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Friday, June 25, 2021

| June 25, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Bridges, Roads and Condos,” looks back at this past week of June 21-25, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Harry Hurley, morning show host, WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WABC, New York Host and Former Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Suspended from Practicing Law in New York. The New York State Appellate Division, First Department suspended the law license of former NYC mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York talk host Rudy Giuliani. The court ruled that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.” It added that Giuliani’s conduct “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.” The fate of Giuliani’s New York law license hangs in the balance as the court added, “We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings.”

Audacy Unveils Sports Podcast Studio Building 2400Sports. The new podcast studio for production of Audacy sports podcasts is being launched. 2400Sports houses Audacy Sports’ digital audio content, including both new and existing original podcasts. It is the latest addition to Audacy’s podcast portfolio, which contains premium podcast companies Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, as well as the recently acquired Podcorn. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field says, “We’re excited to launch a third major studio with a goal of building 2400Sports into the home of the country’s best sports podcasts. We look forward to developing elite partnerships, including our just-announced deal with MLB, to create truly special, riveting sports content.” In the new partnership with MLB, Audacy and the league will collaborate on the production and distribution of official podcast programming for the league and its clubs. The studio will launch with a new flagship podcast series in development that revisits baseball’s most dramatic and thrilling postseason campaigns. The first installment, coming this fall, will take a deep dive into the Chicago Cubs’ historic march to the 2016 World Series championship. Audacy will work with all 30 clubs to develop new podcast content. Also concurrent with the studio launch, Audacy announces a development deal with award-winning podcast producer Jody Avirgan’s Roulette Productions. Over the coming months, Avirgan will contribute to 2400Sports’ slate of programming by developing and creating new original shows across a range of sports and genres. From 2016-2020, Jody Avirgan was the executive producer and host of ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts.

KBLA, Los Angeles Adds Black Information Network News. The new talk station launched by Tavis Smiley – KBLA, Los Angeles “Talk 1580” – is adding BIN: Black Information Network’s national news service to its programming, according to Premiere Networks. KBLA will feature Black Information Network News’ :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists. Premiere says the news service is available on more than 40 stations nationwide and is “the first and only 24/7 comprehensive national audio Black News service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” KBLA president and COO Elston Butler says, “We’re excited to partner with Black Information Network News. We knew it would deliver the trusted news and information that is valuable to our listeners. Other news sources offered KBLA a nice piece of the news pie, but with BIN, we felt we would receive the whole recipe that our listeners deserve.”

Cumulus Media Completes $175 Million Debt Paydown. The company completes a multi-step procedure it began in May of this year to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Here’s how it happened: On May 17, Cumulus Media completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. On May 25, it paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to a mandatory prepayment obligation arising from the company’s previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020. Pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, on May 26, 2021, the company launched a tender offer to repurchase approximately $26 million of the Notes at par, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. As of the expiration of the Tender Offer, approximately $3 million of Notes were validly tendered, accepted for payment and subsequently cancelled. Giving effect to the impact of the Tender Offer, approximately $450 million principal amount of Notes remains outstanding. Finally, on June 24, Cumulus submitted an irrevocable paydown notice to the administrative agent of the Term Loan to effectuate a required paydown of $23 million, which represents the remainder of the initial amount of the Tender Offer that was not validly tendered prior to the expiration date. Cumulus EVP and CFO Francisco J. Lopez-Balboa says, “As the improvement in economic and public health conditions continues to drive momentum in business trends, we felt it appropriate to accelerate several debt repayments in order to expedite our balance sheet de-levering, reduce interest expense, and increase our free cash flow generation. We believe this better leverage and free cash flow profile, more than $200 million of available liquidity and solid rebound trajectory are significantly enhancing our financial flexibility. Given our strong competitive position, proven execution track record, and numerous revenue growth drivers, we are confident in our multiple pathways to grow shareholder value.”

The Score’s Danny Parkins Leads Fundraising of More Than $650,000 for Food Bank. The Athletes for Justice’s Austin Harvest food mart project was the beneficiary of WSCR, Chicago’s “What About Chicago Radiothon.” The Audacy sports talker helped raise more than $650,000 for the charity launched by former Chicago Bear Sam Acho and its mission to erase a food desert and build a permanent facility that can fully service the community and those in need. 670 The Score brand manager Mitch Rosen says, “What a tremendous 24 hours. ‘The Score’ asked and the audience delivered for Austin Harvest to build a permanent food mart. I can’t thank our dedicated listeners, our score team, Danny Parkins who led all of us, and Sam Acho enough. We’re so proud to help support a great cause. Thank you, Chicago.” Parkins adds, “That’s the Chicago that I know and love. We saw a problem and helped to solve. So, when people ask, ‘What about Chicago?’ I want people to tell them the story of Austin Harvest, Sam Acho and ‘670 The Score.’ Thank you to everyone who donated and helped us erase a food desert and fund the construction of a permanent facility for Austin Harvest.” Austin Harvest is in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and was originally a pop–up food mart that was a converted liquor store. The mart addressed a food desert in the city and was staffed as an after-school program three days a week by local kids.

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Raises $27,000-plus for Boston Children’s Hospital. The Beasley Media Group sports talk station raised more than $27,000 to benefit the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (P.A.C.T.) Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital via the 10th Annual Who’s Your Caddy? Classic charity golf tournament. WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” afternoon drive personality Tony Massarotti created the original event in memory of his nephew who was cared for by the P.A.C.T. Unit. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Massarotti, Chris L. and Erika O. from Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast and “The Sports Hub Golf Club” host Hardy.

Pompeo Speaks at National Religious Broadcasters Conference. Pictured above is former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) with Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup (right) at the annual National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas. Pompeo warned the 3,500 attendees of the dangers posed by teaching Critical Race Theory in schools and applauded Christian broadcasters for “helping protect religious freedom and traditional American values in our nation.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is hinting at a return to the talk radio business after taking a buyout from the paper that’s been acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital and launching his own media platform johnkassnews.com. He currently is hosting a podcast called “The Chicago Way with John Kass” on WGN-AM’s digital platform. In the past, he hosted a talk show on WLS-AM, first with co-host Jake Hartford, then with Lauren Cohn.  Kass tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder, “I’m in meetings now with various broadcast entities to continue talking to people in Chicago. I think they might want to hear what I have to say.”…..Audacy announces that Mike Hoss is the new play-by-play announcer for New Orleans Saints game day broadcasts on news/talk WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Hoss will work with color analyst and Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister in the booth. Audacy New Orleans SVP and market manager Kevin Cassidy says, “When we started our search for the new ‘Voice of the Saints,’ the goal was not only professional play-by-play, but also someone with a deep connection to the team, the Saints amazing fan base and our community. Mike checks all the boxes. His extensive experience covering the team both on and off the field has allowed him to paint a front-row picture for fans over the course of his career, and we trust his knowledge will enhance our coverage on game days.”…..The GCN nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new station KTLR, Oklahoma City to its roster of affiliates…..Colorado Springs-based Way Media announces the addition of Steven Thompson as vice president of technology. Thompson was most recently VP of technology for Hope Media Group and KSBJ, Houston. WayFM VP of broadcast operations Jim Marshall comments, “The addition of Steven to the WayFM roster puts us in a position to further solidify our operations. He played a key role in KSBJ’s expansion in South Texas and I’m thrilled that Steven has joined our leadership team. He has a heart for God and a desire to excel in the technical arena. I love that combination.”

Former ‘Talk 106.7’ Atlanta Host Mike Brooks Dies at 66. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Rodney Ho, former WYAY-FM, Atlanta “Talk 106.7” talk host Mike Brooks died unexpectedly Wednesday (6/23). Brooks was a former police officer who also had served as a correspondent for CNN, among numerous other career ventures that included hosting a talk radio show on Cumulus Media’s former news/talk station “Talk 106.7.”

COVID-19 Vaccines, Goals and Delta Variant Top News/Talk Story This Week. The controversy over the vaccinations against COVID-19, the Biden administration’s goals, and the Delta variant combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the blocking of the For the People voting bill and race relations, followed by the economy and the compromise infrastructure bill at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

NEED A GREAT EXPERT GUEST? Newsom Recall Attracts National Talk Media Interest. The official word that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) will definitely face a recall election has sparked interest in the subject of California politics at talk media outlets across the nation. Attorney/author Wayne Avrashow is a reliable non-partisan expert on the subject of California politics and is available for interviews on the Newson development as well as all things Golden State. He is a frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics and a California political insider. He has an extensive background in California politics, served on two government commissions, was chair of a Los Angeles County ballot proposition, and co-authored ballot arguments. He began as a campaign manager for two victorious Los Angeles City Councilmembers and later served as chief of staff. As a lawyer and lobbyist, he represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at Southwestern University School of Law and was an adjunct professor at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers and in legal, business, and real estate publications. He authored Success at Mediation: 10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys, a book used by law students at the University of Southern California School of Law. And he is the author of a current Amazon best-selling novel Center Stage: A Political Thriller (2021, RealClearPublishing) about a rock star who runs for the U.S. Senate. His experiences in politics, government and business, and as a practicing attorney provide unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. His website is www.wayneavrashow.com. He can be contacted directly at 818-995-1100 or walaw@sbcglobal.net

Thursday, May 13, 2021

| May 13, 2021

Mary Walter Exits WMAL-FM, Washington. In a Facebook post, morning drive co-host Mary Walter announces she’s done her last show with Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington, DC. Walter says the news that Cumulus is bringing its air personalities back from their home studios to the radio studios forced her to make a lifestyle choice. She writes, “Before COVID I spent 4 years living in an apartment in MD, while my husband lived in NJ. Every Fri after the show, I would go back to my apartment (that had like 3 pieces of furniture), pack my car and drive the 4 hrs back to NJ.  I’d get in, collapse and be in bed by 7p. Saturday was spent unpacking, doing laundry, housework and all the other ‘stuff’ that needs to be done. Sunday morning I would start show prepping, pack and then it was back in the car for the 4 hrs back down to MD. Plus I think it’s the only morning show in the country that starts at 5am instead of 6am and getting up at 3 wears you down. Add in that I missed every funeral, graduation, Confirmation, birthday party or life event that didn’t take place on a Saturday and I decided it was time for a change. Being able to work remotely for the last 14 months really opened my eyes to quality of life and I chose living with my husband in the house I’m paying for, seeing friends again and living as opposed to money. Don’t know where I’m going from here, but for now, I just want to read a NON-POLITICAL book, turn off the news and attend to things that have been ignored for 4 years.”

Dan Bongino to Host FOX News Channel Weekend Show. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and regular FOX News Channel contributor Dan Bongino is getting his own weekend talk show on FOX News Channel. Bongino – whose 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET radio show is syndicated by Westwood One – will host a 10:00 pm ET Saturday show on FNC beginning June 5. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who’s been serving as an FNC contributor since 2019. Additionally, Bongino’s Westwood One radio program will be streamed by FOX Nation beginning May 25.

RTDNA/Newhouse School Study: More Local Radio News in 2020. The first installment of this year’s RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University study has been released as it focuses on the quantity of local news in television and radio. With regard to radio, the study finds, “More radio stations report running local news in 2020, with an increase among AM stations offsetting a slight decrease among FM stations. 70.4% of radio survey respondents overall report airing local news, though stations with news may be more likely to participate in the survey.” Going a bit further in depth, the study finds that “the average number of weekday minutes of news went up overall by less than four minutes, with all market sizes except medium markets going up modestly. Last year, medium markets led a small overall increase in local news. Weekday median – or typical – number of minutes is now fairly close from one market size to the next… The reason that the average weekday minutes in major markets is so much higher than all others is because that’s where most of the all-news stations are. Note that those stations have little effect on the median or typical number of minutes. The percentage of stations that increased the amount of local news rose by more than 10 points compared to a year ago. The percentage decreasing local news stayed about the same. The bigger the staff and the bigger the market, the more likely that local news content increased. Non-commercial stations were twice as likely to increase the amount of local news (44.1% to 21.1%) compared to commercial ones. Stations in the West were more likely to increase local news than any other region. Otherwise, no other variable made any consistent difference one way or the other.” See more here.

IAB: Podcast Revenue to Exceed $1 Billion This Year, $2 Billion by 2023. This is the fourth annual IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue study, prepared for IAB by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (and sponsored by audio firms including Audacy, Cumulus Media, and iHeartMedia), and it predicts that podcasting revenue will “grow as much in the next two years as it did in the past decade.” The medium had a strong fourth quarter of 2020 (up 37% year-over-year). In 2020, podcast revenue was $842 million compared to $708 million in 2019. The study results in the prediction that podcast revenue will hit $1 billion by the end of this year and $2 billion by 2023. Among the study’s findings: dynamic ad insertion is growing rapidly – it accounted for 48% of revenue in 2019 and 67% in 2020. It also reveals that annual buys decreased by 5% from 2019 to 2020 while remnant buys increased by 6%. Cost-per-thousand is still king as 93% of podcast revenue was based on CPM while series ownership dipped from 10% of revenue in 2019 to 5% in 2020 (flat fee accounted for 2%). When it comes to podcast genre, news is still the top dog accounting for 22% of revenue in 2020. However, the genre of science jumped from just 3% of podcast revenue in 2019 to 12% in 2020. See the complete study here.

iHeartMedia and Catalina Partner for Measurement of Offline Sales. This partnership between iHeartMedia and Catalina will help the former “measure and attribute the impact of podcast advertising on offline sales in physical stores, which continue to represent the majority of CPG (consumer package goods) purchases.” Catalina describes itself as “a leader in shopper intelligence and omni-channel media solutions that personalize the shopper journey.” In a press release, the companies say, “To date, podcast measurement capabilities have helped advertisers understand the impact of an ad campaign on brand lift metrics like purchase intent or message recall, as well as attribution of digital user activity such as website visits from those listeners exposed to that campaign. Now, CPG partners will also gain visibility into the true offline sales impact of their marketing dollars within podcasting.” In addition, as part of this data partnership Catalina will provide iHeartMedia with audiences and measurement services within iHeartMedia’s SmartAudio platform, for CPG ad campaigns that air on the latter’s linear and streaming radio programming. iHeartMedia EVP of national research David Shiffman says, “We have been impressed with Catalina’s ability to deliver highly-scaled, extensive data and insights for CPG advertisers, enabling them to measure the effectiveness of their brand messaging on in-store sales. We continue to focus on cross-platform measurement and attribution capabilities for advertisers and now in partnership with Catalina we can provide CPG advertisers tools to maximize their podcast campaigns’ ROI, with measurement and attribution solutions to more effectively plan and execute their multi-platform audio campaigns.”

WABC ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ host Frank Morano Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Overnight host Frank Morano of WABC, New York is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Morano is one of the rarest species of on-air talent in the radio business today – he is the host of a live and local all-night radio show. There are several syndicated all-night shows that are heard on hundreds of stations by millions of listeners… but very few live and local for people working all-night or just spending what could be isolated or lonely time comforted by the intimate company of a radio delivering the voices of nearby people, in real time, right there in their local city or community. When business titan, former NYC mayoral candidate and radio broadcasting maverick John Catsimatidis took ownership of WABC in 2019, he began instituting a number of innovative programming changes including, in 2020, restoring the lost tradition of broadcasting overnights with a live, local, and extremely engaged host. Morano is the perfect radio broadcaster to carry out that mission. He’s a relatively young broadcaster with a long history of loving and studying radio and he sounds great on the air. Don’t miss this insightful conversation! To listen to the podcast in its entirety please click here.

GOP vs Cheney/Influence of Trump, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Hamas Fighting, Voting Rights Bill, Stocks Decline/Inflation Fears, and Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/12). Republicans oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership role in the party and former President Donald Trump’s influence on the GOP; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and CDC guidelines; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline and the resulting gas shortage in the Southeast; the violence between Israel and Hamas and concerns about an all-out war breaking out; the debate in the U.S. Senate over President Joe Biden’s For the People voting rights act; this week’s decline in the stock market and fears of inflation; and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

| October 9, 2019

FOX News Radio Utilizing Series of Hosts in 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET Slot Beginning with Harry Hurley as Immediate Replacements for Starnes.  As reported in TALKERS (10/3), FOX News Radio has kicked off a midday show titled, “Fox Across America,” to replace Todd Starnes (who departed the network last week) in its midday 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET slot.  Reports indicate that Fox will be filling the vacancy with a series of hosts with no word yet on the company’s timetable or whether it is even looking for a permanent talent to take over the show.  The first host being utilized in the position is WPG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley who, in addition to his daily morning show, has been serving as one of the top fill-in personalities on the network for more than a year.  Hurley, a member of the TALKERS “Heavy Hundred” and the 2019 New Jersey Broadcasters Association “Broadcaster of the Year,” has been hosting “Fox Across America” since last Thursday (10/3).   He has hosted mornings in Atlantic City for more than a quarter century where he enjoys legendary status.

TALKERS News Notes.  Sports talk radio pro Chris Carlin announces via Twitter that he’ll be doing some fill-in work on ESPN’s WEPN, New York with afternoon drive host Michael Kay when Peter Rosenberg takes time off for the Jewish holidays.  Carlin was let go from Entercom’s crosstown sports talker WFAN last month as the station pared some expense from its early afternoon show that featured Carlin, Maggie Gray, and Bart Scott…..PRX announces that it is ending production of “Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen” after 20 years.  PRX chief content officer John Barth comments, “‘Studio 360’ has presented a who’s who of diverse cultural leaders, performers, and creators with verve and style.  Anchored by Kurt Andersen’s sharp, inquisitive, free-range mind and personality, a generation of creative producers has explored an impressive scope of arts and culture.  We’re proud of all that ‘Studio 360’ has brought into the lives of listeners over a remarkable 20 years.”…..MLive.com reports on the sale of Michigan radio group Jackson Radio Works from owners Susan and Bruce Goldsen to Jamie and Katina McKibbin.  Jamie McKibbin has worked for the company – as a radio host, station manager, and since 2015 as general manager – for the past 23 years.  The cluster includes news/talk WKHM-AM/W268CA, sports talk WKHM-HD2/W270CJ, CHR WKHM-FM, and country WIBM-AM/W240DG “The Power Cow.”  Jamie McKibbin says, “I love Jackson, I love the community, I love being a part of the community.  I’ve had a passion for radio since I’ve been a kid.”…..Salem Media Group closes on the swap of KKOL-AM, Seattle to Intelli LLC for that company’s KPAM-AM, Portland.  Salem has been airing its conservative news/talk with its Salem Radio Network programming on the station as “AM 860 The Answer” under an LMA.  Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage was the exclusive broker for this deal.

Impeachment Inquiry, Bidens’ Ukraine Business, 2020 Presidential Race, U.S.-Syria Policy, and NBA-China Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/8). The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against President Trump and his administration’s announced refusal to cooperate with requests for documents and testimony; the Republicans’ interest in the Ukraine dealings of Hunter and Joe Biden; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the U.S. military policy in Syria as Turkey prepares to invade Northern Syria; and the NBA’s controversial relationship with China after the Houston Rockets’ general manager made a public statement supporting Hong Kong protestors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Stephens Media Group Closes on Mapleton Acquisition. The $21 million deal that transfers 37 radio stations from Jim Shea-led Mapleton Communications to David StephensStephens Media Group closes.  The deal includes seven stations in the Medford, Oregon market; six stations in Merced, California, five in the Monterey, California market; six stations in the Redding, California market; six signals in Spokane, Washington; three stations in Alexandria, Louisiana; and four stations in Monroe, Louisiana.  The acquisition doubles the size of Stephens Media and completes Mapleton’s exit from the radio business.  KALIL & CO., INC. was the exclusive broker for this transaction.

WWO Blog: Marketers on Audio.  In this week’s blog from Westwood One, data from presentations at the recent 2019 ANA Masters of Marketing conference is presented for the radio industry.  WWO says three hot topics were audio, brand building, and the power of emotion.  Some of the positive news regarding audio included the observation from Accenture Interactive that, “Forward-looking CMOs recognize the growing potential of audio and interactive voice as a dominant medium, elevating the importance of determining smart marketing strategies that can deliver brand messaging without a screen.”  Also noted was Proctor & Gamble’s use of AM/FM radio: “Major brands like P&G are using AM/FM radio to supplement digital and make their TV better.  Marketers and agencies were amazed to learn that P&G is now America’s fifth-biggest advertiser on American AM/FM radio after being absent from AM/FM radio for decades.”

Beasley Feted at ‘Free Speech Gala.’ Pictured above is Beasley Media Group chief executive officer Caroline Beasley (right) with Frederick J. Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post (left) and Media Institute president Richard Kaplar (center) at Monday’s 40th Annual “Free Speech Gala” at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.  Beasley received the American Horizon Award for her visionary industry leadership in helping grow a family-owned radio business from a single AM station into a 65-station multi-media corporation.  Ryan received the Freedom of Speech Award for upholding principles of free speech and free press throughout a journalism career that has spanned print, broadcast, cable, and digital media.  FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks delivered the keynote remarks.  Photo: Gerald Barnes

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In celebration of the release of his autobiography, Me: Elton John (2019, Henry Holt & Co), Elton John and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive event on Wednesday, October 16 at 10:00 pm ET (7:00 pm PT) at iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles in which the company will host “iHeartRadio ICONS with Elton John.”  The event will feature an exclusive interview hosted by Jim Kerr and will be broadcast across more than 297 iHeartMedia stations digitally on “Big Classic Hits” and “Soft Rock.”  The CW Network will also livestream the event on The CW App and CWTV.com…..iHeartMedia Atlanta announces that Enrique Santos will anchor mornings on its Spanish hits WBZY “La Z 105.3.”  The “Tu Mañana con Enrique Santos” morning show will air from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.  Station PD Orlando Rosa says, “With the increased importance and size of the our U.S. Hispanic audience in Atlanta, both Spanish and English speaking, we’re excited to welcome a top-rated, on-air talent like Enrique Santos in morning drive on ‘105.3 La Z’ with Karla, our local talent who will integrate the local happenings in Atlanta with Enrique.”…..WAY-FM chief operating officer Lloyd Parker announces that current Charleston station manager Brian Driver is named general manager for the WAY-FM properties in South Carolina.  Driver comments, “Thirty-one years ago as a 15-year-old in Dallas getting started in radio, I could have never imagined I would have the opportunity that I now have today.  I have been honored to work for WAY-FM in every facet that I have since day one and could not have gotten as much accomplished in Charleston without the help and leadership of Jim Marshall.  To now be the general manager of WAY-FM Charleston, in such an incredible ministry, is an absolute honor and a blessing that I could not have imagined.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

| July 10, 2019

Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Continue Posting Today with a Special Address by Bill O’ Reilly.  TALKERS is continuing to post key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story.  Today’s (7/10) post presents the special keynote address by Key Networks syndicated personality Bill O’ Reilly.  Posted yesterday: A one-on-one discussion titled, “Sports Talk Radio’s Role in Popular Culture” featuring a conversation between Mark Chernoff, senior VP/programming WFAN/Entercom, NY and captain/sports format, CBS Sports Radio and Mike Thomas, PD, WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” Boston and brand manager/spoken word, podcasts, esports, Beasley Broadcasting.   Kate Delaney, host, GCN and correspondent NBC Sports Radio, served as facilitator.  Already posted: A panel discussion titled “Broadcasting and Podcasting,” featuring (in alphabetical order) Greg Batusic, chief operating officer, PodcastOneSteven Goldstein, founder/CEO Amplifi MediaMichael Czarnecki, program director, WONK-FM, Washington, DC and iHeartRadio Podcast Channel; and Craig Schwalb, former program director WABC, New York and WPRO, Providence.  The discussion is moderated by Mike Kinosian, managing editor/West Coast bureau chief, TALKERS.  The page also presents a video of the convention’s keynote “fireside chat” in which TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity in a casual one-on-one conversation.  The two discuss a variety of topics including Hannity’s special relationship with President Donald J. Trump; what it takes to be successful on both radio and television talk media; the challenges facing talk radio in terms of ratings and marketing; Hannity’s feelings about his life and career; plus more.  The session is introduced by DC Radio Company executive director Victoria Jones.  Also already posted:  The convention’s official opening address titled, “Telling the Story,” delivered by one of the industry’s great storytellers, Lee Habeeb, host and producer of the successful syndicated program, “Our American Stories” as well as RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. The convention took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history.  TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com where they will remain on view for the rest of the year.  To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.

Salem Radio News to Feature ‘Religious Freedom’ Series. A weeklong series titled, “America’s Fight to Preserve Religious Freedom” is being presented by Salem Radio Network’s SRN News to its 2,200-plus affiliate stations, beginning on July 15.  Salem says, “The multi-part broadcast focuses on threats by secular activists and politicians to drive Christianity and other religions out of the public square in America.” It features exclusive interviews with Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia (pictured at right with SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup); Michael Farris, president & CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom; Texas attorney general Ken Paxton; Daily Wire talk host Michael Knowles; and David French, senior writer at National Review.  Tradup says, “From gender-bending activists to outright hostility by states and local governments, religious freedom in America is under more attack in 2019 than at any other time in our history.  Our series will shine the white-hot light of public scrutiny on the very real dangers facing one of our most fundamental rights as American citizens.  And we hope it will fuel a national dialogue on how men and women of faith can mobilize to reverse recent trends which have created hostility toward faith-based businesses and organizations here is the United States…which nevertheless remains the beacon of religious freedom around the globe.”

Five Podcast Publishers Sign Up for Nielsen’s ‘Podcast Listener Buying Power Service.’  A new tool for podcasters is launched called the Nielsen Podcast Listener Buying Power Service from Nielsen Scarborough and podcast publishers iHeartMediaCadence13, Midroll-Stitcher’s advertising arm, Westwood One and cabana are its charter clients.  Nielsen says, “For the first time, clients will be able to profile shows using program titles collected from our subscribers in order to connect specific types of listeners with particular advertisers and specific program-level insights…Nielsen Podcast Listener Buying Power Service has an effective sample of close to 30,000 respondents, with the ability to capture results for specific programs.  It also uses targeted questions on podcast listening with more than 12 podcast genres, over 2,000 retail/plan-to-buy categories and hundreds of advertisers with specific brand names such as insurance companies, automotive, quick service restaurants, home improvement retailers and more. These easy-to-use reports are generated from web-based software and have a two time per year data release.”

TALKERS News Notes. New York City sports media figure Michael Kay is off the air for the next month after having surgery on his vocal cords.  The WEPN-FM “ESPN NY 98.7” afternoon drive host and Yes Network Yankees broadcaster tweeted that he’d seen a doctor in Boston and surgery was recommended…..The KSTE-AM, Sacramento-based, nationally syndicated “Armstrong & Getty” program is now airing in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot at Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ-FM, Kansas City.  This latest affiliate signing comes after last December’s announcement by Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty that affiliate relations pro Craig Whetstine is working with Armstrong & Getty Media to take the program beyond its Western U.S. affiliation base…..CBS News is offering affiliate stations a one-hour Apollo 11 special titled, “One Giant Leap Revisited,” staring July 11, ahead of the July 16 50th anniversary of the moon landing.  CBS correspondent Peter King takes listeners from the Apollo 11 launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where he talks with the brave men and women who made the mission possible…..A new iHeartRadio Original podcast is launched titled, “Noble Blood,” presenting “the salacious, secret, and tragic stories of monarchs like you’ve never heard them before.”  Dana Schwartz, entertainment writer for publications including Entertainment Weekly and Marie Claire hosts the program…..Envision Networks announces that registration is open for the next “Coffee with Envision” webinar, this edition titled, “Demographics for a New Age of Radio,” on July 16 at 1:00 pm ET.  Brand consultant/No Borders Radio “Brandfather,” Brian Burns, and Radio Consulting Services president Jon Holiday, will present and promise to “separate facts from the radio listening myths of Millennials and Baby Boomers.”  Envision president Danno Wolkoff says, “There’s so much misinformation out there about Millennials and Baby Boomers and their listening habits that we want to dispel.  Brian and Jon will cover the top myths and then provide the facts that programmers can reference when working to attract these valuable audiences to their stations.”…..Talk radio pro Simon Conway is doing double duty this week as he hosts his usual afternoon drive program on iHeartMedia’s WHO, Des Moines and fills in Wednesday through Friday in morning drive on the company’s WFLF-AM/W226BT, Orlando.  Conway used to work in the market and is looking forward to reconnecting with his old listeners.

Census Citizenship Question, Immigration/Detention Facilities, 2020 Presidential Race, Jeffrey Epstein Case, Ross Perot Dies, and U.S. Women’s Soccer Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/9).The Trump Administration’s battle to include a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census; U.S. immigration policy and the controversy over conditions at border detention camps; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the sexual trafficking charges facing billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein; the death of business tycoon and former independent presidential candidate H. Ross Perot at 89; and the pay discrepancy issue brought up by the U.S. Women’s National Team 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 New York City, a big change takes place at classic hits WCBS-FM.  Longtime midday personality Dan Taylor exits after New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office broadens its investigation into workplace misconduct dating back to CBS’ ownership of the station. Read the New York Post’s coverage here.  Meanwhile, WCBS-FM owner Entercom brings former WPLJ personality Race Taylor aboard to handle the midday show, effective July22.  Entercom regional president and market manager Susan Larkin says, “We are extremely excited to welcome Race to WCBS-FM and to reunite him with some of our most legendary on-air personalities.   We are thrilled to offer former WPLJ fans a new place to call home at our station and to offer Race’s loyal listeners more of the absolute best on-air listening experience for which we are known.”  Race Taylor spent more of the last 20 years with former hot AC WPLJ, prior to its sale to Educational Media Foundation…..Cumulus Media moves rock radio pro Axel Lowe from his position as PD and afternoon drive personality at WFTK-FM, Cincinnati “96 Rock” back to his hometown of Atlanta to program the company’s rock WNNX-FM.  Cumulus Atlanta VP and market manager Sean Shannon says, “Axel may well be the longest, continuously employed, full-time talent in Atlanta as he started in 1992 and has never been off the air since, even when he relocated to Cincinnati for the company nearly five years ago.  That said, we are thrilled to welcome him home to Atlanta as program director for ‘Rock 100.5,’ a station and a format he knows inside and out.  It will be terrific to have his leadership and passion for ‘Rock 100.5’ back at work here in our Atlanta studios.”…..J.D. Justice joins Midwest Communications’ country KTCO, Duluth “Kat Country” as brand manager.  He was most recently with Trending Media Inc’s country KXIA, Marshalltown, Iowa as PD and morning show host.  He takes over for Justin Henrickson, who exited to relocate to the state of Washington.  He’ll also co-host the morning show with “Brookie the Rookie.”…..Classic rock WBPT-FM, Birmingham, Alabama announces the passing of award-winning morning show personality Lisa Mason, after suffering health complications.  She served with WBPT for the past 17 years.  The station says, “While we mourn the loss of a very special woman, we also celebrate her remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young and old alike.  For those who may ask what they can do to honor Lisa, you may donate funds in her name to the ASPCA at the following link: https://secure.aspca.org/donate/memorial.”

Monday, July 1, 2019

| July 1, 2019

Emmis and Standard General Form New Company to Buy New York’s WBLS-FM and WQHT-FM. This new company will be called Mediaco Holding and it will buy urban radio stations WBLS-FM and WQHT-FM “Hot 97” for $91.5 million in cash, a $5 million note receivable, and 23.72% of the common equity of Mediaco.  Emmis will distribute this common equity of Mediaco pro rata to its shareholders in a taxable dividend.  Mediaco will be a public company expected to be listed on NASDAQ, and Emmis will remain a separate public company, as well.  Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan will serve as CEO of Mediaco and Emmis will remain active in the management of WBLS and WQHT and provide certain corporate services to Mediaco pursuant to a management agreement between the parties.  Investment firm Standard General will appoint a majority of the board of directors of Mediaco and Soohyung Kim, CEO, managing partner and chief investment officer of Standard General L.P., will be chairman of Mediaco.  After this deal gets regulatory approval, Emmis Communications will still operate New York’s WLIB and WEPN (through an LMA with ESPN Radio), four radio stations in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Monthly, and Digonex, a dynamic pricing company.  Emmis recently announced it is selling its 50.1% ownership stake in eight Austin, Texas stations to Sinclair Telecable for $39.3 million.   Smulyan says of this latest deal, “This is a landmark day in the 40-year history of Emmis. We look forward to continuing to manage two of the world’s most iconic radio brands in ‘HOT 97’ and WBLS and employ our award-winning New York team as we partner with Soo Kim and Standard General to form a new public company to invest in media opportunities.  The transaction provides Emmis significant capital to aggressively pursue new business opportunities that align with our entrepreneurial spirit and management skills.  We are also excited to work with Soo and Standard General to grow Mediaco Holding.  We have already been evaluating great investment opportunities and I’m incredibly excited about the future. Today is a great day for the future of Emmis.” Emmis says that no personnel changes are planned, and all New York employees will continue to be Emmis employees with Emmis benefits as part of an Employee Leasing Agreement with Mediaco.

Kietzman Exits WHB-AM, Kansas City in Aftermath of Andy Reid Comments. Kansas City sports talk personality Kevin Kietzman has exited Union Broadcasting’s sports talk WHB-AM “Sports Radio 810” where he’s been hosting “Between the Lines” for the past 22 years.  Last week, Kietzman was suspended from the station after he referenced Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s two sons Britt and Garrett – both of whom battled drug issues and Garrett died of an overdose in 2012 – during a monologue about Reid’s ability to fix players with personal problems.  In an apology issued last week, Kietzman said his intent was not to blame Andy Reid for Garrett’s death, but he understood how his comments could have been interpreted as such.  Union Broadcasting president Chad Boeger issued a statement saying Kietzman’s departure was mutual, but it’s likely Kietzman would have preferred to return to his job. Kietzman was allowed to issue a final statement: “It’s been my honor and privilege to host ‘Between the Lines’ for the past 22 years and I’m proud of being a founding partner of this great local company that is so committed to our community.”

Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Begin Posting Today with Erica Farber and Cousin Brucie Receiving AwardsTALKERS has begun posting key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention today (7/1).  The first two videos being posted today are RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award.  The convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story – took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history.  TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com.  To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.

Nielsen Releases Total Audience Report for Q1 2019. The latest Total Audience Report from Nielsen has been published and although the time spent with radio relative to other media options shrank from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, in the audio universe it is still the most popular platform with 92% of the 18+ U.S. population.  Looking at the daily hours and minutes spent with each platform, among adults 35-49 radio listening dipped from 1:50 minutes per day to 1:45 minutes.  In the Millennial group – adults 18-39 – listening time went from 1:25 in Q1 of 2018 to 1:20 in Q1 of 2019.  Which platform is seeing the largest growth? It’s the use of an app or the web on a smart phone.  That category is up across the board, even with upper demos.  In the adults 50-64 demographic, for example, use of an app or the web on a smartphone rose from 2:24 minutes per day to 2:47 minutes from Q1 of 2018 to Q1 of 2019.  See more about the report here.

Monday Memo: Copy Worth Copying. Too much commercial and promo copy is…typical.  In-one-ear-out-the-other.  In this week’s Monday Memo column, consultant Holland Cooke offers examples of effective messages, most of which include “The Two Magic Words.”  Read his column here.

Chris Williams Signs Four-Year Extension to Remain with iHeartRadio. Digital executive Chris Williams will continue as chief product officer for iHeartRadio as he signs a four-year contract extension.  In this role he oversees digital programming initiatives, product marketing, UXD, and product strategies.  He joined the company in 2013 and rose to his current post in 2014. The company says that during his tenure as CPO, he has “expanded the iHeartRadio footprint to over 280 platforms and 2,000 devices and more than tripled its audience to where it currently stands with a registered user base of 130MM.  He also led the product initiative to launch two on-demand services, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access.”

TALKERS News Notes. Newsday’s Neil Best writes that Entercom New York regional president Susan Larkin “would love” for WFAN afternoon drive personality Mike Francesa to continue hosting his radio show “forever.”  Best’s column speculates about Francesa’s future with the station, addressing both Francesa’s own musings about the challenges of hosting his radio show and doing his digital content for his app as well as the fact that the company is paying eight personalities to host four shows.  Larkin tells Best the company is pleased with the ratings and revenue from Francesa’s show.  Read it here…..WREX-TV, Rockford, Illinois reports that Midwest Family Broadcasting’s sports talk WNTA-AM is canceling its live and local sports talk shows and replacing them with syndicated fare.  Gone from the station are “Randy & Co.,” a two-hour morning show hosted by Randy Ruef and featuring a rotating cast of co-hosts as well as producer Jordan Goethe, and “Full Court Press,” the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm show co-hosted by Jake Logli and Jackson Schwartz…..Pictured at left is Westwood One talk host Jim Bohannon as Santa Claus bringing Christmas in June to kids at the Collins Children’s Home of Seneca, South Carolina.

G20 Summit/Trump Meets with Kim Jon Un and Xi Jinping, Hong Kong-China Tensions, Immigration Reform, 2020 Presidential Race, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, and Stonewall Anniversary Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan and President Trump’s meetings with China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; the protests in Hong Kong against Chinese rule; the Trump Administration’s immigration reform policies; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; Iran’s production of weapons grade uranium; and the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall Riots were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Hartford hot AC WTIC-FM names Ryan “Salt” MacMillan the new morning drive host, taking over for Gary Craig, who recently announced his retirement.  Salt began hosting the Entercom station’s morning program with incumbent morning personality Christine Lee today (7/1).  Salt comes to Hartford from the company’s Boston hot AC WWBX-FM “Mix 104.1” where he was part of the “Karson & Kennedy” morning program. He says, “Boston has given me so much over the past seven years both on and off the air and I will forever be thankful, but it’s time for a new adventure in Hartford.  Gary Craig is a Hartford radio legend and with his long-time partner, Christine Lee, I am honored to try and continue his legacy.”…..Award-winning CMT host and radio personality Cody Alan just celebrated his 2,000th episode as host of “CMT After MidNite.”  Alan was surprised with in-studio appearances by Garth Brooks and Keith Urban, as well as a phone call from Thomas Rhett.  In addition to this major milestone for “CMT After MidNite,” Alan is also celebrating the 100th episode of his “Cody Cast” podcast and the 10th anniversary of the Premiere Networks-syndicated program “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan.”…..Programmer Kat San Andres adds music director duties for Local Media San Diego’s rhythmic AC XHRM “Magic 92.5” to her responsibilities that also include serving as music director and APD for sister CHR XHTZ “Z90.”  She joined “Z90” in 2004 as a morning program intern and has worked her way up through the programming department…..Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation announces its new venture in which Radio Disney has agreed to license Radio Disney video content to SBC. SBC will “telestream” the Radio Disney video content: the audio will be broadcast on SBC’s radio station WIGO-AM, Atlanta and simultaneously the video will be streamed at wigoam.com. Sheridan has a patent which covers telestreaming.  SBC says it will launch a one-hour daily program featuring Radio Disney video content in the near future that will tentatively be called “The Radio Disney Hour.”  SBC COO Ron Davenport, Jr. says, “We are honored and extremely flattered to be the first radio broadcaster licensed by Disney to use Radio Disney video content. The Radio Disney team has been incredible to work with, and we are very excited about the possibilities going forward.”…..Sun Broadcast Group and “The Michael Baisden Show” announce a renewal of the show’s distribution deal through December 31, 2020.  Baisden says, “Now that the show is hitting on all cylinders it’s time to do what I do best…engage with people.  I began my career hosting relationship seminars and producing upscale events, it’s time to get back out there and connect with my listeners face-to-face and have some fun!”…..SiriusXM is launching a limited-run music channel called “Madonna’s Madame X Radio” that will be available during the month of July.