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Monday, May 4, 2020

| May 4, 2020

Monday Memo: “3 Big Things” Feeling cooped up by coronavirus confinement?  You’re not alone!  But, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke notes some “silver linings” in this crisis (an opportune call-in topic).  Read it here.

Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening States, Pressure on China, Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations, Financial Markets Activity, and Korean DMZ Incident/Kim Jong Un Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and predictions about future deaths; the various states that began re-opening their economies; accusations the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, China’s response, and pressure on the country to open up to investigation into the origins of the virus; the presidential race and Tara Reade’s accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic; and shots fired between North and South Korea across the DMZ and Kim Jong Un’s resurfacing were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Don’t Fight Santa. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it doesn’t matter if radio reaches 92% of adults each week if there are no cars parked at retail stores in your market.  To help a client in this climate, you have to “see what your advertisers see.”  Read his column here.

Hubbard Radio Announces Cuts Across Its Radio Properties. On Friday, Hubbard Radio chairman and CEO Ginny Morris announced in a memo to the company’s staffers that the disruption in the advertising business due to the coronavirus pandemic was forcing the company to take the unfortunate step of reducing payroll via layoffs at its radio stations in Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, Washington, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that six staffers at sports talk KSTP-AM “SKOR North” were let go including Minneapolis Twins reporter Derek Wetmore and Minnesota Vikings reporter Matthew Coller.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that longtime WXOS-FM sports talk host Bernie Miklasz was one of 20 staffers in St. Louis to be let go.  Post-Dispatch reporter Dan Caesar adds that the lineup at WXOS changes with Miklasz’s exit.  Randy Karraker moves from afternoons to Miklasz’s former 7:00 am to 10:00 am show.  Midday host Anthony Stalter moves to the afternoon show with Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey.  Cardinals play-by-play voice Dan McLaughlin will host an hour-long show at 10:00 am while Jamie Rivers and Brandon Kiley will host the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm program.

Key Networks Celebrates a Year in Syndication for Bill O’Reilly. It’s been a year since Key Networks brought conservative media icon Bill O’Reilly back to radio in national syndication via his daily radio feature “The O’Reilly Update.”  That show, along with the morning drive feature “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” are currently airing on 208 radio stations from coast-to-coast. The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition launched in January. O’Reilly says, “It is simply imperative that Americans get the truth in this very dangerous time. Many news agencies spin it. ‘The O’Reilly Update’ never does that. We deliver honest news and commentary every day in a concise, lively format. It’s gratifying to see the great response.”  Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Over 200 stations carrying programming in a year’s time is an amazing feat! It speaks to the quality of the content. During these challenging times, listeners want to hear news and commentary from a trusted voice and Bill O’Reilly delivers with ‘The O’Reilly Update.’”

‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ Podcast Series Debuts. A new podcast series from the alliance of Crossover Media Group Sales, LifeBites, and “Behind the Icon” producers looks at the life of Marilyn Monroe via a dramatic narrative based on Gary Vitacco-Robles’ bestselling books, ICON: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volumes I and II (BearManor Media, 2015). The series is called “Marilyn: Behind the Icon” and “portrays Monroe up close and personal with a dramatic storyline featuring narration, actor dramatization, and commentary by a mental health expert. Marilyn Monroe is played by the talented Erin Gavin, who portrayed the legend on stage. Erin captures the essence of Marilyn that will captivate the podcast audience. In addition, the series features award-winning voice-over talent, Brad Hyland (Santa from Elf on the Shelf, Victoria’s Secret and many commercials) as the sultry, warm-voiced narrator.”  Producer Nina Boski says, “Fans around the world have an unending fascination with Marilyn Monroe. But underneath the glamour, there was a real person who struggled tremendously with mental health and addiction issues, which are truly an American epidemic. ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ will reveal a dramatic narrative that will help Marilyn become more real and even more relatable to millions of fans and for people who are suffering from some of the same issues as the icon.”  Crossover Media Group Sales managing partner Sue Freund adds, “‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ is such a dynamic story for millions of Marilyn fans. We wanted to take on a project that was different and could tell the icon’s story to the world in a unique and groundbreaking way.  The producers of ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ knock it out the park with their ability to share the Monroe story. They made it come to life – to entertain, but also to educate the audience at the same time about mental illness and addiction. The podcast gives a voice to Marilyn’s struggles in a way that can help others potentially seek the help she herself so desperately needed. We are excited to get behind such a compelling project!”

Radio Cares Radiothon Raises More than $500,000 for ‘Feeding America.’ The “Radio Cares Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” that began on Thursday (4/30) and ran through the weekend has raised more than $500,000 for hunger relief organization Feeding America. The radiothon closed with a $20,000 donation from Scott and Sandi Borchetta and Big Machine Label Group. The funds raised will provide 5 million meals for Americans living with hunger. The charitable initiative was developed and led by Ron Stone, president & CEO, Adams Radio Group, and Brian Philips, EVP, content & audience, Cumulus Media/Westwood One. Philips says, “Listeners answered the call from their favorite stations, large and small, unified by the cause of American hunger. Our listeners represent the most generous cross-section of America. There exists a bond among them that no crisis can break. Cumulus is always proud when what we do moves people.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new, weekly podcast from ABC News’ FiveThirtyEight titled, “PODCAST-19: FiveThirtyEight on the Coronavirus” debuted on May 1. The program features host Anna Rothschild, with the support of FiveThirtyEight team, investigating COVID-19 mysteries, debating when it’s safe to reopen the economy, and keeping track of the latest scientific developments on vaccines and treatments. ABC News says Rothschild has over a decade of experience reporting on science, health, and the environment. She has won multiple awards for her science communication, including from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics…..The John Fredericks Radio Network is broadcasting live this week – Monday through Wednesday – from Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.  Fredericks says the show is investigating how the systemic poverty in the Delta region is affecting how residents are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.  He adds, “We’ll be discussing what the next steps are for small business owners, residents, and students, many of whom do not have high-speed broadband. Some have no Internet whatsoever, which may lead them to fall further behind the learning curve.”…..iHeartMedia Orlando is presenting an online “Education Fair, Education Summit” on Thursday, May 14 and Friday, May 15 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at EducationSummitFL.com. Designed to serve colleges, universities, tech schools, trade schools and more, the custom web page will allow education recruiters to conduct video interviews and review transcripts in real time. Students can log on and click on the education institute profile they wish to chat with. iHeartMedia Orlando partnerships manager Chianna Ray says, “This virtual event is exactly what our community needs right now. Many students have not had the chance to visits schools, meet with recruiters and are feeling unsure of their future. Recruiters have missed valuable face time with future students since events are not taking place at this time. We look forward to making that connection through our event.”…..Beasley Media Group stations in Fayetteville, Augusta, and Charlotte are hosting a complimentary 30-minute webinar designed to help struggling restaurant owners and managers directly impacted by the pandemic. The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 7, at 2:30 pm. Beasley says the session will feature actionable insights, timely advice, and relevant information that local restaurants can use immediately to help increase business during these challenging economic times. Participants can learn from Steve DaPolito, co-owner of Charlotte-based Bisonte Pizza Co., who helped to increase sales for his business at the onset of COVID-19. They can also learn about resources available to local restaurant owners provided by representatives from both the North Carolina and the South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association…..Beasley Media Group and broadcast television firm TEGNA are partnering on a broadcast TV series focusing on the esports rivalry between the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel.  TEGNA, owner of stations in 12 Texas markets, is broadcasting a weekly docuseries of original episodes chronicling the competition. Beasley Esports COO Lori Burgess comments, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Dallas Fuel and TEGNA’s Texas stations to bring fresh sports competition and entertainment back to our fans and TV viewers. Video gaming is hotter than ever and professional esports is taking center stage this month in Texas with the inaugural Lone Star Showdown presented by Samsung. New fans can expect a battle worthy of champions.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  As a result of Hubbard Radio’s decision to trim payroll because of the COVID-19 business climate, here are some of the air personalities reported to have been affected: In Chicago, media writer Robert Feder reports classic rock WDRV “97.1 The Drive” night host Phil Manicki and overnight host Greg Easterling, along with AC WSHE-FM “SHE 100.3” morning producer Robb Rose and night jock Brian Middleton, WDRV-FM promotion manager Heather Torrey, and hot AC WTMX-FM “101.9 The Mix” morning producer Cynthia Denicolo and social media staffer Melissa “Mel D” Dever all exit. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that country WIL-FM “New Country 92.3” morning hosts Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway are gone. Today (5/4), Hubbard announces that WSHE program director Cat Thomas is leaving that station to move to Seattle to become brand and content director at CHR KQMV “MOViN 92.5” and adult contemporary KRWM “Warm 106.9.”  Vice president of brand and content at WTMX and WSHE Jimmy Steal is assuming WSHE PD duties…..After the company put the wraps on the nationally syndicated country radio morning program “The Ty Bentli Show” on Friday with the exit of hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins (Bentli exited the show earlier this year), Cumulus Media’s Westwood One launched the new “Morning Koffy” syndicated program hosted by Paul Koffy and co-host Jasmine Sadry. Cumulus EVP marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes says, “Well known in the radio industry and well-liked by country artists, Paul is the ideal host for this new show. Paul has spent his entire career in country music and, surprisingly, has never before hosted a program from Nashville – we can’t wait to see what he does from Music City. With Jasmine on the other mic, this show is one good morning brew.”…..Tampa Bay CHR WFLZ-FM “93.3 FLZ” replaces “The Kane Show” with new morning drive program, “THEjoeSHOW.”  Moving from the company’s Detroit CHR WKQI “Channel 955” where he was afternoon drive personality and APD, host Joe Carballo is joined by Ashley Nics and producer Jed Shilling. iHeartMedia Tampa Bay VP or programming Tommy Chuck says, “‘93.3 FLZ’ has a long history of incredible morning personalities. I’m excited to announce the next great show that is poised to take over Tampa Bay. Joe, Ashley, and Jed have done a great job preparing for this opportunity.” In Detroit Ashley Nics served as a producer for “The Mojo in the Morning Show” and hosted middays. Jed Schilling worked in the programming and digital department. Together, the three also hosted the “Heavily Anxious” podcast…..In Baltimore, morning drive personality Stash, a.k.a. Steve Ash, exits Shamrock Communications’ classic rock WZBA “100.7 The Bay.”  Stash announced the move via a Facebook post…..Alpha Media Bakersfield announces Erik Fox is promoted to program director for KLLY-FM “Energy 95.3.”  He’s been serving as music director and afternoon drive host for the station. Alpha Media Bakersfield general manager Jeremy Price says, “Erik Fox has shown himself to be one of the hardest working individuals in this industry that I have ever worked with. His love for the music marks a huge step up for the station. And in the year that he has been MD for ‘Energy,’ our ratings have risen to levels not seen on that station for over half a decade. Individuals committed to local radio like Erik are rare and we are blessed to have him on our team and, in this new capacity, are excited to see him continue to dominate in the ratings.”…..iHeartMedia moves Atlanta hip hop “The Beat” from WRDG-FM at 96.7 to WBZY-FM at 105.3.  The move bumps the Spanish hits format that had been airing on WBZY-FM.  Station program director Dan Hunt says, “We’re excited for the opportunity to rebuild ‘The Beat’ from the ground up and continue to represent the urban music culture with a sound unique to Atlanta.  Atlanta’s music lovers will get to listen to the most prolific voices in hip hop radio today, including “The Breakfast Club” and DJ Scream.”

Friday, January 17, 2020

| January 17, 2020

KXNO, Des Moines Cutbacks Reversed; PD and Hosts Rehired. According to a report by WHO-TV, Des Moines, after some serious blowback from listeners about the firing of six programming staffers from sports talk KXNO as part of a company-wide downsizing, iHeartMedia Des Moines market manager Joel McCrea sought from corporate and was granted permission to bring them back to their positions. Program director Andrew Downs; “The Morning Rush” personalities Travis Justice, Heather Burnside, and Sean Roberts; and “Sports Fanatics” hosts Chris Williams and Ross Peterson will return to their jobs. The story says in addition to the re-hiring, KXNO will be simulcast on (currently alternative) KDXA-FM at 106.3 FM beginning next week.

Newsmax TV Reports Increasing Viewership. According to recently released Comscore data, Newsmax TV shot past Bloomberg Television in total household reach, household coverage area rating, and average audience for the week of December 9, 2019.  It also topped C-SPAN in household coverage area rating for the same week.  Comscore’s data indicates that for the week of December 9, 2019, Newsmax TV had a total reach of 2.64 million households compared to 1.63 million for Bloomberg Television.  Comscore reports Newsmax had 1.03 million weekly viewers as of August 26, 2019.  By the broadcast week of December 9, 2019 Newsmax TV’s household reach had increased to 2.65 million households, reflecting both an increase in distribution of 21% and a disproportionate increase in reach.  Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “This is a major milestone for us.  Our content is resonating with Americans across the nation who are hungry for a fresh alternative to FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and other news channels.”  Ruddy adds that the network will make major lineup changes, announcing new programs in the coming weeks and months.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant 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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “The Weight of History in an A.D.D. World!” looks back at this past week of January 13-17, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Michael Riedel, talk show host, WOR, New York; Graham Mack, program director, FIX Radio, London, UK; Trevor Smith, radio presenter, Aloha Media Productions, Byron Bay, Australia; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC on Friday evenings between 6:00-7:00 pm. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeart Radio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.

Kilcoyne Exits KFNS, St. Louis. Sports media pro Martin Kilcoyne has left his on-air role with Randy Markel’s sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis co-hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show with Frank Cusumano.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that Kilcoyne, who also works as sports director at KTVI-TV, says his television duties have expanded.  He adds that the time spent producing podcasts with St. Louis Cardinals television announcer Dan McLaughlin played a role in his decision.  Prior to rejoining KFNS, Kilcoyne did a five-year stint with CH Holdings’ crosstown news/talk KTRS, St. Louis as a general issues host.

Allegretto to Lead Cumulus in Fort Walton Beach. Sales and management pro Ashley Allegretto rises from her regional sales manager, digital position with Cumulus Media’s Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola markets to vice president and market manager for the Fort Walton Beach station group that includes news/talk WFTW-AM “NewsTalk 1260” and four music-formatted stations.  Cumulus regional VP Pete De Simone says, “We are thrilled to promote Ashley Allegretto to lead this cluster.  Her passion for this community and her understanding of how to use our brands and our digital assets to help clients grow their businesses make her an effective leader.”  Allegretto adds, “Over the past 13 years I have seen firsthand the positive impact that our radio stations can have for local businesses and organizations in our community. I am eager to build on our past accomplishments and lead this group into our next round of success.”

TALKERS News Notes. Ocala, Florida morning show hosts Larry “The Giant” Whitler and Robin MacBlane are leaving their posts at Generations Broadcasting Corporation’s news/talk WOCA-AM/W242CA after today’s program.  They have been doing mornings at WOCA since 2002.  They’d previously worked together hosting a children’s show on WTMC – a signal that went dark in 2004.  The Ocala Star Banner reports that the two will continue to work together collaborating on children’s books and music…..Entercom all-news KYW, Philadelphia is inviting listeners to its “Executive Briefing” event, presented by Independence Blue Cross, Thursday, January 23 at 7:45 am.  KYW says this invite-only event “offers listeners the opportunity to listen to and take part in an in-depth discussion about the biggest issues facing the Philadelphia area and the nation in 2020.”  KYW Newsradio afternoon drive host Ian Bush will moderate the discussion that includes station anchors and reporters: Pat Loeb, city hall bureau chief; Mike DeNardo, education reporter; Cherri Gregg, community affairs reporter; Jim Melwert, KYW suburban bureau chief; and Kristen Johanson, crime and justice reporter.  Guests will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions during the final 20 minutes of the event.  Breakfast will be served courtesy of Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar prior to the start of the event.  Listeners interested in attending the event can register online…..Beasley Media Group announces Chris Ornelas is named general counsel for the company, effective February 1.  Ornelas was most recently with the National Association of Broadcasters as chief operating and strategy officer in which he was responsible for overseeing the operations of and providing strategic guidance to NAB’s advocacy teams in addressing the legal and regulatory issues facing broadcasters today…..Lemonada Media announces a new podcast called “Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett,” hosted and executive produced Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett and his wife Pele.  Lemonada, whose programs are distributed and repped by Westwood One, says “the series explores personal and provocative topics ranging from love, sex, parenting, the NFL, and politics.”  The first episode drops on January 31…..Entercom is being honored at the Project Voice Awards with the “Samsung Bixby Capsule of the Year” for its RADIO.COM integration.  The awards honor global best-in-class achievement across the emerging voice and AI realm and took place at the organization’s annual conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on January 15.  Entercom VP of corporate business development David Rosenbloom says, “We’re honored to be recognized among industry leaders by Project Voice.  This award is a testament to our ongoing commitment to innovating in voice and to enhancing the consumer experience.  With Bixby, we were able to expand the reach of RADIO.COM to millions of listeners and engage with them whenever and wherever they are with an optimized presence.”

Cox Media Group Gets Deadline Extension to Sell Ohio Newspapers. Due to a ruling by a three-judge panel at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Cox Media Group must divest of its Ohio newspapers to avoid said newspapers having to reduce publication to three days per week.  Even though the company had been operating a radio station and newspaper in the southwestern Ohio region since 1935, the Court revived the rule prohibiting operating both.  The FCC appealed the three-judge ruling to the entire Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was denied.  Now, CMG has until March 16 to complete a sale to a party that can publish the Dayton Daily News seven days per week.  Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie says, “We applaud the decision by the FCC and are grateful for the extension.  News does not conveniently schedule itself three days a week and we felt a reduced print schedule would negatively and severely impact the newspapers, our employees and the communities we serve.  CMG and Apollo have been pushing for this outcome because we feel that maintaining a daily publication schedule is the absolute best way to continue to produce the solid and timely journalism that our readers deserve.”

Impeachment Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 13-17. Not surprisingly, the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were the most talked about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the presidential race and the Democratic debate from Des Moines.  Coming in at #3 was the Iran crisis and U.S. foreign policy, followed by the U.S.-China trade war and the economy at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio this week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Omaha hot AC KQKQ “Sweet 98.5,” NRG Media launches an all-female morning show with current morning host Nikki Oswald and afternoon drive time personality Laura Blenkush.  The company says it will be the only all-female duo morning show in Omaha.  KQKQ program director Jay Michaels says, “Taking two of our highly talented personalities, and pairing them together for an all-female morning show is the obvious move when targeting women.”  Oswald was most recently partnered with Matt Tompkins, who recently moved over to NRG’s classic hits KOOO “THE NEW 101.9 The KEG” to host the morning show…..Two nationally syndicated programs land on Cumulus Media stations in South Carolina.  First, the Premiere Networks-syndicated “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy is the new morning show at hip hop WDAI-FM, Myrtle Beach.  Programmer and air personality Mike “BigMMike” Bell says, “We are excited to bring ‘The Breakfast Club’ to The Grand Strand.  As Myrtle Beach’s source for hip hop and R&B, what better way to enter a new era than with the “World’s Most Dangerous Morning Show?”  Second, the Compass Media Networks-distributed “DeDe in the Morning” show with DeDe McGuire, Lady Jade, Rudy Rush, and comedian Michael Shawn assumes the morning drive daypart at Cumulus’ hip hop WYNN, Florence.  Bell, who also programs WYNN and handles afternoon drive, says, “We are excited to bring a fresh morning show to Florence.  As the market leader, it was important that we went with a brand that can be trusted to deliver great entertainment our listeners will love.  DeDe is a seasoned vet and I’ve been a fan of her work for years.”