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Backbone Serving Broadcasters in Work-from-Home Era. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of broadcasters to work from home beginning in the spring and many still are. Radio engineering departments scrambled to get equipment into the homes of hosts who required it. But Backbone has been busy providing high-quality audio connection to a number of broadcasters and educational institutions with its equipment-free service. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian talks with Backbone founder, president and CEO Richard Cerny in a piece that illustrates how the Backbone technology is being used. He tells TALKERS, “This is sort of the only way you can really revamp a station without having to buy all new equipment. Other than the tower and tower building, there is no brick and mortar here. Your bedroom is ‘the studio.’ You can have local hosts on the LUCIE (the pre-codex) that goes into New York. A producer working out of his house takes all the inputs; adds commercials; puts it back into the cloud; and [the final product] goes out to the tower. At the same time, it streams and makes podcasts – all of this stuff is automated. Unless you want to make edits, you just push a button to launch and publish a podcast wherever you want to send it.” Read the entire story here.
PPM Analysis: All-News. According to data from Nielsen Audio’s monthly PPM surveys, listening to news radio shot up in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit American shores and although the 6+ AQH shares for news stations has bounced around a bit since March, 75% of all-news stations had higher AQH shares during the August 2020 survey than they did during the August 2019 survey. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian analyzes the format in today’s report. Comparing July 2020 and August 2020 data, exactly half of the news stations in PPM markets were down (6+ weekly AQH) and half were up. Looking at 6+ cume, although half of the news outlets were up during the August 2020 survey compared to the July 2020 survey, the average spike in cume was 67,244 while the average dip in cume was just 14,500. Check out Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
iHeartMedia to Acquire WWRL, New York; Black Information Network to Air on Station. As it continues to expand the reach of its newly created BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia announces that the 24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective will be heard on New York City’s WWRL-AM, effective November 2. That is when iHM begins operating the station under an LMA. The company has also entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with current owner NJ Broadcasting LLC. BIN: Black Information Network president Tony Coles says, “We are excited to welcome WWRL AM as the newest member of the Black Information Network family. This station has a long history of service in New York City, and in the ‘60s was an important voice for change for the Black community. At BIN, we are proud to continue that legacy, and to once again make AM 1600 a trusted source for the news and information that impacts Black New Yorkers.” The station is currently airing “Radio Mirchi,” a Hindi format operated by Entertainment Network Limited.
Radio America to Syndicate ‘The Best of Ricochet.’ A new, one-hour weekly program is being syndicated by Radio America beginning Saturday, September 19. Radio America says “The Best of Ricochet” is a “fast-paced digest of the Ricochet Audio Network’s bright and informative podcast streams. No orthodoxy, no party-line rants – we have a multitude of smart, engaging, iconoclastic thinkers who span the center-right spectrum. You’ll find college law professors, moms, libertarians, pop-culture addicts, vets, and the occasional note from the road from a truck driver.” The program is hosted by James Lileks, the longtime co-host of the “Ricochet Podcast” (alongside Peter Robinson and Rob Long), the author of several books (including the now legendary Gallery of Regrettable Food) and has been the sole contributor to lileks.com since 1997. He’s a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
45th Gracies Awards Streams Tonight. The Alliance for Women in Media are reminding the industry that this year’s 45th Anniversary Gracies Awards is being streamed live on the AWMF Facebook page at 7:00 pm ET. This year’s program is being hosted by “This Is Us” star Susan Kelechi Watson and supports the AWMF’s many educational programs, charitable activities, public service, and scholarship campaigns that benefit women in media. The evening will include Malin Akerman, Sanjay Gupta, Angélica Vale, Cassie DiLaura, and more as presenters, and will honor such luminaries as Katy Perry, Danai Gurira, Michelle Williams, Gayle King, among many others.
TALKERS News Notes. The National Association of Broadcasters announces it is moving the NAB Show scheduled for April 11-14, 2021 to October 9-13, 2021 in Las Vegas. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says in making the announcement, “With a new date set for the 2021 NAB Show we are looking at the entirety of the calendar next year with fresh eyes. We plan to continue bringing the industry together in a number of ways. In the short-term, we are excited about the online events planned for next month – the Radio Show (October 5–9) and NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange (October 14–15). These signature events, combined with our virtual NAB Show New York (October 19–29), offer dynamic content and engagement opportunities all month long to bring the industry together to restart, reengage and refocus.”…..The American Uncensored News Network announces it is actively seeking conservative radio and television shows for its AUN-TV network, “The Uncensored News Network.” AUN-TV says its mission is to create “uncensored” news, talk, and documentary programming from independent media and grassroots production. Content is distributed via its AUN-TV Network and its sister website www.aun-tv.com. At the same time, AUN-TV founder Dana Allen announces that Rick Trader – producer and host of the “Conservative Commandos Radio Show” – is named president and CEO of AUN Network…..NPR and a group of 12 public radio stations across the country announce they are launching the first localized daily news podcast, one that blends national stories and local reporting. The podcast is titled, “Consider This,” and NPR senior director for on-demand programming Neal Carruth comments, “This project is truly the best reflection of the public radio mission. ‘Consider This’ is now a collaborative podcast that will know where users are and deliver them the news of the day from their community and beyond. It demonstrates what only the public radio network has the ability to do.” Participating stations include: WGBH and WBUR in Boston; WNYC, New York; WHYY, Philadelphia; WAMU, Washington, DC; WBEZ, Chicago; WMPR, Minneapolis; KERA, Dallas; KPCC and KCRW, Los Angeles; KQED, San Francisco; and KOPB, Portland…..Cadence13 – part of Entercom’s Podcast Network – and actor/comedian Will Arnett are partnering to produce “The Journey is Now,” a new weekly podcast in which Arnett explores “human perspective, growth, and awareness.” Arnett will be joined on each episode by a well-known guest for a deep-dive into their story, struggles, regrets, and the obstacles they’ve overcome…..Pictured below is Salem Radio Network News White House correspondent Greg Clugston (right) conducting and exclusive one-on-one interview with Vice President Mike Pence (left). Clugston flew from D.C. to Pennsylvania with the vice president on Air Force 2 yesterday (9/9), then joined his bus tour across the region that included stops at a pro-life gathering, as well as an address to energy industry employees at PennEnergy Resources, LLC in Freedom, Pennsylvania.
ViacomCBS and iHeartMedia Enter into Podcast Deal. This three-year deal between ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth Group and iHeartMedia calls for iHM to “create dozens of original podcasts, both new and those that leverage iconic intellectual property and extend powerhouse franchises from the biggest and most beloved brands.” Those brands include: MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “These are some of the most iconic brands in the world. First and foremost – as fans of these brands – we wanted to see them have a really strong presence in podcasting. So our plan is simple: We will swing all of our resources behind these incredible brands – with support from our production teams, our huge distribution and marketing muscle, and the biggest and best audio sales team in the country – to make sure they get the audience they deserve in this incredible new medium.”
IBA Partners with AdLarge for Network Ad Sales. The Independent Broadcasters Association enters into a network radio ad sales partnership with AdLarge Media to create two new independent radio station networks. The IBA says its board approved the membership offering on August 17 and says, “The membership fee is designed so that every radio station can afford to participate and benefit from all the deliverables underway. The cost of membership is $100 per station annually plus one :60 unit of advertising per week, Monday – Friday 6a-7p.” AdLarge co-founder and co-CEO Gary Schonfeld comments, “We are thrilled to work with Ron and the independent radio stations across the country that are joining the IBA. This partnership comes at a most opportune time, giving independent radio groups and stations more power and prominence in network radio advertising. Ron’s [Stone] industry leadership in creating the IBA will help thousands of radio stations nationwide generate additional revenue and we are honored to be a part of it.”
Bob Woodward’s Rage Book, the Presidential Election/Vote-By-Mail, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, California Wildfires, Kansas City Chiefs’ Fan Rules Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/9). The audio of tape of Bob Woodward’s interview with President Trump for his book Rage that reveals the president purposely downplayed the COVID-19 threat; the November presidential election and the controversy over voting by mail and the challenges facing the USPS; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and projections for future cases; the state of the California wildfires; and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs ban Native American garb at games 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. Rock radio pro Steve Dent joins Cumulus Media as morning drive personality for alternative WNDX, Indianapolis “93.9X.” Dent was most recently with iHeartMedia’s Dayton cluster as program director for alternative WZDA and classic rock WTUE. WNDX program director Steven Lewis says, “‘93.9X’ has continued to grow and establish its brand since it launched last May. Steve Dent brings years of experience in the format, a passion for the music, strong on-air skills, and the tools to take mornings to the next level. I couldn’t be happier to have him on the station and part of our Cumulus Rock family.”…..Beasley Media Group promotes Dawn Santolucito to assistant program director and marketing director for WKLB-FM, Boston “Country 102.5.” She has been serving as music director and marketing director at the station since August 2017. She says, “‘Country 102.5’ is a special station, near and dear to my heart. I am excited to take on this new role and I am looking forward to all the things our incredible team will accomplish together.” At the same time, Jim Clerkin rises to music director and producer for the “Jonathan Weir and Ayla Brown Morning Show.”…..In Chicago, iHeartMedia gets FCC approval to change the call letters of country-turned-rock WEBG-FM to WCHI-FM.