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 Group; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; Sid 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 Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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 email@example.com
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 Stephens’ Stephens 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.”