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Friday, January 14, 2022

| January 14, 2022

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, “Mandate Shmandate,” looks back at this past week of 1/10 to 1/14. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSDan Mandis, talk show host/PD, Supertalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; Derek Hunter, talk show host, WCBM, Baltimore/USA Radio NetworkLynn Woolley, talk show host, KJCE, Austin; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Frank Morano, talk show host, WABC, New York; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each weekend on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; 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; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast 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.

Glenn Beck Battling Second COVID-19 Infection. During an appearance on Mark Levin’s Westwood One syndicated radio show, Premiere Networks talk radio star Glenn Beck revealed he has COVID-19 for the second time. Numerous news outlets picked up on the story, including Newsweek. Beck told Levin that his whole family had COVID in December of 2020 so they didn’t get vaccinated. He said he’s taking ivermectin and despite his second infection, feels great. “I am great, Mark. I am great…despite having COVID and seeing the destruction of our country, I’m great. I mean, I’ve been doing my show…It’s a lighter case but it’s now starting to go into my lungs today, a little disturbing. But I’m on all the medications and treatments and everything else, so we’ll see.” He also said he’s not taking monoclonal antibodies because they don’t “seem to be working for the new strain. But I’m on ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine—what is it, Fluvoxin? I’m on a bunch of different…I mean, my doctors are hitting it really hard.” He told Levin that he’s been battling COVID for about a week but is not concerned about the virus reaching his lungs. “Everybody’s getting sick because it’s very contagious but it’s not nearly as deadly. I’m a fatty fat fatso, so you know, that’s probably not the best thing…And I’ve got some other issues, but that’s just the way it is. We have got to move on with our lives.”

2021 Social Impact Report Reveals ‘Audacy Serves’ Achievements. The company releases its 2021 Social Impact Report that spotlights key achievements from its ongoing companywide Audacy Serves initiative. The report encompasses Audacy’s commitment to several pillars of impact: diversity, equity and inclusion, mental health, civic education, the environment, children’s health, and veterans and service members. Some of the achievements the company highlights include, in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion category, the arrival of eight new fellows – recent graduates from historically underrepresented communities within the industry have joined the team in a variety of sales, marketing and content roles. Yearlong fellowship experiences include curated on-the-job learning and growth opportunities; in the Mental Health category the company produced its 5th annual “I’m Listening” broadcast with influential names like Doja Cat, Luke Combs and Demi Lovato, who shared their personal struggles with mental health. The event helped Audacy connect with more than 200 million people and raise more than $800,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; in the Civic Education category, Audacy’s “Engaged Impressions” study found that 71% of weekly radio listeners tune in because they feel the content is relevant to their community. Audacy says research like this indicates that listeners continue to trust local media. Audacy further invested in its news business, adding over 50 journalists in eight of its newsrooms across the country in an effort to meet that demand for trusted quality content. Audacy VP of social impact Sarah Harris comments, “This report reflects our unwavering commitment to putting our values in action and our passion to use our collective voice for good within each of our pillars of impact. We are thrilled to share these significant results and moving stories of real human connection unfolding in our communities across the country.” You can see the complete report here.

Three New Shows Added to BetQL Network. Beginning this Sunday (1/16), three new shows will debut across Audacy’s BetQL Network. “BetQL 5 Star Weekend,” (8:00 am – 10:00 am ET) is hosted by KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh host Chris Mack and CBS Sports Radio’s Damon Amendolara and uses BetQL’s star rating system to preview all of the best bets for the day and the week ahead. “Sunday’s Bets,” (12:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET) is hosted by WTEM-AM, Washington morning show host Travis Thomas and BetQL Network hosts Quinton Mayo and Michael Jenkins and keeps listeners up to date with all of the best action from a busy day in sports. “BetNation,” (4:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET) is hosted by CBS Sports Radio’s Shaun Morash and Audacy’s alternative national evening host Kevan Kenney as they take the pulse of the nation from a sports betting perspective. Audacy VP of sports Matt Volk comments, “As football season turns the corner for the home stretch, we’re pleased to introduce three dynamic Sunday shows to help bettors get ready for all the action across the sports world. These three programs will continue to put fans in position to win on Sundays, no matter the season.” Announced at the same time is news that BetQL writer Lucy Burdge will join “Back to the Futures” and co-host alongside Brandon Sprague, Sunday nights from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.

TALKERS News Notes. The Little Rock stations owned by Cumulus Media report that their December 10 “Festival of Stars Toy and Donation Drive and Radiothon” raised $363,249 for Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Children’s Northwest, the state’s local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The stations, including news/talk KARN-FM “News Radio 1029,” broadcast for 12 hours to encourage donations. The annual event has raised more than $3.6 million over the past 17 years…..The pro football playoffs begin this weekend and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting play-by-play coverage from all six games of the NFL Super Wild Card Playoffs. Scott Graham will host the pregame/halftime/postgame shows for the Saturday and Sunday games. Rich Eisen will be the studio host for the Monday night playoff game…..Beginning this Monday (1/17), Field of 68’s nightly college basketball show, “The Field of 68 AFTER DARK,” will air on SiriusXM’s ESPNU Radio channel. The show, currently broadcast on the network’s YouTube and social channels, is broadcast live nightly from 11:00 pm until 12:00 midnight ET and features a rotating cast of prominent sports figures. The lineup of rotating voices will include stadium insider Jeff Goodman, former college stars Robbie Hummel, Randolph Childress, Ashton Gibbs and Terrence Oglesby, as well as veteran coaches Sean Miller, Archie Miller and Steve Prohm. Field of 68 founder Rob Dauster says, “There’s a major void right now in this space with regard to college basketball. This will give diehard college basketball fans somewhere to go each night from the start of the season through the national title game to not only be informed, but also entertained.”…..iHeartRadio announces the launch of “Welcome to Our Show,” a “New Girl” rewatch podcast hosted by show stars Zooey Deschanel, Hannah Simone, and Lamorne Morris. Together, the trio will rewatch the Emmy-nominated series to reveal never-before-told stories, their favorite memories from creating the show, and divulge moments and scenes left on the cutting room floor. The first episode of “Welcome to Our Show” drops on January 24.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant, Vaccines, Masks, Mandates and School Closings Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 10-14. The fast-spreading Omicron variant, vaccine and mask mandates and battles over school policies combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the economy, soaring inflation and the ongoing supply chain and labor shortage issues, followed by the January 6 Investigation and the 2022 midterm elections tied 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.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

| October 19, 2021

Bongino: ‘Me or the Vaccine Mandate.’ Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Dan Bongino told listeners to his Monday (10/18) program that he’s issuing an ultimatum to Westwood One owner Cumulus Media that he will quit the radio show he’s been hosting since May 24 of this year if the company insists on mandating that workers return to the offices/studios after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Examiner reports that the author and media personality is vaccinated but he is “standing up against the company’s ‘political decision’ so that people without platforms could make a ‘private and personal medical decision.’” He tells his employer, “You can have me, or you can have a vaccine mandate, but you can’t have both.” He added, “I have no intentions of letting these guys get let go, get harassed, because they made a private and personal medical decision on only one of the biggest issues of our time. There is a real thing called natural immunity. There is an even realer thing called freedom and liberty. This is a constitutional republic. People have the right to make their own medical decisions.” There’s been no public response from Cumulus Media management so far.

Salem Radio Network Host Dennis Prager Contracts COVID-19. According to a story by KUSA-TV, Denver, Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager has contracted COVID-19, missing three days of his program last week. Prager was back on the air on Monday (10/18) and told his listeners that he had hoped to get COVID to achieve natural immunity. Prager attended a campaign event in Colorado Springs hosted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl on October 10. He said, “That is what I hoped for the entire time. I engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them, knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID – which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded.” Obviously, it’s difficult to tell where Prager contracted the virus, be it at the event, traveling to or from Colorado, or elsewhere. Ganahl’s campaign issued the following statement: “The campaign was not aware Dennis had contracted COVID until the announcement on his show. We have not been made aware of anyone who attended the event outside of Dennis’ inner circle getting the virus. We are reaching out to all those who attended to make sure they are informed. We encourage those who attended, and all Coloradans for that matter, to get tested and follow CDC guidelines if they experience any COVID-like symptoms.” Prager told his listeners he credits his recovery to treatments including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Porretti to Lead Katz Digital Audio.  Radio sales pro Scott Porretti is promoted to president of Katz Digital Audio where he’ll continue to oversee all Katz Digital Audio offerings, manage relationships with an expansive roster of publishing and technology partners, and further the growth of podcasting and programmatic digital audio on behalf of current and new partners. He was most recently EVP of Katz Digital Audio. Porretti says, “We have seen an explosion of growth in the digital audio space that is not slowing, with more people listening on their various devices than ever before. In addition, an increasing number of data attribution companies have shown undeniable validation of the unique and positive impact digital audio has on advertisers looking to reach their consumers. I am so proud of what our team has accomplished and extremely excited to help shape where our industry is heading to support Katz’s ever-expanding position in the digital marketplace and help our clients execute effective digital audio campaigns.” Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray comments, “Katz excels at helping brands reach and engage with consumers in meaningful, impactful ways. Scott’s in-depth knowledge and vast background in developing audio solutions across a variety of platforms has helped Katz grow its diverse digital offerings and proprietary technologies. Scott’s effective team leadership style, and his extraordinary vision in this marketplace, has catapulted Katz Digital to a place where it is now viewed by advertisers as a one-stop-shop to reach diverse audiences with unparalleled scale.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces that iHeartMedia president, multiplatform group and president, Black Information Network Tony Coles joins its board of directors. Coles takes over the seat from iHeartMedia’s Darren Davis, who is retiring from the company at year’s end…..FOX News Media announces that its FOX News Digital closed out the third quarter of 2021 earning the top spot in both multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, reaching over 5.2 billion multiplatform views (+10 percent vs Q2’21) and nearly 10.6 billion multiplatform total minutes (+8 percent vs Q2’21) for the second consecutive quarter, according to Comscore. The company goes on to say that in September, the digital network surpassed CNN.com in total multiplatform minutes for the seventh month in a row and outperformed all other news brands in the news competitive set, with 3.6 billion minutes, also according to Comscore. In September, the digital network notched over 1.8 billion total multiplatform views, outpacing CNN.com in the metric yet again and delivering over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors…..Connoisseur Media’s news/talk WICC-AM, Bridgeport, Connecticut adds FM translator W297CP at 107.3 FM as an additional frequency. Program director Allan Lamberti says, “With the addition of an FM frequency, we will really be able to get local news and information to more of the listeners of Bridgeport and beyond. This is a community that is underserved by local television news and really WICC is the only radio station that delivers it.”…..PodcastOne inks a “high seven-figure renewal deal” with podcast host and former Wall Street attorney Jordan Harbinger that keeps him and his eponymous program with the network for the foreseeable future. “The Jordan Harbinger Show” launched with the network in 2018 and PodcastOne says the show’s download numbers are nearing 11 million monthly and over 300 million all-time. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Jordan embodies what podcasting is all about. His impeccable interviewing skills, his unmatched rapport with guests, his integrity and his knowledge of marketing and the business of podcasting are keystones in the growth of ‘The Jordan Harbinger Show’ and his audience is ever expanding. Not only is Jordan a dream partner in podcasting, he’s also a dear friend and we are looking forward to, and anticipating, even bigger things in 2022 and beyond.”

Global Supply Chain/Inflation, January 6 Investigation/Bannon Contempt, COVID-19, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, and Colin Powell Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/18). Concerns about the effects the global supply chain breakdown will have over the winter and of soaring retail prices; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s risking criminal contempt over his refusal to testify; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and mask & vaccine mandates; the State Department inspector general’s probe of the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies at 84 after complications from COVID were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WBZ-AM and FEMA Unveil Emergency Studio. Pictured above at the WBZ-AM emergency broadcast facility in Hull, Massachusetts are WBZ’s Ben Parker (left) and FEMA’s IPAWS division director Antwane Johnson (right) at a ceremony for the refurbished facility on Friday (10/15). iHeartMedia‘s WBZ-AM facility serves as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), maintained under FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and provides critical information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters. Under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act enacted in 2015, Congress required FEMA to upgrade PEP stations across the country to ensure continuity of terrestrial broadcast services under all hazards. PEP stations are specially designated NPWS broadcast stations that serve as the primary intake source of initial broadcasts for a national alert. FEMA equips these stations, which are operated by local station personnel, with backup communications equipment and power generators that enable them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency, including conveying official alerts to communities regionally and nationwide.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

| September 16, 2021

Nielsen Podcasting Today Report: Lighter Listeners Fueling Audience Growth. According to the most recent Podcasting Today Report from Nielsen, the broadening of the audience for podcasts is being attributed to “light users” who make up 49% of U.S. podcast listeners. Those “light users” are defined as people who listen anywhere from one to three times a month. Nielsen says, “That’s a notable contrast to a typical podcast listener five or 10 years ago when most listening came from people who were more likely to listen to each and every episode from their favorite titles – episodes that are oftentimes released once a week.” Nielsen says the evolution of podcasting engagement over the past few years highlights two important storylines: Consumer interest in new, engaging content from across the media landscape continues to grow, and podcast content has proven to be an attractive option among the media diets of millions of Americans, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The study also concludes that “the pandemic has not had a negative impact on overall podcast engagement. While listener growth flattened somewhat during the second half of last year, it has ramped up notably in 2021, largely due to an increase in at-home listening, which is attributable to light listeners checking out the medium. The rise in at-home listening is also somewhat counter to historical podcast engagement, and again, speaks to the transformation of industry to a broader audience.” You can see the complete report here.

New York Festivals to Honor Molly Solomon with Lifetime Achievement Award. The New York Festivals Television & Film Awards announces it will honor Molly Solomon, executive producer & president of NBC Olympics production and executive producer for the Golf Channel with the eleventh annual New York Festivals Lifetime Achievement Award. A 13-time Emmy Award-winner, Solomon won a Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio & Television for her Beijing Olympics work. She was also a producer on NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, which won a Peabody Award. Solomon was named “Woman of the Year” by WISE (Women in Sports Events) in 2008, was named to the Sports Business Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” list, honoring the best young talent in the business, among other industry honors. Solomon comments, “Thank you to the New York Festivals for the Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s an honor to be recognized among pioneers in our industry. It’s a dream job working at NBC Sports and Olympics covering the biggest sporting events across the world, working alongside the most talented team of announcers and production colleagues. I wouldn’t be here without each and every one of them.” The 2021 New York Festivals Storyteller’s gala celebrates the eleventh year of NYF’s strategic partnership with the annual NAB Show. For 2021, New York Festivals will celebrate global storytellers and honor world-class content from prominent television and radio stations, networks, international independent producers, and presenters in a virtual ceremony on October 12 at 6:00 pm ET.

John Catsimatidis, Chad Lopez and Rudy Giuliani are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. Three major players in the WABC, New York galaxy of radio luminaries are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The four-way conversation took place Monday (9/13) shortly after the station’s extensive live two-day memorial tribute, “9/11 – 20 Years Later,” honoring the victims, first responders and families of the history-changing event. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani now hosts a daily 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm show on WABC. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis, who acquired the heritage station in the spring of 2020, hosts a daily program, “Cats at Night,” heard 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm as well as a syndicated weekend program titled, “Cats Roundtable.” Chad Lopez, a longtime Big Apple radio management and marketing star, is president of Red Apple Media. The result is a remarkably candid, wide-ranging conversation covering Red Apple’s changes and ambitious plans for WABC going forward as well as the group’s observations of the social and political challenges facing New York City brought on by the pandemic. THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Salem’s WNYM, New York to Present ‘Broadcast for Broadway.’ Tomorrow (9/17), Salem Media Group’s news/talk WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” will present a live event in conjunction with Nicholas & Lence Communications, The Broadway Association, and The Actors Fund titled “Broadcast For Broadway” from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at The Hunt & Fish Club on W 44th Street in the heart of the Theater District. The station will produce a live broadcast of “Radio Night Live with Kevin McCullough” along with Cristyne Nicholas featuring Tony Award Winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and Brad Oscar from the Broadway cast of “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Additional scheduled guests include Joe Benincasa from The Actors Fund, Tom Harris from Times Square Alliance, and former NYPD chief of department & NYC Recovery Czar, Terence Monahan. Special VIP guests will also be in attendance for this event.

TALKERS News Notes. KJEL-FM, Lebanon, Missouri sports director Kevin Stubblefield is being enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Stubblefield is in his 25th year broadcasting at the Alpha Media country station. He’s called more than 4,000 games during his career…..Green Roll Media, LLC – a company founded by sports broadcasting pro and former KNBR, San Francisco program director Jeremiah Crowe – is partnering with SuperBook Sports to create multiple podcasts for Green Roll Media’s sports betting podcast network. Green Roll Media will produce “SuperBook Sports Podcast” and “Betting With The Barbers” podcasts each week during football season, focusing specifically on the NFL and college football betting strategy and insights from experienced industry professionals…..Bonneville Seattle and the MLB’s Seattle Mariners agree to a multi-year extension to keep KIRO-AM “710 ESPN Seattle” as the flagship radio station for Mariners baseball. The 2022 season will be the 32nd year that KIRO-AM has been the Mariners radio home. The Mariners have been broadcasting on “710 ESPN Seattle” since the station’s transition to an all-sports format in 2009, and KIRO-AM was the team’s home from 1985-2002…..After nearly two years of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA members at public radio news/talk WHYY-FM, Philadelphia have overwhelmingly approved their first-ever union contract. It sets a salary floor, creates a first ever parental leave benefit and establishes mechanisms for career growth. The unit won its union election 70 to 1 on October 30, 2019 and has been bargaining for a contract ever since, aside from a brief pause due to the pandemic. Frustrated by drawn-out negotiations, union members held a rally in July of this year in order to bring attention to their cause. SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland says, “After a long negotiation process, SAG-AFTRA members finally have a solid first agreement with WHYY that implements vital benefits and pay increases. I congratulate our negotiating team as well as our amazing WHYY members on their new contract.”…..Virtual News Center has adds Eternity Media Group’s Gospel WLNO-AM, New Orleans to its list of affiliate radio stations.

COVID-19, Woodward-Costa Peril Book, California Recall, Gymnasts’ Testimony, Debt Ceiling Debate, Australia Sub Deal, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/15). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the battle over mask & vaccine mandates, and the debate over booster shots; the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book Peril that details former President Donald Trump’s actions after the 2020 election; the aftermath of the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; the testimony of former U.S. Olympic gymnasts about the FBI’s handling of their complaints about now-imprisoned doctor Larry Nasser; the debate in congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to avoid default; the U.S. and UK enter into a deal to provide nuclear subs to Australia to keep China in check; and the wildfires plaguing the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

| August 19, 2021

California Political Expert Wayne Avrashow is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Noted Los Angeles-based, attorney, law professor, author, columnist and political insider Wayne Avrashow is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Avrashow is a regular contributor to RealClearPolics.com and is described by Harrison as “a wonderful ‘go-to’ resource for solid, non-partisan insights about what’s happening in Los Angeles and the entire Golden State.” Harrison and Avrashow take a deep dive into the state’s gubernatorial recall special election, explaining how it works and assessing talk show host Larry Elder’s prospects of becoming California’s next governor. They also discuss the issues of crime, homelessness and exodus of businesses and workers to Arizona, Nevada, Texas and even Florida that are challenging the nation’s most populous state addressing the question, is California losing its mojo? According to Harrison, “Elder’s role in this key recall is of major interest to the talk radio industry because it illustrates the importance and influence of the platform as a staging ground for a political career of consequence – similar to what we witnessed years ago with the rise of Mike Pence.” To listen to this fascinating podcast in its entirety, please click here.

The Radio Agency Points to TALKERS Heavy Hundred as ‘Goldmine’ for Brands Seeking Marketing Leverage. A blog post by The Radio Agency CEO Mark Lipsky highlights an advertising strategy for businesses that he says can be leveraged to dramatic effect with the recent shift in the talk radio landscape. Lipsky points to TALKERS magazine’s 2021 “Heavy Hundred” list as a “potential goldmine for brands looking to get valuable marketing leverage from some of talk radio’s brightest luminaries.” Lipsky goes on to say, “The death of Rush Limbaugh left a vacuum in conservative talk radio with no shortage of would-be successors to entertain Rush’s audience. That creates opportunity for new talk radio advertisers to buy primetime airtime for less than the premium rates that Limbaugh once commanded.” While noting that securing a talk host’s endorsement is not a simple task and requires professional representation, Lipsky explains, “Every market has influential talk show hosts able to present the benefits of your product or service with the earnest credibility of a trusted next-door neighbor. The challenge is securing their endorsements at a fair price that will deliver incremental sales to cover or exceed the incremental cost of their services as spokesperson.” Read Lipsky’s complete blog post here.

WBAL, Baltimore Traffic Reporter Jim Russ Dies Unexpectedly at 57. Longtime Washington, DC and Baltimore radio traffic reporter Jim Russ died suddenly yesterday morning (8/18) at the age of 57. WBAL-AM and WIYY-FM VP and general manager Cary Pahigian writes in a memo to the Hearst Television staff: “Jim is the unquestioned Dean of Baltimore traffic reporting, keeping watch on the roads in the WBAL/98 Rock listening area for the past decade, with many more years of experience at WTOP in Washington and later the service we know today as the Total Traffic & Weather Network.  Along the way he helped mentor a generation of traffic reporters in the DC/Baltimore area… NO ONE loved the job of reporting traffic more than Jim did. He saw it as his duty to keep people in Baltimore moving to their destinations as quickly as possible and attacked that responsibility with passion and dedication. The sterling reputation of WBAL as a news and information leader was strengthened throughout Jim’s tenure, and his departure leaves a void both professionally and personally for his colleagues who enjoyed his company and commitment to excellence.”

Cumulus/Westwood One’s Suzanne Grimes Talks About the Value of Radio to Advertisers with Forbes. In a piece by Brad Adgate for Forbes, Cumulus Media EVP of corporate marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes answers six questions about the radio industry – from how the hosts who’ve filled the midday slot formerly occupied by Rush Limbaugh to how shifting a portion of media buys to radio provides a lift in return on investment. Addressing the latter, Grimes says, “The acquisition of Arbitron by Nielsen made the introduction of ROI and sales-effect studies possible for brands and marketers. For the first time, Nielsen’s credit card and grocery shopper card data can be matched to Portable People Meters to prove the impact of radio advertising. Across a large variety of categories, Nielsen found that for every dollar of radio advertising, ten dollars of incremental sales are generated. CPG and QSR return three to one. Retail sixteen to one.”

iHeartMedia Selling Portsmouth, New Hampshire Broadcast Facility. According to a story at InDepthNH.org, iHeartMedia is putting its Portsmouth, New Hampshire studios at 815 Lafayette Road on the market with a current asking price of $3.67 million. A number of the company’s Portsmouth stations are located in the building, including news/talk WQSO-FM “Newstalk 96.7.” The piece cites a “reliable source” indicating that the live and local broadcasts will emanate from the company’s Manchester, New Hampshire studios by the fall. The two cities are about 40 miles apart.

Report: Max Kellerman to Move to ESPN Radio Mornings. According to a story by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, Max Kellerman will be leaving the ESPN television show “First Take” that he currently co-hosts with Stephen A. Smith and is expected to join the ESPN Radio morning drive show with Keyshawn Johnson. He would replace Zubin Mehenti. The report also indicates that Kellerman could also get a one-hour show on the TV side in the 2:00 pm ET hour.

NAB Show to Require Proof of Vaccination. The National Association of Broadcasters EVP of global connections and events Chris Brown announces the organization’s policy regarding attending the 2021 NAB Show taking place in October in Las Vegas. He says, “While the enthusiasm is building, we are keenly aware of health and safety concerns tied to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and want to assure you that we are putting in place a comprehensive, data-driven plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment at these events. We have worked for the past several weeks to finalize protocols that will maximize the experience and safety of all members of the NAB Show community. This process has involved extensive consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a range of exhibitors and attendees, and review of the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s important announcement this week regarding large events. Taking this all into account, we will require all attendees and participants to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. We think this is a positive step in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will provide further details on implementation as well as other safety measures under consideration.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast from Newsweek launches titled, “The Diplomat,” hosted by former Middle East envoy for the Trump administration, Jason Greenblatt. The show is inspired by Greenblatt’s work in foreign affairs with the intent of fostering candid conversations on a wide set of global and domestic issues. “The Diplomat” will release one or two new episodes every week, featuring one or more guests with first-hand experience in a specific arena sharing their stories and insights. The show’s first guests will be former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman…..SiriusXM announces the launch of the SXM original podcast “Huuuge Fan,” hosted by LaChina Robinson. The program features in-depth conversations with some of today’s biggest stars of stage and screen – famous actors, musicians and other celebs who are big sports fans – about their favorite team. Joining rabid sports fans Tracy Morgan, Ashley Judd, Nelly, Michael Bublé and Tim McGraw as guests on the show are Drew Carey, Monica, Adam Duritz, Michelle Williams, Anthony Ramos and many others…..Seven Bridges Radio’s sports talk WJXL-AM/FM, Jacksonville “Jax Sports Radio” inks a deal with VSiN, The Sports Betting Network to bring more than 50 hours of sports betting news, analysis and insights to Jacksonville and Northeast Florida each week. Station president and GM Steven Griffin says, “It’s important for us to be on the cutting edge of the sports betting media revolution and to serve our audience with this new focus on sports betting content. We’re excited to collaborate with VSiN to bring the best programming in the business to Jacksonville’s sports fans and betting enthusiasts. In addition, we’ll feature VSiN’s industry-leading on-air talent on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, August through January, to offer insight and opinion on the biggest sporting events.”…..Good Karma Brands announces that it has struck a deal with Milwaukee Panther Sports Properties to broadcast University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers men’s basketball on WAUK-AM/W266DR “540 ESPN” beginning this fall. Scott Warras will continue to serve as play-by-play voice for the broadcasts.

Taliban Takes Afghanistan, Russia-Taliban Relationship, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, Southern Border Crisis, Newsom Recall, Tropical Storms & Flooding, Western Drought & Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/18). The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s execution of the withdrawal; Russia’s relationship with Taliban leaders; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and full ICU beds in several U.S. states and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the migrant crisis at the U.S. Mexico border and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey extends the National Guard border patrol for another year; the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom and talk host Larry Elder’s chances of winning; the tropical storms dumping rain on the Eastern U.S. and causing flooding; and the drought and wildfires affecting the Western U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

| August 11, 2021

Phil Valentine Update: Doctors Focusing on Lungs. The latest update on the status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive host Phil Valentine published by Newsweek indicates that doctors “are focusing on treating the lungs of conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, in what his family has described as a ‘critical issue.’” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and as the viral infection got worse, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. Dan Mandis is the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm host on the station and has been communicating with Valentine’s listeners on behalf of his family. He wrote on Monday, “They are working on his lungs, that’s the critical issue right now. Other problems will come along but right now the focus is on his lungs. I’m hoping to have another update soon. #PrayForPhil.” The day before, Mandis posted, “Phil remains in critical condition this morning. There isn’t much new to report, but your continued prayers and support are appreciated. #PrayforPhil,” and later added that Valentine’s atrial fibrillation had improved, as well as his blood pressure. “The hope now is that his dependence on the vent will decrease and his lungs will improve.” The Newsweek piece also quotes Valentine’s longtime producer Johnny B saying, “I know I’d be emotional about this, but not to the point that I have. It’s been a very dark period, actually. I’ve really had to talk to myself, and my wife has helped me tremendously, my family’s helped me, and it’s not been easy. And my co-workers too have been very wonderful,” adding that Valentine is “just the nicest guy and loves to help people out.”

Round Two of July 2021 PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2021 survey period covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM remains ranked #11 after tacking on one-tenth for a 3.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish. Meanwhile, Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to #1 on the strength of a 1.1 share uptick and an 8.8 share finish. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston stays in the #9 position after dropping two-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 3.5 share. Sister all-news WBZ-AM is also steady at #5 after adding two-tenths for a 5.9 share finish. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM takes over the #1 rank after climbing 1.9 shares to a 7.8 share while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM drops from #1 to #4 after falling two-tenths to a 6.3 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the first round) here.

Nielsen’s Audio Today 2021 Study Says AM/FM Listening Hits Highest Level in Over a Year. The just released Audio Today 2021 study from Nielsen Audio – from June 2021 online survey data based on a weighted sample of 1,000 among persons 18-plus – indicates “nine in 10 now feel life is becoming more normal, and they’re resuming pre-pandemic activities, spending and listening.” The study also finds that, “among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets.” Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly adds, “Listening may have migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, but now we’re tracking the audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing. All the while, radio’s value proposition for marketers hasn’t budged: it specializes in reaching consumers who are ready to spend right now, while they’re in the marketplace, and does so in a controlled environment which protects the advertiser’s reputation… Elsewhere in the audio universe, podcast usage — which flat-lined last year — is also growing again as millions of new listeners are engaging with the hottest new audio marketing opportunity. We’re approaching one million available podcasts, with something literally for everyone including radio broadcasters who are nimbly using on-demand audio as an extension of their on-air brands. The question now is how can advertisers reach the right audience in the right podcast?”

Gow Media’s SportsMap Radio Network Adds Three New Shows. The SportsMap Radio Network announces the launch of three new programs to its weekday lineup. They are: “Just Sayin It with Cole Thompson” (5:00 am to 7:00 am ET), “In My Opinion with Denton Day” (9:00 am to 11:00 am ET), and “High Frequency with Kevin Dziepak” (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET). Thompson, who covers the NFL and college football for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation, says, “This is the start of something special. I just can’t thank the staff here at SportsMap enough for giving me the chance. Not everyone is lucky enough for this opportunity, but I will certainly make the most of it.” Day states, “I’m extremely thankful for the chance to host a weekday show. I started at the company nearly three years ago doing one live hour on Sunday mornings. Craig Larson and David Gow allowed me the creative freedom to grow and it’s very rewarding to have all that hard work lead to this exciting opportunity.” Dziepak, who spent the last eight years with WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score,” comments, “My goal is really simple: just have fun and try to provide an entertaining and enjoyable product for those listening. I want to widen the scope of the show beyond sports as well, integrating pop culture, TV, music and whatever else can spark conversation; sort of a cosmic gumbo.” Gow Media CEO David Gow states, “We have a number of partners who produce fabulous content for our network. I’m very excited about each of these new shows. The opportunity to produce original, informative and entertaining programs will always be an indispensable part of our core business model.”

Paul Mason to Lead Titans Radio for Cumulus Nashville. Programming pro Paul Mason is appointed to lead programming operations for Titans Radio for Cumulus Media Nashville. The company says that Mason will continue to serve as program director for sports talk WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” and Middle Tennessee sports audio. The appointment comes after Cumulus and the NFL club extended their multi-year partnership for WGFX to serve as the official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. Longtime executive producer Rhett Bryan remains in his role with Titans Radio. Cumulus Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “From the beginning, we were seeking a creative visionary with a passion for sports entertainment to lead ‘104.5 The Zone,’ the dominant sports destination in Middle Tennessee. Clearly, Paul has stepped into that role and done exceptional work. Adding programming operations oversight to Titans Radio is a natural next step for Paul and we are confident he’ll continue to deliver the best live and local sports content to fans on both WGFX and Titans Radio.” Mason states, “I am excited to work with this amazing group of broadcasters. Mike Keith, coach Dave McGinnis, executive producer Rhett Bryan, and the entire Titans Radio team are among the best in sports, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I also want to thank Allison Warren and [VP of programming operations] Charlie Cook for their confidence in me.”

TALKERS News Notes. Electronic voting firm Dominion Voting Systems is suing conservative video platforms OAN and Newsmax for defamation, alleging that they “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” about the company, relative to the presidential election of 2020. The complaint says they did so despite knowing the claims were false. Newsmax has issued the following statement regarding the suit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”…..Focus360 announces that Forever Media is now a client as 29 Forever Media brands will be included in Focus360’s exclusive Jelli Plus networks including Jelli Male Plus, Jelli Female Plus and Jelli Music Plus. Focus360 CEO Phil Brown comments, “I’m elated to welcome such a storied media company to our Jelli Plus lineups. Forever Media covers some of the largest markets on the East Coast with incredible brands that super-serve their local audience. I’m honored that they have given us the opportunity to share that relationship with our advertising partners.”…..Edison Research unveils the results of its U.S. Top 50 Podcast chart for Q2 of 2021. The list ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report (which Edison says is the only measurement based on actual listening, not downloads). The top three shows based on measurement from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 are: “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily,” and “Crime Junkie.” You can see the rest of this Top 50 report here…..Public radio outlet WVXU, Cincinnati – operated by Cincinnati Public Radio – is dropping its music programming and will go all news/talk as of August 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The organization says its goal is to “bring a wider diversity of voices to Cincinnati airwaves.” It will use NPR, American Public Media, and other programming to fill its schedule.

Longtime Public Radio Broadcaster Neal Conan Dies at 71. The NPR website has Neal Conan’s obituary here. Conan passed away in Hawaii after a battle with glioblastoma. He was host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” for 11 years, until NPR cancelled the show in 2013. During his lifelong public radio career, he served with WBAI, New York and with NPR in numerous capacities, including as executive producer of “All Things Considered” and as news director.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Controversy, Cuomo Resigns, Infrastructure Bill/Dems’ Budget Resolution, Senate GOP Blocks Voting Bill, Social Media Suspensions, Dominion Lawsuit, and Prince Andrew Sued Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/10). The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and the hotly debated mask policies for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns yet maintains innocence; the U.S. Senate passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; Republicans in the Senate block Democrats’ attempts to revive the For the People voting act; Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTube suspends Rand Paul for “pandemic misinformation”; electronic voting firm Dominion sues OAN and Newsmax over “stolen election” broadcasts; and Britain’s Prince Andrew is sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual abuse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.