum” vacated by Michael Krasny, who retired in February after a distinguished 28-year career at KQED.

Dr. Jack Casey Leaving Emerson College’s WERS, Boston. Veteran radio executive and educator Dr. Jack Casey is leaving Emerson College’s WERS-FM, Boston later this month to expand his media career as a consultant. Casey, who has been general manager of WERS for the past 16 years, says, “I am grateful that Emerson College sees the potential of WERS, both as a real-world training ground for students and, just as importantly, as a vibrant and robust fundraising stream. This has truly been a team effort and I appreciate all the hard work done by our professional staff, as well as by student managers and volunteers. I hope the higher education community takes note of what can be accomplished by professional management and willing students. College and university radio stations don’t have to be sandboxes. They can be competitive, revenue producing, major market media outlets. In addition, I couldn’t be happier to be passing the baton to our longtime operations manager Howard ‘D’ Simpson.”

Morning Radio Opportunity at KFAQ, Tulsa. Thirteen-year KFAQ, Tulsa morning host Pat Campbell is not returning to his show in order to focus on health challenges. As a result, Griffin Communications is seeking his successor. Director of operations and programming Steve Hunter says, “We are looking for someone to fill his big shoes. We need someone that is plugged into current events, sports and community events. This is a rare opportunity to work for a locally owned company in brand-new, state-of-art studios in the heart of downtown Tulsa. Griffin Communications Tulsa Radio/Talk Radio 1170 is looking for an on-air talent that can do a daily morning show that speaks to our 35-54-year-old demo. Digital/Social Media skills are a must. We are seeking a great communicator and a fun storyteller with a keen sense of how to create excellent content that will be displayed across all our platforms. The perfect candidate is exceptional on the air, excellent digitally and has worked in various formats including talk radio, news radio or sports radio. This is a very active radio group, heavily involved in the community and requires someone who is fearless and willing to get out of the studio and meet listeners. If you are ready to work in a building full of incredible talent with a family atmosphere and a must-win attitude, we would love to hear from you. Must be willing to work a flexible schedule including nights, weekends and holidays. Qualified candidates can contact me or Talk Radio 1170 PD Jeremie Poplin at Jeremie.poplin@griffin.news.

EWTN Seeks Producer/Call Screener. Religious broadcaster EWTN Global Catholic Network is seeking an associate producer/call screener. EWTN says, “As the first point of contact for listeners during live call-in programs, [the associate producer/call screener] utilizes excellent knowledge of the Catholic Faith and customer service skills to prep callers for on-air broadcast. Executes assigned duties of recording, editing, mixing and transferring audio to and from specific media. This position is also responsible for exceptional production and promotion of live and recorded programs to EWTN standards. What does EWTN offer? Career with Purpose; Family-oriented working environment; Competitive salary; Benefits Package (Health, Dental, Vision, Life and Retirement); 11 Paid Holidays and Paid Time Off; Online continuing education and degree programs through Catholic Distance University.” Get more information here. Please send cover letter, resume and salary requirements here. EOE.

Promotions Positions Open at Audacy. There are two positions open on the Promotions + Experiences team at Audacy. The company says it is “looking to add two talented, versatile promotions pros to our central Promotions + Experiences team. These individuals will focus on promotional partnerships with concert partners, activating select live performance venues, and play a vital role in live events across the company’s portfolio of brands.” You can learn more and to apply for the Promotion Director, Concerts & Experiences position here and do the same for the Promotion Manager, Concerts & Experiences position here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

| May 11, 2021

Saga Communications 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Down 15.5%. The 2021 first quarter financial report from Saga Communications reveals net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decrease of 15.5% from the same period in 2020. Net income was $758,000, a decline of 75% from the net income of $1.68 million posted in Q1 of 2020 (although Saga was one of the few audio companies to post income and not a loss). Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period in 2020. Station operating income was $4.7 million for the quarter compared to $5.5 million for the first quarter last year.  Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communication’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021.

KCBS-AM, San Francisco Sports Anchor Steve Bitker Announces Retirement. After 30 years as morning drive sports anchor for Audacy’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco, Steve Bitker is retiring after the May 14 broadcast. After graduating from University of California Berkeley, Bitker served as a news writer for KSFO, San Francisco. He worked in Tokyo for three years as a news/sports anchor for Japan’s only English-language TV station – Japanese Cable Television. After returning to the States, he worked for seven years at KNBR, San Francisco before joining KCBS in April of 1991.

Wendy Bell Off WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh for Now. According to a story by WPXI-TV, talk host Wendy Bell is off the air of St. Barnabas Broadcasting’s WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh and Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck show is airing in its place. Bell was an anchor at WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh until 2016 when she was let go after making racially insensitive comments in the wake of a shooting that left five dead. She hosted a talk show at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh and agreed to exit that station after being suspended for suggesting park rangers “shoot on sight” anyone seen defacing park monuments. The story quotes St. Barnabas Health System director of marketing Michele Bradac saying Bell is off the air due to a personnel matter. “Until the company and she resolve their personnel matter, there’s no way to say” when she might return.

Newsmax TV to Launch ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ Prime Time Show; Produce Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. There’s a new prime-time program launching on Newsmax TV this evening (5/11) at 9:00 pm ET starring former presidential advisor, commentator, and financial expert Steve Cortes and former White House correspondent Jenn Pellegrino. About the new “Cortes & Pellegrino” show, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “We were the only major cable news network to see an overall ratings increase from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, and we did it without a full prime-time. ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ completes our nightly lineup and will continue our unprecedented growth.” Also at Newsmax, “Spicer & Co” co-hosts Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith will air an exclusive Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tomorrow (5/12) at 6:00 pm ET. The event takes place at The Villages – the 55-plus community in Sumter County, Florida that boasts almost 80,000 residents – and will feature discussions with a live studio audience of American voters. Sean Spicer says, “Governor DeSantis has proved his resolve and confounded his skeptics over the past year, leading his state to excellence in fostering a thriving economy, rolling out the COVID vaccine, and guarding religious liberty. This Town Hall will give Newsmax viewers deeper insight into the reasons why DeSantis is a true governor of the people.”

TALKERS News Notes. This Memorial Day weekend ABC Audio has the special program “Honor, Hope and Healing,” hosted by correspondent Aaron Katersky, available for affiliate stations. The special honors America’s heroes including military members who died in the line of duty, pandemic front-line workers, grieving families, and others affected by last year’s events. The program dives into the significance of Arlington National Cemetery and features interviews with its regular visitors who come to pay respects to their family and friends…..SiriusXM announces the launch of the “Let’s Get After It with Chris Cuomo Podcast” culled from Cuomo’s SiriusXM show on the P.O.T.U.S. channel that airs daily from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. The podcast will be available three times a week and features the opening longform segment from the program as a podcast…..Audacy is partnering with independent podcaster Aaron Lammer on today’s release of the first two episodes of his newest project, “Exit Scam: The Death and Afterlife of Gerald Cotten,” a documentary podcast series exploring the 2018 death of Cotten, the founder of Canadian digital currency platform QuadrigaCx. The first episode is available right now everywhere podcasts are available, while the second episode is available exclusively on Audacy. This unique windowing strategy will allow listeners who want more of this thrilling true crime series to get their fix immediately on Audacy where listeners will get early access to episodes before all other platforms…..Blavity Inc., the diversified digital media company behind “AfroTech,” “21Ninety,” “Travel Noire,” “Shadow and Act,” and “Blavity News,” partners with Charlamagne Tha God’s and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network to distribute its podcast for Black entrepreneurs and moguls in the making titled, “Black Tech Green Money with Will Lucas.” Lucas is an entrepreneur, content creator, and the brand manager at Black tech digital platform AfroTech, the world’s largest Black tech digital platform. The podcast presents the stories of successful Black entrepreneurs and technologists, as well as actionable advice and wealth-building strategies from a Black perspective…..Audacy’s Cadence13 is partnering with bestselling author, activist, and thought leader Glennon Doyle for her “We Can Do Hard Things,” podcast on which she will share stories of her life and explore topics including love, relationships, parenting, mental health, recovery and more.

COVID-19, Cheney vs GOP/Influence of Trump, Pipeline Hack, Gaza Strikes, Gates Divorce Controversy, Golden Globes Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/10). The rate of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, vaccine hesitancy, and India’s death toll; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s battle with the GOP over the “stolen election” and Donald Trump’s influence over the party; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline Networks by DarkSide and the effect on gas supplies in the Eastern U.S.; the battle between Israel and Hamas over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem; the growing controversy over the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates and the Jeffery Epstein connection; and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards lose NBC’s broadcast in 2022 over diversity problems were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.