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Thursday, June 2, 2022

| June 2, 2022

Triton Digital Releases Streaming Metrics Ranker for April. The monthly rankings of streaming properties in the U.S. for the month of April have been released by Triton Digital. The ranker is based on Average Active Sessions (calculated by dividing Total Listening Hours by the number of hours within the reported time period). The following is based on listening in the U.S. for 6am-12am Mon-Sun. This month, iHeartRadio is #1 with 300,843 AAS, followed by NPR Member Stations at #2 (73,677 AAS), and Audacy at #3 (67,798 AAS). Other radio-related companies finishing in the top 25 include Cumulus Streaming Network at #4 (42,061 AAS), Beasley Broadcasting Corporate at #7 (19,207 AAS), Hubbard Broadcasting at #8 (15,095 AAS), Salem Communications at #11 (8,816 AAS), Urban One at #12 (8,456 AAS), and Bonneville International at #13 (7,358 AAS). See the complete ranker here.

 

Edison Research to Present ‘The Smart Audio Report’ Five Years In. On June 16, Edison Research will present a live webinar to reveal the results of its The Smart Audio Report 2022. Edison says that back in 2017, it and NPR went into the homes of smart speaker owners to learn how the new technology was being integrated into people’s lives for the original Smart Audio Report. Five years later, they revisited some of those same families to see how they have grown and how their usage of voice assistant technology has changed. “The 2022 installment of the Smart Audio Report will not only offer an update on some of those original families, but also fresh data from a recent national study that measures attitudes around voice tech among those who use it and those who don’t.” Ahead of the June 16 webinar, Edison reveals that recent data shows (for people 13+) share of time spent listening to audio on a smart speaker breaks down as follows: Streaming Audio (Spotify, Pandora, etc.) 41%, AM/FM Radio 13%, YouTube (music and music videos only) 11%, SiriusXM 11%, Owned Music 8%, Podcasts 8%, Audio Books 7%, and Other 1%. You can get more information about the webinar and register here.

 

Conservative Commentator Tomi Lahren to Host Outkick Programs. Conservative media figure Tomi Lahren is joining OutKick Media to host the evening program “Tomi Lahren is Fearless,” premiering on June 20. New episodes will air every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:00 pm ET and will be available on demand on YouTube and social channels as well as outkick.com later this summer. Outkick SVP Gary Schreier says, “Tomi has amassed a loyal following throughout her career, and we are excited to bring her signature style and insights to our highly engaged audience at OutKick where she will be an invaluable addition to our expanding programming lineup.” Additionally, Lahren is being named the exclusive voice of “FOX News Commentary” where she will offer her perspective on everything from pop culture to politics with a 60-second FOX News Audio produced feature. The segment will be syndicated three times per weekday across more than 160 FOX News Radio stations.

 

Hutton, Withrow, and Kuharsky Return to Nashville Airwaves. According to a report in The Tennessean, the sports talk program “OutKick 360,” hosted by Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow, and Paul Kuharsky and formerly known as “Midday 180,” is returning to the Nashville market on the radio. The program has been broadcast digitally on Outkick.com since January of 2021. It originally aired on Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone.” Beginning on June 13, the show will air from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Cromwell Media’s WBUZ-HD3/W235BW “94.9 The Fan” – sister station to sports talk WPRT-FM “ESPN 102.5 The Game.” Station program director Chase McCabe says, “One of my goals as the new PD was to figure out a way to add ‘OutKick 360’ to our talented lineup. Re-imagining 94.9 as ‘The Fa’n made that possible because not only do we add three voices that Nashville knows, but we are able to bring Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd back to the Music City. It’s a huge win for us and for our city.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. Today is the beginning of the 2022 Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – the official audio partner of the NCAA – is broadcasting every game of the series…..A new podcast titled “R&B Money” hosted by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-producer TANK and his business partner, multi-platinum singer-songwriter-music executive J. Valentine is launching on iHeartMedia’s and Charlamagne tha God’s Black Effect Podcast Network. The series “is for the super dedicated R&B fan, highlighting everything from Marvin Gaye to Pink Sweat$. ‘R&B Money’ has produced an exciting space for artists & executives in the game to reminisce with exceptionally compelling storytelling while building a place of discovery for the fans.”…..Journalist Katie Couric is releasing a new iHeartRadio Original special limited podcast series titled, “Abortion: The Body Politic.” In this series, she speaks with historians, doctors, activists, reproductive justice leaders, everyday women who have had abortions, and others to discuss the realities of a country without Roe v. Wade. Guests on the program will include Gloria Steinem; Mary Ziegler, foremost abortion law expert; Jessica Chastain, Academy Award-winning actress; Busy Philipps, actress and activist; Dr. Warren Hern, abortion doctor; and more.

 

Tulsa Hospital Shooting/Uvalde Aftermath, Inflation-Recession Fears, Russia-Ukraine War, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Durham Investigation, COVID-19, Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Depp-Heard Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/1). A shooting at a Tulsa medical center claims the lives of four and the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas school massacre; the still-rising price of gas & food and concerns about a recession; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, its effects on the global economy and Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear force; the primary races for the midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; special counsel John Durham’s probe into the Trump-Russia investigation; the high rates of COVID-19 in parts of the U.S.; Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee; and the verdicts in the Johnny DeppAmber Heard defamation case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

| December 14, 2021

Good Karma Brands to Acquire ESPN Stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The three sports talk radio stations owned by Disney/ESPN are being acquired by Good Karma Brands, LLC under a deal that is expected to close during the first quarter of 2022. The stations are WEPN-AM, New York; KSPN-AM, Los Angeles; and WMVP-AM, Chicago. The deal will also have Good Karma Brands perform ESPN’s obligations under the current Local Marketing Agreement for WEPN-FM, New York “98.7 ESPN.” As part of a long-term affiliation agreement, all three stations will remain as ESPN Radio affiliates and continue broadcasting ESPN Network Radio content as well as locally produced programming. There is no price revealed in the press release from GKB. The company has been operating WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” under an LMA since October 2019. Good Karma founder and CEO Craig Karmazin says, “We are thrilled to add ESPN New York and ESPN Los Angeles to GKB. These stations and teammates give us an expanded footprint and increased resources to help meet our mission of serving our teammates, fans and advertising partners at a best-in-class level.” ESPN Audio vice president Scott McCarthy comments, “At ESPN, we are focused on evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our business, providing the outstanding content that our fans expect, and growing our audience in critical, leading markets. We have a strong, 20-plus year relationship with Good Karma Brands and know they will further contribute to the success of these great local audio operations.” In addition, the companies have agreed to extend their ESPN Digital sales agreement, which began in 2015, in which GKB represents display and video inventory on ESPN.com and the ESPN App to local and regional advertisers in 14 select markets.

Porth Joins WSCR, Chicago as Assistant Brand Manager. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Ryan Porth is leaving his program director position at Cromwell Media’s sports talk WPRT, Nashville “102.5 The Game” to joins Audacy’s sports talk WSCR-AM, Chicago “The Score” as assistant brand manager, effective January 3. WSCR operations director and brand manager Mitch Rosen is quoted saying, “He will assist us in multiple facets — from organization, digital ideation and assisting all of us moving ‘The Score’ brand forward into the future.” Porth has served as PD of WPRT since 2016 and also served as executive producer for the Nashville Predators Radio Network.

Bonilla Rises to PD at KXNT, Las Vegas. TALKERS magazine hears that Audacy has promoted Mark Bonilla from his assistant program director position at news/talk KXNT-AM, Las Vegas to program director for the station. He assumes the role previously held by Paul Ihander.

Audacy and Voicify Partner for Voice Capabilities Across Digital Platform. A new multiyear partnership is struck between Audacy and Voicify, a company described in a press release as “the market leader in conversation experience management software that combines voice optimized content management, cross-platform deployment, and voice-specific customer insights.” As part of this deal, Audacy will leverage Voicify’s services to drive interactive voice capabilities across the Audacy platform and make station-branded skills more easily accessible for listeners via any voice assistant-enabled device. Audacy will also license Voicify’s patented platform – The Voicify Conversation Experience Platform – to create and deliver innovative, interactive voice ads and voice commerce experiences through digital audio content for advertisers. The Voicify Conversation Experience Platform enables marketers to connect with their customers by creating highly engaging and personalized voice experiences that are automatically deployed to a broad array of voice platforms, including smart speakers. Audacy chief digital officer J.D. Crowley comments, “As we continue to expand and enhance the Audacy direct-to-consumer platform, adding new interactive voice capabilities and enabling voice commerce experiences across a wide range of devices is an important area of future growth, especially in an age where flexibility and speed to market are a must have for our advertising partners. We are excited to partner with Voicify to provide next generation interactive advertising solutions to our clients to help make their advertising more actionable.”

Former WLS-AM, Chicago Talk Host Stephanie Trussell to Run for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. Former weekend talk host Stephanie Trussell is joining Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey on the Republican ticket for lieutenant governor and governor, respectively. Trussell had hosted the Saturday afternoon program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago after winning the station’s “Next Talk Star” contest in 2012. She left the weekend gig in 2019 but continued to host a podcast for the station for a period.

Newsmax Names Duchardt Congressional Correspondent. Journalist Kilmeny Duchardt is joining Newsmax as congressional correspondent. A press release says that Kilmeny brings more than 15 years of media experience with the Associated Press, Reuters and most recently as an anchor with Turkish TV’s TRT World. Duchardt has spent the last three years anchoring “Turkish TV’s TRT World” U.S. primetime news bulletins out of Washington, covering the U.S. election, Congress, the White House and other major global news events. Newsmax news director Chris Wallace states, “Kilmeny is a well-regarded journalist known for getting the story right. She will be a great addition to our growing team.” Duchardt comments, “Trust isn’t given, it’s earned. I take great pride in earning the trust of my viewers. I look forward to gaining the respect of our diverse audience at Newsmax and being a source they can count on.”

TALKERS News Notes. Digital and tech services provider Triton Digital announces it is expanding its Podcast Reports to Canada. Triton says the Canadian Podcast Report will provide insight into the Top Podcasts and Networks in Canada each month, as measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. The inaugural Canadian Podcast report will be issued in late Q1 2022. Triton president of market development John Rosso states, “As podcast listening in Canada continues to rise, advertisers need reliable measurement to better understand the performance of on-demand and podcast content. Expanding our Podcast Reports to the Canadian market, where we already have a strong presence, highlights our commitment to eliminate inconsistent measurement practices and self-reported data, providing content marketers, media buyers, and the audio industry at large with access to validated and transparent podcast metrics in the Canadian market for the first time.”.….New Hampshire Public Radio promotes staffer Rebecca Lavoie to director of on-demand audio. Lavoie joined NHPR in 2010 to produce the daily magazine program “Word of Mouth” and most recently served as director of audience & engagement. NHPR president and CEO Jim Schachter says, “Rebecca has nurtured an explosion of excellent journalism and inspired creativity throughout NHPR. Her keen editorial ear is evident in all the material produced under her leadership. Her deep roots in the community and knowledge of the podcast industry make her an essential contributor to our senior management team.”…..Audacy announces that its Richmond stations – including news/talk WRVA – raised more than $670,000 to benefit Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU during the annual “36-Hours for Kids Radiothon.”…..The syndicated “Motley Fool Money” show hosted by Chris Hill is added to the weekend lineup on Bennett Radio Group’s news/talk duo “The Patriot” in WEZR-AM, Rumford and WPNO-AM, South Paris, Maine…..Pictured below is “Florida Man Radio” (WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach) personality Shannon Burke (left) with Key Networks syndicated radio star Bill O’Reilly (right) backstage at the Amway Center in Orlando on Sunday (12/12). Burke attended the “History Tour” event with O’Reilly and former President Donald Trump – a series of live conversations between Trump and O’Reilly about the four-year Trump administration.

FOX News Radio’s Jimmy Failla to Be Part of FNC’s New Year’s Eve Programming. This New Year’s Eve, FOX News Channel is presenting special programming from 10:00 pm to 1:30 am ET featuring “FOX & Friends Weekend” co-hosts Pete Hegseth, Rachel Campos-Duffy and Will Cain live from the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville. Joining the trio in the holiday programming will be Jimmy Failla, host of FOX News Radio’s “FOX Across America” midday show, who will perform stand-up comedy from the Wildhorse Saloon. Also involved in the programming will be FOX Nation’s Lawrence Jones, “Outnumbered” co-host Emily Compagno and FOX News correspondent Griff Jenkins from Times Square, FOX News contributor Raymond Arroyo and FOX Nation host Abby Hornacek in New Orleans, and FOX News Congressional correspondent Aishah Hasnie from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina and FOX Business correspondent Madison Alworth from Tampa Bay, Florida.

COVID-19, Economy/Supply Chain/Inflation, Software Vulnerability, Build Back Better, January 6 Investigation, Russia’s Ukraine Aggression, and Tornadoes Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/13). The rate of COVID-19 cases around the world, the Omicron variant, Pfizer’s pill, and mandates; the state of the U.S. economy, the ongoing supply chain woes, and high consumer prices; criticism of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack, Mark Meadows’ refusal to cooperate with the House committee, and new email revelations; the G7 nations’ warning to Russia about military action in Ukraine; and the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes in Kentucky and Illinois were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

| April 1, 2021

Lee Habeeb, Host and Producer of Our American Stories, Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. At a time when appreciation for the art of storytelling is clearly on the ascent in talk media, Lee Habeeb, the host and producer of “Our American Stories” makes a return appearance as a guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Since its launch six years ago, the weekly two-hour syndicated program has been added, mostly in the evenings, to the menus at more than 315 news/talk radio stations across the nation including some really big ones. It is a highly researched and meticulously produced story-based overview of contemporary American life and cultural history that Michael Harrison describes as being “one of the most promising inventions to come down the commercial talk radio pike in years… a program that illuminates history, popular culture, politics, business, science… the spectrum of topics, people, and angles that make up the rich and intricate fabric of America.” Harrison and Habeeb take a deep-dive into the subjects of American history and the nation’s centuries-old mission to overcome its problems and form a more perfect union, in addition to discussing the positive tenets of capitalism, the differences between legal and illegal immigration, and the need for the media focus on the positive as well as the negative. Habeeb explains new ways of expanding the boundaries of the standard news/talk radio format as well as its conventional business model. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

NPR and Edison Study Identifies Six Unique Radio Segments. Data from a recent study from NPR and Edison Research – titled Radio: Live On Air and Everywhere – will be revealed in a webinar on April 15. The study examines the role radio plays in Americans’ lives in 2021 and reveals listening behavior among the six unique radio audience segments. In teasing the webinar, Edison says the study finds 63% of those in the U.S. age 18+ are reached by radio every day, and 41% of all daily audio time in the U.S. is spent with radio. The study explores listener attitudes about advertising on radio and other media, and provides insight into NPR listeners and how they occupy a unique place in this context. Edison and NPR says the webinar will reveal: What the six types of radio listeners are and how they engage with radio; which type of listener is most open to radio advertising content; how radio listeners feel about advertising on radio versus other platforms; and where NPR listeners fit into the six segments of listeners, and their attitudes toward sponsorships.

‘Todd Starnes Show’ Added to KBDT, Dallas and KQSP, Minneapolis. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is being added to the program schedule at USA Radio Networks’ KBDT-AM, Dallas and KQSP-AM, Minneapolis in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. USA Radio is also adding the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” daily feature to 18 stations including KBCF-AM/FM, Muscle Shoals, Alabama; KPKY, Terrell, Texas; KVNN, Victoria, Texas; and seven stations in the Nevada Talk Network.

‘ESPN 102.5 The Game’ in Nashville Adds Caroline Fenton to PM Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WPRT-FM “ESPN 102.5 The Game” brings Caroline Fenton aboard as part of the “Stillman & Company” afternoon drive show led by Jared Stillman. Ryan Porth is program director for the Cromwell Media-owned station. He says, “We are extremely excited to be able to add Caroline to our talented team. Caroline will pair well with Jared in the afternoons, becoming 102.5 The Game’s first full-time female on-air host in our nine-plus years of existence. She will also greatly assist the show and the station with our digital efforts across all platforms.” Fenton was most recently digital video/social content producer with ESPN. In that role, she helped integrate content strategies and produce digital shows such as “Baseball Tonight Live” and “Countdown to College Gameday.” She says, “As the daughter of two Tennessee natives, this state has always felt like home to me and I couldn’t be happier to be here representing some of the best sports fans in the country. It’s an honor to learn from and work with Jared and the entire team at ‘102.5 The Game’ and to continue our reputation as Nashville’s best sports talk.”

iHeartMedia Cleveland Launches ‘The Jimmy Malone Show.’ A new, local program is launching on iHeartMedia Cleveland’s sports talk WARF-AM “FOX Sports 1350 The Gambler.”  “The Jimmy Malone Show” – hosted by longtime Cleveland radio personality Jimmy Malone. It debuts today (4/1) airing each Thursday and Friday morning from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. The program will also air on sister adult contemporary WMJI-FM “Majic 105.7” on Saturdays from 6:30 am to 9:00 am. iHeartMedia Cleveland says, “Each week Jimmy will host conversations with politicians, community and business leaders, journalists and others, all with the goal to make a difference in Northeast Ohio. The debut show on April 1 will feature Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, along with author and justice advocate Andrea Thome, who is a native Clevelander and wife of former Indians slugger Jim Thome.  Friday’s show reunites Jimmy with his longtime, now retired, radio partner John Lanigan.”

Charlie Thomas Named Area President for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North. Thirty-six-year radio pro Charlie Thomas is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North area. He was most recently area president for North Dakota. In this new position, he’ll oversee markets including Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota as well as Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, Grand Forks and North Dakota markets that comprise 29 stations. Thomas will report to Shosh Abromovich, division president for iHeartMedia. Abromovich says, “We are very excited for Charlie to oversee these six markets. His proven leadership helped the North Dakota area be among the top performers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m confident that his forward thinking will guide and grow these communities to the next level.”

Heather Cohen Among Honorees at Inaugural ‘Sheroes in Media’ Awards. The inaugural “Sheroes in Media” awards from the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association were held virtually last night and Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen was one of the recipients. The MMCA event honored “women who promote and exemplify diverse media excellence.” Also honored were: Julie Burton, executive director, Women’s Media Center; Francine Compton, president, Native American Journalist Association; Michelle Lee, chair, Asian American Journalists Association; Nora Lopez, president, National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Lisa Matthews, president, National Press Club; and Dorothy Tucker, president, National Association of Black Journalists. MMCA president David Morgan says, “At this critical time in our country it is more important than ever to have greater diversity in who, what, where, when and how stories are told. MMCA is beyond honored to launch this annual event by celebrating the powerful ‘sheroes’ currently leading the organizations at the spear of the fight for media diversity while also building support for our ongoing effort to increase diverse media ownership.”

Radio One Names Yonni Rude Executive Producer of ‘The Morning Hustle.’ Moving from his operations manager role at Radio One’s Cleveland station group  to executive producer for Reach Media’s “The Morning Hustle” is Yonni Rude. In this new role, Rude will work with the team to create captivating content.  He will oversee all aspects of the show both on-air and digitally. He’ll focus on daily operations while overseeing the entirety of the brand. Rude says, “The Morning Hustle is the next evolution of morning radio and I’m excited to lead the team and help grow the brand. Thanks to Colby Colb, Mitch Henry and David Kantor for the opportunity to lead this amazing team.”

TALKERS News Notes. On April 6, ABC Audio will debut the first episode of its new podcast, “Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth,” written and hosted by ABC News senior national correspondent Steve Osunsami. The podcast examines the racially motivated attacks on Black residents of Tulsa in 1921 in which as many as 300 Black Americans died. Featuring archival audio accounts from witnesses and interviews with historians, “Tulsa’s Buried Truth” brings listeners through the painful history and into the modern-day quest for closure and healing…..iHeartMedia launches “COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community,” an iHeartRadio Original limited podcast series produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share timely and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. The show is hosted by iconic ABC News television broadcaster Robin Roberts. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne states, “With more and more Americans getting access to vaccines as supply increases, it is important the public has the facts about the vaccines in order to understand how important they are to ending this pandemic. ‘COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community’ will provide listeners with reliable resources and information rooted in science, so they’re equipped to make decisions about their lives – and the lives of those around them.”…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios unveils two new original documentary podcasts series – “My Fugitive,” in which Emmy Award-winning documentarian Nina Gilden Seavey uncovers disturbing secrets hidden away by the FBI for decades that shed new light on one of the most famous cases in American history; and “Stay Away from Matthew MaGill,” the story of a mysterious man who died alone in the backwoods of Georgia leaving behind a treasure trove of clues, papers, and remnants of his stranger-than-fiction life of crime, luxury, and scandal – and how reporter Eric Mennel’s five-year journey to uncover the truth led him to question his own path…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the debut of the “Politics of Food” podcast, an in-depth look into the intentional politicization, economics, and community impact of food on a global scale. Political strategist and organizer Cristina González hosts the show and talks with restaurateurs, executives at major food companies, farmers, consumers, and experts on a wide variety of issues. She also explores the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants, social issues like racism in food media, and the different ways political decisions work as a force to drive hunger across the globe…..The Tampa Bay Rays announce an extension of their comprehensive broadcast agreement with iHeartMedia Tampa Bay to keep play-by-play broadcast on sports talk WDAE through the 2025 MLB regular season.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Biden Infrastructure Plan/Tax Increases, Derek Chauvin Trial, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Matt Gaetz Allegation, Violence Against Asians, and Voting Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/31). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and the tax increases necessary to pay for it; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the allegation of sexual relations with a minor against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; the rise in violence against Asian Americans; and Georgia’s stricter voting rules plus the Congressional Democrats’ bill to expand voting rights were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

| December 17, 2020

Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”

Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.

Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.

New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will includeJulie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast 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. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.

Monday, October 5, 2020

| October 5, 2020

Monday Memo: Reinvent Yourself. Big broadcast companies are betting that news beats noise, TV stars are changing channels, and radio stars are leaving the airwaves to join famous faces now podcasting. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke asks, “YOUR next move?” Read it here.

POTUS and FLOTUS Contract COVID-19, Pandemic Stats & Projections, the Presidential Election, Vice-Presidential Debate, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, California Wildfires, Regal Closes All Cinemas Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The news of President Trump’s and First Lady Melania Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 and the others in Washington who tested positive; the COVID-19 statistics and projections for future cases as U.S. numbers rise; the November presidential election; this Wednesday’s upcoming vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court; the California wildfires top the 1 million acres mark; and Regal Cinemas closes all theaters in the absence of newly released films were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Three Keys to Your Next Sales Meeting. A sales meeting that doesn’t produce results is a waste of time. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, says that successful group meetings and individual meetings are based on three elements: preparation, participation, and trust. Read his column here.

Round Four of September PPM’s Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s September 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s September 2020 survey period covered August 13 – September 9. You can see all of the weekly, 6+ AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Also, today TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Waterloo Media’s KLBJ-AM, Austin adds a half share to finish the survey with a 5.5 share good for the #3 rank in the market. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s WTKK-FM picks up three-tenths to finish with a 7.0 share and the #3 rank. Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis adds 1.1 shares for a 9.1 share in the September survey and rises to the #2 rank. And in Milwaukee, the battle between iHeartMedia’s WISN and Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ heats up with both stations posting gains in the September survey. WISN added 1.6 shares to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share and to remain at #1. WTMJ tacks on a half share to finish with a 7.2 share and climbs to the #4 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Beasley Media Group Promotes Two. Rising from his role as vice president and market manager for the company’s Southwest Florida station group is Brad Beasley, who is named vice president of operations for the company. In this role, he’ll work with Beasley Media Group president Bruce Beasley and chief operating officer Brian Beasley in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s 64 radio stations. He says, “I look forward to this exciting new phase of my broadcasting career. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside our corporate team and with all of our great stations across the country.” Taking over the vice president and market manager post at Beasley’s Southwest Florida station group is AJ Lurie. He’s been serving as director of local market integrated partnerships at Beasley Esports and market manager of Beasley’s WJBR-FM, Wilmington, Delaware. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “AJ was the perfect choice to lead our six radio properties in Southwest Florida. His leadership and previous experience working in the market made him the perfect choice for the position. We look forward to AJ working closely with our teams to take the cluster to the next level and beyond.”

‘The Game’ in San Francisco Unveils New Morning Show. Bay Area sports talker KGMZ-FM “95.7 The Game” will debut a new morning drive show on October 12. The station moves midday personality Bonta Hill and evening host Joe Shasky to the morning daypart and brings Kate Scott aboard to complete the trio. Scott previously served with Cumulus’ crosstown sports talker KNBR. As a result of this change, Dan Dibley moves from mornings to the midday show and Lorenzo Neal leaves mornings but stays with the station as lead NFL insider.

WPRT-FM, Nashville Names ‘Robby & Rexrode’ Morning Show Hosts. The duo of Robby Stanley and Joe Rexrode have been hosting the morning show on Cromwell Media’s sports talk WPRT-FM, Nashville “ESPN 102.5 The Game” since the station parted ways with Derrick Mason and Braden Gall back in February. Now, the station makes them the permanent co-hosts. Station program director Ryan Porth says, “Robby and Joe have done an outstanding job on an interim basis this year as we conducted an exhaustive search for our permanent morning show. We are beyond excited to welcome them to our outstanding team. These two talented individuals add instant credibility to our lineup and bring a wealth of knowledge on the Nashville sports landscape. We are looking forward to seeing this show continue to grow.” Stanley has covered the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans over the past 10 years for various local and national media outlets. He’s been a contributor to ‘The Game’ in multiple capacities since 2014. Rexrode brings more than 20 years of experience in journalism to the station. He’s currently serving as columnist and senior writer for The Athletic Nashville. He previously worked at The Tennessean, the Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal.

SRN’s Larry Elder Appointed to White House Commission. Nationally syndicated talk show host Larry Elder has been appointed to the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys by President Trump. The commission was signed into law on August 14 to study and make recommendations to the president to address conditions affecting Black men and boys. Elder, a Salem Radio Network personality, says, “That so many children, particularly black children, are raised without fathers in the home, is our nation’s most pressing domestic problem. Former President Barack Obama said that a child raised without a father in the home is five times more likely to be poor and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in jail. We need to ask ourselves if we are incentivizing women to marry the government and if we are incentivizing men to abandon their financial and moral responsibility.”

Don Barrett Retires LARadio.com. Today (10/5), publisher Don Barrett announces that he’s ending the long-lived web publication LARadio.com launched in 1995. He writes, “My goal from day one with my books and later website was to pay tribute to the men and women who have entertained us in LARadio for the past half century. The underlying theme was to paint an accurate, positive picture of on-air radio people who sit in empty rooms broadcasting to thousands of people, weaving tales that kept the listener engaged and enthralled – the ultimate storytellers. I wanted to pay tribute to those who had gone before us and blazed the trail. Many of our profiles filled in so many missing pieces about the stories of our favorites we only thought we knew from behind the microphone. If you read a story and said, ‘I didn’t know that,’ or ‘that’s fascinating,’ then I accomplished my task. And when Los Angeles Radio People died, I never wanted that LARP, no matter how big or small, to leave in obscurity. It was important to make sure he or she didn’t leave as an unknown, but rather as a part of this rare fraternity of Los Angeles Radio People.” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison released the following statement, “As a broadcaster who spent 11 of the most gratifying years of my career in LA radio, in addition to being a trade journal publisher myself, I salute Don Barrett as a true industry hero and major champion in the ongoing battle to keep the spirit of radio alive as a major focal point of pop culture, communication and community in America.  Thank you, Don, for all you have done.”

SRN’s Sebastian Gorka at Walter Reed Trump Rally. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host and former White House national security strategist Sebastian Gorka posing for a photo with a young lady named Brooklyn who traveled from New Jersey to show support for President Trump. Gorka greeted crowds outside the medical center Saturday evening and on Sunday as they waved flags and banners in support of the president who made a brief drive-by in an SUV to thank the well-wishers.

Holland Cooke Marks Third Anniversary as Host of The Big Picture. Noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke marked his third anniversary as host of the RT America weekly television show, “The Big Picture” this past weekend. Joining him as a guest on the occasion was TALKERS founder Michael Harrison who served as a guest on Cooke’s debut installment in October 2017.  At that time Cooke assumed the anchoring duties when he was passed the baton by the program’s original host, Thom Hartmann. Cooke and Harrison discussed the role of political news/talk radio going forward into the third decade of the 21st century addressing such questions as whether the genre is more entertainment than information, what 2020 election result would prove more beneficial to the medium, is it likely that the nation will come together after the election and can a news organization that adheres to non-partisan journalistic principles succeed on cable TV in today’s polarized environment.  To view the segment, please click here.

Elvis Duran to Host the 2020 Radio Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year’s induction ceremony for the Radio Hall of Fame will be hosted by Premiere Networks syndicated morning star Elvis Duran. The event takes place on October 29 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and will be live from multiple locations due to COVID-19 concerns. Hall of Fame chair Kraig Kitchin says, “Elvis Duran is one of the most popular radio hosts in the country, and I’m delighted that he will lead us through an exciting live broadcast across multiple audio channels. We’re thrilled to have Smokey Robinson and such notable presenters join us. We’re looking forward to a very special evening.” This year’s inductees are: Mark & Brian – KLOS-FM, Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more); Cokie Roberts – Political Reporter, NPR, Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more); Angie Martinez – WWPR-FM New York City, Active Local/Regional (10 years or more); The Breakfast Club – Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, DJ Envy, Premiere Networks WWPR -FM, Active Network/Syndication (10 years or more); Sway CallowaySiriusXM Shade 45 Channel, Public Vote Music Format On-Air Personality; Glenn Beck – The Glenn Beck Show, Premiere Networks, Public Vote Spoken Word On-Air Personality; and Donnie Simpson – WMMJ-FM Washington D.C., Radio Hall of Fame Nominating Committee inductee.

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Rodney Ho, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta has cut the overnight news position and let 24-year staffer Mark Alewine go. Alewine tells Ho he believes the move was budget related and says, “It has truly been my distinct honor and privilege to say ‘Depend on It’ while working at the best radio station on the planet!”…..FOX Sports Radio reports “record audience gains across multiple digital platforms for September and August 2020,” saying that “the return of football, along with the NBA Playoffs and MLB season, drove major audience increases across the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network. Total listenership grew +144% year-to-year in September, resulting in an all-time record of nearly 27 million monthly listens.”…..AdLarge Media enters into a deal with boostr for use of the latter’s technology to “seamlessly connect AdLarge’s sales and operations to enable faster execution of ad campaigns with enhanced scalability, more robust reporting, and maximum flexibility.”…..iHeartMedia Albany’s WGY “News Radio 810 & 103.1” and hot AC WRVE “99.5 The River” raised more than $274,000 during last week’s two-day “Cares for Kids Radiothon” to benefit the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med. The radiothon featured WGY air personalities Chuck Custer, Kelly Lynch, Diane Donato and Jaime Roberts, and 99.5 The River’s Randy McCarten, Rachel Davis, BJ the Web Guy, and Terry O’Donnell who encouraged listeners to donate and support the hospital’s pediatric health care programs. Over the last 22 years, “Cares for Kids Radiothon” has raised more than $6 million to benefit the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The partnership between CMT and iHeartMedia will again result in iHeartCountry serving as the official radio partner of the “2020 CMT Music Awards” airing Wednesday, October 21 at 8:00 pm ET. The live radio broadcast of the Awards telecast will air on more than 120 iHeartCountry music radio stations. This year’s star-studded awards show will feature performances from superstar acts including Ashley McBryde, Dan + Shay, Kane Brown, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Maren Morris, with presenters and additional performances and collaborations to be announced in the coming weeks.